Church, Church Planting, Missional Living, Redeemer Church

Friendship with Our City

Our church has been challenged by the idea of Biblical Friendship. According to James 2:23, the gospel is that God has made us His friend through our faith in Christ. James also teaches us that if this faith is genuine, then it will produce good works. Friendship is a good work. Over and over again in the New Testament we see calls for the church to love one another…forgive each other (Ephesians 4:32), bear with each other (Colossians 3:13), confess our sins to each other (James 5:16), out of love we even need to rebuke each other (Luke 17:3). All of these are examples of the good work of friendship…friendship to His Church.

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However, Biblical Friendship does not stop at the door of the church. Friendship with each other is a pleasant spiritual blessing that we can’t rush past. However, it should become an apologetic for the truth of the gospel. Again, remember what Jesus said in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” They are to know that we are his disciples. They are to know this by our love for each other. But, Jesus wants them to know the truth of the gospel. This means that we are be known for friendship and love, but not just for each other, but also for our city. Jesus loves “all people.”

Like friendship with God’s People, friendship with our City takes time and intentionality. I am not going to be a good friend with my neighbors if I don’t take time with them or if I am not intentional to get to know them and serve them. Do you know those around you? Are you a good friend to your neighbors, and your co-workers, and those you share activities and hobbies with? Do you patiently listen to that lady in the office? Do you care for the needs of the family next door? Are you encouraging to the other parents on your kid’s team?

But I also want us to ask some hard questions of ourselves this year with regards our city. Are we truly serving the needs of our city? Are we living openly and generously with our city? I followed a contentious political debate in our city this Fall, and I was struck by some of the needs in our city that I did not know about. Personally, as your pastor, I am committed to learning more about the needs of our city this next year.

Our Pastors have felt a deep conviction about being a friend to our city. We have spent much time praying about and thinking about how to be a friend to our city. We haven’t done a poor job, but we want to improve our efforts as a church.

This month we began a new monthly effort we are simply calling Service Sundays. Service Sundays are a way we can be a friend to our city. Even though we are a new church and a small church, we are committed to making the biggest impact we can.

January 17th was Sanctity of Life Sunday followed by Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the 18th. I preached on the church being a Statue of Hope. The 17th was also our first Service Sunday. We began a three week baby bottle fundraiser to help support the Woman-to-Woman Pregnancy Resource Center. This campaign is designed to support a ministry wholistically addressing the sin of abortion. This group lovingly ministers to gospel of grace to those in need and brings truth and healing to our city. Even if you weren’t able to grab a baby bottle, if you feel led, bring an offering to the center this Sunday.

Every month in 2016 we are planning efforts to be a friend to our city because God has called you his friend as a call to be a friend.


Friendship with God’s Church

Our church is focusing on Biblical Friendship in 2016. Friendship is one of the great blessings of life. The Bible has much to say about friendship, and as a church we are committed to deepening our friendship with two groups of people…God’s Church and Our City.

2015 Redeemer Trunk or Treat-277

Biblical Friendship can be described as mutual love that interweaves souls. If we are going to knit together our lives, then we must “love one another.” Jesus said in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” My prayer for us this next year is that we would be marked by loving one another.

This passage speaks to the importance of being in each other’s lives, to living in community, to being better friends. There is no magic way to do this, but at our church we do this through Neighborhood Groups. I pray that you would consider being part of one of our Neighborhood Groups and begin that journey of loving one another.

Over the holidays I read a short booklet on Biblical Friendship which included a bunch of practical wisdom on how to love each other as friends. I thought it was so helpful that I purchased some copies and gave them out to our church. We are also starting a new men’s group using this booklet. You can purchase Beeke and Haykin’s book by clicking HERE.

One of the helpful tips the authors point out is that we are not going to be close to everyone. Some people are just going to be our acquaintances. We might not be as close to as many people as we want. We also might have people in our lives that we desire to be close with, but it simply isn’t going to happen.

Also, Biblical friendship requires time and intentionality. Life-giving friendships don’t just happen. We have to carve out time for each other. If we only see you once a month or once every other month, you won’t find great friendships here. This means you have to prioritize friendships with God’s People. We have to be intentional with each other.

Biblical Friendship means that we have to be together…talk together, listen together, serve together, enjoy life together, think together, pray together, repent together, and hope together. If we are going to be marked by friendship this year, then we need to spend time together. We can’t be close if we don’t talk to each other…are you hearing me men?! But, I am not saying you need to be the one who is always talking, because good friends are good listeners. Are we a people who serve each other when we are in need? Some of you are better at this than others, but do we have fun together. The older I get the more I value dudes to just hang with. Laughter is good for the soul. But, some of you are dudes that hang well, but you aren’t going to get close friends unless you think together. Specifically, we are to think about life and family and work and the gospel. You need to process the important things of life with other people. We need to understand that Biblical Friendship moves beyond superficiality. Are you praying with people in your life? Further, are we processing our struggles in a way that we repent, and turn from our sins with other people? Are we also processing our lives where we are hoping together? Over the past few years I have grown closer to some of you during job changes. We have hoped together. It was hard, but it was good.

Guys, let’s be real for a moment. If we can’t be good friends with each other, then any campaign or slogan or program or outreach effort is phony. The Bible, specifically in James, questions the genuineness of churches that have slick efforts, but are marked by shallow unloving relationships. I truly phony-friendships is why so many churches are so weak.

As I look to 2016, my prayer is that we would be marked by glorious loving friendships. We are called “friends of God” (James 2:23) in order that we might be friends with God’s Church.

Church, Gospel Spirituality, Missional Living, Redeemer Church

Friendship For Friendship

Proverbs 27:9 reads, “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” The first line is about a physical blessing or pleasantry, the second a spiritual blessing. It is a pleasant spiritual blessing to have friendship, to have people who love you enough to speak into your life. It is a great blessing to have people who know you, and love you, and engage you, and speak up when you are going down a wrong path, and are there for you when you are in the middle of a fight.


One good definition I found for Biblical Friendship is mutual love that knits together souls. It is a sweet spiritual blessing to have those we love so deeply we feel our souls are interwoven.

We see this intimate intertwined love in the Trinity. Our God is one yet exists as three persons, yet the love is so tight that we are monotheistic. Marriage is supposed to be a loving oneness. Jonathan and David both loved each other deeply and were close friends. Many think of Paul as this bold lone ranger, but the reality is that he always had friends close by. His relationship with Timothy is a glorious example of loving lasting life-giving friendship.

 Also, James 2:23 explains that due to our genuine faith, we have become a “friend of God.” Who are you?  You are called a “friend of God.” These “friends of God” who have genuine faith are also marked by good works. So, out of this glorious friendship, we get a vision and even a calling to the good work of friendship. God makes us his friend so we can be friends with others. And this is no superficial matter, this is a sweet life-giving pleasantry to our souls.

Friends, as I look ahead to 2016, my prayer is that our new church would embrace our standing as being “friends with God” by being friends with God’s Church and being friends with our City. I want us to have deep life-giving loving friendships with each other, and with those around us.

How do you need to improve as a friend this year? Do you have a friendship that you have neglected? How can you deepen the friendships that the Lord has provided? How can you be a friend to the city around you?

God has called you his friend as a call to be a friend.