Hard Words

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Jesus shows us that without truth, our relationships lack definition and meaning. If people are on the wrong road, messing up life, they will continue to mess up unless they face the truth. If the only gift we give an abusive husband is compassion, then we are contributing to his evil. If we only try to understand a mean wife without speaking the truth to her, our love for her is incomplete. The gift of compassion must be accompanied by the gift of truth.
— Paul Miller

Proverbs 3:11-12, 15:30-33

11 My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline
    or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
    as a father the son in whom he delights.

30 The light of the eyes rejoices the heart,
    and good news refreshes the bones.
31 The ear that listens to life-giving reproof
    will dwell among the wise.
32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself,
    but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.
33 The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
    and humility comes before honor.

Loose Words

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Judgment is easier than mercy. It’s easier to stand apart from somebody and point a finger than it is to patiently walk alongside of them, to love them, to forgive them, to get your hands dirty as you help them bear the burden of change.
— Paul Tripp

Proverbs 11:9-13

9 With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor,
    but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.
10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,
    and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.
11 By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
    but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown.
12 Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense,
    but a man of understanding remains silent.
13 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets,
    but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.

Fighting Words

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Words are the mirror of the mind — they show what is in the heart.
— Thomas Watson
The cure of an evil tongue must be done at the heart. The weights and wheels are there, and the clock strikes according to their motion.
— Robert Leighton

Proverbs 26:20-28

20 For lack of wood the fire goes out,
    and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
21 As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
    so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.
22 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
    they go down into the inner parts of the body.
23 Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel
    are fervent lips with an evil heart.
24 Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips
    and harbors deceit in his heart;
25 when he speaks graciously, believe him not,
    for there are seven abominations in his heart;
26 though his hatred be covered with deception,
    his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it,
    and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.
28 A lying tongue hates its victims,
    and a flattering mouth works ruin.

True Words

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Everybody lies.
— Dr. House
[Proverbs] is a book which seldom takes you to church… it calls across to you in the street about some everyday matter, or points things out at home. Its function in Scripture is to put godliness into working clothes.
— Derek Kidner

Proverbs 12:15-23

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
    but a wise man listens to advice.
16 The vexation of a fool is known at once,
    but the prudent ignores an insult.
17 Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence,
    but a false witness utters deceit.
18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
    but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
19 Truthful lips endure forever,
    but a lying tongue is but for a moment.
20 Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil,
    but those who plan peace have joy.
21 No ill befalls the righteous,
    but the wicked are filled with trouble.
22 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,
    but those who act faithfully are his delight.
23 A prudent man conceals knowledge,
    but the heart of fools proclaims folly.

Wise Words

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Listen, my child, and take my advice; do not refuse my council. Put your feet into her fetters, and your neck under her yoke. Bend your shoulders and carry her and do not be irked at her bonds. With all your soul draw close to her; and with all your strength keep her ways. Inquire and search, seek and find; when you get hold of her, do not let her go. Thus at last you will find rest in her, and she will become your joy.
— Sirach 6:23-28

Proverbs 1:1-7

1 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

2 To know wisdom and instruction,
    to understand words of insight,
3 to receive instruction in wise dealing,
    in righteousness, justice, and equity;
4 to give prudence to the simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the youth—
5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
    and the one who understands obtain guidance,
6 to understand a proverb and a saying,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.

7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Anger & Compassion

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Compassion can never co-exist with judgment because judgment creates the distance, the distinction, which prevents us from really being with the other… ‘Do not judge and you will not be judged yourselves’ is a word of Jesus that is indeed very hard to live up to. But it contains the secret of compassion.
— Henri Nouwen

(Please note: This recording is a bit echo-y.)

Jonah 3:10-4:11

10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”

5 Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. 6 Now the LordGod appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. 7 But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10 And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

Gathering & Forming to Maturity

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Christ did not come into the world to make Christians, but to make humans.
— Hans Rookmaaker

Philippians 3:12-4:1

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Gathering & Forming by the Spirit

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Over time, I came to understand that the church—with its grape juice and fried chicken, with that basketball hoop and fellowship hall, that Bible and baptism—was not just a place I went for friendship or family ties. The church was, and still is, making me.
— Tish Warren

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

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Gathering & Forming by Suffering

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How is faith to endure, O God, when you allow all this scraping and tearing on us? You have allowed rivers of blood to flow, mountains of suffering to pile up, sobs to become humanity’s song—all without lifting a finger that we could see. You have allowed bonds of love beyond number to be painfully snapped. If you have not abandoned us, explain yourself.
— Nicholas Wolterstorff

1 Peter 3:8-18

8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For

“Whoever desires to love life
    and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
    and his lips from speaking deceit;
11 let him turn away from evil and do good;
    let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.

Gathering & Forming by Worship

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Authentic Christian worship both invites outsiders into the gospel story and provides a significant means for the formation of disciples of Jesus Christ. In other words, authentic worship does not have to choose between reaching seekers and building up the saints. Incarnational worship does both. As the Church of Scotland’s Common Order of worship puts it, public worship is both a ‘converting ordinance’ and an ‘edifying ordinance’; that is, worship can be both a way of inviting the lost into the body of Christ and a way of building up the saints, forming them into the kinds of people that pursue the kingdom with heart, soul, mind, and strength.
— James K.A. Smith

Colossians 3:12-17

12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 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. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.