The beach is made of sand. Anybody knows that. What difference does a single grain make?

It seems that depends on where it is. When you eat a bowl of clam chowder on the coast, when the clams are very fresh and not out of a can, you will find a grain of sand now and then in your soup.

If you spend the day frolicking by the sea, you may find a grain or a few in some uncomfortable places. And if you find a grain of sand inside an oyster after it’s been there for a good while, you may be very excited indeed.

A grain of sand by itself is, for the most part, insignificant. It is blown around by the wind and thrown every which way. It is tracked along by people or animals. It has not enough weight to stay put.

But when you gather a few billion of those grains, it can withstand the great crashing waves of the sea.

On our last morning at the Oregon coast, my wife and I wanted to steal away for a last brief walk. It was our most windy experience of the week as the scattered raindrops and loose sand were blowing in a stinging combination. It was less exfoliating and more irritating than I would have expected.

The wind off of the sea was blowing the sand (and Tori’s hair) pretty wildly. The light colored waves on the beach are actually waves of sand being blown along (lighter in color because it is dry, not damp).

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One of the key ideas in the book of 1 Thessalonians is the one I focused on as the cornerstone of chapter two—A Real Life Faith is Raised In Relationships.

All of these cornerstone ideas of this series are kind of recapped, or reprised as my musical background prefers, in the last part of the letter (5.12-24).

In the first few verses of this passage, the Apostle admonishes his readers about some of the relational dynamics among church life:

“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.”

That’s a big bite, but we can break it down a bit. Read the rest of this entry »