1 Thessalonians

Stone Soup


1 Thessalonians 1:1-5:8

Are you familiar with the story “Stone Soup”? It’s an absolute classic and it’s a lesson I taught every single year with my preschoolers. The story goes that there was this town on the brink of starvation when in walks these soldiers asking for food and shelter for the night. No one is willing to share with them because they feel they have nothing that they can give to the soldiers and still survive themselves. So, being very wise, one of the soldiers decides to make stone soup, so he asks one of the peasants if he can borrow a BIG pot to make his soup. Thinking he’s crazy the peasant offers the pot willingly to the soldier and watches him fill it with water in the well, put it over a raging fire in the middle of the town square and then go looking for a stone to make stone soup. This calls much attention from the rest of the villagers and they all come out to see what on earth this crazy soldier is doing making soup with a stone. As the soldiers stands there stirring his stone soup and smelling the air he starts talking about how good the soup will taste and it starts making the villiagers feel even hungier than they were before. But this time they’re hungry for stone soup. Until finally one of the villiagers decideds that his carrots would make the soup even better and he offers them up. One by one each of the villiagers begins pitching things into the soup until suddenly they’ve all contributed something, green beans, tomatoes, bread to go with the soup, butter for the bread, until these starving villiagers have an actual feast on their hands!
My friends, for the last eight years that we’ve lived here I’ve wanted to host a neighborhood block party. Really just something to get everyone together to meet one another. We have the perfect space, we live in a circle and the middle of the circle is all back yards! This year, it’s going to happen, I can feel it! It all started when one of our neighbors started complaining about the state of another neighbor’s yard. That particular neighbor’s yard has occupants who have BOTH been in and out of the hospital since we’ve lived here. He has had at least two toes amputated due to his diabetes and she, I hear, almost died this Mother’s Day weekend! I was frustrated (to say the least) with the first neighbor and their caulousness to the second neighbor’s obvious plight. Our group broke up and went back to our houses. I walked in the door and immediately started ranting to God. “Lord, what on earth has happened to them to make them so harsh toward their neighbors? They’re so bitter and cold and all they care about is appearances. ………… (lots of ranting that doesn’t need repeated)……. Lord, how can I help? The first thought that came to mind was that I could go over and talk to them about how I was feeling, I rejected that idea pretty quickly, mostly because I was too chicken to do it that way. But then the lightning bolt hit!
A few weeks ago I had been on Facebook on a private Sheridan garage sale site and noticed a post where someone was asking if anyone knew where to get gravel for a good price for their driveway. Curious, I clicked on it, thinking of the conversation I had had with Sean just the other day about needing gravel for our driveways. There were a LOT of people commenting on the status because they had the same question, one of them was my neighbor who is in the hospital more than they’re home. I immediately decided that whenever we got gravel I would contact them and see if they wanted to go in with us on it. Fast forward two or three weeks later and here we are talking about the fact that we have neighbors (who are AMAZING people by the way) who are both in different hospitals at the same time and could really use a good show of Christian love in their lives. BOOM! The thunder rolled as a realization raced across my brain.
One of our other neighbors is a traveling salesman for a landscaping company!
One cattycorner neighbor LOVES landscaping and is really good with flowers!
We have several neighbors that are sick, elderly, sick and elderly, why don’t we all go together and pitch in to help these neighbors by giving them a beautiful yard! Then the picky one will stop complaining and everyone we help will be blessed becuase we showed them we care and we will be blessed because we got to help them!!! Plus, then at the end of the day we can all have a pitch in feast to celebrate all our hard work! IT WILL BE FUN!!!
I have to tell you friends, I am incredibly excited about this! I pitched the idea to the traveling salesman’s wife, who pitched it to the traveling salesman who said, “I was thinking the exact same thing!”
It’s meant to be I tell ya!
What better way to show your neighbors in need that you love them than taking care of the things that they simply can’t take care of anymore? My grandparents all live pretty far away from us so it’s hard to take care of them the way I would like to. But they do live in a community that loves them to bits and pieces and has taken care of them when we couldn’t. I want to do that for my neighbors. I want to help them meet each other and help them to learn each other’s names and faces. I mean really, what an amazing concept, getting to know your neighbor enough that when you wave across the street you can really mean the “Good morning” you shout!
The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and in this busy day and time that can be hard. I don’t mean to say all this to lift myself up, this wasn’t MY idea, it’s God’s. I say all this to challenge you into action! Open your eyes to the needs around you in your own neighborhood. Is the house next to yours a little run down and unkempt? Perhaps it’s because the person in it could use a little help. Maybe they’re so busy spending time in the hospital almost dying that they don’t have time to bring the things in off their porch according to your liking. Maybe the house with the washing machine in the front yard doesn’t have someone living in it with the ability to take it to the scrap yard because they’re so busy just trying to stay alive and make the most of the few years they have left together. Maybe the house with the unmown yard has someone in it that could really use a hug right now from someone who does more than just say they care.
Friends, consider this your call to action! Be a good neighbor this weekend, or next weekend, or all summer long. You don’t have to go to Africa to be a missionary and win souls for the Lord. Maybe the farthest you need to go is across the street with a plate full of cookies, a warm smile and a listening ear. Sometimes people just need someone to talk to. I challenge you to be that person today and just listen. Don’t sit there trying to think of what you’re going to say next, just listen. Let the moment of silence hang in the air until they start up and share their heart with you. Let God use you as His ears for a change, and maybe a hand and back with a load full of gravel too.  
In all those years of teaching about Stone Soup I didn’t think I’d acutally be making some like this! And all because we needed gravel ourselves!

Categories: 1 Thessalonians, 365 Life, Season 3, Sheridan Reporter, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Ten More Days

1 Thessalonians 1:1-5:28

“For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus as His coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20

Ok, first things first, I need to do a little happy dance and celebrate. Just like my daughter whose first words this morning were sleepily, “four more days until my birthday”. My first words to you today are, “ten more days until I’ve read through the entire Bible!!!!!” I have been wanting to and trying to do this my entire life and I’ve never done it. I dedicated the last two and a half years of my life to reading through the Bible Alphabetically in a year and in TEN SHORT DAYS I will have done it!!!!! But I haven’t done it alone. I NEVER could have done it without you guys! Knowing that you’re reading and keeping track of my progress keeps me on track and making progress. You inspire me to do my best and be my best, and I can’t tell you how much that means to me! Thank you, from the uttermost depths of my soul, thank you for joining me on this journey! You may not have read the Bible with me, you may not have made it through all my thousand plus words of blogging, but you’re there and that makes such a huge difference for me! You have no idea! YOU are so important to me. Having someone to talk to along this path has kept me from going insane. You’ve helped me process all the massive amounts of information I’ve been blessed with along the way.

Oh, and fear not, just because I will be “done” with reading through the Bible doesn’t mean I’m DONE reading through the Bible and blogging about it. No, this is just the beginning. There was a time when I toyed with the idea of putting it all down and being DONE, but I know that there’s simply no way that I can. Helping others is the best way to help yourself. You’ve kept me from spiraling into a lonely depression on many occasions. Your presence on the other end of this line has kept me from giving it all up and calling it quits on doing my daily reading.

No, there’s no way that I can give up breathing, this – reading through the Bible every day and then writing about it – this is my oxygen mask. It’s the air that I breathe to keep me going through serving my family and the long lines of customers I serve at our local Dollar General store*. It’s funny, I feel very much like a bar tender there. As I ask how their day is going, 95% of the time they actually tell me! In fact there’s one lady, we’ll call her “June”, her situation could really use our prayers at the moment. Her husband is “shacking up” with his pregnant mistress in a TENT right now. L And every time this lady comes in she has to tell me about how it’s going. She has a desperate need to take care of him, even though he’s shattered her heart. She loves him, pregnant mistress and all. It’s honestly beautiful and sad all at the same time. Pray for them, they ALL need Jesus.

Then there’s another of my regulars who is, by far, one of my biggest supporters. He found me in the Hamilton County Reporter (which you can subscribe to online here). He came in and told me yesterday that he cut out the piece I wrote on the Holy Spirit (he doesn’t know I’ve written about the Holy Spirit more times than I can count). He said he keeps it in his Bible and prays the prayer every morning before his devotions.

My God is too good to me friends. He’s given me multiple platforms from which to speak at the exact same moment, the exact same message of His love and Grace and forgiveness. Several years ago, shortly after, or maybe it was before, accepting my call into ministry God led me through His word and taught me about death. We take nothing with us, nothing except the memories of this life and the people we’ve brought to Christ. Today’s verse was part of that Word Search. “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at His coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.”

My friends, I may never have met you in person or shaken your hand. I may never have laid eyes on your face, but that doesn’t mean that you mean nothing to me. You are my hope and joy and crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at His coming. As I believe I am yours. It has been so easy for me to feel like this is a one-sided relationship since so many of you don’t comment or talk back when you read. But I’ve got enough of you out there commenting, either here or elsewhere, letting me know that you’re out there and that you are following along. Just knowing you’re there pushes me forward, striving toward the goal, continuing on in the race of life. YOU mean the world to me! You’ve helped me do something I’ve been trying to accomplish my entire life and have failed, until I had YOU to help me. Thank you ever so much for being here and silently cheering me on to the finish line!

Ten more days my friends. Then I take a celebratory rest and start all over again. And I can hardly wait!!!!!


*Thinking of YOU Aunt Cynthia! I wanted to call, or even email, but I simply don’t have time at the moment. Things have been CRAZY busy! But I would really love to call you soon!!!!! How about we both pray for it and God will help us coordinate the time. J I love you!!!!

Categories: 1 Thessalonians, 365 Life, Jesus Loves YOU | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: