Helpers and the Helper

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The wonderful host of “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood,” Fred Rogers, who died in 2003, has often been quoted for these particular words of wisdom and reassurance he was given by his mother.

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Following the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Rogers himself was especially troubled, as he was a native of Pennsylvania and a long time resident of New York City. His last show had aired just the month before, and he was then asked to do some public service announcements. In one video, Rogers said, “No matter what our particular job, especially in our world today, we all are called to be ‘tikkun olam,’ repairers of creation.” The Hebrew words, “tikkun olam” refer to actions taken to improve society, including caring for others. Fred Rogers took seriously the responsibility of helping children interpret an often troubled world during his lifetime. Once again, during the covid 19 crisis, we would all do well to both point the way to and be those helpers Mr. Rogers described.

The helpers we look to, like doctors, nurses, public safety, and military personnel, step up every day to care for and protect us. Jesus Christ also promised to leave a helper to advocate for His children. This helper is the Holy Spirit.

Role of the Spirit

 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;  that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.  In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.  He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”  Judas (not Iscariot) *said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?”  Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.

 “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.  Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. 
John 14:15-27 NASB

God, bless the helpers,
weary at their post,
give them energy,
protection,
for their task.
Give each of us
no matter who we are
the drive to help as well.
Show us how,
that is what we ask.


We invite your Holy Spirit,
dove, comforter, intercessor,
to work your will through us your children.
Burn so brightly,
the world can’t help but see.
Turn this night to day, Lord,
so the world will know,
then use us as you will
to increase your kingdom.


© Joel Tipple 3/28/2020








Living and Trusting Now

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In the grocery store where I work, this week things got real, then they got surreal. Since we’re an essential service, we’re one of the businesses remaining open following the mandatory shelter in place declaration. After all, people gotta eat. Since the corona virus arrived in our country, our leaders have been adopting strategies intended to slow its spread. For the most part, people have been trying to do their part, but, people being people, their part doesn’t always go so well. Sometimes… it just goes weird. While social distancing and hand washing seem to be the prevailing advice, we’ve had customers shop in all sorts of garb, with the intent of avoiding covid 19. One customer, who apparently couldn’t find a more traditional mask, opted instead for wearing a baby diaper on her face. One guy came in wearing a full on hazmat suit! Various other forms of protective garb have included all kinds of masks, such as the traditional bandanna. At various times the store has looked like the set of a budget movie featuring actors dressed in a combination of medical and stick-up artist costumes. While a cloud of tension hangs in the air, some customers have been doing their regular shopping, while others try to get enough supplies to stay home for the while. Three squares a day has now become a euphemism for toilet paper rationing.

Although the time we’re living through is difficult, and even bizarre, there has never been a greater opportunity in our lifetime to exhibit what trust in God looks like. The joy Christians are gifted with dries up when it isn’t shared, and we can and must share joy, especially to contrast with recent events. Yes, we are grateful Jesus has defeated death! This is the foundation of our hope. But even while we are filled with gratitude for eternity, we need to be an example of how to live now, especially because it’s hard. There will be times when we lose patience with our fellow man and with ourselves, but we can’t afford to give in to the negative emotions, words, and actions around us. Instead, we must learn to see ourselves through the eyes of Jesus and trust His intention for our now and forever.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV


Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make.
Proverbs 3:5 TPT


 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:26-27
NIV

Give us vision beyond ourselves, God
for the future and the now
Fill us with true joy
based on true hope
to share with the rest of your children
Jesus, foundation of our trust
Jesus, advocate, Savior
Be our light within
Be our light without
As we walk
bless and keep your pilgrims

© Joel Tipple 3/22/2020






My Help

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I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 121 ESV

Safety on the journey. And whoa, what a journey! Right? No matter who you are, no matter your station in life, you might feel at the moment like you’re stuck on the Titanic as it goes down, with the band continuing to play on one side, while your lifeboat lowers on the other. The problem? Your lifeboat only has room for one guy and 25 packages of toilet paper, his toilet paper. Seriously though, the one thing I won’t be doing this week is give you advice about a certain virus. We’re getting plenty of advice right now, some of it even from informed sources. By the time the current crisis has subsided, I’m certain we’ll all feel like we’ve earned a fistful of college credits toward a degree in epidemiology. Besides keeping up with that continuing education, there is one thing in particular I’m trying to focus on, my attitude. It’s easy to be judgmental toward people who are fearful. Depending on your situation and, let’s face it, simply your emotional makeup, you might have trouble relating to folks who are freaking out. If some of the long lines and short tempers are any indication, a lot of folks are just plain scared. Have you ever noticed how helpful you can be by telling someone who is freaking out, “Hey, stop freaking out!” Me neither. I believe I can do the most good as far as my reach goes by being prayerful, helpful, and compassionate towards those around me. If any of my words or actions don’t fall within those parameters, I’m just making noise. What did Paul call it? “A sounding brass or clanging cymbal.” 1st Corinthians 13 teaches me that’s not what love sounds like.

The second thing we can do is, like the Psalmist says, focus on where our help comes from, no matter the situation. When the people we love are frightened, sick, or in pain, our help comes from the Lord. When the institutions we rely on struggle to meet new challenges, our help comes from the Lord. When we ourselves grow tired, fearful, and lose patience with those around us, our help still comes from the Lord.

When life’s overwhelming
and I’m reminded of just how small
I truly am
I run to you great maker
caretaker
never forsaker

You’re the one I sing
Through the noise
your voice rings
never alone
no matter where I go
I’m always home
all encompassing God

© Joel Tipple 3/15/2020


Catch This

In the news this week, coronavirus. When humans as a community are faced with a new shared and daunting medical issue such as the one we’re faced with at the moment, it’s certainly a study in psychology. Our reactions run the gamut, from panic fueled by incomplete information, to ridicule of those who show concern, and finally ignoring news sources in the hopes that it will all just go away. Often fear is the character on stage with the most to say. Just because he has a lot of lines though, does that mean we have to pay attention to him? Yes, and no. Of course, God has something to say in the matter.
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
2 Timothy 1:7
ESV
It’s hoped when we are children we gain a healthy respect for the things we come into contact with that could do us harm, like fire. Some of that healthy respect is innate, some of it is learned through experience. It’s an example of the side of fear that is useful. So, we are to note fear, assess it for what it is, but focus on what God wants the primary motivators in our lives to be, that is, His “power and love and self-control.” In a time when information is easier than ever to come by, we should focus on being sources of accurate information people can use. Unfortunately, platforms like Facebook don’t always differentiate between accurate and inaccurate news. Sometimes the loudest and least helpful posts get the most likes. In times of greater stress like these, Christians more than ever should show themselves to part of the solution, not part of the problem.

When people get diseases like coronavirus and recover, their blood results will show the antibodies, or unique markers. Although I suppose none of us prefer to think of ourselves as viruses, wouldn’t we all want those we’ve come into contact with to be better for it? Wouldn’t we hope that somehow the markers they show reveal their exposure to God’s gifts of power, love, and self control? I think that’s the kind of “infection” we could all get behind.

I’d like to be a carrier
of a good disease
the kind that lifts you from darkness
when you go to your knees
Any way God can use me
that’s how I want to be
cause I’m forever grateful
He rescued me

I was restless and broken
when God sought me out
then my Savior gave me cause
to sing and shout
He exposed my dark heart
to the light
and now I’m filled with hope
cause Jesus gave me sight

I’d like to be a carrier
of a good disease
I want to be grafted on
to God’s family tree
I want to spread His love
far and wide
to the busy cities
and sleepy countryside.

I’d like to be a carrier
of a good disease
the kind that lifts you from darkness
when you go to your knees
Any way God can use me
that’s how I want to be
cause I’m forever grateful
he rescued me.

© Joel Tipple 3/7/2020






Please, God.


A child’s prayer: “Dear God, maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each other so much if they each had their own rooms. It works out OK with me and my brother.” belief.net

Last week one of our granddaughters had a medical emergency. I’ll tell you, no matter where you are in your relationship with God, this is one of those times you approach Him with all the vigor you can muster. The prayer might not sound pretty or sophisticated, but it’s real. “God, I’m worried. God, we need answers. God, give the doctors insight. God… help.” The second half of James 5:16 says, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” Some translations replace “effective” with “fervent.” That’s the kind of prayer you utter when you really want to get God’s attention. God, this morning I was praying, but right now, I’m PRAYING!
In broad strokes, when I think about our relationship with God, I consider understanding God by reading the bible, and communicating with God by prayer. God makes it clear that our attitude toward Him needs to be one of contrition and honesty. If there is anything standing in the way of our relationship with God we need to get it out in the open. Sometimes that means sharing it with a brother or sister you trust. You could also tell a group of believers you meet with on a regular basis that you have a struggle you need prayer for. Use wisdom deciding how much to share, and with whom. In the same way secrets stand in the way of our personal relationships, refusing to bring issues to God and stubbornly refusing to give up stuff we know God doesn’t approve of will cause our relationship with Him to go cold. Over and over the Bible admonishes us to take our sins, our needs, and our praise to God, who welcomes us as His children.

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
James 5:13-16 NASB

God, show me everything I am
the things I won’t look at,
the things you can’t stand.
Encourage in my life
what sings
of your glory and praise
that I’ll reflect your blessings
the rest of my days.


©Joel Tipple 2/29/2020

Nonconformists

Venezuelan Poodle Moth
boredpanda.com

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Isaiah 64:8 ESV


Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2 ESV

The Venezuelan Poodle Moth is interesting because it’s so unique. You might say it’s a nonconformist since it’s different, but of course you’d be wrong. It was simply made that way. Humans are unique, in that their nonconformity may come as a result of birth or choice. Depending on your situation, you may say you don’t conform to the norm because that’s simply the way you are, but in many cases we are nonconformists because we’ve chosen to be.

There’s a common misconception in the world that being a Christian is all about conforming. If that’s true in the minds of so many, I suppose we’ve come full circle, because historically, Christians have been anything but conformists. Consider the response of Rome at the height of its power to the Christians who dared to be different. When Paul encouraged followers of Christ to not be conformed to their world, he was painfully aware of the high price those who took his advice literally might pay. Then, as now, holders of power were willing to do whatever was necessary to maintain the status quo. In the United States, where freedom of religion is a recognized right, Christians are able to worship freely, although tension between church and state still persists in the areas where our beliefs are impinged upon by legislation. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a part of the world where you can worship as you please, it can be hard to relate to those who don’t have that freedom. Still, in some countries Christians are imprisoned or even executed for their beliefs. What does it say about the power of the Word when Christians in China must share pages torn from bibles? How do followers of Christ find the courage to stand for God when they live in a part of the world that punishes that stand with death? In our world we will remain unique in our desire to stand for God’s laws, even though the cost for that stand may be loss of freedom or death. That freedom, along with our responsibility to stand up for it, should never be taken lightly.

“Truly, there is a Christian note which makes the whole World vibrate, like an immense gong, in the divine Christ. This note is unique and universal, and in it alone consists the Gospel.”
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


There’s a tension between the world
and the way I am.
It comes from a choice I’ve made;
I suppose you can say it’s my stand.
I can’t boast of some inner strength
that makes me better than those
who go along.
Still, I’m thankful God’s given me
this unique song.
I’m a grateful nonconformist
trying to conform
to God’s plan.


© Joel Tipple 2/23/2020


Easy Does It?

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13 ESV

In 2005, the office supply chain, Staples, launched an ad campaign featuring the easy button. The idea was that Staples made everything customers could ever want in an office supply store easier, almost as easy as pressing a button. The commercials were funny, and featured everything from a child in class who doesn’t know the answer to his teacher’s question, to a cowboy wrangling a bucking horse, and a father changing his twin infants’ diapers. Have you ever wished for a button you could push to make life easier? Of course! It’s a tantalizing fantasy.

One of my dad’s favorite hobbies was wood working. He seemed to always have some sort of project going. His creations varied from small and practical, all the way to beautiful pieces of furniture that our family gets to cherish now in his memory. We even attached a little plaque to a curio cabinet he made our family with his name and the date it was made. I’m sure part of the enjoyment he derived from creating things was the work they involved. Making something can often be a hit and miss process of learning and improving. Even if no one else is grading your work, you are! Trying something, failing, then trying again, seems to be the way God made us. Grading our success at any endeavor gives us the kind of satisfaction any sort of participation trophy never could.

In our walk with God we often find ourselves running into walls of frustration as we try and sometimes fail to grow. God, our perfect judge, and Jesus, our perfect example, stand as measures of our progress as we live our lives. Searching God’s Word and approaching Him honestly and often are two of the best ways to know where we stand. Another important method is fellowship. Conversation with someone who is moving in the same direction, or is simply willing to listen, can help solve problems or cut them down to a more manageable size. Have you ever noticed how getting out of your head with someone’s help can give you better perspective?

Finally, one of my four favorite Beatles, George Harrison, wrote a song that includes the words, “You know it don’t come easy.” Even though I still occasionally find myself looking for that “easy button,” I guess I’m glad it doesn’t.

“… it is the greatest of all mistakes to begin life with the expectation that it is going to be easy, or with the wish to have it so.”
― Lucy Larcom, 


What to my eyes is a mountain,
might be to yours a hill.
My marathon might be
your short walk.
I’m overjoyed at successfully boiling water,
while you carefully tend your souffle.
No matter where you’re at
your work is your work;
Mostly, I’m glad
God made it that way.

Possibly off the subject:
“Women are the most wonderful beings created by God, they are easy to understand when you show them love but hard to understand when you don’t.”
― Bamigboye Olurotimi


©Joel Tipple 2/16/2020