Children

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Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciple rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.
Matthew 19:13-15 ESV

I don’t blame Blanche Wilson at all for the wreck I almost got into the day of her funeral. It wasn’t her fault I was nervous and running late on my way to be one of her pallbearers. She had no part in my failure to wipe down the dewy windows of my 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass that morning. No, this was all my doing. I failed to do all the things a good driver normally does when they’re pulling out into traffic, like making sure I could see what was coming down the road before proceeding. Fortunately, as the angry officer who came so close to hitting me explained, he had been well trained in accident avoidance by the California Highway Patrol. Otherwise, both of our mornings could have been much worse. As it was, instead of severe damage to my first car, me, and maybe the officer, I was given a stern lecture and a traffic ticket before I headed on to the service.

All that is less important, however, than the reason I found myself participating in the service at all. Mrs. Wilson was one of my Sunday School teachers and she loved me. She made sure I knew I was the apple of Jesus’ eye and that went double for her. Another thing I remember about her is that we were to be referred to as children, not kids. According to her, kids were small goats, children were children, and there was to be no confusing the two. I think sometimes we fail to appreciate the impact teachers and other caring adults have on children. Many times, children simply need to know they are important and have people in their lives who recognize that fact. The critical nature of the role we have in lovingly pointing little ones in our care toward Jesus can’t be overestimated.

God bless the children in our lives.
Do you remember
what it was like to be one?
In the rush to get things done
don’t forget to show God’s son
to the most precious people of all.

God bless the ones who must look up.
Let them see the savior mirrored in your face.
Take the time to teach,
to model more than preach
like Jesus did.

God bless the little ones
who must follow our lead,
whose good lot in life
is not always guaranteed.
Do what you can to fill the gap,
for the times when they lack.
God’s provision of care
is first for these.

An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
Luke 9:46-48 ESV

© Joel Tipple 4/27/2019

Storms

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I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.
John 16:33 ESV

When I was growing up there were essentially three places for us to get groceries: large, medium, and small. Large meant driving across the river and over to the next biggest town. Medium meant going up Main Street to our own town’s primary grocery store. Small meant going down our street and around the corner to what we referred to as “The Little Store.” The Little Store was the place my mom could send me to get that last minute item she needed to complete our dinner, like a half gallon of milk. One afternoon I was on such an errand. After making my purchase I got back on my bike for the short ride home and noticed the wind had picked up considerably. What you’d expect to be blowing across the street, like small leaves, had been joined by small limbs and roofing shingles. By the time I got home the wind was getting even stronger and over the course of that evening, the wind storm would continue to strengthen, taking out our electricity. The next day we learned many trees, telephone poles, and even several barns had succumbed to the wind. It would be a couple days before power was restored. Now, the reason I remember this particular storm so clearly is not just for the damage that it caused, but for how our household functioned while the power was out. The oven didn’t work, so we cooked on the Franklin Stove in our dining room. The TV didn’t work, so we played games and read by candlelight. We talked more. Even though technology hadn’t yet become the behemoth it is now that we all carry computers in our pockets, the lack of electricity meant living differently for a short period of time. And it wasn’t so bad. In some ways, it was better.

Storms of other kinds we encounter in our lives may be more or less disruptive than the one my family encountered that windy night. We can count on their arrival. We just can’t predict exactly when we’ll experience them or how challenging they’ll be. However, we have a guide. We have an advocate. We have someone to shoulder those burdens and disruptions in our lives that are too great for us to handle. Jesus, in fact, became human and sacrificed himself to bridge the gap between ourselves and God. In this way, we have both the means to bear this life and its storms and the promise of an eternity better than our ability to comprehend. This is the promise of Easter.

When our world
is breaking,
when what we thought was solid ground
gives way
and all we feel is the wind
rushing past
as we’re falling,
Jesus arrests our fall.
Jesus anchors our line,
He is our guarantor, protector
if we believe.
He came down to earth for us.
He lived,
died,
and defeated the grave
for us.
Your first and greatest step
is to receive
a new life,
then live a changed life,
learning better ways to climb mountains
and trusting Him to carry you safely
through your storms,
if you believe.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:7-9 ESV

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning and your faithfulness by night,
Psalm 92:1-3 ESV

© Joel Tipple 4/20/2019

Some Comfort

20190413_214413.jpgIt is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
Psalm 86:17 NIV

Inspiration came to me this week via my allergies. Here’s why.  I recently ordered some handkerchiefs, because… well, when your need is as great as mine, tissues just don’t cut it. By the way, did you know that a standard men’s handkerchief is 16 x 16 inches? And if you want something smaller, you have to get women’s handkerchiefs. And they’re more expensive. For less of the same material. They call that the pink tax. But I digress.
One of my earliest memories of my dad was a time as a small boy when I was hurting. I don’t know whether I was suffering from an ear infection or just a garden variety earache, but whatever it was, it was causing me a considerable amount of pain. I don’t know what other steps were being taken to alleviate my distress but seeing how upset I was, my dad gave me his red handkerchief. Aside from being practical, at that moment it simply felt like love. Now, when I pull out my own handkerchief, the material reminds me of that moment and my father’s love.

Some bit of comfort,
from a father to a child
can spell the difference
between calm and despair.
A hug,
compassion,
bound up in a bit of cloth,
can be as vital
to  the one who needs it
as air.
Not every effort we make
to share God’s love
need be expensive
or grand.
Sometimes all we need to share is a smile.
Sometimes all we need to give is a hand.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run into it and are safe.
Proverbs 18:10

© Joel Tipple 4/13/2019