Legacy

If I asked if you’d considered your legacy, you could be forgiven for launching into a discussion about your Subaru Legacy if that happens to be what you drive. However, this post isn’t about a Japanese sedan, so stop being so shallow! No, instead of the four-wheel variety, we’re going to talk about the legacy you leave on earth when you’re gone. Yes, you’re right, you can leave someone your car, but for the last time, that’s not our topic, okay? Moving on. And we’re walking, and we’re walking…

The kind of legacy you leave your loved ones can be something of monetary value, like your estate, but it can also be something difficult to put a price on, like how you lived your life. What kind of relationships did you cultivate with people? What kind of values did you emulate? Most importantly, what kind of relationship did you have with your creator? Did you give Jesus the right place in your life? Remember, Jesus said in John 14:6 that He is “the way, the truth, and the life,” not “a” way “a” truth, and “a” life. Jesus did not mince words, equivocate, or at any point present himself as only a good man or important prophet. He was and remains the Son of God, with all the authority that entails, so our relationship with Him is integral to the legacy we must leave.

Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
2 Peter 1:11-15
ESV

Many times in life we’re presented with a crossroads, where the direction we choose ultimately has great import on the legacy we leave. It’s important to remember God is in the business of redemption though. So even if you’ve wandered from the path He would have you take at a given time in your life, it’s never too late to put Jesus front and center, where He belongs.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
3 John 1:4 ESV


Every heartbeat you give
me is loaned
to be returned with interest
when I go home.
There’s nothing of more value
I can leave behind
than the road to Heaven
and eternal life.


©Joel Tipple 12/28/2019

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Family Christmas

Just like Jesus, when I was born I was the youngest in my family. Okay, Jesus was the oldest too, but that’s because he was the first. A mere technicality. Me? I was actually fourth, and last in line. Then, since my parents were convinced they couldn’t do any better, they quit. That’s one version. The truth is a little more pedestrian, but seriously, can you imagine that early sixties Christmas card without me holding little Santa? That’s right, I didn’t think you could. We still get a few family-photo Christmas cards from friends and family in the mail, and they’re wonderful. My sister especially is good about sending one every year. As we all have grandchildren now it’s cool to see hers as they grow. The pictures are a reminder that the clock seems to move faster as the years go by. Fewer and fewer people send any Christmas cards, let alone the family photo variety. I suppose that’s a side effect of the internet. Social media and all the other various means of electronic communication we enjoy allow us to drop in on each other instantly, so waiting for the mail carrier has largely fallen out of fashion.

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
Luke 1:35 NIV


No matter how we go about doing it, Christmas is traditionally a time when families try to get together and celebrate. However, although we hope it’s a joyous time, circumstances and idealistic expectations can conspire to make the holidays tremendously difficult for many. Some are estranged from their families or simply don’t have adequate connections in their lives to make celebrating easy. For that matter, there are those who either don’t believe in Jesus or are jaded by the abundant commercialization. So, since not everyone has the desire or is in a position to celebrate Christmas, and since it’s often a time that seems to highlight not what they have, but what they lack, how can Christians be part of the solution? How do we please God in this?

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-2 NIV


First, although Christmas is a time of great celebration for followers of Jesus, if it’s a day by orders of magnitude so different from our everyday life that we become someone else, something is wrong. Yes, cheer for Jesus’ birth! Yes, take the time to enjoy the unique traditions we all know and get excited about! But so infuse your everyday life with Jesus’ love to the degree that Christmas is the exclamation point to the person you already are. Second, recognize that not everyone relates to your experience. It’s your responsibility to communicate why we are so excited about Jesus coming to earth in the first place. Don’t assume people know. One may have heard the Christmas story seventy times and yet it was the seventy-first that touched their heart. Third, find practical ways to express the love and hope within you. There’s a reason so many hospitals were founded by Christians. We should allow God to use us to be the light shining in the darkness and the glue that binds our communities together in times of difficulty.

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV


Let this Christmas,
no matter how many I’ve seen,
be the Christmas
others see Jesus in me.
Let the joy and hope
of Jesus’ birth
infuse my walk
while I’m here on earth.


©Joel Tipple 12/21/2019



A Still Small Voice

My niece wrapped in a towel after her kitchen sink bath.

Around the time of my mid-teens my brother began his tenure with the Air Force and was subsequently stationed overseas. While he was away his wife and daughter came to live with my parents and myself. The last time a baby lived in our home the baby was me, so this was a new experience. I don’t think anyone ever expected a lot from me in the way of being responsible for my niece, and I mostly found the experience to be positive. One thing I discovered for sure though was small humans did not necessarily exercise a small voice. Although they are not born with the ability to communicate in a way we always understand, nature still gives babies a voice that gets our attention. Like a car alarm, you just want the noise to stop. If only handling an infant’s needs was always as simple as finding the right button to push.

The bible doesn’t relate to us whether Jesus was an especially calm or cranky baby. As far as we know he was typical, and automatically made it well known when he had needs. If a little cry didn’t bring satisfaction, the alarm would get louder until it did. As Jesus grew, his intellectual and spiritual understanding grew also. We see vignettes of Jesus at 12, separated from his parents and reasoning with adults regarding scripture. Later, as an adult, we find him at times angry, passionate, even sorrowful. Every volume of emotion and reason with which we are familiar, Jesus experienced in full, being fully human. He was not just some spiritual being who deigned to be for a time among us to show us the error of our ways and a right path. Becoming as we are and experiencing our every voice brought greater perspective and legitimacy to his own life and sacrifice, which would then be followed by the miracle of his resurrection.  Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.  For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:14-18 NIV So, what is this “still small voice” we speak of? The only direct reference found in scripture is in 1st Kings. Speaking to Elijah… The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. 1 Kings 19:11-13 NIV
If God wanted to, he could use any force of nature at his disposal to coerce us into submission. However, time and time again God chooses instead to use a “gentle whisper.” Is it any wonder that this is the voice that speaks most clearly to our hearts?

The still small voice
my heart in time heard
began in a makeshift cradle
in a manger with the sound of a baby’s cry.


Quite an inauspicious start
for the savior of the world.
Our eternal joy made possible
because God’s Son arrived.


Magnify
his still small voice.
Give him supremacy in your life,
make him king.
Along with every angel,
with every child of God,
lift your hands,
lift your voices,
and sing.


©Joel Tipple 12/14/2019

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Separation Anxiety

Holding my daughter, Christmas 1986.

My childhood memories of going to the grocery store with my mom are not entirely pleasant. When we went shopping I had a tendency to get distracted by something and wander off. Sometimes I’d only be around the corner from her when I realized I was on my own and panic. Although you’d assume this is a fairly common occurrence with children, I apparently made an impression in one particular store. At an age when I could legally buy alcohol, a checker remembered me as the little boy who was always getting lost. How embarrassing! Truth is, to this day I still don’t have the best inner compass. My wife will know which door we came in. Me? I’ve got a decent shot if I can consult my phone’s GPS. How about you? Do you have a good sense of direction? There are definitely survival skills you can learn that will help you find your way home should you get lost, but all sorts of circumstances can present themselves which make that more difficult. Sometimes… we need to be rescued.

A different kind of lost is being lost spiritually. I’ll bet a lot of people are familiar with Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep, even if they didn’t learn it in Sunday school.
So he told them this parable:  “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’  Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Luke 15:3-7
ESV

There is a unique tension, an anxiety in each of our lives that will persist until its resolution by God’s only son. God values each of us so much that He sent Jesus Christ to make a way for us to come home. No matter how far you wander, no matter how many self-help or self-discovery books you consult, in the final analysis there is only one shepherd qualified to bring you home. His name is Jesus.

When morning has broken
what night tried to repair,
and the confidence I sought
turning in
disappears
in the crisp morning air,
Jesus, don’t let me be lost.
I’m treading in
waters of trepidation.
My arms and legs are tired,
and I can’t catch my breath.
Feels like I’ll die from hesitation
if I don’t reach out to you.
Don’t let fear keep me
from the right destination.
Take my hand,
guide me with your truth.


©Joel Tipple 12/9/2019