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When I started thinking about this topic, I first considered the oft used analogy of diamonds. You know the one. It takes a lot of pressure to make a diamond! If you’re going through a lot of pressure right now, don’t worry. Hang in there; someday you’ll be a beautiful diamond! Okay, sure, there’s value to the reference. But the truth is, if we were to only go through a tiny fraction of the real pressure carbon has to undergo before it turns into a diamond, we would be a squishy mess. I don’t even like headaches. Little ones. I’m a weeny like that. The truth is, we’re all undergoing various kinds of pressure, such as: physical, the actual results of the virus or emotional, the fear of getting sick and the financial fallout due to shuttered or severely limited businesses. Often those physical and mental/emotional stresses meld together as one transforms and intensifies the other. Stress can and does take a huge toll on our minds and bodies. Attempts to minimize or ignore what we’re going through don’t really reduce our suffering or give us healing.

Ask for help. Our society, despite all the ways we’re technically connected, is in ways more disconnected that ever, especially during this time when we have a reason to distance ourselves physically. That can be an even bigger challenge for introverts like me, as we’re already prone to isolating ourselves. Always keeping things to yourself and trying to be your own hero has limitations and can even make things worse. You wouldn’t tell someone with a broken leg to just walk it off. Why would you tell yourself or anyone else to ignore a life disrupting mental or emotional issue? Take advantage of resources. Even if some offices remain closed, many professionals are available for phone or internet consultations who weren’t before the current crisis. Ask questions and be your own best advocate. Also, be on the lookout for others who need help. Go out of your way to be a human life preserver.

Don’t neglect yourself spiritually. Trust God to help you in your time of need. Jesus Christ was clear when he directed his followers. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:10-11 ESV The Apostle Paul writes, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 ESV Finally, know that God has a plan for your life. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 ESV

From my deepest depths
I have sought you Jesus
my keeper and redeemer
You know best how I’m made
All ways I’m found wanting
have been covered and paid
You’ve purchased my eternity

I have assurance
my king Jesus
blessed assurance
for if You are for us
who can be against us?
No power on earth
can approach
that of your majesty.

I know peace
my shepherd, Jesus
my way maker, comforter
When the defects of this world
threaten with darkness to enfold
those I love and my life
you fill me with serenity

© Joel Tipple 4/25/2020


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I was nine years old. Four or five of us boys from the neighborhood were out riding our bikes on a summer day. We didn’t have anything special to do; we were just out. One of the nice things about growing up in a small town when I did was if your parents didn’t have any particular chores for you to do, you were given the freedom to just go be a child and explore, so that’s what we were doing. Beyond making sure we got home by dinner, all we had to do was try to stay out of any trouble we’d have to explain to adults later. Little did we know as we set out that soon we’d all be caught up in a sting operation.

At the end of the street where I lived was a field with some scrub trees and berry bushes fronting a little hill. The area looked interesting enough, so we all dropped our bikes at the fence in front of the field and made our way to the other side. After we’d walked around a bit, one of my buddies tossed a can he’d found at one of the berry bushes. That’s when our lazy summer day got a little more lively because the bees that we’d apparently disturbed saw my friend’s can as their very own personal Pearl Harbor. At this age, all I knew about bee attacks was what I’d learned from cartoons. That is, if you made bees angry, they formed a central squadron that you could see coming toward you. Then, all you had to do was run faster than the bees could fly. I’m pretty sure Yogi Bear did it a couple times. However, in our case we had no warning. One moment we were laughing and talking. The next, we were screaming and frantically running toward our bikes. Looking back, they must have been honey bees because their barbs were getting pulled out after harpooning us. I got most of my stings on one arm, and the bees were falling out of my sleeve as I pedaled home. One friend was actually stung by a bumble bee. I don’t know if it was a mercenary or just doing the right thing by supporting its local bee friends. Thankfully, none of us were allergic, and we all recovered from our bee experience fairly quickly in the days that followed, but we discovered that sometimes even if you’re not looking for trouble, trouble will find you anyway.

Right now, we’re all in the middle of one sort of trouble or another, many of them related to a central cause. There’s even argument over whether we saw it coming. But whether we did or not, it’s here. Our physical and financial health is under pressure worldwide, either directly related to covid 19 or the governmental response to it. Once again, political disputes over how to react appropriately threaten to cause irreparable damage to relationships that are already under pressure, all the way from personal to international. How do we react? How do we conduct ourselves during great times of stress? God has taught us we are to confront trouble in our lives not with our strength but with the power of the Holy Spirit. In this way we will stand firm, and not lose heart but rather exercise the fruits of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22-23, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Psalm 9:9-10 ESV

Lord, give me courage
when it seems that I’m all out
give me answers
when I try to make my own
When I’m at my wit’s end
calm my mind
hold me safe
a branch of your vine

You are light
where there is darkness
where there’s confusion
where there is doubt
help me abide
a branch of your vine

© Joel Tipple 4/19/2020

To The Dark For Me

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33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
Mark 15:33-34 NIV

Easter. We celebrate on this day the victory over darkness Jesus secured for us. This free gift of eternal life was dearly bought. Consider for a moment the darkest day you’ve ever experienced. The loneliest. Has there ever been a time when the entire weight of the world seemed pressed down upon you? Multiply that. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived life as a human, preached the kingdom of God, and performed many miracles, including raising the dead. This God/man was then unjustly convicted and sentenced to a brutal public execution. It began at about nine in the morning. At noon, as the Bible records, the land went dark for three hours. Think about how frightening this must have been for those who experience it! The longest solar eclipse is a matter of minutes. It must have seemed like the world was coming to an end. However, instead of a bitter end, Jesus’ death heralded a wonderful new beginning for all of mankind because Jesus rose from the dead, thereby defeating death forever. If we believe in Jesus and the sacrifice he made for us, if we then turn from our way and accept His. We can have the gift of eternal life He paid for with His blood. Jesus Christ experienced terrible darkness so we can live in eternal light.

When night fell
in the middle of the day
Jesus, you paid the price
so I didn’t have to pay.
You went to the dark for me.

On earth, in heaven, our king.
There, between two thieves,
you gave compassion
while demanding none for yourself.
You went to the dark for me.

To the dark for me,
to the dark for me,
through the scourge, the nails, the taunts and the mockery.
To the dark for me,
to the dark for me,
though in agony, Jesus, you went to the dark for me.

Now I have dreams
because you faced the nightmare,
and there is nothing I can give you
except surrender.

Sweet mystery,
sweet mystery,
that my pardon was purchased before I could search it,
sweet mystery.
The greatest story…
I’ll tell your story,
that you sacrificed your life for all mankind.

Though I do great deeds,
I could never repay.
Though thousands revere me and honor my name,
I could never earn the gift you gave away…
when you defeated the grave.

To the dark for me,
you went to the dark for me,
when Jesus, a curtain fell across the sun.
Lamb of God, given and risen, glorious one.
We’re freed from sin, so now and forever, your love has won…
because you went to the dark for me,
you went to the dark for me,
He went to the dark… for you.

©Joel Tipple

In Your Eyes

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Unless you are blind, when you encounter someone, you probably use the information their facial expression provides you to help assess their mood. Whether they are angry, sad, or somewhere in between, their smile, or lack of one, can go a long way toward helping you figure out where they are emotionally. However, these days many people are wearing masks when out in public in an effort to slow transmission of the covid 19 virus. In that case, we automatically turn to another major source of body language, the eyes. It’s often said that eyes are a gateway to the soul. Eyes help us see what’s going on inside another person. Meeting, or failing to meet another person’s gaze can often be a clue in itself. With practice, study of the eyes can even tell you whether the person you’re interacting with is being genuine. Poker players will often wear dark glasses in an attempt to keep other players from guessing the quality of their hand.

More about eyes:

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Matthew 6:22-23 NIV

Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.
Proverbs 21:4 ESV

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
Psalm 119:37 ESV

22 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”23 Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
Luke 10:22-24 NIV

“When a person starts to talk about their dreams, it’s as if something bubbles up from within. Their eyes brighten, their face glows, and you can feel the excitement in their words.”
John Maxwell

“It is necessary to keep one’s compass in one’s eyes and not in the hand, for the hands execute, but the eye judges.”

The pane of your windows
barrier between outside and in
melts away with emotion
through that membrane so thin
Thoughts come/go, an instant
without attention you might miss
Truth escapes your edit
though you try to hold it
like a fist
When invited, God’s spirit
makes a home
in the heart He resides
so one to another, sister and brother
His love shines through the eyes

© Joel Tipple 4/5/2020