Living and Trusting Now

Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com

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






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

Bringing Church

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash


Our pastor came to visit the other day. He said that at my advanced age I should be thinking of the hereafter. I told him, “Oh, I do it all the time.” 
“No matter where I am – in the living room, upstairs, in the kitchen, or down in the basement, I am always asking myself: ‘Now, what am I here after?'”

The Bible does reveal to us quite a bit about what we should be here after. When it comes to where it is, we often assume it’s found between four particular walls. However, as they say, “It ain’t necessarily so.”

“Many come to bring their clothes to church rather than themselves.”
Thomas Fuller

Now, if you think I’m getting ready to advocate for not going to church because you don’t have to go to a church building, you’re only partially right. We absolutely should be part of a church body that regularly meets together. The Bible says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25 NLT But that’s only part of the story, isn’t it? Although we should do all we can to strengthen our traditional church body, we need to make sure we aren’t leaving it in the building we visit on Sunday, and if we are to have any hope of bringing Christ to a world starving for Him, we have to exploit every opportunity to do that. That means bringing church with us. Whether we like it or not, we’re all in the advertising business. If God has used your local body of believers to make a positive change in your life, isn’t that worth sharing? Yes! Also, if you can bring church with you by being a positive influence where you work or having coffee with a friend and sharing their burden, shouldn’t you do that too? Expand your ideas about what church can mean in your life and all the lives of those within your sphere of influence. Recognize that while, in truth, God may not need our hands, feet, and voice, He both desires our service and has all authority to direct our path.
That includes, in all its various manifestations, “bringing church.”

“I tell people, and it’s the truth, I could sit in my garage for a week and it won’t make me a car. And you can sit in church till your bottom is flat and that won’t make you a servant of Christ.”
Joyce Meyer

Bring church, yes,
the scriptures memorized,
but more, the principals
behind them.


Bring church
when you’re tired,
it’s inconvenient,
and you’d rather
take a nap.

Bring church
when everyone
and their dog
takes one fork in the road,
and God tells you to take the other.


Bring church
when all the person in front of you
needs
is a smile, a sincere word of encouragement,
and a genuine attempt to understand.

Bring church
even when you’re discouraged
with the state of the world
and any effort you make
seems like bringing a squirt gun to a forest fire.


Bring church…
because, in the final analysis,
God told you to,
and He’s kept His promises.
So, now, it’s time to keep yours.



 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV


©Joel Tipple 2/9/2020








41

On November 30, George HW Bush, the 41st President of the United States, passed away. Since that time, and including today’s national funeral, many have remembered his time in political office. Of the personal qualities that have been mentioned, his sense of humor has come up often. Here are some notables.

“I’m a conservative, but I’m not a nut about it.”

“I have opinions of my own, strong opinions. But I don’t always agree with them.”

“Those who travel the high road of humility in Washington are not bothered by heavy traffic.”

His biographer, Jon Meacham noted that during a campaign stop Bush mistakenly grabbed the hand of a department store mannequin, asking for its vote. When he realized what he had done, he said, “Never know, gotta ask.” Meacham also told about showing Bush the remarks he would be making at his funeral. Said Bush, “That’s a lot about me, Jon.”

“I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.”

“Never ask anyone over 70 how they feel. They’ll tell you.”

Finally, this story from his son and former president George W. Bush.  The father and son were sitting on a porch enjoying the ocean view. The younger Bush, who had been painting earlier and had gotten some on his pants, said he hoped this might be a moment he could glean perhaps some deep, personal insight from his father. “Beautiful view, isn’t it, dad? Yes, son, it sure is, his father replied, quickly following with, “Say, do those pants come in clean?”

© Joel Tipple 12/5/2018