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.”
Michelangelo

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












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.

Photo by emilysquotes.com

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








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

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








What Power?

  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 NIV


When Dorothy’s house flew in from Kansas to land on the Wicked Witch of the East in the “Wizard of Oz,” Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, asked Dorothy, “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” Glinda assumed Dorothy had been the one responsible for killing the evil witch, so she wanted to know whether Dorothy’s motivation for using her house as a weapon was to rid Oz of a bad witch, or simply to replace one bad witch with another. Glinda already assumed Dorothy was powerful and using her power intentionally. She simply wanted to know what kind of power Dorothy was in the business of employing. Whose side was she on? A good thing to know, right? Here’s what I think. When houses are falling where we live, whether political, economic, or health related, the better question is, are we trusting in the power of the Lord?

We’re informed in our world daily of the push and pull of power. All kinds, good, evil, and as yet to be determined. In their personal and professional lives, people are constantly in the news for using or abusing their power. Because this is the world we live in, Christians must somehow square the moral equation of power use with how God would have us live. As we approach the dilemma of power discernment, it’s clear we must constantly seek God for wisdom. Without God’s view on the various powers at work in our lives, we run the risk of being blown about by every twist of influence and doctrine. The best shelter we can run to is the Bible, where God’s intention and ground rules for living are made clear.

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Hebrews 5:14 ESV


“There is a signature of wisdom and power impressed on the works of God, which evidently distinguishes them from the feeble imitations of men.–Not only the splendor of the sun, but the glimmering light of the glowworm, proclaims his glory.”
John Newton

The power
that formed us from dust,
and found remedy
for our rebellion
is the author of countless stories
of impossible-made-possible redemption.
Because the prayer of the pauper
is equal
to that of the king,
because no matter
how many times I give up on myself,
I know He’ll never give up on me,
I know and I trust in the power
of the all powerful God of all,
The One who redeems.


©Joel Tipple 2/1/2020