When to Worship

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Honestly, the book of Habakkuk was not on my radar. It’s a small book near the end of the Old Testament, written by a prophet we don’t know much about. A theme in much of the Old Testament is man’s relationship with God. In a nutshell, man has always had a habit of forgetting God when things are going well and complaining when the situation worsens. The reigning king at the time of Habakkuk, Jehoiakim, was described by the prophet Jeremiah in this way: “your eyes and your heart are intent only upon your own dishonest gain, and on shedding innocent blood and on practicing oppression and extortion” Jer. 22:17 It was against this backdrop, during a time of increasing evil in Judah and oppression by the Babylonians, that Habakkuk writes of praise in chapter 3. I quote chapter 3:17-19 here: “Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds feet, and makes me walk on my high places.”

It’s easy to praise God when the sailing is smooth and complain when we are buffeted by storms. The self discipline required to stop for a moment to consider how we might grow and learn during those times is neither automatic nor easy to come by. However, God is always worthy of our praise and deference, and although we may not always be able to understand His ways, He remains on the throne. Of that we can be certain.

God, please accept my worship.
Let my song be lifted high.
When I focus on what’s difficult in my life,
help me remember the times
you’ve renewed my strength and joy,
carried me when I couldn’t walk.
When my foundation felt unstable
You were always my solid rock.
Increase my understanding,
in the darkness let it be my light.
Give me the same breath to sing in the valley
that I breathe when I sing on the heights.

© Joel Tipple

Hearing God

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:27 ESV

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17 ESV

“Don’t say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.”
From an essay titled, “Social Aims” by Ralph Waldo Emerson published in 1875.

Communication. It’s not so easy, is it? And we live in a time when communication is seemingly effortless. Unless the person we wish to speak with is located somewhere one of the many technologies dedicated to communication is not available, we are often able to connect almost instantly. Any time we want. Not that long ago, within the perspective of human history, one had to wait weeks or even months for a letter to find its recipient. I’m guessing letter writers were pretty careful with their words. Now, we live in a sea of words. Print media has virtually ceded power and influence to television and the internet. Vigilance over what we read and what we listen to is more important than ever. Who we listen to and believe and our responsibility to do our own due diligence is more critical than ever.

The two scriptures shown here at the top reveal aspects of God talking to us. One of the primary ways we are able to hear God is through scripture. The Bible we rely on to hear God remains remarkably unchanged. It is truly a miracle that it has stayed intact over the centuries. It’s clear God has kept a hedge of protection around his word. However, contrast those scriptures with the quote from Emerson. A Google search will reveal multiple versions of the original words, some differing so as to seem like the results of a game of telephone. Some of my favorite quotes are attributed to Winston Churchill. Unfortunately, there are a few that can’t be accurately sourced to the famed British leader, though they are repeated often.

So, we rely on scripture to hear God. Also, we rely on prayer. And part of prayer is listening. Being quiet. Finding a gentle river apart from the thundering sea of words and other sounds we are bombarded with every day. If sleep is a way for our body and mind to repair itself, surely prayer is a way to repair our spirit and hear God. Finally, we come to fellowship. God has designed us to be social beings, even for those of us who prefer solitude over crowds, there is a need to speak and be spoken to. God made us for community, where there is learning, sharing, and yes, healing, to be found.

I search for the hearing of you,
with every sense with which I was born.
I cry for the knowing of you,
and pray for the knowing to never be torn.
Teach me to gather every way
I can be with you.
Help me collect them,
as gifts beyond value.
Though the world may thunder away,
let me yet hear your whisper today,
the precious treasure,
the hearing of you.

© Joel Tipple 7/13/2019

Worthy For a Purpose

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139:13-16 ESV

I have a Christian friend who, truth to tell, I look up to. He knows his bible very well and is one of the most self-sacrificing and loving people you will ever meet. But… there’s something he says that bothers me. Often, when we haven’t seen each other for some time, I’ll ask him how he’s doing. His response is often, “Better than I deserve!” It makes me cringe. Now, I know where he’s going with it, and I’m not bothered that it’s a pat response. We all say things without thinking, and greetings often fall into that category. I know when he says he’s doing better than he deserves he’s referring to the grace that God has extended to humanity through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. My friend is saying he once was lost, but thanks to God’s offer of forgiveness and his acceptance, he is now saved from the fate he deserved.  So, if I understand my friend’s greeting, why does it bother me? It bothers me because just as God loves us enough to want us to give up our sinful ways, he also wants us to change our old view of ourselves, and that includes the worth God places upon us. If we fail to embrace how God sees us, in light of Jesus’ sacrifice, we run the risk of never fulfilling the purpose He has for each of our lives. We are indeed worthy of the purpose for which God has preordained us. Why? The same reason your finally exasperated parents gave when they had run out of other reasons… Because He says so.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
John 1:12 ESV

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10 ESV

Have you been conditioned
like me
by the world you live in?
have you tried filling
that God-shaped place
with counterfeit feelings
and things?
There’s a way for you to go home.
though for too long you have roamed.
Because the Bible tells me so,
Jesus is the means.

Take on
His worthy purpose.
He’ll answer your questions
for existence in time.
Beginning with salvation,
new ownership,
and management,
his business will become your own,
as will mine.

With gifted strength
from God,
fulfill His purpose,
though you can’t see the goal
from your own endzone.
Give the fight to the Lord,
He’ll help you endure.
God has promised
you won’t have to get there
on your own.

© Joel Tipple 03/09/2019
Author of Written in the Light.


Hide His Word

(For despots, it’s probably the most dangerous book in the world.)

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11

I wonder if the Psalmist considered, that thousands of years after it was written, God’s children would “hide His Word” so well they would misplace it? A foolish thought, right? The verse refers to making God’s word a part of us, knowing it intimately, knowing it so well and loving it so much that the thought of pulling away from it in disobedience is anathema. But is it possible that we might become so familiar with the Bible that it would begin to lose its meaning? In my own life, I’ve found there is nothing like a crisis to drive me back to the Bible, looking for answers. We’ve all had our prodigal moments, haven’t we?  In those moments of desperation, when we run back for His promises and guidance, we hide God’s word in a place where it can’t be lost… so we won’t be lost.

© Joel Tipple 10/22/2018



sure as the clouds
play hide and seek with the sun
come a time
the things we’ve done
will be revealed

of our own volition
or without
because of our condition
come a time
we’ll need
to be healed

we can’t get all we need
from those we love
right relationship you see
starts from above

where you are
is where you’re placed
your obedience first
when you seek His face
will nourish you
and those you touch
with the living waters

© Joel Tipple

Matthew 6:33-34
The Message (MSG)
30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

“Come to Me…”



28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

The rest we obtained through you,

salvation, your life for ours and to

be redeemed,  take on a yoke that’s new

and feels

like it belongs.

And we belong

to You.




16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
2nd Timothy 3:16-17

Where else could I go, Lord,
for such instruction,
or wisdom
for all of life’s questions?
Between the covers
of your sacred tome
lies more than
my greatest expectations.

From my rising up to the end of my day,
its value is more than I could ever pay.
Draw me in, feed me Lord,
uncover your mysteries.
Give me persistence and desire to understand.
If what you’ve given has a chance
to go beyond me,
I need Godly words
to transform
this earthly man.

This Race, this War.


Do you not know that those who run in a race all run,
but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way
that you may win.
1 Corinthians 9:24

I’ve run too far with you Lord,
to risk looking back now.
I’ve trusted you more than my feelings.
These hands hold tightly to your word
for within is the essence of healing.

Each day I expect a battle Lord;
some days I’m a victor, others, bloody and sore.
I’m confident of this always,
as I step out my door,
fights will come and go always,
You Lord, and Your’s have already won the war.

Your Word


So will My Word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:11

Your Word
sustains me
without it my likeness is poorly drawn

Your Commandments
direct me
push me
to run on

let me hide your Word
inside my heart
may it fill me from within

let it soothe the ache
caused by this world and
expose the damage of sin

help your Word
complete in me
what You’ve seen from the start
a destiny not of this place
but kept safe in Your Heart

Devil’s Advocate

After some consideration, and for the following reasons, to name a few, I have determined to abandon the use of the phrase, “Devil’s Advocate.” : First, he has done nothing worthy of my fealty. Second, he clearly has no need for additional team members. Third, I am a devoted follower of his opposition.

“If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you’d rather serve, and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you’re now living. As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.”
Joshua 24:15 The Message

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12 NIV