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

Be There for Me

Be there for me
when everything’s wrong.
Be there for me
when I’m not feeling strong.
When everyone runs away
like I’m a building burning,
run to me and say you’ll stay.

I sometimes dream there will be a day,
when I can stand for someone too
but then this tidal wave of sad knocks me over.
I might be able to hold on a little longer
if I knew you’d row out
and pull me in with your oar.

Be there for me
when I’m not attractive or fun,
when I don’t have anything
that anyone would want,
when I look like I’ve been washed up
by the sands of time,
when what separates me and death
is a very thin line.

I’ve heard your Jesus
went through a lot too.
If you know him, could he help me too?
I’m not looking for charity,
I just need a moment,
and an arm,
for a few steps,
until I’m steady.

Thanks for staying,
I’m starting to believe
that bright spot is the day.
Stay a little longer.
Together, we’ll pray.

© Joel Tipple 10/11/2018

Joseph’s Heart

 

Joseph, how’s your heart?
How do you perceive
the son of God
your Mary’s conceived?
What kind of man are you
who refused to send her away?

Joseph, we don’t know much about you,
do we?
We know when you discovered
Mary was with child
you refused to publicly shame,
but rather decided to divorce her in private.

Then came the dream…
and the angel.

Perhaps an ordinary man would consider
the angelic visitation
a fanciful imagining,
or indigestion…
but you didn’t.

You took Mary and the miracle
and made them your family.
God couldn’t have chosen you lightly.
What was it about your heart?

What was it about your heart,
simple carpenter from Nazareth?
Stepfather to Jesus,
chosen to protect and care for our Lord.

God picked you, Joseph
to be
the most important dad
in history,
a man who played a vital part…
God knew your heart.

Joseph, with the rising of the sun
See this baby who is and isn’t your son.
The angel said, “Don’t be afraid…”
Did you think, “that’s easy for an angel to say”?
So here you are, with your unique family
and no decent place to stay.
How is your heart?

Did you wonder, “How could God choose me?”
Could you feel the weight of history?
Or, like any father, in an unexpected place,
did you wall off your fears,
put on a brave face
and slow your pounding heart?

Did you wonder, why wasn’t he born in a castle,
with servants for every need?
Why would the Holy Spirit
pick out a simple man like me
for this special baby and Mary?

Questions upon questions made you dizzy,
Why are these shepherds visiting?
What am I to do?
God, answer my heart.
Help me see.

Then later, when it was time for the circumcision,
you and Mary marvelled at the words of Simeon.
We suppose you must have been both frightened and proud.

Then, your heart’s strength is tested
while on the run to Egypt.

If your hair wasn’t already gray by this time,
it must have turned so when Jesus disappeared
at the age of twelve, for three days, following the festival.
In the blink of an eye, you see your child becoming a man
when you and Mary discover him
in the midst of the temple teachers.

There is a long period of your son’s life
We know almost nothing about, Joseph.
Though he was not of you, certainly much of you
was invested in our Lord
Joseph, you were a special man.
You raised Jesus,
but didn’t live to see the moment
he fulfilled God’s rescue plan.

We relate to you Joseph
because we often don’t see
the conclusion of stories
which begin as dreams.
God chose you for a special part,
but first, he made your heart.

©Joel Tipple
#10/16

 

 

 

Someone Needs Jesus

Though a heavy blanket of darkness
threatens to overwhelm me
I search through its suffocating fabric
for a spot of light
and tear it open.

Someone needs Jesus.

When I’m bound up in my troubles
and can’t seem to get out
of my own head,
when my biggest issue is my list of issues,
I set them aside.

Someone needs Jesus.

When any effort I make
seems to be just a drop
in the ocean of the world of troubles,
I take up an oar anyway
and row with the strength I do have.

Someone needs Jesus.

Walking down a crowded street
people part around me
like water swirling round a stone.
How many are really drowning
while pretending they can breathe?
How many?
God could use me
to lift them out of the water
and point the way home.
Will I reach out?
Lord, give me the courage to reach out.

Women who feel weak and used,
men convinced they’re not enough,
children forced to grow before they’re ready
need real help and compassion
fueled by Jesus.
For those cast aside by those who should have cared,
for the people even advertising ignores,
let them know they are precious
in the sight of Jesus.

Lord, please keep in the front of my mind
names of those I know
who don’t know you.
Help me take down barriers
while it is day
and there is time.

God of wonders,
author of the world,
each soul is precious to you.
Give me a heart with a burden
to share and proclaim your good news.
This is my prayer,
Amen.

©Joel Tipple
#3/16

I’m Not Superman

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I’m not Superman, I’m not Batman,
no I’m surely not John or Bruce Wayne.
But what God would make of me
if only I trust him is greater than all that fame.
Show me a man better, stronger than Jesus.
You can’t show me a man better, stronger, than Jesus.

I may not be a light, but I can be a lighthouse,
reflecting the light of Jesus Christ
all day, and through the darkness.
not by my power, but by the power of the one
who went to the dark for me.

No, I’m not made of iron
and anger doesn’t make me stronger.
But since I’ve been born again death here reigns no longer.
Now I can fly and you could say I’m X-man-now-man-of-God.
No, I’m not Superman. No, I’m not Superman.
But life is better, man. Now I’m getting better, man.
My heart is healed by the blood of Jesus and I’m a better man than before.

©Joel Tipple
#2/16

The Heart of Thankfulness

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What qualities do you admire most in people? Friendly? Funny? Outgoing? Kind? Intelligent? Certainly I think you’d discover one common denominator would be the quality of thankfulness. While the most miserable people seem best at finding the worst, the happiest ones have a way of tapping into an attitude of gratitude that buoys them even in difficult circumstances and similarly lifts everyone around them. No matter their physical appearance, they somehow manage to be the most beautiful people in the room.

In his first letter’s exhortations to the Thessalonians, chapter five, verses 16 through 18, Paul says to “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Note that he says, “in everything.” The circumstances may be horrible, but an attitude of thankfulness can keep hope, essential as breathing, alive even then.

How can we break out in thanksgiving
even in the middle of mourning, grief and pain?
How can we be there for the living?
If God’s commanded, he’ll surely provide a way
to be thankful.

Lord, maybe I’ve taken leave of my senses,
to be joyful, in a world missing paradise,
but since you’ve given me permission
I’ll swing for the fences,
and be so thankful.

No matter how the earth groans,
no matter whether man
tries to destroy all you’ve given,
I know you’re sovereign, Lord.
No matter how dark the news,
and evil seems to win,
I’ll search for the way…
to remain thankful.

I’ll enter your gates with thanksgiving.
I’ll enter your courts with praise,
for you are good and your love is eternal.
I will not fear what I can’t see in the night,
I won’t fear the dark in the day,
for you remain Lord no matter where or how I am.
For that and so much more I’m thankful.

Lord heap my heart
full of thanksgiving,
Heap it up till it overflows.
Heap it so I can’t keep it to myself,
The whole world has to know.

God’s word helps me to perceive,
we must be illuminators of his love,
justice and hope.
Circumstances will change,
our health may ebb and flow.
The world’s economy might fluctuate,
but that won’t change what I know.
So I’m thankful.

Whether we face plenty or hunger,
abundance or need,
we can do all things
through Christ who strengthens us.
He is our sufficiency
and we are thankful.

Though we’re persecuted, we will not be abandoned;
Though we’re struck down, we will not be destroyed.
we lift our hands and rejoice
because we look toward the one who does not change
and give our offering of thanksgiving.

Lord heap our hearts
full of thanksgiving,
Heap them up till they overflow.
Heap them so we can’t keep it to ourselves,
The whole world has to know.

Take over the places in me
that are not all about you,
like the place that calculates
what’s owed me
and from whom.
If you would, Lord, make it over… Lord, make me over.
You know God, we’re pretty selfish
and we’ve all got our wish lists.
It seems they’ve changed only little
from the days we were kids.
But Lord, among those qualities I value,
grow in my estimation that of gratitude.

Imagine the world like that,
thankfulness,
spreading like a good disease.
I can’t possibly overestimate
what it could mean.
All that taking turning into giving.
Ground zero right here.
That’s a funny thought…
infectious agents for Jesus.
Ha!

Lord, heap our hearts
full of thanksgiving,
Heap them up till they overflow.
Let the good news
from our overflowing grateful hearts
draw those we meet
to your kingdom.
Lord, heap our hearts.

©Joel Tipple
#13/15

The World On Your Shoulders

You’ve got a little more of the world on your shoulders

today than you did yesterday.

And even though you know it’s the best you can do

sometimes you find it hard to pray.

You could close your eyes to the war outside;

it’s often so far from your door,

but the news leaks in or blows through with the wind,

so you can’t look away anymore.

Now it’s there on your shoulders.

Heavy where the light should be.

Challenging your tranquility

with its relentless gravity.

It’s hard to face the world with a smile

when you’ve got the world on your shoulders.

It’s hard to walk that extra mile

with your feet stuck in the sand.

Turn to the one who can help you

with that weight on your shoulders

when it’s hard to breathe

or understand.

You’re running out of joy

and out of touch with the father.

On your own the journey’s all uphill,

and farther.

Seek the power of the Holy Spirit

for all the pain you feel around you,

every sickness, every fight,

every child caught in-between.

Stand in the gap for those left undefended,

all those chased by the cold and biting wind.

Advocate before God for the powerless,

who only know defeat.

Know your burden as well

for those who think they have it made,

whose castles have yet to be plundered

by circumstance or age.

Our faith is often misplaced

in the temporal, tomorrow’s dust.

What today is bright and gleaming

will be another day’s rust.

There’s no insurance sold by man

that can buy us away from death.

Only one, Jesus Christ, already paid our debt.

Take Jesus to the world, as you’re awakened by your burden.

Purpose to share, as God opens doors.

To a hope starved world, bring salvation’s message;

that’s what the weight is for.

When the fog and darkness gather, be the beacon that lights the way

for those adrift, astray or aimless

through the rocks to a welcoming shore.

Neither run from your burden

with its overwhelming weight

or allow its avalanche

to chase your heart till it breaks.

Take all to God

who knows every heart.

Take your instructions from the maker

who has prepared your part.

©Joel Tipple
#7/15