What Courage?

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV


And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:24-25
ESV


What comes to mind when you hear the words “encourage” and “discourage?” Merriam-Webster says of encourage, 1 a : to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope : HEARTEN // she was encouraged to continue by her early success. Of discourage, 1 a : to deprive of courage or confidence DISHEARTEN // was discouraged by repeated failure

While for all practical purposes we can agree there are right times to encourage and discourage, I argue there is a real lack of encouragement in our world generally, sometimes even coming from the people who should be the most encouraging of all, followers of Jesus. After all, who has better cause to encourage? Among our promises from God are direction, help, and comfort in this world and salvation in the next. You won’t find an encouraging package like that anywhere else; it’s a Jesus Christ exclusive.

So what is that root word, courage? Using the dictionary again, we find it defined as : mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. Everyone needs courage of some kind. For one it could be the courage to rescue someone from a rooftop in a storm. For another it might be stepping into an elevator. For you it might be telling someone the source of your hope. There are all kinds of courage. The best source of Godly courage will always be Jesus.

It has always been a strategy of the enemy to convince us that as we are at this moment is not enough, that the situation we are in or task at hand is greater than us and the God who has prepared us to this point. But God has not given us a spirit of fear, and the next step he wants you to take has already been prepared beforehand. With God there are no surprises and there is never a lack of resource. So take courage! And by all means, give it too.

When desperate and faltering
I found myself
by what I considered my lack
I searched the best source of courage
to make sure my feet on the path

I found my guide and strength in Jesus
who prepared the way before
He became my light and compass
so I needn’t fear anymore

Christ gave me courage to carry
but it wasn’t just for me
it was a lamp to show the way
so more captives could be freed

©Joel Tipple 9/14/2019

Courage to Breathe

It takes courage to breathe
when your lungs feel like glass,
when your heart feels like paper,
when your mind is like a thousand blades of grass
waiting for the wind to blow.

It takes surrender
to the God of Heaven and everything,
who can give you breath and help you sing,
who will heal the places you’re afraid to see,
and make the mountains in your life
climbable.

It takes courage to breathe
when the air around you is toxic
when the people in your life
tell you God is dead
or has run away.

It takes courage to stand
when you’re afraid you will waver,
and steps forward are only a dream.
How do you dare…
or risk being counted
as a believer,
a holder of his name?

But you can breathe,
and you can stand.
then even run.
God will be your security detail
for the journey.
You will climb up through the clouds,
where the doubters tell you not to go.
And they’ll call you a fool for climbing.

But God will meet you there
like He promised…
because you had
the faith to breathe,
the temerity to breathe,
the courage to breathe.

© Joel Tipple 10/8/2018

Memorial Day

birdfeeder 029

This coming Monday in the United States we celebrate Memorial Day. Originally known as Decoration Day, it was started as a way to remember all those combatants who died in battle during the Civil War. Since then it has come to include all those who have died in U.S. military service.

That photograph you’re looking at,
the young man with the grin.
There’s a sparkle in his eye that hints at
the joy and light within.
He didn’t live to become an old man,
but I remember him.

Then there’s the portrait of the nurse following
graduation with her class. She served in the
Pacific during WW II. You could tell her she helped
so many, but to her it would always be too few.
I remember her.

For those who died in the heat,
for the ones who passed in the cold,
holding tightly letters in weary hands
that spoke of work, family, home.

Some brought courage with them.
Some found courage there.
Some found courage with hands firmly clasped
and lips uttering prayer.

Whether young or old,
timid or bold,
we honor them all
as their stories are told
and we gather near the flame
lit in their memory.
We tell their stories,
and we remember.

Big Risk

There’s Big Risk
lurking
just around the corner.
Do you dare get out of your chair?
He’s a monster of epic proportions
waiting for you there.
You imagine…
He’s checking off names in an old leather notebook
with a pencil worn down to the nub.
Surely he’s fried bigger fish than you,
You’re just the latest to join the club.
You can hear him breathing
out and in
heavy and slow.
Your heart feels
as though it might burst
if you get up and go.

Then you remember your dreams,
the goals, the plans.
A flame flickers
to life
inside you.
The fire gets bigger
than the fear living there.
It rushes from room to room.

Now ablaze with courage,
you stand up and step out
around the corner to face it.
It’s time to live or die trying,
You’re so mad at that monster,
you could spit.

Sweat pouring from your forehead,
you look,
ready to do battle with Goliath.
Forward,
nothing there.
To the sides,
naught there too.
Then you look down
and catch your breath.

Instead of the demon you imagined,
ready to eat you for lunch,
There’s a cute little monster
with a bullhorn twice his size.
Clearly, he couldn’t do much.

Then you see
you mistook
where the battlefield lay;
it wasn’t with the titan you thought.
It was with yourself
and wanna be monsters
that you truly fought.

Matthew 10:26-31
26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.