Start Where You Are

easter flower
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, you are of more value than many sparrows.
Luke 12:6-7

Start where you are,
no matter your dread
despite the ruminations
running ’round your head.
You’d like to be ready,
more than you find yourself now,
but God’s got a plan
and he’ll keep the vow
that he’s made.

God’s not surprised,
with God, there’s no lack.
He sees what you don’t see
and he’s got your back.
When you think you’re
found wanting,
or your giant’s too big,
God overcomes your deficits
and ensures all your debts are paid.

©Joel Tipple 05/25/2019

 

Surrender

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 ESV

Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Matthew 26:39 NIV

The reason some of us are such poor specimens of Christianity is because we have no almighty Christ.  We have Christian attributes and experiences, but there is no abandonment to Jesus Christ.
Oswald Chambers

God, I don’t wish to be
my own sovereign.
Rather, I pray that
You will reign in me.
The life I lived before
I lived for myself only.
A cup filled up with me
will always be empty.

Shape my enthusiasm
so that it’s like
the character of Jesus,
a testimony to
the author of my faith.
I won’t consider finding the finish,
having run alone
a worthy race.

I don’t need to understand
everything You have planned,
but between Jesus, man, and myself,
I choose Jesus.
I’ll step forward in faith
leaving all for His name,
praying to God that it pleases.

© Joel Tipple 3/2/2019
Author of “Written in the Light.”

Impossible Advice

faith

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God For all things are possible with God.”
Mark 10:37 ESV

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43:18-19 ESV

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”
Walt Disney

Have you consulted an impossible advisor? Their offices abound.
They specialize in discouraging,
and harumph is their favorite sound.

They see a lack of reason
in every Christian’s step forward in faith.
For them, there is no good season
to favor the boldest way.

You’ve searched God’s Word,
and prayed, and sought good counsel,
but fear could stop you
from serving the Lord
by stealing the wind from your sails.

The assurance of things hoped for,
the conviction of things not seen,
the fuel of faith gives you power
on those hard
and harder days.

Don’t let impossible advisors
get in your head.
Don’t subscribe to their social media,
don’t take their calls,
block them instead.

Look for encouraging,
Jesus loving friends,
who see more beginnings
than ends.
Godly advice helps you stretch
beyond self-imposed boundaries.

Adventure awaits you
brothers and sisters
when you’re willing
to seize your dreams.
When you step out in faith
the din of fear will fade away
and you’ll experience
what victory means.

© Joel Tipple 2/16/2019
Author of “Written in the Light.”

God of the Undiscovered Country

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pasture. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23 ESV

Shakespeare’s Hamlet wondered aloud
of “the undiscovered country,”
that place to which every human being
will someday journey.
But though by faith, followers of Christ
know the place we’ll someday dwell,
what of the many other
undiscovered destinations
we find ourselves?

God of the
undiscovered country,
the places we go by faith,
you know
leaving the familiar
isn’t our favorite thing.
Even when what we know
isn’t especially easy or nice,
stepping out and moving
can test our hearts and minds.

God of the undiscovered country,
you’ll meet us there.
What’s heavy to us is light to you,
so You carry our care.
What we don’t know
you have planned already,
and you’ve made provision
for our every need.
For the doors
we must go through
you’ve already cut the keys.

Sometimes undiscovered
isn’t far,
in terms of
what we ever
thought far would be.
But what’s easy for one
is a trial for some
and God knows what we need…
for the undiscovered country,
where He’s already been.

© Joel Tipple 2/2/2019

I Choose Joy

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
Dr. Seuss

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
Nicolas Chamfort

“What day is it?”
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.
A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

‘Oh yes, nodded Pollyanna emphatically, ‘he said he felt better right away, that first day he thought to count ’em. He said if God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times to rejoice, He must want us to do it – some.’
Elenor Porter, Pollyanna

From the moment we begin a day,
foggy though we may be,
a choice is made,
destiny laid,
to carry on through eternity.
A deep connection to God
and how we fit in His plans
each dawn’s birth
we must employ.
But I can’t imagine
God and beginning
unless I’m beginning with joy.

I choose joy!
though circumstances
shout a different direction,
though news in its varied guises
favors a negative slant.
I choose hope over despair
though hopelessness
clamors for attention,
and tries to blind us
to better horizons
before our faith
has a chance.

You may call me a Pollyanna,
but I don’t mind.
In a world filled with darkness
count me in
with the light giving kind.

Give me joy!
A better, not bitter mindset
is fighting against the tide.
But God wouldn’t tell us to rejoice
without giving us fuel for the ride.

In the course of a day
on this earth,
we make countless choices
that affect
ours and others’ lives.
I have a certain faith,
God’s not playing with loaded dice.

I choose joy!
It’s a habit worth promoting
a way to identify
life
versus death.
When waters threaten to drown,
joy makes you taller.
I’m enrolled
in God’s Hope University,
so I suppose
that makes me
a Joy Scholar.

Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.
Psalm 47:1

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

© Joel Tipple 1/19/2019

Stay With Me

(Getting through long nights with the ones you love)

Stay with me,
through the night and not knowing,
when the dark is more than what we see.
Hold me close,
when familiar is chaos
and our headlights can’t cut through the smoke.
I’m afraid my faith might not be enough
and I haven’t walked this road before
so just say you’ll keep talking
and I’ll do my level best to stop shaking.

When we get there,
wherever there is,
and we can take a legitimate breath,
that terrible night
will become another square
in the patchwork quilt
of our lives.

We’ll remember,
and be stronger,
through the crying and the praying
and believing without knowing how.
Through the now and now and now
and now…
stay with me.

© Joel Tipple 11/9/2018

The Armor of God (Part 7: The Sword of the Spirit)

(Exploring aspects of “the armor of God.”)

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:10-17

Today I let my armor slip,
left myself undefended.
Without defense,
I found myself rended.
But God has prepared for us
suits suitable to protect,
then as soldiers in a spiritual war
His conditions of battle dress
we’ll have met.

The belt of truth,
Jesus Christ,
the foundation,
upon which
our armor rests.
In a world which insists
truth is elusive,
The truth of our Lord
is that upon which we rest.

The breastplate of righteousness,
stamped with the name of Jesus Christ,
given to protect our heart and soul
from evil and deception.
We could not protect ourselves
on our own.
The more we put on this armor
the more our righteous maturity will grow.

The shoes of the “gospel of peace,”
cover the feet of the bringer of good news.
Ready, prepared, protected,
sharing the greatest truth.
How beautiful the feet,
the bringers of peace,
those who walk,
telling of the kingdom.

The shield of faith I hold
all the while, it goes before me.
The strength of this protection lies
in unyielding belief.
Satan’s attacks will fail
to successfully assail,
though the blows may come
from above or beneath.

The helmet of salvation,
our eternal and best defense
against whatever weapon
the enemy would devise.
God, however, would
protect us, especially our
minds, against Satan,
and his ruthless lies.

The sword of the Spirit,
the Word of God,
that which gives us strength
and the power to withstand,
attacks by the accuser,
when he dares to lift his hand.
But wielded by God’s children,
none can withstand this blade,
for the same reveals our salvation
the price with His blood
Christ has paid.

© Joel Tipple 11/01/2018

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

Father

Daddy, Dad, Papa, Father,

the names we have for our own,

the names our own call us.

So much bound up in one little word

for the man we invest with our trust.

 

“I’ll fix it!”

 

Baby, if you only knew

how new you are to me.

But how complicated can you be?

Just some biology, right?

 

Honey, where’s her mute button?

She didn’t come with one?

She’s fed.

Her diaper’s changed

I’m sooo tired…

“I can fix this.”

 

What kind of homework do you have?

A project?

When is it due?

Tomorrow morning?!

Okay, let’s get started.

 

The school dance?

She’s not that old!

She IS that old?

How did she get that old?

 

“I can’t fix this.”

 

High School, maybe college, a job, her own baby

and the cycle’s complete.

Like shampoo, rinse, repeat

and I still can’t get any sleep.


“God, help me fix this.”

A grandfather?

I can’t be that old!

I AM that old?

How did I get to be this old?!

 

One day I’m carrying you,

the next you’re holding me.

And in a flash life happens,

filling the pages in between.

 

God, our perfect father,

If we’re wise, we look to you first

To help us raise little humans

at their best and at their worst.

 

There is a book, after all,

though dads are loath to read instructions.

But first things first, can you help me

find my reading glasses?

©Joel Tipple
#6/16

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