My Help

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I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 121 ESV

Safety on the journey. And whoa, what a journey! Right? No matter who you are, no matter your station in life, you might feel at the moment like you’re stuck on the Titanic as it goes down, with the band continuing to play on one side, while your lifeboat lowers on the other. The problem? Your lifeboat only has room for one guy and 25 packages of toilet paper, his toilet paper. Seriously though, the one thing I won’t be doing this week is give you advice about a certain virus. We’re getting plenty of advice right now, some of it even from informed sources. By the time the current crisis has subsided, I’m certain we’ll all feel like we’ve earned a fistful of college credits toward a degree in epidemiology. Besides keeping up with that continuing education, there is one thing in particular I’m trying to focus on, my attitude. It’s easy to be judgmental toward people who are fearful. Depending on your situation and, let’s face it, simply your emotional makeup, you might have trouble relating to folks who are freaking out. If some of the long lines and short tempers are any indication, a lot of folks are just plain scared. Have you ever noticed how helpful you can be by telling someone who is freaking out, “Hey, stop freaking out!” Me neither. I believe I can do the most good as far as my reach goes by being prayerful, helpful, and compassionate towards those around me. If any of my words or actions don’t fall within those parameters, I’m just making noise. What did Paul call it? “A sounding brass or clanging cymbal.” 1st Corinthians 13 teaches me that’s not what love sounds like.

The second thing we can do is, like the Psalmist says, focus on where our help comes from, no matter the situation. When the people we love are frightened, sick, or in pain, our help comes from the Lord. When the institutions we rely on struggle to meet new challenges, our help comes from the Lord. When we ourselves grow tired, fearful, and lose patience with those around us, our help still comes from the Lord.

When life’s overwhelming
and I’m reminded of just how small
I truly am
I run to you great maker
caretaker
never forsaker

You’re the one I sing
Through the noise
your voice rings
never alone
no matter where I go
I’m always home
all encompassing God

© Joel Tipple 3/15/2020


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






Sacred

“The moment someone chooses to trust in Jesus Christ, his sins are wiped away, and he is adopted into God’s family. That individual is set apart as a child of God, with a sacred purpose.”
Charles Stanley

“What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and work flow.”
Martin Luther

“Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life … One who cannot listen long and patiently will presently be talking beside the point and be never really speaking to others, albeit he be not conscious of it. Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sacred is an anagram for the word, scared. This, I believe, is a hint to the attitudes we choose from in pursuing the lives our God has entrusted us with. We each have the choice to live our lives in a fear based manner that views each day as a series of attacks and challenges on our well being, or we may choose to see our lives as sacred gifts we can dedicate to service and transformation of ourselves and others through Jesus Christ. Which theme will you choose… scared or sacred?

Our lives are not our own,
they are sacred.
Invaluable gifts,
to never be squandered.
There should be no mystery
at the end of our days
how we were used by God
when it’s pondered.


A pen should only be lifted
if God’s invited to write.
A speaker should only read
if he’s prayed for God’s sight.
Silence is sacred
and listening king
when the suffering are heard
and given love’s wings.


©Joel Tipple 7/20/2019

Respect

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So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12

Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
1 Peter 2:17

My first job was working for our family business. In the little town where I grew up that happened to be a service station. Typical of small-town America, “Jack Tipple Motors” did everything from selling and servicing cars to fixing lawn mowers and pulling wayward motorists out of ditches. Beginning in my adolescence, I learned the subtleties of pushing a broom and as I got older did other jobs like running out to the gas pump when a car made the bell ding. That’s back when “full service” was the norm. My dad taught me by example and instruction the way I should conduct myself when serving the public. Although I never had the knack or inclination for the technical aspect of the business my Dad was in, I learned how to work hard, be reliable, and treat people with respect and courtesy.

One such learning opportunity came when a sales representative was visiting the shop one day. He had just finished showing my dad a display and I thought this would be a great opportunity to show off something witty I had probably picked up watching TV.  Although my dad had a sense of humor, I had not yet learned the art of when to speak up and when to remain silent. This was probably not the first, and certainly not the last time I would have to learn this sometimes painful lesson. As the sales rep wound up his talk I piped up and asked, “Got any more bright ideas?”  Everything stopped. Rather than the hearty laughter and knee-slapping I expected from the adults in the room, there was silence, an expression of hurt from the salesman, and anger from my dad. I had managed to simultaneously embarrass the salesman and cause my father to lose face. I don’t remember the details of what I was told after being marched off to our office. The lecture was brief, heated, and included my going back to the salesman and tearfully saying I was sorry. After all these years, the memory of that moment still makes me cringe.

Are you a miser?
Is respect your currency?
Do you dole it out
to those you think most godly?
Are you only a respecter
of those who stroke your ego?
Consider carefully…
before saying no.
Do you jealously guard
what you believe your place to be?
And who put you there? Was God the authority?

The love of God
we express for all we meet
must surely
generously
share a dose of dignity.
Befriend someone
who needs a friend,
but remember…
You can’t lift someone up
by looking down on them.

“I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”
Winston Churchill

© Joel Tipple 5/4/2019

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.”

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

Begin

(Anything worth finishing must first be started)

For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.
Hebrews 3:4

Fear of beginning
envisions failure at every turn,
calamity
long before the finish line.
God has always chosen
imperfect people
who, though they stumble,
will go on
time after time.

© Joel Tipple 11/5/2018