In Your Eyes

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Unless you are blind, when you encounter someone, you probably use the information their facial expression provides you to help assess their mood. Whether they are angry, sad, or somewhere in between, their smile, or lack of one, can go a long way toward helping you figure out where they are emotionally. However, these days many people are wearing masks when out in public in an effort to slow transmission of the covid 19 virus. In that case, we automatically turn to another major source of body language, the eyes. It’s often said that eyes are a gateway to the soul. Eyes help us see what’s going on inside another person. Meeting, or failing to meet another person’s gaze can often be a clue in itself. With practice, study of the eyes can even tell you whether the person you’re interacting with is being genuine. Poker players will often wear dark glasses in an attempt to keep other players from guessing the quality of their hand.

More about eyes:

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Matthew 6:22-23 NIV


Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.
Proverbs 21:4 ESV


Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
Psalm 119:37 ESV


22 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”23 Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
Luke 10:22-24 NIV


“When a person starts to talk about their dreams, it’s as if something bubbles up from within. Their eyes brighten, their face glows, and you can feel the excitement in their words.”
John Maxwell

“It is necessary to keep one’s compass in one’s eyes and not in the hand, for the hands execute, but the eye judges.”
Michelangelo

The pane of your windows
barrier between outside and in
melts away with emotion
through that membrane so thin
Thoughts come/go, an instant
without attention you might miss
Truth escapes your edit
though you try to hold it
like a fist
When invited, God’s spirit
makes a home
in the heart He resides
so one to another, sister and brother
His love shines through the eyes


© Joel Tipple 4/5/2020












Black Holes

I’m a Jesus follower. But loving Jesus, knowing God created everything, and cultivating a better grasp of what that means in your day to day life doesn’t mean you stop asking questions about all the Lord’s made, right? If anything, greater devotion to God should cause our sense of wonder to expand as we discover more about the world we know and the corners of our universe we are still coming to know. Now, the universe we’re able to observe (observe being a relative term) is estimated to contain 200 billion to two trillion galaxies. Yeah, I struggle to wrap my head around that too. Anyway, I heard in the news recently that astronomers have now spotted a record-breaking heavyweight black hole at the center of a galaxy known as Holm 15A. This black hole is estimated to weigh 40 billion times the mass of our sun. That’s heavy. That’s the kind of heavy no post-holiday diet could ever hope to put a dent in. Time for a rough definition of a black hole.
“A black hole is a place where the laws of physics as we know them break down. Einstein taught us that gravity warps space itself, causing it to curve. So given a dense enough object, space-time can become so warped that it twists in on itself, burrowing a hole through the very fabric of reality. A massive star that has run out of fuel can produce the kind of extreme density needed to create such a mangled bit of world. As it buckles under its own weight and collapses inward, space-time caves in with it. The gravitational field becomes so strong that not even light can escape, rendering the region where the star used to be profoundly dark: a black hole. You might expect to get crushed, or maybe torn to pieces. But the reality is stranger than that. The instant you entered the black hole, reality would split in two. In one, you would be instantly incinerated, and in the other you would plunge on into the black hole utterly unharmed.”
Amanda Gefter BBC Earth 5/25/2015

Up until now we’ve discussed gravity as it relates to black holes in space. And by the way, aren’t you glad you don’t live close to one? No, your neighbor’s back yard doesn’t count, no matter how out of control it is. What about the gravity (importance, or significance) of our lives? What about the black holes we experience here on earth, where our efforts and resources so often seem to be lacking, or even missing altogether? Frustration with our situation is not wrong in itself. We can use that emotion to propel ourselves to action. The key question at those trying times when we just want to do something is whether we use the emotions we’re experiencing to move closer to God or farther away.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
Proverbs 14:12 ESV

“I ask that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know the hope of His calling, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and the surpassing greatness of His power to us who believe. He displayed this power in the working of His mighty strength.”
Ephesians 1:18-19 ESV


Knowledge of God’s nature and investment in the hope He inspires can drive us toward His will for our lives. As you encourage your habit to seek Him, your focus will shift from short term struggles to long term goals. God can and will produce amazing results in your life as you shift from selfish to selfless thinking. Using His Holy Spirit, God will answer your prayers to be led and utilized by building you up, shaping you, and opening a way.

“Don’t bother to give God instructions, just report for duty.”
“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.”
Corrie Ten Boom


Lord you’ve made all the worlds,
this little one,
and all those yet discovered.
You’ve filled the heavens,
surely you can fill
the black holes in our hearts.

Manufactured dreams,
focused just on me,
are short sighted and misguided.
It’s a universal problem
all we can see is our little part.

God, finish what you’ve begun
after all you sent your son
We can’t give as much as you did
you made us free.
But since in your image you made us
and paid all our sins through Jesus
I’ll follow, we’ll all follow where you lead.

© Joel Tipple 1/5/2020












Conversation Signs

…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,…
1st Peter 3:15 ESV

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Colossians 4:6 ESV

In this day of instant communication, the irony is that in many ways there is less of it now than there has ever been. Within seconds I can tell thousands of people any old thing that enters my head, and as a result you would think that communication, since it’s seemingly so easy to do, would not be the minefield it is. So what’s standing in the way of our being able to relate to each other in meaningful ways, especially as Christians who wish to engage with and affect our world? The issue, as I see it, is twofold, what we bring on board, and what we share.

1) Input
Consider the funnel effect. If you picture all the information we’re exposed to on a regular basis trying to make its way into our minds through a funnel, you can understand that it doesn’t matter how big the top of the funnel is, there’s still a limit on the amount of information we can process at any given time. Because there is so much, it’s probably more important than ever to be discerning in selecting what gets in. Despite our boasts of being able to multi-task, there really is only so much information we can or should give our attention to. At some point you’ll have to decide between the on-base percentage of your favorite infielder from 1997-’98, the relative nutritional benefits of broccoli vs chocolate cream pastry, and how we should pray for the person we just met. Maybe you have more brain cells at your disposal. Me? Something’s getting pushed out. God desires to direct our thoughts and words always. But you can’t share what you don’t know or have a personal interest in.

2) Output
Have you heard the expression, “Garbage in, garbage out?” It relates to the information and instructions programmed into computers. There used to be a joke product you could buy. It was a series of cards attached to a handle, and on the cards were supposedly clever/funny comments you could select to show people in other cars as you made your way down the road. They ranged from somewhat cute to outright offensive. I guess anything that takes your mind off the road AND possibly contributes to road rage is a bad idea. If our focus for relating to the world is more about entertaining people or attracting their attention by showing them how clever or important we are, we’ve lost any handle we ever had on fulfilling the Great Commission.

Christ-centered or self-centered?
I guess there was a time when politics weren’t so acrimonious, but it’s getting harder and harder to recall. Thing is, you can find the same sort of vitriol in newspapers from colonial times. I think it’s just easier to lash out at people we think represent the opposite view from ours when we have ready access to the bullhorn of the internet. Who needs to take the time to consider the ramifications of what they say when it’s so easy to spew, point, and click? Those same attitudes can carry on to our everyday conversations. How does it glorify Jesus when we allow personality based comments, like the ones that use the names of well known politicians, to show our disdain for a particular party or political philosophy? Should we have no opinions? Of course not. Just consider the content of your speech and who or what it emphasizes.

Am I leading myself
to where I think you should go?
Does it vary with the winds of opinion?
Do I lift God’s influence to a high level of importance
only after judging the temperature of the room?
God, direct the content and quality of what I say,
so that it best advances your kingdom.


© Joel Tipple 8/31/2019

Really, God?

I’ve wondered sometimes whether God has ever had occasion to think we all just might be a bad dream. That maybe if he hit the snooze button one more time he might have a better one. A dream where his creation didn’t waste so much time fighting with each other and indulging in ever more imaginative sinful selfishness. But no, God is awake, aware of his creation, including all its flaws, and it’s clear he loves us infinitely, since he sent Jesus to open our way to eternity. We have the freedom, with all the responsibility that freedom entails, to choose a relationship with God on his terms, or to go our own way. I’m convinced the overwhelming crush of evidence supports the argument that God is real, and rewards those who seek him. However, this is a fallen world we live in, where terrible things happen, and not just to people who haven’t chosen to accept eternal life and pursue a closer relationship with God. Although I’m just as susceptible to grief and outrage when bad things happen to good people, I’ve never accepted the premise that being good buys us out of awful stuff. As God’s creation, I believe we never shine more brightly than when we turn to God in the midst of tragedy instead of away.

For the sake of this ministry, we toil tirelessly and are criticized continually, simply because our hope is in the living God. He is the wonderful life-giver of all the children of men, and even more so to those who believe.
1st Timothy 4:10 TPT


For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
Romans 1:20 ESV


Some Say

I’ve heard some say, “God is dead.”
How could they be so led?
Look around,
at all he’s breathed to life.

I’ve heard some say, “God can’t see.”
But he’s painted so much majesty,
he must know what delights our eyes.


I’ve heard some say, “God can’t hear.”
But I know he counts our words dear,
and responds,
though we judge his sense of time.

I’ve heard some say, “God can’t feel.”
But he knows our burdens
and we’re not left to deal alone.
Because he lives,
we needn’t fear to be alive.


©Joel Tipple 8/24/2019

The House of Worship

worship (1)

O Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt you; I will praise your name,
for you have done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
Isaiah 25:1 ESV

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Psalm 103:1 ESV

I recently learned that some churchgoers actually skip the worship portion of their service. I was incredulous. Seriously? Don’t get me wrong, I love the sermon too. A message that moves or convicts you can change your life, but it’s part of a service, not THE service. There has always been something about the musical portion of a church service that transports me to a place where I feel closer to God. I’ve felt that way for as long as I remember feeling anything about going to church at all. But even though my strongest emotions about music find their home in a church worship service, music has always impacted most aspects of my life. My feelings of nostalgia for different waypoints in my life are strongest when combined with the music I was listening to at the time, whether secular or spiritual.

In the same way that we know music doesn’t have the same strong effect on everyone, we also know that singing and playing instruments aren’t the only way to worship God. It’s important that we understand there are many ways to worship God like prayer and serving others. How do you worship?

One Summer night
as I was walking
around dinner time
and it was cool.
There came a sound
of children singing
all joyful and out of school.
They were singing
their hearts out to Jesus
like they’d mostly burst
if they could.
I thought angels were singing with them,
but it was youth worshiping
like they should.

Looking for the house of worship,
looking for the heart of praise.
There doesn’t have to be a steeple
or even a particular age.
If your aim is to lift Jesus higher
and to leave all your burdens behind,
any place can be your place of worship
and any folks can worship God in that place.

Lift your hands, lift your voice,
if there’s a drummer, give him time.
Be careful of claptastrophies.
Music opens hearts
and can help them soften too
when we just let Jesus lead.

The sound can be country, rock,
or rhythm and blues.
Style’s less important than substance.
Jesus is more about
the shape of your heart
than your circumstance.
So take a chance.

Your house of worship
may be any shape at all,
the seats be pews, bleachers,
or even beanbags.
Just find some human beings
who want to be redeemed,
and some music
that can start some healing.
The house is less important
than the Holy Spirit’s lead.

© Joel Tipple 6/15/2019

Why, Poet?

Why, Poet?
Are these your Psalms?
Like David, have you felt
you don’t belong?

Have you felt your words
float into the ether
without a corresponding hail?
Have you expressed desperation
when especially assailed?

Chin up, poet!
For like the bards of old
God won’t leave you
because you’re bold.

Continue to sing,
without notes, just words.
Continue to speak,
though you feel absurd.
Continue to shine,
even when it rains.
Continue to share,
’cause we all feel pain.

© Joel Tipple 11/17/2018

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