The House of Mourning

Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 7:2,
“It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to a house of feasting, for death
is the destiny of every man;
the living should take this to heart.”

Does this mean that we should seek suffering?
Maybe not, but, as inevitable as death,
so is suffering in this life. In suffering, however,
there is much that God would teach us,
if only we are willing to listen.

I’ve been to a few funerals
in my time. If we’re honest, they’re probably
not the sort of thing we look forward to.
Though, as followers of Christ, we know
we’ll see our brothers and sisters again.
So, we go to honor, mourn, and yes, rejoice,
when we know another soul has gone to meet our Lord.
But amid all those emotions regarding death
are vital truths about life,
the life God would share with his children.

Running from the feast of fools
toward the house of mourning,
seeking wisdom
through the pain.
From the mortal to immortal.
A curtain pull.
A door swing.

What of the other side?
What awaits?
The one who metes out righteous judgment
has the ultimate say.
Those who claim there is no justice
will discover their error on that day.
Choose well.
Choose life.
Choose Jesus,
the only way.

Then when it’s my time,
if you must play a dirge for me,
place within it a lilting note,
for when my time comes,
I’ll be traveling to my forever home
to be with those saints who’ve gone before
and wait for those yet to come.

Surely joy greater than our imaginings
or any verse in any poet’s tome awaits us there,
past the house of mourning,
where we pause to celebrate
and grieve
and pray.

To the house of mourning
we will bring a light
and invite the Lord,
holding back the night,
for the day,
for the day.

© Joel Tipple 12/16/2018

There You Go

DSCN0900

(For a friend)

Remember, when I was a child
and you were on your way out the door,
and I said please, can I go too?
Well, now feels like before.

There you go, out the door and to the Lord.
Praise God, it’s heaven’s gain,
but though I’m so full of joy for you,
It’s joy accompanied by pain.

But thank God for blessed memories…
in albums and frames on the mantle.
Those times you celebrated with me.
The times you handled what I couldn’t handle.

I grew older and it was my turn
to open and walk out the door.
You were braver the dad than I was the child,
but behind your eyes there was more.

The grief, now that you’re gone,
is married with joy and pride
for your legacy and the expectancy
I’ll see Jesus at your side.
We’ll look back at the front door together,
this time left open wide.

© Joel Tipple
#7/14

This Accidental Earth

This accidental earth,
who would have imagined?
This fortuitous birth,
No intelligence planned it?
Just think of the biological speed dating required!

This accidental earth,
no, not an accident.
Science can take us far,
but its explanation
falls short of the spark.

This purposed earth,
this oasis of birth,
God’s creation, served.
As caretakers, we’ve been found wanting.

Outcasts from the garden,
from judgement, by grace pardoned,
as His children we are never alone.
Respect our planet,
our earthly world as God planned it,
until we move on to our heavenly home.

© Joel Tipple
#3/14

 

 

 

The Gardener’s Tree (Keeper of Memories)

Once there was a gardener who kept a great estate for a wealthy client. The gardener was very talented and did amazing things with his client’s grounds. He was especially adept at taking care of diseased plants. In fact, his reputation grew to the point that he often traveled to diagnose problems that other master gardeners could not fix. Over time his relationship with the estate owner grew so that he became like family to the man. He moved into a fine home adjoining the estate and was given an inheritance of the estate orchard when the owner passed away. This orchard was immense, and the gardener earned a good living, but he had a special relationship with a beautiful large apple tree in the center of the orchard. You see, it was the first thing he planted when he began working on the estate and he always treated it in a special way, with love and reverence. He even crafted a large tree house for his children in it. Whenever the family got together for picnics during fine weather, the tree was witness. Then, one season the tree began to exhibit some symptoms of disease. The gardener treated them, but eventually he realized that the tree’s sickness was beyond even his great talent. Eventually, the last leaf fell and rain in the form of the gardener’s tears touched the ground beneath where the apple tree’s branches yielded tasty apples and relief from the hot sun. Some time later the gardener began a project that kept him busy in his workshop for hours on end. He stayed up late many evenings until finally the project was completed. It was a beautiful curio cabinet with intricate scroll work and inlaid glass for shelves and doors. He placed it at one end of the family dining room where everyone would see it when they shared meals. Inside he placed all of their favorite photos, the children growing up, graduating, getting married, loved friends. And so, the apple tree lived on, sheltering the family as it always had.

Memory Tree come shelter me,
in God’s orchard when I am gone.
Show heaven’s stars through your leaves once again,
then rustle with the wind at dawn.
Be the meeting place as my friends and family
move on to their reward.
You are God’s gift to me in heaven as you were on earth.

© Joel Tipple
375

Living the Dream

DSCN1256

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23:6 NLT

Living the Dream

I’m living the dream, but it’s not because I’m a dreamer.
I’m living in anticipation of my home.
You see when I read about God’s promises,
I took that dream on for my own.

Surely your goodness,
Surely your goodness, Lord
Surely your goodness and unfailing love
will pursue me.

Surely your goodness,
Surely your goodness, Lord
Surely your goodness and unfailing love
will pursue me
all the days of my life.

There’s nothing I would ever hold on to,
nothing that could ever tie me down.
Nothing would ever hold me to this world
when it’s time for you to call me home.
Sweet Lord, when it’s time to go.

Surely your goodness,
Surely your goodness, Lord
Surely your goodness and unfailing love
will pursue me.

Surely your goodness,
Surely your goodness, Lord
Surely your goodness and unfailing love
will pursue me
all the days of my life.

Sweet sweet Jesus, that place beyond the horizon
Sweet sweet Jesus, your everlasting arms
Sweet Jesus, you know that’s where I’m bound.

Surely your goodness,
Surely your goodness, Lord
Surely your goodness and unfailing love
will pursue me
all the days of my life.

I’m living the dream, but it’s not because I’m a dreamer.
I’m living in anticipation of my home.
You see when I read about God’s promises,
I took that dream on for my own.

© Joel Tipple
370

Heaven in Our Hearts

stuff13 018

5 1-5 “For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.”
The Message (MSG)

Heaven in our hearts,
a bit of beautiful against a background of despair.
So much is haywire in the world
and it does battle with the question we all carry to the cradle
and forward…
is it fair?

This notion of justice we apply with no schooling,
maybe before we ever speak at all,
have you noticed?
Somehow we know.

In our anguish,
we seemingly hire God
and fire Him
at will.
Evil speaks itself into our world
and our notion of justice
becomes one of proximity.

But,

God is still God,
whether an innocent child
dies
in Belfast,
Kampala,
or
Des Moines.

Now, that isn’t the typical
winning marketing formula
espoused by Madison Avenue.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Tipple. Ah, we have your number. No, no. We’ll call you.”

But,

At the same time,
a child is born
in Belfast,
Kampala,
and Des Moines
For those who have passed
and
for those who live,
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
English Standard Version (ESV)

© Joel Tipple

My Father’s House

DSCN1024

1) “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2) “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3) “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:1-3 (NASB)

My dad has been in an assisted living facility for some time now. When the house that he raised us in sold, it was difficult for him. After all, he and my mother had it built in 1968, and I know he figured it would be the last place he lived in. He also didn’t plan on my mother passing away before he did. Both of these circumstances were, and continue to be, hard for him to deal with. Like most of us, I guess, he doesn’t know how long he’ll live, and the idea of being alone, or not having a home to call his own, is unsettling. Uncertainty seems to be part and parcel of life on earth. So what is certain? What about our forever home? Jesus tells us to trust Him. He has prepared a place for us with Him for eternity. Though we’re given some clues, we don’t exactly know what it will be like. I am certain, though, that it will be more wonderful than our most vivid imaginings.

Absent from this earth,
together with the Lord,
Our concepts seem so small.
Stories about clouds and harps
aren’t so helpful at all.
Misconceptions about doing nothing
do exactly that much to excite.

An eternal worship service?
What of those who can’t sing?
Oh, I know, those limitations are misplaced.
Besides, are music critics redeemed?
If you’ve been in love,
and who hasn’t?
Multiply that by one thousand.
I’m guessing it’s that massive.

© Joel Tipple

(NASB) – New American Standard NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE Copyright (C) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977,1995 by THE LOCKMAN FOUNDATION A Corporation Not for Profit LA HABRA, CA All Rights Reserved http://www.lockman.org