Helpers and the Helper

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The wonderful host of “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood,” Fred Rogers, who died in 2003, has often been quoted for these particular words of wisdom and reassurance he was given by his mother.

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Following the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Rogers himself was especially troubled, as he was a native of Pennsylvania and a long time resident of New York City. His last show had aired just the month before, and he was then asked to do some public service announcements. In one video, Rogers said, “No matter what our particular job, especially in our world today, we all are called to be ‘tikkun olam,’ repairers of creation.” The Hebrew words, “tikkun olam” refer to actions taken to improve society, including caring for others. Fred Rogers took seriously the responsibility of helping children interpret an often troubled world during his lifetime. Once again, during the covid 19 crisis, we would all do well to both point the way to and be those helpers Mr. Rogers described.

The helpers we look to, like doctors, nurses, public safety, and military personnel, step up every day to care for and protect us. Jesus Christ also promised to leave a helper to advocate for His children. This helper is the Holy Spirit.

Role of the Spirit

 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;  that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.  In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.  He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”  Judas (not Iscariot) *said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?”  Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.

 “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.  Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. 
John 14:15-27 NASB

God, bless the helpers,
weary at their post,
give them energy,
protection,
for their task.
Give each of us
no matter who we are
the drive to help as well.
Show us how,
that is what we ask.


We invite your Holy Spirit,
dove, comforter, intercessor,
to work your will through us your children.
Burn so brightly,
the world can’t help but see.
Turn this night to day, Lord,
so the world will know,
then use us as you will
to increase your kingdom.


© Joel Tipple 3/28/2020








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












Stubborn Joy

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Romans 16:13 ESV

…and those the Lord has rescued will return, they will enter Zion with singing, everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Isaiah 35:10 NIV

Dandelions are one of the most persistent and stubborn of all common garden weeds. They’re also known as swine’s snout, yellow gowan, Irish daisy, priest’s crown, peasant’s cloak and wet-a-bed (possibly for its diuretic effect). The common dandelion was introduced to North America by European settlers in the 1600s. Settlers grew it in their gardens for food and medicine.
Although common garden weeds like the dandelion may make our lives difficult if they aren’t part of our landscape plans, our difficulty in eradicating them points to a natural strength we might choose to emulate, especially when it comes to joy. Weeds stubbornly cling to life and proliferation, though rare is the gardener who invites them into their garden or seeks to nourish them. As is the case with the useful dandelion, joy in its proper context, righteous joy that encourages our spirit and binds us to God, should be sought by every believer. Though certainly not every circumstance we experience is joyful, God invites us to inhabit his joy in the midst of every circumstance anyway.

Joy, you have always found me when I called,
though the times at times were desperate.
When fears and doubts filled my mind,
your stubborn light still calmed it.

No matter the matter with me,
or standard attacks from the enemy,
when I sought you out within
the treasure of God’s word
you became for me a lifeline to victory.

Though joy impostors
spawned by a lost world
may seem right for a time,
Their empty promises
and false flags unfurled
will always be revealed as lies.

True joy does not compete with God,
but draws us to him instead.
A diet rich and uplifting
filled with his love
should always be our bread.

©Joel Tipple 06/29/2019





Measure

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.
1st Peter 2:9

God, I’d like to be
the measure of a man
you would have me be.
Close my ears and eyes
to how the world defines me.
For when I look
to the left or right
of the road you’ve set before me
suddenly I stumble.

Season my speech
with words wise and giving,
an attitude of joy,
one of great thanksgiving.
If by chance someone hears
some of what I say
I pray my focus
is on the Holy Spirit
because I sought Him
and prayed.

There was a time, Lord,
when the mirror used to be
something other than my friend,
and there was a sad moment in my life
when I prayed for a sooner end.
Thanks for holding off calamity
with your loving hand
and saving me.

If we don’t turn off the news
sometime
with its
relentless
negative
auto-repeat,
we risk rendering our witness worthless
to the point, we cannot speak.
But no matter how dark
the world may become
if we turn our eyes to you
and the sacrifice of your son
we will be saved.

You Lord,
the one who measures rightly,
the one who made the world,
and all its wonders
will always bring us back
from the brink
when we call.
Even though we’re prodigal
and have nothing at all
to earn it,
you’ll forever
heap upon us
so much devotion
we can’t help but share it.
Thank you, Lord.
Thank you, thank you, thank you
for sharing
so much
it could never
ever
be measured.

© Joel Tipple 1/26/2019

See Me

(Sometimes it only takes a moment to make a difference.)

Jesus was our model for care.
Only He could have seen those attributes
in each of the disciples
that the Holy Spirit would use
to change the world.
Until Jesus came along,
the people whose lives he touched
most probably saw their story
already written.
We need to see
with His eyes.

Look at me.
Take a moment longer.
Allow curiosity
to make you dig beneath
the shell I show to the world.

See more
than the attributes
I was born with.
See more than clues
pointing to success,
or failure,
investments made well,
or poorly.
See more than the time
I spend in the gym
or the knit cap
that might hint at chemotherapy.
See more
than my carefully
mapped life,
or the scar from the head-on collision
that changed the future of several families
in an instant.

See beyond my bumper stickers
or habitual responses
to standard questions.
Take the risk.
Probe deeper.

Look for something
I’m guessing most people are too busy
to care about.
Work to allow concern
to overcome your own shyness.

Do the work,
because the weight of apathy
can cause more damage
than anger.

© Joel Tipple 10/27/2018

On Empty

(Just because we feel empty, that doesn’t mean we are)

For this reason, I kneel before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:14-19 NIV

If you’ve driven for long, chances are you’ve discovered that the empty mark on your vehicle’s gas gauge isn’t always an accurate indicator of how far you can actually go before you run out. There is usually some reserve left in your tank. Again, that amount will vary, and it’s always a good practice to fill up sooner rather than later.

Yesterday, I found myself discouraged. Some setbacks, together with a lack of sleep, combined to put me in a funk. I reached out to God and asked Him to throw me a lifeline… an auxiliary tank, so to speak. “God, I need you,” I said.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes, when I’m feeling that way, it’s a little like I’ve failed. “Here I am again, Lord, unable to handle this on my own. What’s wrong with me?” Admitting you need help is not a sign of weakness though, it’s a necessary part of a healthy relationship with the Lord. Just as we long to be there for our children, God longs to be there for us.

From the depths of my discouragement,
from the place where I have need,
from my lack of resource,
fill me up.

I’ve nothing to repay you God,
but I’ll go where you say.
Just teach me to listen to your voice.
Then the next time I journey,
and I’m planning for the miles,
let your direction be my first
and not my second choice.

© Joel Tipple 10/23/2018

Between Mundane And Disaster

Much of our lives we spend
avoiding life’s extremes.
In one compass swing
mundane,
in the other,
disaster.
We hope our hearts are strong enough
to live in between.

We search, often aimlessly,
avoiding the extremes.
We hope to endure,
just wishing life would bring
something better.

There’s a way to thrive,
to bring those hands we’ve used to push away
out to the world that needs us,
to our hearts,
and up to our God who wants to be
our life supply.

It’s alright not to completely understand,
with uncertainty to live.
It’s okay that you don’t know every answer
or all of God’s plan.
That’s a lot of what faith is.

Your life can be more than just existing
between mundane and disaster,
beyond dreary or the crushing of your stars.
The transforming power of the Holy Spirit
will enable you to see how far
if you only believe.

© Joel Tipple
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