Living and Trusting Now

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In the grocery store where I work, this week things got real, then they got surreal. Since we’re an essential service, we’re one of the businesses remaining open following the mandatory shelter in place declaration. After all, people gotta eat. Since the corona virus arrived in our country, our leaders have been adopting strategies intended to slow its spread. For the most part, people have been trying to do their part, but, people being people, their part doesn’t always go so well. Sometimes… it just goes weird. While social distancing and hand washing seem to be the prevailing advice, we’ve had customers shop in all sorts of garb, with the intent of avoiding covid 19. One customer, who apparently couldn’t find a more traditional mask, opted instead for wearing a baby diaper on her face. One guy came in wearing a full on hazmat suit! Various other forms of protective garb have included all kinds of masks, such as the traditional bandanna. At various times the store has looked like the set of a budget movie featuring actors dressed in a combination of medical and stick-up artist costumes. While a cloud of tension hangs in the air, some customers have been doing their regular shopping, while others try to get enough supplies to stay home for the while. Three squares a day has now become a euphemism for toilet paper rationing.

Although the time we’re living through is difficult, and even bizarre, there has never been a greater opportunity in our lifetime to exhibit what trust in God looks like. The joy Christians are gifted with dries up when it isn’t shared, and we can and must share joy, especially to contrast with recent events. Yes, we are grateful Jesus has defeated death! This is the foundation of our hope. But even while we are filled with gratitude for eternity, we need to be an example of how to live now, especially because it’s hard. There will be times when we lose patience with our fellow man and with ourselves, but we can’t afford to give in to the negative emotions, words, and actions around us. Instead, we must learn to see ourselves through the eyes of Jesus and trust His intention for our now and forever.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV


Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make.
Proverbs 3:5 TPT


 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:26-27
NIV

Give us vision beyond ourselves, God
for the future and the now
Fill us with true joy
based on true hope
to share with the rest of your children
Jesus, foundation of our trust
Jesus, advocate, Savior
Be our light within
Be our light without
As we walk
bless and keep your pilgrims

© Joel Tipple 3/22/2020






Family Christmas

Just like Jesus, when I was born I was the youngest in my family. Okay, Jesus was the oldest too, but that’s because he was the first. A mere technicality. Me? I was actually fourth, and last in line. Then, since my parents were convinced they couldn’t do any better, they quit. That’s one version. The truth is a little more pedestrian, but seriously, can you imagine that early sixties Christmas card without me holding little Santa? That’s right, I didn’t think you could. We still get a few family-photo Christmas cards from friends and family in the mail, and they’re wonderful. My sister especially is good about sending one every year. As we all have grandchildren now it’s cool to see hers as they grow. The pictures are a reminder that the clock seems to move faster as the years go by. Fewer and fewer people send any Christmas cards, let alone the family photo variety. I suppose that’s a side effect of the internet. Social media and all the other various means of electronic communication we enjoy allow us to drop in on each other instantly, so waiting for the mail carrier has largely fallen out of fashion.

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
Luke 1:35 NIV


No matter how we go about doing it, Christmas is traditionally a time when families try to get together and celebrate. However, although we hope it’s a joyous time, circumstances and idealistic expectations can conspire to make the holidays tremendously difficult for many. Some are estranged from their families or simply don’t have adequate connections in their lives to make celebrating easy. For that matter, there are those who either don’t believe in Jesus or are jaded by the abundant commercialization. So, since not everyone has the desire or is in a position to celebrate Christmas, and since it’s often a time that seems to highlight not what they have, but what they lack, how can Christians be part of the solution? How do we please God in this?

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-2 NIV


First, although Christmas is a time of great celebration for followers of Jesus, if it’s a day by orders of magnitude so different from our everyday life that we become someone else, something is wrong. Yes, cheer for Jesus’ birth! Yes, take the time to enjoy the unique traditions we all know and get excited about! But so infuse your everyday life with Jesus’ love to the degree that Christmas is the exclamation point to the person you already are. Second, recognize that not everyone relates to your experience. It’s your responsibility to communicate why we are so excited about Jesus coming to earth in the first place. Don’t assume people know. One may have heard the Christmas story seventy times and yet it was the seventy-first that touched their heart. Third, find practical ways to express the love and hope within you. There’s a reason so many hospitals were founded by Christians. We should allow God to use us to be the light shining in the darkness and the glue that binds our communities together in times of difficulty.

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV


Let this Christmas,
no matter how many I’ve seen,
be the Christmas
others see Jesus in me.
Let the joy and hope
of Jesus’ birth
infuse my walk
while I’m here on earth.


©Joel Tipple 12/21/2019



Who Cares?

The first thing I should have done was check to see if she was alright. That was what I should have done. I’d like to point out it came quickly on the heels of what I actually did. So, there’s that.

Sometime in 1981 I was in the 2nd year of my time at Humboldt State University. Lori and I were married in 1980, and we took up residence in a $210 a month apartment immediately adjacent to school. One afternoon we were walking across the steps of the university library. I’ve since looked at a picture of the pillars in front of the building, and I’m not sure how I managed it, but somehow I led my young wife directly into one of those pillars, and she went down. Now, I have to say that for as long as I’ve known Lori, I’ve taken on an extra degree of responsibility when the two of us walk together. This is due to the fact that her depth perception is not excellent, and things like stairs can present a challenge. When she goes someplace new she’ll count steps up and down to help her the next time she goes there. Lori is demonstrably above average in nearly every other way, but God has chosen to make her less than perfect in this. I believe the divine purpose is to give other people hope. Okay, I jest, and you might say my wife being on the ground was no laughing matter, except it was a very funny moment. What would forever cement this moment in our memory was my immediate reaction. I quickly looked around to see who might have witnessed our two-Stooge-Three-Stooges-performance. Then, I began to assess the extent of any injuries Lori might have incurred. And she noticed the order of my priorities. Fortunately, our laughter helped to both rescue me from my inappropriate immediate response and cement this as one of those family memories we would laugh about for years.

I believe our God has a sense of humor, and it’s one of those personal attributes we should take the time to encourage in each other. Goodness knows there is enough stress in each day that we should take advantage of every Godly remedy we have at our disposal. A genuine smile is one of the greatest gifts we can give to both folks we know and those we don’t. Finding ways to encourage laughter in each other can help bring unity and healing. Who cares? It’s clear God does. If God cares for us, we must find every way we can to humble ourselves and bring joy and laughter to help lighten the loads we all invariably carry.

Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
Luke 6:21
ESV

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
Proverbs 31:25-26 NIV


Worry and care we accumulate,
burdens we weren’t meant to carry.
Sadness upon sadness
we add through the years
when to it
no one asked us to marry.
Grief has its place
and shapes us like clay,
but God purposed us
for more than one expression.
We owe to lift our brothers and sisters up
to all God’s grand dimension.


© Joel Tipple 10/12/2019

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





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

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

Don’t Leave

Don’t leave me yesterday,
when today
is when I need you.
How could you believe
leaving was easy?
It’s not easy.
It’s not easy at all.

Don’t leave me yesterday
when I had hopes
of getting to know you.
Maybe that was just a dream,
but it’s what I had.

It’s hard to stay,
I know.
And though I don’t understand
yesterday,
I want to.

Even the stuff
that’s hard to look at,
The heavy darkness
you feel powerless to share.
You think you take it with you,
but instead
of laying down in the grave,
it lingers in the world.

I wish
I could convince you
then
that peace and joy
is possible.

For now,
for those who struggle,
don’t give up,
and don’t leave them
yesterday.

© Joel Tipple 11/18/2018

Good Morning!

DSCN1164

Good morning new day
I’m glad you’re here
Been expecting you since last night
couldn’t wait to see you
here already new life
up with the sun
on the other side of the clouds
now it’s time to run

It used to be I barely
could face another day
but now that we have met
I can’t go back to be that way
no matter what life throws at me
I’ll swing at every pitch
I may lead the league in strikeouts
but oh Lord when I hit…
when I hit…

Good morning hopeful
born of grace, born of the Son
beyond the sleepy eyes and pillow creases
beats a heart that’s born of Jesus.

Did you know your heart gets stronger
when you give your heart away?
The economy of hope just always works that way
a hand up then a hand up and then another hand
so many
like the beaches’ sand

Can’t wait to get the day in gear
like Indiana Jones
adventure I’m sure to find
out there or here at home
there’s quite enough of darkness
so it’s time to shine some light
and find some treasure?
I just might!
yeah I just might!

©Joel Tipple
#4/16

Show Me the Way to Joy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seize my sorrow, living God.

Heal my wounds.

Draw me to your table.

In my weakness and grief, Holy Spirit intercede,

for on my own strength, I’m not able.

Why, oh why, oh God, are beautiful hearts struck down?

What do we do with the life left over?

Would you add it to my own? Sometimes I’d rather go home.

So here we are, God. Where do we go from here?

Show me the way to joy.

when I can’t see it from where I am.

Show me the way to joy.

I want to find it, but I’m not sure I can.

Show me the way to joy,

along with the rest of the weary.

I’m trusting your word

to show me the way to joy.

Despite me, my heart’s still beating.

Despite me, my heart’s still beating.

And the sun you made, like an old window shade,

rolls up out of the East and warms me.

You gotta crawl before you walk.

You gotta walk before you dance.

You gotta crawl before you walk, they say.

You gotta crawl before you walk,

so God, let’s you and me have a talk.

Today I’ve decided to live, so will you help me take the next step forward?

I’m unsteady, but I’ve decided to trust you.

Show me the way to joy,

when I can’t see it from where I am.

Show me the way to joy,

I want to find it, but I’m not sure I can.

Show me the way to joy,

along with the rest of the weary.

I’m trusting your word

to show me the way to joy.

Now I’m starting to feel alive.

Though you defeated death, it’s not always easy to believe.

Can I take hold of what I can’t see with my two eyes?

Can faith teach my heart to perceive?

Show me the way to joy,

when I can’t see it from where I am.

Show me the way to joy,

I want to find it, but I’m not sure I can.

Show me the way to joy,

along with the rest of the weary.

I’m trusting your word

to show me the way to joy.

I’m finding the way to joy.

©Joel Tipple
#8/15

Allergic Reaction

Sandra walked into the living room, where her mother was relaxing in a corner chair, reading. “Mom, what’s up with Dad?” she asked. Looking up, Sandra’s mother replied, “Why do you ask, Sandra?” “Well, he’s at his desk, writing. He seems upset.” “Oh, he’s fine. It’s probably just his allergies,” she replied, the corners of her mouth turned up a little. Sandra drew her eyes together in a frown. “What’s he allergic to?” At this her mother’s smile broadened and she chuckled before answering… “Your father says he’s allergic to ‘happy… and sad.'” she replied.

©Joel Tipple
#2/15