Storms

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I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.
John 16:33 ESV

When I was growing up there were essentially three places for us to get groceries: large, medium, and small. Large meant driving across the river and over to the next biggest town. Medium meant going up Main Street to our own town’s primary grocery store. Small meant going down our street and around the corner to what we referred to as “The Little Store.” The Little Store was the place my mom could send me to get that last minute item she needed to complete our dinner, like a half gallon of milk. One afternoon I was on such an errand. After making my purchase I got back on my bike for the short ride home and noticed the wind had picked up considerably. What you’d expect to be blowing across the street, like small leaves, had been joined by small limbs and roofing shingles. By the time I got home the wind was getting even stronger and over the course of that evening, the wind storm would continue to strengthen, taking out our electricity. The next day we learned many trees, telephone poles, and even several barns had succumbed to the wind. It would be a couple days before power was restored. Now, the reason I remember this particular storm so clearly is not just for the damage that it caused, but for how our household functioned while the power was out. The oven didn’t work, so we cooked on the Franklin Stove in our dining room. The TV didn’t work, so we played games and read by candlelight. We talked more. Even though technology hadn’t yet become the behemoth it is now that we all carry computers in our pockets, the lack of electricity meant living differently for a short period of time. And it wasn’t so bad. In some ways, it was better.

Storms of other kinds we encounter in our lives may be more or less disruptive than the one my family encountered that windy night. We can count on their arrival. We just can’t predict exactly when we’ll experience them or how challenging they’ll be. However, we have a guide. We have an advocate. We have someone to shoulder those burdens and disruptions in our lives that are too great for us to handle. Jesus, in fact, became human and sacrificed himself to bridge the gap between ourselves and God. In this way, we have both the means to bear this life and its storms and the promise of an eternity better than our ability to comprehend. This is the promise of Easter.

When our world
is breaking,
when what we thought was solid ground
gives way
and all we feel is the wind
rushing past
as we’re falling,
Jesus arrests our fall.
Jesus anchors our line,
He is our guarantor, protector
if we believe.
He came down to earth for us.
He lived,
died,
and defeated the grave
for us.
Your first and greatest step
is to receive
a new life,
then live a changed life,
learning better ways to climb mountains
and trusting Him to carry you safely
through your storms,
if you believe.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:7-9 ESV

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning and your faithfulness by night,
Psalm 92:1-3 ESV

© Joel Tipple 4/20/2019

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

Grief Hue

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If grief you’re a color
then I’m learning to live with hue
and my mirror presents
a new shade
each day

I may wake up to red
then
go to bed with blue
fighting
to stay alive
and chasing
away the grey

God grant me perspective
as the portrait’s painted
trusting your hand to guide
since I can’t see it finished

your brush and palette make me
the colors become me

I continue feeling forward
with faith
I continue feeling forward
with faith
You God, see the end and its beauty
so I go on feeling forward
with faith

©Joel Tipple
#12/15

A Better Broken

I once made a foolish mistake that caused me to ruin my car. I made a sudden u-turn just before an on-ramp and the car in back of me didn’t have enough time or room to avoid plowing into my side. Thank God, no one was hurt, but my car was totaled, broken beyond the reasonable cost of repair.

Have you ever felt like that? Irreparably broken? Was it due to one major event that turned your life upside down? Or was it a long list of trauma, some bigger, some smaller, just piling up one on top of the other until you were simply so weighed down you felt unable to move?

Many of us at some time in our lives feel broken… maybe so badly we couldn’t believe anyone would want to invest in us, love us, value us. We buy into the lies the world tells us about who we are and what we should or should not expect to be possible in our lives. Before the hands of time have barely moved, we assume they’ve passed us by.

While where we find ourselves in life is certainly a combination of circumstances within and outside of our control, it’s never too late to turn our lives over to God. Beginning with recognizing our need for salvation and inability to save ourselves, we begin a new life. As God searches out and heals those broken areas of our life we discover our need to be… broken.

Although we can claim salvation the moment we recognize our need and ask for it, becoming a follower of Jesus is a daily journey. Every day we seek God. Every day we look for ways to find God’s will for our lives and do what He asks. But even when we know in our hearts our decision making ability is at best a distant second to God’s, out of habit and our still active sinful nature we keep trying to impose our own will. At its core, being broken and contrite before God is realizing and acting on the knowledge that God is God and we are not. For most of us being broken means the constant need to consciously surrender our will to Him. Not the broken we were when we came to God,
a better broken.

You took me in when I’d thrown myself out.
Words weren’t enough to save me.
Psychology and self help couldn’t breach
the walls I built to hide me.

Then God, you pushed through all my barriers,
and my fear of being exposed
fell away before your love and mercy.
Before your light my shadows fled.
Now I’m not afraid to be the me you made.

No longer broken,
but seeking a better broken.
Lord please exchange my will for yours.
You’ve kept all your promises,
though I often faltered.
Your guiding hand helped me through the door.

A better broken, Lord.
Lord, a better broken.
A better broken, Lord.
Lord, a better broken.

When I built my life with pride,
a stubborn stance on feet of clay,
from such a lofty height
came my greater fall.

But when I’m broken,
that’s when God can reach me.
When I’m broken,
my noise just fades away,
like fog dried by the sun,
then swept into the sea.

Struggles take on new meaning
when I’m broken.
Hurdles only mean I’m closer still
to the destination you saved for me,
toward your will
and design.

No longer bitter,
better broken.
Reconciled
by the words you’ve spoken.
A better broken, Lord,
a better broken.
A better broken, Lord,
a better broken.

©Joel Tipple
#1/15

Creature of Hope

cropped blossom

You were drowning in despair,
just waiting for the end.
Then you came up for air.
A message from a friend
spelled new beginning for you.

Now you’re a new creature,
a creature of hope,
a child of Jesus,
giving out warm
as the world grows colder.
You can’t contain it.
Why would you want to?
And so, you’re growing bolder.

This is victory,
now you can see
beyond you.
Your eyes open wide,
seeing possibilities
you never saw before.
God is alive in you.

Feed the flame, feed the flame.
Call out His name,
creature of hope.
Feed the flame, feed the flame.
Call out the name of Jesus,
creature of hope.

Let the world know
for them the stone was rolled,
creatures of hope.
For those who were healed,
to those the truth revealed
share the message
of death, resurrection, and new life…
Creatures of hope, creatures of hope.

© Joel Tipple
#19/14

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

Don’t Keep the Faith

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It’s so tempting to keep your salvation to yourself,
protecting it, like a beautiful bird in a pretty cage.
But God’s love really flies out in the real world.
You need to let it show; don’t keep the faith.

Don’t keep the faith, don’t keep it, all locked up inside you.
Don’t keep the faith, growing cold, away from the sun in the sky.
Don’t keep the faith. That anthem always had it wrong, I believe.
Because a glass of water held under lock and key…
will still go dry.

Now the Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He doesn’t go knocking down doors.
He goes where He’s invited and empowers the children of God.
Those born again, are given a part in the great commission
and that doesn’t involve keeping Him on a shelf like a set of laws.

Don’t keep the faith, children, don’t keep it, all locked up inside you.
Don’t keep the faith, growing cold, away from the sun in the sky.
Don’t keep the faith. That anthem always had it wrong, I believe.
Because a glass of water held under lock and key…
will still go dry.

Release it. Sonshine. Release it. Now is the time.
Release it. Sonshine. Release it…
Don’t keep the faith.

© Joel Tipple
373

Falling Forward

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If walking is falling forward
then what do we mean by fall?
There are so many kinds;
how do we keep track of them all?

There’s the falling that can cause injury,
as when falling off a roof.
Even a short fall can be catastrophic,
let’s say you tumble off your stoop.
A fall from grace is the fodder for news.
Those stories make me sad, but I’m seldom amused.

Falling in love is easy.
With the right person, love can stay new.
I’m blessed that way, that I fell to stay,
and so happy she fell for me too.

© Joel Tipple
353