Out of Control

I was driving the family car. I had been a passenger many times, but never the driver, and I was terrified that at any moment I would do something wrong. The sun was on its way down, and I was on the edge of losing control when I crested the top of a short hill just outside of town and woke up. I’m not sure how I managed to drive, since, at age eight, there was no way my legs could have reached the pedals, but hey, it was my “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” dream, and in a situation like that, rules are made to be broken. It was a recurring nightmare when I was a child. It could have meant something or nothing at the time. I don’t know.

Have you ever found yourself at a point in life where you felt, like in my dream, that you were barely holding on? Since we can’t be certain when the circumstances of our lives will take a wild and crazy turn, it’s worth considering what and where our place of hope and security is. You may feel, as an adult, that you’re better prepared to be behind the wheel of your life than I was to be driving our Oldsmobile, but just what is waiting for you beyond that hill’s crest? When you get there, will money keep you safe? Your own strength? Your family and friends? No matter how well you’ve managed your finances, no matter how well you eat and how much you exercise, no matter the quality of your personal relationships, the reality of the human condition is that stuff happens. So what, then? Is it a waste of effort to be right and responsible? Or rather, given what many view as the uncertainty and ultimate futility of life, should we teach the virtues of selfishness and hedonism?

Over 2,000 years ago a man came along claiming to be the Son of God. At first those in power viewed him as simply another in a long line of self-aggrandizing trouble makers. But the politically sanctioned murder of Jesus Christ was not the end, instead, it was just the beginning. In dying, then defeating death by rising from the grave, our Lord made available eternal life to those who would turn to Him. Not only did the teachings of Jesus show us how to live life here on earth, his actions secured our access to eternal life in the place God has prepared for those who ask for forgiveness and turn from their sins.

   Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
John 14:6-7 ESV

  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
John 10:27-29 ESV

Your tears and blood
have won
But for your tears
and blood
we’d be forever done
the end would be the end
but for the one who calls me friend
now darkness and death
turn to light and life
eternal joy instead of strife
because of the Son

© Joel Tipple 11/2/2019

Jesus and Jerry Maguire

In 1996 Tom Cruise (Jerry Maguire), Renee Zellweger (Dorothy Boyd), and Cuba Gooding Jr. (Rod Tidwell) starred in “Jerry Maguire,” a movie about a sports agent desperate, after being fired, to stay in the game by taking his best client with him. Zellweger’s character is a single mother who falls in love with Maguire after leaving the same company to work with him. After 23 years some of the movie’s quotes still resonate, and I found myself seeing parallels to the Christian life in a few of them.

“Show me the money!”
Gooding Jr., who won Best Supporting Actor for his role as Rod Tidwell, Maguire’s sole client, reminds his agent to keep his eye on the ball by getting the best deal possible. “Show me the money, Jerry!” Christians need to remember that money isn’t the root of all evil, but the love of money is.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
1st Timothy 6:10 ESV

“Did you know dogs and bees can smell fear?”
“Did you know the human head weighs eight pounds?”
Jonathan Lipnicki, (Ray Boyd) who played Zellweger’s young, trivia-master son, probably had more memorable quotes than any cast member. Christians can get bogged down in theological debates over trivial issues that may not mean all that much. But, because we’re human, we’ll find ways to fight over almost anything. Case in point, something like 200 protestant denominations. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.  And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,…
2 Timothy 2:23-24 ESV

“You make me want to be a better man.”
“You Complete me.”

Maguire’s expressions of love say his life is missing something critical if he’s only about his business. A Christian’s love for God is greater, and more “complete,” than romantic love. Our desire to get closer to God and see others as He sees them becomes the theme for our lives as we become more mature sons and daughters of God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16 ESV

“You had me at hello.”
As Maguire winds up his speech, explaining how any success he achieves is incomplete without Boyd in his life, Boyd cuts him off, saying, “You had me at hello.” God understands what we want to say to Him, even before we say it. Do not be like them, for your father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:8 ESV

Father, let me live in the assurance of the love and devotion you displayed, when the world was forever changed by the sacrifice you made.

© Joel Tipple 8/17/2019



Have you ever felt like you’re underwater
but so unequipped to swim?
Have you ever believed the world walking by
knows some secret way to fit in?
Don’t buy into the message society likes to sell,
the story that goes: Buy our car, wear our clothes, eat our food
and all will be well.

Never enough
What the world sells
Never enough
though your accounts are topped over
Never enough
to buy your freedom from fear
Never enough
You must be new here,
’cause sooner or later everyone learns
are never enough.

© Joel Tipple

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21 ESV (English Standard Version)

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world
1 John 2:16 ESV