Who are you? The answers to this question might range all the way from simple to deeply philosophical. We are more than our name, our parents, where we live, who we love, or what we do. We are more than any of the traditional definitions of identity, whether grouped together or set apart.
Proverbs 22:6 says, Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. One interpretation of this verse is to encourage children in the way of their natural talents and abilities. Yes, parents should provide godly instruction and moral foundational training their children take with them the rest of their lives, but just as important is the insight a parent can give that will help a child fully develop the unique qualities God has planted within them. While we all spend our lives searching for and developing what it is that makes us special, those most responsible for our growth and development should give special prayerful attention in this way. Has a parent or someone else in your life made an effort to help you grow your talents and discover your best self? What an invaluable gift!

What’s in a name?

Often there’s a story behind someone’s name. Were you named after your parent or another family member? Do you have an unusual name? Does your name reflect a wish from your parents that you would inhabit a particular quality or trait? In some cultures the strongest driving force motivating individuals is protecting the honor of the family name. Last names are often changed following marriage. Sometimes people change their names to change their story. There are many instances in the Bible where God changed an individual’s name for just that reason.

You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram, your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.  I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you”
Genesis 17:4-6

“That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”The man asked him, “What is your name?”“Jacob,” he answered.Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome”
Genesis 32:22-28

Later, in the New Testament we find Jesus has changed the name of a fisherman named Simon, revealing the new course his life will take.
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”
Matthew 16:18-19

No matter what your name is now, God has a plan for you. That plan may not involve a legal name change, but without a doubt, there are many names he will give you, like: loved, overcomer, redeemed, chosen, forgiven, son, daughter, saved.

Who do you call me, Lord?
A name I didn’t know,
that didn’t know me.
Who do you call me, Lord?
I’m full of joy and expectation
because you call me Free.
If you’d asked before I knew you
and the moment you called me friend
I might have said the only hope I had
was someday it would end.
But now that you have named me,
I’ll never face this life alone,
for all of my todays
and the day you call me home.

© Joel Tipple 7/19/2020

To The Dark For Me

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33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
Mark 15:33-34 NIV

Easter. We celebrate on this day the victory over darkness Jesus secured for us. This free gift of eternal life was dearly bought. Consider for a moment the darkest day you’ve ever experienced. The loneliest. Has there ever been a time when the entire weight of the world seemed pressed down upon you? Multiply that. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived life as a human, preached the kingdom of God, and performed many miracles, including raising the dead. This God/man was then unjustly convicted and sentenced to a brutal public execution. It began at about nine in the morning. At noon, as the Bible records, the land went dark for three hours. Think about how frightening this must have been for those who experience it! The longest solar eclipse is a matter of minutes. It must have seemed like the world was coming to an end. However, instead of a bitter end, Jesus’ death heralded a wonderful new beginning for all of mankind because Jesus rose from the dead, thereby defeating death forever. If we believe in Jesus and the sacrifice he made for us, if we then turn from our way and accept His. We can have the gift of eternal life He paid for with His blood. Jesus Christ experienced terrible darkness so we can live in eternal light.

When night fell
in the middle of the day
Jesus, you paid the price
so I didn’t have to pay.
You went to the dark for me.

On earth, in heaven, our king.
There, between two thieves,
you gave compassion
while demanding none for yourself.
You went to the dark for me.

To the dark for me,
to the dark for me,
through the scourge, the nails, the taunts and the mockery.
To the dark for me,
to the dark for me,
though in agony, Jesus, you went to the dark for me.

Now I have dreams
because you faced the nightmare,
and there is nothing I can give you
except surrender.

Sweet mystery,
sweet mystery,
that my pardon was purchased before I could search it,
sweet mystery.
The greatest story…
I’ll tell your story,
that you sacrificed your life for all mankind.

Though I do great deeds,
I could never repay.
Though thousands revere me and honor my name,
I could never earn the gift you gave away…
when you defeated the grave.

To the dark for me,
you went to the dark for me,
when Jesus, a curtain fell across the sun.
Lamb of God, given and risen, glorious one.
We’re freed from sin, so now and forever, your love has won…
because you went to the dark for me,
you went to the dark for me,
He went to the dark… for you.

©Joel Tipple

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

Good Morning!


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

Missing Heartbeats


One fifteen thousand times a day,
your heart was born to beat that way.
Jesus died for you and he rose again,
abundant life is now yours and freedom from sin.
The joy that you’ll feel will make your heart skip some beats,
now you’re free from that Adam disease.

If it seems I’m missing just a few of my heartbeats,
if counting them I come up shy every time,
it’s cause Lord, you fill me up with love and new meaning. I’m your design.
Your perfect love covers all my imperfections
and all I’ve gotta do is to surrender me.
You make my heart so full God that it skips some beats, see,
but they were never mine.
No they were never mine.

Joyfully my heart beats. Joyfully my heart beats.
Joyfully my heart beats. Joyfully my heart beats.
Joyfully my heart beats. Joyfully my heart beats.
Joyfully my heart beats. Joyfully my heart beats.

Life everlasting
Love never failing
Push away from the shore
Now you’re sailing!

God gives a new heart when you turn from sin,
when you turn to him.
You’ll put away your childish ways and become a beacon of light.
Help those you meet in the world gain new sight.

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror;
then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully,
even as I am fully known.”

If it seems I’m missing just a few of my heartbeats,
if counting them I come up shy every time,
it’s cause Lord, you fill me up with love and new meaning. I’m your design.
Your perfect love covers all my imperfections
and all I’ve gotta do is to surrender me.
You make my heart so full God that it skips some beats, see,
but they were never mine.
No they were never mine.

They were never mine.
And you take my breath away.
They were never mine.
You take my breath away.
They were never mine.

© Joel Tipple

Wake Up And Breathe


My friend, like a lot of people
you are searching
and searching’s not a bad place to be

to the light
point me to the light

but neon signs of false gods
masquerade as reality
their garish promises mislead
and leave you empty

to the light
point me to the light

truth strikes a chord when you find it
just like God designed it
you thought your heart was locked securely
but Jesus has the key

wake up and breathe
wake up and breathe
you were made to be one with the Father
where he leads, you can learn to follow
wake up and breathe
wake up and breathe

trade in those superficial dreams you thought were so fantastic
back before you had eyes to see
throw away your calendar
full of yesterdays
wake up and breathe

instead of marching in place
instead of waiting for someone
instead of trying in vain to reinvent yourself
let Jesus reveal who you were always meant to be

wake up and breathe
wake up and breathe
you were made to be one with the Father
where he leads, you can learn to follow
wake up and breathe
wake up and breathe

This is the most important decision you will ever make.
Are you ready?
now breathe.

© Joel Tipple

We Are New

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We are drawn to the cross, Lord,
where instead of a bitter ending
a joyous new beginning burst forth for all humanity.
Because of your astounding love we are new.

We are new and becoming new,
though by rights we should not be.
The sin that was our inheritance
you purchased on Calvary.
We are new and becoming new.
You reached down with your nail scarred hand.
You saw the lost children we were,
then gave us vision for who we could be.

The future we embrace now,
for this course we race now
we do not run alone.
You carry us when our strength leaves
and eternal life is our guarantee
for your power rolled away the stone.

We are new and becoming new,
for your sacrifice tore the veil.
Because we are adopted sons and daughters
death cannot prevail.
Life is new.

The world now can’t claim us as its own.
We have eternity written in our hearts
and a place before your throne.
We are new.

Earthquakes and tidal waves,
fires and ferocious storms,
poverty and sickness,
cannot prevail against your love.
No matter what the scales read before
your love is more.
Because you died
and rose again
we are new,
and becoming new.

© Joel Tipple