When to Worship

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Honestly, the book of Habakkuk was not on my radar. It’s a small book near the end of the Old Testament, written by a prophet we don’t know much about. A theme in much of the Old Testament is man’s relationship with God. In a nutshell, man has always had a habit of forgetting God when things are going well and complaining when the situation worsens. The reigning king at the time of Habakkuk, Jehoiakim, was described by the prophet Jeremiah in this way: “your eyes and your heart are intent only upon your own dishonest gain, and on shedding innocent blood and on practicing oppression and extortion” Jer. 22:17 It was against this backdrop, during a time of increasing evil in Judah and oppression by the Babylonians, that Habakkuk writes of praise in chapter 3. I quote chapter 3:17-19 here: “Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds feet, and makes me walk on my high places.”

It’s easy to praise God when the sailing is smooth and complain when we are buffeted by storms. The self discipline required to stop for a moment to consider how we might grow and learn during those times is neither automatic nor easy to come by. However, God is always worthy of our praise and deference, and although we may not always be able to understand His ways, He remains on the throne. Of that we can be certain.

God, please accept my worship.
Let my song be lifted high.
When I focus on what’s difficult in my life,
help me remember the times
you’ve renewed my strength and joy,
carried me when I couldn’t walk.
When my foundation felt unstable
You were always my solid rock.
Increase my understanding,
in the darkness let it be my light.
Give me the same breath to sing in the valley
that I breathe when I sing on the heights.

© Joel Tipple

Not So Pretty Prayers

After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.
Matthew 14:23 NASB

In the tumult of our lives,
the noise and chaos,
we don’t always take the time
to download peace.
Jesus was our model for connection
to our father, who would gladly hear our needs.
Our words don’t always have to be perfection.
God surely wants to hear our naked truth.
A genuine relationship is what he seeks from us,
so don’t try to sanitize your news.

© Joel Tipple 10/15/2018

I’m Not Superman


I’m not Superman, I’m not Batman,
no I’m surely not John or Bruce Wayne.
But what God would make of me
if only I trust him is greater than all that fame.
Show me a man better, stronger than Jesus.
You can’t show me a man better, stronger, than Jesus.

I may not be a light, but I can be a lighthouse,
reflecting the light of Jesus Christ
all day, and through the darkness.
not by my power, but by the power of the one
who went to the dark for me.

No, I’m not made of iron
and anger doesn’t make me stronger.
But since I’ve been born again death here reigns no longer.
Now I can fly and you could say I’m X-man-now-man-of-God.
No, I’m not Superman. No, I’m not Superman.
But life is better, man. Now I’m getting better, man.
My heart is healed by the blood of Jesus and I’m a better man than before.

©Joel Tipple

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.
by the words you’ve spoken.
A better broken, Lord,
a better broken.
A better broken, Lord,
a better broken.

©Joel Tipple

God is not my Hobby

You said:
“It’s nice you go to church.”
You said, “I guess some folks need that. Good for You!”
But, you said it’s just not what you’re into.
and on Sundays you have other things to do.

God is not my hobby.
He didn’t save me to be
just another warm church body
with sanctimonious knees.
God is not my hobby, please.
I didn’t give myself to him
for a sky box in heaven front row seat.
Just sit here a moment with me,
and we’ll talk about the real Jesus scene.
Cause God is not… he’s surely not
my hobby.

You said:
“Religious people are hypocrites. I know some of the people who go to your church.
They aren’t who you think they are.”

God is not my hobby.
You need to check it out with me.
God loves my whole church body.
Though we don’t always behave perfectly.
Real people with real problems,
the need for forgiveness, and a new life,
they’re our friends and neighbors
and to grow we all strive.
No, God is not… he’s certainly not
my hobby.

Then you said,
“I have a really hard time believing this is going to last.
People try to lose weight. They try to give up bad habits.
They fail! How can I put my trust in a god who lets that happen?”

Well, the thing is:
God is not my hobby,
and the word promises me
he won’t leave or forsake me,
though he knows everything.
He loves me as I am
but loves me too much to leave me that way.
God is not… I’m so happy he’s not
just a hobby.

© Joel Tipple


lilac 003

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 ESV

Have you ever heard of a pardon refused
by the person to whom it was offered?
But just so is redemption rejected
by those who pass without the Lord.

The free gift of eternal life
and redemption from eternal separation
is not dependent upon wealth, privilege,
or station.

But we must know our need,
and knowing, ask to be freed,
then by faith, accept the guarantee
of eternal life in God’s kingdom.

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:13-14 NIV

© Joel Tipple

Start Again

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 ESV

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Psalm 138:8 ESV

Start again.
Oh, go ahead and do it.
Set aside
the doubts lingering at your mind’s door.
Begin again.
There’s nothing for it.
Who’s to say that’s all there was and nothing more?

Putting one foot in front of the other
isn’t so simple
for those who cannot stand.
But you’ve got to trust God.
You’ve got to know God
will hold you steady
on your world of shifting sand.

Jesus, I trust you…
my pilot, yes, my guide.
Through the murky waters of this life
You have brought me and will bring me,
almighty, sanctified.
Jesus, I love you,
please hear and be pleased by my praise.
These hands you’ve always held
will forever be raised.
Forever Lord, my hands I raise.
Forever Lord, be praised.

© Joel Tipple

Fellow Ships

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV

We fellow ships,
not neglecting to meet,
we band together.
We seek God and focus our minds and hearts
on a Christ centered plain.

We fellow ships,
we build up one another,
we know our meeting is not in vain.

We fellow ships,
should one stumble,
or shoulder a burden that threatens to overcome,
we will lift up each other in prayer.
We know by the Word and experience
that those words don’t disappear in air.

We fellow ships.
We fellow ships,
in God’s harbor.

© Joel Tipple

Not My Idea

It wasn’t my idea that water come in raindrops.
They aren’t very convenient and arrive unannounced.
The weather person gives his best guess when I turn on my television,
but if a butterfly does a barrel roll
all bets are off.

It’s an unpredictable world
and thank God for it.
It’s an unpredictable world
though we think we can.
It’s an unpredictable world
and I trust Him,
though I’m not always in on the divine plan.

Avoid tainted water.
Avoid declassified ads.
Avoid mono-sodium glutimawhatzit.
Now doesn’t that last sound awful bad?
Are we to avoid negative ions?
Or are the positive ones what we should fear?
It’s no wonder some folks just check out and have a beer.

But even though…
It’s an unpredictable world
with its bulging waistline,
and earthquakes and storms and huge floods,
I’ve got faith that even if I don’t, God has this,
so I continue to pray and worship and trust.
It’s an unpredictable world, but that’s okay.
God knows whats going on.
God, I trust.

© Joel Tipple