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
#1/17

Kindness

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12

It’s a contentious world, isn’t it? Although I’ve long been a news junkie, I can feel my attitude going south on me if I spend too much time reading or watching it. More and more, the prevailing political attitude from every side seems to be one of winning at all costs. Sometimes cooperation and its attending theme of kindness are swept away in the equation. For that, we all pay dearly. But then, there are those other stories. By contrast with tales of violence and political division, stories of sacrifice and generosity lift our hearts and cause us to remember what Christian ideals of behavior are. I don’t think we have to stick our heads in the sand or ignore the world around us, but finding ways to lighten the load of others has an amazing way of making your own challenges easier to bear. Smile, listen, compliment. Give to or advocate for those who need it. Remind others what God sees in them when they can’t see it in themselves.

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”
Henry James

We are not alone, though at times we feel it.
In isolation, fear and failure seem to grow.
We are made for comforting voices,
helping hands from those we know.


But God finds and buoys us
whether through family, friend,
or stranger.
Jesus uses human hearts and hands,
being born himself in a manger.

Never alone.
No, you’re never alone.
Through joy and sorrow,
laughter and tears,
you’re never alone.


God made kindness
when He made sacrifice

and hearts that grow
by giving away.
If we hurry at all,
we should hurry to be kind.
The best time to be kind?
Today.


©Joel Tipple 1/19/2020









I’m Judging You

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.
Romans 14:10 NIV

Therefore you have no excuse, every one of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things.
Romans 2:1-2 ESV

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these”
George Washington Carver

“Compassion costs. It is easy enough to argue, criticize, and condemn, but redemption is costly, and comfort draws from the deep. Brains can argue, but it takes heart to comfort.”
Samuel Chadwick

Judgment. That’s a heavy word, isn’t it? A Christian’s mind, upon hearing it, would probably go to his/her relationship with God. Our salvation, after all, is based on the relationship Jesus Christ made possible for us by His death and resurrection. The price for our ultimate judgment was paid by that sacrifice. But that’s one kind of judgment at one extreme end of the judgement scale. At the other end might be your spouse’s judgment regarding your decision to wear your favorite Harley Davidson t-shirt to dinner out. You know, the one you bought at that Sturgis rally in ’83? Seriously, throw it away. Its stains have stains. But there are all kinds of judgments we engage in every day. The kinds of judgments that get us into hot water are the ones where we attempt to put ourselves in God’s place. He has that spot wrapped up. Doesn’t need our help. Never did.

Letting go of our need to judge people doesn’t mean they’re released from responsibility for their actions. For all of us, actions always have consequences, though those consequences may not be immediately apparent. This change in attitude frees us to make the energy we’re expending on judgment available for compassion and understanding. Most importantly, it frees up whatever it is we have to be used by God for His purposes.

I’m trading in the robe I’ve worn for judgment.
It looked so sharp the day I put it on.
Every time I chose it, sat down, picked up the gavel,
I felt powerful, superior,
then it dawned…
I’d never be able to let go of my judgments.
One by one I’d have to add them to the weight.
And no robe could ever cover
so much judgment once discovered
as Jesus did by the price he paid.

© Joel Tipple 8/3/2019

Love Isn’t Easy

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34-35 ESV


“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
Romans 13:8 ESV

My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.

1 John 3:18

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
Matthew 5:17-18 ESV

When Christians get together and discuss the state of the world and how it relates to them, the conversation often turns to the general decline in standards of conduct and the increase of sinful behavior. We can probably agree that it’s easier than ever to step across the line when the other side is just a click away, but anyone questioning the growing absence of a moral compass may be judged as being unfairly restrictive of freedom of expression. Consider the way today’s world views and interacts with Christians. While many locations around the globe range from being restrictive to downright dangerous for Christ-followers, even countries with a Christian tradition are finding ways to marginalize them. So it’s no surprise that the church finds itself trying to choose someplace between adopting a foxhole mentality of drawing away from the world to the point we risk losing touch with our communities to becoming just another political group vying for its own special interests. Just how are we to be the salt of the earth? I’m convinced we must love each other desperately, sacrificing for each other while at the same time standing out as a beacon of light for our communities, and not just the parts of our communities easiest to love.

Love isn’t easy,
not as Jesus commanded.
And it wasn’t just the Pharisees
our Lord reprimanded.


In our age love ranges
from dear to trivial,
from life-giving
to simply convivial.


But to impact our world
nearly enough,
beyond our judgement,
they must know us
by our love.


© Joel Tipple 7/27/2019






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

Surrender

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 ESV

Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Matthew 26:39 NIV

The reason some of us are such poor specimens of Christianity is because we have no almighty Christ.  We have Christian attributes and experiences, but there is no abandonment to Jesus Christ.
Oswald Chambers

God, I don’t wish to be
my own sovereign.
Rather, I pray that
You will reign in me.
The life I lived before
I lived for myself only.
A cup filled up with me
will always be empty.

Shape my enthusiasm
so that it’s like
the character of Jesus,
a testimony to
the author of my faith.
I won’t consider finding the finish,
having run alone
a worthy race.

I don’t need to understand
everything You have planned,
but between Jesus, man, and myself,
I choose Jesus.
I’ll step forward in faith
leaving all for His name,
praying to God that it pleases.

© Joel Tipple 3/2/2019
Author of “Written in the Light.”