One Voice

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Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God and there is no other.
Isaiah 45:22 English Standard Version

The Summer of 1972 I was 13-years-old, and in between falling in love with girls, I managed to fall in love with Jesus. It was the height of the west coast Jesus movement and the week-long church camp I attended that August was infused with joyful gospel music and the promise of an exciting life following the Lord. In the Fall several members of our church youth group formed a lunchtime Bible study and we experienced misguided pushback when the school told us we couldn’t hold our prayer meeting on school property. Looking back, I think this only served as encouragement for me. After all, didn’t this reaction from the adults in our life prove we young people were doing something daring and rebellious? Whether we fit the classic mold of rebels or not, God used those early experiences to bring many of us to what would become a lifetime commitment to seeking God’s way. I may not have felt like a revolutionary, but, as my faded blue jeans jacket with “Jesus Is The Way” on it indicated, I wanted everyone to know where I stood. In the years since, my devotion to God has waxed and waned, but true to His Word, the Lord always sought me out, drawing me back to Jesus, where I belong.

Today is truly a concerning time for those committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In some countries, societal pressures and trends have led to the watering down of God’s message, while others have taken a more direct approach by simply outlawing the gathering of Christians altogether, even threatening with death Christ followers who persist. However, attempts to marginalize, politicalize, or weaponize the Church have always ultimately been overcome by the simplicity of Jesus’ message. The power of the Bible lies in its mind-blowing resistance to change and misinterpretation, its ability to bring redemption to fallen man, no matter the forces arrayed against it.

They didn’t know, God,
when they drove you to the cross,
that the message they considered
as so much dross
would change the world.

They might have read, Lord,
their own prophets had preached,
but they lost their ears to hear
and shortened their reach
instead of taking hold
of the only lifeline that mattered.

But as the years continue,
Lord, we’re forced to ask,
how long our world has
before it’s taken to task?
We know you are patient
but now call for us to decide
to be gathered up
as your flock and bride.

For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:2 New Living Translation

© Joel Tipple 5/18/2019

Worthy For a Purpose

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139:13-16 ESV

I have a Christian friend who, truth to tell, I look up to. He knows his bible very well and is one of the most self-sacrificing and loving people you will ever meet. But… there’s something he says that bothers me. Often, when we haven’t seen each other for some time, I’ll ask him how he’s doing. His response is often, “Better than I deserve!” It makes me cringe. Now, I know where he’s going with it, and I’m not bothered that it’s a pat response. We all say things without thinking, and greetings often fall into that category. I know when he says he’s doing better than he deserves he’s referring to the grace that God has extended to humanity through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. My friend is saying he once was lost, but thanks to God’s offer of forgiveness and his acceptance, he is now saved from the fate he deserved.  So, if I understand my friend’s greeting, why does it bother me? It bothers me because just as God loves us enough to want us to give up our sinful ways, he also wants us to change our old view of ourselves, and that includes the worth God places upon us. If we fail to embrace how God sees us, in light of Jesus’ sacrifice, we run the risk of never fulfilling the purpose He has for each of our lives. We are indeed worthy of the purpose for which God has preordained us. Why? The same reason your finally exasperated parents gave when they had run out of other reasons… Because He says so.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
John 1:12 ESV

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10 ESV

Have you been conditioned
like me
by the world you live in?
have you tried filling
that God-shaped place
with counterfeit feelings
and things?
There’s a way for you to go home.
though for too long you have roamed.
Because the Bible tells me so,
Jesus is the means.

Take on
His worthy purpose.
He’ll answer your questions
for existence in time.
Beginning with salvation,
new ownership,
and management,
his business will become your own,
as will mine.

With gifted strength
from God,
fulfill His purpose,
though you can’t see the goal
from your own endzone.
Give the fight to the Lord,
He’ll help you endure.
God has promised
you won’t have to get there
on your own.

© Joel Tipple 03/09/2019
Author of Written in the Light.

 

Counterfeit

(Hold out for what’s real)

For now, we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
1Corinthians 13:12 ESV

Born to this world searching,
pushing up against the walls.
Crying for salvation,
the injustice of it all.
Searching for tomorrow,
not yet finished with today.
Hardly satisfied
with the part we have to play.
Then one day we find
what we think is it.
The only problem is,
it’s a counterfeit.

Jesus, you are
the genuine article.
No knockoffs
or fraudulent goods will do.
The Great I Am
will always triumph over
what isn’t,
and last
when everything pretend
has gone.

The world will say,
“if it feels good, do it”.
Relationships are disposable,
you can always find another.
They say, “trust your heart,”
but when it is deceitful,
families are left
on the side of the road.

Put away your childish things.
Find joy that lasts
in commitment to the maker.
Trade away a life sentence
for true joy everlasting.
God’s restoration
will replace what’s counterfeit.

© Joel Tipple 11/10/2018

To The Dark For Me

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

 

 

 

Home For Christmas

I’m not sure when I first came across the old newspaper. It was in a chest of drawers in a hall closet where our family kept mementos: old photographs, report cards, etc. Most families have a place like that. Somewhere to store memories. For photographs anyway, I suppose that place now is the hard drive on your computer. Back then, for us, it was still a chest of drawers. Today, either someone else in the family has ended up with the newspaper or it’s gone missing, but I was able to find the newspaper article with an internet search. Computers aren’t very romantic, but they are very good at saving information like that. For this I’m grateful.

The newspaper is The Humboldt Standard, December 20, 1955, four years before I was born. Dominating local news at the time was the largest flood the Eel River valley had ever experienced. Thousands were made homeless and there were many many acts of heroism as the area was largely cut off from the rest of the world except by air. Christmas would be spoiled again by an even larger flood nine years later. A pole near Miranda shows the 1964 flood crest at an amazing 46 feet above the highway surface. In ‘55 it got to just shy of 43. The story I refer to begins on page one and continues on page five. One of several large pictures on that page shows the tops of two cars as they are about to disappear under water. Two white arrows point to the roofs as they are difficult to see in the night shot. A good part of the left side of the page is taken up by a picture of two men standing next to a rowboat. The taller man on the left with a concerned look on his face is identified as Chester Goble. The man on the right, his head turned toward Chester, is holding a flashlight in one hand and one of the boat oars in the other. He and Chester have just saved the lives of eight people, two adults and four children from the first car, and two 18-year-olds from the second. A 70 year old man, who was also in the first car, didn’t make it out that night. His body was recovered from the car the next day. The man standing next to Chester is my dad. In 1955 he was 28.

I don’t remember asking my dad about the photograph. When I was growing up he could be intimidating, hard to talk to. I wish I had tried, because I might have more details. But it’s clear that the little my mom volunteered when I asked about the newspaper at the time was true. She said, “He and that other man saved those people. They were heroes.”

When the Eel River floods, it spreads out through the valley. That night in ‘55, a low spot on Waddington road on the outskirts of Ferndale began to cover with water. A normal wet year might mean driving through a few inches of water, but as the rain continued to intensify this swath of road through dairy pasture became what it really always was, a branch of the Eel River. Since my dad’s business was automotive repair and towing, I suspect what brought him to the scene was a call to rescue a car, but as the water quickly rose and surrounded two cars along with their occupants, the situation changed dramatically.

Fast forward to about ten years ago.. One evening when Lori and I were having dinner with my parents the subject of the rescue came up. Dad related that the day to him was a series of miracles. At the scene, it became clear to get to the cars a boat would be needed fast, so Dad took off in search of one. He eventually found a suitable row boat in someone’s yard, but no one was home and he didn’t have a way of getting it back to the scene. So he took off again in search of something to transport the boat. In another yard he found an old flatbed truck that looked like it hadn’t moved in ages. Again, no one home. Growing more desperate, he opened the driver’s side door of the truck, and to his wonder there was a key in the ignition. But would it start? He got in, turned the key, hit the floor starter, the engine turned over… and caught! He was in business. My dad, now a truck thief, soon to be a boat thief, continued back and managed to load the boat onto the truck. Back at the road/river, somehow, the two managed to get almost everyone out of the two vehicles before they were completely submerged.

Dad’s story ended at this point and no one pressed him for details. Later, talking to Lori, he expressed how he had never gotten over not being able to get the last person out. He said he tried to go back, but Chester stopped him and said, “Jack you can’t. You’ve got a family, and it’s too late. You can’t save him.” Apparently for the rest of his life he carried the burden of the one life out of nine they were unable to save. While I’m sure he could appreciate what he and Chester were able to accomplish, he never really stopped grieving over that one life lost. Many rescuers would take to the skies and water before the ‘55 flood was over, then, once again in ‘64. As illustrated in the parable of the lost lamb in Luke 15, I believe God has implanted in our hearts the desire to always bring back the one who is lost.

Lost lamb at Christmas,
What kind of lost are you?
Have your feet taken you far from home,
or has your hardened heart left too?

The door to home is never closed
the fireplace always warm
for those who would repent and turn,
and come in from the storm.

Rejoice for the rescued.
For those no longer astray.
We have all at one time
been unable to find our way.

May God give us a burden at Christmas
to reach out to the lost,
to the young and old with ravaged minds,
and bodies torn and tossed.

Jesus was born into our world
to shepherd us back to the fold.
God, don’t let us rest until we’ve reached
every wayward and wandering soul.

©Joel Tipple
#41/14