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…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,…
1st Peter 3:15 ESV

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Colossians 4:6 ESV

In this day of instant communication, the irony is that in many ways there is less of it now than there has ever been. Within seconds I can tell thousands of people any old thing that enters my head, and as a result you would think that communication, since it’s seemingly so easy to do, would not be the minefield it is. So what’s standing in the way of our being able to relate to each other in meaningful ways, especially as Christians who wish to engage with and affect our world? The issue, as I see it, is twofold, what we bring on board, and what we share.

1) Input
Consider the funnel effect. If you picture all the information we’re exposed to on a regular basis trying to make its way into our minds through a funnel, you can understand that it doesn’t matter how big the top of the funnel is, there’s still a limit on the amount of information we can process at any given time. Because there is so much, it’s probably more important than ever to be discerning in selecting what gets in. Despite our boasts of being able to multi-task, there really is only so much information we can or should give our attention to. At some point you’ll have to decide between the on-base percentage of your favorite infielder from 1997-’98, the relative nutritional benefits of broccoli vs chocolate cream pastry, and how we should pray for the person we just met. Maybe you have more brain cells at your disposal. Me? Something’s getting pushed out. God desires to direct our thoughts and words always. But you can’t share what you don’t know or have a personal interest in.

2) Output
Have you heard the expression, “Garbage in, garbage out?” It relates to the information and instructions programmed into computers. There used to be a joke product you could buy. It was a series of cards attached to a handle, and on the cards were supposedly clever/funny comments you could select to show people in other cars as you made your way down the road. They ranged from somewhat cute to outright offensive. I guess anything that takes your mind off the road AND possibly contributes to road rage is a bad idea. If our focus for relating to the world is more about entertaining people or attracting their attention by showing them how clever or important we are, we’ve lost any handle we ever had on fulfilling the Great Commission.

Christ-centered or self-centered?
I guess there was a time when politics weren’t so acrimonious, but it’s getting harder and harder to recall. Thing is, you can find the same sort of vitriol in newspapers from colonial times. I think it’s just easier to lash out at people we think represent the opposite view from ours when we have ready access to the bullhorn of the internet. Who needs to take the time to consider the ramifications of what they say when it’s so easy to spew, point, and click? Those same attitudes can carry on to our everyday conversations. How does it glorify Jesus when we allow personality based comments, like the ones that use the names of well known politicians, to show our disdain for a particular party or political philosophy? Should we have no opinions? Of course not. Just consider the content of your speech and who or what it emphasizes.

Am I leading myself
to where I think you should go?
Does it vary with the winds of opinion?
Do I lift God’s influence to a high level of importance
only after judging the temperature of the room?
God, direct the content and quality of what I say,
so that it best advances your kingdom.


© Joel Tipple 8/31/2019

Measure

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.
1st Peter 2:9

God, I’d like to be
the measure of a man
you would have me be.
Close my ears and eyes
to how the world defines me.
For when I look
to the left or right
of the road you’ve set before me
suddenly I stumble.

Season my speech
with words wise and giving,
an attitude of joy,
one of great thanksgiving.
If by chance someone hears
some of what I say
I pray my focus
is on the Holy Spirit
because I sought Him
and prayed.

There was a time, Lord,
when the mirror used to be
something other than my friend,
and there was a sad moment in my life
when I prayed for a sooner end.
Thanks for holding off calamity
with your loving hand
and saving me.

If we don’t turn off the news
sometime
with its
relentless
negative
auto-repeat,
we risk rendering our witness worthless
to the point, we cannot speak.
But no matter how dark
the world may become
if we turn our eyes to you
and the sacrifice of your son
we will be saved.

You Lord,
the one who measures rightly,
the one who made the world,
and all its wonders
will always bring us back
from the brink
when we call.
Even though we’re prodigal
and have nothing at all
to earn it,
you’ll forever
heap upon us
so much devotion
we can’t help but share it.
Thank you, Lord.
Thank you, thank you, thank you
for sharing
so much
it could never
ever
be measured.

© Joel Tipple 1/26/2019

Blessed Are

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blessed are
the poor in spirit
theirs is the kingdom of heaven
God holds those humble in the palm of his hand
where to their hearts he tends

blessed are
those who mourn
held in our arms and in our hearts
God’s tender love is expressed for such
who suffer the bitter part

blessed are
the gentle
who cover faults with grace
not thwarted by the harsh and arrogant
they serve with a loving face

blessed are
those with a righteous hunger and thirst
God will move all obstacles
in their path
for they desire to seek him first

blessed are
the merciful
who will receive mercy in kind
the evidence of this quality of God
brings the Son of God to mind

blessed are
the pure in heart
whose eyes focus on the king
they remain cleansed and sanctified
despite Satan’s schemes

blessed are
the peacemakers
reconciliation is how they serve
true disciples of Jesus they bring harmony
his witness on this earth

blessed are
the persecuted
indeed for righteousness’ sake
their unwavering stand separates them
standing not as the world’s claim

blessed are you
sold to the truth
rejected by the world
reviled and abused
blessed are you
of a disciple’s life
who fear not disdain
or the crowd’s angry lies
blessed are you
for Satan’s not concerned
by the lukewarm and uncertain
whose hearts do not burn
rejoice and be glad
sold out for Christ
if the road was easy
there would be no price
but if the grade is steep
and the wind’s in your face
take those for signs
you’re running the right race

(Based on Matthew 5:1-12 The Sermon on the Mount; The Beatitudes)

© Joel Tipple
#30/14