Joseph’s Heart

 

Joseph, how’s your heart?
How do you perceive
the son of God
your Mary’s conceived?
What kind of man are you
who refused to send her away?

Joseph, we don’t know much about you,
do we?
We know when you discovered
Mary was with child
you refused to publicly shame,
but rather decided to divorce her in private.

Then came the dream…
and the angel.

Perhaps an ordinary man would consider
the angelic visitation
a fanciful imagining,
or indigestion…
but you didn’t.

You took Mary and the miracle
and made them your family.
God couldn’t have chosen you lightly.
What was it about your heart?

What was it about your heart,
simple carpenter from Nazareth?
Stepfather to Jesus,
chosen to protect and care for our Lord.

God picked you, Joseph
to be
the most important dad
in history,
a man who played a vital part…
God knew your heart.

Joseph, with the rising of the sun
See this baby who is and isn’t your son.
The angel said, “Don’t be afraid…”
Did you think, “that’s easy for an angel to say”?
So here you are, with your unique family
and no decent place to stay.
How is your heart?

Did you wonder, “How could God choose me?”
Could you feel the weight of history?
Or, like any father, in an unexpected place,
did you wall off your fears,
put on a brave face
and slow your pounding heart?

Did you wonder, why wasn’t he born in a castle,
with servants for every need?
Why would the Holy Spirit
pick out a simple man like me
for this special baby and Mary?

Questions upon questions made you dizzy,
Why are these shepherds visiting?
What am I to do?
God, answer my heart.
Help me see.

Then later, when it was time for the circumcision,
you and Mary marvelled at the words of Simeon.
We suppose you must have been both frightened and proud.

Then, your heart’s strength is tested
while on the run to Egypt.

If your hair wasn’t already gray by this time,
it must have turned so when Jesus disappeared
at the age of twelve, for three days, following the festival.
In the blink of an eye, you see your child becoming a man
when you and Mary discover him
in the midst of the temple teachers.

There is a long period of your son’s life
We know almost nothing about, Joseph.
Though he was not of you, certainly much of you
was invested in our Lord
Joseph, you were a special man.
You raised Jesus,
but didn’t live to see the moment
he fulfilled God’s rescue plan.

We relate to you Joseph
because we often don’t see
the conclusion of stories
which begin as dreams.
God chose you for a special part,
but first, he made your heart.

©Joel Tipple
#10/16

 

 

 

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Someone Needs Jesus

Though a heavy blanket of darkness
threatens to overwhelm me
I search through its suffocating fabric
for a spot of light
and tear it open.

Someone needs Jesus.

When I’m bound up in my troubles
and can’t seem to get out
of my own head,
when my biggest issue is my list of issues,
I set them aside.

Someone needs Jesus.

When any effort I make
seems to be just a drop
in the ocean of the world of troubles,
I take up an oar anyway
and row with the strength I do have.

Someone needs Jesus.

Walking down a crowded street
people part around me
like water swirling round a stone.
How many are really drowning
while pretending they can breathe?
How many?
God could use me
to lift them out of the water
and point the way home.
Will I reach out?
Lord, give me the courage to reach out.

Women who feel weak and used,
men convinced they’re not enough,
children forced to grow before they’re ready
need real help and compassion
fueled by Jesus.
For those cast aside by those who should have cared,
for the people even advertising ignores,
let them know they are precious
in the sight of Jesus.

Lord, please keep in the front of my mind
names of those I know
who don’t know you.
Help me take down barriers
while it is day
and there is time.

God of wonders,
author of the world,
each soul is precious to you.
Give me a heart with a burden
to share and proclaim your good news.
This is my prayer,
Amen.

©Joel Tipple
#3/16

I’m Not Superman

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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
#2/16

The Heart of Thankfulness

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What qualities do you admire most in people? Friendly? Funny? Outgoing? Kind? Intelligent? Certainly I think you’d discover one common denominator would be the quality of thankfulness. While the most miserable people seem best at finding the worst, the happiest ones have a way of tapping into an attitude of gratitude that buoys them even in difficult circumstances and similarly lifts everyone around them. No matter their physical appearance, they somehow manage to be the most beautiful people in the room.

In his first letter’s exhortations to the Thessalonians, chapter five, verses 16 through 18, Paul says to “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Note that he says, “in everything.” The circumstances may be horrible, but an attitude of thankfulness can keep hope, essential as breathing, alive even then.

How can we break out in thanksgiving
even in the middle of mourning, grief and pain?
How can we be there for the living?
If God’s commanded, he’ll surely provide a way
to be thankful.

Lord, maybe I’ve taken leave of my senses,
to be joyful, in a world missing paradise,
but since you’ve given me permission
I’ll swing for the fences,
and be so thankful.

No matter how the earth groans,
no matter whether man
tries to destroy all you’ve given,
I know you’re sovereign, Lord.
No matter how dark the news,
and evil seems to win,
I’ll search for the way…
to remain thankful.

I’ll enter your gates with thanksgiving.
I’ll enter your courts with praise,
for you are good and your love is eternal.
I will not fear what I can’t see in the night,
I won’t fear the dark in the day,
for you remain Lord no matter where or how I am.
For that and so much more I’m thankful.

Lord heap my heart
full of thanksgiving,
Heap it up till it overflows.
Heap it so I can’t keep it to myself,
The whole world has to know.

God’s word helps me to perceive,
we must be illuminators of his love,
justice and hope.
Circumstances will change,
our health may ebb and flow.
The world’s economy might fluctuate,
but that won’t change what I know.
So I’m thankful.

Whether we face plenty or hunger,
abundance or need,
we can do all things
through Christ who strengthens us.
He is our sufficiency
and we are thankful.

Though we’re persecuted, we will not be abandoned;
Though we’re struck down, we will not be destroyed.
we lift our hands and rejoice
because we look toward the one who does not change
and give our offering of thanksgiving.

Lord heap our hearts
full of thanksgiving,
Heap them up till they overflow.
Heap them so we can’t keep it to ourselves,
The whole world has to know.

Take over the places in me
that are not all about you,
like the place that calculates
what’s owed me
and from whom.
If you would, Lord, make it over… Lord, make me over.
You know God, we’re pretty selfish
and we’ve all got our wish lists.
It seems they’ve changed only little
from the days we were kids.
But Lord, among those qualities I value,
grow in my estimation that of gratitude.

Imagine the world like that,
thankfulness,
spreading like a good disease.
I can’t possibly overestimate
what it could mean.
All that taking turning into giving.
Ground zero right here.
That’s a funny thought…
infectious agents for Jesus.
Ha!

Lord, heap our hearts
full of thanksgiving,
Heap them up till they overflow.
Let the good news
from our overflowing grateful hearts
draw those we meet
to your kingdom.
Lord, heap our hearts.

©Joel Tipple
#13/15

The World On Your Shoulders

You’ve got a little more of the world on your shoulders

today than you did yesterday.

And even though you know it’s the best you can do

sometimes you find it hard to pray.

You could close your eyes to the war outside;

it’s often so far from your door,

but the news leaks in or blows through with the wind,

so you can’t look away anymore.

Now it’s there on your shoulders.

Heavy where the light should be.

Challenging your tranquility

with its relentless gravity.

It’s hard to face the world with a smile

when you’ve got the world on your shoulders.

It’s hard to walk that extra mile

with your feet stuck in the sand.

Turn to the one who can help you

with that weight on your shoulders

when it’s hard to breathe

or understand.

You’re running out of joy

and out of touch with the father.

On your own the journey’s all uphill,

and farther.

Seek the power of the Holy Spirit

for all the pain you feel around you,

every sickness, every fight,

every child caught in-between.

Stand in the gap for those left undefended,

all those chased by the cold and biting wind.

Advocate before God for the powerless,

who only know defeat.

Know your burden as well

for those who think they have it made,

whose castles have yet to be plundered

by circumstance or age.

Our faith is often misplaced

in the temporal, tomorrow’s dust.

What today is bright and gleaming

will be another day’s rust.

There’s no insurance sold by man

that can buy us away from death.

Only one, Jesus Christ, already paid our debt.

Take Jesus to the world, as you’re awakened by your burden.

Purpose to share, as God opens doors.

To a hope starved world, bring salvation’s message;

that’s what the weight is for.

When the fog and darkness gather, be the beacon that lights the way

for those adrift, astray or aimless

through the rocks to a welcoming shore.

Neither run from your burden

with its overwhelming weight

or allow its avalanche

to chase your heart till it breaks.

Take all to God

who knows every heart.

Take your instructions from the maker

who has prepared your part.

©Joel Tipple
#7/15

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

©Joel Tipple
#1/15