Father

Daddy, Dad, Papa, Father,

the names we have for our own,

the names our own call us.

So much bound up in one little word

for the man we invest with our trust.

 

“I’ll fix it!”

 

Baby, if you only knew

how new you are to me.

But how complicated can you be?

Just some biology, right?

 

Honey, where’s her mute button?

She didn’t come with one?

She’s fed.

Her diaper’s changed

I’m sooo tired…

“I can fix this.”

 

What kind of homework do you have?

A project?

When is it due?

Tomorrow morning?!

Okay, let’s get started.

 

The school dance?

She’s not that old!

She IS that old?

How did she get that old?

 

“I can’t fix this.”

 

High School, maybe college, a job, her own baby

and the cycle’s complete.

Like shampoo, rinse, repeat

and I still can’t get any sleep.


“God, help me fix this.”

A grandfather?

I can’t be that old!

I AM that old?

How did I get to be this old?!

 

One day I’m carrying you,

the next you’re holding me.

And in a flash life happens,

filling the pages in between.

 

God, our perfect father,

If we’re wise, we look to you first

To help us raise little humans

at their best and at their worst.

 

There is a book, after all,

though dads are loath to read instructions.

But first things first, can you help me

find my reading glasses?

©Joel Tipple
#6/16

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

The Way Forward

I’ve learned
there is one who’s been where I am.
Despite the world’s complexities,
God’s provided a plan.
He must have a sense of humor
or he wouldn’t have chosen me,
but he chose you too. Don’t you see?
Here’s the way forward.

We are made by our creator
for adventure,
but in our walk, we aren’t always
the best navigators
of the way forward.
Pray, search God’s word,
take the best co-pilot with you
on the way.

Don’t let the world define you,
it’ll be all for you, then against.
It loves to drag your eyes
and your will from the present tense.
If God wanted you stuck in the past
here’s where you wouldn’t be.
Since Jesus paid for your sin
and your mistakes
shouldn’t you make peace with God
and be free?

You can’t call yourself a failure
if you aren’t yet in the ground.
The struggle’s not for nothing,
you can hear the angels’ cheering sound.
Bruised and bloodied but not beaten,
you can go another round.
God’s in your corner.
There’s the bell’s sound.
Stand up and go forward.

Use your freedom
to lift others along the way,
man of God.
Spread the good news
man by man, man by family.
Count the cost,
then go the distance
he’ll open hearts
and help the blind see.
Just go forward faithfully.
Go forward faithfully.

©Joel Tipple
#1/16

A Gift of Kindness

Christmas tree

He has told you, oh man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

Justin sat on his bed with a pad of paper and pencil, his legs crossed and eyes drawn together as he concentrated on the task at hand, writing what ostensibly was to be his yearly Christmas list. He’d been following what was now his yearly tradition for some time, since he decided he was too old to ask Santa for anything directly but not too old to make a list and hint to his parents that they could pass on ideas to the jolly one if they wanted to. It was normally as easy a task as you’d expect it to be for a boy his age. Just like anyone else he was bombarded with advertisements for this toy and that, games galore, electronics sure to make him the envy of his friends. Those things still held a strong attraction, but his perspective on the world and his place in it was changing. There was something in the air, something tense, like the feeling he got before a test at school when he hadn’t studied enough. It seemed like he was noticing the adults in his life getting more and more irritable, a little like when the flu went through his school and so many kids were out sick.There was this mean way people were treating each other that was going around. Once, when his grandfather caught him being mean to his little sister he sat him down and said, “Justin, do you know how important you are to your little sister? “No,” he said. “Well, you are. There are some things that she will learn best if she learns them from her family. If you teach her how to be kind she has a much better chance of growing up to be a kind person. That’s very important. It’s what Jesus taught. It’s also a fruit of the spirit.” So, it was with these ideas that seemed on the verge of being a little too big for him and God tugging on Justin’s heart that he began his list, though, as he wrote, it seemed more of a plea.

Justin’s Christmas list.

Mom and Dad would you be kind this Christmas?
Please, for that day set aside the words that hurt.
I’m sure you plan on giving us the best of all the toys,
but maybe you forgot what little girls and boys
need most of all.
Please be kind for Christmas.

In Sunday school we’re singing
Peace on Earth.
If it’s not too hard,
I wonder if God could start
in our house?
I don’t know exactly how it all works.
It takes all I know to write this verse…
I just hope he understands, anyway.

Could we maybe talk about being kind
for Christmas?
I know I’m just a kid,
and it might be a big thing,
but if it’ll help I’ll clean my room…
How about that?
For Christmas, could we please be kind?

Yesterday at the store, Mom,
you used your outside voice
with the lady who was helping us.
I think her kids
go to our Sunday school.
She looked really sad.
Did she do something bad?
Please if it’s alright,
could we get her
some of what I want
for Christmas?
I could share.

Will there be extra kindness
for Christmas?
I think all my friends at school
could use some too.
If we have some to share
I’ll bet we could.
If I ask real nice
I think you would
for Christmas.

How much does kindness cost?
Here’s my piggy bank.
That should be a good start, I think.
How much is enough?
Quite a bit, I’d say,
but just how can you get more of it
by giving it away?

If I fall down
will you kindly pick me up?
If I can’t reach
will you help me be tall?
If I don’t know the answers,
will you help me
ask better questions?
Then, maybe my brain
won’t feel so small.

Will you be the one
to tell me all about Christmas
by showing me how Jesus lived?
I’d rather know all that
from you, Mom and Dad.
For me it would be
the kindest thing you ever did.

©Joel Tipple
#14/15

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

Grief Hue

DSCN1038

If grief you’re a color
then I’m learning to live with hue
and my mirror presents
a new shade
each day

I may wake up to red
then
go to bed with blue
fighting
to stay alive
and chasing
away the grey

God grant me perspective
as the portrait’s painted
trusting your hand to guide
since I can’t see it finished

your brush and palette make me
the colors become me

I continue feeling forward
with faith
I continue feeling forward
with faith
You God, see the end and its beauty
so I go on feeling forward
with faith

©Joel Tipple
#12/15

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