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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The Wings of a Butterfly

We all live

and we all die.

God gives us some time in between.

By his grace, while we’re here,

like the butterfly,

we move our wings.

 

Just how much do we really matter?

How much could we really matter?

Ask a butterfly if the edies of air that are born

with the movement of its wings

can make a storm.

Ask a butterfly.

 

Gather some thoughts.

Build some words.

Add a dash of joy

from a praise song you’ve heard.

Reach up your hands

to the giver of life

Make all we are and will become

ever sanctified

to Jesus.

 

 

God always has a reason

For his sometimes mysterious ways

Since he chooses us to be his hands and feet

Why would we waste even a day?

 

Wonderful Father, almighty creator,

would that we, and all life

Move at the direction

of your loving and just hands.

 

Gather some thoughts.

Build some words.

Add a dash of joy

from a praise song you’ve heard

Reach up your hands

to the giver of life

Make all we are and will become

ever sanctified

to Jesus.

 

©Joel Tipple
#7/16

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

I’m Not Superman

DSCN1158

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 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