Author Archives: Joel Jupp

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It turns out that someone found JoelJupp.com after searching via Google for “American truck driving school.”

As absurd as it sounds, we actually have those things in common. First of all, I am American. Secondly, I have driven a truck. Thirdly, I like driving. Fourthly, I am in school for another master’s degree.

Whoever it was, you rock, and thanks for the laugh. Although I am not an American truck driving school, I hope you enjoyed the website. And keep searching!

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Animoto is kind of scary, yet also very cool. Using this service, you can insert photos and music, and it automatically creates a video. This is an extremely practical tool if you need a quick alternative to a slideshow. My guess is that these videos will soon be all over the internet.

I suppose that some people would consider randomness to be art. (Some fractals, for instance, are random.) But randomization can only go only go so far, especially if it requires little or no skill on our part.

As we enter into a new realm of technological possibilities, we should enjoy the latest forms of digital art, but we need to avoid confusing the latest technology with art.

Just as with any other decision that we make, it would be fair to say that true art must involve willful intent. Beauty can happen by accident, but not art.

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In his closing comments at the Arise Arts Conference, Brian McLaren complimented Christian artists for “using the arts to better the church.” Most of us could agree with that because over the past 30 years the Church has made huge strides in music and arts in the church. There has been an improvement in quality and diversity, as seen in our churches and the success of contemporary Christian music.

Following his brief compliment, McLaren challenged Christian artists to use the arts to “better the world.” His challenge resonated deeply with me. Far too often, we fall into the temptation of using art to improve our local, personal context. We only think within the walls of the Church. In reality, though, art can transcend that and become much more. Our art, in short, should be selfless.

Through art, we can do amazing things. Just to name a few… We can personalize strangers. We can spread light. We can help people feel compassion. We can invoke emotions. We can bring people into the redemptive story.

>>> By the way, be sure to check out Taylor Birkey’s blog and his post about the arts conference. He is a fellow Taylor grad that graciously helped me attend the conference, and his blog is definitely worth checking out.

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Psalm 16, a golden psalm of David, is quickly becoming one of my favorite psalms.

One of my favorite parts is verse 2, where David writes, “I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord, I have no good besides you.’ ” It is a simple reminder of how God should be exalted above all else in our lives — not out of legalistic obligation, but because He truly is the only good in our lives. Everything that is good comes from Him.

If we claim Christ as our Lord, we should regularly remind ourselves of that commitment. Matthew Henry had this to say about Psalm 16:2: “Have you said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord? Say it again then, stand to it, abide by it, and never unsay it. Hast thou said it? Take the comfort of it, and live up to it. He is thy Lord, and worship thou him, and let thy eye be ever towards him.’’

His suggestions could benefit us all. If we claim Christ as our Lord: say it again, stand to it, abide by it, never unsay it, take the comfort of it, and live up to it.

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Our daughter, Emberly Grace, was born on May 8th and what a miracle she is. I am overwhelmed with how surreal it is to be holding her. She is such a joy.

The next day, May 9th, I checked my voice mail and learned that I am receiving a scholarship to seminary. I had been accepted for 5 years, but because of finances, this is the first time that the door has opened for us. Needless to say, we are excited and humbled that God has made a way.

So, after an exciting year of teaching Bible in Texas, we are packing up to move back to Illinois. We do not have a job or a place to live yet. It is an act of faith that I would not have been capable of a year ago. But after going through unemployment, I am able to trust that God will provide a way.

Our prayer is that God will allow me to lead worship at a church in Illinois or southeast Wisconsin. God has sparked a flame within me, and I am hoping to share my passion for worship with others. If you hear of a church that needs help with worship leading, graphic/web design, small groups, young adults, youth, children, etc., please let me know.

Lastly, I must mention what a fun year it was in Texas. I would be crazy not to mention all of the highlights of the past 9 months. And yes, even though it is hard to believe, I enjoy these wild memories:

  1. * breaking down in Joplin, MO for 3 days
  2. * driving a 22-foot Penske moving truck
  3. * getting all of my hair cuts for a year while driving through Joplin, MO
  4. * living in a hotel room for 7 days
  5. * losing my shoelace on the first day of school
  6. * leading the school drumline for a few practices
  7. * leading worship for 400 high school students every week
  8. * going to the ER for a random case of pneumediastinum
  9. * enjoying a 2000-mile Christmas road trip to Chicago
  10. * watching a 1/4 inch of snowfall in a Texas McDonald’s (a beautiful night!)
  11. * my wife getting in a car accident while pregnant — totaling the car at 5 MPH
  12. * my wife breaking her foot while pregnant (do you sense a pattern here?)
  13. * discovering Caden’s incredible soccer talent
  14. * visiting 7 churches in the D/FW area
  15. * recording songs for a new worship EP
  16. * hanging out with Terri, my aunt from Dallas
  17. * tasting beef brisket (BBQ), Chicken Express, and falling in love with southern cooking
  18. * seeing Caden become a real cowboy
  19. * watching my first ever season of American Idol (Apparently, I am 6 years behind the rest of society)
  20. * watching Star Wars Episode 6 for the first time (Yes, again I am behind the times, but I’ve seen the other episodes many times!)
  21. * witnessing my daughter’s entrance into the world!

Texas was a great experience. To balance things out, though, here were the downsides:

  1. * Seeing my dad board a train to Chicago was tough. I had to do that twice, and I have never been so homesick. Thankfully, his train got delayed both times, which bought me some extra time.
  2. * Missing 3 weddings: my brother’s, Bruce’s, and Geoffrey’s. I planned to attend several of those, but various health conditions prevented me from doing so.
  3. * Not as much seasonal change. We missed seeing more of the Fall and Winter.
  4. * Wishing I had a greater impact on the lives of students. I know that God brought me here for a purpose, and I pray that some seeds will flourish when I’m gone.

In a few days, we start trip #1 to Chicago to catch a wedding. Hopefully we’ll make it in time. Not long after, I’ll come back to Texas and make another trip. It will be 3000+ miles, but I am looking forward to the adventure.

God isn’t safe, but He sure is good. [+]

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Yesterday, at about 2:30, a doctor told my wife, “Worst case scenario… you die.”  They were worried about a blood clot in her leg.  Needless to say, we were at the hospital for 8 hours, but the test results showed that nothing was wrong.  She went home without needing any treatment at all.

As some of you know, this scenario has happened before.  In late August / September, two doctors were worried that I could be dying, but it turned out to be a relatively minor condition.  Yet another time this year, God has changed our red flags to white.

Not only is God good, but He must also have a sense of humor.  We ended up leaving the hospital last night laughing quite a bit.  Even when our car didn’t start in the parking garage (not a pleasant surprise!), God helped us get home quickly.  Strange, but God has creative ways to get through to us. 

The moral of the story is:  Don’t let false starts get you worried.  Be confident that “He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  (Philippians 1:6)  And remember that no matter what, God will bring you home.

Please keep us in prayer tonight and tomorrow.  My wife will begin labor, and although it won’t be easy, please pray that the pain and discomfort is as minimal as possible.  For me, just pray that I can eat something and that I don’t faint!

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After several late-night recording sessions, “He Heard My Voice” was just added to my latest worship EP.  You can check out a demo of the song and download it here:

http://www.discrevolt.com/groups/view/3023

Enjoy!

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Today, The Weepies released a brand new CD, and it got me thinking of some artists that are worth checking out. This list could go on for pages, so I’ll save some for later, but if you are looking for some new music, be sure to listen to these:

Charlie Hall — Christian worship

The Weepies — poetic songs, free MP3 from their new album

Denison Witmer — Catholic, Philadelphia singer / song-writer

Fernando Ortega — Christian, peaceful, orchestral

Ingrid Michaelson — NYC indie-pop

Adam Watts — Christian, one of the best artists you’ve never known

Mute Math — Electro, ambient rock

Glen Phillips — Formerly of Todd the Wet Sprocket

The Choir — Christian, ambient rock, classic

Robert Randolph — Christian blues; incredible in concert

Plumb — Christian, electronic alternative

Shane & Shane – Christian worship, acoustic, tight vocal harmonies

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My wife and I are anticipating the birth of our first daughter, EGJ. (Her full name is top secret for now!) Her arrival could be anytime from now until May 11th, and I am thrilled to the point of tears. Our baby is just about to begin her journey, while I am continuing on mine. What a crazy, miraculous world we live in.

Significant events, such as a birth or a death, force us to revisit the topic of life. Most days we slide on by, carrying on our regular activities, but once in a while we have a chance to slow down and ask once again, “What is life really about?” Thankfully, from a Christian perspective, we can narrow it down quite succinctly:

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We beg you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)

With only a few words, Paul words summarizes the meaning of the cosmos: (1) God was, and is, reconciling the world to Himself; (2) God does not count our sins against us; (3) and we have been given the message of reconciliation. Everything else should be influenced by those truths.

On a given day, we tend to forget about one or more of those aspects. We forget about God’s global perspective and the breadth of His salvation. We forget about the problem of sin and how God extends His mercy to us. Or we forget to beg others to be reconciled. On some days, maybe we forget all three.

Life is a jumble of activities, but let us never lose sight of what life is about. Whether you are breathing your first breath, driving to work, kissing your spouse, or saying your farewells, it all begins and end with God. The joy of life is that we can all be reconciled.