Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chipped Plates

This morning, putting the dishes away, I clunked one dish into the other, and pop, there went a chip a-flying.

Shucks and dadgummit all … but the plate is still good, and we’ll continue to eat off of it … though if we have guests, Donna or I will get the one with the chip missing.

That’s life, I guess.

You and me included.

A couple of hard nocks, chips a-flying … but we’re still intact. You are you and I am me … and who cares if some bits and pieces are missing!

A friend said to me a few years back, “if you make it to heaven without scars on your back, you haven’t lived a faithful life.”

I guess we could buy plates and put ‘em away, neatly wrapped. “Here, look at all these wonderful plates – see how neat and clean they are? The secret to beautiful plates? Never use ‘em.”

But plates are for using, washing and using again, and sooner or later, the fateful first chip, and then another, and then another …

Let’s it hear it for chipped plates!

Lets it hear for one another, chipped and cracked as we are, for we are loved by God just as we are, and we’re lovingly used by God to feed a hungry world. Chipped and cracked, we can still serve up a good portion of food – after all, no one eats the plate, just the food on it.

Heap up your plate with good food – God’s love and a boundless hope. You will feed a hungry world, and no one will notice the chips and the cracks.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Keep It Simple

Keep it simple.
Keep it light.
Keep it true.
Keep it kind.

Be forgiving.
Listen carefully.
Hold your tongue.
Look up now and then.
Listen to the birds.
Feel the wind on your cheek.

Don't underestimate your silliness.
Or, your sin.
Relentless self-interest is all too real.

Say, "Jesus my Lord" a lot.
Keep the compass of your soul pointed to God.
If you swing away, that's okay.
You can always come back.
God will help you.

Serve God in small ways.
But if something really big comes your way, think about it.
Don't say yes too quickly.
But if you need to say yes, say it clearly.

If you're in jam, you will find a way out.
Be patient.
Google your first name in quotes.

Today is but one day among them all.
It really counts, but not that much.
Don't be too serious.
Just try to be consistent.
Know when to let up.
When to bear down.
When to forget it.
When to try again.

Think of something really funny that happened to you.
Where and when?
Who and what?

And if you feel like crying, that's okay.
Go ahead.
Tears cleanse more than the eyes.

Take a deep breath.
You're doing fine.
You've made your share of mistakes; who hasn't?
But you've won the game a good many times, too.
You've got trophies in your heart.
Maybe even in a room.
You're a good and decent human being.
Every day, you give it a good try.

If you're just surviving, that's something.
Be proud.

If you're on top of the game, well, there ya' are.
Feel good.
Buy something beautiful.
Don't get uppity.
Remember when you weren't.
Help someone else along the way.
Say, "Jesus my Lord."

And go to bed tonight in peace.
You did your best.
Yup, you really did.
Maybe tomorrow, it'll be different.
Maybe not.
But you did it.
You made another day.
And just because you showed up, it counts.
It really does.

Sleep tight!
Don't let the bedbugs bite.

© Tom Eggebeen, July 13, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

Calvin's 500th Birthday - July 10

It's helpful to know where we come from (okay, you grammar mavins, "It's helpful to know from where we come" ... or for those who love the cadences of the King James Version, "from whence we cometh").

Anyway, like our biological family of origin, we have a spiritual family of origin located in Geneva, Switzerland. Though we can trace our faith-roots all the way back to Abraham (we are the children of the promise made by God to Abraham - see Romans 4:16-16 - Jew and Gentile alike), our immediate "church" history begins with the Reformation and specifically with John Calvin, a Frenchman who was converted to the Protestant way of things under a Paris Law School professor who had been reading Luther's tracts (Calvin was trained as a lawyer).

Both Calvin and his professor fled Paris in the night when Roman Catholic authorities mounted a fierce campaign against the Protestant movement, and by fierce, I mean, the possibility of being executed.

Ultimately, Calvin goes to Geneva, a city of refuge and freedom; there, he begins to write and teach, ultimately framing his "Institutes of the Christian Religion" or commonly called, "The Institutes" (1536-1554, in its various editions).

A Scottish gentleman by the name of John Knox fell under Calvin's teaching and upon Knox's return to Scotland, formed what would come to be termed "the Presbyterian Church."

In turn, Scottish immigrants brought the Presbyterian Church to America, and the rest is history.

In the way we think about God and the way we govern ourselves (with Elders), we are descendants of John Calvin - and can rightly be called Calvinists, though what this means exactly varies widely among his descendants.

In sum, Calvin's greatest contribution is "peace of mind and heart" with regard to God - that is, in Jesus the Messiah, we have a clear and perfect representation of Yahweh, the Lord Almighty, and we see God favorably and lovingly dealing with us - to forgive our sin, to overcome the snares of death, to help us fulfill the original mandate to Abraham (to be a blessing to the the nations, to creation itself - see Romans 8:20) with eternal assurance, as well. God's perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).

In his extended discussion on "Justification" - that is, "God putting us right with God," Calvin writes:

Here, indeed, we are especially to note two things: namely, that the Lord's glory should stand undiminished and so speak, in good repair, and that our consciences in the presence of his judgment should have peaceful rest and serene tranquility (Book 3, Chapter 13, Sections 1).

In a world where fears run high, it is a good thing to be anchored in Calvin's grasp of God's goodness and faithfulness to us! For body and for soul, in life and in death, for this life for the life to come. In Jesus the Messiah (our spiritual location - "we are in Christ"), we are safe! Though this life has its share of perils, "we fear no evil" (Psalm 23), and though death awaits all of us, Christ has conquered death in his resurrection from the dead. In Christ, we make our journey through time with confidence, liberated from the spiritual craziness of a desperate world and freed from the material consumption of a frightened world.

In Jesus the Messiah, the Christ, we are right on track!

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, I give myself to you in faith and obedience.

Amen and Amen.

Happy 500th Birthday to John Calvin

Pastor Tom