It's All Grace: The Best of Eppinga
For 40 years, Rev. Jacob Eppinga filled his Banner magazine column, “Of Cabbages and Kings,” with stories about everything from jelly beans to shaggy dogs and from golf to blue marbles. Each story reflected on a lifetime of goodness and grace poured out in abundance from God.
This most recent compilation was inspired by Jena Vander Ploeg, Eppinga’s longtime editor at the Banner, and other Banner staff members in honor of Eppinga, who died March 1, 2008. The Banner is the magazine of the Christian Reformed Church.
“There have been other collections but nothing in the last decade,” she said. “I knew that people would want something to commemorate his 40 years, especially something focused on the last 10 years.”
With hundreds of writings from which to pick, how does one purport to having selected the best?
“I picked ones that were meaningful to Rev. Eppinga—that captured who he was and that exemplified his love for the church,” said Vander Ploeg, who re-read every column written in the last decade, as well as other favorites.
The collection begins with Eppinga’s first piece, which was one of a planned three-month series that began in 1968 and lasted until 2008.
“He was genuinely surprised at his column’s popularity. He didn’t expect it to continue,” said his son Dick Eppinga. “But he was very grateful for the opportunity. He recognized it as a unique blessing to have a ministry that continued through his writing and preaching long after he had officially retired.”
Eppinga’s writings reflect on everyday moments but usually end with a fresh perspective on those moments in time. Some are autobiographical, but all are stories.
“He was a gifted storyteller,” said Eppinga. “His writing was simple, but not simplistic. There is a huge difference between the two.”
In fact, on Jake Eppinga’s desk there was a small statue of a little boy holding a baseball glove. “He said that reminded him to try to write simply, so that even a child could understand,” said Eppinga.
Eppinga’s most popular piece, “The Blue Marble,” which is included in the book, was originally a children’s message. In it, Eppinga explains that a photo of the Earth taken from the moon reminded him of a marble he had as boy and had kept as an adult. Holding the marble reminded Eppinga of God holding the world in His hands.
After the message, Eppinga carried the blue marble in his pocket with his change. “My blue marble helps me witness to others,” he wrote. “When I make purchases in stores and sort out my handful of change, I make sure my blue marble is visible … hoping it might elicit some comment.
“When they (the clerks) ask what I want them to ask—‘What are you doing with a marble?’ —I have them right where I want them. … I tell them that my blue marble looks just like the beautiful blue planet on which we live. I say that when I hold it I am reminded that ‘He’s got the whole world in His hands.’”
Rivaling the popularity of that message is his last, “Of Death and Grace,” written weeks before Eppinga’s death. In it, Eppinga writes honestly about his impending death and about the last words of William Harry Jellema, a former professor of philosophy at Calvin, who died in 1982: “It’s grace, Jake; it’s all grace.”“I think the last one is his best,” said Eppinga. “Hundreds of people have told me that really spoke to them.”
The Remarkable & Very True Story of Lucy and Snowcap by Heather Bouwman ’90, Singapore: Marshall Cavendish, 2008, 170 pp., $16.99.
In 1775, 234 English convicts shipwreck on the islands of Tathenland, and the course of history is changed. Twelve years later, two girls (one a native islander and the other a daughter of English convicts) embark on journeys to change their pasts. After surviving poisoning, kidnapping, evil guardians and wild animals, Lucy and Snowcap come to understand that although they can’t change history, they do possess the power to transform themselves.
Henry J. Kuiper: Shaping the Christian Reformed Church, 1907-1962 by James A. DeJong ’63, BD ’66, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2007, 288 pp., $28.
Henry Kuiper was influential in shaping the Christian Reformed Church as it made the transition from an immigrant denomination to a North American denomination. This biography will interest readers wanting to better understand the Christian Reformed Church during the first two-thirds of the 20th century, particularly in comparison to the Reformed Church in America.
Understanding Evangelical Media: The Changing Face of Christian Communication edited by Quentin J. Schultze, Calvin communication arts and sciences professor, and Robert H. Woods, Jr., Downers Grove, Ill., InterVarsity Press, 2008, 345 pp., $22.
From broadcasts to blogs and Bible theme parks to podcasts, the media Christians use to convey their messages is changing. The editors of this book have gathered a group of leading scholars in the field of communication to provide essays on various aspects of the evangelical media landscape. The writings address a wide range of media, including radio, television, popular music, film, the Internet, advertising and public relations.
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