Bindings: Reflections on faith, life, and good books
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Bindings offers thought-provoking blogs by forward-thinking, published Christian authors on faith issues, life and current events, and intriguing, must-read books.

Posted 6/24/15 at 1:13 AM | OakTara

Impossible Without Faith

“. . . without faith it is impossible to please God . . .”so I just read.

Some would call faith the opposite of the scientific mindset. Best, however, if the scientific method and the way of faith peacefully coexist, even complement each other.

Currently, our culture favors the material, the natural, the satisfaction of physical needs above all else. If it can’t be proven, felt, or eaten, flick it off. Faith, however, is associated with things not seen. With things not scientifically verifiable.

Faith begins with a belief in that which is not verified in the scientific sense.

But don’t all actions, decisions, and beliefs begin with faith? We sit in chairs because we have faith they’ll hold us up. We turn on computers with the faith they’ll help us in our tasks. FULL POST

Posted 6/23/15 at 12:55 AM | OakTara

Growing a Great Commission Kid

When was the last time you purchased a new appliance or gadget for your home? If you recall, you unfolded multiple pages of directions, each in a different language. You may have even been hard-pressed to locate the sheet in English! America is quickly becoming a global culture, yet we still only comprise 12 percent of the world’s population. Asia tops the population count with a whopping 64 percent or two-thirds of the world’s poorest, unreached people’s groups.

As Christian parents, we have a biblical mandate set forth in Deuteronomy 6:5-7 to teach our children to love and obey the Scriptures, one of the foremost being the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20. Teaching our kids to go and make disciples, whether here at home or across the ocean, is our primary privilege and responsibility as Christian moms and dads. Here are some practical ways you can train your child to be a Great Commission kid.

Begin early. As a parent, your greatest mission field is your child. Hopefully, you prayed for that little one even before he was born that he would come to know the Lord Jesus as his Savior. With tender hearts, children are receptive to the gospel. Read Bible stories to him. Play Scripture tapes and story CDs at bedtime. Answer his questions. Model a life of prayer before him, even in the little things, so that he can see that Christianity impacts all areas of your life. Search out quality supplemental instruction through your local church, online sites, and Christian bookstores. FULL POST

Posted 6/16/15 at 1:58 AM | OakTara

Forty Years Together and Counting

This weekend Jean and I are celebrating forty years of marriage. We exchanged our vows on June 14, 1975. That means that I have spent exactly two-thirds of my life with this wonderful lady. I would gladly spend another two-thirds!

You might remember that the summer blockbuster at the box office in 1975 was none other than Jaws. Jaws was without doubt one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. This was partly because it was a about a creature that could have been real rather than a monster created through science fiction. For forty years that movie has caused people to be afraid to get in the water. I’ve even been afraid in a lake! Guess where we went on our honeymoon. That’s right, Panama City Beach!

Fortunately, the movie was not released until the week after our honeymoon but that didn’t matter much because we had read the book. Now I will grant you that the book did not have that creepy music playing as the monster slipped up on unsuspecting prey but it was still scary. FULL POST

Posted 6/11/15 at 2:29 AM | OakTara

On Not Fretting Because of Evildoers

Psalm 37 says we are not to fret because of evildoers, but surely we Christians in this age are tempted to do so. What is our response to a world which seems daily more bent on selfish destruction? How do we tolerate the present age?

Recognizing two thousand years of our religion’s history may encourage us. A sense of not belonging because of our Christian worldview is not unusual. Christians have been a remnant, a voice crying in the wilderness, more often than not.

Without worshiping power or assimilating the ways of the world, we can listen to the people around us and engage in dialog. We can listen to what they are saying and attempt to understand their fears in a world that seems to have no meaning for them. We don’t have to shout; neither should we pass by on the other side like two men in the parable of the Good Samaritan, before the compassionate one came along.

After the Jews were taken into exile, some assimilated, but a remnant remained and grew and learned. The exile remade the Jewish nation. They understood that their exile came because they did not follow God’s way as they were called to do. We Christians, too, suffer from self-inflicted wounds. We have followed our pagan neighbors into a consumer world that worships materialism and power. FULL POST

Posted 6/8/15 at 1:55 AM | OakTara

Countering Guilt’s Bad Rep

I was discussing guilt with a group of friends. I mentioned an incident, small, but it bothers me to this day.

I was about four. Playing with another little girl, I felt the need to exhibit my power or perhaps just show off. Another playmate, a little boy about two came over to play with us. I ordered him away, told him we didn’t want him. He raced off in tears.

To this day, I feel guilty about hurting that little child. I knew immediately that I had done wrong. No adults intervened. I remember nothing about Bible lessons or feeling guilty because God knew what I had done. What I felt was sadness within me at causing hurt. The little boy had come to us, trusting that we would accept him, and I had let him know that we would not accept him.

The incident, you might say, is trivial. The sort of thing children do to each other.

No, I chose to do wrong, and guilt was the proper response. I think the guilt taught me to be aware of another’s feelings, to be attuned to their need to be valued. In other words, guilt led to growth. FULL POST

Posted 6/4/15 at 1:51 AM | OakTara

My Visit to Dachau

Dachau, the German concentration camp for Jews and others considered inferior or dangerous to the Nazi cause, was liberated in the spring of 1945.

Allied soldiers stood horror stricken at the emaciated survivors staring at them through the fences. They were the pitiful remnants of the thousands who died there, some gassed or otherwise executed; others succumbing to disease, overwork, or mistreatment.

My husband and I visited Dachau over fifty years later. We stepped off the train and found our way to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial. The neighborhood was quiet, with few of the usual shops and restaurants associated with places where visitors come in large numbers.

Inside the camp, we studied exhibits tracing the history of this monument to inhumanity. The exhibits were stark: black and white pictures of Jews being corralled; methodical recording of statistics; and scientifically dispassionate accounts of brutal experiments done on prisoners. FULL POST

Posted 6/1/15 at 12:46 AM | OakTara

Is There Somewhere Where We Can Talk?

The late great Rev. Grady Nutt was perhaps the first Christian humorist I recall hearing. I had the privilege of hearing him in person several times while I was in college and seminary. He was hilarious. You might remember him from the Hee-Haw television show, where he was a regular from 1979 to 1981. At the time of his death NBC had produced a pilot starring him in The Grady Nutt Show. Unfortunately, he died before the show was put into production. Rev. Nutt was killed thirty two years ago, at age 48, in a plane crash outside of Cullman, Alabama. No doubt, his Christian humor influenced my own work in that area as well as that of many others. The following is my adaptation from one of his stories.

Donedead Baptist Church had called a new pastor. Bro. Ivan Odor was a young minister fresh out of seminary. Donedead was his first experience as a pastor. FULL POST

Posted 5/26/15 at 2:15 AM | OakTara

Lest We Forget

Have you ever forgotten anything? Now get up off the floor and quit your laughing. Yes, we have all forgotten many things, many times. As we get older it gets worse. Now, what was I talking about?

How many times have you forgotten where you put your keys? We may say, “I’ve lost my keys.” Most of the time we haven’t actually lost them, we simply don’t remember where we put them. Don’t you love when people say, “Where did you last have them?” If I knew where I last had them, they wouldn’t be lost! Aren’t you glad that you live in a safe neighborhood when you discover them hanging in the front door the next morning?

Have you ever forgotten that you laid them in the freezer while you filled your glass with ice? I always try to put my keys in the same spot each night so I won’t have to remember where I put them. Have you ever forgotten where you parked your car? I came back from a mission trip once and forgot what level I had parked on in the airport parking deck. I spent an hour honking my horn with the remote and trying to figure out from which level the honk came. When I go to the gym, church, or a store, I always try to park in the same general area each time so I don’t have to remember. If you have this problem at home, I’m afraid you have more serious issues. FULL POST

Posted 5/21/15 at 1:32 AM | OakTara

The Sunday Ole Fred Walked the Aisle

The first time I saw Fred I thought surely he must have been on his last leg. He was so thin I could count his ribs. He stood in our front yard but I had no idea where he had come from or what he wanted. When I called to him he ran like he had been shot from a cannon. Fred was the name I gave him but I later learned his real name. Fred was a flea and tick ridden brown hound.

I was in my final year of seminary in New Orleans but also served as pastor of Rock Springs Baptist Church. Rock Springs was twelve miles from anywhere. Actually it was twelve miles from Butler, Alabama, but it was out in the middle of nowhere. Obviously, many people believed our neck of the woods was the perfect place to bid farewell to the animals they no longer wanted. It was there where we met Fred. Judging from his looks, I figured he was a stray that someone had dropped off for an extended stay with us. After that first encounter, Fred returned to visit every weekend. I threw him bread when he came but he only allowed me to get so close each time before he bolted. I have always loved dogs so winning the trust of that hound dog became my mission. At the end of the school year Jean and I moved to the house at the church for the summer. This allowed me to see Fred more often and I continued to throw him bread each time he came. Little by little he came closer until one day he finally came close enough for me to touch him. One pat on the tip of his nose and he was off to the races. The day finally came when allowed me to stroke his head without him bolting. After a few times he either decided he liked the petting or maybe it was simply the bread he liked. Eventually he came to me when I didn’t have bread. Before the summer was over ole Fred stayed at my house most of the time. He followed me all over the yard. I found out later that Fred belonged to my neighbor down the road and his real name was Hank. I think he liked the name Fred better and evidently he liked our bread better than his owner’s starvation and obvious mistreatment. His owner told someone, “That preacher has done went and stole my dog.” FULL POST

Posted 5/18/15 at 2:00 AM | OakTara

The Usurping of Grandma’s Knee

Perhaps it was your mother or father, a great aunt or uncle, or your grandma or grandpa that outlined, modeled, and enforced a code of civility in your childhood. He or she made certain that you knew the line not to cross when interacting with others. Whether your words were in casual conversation, on the phone, or in a letter, you were held to a high standard for word choice and tone. Never say anything in a letter that you wouldn’t say in person. Look people in the eye when you are talking to them and vice versa. Treat people like you want to be treated. Look for the good in others. Slow to anger and slow to believe gossip. Watch your mouth. Those standards meant the difference between a person of good character or the lack thereof, good manners or none at all, and striving for behavior befitting a person of faith. So said Grandma.

Then you became an adult and childhood monitors for manners and speech became passé. You could do as you wish and endure an occasional twinge of guilt until even that small shame faded into the past. You had children and grandchildren. Sometimes words came out of your grandchildren’s mouths that resurrected those old twinges, but that’s the way things are these days, you told yourself. Then you got your hands on a computer, a cell phone, a tablet or an Ipad. Soon social media and messaging became part of your daily routine. It was odd at first, not engaging with people face to face, but what amazing advantages technology offered. FULL POST

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