Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good BooksTweet
Bindings offers thought-provoking blogs by vibrant, published Christian authors on faith issues, life and current events, and intriguing, must-read books.
Posted 3/6/13 at 3:38 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books
"Would I have been at the cross that day? Or would I have been too scared and run away?"
Recently, at a Prayer Partner Retreat at Alta Mons with my church, I stood in the center of a massive field surrounded by the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains. Awed and silenced by the breath-taking beauty, I spun around in one brief sweep, like Maria on the Sound of Music. Only I did not sing. I raised my arms in praise to the King, for no song or words seemed adequate for that moment. I stood completely still, listening to the gentle rush of a bulging stream and the birds chirping overhead. I felt the cool breeze sweep across my face and the soggy ground sink beneath my feet. That last sensation was my cue to move on.
As I looked up, I spotted a rough hewn cross in the distance. Stepping closer, I noticed multiple carvings on the wooden beams. Testimonies to the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Scratched into the wood were such praises as: God eternal. Almighty God. Prince of Peace. Everlasting God. Sing praise. FULL POST
Posted 3/5/13 at 3:30 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books
Servant: “A person who performs duties for others,” one definition according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Public servant: “A person who works for the state or for local government.”
Since the dawn of history, conquerors have taken over other peoples and recruited slaves and servants from the defeated population. As civilizations became more advanced, the elite classes made slaves and servants of the poorer classes. A servant was definitely an inferior. Few voluntarily chose servanthood as an occupation.
Then a teacher named Jesus knelt before his disciples, took off their sandals, and washed their feet as a common servant. After this act of servitude—slavery even—he said, “You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” FULL POST
Posted 3/4/13 at 3:19 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books |
85% of all manuscripts written will not be substantially published. That sounds so depressing. However, the reason that they aren’t substantially published is because the people involved do not take time to be in a critique group or get their product edited, didn’t go to conferences or workshops and learn their craft, didn’t make their product exceptional enough to stand out from the crowd . . . or just gave up after they got a few rejections.
I can’t think of any business that someone can just do without learning how. Even posthole digging requires learning a few simple techniques. So why do so many think they can just automatically write a book and it be a bestseller without learning the right skills? Or can just send it off and get it published without learning the right way to do it?
The good news is if we are learning our craft, if we are getting the product right and doing the submissions right, we aren’t competing with this 85%, we are in the 15% that is actually in the running. Much better odds, wouldn’t you say? The writers that substantially publish take the time to learn what they are doing, then they have the patience to see it through. FULL POST
Posted 3/1/13 at 4:05 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books
Last Sunday our messianic Jewish congregation celebrated Purim, a minor holiday also known as the Feast of Esther. It was an especially nice celebration: two of our youth group alumni co-directed an original play about Esther, written in a humorous vein. The play was a smashing success, as good -- in my unbiased opinion -- as any of our local high school productions. Weeks of hearing my twelve-year-old daughter complain about the frantic, packed schedule and the tyrannical teenage director paid off when she was part of the highly acclaimed (in our congregational community) production. After the play, we did what is right and proper for any Jewish holiday, taking to heart the adage: “They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat!” So we feasted. Our small upstate New York city is rich in Italian heritage and so a plethora of Italian cooks pitched in and created a wonderful feast: pizza, baked ziti, meatballs, chicken riggies, tomato pie, salad, and of course the required hamantaschen, a triangular-shaped fruit-filled cookie baked to resemble the hat of the evil villain from the Book of Esther: Haman. FULL POST
Posted 2/28/13 at 1:59 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books
We are at the end of Black History Month and I want to take a few minutes to tell you about someone I greatly admire, a lady that overcame overwhelming obstacles to make a difference in the lives of her culture, Mary McLeod Bethune. Here’s an excerpt from my book Help Wanted; moms raising daughters that tells of a lady that created an opportunity for education in lives of little girls that were just like her.
When Mary McLeaod Bethune was nine years old, Mary tagged along with her mother to take a basket of freshly washed and ironed clothes to her former master Ben Wilson’s house. They had to go around the home to the entrance in the rear, the one through which the blacks could enter. In 1884 in Mayesville, South Carolina, there was absolute segregation between the races. Her mother went inside to take the family their clothes and receive the few cents paid for such a job.
Waiting outside, Mary was captivated by a children’s playhouse she saw and peeked inside. Two white girls about her age sat inside on scaled-down furniture. They were playing with their dolls. FULL POST
Posted 2/27/13 at 2:43 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books |
During my quiet time, the Holy Spirit stopped me at Acts 13:36a: “. . . when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep . . .”
The New Year is typically a time of reflection and evaluation for me. Questions play on my mind: Am I doing what God wants me to do? If so, what steps am I currently taking to fulfill His particular mission and stay on task?
Stay on task. Often easier said than done. Still, the older I get, the more tuned in I am to the special purpose God has for me. I want to love God and love others with all my heart, soul, and mind through the platform of writing, speaking, and teaching. That goal is what gets me up in the morning. These pursuits excite me. They provide an outlet bigger than myself.
All important criteria for staying focused. For being a person who generates (creates, produces) rather than a person who stagnates (does not create or produce). FULL POST
Posted 2/26/13 at 2:37 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books
A few weeks ago it tried to snow here. My daughter and I went for a walk with our best buddies to enjoy what we could of the snow falling from the sky.
I lifted up my face toward the falling flakes and thought out loud, I sure wish these snowflakes were bigger and sticking more to the ground. It would be a lot more fun.
I stopped right after that thought and felt convicted about how I just couldn’t enjoy what was happening, but instead I needed it different, better.
That’s when I decided I would have fun no matter how much snow we had. So, for the next half hour or so I enjoyed the flakes falling down. And so did the girls!
It stopped before all of us went in, which I will admit was very disappointing, because the thought of sliding down the hill by the school on saucers was very enticing.
Instead, we went inside to have some sweets and more play-time. All in all it was a fun afternoon.
I realize how easy it is to not enjoy what is right in front of me. FULL POST
Posted 2/25/13 at 2:55 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books
In Bruce Judisch’s Katia, the book that was published before this one, Madeline McAllister, a young American studying in Germany, discovered that her grandmother’s twin daughters were separated from their parents when the mother and father were arrested by Nazis during World War II.
The father died in the concentration camps, but the twins’ mother, Madeline’s grandmother, survived and later married a Canadian and immigrated to Canada. In For Maria, Madeline is back in the U.S. and married to Brendon Sommers. She continues her search for the twins. What happened to them after they were separated from their parents? Her grandmother is in her early nineties and ill. Madeline hopes to find her daughters—Madeline’s aunts—and reunite them with their mother before the mother dies. FULL POST
Posted 2/22/13 at 12:56 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books
Have you ever hungered for a vague realm you can’t describe but only sense when a book, a movie, or a shared experience awakens a yearning? It grips your inner being but is not easily defined.
As a child, I used to daydream of fairy places and adventures and King Arthur. I wanted to live in an enchanted place where life is exciting, boredom is vanquished, and good overcomes evil. I read books like Kate Seredy’s The Chestry Oak and yearned to right the wrong done to the young hero, to save his father, and allow the two to live in their kingdom all their lives. I even wrote stories to heal the yearning I felt.
The journey away from childhood is mentioned by Paul in the love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13: “When I became a man, I put away childish things.”
Yet, this yearning hints of our desire for a world of right and love. The best stories allow us to enter that realm again. We cannot remain there, because we are now adults with adult responsibilities. A visit there, however, awakens us to the deeper purposes of our lives. We return better able to discern the chaff from the wheat and toss it from our lives. We choose a clearer direction. FULL POST
Posted 2/21/13 at 2:33 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books
I've been focused lately on living in the moment. Yesterday, I almost missed one...a delicate, lacy one.
Trimming a plant while watering is such a menial task. A simple duty that takes little attention and little time. As I pruned, I ever so slightly gave the greenery a turn...something caught my eye.
The opposite side...the one soaking up precious light, had gifted itself with a splash of delicate whiteness. I continued the rotation, like a down-sized merry-go-round...sans the music. "Oh!"
The entire back side was covered with the gift of profuse blooms. Surprise, it shouted! Look what you almost missed. "Lord," I whispered...thank you." I'd forgotten this plant ever bloomed at all.
Living in the moment means giving my full attention to the flowing of time that surrounds me with inevitable movement...for sure God's plan. The flow moves me forward, but focusing on the moments at hand instead of the future or the past, I am free. Freed up to notice little gifts on the backside of things. FULL POST