Tag Archives: theology

Five Reasons The Behemoth is Art and Poetry in Theological Prose

The Behemoth Magazine

You may not understand The Behemoth’s orthodoxy because you are viewing art and poetry, not a theological exegesis or apologetic argument.

I have not been all that excited about any [Christian-based] magazine publication in a long time, though I do read most of them in some form or another. I don’t read any in paper form anymore (yet, most of you still snail mail it out to me every month in a colossal waste of paper, but that’s another topic). Most publications are pretty good. They range from hard hitting news around the world all the way to fluff on whether the Church should use Twitter or listen to U2. Many of them have great journalistic and editorial articles, but they seldom conjure up thoughts like, “I just can’t wait until the next issue hits my iPad.” Never has one actually brought me to the point of wanting to write a review about the publication itself either, until now.

Enter The Behemoth. What actually sucked me in to this publication was this article, Hitting a Major League Pitch, Looking at the physics, you’d have to say it can’t be done, not its namesake article based on the Genesis giant. My first thought was, “Could it actually be that someone of faith pulled in the statistical grace and beauty of baseball as might be written by a Roger Angell, and the poetic dance of words as might be felt by a Mary Oliver, and then tied it, weaved it, knitted it into the story God is writing Himself here on earth?” For the most part, yes, that is my overall opinion and review of The Behemoth and that was all it took for me.

So, from a reader’s perspective, what is it that makes The Behemoth a successful publication? Why do I look forward to each issue?

1. Typography

In our world distraction rules. I look and seek out those things that have gone the extra mile to create a clean, clutter-free, pleasing, distraction free experience. A “typography” that takes me deeper into the task at hand, not one that conforms to the rules of distraction. That’s what I love about @iAWriter, it’s why I’m writing this on @Medium, it’s what I love about the new ESV Reader’s Bible, it’s why Helvetica still conquers all. They all created an experience using intentional design through sophisticated simplicity. In this case, when referring to typography I use the term in the general sense. That is to say, I refer not to a typeset they choose, but how the designers intentionally choose to interact with their consumer. The designers created The Behemoth with intention, and it shows. On the iPad, The Behemoth is periodical typography eye candy.

Highly important to me, The Behemoth is an all-digital publication (no paper-waste-clutter-junk). Each issue contains four articles, a web-gem-type piece, and each article is around 1,500 words or less, some much less. Word length is very important today. At 1,500 words it’s a real sweet spot that allows a reader to find enough depth to sink in and become briefly lost among the words, but short enough for our small attention spans and brief periods of uninterruptedness. Once you are in and among the 1,500 words, there are minimal headings, no clutter, no flashing boxes, no bolded outtakes, no bullet-pointed tidbits, nothing distracts you from the words themselves. The typography has allowed the story to take over the words.

2. Curation

One of the specifics I noticed early on is how carefully the editors choose each article, and how each article plays on the other. In short, they removed all the noise and choose with intention. The articles for the most part are a mix of high tech and tradition making for many timeless pieces. These can be read years from now and still remain readable not dated. With only four articles to work with each issue they must go through a crazy culling process of possible articles that fit the mission and vision stated for The Behemoth (summed up as Plumbing the depths of God’s mysterious creation and beauty). The articles included often come from an excerpt of a larger work. At first as you read you may think, “All they did was just copy a piece of this book and stick it in here,” but the result has been like reading a carefully chosen anthology of the best of the best of the unknown. In a day where content is still king, curation of content must be its’ master.

3. Wonder

We reside in the age of information and usually think every single thing about every single topic should be a known. It is pretty amazing how the more we know, the more we realize how little we know about how much we actually do know. Scripture is still filled with this awesome wonder. There are great mysteries packed deep into scripture and The Behemoth chooses to display those mysteries to its readers while remaining comfortable with those mysteries, and then allowing them remaining mysterious. After all, we do not have the mind of God (1 Corinthians 2.16), and we should be able to celebrate those mysteries, not always having to explain them away or theorize about them until the second coming. Some things God has hidden from view, and without compromising an orthodox view of scripture, we can look at those mysteries with the awe they deserve. Many of the articles here do the same.

4. Theology

This is where it gets possibly muddy-ish, at least as far as an AIG-theology is concerned (see footnote). Answers in Genesis is a theological site dedicated to apologetics, a defense of the faith (1 Peter 3.15). I love apologetics, it was one of my favorite areas of study in seminary. But as far as I can tell, apologetics is not the main theological focus The Behemoth aspires to achieve, and that’s fine. Not everyone is gifted in apologetics and/or theology. Yet make no mistake, The Behemoth is packed full of rich, deep theological issues. They often view these theological issues from a 35,000 foot level (or even a 135,000 foot level). At that distance, theology can become filled with the beauty of God’s creation in painted colors and glorious views, instead of drilled down to a divisive pinhole debate. I have come to appreciate this stance more and more. In a world of endless criticism and debate you can’t always show the sheer beauty found in sound theology from the micro level. The Behemoth often seems to try to fly high above the fray. [1]

5. Art and Poetry

The previous four points (yes I included five points semi-on-purpose) have now crafted this last point into being. To this reader, the greatest contribution The Behemoth makes to the Body is the art and poetry it has crafted into being. Its as if they are curating a series of watercolors with four new pieces released every other week. This is why if you look at The Behemoth as a theological treaty you will miss the point. It wasn’t until the eighth issue that I realized what gave this publication the intangible beauty missing in so many things today. When I read Hurrahing in Harvest by English poet Gerald Manley Hopkins the artistic beauty bled through the canvas.

When you combine beautifully designed, well curated, theological artistry that points beyond itself to the greatest wonder of all, the Creator God, you get something really special. Kudos to The Behemoth for coming up with this unique perspective, this artistic expression. It brings the reader to a still meditative reflection proclaiming our enormous God (Psalm 46.10). It really isn’t the words or the editors or the writers or the platform, it is of course that they point us back to beautiful words like these:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

Please keep moving forward and I’ll keep reading and telling all my friends to go read too.


[1] This article was originally published on Medium.com at http://medium.com/scottfillmer Please indulge me with a few qualifiers to this article.

First, I purposely let time test out this publication for a bit. The first issue of The Behemoth was first published July 24, and now having published their eighth issue time has allowed my ideas to be more formally identified. Anyway, who can really judge a periodical by just one issue, regardless of the baggage one might theoretically think is being brought to the party.

Second, to be transparent, this review is partially a counter-review to the Answers’ article written back in September fresh off the first article in the first issue. While I love Answers own publication, and Answers in Genesis as a whole, I think they missed the mark as far as understanding The Behemoth. I wanted to offer up a different point of view.

Third, this review is not intended to be read as an apologetic defense of all theological issues presented here. It was written to parallel the publication itself. Are there things they could improve? Of course, but that wasn’t really the point either. (For one I would love to see an iPhone 6 Plus version released on Newsstand.)

Fourth, this review is penned without any prior discussion or compensation with any party at the time of this writing. The words here are my own, the opinions stated can be attributed to my own rationale.

Now, if you still have comments or questions, by all means, let’em fly, I’d love to hear your opinions as well. .SF.

My Late Top 10 Look Ahead for 2013

At the Crossroads

At the Crossroads

I purposely tried to take a break with my blog over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, but now I’m also having a hard time getting back in the groove of writing again. Habits are like that, you get into a routine, then drop it for a time and boom, it’s gone. I sat at my favorite crossroad recently (above) thinking back at 2012 and ahead to 2013, hoping for sun and warms from the winter sky.

New Year’s resolutions to me always seemed like the impulse buy at the checkout line, so I don’t set resolutions for myself, I try to look at goals for the year. Some small and easy, some near impossible. I started off 2013 by reading and finishing Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob Geoff. This ended up being an incredible way to start off the new year, and is really now my word or phrase I want to live in for 2013, Does.

For years (maybe decades now) I have had a constant internal battle between faith and works, legalism and action, intellectualism and doing. Eventually, a while back actually, I came to the ultimate conclusion that it isn’t a battle for one or the other, but for one AND the other. It’s pretty hard to read the book of James and come to any other conclusion, but being a “doer” sometimes takes some work and effort. Sometimes, doing is “not doing.” For 2013 my goals have as many DO NOT do as it does TO DO.

My Top Ten List for 2013

1. Spend Less Time on Social Networking Sites
My goal really is to try to ditch Facebook in 2013. I’m about as sick of Facebook and all it has to offer but there are still a few people that only operate on Facebook, and they are the reason I haven’t left yet. I have some great relationships developed through social sites, but they are largely time suckers.

2. To Not Take Any Seminary Classes in 2013
Late in 2012 I conferred my first seminary master degree, a Master of Arts in Theology. This was to be the first in a line of “continuing education” in the formal faith setting. But it also comes with a price, and that price has overtaken my extremely strong desire to want to actively be in seminary classes. Mostly it has to do with time. Time it takes to read books I’m actively reading for church compared to books for classes. Time away from Deborah and things we want to do together this year, and my ability to be 100% fully engaged in my ministry work each day. As much as I love seminary work, it’s very hard to be fully engaged in people’s lives while having to spend every spare second studying when it’s a personal choice not a career choice.

Scott Fillmer's Master of Arts in Theology

Scott Fillmer’s Master of Arts in Theology

3. Write Shorter Blogs Posts More Frequently (this one doesn’t count)
This has been a goal of mine since I started my blog. The key to this for most bloggers is to give up on the perfectionist in you and just post. I use to think if it couldn’t be perfect I really don’t want to do it, now I’m more in the mindset of how much doesn’t ever get done that could be done because it can’t be perfect. Doing, not thinking about doing.

4. To Not Wear Socks
This one sounds easy, but is really going to be the hardest one, near impossible, for me after 40+ years of tradition. There are a lot of metaphorical and spiritual reasons for this one but I’ll let those hang for now.

5. Be a Doer of the Word Not Just a Theology Debater
This is my word of the year, so I kind of already theorized on this one (see what I did there), but this is also going to be one of my biggest challenges of 2013. The challenge being how to find those places to engage where I can be the most effective. One of those areas being my staff position at the church. For me, can I make my position as a “business administrator” one that engages others in love and discipleship.

Cornerstone and East Alabama Food Bank Food Drop 2013

Cornerstone and East Alabama Food Bank Food Drop 2013

6. Not To Read the Entire Bible Cover to Cover
I love this one, and it is going to be very freeing. I am going to finish my current canonical reading I started in June, then I’ll focus on a few specific books. I have probably read cover to cover now about 10 times over the last 15-20 years, but I won’t in 2013. Being a very systematic thinker I am still going to read the greatest set of books ever written, but instead of cover to cover, I’m going deep with a few specific books.

The ESV Bible, a Moleskine Journal, and a Diet Coke

The ESV Bible, a Moleskine Journal, and a Diet Coke

7. Read, Read, Read
I lost track of how many books I read in 2012, it was something like 30 or so. The last book I read in 2012 was Sacrilege: Finding Life in the Unorthodox Ways of Jesus, and the first book I read in 2013 was Love Does (above). Both excellent books. In 2013 I’m going to continue to refine my reading process by reading those specific books that take my faith deeper. Books like Creature of the Word, When Helping Hurts, Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books, Jesus A Theography, and a classic here and there like Leaves of Grass or The Hobbit.

8. To Not Forsake Spending High Quality Time With Deborah
This has always been a high priority for both of us, but that’s only because we make it a priority. The hardest thing about this is my ability to say no to good things, good people, and yes to Deb.

Deborah at IHOP for Breakfast

Deborah at IHOP for Breakfast

9. Take an Entire Week of Vacation All At Once
I (we) have never done this ever. For most of our married life Deb and I have owned our own business and when you own your own business you don’t get to take “vacation.” This year is our 20th wedding anniversary and celebrating 20 years of marriage deserves at least a week at the beach.

Sun Setting Over the Gulf of Mexico

Sun Setting Over the Gulf of Mexico

10. Love People for Who They Are and Right Where They Are
This is not a new one for me but also not an easy one. This is an ongoing, continuous, and gradually adjusted ability given to me by grace, only provided by Christ. And it is also how he loves me. To do this you have to drop every judgmental fiber in your being, and just love.

Project 365 [Day 291] Words for Love

Project 365 [Day 291] Words for Love

I have plenty more in my mind but those are the randomly chosen ten for this post.

5 Reasons Why We Should Still Read The Book of Leviticus Today

Studying the Book of Leviticus

Studying the Book of Leviticus

I just finished reading the Book of Leviticus this morning for the second time this year on my quest to finish two canonical readings for 2012. In honor of that reading, I have finally published my next list page (see my list of lists), called the 613 Mitzvot Laws or Commandments of the Old Testament, many of which are found in the book of Leviticus.

Leviticus is one of those books that Christians tend to want to ignore, while those in the opposite camp tear it apart Hebrew letter by Hebrew letter. About a year ago I actually debated with another Christian about the worth of even reading this book, and he was convinced there was nothing of importance or worthy in Leviticus for us to read today. This was no uninformed, unintelligent Christian, he has a PhD, is a leading scientist in his field, and has a heart for important social justice issues, but Leviticus was not for him (nor really any of the Pentateuch). At that time I did a lousy job at explaining why this book, and every one of the 66 books of the canon, are all still very important and relevant to read in the 21st century. Since that conversation I’ve never really been able to rectify my lack of knowledge in Leviticus and reasons why it is important to read.

This second go-round I started reading Leviticus back on August 14th and finished up today, August 21st, so reading the entire book does not take that long if you read a little bit each day. I will say, Leviticus is not a very difficult book to read, but it is a difficult book to understand, especially in light of our culture today. We are so far removed from the customs of the sacrificial systems and just overall life during the 13th-15th century B.C., it’s very hard for us to understand, within the proper context, how to apply Leviticus to our life today without reading, study, contemplation, and meditation on these 24 chapters.

So here are a few reasons why all Christians should still read this book today. I’m going to skip the obvious reason of because it is part of the canonical Bible, and go on to others, but this is first and foremost. We should read it, because it is part of the writings given to us by God himself through Moses.

Reasons We Should Still Read Leviticus Today

1. It’s the Enemy’s Favorite Book to Tear Apart (Think Shellfish, Polyester, Tattoos, and Homosexuality)
They, the enemies of Truth, call it a book full of contradictions and hypocritical living. This is generally because they don’t understand the book in context any more than we do, but they can read the obvious to make stupid arguments like Christians still eat pork and wear polyester, therefore homosexuality is not a sin (see Homosexuality, Polyester, and Shellfish for reasoning behind this tired debate).

Apologetically speaking, we should know what this book says, because it is used as an excuse for everything under the sun in the 21st century. The book has a great narrative that is often overlooked by the fact that it is a list of laws. These “laws” range from capital punishment for adultery, to not cutting your hair, to laws on homosexuality, to not getting a tattoo because it follows the evil Canaanite tribal practices. Why is it acceptable for Christians to get a tattoo, or eat pork, but not put adulterers to death? Understanding this book in proper context shows exactly why some laws are historically customary for their culture and time, and why some are moral obligations that transcend time.

2. The Theological Holiness Code Developed in Leviticus is Still Used Today
In 1 Peter 1.15-16 the Apostle Peter says, “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” That is a direct quote from Leviticus 11.44, which is then repeated several times such as in Leviticus 19.2. In seminary circles this is called the “Levitical Holiness Code” from chapters 17-27. It mainly deals with the idea of sanctification, the idea of holiness affecting how one lives in the covenant community.

For Christians today living in the 21st Century, the New Testament applies to Christians using the same principles of life stated in 11:44, and many of the “holiness codes” still show us what is displeasing to God (cf., 19:11-18, 35-36). On the other hand, as noted above, there are also symbolic aspects of the holiness code we no longer follow such as prohibiting garments of two different kinds etc.

3. To Understand How the Work of Christ Saves the Soul
Studying Leviticus today gives us an extremely important understanding of the sacrifice that Jesus made as the Christ when he died on the cross. The animal sacrificial system may be totally foreign to us now, but this enables the 21st century reader to understand why Christ’s sacrifice is one of salvation.

4. The Festal Calendar of Israel in Leviticus Shaped the Christian Calendar We Still Use
The three main festivals, or sometimes called the national pilgrim feasts of Israel, are the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Harvest, and the Feast of Booths. Most of our modern day church denominations from Baptist to Catholic still follow these festivals. These celebrations today find their climax in the corresponding days known as Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost.

5. Because Without Leviticus the Other 65 Books Don’t Make Any Sense
Every book is intertwined with every other book. This is a huge reason to me. If you are reading Kings or Nehemiah, or one of those other “important” books, you are reading part 11 or part 16, but you never read part 3. Knowing and understanding Leviticus is crucial to understanding any of the other books, just the same as reading and studying Kings is important to reading Matthew.

What sense does Christ being crucified on the cross make without knowing how the sacrificial system works? I understand you can watch the Lord of the Rings or the Star Wars movies out of order and you can still understand them individually, but don’t they make a whole lot more sense as a whole?

So there you have it. Five reasons why Leviticus is important for us to read today. I know these points aren’t developed very extensively, but it that wasn’t really the point.[1]


[1] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).

Biblical Basis Question for Vacation Bible School :: VBS

This, like other posts on this particular blog, are unfinished thoughts, and this one is beyond unfinished. This time of year, churches all across the country are going to great lengths to setup for their versions of VBS. As the chaotic week arrived, I asked the stupid question, “What is the Biblical basis for VBS?” Apparently that is not a proper question to ask when VBS is only a few days away, though I think it is deserving of a theological response nonetheless.

In my inquiry, I asked 6 people around the country I know, which came to be the widest range of people in the greater universal church I could find, and only one could answer my question. I asked a College Pastor, a Music Leader/Pastor, a Children’s Director, a seminary student, a Senior Pastor at a small Baptist church, and a homeschooling mom. Now it was pointed out to me that there is never a bad time to teach children about God’s word, and about Jesus. This is true. But not a single one could give me a reason, based from Scripture, why we put on these elaborate shows and productions for VBS, other than we have always done it, or it’s fun, or “VBS is great!”

For the typical church staff, it can be one of the most stressful times of the year. For parents, some are looking for a place to just dump their kids for a few hours during the summer, for the kids, it’s a big party. None of that is inherently bad, but is it something the church body should put so much money and effort into each summer? I guess we are at the point in society where we have to make things multimedia enough for the kids to even pay attention. No kid is going to sit and listen to the word of the Lord without a band and a screen of some type glowing in the background.

What does this say about how do worship today? What does this say about our kids, about our skills as parents, or best of all, what does it say about our understanding of Scripture, and what the Bible instructs us to do? VBS may fit into some nice church mold where a Biblical basis can be made for our elaborate productions, but no one as of yet has been able to explain to me the exegetical, hermeneutical history, or any other actual Biblical basis for VBS, other than the general, kids should be taught the Bible [format notwithstanding i guess]. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just bashing VBS across the board, there is a great need today to teach our children about Christ, but maybe that’s all there is to it and there doesn’t need to be some higher theological explanation for VBS. I’m still going to ask the question because it just needs to be asked.

How Deep The Father’s Love For Us

We used this modern day hymn in our service this past Sunday and the lyrics were just incredible to me… the line “I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers” really puts an emphasis on God’s love for us. I know the song is about 10 years old at this point but still well worth reading the words below.

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

A Look at The Pericope Adulterae from John 7:53-8:11

christ-and-the-adulteress

I was quite troubled the first time I heard someone say, years ago at this point, that the story about Jesus and the woman caught in adultery was not inspired Scripture, and thus didn’t belong in the Bible. Of course it troubled me, but I did nothing about trying to understand why this story was in my Bible (though in brackets). Back in March 2011 Piper did a sermon on this passage (Neither Do I Condemn You), usually called in scholastic writings, The Pericope Adulterae, where the explanation started to make a little more sense.

A few weeks ago I finally got around to doing my own research on the topic, and my basic overall conclusion is listed below. To see the entire argument if you so desire just go to my Writing Section or click here for the PDF called The Pericope Adulterae: An Exegetical Examination of the Canonicity and Meaning of John 7:53-8:11.

Even though this account of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery most likely did not appear in the original writings of John’s Gospel, it does not affect any significant doctrine within the whole of Scripture.  Some teachers may wish to exclude this section from reproof because of these issues, but whether a modern day pastor or teacher chooses to include or exclude the pericope, the wisdom of Jesus can be found in other areas of Scripture to support the statements within this passage.  As such, many applications of forgiveness, judgmental attitudes, and repentance can be gleened from the pericope, much in the same way the Didascalia Apostolorum used the story to “bring repentant sinners back into the congregation.”[1]

Issues such as judgmentalism and sin on a large scale can destroy communities and nations, and on a smaller scale, can destroy “marriages, families, and churches.”[2]  We have almost countless opportunities in our post-modern culture to extend grace, especially when it comes to our marriages, families, and our churches.  How many congregations have split because of a spirit among members who are quick to judge, and slow to extend grace?  The pericope adulterae, a floating, somewhat “homeless passage,” which probably needs some grace extended to it as well, provides an additional opportunity to reiterate teachings found in many other parts of the New Testament.[3]  It may not be an original part of John’s gospel, but this story “points us to the message of the whole New Testament.”[4]  Ultimately the pericopepoints us to Jesus, who not only gives us grace beyond what we deserve, grace is given by the only One who, without sin, can actually cast the first stone, but does not.


[1] Michael W. Holmes, ed., The Apostolic Fathers in English, 3rd Edition, ed. Michael W. Holmes (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic), 304-305. This edition was translated and edited by Michael W. Holmes after the earlier version by J. B. Lightfoot and J. R. Harmer.

[2] Roberta C. Bondi, To Pray and to Love: Conversations on Prayer with the Early Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1991), 109.

[3] Frances Taylor Gench, “John 7:53-8:11,” Interpretation (Academic OneFile) 63, no. 4 (October 2009): 400.

[4] John Piper, “Neither Do I Condemn You”.

Searching Out the Reasons for Writing Religitic

This is my first actual post on this blog, so titled Religitic, in a while. The title I chose years and years ago for the life we Christians sometimes lead, one that is partly spiritual, partly heretical, and often mostly hypocritical. Therefore, I combined heretic, and hypocrite, with religion and got Religitic. The walk of any believer should be filled with trying to remove the “ic” and add the truly “religious” part, but the word religious today is as dirty as any cuss word we can use.

This blog, domain, and twitter account, was created years ago, but I am just now getting around to working on some of the content. I find myself more and more frustrated with things in our culture, our society, aspects of work, and other things that just make up life. I created this blog called “Religitic” a while back in the hopes that some day I would just start writing in a much more unfiltered way than I do on my own personal blog that has all the bureaucratic filtering of a life involved with office politics, religion, and people’s feelings. It never really happened that way, but I did create a sub-section over here with the tag Religitic, based on writing as described here, a little less filtered and polished.

I find myself so often writing with such a filter that I can’t even say the things I really want to say, not out of a fear of offending someone, but more out of expectations I have created on my other blog. The intent for this was to be able to write without as much of a filter, to generate ideas, passions, and work out my understandings of different topics.This blog is going to be filled with partial thoughts, politically incorrect ways of thinking for our society today, and theories or theologies I haven’t fully understood enough to talk about yet. It will not be filled with photos and fun, but it could be filled with posts from my personal journal, my daily devotionals, or just short ramblings. Hopefully so I can learn, and put my polished work on my main blog. I will still be writing everything from the basic worldview I hold… or that of a protestant orthodox believer in Jesus Christ as the single one and only savior of humanity. If you are looking for polished theologies and fully vetted work, look elsewhere, this won’t be the place.

Heavenly Wisdom vs Earthly Wisdom :: James 3:13-18

A few weeks ago I was given the privilege of preparing a short message on James 3:13-18 for our series on the book of James, which is the small section at the end of James 3 on wisdom as it pertains to the taming of the tongue. The entire message is available on PDF at Heavenly Wisdom vs Earthly Wisdom :: James 3:13-18 or you can go to my writing section and find it there as well.

After reading this little section on James over and over and over again, and studying it as best I could, I have really come to love the words of wisdom found in James 3:13-18.  At the end of James 3, in a chapter almost entirely dedicated to taming the tongue, we come across this small section, which almost appears to be thrown in by James as an afterthought on wisdom. While it may seem out of place at first, James knew it was not intelligence, or great knowledge, which could tame the tongue, but wisdom, a heavenly wisdom found in “humility, grace and peace” (BKC, 828). There is just no other way to control the tongue than with a heavenly wisdom from above.

James 3:13-18 is a story of wisdom presented as two completely different sides of the same coin, one that we still see played out in our world today. On one side of the wisdom coin, we have a heavenly wisdom from above, which is full of mercy and peace. On the other side, we have an earthly wisdom, which is characterized by jealousy, envy, pride, and selfish ambition. James says seeking after a heavenly wisdom results in an abundance of God’s peace in our lives, while seeking after earthly wisdom, leads to disorder, and “every vile practice” we could possibly conceive.

Our own culture thrives on this earthly wisdom to fulfill the “American Dream” by “looking out for number one,” or “climbing that corporate latter,” and in using our abilities and knowledge to gain an advantage over someone else.  Obtaining more earthly wisdom, whether it comes from our latest smart phone, music, movies, or from the most esteemed pastor we know, doesn’t help to control the tongue. Earthly wisdom might temporarily satisfy our desire to outdo our brother, but rarely will this show God’s love. We probably all know people who have accumulated vast sums of knowledge, which can impress us with fancy arguments, competition, or rivalry. But I can still find this in myself as well, buried deep in my heart where many sins can reside without ever seeing the light of day.

So what is the difference between heavenly wisdom and earthly wisdom? James gives us a great way to test ourselves for Heavenly wisdom, and it sounds unlike what we normally hear in many other parts of Scripture, it comes from our behavior. At some point, knowledge can turn into heavenly wisdom through proper application of living out our lives manifested in our actions. What this means is heavenly wisdom will be seen by our conduct through humility, and meekness, not by gaining vast sums of knowledge, or in our ability to outdo one another. We can ask ourselves, are we gaining in the wisdom of God? Apart from a true desire to walk in a manner pleasing to God, no one really has true wisdom, and without true wisdom, we have little hope of taming our tongue.

I sometimes have a tendency to argue my point with just about anyone who will listen. This only solidifies my understanding of how difficult it is for a tamed tongue to coincide with an earthly wisdom, which James even calls demonic. If heavenly wisdom is applying knowledge properly, according to God’s will, how do we really know we have achieved wisdom from above at all? We know we have the wise answer, the response of wisdom, because it won’t be argumentative, contentious, or self-seeking. It will be gentle and peacemaking, and clearly seen by others through our actions in Godly behavior.

Not One is Missing Among 10 Billion Trillion of Them :: Isaiah 40:26

The Milky Way Galaxy and Jacob

I have been walking, and sometimes running, through the book of Isaiah over the last week or two. There are so many incredible passages in Isaiah, but this morning I came across something that made me stop, it was just one phrase, just four words, “not one is missing” (Isaiah 40.26.d). This passage, in context is Isaiah 40:25-26, is talking about the pagan worship practices, many of Isaiah’s contemporaries had failed to resist, which now surrounded the Israelites. They often worshipped astrological phenomena, but Isaiah here is saying that Israel’s God is the only thing worthy of worship, and he created the stars themselves.

Apparently astronomers say there were about 5,000 stars visible in ancient Israel, so saying that God created these stars would have been an awe-inspiring thing (and it reminded me of the star images above from last summer).[1] What is always so awe-inspiring to me, in a time and culture where not many people worship the actual stars, astronomers now estimate there are more than 400 billion stars in our own Milky Way galaxy, there are 125 billion galaxies in the universe, making the total number of stars 1×1022, or about 10 billion trillions. If this isn’t mind boggling enough to contemplate, Isaiah says God knows all these stars by name! In His own strength He created, controls, and sustains millions upon millions of stars, each one of which He, amazingly, has named (cf. Ps. 147:4).[2]

I’m not even sure I can fully understand what 10 billion trillion is in a numerical order. The only thing I could think to compare a number like that to is something huge, like our national debt which is around 15.6 trillion. Even something we are told is as huge as the national debt looks absolutely minuscule when compared to how many stars God has created. The point being of course, if God knows the name of every single star, such a God will surely never forget even one of his own people. After all, there are only about 7 billion of us for God to remember!


[1] See EXIF Data of Star shot above on Flickr

[2] John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-), Is 40:25–26.

cf. confer, compare

Is True Christianity Represented on CNN, Discovery, and History Channel?

CNN Belief Blog

Can we really know the true meaning of Christianity today? The answer of course, is an emphatic yes, of course we can, but the answer always seems to change depending on who you ask. Our culture is filled with blogs and news articles like the CNN “Belief Blog” and the Washington Post “On Faith” section, which constantly adjust the meaning of Christianity to suit their own needs, mostly to be politically correct. Make no mistake, these are secular institutions, writing for a single collective purpose and goal in mind, to make a monetary profit. These are businesses, and in business to make money (nothing wrong with that).

These news blogs ask good theological questions like Are Mormons Christians?, because they are hot-button topics, but they often give politically correct answers, ones rarely correct to true Christianity. The Mormon question is a great example, where the press wants to find some way for Christianity to accept Mormons as Christians. If they knew the differences between Christianity and what the Mormon’s say they believe, they would understand why this is just never going to happen (see a good article A Comparison Between Christian Doctrine and Mormon Doctrine). To a learned Christian, Mormons will never be considered “Christians,” even if the Mormon’s say they are, and that is just one small hot topic today of thousands.

I love the Discovery Channel series “Who is Jesus,” and the History Channel’s The Shroud of Turin, but taking serious Christian spiritual or doctrinal advise from these places would be like determining the true meaning of Christianity via the Discovery Channel and History Channel. Sadly, I’m guessing this is where many people in our culture today decide what true Christianity is and isn’t.

The truth of Christianity of course is only found from Scripture, period. If that’s so can a true biblical view also be presented to our culture by means of a secular for-profit company? I think Charles Schultz was one of the first to try and answer that question in our current day when he had Linus read from the book of Luke. After reading another blog post this morning asking “Can we really know the true meaning of Christianity today?”, it made me think… how quickly could you/we/me answer the question? Would the answer come from our deep seeded bias’ we all carry, or would it be a Biblical answer?

There are almost countless ways to answer that question in truth, but here are two quick ways to explain the true and real meaning of Christianity. It’s simple… we make it complex.

  • John 13:35 Jesus says :: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (something also expanded on by Paul in Romans 12:9-21)
  • Romans 10:9-10 Paul says: That is the outpouring of our decision for Christ… “because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved”

Those are just two quick ways to answer that question, there are many more.