M25 Mission Camp in Atlanta

The Cornerstone M25 Team

The team on the last day as we prepare to head back to Auburn

There are several entries that have been sitting in my drafts for a while that I’ve trying to get posted, and this happens to be one of them. M25 Mission Camp is a youth missional organization in Atlanta that works with the homeless in a way I’ve rarely seen over the years. It wasn’t the first youth trip for me, but it was the first one in a while, and I was amazed with every aspect of the experience, mainly because it changed perceptions and perspectives on life and serving others well. This video we produced can explain it better than I can here. For now, there are some images that shows a little of the week we spent trying to love others well.

Continue reading

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.

Christian Musings on Doubt on a Quiet Saturday Morning

Reading Among the Trees

Reading Among the Trees

While I watched the sun come up over the trees today I started my Saturday with a cup of coffee and the newspaper, i.e. a read through Facebook and Twitter. This is something I haven’t done much lately for various reasons, but today I came across this article from @BuzzFeed via @jessmisener who wrote about losing her “born-again-faith” in Jesus.1 It is a truly sad story, and all the stories I read like this are ultimately eternally sad. I have a hard time personally comprehending how a person comes to faith, or so they think, and then when doubt sets in (in this case through a world class education at Yale), they fall away. This article is basically the story right out of Matthew 13 of the parables of the seeds that were sown on the rocky ground.

13.20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.

We have a great way in the church of explaining these situations away. Either they were never a Christian to begin with or they are going through a period of doubt and will soon return. [Scripture is clear that no one can just “lose” their salvation, so logic has either she never had it to begin with or her “Jesus phase” as she puts it, will reclaim her life again one day.]

What we don’t have a great way of explaining away are the challenges of the modern day church she so eloquently brings up through her doubt. The article has millennial DNA stamped all over it. A far too familiar story of a millennial who has left the church, and perhaps their faith, because every question can not be answered leaving zero doubt. They have an overall basic mis-trust of the church, and a highly skeptical view of the doctrine of inerrancy. [On another side note, apparently her masters did nothing but help fuel her skeptical view of inerrancy while my masters solidified my understanding of inerrancy. Though we did received similar degrees, mine is not of the Ivy League type and perhaps did not require me to question my faith to the extent Yale did hers.]

This article is a microcosm of what our modern day church faces, and shows how little we have accomplished when it comes to understanding this generation of doubt. It seems many I know who have left the church, and or their faith, think every single doubt should be answered, every question scientifically proven. Scripture never claims this, nor did Jesus throughout his ministry. This is where faith steps in. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen, not the complete and total understanding of every doubt that enters the mind, valid or invalid.

The church certainly needs to find a way to reach the skeptical mind of the doubting generation while maintaining orthodoxy and sound doctrine. Holding on to our stereotypical ways of the 80’s and 90’s is probably not that way. Neither is trying to convince them of all their wrongs with a 10-step correction process that is one size fits all. Maybe it comes from the church living out Matthew 22.34-40. With this comes everything else.

Service of Prayer, Reflection, and Imposition of Ashes

Worship Spirit of the Living God

Worship Spirit of the Living God

Here are a few shots from our service last night. For me personally it was a physically and emotionally draining day, but a good one. I always like this particular service for the mere fact it starts a time of reflection and prayer, which moves our focus toward what’s really the greatest celebration of the year, Easter.

Last night was more about recognizing our own brokenness, our own mortality, and coming in a posture of humility to the Creator with our lives. It is still amazing to me how busy we get, how filled our schedules become, and in that business we often lose touch with the reason for our ultimate existence and why we do what we do.

Josh Agerton Reads from the Psalms

Josh Agerton Reads from the Psalms

Dustin Adams Playing Guitar

Dustin Adams Playing Guitar

Chandler Serves the Imposition of Ashes

Chandler Serves the Imposition of Ashes

Preparing for the Season of Lent

Maundy Thursday Chalkboard Prayer Vigil

A few weeks ago at my church we had what we call a Celebration Dinner, beginning a process of visioning for the future called Dream 2020. As we move through this visioning experience in 2013, we are asking people to begin this season with 40 days of prayer (and fasting), beginning with Ash Wednesday.

Prayer During Lent

Prayer, by its very nature, causes us to slow down and reveals our priorities. As a church, prayer is our declaration of dependence on God instead of ourselves. It is our response to grace, a corporate collective cry for God to move in the midst of our sin. Prayer is something that challenges our mind, which, by its very nature, is prone to wonder and daydream as we try to bring our hearts to the Lord. We lose focus in our 24/7-connected world and struggle to find consistency in prayer, but so did the disciples when Jesus took them into the garden to pray before His trial (Matthew 26:40).[1]

As with most things in life that challenge us, the results are also beyond our own imagination. As the disciples discovered, more could be accomplished through prayer than they had ever dreamed, and Jesus said we, through prayer, would do even greater things than He Himself had done (John 14:12-14).

Fasting During Lent

Fasting is another spiritual discipline discussed during lent, often in the context of giving up candy, television, or some other “extra” thing in our life. My experience with fasting generally didn’t even go that far, until one night I began to pray about fasting. Only through prayer was I led to a traditional fast, a weekly one that lasted an entire year. In that year God prepared and changed my heart for things I could never foresee happening in my life, and he can do the same for our church body. Some cannot participate in a traditional fast from food, and I know God understands that situation. But for those of us who can, I would challenge you to begin by praying about fasting.

Prayer and fasting together make a powerful bond, one stronger than prayer alone or fasting alone. When the disciples asked Jesus why they could not do what they expected could be done, Jesus’ response was this could only be done through prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21). As you are challenged in this area I would encourage you to ask practical questions if you have any. Please feel free to contact me, I would be more than happy to discuss the specific practicalities of fasting with you.

Here are Some Practical Suggestions and Next Steps

First, over each of the next 40 days of Lent we will be posting a new prayer for Cornerstone’s future, which you can read here. We will be prayerfully asking how we can impact our community, our schools, lives in Uganda, and many other areas where Cornerstone can lead people to know and serve Jesus. We invite you to participate with Cornerstone in prayer each day, putting on the whole armor of God around Ephesians 6:18 twice a day, at 6:18am and 6:18pm.

Second, begin to prayerfully seek God’s guidance as it pertains to fasting in your life. If you have questions, please ask. If you are led to fast during Lent some practical things to ask yourself are why, when, and how. In the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us the most practical advice on fasting in Matthew 6:16-18. You can start by reading this passage, and the whole sermon if possible from Matthew 5:2 to 7:27, then answer the why.

The why is often seen as an emptying of self and the filling of God, generally by means of abstaining from food and/or water. The when could be giving up lunch on Tuesdays during Lent, or food for 24 hours on Wednesdays. The how is different for each person, but is an important practical step to think about. How do you not eat and not call attention to yourself? Look at your schedule; it’s different for everyone.

As we prepare ourselves for this time of reflection through prayer and fasting let us remember our brokenness, and our need for a redeemer, which is Christ crucified for us.


[1] Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson and Eric Geiger, Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2012), 219-222. Concepts were developed on prayer using this section called “The Primacy of Prayer” from Creature of the Word. The authors’ dedication to their text is greatly appreciated and achknowledged here as originating from this section of their text. A good review of the book can be found in the interview The Church as Creature of the Word: A Conversation with Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson, and Eric Geiger.

Cornerstone Celebration Dinner 2013

Cornerstone Church Celebration Dinner 2013

Cornerstone Church Celebration Dinner 2013

Last night our church came together to celebrate what God has done in the life of our church over the previous year along with putting out the vision for what Cornerstone looks like in the year 2020. It was a great night, but it was a launching point for 2013. We still have one more night to go tonight, so if anyone happens to be reading this in Auburn and wants to come join the celebration there are still a few seats left. I didn’t get to take too many shots last night, but here are a few.

Cornerstone Church Celebration Dinner 2013

The Dinner at Cornerstone Church Celebration Dinner 2013

Cornerstone Church Celebration Dinner 2013

Cornerstone Church Celebration Dinner 2013

Cornerstone Church Celebration Dinner 2013

Cornerstone Church Celebration Dinner 2013

President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

Lincoln Thanksgiving Day

God’s divine appointments are always amazing to me. In my normal daily chronological reading through the Old Testament this morning, I ended up reading 1 Chronicles 16, a chapter just about giving thanks, which contains David’s thanksgiving song to the Lord. It was a divine appointment at least for me, and a great reminder that today we give thanks TO our creator and Lord. Not necessarily for what we have physically, but for what God has done in our lives, and yes for the blessings he has abundantly supplied.

Thanksgiving should not be an “American” thing, and when this day was first made into a holiday, Lincoln said as much as well. This is the day for the world to give thanks to God, and in his own words, I give you:

President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America’s national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders similar to this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on September 28, 1863, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” She explained, “You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.”

Prior to this, each state scheduled its own Thanksgiving holiday at different times, mainly in New England and other Northern states. President Lincoln responded to Mrs. Hale’s request immediately, unlike several of his predecessors, who ignored her petitions altogether. In her letter to Lincoln she mentioned that she had been advocating a national thanksgiving date for 15 years as the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book.

he document below sets apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln’s secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary how he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

… and so it is today. We celebrate with food and family today, and give thanks to our creator and savior that he is truly Lord over all.


  1. Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler.
  2. Abraham Lincoln Online: Writings and Speeches

A Christian Vacuum and My Prayerful Vote for America

Lines at My Local Auburn Polling Place

Lines at My Local Auburn Polling Place

I have been voting since 1988, and I really can’t remember ever waiting in line, ever. There is just something a little different about the election this time around. It seems like each candidate is already resolved to their fate, but seeing this kind of turnout is awesome. If you are an eligible voter in our country today, and you didn’t vote, shame on you, go vote. Regardless of party affiliation or particular ideology, people in our country have given their life so that all of us can freely vote our conscience on this day, and it’s our responsibility to do so. My polling station was busy. As you can see from the photo above, there were a lot of people in line, but it didn’t take long, and wasn’t too long a wait for the freedom to vote.

Over the past several months I have been trying to finish one of the greatest books ever written on discipleship, The Cost of Discipleship, by Bonhoeffer and he had some really incredible things to say about our process today. If you have access to this book, go read chapters 12 and 13 and read it in context of today’s world with the understanding that he wrote that during one of the reigns of the most evil leaders the world has ever know. His other epic book, Ethics, starts off with this explanation, which I find so pertinent to our world today.

The Christian does not live in a vacuum, but in a world of government, politics, labor, and marriage. Hence, Christian ethics cannot exist in a vacuum. The reality is not manifest in the Church as distinct from the secular world; such a juxtaposition of two separate spheres is a denial of God’s having reconciled the whole world to himself in Christ. On the contrary, God’s commandment is to be found and known in the Church, the family, labor, and government, with a responsibility for the institutions of the world.

Meaning… neither candidate we see today may be our perfect choice as Christians, but we don’t live in a perfect world, and we only have one perfect candidate, Christ himself. We have to live in the world we are placed, not stick our head in the sand. This article published by Religion Today says it very well, Evangelicals Want Moral Government But are Ignorant of the Bible, and the point is we need to become as knowledgeable about God’s word as we are about Obama or Romney.

This was my prayer for our election this morning: “Lord I pray for this election, that you will make your choice clear today, that your will be done, even if that means letting this country go deeper into the depths of hell before it finds its way out, and finds its way back to you.” For some reason David’s words when we prayed for deliverance in 2 Samuel 22 seem relevant to the state of our country at this point in history. We should do as he did and earnestly “call upon the Lord.”

I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised… for the waves of death encompassed me, the torrents of destruction assailed me, the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me… in my distress i called upon the Lord; to my God I called. 2 Samuel 22.

People Waiting to Pick Up a Ballet in Auburn

People Waiting to Pick Up a Ballet in Auburn

A Man Takes His Ballet From a Poll Worker in Auburn

A Man Takes His Ballet From a Poll Worker in Auburn

The Alabama Ballet for Election 2012

The Alabama Ballet for Election 2012

I hope you voted today, or are planning on voting today. This vote has historic consequences, as all elections do, but the world seems poised, seems to be on the cusp, of a time where we are still not too far gone, but can very easily fall over the edge. That edge, or cliff, is a combination of all kinds of things from war in the middle east to an economic crisis like we have seen in Greece.

For me, the edge or cliff is the erosion of faith in our country. A country that now receives more missionaries than it sends, where we continue to move into complete pluralism, where Christians themselves no longer stand for Gospel truths, and are no longer convicted to call sin, sin.

So regardless of who you vote for, have a reason for choosing a particular candidate, and go vote. This is not something to take lightly, nor something to brush off as unimportant. As Christians we have a call to be involved in the world we live in, to be a part of the process, not just as an armchair quarterback.

Halloween and Saul Using Mediums to Talk to the Dead

Lego Batman Guards the Halloween Pumpkin

Lego Batman Guards the Halloween Pumpkin

So it’s once again All Saints Eve, Reformation Day, or Halloween as most call it. This is one of those many days in our culture now that has virtually no meaning left to it whatsoever, except for that blip on the balance sheets of Target and Walmart. Ah the great machine of capitalism that can turn virtually any historic, religious, or memorable occasion into a commercial venture (just ask Linus). Thus the box stores have succeeded in extracting all true meaning, and have replaced it with the idol of consumerism we all (or most) willingly participate in every day the calendar says to do so. I have family members who like Halloween for it’s decorations of fall and Goth appeal, (those people from that barbaric uncultured Germanic tribe called The Goths who wreaked havoc on the Romans). And I have family members who hate Halloween for the celebration of Satanic rituals and the like (which for some reason brings back memories of the 1987 classic Dragnet and the Pagan Chief holding the ceremony to burn people at the stake). And both parties are represented in my church, and in most churches today.

I really think Halloween at this point in our culture has no meaning left at all, so why bother at all is my point I guess. Generally, no body knows the historical origins anymore, at least not without looking it up, and our society overall has successfully removed any and all understanding of a spiritual world that works around us at all times. Evil spirits are now likened to only exist in people’s minds who are uneducated, or live in some far off land like Africa. A real, but unseen, spiritual world where angels and demons exist, defies science and the educated mind today, and the more we rely on ourselves and our own wisdom, the less we see of the spiritual world at work.

From that, I take you to a very interesting part of 1 Samuel (at least as it relates to Halloween in our world today), and King Saul’s pursuit of David. In 1 Samuel 28, after a long mind battle with David, the future king of Israel, Saul is desperate to kill David and is facing an impending Philistine invasion. After inquiring of God, and getting no answer, he goes to find a medium (a person who is or can call the spirit of a dead person) to try to talk to the dead prophet Samuel. This is not going to be a long exegetical look at 1 Samuel 28, but go read this short chapter and see what happened.

  1. Saul previously removed all the mediums and necromancers (v.3)
  2. Saul disguises himself (in a costume) to go see a medium (v.8)
  3. Saul asks to speak with the dead (v.8-9)
  4. Saul swears by the Lord’s name (v.10)
  5. The medium, for some reason, is allowed by God to call up Samuel from the dead (v.12-13)
  6. The medium is startled, perhaps because this was different than at any other time (v.12)
  7. Samuel is recognizable to Saul (v.14)
  8. Samuel questions Saul (“why have you disturbed me?”) (v.15)
  9. Samuel reiterates that God is now his enemy (v.16)
  10. Samuel delivers a prophecy of Saul’s impending death along with his sons (v.19)

There is so much in that one set of verses. It isn’t placed here to show a séance is acceptable, but rather that this activity was sin, something that was forbidden by Mosaic law (Lev 19.31, Deut 18.10, and 1 Sam 15.23). It does suggest that in certain circumstances, a medium can contact the dead, and not just that of an evil spirit as an evil spirit would not deliver a true prophecy to Saul. The overall point is that Saul did not seek the Lord, he sinned by going after the dead, something that ultimately caused his own death (see 1 Chronicles 10:13-14).

In our 21st century culture in regards to tonight’s celebration of Halloween, I’m not sure which is worse. Blindly going along with Halloween without questioning it’s true origins, or shutting your house to any and all visitors in the name of righteousness, pretending like Halloween doesn’t exist (I’m lucky, I don’t have to do either since I have no neighbors [haha]). Look what Luther did, he didn’t hide out on this night. On this night 495 years ago he made a pretty bold statement, and there is no way you can look at the 95 Thesis and call it a coincidence that Luther posted that on the door of the church on October 31st, 1517.

Reformation Day is officially on October 31st of course, but I don’t think Walmart is going to have a sale on Luther’s 95 Thesis in the magazine rack, oh well.

Seeing Our Next Team Off to Uganda Today

Cornerstone Church Uganda Team Leaves for Atlanta

Cornerstone Church Uganda Team Leaves for Atlanta

Today instead of going on the trip to Uganda with the team from last year, I got to see them off to the Atlanta airport. It was a sad goodbye for me personally since I’m staying behind, but I know God is going to work among these eight people pictured above over the next week in Uganda. This team is going to build on so many other teams that have already gone and come back, intent on sharing the love of Christ with others in a culture and context far different from the comfortable life we live in the western world.

You can see a little more about what the trips are like from my previous posts in the Uganda tag, and if you want to follow along with this particular team you can follow April Olive’s blog as she updates throughout the trip. I can’t wait to hear about their trip, it is quite an experienced group of travelers with a heart for the people of Uganda.