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Separation Filters: Isaiah 7

The story of King Ahaz, the Syrian threat versus the Assyrian hope, the Immanuel promise, and the names of Isaiah’s sons all point to one amazing truth: This suffering world is the venue for sorting people both by their deeds and by God-given faith.


King Ahaz has an amazing opportunity. He meets with Isaiah not only to hear the direct word from God, but also to respond. As Joshua had commanded the people, “choose this day whom you will serve,” Ahaz is given hope and a choice. Isaiah’s son Shear-jashub comes with him to the meeting, his very name that of hope: “a remnant shall return.”

Isaiah presents to Ahaz an opportunity to prove his mettle. Pleasure and peace or war.

“Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two…” (v4).

We hear echoes of Moses and Joshua speaking to trembling Israel.

“Do not be dismayed or discouraged for the Lord is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

God recognizes the enemies are fearsome:

“two smoldering stumps of firebrands…fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah…. Syria has devised evil against you” (v4).

In spite of this God presents Ahaz with a great opportunity to throw in his hope onto God’s side.  This is his only opportunity for success.

“If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all” (v9).

Then King Ahaz is given the option of choosing proof. Like with Gideon, God condescends to strengthen the faith of Ahaz with a sign of God’s presence.

“Let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven” (v10).

How many of us would love such an opportunity for divine proof? Yet Ahaz declines.

So God gives a promise that will come about in double-time:

“Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (v14).

The child will be named “God with us.” Can you hear Handel’s version of this playing in your head?

The immediate fulfillment of this proof happens in the next chapter, but with a twist. God tells all the signs of sorrow and suffering that will come upon Israel, with Sheer-jashub standing right there. To the hope of the remnant is added the hope of God with us.

What will Ahaz do? His decision is our decision. His choice pushes us to look inwardly. What would I have done? What do I do in my desperate times?

Ahaz is being sifted, shaken, stirred. How does he come out in the face of suffering? Ahaz chooses to put his faith in Assyria. This nation promises to help Israel against Rezin and Syria, but Israel has not considered the dear cost.


Isaiah 7 | Isaiah 8 | Isaiah 9

The Ugly Truth: I Love Will

School Shootings on Valentine’s Day? What is happening to this world?

There is nothing new, really, under the sun. As it was in the days of Noah so it is still today. Everyone is in love with the same person. This is the crux of the matter.

At our church women’s prayer time a common weekly request is for patience in the context of children and family.  We all know what it means. The battle of the wills. I want and he wants and what I want must win.

We love our Will.

Precious Will

We tend it and care for it. Like Gollum and the precious ring, we treasure our will and if anyone tries to touch it we lash out at them with fangs and sharp teeth. We want what we want and nobody. Ever. Forever. will take that from us.

Yet at the same time we pray the Lord’s prayer: thy Kingdom come, thy will be done.

There is a big problem in the world, and it starts with us. With our deepest love. Did you give chocolates to someone today for Valentine’s Day? Did you give a card? Did you go out on a date?

Perhaps you wanted to show your love to someone, or perhaps you had no one “really” to show love to today. No special someone. So you ate a bunch of chocolate yourself and watched a movie you’ve been wanting to watch.

We do this because of Will. We love him. He is our precious. If no one else appreciates him, we do. I will be treated special today, if I have to do it myself.

Impatience

I’ve been praying lately, trying to get to the bottom of this impatience with my children. Why can’t I be patient? Why can’t I be loving and sacrificial and serve them, like Christ did?  He took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist and got to business showing his love by serving.

I’ve been praying that God would show me what it is that is wrong in my spirit to make me battle to the death to win. I found the answer. It’s a little thing that holds me in sway. It’s Will. Will won’t let me lose.

I have a pampered Will. And now I don’t know what to do. So I pray, and I look at the Bible.

A few hours after Christ washed the disciples’ feet, he was in the garden praying, “not my will but thine be done.” There’s where his Will is! It is set there in front of the throne of the Father in heaven. It’s resting there.

Putting Will to Rest

I think I know what Will will try to do if I try to put ’em to rest at the foot of the Throne. He’s gonna wiggle and toss and turn, like a 3 year old at nap time. But putting our Will down is an inherent part of sanctification. Because a Will that does not rest there will get into more trouble than a 3 year old without a nap.

We’ve gotta put ’em down.

But there is hope. Where else? In Philippians 2:

“it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

What a wonderful thing to know. God’s Spirit works in us shaping that Will to rest at the foot of Jesus. And as the Will rests, bending to the the Father’s will, the body works out God’s good pleasure.

A verse earlier in Philippians it says:

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…”

How do we obey? How do we work out our own salvation? We gotta put Will to rest.  Look a bit earlier in Philippians. Surrounded in the context of Christ’s great humble example of loving, giving and serving we see these words:

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  This is what it looks like when Will is resting before the Throne.

School Shootings

What does love of Will have to do with the school shootings? People are broken and hurting, they are “without God and without hope.” And certainly, in this country, they have all known a Christian or two.  Somehow those relationships were not enough to stay the violent anger growing inside them. They loved their Will and chose to give it free reign, lashing out at the world that hurt them.

The Bible is very clear that the Church is the key to world peace. “Wars and rumors of war” and all that is ugly will be and is the characteristic of the last days. However, at the same time, there has always been a direct relationship between the Church getting right with God and the neighborhood getting cleaned up. Think about all the great RE-vivals. It’s when Christians repented.

GOD’S PEOPLE are supposed to turn. God’s people are supposed to humble themselves…(wait–didn’t we just see the connection between humbling ourselves and putting Will to rest? Yes! Philippians 2!)

…God’s people seeking God’s face with confession and repentance…this is the If/Then of social healing.

You know what I’m saying. You’ve seen hypocrites in your very church. You know the hypocrisy that hides in your heart, that few people see. It starts with Will.

We love Will. But the Will we should love more is God’s Will. That’s the one that’ll bring peace to your neighborhood, your city, your nation.

If we want to see school shootings go down, rise up o Church arise. If we want to see abortions and social disasters relieved, rise up o Church arise. Put aside Will.*

Suggestions for Putting Will to Rest:
  1. Humble Yourself:  Confess that you love your Will more than you love God’s Will. Name specific times that you disregarded clear Scripture in favor of your Will. Dwell on the justice of God, where your stubborn preference proves your guilt in his sight; dwell on the great kindness of God to forgive you in Christ’s name. Thank the Lord that Christ lived with a submissive will on your behalf, and that by faith this obedience has become yours.
  2. Pray: that God would put you in a situation where you are forced to let go of Will for the sake of God’s good plans. Ask him to test you until you learn to do this naturally, regularly, and faithfully.
  3. Seek God’s Face: Do a word study in Scripture on “the will of God;” make a list of stories or parables in the Gospels where Christ teaches or models the submission of the will.
  4. Confess: Make a list of people with whom your Will contests. Ask for forgiveness for the ungodly practice of loving your Will more than loving God’s way. Pray for opportunities to give-in and serve them instead of fighting to win.
  5. Turn from Wickedness: If you do not recognize your disobedience as wicked, you have not truly repented and turned and sought God’s face. Idolatry is putting something in place of God. If you are protecting Will, you are worshipping Will.
  6. Repent: To ensure you do not forget, but truly are moving into a new way of life, post one or all of the verses above on your bathroom mirror or car dashboard to memorize and to meditate on daily. Date this every Monday to keep track of your faithfulness.

My prayer is that you will be able to do this. I am going to try, and I feel already that it’s not going to be fun. But it may bring peace. It will bring peace.

______

What about you? Any ways you can suggest for us to put Will to Rest at the Throne of God?

*note: Through this posting it should be clear that Will is our selfish desires to do what is good for us primarily. I am not referring to the WILL of the “freewill” debate.

R.C., Me and the Maverick Molecule

When I met R. C. Sproul, I was spanking new to this theology thing.
We were at Westminster Seminary in California, it must have been 1996, and had just finished an evening seminar on the Providence of God. I came after work to join Fikret for R.C.’s class on God’s rule over the universe, and how it kept human responsibility and culpability but did not allow for free will.
 
In the lecture he explained to us his famous analogy of the Maverick Molecule. But I still was not convinced.
 
After class I waited for my turn to speak with him and told him this sovereignty thing doesn’t work.  “Look at Ezekiel 33:11 and 2 Peter 3:9,” I said.
 
He explained how we have to look at context. Ezekiel was speaking to Israel…and he went into detail about that passage. Then he said the “everyone” of 2 Peter 3:9 has to mean something that coincides with the rest of Scripture.
 
I stopped him mid-thought. I said, “You can’t twist words to make the Bible say what you want it to say.”
 
The people around us gasped. I really had no idea who R.C. Sproul was. All I thought was “this guy” is disregarding those verses for the sake of his idea.
 

“I’M NOT TWISTING WORDS….”

…I can still hear his raised-voice (but humored) appeal echoing through the years.
 

Quite the contrary. That arrogant snipe I was got struck with the non-existence of the maverick molecule. And R.C.’s teaching got lodged into our hearts and minds.

 

We soaked up tape series after tape series, graduating to video tapes. Eventually we got the DVDs and kept learning more and more of the God R.C. had been trying to tell us about. The God who IS. And HOW he is.

 

They talk about ships that pass in the night. One moment in time forever changing me and my husband. It was a slow change, but this was the moment. For me at least. Lucky Fikret had full-time of this amazing thing at Westminster Seminary with other teachers like Peter Jones and John Frame and Robert Godfrey.

Me, I had R.C. Sproul. Until I met John Gerstner a few years ago.

Ships that pass in the night, but he gave some precious cargo. For that–for his being ready and willing to be used by God for dispersing that cargo–I am eternally grateful to God.

I am not the only one who is writing today about R.C. I am reading over and over of other people whose stories were like mine.  The way he chose to live his life really changed the world.

Benjamin Franklin once said,

“If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing.”

R.C. Sproul’s life and death reminds me of this. His principle of working as long as it is today is summarized in these loaded words:

“I’ll retire when they pull my cold dead fingers off my Bible.”

May we all be as diligent. May we all invest ourselves in such a way. Ten-fold. So when the Lord returns he says to us:

“Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with little, I will put you in charge of much” (Matt 25:23).

 

Luther, the Blue Portal & the Pea-Green Coat Guy, Episode 1

by s. nicole böcek
2017 and AD 33

Sometimes life takes you where you don’t expect to go. When Amber woke up, she had no idea that a man in a pea-green coat would soon be crawling through her window.

But it happened….like this:

The strange man shoves a bundle into her hands. Amber’s eyes widen.

He grasps her by her shoulders. Her mouth opens to scream but no sound comes out.

“Listen,” he whispers, eyes wide. He looks down at his watch and starts trembling, “You must visit those dates. My life depends on it; do you understand?”

He looks out the window for a minute and then back at Amber.

“I need your answer.”

Just as Amber reluctantly nods, he looks at his watch again and disappears like dust flying away.

No way!

Tearing the bundle open she sees it is a piece of paper with a watch inside. On the paper is a list of dates. AD 33. AD 354. 1521.

A flashing blue light in the middle of the watch draws her attention.

I guess I’m supposed to press the activate button. His life depends on it.

A blue light surrounds her like a dome, smooth as glass. Amber types April 23, AD 33. The lights go out and she is consumed in darkness. Suddenly, a bright light startles her. When her eyes adjust, she sees three men on a road; the man in the middle is speaking.

“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken,” he was saying, “Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into glory?”

The words sound familiar.

“Do you not remember what Isaiah wrote about the Messiah? Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”

The tunics and cloaks they wear look like the kind in those old Bible-times movies like Ben Hur.

Ben Hur? Wait! AD 33! That’s when Jesus died.

Amber looks again at the scenario before her, her heartrate rising. She covers her mouth in shock. The man in the middle is Jesus!

That’s Jesus! I know him!

Amber rushes forward and grabs his arm.

“Jesus!”

He turns and winks at her but the other men don’t seem to notice her there. What should I say? Her heart burns inside her. It’s Jesus!

Suddenly, the world of light and dark spins around her with a glowing blue light and she finds herself in her bedroom.

Covering her face, she moans, “Oh no. I wanted to talk to Jesus.”

Fumbling with the watch, she tries to return but it is flashing red.

Please, please, let me back in. She wants to cry. I saw Jesus! Take me back!

I should tell my parents. Will they even believe me? What is this watch?

She heads downstairs to the kitchen.

“This year is the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation,” Amber’s father announces.

Amber scratches the back of her neck. Why did that guy want me to see that conversation? Why Jesus? Maybe Dad can help.

“Dad?” It must have something to do with what Jesus was saying.

Her father looks at her as her mom put plates on the table in front of them.

“You know that verse that goes he was wounded for our transgressions and by his stripes we are healed?”

He nods. “Right, that’s Isaiah 53. It’s exactly what I’m talking about. This is the gospel. By his stripes we are healed. The Reformation that we are celebrating is getting back to this gospel. Jesus reformed everything. He taught us about grace. The Reformers took the works-based errors of the Church and brought them back to the pure gospel.”

Mom adds, “It’s the new covenant. We are saved not by our works but by Christ’s work.” She sets the pancake platter down. “Are you two ready to eat?”

As they eat, Amber’s mind wanders back to Jesus winking at her. I wish I could see him again. What does this all mean? Who was that strange man? He said his life is depending on me. I must figure this out.

She takes out the slip of yellow paper and looks at the next date. AD 354.

To Find out What Happens in this Serial Novel,
S. Nicole Bocek’s Debut Book, 
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Episode 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Trunk of Scrolls as Curriculum

Church History Curriculum

Trunk of Scrolls is so full of history, it COULD HAVE been true!

Omnibus II and Church History Curriculum

Church Fathers to the Reformation, Trunk of Scrolls Tie-in

When scheduling your year of Church Fathers to the Reformation, perhaps with Veritas Press Omnibus II, you can fit Trunk of Scrolls easily into the plan.

  1. According to the Apologia Scale*,  Trunk of Scrolls would rank 6.7.8 (Theology, History, Literature).
  2. If you are using the Apologia Reading Schedule, use Trunk of Scrolls during Weeks 3-9 of the Secondary Books. While The Nine Tailors and The Dragon and the Raven are good books in their own right, your student will gain more from Trunk of Scrolls in terms of history, theology and literature. [Nine Tailors: 1.0.9; Dragon and Raven 1.6.3; *scale and reading schedule is on p.477 of Omnibus II]
  3. If you are willing to incorporate Trunk of Scrolls into your Omnibus Curriculum, download the FREE Study Guide.
  4. Purchase the paperback and ebook through the Publisher or the Kindle on Amazon.

Click for more….Download the FREE Study Guide Today!

Church History Curriculum and Trunk of Scrolls

Trunk of Scrolls is so full of history, it COULD HAVE been true!

Omnibus II and Church History Curriculum

Church Fathers to the Reformation, Trunk of Scrolls Tie-in

When scheduling your year of Church Fathers to the Reformation, perhaps with Veritas Press Omnibus II, you can fit Trunk of Scrolls easily into the plan.

  1. According to the Veritas Scale*,  Trunk of Scrolls would probably rank 343 or 442 (Theology, History, Literature; total 10 points).
  2. If you are using the Veritas Reading Schedule, use Trunk of Scrolls during Weeks 3-9 of the Secondary Books. While The Nine Tailors and The Dragon and the Raven are good books in their own right, your student will gain more from Trunk of Scrolls in terms of history, theology and literature. [Nine Tailors: 1.0.9; Dragon and Raven 1.6.3; *scale and reading schedule is on p.477 of Omnibus II]
  3. If you are willing to incorporate Trunk of Scrolls into your Omnibus Curriculum, download the FREE Study Guide.
  4. Purchase the paperback and ebook through the Publisher or the Kindle on Amazon.

Download the FREE Study Guide Today!

5. The best tie-in is during or after studying The Church History by Eusebius, and concurrent with the Confessions and Creeds.

6. All that is needed is the student.

tosneedsu

Theology, History and Literature: Trunk of Scrolls as Curriculum

The novel can be used as a stand-alone almost “time-travel” experience of the Early Church era, but also can be used in tandem with other Church History materials. Get started today!

THEOLOGY

Trunk of Scrolls thoroughly discusses the following Theological points:
a) The Problem of Evil (and other Big Questions) (WCF^ 3:1, etc)

b) The Chalcedon debate over the dual-nature of Christ (WCF 8:2)

c) The Chalcedon confession (WCF 2 & 8)

d) The role philosophy and reason plays in faith (WCF 1:1, 10:1)

e) The importance of the Bible in the life of faith (WCF 1:1, 2, 5, etc)

In the context of their struggle for survival in a harsh world, the TRUNK OF SCROLLS characters wrangle with the role of God in that tragedy. The novel leaves readers with a lingering question: In my own challenges, am I neglecting the Bible I am so lucky to have?

HISTORY

The Historical tie-ins are evident in the Study Guide, but also through the Facts of the Matter pages on this website. Also available: Free TIMELINE of historical and fictional elements in Trunk of Scrolls (includes spoilers, beware).

Download Free TIMELINE
of historical and fictional elements in Trunk of Scrolls

(includes spoilers, beware)

Trunk of Scrolls is the quintessential in historical fiction.

It is so full of history, it COULD HAVE been true!

Facing wild animals, wild men, and a wild God they do not understand, crossing paths with Chrysostom, Simeon the Stylite, John of Ephesus, Belisarius, Emperor Justinian and even Saint Emmelia, the family has to choose between humanity and honor, wealth and faith, yesterday and tomorrow.

LITERATURE

Trunk of Scrolls is an enjoyable adventure story. Enjoyed by people of all ages: Amazon reviews Goodreads reviews. (Yet it is not a formula novel, as G.A. Henty’s books tend to be.)

It takes sixteen-year-old Marcellus, a patrician’s son of Antioch, and walks with him through the next six years of his life as he sees wickedness of man and the wickedness of the world. His life encompasses the Big Questions of God’s role in private pain and corporate suffering: assault, abduction, robbery, conspiracy, sickness, death.

But it is also a coming-of-age story about Marcellus becoming a man with increasing responsibility in his family, city and world while trying to understand his blossoming love of kinswoman Byziana.

526 AD. Antioch lies in ruins. Once the glory of the Roman empire, where Christianity came to its own, the city is now is a broken-backed man that cannot stand. Sixteen year old Marcellus, a young Byzantine nobleman, is forced to rescue his neighbor Byziana and her young siblings from their home in Antioch rushing them to the capital city of Constantinople. Trekking through seven hundred miles of bandit country they hope to find their missing father and recover their lost fortune. 

Three things can determine their future: a betrothal ring, a tooth of an infant saint, and a trunkful of forbidden Scripture scrolls. One brings horror, one brings despair and one brings hope. But which is which?

^citations are from Westminster Confession of Faith

Links: How to Teach with Historical Fiction

Omnibus II and Church History Curriculum | Church Fathers to the Reformation, Trunk of Scrolls Tie-in | Theology, History and Literature: Trunk of Scrolls as Curriculum

BIG QUESTIONS OF LIFE

BIG QUESTIONS OF LIFE

cropped-TOSlogo.pngThe following are significant topics and big questions on Quora.

I believe that the Big Questions of life are put here by God as a Writing on the Wall, similar to the divine writing in the story in the Book of Daniel. I firmly believe that God put these questions on earth with the express intention of it leading people to finding the truth that is only found through the Incarnation and Atonement of Jesus Christ.

In reading my answers you will find a wholistic approach to faith and apologetics that leans more on the mind, on “intelligent Christianity,” than it does on quick sound-bite answers that leave you unsatisfied. I hope they stimulate your mind and assists you in interpreting the Writing on YOUR wall.  CLICK ON —

menemene

BIG QUESTIONS OF LIFE 2018

I believe that the Big Questions of life are put here by God as a Writing on the Wall, similar to the divine writing in the Book of Daniel. I firmly believe that God put these questions on earth with the express intention of it leading people to finding the truth that is only found through the Incarnation and Atonement of Jesus Christ.

The following are significant topics and big questions on Quora.

In reading my answers you will find a wholistic approach to faith and apologetics that leans more on the mind, on “intelligent Christianity,” than it does on quick sound-bite answers that leave you unsatisfied. I hope they stimulate your mind and assist you in interpreting the Writing on YOUR wall.

From 2018

From 2017


From 2016


–> See all my Quora content <–

menemenetekelMene Mene Tekel Upharsin Blog on Quora


Search Index: Afterlife: I don’t believe in God. Am I going to hell purely by virtue of disbelief? | Why is death the cut-off point for salvation? | A person kills 100 people and gets executed only once. That’s one soul against one. In your belief system, how would the other 99 souls get justice? | Atheism: Why do some atheists believe that they arrived at atheism through logic or reason? | Why can’t religious people comprehend that there is no God? | Why is God hiding? | How do I free myself from Christianity once and for all? | If Calvinist view on double predestination is true, is life some kind of a sick lottery? | How would Christ’s punishment in our place satisfy God’s justice? | Why are Americans lifestyles so cool? | Does God show favoritism? | If God was real and only looked after those who followed him, wouldn’t I be dead by now?  If the universe is pointless and there is no God, what is the point of knowing the truth anyway?| Theoretically, which housing policies exist in Christian Heaven? | When the teachings of Paul morph into a 27 year torture, why would Christians continue that path?| How important, for Christian faith, is belief in the literal, historical resurrection of Christ vs. the symbolic truth of it? Did Jesus ever say “I am fully human and fully god and also part of the Trinity”?| Should we recite the Lord’s prayer everyday?| Is it necessary, or it was only for the disciples?| Is there any significance to “a belief in the divinity of God” as opposed to simply a belief in God?| Why don’t people believe in God if they have discovered in Noah’s Ark?| In the context of the Biblical narratives of Creation, why are there different races of people today if we are descendants of Adam and Eve?| Why would you continue to believe something that has been proven to be false over and over again? vWhy does God have his son Jesus be crucified rather than just forgiving people?| Why should Jesus’ blood be spilled in order for ‘forgiveness’ to be able to occur?| Why don’t I believe in god, what is wrong with me?|

Sarabi Dog of Alexander: Mystery and Fact

What is the connection between Alexander, the Persian Mastiff (Sarabi dog), and the Turkish Kangal? Where did the dog come from? Which breed was Alexander’s dog?

This article explores this mystery in depth.


The Sarabi dog is featured in the novel TRUNK OF SCROLLS: A FAMILY ADVENTURE. Those who love either the Persian Mastiff or the Turkish Kangal will appreciate the key role this dog plays in the story. (Get your copy today to find out!)


PERITAS

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-5iIoEcICBPU/Tefbd67F6ZI/AAAAAAAAATU/qLJ9s-EqBb0/s1600/Alexander%2Bsarcophagus%2Bdog%2Bdetail.jpgPeritas was a much-loved dog of Alexander the Great (356 BC-321 BC).  Apparently there were two dogs of Alexander named Peritas. One he raised himself Plutarch writes, “he also, we are told, built another city, and called it after the name of a favorite dog, Peritas, which he had brought up himself.”  This dog might have been a greyhound type.

But another breed seems to…read more