Left Behind: Leave it Behind.

My family just finished watching the Nicolas Cage version of “Left Behind.” If you want the short review, here it is:  Don’t watch it.

The book is 467 pages long.  In the book, the rapture happens on page 15 and the plane lands around page 43.   In the movie, the rapture happens about 50 minutes into the movie (1 hr and 45 min long), and the plane lands at the very end of the movie.

What I am saying, is that this is the equivalent of someone doing a remake of the Wizard of Oz, and the movie ends when the house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East.

Other than that, the movie was plodding and dull.  The director, Vic Armstrong, managed to take a topic that is at the same time exciting and terrifying, and make it boring.  Also, the movie is told entirely from the perspective of the unsaved people.  There are four people who try to give the Bible’s version of events:  before the Rapture, a snotty woman in the airport tries to witness to Buck Williams by using an end times passage (I believe it was Matthew 24).  Does anybody actually use that as an evangelistic tool?  But she gets shut down rather effectively by one of the main characters.  Then the same character (Chloe) goes home and tells off her mother, who tries to talk to her about spiritual things as well.  After the Rapture, Chloe goes to a church and finds a pastor who was “faking it” (he did not truly believe in Christ). When he tries to explain what happened, she shuts him down as well.   The fourth person is Rayford (played by Nicolas Cage) who attempts to tell a flight attendant that his wife was correct, that it was the Rapture.  She doesn’t believe him.

So the message seems to be that the Rapture is simply something that the world is going to have to get over.  At the end of the movie, one character says, “It looks like the end of the world.”  And another character says something like, “I think it’s just the beginning.”

That pretty much sums up this movie.  It’s just the beginning, because they left out the middle and the end.

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End Times and Death

Warning: This is a doctrinally heavy post.

My pastor is preaching through the book of Revelation, which means he’s talking about the end times a lot. His sermon today concerned the doctrine of the Rapture, which is the point at some point in the future where all those who trust in Christ during the church age (from around 27 AD until the rapture) will be resurrected (if dead) or bodily taken out of the world to meet Christ in the clouds and return to heaven where we will spend the 7 year “Tribulation period” before Christ returns to earth at the end of the Tribulation to defeat the nations led by the Antichrist and start His 1000 year millennial reign on earth.

That’s a whole bundle of doctrine, but that’s the summary of what I believe about this particular section of the end times. I know there are many people that disagree with the pretribulational rapture, but that’s what I believe.

Listening to my pastor’s sermon today got me thinking about death, and how it is a part of our life right now. It also made me wonder something, which I will get to later. First, to explain. Assuming Adam (the first man) was trusting in the future redeemer (Jesus Christ) for forgiveness, then he lived his 960 years, and then he died. The moment he died, his life on earth ceased. His body began to decay, and is almost certainly dust at this point, about 5000 years later. The moment he died, his spirit went to paradise. Now he is in heaven with Christ, awaiting the end of the tribulation when he will be reunited with his body like all the other pre-Church age believers.

Believers who die during the church age (like the Apostle Paul, and any other true Christian who has died in the past 2000 years) have pretty much the same thing except they are reunited with their earthly bodies at the beginning of the tribulation, spend 7 years in heaven totally absent from earth, and then return.

There will be people who die on earth during the tribulation. These would be people who were not believers when the rapture happened, but they trusted in Christ during the 7 year Tribulation period. When they die, their spirits go to heaven and their bodies stay on earth. At the end of the tribulation, their bodies are resurrected and reunited with their spirits just like the Old Testament believers. That’s pretty much like now.

But….this is where I started wondering.

You see, ever since the death of Abel (assuming he was the first person ever to die), people’s bodies have been separated from their spirits until a specific point of resurrection. Their spirits went to heaven or hell, and their bodies stayed here. But in the Millennial kingdom, I think it’s going to be different. Let me explain.

At the end of the tribulation all the non-believers will be dead, and every person living on earth will be either a believer from the Church age that has just come back from heaven after the rapture or a believer from the old testament period or the tribulation. All of the Old Testament believers get resurrected bodies. All of the believers who died during the tribulation get resurrected bodies. But all of the Tribulation believers who were not killed during the tribulation will not have resurrected bodies.

So here’s what I’m wondering: what happens to one of these believers when they die during the millennium? They wouldn’t go to “heaven” because Christ will be on earth. So will death at that point be absolutely without meaning for believers?

Let’s say Jim lived during the tribulation period. He trusted in Christ, and somehow made it to the Second Coming of Christ without dying. He enters the Millennial kingdom, gets married, and has children. His son Bill trusts in Christ at the age of 12. At the age of 17, Bill is climbing a mountain when he falls to his death. “Oh no!” we think. “He died!” But if my thinking is correct, his body would instantly be resurrected and transformed. So death would not be the sad occasion it is today.

But those who die during the Millennium without trusting in Christ will not be resurrected until the end of the 1000 years when ALL of the unsaved through the ages are resurrected at the Great White Throne judgment.

Or I could be wrong. In any case, I am trusting in Christ for forgiveness, and therefore I know I will be there during the Millennium. I can’t wait.

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Tom Brady: GOAT?

Tom Brady TrophySo the Patriots won the Super Bowl last night.  Congratulations to their players and fans. But something is bothering me today about the media coverage.  I keep hearing the term GOAT in reference to Brady. GOAT is a term that sports people use to mean “Greatest Of All Time.” Two examples of people that some would consider the GOAT for their respective sports would be Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky.

But today, a day after his fourth Super Bowl victory, I keep hearing the question, “Does this win mean that Tom Brady is the best QB ever?” I’ve heard people on social media saying it, the news media, and pundits within the NFL.

The answer to that question depends on how you define the word “best” (or “greatest”). If you define best as quarterback with the most Super Bowl rings, Tom Brady is tied with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw at 4 each. So, not the best if you measure by that criterion alone.

Most MVP awards? Peyton Manning.
Most touchdown passes? Peyton Manning again (Brady comes in fifth).
Most completed passes? Brett Favre.
Most 4th quarter comebacks? Peyton Manning.
Highest passer rating? Aaron Rodgers.

I looked at the statistics available at Pro-Football Reference and couldn’t find Tom Brady listed at the top in any measurable category.

Is Tom Brady a great quarterback? Certainly. Is he among the top ten quarterbacks ever to play the game? Absolutely. But is he the greatest quarterback ever? Not even close.

There's only one goat in this picture.

There’s only one goat in this picture.

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Two Dreams

I had two separate dreams about heaven last night. In the first one I was with some of my family and friends, and it was just like my life down here, except there was no more pain, no more worry, no more sadness, no more fear. But the overlying sense was one of relief, because there was no more sin. No more struggle to do what is right, no more wondering what other people might do to me, no more trying to avoid temptation. It was amazingly restful for that fight to be over. I remember thinking briefly, “I wonder where the other people are” and realizing that they were either still on earth or in hell. But it didn’t bother me.

My second dream was much like the first, but much shorter, and involved me walking into a room to play some card game with my wife. There were a bunch of other people there, and it had the same sense of relief that sin was no more. We didn’t know what was going to happen next, but we KNEW it was going to be good. We KNEW there was nothing to worry about. As we sat there, a woman commented to me, “I shouldn’t drink this Mountain Dew until later because I have to work tonight.” I remember thinking, “You’re never going to need caffeine again. You’re never going to be exhausted again.”

I woke up with the aftereffects of that feeling of peace that the dreams gave me. I told God I was ready for that peace. And then I remembered that there are people out there, people I know, people I love, who do not know Christ. People who have not asked for God to forgive their sins through the death of Christ. People who, if the world were to end today, would not be with me in that wonderful place. And while, in my first dream, the thought of these people living in hell for eternity didn’t bother me, it bothers me now.

To those of you who are not trusting in Christ for salvation: I believe this is a personal choice that exists between you and God. I believe there is nothing I can do to force you into heaven. But I also believe that there are things I can do to help you get there (such as remind you about the choice, talk about it, just like I am doing right now). And I want to make absolutely sure that, at the Great Judgment when you stand before God and He asks you why He should let you into heaven, you will not be able to say “I didn’t know how.”

I want to make sure you are there in heaven with me. And if you’re not, I want to make sure I did everything in my power to help you choose God. Everything else I leave to God. I love you, and I want you there. Please don’t choose hell over God.

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Liam Neeson Doesn’t Like Guns

According to this article, Liam Neeson thinks there are too many guns in America.  He thinks it’s ridiculous that there are enough guns for almost every person in America.

I can understand if you are anti-gun. I can understand if you believe violence is not the answer.   But if you truly believe those things, Mr. Neeson,  then why in the name of little green apples are guns featured prominently in almost every movie you make.  And why are those guns frequently the answer to whatever problem your character is facing?  Should not you in good conscience refuse to take roles that demonstrate the appropriateness of firearms in various situations?

Here are the movie posters from Mr. Neeson’s last six movies in which he played a main character.

Neeson 1 Neeson 2 Neeson 3 NST_31_5_Promo_4C_4F.indd Neeson 5 Neeson 6

Notice anything?  In all but one movie he is holding a gun.  So Mr. Neeson, if you want to tell us to stop defending ourselves with guns, maybe it would be a good idea for you to stop sending mixed messages, and stop profiting from the glorification of gun ownership, eh?

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Francis Joseph Picray Jr.: 1926-2015

My grandpa died, and so I came back home to bury him. Though we did not agree on many things, he was still my grandpa. He lived a full life in his 88 years. He was a Seabee in the Navy in the South Pacific in World War 2, had four children, ten grandchildren, great-granchildren, and one wife, and he was a pilot. I remember being most impressed by that last one as a child, since I think he was the one that got me hooked on planes, flying, and the possibility of becoming a pilot. The fact that I never have is not from lack of desire, but lack of resources and time. Someday…

Anyway, I came back, knowing that most of my family would be here from my dad’s side. I got to meet my uncle for the first time, and I also got to meet my grandpa’s sister (and her children), who most of the family didn’t know existed. I told one of my cousins who I was to her, and she didn’t even realize we were related. We had the visitation tonight, and the funeral is tomorrow. But the highlight of my trip has been seeing most of my family on that side together in the same place.

As Garrison Keillor once said, “They say such nice things about people at their funerals that it makes me sad that I’m going to miss mine by just a few days.” It’s too bad that we couldn’t have gotten together before Grandpa died, but that is how life is, I guess: Funerals turn into mini-family reunions.

My family can be cantankerous, argumentative and rude. They can be kind, helpful, and generous as well. Whatever they are, they are my family, and I love them. Hug your family today. You don’t know how much more time you have with them.

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Doomsday?

One of my family members recently mentioned the term “doomsday preppers” and it got me thinking.

I know what a “prepper” is.  It’s someone who keeps 50 gallon drums of potable water, a year’s supply of canned goods, etc, etc, just in case our society collapses.  I know she was referring to that type of doomsday.

But traditionally, there is another definition of doomsday, and that is the last day of the earth, when the earth is destroyed.  The only people that will be prepared for that doomsday are born-again Christians (a redundant term, but one I find is necessary).   You see, when God destroys the earth and judges all of mankind throughout history, the only people prepared for this are the people who have trusted in Christ as Savior (including me).  Everybody else is sent to the lake of fire.

So, in that sense,  I guess I’m a doomsday prepper.  ;-)

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