I have attended two funerals this week, a sad reminder of the more than seven deaths of family members and close friends I have experienced in the past few years. Today, I visited a place where we had many family celebrations, and the loneliness for those who have passed on flooded into my soul again.
When grief threatens to overwhelm me, I cannot begin to understand how other people make it through without Jesus in their lives. Times like this make me so grateful for the love of God. Especially for the gift of His Son and His atonement for the sins of all of us. Jesus’ death in our place is the only thing that makes it even possible to see our loved ones again in heaven.
Grief is real, it’s raw, and it never goes completely away. My friend and author Sandra Aldrich says losing a loved one is like an amputation: it heals, but it’s still an amputation.
Just imagine how grief must feel to an orphan! Or to a widow, who is also an orphan, if left without family.
This is National Adoption Month, and our latest Heritage of Truth guest, Kim de Blecourt, reminds us of a sobering fact: Of the estimated 150 million plus orphans around the world, only 0.001 percent will ever be adopted. Many of those children live in the United States. So many wait in foster homes and group homes, hoping for someone to care, someone to show them the unconditional love of God.
God’s Word makes it plain that God cares about orphans and widows. Isn’t it time for the church to stand up and do what God called us to do? James 1:27 tells us to “visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” That’s what James describes as “pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God.”
How much time and money do we spend allowing the world to stain us with its ungodly entertainment? Our own pleasures? How about our upcoming, often exorbitant, Christmas celebrations? Reach out a helping, loving hand to an orphan today. Even if you can’t adopt. You can do something. Anything. Show an orphan or a widow that God has not forgotten them, that each one is precious in His sight.
Be the hands and feet of Jesus and help to melt away an orphan’s grief. Then watch your own grief turn to joy.
Jeanne Gowen Dennis
Left Behind starring Nicolas Cage, Chad Michael Murray, and Cassi Thomson opened yesterday in theaters. Most of the reviews I’ve read from the general media have given the film poor ratings. I was shocked at their reaction. My husband and I enjoyed the movie, and I watched it twice. I’m no expert on special effects, videography, or acting, but I know what I like, and I enjoyed this film.
With many changes and omissions in the story, this 2014 version of Left Behind revisits the series about the Rapture that starred Kirk Cameron beginning in 2000. The films are based on the best-selling Left Behind series of novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.
When I watched the 2014 film, I was disappointed not to see more biblical information included. I was waiting for the gospel to be presented as an explanation for what had happened to those who disappeared. Then I surmised the filmmakers were trying to reach a wider audience than just Christians. However, from the way the secular critics talk, you’d think the film pounds viewers over the head with the Bible. It doesn’t, but I think it might inspire people to find out what all this Rapture talk is about.
I find it interesting that secular critics are bashing Left Behind, where the biblical message is toned way down, while praising The Song, a movie full of Scripture with a clear biblical message, especially if you watch through the credits. (Please read my review of The Song for cautions about this film.)
I view Left Behind as more of a crossover movie, and maybe that’s one of the reasons the critics hate it. Perhaps they want to punish Nicolas Cage for venturing into faith-based films. I applaud him for it.
From the reviews I’ve read, it is obvious some critics don’t understand who will be raptured. Among their descriptions of raptured folks are: “pure of heart and intention,” “good and innocent,” and “devoutly religious or just young and pure.”
They don’t get it. Only Jesus can make a person pure, good, and innocent because of His death that paid for the sins of all humans. We either accept or reject that free gift. If we don’t want Him, He won’t force Himself on us. Those that believed in Jesus in the movie were raptured; those who didn’t weren’t, except that all children were taken with the believing adults.
Yes, as the critics said, I noticed that some of the acting wasn’t the best, and the sets didn’t cost a fortune, but then I notice that in some of my favorite films by the Kendrick Brothers. When I watch a movie, I want to come away inspired to live a better life, challenged to think more deeply, or just simply entertained in a tasteful way. State-of-the-art special effects don’t do that. Multi-million-dollar Hollywood extravaganzas rarely do that. Good stories about people wresting with real life and finding real solutions do. And whether the critics like it or not, the Bible has the best – the only– true answers to life.
If you want to see an entertaining film about what might happen on the day the Great Tribulation begins, go see Nicolas Cage in Left Behind. I hope future films in this series will present the gospel message more clearly. Meanwhile, you can enjoy a suspenseful film where possibly the only caution would be the occasional depth of Cassi Thomson’s neckline.
Jeanne Dennis, heritageoftruth.com