Tag Archives: Rapture

TEOTWAWKI . . . Redux

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People might not agree with him, but I’ve never heard anyone call him anything but a good man.

I have a confession to make. Actually, I’ve made it before, but I’ve picked up a lot of followers since then and recent events plus the date have brought this heavily to my mind once again. Some of y’all that I’ve picked up will read this and dismiss me as kooky and probably never read anything I write again. Well, it’s seventeen months from an event I lived my life believing would never occur, so I’ve got to get this off my chest and I guess the chips will fall where they may.

Until October 16, 2006, I was completely, unshakably convinced I would never die — honestly, hand to Heaven, absolutely no joke.

Not only was I certain I would never die, I was JUST as certain Mama, Papa John, and many of my believing friends and family would never taste death either. Standing in front of Papa John’s casket in a driving rain on October 18, 2006 but a huge crack in my uncrackable faith; standing in front of my Mama’s casket on a beautiful, crisp spring morning seventeen months ago shattered it altogether. I am mortal, Budge is mortal, and all my friends I never expected to see buried are mortal.

The reason for my crystal clarity on the matter of my de facto immortality is twofold and one of those reasons I am not prepared to discuss, and may never discuss here or anywhere else, but the second suffices — Mama raised me believing and expecting the Rapture of the Church. Quite simply, Papa, Mama, and I were never going to die because we — and all other believers — were going to be taken up bodily to Heaven to ride out the coming Great Tribulation before our return with Jesus Christ as part of Heaven’s army at the climactic moment of the Battle of Armageddon. I wasn’t going to die. I was going to watch Jesus deal a death-blow to the Antichrist and usher in the Millennial Reign of Christ on Earth.

At one time, I was just as unshakably certain of this as I am now that the Sun will rise in the east and set in the west tomorrow. That is to say, I took it as a matter of course. I couldn’t get my mind around how anyone WOULDN’T believe Jesus was going to take His Church at any second. Then the massively successful Left Behind series of 16 novels came out and all of a sudden, people were talking about what I had believed for certain all my life on Oprah and the Today Show with Katie Couric. The Last Days were the hottest topic of conversation around for a while. Those books closely mirror what I learned as a child and what my own Bible study convinced me of further as an adult.

This series is pretty close to the doctrine I learned growing up.

Then Papa died. Then Mama died. I wasn’t crystal clear on ANYTHING anymore, much less the imminent return of Jesus. Those were black, black days and their shadow and chill haven’t completely left me even now. Some days even now, it’s all I can do to hold on to ANY faith in anything.

I didn’t think about the Rapture anymore. The church I attend now does not stress or teach on the Last Days because our two teaching pastors are diametrically opposed to each other in their views on eschatology (fancy word for “study of the last thing). Good, conservative thinking, Bible-believing Christian people have several opinions on the matter. It’s a big deal and when I was younger, I studied it religiously (no pun intended). I devoured every book on end times I could find and believe me, there’s a lot written. Then, I just stopped because it didn’t seem important anymore with Papa, and especially Mama, dead.

This evening, however, Budge found and read an article to me with the headline “Billy Graham Sounds Alarm for Second Coming.” That got my attention because Reverend Billy Graham is the real deal. The man is 95 years old; he’s been preaching crusades across the world for over SEVENTY YEARS — and his televised crusades were the ONLY thing Papa Wham would switch a Braves game for — in all that time no one has dug up the first speck of dirt on him and don’t think they haven’t tried. No women, no drug use, no money schemes, NOTHING. Seventy years and he’s squeaky clean.

The article took me aback because in all the years I’ve listened to Dr. Graham speak and preach, I’ve never known him to weigh in on End Times. I figured he probably had solid beliefs, but his message was always more about getting people saved than about a heavy theological topic like eschatology. He never mentions it in either of his biographies or in any other writing I can find he’s done. So what? Well, he’s 95 and preachers with that many miles on them don’t usually start making up stuff. If HE is seeing clear signs of the end of days enough that he wants to go on record about it, maybe it’s time to look around a little.

I’m going to set this plane down now by saying I know this isn’t one of my better pieces, but quite honestly, looking at current events and reading the Bible and listening to what other people are saying . . . well, I can’t help but wonder. Most of the major end time prophecies and theories revolve around the Middle East, specifically Israel. In fact, a great many prophecy scholars point to May 15, 1948 as the moment the End Time clock started ticking — Israel, after 2000 years of wandering, became a nation again and with the way Syria is going . . . and Russia (yes, I know Russia isn’t in the Middle East, but Google “Gog and Magog) and things just start looking, I don’t know . . . plausible?

Anyway, I Love y’all, and keep those feet clean!

 

 

It’s the End of the World as We Know It . . .

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And I feel fine. My apologies to Michael Stipe and the rest of R.E.M.

Harold Camping, current Doomsday prophet.

So by now you’ve probably heard that the world is going to end this coming Saturday. According to 89 year old self-taught theologian, Harold Camping, the numbers all add up and it’s all over but the shoutin’ as they used to say. From his readings of the Bible, Mr. Camping has worked out the exact day and hour of The Rapture, the supernatural event when Jesus is returning to gather His faithful home. The prediction has spread like wildfire among fringe Christian groups and folks all around the world are, in the words of the old gospel song, “gettin’ ready to leave this world.” A group of atheistic animal lovers has even started a company to address the needs of the beloved pets who will be “left behind” as their owners are Raptured.

As for me, I plan on going to our church’s Saturday night service like Budge and I usually do. Sunday, we’ve got a full day of doing nothing planned, pretty much like always. I’m not really worried about The Rapture taking place this weekend for one simple reason — when Jesus Christ Himself was on the earth teaching His followers, He specifically told them that He didn’t even know when He would return. The only Being in the universe who is privy to that date and time is God the Father and while Mr. Camping IS as old and white headed as most people seem to figure God is, he’s not God.

Ergo, he doesn’t know squat. He’s just another member of the lunatic fringe like that idiot Fred Phelps and his congregation of inbreeders out in Kansas. Just another person heading up a group of like (and feeble) minded people carrying signs and giving non-believers the world over just another reason to mock Jesus and Christianity.

At least the members of Heaven’s Gate had the tact and decency to kill themselves rather than spreading their kooky comet-following message all over the internet.

My Aunt Betty had this painting called "The Rapture in Dallas" hanging in her living room. It scared the crap out of me when I was a kid.

Don’t misunderstand me though. I was raised in a fully Rapture believing and Rapture ready home and church. To be completely honest with y’all, I never figured I’d see forty years old because I believed whole-heartedly that my family and I — based on the steeply declining condition of the world — would be gone in the Rapture well before then. Obviously that hasn’t happened . . . yet. That’s right — yet. I don’t discount the possibility that the Rapture could take place, but it’s not one of the major doctrines of Scripture, it’s very divisive to the Church, and it’s just not a mountain I’m prepared to die on.

All that said, however, growing up steeped in the belief of an imminent Rapture did lead to one of the most “terrifying-then-and-hysterically-funny-now” events of my life. I was a junior in high school and enjoying my best, and last, season as a starter on the school wrestling team. I got home from practice one Tuesday afternoon and the house was empty, which was odd because Mama should have been home. I sat down to a bowl of ice cream and waited. After half an hour, I started to get concerned. One very important thing for y’all to know is this was 1987 — before answering machines were commonplace and way before cell phones were ubiquitous, if they even existed.

This series is pretty close to the beliefs I was taught growing up. If you've read any of it, you know why I was freaking out.

I called Mama’s work, no answer. I called Papa John to see if Mama was over there. No answer. I called Granny and Papa Wham. No answer. Finally, I called out to Aunt Mary’s and I KNEW she was home because her car was in the yard when I came by and she’d be getting supper cooked for Uncle Carroll. No. Answer.

I went into a blind panic and started calling around and everywhere I called either no one answered or I got a busy signal. Now at this point, most rational people would have figured something totally explainable was at work. Well, I was reasonable and I came up with the only logical solution I could think of — The Rapture had come and Jesus took Mama and the rest of my family and I had been left behind! When that realization hit me, I almost upchucked my bowl of ice cream. If you’ve ever studied what some churches teach on the Great Tribulation period that will follow the Rapture, you’ll know what had me in a twist. Seven years of Hell on earth ruled by the Antichrist — Satan’s agent. Anyone who converted to Christianity during that time would be hunted down and publicly executed. Plagues of demons in the form of scorpions. It’s not a pretty picture and that’s exactly what I thought was waiting on me because everyone I knew was a Christian and loved WAS GONE. I was alone and left behind.

When Mama got home thirty minutes later and came into my room to ask my help in getting the groceries she’d stopped off after work to pick up without telling me, she found me sitting in the middle of my bedroom floor rocking back and forth nearly in shock. When I realized it really was her and not a vision of some sort, I nearly broke her back and neck in a bear hug. To this day, I have never felt more relief about anything than I felt at that moment.

Why couldn’t I get in touch with anyone? A car had taken down a telephone pole nearby and service was interrupted. Calls went through like normal, but they wouldn’t connect anywhere.

So be careful what you scoff at!

Love you all and keep those feet clean.