The Encounter – Season 1

This one caught me by surprise because I honestly did not expect any more Encounter films, due to the last one being made way back in 2012 … so imagine my shock when I learned (from random web surfing!) that not only was it returning, but that it is now a full-fledged series … that came out last fall!

The show is about various people in different situations — such as a robbery gone bad, a woman heading home at night, staff in a stressful hospital — as they come face-to-face with Jesus Christ, and He helps them come to Him, or just come back to Him.

While it would have been better to have a full 45-60 minutes to flesh out the narrative in each of the eight episodes, the 30-minute runtime is adequate enough, and in some episodes gets a fairly thorough message across. Unfortunately, even though I really like the actor who portrays Jesus (Bruce Marchiano) and some of the actors do a really good job (like the parents in the penultimate episode), most of these storylines are so quickly-finished and simplified it’s often hard to really dig into anything of substance. In the second Encounter film, the discussion between Jesus and the five people at the resort was fascinating, lengthy and in-depth. That never really happens here, due to time restraints. Also, a couple episodes were very weak, like the eloping young adults and the power outage stories — again, maybe a longer time on screen would have been more impactful.

Even with its flaws on the small-screen, this is a great show to watch, and it’s on PureFlix streaming, which I discovered at the same time … and that has a ton of Christian films on it for a low price. I would recommend checking out the service, and especially this show.


LibertyU Blog – Week 4 Update

Well, it’s been a few weeks now since my last update, and it’s not because I have wanted to wait that long — I simply I have been swamped with classwork and my regular full-time job as well. I do IT work for a living, which is me staring at a computer screen for 10-11 hrs. a day, and then on the nights I have to do schoolwork, that’s another 2-3 hrs. of Bible-study/work of writing papers, researching stuff, taking quizzes, etc.

In short, this is not an easy program for an adult with other commitments, time-wise. My original plan was to take 4 classes this fall (there are two 8-week session times each semester, and in the first session I am taking these 2 classes), but today — after knowing the remainder of this year will be busy overall, I have decided to drop the 2 classes scheduled to start in October, and just pick my classes up again in January 2018, instead. Now, I was already planning on scaling back the classes I’d take anyways after this semester, so it’s not a horrible thing — just a slight change of plans. But it also means not having to pay tuition and books for 2 classes, which — honestly — means a lot to my finances right now. My medical bills and other costs I have to deal with are just crazy.

As for the classes themselves, I’m enjoying them, and learning some neat things — like how to use Bible websites and Strong’s numbering systems to dig into individual words’ meanings, context and structure. But, like I said, it’s just a lot of work overall, and I have already written multiple papers about different topics.

The Daniel Project

While browsing Amazon’s video service, I came across this free-to-watch documentary last night, and figured I’d give it a shot. A 2012 movie called “The Daniel Project” discusses about a couple dozen end-time prophecies, and presents them in a very clear, straightforward manner to the viewer.

Now, one thing that sets this documentary apart from others is that the narrator and person being focused on the most — some sort of European voice work actor — says right up front he’s not a Christian, and that he doesn’t believe, but is interested in the topic.

So, the filmmakers have given him things to read as they film him, with short summaries of events predicted and things that have already occurred. You can actually see and hear the narrator get caught off guard by how eerily accurate a book from 2,000+ years ago really is. By the end of the film, it’s pretty obvious that even though he only had a small dose of prophecy information, his brain was thinking differently, and not so immediately dismissive of Christianity’s end-time predictions. So it’s a good message and sign of hope.

The movie does have a few glaring issues though — for starters, Jesus Christ is pretty much ignored, and being saved is not even part of the discussion. Next, there are several clips of Obama speaking that hint the filmmakers were trying to say he was perhaps the Antichrist (which is absurd). Third, not all the prophecies are equally discussed or given weight — like water in the wilderness or Israel’s currency changes. Fourth, the 200 million Eastern (likely Chinese) army is quickly mentioned, but think of how no other nation on Earth has that potential size of military or 1+ billion population to draw from. Fifth, and most glaring to me — is that the Rapture isn’t mentioned at all. Not even once.

It’s not a bad documentary, but the Obama allusion and lack of Rapture parts keep me from wanting to recommend it to non-Christians.

LibertyU Blog – Welcome Week

My last post had me in an exhausted state, because on that day I had just spent about two hours formatting my first paper in Turabian style, which is the writing format that all written work at the university needs to be in. It was hard to do, but after submitting my paper yesterday and getting good feedback so far, I think I’m understanding it enough to do research papers with some confidence!

Today marks the end of the first week of classes at Liberty University, and I think this school is an excellent example of how to do online studies. Multiple times each week they host their “Convocation,” which is basically a big seminar all students on campus attend … however they also livestream (and record) each event for current students, so even remote students won’t miss out. I watched this live, and felt like I was part of the activity!

Then, on Wednesday evenings, they have “Campus Community,” which is a worship/church service that again, all* students attend. The very first one had a cool animated/performance art piece showcasing the dangers of constant social media/phone use. (*I’m not 100% sure if attendance is required like it is to Convocation, but I would have LOVED things like this at the state university I went to years ago.)

These frequent concert-/seminar-/performance-like events keep students around each other, and reinforce Christian messages that the school wants learners to stay aware of. Now, the music is something I’m not super used to, but I like the variety!

Lastly, on Wednesday evening I also took part in a live, interactive Turabian Writing class that lasted about an hour, had multiple assistants answering questions real-time in chat, and a real-time professor webinar presentation explaining things us students needed to know.

Class work-wise, I finished up my first paper yesterday (about the Trinity), and after you submit it, you have to read other students’ work and then write multiple, cited responses to them — I still need to do that. In addition, I probably have 100+ pages of text to read by Monday, across three textbooks. Oh, and this week I have 10 readings of Galatians 6, which is supposed to be written about at the end.

Overall, I am really enjoying this school experience. The cost-per-credit for this program is very affordable and the fact that I can do it while still working full-time and paying normal bills is great. I thank God for this opportunity, and want to make sure that I don’t waste it.