In recent weeks, several friends and leaders have asked about the current circumstances and their relationship to biblical prophecy and the “end times.” Space does not permit analysis of all the perspectives, books and videos, and many voices vying for attention. I have prayerfully distilled some insights that I hope will be helpful. I am synthesizing biblical, historical, and contemporary voices:
- We have been in the “final hour” since the Resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Spirit. There have been many antichrist figures and movements and many amazing awakenings and missionary advances. Such will be the case until the Lord returns in glory. We will see great apostasies and great awakenings, global advances of the church and tragic unfaithfulness from many.
- The natural disasters and supernatural warfare are all previews or precursors of the final Day of the Lord. Other generations of believers have suffered greatly and advanced the kingdom under severe persecution and economic challenge. America is not the center of biblical attention – we are one of the “distant lands” and must humbly accept that we are both blessed and subject to divine judgment.
- God has called us to occupy well until Jesus comes. The Lord wants us alert and prayerful, on duty for him…as we do our everyday assignments on the frontlines of mission. Our daily work – home or office, field or factory, labor or leadership, paid or unpaid – is not merely a means to an end…it is part of the divine economy and providential provision for our community as well as our families. “Watch and pray” is a clarion call to intercession and discernment.
- We must be ready at any moment to give an account to God (Luke 12). Rather than speculate or live selfishly, our Lord has called us as exiles to live faithfully as missionary believers and communities, seeking the good of our communities and nations (Jer. 29). We may feel alienated or marginalized, but we have great power through humility and loving service.
- We are not to run to our bunkers or head to the hills, but be salt and light (Matthew 5), and shining stars in a wicked world (Philippians 2). We are the mustard seed and the yeast in Jesus’ parables of the kingdom (Matthew 13), influencing all facets of our world for the God’s glory and the good of others.
- It is not wrong to wonder if we are very close to Christ’s Return – we are! It is the next great event in God’s restoration calendar. We should have a sense of anticipation – and plant trees for our grandchildren. We should be urgent about sharing our faith – and earn the right to be heard by how we live.
Jesus saves the whole person – body, soul, and spirit. Jesus is also redeeming all of creation and every community. There will be continuity between our current work for him and our future work in the new heavens and new earth (Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright and Randy Alcorn’s 700-page work on heaven give solid insights here). We can reject apathy and triumphalism, keep fear away and allow faith to inform our vision invite others to the Gospel journey of faithfulness.
week after Groundhog’s Day and in remembrance of the Bill Murray comedy
of reliving the same day over and over again, it is right to reflect on
some enduring challenges:
We have miles to go in our pursuit of justice for women and men of all classes and cultures.
We can celebrate Christian contributions to social progress, and we must deeply lament historic ecclesial complicity with oppression.
We can criticize Israeli policies, but most of the responsibility for lasting peace rests with Arab leaders acknowledging Israel’s right to exist as the national home of the Jewish people. Israel is not a western colonial imposition, but the historic home of an ancient people. The new plan presented by President Trump (and quietly endorsed by some Sunni Arab states in the region) is an opportunity that the current Palestinian Leadership is willfully ignoring.
Billions have been lifted out of poverty in my lifetime due to global trade, with access to new markets. We still have too many food, banking, and job deserts in our own American cities.
Our national debt and deficit spending reveal cowardice and a lack of concern for generations yet unborn. Both parties are guilty, and it will take both parties cooperation to find solutions.
UN officials admit that their proposals for climate change amelioration are of little practical use, except for the transfer of trillions in wealth. Unless China, India, and Russia sign on, little progress can be made. Every proponent of free trade and/or climate change skeptic must also care more deeply for the ecological life of our planet. Good environmental stewardship means a good economy for our grandchildren.
Let’s find a new way to fund education of all kinds without a lifetime of debt on graduates and ever-increasing tuition prices.
A rebirth of civility begins with an affirmation of the dignity and worth of each person we meet. We must end caricature, insults, and stereotyping of those different from us.
Friends, whether you are a devout Christian or a
skeptic, inoculated to religious language or open to supernatural
experiences, the importance of understanding faith is vital as we
navigate our lives in a hostile and indifference world.
facets of faith are vital for our walk with the Lord and effective
service and witness in our world where everything seems up for grabs:
- We are people of “the faith”
– the Event of Jesus Christ: his incarnation, sinless life, atoning
crucifixion, burial, glorious bodily resurrection, ascension to the
right hand of the Father, and Return in glory (I Corinthians 15; Romans
1:2-4, 16-17; I Timothy 3:16; Jude 3). Unlike most religious systems,
our Christian life is built on God’s own activity in history, with the
Cross and Resurrection as the defining events and definitive foundation.
We must defend this truth amidst all the skepticism, historic
revisionism, and basic doubt about the truthfulness of anything!
- We are people with “saving faith.”
We can be assured by the Holy Spirit that we are God’s children with a
secure eternity (Romans 8)! How completely different this is from all
other religions, with their emphasis on human effort. We are saved by
grace through faith (Ephesians 2).
- We are people with “growing faith.” This
faith can move mountains when we trust God (NOT trusting our faith
level!). Faith grows as we obey the Lord – and his first and
foundational command is love (Galatians 5:6).
- And, we are people open to the manifestation gift of extraordinary faith
(I Corinthians 12). This is often linked with other gifts and is part
of God’s sovereign activity as we seek to edify the Body and evangelize
we navigate the turbulent waters of a world in need, may the Lord
strengthen all facets of faith, from solid apologetics concerning the
Bible and truth, to deep assurance, to compelling obedience, and
openness to the miraculous.
Meet Dr. Charlie Self
Charlie is a minister, professor, author and speaker. He is a “Messenger to the Thoughtful” committed to empowering all people to fulfill their destiny. Charlie’s presentations call us to “Think Deeply and Act Decisively.” Charlie serves individuals and organizations with Coaching, Strategic Planning and Keynote Speaking. He is presently the Associate Professor of Church History for the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri. He is a speaker with MVP Seminars in Berkeley, CA.
Charlie and Kathleen, (a professional artist, see colorbrush.com), are celebrating 30 years of marriage and have three adult children. Kathy has completed several commissions and her work is in collections around the world. She has the unique calling to “bring beauty to a broken world.”
Charlie has been a minister since 1979. He has served local communities as a pastor and missionary in Belgium, Northern California, Washington, DC and Oregon. Charlie is also a coach and consultant to organizations, helping with Vision and Master Planning. He is an associate of The Institute for Innovation, Integration and Impact. (inst.net and repurposing.biz)
Charlie has four earned degrees: BA, MA in History; an MA in Theology; a Ph.D. in History. The History degrees were earned at University of California Santa Cruz; Theological studies were completed at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA. He appears frequently as “Dr. History” on the Brian Sussman Show on KSFO Hot Talk 560 AM in the San Francisco area (see ksfo.com)
Charlie has been involved in professional post-secondary education since 1981. He has been a professor of Bible, Theology, History and Philosophy at Bethany University, Continental Theological Seminary (Brussels, Belgium), George Fox University, Western Seminary, Northern California Bible College, and The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.
Charlie is the author of two published works, The Divine Dance and more recently, The Power of Faithful Focus (co-authored with Les Hewitt). Both are available on Amazon.
Charlie is available to speak and is booking 2011 dates now. Contact him by email at email@example.com or by phone at 408-307-1339.
Donate to Charlie and Kathy’s efforts! Send tax-deductible contributions to: Vine Associates 3777 Fujiyama Way Redding, CA. 96001. Include a separate note with Charlie’s name.