RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- Those who predict the future tend to be prophets or fools.
I'm no prophet, so you can infer which category I fit into. Anyway, here are my bold predictions for the new year:
-- Renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks will stall. It happens every year.
-- The economy will recover. Or not.
-- Fifty-nine countries will hold local, regional or national elections. Some of these contests will be honest.
-- A Democrat or Republican definitely will be elected president in November, unless an independent or third-party candidate wins.
-- Baby boomers will get even older and achier. I'm personally helping this prediction come true.
-- The world will not end in December. If it does, it won't have anything to do with the Mayan calendar.
Obvious, you say? Hey, expertise is overrated. The international intelligence community, with its megabillion-dollar budgets, failed to anticipate the Arab Spring -- the most significant political development of 2011. I'm willing to provide uninformed forecasts for a mere fraction of that price.
OK, I don't know much about the future. But I do know a few things that could happen in 2012 -- if you help make them happen:
-- Someone who has no clue about God, no hope, perhaps no desire to continue living, will decide to follow Christ and go on to change the world.
"The next Jonathan Edwards might be the man driving in front of you with the Darwin Fish bumper decal," observes author and theologian Russell Moore. "The next Charles Wesley might be a misogynist, profanity-spewing hip-hop artist right now. The next Billy Graham might be passed out drunk in a fraternity house right now. The next Charles Spurgeon might be making posters for a gay pride march right now. The next Mother Teresa might be managing an abortion clinic right now."
Is that person in your life? What will you do this year to show him or her the love of Christ?
-- A comfortable, self-centered church will begin to love and minister to the hurting people all around it.
Will you be the person who helps turn the lukewarm heart of that church toward the burning heart of God?
-- A people group somewhere in the world with no believers, no church, no Bible, no connection whatsoever to the Gospel -- and no one doing anything about it -- will begin to hear about Jesus Christ for the first time.
Are you the person God is calling to start that history-changing process? Is your church, regardless of its size or budget, the mission team He has appointed to take on the challenge? Find out more at call2embrace.org.
In Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows old Scrooge fearful things -- the needless death of Tiny Tim, bleak darkness, Scrooge's own forgotten tombstone.
"Good spirit," Scrooge cries, falling before the silent ghost. "Your nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life!"
Most of us change little from year to year because we don't really believe, deep down, that personal change is possible. The same roadblocks tend to trip us every time, according to pastor Perry Noble: procrastination, past failures, fear of taking a step of faith, fear of what others will think, not believing God is who He says He is, not believing God wants to use us, concern about things of no eternal significance.
If you know Christ and stumble every year over these issues, Noble says, "You do not understand the fact that God's Holy Spirit lives inside of you and has gifted you and is calling you to do something greater than you could ever imagine."
Why not answer that call in 2012?
Erich Bridges is International Mission Board global correspondent.
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