What kind of times are we living in? Are you an optimist, believing that the world is getting better and better? Or and things going downhill? What are the problems we face? What are the solutions?
One of the advantages of accumulating a lot of birthdays is that we gain perspective. We have a longer view, and can more easily see trends. Pete’s 80+-year-old grandmother (right) frequently observed, “The world is going to hell in a handbasket!” Being in our 20s, we thought it was just old age speaking. Now that I’m considerably older, I’m beginning to share her perspective.
Some things are obvious. On a positive note, science and technology have improved our lives to a great degree (and also caused a host of new problems). Due to the civil rights movement, past injustices are being corrected. In spite of the dire claims you hear, the environment is actually much cleaner than it was when I was coming of age in the ’70s. On a global scale, extreme poverty and child mortality are down, literacy rates are rising, and overall, if we look at the standard of living, a majority of people are living healthier and more comfortable lives.[i]
If you could have anything you want, what would it be? A new car? A bigger house? A billion dollars, so you could have both of those, and more? Or would you prefer perfect health, a fitter body, or the ability to eat all you want yet never become overweight? Maybe you’re yearning for a spouse, or a child, or you dream of spending more time with a loved one who has passed away.
Now think about heaven. Yes, perhaps we’ll have material items (we don’t really know). We will certainly have perfect health in our new bodies (2 Corinthians 5:1-4). We look forward to being reunited with people we love. But most of all, heaven means that we’ll be with Jesus.
You have likely heard of Unreached People Groups (UPGs)—ethnic groups of peoples where the number of self-professing Christians is under 5% of the population.
Unengaged UPGs (UUPGs) are those groups the church has not yet attempted to reach. They still lack any kind of witness among them, and there is not even a plan to create one. There is no way they could hear about Jesus unless someone crosses a cultural barrier to bring them the good news.
Now there’s a new term circulating among missiologists: Frontier People Groups (FPGs). While the definition is still in flux, the label was added to make a distinction between UPGs where God has begun a work, and those groups yet to experience their first church.
This has been an amazing two weeks. I didn’t get to post anything last Friday. Here’s why:
It all started Thursday, February 28, when my husband, Pete, went to the YMCA to work out on the elliptical. He does this almost every day, works hard, and is in good shape. However, this time, he had just gotten going when he collapsed and his heart went into ventricular fibrillation.
The pastor at the church I was visiting was adamant. “God only speaks through the Bible.” He went on to explain that while God spoke through dreams, prophets, angels, and a “still, small voice” in the Old Testament, now that we have the completed Bible, Scripture is the only way God still communicates with us.
A while later, I was reading through a new blog I had just discovered. For the most part, I loved what the writer had to say. But then I came across this troubling passage: Continue reading
I’ve been highly distracted for the past two weeks. Our daughters and granddaughters have been visiting, and I’ve been playing games, taking photos, cooking meals, and hugging—lots of hugging. What I haven’t been doing is writing blog posts. In fact, I totally missed last Friday, in spite of my best intentions. Instead of writing, taking time away from family that we don’t get to see nearly as often as we’d like, I thought I would cheat a bit.
The following is one of the very first posts I ever wrote for this blog. Yes, it’s listed in the archives, but if you’re like me, you rarely—if ever—hunt back through the old posts for something to read. I think my point is just as important today as it was when I wrote it almost ten years ago. I hope you agree.
May is one of our busiest months. Everything seems to happen at once. I love to go birding, and here in Colorado, May is the peak of spring migration. It’s also the month when my garden wakes up. I can’t wait to get my fingers back into the soil, sowing seeds outdoors, setting out started seedlings, and pulling the weeds that have been sleeping all winter. At the same time, work continues, bills must be paid, clothes still get dirty, and we still get hungry.
With our schedules full, Pete and I had been communicating in sound bites. “Heading to the store, need anything?” “Can you stop at the bank for me?” “Don’t forget, tonight is our small group meeting.” We hadn’t had a real conversation in weeks. We really needed some quality time. Happily, we’d scheduled just that—back in January.