Flashpoint . Critical mass . Paradigm Shift . 2019

Late in 2018 I read many opinions and prophecies from around the world about the year ahead, from both secular and spiritual sources. The majority were optimistic and encouraging, although some did contain warnings about continued opposition from certain areas.

“Overall things will improve,” they said, “socially, politically, and spiritually, eventually. There may be a bit of conflict beforehand — but 2019 will be a good year, even a great year.”

That was thought-provoking to me, considering these messages came from all corners of the world, from varied spheres of interest. Spiritual leaders encouraged continued prayer. And so I prayed about it.

“What should we expect in 2019, really?” I asked the Lord. Here’s what he told me:

“Confusion and uncertainty will affect many in the body of Christ. ‘Am I believing right? they will ask themselves. Am I praying right? Did I vote right?’ “

“Why?” I asked him. His answer was brief: a short list with no further explanation:

Flashpoint — Critical Mass — Paradigm Shift

And so I did quite a bit of research to be sure I knew just what those things were:

  • Flashpoint: Chemically, the lowest temperature at which vapors of a volatile material will ignite, when given an ignition source. Gasoline and spark plugs in a car engine, for example.

In International Relations, a flashpoint is an area, or a dispute, that has a strong possibility of developing into a war. Political pundits today include the Middle East as a major flashpoint.

  • Critical mass: The smallest amount of fissile material needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction, such as in a nuclear power plant. (A supercritical mass would result in an explosion, such as the atomic bomb in WWII.)

This concept is used in other contexts, such as group dynamics, where it refers to the smallest percentage of people in a group needed to trigger a change. On occasion it takes quite a long time, not to mention lengthy persuasive arguments, to acquire the needed percentage. Amending the U.S. Constitution to allow all citizens to vote, for example.

  • Paradigm shift: Paradigm refers to a pattern, model, or overall concept accepted by most people in an intellectual community, because of its effectiveness in explaining a complex process or set of data. A paradigm shift is a change caused when someone discovers data that disproves the pattern or concept.

One notable scientific paradigm was believing the Earth is the center of the universe, that the sun, moon and stars all revolve around the Earth. That changed with the discoveries of Copernicus and others (telescope) in the 17th Century.

“Justification is by grace alone” (Romans 1:17) was a major paradigm shift in the religious world, instigated by Martin Luther and resulting in the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century.

Apparently those things would happen — or begin to happen — in 2019.  Any one of them would cause or contribute to confusion and uncertainty around the globe, including across the church world. “Optimistic and encouraging?” Not exactly.

After a while I prayed again and asked, “How should we respond to those things?”

“Having done all to stand, STAND,”  he said, emphasis on STAND. 2019 is going to be an interesting year, I thought to myself.

I was right.

(Originally published January 1, 2019; slightly edited to republish June 10, 2020.)