February

Jeremiah Johnston binge-watched the HBO series The Man in the High Castle, set in a world where Nazi Germany and Japan won World War II and now occupy the United States.  It’s a world without Christianity, a world in which euthanasia is mandatory and the ashes of victims fall on passersby.  Johnston wrote a book about what he watched, a  book entitled, Unimaginable: What the World Would Be Like without Christianity.

          Johnston’s book is not based on fiction, but rather, historical events.  He takes a look at the world Christianity replaced—a pagan world that is showing signs of a comeback in this post-Christian age.  He calls attention to the world in which Christianity was born and eventually transformed.  In the first-century Roman world, writes Johnston, killing an unwanted child was no big deal.  He quotes the philosopher Seneca, who said: Unnatural progeny we destroy; we drown even children who at birth are weak or abnormal.

          Into this world came Christianity.  The second century Christian document known as The Didache told Christians: Do not murder a child by abortion, nor kill it at birthThe Epistle of Barnabas, dated a few decades later, similarly said: Do not murder a child by abortion, nor, again, destroy that which is born.

          Infanticide is only one example of the cruelty and callousness that characterized the ancient world.  Anyone who wasn’t a nobleman—emphasis on the man—was a potential, and often actual, victim of this same kind of cruelty: infants, women, slaves, and the poor to name a few.  Against this backdrop, Paul wrote in Ephesians 3: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  This biblical truth eventually turned the world upside down and made possible the world we now take for granted.

          Johnston believes that the West’s rejection of Christianity threatens to undo this world.  He points to recent historical movements which include evils such as scientific racism (the idea that some groups are inherently inferior to others), eugenics and its ultimate expression, the Third Reich -- all rooted in worldviews rejecting Christianity.  He reminds us that these godless worldviews have left a body count in the hundreds of millions: the Holocaust, Stalin’s victims, the killing fields of Cambodia, and the estimated seventy million Chinese who died under Mao.

          Isn’t it unimaginable that anyone would want to revert to a world prior to Christianity?  You might want to obtain a copy of Johnston’s book.  The above is a condensed version of John Stonestreet’s blog that recently appeared in Breakpoint Daily, a website belonging to the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

January

As a young man in my twenties and thirties, I had difficulty getting my head wrapped around living to the turn of 21st century.   The  year 2000 seemed as distant as it did surreal.  Yet, not only did the commencement of a new millennia come upon us like a speeding bullet but we are nearly 20 years beyond that moment.  We are only one year shy of this century’s third decade.

            I suppose my heart is, at least for the moment, focused on what is recently passed as well as what is just ahead of us.  We have completed 2018 with record giving accompanied by record attendance.  Deep appreciation and thanksgiving are to be expressed to the Lord for His mighty works.  We can only plant, as Paul noted in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7; it is God who produces the increase.  Thank you for being a significant part of 2018.

            As we move forward in 2019 there are several large events/projects on the horizon.  Allow me to name a few: (1) calling a new youth pastor to join the CBC ministry staff; (2) moving Dan to the position of associate pastor; (3) touching every home in the 33761 zip code with the gospel; (4) paying off our 33-passenger bus; (5) developing an exterior rendering of what our new McMullen-Booth façade might look like, including a two-story children’s/pre-school facility; (6) assisting First Baptist Church of Tarpon Springs in cosmetic renovations as they pick themselves up from near-death to begin again; and (7) partnering with Cuban Baptists to sponsor and provide training for young adults who will be leading congregations in the future.  Of course, this list is not exhaustive, but it certainly gives us plenty to think and pray about.

            Donna and I enjoyed a few days of vacation at the conclusion of 2018 and the beginning of 2019.  In so doing, I did something I have rarely done in nearly 43 years of full-time ministry – I took two consecutive Sundays away from the pulpit.  I neither preached nor taught during that time but relaxed and rested.  After spending three days with our children and grandchildren in Georgia we headed back to Clearwater for what might be called a stay-cation.  For me, going to bed late, getting up late, and having no schedule recharged my batteries.  Donna feels the same.  We did take the time to worship with FBC in Tarpon Springs on December 30 and on January 6 with the Chinese Christian Church whose ministry is based out of CBC.

            We are now back in the saddle and looking forward to being with you again in worship and ministry.  Pray for us as we pray for you.  We love you as you have loved us (THAT’S A LOT!).