Thursday, July 30, 2009


This is the title of a recent book by Antony Flew. It is subtitled, “How the world’s most notorious atheist changed his mind.” Even though the father of Mr. Flew was a Methodist minister, he has been an atheist for most of his adult life. He authored several books stating the case for atheism and has debated many theists over the years. In 2004 he announced that he now believed in God. With all of the recent well-publicized books promoting atheism and attacking a belief in God, it is encouraging to read this book.

The main premise of this book is that the author has followed the evidence wherever it led. When Flew announced his change of belief he said,
“What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together. It’s the enormous complexity of the number of elements and the enormous subtlety of the ways they work together. The meeting of these two parts at the right time by chance is simply minute. It … looked to me like the work of intelligence.”

He tells how the British National Council of Arts conducted an experiment by putting 6 monkeys in cage with a computer. “After one month of hammering away at, the monkeys produced 50 typed pages – but not a single word.” So then what’s the chance of the monkeys producing a Shakespearean sonnet of 488 letters? 1 in 10 to the 690th power (1 followed by 690 0s). If instead of monkeys you turned the entire universe into computer chips and had them able to spin out 488 trials a million times a second, the number of trials you would get since the beginning of time would be 10 to the 90th power. “You would never get a sonnet by chance.”
And yet some believe that a human mind got here by chance.

I also liked the chapter, “Did the universe know we were coming?” He imagines entering a hotel room on your vacation and everything is set to your likes – your favorite song is playing; your favorite painting is hanging there; your favorite snacks and beverages are there; all the grooming products that you use are in the bathroom; and even the TV is turned to your favorite channel. With each new discovery you are more inclined to believe that someone knew you were coming.
This illustrates how the laws of physics in our universe and the conditions on Earth are just right for life. If they were changed just a little, then life wouldn’t be possible. Since many atheists understand this, there is now a theory that there are many universes. We just happen to be in the one that is conducive for life. It is interesting that they are more willing to believe in an infinite number of universes than believe in one God.

Antony Flew believes in evolution and hasn’t become a Christian. But I still like seeing my faith confirmed. When I was a pastor, I liked to teach some apologetics. With our faith being assaulted so much by the modern culture; it helps to see that it makes sense to believe in God.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I love to read. I guess you would call it a hobby of mine. I probably read about 75-100 books each year. (Many of these books I borrow from the library. A good library can be a great resource and great bargain!) I read books about history, science, politics, coins, economics, business, fantasy fiction, and Louis L’Amour westerns. (Unfortunately, Louis is dead and I’ve read all of his books about 3 times) Of course, I read many Christian books and books about church planting.
Here are a couple of books that I’ve just finished reading:

How The Mighty Fall by Jim Collins.
This is a business book written by the author of bestselling Good to Great. I know that we don’t get our principles of ministry from the business world. I think that is a mistake. But I do like to see if there are principles in business that are transferrable to church work. In this book, Collins deals with the question of why big and prosperous companies failed. He lists 5 stages of decline.
1. Hubris Born of Success
This certainly sounds Biblical. Proverbs says that “Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
If you have some success and start thinking, “This community and the Home Missions Dept are lucky to have me,” then maybe danger is lurking.
2. Undisciplined Pursuit of More
3. Denial of Risk and Peril
Under markers for stage 3, he lists Externalizing Blame. “Rather than accept full responsibility for setbacks and failures, leaders point to external factors or other people to affix blame.”
Now that can easily apply to church work. It’s easy to blame the culture, or our location, or those other Christians, or the sorry people in my church. But that way leads to death.
4. Grasping for Salvation
5. Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death

The YBH (Yes, But How) Handbook of Church Planting by Roger McNamara and Ken Davis

This is a pretty thick book (over 650 pages) that deals with just about everything you can think of in starting a church. It is subtitled A Practical Guide to Church Planting. Here are a couple of excerpts:

From the chapter on Dealing with Problems:
“Problems are synonymous with churches and church planting. You cannot have a church without encountering problems because churches are comprised of people and people have problems.
Don’t go around with a ‘persecution complex’ or feeling everyone is against you, but do recognize that trials and problems are a normal part of life and ministry. Even with good people there will be misunderstandings and differences of opinion from time to time.”
Then the chapter talks about the specifics of dealing with problems. I like the parts about teaching people how to forgive and teaching people how to handle gossip. Those two ought to be taught in every church.

From the chapter on Developing Lay Leaders:

Just the Right Person

Great people are ready to help me,
At the right time,
In the right way,
People I don’t even know yet.

I promise I will never give up
Because I don’t have the help,
But I will trust God to provide.

God has the resources to help me
that I have not even considered,
and multiplied thousands of persons
with all sorts of talents, skills, concerns, and contacts.
That God can bring into my life to fulfill His plans.

So I will open my eyes and see the faces
of people around me.
I will open my ears to hear what they are saying.
Today, tomorrow, next week
I’ll meet someone,
someone who is just the person I need.

And that right person will come along
to fulfill just the right place,
at just the right time,
and I will marvel knowing that God
arranged it so beautifully.

What are you reading? I’d be interested in having people who read this blog to post a comment and tell what you have been reading and what it has that is good.