home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > APRIL 15th > A DECREASING VISION

“For Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 2017:125

There is one sin that is worse than all others. It is the worst because it is insidious and imperceptibly deceptive. It is always at the root of all other sins. It was the original sin. In C.S. Lewis’s classic book, Mere Christianity, it warranted an entire chapter (“The Great Sin”) and Lewis claims that it is the greatest threat to any person – including the Christian – and their standing before God. Thus, to be truly spiritual, Spirit-led, Spirit-empowered, and spiritual, demands that the man or woman of God be on guard against what Lewis called “spiritual cancer” — pride. To have any chance of guarding against the spread of this deadly spiritual and character blighting ‘cancer’ requires that we adopt a decreasing vision of ‘greatness’.

He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John the Baptist, John 3:30



C.S. Lewis tells us what we all already know about spotting pride: we loathe it when we see it in someone else, but never (except for Christians) imagine that we are guilty of it ourselves (p. 121). In fact, Lewis continues, the problem is that the more easily we can recognise pride in someone else the more likely we are guilty of the same pride. We are all quick to justify or excuse ourselves of our own pride, and just as quick to condemn it in others as inexcusable.

The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil.
  Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.
Proverbs 8:13


How we think about pride and humility is very often confused and unhelpful. In John DIckson’s book, Humilitas, he defines humility as withholding your power for the good of others. He gives the illustration of a black man in the 1930s sitting at the back of a bus in Detroit (USA) when a three teenage white boys got on the bus at the next stop. The young boys soon start to call the black man names and taunt him. This taunting intensified until the black man came to his stop and stood to leave the bus. The boys were surprised that he was much taller than they had realised. As he walked up to the boys he reached into his pocket and gave one of them a business card on his way past, and then got off the bus. After he left the boys looked at the business card which simply read: Joe Louis, Boxer. These three boys had just picked a fight with the undefeated world heavyweight boxing champion. Joe Louis, in the opinion of Dr. John Dickson, displayed great humility. Did Joe Louis know that he could dispatch these young men? Certainly. Was that confidence that he had in his ability a form of pride? Yes and no. C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity that there is a virtuous pride that comes from working hard and achieving a desired outcome. We expect this of tradesmen. We want them to take pride in the work. This kind of pride, Lewis argues, is for the good of others. The ‘others’ in this instance could be a student’s parents as he or she strives to do their schoolwork for the pride of their family name. A teacher may encourage this in her students when she tells them, “Take some pride in your work and rewrite this essay.

“We say in English that a man is ‘proud’ of his son, or his father, or his
school, or regiment, and it may be asked whether ‘pride’ in this sense is a sin.
I think it depends on what, exactly, we mean by ‘proud of’. Very often, in such
sentences, the phrase ‘is proud of means ‘has a warm-hearted admiration for’.
Such an admiration is, of course, very far from being a sin.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.

But Lewis contrasts this desirable pride with the cancerous pride of competitiveness

“In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask
yourself, `How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take
any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me,. or show off ?’ The
point is that each person’s pride is in competition with every one else’s pride.”
C.S. Lewis

Lewis writes, “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others.” Pride is therefore the attitude of considering ourselves to be better than another. Lewis is quick to point out that this does not mean thinking less of ourselves, but rather that we should each think less about ourselves! The ultimate pride is therefore atheism. The atheist’s pride reaches to the heavens and at its core wants to be better than the Supreme Being.

“In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably
superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that – and, therefore, know
yourself as nothing in comparison -you do not know God at all.” – C.S. Lewis



Jesus described John the Baptist as the greatest man who has ever lived (Matt. 11:11). John had been drawing huge crowds to his baptisms (Matt. 3:5). When Jesus came on the scene, the crowds dissipated and went after Jesus (Matt. 4:25). John’s response is the inspiration for the title of this week’s Pastor’s Desk – He must increase and I must decrease. And I find in John’s words the essence to true humility and the antidote to cancerous pride. To be great – truly great – requires this kind of attitude. To be a great follower of Christ we must be others focused, thinking less about ourselves, prepared to serve without praise, forgive without apology, repent without pretense, and prepared to praise and thank others even if we are not. This is, I fear, what it means to decrease and allow Christ to increase in our lives.  

Your Pastor,


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The One who spoke the world into existence entered materially into His World and “split time in half”. He came to rescue the world because a great betrayal occurred. One of His chief agents was filled with self-deception and conceited envy and manipulated a serpent to his bidding in destroying the very last and highest of the Lord’s “very good” creation. Disappointingly she fell for it – and her husband who supposed to protect her failed in his most basic of responsibilities. Their fall from innocence and into grace plunged that was momentarily and formerly under their vice-regency. The world had now gone rogue. When the Eternal Son of God submitted to His co-LORD, the Holy Spirit placed Him into a virgin’s womb by uniting his consciousness and sinless essence with the ovum of this young virgin. In doing so, Immanuel relinquished none of His sovereign power or prerogatives but chose to lay aside His glory and become fully human. And for those who came to recognise who He actually was, it ever caused them to fall down at His feet in adoration, or shrink back from Him in terror. The side-effect of those who who adored him was a new ability to sleep. If you have trouble sleeping because of worries, you too can discover how an acquaintance with the Lordship of Jesus the Christ can also help you to sleep better. 


Today, “Jesus Christ is Lord” sounds like a bumper sticker or part of an ancient church liturgy but when Christianity was founded if someone uttered these words it could literally mean death! ’o christos ’o kurios “Christ is Lord” was a risky thing to declare when the only safe thing to declare was ’o kaiser ’o kurios “Caesar is Lord”! Yet it was upon these words that the earliest confession of the Church was founded. For the early Christians, this was not a glib, throw-away line uttered during a church service or something stuck on the backside of your donkey (or chariot if you were wealthy).  


I really dislike the expression ‘moving forward’. So many people say, ‘moving forward’ from the meeting, the experience, the…. whatever! Has anyone stopped to think that time continues. We can’t go back. Even if we are reflecting, or for that matter mulling, we are in the continuum of time, and unless we have a mythical time machine, we just can’t go backwards in time. Our only option is to ‘move forward’.


I have long said that my primary role as a shepherd-pastor is to help people to die well. To do this, as I have often said, requires that we learn how to live life well. Of all the normally uncomfortable subjects that Christians find it difficult to talk about, death should not be one of them. But it is. This is because, of all the world religions, only Christianity has a positive view of death. After all, we have a divine Saviour who confronted and conquered death. As a result the original apostles mocked death.
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
¶ The sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.”
(First Corinthians 15:55-56)
These apostles refused to be intimidated by death which was ultimately evidenced by their martyrdoms. The apostle Paul could look forward to his death with the obvious lament that he would no longer be available to help those he had led to the Lord (Phil. 1:23-25). But he could face his impending death with the assurance that it would mean that he would immediately be in the presence of his Lord — and so should we! And like Paul, we too should be be able to talk about death in a very different way to those who do not know what we know.


A suburban home in Australia is shrinking in land size even though the average house size is headed in the opposite direction. What hasn’t changed is fencing around the block of land in order to separate it from a neighbour’s property. Broken fences, overgrown hedges and pets jumping fences are a known source of conflicts. We value our privacy. Those fences are boundaries. To go over them without permission will be trespassing. Renting, owning or owned outright – our home is our safe haven. When we chat with neighbours across the fence, there is a sense of security that comes with standing on our own patch of land. A little piece of Australia over which we have custody, albeit temporal.


Each of these uncomfortable topics in this brief series of articles are uncomfortable because there they carry a sense of embarrassment or even shame attached to them. But this particular topic also carries a good deal of pain associated with it – in addition to any feelings of embarrassment or shame. This pain may involve a sense of failure, betrayal, rejection, and humiliation. Divorce rarely effects just the two people involved in ending a marriage. Divorce can scar people like little else can. It can scar socially, financially, emotionally, relationally, and even a person’s physical health – and sometimes do so permanently.


All of us feel sad at some point – even people who are usually happy most of the time. Usually though for most people there will be some understandable reason for it. This might include the loss of a loved one, a certain disappointment, an accident, or sympathy for someone. This kind of sadness is temporary. But there is a kindness of sadness that lingers which leaves a person drained, teary, thinking dark thoughts, and feeling desperately lonely. This is usually when we consider someone is experiencing ‘depression’ and it is one of those things that Christians find difficult to admit to or even talk about.


There are some things that Christians can’t and don’t talk about – but probably should. So, I would like to pastorally share some thoughts about this taboo topic of doubt in what will be part 1 in this short series of pastor’s desk articles of four taboo topics that Christians can’t talk about.


Resilience was one of the predominant character traits of the early Christians. They called it being steadfast. For these early Christians being ‘resilient’ meant being able to keep going despite set backs, discouragements, betrayals, unforeseen circumstances, lack of energy, motivation, and resources. Like a weary hiker looking down a long road that leads to the mountain range they must walk over, being resilient in life means putting one foot in front of the other, and then doing it again, and again, and again, and so on. God knows that today, in what many are describing as “Post-Christendom” (and the resilient among us prefer to think of as Pre-Christendom) to be resilient is to live with a purpose, to stay focused, to live for others, and to strive toward a good, honourable, goal. With so many reasons to lose sight of the true purpose of life the tendency is to be tricked into believing that life right now is too hard. But the truth be told – people need to know how to be more resilient. Leaders especially need to be resilient right now. Churches assuredly need to be resilient at this time. With the recent interference into churches by government through the measures they said was “to keep people safe” — it has actually depleted people’s ability and willingness to be resilient! Here’s what leaders, people, and churches can do about it.


home > Pastor's Desk > 2023 > July 21st > COME ON IN AND JOIN USSome people think of ‘church’ as a place of religious rituals. To them it a place where sermons are preached, hymns are sung, weddings are conducted, funerals formalised, and babies are...