How to tell if you’re proud and what to do about it

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis said, “If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.”

The Pride test

Pastor Mark Driscoll gives a ten-question test for pride in his sermon on the parable of the wedding feast (Luke 14:7-11)

  1. Do you long for a lot of attention?
  2. Do you become jealous or critical of people who succeed?
  3. Do you always have to win?
  4. Do you have a pattern of lying?
  5. Do you have a hard time acknowledging you were wrong?
  6. Do you have a lot of conflicts with other people?
  7. Do you cut in line at the store, airport, on the freeway, etc.?
  8. Do you get upset when people do not honour your achievements?
  9. Do you tend more toward an attitude of entitlement or thankfulness?
  10. Do you honestly feel you are basically a good person and superior to others?

Quotable quote: “Jesus says you either start with humility and then God raises you up, or you start with pride and God knocks you down.”

Grow in humility

Having determined whether you’re proud or not, he gives you the solution to pride.

Quotable quote: “The answer to pride is not humility. Humility is a byproduct of really focusing attention on Jesus.”

“Jesus was invented by the early church” (2 of 2)

This post, continued from yesterday, is based on a talk titled Can the Gospels Be Trusted? given by Dr. Art Lindsley.

Problems with the view that the gospel accounts were made up

  • All the gospels were written within the lifespan of eyewitnesses, who would have provided a corrective to free invention and creativity.
  • All of the apostles died as martyrs. If they were part of a conspiracy to invent Jesus, there would be a crack at some point. They weren’t naturally courageous people, testified by their hiding at the crucifixion. See Watergate and the Resurrection in Chuck Colson’s book Loving God to see how a conspiracy of silence quickly fell apart.
  • Time for creation of the material was too short:  the creation of myths and legends normally takes centuries. There is no precedent for a mythology developing within the lifetime of eyewitnesses.
  • The customs of Jesus’ day emphasized the scrupulous, meticulous memorisation of rabbinic teaching. Kenneth Bailey in his book Poet and Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes (Amazon, Google Books) argues that this formal tradition is important in the Middle East even today. The idea of creation is therefore countercultural.

Problems with the view that the person and character of Jesus were made up

Jesus’ teaching had features that were unusual for the time:

  • His use of ‘Abba’ in prayer was highly unusual at the time. God’s name was so holy it couldn’t be mentioned, and so the idea of addressing Him in such a familiar way was shocking.
  • The use of ‘amen’, translated in the KJV as “Verily, verily I say to you.” Normally, amen was said after the statement, and even then by the listeners. Jesus prefaced His own words with amen, thus declaring upfront the authority of His words.

Jesus used unusual forms of speech

  • Antithetic parallelism is a characteristic of Hebrew poetry in which something is said twice, with the second half being a negation of the first. Examples are found in Matthew 6:22-23, 7:17, 6:24. This teaching method is not only memorable, but it is also a mark of a personality. Joachim Jeremias details the hundred or so instances of antithetic parallelism in his book New Testament Theology.
  • The uniqueness of the use of parables. There’s no parallel in Palestinian Judaism for the use of everyday stories in teaching in Jesus’ time.

In light of this and other evidence, Dr. Lindsley concludes that the burden of proof is on those who maintain the inauthenticity of the gospels rather than those who maintain the authenticity.

“Jesus was invented by the early church” (1 of 2)

These are my notes on a talk titled Can the Gospels Be Trusted? given by Dr. Art Lindsley.

Christianity is based in history. Luke in his gospel appeals to eyewitness testimony (Luke 1:1-4), as does Peter in his epistle (2 Peter 1:16). Other NT writers do the same. A person’s response to historical events—the incarnation and the resurrection, for example—are decisive to their salvation.

Did the early church invent Jesus and His sayings to fit certain issues they dealt with? It is unlikely, since much of what they faced isn’t addressed in the gospels, e.g. speaking in tongues, circumcision of Gentiles, the mission to the Gentiles.

Inventing the character of Jesus would take another Jesus

In other words, it would be a miracle. Even radical atheists and agnostics have taken this view. Following are some quotations from people who were anything but friends of Christianity that Dr Lindsley cites, along with the sources I dug up:

“It takes a Newton to forge a Newton. What man could have fabricated a Jesus? None but a Jesus.”
–Theodore Parker [Source]

“It is of no use to say that Christ as exhibited in the gospels is not historical, and that we know not how much of what is admirable has been superadded by the tradition of his followers. … But who among his disciples, or among their proselytes, was capable of inventing the sayings ascribed to Jesus, or of imagining the life and character revealed in the Gospels? Certainly not the fishermen of Galilee; as certainly not St. Paul, whose character and idiosyncrasies were of a totally different sort; still less the early Christian writers, in whom nothing is more evident than that the good which was in them was all derived, as they always professed that it was derived, from the higher source.”
–John Stuart Mill [Source]

“It is more inconceivable that several men should have united to forge the Gospel than that a single person should have furnished the subject of it. The Gospel has marks of truth so great, so striking, so perfectly inimitable, that the inventor of it would be more astonishing than the hero.”
–Jean Jacques Rousseau [Source, page 9]

“Jesus himself, as he appears in the Gospels, and for the very reason that he is so manifestly above the heads of his reporters there, is, in the jargon of modern philosophy, an absolute; we cannot explain him, cannot get behind him and above him, cannot command him.”
–Matthew Arnold [Source, para. 17]

Part 2: Aspects of Jesus’ teaching and personality that would have been difficult to replicate.

Why Read the Bible?

Here are nine biblical reasons why we need to read the Bible:

  • To know the truth;
  • To know God in a personal relationship;
  • To live well for God in this world;
  • To experience God’s freedom, grace, peace, and hope;
  • Because it gives us joy;
  • To grow spiritually;
  • To minister to other Christ-followers and to those who have yet to respond to the Gospel;
  • To guard ourselves from sin and error
  • To be built up as a Christian community

Read the whole thing (with Bible references!): Why Read the Bible? — George H. Guthrie.

A Fresh Approach To Witness – Evangelism

In these videos, author and speaker Becky Pippert shares her  thoughts on evangelism in a talk given at the Cape Town 2010 Congress organised by The Lausanne Global Conversation.

Part 1: Length— 09:29

We need a 3-pronged approach to evangelism:

  • personal evangelism
  • small group evangelism (seeker Bible studies)
  • proclamation evangelism (big events)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Source (download available)

Part 2: Length—16:46

Our motivation (from God), model (from Jesus), methods and means for evangelism.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Source (download available)

Bearing Witness to Christ’s Love (1 of 2)

In this video, Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi of Jos, Nigeria (a Muslim majority area) talks about sacrificing one’s life for the gospel and his personal experiences representing Christ in the midst of persecution.

This talk was given at the Cape Town 2010 Congress organised by The Lausanne Global Conversation.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


When to stop serving in church

I’ve griped before on serving in church. Those who don’t haven’t quite grasped the nature of being an imitator of Christ, who came to serve and not to be served. Sadly,  those who do contribute to their local congregation don’t always have the purest of motives.

I’m not wise enough nor have I had enough life experience to exhaust all the possible wrong motives we may have for doing what we do. I’ve come up with 3 situations in which it would be opportune for a Christian to quit doing what they’re doing. It need not be permanent—a break long enough to examine one’s own heart and repent should suffice.

When you’re not in it for the Father’s pleasure

Remember when you were a kid and you presented your parents with artistic masterpieces? You were completely unself-conscious about the disproportionate human limbs and incongruous colour of the family pet. It was simply a pleasure, not a means to an end.

Are you disappointed that no one notices all the work you put in? Do you feel you can’t stand the people you’re serving or serving with? Or do you pat yourself on the back, thinking it was awfully nice of you to have done such an unpleasant task? Then stop.  Stop if you can’t go up to your heavenly Father and unabashedly say, “Look what I did today!”

When you can’t see yourself doing something else

So you’re thrilled by what you’re doing, but what if you’re asked to do something else? Maybe your area of ministry is being discontinued, or more hands are needed elsewhere. If that prospect seems unthinkable, then stop. You’ve made an idol out of your service. The God you’re serving is greater than the task you’re accomplishing. He is pleased by your faithfulness in the work, and not by the work itself.

When you can’t see someone else in your place

This is related to the previous point, which assumed that your place would remain vacant. But what if someone is called to replace you or work alongside you?

I struggled with this particular issue. For over 3 years, I was the sole person in charge of our church website. A while back, two other volunteers joined me and I found it oh-so-hard to give up exclusive control (I eventually did, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this). The sky didn’t fall on our heads and it was great to have less to think about, even though I had to tweak things every now and then.


I hope reading this post hasn’t left you feeling guilty. God has an infinite willingness to forgive His wayward children and to welcome into His family those that aren’t part of it. Repent, and trust in His Holy Spirit to work in you.