TD’s 20/20 (Pt.2) – TD’s Top 20 Blog Posts & Top 20 Videos in 2020!

Top 20 on 20 - Wikipedia

Hey TD!

To help us look back at 2020 and see how God worked, we’re sharing TD’s 20/20 – the 20 most viewed videos on the TD channel and the 20 most viewed TD Blog posts in 2020! Yesterday, we shared the videos. Today, we’re sharing the top 20 blog posts. They are great to review. Not eligible for inclusion are update or announcement posts. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

20. The Pernicious Lie: Self Esteem

An insightful essay, written by former TD counselor, Jenny, on the seductive traits of self-esteem.

19. “True Love in a Time of Crisis” – An Important Sabbath Checkup From Ravi

A spliced 15-minute message that gives solid checkpoints to bring before God, and to pray for His adjustment and realignment, so we can be who He desires and made us to be.

18. Ravi Zacharias (1946 – 2020) – A Singular Life

Ravi was a giant and hero to so many across the globe; his reach and effectiveness for Christ to both the world’s highest leaders as well as the world’s most destitute had few parallels.

(Ravi has posthumously been under investigation for sexual misconduct. The interim reports confirm that misconduct seems to have taken place)

17. Remembering RC Sproul (MUST reading)

This post is indeed must reading. By reading MUST READ tributes, you will gain gumption, courage, and vision for your life. Contributors include Joni Eareckson Tada, John Piper, John MacArthur, Al Mohler, Steven Lawson, and Sinclair Ferguson.

16. TD Vlog – “How the Arts Can Deepen Your Faith” w/Jill Carattini

Also a Top 20 finisher in TD videos, I had a chance to spend some time with dear friend, Jill Carattini, writer extraordinaire on the deeper spiritual life, former managing editor of Ravi Zacharias Int’l Ministries’ (RZIM) Slice of Infinity, and former curator of RZIM’s formal art gallery, Stillpoint, in Atlanta, where this interview was filmed.

15. Wanna Memorize Psalm 34 With Us?

An invitation to memorize Psalm 34. Full chapter included.

14. The Beauty of the Dandelion

A powerful piece by Vaneetha Rendall Risner (shared to the TD leaders by Kathy). Vaneetha was 3 months old when she contracted Polio.  Within 24 hours she was paralyzed due to a doctor’s mistake.  She has had a lifetime of immense suffering … and ensuing God-given joy.  Her blog Dance in the Rain is a powerful source of truth, sharing, honesty, vulnerability, and hope, as is her book, The Scars That Have Shaped Me

13. The Importance of Friendship

True lasting godly friendships are few and far between, not easy to develop or maintain, but are worth the effort to forge and protect! Proverbs 18:24 shares, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Here’s a good article for us on the importance of friendship by Michael Haykin, a friend of Ligonier Ministries.

12. Ravi Zacharias: A Personal Conversation

Here’s Part 2 of the Interview: Ravi Zacharias: A Personal Conversation, Pt. 2

A personal interview Arthur had with Ravi years ago. Powerful content that can make a difference in your walk with God.

(Ravi has posthumously been under investigation for sexual misconduct. The interim reports confirm that misconduct seems to have taken place)

11. The Bible: Don’t Neglect It!

Convicting letter written by prolific preacher, Alistair Begg, to friends of his ministry. It is worthy of your time.

10. What Being Alive Looks Like! Watch Joni and Nick!

Here’s what Sandra had to say after I asked her to watch this video:

“I loved, loved, loved the video with Joni and Nick.  They are so incredible and ALIVE!!!! They are hilarious as well, and to think we personally know them :).  They aren’t the ones with disabilities, we are!  They make us look like zombies and burdened by all the unnecessary distractions of life … YOU MUST TAKE THE TIME TO WATCH THIS!!!”

9. Must See: A Calming Word from Joni During Coronavirus … and more!

An encouraging video from the one and only, Joni Eareckson Tada, at the beginning of the pandemic.

8. Touching God’s Heart This Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving devotion showing the value and importance of actually giving thanks.

7. “God, Racism, and Us: A Look Inside”

Posted amidst all the protests after the George Floyd incident. Includes links to valuable resources.

6. “A Christmas Meditation” by Ravi

It’s exactly what it says it is.

5. A Way in a Manger

Another insightful article by Vaneetha Rendall Risner, who is well acquainted with suffering, having experienced 21 surgeries by age 13, multiple miscarriages, the death of a child, unwanted divorce, just to name a few. The pain and disappointment she writes about in this particular post is about her diagnosis with post-polio syndrome, which involves increasing pain, weakness, and limitations in her body.

4. “Ravi: A Poetical Sketch” – A Tribute to Ravi Zacharias (mp3)

An amazing, heartfelt, and spot-on poem by Daniel for Ravi when he was dying of cancer. In writing to Ravi before sharing his poem, Daniel wrote:

” … I have never known a day in my life without your influence in it–from the time I was conceived until now. To me, you are not just someone IN this world; you are part of what I understand “world” to mean. You and your ministry are constitutive of my perception of life on this planet and the hope of the Gospel that you’ve shared on this planet.”

3. “The Real Meaning of Thank You”

A valuable devotion by Sandra, adapted from her talk at the SP Care Center.

2. What Did Jesus Do On Saturday?

We know Jesus was crucified on Friday and that He rose again on Sunday, but what did He do on Saturday? Artist Ron Dicianni discusses this in this post.

1. A Personal Conversation With RC Sproul

Here are parts 2 and 3: A Personal Conversation With RC Sproul, Pt. 2 of 3; A Personal Conversation with RC Sproul, Pt. 3 of 3

This incredible personal interview that Arthur did with RC years ago is viewed literally every single day, multiple times a day. It is far and away the most viewed post in the TD Blog’s history. It is accessed from all over the world and laps the field many times over. More importantly, it’s food for the soul and worth reading!

“Light Changes Everything” – a Christmas Devotional! (video)

“Light Changes Everything” Christmas Devotional (video)

Merry Christmas TD!

On location at possibly the most driven-by home in South Pasadena each Christmas, Arthur reads “Light Changes Everything,” a Christmas devotional written by Michelle Tepper, RZIM apologist in the book, Hope, Faith, Joy, Peace, Light: A Special RZIM Advent Devotional. May it help you commune with the Light of the World in a special way this Christmas!

The 4th Sunday of Advent – 2 Advent Devotionals (video)

Amy Orr-Ewing, RZIM – “Jesus is the Servant-King” (Advent video)

Max Jeganathan, RZIM – 4th Sunday of Advent: “Peace Came Down” (video)

Hey TD!

On this final Sunday of Advent, Amy and Max lead us to a crescendo as we head into Christmas. Please take advantage of these videos and use them to point your heart and mind to the Christ of Christmas.

We hope your faith is being nourished through these Advent videos, and that they have helped to bring more meaning and joy to your Advent season.

Our Good Shepherd desires and seeks our joy; according to John 15:11, “that your joy may be full.” If you are in need of God’s security and the joy He offers you, please reach out to a TD leader, and we’ll be thrilled to speak with you!

The 2nd Sunday of Advent – 2 Advent Devotionals (videos)

Amy Orr-Ewing, RZIM – “Jesus is Messiah” (Advent video)

Max Jeganathan, RZIM – Second Sunday of Advent: “Love Came Down” (video)

Hey TD!

Much of the Christian world celebrates Advent in honor of the first coming of Christ, as well as in preparation of the second coming of Christ. It is a time-honored tradition to help God’s children set apart special mind space and heart space to imbibe the goodness and daringness of God in sending His Son to earth for us.

May these Advent videos by the incomparable Amy Orr-Ewing and the sharp Max Jeganathan help guide you on this second Sunday of Advent!

Love Himself came down to meet us, hear us, identify with us, become us, redeem us, save us, and adopt us … so that we could forever find ourselves in love’s strong yet tender grasp. If you want to grow in this love, please reach out to a TD leader!

Continued blessings!

Blessing God’s Heart This Thanksgiving!

Be grateful for everything | Snoopy quotes, Gratitude quotes, Inspirational  quotes

Happy Thanksgiving, TD Family!

2020 has been a year that many of us have found difficult to give thanks in. But could our lack of gratitude be one of the reasons God has ordained COVID-19 to slow us all down this year? Truth be told, weren’t our hearts just as discontent in 2019? And in 2018? Could it be that God has suspended all the “extras” that we take for granted and assume are our rights to have, in order to reduce us to gratitude for the very biggest, most essential, most valuable, most generous, and most miraculous? Namely, precious life itself?

I ask you to pause long enough today to give God, the generous Giver of Life Himself, one of the greatest gifts you can – the gift of time.  Please take the time to read and act on this Thanksgiving devotion.  You’ll be glad you did – and so will He! – Arthur

Let’s take advantage of this day instituted by President Lincoln, who during the civil war, proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” and use it for the Lord’s honor!

How? The Bible tells us how:  “In everything, give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1Thessalonians 5:18

Did you catch the significance of that? There aren’t too many places in Scripture that explicitly state, “This is God’s will for you,” so when it does, we need to take notice.

And what is God asking of us? Simply, to give thanks to Him everywhere, all the time. To be a walking “thanks dispenser,” if you will. Notice that He’s not calling us to have a grateful heart, though that is implicitly necessary. He’s calling us to go further than that to actually express thanks. Friends, He’s telling us that it WILL bless His heart! Think about it! God is explicitly telling us that it will bless His heart!

Wow.  This was brought home to me many years ago as my own heart was blessed.  The lesson has never left me since.  Let me explain via some thoughts I penned then:

“We arrived home from DC late last night. Of the many things on my to-do list this morning, I wanted to update the TD website and write this devotion, which I am now doing. A few minutes ago, I went to take a “bathroom break” and there on my sink counter, to my surprise, were two hand-cut, hand-drawn, hand-made cards with pictures and drawings of Washington DC on them and the words, “Thank You So Much!” I opened them up and inscribed within were deep heart-felt expressions of thanks from my two youngest children, Daniel and Angela, for taking them and for caring for them on our trip.

Sandra and I had heard some activity down the hallway early this morning while we were still asleep but didn’t think much of it. Now, I get it. Those two woke up before anyone else did and the first thing they did was to get busy to find a creative way to give us thanks. Had they already expressed verbal thanks to us earlier? They sure did, but they wanted to take it further to express their gratitude and to bless our hearts. And they did. My heart melted with appreciation and love for them. I went downstairs and gave them big, big hugs and kisses. Sometimes, little ones teach us the biggest lessons.

I think of how God’s heart has been blessed when His children have taken the extra time to write poetry, hymns, and songs to say thank you to Him; when they’ve carved out larger amounts of time in their lives to harness their skills and talents to painstakingly produce offerings to Him (whether visually, audibly, or tangibly) as an expression of their thanks to Him. I’m sure, in His own providential yet personal way, He gave them His “hugs” and “kisses,” for our Father will not be outgiven.”

Here are a couple of suggestions for you to bless your Father’s heart this month (I’m sure you can think of more):

  • Count your blessings, name them one by one – make a list of everything God wants you to be thankful for. Then give Him thanks for each one. Be specific and make it heart-felt. Notice I didn’t ask you to list things and people you ARE thankful for. Of course, that’s important but sometimes there are things and people we really ought to be thankful for that we don’t feel thankful for.
  • Produce something extra special for Him as a way of saying thanks. Make Him a card, write Him a song or poem, paint or draw Him a picture, practice playing a song for Him on your instrument, etc. Whatever you’re gifted in or trained in, use your skill for His honor in an extra special way for Him this month.
  • Make it a special point to “acknowledge Him” (Prov. 3:6) ALL day, EVERY day – audibly, silently, through singing, journaling, etc. We need to realize that God is actually with us all day, everyday. So, make a special effort to develop your everyday relationship and conversation with Him. 1Thessalonians 5:17 says to “pray without ceasing.” This is what that means. Always be relating with Him, including Him in your activities and conversations, as well as in your rest. Relate with Him without ceasing. You’ll both be blessed.
  • Express actual thanks to those God has used to bless you. Expressions of thanks go a long way for those who receive them. Go ahead and surprise them with a simple thank you for being your friend, sibling, or parent. Even though it may not be your “style,” it’s God’s style, and we all represent Him much better when we’re thankful. “As I grew older God continued to prepare my heart and teach me to seek Him. One of the first lessons that I have learnt was not to take things for granted. I had that wake up call around the age of twelve and realized just how much I was blessed with. I take my foot for granted, my family and the fact that I wasn’t born in a third world country all blessings that God had freely given and I still complain?” – Nick Vujicic (born with no arms and legs)

The Irony of It

The actual giving of thanks to God and others forces us to realize how blessed we are and how so much of that blessing had nothing to do with us deserving it. That then leaves us humble, and humble people are the ones God uses and blesses most, for “Blessed are the (humble), for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5)

So, leave it to God to instruct us to do something that seems to be for His benefit, but in actuality it benefits us! That’s our Father. Thank you, God!

– Arthur

C.S. Lewis on Being Nice

Being Nice Matters | Psychology Today

Hey TD!

Over the decades of serving in TD, I’ve noticed that it seems that being nice is thought of as being THE primary characteristic of being a Christian.  While it is absolutely necessary for Christians to actually be nice and kind, that is not to be confused with our position before God and our need for salvation.  For some reason, though, it often is.

Here’s a helpful reminder from CS Lewis on being nice. – Arthur

‘Niceness’—wholesome, integrated personality—is an excellent thing. We must try by every medical, educational, economic, and political means in our power to produce a world where as many people as possible grow up ‘nice’; just as we must try to produce a world where all have plenty to eat. But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world—and might even be more difficult to save.

For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature. Of course, once it has got its wings, it will soar over fences which could never have been jumped and thus beat the natural horse at its own game. But there may be a period, while the wings are just beginning to grow, when it cannot do so: and at that stage the lumps on the shoulders—no one could tell by looking at them that they are going to be wings—may even give it an awkward appearance.

From Mere Christianity
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1980, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

 

Canceled: How the Eastern Honor-Shame Mentality Traveled West

Opinion: The damaging effects of cancel culture – Best of SNO

Hey TD!

In our “cancel culture” era, the pressure to agree with the crowd or be “canceled” looms large.  One wrong post or comment and you could be labeled, targeted, misconstrued, jumped on, and “canceled.”  One the one hand, social media culture encourages you to express yourself and your individuality; yet, on the other hand, the culture wants you to do so … as long as it conforms to what seemingly everyone else does and believes.

While this has been a relatively new phenomenon in western culture, it turns out that it has long been present in eastern culture and Asian culture.  RZIM’s Abdu Murray explores this in the fascinating article below.

This article was originally published on The Gospel Coalition.

Canceled: How the Eastern Honor-Shame Mentality Traveled West

Canceled. In the first weeks of the coronavirus lockdown, that word was almost as ubiquitous as the word unprecedented. Movie premieres, concerts, even entire sporting seasons—all have been canceled as we work out a strategy to combat the spread of COVID-19.

But that word—canceled—has carried another connotation in our social lexicon of late. It’s used when we cancel people, not just events.

It was once the case that differing opinions—including ones that challenge culturally approved mores—were debated with facts and sound argumentation. Now when a person does or says something that runs afoul of current cultural preferences, we cancel that person. We shut her down with names, epithets, and ad hominem attacks. If she’s a musician, we call for boycotts of her music. If she’s an athlete, we delight in burning her jersey and posting the bonfire on social media. We now hoist the socially guilty onto a pike for all to see as they writhe, justly deserving what they get for having offended the collective. Be warned: we won’t engage your ideas; we will engage you and shame you out of existence. You will be canceled.

Cancel Culture and Eastern Culture

As someone who is bicultural, I see just how Eastern this Western phenomenon really is. I was born and raised in the United States, but my heritage and upbringing is drenched in the olive oil of Middle Eastern culture. Historically, the West has championed the right of the individual to say, believe, and act as he or she chooses. The merits of that person’s speech, beliefs, and actions would be debated even as the right to hold them is defended.

In the East and the Middle East (I’ll call both regions “the East”), the collective is primary. Each person in the East must consider the effect his or her speech, beliefs, and actions has on the collective. Eastern cultures are “honor-shame cultures.” Individuals will speak, act, and believe in ways that bring honor to their communities and avoid shame. Truth is important, but should be swept under the rug if embracing (or even entertaining) it would bring shame. Now, a mixture of innocence/guilt and honor/shame runs through the West and the East. In the West individuality and the innocence/guilt paradigm have been dominant, while the collectivist honor/shame paradigm have been recessive. But with the rise of cancel culture, the honor/shame paradigm of social engagement is becoming more and more dominant in the West. Today’s cancel culture is the 21st-century Western version of the Eastern honor-shame paradigm. Easterners are better at it only because they’ve had centuries of practice. But Westerners are trying to catch up.

Today’s cancel culture is the 21st-century Western version of the Eastern honor-shame paradigm.

Examples of cancel culture abound. One high-schooler was accepted to Harvard, but eventually his acceptance was rescinded due to inappropriate messages he wrote when he was 16. The student expressed regret, commenting that “I see the world through different eyes and am embarrassed by the petty, flippant kid represented in those screenshots.” Harvard’s admissions committee voted to keep him out. Certainly, the student’s comments were inappropriate in the strongest of terms. Even though he apologized, he was “canceled” by Harvard and, more significantly, by countless others on Twitter. The meme reply captured it well: “I’m about to end this man’s whole career.”

I wonder if a similar fate awaits the college students who traveled to Miami on spring break despite the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. News outlets identified some by name. Will immature and selfish comments (e.g., “If I get corona, I get corona”) result in these students being “canceled” from future jobs when employers discover them?

In cancel culture, a single mistake is perpetually unforgivable because it’s not simply a guilty act. Rather, the mistake defines the individual’s identity, turning them into a shameful person—someone who can be “canceled.” How Eastern! Juliet November summed up what used to be the differences between Western and Eastern cultures: In a Western framework, I would feel guilty because I have “done something bad”; in an Eastern honor-shame framework, I would be guilty because “I am bad” in society’s eyes. Becoming someone bad means that redemption doesn’t come by fixing the mistake. An apology isn’t enough.

Jesus and Cancel Culture

In the West we sometimes view Jesus as well-intentioned but now mostly irrelevant. The fact that the modern West is coming to resemble the ancient culture Jesus inhabited, however, suggests that he has not gone out of fashion. In fact, Jesus is as relevant today as ever before. The story of a blind man disavowed by his parents and cast out by religious leaders provides a poignant example.

Becoming someone bad means that redemption doesn’t come with doing something to make up for a mistake. An apology isn’t enough.

In John 9, we read that Jesus encountered a young man who’d been born blind. The flint that ignited a confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees was that Jesus healed the young man’s sight by making mud and applying it to his eyes (Jesus “worked” on the Sabbath). When interrogated by the Pharisees, the young man’s parents were so afraid to admit that Jesus healed him that they made the Pharisees ask their son. “His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue” (John 9:22)—the biggest public shame of all.

Their son—who had now seen for the first time—wouldn’t be socially intimidated. He stood up to the Pharisees and forthrightly (and sarcastically) responded that Jesus healed him. Unable to handle the public challenge to their sense of honor, the Pharisees delivered the communal-shame knockout punch by casting the young man out of the synagogue. That would define his identity. In short, the Pharisees canceled him.

Jesus’s radar for unjustified shaming drove him to seek out the young man. With tender authority, Jesus revealed that he’s the promised Messiah. He gave the young man not only the honor of physical sight but also the higher honor of spiritual sight (John 9:39). Jesus transformed his shame-ridden identity into one marked by honor. He replaced a temporary social honor bestowed by hypocrites with the transcendent honor bestowed only by God.

Jesus Loves the Canceled

In cancel culture, we are defined by our latest mistake. Social recovery is rare. But being canceled needn’t define those victims. Jesus, after all, counted “canceled” people—tax collectors, zealots, prostitutes—among his disciples. Jesus was unwilling to “cancel” Thomas who doubted (John 20:27), Peter who thrice denied him (John 18:27), or his half-brother James who long refused to believe (John 7:5).

Jesus transformed his shame-ridden identity into one characterized by honor. He replaced a temporary social honor bestowed by hypocrites with the transcendent honor bestowed only by God.

Isaac Watts’s hymn beautifully describes how our guilt and our shame, our innocence and our honor, are reconciled in Christ:

The Lord is just and kind,
The meek shall learn his ways
And every humble sinner find
The methods of his grace.
For his own goodness sake,
He saves my soul from shame.
He pardons, though my guilt be great,
Through my Redeemer’s name.

Where others would respond to our shame with indignation, Jesus responds with love, forgiveness, and grace. Many are searching for a recovered or even redeemed identity. The culture will not give it to them. But Jesus can. In our temporal and cultural snobbery, we would do well to learn from the Eastern itinerant preacher from Nazareth.

Abdu Murray is a recovering critic of Christianity and is senior vice president for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and is the author of several books, including Saving Truth: Finding Meaning and Clarity in a Post-Truth Worldand Seeing Jesus from the East: A Fresh Look at History’s Most Influential FigureFor most of his life, Abdu was a proud Muslim who studied the Qur’an and Islam. But after a nine-year investigation into the historical, philosophical, and scientific underpinnings of the major world religions, he became a follower of Jesus.

TD Fri. -“God, Racism, and Us: A Look Inside”

Video: Dr. Tony Evans on Social Injustice

Hey TD,

It’s been an historic week for our nation.  Paradigm shifting.  Explosive.  Peaceful.  Violent.  Hopeful.  Emotional.  Confusing.

Join us for TD this week as we dialogue about the issue of racism, both from without as well as within.  We’ll take a look at it societally and biblically and attempt to navigate our way towards God’s heart in all of this.  With all that’s going on, we are being forced to sit up and respond, and that’s a good thing; but each one of us will be required to do our own research, form our own convictions, and make our own statements … hopefully under His leading.

Amidst the cacophony of voices, each espousing a call and a cry, it hasn’t been easy to think and evaluate clearly.  One thing is for sure, His perspective is the fullest, fairest, most loving, and … the best one; and thus, His voice has to  have the most authority.  We’ll begin the journey of discovery this Friday.

It’s very difficult to empathize and sympathize with others unless we have experienced something similar ourselves.  Most TD’ers – students and leaders alike – have had minimal meaningful interaction with black people, so it has been hard to feel as emotional for blacks in America as we should.  That has undoubtedly led to an ignorant unawareness of and an indifference to their circumstances and plight.  They are letting the world know now how they are feeling; as Christians, we must listen – with our minds, with our hearts, and with God’s Word – and then meaningfully respond.

Here are some meaningful resources to read/watch to help us hear, listen, consider, and then act:

A Christian’s Thoughts on the Death of George Floyd

Eschatology and the Black Lives Matter Movement

Bryan Stevenson on the Frustration Behind the George Floyd Protests – The New Yorker

Regarding Chinese in America, here’s a lighter, but fascinating article about Bruce Lee (my childhood idol), his impact in America, and the racism that existed, which may help you empathize better:

Bruce Lee: Asian Pioneer, American Original

See you Friday for this valuable meeting!

 

Ravi Zacharias: A Personal Conversation, Pt. 2

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Pic: Ravi and his son, Nathan, at our home

Once again, we have the privilege to hear from Ravi Zacharias via an interview I did with him.  Though done years ago, his answers are timeless, interesting, and applicable for us.  This time, we take personal and insightful look into his life and ministry.

For those of you who missed Part 1, Click Here .  Ravi was a precious friend and hero who has had an immeasurable impact in my life as well as thousands of others.  He was widely considered as the finest and most impactful Christian apologist/evangelist in the world before his passing on May 19, 2020.

We have used the last two weeks to honor his life and legacy and to help inspire you to have a greater perspective on life and your calling in Christ:

Ravi: A Poetical Sketch – A Tribute to Ravi Zacharias by Daniel Hsieh

Ravi Zacharias: A Personal Conversation, Pt. 1

Ravi Zacharias: A Singular Life (1946 – 2020)

Ravi Zacharias Buried in Casket Built by Prisoners

A MUST WATCH! – Ravi’s Memorial

Enjoy and glean from this titan of the faith! – Arthur

Arthur:  You said at Founders Weekend (an annual weekend retreat for close friends of the ministry), with respect to the ministry, that God gave you a vision without giving you omniscience.  I knew what you were saying because if you really knew what lay ahead, in your human mind, you would have been overwhelmed and felled before you even started.  But what was it that you did see?  I’m sure you never envisioned the grandness of the impact that RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) would have.  What was it that you were looking to do when you started the ministry?

Ravi:  The need.  I saw the need .  That’s about all I could see . . . that the need was incredibly vast to reach the mind and that we were going to be committed.  What I did see in my mind were university open forums, businessmen’s luncheons, international conferences where we are reaching the thinker;  and so I very clearly envisioned these audiences coming in large numbers to listen to a defense of the Christian faith but I did not envision, say, the growth of the radio ministry, the growth of our team, . . . the marvelous opportunities that have come are extraordinary.  I mean we have a full time staff of 18 here (Atlanta), 14 or 15 in Madras (India), and now with Oxford (England), and Canada . . . we have contained growth in our planning.  We have made every effort to limit growth.

[Note: It was in 1984 that Zacharias founded RZIM, which today has 16 offices throughout the world in the United States, Canada, Peru, Kenya, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Austria, Spain, Romania, Macedonia, Turkey, Singapore, Hong Kong, India, and the Middle East. Through its global team of more than 90 full-time speakers and nearly 300 employees worldwide, RZIM seeks to impact the heart and intellect of society’s thinkers and influencers through evangelism, apologetics, spiritual disciplines, training, and humanitarian support.]

Arthur:  That’s a new approach!  Everyone else seems to strive to do it the other way (i.e. strive for growth rather than limit it).

Ravi:  (chuckling) This is the truth.  People sort of chuckle at it in our meetings but I think one of the most difficult decisions in life is to know when you are at your maximum and not to go wider but to go deeper.

Arthur:  That’s something I came away with at Founders.  Let me tell you that that has been so profound in my life.  Not only the messages but the people I was around . . . talking to different people and listening to the testimonies, I was there humbled . . .  It was kind of scary for me because I had never thought in such grand and deep terms.  It seemed that everyone I was meeting had that kind of deeper vision for ministry.  I was kind of scared because I think, as you would say, Aslan is on the move;  something was going on in my heart, like I was approaching a next step [in my spiritual life] or something.  That was so enriching.  We appreciate that (being included) very much.

Ravi:  I appreciate that, Arthur.  That was a special weekend, no doubt.

Arthur:  Back to the ministry, how did it come about that the vision came to mind.  [Weren’t] you in the business world before you were in ministry?  How did God bring you to this point?

Ravi:  When I came to Canada (from his homeland, India), I worked in the hotel industry.  I trained in catering technology and hotel management.  My whole goal was to be in the hospitality and hotel industry.  I enjoyed that very much and still miss it a lot because I like the hospitality industry, my focus mainly being food and beverage management;  but after working in it for two years, there was no doubt in my mind, that as each day was going by, God’s voice was getting clearer and clearer.  By that I don’t mean an audible voice but a tug at the heart to get myself into theological training and into ministry because that was where I was most fulfilled – in sharing my testimony or speaking to audiences.  It was very obvious to me where it was going but I just did not know what form it would take.  I knew it was going to be ministry but I didn’t know whether it would be as a missionary or an evangelist.  I just did not understand those terms very well, coming from India. . . .  I finished my undergrad and then worked full time for the Christian Missionary Alliance (CMA) for one year.  I then felt I needed graduate level education in philosophy if I was to truly wrestle with the questions people were asking.  I did my graduate level work at Trinity and after that became a professor for the Alliance . . . When I finally left the professorship to form RZIM, it was with the goal of reaching the thinker and training men and women to be able to think again for the glory of God.

Arthur:  Going back to [your early life], you were converted in India.  You said you were very sick or something?

Ravi:  Well, I was on a bed of suicide when I was 17.

Arthur:  Oh, that’s right. Was it really that meaningless or seemingly so at that point?

Ravi:  I think so because of the kind of culture in which I lived.  There’s a lot of pressure to do well in your studies and if you’re not going to do well, there’s no hope.

Arthur:  The Chinese kids that I work with have a strong feeling of that.

Ravi:  Exactly.  I talk to them here at Georgia Tech.  I’ve had them come to the office.  A Chinese youngster understands that very well [and] an Indian youngster understands it very well.  There’s a great similarity because of the size of our nations and the emphasis that is placed on scholarship, and then limited opportunities . . . it’s not good enough to do well, you have to be at the top of your class.  That’s the pressure.  If you don’t make it, there’s a lot of shame.

Arthur:  That’s right. So, you said your mother brought the Word in to you?

Ravi:  Yes, somebody brought a Bible into the hospital room –  a friend of mine whom I didn’t know that well – and he gave her John 14 to read to me.  In the hospital room, when she read it, that’s when [I made my commitment].  I had heard the gospel before but I didn’t have full understanding of the terms.

Arthur:  When she was reading the words, did something happen?

Ravi:  When she came to the verse when Jesus said, “Because I live, you shall live also” I said, “Lord, I don’t know exactly what this means but if this means that You’re the giver of life, then I want it, and I want Your life because the life I have I do not want.  I will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of truth if You will just change my life for me.

Arthur:  Afterward, then, was there an immediate difference?

Ravi:  Yes, an incredible difference.  I left the hospital room a brand new man.  I got involved in Bible studies with Youth for Christ and they became my nurturing agent really.

Arthur:  You told me in your letter to me last year that you thought the Chinese people had a special role in God’s plan in the next century.  What did you mean by that?

Ravi:  Well, I think they are a very, very uniquely gifted people.  If you look at the Chinese culture, there’s almost nothing, in terms of human capacity, that they as a culture do not possess.  [They are] incredible artists, very competitive in athletics, very gifted musically.  They know the diligence of thinking [and] scholarship – the Chinese scholar and so on.  They’re very, very gifted in business acumen and learning to make the best out of difficult situations.  They have an incredible survival instinct . . . through thick and thin, somehow they have managed to keep the home fires burning.  There’s a lot of courage in Chinese culture . . . If the gospel takes hold in China, I have no doubt that they will be the agents of change in the twenty first century . . . the key is going to be how the gospel takes root.

Arthur:  Are there any plans for RZIM to (minister in China)?

Ravi:  I think so, Arthur, I think so.  We generally wait for things to come about naturally;  we seldom construct a specific plan but the way God has opened up doors for us in the past, I think something will happen because of the impact we had in Hong Kong and in Singapore.

Arthur:  In your last statement here, what is your life’s passion or purpose?

Ravi:  Oh, to receive the divine accolade, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”;  I think to win the applause of God rather than anything else;  that God would be pleased with my life, that is my goal without a doubt.

Arthur:  Ravi, this has been a great time for me.  Thank you so much!

Ravi:  Oh, I appreciate that, Arthur.  We appreciate you, too, very much.  Give our love to Sandra . . . and thank you for taking the time.  It’s good to talk to you again.

Arthur:  You and your family have a great Christmas.

Ravi:  You too, my brother.  The Lord bless you.

Ravi Zacharias Buried in Casket Built by Prisoners

“Our hope is as certain as Jesus’s grave is empty,” said Sam Allberry in solemn graveside service.

“Our hope is as certain as Jesus’s grave is empty,” said Sam Allberry in solemn graveside service.

Ravi Zacharias was laid to rest on Thursday, May 21, in a private ceremony in Georgia. It was a largely overcast day with glimpses of sunlight piercing through the clouds, a reflection of those who were mourning below with glimpses of hope piercing through the mournful occasion. His family gathered to honor not just the leader of a global ministry or an evangelist-apologist who crisscrossed the globe in the service of Christ, but a loving husband, a nurturing father, and a loyal and generous brother. Sam Allberry, who officiated the service, rightly reminded all that this is not the end of Ravi’s story. Hovering over the whole ceremony was the confidence of the words that had saved Ravi’s life 57 years ago: “Because I live, you will also live” (John 14:19).

Allberry gently ministered to the family through his message of hope and assurance in Christ during the graveside service. He explained that the Christian’s hope is grounded in the assurance of Christ’s life and faithfulness. Since Christ lives, we know that Ravi lives. In that sense, the grave is something of a painful deception. Ravi now rests cradled in our Lord’s earth not as one who has been snatched from life, but as a dear saint ultimately liberated to life everlasting in the presence of his Lord and Savior. Using an analogy fitting of a man who had spent his life spanning the globe, Allberry described the grave as an airport transit lounge visited before one reaches their final destination. We know it is not the final destination because it was not Christ’s final destination. “Our hope,” Allberry said, “is as certain as Jesus’s grave is empty.”

Ravi passed away on May 19 after a short battle with cancer at the age of 74. He died on his mother’s birthday. He is survived by his wife, Margie, their three children, and five grandchildren.

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The love that many around the world felt for Ravi through his lifetime of work was present in the very receptacle in which Ravi’s body now rests. Ravi’s message of hope in Jesus Christ resonated with many, especially those in prison populations around the world. He developed a special relationship with Louisiana State Penitentiary, known widely as Angola Prison, inspired by his friendship with the late Chuck Colson, a leading figure in prison ministry and the man who first urged Ravi to put his Harvard Veritas lectures into the written form that became his second book, Can Man Live Without God?

Ravi visited Angola a few times over the years, most recently in June of 2019. It was an incredible experience he wrote about in a June 8 Facebook post:

“In the ante room to the execution room is where the sentenced man has his last meal. A prisoner has painted two paintings that grace the wall there. One is Daniel in the Lion’s Den, meaning, “God might still rescue you.” Next to that is another one: Elijah going up on chariots of fire. One way or the other, God will be there for you. …

Even in a dark place, the Gospel is shining with grace and power. That is the only hope for the world because we are all prisoners of sin, and only the cross has the answer and the freedom.”

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The prisoners at Angola held a very special place in Ravi’s heart. In a beautiful example of the Grand Weaver ever-present in Ravi’s life and death, it is these very prisoners who lovingly crafted the casket in which Ravi was buried.

Ravi wrote about his request to be buried in a casket fashioned by Angola inmates in his most recent book, Seeing Jesus from the East (Zondervan, 2020). With great insight, he wrote of the inspirational lessons one can learn from these dear brothers in Christ. Ravi did not know that his words would be full of so much meaning for his loved ones just a few months after they were penned. “These prisoners know that this world is not their home,” Ravi explains, “and that no coffin could ever be their final destination. Jesus assured us of that. Such is the gospel story.” He expands on this message later, writing “The story of the gospel is the story of eternal life. My life is unique and will endure eternally in God’s presence. I will never be ‘no more.’ I will never be lost because I will be with the One who saves me.”

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These sentiments were felt throughout the service, which began with the reading of God’s word in John 11:25, 26; Romans 8:38, 39; and 1 Thessalonians 4:14, 17b, and came to a close in the Anglican committal prayer

We have entrusted Ravi to God’s mercy,

and we now commit his body to the ground:

in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life

through our Lord Jesus Christ,

who will transform our frail bodies

that they may be conformed to his glorious body,

who died, was buried, and rose again for us.

To him be glory for ever.

Amen.

Ravi Zacharias, a friend of Christ who tried to end his life after 17 years and was given 57 more by and through God’s grace, has finished his race and entered Eternal Rest. As God rested from His works, Ravi now rests from his as well (Hebrews 4:9, 10). At the conclusion of this solemn graveside service, as Ravi’s casket was lowered into Georgia’s red clay soil, Allberry could not help but to reflect on those famous words attributed to George Herbert, “Death used to be an executioner, but the gospel has made him just a gardener.”

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Photos by Elizabeth Lauren Jones Photography.

Margie and the Zacharias family have asked that in lieu of flowers gifts be made to the ongoing work of RZIM. Ravi’s heart was people. His passion and life’s work centered on helping people understand the beauty of the gospel message of salvation. Our prayer is that, at his passing, more people will come to know the saving grace found in Jesus through Ravi’s legacy and the global team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

Story courtesy of RZIM Canada