Strive for True Victory (CIF-SS Championship Video)

Recap video of Maranatha’s CIF-SS D-5 Girls Tennis Championship

Hey TD!

Last week, we had a post entitled, We Must Play. It’s a must read.  Well, along those lines, a few weeks ago, Sandra and I had the privilege of coaching the Maranatha High School Varsity Girls Tennis Team to a CIF-SS D-5 Championship.  It was a stressful but thrilling two weeks of intense playing, soul-searching, and figuring out how to be able to produce our best when our best is needed.  The playoffs are not for the faint of heart. Sports is a great revealer of things.  It has been said that when you play competitive sports, the real you comes out.

It is incredibly difficult to win a championship at any level; there is an incredible amount of focus, discipline, character, desire, perspective, and providence that must all come together for the desired result to occur; and even then, there are no guarantees it will.  So many others want the same thing, yet only one will be left standing.

I want to remind you that while only one team or one person can win the championship, it is absolutely possible for more than one to come out a champion.  Your “thing” may or may not be sports; but whatever it is, you can come out a true winner – if you figure out how to do it to His honor, to represent Him well, with your very best effort with integrity, with grace and fairness towards your competitors – regardless of the outcome.  Col. 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men.” If you do that, you are a winner in the eyes of the only One that matters.

We are grateful for God’s generosity and kindness to us in granting us the championship; but as I told our team, it comes with great responsibility of stewardship and giving credit to Whom credit is due.  Our theme verse was 1 Cor. 10:31, “Whether then you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  While our team really wanted to earn championship rings, we agreed that, more than for the ring alone, we are playing for the “King of the ring.”

Your “thing” may or may not be sports; but whatever it is, you can come out a true winner – if you figure out how to do it to His honor, to represent Him well, with your very best effort with integrity, with grace and fairness towards your competitors – regardless of the outcome.  Col. 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men.” If you do that, you are a winner in the eyes of the only One that matters. 

This was the first time in my years of coaching boys and girls tennis that both finalists were Christian schools, both bearing witness.  After the ceremony was over, a long-time CIF official made a point to come to me and let me know that it was the finest display of sportsmanship at the ceremony that he’s seen, and that that’s how high school sports should be.

Indeed, it has been an opportunity to give thanks to God and attempt to represent Him well.  If you’re interested, here are a couple of newspaper articles.  They don’t always include the faith aspects into their stories, even when you share it with them, but you can still catch the drift:

Pasadena Sports Now

Pasadena Outlook

TD’ers, none of us is going to go through the game of life smoothly.  We’re going to have bumps and bruises, successes and failures along the way.  My dad used to remind me that failure is the foundation of success.  He’s right.  Failure can be such a powerful teacher.  I’ve always told people that the mark of a Christian is not whether you fall (you will), but the manner in which you get up when you fall.

I encourage you all during this finals season to prepare well, think well, treat others well, put God first, love your family, live honorably and consistently inside and out, and trust Him. If you do, whatever the results, you will have earned true victory.  Amen.

Go get’ em! – Coach Arthur 🙂

 

 

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Remembering Nabeel Qureshi (1983-2017)

Nabeel’s testimony is a must-watch. You will be so encouraged

Hi TD,

On Saturday, September 16, 2017,  special young and tender shoot was plucked from this earth.  Nabeel Qureshi was a powerful, prolific, promising young man whose powerful mind, tenderness of heart and soul, and sincerity of faith made him one of those that gave us hope for the future of Christian persuasion in an increasingly anti-Christian world. A former devout Muslim, his amazing conversion and ensuing ministry has ministered to thousands around the globe.

After hearing his story live during my family’s then annual pilgrimage to Ravi Zacharias Int’l Ministries’ (RZIM) Summer Institute in Wheaton, IL about four years ago, everyone in the audience knew that we had an up and coming Ravi on our hands.  We were absolutely stunned and blown away. Not only was he Ravi-esque in intellect and in his boldness and precision, but in his tenderness of heart and in his genuine kindness.

We didn’t know him well, but Sandra made it a point talk with him and his wife, Michelle, ask him about his family, and pray for him the two times a year we would see them at RZIM ministry events. We got the chance to meet his daughter, Ayah, when she was one.

I include the second article because I think Ravi does a masterful job of introducing the issues and planting the seeds of the gospel to a secular audience.  I thought it would be a good read for us in order to help us sharpen the way we communicate to the world.  

Better than I to reminisce about this special young man is Ravi himself.  I’m going to share with you two articles, one written for the Christian world in Christianity Today and one written for the secular reader in The Washington Post.  I include the second article because I think Ravi does a masterful job of introducing the issues and planting the seeds of the gospel.  I thought it would be a good read for us in order to help us sharpen the way we communicate to the world.  – Arthur

In Christianity Today:

Ravi Zacharias Remembers His Young Protégé, Nabeel Qureshi
Image: Courtesy of RZIM

 

The first time I saw Nabeel Qureshi, he sat at a table across from me, his one leg constantly moving almost subconsciously, warming up for a run. It was a habit of his restless disposition.

That was Nabeel in true expression; he hated sitting still. He was a man with a mission, ready to run. Sadly, for us, he finished his race all too soon and our hearts are broken at the loss of one who ran with spectacular passion to do what filled his soul.

He was a thorough-going evangelical. He held dear the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Old and New Testaments and carried the message of salvation. Jesus’ grace for a transformed heart was his message.

For years as a young man, he labored and struggled to gain “righteousness before God” only to find out that righteousness was already met in the cross through Jesus Christ. That was his message in his best-selling book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.

Qureshi was not just an evangelical; he was passionately evangelistic. He desired to cover the globe with the good news that God’s forgiveness was available to all. I have seldom seen a man with such deep conviction and proportionate passion and gifting. When he spoke, he held audiences spellbound.

I invited him to join our team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) four and a half years ago. He placed one condition, and I placed one condition. His condition was that after he joined, he’d travel with me for one year, to observe and learn. I asked that after the year, he’d go to Oxford. I wanted him to complete his doctorate to be better prepared to answer the toughest questions a Christian apologist faces—and to do it with gentleness, respect, and learning. He agreed.

He called me “uncle.” He became part of our team. Everywhere he went, they wanted him back. After every talk we would have a meal together, and he would ask me, “Uncle, how did I do?”

I tear up as I think of the meal we had a little over a year ago. Nabeel was a man with a daunting appetite. I used to joke in his presence, “Don’t get behind him in a buffet line; there will be nothing left.” He would chuckle with his winsome smile. I wish I could see that smile again. He could make a big meal look like an appetizer.

Nabeel came like a streak of lightning, brightened the night sky, and has returned to the One who gave the power to do what he did.

I noticed that he was just nibbling away at his food. I said, “Nabeel, are you not going to eat?” He said, “Uncle, I have been having some strange sensations in my stomach.” I asked how long that had been going on, and he said it had been a few weeks. I urged him to have it checked out. He said he was planning on it.

The rest is history. He went to see the doctor. They had concerns, and the first diagnosis was cancer of the stomach—probably stage 4. That was a stunner. It strained credulity. We were taken by shock. He moved to Houston for treatment. But the condition was on a downward spiral. Within a few months, the handwriting was on the wall. But he remained firm that he was in God’s hands.

In May, he said to me, “Uncle, can I do one more trip with you? I miss that time of being on the road with you.” I said, “Nabeel, if your doctor approves, yes,please come. We will cover your cost.”

I took him with me to Malaysia. His body was weak, his passion undiminished, his speaking, powerful, his messages reaping a harvest of followers of Jesus. His answers to people’s questions were profound and persuasive. They would applaud with each answer. He would talk one on one; he would pray one with one. His belief in God being One and the answer to salvation being One were all part of his spiritual DNA.

When we had our last meal together and when we bid him goodbye in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, I had a feeling that was our “farewell.” I fought off the tears.

As I write this, it’s hard to hold back the tears. It’s hard to believe that Nabeel Qureshi has left us all too soon. I reminded him that he was the same age as our Lord whose mission was accomplished. In like manner, Nabeel came like a streak of lightning, brightened the night sky, and has returned to the One who gave the power to do what he did.

Nabeel, I will no longer hear you calling me “uncle.” I will miss that. But I will hear you calling me “brother” when we meet again—because we both serve our heavenly Father who adopted us as his own children.

“Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him,” so said the apostle Paul who got a glimpse of the resurrected Jesus. Nabeel is now in his presence.

He told me how much he hurt for leaving his wife, Michelle, his young daughter, Ayah, and his family. That farewell was painful for him. But his pain is now over and the One who wipes away every tear has welcomed him. I do not mourn for him.

I mourn for our broken world where so much hate and destruction abounds. We have a cancer called “sin.” We do not like the diagnosis. But it’s a killer. The message that Nabeel carried was true. God sent his Son to heal that disease. That disease is still killing until we heed that message.

May we hear God’s voice reminding us that the disease that kills the body is minor. The disease that kills the soul is eternal. Nabeel would want more than anything else that we carry that message of Jesus to help change the world. Only then can we understand that the sad news of Nabeel’s death is temporary. The good news of his life is eternal.

His message lives on. He authored three incredibly powerful books: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus; Answering Jihad; and No God but One. Recently when I was in Iraq, somebody made reference to the impact on his life through those books. Nabeel and I were in the midst of co-authoring a book on Jesus through Eastern eyes. His eyes have now seen his Master. I will have to write with imagination.

I miss you, dear friend. You taught me so much in your few years: to run the race with passion and that our moment to bid farewell will also come. You will never be forgotten. Thank you for spending those memorable years with us. They were all too few.

Knowing the biblical message, the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said it well:

Life is real! life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal.
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

See you soon, my dear Nabeel.

Your “uncle” and “brother,”

Ravi

Ravi Zacharias is the founder and president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM).

CT’s obituary for Nabeel Qureshi can be found here, and his personal testimony here.

In The Washington Post:

Why this Muslim-turned-Christian speaker resonated with so many before his death at 34

September 17

Nabeel Qureshi, who was raised in a Muslim American family before converting to Christianity. (Photo courtesy of RZIM)

 

The first time I saw him, he sat at a table across from me, one of his legs constantly moving almost subconsciously, as though he was warming up for a run. It was a habit of his restless disposition to stand and gallop. I asked if we could talk about his mission in life. He joined me in the back seat of the car, that leg still moving.

That was Nabeel Qureshi. He hated sitting still. He was a man with a mission, ready to run. Sadly, for us, he died Saturday at a young age of 34 after a year of battling stomach cancer. Nabeel, who was raised in a Muslim-American family and converted to Christianity after a fellow college student sparked his interest in Christianity, worked with me in Christian apologetics.

The field of apologetics deals with the hard questions posed to the Christian faith. Each of us has a worldview, whether we recognize it or not. A worldview basically offers answers to four necessary questions: origin, meaning, morality and destiny. Christian apologetics is the discipline of answering people’s specific questions and making the truth claims clear. We aim to engage people in meaningful interactions with gentleness and respect, bearing in mind that behind every question is a questioner.

Because Islam is so much in the sights of the world right now, an articulate and attractive personality like Nabeel was often given a fair hearing. He was also a medical doctor and well studied in theology and philosophy, academic credentials that earned him respect. He was well versed in the faith in which he was raised.

Nabeel held dear the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Old and New Testaments and carried the message of salvation. He said that for years as a young man, he labored and struggled to gain “righteousness before God” only to find out that righteousness was already found in the cross through Jesus. That was his message in his best-selling book, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.”

His grandparents were Muslim missionaries in Indonesia. His conversion to Christianity took place after he seriously examined the historicity of the gospels and the unique claims of Jesus. The conversion was very hard on his family and probably the greatest heartache he carried because he loved them.

Yes, his conversion stirred many questions, but his gracious and clear responses touched many in the Islamic world. He met numerous people who had read his book and made their own journeys to faith in Jesus. It also hurt him deeply when Muslims were painted with a violent brush, something he believed was false and wrong-headed.

He was not just an evangelical; he was passionately evangelistic. He desired to cover the globe with that good news: that God’s forgiveness was available to all. When he spoke, he held audiences captive.

I lead a ministry called RZIM, which began in 1984 and has a full-time team of more than 70 speakers from numerous cultural backgrounds in 15 countries and on every continent. We speak to artists, academics, business and political leaders, addressing the questions of origin, meaning, morality and destiny. Our goal is to present the answers of Jesus in cogent and intellectually persuasive ways to bridge the head to the heart.

I invited Qureshi to join our team four and a half years ago. He reached tens of thousands in live audiences, but his books reached even more people. He was a powerful speaker and debater.

I tear up as I think of the meal we had a little over a year ago. Nabeel was a man with a daunting appetite. I used to joke in his presence, “Don’t get behind him in a buffet line; there will be nothing left.” He would chuckle. He could make a big meal look like an appetizer. So I noticed that he was just nibbling away at his food.

I said, “Nabeel, are you not going to eat?”

He said, “Uncle, I have been having some strange sensations in my stomach.”

I asked how long that had been going on, and he said it had been a few weeks. I urged him to have it checked out. He said he was planning on it.

The rest is history. A doctor diagnosed stomach cancer — probably stage 4. We were all stunned. Within a few months, the writing was on the wall.

In May, he asked me to do one more trip.

We went to Malaysia. Even though his body was weak, his passion was undiminished. His answers to people’s questions about God and Jesus were profound and persuasive. It’s hard to believe that Nabeel Qureshi has left us all too soon. I am reminded that he died the same age as Jesus was when his mission was accomplished.

“Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him,” so said the apostle Paul. We believe that Nabeel is now in heaven. He told me how painful it was to leave his wife, Michelle, and his young daughter, Ayah. But his pain is now over. I do not mourn for him.

I mourn for our broken world, where so much hate and destruction abounds. We have a cancer called sin. The disease that kills the body is minor, but the disease that kills the soul is eternal. Nabeel would want more than anything else that we carry the message of Jesus to help change the world. Only then can we understand that the sad news of Nabeel’s death is temporary.

The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said it well.

Life is real! life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal.
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Ravi Zacharias is founder and president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (rzim.org), which engages audiences worldwide on the deepest questions of life.

Something Personal to Share …

Hey TD,

I was hesitant to share this with you all, but as I’ve been preaching all year long, we are trying to forge a family culture that is transparent and that lets one another into each others’ lives., whether we have good news or bad news to share.

While last week, I was named All-Area Boys Tennis Coach of the Year by both Pasadena Sports Now (first time) and Pasadena Star News newspapers (4th time – 2 girls, 2 boys), it wasn’t something I was planning to exactly share here.

However, as I’ve been emphasizing an upward, outward, downward approach to our life in Christ that does get out there in our communities and that reaches beyond our church walls, I thought this article, written by one who has not yet come to faith in Jesus (but who I pray one day will come to know the beauty of life in the Lord), may help give one more illustration of outward engagement in the community in His Name.  So, for what it’s worth, here it is.  – Arthur

Pasadena Sports Now

Boys Tennis: Arthur Hsieh Named Pasadena Sports Now Coach of the Year; Maranatha Reaching New Heights with Lessons of Faith, Family

Hsieh Family

By Brian Reed-Baiotto, Sports Editor

Maranatha had never really been thought of as a tennis school.

That was until the arrival of coach Arthur Hsieh, who runs both the boys and girls programs.

Coach Arthur Hsieh at CIF Finals with Matthew Alleman.

The girls program won a CIF title a couple of years back.

The boys team, though, hadn’t been a championship caliber squad before Hsieh, and there was no reason to believe the 2017 season would be any different.

But there was one person who did believe bigger things were possible.

That man is 49-year old Arthur Hsieh.

He led his Minutemen to the title match in the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs, which was the first time the boys program had ever made a championship appearance.

Top seeded Los Osos defeated Maranatha, 11-7, but the bar has risen drastically thanks to their coach.

More importantly, if you speak to any of his athletes, Mr. Hsieh impacts their lives much deeper and greater off, than anything that happens on a tennis court.

For his unwavering support of his players, his being a role model as a standup adult figure, and his success this season, Arthur Hsieh was named the Pasadena Sports Now Boys Tennis Coach of the Year.

Maranatha was 17-2 this season and won another Olympic League title.

It was their fifth league championship in his five years at the school, and their overall record in league play over that time is 43-1.

“Coach Arthur had a tremendous impact on us both as players and people. Every day before we even started practicing, he would read John Wooden’s book on the keys to success,” No. 1 singles player Matthew Alleman said. “More than anything, it taught me patience, as all I wanted to do was get on the court and start hitting. He invested so much of his time and energy into us which definitely paid off over time and helped us go as far as we did.”

Interestingly enough, Hsieh met John Wooden when he was 88 years old and struck up a conversation with the UCLA basketball icon.

As the event he was attending was about to start, Hsieh asked Wooden if it would be possible to continue the conversation another time, and to his delight, Wooden said he would love to, and they became friends.

John Wooden died in 2010 at the age of 99, but his books on success and life story have impacted thousands, including Arthur Hsieh.

“I tried to use ‘Woodenisms’ with my players, because they don’t just impact you as an athlete (or coach), they are keys to success in life,” Hsieh said.

One of the lessons he learned really stuck with his players.

“Coach taught us about the pyramid of success and competitive greatness,” No. 1 doubles player Drew Sierra said. “It was about being able to play your best when your best is required and that really stuck with me and my teammates, and I think it was part of us getting over the hump psychologically as a team that hadn’t been this far before.”

Hsieh is a deeply religious and moral man, and while that might not be everybody’s cup of tea as a coach, he is a perfect fit at Maranatha and has bettered the lives of all these young student-athletes he’s had the joy of coaching.

But it all starts at home.

Hsieh has a remarkably close, intelligent and beautiful family.

Next week, he and his wife Sandra will celebrate their 27th year of marriage.

Sandra also does her part in making both the boys and girls programs excel.

He has three sons.

Nathaniel (24), Randall (22), Daniel (20) were all athletes in their day, as is 17-year old Angela, who plays No. 1 singles for her father in the girls program.

“The reason this is so much fun for me is because everyone in my family is involved,” Hsieh said. “We enjoy impacting young people’s lives and my kids and wife have gotten to know and care about our players like I do.”

His daughter has another year at Maranatha that Hsieh will serve as head coach, and then the future is going to be a year-by-year decision in what he does with the program.

But for five years, Maranatha has been lucky to have a man that is as quality a person as he is a coach.

Regardless of when he steps off the courts, Hsieh’s lessons on life will reverberate through his players throughout their lifetimes.

Quotable:

Maranatha Athletic Director Brian DeHaan: “We affectionately refer to Arthur as the ‘tennis whisperer,’ because he has a way of softly, yet firmly, bringing the best out of the young people he works with. Arthur and his entire family ARE Maranatha tennis. His leadership has brought the program to the highest of heights, but most impressive is the impact he makes in the lives of student athletes. He has built this tennis program on character and we are all better people having worked with Arthur. He has the unique ability to bring discipline that is rooted in love into the lives of young tennis players and their families. He speaks truth with conviction and fosters an environment of love and accountability.”

This year’s CIF finals run has been built on the shoulders of those who fell short in prior years. We have seen the run coming and it couldn’t have happened for a better group of young men. The entire Maranatha community is thankful for the excitement this year’s team brought to campus. They have left an indelible mark in the history books of the program and raised the bar for future teams to reach.

Maranatha Senior Drew Sierra: “Coach is super ‘wise.’ his advice is applicable on and off the court. Even though he’s super nice and respectful, he’s very competitive and we all took him seriously. A lot of times in practice, we’d do our stretches and do drills and volley’s and repetition really helped me get better. His advice— being the most competitive version of yourself. He fueled the competitive fire in me.”

Maranatha Senior Bryan Lin: “Our coach fostering us to get that mind set of competitive greatness. Through our teamwork as well and our unity led to our success. I am really proud to be part of the program and where it stands now.”