Those Moravians!

We need more of what those Moravians had.

The worldwide influence of 18th century Moravian missionaries was extraordinary.  One notable example is the impact they had on John Wesley, leading directly to the beginning of his vital relationship with Christ.

Wesley kept a journal, and his entries covering the years 1736-1738 are replete with comments of his observations and encounters with the Moravians (whom he often called “the Germans”).  In early 1736 Wesley was ship-bound for America and in the midst of a life-threatening storm he observed the Moravians on board with him.

There was now an opportunity of trying whether they were delivered from the spirit of fear…In the midst of the psalm wherewith their service began, the sea broke over, split the mainsail in pieces, covered the ship, and poured in between the decks, as if the great deep had already swallowed us up.

A terrible screaming began among the English.  The Germans calmly sang on.  I asked one of them afterward, “Was not you afraid?”  He answered, “I thank God, no.”  I asked, “But were not your women and children afraid?”  “No; our women and children are not afraid to die.”

From them, I went to their crying, trembling neighbours, and pointed out to them the difference in the hour of trial between him that feareth God, and him that feareth him not.”

One of the great litmus tests for the condition of our leader soul and the vitality of our faith in Christ our Lord is how we behave in times of personal crisis when the storms of life invade and fear has got us by the throat…whether natural disaster, illness, financial loss, the death of a loved one, or the threats of a pandemic.

What did the English passengers do in their moment of panic?  Wesley tells us they screamed, cried, and trembled.

What did the Moravians do when the crisis raged?  Fearlessly, they “sang on” and worshipped God through the perilous storm.

Reminds me of Paul and Silas.  Flogged and chained to stocks in the dark recesses of the Philippian prison for preaching the gospel, what do they do?

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them.”  (Acts 16:25)

Singing, worshipping, quoting scripture, praying…these are the disciplines of Christ-followers who in times of crisis know three things:

First, Jesus told his disciples on numerous occasions when they were overcome with fear to not be afraid.  “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” (John 14;1) David said it this way, “I trust in you, O Lord.”  I say, “You are my God.  My times are in your hands.”  (Psalm 31:15) This truth is the ground of our settled peace in times of crisis.

Second, the experiential truth that the Lord is always with us in times of crisis fortifies the soul when waves of anxiety and doubt attack.  Paul said, “Everyone deserted me, but the Lord stood beside me and gave me strength.”  (2 Timothy 4;16-17)

Third, James reminds us that the Christian response to tribulation is the remarkable discipline of “consider it pure joy,” (James 1:2) because these trial moments are “faith-testers” that grow our confidence in the presence of God and in his promises to see us through.

One of the most inspiring examples of a worshiping faith stance in times of crisis was demonstrated by Judah’s King Jehoshaphat when enemy armies were at his city’s gate.  After telling God, “Our eyes are on you,” he challenged the men of Judah, “do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

And then he did something remarkable.  It says, “He appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying, ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 20:21)  As a demonstration of robust faith, the worshippers took precedence over the soldiers!

When the crisis was red hot…singing, worshipping, praying, this is what Jehoshaphat and his army did.  This is what Paul and Silas did.  This is what the Moravians did.

Sometime, perhaps sooner than later, our next personal, family, or leadership crisis will arrive.  If John Wesley were watching (and maybe he is!), what would he record in his journal about you and me?

May God grant each Corpath member the grace to live fearlessly, just like Jehoshaphat and his choir of worshippers, just like Paul and Silas…and just like those Moravians!

“Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side.”

Blessings,

Gordon Dirks

President, Corpath

Simplicity

Richard Rohr, a well-known author and founder of the Centre for Action and Contemplation, offers us important food for thought this summer in this recent devotional.

Despite many differing views of Jesus’ life and teaching, we can say confidently that Jesus was a poor man who fully embraced life with those on the margins of society. Francis of Assisi certainly did the same, and it became his litmus test for all orthodoxy and ongoing transformation into God. Clare of Assisi (1194–1253) wanted to imitate Francis in this and I acknowledge that she and her sisters, the Poor Clares, have kept the vow of poverty much better than we Franciscan friars have done. Today, Bridget Mary Meehan helps us understand how radical simplicity helped Clare and her sisters come to a singleness of focus and heart.

Clare understood that love and poverty [or what I would call simplicity] are connected. She taught that poverty frees one from the bondage of material things and from all the things that clutter the human heart and soul.

Gospel poverty was at the heart of Clare’s rule. The Poor Ladies owned nothing; they lived simply without property, endowments, or any kind of material possessions. For Clare, doing without things led to deep communion with God. Her way of life was characterized by a deep trust in God to provide for the needs of the community. Whatever the Poor Ladies received was sufficient. Openness and receptivity reflected Clare’s attitudes toward people and things. For her, everything was a gift. She and her “ladies” lived the gospel passionately according to the Franciscan ideal.

Through the centuries Clare has continued to be a beacon of light to women and men who long to love Christ with an undivided heart, to serve others generously, and to live simply in a world that glorifies material possessions. If we have too many clothes in our closets, too much money in the bank, too many things cluttering our lives, Clare can help us find the one thing necessary—God who will liberate and fill our emptiness with divine love. Our conversion process may take time—sometimes years—but we will experience freedom and joy when we live with a loose grasp on material things when we are willing to share our possessions as well as our time and energy with those in need. . . .

How often do we take a deep breath and appreciate—really appreciate—the air we breathe? How often do we savor the food we taste and smell the flowers along our path? When was the last time we listened to our child, laughed with a friend, embraced our spouse? It is true that the best things in life are free, but we are often too distracted or too busy to see the simple treasures of life right in front of us.

Blessings for a summer of soul liberation from life’s clutter and enjoyment of simple pleasures!

Gordon Dirks

President, Corpath

The Coach…and the Playbook

Somebody is writing your playbook.

Everyone follows, imitates, and ultimately bows their knee to someone. No one is the master of their own fate; no one is the captain of their own soul.  This is mythology.

And unless we choose the right coach with the right playbook, we will drift unsuspectingly through life…without the benefit of an eternal compass, or of a divine guide to take our hand in the storms of life.

We just might wake up one day with poet Ed Sissman’s haunting words ringing in our ears,

“Men past forty,
Get up nights,
Look up at city lights
And wonder
Where they made the wrong turn
And why life is so long.”

Bob Dylan understood we all follow someone.  His powerful song, “You Gotta Serve Somebody,” which he sang at an Oscar award ceremony, undoubtedly made some in the celebrity audience quite uncomfortable.

“You may be an ambassador to England or France

You might like to gamble, you might like to dance
You might be the heavyweight champion of the world
You might be a socialite with a long string of pearls

But you’re going to have to serve somebody, yes
Indeed, you’re going to have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil, or it may be the Lord
But you’re going to have to serve somebody.

Serving somebody means submission, a dirty word for many in our contemporary world.
But the truth is submission and imitation are in our spiritual genes.  Dallas Willard asks the probing question in his thoughtful work, The Divine Conspiracy,

“Who teaches you?  Whose disciple are you?  Honestly.  One thing is sure. 
You are somebody’s disciple.  You learned how to live from somebody else.” 

How can we discern which playbook we should follow?  Which coach to obey?  Which teacher to learn from?  The self-help and spirituality shelves at our local bookstore are replete with intriguing playbooks for life.

But God’s Word is crystal clear.  For the Christ-follower, there is no equivocating, no uncertainty.  The Apostle Paul reminds us that:

“For if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” (1 Corinthians 8:6)

The early Christians understood what was at stake.  They remembered the words of Jesus, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?”  (Luke 6:46)

There was a reason these first believers were called, “followers of the Way,” for their eternal Coach said, “I am the Way.” (John 14:6)

When most of Jesus’ disciples left him, he asked the remaining few, “You do not want to leave too, do you?”  Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know you are the holy one of God.” (John 7:67-69)

One God, one Lord, one Saviour, one divine Coach, one eternal playbook for life.

Here is a simple rule to help us determine if we are following his playbook.  Ask yourself,

“Who am I really trying to please?”

When I played basketball, it was my role as guard to set up plays: the give and go, the post-up, the screenshot.  I lived by the coach’s playbook.  And often when I ran down the sidelines, I would sneak a glance over at the bench to see if Coach was pleased with my playmaking.

We were made to live to please God.  Paul instructs us, “Find out what pleases the Lord.”  (Ephesians 5:10) He alone deserves our full-on allegiance, our unswerving obedience, our joyful submission, our exuberant worship.

And in return, because of his great love, he offers us an incredible, abundant, fulfilling life – now and forever – as we tune in and live by his playbook.  (John 10:10)

In this life, there is no shortage of coaches.  Pick one…maybe a business coach, or a personal coach, a financial coach, a marriage coach, a fitness coach.  But in the final analysis there really is only one Coach and one Playbook for Corpath members.

May our divine Coach grant us grace to live by his playbook this summer, and always.

Blessings,


Gordon Dirks

President, Corpath

One Thing

Richard Rohr, a contemporary Christian author and mystic has written the following meditation that reminds Christ-followers of the importance of “willing one thing.”

Jesus said,

“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work.”
— John 4:34
“I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.”
— John 5:30
“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will. ”
— Matthew 26:39

When you read the above statements, it is quite clear that Jesus was entirely single-hearted. His life was all about doing the will of the One who sent him, the One he loved above all. To Jesus, it was that simple.

As Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) so beautifully put it, “purity of heart is to will one thing.”   No wonder Jesus said that the pure of heart would see God (Matthew 5:8). They alone keep their eyes in one constant and consistent direction and thus overcome the divisions created by the divided hearts and loyalties which plague the rest of us. As we grow spiritually, our lives become more and more centred and simple. There are only a few things that matter, and eventually really only one.

Howard Thurman (1899-1981), the esteemed theologian and spiritual teacher to Martin Luther King, Jr., reached this point of single-hearted focus. The following excerpt from his book ‘Meditations of the Heart’ reveals how Thurman prayed that God’s will might be done in and through him.

“The central element in communion with God is the act of self-surrender. The symbol of my prayer this day is the open heart. It is most natural for me to think of prayer in terms of the open hand. My needs are so great and often so desperate that there seems to be naught besides my own urgency. I must open my heart to God. This will include my own deep urgencies and all the warp and woof of my desiring. These things, deep within, I must trust with the full awareness that more important even than self-realization is the true glorifying of God. Somehow, I must make God central to me and in me, over and above the use to which I wish or need to put His energy and His power.

I surrender myself to God without any conditions or reservations. I shall not bargain with [God]. I shall not make my surrender piecemeal, but I shall lay bare the very center of me, that all of my very being shall be charged with the creative energy of God. Little by little, or vast area by vast area, my life must be transmuted in the life of God. As this happens, I come into the meaning of true freedom, and the burdens that I seemed unable to bear are floated in the current of the life and love of God.”

This summer, our lives will be filled with work, vacations, back-yard barbecues, gardening, neighbour conversations, and family gatherings.  As our summers unfold, may God grant us his grace to put him first in all things.

As Paul wrote,

“Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  1 Corinthians 10:31

Blessings for a God-filled summer,

Gordon Dirks

President, Corpath

Christ at the Centre

When it came to praying, the Christian tradition in which I was raised practiced extemporaneous prayer exclusively.  Except for the Lord’s Prayer (“Our Father who is in heaven…”) there were no written prayers to help guide our spiritual life in my Christian community.

In retrospect, this was a glaring weakness in my spiritual development curriculum.

Thankfully, this deficiency has been rectified, as over the years I have been introduced to profound prayers written down by saints on whose shoulders we now stand.

One of these prayers was written by St. Patrick of the 5th century.  It’s a prayer that focuses on the centrality of Christ and reminds us that there is no room for lukewarm discipleship on our Christian journey.

His prayer brings to mind the soaring words of the Apostle Paul who wrote,

“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”  (Philippians 3:8)

St. Patrick’s prayer powerfully reminds us to place Christ at the centre of it all.

Spend some time now meditating on St. Patrick’s

keystone prayer.  Put it on the marquee of your soul.  Make it your own as you journey through the coming summer months.

The Prayer of Saint Patrick

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.

Christ, shield me today
Against wounding.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation

 

May Christ be the centre-point of our lives this summer…and always.

Blessings,

Gordon Dirks

President, Corpath

Anticipating…

Charlie Fischer, former CEO of Nexen, recently passed away.  He was cut down by cancer while still a relatively young man.

As followers of Christ we would do well from time to time to reflect upon the brevity of life, and the age to come.

Because some of us are closer to heaven than we realize.

This world that awaits us on the other side will be like none other, for God’s Word declares,

The Apostle Peter referred to “the blessed hope” that awaits us as people of Jesus who believe “in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”

Today’s meditation consists of a series of quotes from Christians who were seized by the anticipation of our coming heavenly adventure.  Spend some quiet moments and let these thoughts of heaven permeate your life today.

“Can you hear the sighing in the wind?  Can you feel the heavy silence in the mountains?  Can you sense the restless longing in the sea?  Can you see it in the woeful eyes of an animal?  Something’s coming…something better.”  – Joni Eareckson Tada

“I once scorned every fearful thought of death, when it was but the end of pulse and breath, but now my eyes have seen that past the pain there is a world that’s waiting to be claimed.  Earthmaker, Holy, let me now depart, for living’s such a temporary art.  And dying is but getting dressed for God, our graves are merely doorways cut in sod.” – Calvin Miller

“I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.”  – C. S. Lewis

“Joy is the serious business of heaven.”  – C S Lewis

“I can say safely, on the authority of all that is revealed in the Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship is no ready for heaven.”  – A W Tozer

“We may speak about a place where there are no tears, no death, no fear, no night, but those are just the benefits of heaven.  The beauty of heaven is seeing God.”  – Max Lucado

“I am still in the land of the dying.  I shall be in the land of the living soon.” last words – John Newton

“To enter heaven is to become more human that you ever succeeded in being on earth; to enter hell is to be banished from humanity.” – C S Lewis

“If you are a Christian you are not a citizen of this world trying to get to heaven, you are a citizen of heaven making your way through the world.”  – Vance Havner

“Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” – Thomas Moore

“He whose head is in heaven need not fear to put his feet into the grave.” – Matthew Henry

“To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower; hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.”  – William Blake

“I never saw a moor, I never saw the sea.

Yet know I how the heather looks, and what a wave must be.

I never spoke with God, nor visited in heaven.

Yet certain am I of the spot, as if the chart were given.”  Emily Dickinson

May the anticipation of heaven and the great adventure that awaits seize our hearts and minds and fill us with joy throughout the summer months ahead.

Blessings,

Gordon Dirks
President, Corpath

The First Word

There is a word that precedes all other words on the journey of Christian discipleship towards a happy, flourishing life.  But it is not the word most of us would expect.

We might have chosen love, or forgiveness or mercy or generosity.  This one, essential word may surprise us.  Here it is…

INTERIOR

What is the secret to a happy, flourishing Christian life?   The secret lies within.  It is about our interior life, the life of your heart, the life of your spirit, the life of your soul. This is where a flourishing, abundant life is birthed and grows.

Everything that we are, and everything that we are becoming, grows out of our interior life.  Our habits, our values, our priorities, our dreams…they all reflect the quality of our interior being.

If we want to enjoy an abundant, flourishing life we must possess a healthy, life-giving heart and soul.  And so, our first task on the journey of discovery to a flourishing life is to diagnose the quality of our interior world.  We must begin here.

The good and beautiful life we long to experience is far more about:

  • a healthy soul, then it is about a six-figure salary. 
  • seeking authentic beauty in our inner spirit, then about chasing the artificial beauty of looks and fashions. 
  • developing the power of the integrity of heart, then about chasing the strength of a well-sculpted body.
  • the condition of what lies within, then about the size of our house and the furniture we sit on.

If we think we can skip the interior life on the way to the flourishing, abundant life Jesus promised, we are sadly misguided and have lost our way.

The wisest man reputed to have ever lived, King Solomon, cautioned us, “Above all else, guard your heart; it is the wellspring of life.”  (Proverbs 4:23)

Jesus pointed to the importance of the interior life when he spoke those sobering words, “What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul?” (Mark 8:36)

He knew we can be outwardly successful, have wealth, enjoy accolades, but inwardly be a mess.  To lose our soul is perhaps the greatest tragedy in this life.

I have always been struck by Paul’s sad comment to young Timothy about Demas, his former ministry colleague, who lost his way as his soul shrivelled.

“But Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me.”  (1 Timothy 4:10)

If Jesus could do an audit on your interior life, what would he find there?  Would it be:

  • a healthy, restful soul, bursting with faith, and hope and love? Or one that is hard and angry, producing habits of bitterness, resentment, and anger.
  • a life-giving spirit filled with energy to give, to serve, and forgive?  Or one that is egotistical, entitled, pushy, prickly?
  • a singing heart, overflowing with joy and peace?  Or one afraid and cynical, producing habits of withdrawal and fear?

How is a beautiful soul formed?  Is there one essential “habit of the heart” that can point us in this direction?

I think there is.  And I have seen it living in one of my good Corpath friends who has developed the powerful discipline of spending time with God and his Word early each morning.  (One of his soul-development strategies is to daily use the Lectio365 app to guide his spiritual reflections – you should try it!)

When I think of my friend’s soul, I am reminded of the great parliamentarian William Wilberforce who spent a lifetime fighting all the economic forces of the British empire in his hatred of slavery.  And where did his soul-strength come from?  He wrote…

“In the calmness of the morning before the mind is heated and weary by the turmoil of the day, you have a season of unusual importance for communion with God and with yourself.”

One of his biographers, Garth Lean observed:

“In the day to day battle it was more and more these early morning hours (kept in spite of late nights and chronic ill health) and his quiet Sundays which gave him strength and perspective on himself and the world.”

Robert Frost once wrote, “I took the road less travelled, and that has made all the difference.”  In our spiritual lives, the road less travelled, the road that will make all the difference, is the road down and in…the road to the interior life.

May God find us travelling that road often.

Blessings,

Gordon Dirks
President, Corpath

Angels in an Envelope

They were perilous days…and then some angels smiled upon us.

I was a young, successful rural school principal.  But after two years of small-town living, more education beckoned.  And so that summer my wife and I and young child moved to the city where I began a Master of Education degree program.  We rented a small house, I started graduate classes, we got by on my teaching fellowship stipend from the university.

Then it all fell apart.

By late October I was in isolation, hospitalized with some mysterious, undiagnosed disease.  As my life’s blood drained away, it took two weeks to identify the attacker – a near fatal case of Crohn’s disease.

Income from my teaching fellowship disappeared.  The bank account hit zero.  My wife visited the local Social Services office to see if we qualified for welfare.  As the doctors grew more concerned, I kept wasting away and the gastroenterologist told Joy to prepare for the worst.

Then one day, as I lay weakened down to 125 pounds, the nurse appeared by my side and left a bulging, letter-sized envelope on my bed.  It was post-marked from the little town church we had attended for two years before heading to the bright lights.

As I opened the envelope in my weakened state, it was like heaven started to rain down.  First one cheque, then another…they just kept spilling out…cheque after cheque…some small amounts, some astonishingly large…along with numerous money bills and even some coins.

On that afternoon, my hospital room was transformed into a sanctuary and those sacred moments forever shaped my heart.  Until that day I had little experience with lavish generosity.  Yes, my wife and I had dutifully tithed.

But when I saw the names on those generous gifts from salt-of-the-earth Christians: farmers, teachers, electricians, housewives, who had all dug deep for me and Joy and little Chris, it was then God began to tune my heart with the song he loves to sing, the song of generous living and sacrificial giving.

And I came to understand that we must all give so others can live.  This is the call of the Christ-follower.  There is no greater mark of a true Christian than authentic generosity.  The great divine, John Wesley underscored that there is no room for complacency when it comes to generosity,

“When a man becomes a Christian, he becomes industrious and prosperous.  Now, if that man when he gets all he can and saves all he can does not give all he can, I have more hope for Judas Iscariot than for that man!” 

On the marquee of God’s expectations for his children, the word GENEROSITY flashes 24-7 in very bright lights.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  …  ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”  (Matthew 25:34-40)

The Apostle Paul echoed Jesus’ sentiments with his words to young Timothy,

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant or to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”  (1 Timothy 6:19-19)

We can’t miss it when we meditate on these Bible passages – Jesus draws a straight line between our generous care and concern for others as both an expression of our solidarity with him, and as an essential criterion for our entrance into eternal life.

Be inspired by this true story,

“Thirty years ago, my world almost fell apart.  I had surgery, was fired, and then informed by the IRS that my employer had not paid employment taxes.  After a few weeks I saw a flyer about a Japanese festival.  Although a physical and emotional wreck, I decided to go.  There, I met a Japanese gentleman with whom I chatted for a few hours.  A few months later I came home to find a bouquet of flowers and a letter at my door.  It was from that same friend.  Inside the letter was a check for $10,000 to help me through my rough patch.  Sixteen years later, I met a family that had been evicted from their home and needed $5,000 to close the escrow on a new house.  Without hesitation, I handed them a cheque for the full amount.  They call me their angel, but I remind them that I, too, once had an angel.”  (Hassmik Mahdessian, Glendale, California)

In the halls of heaven, may every Corpath member be known as an angel of generous giving.

Blessings for a joy-filled week,

Gordon Dirks

President Corpath

…to the End

When a great soldier leaves the field, the members of his army will momentarily pause and salute the one who has led them down the years.

A great Christian soldier has just left the field and taken his place of reward in that “great cloud of witnesses.”  I refer to the highly esteemed Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias, who breathed his last on May 19.

Ravi has now joined that pantheon of gifted Christ-followers who spent their lives explaining the gospel to a watching world, and who helped millions come to understand the intellectual reasonableness of the Christian faith and embrace the good news of Jesus.

No doubt Ravi is now engaging in some very lively heavenly conversations with the likes of fellow towering apologists from the modern era who left the field before him, like C. S. Lewis, Billy Graham, Pope John Paul, and Canadian, John Wesley White.

We would do well to pause now and reflect for a few minutes on this life well-lived for Jesus and allow his story to tune our hearts toward greater devotion of Christ and commitment to his kingdom.  What follows are a few direct quotes from Ravi’s obituary posted on-line by his daughter.

When Ravi Zacharias was a cricket-loving boy on the streets of India, his mother called him in to meet the local sari-seller-turned-palm reader. “Looking at your future, Ravi Baba, you will not travel far or very much in your life,” he declared. “That’s what the lines on your hand tell me. There is no future for you abroad.”
 By the time a 37-year-old Zacharias preached, at the invitation of Billy Graham, to the inaugural International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists in Amsterdam in 1983, he was on his way to becoming one of the foremost defenders of Christianity’s intellectual credibility. A year later, he founded Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), with the mission of “helping the thinker believe and the believer think.”  

It was the culmination of a remarkable transformation set in motion when Zacharias, recovering in a Delhi hospital from a suicide attempt at age 17, was read the words of Jesus recorded in the Bible by the apostle John: “Because I live, you will also live.” In response, Zacharias surrendered his life to Christ and offered up a prayer that if he emerged from the hospital, he would leave no stone unturned in his pursuit of truth. Once Zacharias found the truth of the gospel, his passion for sharing it burned bright until the very end. Even as he returned home from the hospital in Texas, where he had been undergoing chemotherapy, Zacharias was sharing the hope of Jesus to the three nurses who tucked him into his transport.
    
Zacharias’s passion and urgency to take the gospel to all nations was forged in Vietnam, throughout the summer of ’71.  On one trip across remote land, Zacharias and his travel companions’ car broke down. The lone jeep that passed ignored their roadside waves. They finally cranked the engine to life and set off, only to come across the same jeep a few miles on, overturned and riddled with bullets, all four passengers were dead. He later said of this moment, “God will stop our steps when it is not our time, and He will lead us when it is.”

In 2018, Zacharias told the story of standing in front of Lazarus’s grave in Cyprus. The stone simply reads, “Lazarus, four days dead, friend of Christ.” Zacharias turned to his successor who was standing with him and said if he was remembered as “a friend of Christ, that would be all I want.”

A few months before dying, Ravi quoted these words from Richard Baxter’s 17th-century hymn, words that remind all of us that one day we too shall leave the field.

 

Lord, it belongs not to my care, whether I die or live;

To love and serve Thee is my share, and this Thy grace must give.

 

If life be long, I will be glad, that I may long obey;

If short, yet why should I be sad to welcome endless day?

 

Christ leads me through no darker rooms than He went through before;

He that unto God’s kingdom comes must enter by this door.

 

Come Lord, when grace hath made me meet Thy blessed face to see;

For if Thy work on earth be sweet, what will thy glory be!

 

Then I shall end my sad complaints, and weary sinful days,

And join with the triumphant saints that sing my Savior’s praise.

 

My knowledge of that life is small, the eye of faith is dim;

But ‘tis enough that Christ knows all, and I shall be with Him.”

 

May God grant each Corpath member that full measure of grace so that we too, like Ravi, will faithfully serve our Lord Christ to the end, knowing that we too “shall be with him.”

Blessings

Gordon Dirks

President, Corpath

 

 

Hope in Crisis – Episode 2

In these pandemic days when anxiety assaults our society at virtually every turn, what hope is there for a better future?  What confidence can the disciple of Jesus hold on to?

In his second blog entitled “Hope in Crisis,” Brian Stiller, Global Ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance, has masterfully reminded us that the Christian doctrine of hope is not a fiction, but a powerful reality that brings settled assurance in our “swirling, confusing, and upending circumstance.”  Be blessed as you read his hopeful message.

Hope in Crisis – Episode 2

When you and I are caught within a swirling, confusing and upending circumstance, we are so fixed on just keeping our heads above water, that when someone comes along with the suggestion that we need to think differently, not only does it’s sound absurd, but one might feel downright offended.

We by necessity, deal with what is at hand. When a loved one is struggling to breathe, we don‘t ask ourselves about the way we think. No, we look for a doctor, we search out medical help.

But once the panic has ceased, then ask, how am I seeing this pandemic? What is my first response to my loss of a job, the precipitous slide of my retirement funds, or the simple overwhelming numbers of infections and deaths?

For many,

  • fear triggers panic
  • the unknown cascades into anger
  • confusion latches on to conspiracy stories
  • political bias gets trapped by arrogance
  • personal well-being trumps the needs and interests of others.

So, ask, “What is the lens through which I am looking?”

How we see life is called perspective: not what I see, but how I see.

One way of seeing is called hope. This means being realistic, facing reality, seeing what is but believing that all we see is not the totality of what is, nor the final decider, of what in time, it becomes.

Let me use an example of hope. Noah, who secured living animals from a flood, one day was told to look out a window of the ark and see what was in the sky. There arcing across the sky was a multicolored rainbow. Today it is the universal symbol of hope.

And what makes up that hope? What is the essential character of that historic and universal symbol? It is there for us all.

  • Noah could have ignored it.
  • Noah could have denied that it existed.
  • Noah could have pretended it had nothing to do with his circumstance.
  • But there it is, promising that this is not the end. After the storm, the sun will shine.

Now, this isn’t psychobabble, creating a phony message so we might feel better. In this creation, God, creator, and sustainer is here, has always been and always will be here, for you.

And why is that so? I see two reasons:

First, because God is here and on your side.

  • He takes that which befuddles us and says, “it is not a mystery to me.”
  • He looks in the face of that which brings fear and says, “trust me.”
  • He walks the pathways of infection and death and says, “I‘ve been here before and I’m here with you today.”
  • Hope is yours for the taking.

Second, hope is made up of God’s promise of life. Easter is about two clashing realities: first, the death of Jesus was about him taking on evil and death, and then he died. In that cosmic moment, all that is evil, all that is death enhancing, all that is destructive, Jesus took it on himself.

Then – and here is that which ensures that our hope is not fiction – he broke the chains and bondage of evil, and in his rising from the dead, defeated that which defeats us: evil. As we take hold of his promises, in that moment, what we see is itself not changed, but how we see it, is changed.

  • God is realistic, he doesn’t ask us to deny what is real.
  • God is honest, he doesn’t ask us to pretend that what is, isn’t.
  • God is truthful, he doesn’t ask us to turn truths into falsehoods.

My friend, pause, put down your fear, set aside your anxiety, not by pretending things around you aren’t as bad as they are. But by knowing now, in this moment, that the God of creation is with you, he is your defense, protector and above all, a friend.

Here is my prayer for you today:
Creator of life, Savior and king, I understand that:

  • Hope helps me see what you offer,
  • Hope enables my fatigued mind to grasp your promise,
  • Hope opens my eyes to see not only the rainbow but you here and now,
  • Hope generates trust that you will be here for me tomorrow.

Today I choose to trust you. Today I ask you into my life. Please lift the burdens of my failures and fears and bring a fresh renewing of your presence into my life. Then I know you will help me reframe how I see life so that what is, will be seen within a new awareness that I am yours and you are mine.

Amen

Hope in Crisis #2
Brian C. Stiller, Global Ambassador
The World Evangelical Alliance
2020

wea@worldea.orgw
worldea.org/hopeincrisis

Blessings for a hope-filled week,

Gordon Dirks

President, Corpath