Ravi Zacharias - East and West

Who would've ever thought that at this part of Western history, you'd be listening to terms like karma, mantra, chakra, and all this kind of stuff? And all these Eastern, esoteric-sounding words have become such common fair. Who'd have ever thought that when we are talking about spiritual reality, a man like Deepak Chopra would become an authority on these things? Now I can say that quite boldly because he's really not qualified to address some of the issues he claims to address on the hermeneutics or the homiletics of the old and the New Testament. He knows very little about that subject, and it tells by the way he has written his book "The third Jesus". His whole treatment on that book on "The third Jesus" arises out of this prejudice and presupposition.

This is what he said. The Jesus of history we know absolutely nothing about. That's his sweeping statement. We know nothing about the Jesus of history. Tells you how little he actually knows about documentation, and historic narrative, and how close you can get to historic events, at which point documents are considered authentic and authoritative. But that's his sweeping statement. Then his second Jesus is the Jesus manufactured, says he, by the early church. It's not really the historic Jesus. We don't know who the historic Jesus was. The second is the manufactured Jesus by the early church. So I'll tell you who the real Jesus was. And he proceeds to elaborate on his thesis that Jesus was nothing more than a holy man and a sadhu or a guru-type personality who, in his pilgrimage, ultimately found nirvana.

Now how does Chopra know this? By quoting from the New Testament, which he has already said is not historical. Quoting hundreds of passages from it. Hundreds of it. He goes into gnostic writings and some of which in my book I pointed out he has totally misquoted and misrepresented. So now let me take a backwards step, and give you a little bit of a humorous note or two, and then, I shall proceed with the heart of what I wanna say to you tonight. Some of you heard the first side of it, first part of it: I'm sure, somewhere, this joke was doing the rounds, years ago, but: Holmes and Watson were out on camping trip, enjoying some liquid refreshment, and after indulging quite a bit of it, Holmes wakes up in the middle of the night, and he looks up into the night sky, and he wakes up Watson, and he says, "Watson, look up into the sky, what do you see"?

And he says, "I see stars and stars and more stars". He said, "What does that tell you"? He said, "Well, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies, astronomically, and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Meteorologically, it tells me that tomorrow will probably be a good day. Horologically, it tells me that it's about quarter to three in the morning. And theologically it tells me that God is sovereign and we're just a minute speck in this vast universe. Why, what does it tell you, Holmes"? He said, "Watson, you idiot. Somebody has stolen our tent".

It is amazing to read the sophisticated use of language by naturalists or spiritualists: and you end up at the final juncture to realize they've really taken everything away from you for definition. And, they start redefining everything. They end up telling you, "You're really it: you're God". I'll show you how they move into this. That's one light-hearted story. The second one is this, which may be less familiar to you, unless you've heard some of my C.D.'s recently. It says this: as a bagpiper, I play many big gigs. Recently, I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends so the service was to be at a pauper's cemetery in the Kentucky back-country.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost. I finally arrived an hour late, and I saw the funeral guy had already gone, and the her SE was nowhere in sight. There're only the diggers and the crew left, and they were eating their lunch. I felt pretty bad, and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down, and the vault lid was already in place. I didn't know what else to do, so I started to play. The workers put down their lunches and began to gather 'round. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I'd never played before for this homeless man. And, as I played "Amazing grace", the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together.

When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes, and started my car, though my head hung low, my heart was full, and as I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, "I never seen nothin' like that before, and I been puttin' in sceptic tanks for 20 years". What do these stories have to do with each other? One sounds brilliant and sophisticated: hollow at the center. The other one, very soporific, mystical, spiritual, aesthetic, just putting the soul into a state of some ethereal splendor: wrong message, wrong music, wrong place, wrong understanding. So many times, we, in our churches, have sounded forth things like that: we've gone and spoken, and done our bit, sung our songs, and done our preaching. At the end of it, the people say, "I don't have a clue what that was all about". And, if you open up the sachet of naturalism, it's hollow at the beginning, as well.

When you think of the naturalistic world view, unanswered questions: how does something come from nothing, how does life come from non-life, how does a non-moral beginning through an amoral process end up with moral reasoning? They are pretty big questions. You think Dawkins will ever address them? No. It's truly the fact that the emperor has no clothes with the naturalistic world view. And in Christianity sometimes, we've sure got the clothes. But when they start disrobing that, they find out they don't know what this is all about. So what did humanity do in the West? They began to see in the 1980's the commercialization of the Gospel.

I remember thinking in the 1980's - what we were going through at that time and thinking to myself, will we ever survive this? Will we ever get the Gospel back because of what we have seen happen in the mass media? And I remember seeing some big mega churches thriving at that time, with all that we were doing to lure the young in and bring them into packed audiences. At the end of it, if you asked them some of the most basic questions about the Bible, they could not even answer them. There's a sense of relaxation in spirituality. But if spirituality is used as a seductive force, it could be the most destructive thing you have ever entered into because it actually gives you the feeling of being in contact with God, when all you have ended up doing is deifying yourself.

See, when you deal with apologetics, there are three tests we put for truth normally. Logical consistency, empirical adequacy, experiential relevance. What does that mean? We're looking for this to be logically consistent. We're looking for the adequateness of an empirical point of reference. The Bible is not a self-referencing book. The Bible is a book about history, and geography, and events that can be tested from outside the Bible itself, unlike the Koran, which is a self-referencing book. What do I mean by that? How do you know the Koran is the Word of God? Mohammed says so. How do you know Mohamed is right? Because the Koran says so. That's what you call by a self-referencing authority. The Bible is not filed thus. It has points of verification or the capacity to be falsified if it is not right from sources outside itself.

Logically consistent, empirically adequate, and experientially relevant. It makes a difference in how you feel, and think, and act. There is an existential aspect to it. Even if not central, there is an entailment it follows naturally. But then what do we do? We take logical consistency, empirical adequacy, experiential relevance. What do we put that test to? To the four questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. But what are the subjects? The subjects are God, reality, knowledge, morality, and human kind, which is theology, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and anthropology. Big words. Three, four, five. Three tests, four questions, five disciplines. That's been the apologetic I have followed in my entire ministry. The three tests for truth, the four questions that had to be answered, the five disciplines that had to be understood.

What happened in the 1960's goes back, actually, to the latter of the 19th century. In 1893, there was a man by the name of Vivekananda who came into America and began to speak at that time to the American audiences. When Vivekananda started to speak for the first time, people were sort of in a state of shock. It was the parliament of world religions, and there it was - in 1886, I guess it was - and he was an uninvited speaker. But he was a brilliant man. A brilliant Indian scholar. He was knowledgeable in Western philosophers, Eastern philosophers. He'd read people like Kant, and Hume, and all of them, and he had understood the early days of Darwinian thinking. He would quote these things right, left, and center.

He walked up to the platform, and as he began to speak, his opening words captured the audience there in Chicago. All kinds of scholars had presented what they had done, and then Vivekananda walked up, and he began with these words. Brothers and sisters, we who come from the East have sat here on the platform day after day and have been told in a patronizing way that we ought to accept Christianity because Christian nations are the most prosperous. But we look about, and we see England, the most prosperous Christian nation in the world, with her foot on the neck of 250.000.000 Asiatics. We look back into history and see that the prosperity began with the invasion of Mexico. Christianity wins its prosperity by cutting the throats of its fellow men. At such a price, the Hindu will not have prosperity.

I have sat here today, and I have heard the height of intolerance from you. I have heard the creeds of the Muslims applauded, when today the muslim sword is carrying destruction into India. Blood and sword is not for the Hindu, whose religion is based on the laws of love. Western spirituality arrived with that speech. Western apologetic with an Eastern world view. I call it a Western apologetic. The university doors opened wide to Swami Vivekananda. The fascinating thing about what I just read for you is this. Vivekananda used clever logic. He looked at Christianity in the way it was abused, looked at Hinduism without any abuse, and talked about one as being pristine and the other as being horrific.

If I had asked Vivekananda, what do you think of Graham Staines and his boys in a van in our day now, as kerosene is doused on their van in the State of Orissa, and a match is lit, and the van is burning, and the boys inside screaming, and the father with his two sons, and nobody stopping to help because the Hindu radical is burning them to death, what do you have to say about that, Vivekananda? Do you know what he would say? That's not Hinduism. Then why did you take Christianity with its abuse and call it Christianity? Very clever. Very cleaver logic. But Vivekananda stormed our universities and, in the late 1800's, America's academics were so swayed by him. Go back and see the articles that followed as a result of Vivekananda's talk. And he did the rounds all over. He was a brilliant guy. He knew exactly what he was doing. And then he discipled a handful of people.

After Vivekananda came a man who was a contemporary of his, Yogananda. Yogananda had nice, curly-locked hair. Had very angelic-looking features. And Yogananda took this one step beyond Vivekananda. What did Yogananda do? He basically made religion syncretistic. That we're all teaching the same thing. He wore an ample cross over his chest, carried on Hindu metaphysics, but would refer to Christ in very patronizing and kind terms, and started to actually say we're all really teaching the same thing. Attack, synchronizing it all in one way or the other, 1960's was ready for Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The hippie movement had begun, the resistance movement culture had begun, the Vietnam war was in full sway, racism was taking its toll, political authority was being lambasted, young people had nothing to anchor themselves to and take hold.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi came and gave answers of starting to meditate and do all these things in the name of finding a peaceful transcendence that will overcome your soul and take complete control of your life. One of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's disciples was Deepak Chopra. Deepak Chopra followed him as - he was a medical doctor. He was not living a good life. He'd gotten messed up in his own private life, and then ultimately gave up his full-time medical practice and started his own yogic disciplines, and his breathing disciplines, and all this. Even today, he's in the news debating quantum physicists and all of that. So much of it is really vacuous stuff.

You know, in quantum theory they tell you about the subatomic world. If you know where it is, you don't know what it's doing. If you know what it's doing, you don't know where it is. That's a very good description for Deepak Chopra's metaphysic. If you know what he's saying, you don't know what he means. If you know what he means, you really don't know what he's trying to say. He'll deny it. Here's the tale that ultimately is told. If you were to take carefully what it is that these - that the world view of spirituality then built itself on, it's very simple and very detailed in the way it ultimately gives you the answers to what it is they actually believe. I would like to read for you a couple of pages of what it is they actually believe. The new spiritualists tell you they're trying to blend the mind, the heart, and the body, and the soul. The mind, the heart, the body, and the soul.

Then Elizabeth lesser, a leading authority in this, says this. Spirituality is an attitude of fearlessness. A sense of adventure. It is a way of speaking boldly at the life we have been given here and now on earth as this human being. Who am I? How should I live my life? What happens when I die? Spirituality is nothing more than a brave search for the truth about existence. Nothing more, but nothing less as well. The Buddhists define spirituality as Shamatha, or a tranquil abiding. And here is one of the ways she recommends. Sit quietly where you are and close your eyes. Feel yourself breathing. Follow the breath on its journey into and out of your body. Sit feeling yourself breathe for a few minutes. Place your hand over your heart, then put your hand or fingertips lightly on the spot in the center of your ribcage to the right of your physical heart. It is the spot where you can feel and where you are startled and draw your breath sharply inward.

Move your hand gently and breathe slowly and softly into that spot until you're focusing intently on what many traditions call the spiritual heart or the heart center. Imagine that spot you are touching is the top of a deep, deep well. Follow your breath on the journey into the spacious interior of your own heart. Breathe slowly in and out. Let yourself be pulled evermore deeply into the well of your own heart. As you meet thoughts and emotions on the journey, do not push them out. They are part of you, but not all of you. Greet what you find and move on, ever deeper and deeper into the well of your spiritual heart. Sit in this state, letting yourself be pulled by your longing into the well of your heart, observing your breath for as long as you feel comfortable, and then slowly remove your hand. Return to normal breathing, and then open your eyes. Wonderful, isn't it?

You know, I have a friend in Bombay. Actually, his daughter is here. Just flew in two days ago. He told me his brother is a skeptic. And his brother one day said to him Gul, I've got a perfect plan for you to become a millionaire. Just let your hair grown long, look like a nice guru, wear a nice, clean Kurta pajama, sit in the lotus position. I will bring nine friends. Ten of us will sit in front of you, and you just mutter one sentence at a time, and we'll go. This is beautiful. This is just beautiful. Oh, how amazing. How amazing this is. And then next day, we each one will bring 10 others, and you'll mutter a few other one-liners, and we'll all say oh, wow. Keep going like this. Gul, within a year, you will become a millionaire.

Have you ever read the writings of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar? He was a billionaire. Have you seen his one-liners? One of his one-liners is your head must be empty, and your hand must be full. And he's proved it. Again and again - do you know the people from around the world that go to hear Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for this kind of stuff? The Singapore straits times had a whole page on his one-liners. Most of it was esoteric nonsense, and the newspaper reporter never heard stuff like this. I sit there, and I say to myself, thank God I didn't listen to this when I was on the verge of suicide. I would have jumped off. I said if this was all there is to it.

Now you think that's all? Listen, they don't just solve the problem for you. Here is one of the - I think this is Marianne Williamson, who's speaking down the road today, by the way. And Marianne Williamson, in one of her books, says we can solve this world of terrorism problem also. She says just do this. For a minimum of five minutes every day, meditate the following way. Pray that anyone thinking of committing a terrorist act anywhere in the world would be surrounded by a huge golden egg. The eggshell is made of the spiritual equivalent of titanium. It is impenetrable. Any malevolent, hateful, or violent thought that emanates on the mind of the terrorist cannot get past the confines of the eggshell. Before the violent thought can turn into violent action, it is stopped by the force of this meditative field. Energetically the terrorist is quarantined.

On the inside of the egg, see a shower of golden light pouring from the eggshell into the heart and mind of the terrorist. "Pray for your lost brother..." To whom? To whom? All of a sudden, from an inward-looking, monistic view, you are all there is. Suddenly she throws in this word 'pray'. To whom? And then she goes on to say this, "...See him or her healed by the force of divine love..". Divine, who? "...Wrapped in the arms of angels reminded of who he truly is. Do this five minutes every day, and tell everyone you know to do the same thing. We'll quarantine terrorism". My goodness. I don't know why the Mossad, and the FBI, and the CIA didn't just take an eggshell around and get this whole problem solved. You know how this all actually, ultimately ends? It ends very simply with these particular words that I want to read for you and tell you why I think this actually happens. I wrote it out in my book this way. As I say that, in the end, what really happens, is you end up becoming a divine being, yourself.

Somewhere, in all of these words, I wrote the fact that in, let me see if I can, I'll find it, somewhere around here. But, it turns you into that point, ultimately, of believing, that in the beginning, you wanted God to be who you wanted him to be, but you didn't like who God really was, you wanted to turn on this in a hurry and imagine somebody else in his place, and you kept moving, and moving, and moving, till here's what it sounds like. The tale would go something like this, I said:

...In the beginning, God. God spoke, but that was a long time ago. We wanted certainty. We wanted it now. For this, only reason and rationalism would do. But that was not enough. We wanted to see. So we went into the senses and found the empirical. But that's not what we really meant by seeing. We really meant we wanted to feel. So we found a way to generate feeling into the picture. truth was framed into a scene. But the scene was left open to interpretation because scenes are not absolute. So the story was told as an art form, but the reader still didn't like it because he was not the author. So he read the story while he sat in a reconstructed and deconstructed cubicle to make of the story whatever he wished. But what does one do with the long reach of the empirical? The best way was to find a blend between the empirical and the satirical and end up with God again. The only difference was that God could not be the storyteller, and we still needed God. So we became God. That's the trail. If you add to this the Buddhist link, add to this the taoist link, add to this the Hindu and the Greek link, and so on, what you really end up with is no absolute truth, morality is relative, there's no purpose and meaning, language will ever shift and be redefined by the definer who wants to do the defining.

So you end up with a post-modern mindset of no truth, no meaning, no certainty. What do we do as Christians? How does Christ come into all of this? In a Libyan desert, there was a certain stone found, and this is what it said. "I, the captain of the legion of Rome, serving in the desert of Libya, have learned and pondered this truth in life...", listen very carefully, "I, the captain of the legion of Rome, serving in the desert of Libya, have learned and pondered this truth in life. There are two things to be sought: love and power. No one has both". When Gaddafi was finally cornered, and in that pathetic sign as his body was denuded, what we are told is that he was begging for mercy that they would not kill him. Love and power. No one has both. He had the power, but no love. Now he was pleading for love when somebody else had the power, and it did not work for him. That's pretty close to the truth, but it's dead wrong. There is one person in the world who has both love and power, and that is Jesus Christ.

So I turn over a leaf now, and I wanna give you three solutions to this that will need to be attended, and then take you to the Gospel. Where is God in all of this? Where is Jesus Christ in all of this? How did we lose him in America? How did we lose him in America? I was sitting next to a preacher that I will not name. One of the biggest churches in this country. He happened to be sitting next to me. We were sitting next to each other because we were gonna preach same conference. We boarded the plane. I won't name the city. Boarded the plane in one city, we were going to another city. And he looked at me, and he said aren't you Ravi? I said yeah, and said nice to meet you. And he gave me his name. I said I'm sorry I didn't recognize you. So we chatted. I said how are things going? He said, you know, it's going well, going well. And we started talking.

He said, you know, basically the people from my father's generation and all were fighting things that didn't really matter. What does it matter about the inerrancy of scriptures? Who cares? Who cares? What does it matter? The guy is sitting next to me and ranting this stuff off, preaching to thousands every Sunday, and I said you don't think it matters that the source that you're using with which to guide lines is a God-given source, and God-breathed, and therefore in its substance, it's infallible and without error? And I told him an illustration after that and a story. He was quite stunned by it. I won't go into the details of that, but you know what actually has happened in America and in most of Europe? The same thing that had happened in Josiah's time.

What happened in Josiah's time? The book of the law was lost. The book of the law was lost. Josiah became king at age eight. At about eight, 12, or 15, he started to seek after God. In his early 20's, he began to cleanse the city. In late 20's, he began to cleanse the temple. And all of a sudden, they found the dusty volume of the law of God. And the secretary comes to him, and he says you'll never believe what I found. You have to ask, how long was this missing? The Word of God, the law of God, which is based on the absolute character of God, not on the relativistic whims of humanity, was lost, and where it was lost was in the house of God. When the law of the Lord is lost in the house of God, there is no message left to give to the spiritually minded. We haven't got an authority left anymore after that.

And you look again, and again, and again, and you ask yourself the question, how did this happen? That our places of worship so often can be filled with thousands of young people who really don't know the Word of God. I'll tell you, if this country is gonna change, it'll have to begin with the church. We talk of all the symptoms of cultural war, and we've not dealt with the cause that we ourselves have lost the capacity to engage the mind of the young with the power and the potency of the very law of God. So we lost him in the temple. Secondly, where did we lose him? In Luke 2, you've got Mary and Joseph in the midst of the passover. Good, godly people. They had to be to make all this trek. And the whole ceremony is over, and they're riding back home in this long caravan. And it was a long while after one of them said where's Jesus? I thought you had him. I don't. Didn't you have him? No. Do you think one of our friends has him? They walk through the whole caravan. Nobody has Jesus. They'd gone for the passover.

False assumptions that you actually believe it'll be somebody else's responsibility to make sure Jesus is in the center of your home, your life, your family. Can you imagine how the parents felt? You know what is astounding about Jesus' response? His mother and father come to him, and what does he say to them? Did you not know I needed to be in my Father's house? The place of worship had become a hangout for crooks. And so he's debating with the doctors of the law. Did you not know I need to be in my Father's house? And then as an adult, he said you made my house a den of crooks, a den of thieves.

Ladies and gentlemen, you know, I'll be honest with you. I wish sometimes I could now say I've done my part. I wish so because it would be easier. I could write. I could enjoy not doing many things that travel entails. But I believe God has called me to have a responsibility, and God has called you to have a responsibility. Please don't assume that it's somebody else's. Don't assume this is somebody else's responsibility. And if there's one thing I'd like you to do, and this has got nothing to do with RZIM. It's got everything to do with your relationship with God. Ask him, what is the load he wants you to lighten, and where. What is the load he wants you to carry for him, and where? I think of how easy it is to be at the passover and lose Jesus. To be in the temple of God and lose the law.

And then the third scene is John 18, the most defining moment of political power gone wrong, when he looks at Jesus, eyeball to eyeball, and he asks him if he's the king. And when he received the answer, he didn't like it. And he looks at Jesus and when Jesus says that day that on the side of truth, listen to him. Pilate made the ultimate blunder of looking eyeball to eyeball, into the eyes of truth, saying what is truth, and walked away. And walked away. At least if he'd paused for a moment to allow to see what Jesus would say, he didn't. What is truth? It's almost like he's teaching Jesus, you've got nothing to say me, and he's gone. Political power gone wrong. Ecclesiastical power gone wrong. Ceremony gone wrong. So what do people do? They go into a spirituality mode with all these esoteric-sounding words.

One of the authors I quoted, her own life got terribly messed up. I read some of her thoughts. Her own life got terribly messed up. That spirituality thing didn't do a thing for her. You see what happened after Maharishi Mahesh Yogi died, and all the lawsuits that ensued. People grabbing after this, after that. Same thing happened after Yogananda died. The same thing has just happened after Sai Baba has died in Bangalore. This billion-dollar empire of this man with that huge hairdo. Millions of followers all over the world. And now they are finding out, under the carpet, all that was messed up personally, privately, and the money is being squabbled over. Bank accounts are being frozen, and everybody's laying claim to the money. That's all this has become about. It's not spirituality. It's the mass Marketing of spirituality.

You know, when you read the life of Oprah Winfrey and see the power in her early days, she'd always write a word about Jesus and a verse from there. And I've given a whole chapter to her own involvement in what happened as she shaped the medium and the medium shaped her. She shaped the medium, then the medium shaped her. She wanted to become a goddess. She assumed she was a goddess. And millions today, with her pronouncement, take her at her word. And you say to yourself, is this where we're at? Is this where we're at? I wanna take you to three conclusions about the Gospel. The number one conclusion is this. That there is something so unique about the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is not found anywhere else.

In December, please give me your undivided attention. I'm bringing this down to a funnel now. In December of 2008, a rank atheist, and a man who chose to live a rather personally sensuous lifestyle, his name is Matthew Parris. He went to Africa because one of his young boy's parents were there. And he went and saw a tiny missionary movement called the pump fund or something like that. Pump project. And he took a look at some missionaries there. They so overwhelmed him with their lives, he said, "I couldn't believe such deeply dedicated people". And he wrote an article that month. Listen to what this atheist actually has to say.

I went to see this work. It inspired me. Renewing my flagging-faith in development charities, but traveling in Mala we refreshed another belief too. One I've been trying to banish all my life. It confounds my ideological beliefs, and stubbornly refuses to fit my own world view. It has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God. Now as a confirmed atheist, I'm convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from any secular NGO's. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa, Christianity is changing people's hearts. That's what it's going to take. It brings a transformation, and this rebirth is real.

There's long been a fashion among Western academic sociologist for placing tribal value systems within a ringed fenced beyond critiques founded in their's, and therefore what's best for them: authentic of and of intrinsically equal worth to ours. I don't follow this. I observed that tribal belief is no more peaceable then ours and that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively. This feeds into the big man and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for the swaggering leader and the literal inability to understand the whole idea of loyal opposition. Anxiety, fear of spirits, and ancestors, and of nature and wild strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought.

A great weight grinds down the spirit of the people, but Christianity with it's teaching of a direct personal two way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective and insubordinate to any other human being smashes straight through the philosophical spiritual framework I've just described. Those who want Africa to walk tall among the 21st century global competition must not kid themselves. That providing the material means or even the know-how that accompanies what we call development will make that change. No! A whole belief system has to be changed and I'm afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a Moline fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone, and the machete.

Wow. From an atheist: Christian conversion. Do you believe that? Do you believe that? The whole way of thinking has to be changed. I love it when I hear my colleagues speak because there's such beauty in what they say. I won't even name some of them, but I hear them saying it again, and again, and again. That this transformation that Christ brings. I hear them in their tapes, read it in their books. I was in Washington and sitting down when we were all there listening to Michael speak at Georgetown, and he presented the Gospel that night very clearly. Very clearly. Spoke from the Book of Jude. The changed heart, the transformed heart, that's what it is. Spirituality will not do that for you. There's a second thing, and that is this. Christ's presence outside of yourself will bring you the mystical, but it is not enough in and of itself.

And then I'll close with my last thought. Many of you know that one of my good friends passed away this year, Nick Charles. Nick was exactly my age. Fifteen, 17 years ago, I met Nick Charles. I was speaking in Atlanta. I didn't know who he was. I had not watched much of the night sports programs, but he was quite a big icon. Handsome-looking guy. Big mop of hair and Greek ancestry, handsome features. He was quite the playboy, in his own words. He said Ravi, I've just run the mill. A little bit like Sange said yesterday. And he said I've done it all. He said I'm a mess. Help me. So we got talking. We came, he's one of the few people I actually devoted a specific amount of time to. Quite a bit. He became quite close to our family. And some years ago when he wanted to get married, I officiated at his wedding to Cory Azumbrado, who is a lovely gal. She's a producer with CNN.

A few year ago, they were having difficulty deciding whether to have a child, and they came and talked to me, and we had a conversation. And wonderfully, they decided to have a baby, and a beautiful little girl, Giovanna, was born. She's about five. About a little over two years ago, Nick phoned me in Atlanta. He said can I have lunch? I said sure, Nick. We went out and had lunch. He was sitting right in the table in front. I didn't recognize him. He said Ravi? I looked at him. I was shocked. Shocked. His hair was gone, his skeletal-looking face and I sat down. And he said man, I'm dying of cancer. Dying of cancer. I've been given 20 months to live. I've told them to use their biggest guns and help me get rid of this.

I cried. Sitting in front of Nick, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. He wanted to live in Santa Fe, and he decided to build a home there. Beautiful home. He said I know I'm dying, but I want my wife and daughter to have a place, and I'm gonna do it. So they moved to Santa Fe, and he was in touch with me. I was about to begin a seven-week tour, and he said will you come and visit me one last time? Because I don't think I'll be around when you finish this trip. So Margie and I flew to Santa Fe. When I walked into the room, it was like his body was on a vibrator. It was like this, but it was just completely out of whack. There was a nurse sitting there trying to grab his arm, and the male nurse was trying to get something into him. He called me over, and he wanted to grab my hand. He just grabbed my hand, and it was just going like this.

I prayed with him. He looked pathetic. Gradually he calmed down. He said I'm so sorry. I'm really so sorry. He said sit down here. And he said please pray for me again, you know? So I stood up so that I could hold his hand comfortably. And as I was standing up to hold his hand, and the male nurse sitting on the other side of the bed, his wife Cory with her arm around Margie there, his little daughter trying to keep herself busy, his dog came over. A labradoodle, big guy. Nuzzled against my legs there quietly and with his chin on his bed. And I held his hand and prayed for him. And after it was all over, he said please, let's go out for dinner. I said Nick, you can't do it. He said I wanna do it. Let's do it. Somehow got his clothes on, and we went out, and we're sitting, four of us, for dinner in a country club that he belonged to.

And here's a CNN sportscaster, big success story, now dying. He'd come to know Christ, and his life had been so radically transformed. He looked at me, and he said can I tell you something? He said a few weeks ago, I was lying in bed, my little girl next to me, and my wife. And he said I was in such pain. I said alright, Jesus, enough. It's enough. Enough. Can I come home tonight, please? Take me home. He said my wife and daughter were sound asleep, and I propped my head up on the pillow, and I was crying, please take me home tonight. He said Ravi, a light shone in the corner of the room, and a person I've always pictured the way Jesus would probably be walked over towards me, and held my hand the way you did it today. And he said Nick, I'll take you home, but not tonight. At the right time, I'll take you home.

He said my brother, I have not fretted since that day. When the right time comes, he will take me home. I was traveling overseas, and a CNN producer phoned me. He said I'm writing a story on Nick. Thousands of his fans were writing, and tens of thousands. He said Ravi, did he tell you the story about this vision and all? I said yeah. He said what do you think of it? I said what do you think of it, Craig? He said I'm an atheist. I said let me tell you what I think of it. The important thing to me is, Craig, that God's revelation is based to us in history, in his word, and confirmed in personal experience. The vision to me at that moment is secondary, but it's precisely what Nick needed. Nick needed it at that moment, and God met him where he needed him most. That's not what Nick's faith was based on. It was based on something larger than that.

I said what do you think of Nick? He said he's for real. I said then take the story that way, too. Take the story that way. You know what we've often missed with the spiritual hunger of people? We've made this Christian faith so far away in doctrinaire stuff, we have spent very little time talking about how deeply spiritually-minded Jesus was, too, in the spiritual reality of worship, music, the mystical, and the prayer, and we've made him some kind of theoretical figure. And I remember when I finished praying with Nick, I opened my eyes, and I was looking across a mountain range called the blood of Christ. The dog by my side, his wife, his daughter, his nurse. When we finished praying, all of creation seemed to come together. One thing the spiritualists are teaching us, they're hungry for harmony. They're hungry for harmony. You don't like discord in music. Why would you like discord in your belief? It's time for the church to sound that harmonious message until finally in heaven, it will sound that grand amen. Please pray with me.

Lord, we are hungry people for our souls to be in harmony. We're torn. Thank you, for your word. Thank you, o' Triune God for the Son and for the Holy Spirit and Holy Father for your beckoning voice in our hearts. Lord, we lose you so often in all of the places we lest expect to, and we audaciously look at you sometimes and say, "What is truth"?, and walk away. Restore your church, restore your people, and let us a be a light to a world that's longing for harmony. And just like they long to breath properly, Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh upon us. Let us breath your message. And o' breath of life let it be vibrant. Bless my dear friends, now as we enjoy this meal, may we reflect on the greater food for the soul: in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, amen.

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