Ultimate Challenge Obstacle Course

The Bill Rudge Ministries’ “Ultimate Challenge Obstacle Course” is used throughout the summer to provide challenges to such groups as high school sports teams, military personnel, groups preparing for mission trips, and many others.  Not only are these groups challenged physically but also emotionally and spiritually in order to prepare for the obstacles they will face.

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A Heart of Thankfulness

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Key Question:  Why it is important to have a heart of thankfulness?

The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6, 7 that we are not to be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with THANKSGIVING we are to present our requests to God.  The result of this is that the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

We should always be mindful that we are to approach God with a heart of thankfulness. Jesus is a great example of what it means to have a heart of thankfulness. Even though He was God in flesh, He still took the time to thank the Father:

“Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted” (John 6:11);

“So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard Me’” (John 11:41).

Unfortunately, so many times we become too preoccupied with our list of wants and needs that we forget to step back and thank God for all that He has done for us. Several weeks ago my father and I had a conversation about when my son Lucas was born. When my wife was pregnant with him she was diagnosed with group B strep. We were told it was not serious, but it would require her to receive an antibiotic a few hours before Lucas would be born. My wife was somewhat concerned because with her previous pregnancy she had our daughter within a few hours. So in light of this, she was worried about making sure she would get the antibiotic prior to delivering our son. To ease her anxiety the doctor told her she would induce her so that there would be no concern about getting the antibiotic. The day for her to be induced was about a week from her actual due date. Besides the issue of the antibiotic, my wife was progressing along with the pregnancy, so the doctor had no problem doing this a week early. Everything went well that day. My wife had the antibiotic and the labor, at least from my standpoint, moved along smoothly. As my son was coming out the doctor noticed that the cord was wrapped around his neck and she quickly removed it. In the excitement of having another child, I never really thought too much at that moment about the fact that the cord was around his neck. It was not until after, and talking about this with my wife and my dad, that we all realized how we could have lost Lucas. I truly believe if my wife did not get induced a week early that my son might not be here today. I finally did what I should have done at the moment he was born, which was to get down on my knees to thank the Lord for His faithfulness. When my son was born, it was a rainy and overcast day. However, at the moment he was born, the doctor commented how the sun all of sudden came out and shone through the window. What a reminder to us of God’s faithfulness, as He blessed our lives with our son Lucas, which by the way means “light bearer.” His birth date also was a blessing to my father as it was the same date, July 5, that his little brother was killed by a car when he was seven-years-old.

When I was in Haiti I encountered an amazing expression of a heart of thankfulness. The mission compound where we stayed took food and water to this remote village once a week. We were told that this village was extremely poor and the people had to walk miles to get any water. As we approached this tiny village I was struck by two images. One was of the extreme poverty and dire conditions the people lived in. Their village was situated along a dirt path with minimal vegetation. The huts the people lived in were made of dirt, straw, and what appeared to be old tin metal sheets. The children were running around with no clothes. Besides the image of extreme poverty I was struck by the faces of the people as we entered the village. They began to smile and wave at us as they ran towards their huts. They then came out with old, worn out clothes as they headed to the one room church that had been built by the mission compound. As we walked into the church they were singing a song. I asked our interpreter what they were singing and he said they were thanking God for all He had given them. As I looked around, I said to myself “what things?” These people had no cars, no houses, and barely any clothes and food. How can they be thankful? Then I realized that a heart of thankfulness is not focusing on what we lack, but being content and grateful with what we have. As the apostle Paul reminded the believers in Philippi,

“… for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

A thankful heart is something that should be more than a gesture on Thanksgiving Day. It should be a continual expression that we show toward the Lord.  In fact, a thankful heart is the will of God,

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

Will Success and Prosperity Take You Down?

by Bill Rudge

When our gracious God provides us with material blessings, success and leadership positions, the risk of temptation by pride, greed and sexual immorality also increases. Many have fallen away from the Lord during times of prosperity, so let us heed Moses’ warning to the Israelites who were about to enter the Promised Land –

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe His commands, His laws and His decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery (Deuteronomy 8:10-14).

We can learn from the examples of the failures and heroes in the Bible and the mistakes and victories of those who have gone before us. Defeat or victory is determined by the choices we make. We will not be victimized by immorality, pride or greed if we make wise choices. Let no one or no thing lure you from pure devotion to Jesus Christ. May we, like Moses, be faithful in all our house (Numbers 12:7; Hebrew 3:5)

No Good Thing Does God Withhold from Those Who Walk Uprightly

By Bill Rudge

After a hard workout on the Obstacle Course on a hot August day this summer my 14 year old grandson and I were talking about the Lord and Scripture while resting in two hammocks. He mentioned he had recently read Psalm 84. Verses 11 and 12 state: “No good thing does He [the LORD] withhold from those who walk uprightly. How blessed is the man who trusts in You!”

I said to him, “Look around and see how God has fulfilled His Word. He has blessed me with a wonderful family and eleven awesome grandchildren. He has provided a beautiful property surrounded with trees like an oasis, a ministry center, a house, a vehicle and everything else that is good for me. I may not have a boat or a plane or lots of money, and have faced many challenges, but I don’t need a boat or a plane or lots of money, and the challenges have made me strong. God has given me everything I need and blessed me beyond measure. He has been faithful and proven His Word to be true.”

I have earnestly sought to put the Lord first in everything and He has honored the following promises:

Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalm 84:11 “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

Matthew 6:33 “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Are You Impacting Your World?

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

“Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death.” James 5:20dsc_0013

Is your life impacting this world for Jesus Christ? Are you making a difference in the lives of your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors? Maybe you are wondering how God could ever use “someone like me” to make a difference. Well, the key to being used by God is not merely based on your ability but your availability.

A friend of mine was approached one day about reaching out to someone who was going through a difficult time – facing financial problems and caught in an abusive relationship. Her first question was, “Who am I to help this man?” Yet, despite her hesitation she helped him find an apartment and furniture, and she was able to help him out of the abusive relationship. This enabled her, with her family, to begin building a relationship with him.

As the friendship grew he began to attend church. He committed his life to Jesus Christ and was baptized. On the day of his baptism he sent her a letter to thank her for all she had done to help him. My friend, who is a full-time mom, and part-time physical therapist, chose to be salt and light to this person. She never knew, until she read the letter, that on the very day she called him, he had been making final arrangements to take his life:

The day you called, I just finished writing some letters, had a long talk with my cat and was opening the bullets to make sure they were the right ones…. Fast forward to today and I will tell you that the thought of suicide never again has crossed my mind. I still question my ability and fret over things, but I am learning to let go and not waste time worrying. It is what it is, and I can stay financially low, but I am rich with people like you in my life and have now been given the gift of baptism. For me, this is the official beginning of a new life…. Please don’t take this as my everlasting pledge to you. It is a clearing of my conscience and an eternal thank you for, well…saving my life, and showing me I will have a good, new life.

My friend was willing to step outside her comfort zone to help someone in need and God used her willingness to make an eternal difference in that man’s life.

Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins (James 5:20).

Just as my friend’s choice made an eternal difference in someone’s life, remember that you, too, can make a difference. Let us all go out and be salt and light and impact our world for Jesus Christ!