The Example of the United States

by Dr. David R. Reagan

We were founded as a Christian nation, committed to Christian values, and God greatly blessed us. But in the 1960s, we began to thumb our nose at God as a cultural revolution was launched. Our society quickly descended into a cesspool of sexual promiscuity, drug abuse, abortion on demand, legalized gambling, rampant blasphemy and a flood of pornography. Our national slogan became, “If it feels good, do it!” We adopted a hedonistic lifestyle, calling evil good and good evil.

God responded by raising up prophetic voices to call the nation to repentance. One of those was Dave Wilkerson, pastor of Times Square Church in New York City. I call him “God’s Jeremiah to America.” In the 1970s he began writing a series of books in which he clearly outlined the sins of America and warned of judgments from God if we did not repent. Like Jeremiah, his popularity plummeted because people – even church people – did not want to hear his “doomsday message.”

When the prophetic voices were ignored, God began to place remedial judgments on our nation – things like our defeat in the Vietnam War, the plague of sexually transmitted diseases and natural disasters in the form of monster earthquakes, killer tornados and hurricanes.

So, true global warming is on its way! But, more importantly, the Signs of the Times are screaming that we are on the threshold of the Tribulation. Meanwhile, the Church needs to wake up to the Signs of Nature and all the other signs that are converging for the first time ever. But for that to happen, our nation’s pastors need to get serious about the fact that we are living in the season of the Lord’s return, and they need to start proclaiming that fact from their pulpits.

The Church needs to stop yawning and start yearning for the return of Jesus. Maranatha!

Lamplighter, May-June 2020 – Used with permission.

If Truth Be Not Diffused

“If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be; if God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy; if the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will; if the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness, will reign without mitigation or end.”

Daniel Webster (1823)

Will You Be Ready?

by Jim Weikal

“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.” It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:26-30).

In the above verses Jesus warns believers that He, the Son of Man, will return in circumstances similar to the pre-flood days of Noah and the destruction of Sodom. Specifically, He refers to eating, drinking, marrying, buying, selling, planting, and building. The emphasis of Messiah’s prophetic warning is on the people’s enjoyment of life’s mundane matters so much so that the return of the Son of Man catches them unaware.

We need to take a look at what the days of Noah were like: “God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth’” (Genesis 6:12,13).

The Hebrew word translated “corrupt” means “to ruin” and the verb “always refers to a ruin effected in the realm of community or individual experience” (Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament). The Hebrew word for violence is “hamas,” which means “wrong, do violence to, treat violently.” The lexicon goes on to state that the word “is used almost always in connection with sinful violence . . . [and] is often a name for extreme wickedness” (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament).

The people living during the time of the flood and the destruction of Sodom had become so involved with, or so tolerant of, corruption and violence that they went on with life as usual. The majority had no idea what was about to overtake them. Eight people were saved from the judgment of the flood and only Lot and his family were saved from the sulfuric destruction of Sodom. Jesus gives us a solemn warning in Matthew 24:44: “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.”

Do not allow yourself to become so familiar with the corruption and violence of our time that you are not looking for, or are not ready for, the Son of Man’s return! God is a righteous God and He will judge corruption and violence as we have seen in the past. Only a very few people were ready to face God’s past judgments. How about you today?

Jim Weikal is a Biblical instructor at Bill Rudge Ministries.

Speak Blessing

by Karen Rudge

“Death and Life are in the power of the tongue …” (Proverbs 18:21).

“Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

The world our young people experience everyday is so divided, negative, scary and seemingly purposeless and hopeless. Therefore, our homes must be a place of peace, love and hope. Children should not be told by parents that they are no good, will never make anything of themselves or that they are lazy and useless! They hear enough of these messages in the world from social media, television, movies and even their peers.

Words have great influence for either harm or good. That is why we need to speak words of Truth and Blessing. When you speak negatively to your children, it tears them down; you are speaking destructively over someone God has created for a special purpose. Instead, nurture them with powerful and positive words from the Word of God.

At bedtime, when our children were young, Bill and I would say a blessing over them. We would pray a scripture to plant a seed in their life, or claim a promise of God if they were needing encouragement for something they were going through. When we prayed a scripture, we would add their name to make it more personal.

Young people need positive words said to them that will build them up, inspire and motivate them to excel. They need God’s Word spoken over them to bring healing, peace, confidence and courage. Isaiah 54:13 states:

All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.

When you speak or pray a blessing over your child (or anyone), personalize it to their current need or crisis. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you words that will bring comfort and healing. Our words are not only powerful, but what we say shows others who we really are for what is truly in our hearts will overflow in our speech. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45b).

The apostle Paul admonishes us in Ephesians 4:29:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

So let’s begin today to speak forth blessings and not cursing. Let our speech be pleasant to the hearer and bring glory to our Lord. Speaking blessings will not only bring hope, encouragement and direction to those we speak, it will also bless us as well.

Wisdom for an 18 Year Old … and All of Us, part two – Wisdom from My Father

Recently Bill and BJ Rudge were requested by a father to each send a letter to his son who was about to turn 18. Their advice is relevant to all – both young and old, male and female. The following is BJ’s response.

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

I feel very honored to share with you the realization that I had become a man. I was blessed to have a godly father who taught me to build my life upon the Word of God. This gave me a great foundation and outlook on what it meant to be a man from God’s (and not the world’s) perspective.

Bill and BJ in the Himalayas.

When I was 18, I took a class on philosophy. My professor did not have a positive view of religion, and more specifically, had a hostile attitude toward Christianity. From the very first class, he spent much of his energy showing why it was “foolish” to believe in God and the Bible. As my faith was attacked, I spoke with my father expecting that he would tell me to drop the course. Instead, he told me to take on my professor’s challenge by investigating the truth of the faith that he had taught me growing up. This led me on an incredible spiritual journey that moved me from having only a belief to a conviction that Jesus Christ was who He claimed to be and that He had risen from the dead. This process created a powerful transition from being just a boy into a man who could take ownership over what I believed and why I believed it.

During this process, at age 19, I was hired as boys’ soccer coach at Hickory High School. To set context, this was the school where I graduated and where I played high school soccer, which meant the players on the team were not only my former teammates but my friends. So, literally overnight, I had to shift from being one of their peers to being their coach, placing me in many situations where I had to deal with “grown-up” issues and decisions.

For example, the very first week of the season one of my players, and very close friend, was caught drinking. As a violation of our program’s policy, this infraction required me, as coach, to not only meet with the player and his parents, but to levy consequences. Just two weeks prior, I was at this player’s house hanging out, talking to his parents as their son’s friend; now I had to meet with all of them as the coach who had to act as judge and jury over what happened.

Being a high school coach at a young age was a life-changing experience that made me realize that, as a man, I had a responsibility toward others that required me to hold them accountable for their actions.

Our world truly needs more godly men: men who will stand for what is right – even if it means standing alone – who will spiritually lead their families, who will protect and love their wives, and who will humbly seek to glorify God in all areas. May the Lord’s hand be upon you as He continues to guide you through the steps of becoming the man He wants you to be.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night (Psalm 1:1-2).

Wisdom for an 18 Year Old… and All of Us, part one

Recently Bill and BJ Rudge were requested by a father to each send a letter to his son who was about to turn 18. Their advice is relevant to all – both young and old, male and female. The following is Bill’s response; BJ’s response will be posted later.

I Became a Man When …

by Bill Rudge

The age of 18 for me covered all the bases: from rebellious teenager, youngest fitness instructor in this area, hitchhiking cross country (in search for what was missing in my life, and hoping it wasn’t Jesus Christ), to being miraculously saved from death in Santa Fe, then returning to Pennsylvania and giving my life to Jesus Christ after all; running away and getting married, and finally, receiving a call to Bible college and ministry – all at the age of 18!

So when did I learn to become a man and what did that mean to me? I thought I was a man through all the physical strength and skills I had or from the wild life I had lived; but anyone can achieve those things. I became a man when I got on my knees and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. Getting married and heading to Bible college with no money made for a rapid maturing process!

Applying the biblical principles I learned in God’s Word really taught me how to be a man; they transformed my life.

Here is a brief summary.

Examine The Evidence for Faith in Jesus – Know what you believe and why you believe it.

Total Commitment to Christ as Lord – His Lordship must supersede everything else in your life.

Obedience to Christ’s Will – Instead of seeking your own will, discover, desire and implement His will.

Be Surrendered and Available So God Can Mold Your Life – Do not stiffen your neck or harden your heart but allow Him to accomplish His purpose for your life.

Evaluate Your Motives – Pride ends in destruction; humility in honor.

Live a Life of Integrity – Your testimony and name are more valuable than precious gold and expensive jewels.

Establish a Balanced Life – Be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually fit.

Exercise Self-Control – Realize that the essence of strength is self-control. Have discipline in every area of life.

Dare to Be Different – Don’t compromise your convictions or conform because of peer pressure. Be a God-fearer rather than a man-pleaser.

Have the Courage to Stand Alone – Courage is not lack of fear but standing your ground in spite of it.

Develop Determination to Never Give Up – You will face many obstacles and challenges but do not quit. If you do fall, get back up and keep going. Remain faithful to the end and I promise that you will one day be richly rewarded.

Root Out Hidden Sins – Your secret sins will find you out and destroy you, but forgiveness and restoration is only a prayer of repentance away.

Desire the Lord More than Anyone or Anything Else – Avoid an endless search by realizing that nothing or no one will satisfy you more than a close relationship with your Creator, Savior and Lord.

Ponder these biblical truths deeply, embrace them thoroughly and review them frequently. You will never regret doing so. The above principles, in harmony with God’s Holy Spirit, will mold you into the man God created you to be!

Dad

What I’d give, if I could say

“Hello Dad” in the same old way.

To hear his voice and see his smile,

to sit with him and chat for a while.

So, if your Father is still here,

cherish him with care,

for you’ll never know the heartache

until you see his empty chair.

Author Unknown

Contending for the Faith ~ A Study on the Book of Jude

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

As did Jesus’ disciples (Matthew 24:3), we wonder ourselves when Jesus will return. Bombarded daily with headlines of wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters and the spread of diseases, the reality of His return seems closer today than ever before. As I am writing this article, the news headlines of a potential war between America and Iran, the continual global spread of the coronavirus, worldwide crop failures, locust plagues in Africa and China and an earthquake in the Caribbean (of all places) echo Jesus’ words in Matthew 24.

While every generation since Jesus ascended into heaven has anticipated His return, there is a uniqueness about our generation – especially with Israel a nation once again. However, to avoid falling into the trap of so many date setters, I recognize that no one knows that day or hour, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only (Matthew 24:36). Yet, while we do not know the specific day, we as believers are not ignorant of the signs that will precede Jesus’ return. As we continue to hear of wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes in various places, let us not forget the first sign Jesus told the disciples to be aware of – deception. In fact, Jesus even warns that false christs and false prophets will arise showing great signs and wonders to deceive the world. This deception will be so great that Jesus says, if possible, even true believers (elect) will be deceived (Matthew 24:23-26). This theme of deception continues on throughout the pages of the New Testament, as the Apostles Paul and Peter confront the dangers of false teaching that had crept into the church (2 Corinthians 11:1-14; Galatians 1:6-10; 1 Timothy 4:1-5; 2 Peter 2).

To avoid the deception that comes through false teaching, Christians are given numerous commands: We are called to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21), stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught by us (2 Thessalonians 2:15), be on our guard (2 Peter 3:17), fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12), encourage and rebuke (Titus 2:15) and contend for the faith (Jude 3). These commands (specifically the call to contend) captures the heart of this study which will take us into an in-depth look at the book of Jude – a book that was specifically written to equip believers to avoid the deception of false teaching and persevere in the truth of God’s Word.

In our study (future blogs), we will examine the call to contend for the faith as we address the dangers of false teaching, the fruit of false teaching, the identification of false teachers and how to persevere and stand firm in the midst of deception. The intention of this study is to go beyond giving just factual information about the book of Jude. It is designed to enable you to warn others, while at the same time provide safeguards for your own life against false teaching.

My passion for this study comes out of personal experience in how false teaching has affected people I greatly care about. One dear friend became a spiritual casualty of the false teaching that permeated the church he attended. That teaching led to the destruction of his faith and the spiritual devastation of his entire family. Another has been caught up in the pattern of spiritual addiction. Devoid of discernment, her life is in a constant cycle of trying to find her next spiritual high. These two reflect the need for all of us to contend for the faith so that our loved ones and ourselves may avoid the traps of spiritual deception.