Resistance

by Bill Rudge

Giants and obstacles are like exercise. Exercise works because of resistance. The greater the resistance, the bigger and stronger your muscles become. The more giants we face, the more character and spiritual muscles we develop.

Often, what I have wanted God to deliver me from was what He used to make me stronger. Something happens in the wilderness, the valley, and the desert that does not happen on the mountaintop; God builds character, strength, faith and determination as He molds our lives to accomplish His will.

On the way home from seeing a specialist after my son tore his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) for the second time while playing soccer, with no alternative but extensive knee surgery, I told him that, “Trials, obstacles, and difficulties put iron in our blood and make us strong as nails.”

For about 10 years during our early Christian lives and ministry, Karen and I lived in extreme poverty. It looked as though we would never have anything. Over the years we faced many hard times, difficulties, obstacles, impossible circumstances and giants. But the Lord somehow always intervened in His time and way to enable us to overcome them.

I often wondered why, throughout my Christian life and in our ministry, God permitted so many difficulties. We seemed to do everything the hard way. Yet, God has taught me the reality that all things work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). I have walked with the Lord more than 45 years, and I can honestly testify to the truth of this Scriptural promise.

I am glad we have persevered through our impoverished beginnings and many hard times. Since the Lord has greatly blessed my life and ministry, no one can say that I only serve Him for all the blessings He has given me. I served the Lord when we had nothing; with no hope of ever having anything, and I serve the Lord when He blesses. I will serve Him if He takes away everything He has given to me.

The WHYS of Adversities

by Bill Rudge

Bringing Difficulties On Ourselves

We make choices all the time: what we eat, where we go and what we do. Sometimes we suffer the consequences of those choices, such as the young man who called in despair because choices he made require him to appear before a judge who will determine jail time or probation.

Natural Consequences

If I get too close to the edge of a cliff, I am going to fall off. I did not fall because Satan pushed me over or God is punishing me. I violated the law of gravity and suffered the natural consequences.

Spiritual Warfare

There is a real enemy who seeks to defeat and destroy every person committed to Jesus Christ. When we face spiritual warfare, it can become intense. Bizarre things can happen with little or no explanation. At these times we must know the authority we have as believers in Jesus Christ and how to use the armor of God and the sword of the Spirit.

Refining and Molding

Scripture is clear that God purifies and prepares His people. Anyone used by God will go through wilderness experiences to be trained to stand in the midst of life’s challenges and temptations. Just like a soldier is prepared for battle, believers are trained through difficulties to face any circumstance. It has been accurately stated that there is no testimony without a test.

Discerning the Difference

When adverse circumstances rise up and I go through the “flames” of life, I get on my knees and ask, “Lord, is there sin in my life? Am I reaping the consequences of some attitude or choice I made in disobedience to Your Word and Spirit? If so, I repent. Otherwise, I evaluate whether this is “the rain that falls on the just and the unjust” or am I in the midst of spiritual warfare. Has the enemy targeted me and designed a scenario to discourage and defeat me and thwart God’s plan for my life? If this is not the case, I realize that God is doing a work in me and I am going through a season of refining. Therefore, I submit to the process and ask Him to strengthen my trust in Him as He fulfills His purpose to use me as a testimony for His glory.

Reflecting On God’s Faithfulness

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

The children of Israel in the Old Testament are a great example of why we should reflect upon God’s faithfulness in the past. Whenever they faced a challenge they were reminded to go back and reflect on God who had proven in the past to be greater than any situation they presently faced (see Deuteronomy 5:15; 7:18; 15:15; Joshua 4:19-24; 24:6-13). In fact, this is the reason why the Israelites were to observe the Passover, which was to be a reminder of how God delivered them out of Egyptian bondage (Exodus 12:14-17).

I utilize a prayer journal to help me remember God’s faithfulness. All of us know how easy it is to forget things so I started writing things down in my journal. It is encouraging to reflect on past requests and to see how God has responded. Sometimes God did not answer in the way I thought He would, nor in the time frame I wanted, but in each case I am reminded that I serve a God who listens and responds to the needs of His children (Psalm 34:17; Matthew 7:7; John 14:13-14; Hebrews 4:16; 1 John 5:14-15).

I cannot tell you how many times I have gone back to my prayer journal and been amazed at how God has worked in my life. For example, one of the greatest challenges my family had to endure was going through a miscarriage. My prayer journal helped me during that time, as I reflected upon how God brought us through other challenges. What a faithful God we serve (Psalm 36:5; 89:1; Lamentations 3:22-23; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:3).

Pressing On in the Midst of a Storm

By Darlinda McDonald

This past Sunday, Bill and Karen Rudge were returning from Michigan where they had delivered a carload of books to Christian Resources International. As they reached Toledo, a fast-moving thunderstorm overtook their vehicle and did not subside for the remaining four hours of the trip. The torrential rain, high winds, and thunder and lightning made the driving very difficult. In addition, their visibility was impaired by the fog and commercial trucks on either side of the small Mitsubishi splashing huge amounts of water on their windshield. In several cities that they traveled through, their radio warned of tornadoes and flash flooding. While Karen wanted Bill to stop because of the storm, he chose to look at the drive as another adventure that God was taking them through.

The decision to keep pressing on despite the weather and treacherous driving conditions can be compared to our Christian walk. Sometimes life throws us unexpected situations that can either stop us in our tracks or make us determined to press on towards the goal. Our choice to walk by faith and not by sight will strengthen our faith and trust in the One Who watches over us and takes care of us.

In this life journey, we will have many decisions to make. As an example, Bill had stopped at a Service Center so Karen could get something to eat. After they left, the low gas warning light came on. Bill realized that he had been right beside a gas station but thought he had enough gas to get home. The next 20 miles were extremely stressful before he reached the next station. How similar this is to persons who have heard the message of salvation but paid no attention to it thinking that they had plenty of time to make a decision about eternity. We all don’t get second chances.

Behind the Words

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Sometimes more important than the words we use are the meanings behind those words. Let me explain. I opened my door to two individuals who greeted me with a smile. They said they were Christians and believed in Jesus. However, after asking them a few questions, it became apparent we did not believe in the same Jesus. While I recognize Jesus as the eternal Son of God (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16, 17), they saw him only as a created being. On another occasion a man walked into my office claiming to believe in Jesus, but after several minutes, I learned that his Jesus is simply an enlightened individual and not the Son of God and Savior of the world (Luke 2:10, 11; John 3:16, 17).

Define terms so you understand what the other person is saying and also communicate your faith clearly. Know what you believe so you do not find yourself, like the Corinthians, being deceived by a different gospel:

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough (2 Corinthians 11:3, 4).