by Bill Rudge
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by Bill Rudge
About a hundred people were gathered outside a witch doctor’s hut in Haiti in a voodoo village. We formed a large circle and were about to pray when one woman became very agitated.“You didn’t bring us food and clothing!” she cried out in Creole. Having nothing left since we had already given away the food and clothes my team had, I responded through my interpreter, “If I give you food today, tomorrow you will be hungry again. If I give you clothes today, in a few months they will wear out and be tattered and torn. But what I came to give you today will last forever. I offer you spiritual food that will satisfy you now and for all eternity.” She nodded to acknowledge that what I said was good.
During my prayer, I glanced to see if this woman was participating. Her head was bowed and her eyes were closed. The thirst of her heart was greater than her need for food and clothes.
Giving water to someone who is thirsty is admirable, but unless we also offer the life-quenching water of Jesus Christ, we deprive them of their most crucial need. If we give a bottle of water or food or clothes to someone in need, we should do so in Jesus’ name. While we should care about people’s material and physical well being, we should be even more concerned about the condition of their soul.
by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.
The Lord’s Prayer opens with this concept of reverence: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9). Addressing God as our Father identifies us as His children. How do we become one of His children?
But as many as received Him [Jesus], to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (John 1:12).
Besides having the privilege to address God as our Father, we are to hallow God’s name when we pray. This means we should approach God with reverence and respect. In ancient times a name expressed the individual’s essential being. Thus, by approaching God with reverence for His name, we are in reality expressing a respect for His very being. As David proclaims, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9).
The essence of Jesus’ life reflects His willingness to humble Himself and submit to the will of His Father (see Philippians 2:5-11). Jesus taught this in the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). The apostle John reiterates that we should pray according to God’s will.
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us (1 John 5:14).
He could not have stated it more clearly, if we want God to hear our prayers, then we must seek God’s will and not our own.
In my youth, I wanted to be a professional soccer player. Certainly, there was nothing wrong in aspiring to such a lofty goal. The problem was, I allowed my desire to play soccer to be more important than my desire to serve and honor God. Soccer had become my identity and I based my self-value upon it. Essentially, I was living a self-centered life, rather than a Christ-centered life and my prayers reflected it. The pursuit of my own dreams nearly destroyed me; it took three injuries, which required surgery on my left ankle and both knees, to bring me to the point in my life where I began to seek God’s will and not my own. After my third operation, I wrote the following in my prayer journal,
“God, I give my life and desires to you. Take this and build within me a desire to serve You; stronger than my desire to play soccer.”
As it says in Proverbs, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (19:21).
Our prayer lives will be ineffective if we approach God on our own terms and in accordance to our own will. It will not be until we are willing to humble ourselves, and submit to His will for our lives, that we will see our prayer lives becoming powerful and effective.
Jesus’ life was defined by prayer. At the start of His ministry, as He was baptized, He prayed (Luke 3:21). Before He chose His disciples He spent time in prayer (Luke 6:12-16). Before He was betrayed, arrested, and condemned to death, He was on His knees in prayer (Matthew 26:36; Mark 14:32; Luke 22:41; John 17). This consistent pattern of prayer obviously left an impression on Jesus’ disciples. As one of my former students, Mike J. Sarkissian, asserts in his excellent book: Before God: The Biblical Doctrine of Prayer:
The disciples had been used to going to the synagogues and the temple and hearing the cold, impersonal, repetitious prayers of the Pharisees. But once they began following Jesus, they must have immediately noticed that His prayer life was different. It was passionate and powerful. It was much different than what they were used to. When Jesus prayed things happened. Jesus’ prayer life commanded the disciples’ attention enough for them to ask Him for instruction on how to pray.
Jesus separated Himself from others to spend time in prayer with His Father (Matthew 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16). Challenges we all face include distractions and busy schedules. I understand this! I have six children, work full time in the ministry, travel for speaking engagements, author books, coach high school soccer, and teach as part-time professor at an area university.
None of us is busier than Jesus was, and if He could make time to separate Himself to pray, we can do the same. While we may not have a mountain or wilderness available for solitude, we can still find places and make ways to spend time alone with God.
by Bill Rudge
It was my first year of coaching soccer when I met Michael. Tryouts had just begun. As the skills of the new kids were being tested, we coaches gathered to observe. We were looking for raw talent – someone we could work with.
Then I spotted him. He was the heaviest and slowest kid on the field. None of the other coaches seemed interested, but I wanted him for my team because I saw potential in him. I wanted to train him and turn him into a great player.
The next two years our team won the championship, and Michael played a crucial role by putting into practice what we had trained him to do. He shut down the other teams’ offense. He used his great size to power kick the ball down the field and to take penalty and corner kicks. As a result, all the other coaches wanted him, and encouraged their “big” players to imitate him.
Michael went on to become an excellent wrestler and football player. He won the high school PIAA state heavyweight wrestling title in his senior year, and received a full football scholarship to the University of Buffalo. While there he became a standout in football. He was well respected and ranked nationally in wrestling, all the while maintaining dean’s list academic standards.
Michael now has a successful career in Pittsburgh, is married to a wonderful woman and has three beautiful daughters (all of whom have taken the challenge of the Obstacle Course at Bill Rudge Ministries). Michael and his mom attribute much of his success in sports and life to inspiration from the early influence I had on him – especially when the other coaches saw no potential.
Jesus Christ saw His disciples in this way. Although the growth of His Church did not depend solely on that group of ordinary people, their development was assured by the power of His Spirit and by His sovereign design. Jesus chose to begin His work with weak, sinful people who later turned the world upside down for Him. Jesus sees that same potential in each of us. Through the immeasurable power of His Word and His Spirit, He continually works in us to fulfill His purpose as we give our lives to Him and live by the principles of His Word.
The primary goals of the Bill Rudge Ministries are: 1) to evangelize a searching world with the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ; 2) to challenge believers to reach their maximum potential in Christ – physically, mentally, emotionally, and above all, spiritually – and to walk in faithfulness until He returns.
You will discover in future blogs (and in a new and expanded book when this series is completed) the dynamic biblical principles that have transformed my life and molded my ministry. Jesus Christ can take an ordinary person and use him or her in an extraordinary way. That’s what He did with me, and with thousands of others who have accepted the challenge. As you apply these truths, you too, will begin to reach your maximum potential in Christ!
One of our most popular books among athletes, military personnel, prisoners and missionaries is Reaching Your Maximum Potential in Christ. Thousands of copies of this powerful book have been requested and distributed nationally and worldwide.
Bill is updating and expanding Reaching Your Maximum Potential in Christ for its third printing in English. It has been translated in various languages and printed in several countries. Once completed it will also be available as an E-Book and possibly as an audio book.