It’s the Last Days…

… and you get drunk and abuse others (Matthew 24:48 – 51).

… horde vast amounts of finances and resources (James 5:3).

… squander opportunities to be a witness for Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:14).

… mock the coming of our Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:3, 4).

… live in wanton pleasure (James 5:5; 2 Peter 3:11; 1 John 3:2, 3).

But it’s not yet too late to heed the words of Jesus to the church in Laodicea:

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent (Revelation 3:19).

Also, God’s words to Solomon are relevant for us today:

When I [the LORD] shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:13, 14).

~ Bill Rudge Ministries

Reverence For His Name

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Excerpts from Powerful and Effective Prayer E-Book

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).

Seeking His Will

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 Is Our Example

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.

Spending Time in Prayer

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.

Qualities of a Successful Leader

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Building Confidence and Courage


One of the great challenges leaders face is encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and overcome their fears. Joshua and Caleb faced this situation when Moses sent them, and 10 others, to spy out the Promised Land. Only Joshua and Caleb trusted God’s promise and believed He would enable them to conquer a land filled with giants and fortified cities (Numbers 14:6-9).

Following the death of Moses, Joshua was called by God for a monumental task – to lead the children of Israel into the land He had promised. In his new role as leader, Joshua empowered the Israelites with confidence and courage. How did he do this? Joshua already knew his strength came from God. He trusted the One who spoke to him the following words:

Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them (Joshua 1:6).

Joshua did not let anyone or anything distract or deter him from obeying God. He decisively commanded the officers of the Israelites to prepare to take possession of the land (Joshua 1:10-11). Joshua’s confidence, courage and zeal for the LORD inspired them:

And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go” (Joshua 1:16).

Trusting God and stepping out in faith not only enables us to be men and women of confidence and courage, but to ignite these attributes in others.

Counting the Cost

Leadership requires sacrifice – time, family, convenience and so on. At the same time it is crucial to create a balance in your life to avoid burn-out and provide essential time for personal growt h and time with family.

Leadership brings greater expectations and accountability. You are held to a higher standard because of a greater influential position. You become a bigger target in the spiritual battle that rages around us (Ephesians 6:12). We have an adversary who, like a roaring lion, seeks to devour every follower of Christ. By attacking and destroying those in leadership, he can wreak havoc. Therefore, we are vigilant every day; putting on the full armor of God and steeping our minds in prayer.

A good friend of the family, Douglas Mastriano, is a colonel in the U.S. Army. In 1991 his regiment, the Second Armored Calvary, was sent to Saudi Arabia to take the lead in the ground war offensive against Saddam Hussein’s most loyal and motivated unit, the Republican Guards. In conversation about the various battles he was involved in during this Operation, Doug told me that the key to his regiment’s success was preparation:

The training put an incredibly difficult strain on the soldiers and their families, but it did sharpen us into a well-tuned machine. Almost every month there was some sort of live-fire exercises, maneuver training, border duty, headquarter exercises and all sorts of battle drills to prepare us for that day, which even included a deployment to Turkey. We had trained for years for this day – and we were ready for it.

Colonel Mastriano and his men were ready because of what they did to prepare. That not one man was killed in his squadron, Doug correctly attributes also, to the power of prayer. So, too, if we want to be effective leaders, we must be like the soldiers of Doug’s regiment: count the cost, prepare for the objective and saturate everything in prayer.

Providing Hope

Everyone deals with adversity. Effective leaders help others find hope in this journey of life and look beyond the current circumstance to see the bigger picture.

One year I was coaching a talented team that was struggling with playing up to their potential. So at practice I told them about my children taking a pottery class. The first day they were each given a lump of useless clay which the teacher said would be turned into a beautiful vase. That is exactly what happened as each of my children molded their clay into a vase which, despite a few imperfections, still sit on display in our house. I told my players that while we may not be where we want to be, we needed to keep moving forward because just like that lump of clay, our team can become a beautiful vase.

To instill hope in others, leadership requires perseverance and forward movement. I witnessed an amazing example of this during a high school soccer game against a regional opponent. It was an important game because both teams were undefeated and tied for first place. As the game began, it became obvious our team was the better. We kept the ball on the other team’s half as we took shot after shot. In the end, we won 9 to 0.

While my players provided many great moments in the game, the greatest impact was made by the opposing team’s goalkeeper. As I watched her warm up, I was impressed with her work ethic. But what especially caught my attention was how she dealt with a prosthetic leg. (After the game we learned she had lost her leg in a boating accident.) While I respected this girl, I wondered how she would be able to play goalkeeper.

I quickly realized that what I perceived as a “limitation” for this girl was, in fact, a driving force to do something that I am sure many people told her she could never do. Here was a teenager who had every excuse to stay off the field, but instead chose to persevere regardless of the loss of her leg. What impressed me even more than the fact she played, was how she played. She did everything a goalkeeper should do: dive, catch, punt and communicate with her teammates.

As our team began to score, putting constant pressure on the opposing team’s defense, it was clear we were going to win the game but their goalie never stopped working hard. She kept encouraging her teammates, and got back up every time she dove for a ball. At one point she made an awesome diving save that caused her prosthetic leg to come loose. Without any drama, she hobbled over to the bench, adjusted the leg and came right back out like nothing happened. Until the final whistle, she continued to give everything she could for her team. She was a true inspiration to everyone at the game.

Just like this goalie, effective leadership doesn’t make excuses. Leaders persevere through difficult times and provide encouragement and hope for those around them.

Inspiring Others

One of the most important lessons I have learned is the difference between motivation and inspiration. Motivation is an external influence while inspiration comes from within.

In my early coaching days, I was taught the best way to motivate athletes was in using fear or reward. I often said, “If you don’t work hard today, you’ll have to run sprints; if you do work hard, no sprints after practice.” However, trying to motivate my players through the threat/reward method resulted in having to repeatedly do so, and I eventually realized I was not getting their best efforts.

By contrast, inspiring players develops within them an internal love and passion for, and joy in, the game. This in turn dramatically impacts their overall effort as well as their ability to inspire those around them. But how is this accomplished? The following are a few ways I use to inspire my athletes:

I remind them of their roots. I began taking my seniors to our local YMCA, because it is the place our high school program held its first game. I tell them what sacrifices were made and how far our program has come, and remind them that they need to remember the tradition they are part of and to consider what legacy they want to leave.

I share personal memories and experiences. This field was the first place I ever played a game of soccer. When I first started at age six, I played for love of the game. I encourage my team to remember the excitement they had when they first played; to never lose the love and joy they had back then.

I build a sense of community. Each member is essential in working together for the common good. To illustrate this, we have chosen the redwood tree as a symbol worn on our practice shirts. Redwoods have shallow roots, despite their extreme height, and to withstand the wind, their roots interconnect with the roots of the surrounding redwood trees. Thus, when the wind blows it is not just blowing against one tree, but against a forest!

Finally, I invest in their lives. I demonstrate in word and action that the purpose of our program goes beyond winning; it is to help build character into their lives.

The previous points are steps my coaching staff and I employ to inspire our athletes, which has enabled us to build a reputable and successful program. It has also allowed us to make a difference in their lives. A graduating player invited me to attend a banquet for being an influence in her life. She gave me a special frame with the following quote:

You get the best effort from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within.

The apostle Paul was an effective leader because he inspired others through his example. He told them to follow him as he followed the Lord Jesus Christ.

What Then?

We desperately need effective and godly leaders today. Such leadership comes through having a humble spirit, communicating effectively, possessing conviction, building confidence and courage in others, counting the cost, offering hope in difficult times and inspiring others. Those who lead in this manner will have a far-reaching impact for God and will be a blessing to others.

Expect the Unexpected

by Jim Weikal

I arrived at church on a cloudy spring morning and saw a parked van in the church lot. Nothing unusual in this, but I couldn’t see through the darkly tinted window and decided that no one was there. As I got out of my car and walked back toward the trunk, a pleasant looking young woman exited the stationary vehicle and walked purposefully across the blacktop towards me.

She identified herself, and we began to talk. As I usually do on these occasions, I turned the discussion to spiritual matters. She was not raised in the church and had little understanding of salvation through Christ’s death and resurrection.

As I’ve learned over the years, Christians can assume that everybody understands terms like “saved,” “repent,” “sin,” “savior” when not everybody does. So I did my best to define these terms and use common illustrations that could be easily understood. She was tearfully moved by what I shared, and said she was looking for the peace that I had described. I invited her to come to church. She gave me a hug, and then returned to her car.

I went into the church and got Bill’s book, Who Is This Jesus?, gave it to her and then prayed. I really like this book as a follow up to witnessing encounters. Since Christ is the center of a salvation explanation, Who Is This Jesus? presents a straight-forward picture of Jesus that is understandable to an unchurched person. This easily carried book has a chapter titled “How You Can Know Him” which adds extra clout to what you have already shared.

I keep some copies on hand at church and in my car so I have them near for those “expected-the-unexpected” times when God works through you to shine the light of His good news…news that can change a person’s life for eternity.

Rise Up! Get Off Your Face!

by Bill Rudge

Over three thousand years ago Joshua sent three thousand Israelites to conquer the walled city of Ai. But they were routed by the men of Ai.

Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, both he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. So the LORD said to Joshua, “Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? (Joshua 7:6, 10).

Once Joshua dealt with the sin issue in the camp of Israel (see Joshua 7:11 – 26) they victoriously conquered Ai.

Many Christians today are on their faces prostrate before the Lord – in repentance, prayer, and fasting. While prayer is powerful and essential, it is also imperative that we get off our faces and fulfill God’s ultimate purpose for our lives. What is that purpose? Being witnesses for Christ to a lost and dying world (Acts 1:8).

Obviously, don’t quit praying! But rise up and share your faith in Christ any way you can. Use your phone, letters, e-mail, texts, blogs, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and other forms of media. Witness to telemarketers and anyone who will listen.

Coronavirus Crisis

God desires to bring many more to salvation before the Rapture of the Church. Perhaps He is using this current crisis to help us get His Gospel to the ends of the earth (Matthew 24:14). If the coronavirus could so easily and quickly multiply to infect so many people, how much more can believers multiply their testimonies to impact an entire world for Jesus Christ. Begin today!

You Are Being Watched

by Bill Rudge

Pause for a moment and think about all the new devices and technologies – vehicles, televisions, cell phones, computers, surveillance gadgets, etc. – infused with microphones, cameras and artificial intelligence. Face scanners, smart phones, smart homes, eyelid-tracking car dashboard cameras, camera-equipped drones. Devices that see, hear and track the people they encounter.

In spite of many privacy scandals and security breaches, people are getting more accustomed to everyday uses of surveillance technology. The following are excerpts from the article, “At gadget show, surveillance is in – and in a big way” by Matt O’Brien, AP Technology Writer, in the January 7, 2020 Sharon Herald:

All these talking speakers, doorbell cameras and fitness trackers come with the promise of making life easier or more fun, but they’re also potentially powerful spying tools.

Someone wants to know where you are and what you are doing, saying, watching, listening to or buying. Eventually, this technology will be used to monitor and control virtually everything about you. Sounds strangely similar to the total surveillance, monitoring and control that will one day be enforced:

And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name (Revelation 13:16, 17).

Coronavirus Impact Brings Prophecies Into Perspective (Rider on a White Horse)

by Bill Rudge

The impact the coronavirus has had on the world brings several end time prophecies into clearer perspective. It appears we are nearing the opening of the First Seal with the Rider on a White Horse (Revelation 6:1, 2). This arising world leader, who initially comes on the scene as a savior, will be none other than the Antichrist. It is now easy to conceive of how those who defy or disobey his demands will be fined, imprisoned or eventually martyred. Many people will report the slightest violations to the authorities (Matthew 10:21; 24:9, 10).

Sure seems like we could be on the verge of a total loss of freedom and the fulfillment of Revelation chapters 6 and 13. Take a few minutes to read these chapters and ponder the condition of your heart before God who foretold this 2,000 years ago.

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

part g – Surrendered and Available

Once you give your life to Jesus Christ, God begins to work in and through you to accomplish His will. Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:13 states, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” First Thessalonians 5:24 promises, “The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.”

Submit or Resist

The choice is yours. Either you submit and say, “Here I am, Lord. Accomplish Your plan for my life.” God then molds you, leads you and enables you to achieve His purpose. Or you resist; becoming increasingly stiff-necked, obstinate, hardhearted and rebellious, struggling against the free reign of God’s Spirit in your life. But then you will not be useful in bearing fruit in Christ’s Kingdom or achieving the full potential and purpose He has for you. Will you be submissive and surrendered or resistant and rebellious?

Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord asking, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” His response was, “Here am I. Send me!” (6:8). Isaiah went on to become one of the greatest biblical prophets.

When I first started our ministry, I was no speaker or writer. The odds were not in my favor; I had no hope of real potential. So I prayed: “Lord, here I am, I yield myself to You. No matter what it costs, I am willing to do Your will!” On my weekly fasting list was a plea: “Take my weaknesses and make them my strengths. Please speak and write through me.” God has molded my life and ministry over the years – often in the wilderness of adversity. He has used our publications, audio messages, speaking engagements and radio broadcasts to have an impact on tens of thousands of people around the world.

Two Attitudes

As I deal with Christians involved in a variety of questionable or clearly unscriptural practices, I find they have one of two attitudes:

First, some respond: “I really don’t care what you say or how much evidence you have concerning the potential danger or what the Bible says about it.” They become defensive and somehow try to justify or condone their involvement. As long as they have this attitude, God cannot guide and direct them to accomplish His purpose.

2 Chronicles 30:7, 8 was a warning sent throughout Israel and Judah by King Hezekiah. It stated:

Do not be like your fathers and brothers, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their fathers, so that He made them an object of horror, as you see. Do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were; submit to the Lord ….

Stephen echoed a similar rebuke which resulted in his being stoned. In Acts 7:51 he cried out:

You stiff-necked people…You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!

Proverbs 29:1 states:

A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed – without remedy.

Many years ago David Wilkerson was speaking at a national convention I was attending. He gave an anointed message on purity of life and mind. He warned the pastors and leaders to turn off the filth on television. One of the pastors I knew said, “He’s not going to tell me what to do.” Later that night he went to his hotel room and watched an R-rated movie. Several years later, after losing both legs to diabetes he was a changed man with a true heart for the Lord. He dedicated the rest of his life to missions until He went home to be with the Lord.

The second attitude, and the one God desires us all to have, says, “Father, more than anything else I want Your will for my life. I may not see anything visibly wrong with what I am doing, but I will read and search Your Word. I will get on my knees and pray and fast and be sensitive, submissive and obedient to what Your Word and Your Spirit lead me to do.”

Don’t Condemn

Speaking with non-Christians, I do not condemn their music, alcohol, smoking or sins such as sexual promiscuity or occultic activities. I may warn them about potential consequences, but I do not condemn them, because even though they cease that involvement, they are still lost without Christ. I share the overwhelming evidence for Jesus and the superior peace, joy and power that is available through the resurrected Christ!

I was training Mike, a man from California, who was accompanying me to Haiti later that month on a mission trip. It was close to midnight when we went into some rough areas of Oceanside where there are many gangs, homeless and a high presence of military recruits from nearby bases. After sharing Christ with several gang members and then about 10 Marines waiting for a bus, Mike and I moved to another place in front of a gay bar. I started a conversation with a young man who quickly proclaimed, “I am gay and an atheist!” I replied, “I am not concerned about your sexual preference.” The young man’s response was “Wow! You are the first religious person to make that comment.” I said, “First, I want you to come to know the Creator. Look into the sky and consider that there are billions of stars in billions of galaxies. Also consider your DNA and you can begin to realize how complex the universe and our bodies are. This did not happen by random chance. An intelligent Designer created us.”

I continued, “God says in the Bible that if you search for Me with all your heart, you will find Me. My main concern right now is to challenge you to search for the evidence of the God who created you. Coming to know Him will lead you to Jesus Christ. Then, by His Word and Spirit, He will deal with the other issues in your life.” As we parted, the young man seemed visibly touched by what and how I shared.

Don’t let the enemy sidetrack you regarding peripheral issues. Remember, the Lord Jesus did not enter Jerusalem and cleanse Pilate’s judgment hall or Herod’s palace, but He did cleanse the Temple! Besides, when non-Christians come to faith in Christ and are truly submitted to Him as Lord, His Spirit and Word will begin to transform their lifestyles.

However, when I deal with Christians who are involved in unscriptural activities – that is different. I let them know that they need to clean up their lives, and I challenge them to become sensitive and obedient to God’s Spirit and Word.

One Reassuring Fact

A Christian woman, involved in a questionable practice that was spiritually dangerous, felt God was leading her to quit, although she did not know why. She saw nothing outwardly wrong with it. After talking with her, I shared some facts that she was not aware of. Tears began to flow down her face as she said, “You have confirmed what God’s Spirit has been speaking to my heart.” As a result of her sensitivity and submission to the Lord, He was able to protect her from a dangerous practice and lead her in the path He desired for her life.

It is reassuring to know that when you remain yielded, available and surrendered to God, it is impossible for you to get too far out of line. If you get involved with a practice or belief that is unacceptable to Him, He will speak to your heart through His Word and Spirit, and the Great Shepherd will guide and direct you back to the path of righteousness.

The problem starts when you become insensitive, stiff-necked, obstinate and hardhearted or try to justify your involvement. Then you get out of God’s will and resist His Spirit’s dealings with you. This kind of rebellious attitude before the Lord, carries one promise – that of reaping what you have sown. But when you are sensitive and yielded to the Spirit of God and obedient to His Word, you have the promise of eventual blessing, victory and of all things working together for good. You will be aware of God working in your life to achieve the purpose and potential He has for you.

Almost Hit by Bus in the Himalayas

After speaking at a convention in the Himalayas of northern India, my team and I were making our way down the winding mountain roads as we headed to Calcutta. We stopped in the village of Darjeeling. Standing in the middle of a narrow road for a more panoramic view, my son and I surveyed this Himalayan mountain village deciding which direction to go. Suddenly a bus came speeding around a sharp curve heading straight toward us. Horn blaring, the bus maintained its speed as it rushed nearer and nearer with no sign of slowing down.

Sizing up the situation, I glanced to my right and left. Instinctively grabbing BJ, my then thirteen-year-old son, I quickly tried pulling him to the left, but his impulsive reaction was to go in the opposite direction. Adjusting my momentum to accommodate his motion, I pushed him to the right. He simultaneously responded to my initial tug by moving toward the left. There we were in the middle of the road going in circles as this massive bus came bearing down upon us. I could have jumped out of the way and saved my life, but I promised my wife I would bring our son back alive. If he was going to die, then I was going to die with him on the streets of India, so I hung on.

BJ was in near panic, and I was not doing very well myself. With adrenaline flowing and my heart pounding, thoughts of how we were both going to be killed flooded my mind, because buses in the Himalayas are notorious for not stopping for pedestrians. I personally have seen them barrel down the road, stopping for no one as young and old alike hurry to step aside or leap to safety seconds before the bus speeds by, missing them by inches.

Realizing this, our situation seemed hopeless. Fortunately, by the grace of God, the driver realized we really were in trouble, and to our amazement, suddenly slammed on the brakes and slid to a stop no more than two feet in front of us. I remember standing there in the middle of the street after it was all over, looking at the flat front of the bus directly ahead of me thinking, “I could not even have jumped on its hood to get thrown to the side. It would have hit us, dropped us in the street, and then run over us. We would have had no hope for survival!” Thank God for His mercy and protection!

The point of this illustration is that when our heavenly Father is leading us in one direction, and we insist on going in another, then dangerous and sometimes fatal consequences occur. Rather than going around in circles in your life, take your lead from the Lord.

Four Options

When I was involved in the martial arts (before the Lord led me out) the easiest way for me to lead someone’s body was to lead their head. Wherever their head went, their body would follow. I used to demonstrate this with a volunteer from the audience. It was easy to lead a person who was submissive and yielded. But if they would stiffen their neck and resist, I would explain my choices:

1. I could exert more force and possibly injure his neck.

2. I could break his stiff neck.

3. I could knock him unconscious and then drag him wherever I wanted.

4. I could let him go his own way and bang his head against the wall, or against my knee, or whatever, as a natural consequence of his resistance.

When we resist the Lord’s will and refuse to submit, He also has choices:

1. He can exert more pressure in our lives to get our attention.

2. He can break our stiff necks and rebellious wills by humbling us.

3. He can knock us unconscious by not using us anymore or allow Satan to render us ineffective.

4. He can let us go our own rebellious ways and reap the consequences, until we learn and are ready to submit.

Meekness and a Strong War Horse

Throughout the Scriptures we frequently see the word “meek.” Many wrongly equate the meaning of meek with its rhyming word, weak. But that could not be further from the truth. When the Lord said in Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth,” He was talking about those who will rule and reign with Him.

While in Bible college, I learned that the word meek was used in the Greek in reference to a strong war horse which was prepared for battle. With just the slightest touch on the reins, the horse would go in the intended direction of the rider. It became submissive and sensitive to the rider on its back. The horse had not lost any of its drive or dynamic power as a strong stallion, but had merely been brought under the mastery of the one who rode on its back. If its spirit was broken, its strength drained or any of its dynamic qualities changed, then it would be useless for its purpose. But as it was brought under control and submission, it was said that the horse was now praus, translated meek (or prautes, translated meekness) throughout the New Testament.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary states:

It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His [God’s] dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting; and as such, we do not fight … struggle and contend with Him …. It must be clearly understood, therefore, that the meekness manifested by the Lord and commended to the believer is the fruit of power. The common assumption is that when a man is meek it is because he cannot help himself; but the Lord was “meek” because He had the infinite resources of God at His command.

Isaiah 45:5, 9 declares:

I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from Me, there is no God. … Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker. … Does the clay say to the potter, “What are you making?”

When horseback riding as a teen, the horse I was on was determined to knock me off. It tried to smash my legs by continually running about two inches from the trees. I had to keep pulling one of my feet out of the stirrups and lift my leg over to the other side of the saddle to avoid having it smashed against a tree. When that didn’t work, the horse tried to “clothesline” me a few times by going underneath low branches. I had to keep ducking down to avoid getting knocked off.

There I was on this out-of-control horse, pulling as hard as I could on the reins in an attempt to stop it or even slow it down – so hard that its mouth was bleeding. But it would not stop; it ran even faster trying all the harder to knock me off. Finally, so upset with my trying to slow it down, the horse impulsively ran off the trail and burst through a barbed-wire fence in racing back to the corral. Its chest had multiple gashes, blood mixed with sweat streaming down. My pants were ripped and my legs had several cuts.

That horse was rebellious! I could not control or lead it. God does not want you to be like that horse because you will bring destruction on yourself. He tells us to be meek, humble and yielded so He can work in us; so He can speak to our hearts and lead us where He wants, without having to hit us over the head to get our attention or to force us to obey.

Psalm 32:9 states:

Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check…. (NAS)

The praus horse also had a bit and bridle, but to get it to obey one did not have to yank the reins and bit or bloody its mouth. Rather, one lightly pulled on the reins to guide and direct the horse. It willingly followed the master’s direction. God is not telling us to be weak or a doormat. He is saying, “Have your dynamic strength, but do not resist and fight Me. Be submitted to Me.”

Instead of being stiff-necked, obstinate, hardhearted and rebellious, let’s be praus. Let’s be sensitive, submissive, surrendered, yielded and available so God will work in and through us to accomplish His purpose for our lives!

You Are Being Watched

by Bill Rudge

Pause for a moment and think about all the new devices and technologies – vehicles, televisions, cell phones, computers, surveillance gadgets, etc. – infused with microphones, cameras and artificial intelligence. Face scanners, smart phones, smart homes, eyelid-tracking car dashboard cameras, camera-equipped drones. Devices that see, hear and track the people they encounter.

In spite of many privacy scandals and security breaches, people are getting more accustomed to everyday uses of surveillance technology. The following are excerpts from the article, “At gadget show, surveillance is in – and in a big way” by Matt O’Brien, AP Technology Writer, in the January 7, 2020 Sharon Herald:

All these talking speakers, doorbell cameras and fitness trackers come with the promise of making life easier or more fun, but they’re also potentially powerful spying tools.

Someone wants to know where you are and what you are doing, saying, watching, listening to or buying. Eventually, this technology will be used to monitor and control virtually everything about you. Sounds strangely similar to the total surveillance, monitoring and control that will one day be enforced:

And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name (Revelation 13:16, 17).

Rider on White Horse

The impact the coronavirus has had on the world brings several end time prophecies into clearer perspective. It appears we are nearing the opening of the First Seal with the Rider on a White Horse (Revelation 6:1, 2). This arising world leader, who initially comes on the scene as a savior, will be none other than the Antichrist. It is now easy to conceive of how those who defy or disobey his demands will be fined, imprisoned or eventually martyred. Many people will report the slightest violations to the authorities (Matthew 10:21; 24:9, 10).

Sure seems like we could be on the verge of a total loss of freedom and the fulfillment of Revelation chapters 6 and 13. Take a few minutes to read these chapters and ponder the condition of your heart before God who foretold this 2,000 years ago.

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

“THE HILL”

The following poem was written by Bruce Miller, a childhood friend of Bill Rudge on the West Hill. His dramatic conversion gave him the desire to lead others to Jesus. Bruce currently serves in a prison ministry and was able to minister in Haiti and India when Bill opened doors for him to go.

I felt so lonely,
So full of despair.
My heart overwhelmed —
Did anyone care?

As I looked in the distance,
A hill I could see.
They called it Golgotha
Or Mount Calvary.
What was the attraction?
What could this thing be?

I moved in much closer
To hear what was said.
They laughed, and they mocked,
“Soon, He’ll be dead!”
I looked more intently
And there hung three men.
Each nailed to a cross,
Awaiting their end.

It was the one in the middle
I noticed the best.
He was wounded severely;
He gasped for a breath.

I heard Him say something
I’ll never forget!
“Father, forgive them,”
He cried with His voice.
“I give My life freely;
This is My choice.”

Then the sky grew black;
The light was so dim.
One cried out,
“Even God’s abandoned Him!”

I stood there in silence
And could not understand
All the hatred and violence
Done to this man.

Some called him “Messiah,”
“God’s Son” — was it true?
As I wondered intently,
What did He do?

Before I could ask Him,
He lifted His head
And cried, “It is finished,”
And then He was dead.

They parted His garments,
Then drove a sword in His side,
As I wondered, amazed,
Why He had died.

These questions are frequent
Among many today.
What had He done?
What price did He pay?

The answer is simple
Why He died on the cross —
For the proud and the selfish,
The sinner, the lost,
For the dying, the hurting,
The lame and the blind,
For the sins of the world,
For your sins and mine!

Was the Crucifixion a Mistake?

by Bill Rudge

Photo by Deborah Ford on the Via Dolorosa during a Holy Land Adventure with Bill Rudge Ministries.

The raising of Lazarus from the dead and numerous other miracles Jesus performed created an intense expectation among the multitudes. The Jewish people were eager for the Messiah (Christ) to come and defeat the Romans and restore Israel to its former power and glory under King David. So at Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the crowds welcomed Him with shouts of praise as they spread palm branches, and even their own garments in His path.

During His triumphal entry, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, fulfilling Zechariah 9:9. Jesus was proclaiming Himself as King (just as 1 Kings 1:32-35, 44 records that David had Solomon ride on his mule before having him anointed king). The people welcomed Him with shouts of Hosanna, and the words of Messianic Psalm 118:26, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” Spreading their cloaks on the road was an act of royal homage (2 Kings 9:12, 13).

They Didn’t Understand

Less than a week after the triumphal entry, many of this multitude were shouting for Him to be crucified. Why? What happened? They didn’t understand that it was God’s plan for the Christ to die during His first coming (Romans 11:25, 26). Therefore, they rejected the Messiah and called for His death.

Numerous Old Testament Scriptures foretold the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Messiah (Isaiah 53:5-12; Psalm 22:16; Zechariah 12:10; Psalm 16:10). Nevertheless, the Jewish people and their leaders, as well as Jesus’ disciples, could not understand that God’s purpose was for the Christ to first die as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Jesus foretold He was going to be crucified. It was for this purpose He had come (John 12:27). Jesus repeatedly told His disciples He must suffer, die, and on the third day rise again (Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-33), but they were confused and did not comprehend what He meant (Luke 18:34; Mark 9:9, 10, 31, 32).

New Testament scholar, Dr. George Eldon Ladd, writes:

This is also why his disciples forsook him when he was taken captive. Their minds were so completely imbued with the idea of a conquering Messiah whose role it was to subdue his enemies that when they saw him broken and bleeding under the scourging, a helpless prisoner in the hands of Pilate, and when they saw him led away, nailed to a cross to die as a common criminal, all their messianic hopes for Jesus were shattered.

Suffering Messiah

The Hebrew Scriptures mention a suffering servant, especially in Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22. Scripture also tells about the Messiah coming as David’s heir and reigning as King. After centuries of suffering under the yoke of foreigners, and then being under Roman oppression, the Jews of first century Israel yearned for the One who would come and rule on the throne of David forever. Consequently, the Jews of Jesus’ day only focused on the Messiah as coming King.

Peter tried to reprove Jesus for stating that He must suffer, be rejected, be killed, and rise again after three days (Mark 8:31, 32). But Jesus rebuked Peter and said—

Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s (Mark 8:33).

The animal sacrifices in the Tanakh [Old Testament] were a foreshadow of the death of the Messiah. Hebrews 9:22 says, “…without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Whereas the animal sacrifices were regular occurrences, Christ’s sacrificial death was, “once…to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26).

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was no mistake. It had been determined before the creation of the world. The Hebrew Scriptures foretold this mystery of God which was meticulously fulfilled in Jesus Christ and majestically proclaimed to both Jews and Gentiles.

God’s ultimate sacrifice is undeniable proof of His amazing and incomprehensible love for each of us.