Touching Lives Locally, Throughout the U.S. and Around the World

Dr. Guy Bongiovanni’s daughter, Linda, and his wife, Esther (above left), donated a library of books to BRM from Guy’s Life Enrichment Ministries. Sheree Zippay and Carolyn Gonano donated their father’s audio equipment, and many other friends of the ministry donated Bibles, books, devotionals, audio messages and other biblical resources and supplies for our World Literature Outreach. Norm Simons and Dick Hetrick picked up the books at Bongiovanni’s, then Bruce Adams helped Norm and Sue Simons load their truck at BRM (above center). Several office staff surrounded the truck to pray for safe delivery and that many lives will be touched for Christ through these materials. Norm and Sue delivered their truck load and Ann Ore (above right) took a van load of BRM materials to missions, with which we partner, who ship them in large containers to various missions throughout the world. We also mail thousands of smaller packages (containing books and audio messages by Bill and BJ) directly to missionaries, pastors, chaplains, military personnel, prisoners, students and others requesting them.

A Note From Esther:

Dear Bill: What a blessing it was to have you, Norman, and Dick pick up the boxes of books from Guy’s library. You are truly blessed to have such men volunteering consistently in your ministry. They certainly portray a servant’s heart. Of course, I am especially grateful to the Lord for you who was so quick to be of help in any way you could. I always say, “you are a ‘trophy’ of God’s Grace.” What you were and what you have become just demonstrates the power of God to change a person’s life. God has blessed your ministry so tremendously, it just thrills me. And, of course, I cannot forget Karen, who has stood by you as your helpmeet. What a blessing! God bless you! Esther Bongiovanni, Canfield, Ohio

What Child is This?

by Wendy Wippel

Wendy Wippel is a molecular biologist who specializes in genetics. The following are excerpts from an article in The Lamplighter magazine. Used with permission.

Fresco in the Shepherd’s Field Church in Bethlehem.
Photo by Bill Rudge.

It’s the Christmas season, and amid the baking and the bustling and the bows, it’s easy to lose sight of what the fuss is all about — a baby. As the old carol asks, “What child is this?” There’s a lot riding on your answer. Because that baby is the central figure of human history. Human history, in fact, is divided into two eras (BC and AD) by His existence. (Your birth date? Counted from His.)

• He never traveled more than 100 miles from home, but His followers permeated every country in the world with His story.

• He never wrote a book, but more have been written about Him than anyone else in history, by far.

• The first book about Him, the Bible, has been translated into more than 500 languages, and portions of it into more than 3000 languages.

• He had only 12 disciples, but billions of people discuss His teachings every day.

• He was homeless during His public life, but most of the world’s most beautiful buildings were built in His honor (Notre Dame, Westminster Abbey, Hagia Sophia, Chartres, St. John’s Cathedral, and so on.)

• He died as a criminal, but today thousands of names of cities and countries memorialize His life. (San Salvador, for example, which means Holy Savior.)

• He never married, but more wedding vows have asked His blessing than any other.

• He never had kids, but there’s a really good chance you’re named after one of his family or his friends.

• Untold numbers of people throughout history have willingly gone to their deaths rather than renounce His name.

Jesus is recognized by skeptic and saint alike as the turning point of history. What child IS this? We’ve had 2000 years to speculate: A really moral man? A great philosopher? A champion of social justice? A pacifist? A mythical figure? A revolutionary? An example for all of us to follow?

Those really aren’t the right questions, though. The real question is “Who does He think He is?” And Jesus, tellingly, said none of the above. Jesus said that He came to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus said that He came to “give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). In fact, He said that He came specifically for one moment in time, His crucifixion (John 12:27).

What child is this? We all have to answer that question for ourselves. And eternity rides on our answer. Why? Because God created humans to be with Him. But you probably know what happened next – Adam and Eve disobeyed the one rule that God established, and humanity became tainted with sin. And as descendants of Adam and Eve, we inherited that condition. We’re all SIN positive.

The problem is that sin can’t survive in the presence of the holiness of God. But that same God still loves us and wants us to be with Him. So Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. We’re what was lost (John 1:12; 3:16).

Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s great for you, but it’s just not my thing.” Or, “I have my own faith.” Or, “We all worship the same God.” Then what child is this? One that made some pretty amazing statements:

I am the way, the truth, the life. No man comes to the Father but through Me (John 14:6). All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me (Matthew 28:18).

Nobody else said things like this. Not Mohammed. Not Confucius. Not Buddha. Nobody. People these days say that makes Christianity exclusive. Except that Jesus also said that whosoever believes in Him can have eternal life. Whosoever.

So what child is this? You can call Him a liar. You can call Him a lunatic. Or you can call Him Lord. “Undecided” isn’t really an option. He didn’t mean for it to be.

Jesus was crucified because He claimed to be the Messiah, a Messiah described in Isaiah as “wounded for our transgressions,” whose chastisement made peace for us with God. Jesus said that He came to give us life as a ransom for many. Nobody else said that. Nobody.

That’s what sets Jesus apart. Only He laid down His life for your sins and mine. And when He died on that cross (a fact documented in Roman records) it would have certainly seemed that was the last history would hear of Him.

But the cross that He died on is now the world’s most common symbol, engraved on tombstones, mounted in and on churches, scattered on hillsides and hung around a whole lot of necks.

So what child is this? That’s the question. And the answer … God, in the form of Jesus, left heaven to seek and save that which was lost, meaning you and me. When He died on the cross, God was saying that He loves you. He Himself came to earth to give His life as your ransom. It was the God of all the universe, whispering into your ears, “I do.” And that God, who still loves you, stands at the altar, waiting for your answer. He’ll wait. He has all eternity to do so. Do you?

Spirit of Herod Still Alive Today

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

King Herod was famous for the many buildings he constructed, and for his insatiable desire for power. He would go to any length eliminating threats to his kingdom. He even had several family members, including his wife Mariamne, executed. Consequently, the Roman emperor Augustus reportedly said, “It is better to be Herod’s pig than son” (Macrobius, Saturnalia, 2:4:11) – the implication being that, since Herod was a Jew, he did not eat pork and his pig would be safe.

Herod’s deceptive and violent reaction should come as no surprise then, following the wise men’s visit to Jerusalem in search of the newborn King of the Jews. Only Herod could be the King of the Jews, so in response to the birth of Jesus, he ordered the slaughter of all boys two years old and under (Matthew 2:16-18).
The same spirit that lived in Herod is alive today in those who oppose the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have declared an outright war to eradicate the Christian faith.

Despite the battles raging around us, take comfort in knowing that our God is in control. His plans can never be thwarted, and although it may seem for a time that the enemy is winning, the final outcome of the war has already been decided (Revelation 19). Until that day of rejoicing, let us stand against this spirit of Herod by living authentic lives, being transformed by the power of God’s Spirit and demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ – even to the very ones who assault and attack His name.

Just as the spirit of Herod could not silence Jesus back then, it will never silence the true message of Christmas. Let us share and live out this message everyday in a world that desperately needs to hear it:

Do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10-11).

Dear Tabby

Dear Tabby,

If God is Jesus’ father, then who is Joseph? Morgan


Dear Morgan,

This was such a good question that I had Tara the Turtle help me with an answer. Together we looked in God’s Word, the Bible. In Matthew 3:17, God calls Jesus His Son: “This is My Son, whom I love.” You are right when you say, “God is Jesus’ father,” but God is His heavenly father. Joseph was Jesus’ earthly father. Think of it this way: Just like your dad is your earthly father, Joseph was Jesus’ earthly father. God is Jesus’ heavenly Father just as God is your heavenly Father. The Bible says in John 14:6, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father (our heavenly Father) except through Me.” When we believe in Jesus, God becomes our heavenly Father. The special thing about our heavenly Father is He can be everywhere with us and you can talk to Him at any time because He is God. Jesus could pray to God at any time, but only talk to Joseph, his earthly father, when he saw him face to face. So you too can talk to your heavenly Father at school, your friends’ house, when you are afraid, because He is always with you even when your own earthly father cannot be there.

Love,

Tabby the Cat