by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.
To download this Radio Broadcast click here.
by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.
To download this Radio Broadcast click here.
By BJ Rudge, Ph.D.
Verification of Christ’s resurrection has been investigated more extensively than available evidence of any other event in history! It has been examined and evaluated by some of the greatest scholars, historians, legal experts, scientists and archaeologists. Anyone who honestly examines the evidence will be convinced that Jesus:
presented Himself alive [to the apostles] after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
It is extremely important that Jesus rose from the dead because the resurrection is the very foundation of the Christian faith. The Apostle Paul stressed this point to the church at Corinth where many people were claiming there was no resurrection of the dead. Paul asserts that without the resurrection there would be no Christian faith:
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain (1 Corinthians 15:13-14).
First, throughout the Gospels Jesus predicted He would die and three days later rise from the dead (Matthew 12:38-40; Mark 9:9-10; Luke 18:31-33; John 10:17-18). If He made these assertions and they had not come to pass, then He was either an insane individual or the greatest deceiver in history.
Second, each Gospel testifies to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead (Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20). If He had not, then the Gospel accounts would have no credibility and would have been discarded as historically unreliable documents. The Gospels could not be viewed as primary sources for those things that happened (Luke 1:3-4), but rather as products of later editing and manipulation on the part of the early church.
Third, the central theme of the early church was the preaching of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:22-36; 3:13-18; 4:10-12; 5:29-32; 10:37-43; 13:27-37; 17:2-3; 26:22-23). If the resurrection had not occurred, it would have been impossible for Paul and others to persist in affirming that it had in fact occurred – especially in the presence of hostile eyewitnesses.
Fourth, without the death and resurrection, all Christians would still be in sin and under the judgment of God. Paul highlights this point to the Corinthian believers:
For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep [died] in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:16-19).
Fifth, without the resurrection no one would have the eschatological (the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind) hope of eternal life. The resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrates His authority over death. Those who place their faith and trust in Him have the assurance that death has been overcome and will be ultimately conquered. As Jesus said to Martha who was grieving the loss of her brother Lazarus:
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die (John 11:25-26).
The resurrection is the crucial point of Christianity which either validates or discredits the Christian faith. Henry M. Morris and Henry M. Morris III summed it up well in their book Many Infallible Proofs – Evidence for the Christian Faith:
If the resurrection did not take place, then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth.
Christianity stands firm on the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. It is an incredible truth that has changed the lives of millions throughout history. I am convinced from a lifetime of research and personal experience that the resurrection of Jesus Christ did occur. Our eternal destiny is determined by whether we accept and believe the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
by Bill Rudge
While exercising outside in the early morning hours, I noticed the shadow of one of our crosses silhouetted on the lightly snow-covered ground. Looking for the source of this shadow (the security light of our former ministry center – now the Mercer County Area Agency On Aging) it struck me that every person who has ever been born is affected in some way by the Cross.
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was determined before the creation of the world. Since the Fall of humankind in the Garden of Eden, God promised a coming Messiah and Savior. Those before Christ’s sacrificial death looked forward to the coming of this Promised One, while those after Jesus’ crucifixion look back to His finished work on the cross.
Both Sides of the Cross
Who I was and what I did before coming to Christ is in stark contrast to who I am and what I do after coming to know Him. My philosophy of life, words, behavior and lifestyle have so dramatically changed that they are in diametric opposition to what they were before. Before the Shadow of the Cross passed over my life, my passions were rebellion, violence and pleasure. This side of the cross my zeal is for obedience, compassion and reaching this world for Christ.
Some thought I was hopeless as a teenager but Jesus knew otherwise. I thank Him virtually every day for His amazing grace to me, received many years ago when I was 18.
How has the Cross affected you? What kind of a shadow (influence) has it been on your life? Has the cross drawn you closer to God and the Savior or are you still hiding – running from or rebelling against the LORD of all Creation? You do realize that it’s time for you to come home! Fall on your knees beneath the Shadow of the Cross and surrender your life to Jesus.
Remember, eternity will be determined by your association with the cross. The cross of Christ is our only hope to see our departed loved ones again. For believers, it is a guaranteed promise! As Bill Glass succinctly said, “Christ arose! Your redeemed loved ones will too, and you can spend eternity with them in God’s presence.”
by Bill Rudge
Every day brings opportunities to cheat, lie and exaggerate. We live in a society where lying and deceit are rampant and considered by many to be normal and acceptable. But are they beneficial or detrimental?
Before becoming a Christian, I had been a con artist, liar, manipulator and thief. I had stolen and robbed and cheated many people. After giving my life to Christ there were so many things that needed to change – and the God of the Bible, through His Word and Spirit, began to transform my life.
One week after giving my life to Jesus Christ, Karen and I decided to run away to West Virginia to get married. I was 18 and she was 17. Once the clerk at the courthouse verified our ages, she told us we needed to get blood tests and to get parental consent as well since we were underage. After getting our blood tests in West Virginia, we went back to Pennsylvania where we filled out the marriage application form. The notary, who was a neighbor of mine, said we needed to have at least one of each of our parents sign in his presence. Knowing our parents would never sign, I deceived the notary by saying that my mom was very sick at home in bed and unable to come to sign and that Karen’s mother was also unable to do so. We forged our mothers’ signatures and took the form back to the notary to be notarized.
After forging the signatures, we thought that was the end of it, but we were wrong. As the Scriptures illustrate through the lives of such important biblical figures as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, deceit leads to deceit:
• Abraham deceived the Pharaoh in Egypt, and later King Abimelech, by claiming his beautiful wife Sarah was merely his sister (Genesis 12:10-20; 20:1-18).
• Abraham’s son Isaac did the same thing by saying his wife Rebekah was his sister (Genesis 26:7-11).
• Isaac’s son Jacob, coached by his mother Rebekah, deceived Isaac into blessing Jacob instead of Esau (Genesis 27:1-29).
On and on, through the generations, deceit and dishonesty continued.
• Jacob was deceived by his Uncle Laban who substituted Leah, his oldest daughter, for Rachel (the one Jacob loved) after he had worked seven years for her (Genesis 29:13-30).
• Jacob’s sons deceived him by taking their brother Joseph’s multicolored robe, dipping it in goat’s blood and showing it to their father, letting him think Joseph was killed by a wild animal. In fact, they sold him as a slave into Egypt (Genesis 37:21-36).
• For many years they let their father Jacob be deceived, until Joseph revealed himself to his brothers in Egypt and saved his family from starvation.
But back to our story: When Karen and I returned to West Virginia with the appropriate paperwork, we were informed by the courthouse clerk that we needed both sets of parents’ signatures. So we lied and told her our parents were at a racetrack just down the road and we would have them sign. We forged the signatures and returned the signed document to the clerk who said, “Okay, you can get married now.”
So what happened to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Scripture informs us that God began to work in their hearts to such a degree that they are presented in Hebrews chapter 11 as heroes of the faith!
• Abraham grew so much in faith that he was willing to offer his son on the altar as a sacrifice before God.
• Jacob was humbled by God; he wrestled with an angel who touched his hip and caused him to walk with a limp the rest of his life, showing us that God will not let anyone get away with deceit and a lack of integrity.
• Joseph’s brothers were changed men when he met them years later in Egypt, and they became heads of the tribes of Israel.
Years passed before Karen and I realized that the minister who married us never sent us a copy of our marriage license. We wondered whether he even recorded it at the courthouse, and even if our marriage was legal since we forged the signatures. Not certain of the name of the city we were married in, and not wanting the hassle of tracking everything down, we forgot about it.
While working on my records for an upcoming book entitled The Impossible, I decided to get a copy of our marriage certificate – if one existed. By doing some research into our old scrapbooks I discovered we were married in New Cumberland, West Virginia. I talked on the phone to the Hancock County clerk and told her I was compiling information for an upcoming article and book. She was most cooperative and even went to the courthouse basement to dig out the records from 1971. She graciously sent us a copy of our marriage certificate.
I told her that when we ran away to get married, I was a brand-new Christian and we had forged our parents’ signatures. She replied that regardless of that, the marriage was still legally binding, and many people had often lied about their ages and later wanted to change the records for Social Security reasons, etc.
She was happy to hear that we got our start in West Virginia and were still married, and was excited to hear how God had worked in our lives and ministry. In appreciation for her help I sent her a few of the books and pamphlets I had written.
Like our forefathers in the faith, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God has brought us a long way. We suffered many consequences and challenges because of our youthful deceit, but God takes each of us where we are and works in us by the power of His Holy Spirit to transform our lives.
Before giving my life to Christ, I had stolen hundreds of dollars’ worth of merchandise. A Christian for only a few months, God’s Spirit began to deal with me, and I began to return things to the different stores and places from which I had stolen them. At first I took back the things I liked the least: the rock albums, the clothes, the jewelry and the colognes. Then after a few more weeks, God’s Spirit dealt with me even more strongly, and I looked for more things I had stolen. I returned a billy club, bayonet and other weapons. Finally, a few weeks later, God’s Spirit came heavily upon me to get rid of everything. I returned the weights, the remaining clothes, my favorite speed bag and other things I knew I could never afford, but I had to obey.
As new teenage Christians, Karen and I even took money to some of the stores where we could not return the items, because they were ruined or lost. The store clerks were bewildered. I told them, “Listen, I stole things before I was a Christian. Now I am a believer in Jesus Christ. Please take the money.” They thought we were crazy, but before my Lord, I wanted to maintain my integrity.
A couple years ago, our water distiller no longer worked but the 1-gallon plastic water collector was still like new. Rather than discarding it, Karen decided to sell it on E-bay for a minimal cost that would at least cover the postage to mail it to the buyer. She always encloses one of my books as an additional gift and as a spiritual inspiration.
Karen received a response from a man who wanted to buy it at a lower price but said she couldn’t because the price she was asking barely covered the postage. The man then paid the asking price. When Karen received the payment, she realized that a shipping fee had been added to the amount he paid. Realizing that it was not free shipping for the buyer as she had thought, she refunded the $5.00 shipping fee to him with a brief note of explanation. He thanked her for her honesty, and within hours, he went to our website and donated $1,800 online to the ministry. What an unexpected blessing that helped at a crucial time! God is always faithful and uses our longtime ministry friends as well as new friends – some whom we have never even met.
Another of the many examples I could cite occurred when Karen received an order for two of my booklets from an ad in a magazine. However, she noticed the enclosed money order was for $250 instead of $2.50 (the cost for postage). With the volume of mail Karen has to deal with, she could have easily deposited it, not taking the time to check it out, thinking that maybe this person wanted to give an additional contribution as many do. However, she felt it was a mistake. She notified our local post office, who then contacted the Florida post office which issued the money order. The clerk at that post office greatly appreciated our honesty because she would have had to pay the difference of $247.50 out of her pocket.
Honesty and integrity are obviously lacking in much of the secular world. Sad to say, even in many churches and ministries today, financial scandals, fraudulent fundraising and merchandising the Gospel are rampant. Some use manipulation to control followers, coercion to obtain funds or gimmicks to generate growth and excitement. Others charge exorbitant fees for their services and resources.
How far removed we are from Jesus’ words to His twelve disciples of, “Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8). Choosing to operate on this biblical principle of “freely giving” I do not charge for speaking engagements, books, tracts, audio messages, the obstacle course, defense clinics, school assemblies or other services and resources our ministry provides. One of the points in my prayer and fasting list reminds me: I own no possessions, for all I have is Yours. I realize that God is my Source – I do not own a house or vehicle – and have little retirement since I gave most away and waived out of Social Security. Nevertheless, I persevere in faith knowing that He has met my needs thus far and will continue to do so as long as I continue to honor and obey Him.
Some pastors and ministry leaders who misuse funds enrich themselves with great material wealth from those who have given sacrificially. Some suggest that donors give multiple tithes or even borrow money to donate to them! Religious shysters sometimes use “anointed” artifacts or promise healings and special blessings to those who give generous donations. In contrast to this deceitful gimmickry and blatant merchandising of the Gospel today, the Apostle Paul stated:
Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God (2 Corinthians 2:17).
Ponder on, and be inspired by, Paul’s last words to the elders of Ephesus:
You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:18, 33-35).
Samuel was a person of integrity all the days of his life. Before his death he asked the people of Israel to evaluate his life before the LORD:
I have been your leader from my youth until this day. Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the LORD and His anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right. “You have not cheated or oppressed us,” they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.” Samuel said to them, “The LORD is witness against you, and also His anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” “He is witness,” they said (1 Samuel 12:2-5).
Despite varied opportunities to obtain temporal material gain through taking advantage of people or circumstances, believers and Christian leaders must walk before the Lord and the world in integrity. Financial scandals will cease in the body of Christ if believers and Christian leaders really believe God’s Word:
[W]ait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God (1 Corinthians 4:5).
Once you make a heart commitment to walk upright before the Lord, a life of integrity will become as natural as breathing.
Sometimes we cannot defend ourselves, or what we appear to do, we must just handle ourselves with integrity until He vindicates us. This has happened to me several times. For example, I began to feel the Lord would have us sell the ministry center (mini-gym, all-purpose room, reception area, several offices, prayer room, radio studio, media room, fitness room and half of the property we used for recreation and the obstacle course) in order to have additional funds for expansion of the ministry and to print tens of thousands more books to meet increasing requests for free copies of my books and audio messages, from around the world. My hope was to relocate to a smaller facility in the area (with outsourced staff and volunteers) that would enable us to continue our growing ministry with less overhead and provide funds for additional outreaches.
However, I was advised that to put a For Sale sign on the street in front of the ministry center would result in a loss of support due to the uncertainty of where we would relocate. Nevertheless, I felt that to be upright and transparent, the realtor should put up the sign. They were right about losing support – we lost almost one third of our regular donations while the building sat unsold. But we continued to trust the Lord to fulfill what He led me to do.
Then a rumor circulated from a source who deliberately distorted the facts, claiming that I was selling the building, keeping the money personally and moving to California (where our daughter was then living). When later we dedicated our new ministry center on our original property – subdivided from and adjacent to the former ministry center – all was proved to be false and many people came to the Open House. With tears in her eyes, one woman who had discontinued support because of us selling the ministry center, apologized and began her support again – along with many new supporters. (Years later I officiated for her and her husband’s funerals. And instead of moving the ministry to California, my daughter and her family moved to Pennsylvania – volunteering in many ways to help with the expanding ministry.) God is faithful to defend us; we just must maintain our integrity and let our lives resonate the love and truth of Jesus Christ.
A final note: During the construction of our current ministry center, even as the previous ministry center sat unsold and as the funds diminished, a man I do not recall meeting, but who had heard me speak (I was later told) left a large amount of money – the largest donation ever made to the ministry – in his will. It was just what we needed to make up for losses. When I meet this man in eternity I will be certain to thank him!
In January of 2001, I sold my dream – the ministry center – to have additional funds to reach the world. That in itself is a long and amazing story. However, what I want to focus on is that by a mere verbal agreement and a handshake the deal was done – there was no contract at the time. Shortly thereafter, a doctor called to offer cash for our building, payable the next day. I explained that I had made a verbal agreement with the Area Agency on Aging, and my word was as good as a contract.
At the dedication of the new building for the Mercer County Area Agency on Aging a state representative commented how amazed he was that by a mere verbal agreement and a handshake the sale of our former ministry center was accomplished. He went on to say that it would be great if all government agreements and transactions could be done in the same manner.
“You are only as good as your word” is a principle I seek to live by. I am reminded of my fifth trip to Haiti: I gave my word to a former voodoo witch doctor in Haiti that I would return to see him. Yet, every imaginable obstacle and dangerous circumstance rose up to thwart the fulfillment of that promise:
• I was told by the host mission I could not come because they were expecting violence against Americans. Haitians had blocked roads and stopped some American missionaries, harming them and damaging their vehicle.
• There was to be a nationwide strike and there would be a lot of violence since there had already been several deaths from recent demonstrations.
• Because of a gas shortage they could not run the generator at the mission compound.
• The Iraq war was on the near horizon and things were very unstable and volatile.
Nevertheless, I felt compelled to go because I had made a promise, and this was the only opportunity I would have for several years to return. So in spite of other obstacles and impossible circumstances, the Lord made the way possible.
Before we left Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, for Gonaives, I told some vendors outside the mission guest house I would buy something when I returned. One of the women yelled out in Creole, “They all say that, but they never keep their word.” I assured her I would keep my word but she did not believe me. Several days later I returned. She was elated to see me and as promised, I bought souvenirs from her and the other vendors. They were most appreciative and repeatedly said, “You kept your word! You kept your word!”
I promised my dad on his death bed I would take care of my mother. For 21 years I kept that promise – sometimes joyfully and a few times under great duress.
I promised my mother that I would do everything possible to get all our family members into Heaven with her. That was sometimes a difficult promise but I persevered in sharing the love and truth of Christ with a growing family of several generations. Thus far, all who have gone on, have done so with the Lord!
Character is not what you do when people are watching. Character is what you do when you think no one else sees. However, Somebody does see. Take a few moments to read Psalm 139 and Proverbs 5:21 which indicate that God sees and knows all about us.
Frank Outlaw sums up the importance of character:
Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
God is looking for men, women and young people who will live a life of integrity before Him and this world in these last days. That is why my prayer is:
Lord, I am a person who was far from Your standard and made many mistakes. But early in my walk with You, You began to burn deceit and dishonesty out of me. Your Word and Spirit have taught and enabled me to overcome and walk upright before You. Cause me to always speak the truth in love without ulterior motives for selfish gain. Help me to honor You in all things.
I also pray that Your Spirit speaks to the hearts of every person reading this article. Reveal any area of their lives where they are allowing deception, lying lips, dishonest gain or selfish motivation. Bring them to repentance; give them the assurance of Your forgiveness. Put within them a desire to walk in integrity all the days of their lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Excerpted from the Integrity chapter in Reaching Your Maximum Potential in Christ E-Book (you can find it under E-Books in the store).
by Bill Rudge
Revelation 6:1-8 foretells Jesus opening the seven seals of a scroll at the beginning of the Tribulation period. With the opening of the first four seals, four horses of different colors with riders who are given various powers over the earth come forth. (This parallels the “beginning of birth pains” foretold by Jesus in Matthew 24).
The rider on the white horse represents the Antichrist who conquers a world in chaos, with a bloodless seizure of power, ushering in a supposedly unequaled time of global peace and prosperity. He will amass great power, deceive the nations, blaspheme God, and eventually demand to be worshiped. A real, potential, or embellished global crisis – perhaps a pandemic – will enable the Antichrist to establish a one-world system by appearing to be the world’s savior. The earth’s inhabitants will follow him, deceived by his false (but short-lived) peace plan for this New World Order.
When the second rider on a red horse goes forth, peace is taken from the earth as violent slaughter and bloodshed ensue. Large numbers of people will slay one another as Antichrist’s illusory peace morphs into worldwide war and massacre.
Third, comes a rider on a black horse holding a pair of scales in his hand. Worldwide warfare and violence will destroy much of the food supply causing shortages and famine. Inflation, poverty, hunger, rationing and food lines will follow. The Antichrist, and his cohort, the False Prophet, will:
cause 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).
The fourth rider goes forth on a pale horse. This cadaverous ashen color symbolizes the name of the rider – Death – with Hades following him. According to Revelation 6:8:
Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
Currently, 25 percent of the people of the earth, would be more than 1.9 billion people. Plagues will follow that will kill one-third of the remaining population (Revelation 9:18).
Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:4-8 parallel the prophecy of these four horsemen of the apocalypse:
Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Brian C. Thomas stated in the September/ October, 2020 Lamplighter magazine:
One of the signs He [Jesus] mentioned was that nation will rise against nation (Matthew 24:7). In the original Greek, this is written ethnos against ethnos which is where we get the word “ethnicity.” In other words, our Lord said that ethnicity against ethnicity would be a sign of His Second Coming.
In that same journal (8/20) Mike Gendron writes:
Students of Bible prophecy are not surprised by events that have been triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s because the Lord Jesus Christ gave us signs to watch for that would precede His Second Coming, and one of those many signs that we are seeing today is “pestilence” (Luke 21:11). It is true that we have seen devastating plagues and pestilences throughout history, but none of them have had the far-reaching global impact of COVID-19. Could it be that our sovereign Lord is giving a merciful warning of a more devastating pestilence that awaits those who do not seek Him as their Savior and refuge?
When Jesus opens the seventh seal (Revelation 8:1), additional judgments commence (trumpet and bowl) in intensifying waves, bringing many to repentance and purifying this earth of its defilement and corruption in preparation for Christ’s Millennial reign. Then the “birth pains” will give way to the birth of God’s Kingdom, thereby literally fulfilling Revelation 11:15:
The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.
As has been said by other prophetic writers: Listen closely, you can almost hear the hoofbeats of the four horses of the apocalypse.
by Karen Rudge
It is called the great migration of wildebeests and zebras and it happens every year (between January and March). This migration flows between Tanzania and Kenya, the herds looking for good grazing, a safe place to mate and to give birth. It is said that the wildebeests have poor eyesight but a good sense of smell, whereas the zebra has good eyesight but the sense of smell is poor. As they make the crossing together they compensate for each other and are less vulnerable to attack.
In the church body, we are like these herds: we all have our strong points and our weak points. As a body of believers we are stronger as we assemble and worship together.
Romans 12:4-6 states:
Just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly.
God designed us all differently so we can work together as one body for His Kingdom. We are connected through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Saviour – we are family. We are bought by the blood of Christ. Let us not show partiality, jealousy or anger toward each other. The world is looking at the Church and will know that we are Christians by our love for each other (John 13:35).
Today, more than ever, let’s focus on our likeness of Jesus and not our differences. If we look to Him as our example we will become more alike and can say like Paul: Follow me as I follow Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.
The greatest battles we often face will occur the moment we step out in faith. Consider Nehemiah who stepped out in faith when he asked the Persian King for permission to go and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. While being commissioned by the king to complete this task, we find that Nehemiah’s act of faith and trust in God came with its challenges. For example, opposition quickly arose to discourage and prevent him from doing what God had called him to do:
But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” (Nehemiah 2:19; see chapters 4-6 for further examples of challenges and opposition that Nehemiah had to endure).
In the case of Nehemiah, God moved forward through the challenges he faced and brought a great victory. Not only was the wall built, but also those Jewish exiles who returned to their land made an agreement to obey the commands of God as they once again occupied His holy city Jerusalem.
We can have the same confidence Nehemiah had that when we place our faith and trust in God, He will fulfill His plans through our lives. Just like Nehemiah, if we remain faithful to what God has called us to do we will see a great victory in the end.
So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God (Nehemiah 6:15, 16).
By Darlinda McDonald
Carson (Bill and Karen Rudge’s grandson) was born in San Diego one month after 9/11. His family moved to Pennsylvania several years later. Carson graduated from high school during the coronavirus. A dedicated athlete, he played soccer for the Riverhounds in Pittsburgh and played in soccer tournaments across the country as well as in Italy. At age 18, Carson turned down a scholarship to play soccer in college to pursue his dream of special military service in the Navy.
Carson has been a great blessing to Bill Rudge Ministries for many years. He helped Bill with school assemblies, defense clinics, and the obstacle course for sports teams and military recruits, as well as assisting with grounds maintenance, mail pick-up, delivering clothes, school supplies and household items to local missions and ministries, and loading trucks with boxes of books, sports jerseys, soccer balls, school supplies, etc. for delivery to Third World countries. Carson has been willing to help in any way needed at BRM. He also mentored several peers, assisted an injured Vietnam Vet by moving furniture, doing yard work and various other projects. He delivered and moved furniture for Building of Hope to those in need and for several elderly people.
Carson is greatly missed by family, friends and BRM staff and volunteers. He continues to support the ministry by having a portion of his pay from the Navy automatically given to BRM. We pray God’s protection for this young man of excellence, a consistent and valued volunteer – never charging anyone for anything he did to help.
Bill’s Advice To Carson Before Boot Camp
“Always remember the tetherball battles, hockey games, boxing, obstacle course, sleeping on our couch and borrowing my clothes.
“Always remember, Carson Brock, that you were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). Never forget that He loves you so much He died for you (John 3:16). Realize that Jesus will forgive anything if you ask (1 John 1:9).
“Rejoice that your name is written in the Book of Life and one day you will rule and reign with Christ (Revelation 20:6). You may have some lonely times but He will never leave you or forsake you (Matthew 28:20).
“Have faith, courage, determination, discipline and integrity because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13).
“There will be challenges and difficulties but God will use them to make you strong and work everything out for good (Romans 8:28).
“Through it all you will be molded into the man He intended you to be (Romans 8:29). In the end you will look back and know the truth of God’s Word and that He honors those who honor Him (1 Samuel 2:30).
“One day we will never have to say goodbye again. Stay safe, healthy and close to Jesus. And never, ever forget how much I love you. I am so proud to have you as a grandson!”
by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.
No one is immune from the tragedies of life.
This year, our community mourned the death of two high school students and came together in support for two more that were in critical condition after a severe traffic accident while on their way to a Young Life meeting. These four girls were well known, much loved and touched many lives. My family knew these girls and, being the high school girls’ soccer coach, I used to coach one of the girls who died.
As I spent time at the school talking with faculty and students, I was encouraged and comforted to see everyone come together. It is in moments like these where we learn the most valuable life lessons and are reminded of the importance of community. Not only do we need the support and love of others, but we also need to return that love and support. We need to bear each other’s burdens.
Along with the idea of community, I am reminded of the importance of being intentional with loved ones: to never walk away angry, or let the sun go down without letting them know how much they are loved; to live each moment with appreciation for the time that we have with our family and friends. Life can truly change in a moment, so we all need to let others know with our words and actions, how much they mean to us.
Through this tragedy I am also reminded of how important it is to live with purpose. Watching the students flow into the room set aside for them to come and grieve, I was overwhelmed to hear stories of how their lives have been enriched in knowing the girls who had died. These remarkable young ladies were taken from us too early, but they are remembered through those impacted with their kind words and their positive actions.
From the love and support displayed by the faculty, students and the surrounding schools and communities, I saw God working in and through each one of us. As in any tragedy, the WHY tends to knock us off our feet, but the WHO enables us to stand back up. Though our understanding may be shaken, our faith in Jesus Christ will not be destroyed. His loving arms embrace us and bring comfort and hope in our times of pain and sorrow.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).
In the weeks following the accident, many questions arose as the community tried to make sense of, and find purpose in, their pain and sorrow. In fact, life-tragedies often cause us to feel the impossibility of walking through the brokenness of a situation while overwhelmed with hopelessness and despair.
When I was in college my soccer coach took our team into a cold, wet cave. We had an easy time navigating it until Coach told us to turn off our flashlights and find our way out. What had seemed easy before, became difficult as we repeatedly hit our heads on the cave walls while desperately seeking the exit. Finally, our coach told one of us to turn on a flashlight. The darkness vanished instantly. While the light did not show us the exit, it did reveal the direction in which to go as we made our way slowly forward towards the brightness of sunshine just outside the cave.
To those facing tragedy, the challenge is in trying to find our way out of the dark cave of loss. There is a light that can guide us through the darkness of confusion and pain. The girls who died both knew the Source of this light, for each had given her life to Jesus Christ. Because they looked to Him, their lives continue to shine brightly as a reminder of the ONE that we all can look to: the One who can heal our broken hearts and strengthen our weary souls.
This same Jesus is ready to give light for us all. He hears our cries. He is ready to embrace us in His loving arms and help us move forward through brokenness and pain. While this process may never be fully completed in this life, we have the sure hope that He will one day guide us to that exit to be fully embraced by the true Source of light that awaits us at the end. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we can know the certainty of a future where He will wipe away all tears; where there will be no more death, sorrow or pain (Revelation 21:4).
Until that day, may the legacy of these girls continue on in how we choose to live. Like them, may we embrace the light that Jesus gives so we, too, may be a light for others.
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12).
No matter where you are in your life, remember: The WHY may knock you to the ground, but the WHO is always there to help you stand back up. God has throughout the past, and will continue to, prove faithful as He turns tragedy into triumph.
We have received permission from the parents of the girls involved in this tragic accident to share the following:
from Lexi’s dad at her funeral:
“We have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support in our community and even distant communities have offered much encouragement, support and prayers.
“I’ve had time to reflect on what has happened and like everyone else, I asked WHY? It does not seem fair that my baby girl can be here one minute and then taken from us the next. WHY?
“Lexi loved her family, friends, teammates, teachers and neighbors. Lexi spoke to you because she genuinely wanted to share this love with you. Remember the pain you feel now and realize this happened for a reason. God wants us to display the best version of ourselves to one another. Please Wear Your Love on Your Sleeve. Lexi wants us to.”
from Danielle’s Cross Country coach Barry McLaughlin:
“Danielle had an unbridled enthusiasm and love for life and for the Lord which was evident to everyone on the team. She was a spark who ignited a desire for those around her to serve Christ and a spark on the cross country team that encouraged others to give their very best. We all still feel the hurt and loss.”
from Leah’s best friend Kylie:
“Leah is a light who shines with a love for God. She loves telling people about Jesus and showing them His love through her actions. Leah is a great friend with a great passion for God and a smile that is contagious to everyone who is near.”
from Leah’s mother from hospital:
When asked in a text from Bill Rudge, “Are you willing to face this tragedy for God to be glorified?” Betsy texted right back, “Yes we are.”
from Emily’s mom from hospital:
“It’s truly the power of prayer. It’s been extremely difficult, but the good Lord is getting us through. You know I really questioned my faith when this all happened. I don’t anymore. If our story can change just one person then I’ve done my job. I told Emily she is going to do something so good and I can’t wait to see what it is. What God has in store for her… I don’t know when but I hope I’m around to see it.”
The times in which we live demand safeguards from unscriptural teachings and phenomena through discernment developed in knowing biblical truth. This practical and easy-to-understand guide from A – Z will help you recognize the characteristics of false and extreme groups and whether a belief or practice is of God. This “Awareness Alphabet” makes a difficult subject as easy as ABC! It is my prayer that in the following pages you can make sure you are not being led astray by false doctrines, unscriptural teachings, false prophets, or counterfeit signs and wonders.
Bill Rudge covers topics like:
by Bill Rudge
The presidential election was many days past with many questions and concerns. Peace and joy were removed from many homes and replaced with conflicts and disagreements – sometimes outright hostility. Many people were overcome by worry and fear concerning the election and the coronavirus. However, I assured them that the only way to be at peace is to strengthen ourselves in the Lord by remembering His past faithfulness and to have a biblical perspective regarding national and world events; encouraging them to reflect on the following scriptures and how they relate to us today.
An important and timely truth is spoken through King Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, when the ten northern tribes of Israel were removed from his control. First Kings 12:15 says, “It was a turn of events from the LORD.” Verse 24 of this same chapter reiterates this by stating: “You must not go up and fight against your relatives the sons of Israel; return every man to his house, for this thing has come from Me.”
Daniel provides additional insight concerning the course of nations and their leaders:
He [God] removes kings and raises up kings…. The Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes (Daniel 2:21; 4:17).
God forewarned many times in Scripture what would happen to Israel, Judah, and other nations for abandoning the ways of the Lord and tolerating wickedness and injustice. The Bible provides and history proves what befalls a nation that forsakes the LORD Who has so richly blessed and protected them.
During a time of ongoing wickedness and disingenuous repentance the nation of Judah wondered:
Have You completely rejected Judah? Why have You stricken us so that we are beyond healing? We waited for peace, but nothing good came; and for a time of healing, but behold, terror! (Jeremiah 14:19).
The idolatry, immorality and injustice of the leaders and people of Judah became so repulsive to God that Jeremiah 15:1 records these strong words:
Then the LORD said to me, “Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me, yet My heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of My sight, and let them go!”
There came a point in Judah’s wickedness that it became ineffective to intercede for the nation because of its persistent unrepentance. Even prayers by Moses and Samuel would not deter judgment. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary states concerning this:
The Lord refuses to avert judgment from His people; His decision to punish them is irreversible. Therefore the continued intercession of Jeremiah or of any others cannot succeed. The people’s incorrigibility has placed them beyond the power of prayer. Moses and Samuel would have been unable to move the Lord from His decision. The Lord commands that the nation be sent from His presence.
Without wholehearted national repentance, Judah’s fate was sealed. Her widespread indulgence in sin and rebellion before the Lord rendered her insincere, self-serving remorse, insufficient to alter the course of God’s judgment. The question today is: How close is America to a similar fate? (A couple other enlightening sections of Scripture to read and ponder at this historic time is Jeremiah 7:1-34 and Ezekiel 33:23-33.)
Excerpts follow of what Ezekiel was told by God:
“Son of man, if a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it, cut off its supply of bread, send famine against it … or if I should send a plague [pestilence] against that country and pour out My wrath to cut off man and beast from it, even though Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, as I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness. How much more when I send My four severe judgments: sword, famine, wild beasts and plague to cut off man and beast from it! When you see their conduct and actions, you will know that I have not done in vain [without cause] all that I have done,” declares the Lord GOD. “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezekiel 14:13-23; 33:11).
What the Apostle John foretold in Revelation is a mirror reflection of Ezekiel’s prophecy of God’s “four severe judgments”:
When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth (Revelation 6:7-8).
Let me briefly interject another biblical truth here: Those nations which rejoiced over Judah’s judgment would incur similar punishment. Edom is just one of several nations in the Bible God judged for hostility against His people or for “celebrating” over their demise. Excerpts follow:
Son of man, set your face against Mount Seir [Edom], and prophesy against it and say to it, “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I am against you and will stretch out My hand and make you a desolation and a waste.’ Because you have said, “These two nations [Israel and Judah] will be mine, and we will possess them,” although the LORD was there, therefore as I live, declares the Lord GOD, “I will deal with you according to your anger and according to your envy which you showed because of your hatred against them. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have heard all your revilings which you have spoken against Israel and have spoken arrogantly against Me; I have heard it.” Thus says the Lord GOD, “As all the earth rejoices, I will make you a desolation. As you rejoiced over the inheritance of the house of Israel because it was desolate, so I will do to you. You will be a desolation, O Mount Seir, and all Edom, all of it. Then they will know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 35:2-15).
This sounds eerily similar to what will occur after severe persecution and martyrdom of those who come to faith in Jesus Christ during the Tribulation period:
Then the third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying, “Righteous are You, who are and who were, O Holy One, because You judged these things; for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it.” (Revelation 16:4-6).
While Christians are wearing each other out “fighting” over the coronavirus and politics, the real battle is already in play. To stand in the midst of what is coming we will need every ounce of strength and must be unified in genuine faith and commitment to Jesus Christ. This is a day and age to know Scripture and have discernment.
Remember, Jesus, as well as the apostles Peter, Paul and John, warned of unprecedented difficulties and pervasive deception in the end times. It is worth noting that Jesus’ first admonition in His famous Olivet Discourse was to “Take heed that no one deceives [misleads] you” (Matthew 24:4). Therefore, Jesus’ foremost warning concerning the end times is of delusion and deceit.
There is no doubt that the foreboding winds of global government, a one world economy and a prejudiced religious system (tolerating virtually anything but true Christianity) are blowing across America and the world. Earth’s final kingdom (Babylon) before the second coming of Jesus Christ will be a unified political, economic and religious system.
In order to implement this global society there needs to be a crisis (or potential crisis) which generates enough fear to make the masses willing to accept the recommended solutions. The only nation powerful enough to thwart a world government and all that entails is the United States. Therefore, the U.S. has to be transformed from nationalism to globalism. This being accomplished, the global elite will be able to dictate every aspect of the lives of virtually everyone on this planet – unwittingly leading to the fulfillment of Revelation 13 and the worldwide reign of the one revealed in Scripture as the Antichrist.
Two thousand years ago the Bible forewarned that the Antichrist would come disguised in false peace and unity. Under the pretense of solving the world’s crises he will initiate a global society with the inability to buy or sell without his mark on your hand or forehead – surrendering your total allegiance to him and his rule. Comply or die!
For over 30 years I have warned about what is coming, striving to prepare the Body of Christ for what is now upon us. Globalists may refer to it as The Great Reset but the Bible calls it the coming kingdom of the Antichrist. What seems so brilliant and beneficial will result in the darkest and most diabolical period in human history.
Nevertheless, we must not be discouraged or fearful, because all our future hopes and dreams are in Christ – not in ourselves, not in a political party, not in a global leader and not in a worldly kingdom. (Read John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; 1 Corinthians 15:51-55; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.)
Let those who so desire to have their kingdom on this planet enjoy their day and their temporary empire: they may get what they want, but they will not want what they get (see Revelation chapters 17 and 18). This temporary time of unprecedented unity, prosperity and immorality is rapidly coming upon the world and its “church,” but it will be a unity, prosperity and immorality (anything goes) of which you will not want any part! Scripture identifies this global system as Babylon the Great, Mother of Prostitutes and of the Abominations of the Earth (17:5). No wonder God calls His people out of her “so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues” (18:4).
As believers in Jesus Christ, our day and eternal Kingdom is also coming – after the destruction of Babylon the Great. We will inherit all we could ever imagine or desire – and far more! Our inheritance in Christ will abundantly satisfy us for ever and ever.
Jesus puts everything in perspective:
What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26).
Assuredly, one day the following prophecy will become a reality:
The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever (Revelation 11:15).
In the midst of Jeremiah’s extreme lamentations for Judah’s destruction by the Babylonians, the Holy Spirit inspired him to pen the following promise for the people of his time (and for us today):
This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I have hope in Him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him (Lamentations 3:21-25).
At Christ’s first coming many people expected the Messiah to provide political conquest, but Jesus came for spiritual redemption. Today, many people’s prayers and energies go toward political conquest, while God’s priority at this time is for us to share His Gospel in our local community, across cultural barriers and throughout the world (Acts 1:8). A Christian’s top priority must be for evangelism and leading others to Jesus Christ. Certainly you realize that one does not make it into the Kingdom of God because of political persuasion or even on account of good morality; access into God’s eternal Kingdom is only gained through accepting the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the atonement for our inherent sin.
In recent years, many political factions have been determined and committed in their quest to establish their “kingdom” on this earth. How much more should followers of Christ be determined, committed – unified – in bringing people into His millennial and eternal Kingdom?
As believers in Jesus Christ we must have greater passion in reaching people with His love and truth than in obtaining political power and control over this nation and the world. It is imperative that we focus the majority of our remaining time, energy and resources toward reaching this world for Christ before His return. May we be found faithful when He comes!