by Dr. BJ Rudge
To download this Podcast please click here.
by Bill Rudge
Believers in Jesus Christ have an exciting destiny – to rule and reign with Him throughout eternity! Considering this high calling of serving as royalty under the King of Kings, it is imperative that our words, attitudes and actions resemble His. Princes and princesses in God’s Kingdom should be a reflection of their LORD.
A few years ago, while speaking at a military memorial service, I sat between two dignitaries. They were both gracious and very complimentary of the words I spoke. However, what I want to emphasize here is that they handled themselves with dignity.
There is just something different about most dignitaries and royalty in the way they carry themselves. How much more should we, who are “joint heirs” (Romans 8:17) with the very Son of God, carry ourselves with dignity in our public and private lives. We should not be a reproach to His name, but conduct ourselves in a respectable manner.
Just as descendants of a reigning king are prepared for their royal positions, so believers begin on this side of eternity to prepare for our royal positions which will assuredly become reality during the Millennium and forever thereafter. The following qualities and attributes should begin to be manifest in our words, attitudes and behavior: dignity, integrity, righteousness, self-control, courage, compassion, humility, gentleness, generosity, kindness and faithfulness.
When I was twelve years old I was very skinny so I started lifting weights. Even though I remained thin for a long time thereafter, I began to walk and handle myself as if I was this strong person – believing I would eventually become like that and a few years later I was. Likewise, I know that one day I will rule and reign with Jesus Christ so I can begin now to think and behave accordingly.
Just as my thin physique was transformed into muscles as a teenager – one day my mortal body and humble existence will be transformed into a glorified body that will rule and reign with Christ. This will become a reality for those who believe in and commit their lives to Jesus Christ – so let’s begin acting like it in faith and confidence now!
John, a friend I made while in San Diego, is part Mexican and part American Indian. He has a phenomenal attitude, strong faith in Christ and is very talented. He told me that he used to see himself as skinny, dingy and ugly but now sees himself as lean, tan and distinct. He said that change of perspective has made a tremendous difference in how he carries himself.
Our High Calling
Always remember that as Christians, we have the highest calling. No matter what our position in this life, we can hold our heads high because one day we will be dignitaries serving as representatives for all eternity of the KING and LORD of the universe.
You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).
How It All Started
Bill Rudge started developing obstacle courses for the youth soccer teams he coached, which have morphed and expanded over the years. The current course was built by many volunteers – primarily using natural materials such as logs and tree stumps. Dick Hetrick and other volunteers cut down trees on-site, then crafted them for the various challenges. Throw in some car, truck, and tractor tires, ropes, and over-sized monkey bars, as well as a balance beam and wall (built by South Py Community Church) and you have the Ultimate Challenge Obstacle Course at Bill Rudge Ministries (BRM). Several individuals, businesses, churches and organizations volunteer their time, talents, and resources toward maintenance, while others assist Bill in running it.
Challenging Youth & Adults to Reach their Maximum Potential
Bill and BJ Rudge have set up Obstacle Courses and provided specialized training for individuals and groups in school and church gymnasiums and outside fields – locally, across the U.S. and abroad – since 1986. The permanent Obstacle Course at BRM provides many opportunities to train sports teams, youth groups, church groups, military personnel and new recruits, mission teams preparing for upcoming trips, Scouts, children, teens, adults and families – all free of charge. Over the years Bill has invented several recreational and sports activities which have been published in various magazines and are incorporated into some of his training regimen.
Various rigorous training routines have been designed by Bill to help prepare new recruits for the challenges that lie ahead at boot camp and beyond. An Army Recruiting Sergeant reported that his soldiers and new recruits loved it and were soaked with sweat – just what he wanted. A Navy Petty Officer said the exercises were great; that the sailors and future sailors really enjoyed it. A Marine Recruiting Sergeant said the course was challenging in multiple ways and that his future Marines had a great time. Some who trained on the BRM Obstacle Course were preparing to try out for the Navy Seals and other Special Forces while others were conditioning to try out for American Ninja.
Bill customizes every obstacle course adventure to meet specific needs, goals and levels of intensity for each group. Typically, groups are scheduled for 60 to 120 minutes. The shorter time includes mainly the obstacle course while the additional time involves innovative drills, relay races, recreational or sports activities, and individual or team competitions.
Assistants help Bill and BJ lead participants through the multifaceted course where they face a variety of physical and mental challenges and choices. The obstacle course is great for motivating youth and adults to step out of their comfort zones and for Team Building – improving communication, producing leadership skills, promoting teamwork, instilling cooperation, and enhancing trust and encouragement of each other as groups take on challenges and reach goals together.
Workouts on the obstacle course are interspersed with verbal coaching by Bill or BJ who interject motivational and inspirational comments on such concepts as: attitude, choices, confidence, commitment, courage, determination, discipline, faith, life-balance, loyalty, nutrition, respect, and self-control (all biblical principles) with the intended purpose of challenging youth and adults to reach their maximum potential: Physically, by developing upper and lower body strength, agility, balance, control, and endurance. Mentally, in remembering the required exercises and options at each station while developing problem-solving skills to make necessary adjustments based on the circumstances. Emotionally, by rising above one’s fears to meet challenges with a positive attitude and confidence. Spiritually, Bill shares his personal experience in discovering true strength; talks with them about how skills developed on the obstacle course can be used in life, and gives copies of his books to those who request them.
Many notes, letters and e-mail from coaches, players, youth leaders and others testify to the fun, challenge and life lessons gained through the obstacle course experience.
By Bill Rudge
Fifty years ago, on May 16, 1971, I began my hitchhiking quest across the country with my weightlifting buddy to get away from my girlfriend and her Jesus. In reality, I was in search of peace, fulfillment and the purpose of life. The adventures along the way – as well as the dangers – were many but the story took a turn while stranded in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We received rides from all types of people.
I remember getting picked up by a businessman outside of Akron, Ohio. I thought, “Nice car!” Wouldn’t you know, he began to witness to me about Jesus Christ. I run right into this religious nut who is telling me about this Jesus who I do not want to hear about. He knew I did not want to hear about Jesus so when he discovered I was going to New Mexico he said, “I know some monks out there.” (I later discovered they were born again, Spirit-filled monks).” He wrote a note and said, “I want you to give this to them and they will take care of you.” He sealed it in an envelope and I filed it away.
I thought, I am never going to see some dumb religious monks, so I later opened the letter. It said something like, “These boys are deeply troubled. Please pray for their souls.” I kept the note just in case we needed to go there and get some food.
Then in Columbus, Ohio, we hitched a ride with a guy who pulled a Bible out of his glove compartment and I thought, “Here we go again!” But when he opened his Bible, there was a hole cut out of the center pages with a stash of marijuana hidden there. As we all shared a joint, I thought, “How cool; no cop would ever think of looking inside a Bible for that.”
Albuquerque, New Mexico
After only two days and nights on the road and many adventures, we reached Albuquerque. I hoped to see my oldest brother who was living in a hippie commune there and to obtain a “hot” [stolen] motorcycle to ride to California. My brother had phoned at Christmas and I told him I might come out to see him sometime. He said he could get me a “hot” motorcycle on which we could travel across the rest of the country. He didn’t really believe I would ever show up.
At the hippie compound I was told that my brother had left the day before to go swimming at some springs in the mountains a hundred miles away. They had no idea when he would be back.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
We decided to hitchhike to Santa Fe, which was about 50 miles north of Albuquerque. After walking about three miles we finally hitched a ride that took us right into Santa Fe. During our ride, the car radio informed us that the temperature was going down to about 25 degrees, a record low for this time of year. I had anticipated warm weather out west in May, so all I had was a short-sleeved shirt and a plastic poncho.
Our ride dropped us off and we walked the cobblestone streets of Santa Fe to find a place to spend the night. Darkness was settling in and it seemed as though the whole city had closed down. Finally we found an open bar but were not allowed inside because we were underage. We asked again if we could just go inside long enough to find someone to put us up for the night. The person running the bar did not care and assured us that without proper I.D. we would not be allowed in.
We saw a girl riding by on a bicycle (the only sign of outside life) and yelled at her to stop but she pedaled all the faster and disappeared down a side street.
We returned to our only hope, the bar, which was now closing. No one leaving the bar was willing to help or put us up for the night. It was very late and the temperatures had dropped drastically.
I had unknowingly served Satan faithfully over the years but now he knew that God was beginning to move in my heart so he led me here and set me up to freeze to death.
Hope was diminishing and then, seemingly out of nowhere, down a narrow street came a small, yellow foreign car with several longhaired hippies and a German Shepherd dog hanging his head out of the window. My friend and I began to wave and yell hoping they would stop. All of a sudden one of them started yelling, “That’s my brother, that’s my brother!” and my brother Larry screeched the car to a halt. One of the passengers, Rick, said, “Yeah, we’re all brothers. You and me are brothers. The guy in the back seat is your brother too.” Larry said, “It is my blood brother.” Rick said, “That’s impossible!”
My brother did not even know I was in New Mexico. He was supposed to be 100 miles away swimming somewhere in the mountains, and there in the small town of Santa Fe, on a narrow street, a God who knew I would one day give my life to Him, intervened and spared my life.
Larry, his buddies, and a German shepherd dog Larry found had hitchhiked up to Jemez Hot Springs (59 miles north of Albuquerque and 50 miles – by road – west of Santa Fe) and stayed for a couple days. Larry and his friends were thrown out of the Hot Springs after a few nights and were hitchhiking back to Albuquerque when a young female school teacher picked them up. She took them to her home – which just happened to be in Santa Fe – and let them sleep on her floor that night. She said to Larry, “You guys aren’t going to trash my house and steal my TV and other items?” Larry promised they would not.
The next day this single female teacher left them a note stating she would be back at noon and that they were welcome to wait at the house. She came back home from school at noon and gave Larry the keys to her car saying they could use it to see Sante Fe but to please bring it back that night since it was the only car she had. She asked Larry again, “You guys aren’t going to steal my car and take everything in my house?” Larry promised her they would not. Another schoolteacher who had followed her home at noon drove her back to school and then dropped her off at her house after school. It was later that night, as Larry was driving the car back to her house, that he saw me. Larry later told me they had thought about stealing her car but wanted to keep his promise to return her car since she had been so nice.
It was on Larry’s way back to her house that God used him to save my life. If the car windows hadn’t been rolled down, Larry would never have seen me. You know why the windows were down in such cold weather? Because they had been feeding Mexican beans to the dog and it had gas. Since the defroster wasn’t working, all the windows would have steamed up, he wouldn’t have seen me, and we would have passed like two ships in the night. So God used the dog’s gas for those windows to be down!
God uses the foolish things to confound the wise and the weak things to confound the strong.
We all scrunched into that small car and soon all of us were hanging out the windows. We went to where they were staying and I completely forgot, or cared, about God. We all smoked some grass and shared stories. Larry explained that he would not be able to get us a motorcycle so the next day my friend and I started hitchhiking back to Pennsylvania. Larry, his buddies, and the dog returned to Albuquerque – never to see that school teacher again and wondering not only why she ever picked them up, let them stay in her house, and borrow her car, but also why they didn’t steal it and take off. For many years, Larry was in and out of prison for drug related charges. He told many prisoners about that miracle in Sante Fe in 1971. Years later, Larry was on fire for Jesus Christ. He died of lung cancer and with his dying words He praised Jesus for what God did in Santa Fe.
Back in Pennsylvania
We encountered many more incidents along the way but were really happy when we arrived home. The first thing I did when I got home was call Karen and then go to see her. It happened to be Sunday so, after our reunion, Karen said, “Bill, I want you to come tonight and hear this fantastic evangelist speaking in Youngstown, Ohio.”
The last thing I wanted to do my first night back was to spend it in church hearing about Jesus. I told her, “Karen, take your religion and shove it.” She persisted so I decided to go since we hadn’t seen each other for so long and she looked so beautiful.
But that night the Holy Spirit was dealing with me in a way I had never known before. The evangelist spoke on Bible prophecy and how we could know God in a real and personal way.
I had been searching for meaning and purpose in life for a long time. I had tried everything imaginable to find lasting happiness and peace. I now knew that what I was looking for would not be found, no matter where I went or what I did, but only through giving my life to Jesus Christ and fulfilling the purpose God had for my life.
When he gave the altar call, Karen and her friends asked the usual question, “Do you want us to walk down with you?” I said, “No. This time I’ll do it alone.”
I stood to my feet and as I walked down the long aisle to the altar, I said, “God, if You prove Yourself real to me tonight, I’ll live my life for You.” That was May 23, 1971. God did, and I’ve never been the same since.
The next night I went to hear this same evangelist speak in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania.
During the service he pointed to me and said, “Young man, last night there was a battle between heaven and hell. Satan and hell wanted to keep you, but God won!”
And that’s exactly what happened. I’ve never been the same and I never will be the same.
God intervened and changed my life in a way no self-realization course, no mind-expansion technique, no latent mental powers, no psychotherapy technique, no martial arts involvement, no weight lifting, no hypnosis, no meditation, no Yoga, no occultism, no Eastern religion, no human potential, no atheism, no self-effort or works of righteousness could! Nothing and no one could change my life, except Him.
by Bill Rudge
The following confessions of faith have heartfelt meaning in my relationship with Christ. They are frequently part of my prayer and fasting time:
You are the CREATOR and Sovereign Lord of the Universe; ELOHIM, the strong and faithful One; ADONAI, Master and Lord; YAHWEH, the Great I Am; KING of Kings and LORD of Lords …
You are Holy, Righteous, Just, Faithful, True, Loving, Kind, Merciful, Long-Suffering …
You are my Source and Strength, my God and King, my Savior and Messiah, my Lord and Master, my Creator and Sustainer, my Rock and Fortress, my Shield and Sword, my Protector and Provider, my Helper and Healer …
My desire and prayer is to:
• Walk with You like Enoch (Genesis 5:22-24).
• Be considered Your friend like Abraham (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23).
• Be considered Your servant like Moses (Joshua 1:2).
• Have a heart after You like David (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).
• Be obedient like Jesus (Philippians 2:8; Romans 5:19; Hebrews 5:8).
• Be a faithful witness like Antipas (Revelation 2:13).
Now read all the above once again slowly as you ponder and pray about each description of God and what He means in your heart and life. Then give the LORD your praise, thanks and worship because He is truly worthy!
Men With Vision is a group of men who volunteer their time and talents to help where needed in western Pennsylvania. In March, President Bob Ramp and his crew (Tom Anthony, Dave Campbell, Mike Godnich, Dick Hetrick, Ed King, Ron McDonald, Larry Royal and Norm Simons) answered the call from Bill Rudge Ministries to build a ramp.
Karen Rudge had just had an extensive four-hour foot and ankle surgery that entailed a bone graft, three screws, three staples, and 42 stitches and would not be allowed to bear any weight for two months. The ramp would enable her to leave the house for doctor’s appointments and to continue her responsibilities at the ministry center. Karen is a full-time volunteer coordinating various crucial aspects of the ministry.
Men with Vision supplied the materials at no cost and completed the ramp in only three hours, finishing the task just as the sun was setting.
Many thanks to Men of Vision and also to all who prayed, visited, brought flowers, made meals, sent cards, and helped in a variety of ways. May God bless you all.