Speak Blessing

by Karen Rudge

“Death and Life are in the power of the tongue …” (Proverbs 18:21).

“Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

The world our young people experience everyday is so divided, negative, scary and seemingly purposeless and hopeless. Therefore, our homes must be a place of peace, love and hope. Children should not be told by parents that they are no good, will never make anything of themselves or that they are lazy and useless! They hear enough of these messages in the world from social media, television, movies and even their peers.

Words have great influence for either harm or good. That is why we need to speak words of Truth and Blessing. When you speak negatively to your children, it tears them down; you are speaking destructively over someone God has created for a special purpose. Instead, nurture them with powerful and positive words from the Word of God.

At bedtime, when our children were young, Bill and I would say a blessing over them. We would pray a scripture to plant a seed in their life, or claim a promise of God if they were needing encouragement for something they were going through. When we prayed a scripture, we would add their name to make it more personal.

Young people need positive words said to them that will build them up, inspire and motivate them to excel. They need God’s Word spoken over them to bring healing, peace, confidence and courage. Isaiah 54:13 states:

All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.

When you speak or pray a blessing over your child (or anyone), personalize it to their current need or crisis. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you words that will bring comfort and healing. Our words are not only powerful, but what we say shows others who we really are for what is truly in our hearts will overflow in our speech. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45b).

The apostle Paul admonishes us in Ephesians 4:29:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

So let’s begin today to speak forth blessings and not cursing. Let our speech be pleasant to the hearer and bring glory to our Lord. Speaking blessings will not only bring hope, encouragement and direction to those we speak, it will also bless us as well.

Wisdom for an 18 Year Old … and All of Us, part two – Wisdom from My Father

Recently Bill and BJ Rudge were requested by a father to each send a letter to his son who was about to turn 18. Their advice is relevant to all – both young and old, male and female. The following is BJ’s response.

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

I feel very honored to share with you the realization that I had become a man. I was blessed to have a godly father who taught me to build my life upon the Word of God. This gave me a great foundation and outlook on what it meant to be a man from God’s (and not the world’s) perspective.

Bill and BJ in the Himalayas.

When I was 18, I took a class on philosophy. My professor did not have a positive view of religion, and more specifically, had a hostile attitude toward Christianity. From the very first class, he spent much of his energy showing why it was “foolish” to believe in God and the Bible. As my faith was attacked, I spoke with my father expecting that he would tell me to drop the course. Instead, he told me to take on my professor’s challenge by investigating the truth of the faith that he had taught me growing up. This led me on an incredible spiritual journey that moved me from having only a belief to a conviction that Jesus Christ was who He claimed to be and that He had risen from the dead. This process created a powerful transition from being just a boy into a man who could take ownership over what I believed and why I believed it.

During this process, at age 19, I was hired as boys’ soccer coach at Hickory High School. To set context, this was the school where I graduated and where I played high school soccer, which meant the players on the team were not only my former teammates but my friends. So, literally overnight, I had to shift from being one of their peers to being their coach, placing me in many situations where I had to deal with “grown-up” issues and decisions.

For example, the very first week of the season one of my players, and very close friend, was caught drinking. As a violation of our program’s policy, this infraction required me, as coach, to not only meet with the player and his parents, but to levy consequences. Just two weeks prior, I was at this player’s house hanging out, talking to his parents as their son’s friend; now I had to meet with all of them as the coach who had to act as judge and jury over what happened.

Being a high school coach at a young age was a life-changing experience that made me realize that, as a man, I had a responsibility toward others that required me to hold them accountable for their actions.

Our world truly needs more godly men: men who will stand for what is right – even if it means standing alone – who will spiritually lead their families, who will protect and love their wives, and who will humbly seek to glorify God in all areas. May the Lord’s hand be upon you as He continues to guide you through the steps of becoming the man He wants you to be.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night (Psalm 1:1-2).

Wisdom for an 18 Year Old… and All of Us, part one

Recently Bill and BJ Rudge were requested by a father to each send a letter to his son who was about to turn 18. Their advice is relevant to all – both young and old, male and female. The following is Bill’s response; BJ’s response will be posted later.

I Became a Man When …

by Bill Rudge

The age of 18 for me covered all the bases: from rebellious teenager, youngest fitness instructor in this area, hitchhiking cross country (in search for what was missing in my life, and hoping it wasn’t Jesus Christ), to being miraculously saved from death in Santa Fe, then returning to Pennsylvania and giving my life to Jesus Christ after all; running away and getting married, and finally, receiving a call to Bible college and ministry – all at the age of 18!

So when did I learn to become a man and what did that mean to me? I thought I was a man through all the physical strength and skills I had or from the wild life I had lived; but anyone can achieve those things. I became a man when I got on my knees and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. Getting married and heading to Bible college with no money made for a rapid maturing process!

Applying the biblical principles I learned in God’s Word really taught me how to be a man; they transformed my life.

Here is a brief summary.

Examine The Evidence for Faith in Jesus – Know what you believe and why you believe it.

Total Commitment to Christ as Lord – His Lordship must supersede everything else in your life.

Obedience to Christ’s Will – Instead of seeking your own will, discover, desire and implement His will.

Be Surrendered and Available So God Can Mold Your Life – Do not stiffen your neck or harden your heart but allow Him to accomplish His purpose for your life.

Evaluate Your Motives – Pride ends in destruction; humility in honor.

Live a Life of Integrity – Your testimony and name are more valuable than precious gold and expensive jewels.

Establish a Balanced Life – Be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually fit.

Exercise Self-Control – Realize that the essence of strength is self-control. Have discipline in every area of life.

Dare to Be Different – Don’t compromise your convictions or conform because of peer pressure. Be a God-fearer rather than a man-pleaser.

Have the Courage to Stand Alone – Courage is not lack of fear but standing your ground in spite of it.

Develop Determination to Never Give Up – You will face many obstacles and challenges but do not quit. If you do fall, get back up and keep going. Remain faithful to the end and I promise that you will one day be richly rewarded.

Root Out Hidden Sins – Your secret sins will find you out and destroy you, but forgiveness and restoration is only a prayer of repentance away.

Desire the Lord More than Anyone or Anything Else – Avoid an endless search by realizing that nothing or no one will satisfy you more than a close relationship with your Creator, Savior and Lord.

Ponder these biblical truths deeply, embrace them thoroughly and review them frequently. You will never regret doing so. The above principles, in harmony with God’s Holy Spirit, will mold you into the man God created you to be!

Dad

What I’d give, if I could say

“Hello Dad” in the same old way.

To hear his voice and see his smile,

to sit with him and chat for a while.

So, if your Father is still here,

cherish him with care,

for you’ll never know the heartache

until you see his empty chair.

Author Unknown

Contending for the Faith ~ A Study on the Book of Jude

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

As did Jesus’ disciples (Matthew 24:3), we wonder ourselves when Jesus will return. Bombarded daily with headlines of wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters and the spread of diseases, the reality of His return seems closer today than ever before. As I am writing this article, the news headlines of a potential war between America and Iran, the continual global spread of the coronavirus, worldwide crop failures, locust plagues in Africa and China and an earthquake in the Caribbean (of all places) echo Jesus’ words in Matthew 24.

While every generation since Jesus ascended into heaven has anticipated His return, there is a uniqueness about our generation – especially with Israel a nation once again. However, to avoid falling into the trap of so many date setters, I recognize that no one knows that day or hour, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only (Matthew 24:36). Yet, while we do not know the specific day, we as believers are not ignorant of the signs that will precede Jesus’ return. As we continue to hear of wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes in various places, let us not forget the first sign Jesus told the disciples to be aware of – deception. In fact, Jesus even warns that false christs and false prophets will arise showing great signs and wonders to deceive the world. This deception will be so great that Jesus says, if possible, even true believers (elect) will be deceived (Matthew 24:23-26). This theme of deception continues on throughout the pages of the New Testament, as the Apostles Paul and Peter confront the dangers of false teaching that had crept into the church (2 Corinthians 11:1-14; Galatians 1:6-10; 1 Timothy 4:1-5; 2 Peter 2).

To avoid the deception that comes through false teaching, Christians are given numerous commands: We are called to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21), stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught by us (2 Thessalonians 2:15), be on our guard (2 Peter 3:17), fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12), encourage and rebuke (Titus 2:15) and contend for the faith (Jude 3). These commands (specifically the call to contend) captures the heart of this study which will take us into an in-depth look at the book of Jude – a book that was specifically written to equip believers to avoid the deception of false teaching and persevere in the truth of God’s Word.

In our study (future blogs), we will examine the call to contend for the faith as we address the dangers of false teaching, the fruit of false teaching, the identification of false teachers and how to persevere and stand firm in the midst of deception. The intention of this study is to go beyond giving just factual information about the book of Jude. It is designed to enable you to warn others, while at the same time provide safeguards for your own life against false teaching.

My passion for this study comes out of personal experience in how false teaching has affected people I greatly care about. One dear friend became a spiritual casualty of the false teaching that permeated the church he attended. That teaching led to the destruction of his faith and the spiritual devastation of his entire family. Another has been caught up in the pattern of spiritual addiction. Devoid of discernment, her life is in a constant cycle of trying to find her next spiritual high. These two reflect the need for all of us to contend for the faith so that our loved ones and ourselves may avoid the traps of spiritual deception.

Leaving A Legacy

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

One afternoon while walking through the woods, and spending time with the Lord in prayer, I reflected upon my life. Not only contemplating my past, I began to examine where I was in the present; specifically how I was spending my time and how this might impact my future. I thought of my children and what type of legacy I was leaving for them, and asked myself, “If I were to pass away, how would my children describe me? Would they talk about a father who not only loved them, but also desired to continually be in the presence of the Lord? Would they see me as a man who invested his life in prayer and in fulfilling God’s calling on his life? Would they want to follow in my footsteps as a man of integrity and emulate my spiritual walk with the Lord?”

The reality is that all of us will leave a legacy. Regardless of whether we are married and have children or not, God places people in our lives who are part of our circle of influence. A friend of mine has never been married and has no children, but he recognizes that he has been called by God to be a spiritual role model for his nieces and nephews. Another friend told me that he and his wife were not able to have children. However, he realizes that God has still called him to be a godly example to others. So he invests his time working with the children at his church, and serving as a chaplain at a local hospital to patients who are dying.

Considering this, ask yourself the following question: “What spiritual legacy am I leaving with the people God has put in my life?” The answer will depend upon how much time you spend in prayer, for it is in the time we spend in prayer that God prepares and equips us for His calling on our lives. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones asserts in his studies on the Sermon on the Mount:

Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when, upon his knees, he comes face to face with God.