Facing a Challenge

By Darlinda McDonald

In June, many groups and individuals were challenged by the obstacle course at Bill Rudge Ministries. It was a delight to see the diversity within each group, from young people who were athletically gifted to those who looked at the obstacle course with apprehension. Several of Bill’s grandchildren assisted the groups through the course.

As Bill gave the instructions, he took the opportunity to help the young people see attitudes (such as courage, determination, confidence, etc.) that could help them navigate the course. All the youth met the challenges with great effort but one lesson was especially highlighted when one of the smallest boys volunteered first to scale the course’s 7-foot wall.

DSC_0064_2With great determination, this young Boy Scout valiantly ran and leaped toward the top of the wall repeatedly. After finally realizing he couldn’t reach his goal alone, the other Boy Scouts boosted him up and over. This encouraged others to try. In addition, this same young teen accepted the ultimate challenge of breaking the record for crossing the large monkey bars as many times as possible. He fell short of this goal also but gave it all he had. Like David facing Goliath, he did not let the size of the challenge deter him. As Christians, we, too, can face challenges with courage and determination because the “battle belongs to the Lord.”


The youth groups, from the Assembly of God and Neshannock Alliance, faced two challenges the day they came. One was navigating the Ultimate Challenge Obstacle Course on an exceptionally hot and muggy morning. The second was a five-hour workday at the ministry grounds in the hot sun. They weed-whacked and pulled weeds, raked and picked up sticks and debris, washed windows, trimmed tree branches and cut them up and burned them, cleaned up the obstacle course area, and power-washed two decks and furniture as well as the side of the ministry center. We are so appreciative they chose our ministry for their workday project. Because of what they accomplished, the time we had to minister to others was multiplied.


Right after the youth group work was done, two visitors from the military arrived to look at the obstacle course. They were most impressed and asked to schedule troops to train at BRM. Many other groups and individuals already have (or will) take on the challenge of the obstacle course this summer.

Life Is A Lot Like Sports

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Being a sports fan is like being on an emotional roller coaster. You experience the high and excitement of watching your team win a game and the low and disappointment of watching them lose. As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, this was certainly the case for me over the past few weeks. In one moment I was cheering with excitement as they advanced to the AFC championship game, the next moment I was sitting in complete disgust as they lost and fell short of making it to the Super Bowl. Life is certainly a lot like sports. In one moment life is moving along smoothly and then, in an instant, it can change completely. We all experience moments in life that bring joy and happiness, while others that bring pain and sorrow.

Watching the Steelers lose was even more of a struggle considering the fact that the New England Patriots humbled them. It was difficult to watch the Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, completely dissect the Steelers defense. Time after time Brady found receivers completely wide open, and as this continued to occur I am sure I was not alone in wondering why the Steelers appeared to make no adjustments to stop it.   Certainly, the coaches from the Steelers wanted to win and go to the Super Bowl. But the question remains, “Why not change what you are doing if it is not working?” Especially when what you have done has consistently hindered you from beating Tom Brady and the Patriots. Just as adjustments in a football game need to be made when things are not going right, so too, in life, we need to make adjustments when we find our lives not going in the right direction. The adjustment might be changing the way we are spending our time or changing who we spend our time with. Regardless of what adjustment needs to be made, if we find ourselves, like the Steelers, consistently being defeated, then we need to recognize that something has to change!

So while there is some therapy for me as a distraught fan in writing this blog, two important questions still face us all. First, what are we building our lives upon that will help us weather the ups and downs of life? If we are wise, then we will build our lives upon the reliable foundation of Jesus Christ and His commands. When we put into practice Jesus’ commands, then when the ups and downs come our way, and when we eventually stand before God on judgment day, we can take confidence in the following words of Jesus,

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:24, 25).

Second, what adjustments do you need to make today for you to find victory in your life? The purpose of the cross was not just to provide life beyond the grave, but was also to provide freedom in this life from the chains of sin (Romans 6:15-18). Yes, we will struggle in this life with sin, but we do not need to be kept captive by it. We can have victory in this life! As the author of Hebrews states,

“therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1).