The apostle Paul entreats us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and appearing of Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-13). As you see the Day of the Lord approaching, realize that each passing moment brings you closer to eternity.
New Levels of Depravity
Our decadent society is free-falling into an abyss of unrestrained, uninhibited, gratuitous sexual addiction. All limits have been removed as virtually anything and everything is acceptable. Today’s generation has adopted the attitude of the Israelites in the days of the Judges, when “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).
In various ways people in this day and age take the behavior of ancient pagan fertility rites to new levels of depravity. We live in a world given over to every sexual perversion imaginable as people, driven by an appetite for erotica, unsuccessfully attempt to satisfy their lust for sexual gratification. The Bible says –
Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more (Ephesians 4:19).
Many Christians and even pastors carelessly pursue practices and lifestyles that are destructive to their health and testimony, disastrous to their families and devastating to their congregations.
Broken lives, ruined marriages, traumatized families, diminished health and damaged testimonies could be avoided if a fruit of the Spirit – self-control – is exercised. However, those who refuse to repent and do not endeavor to develop discipline, then God’s discipline – whether it comes from reaping the consequences of seeds sown or through remedial judgments – will clean up many in the Body of Christ who tolerate or flaunt immorality.
Come out of Babylon
Time is running out as this nation and world rapidly disintegrate morally. Collapse seems imminent. Priorities and pursuits need to change. Each person must repent of the sin and vileness in their lives and homes. God exhorts each of us to resist the pervasive spirit of apostasy and wanton immorality. He is calling His people to come out of Babylon “so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).
The apostle John encourages everyone who lives in the hope of Christ’s return to purify themselves (1 John 3:2, 3).
The apostle Peter tells us to live holy and godly lives as the day of the Lord approaches (2 Peter 3:9-14).
The Lord Jesus Christ admonishes us to remain faithful.
Challenge to God’s People
In spite of an increasingly corrupt world, Jesus is coming back for a Bride without spot or blemish. So it is time His Church cleans up her act. This is a day and age for believers to evaluate our lives; examine what we are entertained by, contemplate what our minds are exposed to, consider the words we speak, and ponder the meditations of our heart. It is a time to purify our minds and bodies.
Each of us will be tried and tested in our pursuit of holiness and purity. The enemy will use every opportunity and method to pollute our minds with vile images and tempt us to compromise our lives with sinful behavior. We can and must resist by the might of His Spirit and the command of His Word.
The Church does not need pastors who merely tell us how human they are by confessing all their flaws and dark secrets. We need ministers who will show us how they overcame them by the power of God’s Spirit and the authority of His Word. We need Christian leaders who will lead by godly example in a darkening and desperate world. We need those who will inspire us to maintain disciplined lifestyles so we can be effective witnesses with testimonies that shine brightly for His glory.
While God offers the free gift of salvation to everyone who will believe and receive, it is imperative that we seek to walk a path of strength and wisdom in pursuit of purity, maturity, and righteousness as we await the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The infamous snow run began one cold and snowy evening many years ago when Bill Rudge was in his home working on a message late at night and needed something at the ministry center –– a distance of about 100 yards (the length of a football field). Instead of taking the time to put on his socks and shoes, he ran barefoot over to the center.
It was such an adventure and challenge, not to mention saving time, that Bill continued this practice for many years –– through ice, snow, and rain –– until the former ministry center was sold. (Now, he runs to the obstacle course and back.)
When guests visited his home, he would ask if they wanted to do the snow run. Most were curious but declined. However, a few did run it with him.
Bill loves doing things like the snow run because the Lord usually gives him an illustration and spiritual application to share. He impressed on Bill’s heart how a believer’s walk with Him is like the snow run in so many ways.
First, before you embark on the snow run you must count the cost and prepare yourself for the ordeal that lies ahead. You must consider the terrain, time (day or night), and temperature to determine the level of difficulty. And be sure you have the key to the ministry door ready.
Similarly, Jesus said to count the cost before becoming His disciple. And before embarking on any endeavor in His name we must prepare our hearts for whatever might lie ahead. We must be certain we are being led by His Word and Spirit.
As a barefoot runner in shorts and a t-shirt, you cannot be diverted to the right or to the left because after the first few steps your feet start burning. So, too, as believers in Jesus Christ, we must keep our focus on Him and not turn to the right or to the left.
By the time you are halfway across the snow-covered field your feet feel like cement blocks, and then quickly go numb. You cannot stop or you will have to crawl back. Likewise for true believers in Jesus Christ, stopping or giving up during our walk with Him is not an option.
As a snow runner you have to run swiftly and make each step count. You cannot look back lest you slip and fall. In similar fashion, believers must throw off every sin that so easily entangles and swiftly run the race of faith, making each day count for the Lord. We must forget what lies behind and press on with faith and determination.
An observer may not realize the full challenge and difficulty of the snow run but participants in bare feet and wearing only shorts and a t-shirt understand quickly the courage necessary to do the snow run. This is especially true at night when it is below zero degrees, there is a foot of snow on the ground, and the wind is blowing hard.
In the top photo, Keira, a college roommate of Bill’s daughter with a heart for missions, went on the snow run with Bill. Keira’s father is an amazing scientist who persevered through great challenges and obstacles to invent the MRI. Several years ago Bill was honored to perform the wedding of Keira and Markus in Long Island, New York. The bottom photo shows Bill’s grandsons, Lucas (left) and Carson. They did the snow run all the way to the obstacle course and then did pull-ups before running all the way back to the house.
So, too, those who do not know the Lord may not comprehend the commitment and sacrifice of a true Christian unless he or she becomes one. Believers must have tremendous courage to face the onslaughts of the enemy and stand –– sometimes alone –– in the midst of opposition.
As you approach the ministry center parking lot you need to have enough energy to leap or climb over a snow bank several feet high which was left by the snow plow. Likewise, as believers we will face many barriers and obstacles that attempt to impede our progress, but we must persevere and overcome through Christ.
Once you jump over the snow mound you will be sliding across the icy parking lot. You have to maintain your balance lest you fall on the blacktop or bang into the steps or front door of the ministry center and injure yourself.
Likewise, as believers we must maintain a biblical balance by avoiding the extremes of legalism and liberalism. We must not slip or fall by compromising our commitment to Christ and injuring our testimony.
Upon reaching the front door, your freezing hands will fumble with the key, sometimes dropping it, in an attempt to unlock the door as quickly as possible. So, too, if a believer fumbles when facing temptations and tribulations, he or she must speedily ask His forgiveness, get up, and press on.
The burning sensation returns as you walk around inside the ministry center trying to warm your feet on the carpet. You may not want to make the return snow run, but you have to. So, too, once we give our lives to Christ and our hearts are warmed by His love, we must go out into an, often times, cold world and share His love and truth with those who may not always want to hear.
Each step of the snow run brought you closer to your destination and the reward of warmth. Likewise, each day brings us as believers closer to our eternal destiny and an everlasting reward.
As we see the day of the Lord approaching, or our time drawing near to go and be with Him, may we remember this illustration of the snow run. May we remain faithful until the very end and be overcomers who run with perseverance, leap over every barrier and obstacle, and joyfully enter His eternal kingdom.
At the beginning of January, Karen and I fast for a week or more as we pray through our Personal, Family, and Ministry Prayer and Fasting lists. This is an intense; special time of prayer and Scripture study to seek the Lord’s direction and goals for the coming year.
Similar to the principle of lifting weights, I tear myself down physically, emotionally and spiritually through fasting – only to be rebuilt – stronger for the new year. Along with the tremendous spiritual benefits, there are some amazing physical and mental benefits.
At the age of 30 my health was eroding. The indulgent, injurious lifestyle of my younger years were catching up with me. So I prayed, “Lord, if You want me to continue in the ministry, I need Your help.” I am convinced that the Lord honored that earnest prayer by leading me into fasting and nutrition. As a result, I have seen tremendous benefits in obeying His biblical principles of health and fitness.
Many Christians and Christian leaders needlessly suffer from the consequences of being undisciplined, overindulgent and from violating God’s natural health laws. God is calling for a body of believers who will not only serve Him wholeheartedly but also walk in discipline and self-control. Remember, we are not to be mastered by anything or anyone but Him.
Throughout Scripture, the people of God have faced insurmountable circumstances and obstacles. When they humbled themselves and sought the Lord with all their hearts, through prayer and fasting, He intervened in miraculous ways.
I can testify that what was written in the Bible thousands of years ago is true because I have witnessed the God of the Bible do some awesome things in my life and ministry. I have documented in my personal records numerous accounts of supernatural intervention in the midst of impossible situations, and recorded many of the lessons the Lord has taught me. The Impossible (a record of my life and ministry) and Adventures In Missions (a record of my mission trips) are laced with miraculous accounts of what has occurred as a result of fasting, prayer, faith and obedience.
Bill’s e-book, Fasting for Sensitivity and Power is available free of charge at billrudge.org or for purchase at amazon.com.
Spending more time with family, getting into shape, quitting a bad habit and getting out of debt top the list of New Year’s resolutions. We make our resolutions with the best of intentions. Early in the new year we are like runners at the start of a race: excited to begin the quest toward the finish line. However, several months into the year, our enthusiasm wanes as motivation diminishes, distractions divert us, pressures and time constraints weigh us down, and apathy overtakes us. What started as a noble endeavor, often becomes just another New Year’s resolution that will have to wait until next year to be achieved.
So, too, in our Christian walk we start out with the best of intentions. We are enthusiastic in our faith and motivated to enhance our relationship with Jesus Christ. But if we do not nurture this desire and goal, in time motivation and enthusiasm begin to wane as trials and temptations take their toll. Many give up, beaten down by guilt, struggling to get back on track spiritually. As in other areas of our life, spirituality becomes just another resolution, indefinitely postponed.
Instead of waiting for another New Year, re-evaluate your priorities and goals right now. Rather than merely making a New Year’s resolution, make a New Life resolution – a lifetime commitment, through the power of God’s Spirit, to make Jesus Christ the center of your life. The following are some simple, but profound, principles to help you:
Live a life of prayer (Colossians 4:2).
Devote yourself to the study of God’s Word:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success (Joshua 1:8).
Be authentic in your walk with Christ (Ephesians 5:1, 2).
Commit to Him with your whole life:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37).
Take on this challenge of a New Life resolution – begin today, and keep the passion burning throughout the year. If you notice the flame burning low, rekindle it and keep on going – until the very end!
While the nativity story provides opportunity to reflect upon an incredible event in history, it also has great meaning for us today.
A crucial aspect of the nativity is the trust and obedience of Mary and Joseph. Both demonstrated extraordinary faith in their commitment to God and to following His will, regardless of the cost (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:28-38). So too, God wants to use ordinary people today who will have extraordinary faith and commitment to trust and obey Him no matter what the circumstances.
Upon hearing the good news of a Savior, from the angel of the Lord, the shepherds hurried to Bethlehem to see the baby lying in a manger. They departed glorifying and praising God for the birth of the Savior (Luke 2:8-20). In the midst of commercialism, where the true meaning of Christmas can be obscured or lost altogether, may we be like the shepherds in giving praise and glory to our Savior and Lord.
The Wise Men chose to travel hundreds of arduous miles to worship “He who has been born King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). Likewise, may we choose to walk the challenging journey of faith and obedience to Jesus Christ. The rewards at the end will be well worth it.
May this Christmas be more than just the remembrance of a past event or an outpouring of holiday spirit. May the true meaning of the nativity be evident in our lives and homes.
Because of Christmas, the life of a rebellious teenager on a path to destruction was saved.
A liar, cheat, thief, and vandal, arrogant and profane, this searching person was dramatically transformed. Only the love and forgiveness of Christ can change a deceiver into a person of integrity who freely gives of his time, resources and services to help others instead of hurting them. Only Jesus can take someone from hitchhiking across the country, hostile toward God, to traveling throughout the world proclaiming Him; or inspire someone voted least likely to succeed in motivating multitudes to reach their maximum potential.
Why would any reasonable person oppose the message of Christ’s birth?
Open your New Testament to the book of Luke and learn all about Jesus’ coming. Then continue through the book of John to discover who this Jesus is. Christ just may become the joy and passion of your life as He has come to be in mine. Merry Christmas!