Army Assists at Obstacle Course

by Darlinda McDonald

The Hickory Boys’ Soccer and Sharpsville Girls’ Soccer teams as well as members and recruits of the U. S. Army tested their skills at the Bill Rudge Ministries’ Ultimate Challenge Obstacle & Fitness Course in Hermitage. The Army assisted Bill as he guided the soccer teams through the course before they embarked on their own physical training. They also passed out U.S. Army water bottles to the teams afterward.

Bill challenged both the youth and adults to reach their maximum potential physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

A Lament for Hugh

by Bill Rudge

flowerPsalm 103:15-18 accurately states:

As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.

Hugh may have had a “funtastic” life but I would not want his eternity. He may have been proud about breaking down moral barriers and mocking God’s commands but I am certain he is now humbled in the presence of the One who allowed him the temporary freedom to make his own choices and even live his sensual lifestyle – which influenced multitudes.

“It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied round his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin” (Luke 17:1, 2).

Hugh may have been proud of “decontaminating the notion of premarital sex” but I wonder now that he has a “perspective from eternity” how he feels about all the STDs, ruined marriages, broken homes, shattered lives, exploited women, abortions … he helped unleash on the U.S. and world.

In contrast to seduction to lustful indulgences, Hugh would have been better off to be like Job who said:

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl” (Job 31:1). David asserted, “I will set before my eyes no vile thing” (Psalm 101:3).

Hugh may have temporarily enjoyed sex with over a thousand women and the opulence of being a multi-millionaire but how will he fare for eternity. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus has some relevance to Hugh:

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” But Abraham replied, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.” (Luke 16:19-25).

As a person who had all the pleasures this world had to offer as a youth, I can honestly say that nothing or no one has fulfilled my life and satisfied me more than coming to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Living for Christ has been an amazing adventure (and at times very challenging and difficult) and has provided tremendous hope and anticipation for an eternal inheritance. Only He fulfilled my never-ending search for meaning and purpose. The God who created and designed me has given me greater peace and joy than anything this world ever offered. Since coming to know Christ I have never desired to return to my former lifestyle forsaking all I have gained in Christ. I now understand what the psalmist meant when he said,

“Besides You, I desire nothing on earth” (Psalm 73:25 NAS), and “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God” (Psalm 42:1).

My advice after you finish reading this article is to turn off your television, walk away from the Internet, silence your cell phone, discard your pornography and get away to seriously ponder your choices and lifestyle – and the eventual (sometimes immediate) and eternal consequences.

Instead of following in the footsteps of someone who will lead you down an eventual path of disease, devastation, death and destruction, follow the One who promises true and lasting righteousness, peace and joy.

David, the greatest king in Israel’s history who was forgiven of a sordid past, confidently stated,

“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Psalm 16:11).

Write for a free copy of Bill Rudge’s insightful book, Overcoming Sexual Immorality. Send your mailing address to BRM, P.O. Box 108, Sharon, PA 16146.

Boy Scouts Do Their Best

By Darlinda McDonald

The Boy Scout motto begins with “On my honor, I will do my best…” and that is just what Boy Scout Troop 45 from Sharpsville, PA did at the Bill Rudge Ministries Ultimate Obstacle Course this week.

DSC_0006They began their evening with a salute to the flag before Bill Rudge led them through the multi-faceted course. Troop Leaders and others aided the scouts as they faced a variety of physical challenges. The scouts did their very best as they tested their arm strength on the monkey bars, discovered their agility jumping and running through the tires, found their balance on the balance beam, and were DSC_0034challenged with different exercises on the stumps and logs. They worked as a team when they helped each other scale the wall and joined together in the fun “chariot race.”

Before heading to the campfire to enjoy some hotdogs, the scouts sat in a circle attentively as Bill talked with them about how the skills they used on the obstacle course, such as diligence DSC_0068and determination, could be used in their life.

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Racial Reconciliation in Tumultuous Times

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

It is apparent as we watch today’s national news coverage of current events that we still have a far way to go as a nation with racial reconciliation. Even though we have made many great strides in this area, the language and actions displayed by many Americans clearly show that we have room to improve. Of course, it’s easy to identify a problem; the challenge is trying to determine how to solve it. While there are many proposed answers (changing laws, addressing poverty, better education, etc.), it is my opinion that none of these solutions will ultimately succeed unless Jesus Christ is at the center. Only He can truly bring reconciliation and peace in this world. In fact, through His death and resurrection, the entire world will experience reconciliation (Romans 8:20, 21).

While total reconciliation awaits His future return, this does not mean that we cannot experience Christ-centered reconciliation now. In fact, this is the charge that is given to the body of Christ, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28; see also Colossians 3:11). The application of this verse is seen in the book of Acts as the early church had to address the issue of racial reconciliation. Here we find the church growing from those who were predominately of Jewish descent to people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. The climax of this occurred as Peter received a vision and then is called to share the Gospel to Cornelius and his Gentile household (Acts 10). The outpouring of the Spirit upon Cornelius’ household confirmed for Peter that God shows no partiality but accepts people from EVERY nation who fear Him and does what is right (Acts 10:34, 35).

Just as the early church did, the body of Christ today needs to continue to strive toward Christ-centered reconciliation. In fact, we can never expect a change in the culture around us unless it first starts with us. I have witnessed positive and negative examples of how the body of Christ has exemplified Christ-centered reconciliation. On the negative, I heard of a church that had dwindled to fewer than 10 people. Facing the reality of having to close its doors, another church hearing of the situation reached out to help them. While initially this tiny congregation was excited to work with the other church, once they found out this church was comprised of various ethnic groups, they broke off all fellowship. They said they would rather see their church close its doors then have to worship with people from contrasting ethnic backgrounds.

In contrast to this situation, I spoke at a church in Los Angeles. This church truly exemplified Paul’s admonition in Galatians 3:28. Not only did the congregation include members of numerous ethnic backgrounds, but so did the leadership. In this church, these believers were truly united, regardless of their external differences, as brothers and sisters in Christ. They were evidence of Jesus’ prayer being fulfilled, “I do not pray for these [disciples] alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20, 21).

So how do we function as a body of Christ where we live out Christ-centered reconciliation? I think there are three things to consider:

First, we need to remember that truth in who Jesus Christ is as revealed in the Word of God is what unites us. In other words, our unity as believers is directly connected to our faith in Jesus Christ. This is the case because it is Christ through the Spirit who baptizes us into one body (1 Corinthians 12: 12, 13).

Second, we need to make sure that our unity is maintained by walking in accordance to what Jesus taught. In other words, if we allow sin to permeate our lives, it will begin to erode our fellowship as a body of Christ. As the apostle John taught, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not practice the truth: But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:6, 7).

Lastly, our relationship as believers needs to be motivated out of love. As Jesus said, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). How do we love each other? Jesus goes on to answer this in the next verse as He says that we are to lay down our lives for our friends. Jesus Himself gave us the clearest demonstration of this type of love, as He went to the cross to take on the punishment that we deserved. What a revolution would happen in our world, if the body of Christ exemplified this same type of love, a love that seeks to put others before ourselves and strives to seek God’s glory in all things.

If we want Christ-centered reconciliation, then let us never forget the words of the apostle Paul, for they remind us what is foundational to all of our relationships, “… SUBMIT to one another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21).

 

Facing a Challenge

by Darlinda McDonald

This summer, 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.

With great determination, this youth valiantly ran and leaped toward the top of the wall repeatedly. After finally realizing he couldn’t reach his goal alone, the other boys boosted him up and over. This encouraged others to try. In addition, this same young teen accepted the 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. We, too, can face challenges with courage and determination because the “battle belongs to the Lord.”

The youth groups from First Assembly of God and Neshannock Alliance, faced two challenges the day they came. One was navigating the 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. The Obstacle Course has provided many opportunities to train sports teams, youth groups, church groups, military personnel, soldiers, sailors, new recruits preparing for boot camp, groups preparing for mission trips, Boy Scouts, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, as well as to challenge individual children, teens and adults. Bill customizes each challenge to meet the needs and goals of that particular group or individual.

Bill Rudge also incorporates innovative sports, relay races, and games (several of which have been published in various magazines), as well as team building and individual challenges to help develop strength, balance, commitment, courage,

The Nearest Battle

The following thoughts are by Richard C. Halverson, Former Chaplain of the U. S. Senate (Excerpted with permission from the June 2017 issue of First Assembly of God newsletter, Vol. 20, Issue 6).

Want to be a Winner?

Want to be a winner? Compete against yourself, not somebody else. Beating your partner at golf doesn’t necessarily mean you shot your best game. Outrunning your rival doesn’t mean you ran your best race. You can win over another and still not fulfill your potential.

It’s true in all of life. To be your best, you must compete with yourself. It’s life’s biggest contest.

A loser is a winner…however many his losses…if he conquers himself.

A winner is a loser…however many his victories…if he loses the battle with himself.

Alexander the Great conquered the world, and cursed his own lack of self-control.

Victory May Contribute to Failure

Victory over others may in fact be the very thing that contributes to the winner’s failure to conquer self. Winning makes him proud, arrogant, independent, thoughtless – and sometimes cruel. To put it another way, it isn’t what happens to you that makes the difference, but how you handle it. The one who stops maturing spiritually because he thinks he knows more Scripture than others or has had more success in ministry, is still far from being what Christ has planned for him. If you must compare yourself with another, compare yourself with Christ. Let Him mold and fashion your life into the full potential, the divine original He intends.

How Would Your Neighbors Describe You?

By BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

For our family devotions, we have been dealing with the issue of love. One of the Bible passages that we looked at was from John, chapter 13. In this chapter, Jesus washes His disciples’ feet, predicts His betrayal by Judas, then gives His disciples the following command:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34, 35).

As we talked about this verse, I asked my kids to describe for me the people who live in our neighborhood. They talked about some neighbors who were not friendly, other neighbors who always complained or caused problems, and others who would do anything to help you out. In response to their descriptions of our neighbors, I then asked them how they thought our neighbors would describe us. Specifically, would they describe us as a family who showed love?

I explained to my children that we should not be surprised to find differences in how we lived from the way many of our neighbors lived. In fact, we should not be surprised to find some neighbors who may not even like us because of our Christian faith (John 15:18-21). However, despite this reality, I told them that we should never have anyone in our neighborhood describe us as a family who did not live out a love for God and for others (1 Peter 2:11, 12).

So how would your neighbors, coworkers, etc. describe you? Would they describe you as a person (or family) who lives out God’s command to love one another? In a time when our world is full of hatred, violence, and discord, let all of us be reflections of Christ-like love.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:7-11).