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).

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.”

DSC_0034_2

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.

DSC_0123

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.

How Children Learn Spiritual Lessons

by Bill Rudge

Young children repeat

  • what they hear, and
  • imitate what they see.

Youth receive moral instruction from

  • television,
  • movies,
  • music,
  • the Internet, and
  • their peers.

How can they stand against secular influences and the lure of this world unless they have wise and positive role models who display principles of truth and righteousness and Godly mentors who will inspire them.

Qualities of a Successful Leader – Biblical Leadership, Part 4

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.” Proverbs 29:2

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

This month we conclude our series on the principles of Biblical leadership. Whether you are in the role of leader or not, this study can contribute to the growth and maturity of every Christian.

Building Confidence and Courage

DSC_0107_Ripped

photo by Bill Rudge

One of the great challenges leaders face is encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and overcome their fears. Joshua and Caleb faced this situation when Moses sent them, and 10 others, to spy out the Promised Land. Only Joshua and Caleb trusted God’s promise and believed He would enable them to conquer a land filled with giants and fortified cities (Numbers 14:6-9).

Following the death of Moses, Joshua was called by God for a monumental task – to lead the children of Israel into the land He had promised. In his new role as leader, Joshua empowered the Israelites with confidence and courage. How did he do this? Joshua already knew his strength came from God. He trusted the One who spoke to him the following words:

Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them (Joshua 1:2, 5-6).

Joshua did not let anyone or anything distract or deter him from obeying God. He decisively commanded the officers of the Israelites to prepare to take possession of the land:

Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, “Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess.’” (Joshua 1:10, 11).

Joshua’s confidence, courage and zeal for the LORD inspired the Israelites:

And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go” (Joshua 1:16).

Trusting God and stepping out in faith not only enables us to be men and women of confidence and courage, but to ignite these attributes in others.

As a coach I remind my players of their past successes, give examples of others who have been successful, provide encouragement (but not flattery), and recite their value and importance both as individuals and team members.

Counting the Cost

Leadership requires sacrifice – time, family, convenience and so on. At the same time it is crucial to create a balance in your life to avoid burn-out and provide essential time for personal growth and time with your family.

Leadership brings greater expectations and accountability. You are held to a higher standard because of a greater influential position. You become a bigger target in the spiritual battle that rages around us (Ephesians 6:12). We have an adversary who, like a roaring lion, seeks to devour every follower of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 5:8). Satan knows that by attacking and destroying those in leadership, he can wreak havoc. Therefore, we are vigilant every day; putting on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-18) and steeping our minds in prayer to avoid the schemes of our enemy.

A good friend of the family, Douglas Mastriano, is a colonel in the U.S. Army. In 1991 his regiment, the Second Armored Calvary, was sent to Saudi Arabia to take the lead in the ground war offensive against Saddam Hussein’s most loyal and motivated unit, the Republican Guards. In conversation about the various battles he was involved in during this Operation, Doug told me that the key to his regiment’s success was preparation:

The training put an incredibly difficult strain on the soldiers and their families, but it did sharpen us into a well-tuned machine. Almost every month there was some sort of live-fire exercises, maneuver training, border duty, headquarter exercises, and all sorts of battle drills to prepare us for that day, which even included a deployment to Turkey. We had trained for years for this day – and we were ready for it.

Colonel Mastriano and his men were ready because of what they did to prepare. That not one man was killed in his squadron, Doug correctly attributes also, to the power of prayer. So, too, if we want to be effective leaders, we must be like the soldiers of Doug’s regiment: count the cost, prepare for what is required to accomplish what we are called to do, and saturate everything in prayer.

Providing Hope

Everyone deals with trials and adversity. Effective leaders help others find hope in this journey of life and look beyond the current circumstance to see the bigger picture.

One year I was coaching a talented team that was struggling with playing up to their potential. After losing a few games, they began to lose confidence and the hope that they could turn their season around. So at practice one day I told them about my children taking a pottery class.

The first day they were each given a lump of useless clay. The teacher said this lump of clay would eventually be turned into a beautiful vase. That is exactly what happened as each of my children molded their lump of clay into a vase which, despite a few imperfections, still sit on display in our house. I told my players that while we may not be where we want to be, we needed to keep moving forward because just like that lump of clay, our team too can become a beautiful vase.

To instill hope in others, leadership requires perseverance and forward movement. I witnessed an amazing example of this during a high school soccer game against a regional opponent. It was an important game because both teams were undefeated and tied for first place. As the game began, it became obvious our team was the better. We kept the ball on the other team’s half as we took shot after shot, and at the same time, prevented them from scoring. In the end, we won 9 to 0.

While my players provided many great moments in the game, the greatest impact was made by the opposing team’s goalkeeper. As I watched her warm up, I was impressed with her work ethic. But what especially caught my attention was how she dealt with a prosthetic leg. (After the game we learned she had lost her leg about two years earlier in a boating accident.) While I respected this girl, I wondered how she would be able to play goalkeeper. In all my years playing and coaching soccer I had never seen anyone play soccer with a prosthetic leg.

I quickly realized that what I perceived as a “limitation” for this girl was, in fact, a driving force to do something that I am sure many people told her she could never do. Here was a teenager who had every excuse to stay off the field, but instead chose to persevere regardless of the loss of her leg. What impressed me even more than the fact she played, was how she played. She did everything a goalkeeper should do: dive, catch, punt, and communicate with her teammates.

As our team began to score, putting constant pressure on the opposing team’s defense, it was clear we were going to win the game but their goalie never stopped working hard. She kept encouraging her teammates, and got back up every time she dove for a ball. At one point she made an awesome diving save that caused her prosthetic leg to come loose. Without any drama, she hobbled over to the bench, adjusted the leg and came right back out like nothing happened. Until the final whistle, she continued to give everything she could for her team. She was a true inspiration to everyone at the game and a wonderful example of perseverance.

Just like this goalie, effective leadership doesn’t make excuses. Leaders persevere through difficult times and provide encouragement and hope for those around them. The type of people God is looking for are those who, in the midst of life’s challenges, place their faith and trust in Him. Paul writes in his letter to the church in Rome:

We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope (Romans 5:3-4).

Inspiring Others

One of the most important lessons I have learned is the difference between motivation and inspiration. Motivation is an external influence while inspiration comes from within.

In my early coaching days I was taught the best way to motivate athletes was in using fear or reward. I often said, “If you don’t work hard today you’ll have to run sprints; if you do work hard, no sprints after practice.” However, trying to motivate my players through the threat/reward method resulted in having to repeatedly do so, and I eventually realized I was not getting their best efforts.

By contrast, inspiring players develops within them an internal love and passion for, and joy in, the game. This in turn dramatically impacts their overall effort as well as their ability to inspire those around them. But how is this accomplished? The following are a few ways I use to inspire my athletes:

I remind them of their roots. I began taking my seniors to our local YMCA, because it is the place that our high school program held its first game. I tell them what sacrifices were made and how far our program has come, and remind them that they need to remember the tradition they are part of and to consider what legacy they want to leave.

I share personal memories and experiences – This field was the first place I ever played a game of soccer. When I first started at age six, I played for love of the game. My focus was more on playing and scoring, rather than winning, because I enjoyed it. I encourage my team to remember the excitement they had when they first played; to never lose the love and joy they had back then.

I build a sense of community. Each member is essential in working together for the common good. To illustrate this, we have chosen the redwood tree as a symbol worn on our practice shirts. Redwoods have shallow roots, despite their extreme height, and to withstand the wind, their roots interconnect with the roots of the surrounding redwood trees. Thus, when the wind blows it is not just blowing against one tree, but against a forest!

Finally, I invest in their lives. I demonstrate in word and action that the purpose of our program goes beyond winning; it is to help build character into their lives.

The previous points are steps my coaching staff and I employ to inspire our athletes, which has enabled us to build a reputable and successful program. It has also allowed us to make a difference in their lives. A graduating player invited me to attend a banquet for being an influence in her life. She gave me a special frame with the following quote by Bob Nelson:

You get the best effort from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within.

The apostle Paul was an effective leader because he inspired others through his example. He told them to follow him as he followed the Lord Jesus Christ. His words to the church at Rome should resonate with all of us:

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord (Romans 12:11).

What Then?

We desperately need effective and godly leaders today. Godly and effective leadership come through having a humble spirit, communicating effectively, possessing conviction, seeking wise counsel, building confidence and courage in others, counting the cost, offering hope in difficult times, and inspiring others. Those who lead in this manner will have a far-reaching impact for God and will be a blessing to others:

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan (Proverbs 29:2).

 

Inspire Your Generation…

by Bill Rudge

Following in Moses’ footprints after his death, Joshua’s example of dedication to the Lord inspired his generation. Joshua’s influence was felt not only during his lifetime, but for years after his death.

This profound statement is recorded in Joshua 24:31:

Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua ….

May our example and the testimony we bear motivate our children and grandchildren to live for the Lord all the days of our lives and their lives. And may they, in turn, influence their children and grandchildren to also serve the Lord after we are gone.