First Hand Account from Ashkelon: Living Under Rocket Fire

The following article was written by Orli Avior. Bill Rudge was able to spend time with her and her husband and holocaust survivor Moshe Shamir on his last trip to the Holy Land in February of 2018.

by Orli Avior, correspondent for the Winnipeg Jewish Review in Ashkelon November 21, 2019

Between Nov 12-Nov 14, over 450 rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza. I live in Ashkelon in Southern Israel and I finally getting a whole night’s sleep now that the rockets have stopped coming in. Gaza loves to send a lot of rockets in the middle of the night when you get a rude awakening from the sirens and have to jump out of bed and run to a safe area.

But, I am one of the lucky ones who only has to go across the hall to a safe room in our apartment. Others have to go to a stairwell of a multi-story building or a small safe building outside of their apartment building or house.  I do feel sorry for parents whose children are already frightened enough from the siren and now the parents have to schlep them out of their beds to a safe area.

One of the rockets from the latest barrage hit a little too close to home on the afternoon of 13 Nov.  As my husband Ariel and I were in the safe room we heard a large boom and knew it sounded very close.  We went out on the balcony of our 7th floor apt and saw the black smoke rising from an area I know three of my friends live in.  I immediately phoned one of them to see if they were okay. My friend Shirley told me that she was fine but that the debris from the hit was all over her courtyard.  My friend Loraine was pretty shaken up as she felt the vibration in her floor and the explosion was so loud it gave her such a fright she felt her heart racing for quite a while. My friend Yoanna told me that no one in the area has a safe room and the bomb shelter was too far for most of the people get to it in time, so they normally just hide in their bathrooms. 

Within minutes of the hit I could see the emergency vehicles heading over that way.  It is impressive how the IDF and civilian authorities worked together with such efficiency.  Thankfully only one senior citizen was injured from shattered glass and shock.

After so many rockets being fired into Israel I got a little tired of reading the news about the Israeli government talking to Hamas about a cease fire that everyone knows means we cease and they fire (a least a few more rockets).  You know they always have to have the last word. 

Now the question is when will the next round of rockets will rain down on this country again.

Are You Honoring His NAME?

By Bill Rudge

Photo by Roy DeMattio (used with permission).

No one wants his name disgraced. A bad name is a curse, while a good name is a blessing. People live and die to protect their name, testimony and the reputation of their family. Likewise, the Lord defends the honor of His name:

I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images” (Isaiah 42:8).

While many today attempt to silence or profane the name of the LORD, we as believers should acknowledge and reverence His name in both words and deeds.

• The third Commandment is: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). First Chronicles 17:24 tells us His name should be “magnified forever.”

• David said to Goliath: “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts” (1 Samuel 17:45). Solomon built the house (Temple) for the name of the LORD (1 Kings 8:20). Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal in the name of the LORD (1 Kings 18:20-39).

• The Psalms frequently mention the name of the LORD. A few examples follow:

I will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High (7:17).

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God (20:7).

From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the LORD is to be praised (113:3).

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD (118:26).

Our help is in the name of the LORD (124:8).

• Proverbs 18:10 tells us that “The name of the LORD is a strong tower.” Micah 4:5 states: “We will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.”

• Psalm 23, which you have probably read or recited many times, says: “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (verse 3). The Lord’s Prayer starts out: “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9).

• Jesus told His disciples to ask of the Father in His name (John 15:16; 16:23-27). The Apostle John tells us that his Gospel and the miracles of Jesus he recorded were “written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

• Acts 2:21 promises: “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” Acts 4:12 tells us there is salvation only in the name of Jesus for “there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

• The Apostle Peter said to the crippled man: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6).

• At Damascus and Jerusalem the Apostle Paul was speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord (Acts 9:27, 28). Paul said to the slave girl possessed by a spirit of divination: “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” (Acts 16:18).

• Colossians 3:17 exhorts: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” James 5:14 instructs: “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

His Name the Only One

In every way possible we as believers should respect and reverence the name of the Lord – just as we hope our children will honor our name! We must also trust in, pray in and be witnesses in the name of the Lord.

Ask yourself one crucial question:

Do my words and behavior honor or dishonor the name of the Lord? One day the profanity and blasphemy of God’s name will cease. The day is rapidly approaching when:

The LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one (Zechariah 14:9).

“Who Will Go?”

The following poem was written by Bruce Miller, a childhood friend of Bill Rudge. His dramatic conversion gave him the desire to lead others to Jesus. He currently serves in a prison ministry and was able to minister in Haiti and India when Bill opened doors for him to go.

It’s called the “Great Commission,”

Just who’s supposed to go?

You’ll find the answer on your knees

If you really want to know.

The harvest has been ready,

And the fields are very ripe;

Pray to the Lord for laborers,

Willing to share the light.

It seems today, and always has,

The ones that go are few;

It’s written in the book of Luke

In chapter ten, verse two.

Some say, “I’m just too busy,”

Or, “The timing isn’t right.”

Lift your eyes; look around;

The harvest is already white.

When you see Jesus face to face,

And He asks, “What did you do?”

I hope and pray your answer is,

“I labored, Lord, for you.”

The Great Commission is, and should be, the priority of the Church and every believer in Christ. It is not an option but rather a command. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus did not ask the disciples to go; Jesus commanded they go unto the utter most parts of the earth (see Acts 1:8). In Luke 10:2, Jesus told the disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send labourers, and then in verse three, He sent them into the harvest fields.

“Who Will Go?” It is a question intended to stir your heart and mind. After reading my poem, it is my hope you, and myself as well, may respond as Isaiah the prophet did:

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. (Isaiah 6:8)

Should We Fear God?

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

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Photo by Bill Rudge

During a Sunday morning service I attended, the congregation was told that the most devastating fear in a Christian’s life is the fear of God. The pastor went on to assert that a fear-based approach to spirituality does not promote a healthy and vital faith.

I agree that if we only approach our faith with a fear of God, it will hinder our relationship with Him. If we view our Heavenly Father as an authoritative parent waiting for us to make a mistake so He can punish us, our perception of God will be affected. This type of “cowering fear” can cultivate a faith motivated out of mere duty or obligation to follow God through our own merits and works, as we attempt to appease Him.

However, does this mean we should not have a fear of God? For an adequate answer, we must recognize what it really means to fear God. Fearing God does not mean we fear His wrath and judgment. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are no longer under God’s condemnation. Paul clearly states in Romans:

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus … who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1-4).

Because of Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death, the punishment for our sins has been paid (Romans 5:8, 9; 6:23; 1 John 2:1, 2). As a result, our positional status before God changes as we move from being estranged (Romans 5:10) to being adopted into His family as one of His children:

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15).

While we will still experience God’s discipline (Proverbs 3:11, 12; Hebrews 12:5, 6) and a loss of rewards for unfaithfulness in this life (1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12), as believers we do not have to fear His coming wrath and judgment:

By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love (1 John 4:17, 18).

Rather, it is this fear of a wrathful God that haunts everyone who rejects His plan of salvation and walks in rebellion to His will. As we find in the books of Luke and Revelation:

I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! (Luke 12:4, 5).

They said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:16, 17).

Since we need not fear His wrath and judgment, what then does this mean for believers? It means we are to have a respect and reverence for who He is – the Creator and Sustainer of life! It means we recognize His sovereign authority over our lives; that He is holy and righteous in both His nature and in what He does. As the author of Hebrews says:

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28).

Reverence and Respect

Besides having the privilege to address God as our Father because of what Jesus Christ has done, we are to hallow God’s name when we pray. This means we should approach God with reverence and respect. In ancient times a name expressed the individual’s essential being. In other words, to know the name of a person was to know that person’s total character and nature. (Holman Bible Dictionary)

Thus, by approaching God with reverence for His name, we are in reality expressing a respect for His very being. As David proclaims, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9). Every time we look at creation we should respond like David with a sense of awe and marvel that we have the privilege to draw near to the One who created it.

But many people approach God without this sense of reverence. They pray to God like He is just one of their buddies, or even worse, they dictate their requests to Him and expect Him to respond to their beck and call.

A Dangerous Path

The lack of a proper fear of God is leading our world down a path of violence, immorality, sorcery, thefts and lies. Our country has gone down that slippery slope because it has abandoned the truth of the scriptures and has no reverence for the Creator. Our nation has forgotten that “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). Paul emphasizes this point in describing man’s spiritual condition without Christ: “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18; see also Psalm 36:1; Proverbs 1:29; Jeremiah 2:19).

Even the lifestyles of many who profess faith in God indicate they do not have a holy fear or respect for God and His Word. They attempt to condone and justify sin under the notion that God loves and accepts us no matter what we do.

While we all fall short of God’s perfect standard (Romans 3:23), we should never excuse sinful behavior because God is loving and gracious (Romans 6:1-4). We are called as Christians to a life of holiness (1 Peter 1:14-16). A proper fear (awe) of Him helps to keep us from walking down an evil path:

By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil (Proverbs 16:6).

The Apostle Paul emphasized this point in his letter to the Corinthian believers:
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Going back to the question, “Should we have a fear of God?” Yes. And God’s Word consistently teaches this truth (see Psalm 34:9; 86:11; 89:7; 128:1; Proverbs 1:7; 14:27; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Acts 9:31; 10:35; Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:17). God takes pleasure in those who fear [reverence and respect] Him (Psalm 147:11; see also Luke 1:50).

Therefore, let us always approach God in prayer and live each day with a reverential and holy fear of our loving Lord and Savior:

And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great” (Revelation 19:5).
Never forget. Our worthiness to be in His presence has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with Him (Hebrews 4:14-16; 10:19-22).

Solomon, concludes Ecclesiastes with the following message

The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 

14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14).

Jesus stated in Luke 12:4, 5

4 “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.

Those who reject the Gospel should consider the following warning given by Jesus:

5 “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! (Luke 12:5).

How Should Christians Respond to Today’s Culture?

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

One of the hottest topics of discussion several months ago was the Grammy Awards. News headlines were saturated with stories about the weddings that took place, the revealing outfits worn, and a performance that had many people claiming she was promoting witchcraft, demons, magic, and Satanism. While I did not watch the Grammy’s, I believe that what went on merely reflects the mindset of a worldly culture; the declaration of independence from the God of the Bible.

This desire for independence began back in the Garden of Eden. Once Satan persuaded Adam and Eve to doubt God, he was able to plant the idea that they no longer needed to look to God to determine what was good and evil (Genesis 3:1-4). In other words, they no longer needed to live under God’s authority: Man can be free from God. This notion of living your life “free” from the God of the Bible is the very spirit that now permeates our culture.

So how do Christians respond to this? Some Christians embrace this culture, ignoring or downplaying any conflicts while being entertained by movies, television shows, and popular musicians openly endorsing and living anti-biblical lifestyles. As one Christian friend said to me, “It is just entertainment and nothing more.”

Other Christians disengage completely from the culture. They stand back awaiting the day when God will finally judge this world and destroy those whom they feel, in their own mind, are not as worthy as they to receive God’s grace and mercy. You will find these people being more preoccupied with endorsing their own political views than with spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Both of the above approaches fail to provide a biblical response to our culture. Instead of embracing our secular culture, or completely disengaging from it, we need to follow the example of Christ. What this means is that we do not conform our lives to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2) but live our lives in such a way that shows our culture how true, personal freedom is found only in the person of Jesus Christ. Remember, if we live by the standards of our culture, we really no longer have a unique message to bring to our culture.

The Grammy’s should be a reminder to all of us that this world desperately needs to hear the news that Jesus Christ has come to set the captives free. Let us live out this message in both word and action.

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” (Colossians 4:5, 6).

“Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world” (1 Peter 2:12).

“If someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ” (1 Peter 3:15, 16).

Tombstones, Spiderwebs, Ghosts; Oh My!

by Jim Weikal

“It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Personally, I think it’s gloomy to strategically place tombstones, spider webs, and ghost shaped pillow cases in a front yard. But, “Hey, that’s me.” I’m not the independent arbitrator of spooky curb appeal. That’s up to each person.

But isn’t it great that when Christians think of death, it’s not in terms of retail merchandise from the Dollar Store or seeing death as “the last bitter hour.” We have Christ’s physical death on the cross once to assure us of salvation and a resurrection to eternal life where sin will be banished . . . expelled, forever and ever! Jesus swallowed up death in victory and He took away its sting (1 Corinthians 15:54-56).

Victory, Triumph, Eternal Life, Oh My!

On the Right Side

by Bill Rudge

Do not think God is sleeping, silent or soft on the sin that is infecting our world. Increasing rebellion and immorality (often expressed as freedom and enlightenment) has not gone unnoticed by the Creator. Throughout history, God has periodically sent judgments to bring individuals and nations to repentance. When they refuse to repent, His judgments intensify.

God, who is long-suffering and not wanting anyone to perish (1 Peter 4), is now storing up His wrath for a day of vengeance and judgment (Revelation 16:19). This day of reckoning will bring even the bravest and most defiant and arrogant of men and women to their knees – either in repentance or judgment.

Don’t be impressed or influenced by today’s society – the day is quickly approaching when the cup of His wrath will reach its fill. Don’t be afraid of the violent and ruthless, for they will be the ones cowering in fear before their just and righteous Creator. The LORD is once again about to enter this world with undeniable power and might. Be certain that you are on the right side – the LORD’s – and living the way you should – honoring Him and abiding by His Word.