Keeping A Promise

by Bill Rudge

It was rush hour in Pittsburgh when Karen and I were walking across the bridge. I noticed a man just sitting there. Most people walked past him as though he wasn’t there – not even glancing at him. I made eye contact with him and said, “I don’t have anything now but I’ll catch you later.” He replied, “I appreciate you saying that.”

An hour and a half later as Karen and I walked back across the river, he was still sitting on the bridge. When he saw me he took off his hat and held it out. Putting some money in it, I asked, “Do you know why I came back?” He responded, “Because you have the love of the Lord in your heart.” I said, “That’s true, but I came back because I made you a promise.” With his eyes riveted on mine I continued, “Jesus promised He would rise from the dead – and He kept His promise. Jesus also promised He would return one day – and He will keep that promise.”

It was a brief encounter, but an opportunity to share the love of Christ, the promise of His coming and that as a believer in Jesus I kept my promise.

At this season of the year when we are focused on Jesus’ first coming, let us not forget that this same Jesus promised to return

My First Baby

by Tabitha Rudge Smith

It is so easy to lose the real meaning of Christmas with all the lights, shopping, gifts and the hustle-n-bustle. Each year God reminds me in some way of the true joy of Christmas. But through the birth of my first child on December 15, 1999, God reminded me in a special way.

Being a first-time mom at that time (I now have five beautiful children), I was a sucker for everything and anything. When I walked into a baby store, I felt like I needed to buy it all: the latest stroller, bouncy chair, high chair, mobiles, canopy crib, changing table, and the cutest toys and stuffed animals. This list didn’t even include all the adorable clothes I and most everyone else seemed to think my child would need.

After an exhausting day of shopping and preparing for the coming of my child, I was overwhelmed. I began to pray and ask God what was really needed and how we were going to afford all of it. That night during my devotion time the Holy Spirit gently reminded me of the verse in Luke 2:7:

She wrapped her babe in swaddling clothes and laid Him in the manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The King of kings was laid in a feeding box the day He was born while my child was laid in a warm crib. My materialistic list did not seem as important anymore when I recalled the Christmas story and how my Savior came into this world. I was once again reminded of how amazing God’s love is for us. I was also reminded to live a humble and selfless lifestyle.

Have a Merry Christmas celebrating God’s
most precious gift – His Son and His love!

The LORD Is My….

by Bill Rudge

In this chaotic world that we live in, it is comforting to know that the LORD is my….

Creator who designed me.

Savior who died for me.

God and King whom I serve.

Rock on which I stand.

Strength in times of weakness.

Protection in times of danger.

Defender in times of battle.

Fortress in times of trouble.

Light in times of darkness.

Peace in times of distress.

Comforter in times of pain.

Provider in times of need.

Companion in times of isolation.

Multiplier when funds are low.

Healer in times of sickness.

Helper in times of difficulty.

Hope in times of despair.

Resistance

by Bill Rudge

Giants and obstacles are like exercise. Exercise works because of resistance. The greater the resistance, the bigger and stronger your muscles become. The more giants we face, the more character and spiritual muscles we develop.

Often, what I have wanted God to deliver me from was what He used to make me stronger. Something happens in the wilderness, the valley, and the desert that does not happen on the mountaintop; God builds character, strength, faith and determination as He molds our lives to accomplish His will.

On the way home from seeing a specialist after my son tore his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) for the second time while playing soccer, with no alternative but extensive knee surgery, I told him that, “Trials, obstacles, and difficulties put iron in our blood and make us strong as nails.”

For about 10 years during our early Christian lives and ministry, Karen and I lived in extreme poverty. It looked as though we would never have anything. Over the years we faced many hard times, difficulties, obstacles, impossible circumstances and giants. But the Lord somehow always intervened in His time and way to enable us to overcome them.

I often wondered why, throughout my Christian life and in our ministry, God permitted so many difficulties. We seemed to do everything the hard way. Yet, God has taught me the reality that all things work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). I have walked with the Lord more than 45 years, and I can honestly testify to the truth of this Scriptural promise.

I am glad we have persevered through our impoverished beginnings and many hard times. Since the Lord has greatly blessed my life and ministry, no one can say that I only serve Him for all the blessings He has given me. I served the Lord when we had nothing; with no hope of ever having anything, and I serve the Lord when He blesses. I will serve Him if He takes away everything He has given to me.

The WHYS of Adversities

by Bill Rudge

Bringing Difficulties On Ourselves

We make choices all the time: what we eat, where we go and what we do. Sometimes we suffer the consequences of those choices, such as the young man who called in despair because choices he made require him to appear before a judge who will determine jail time or probation.

Natural Consequences

If I get too close to the edge of a cliff, I am going to fall off. I did not fall because Satan pushed me over or God is punishing me. I violated the law of gravity and suffered the natural consequences.

Spiritual Warfare

There is a real enemy who seeks to defeat and destroy every person committed to Jesus Christ. When we face spiritual warfare, it can become intense. Bizarre things can happen with little or no explanation. At these times we must know the authority we have as believers in Jesus Christ and how to use the armor of God and the sword of the Spirit.

Refining and Molding

Scripture is clear that God purifies and prepares His people. Anyone used by God will go through wilderness experiences to be trained to stand in the midst of life’s challenges and temptations. Just like a soldier is prepared for battle, believers are trained through difficulties to face any circumstance. It has been accurately stated that there is no testimony without a test.

Discerning the Difference

When adverse circumstances rise up and I go through the “flames” of life, I get on my knees and ask, “Lord, is there sin in my life? Am I reaping the consequences of some attitude or choice I made in disobedience to Your Word and Spirit? If so, I repent. Otherwise, I evaluate whether this is “the rain that falls on the just and the unjust” or am I in the midst of spiritual warfare. Has the enemy targeted me and designed a scenario to discourage and defeat me and thwart God’s plan for my life? If this is not the case, I realize that God is doing a work in me and I am going through a season of refining. Therefore, I submit to the process and ask Him to strengthen my trust in Him as He fulfills His purpose to use me as a testimony for His glory.

Reflecting On God’s Faithfulness

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

The children of Israel in the Old Testament are a great example of why we should reflect upon God’s faithfulness in the past. Whenever they faced a challenge they were reminded to go back and reflect on God who had proven in the past to be greater than any situation they presently faced (see Deuteronomy 5:15; 7:18; 15:15; Joshua 4:19-24; 24:6-13). In fact, this is the reason why the Israelites were to observe the Passover, which was to be a reminder of how God delivered them out of Egyptian bondage (Exodus 12:14-17).

I utilize a prayer journal to help me remember God’s faithfulness. All of us know how easy it is to forget things so I started writing things down in my journal. It is encouraging to reflect on past requests and to see how God has responded. Sometimes God did not answer in the way I thought He would, nor in the time frame I wanted, but in each case I am reminded that I serve a God who listens and responds to the needs of His children (Psalm 34:17; Matthew 7:7; John 14:13-14; Hebrews 4:16; 1 John 5:14-15).

I cannot tell you how many times I have gone back to my prayer journal and been amazed at how God has worked in my life. For example, one of the greatest challenges my family had to endure was going through a miscarriage. My prayer journal helped me during that time, as I reflected upon how God brought us through other challenges. What a faithful God we serve (Psalm 36:5; 89:1; Lamentations 3:22-23; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:3).

Pressing On in the Midst of a Storm

By Darlinda McDonald

This past Sunday, Bill and Karen Rudge were returning from Michigan where they had delivered a carload of books to Christian Resources International. As they reached Toledo, a fast-moving thunderstorm overtook their vehicle and did not subside for the remaining four hours of the trip. The torrential rain, high winds, and thunder and lightning made the driving very difficult. In addition, their visibility was impaired by the fog and commercial trucks on either side of the small Mitsubishi splashing huge amounts of water on their windshield. In several cities that they traveled through, their radio warned of tornadoes and flash flooding. While Karen wanted Bill to stop because of the storm, he chose to look at the drive as another adventure that God was taking them through.

The decision to keep pressing on despite the weather and treacherous driving conditions can be compared to our Christian walk. Sometimes life throws us unexpected situations that can either stop us in our tracks or make us determined to press on towards the goal. Our choice to walk by faith and not by sight will strengthen our faith and trust in the One Who watches over us and takes care of us.

In this life journey, we will have many decisions to make. As an example, Bill had stopped at a Service Center so Karen could get something to eat. After they left, the low gas warning light came on. Bill realized that he had been right beside a gas station but thought he had enough gas to get home. The next 20 miles were extremely stressful before he reached the next station. How similar this is to persons who have heard the message of salvation but paid no attention to it thinking that they had plenty of time to make a decision about eternity. We all don’t get second chances.