by Bill Rudge
I had just turned 25 when I started this ministry in 1977. In those early days, I was told by ministers, older than myself, that the years would pass quickly. They were right. The ministry will turn 40 at the beginning of next month. Over the years I have learned many important lessons through experience, observation and reflection. The wisdom gained is far more valuable than the wealth of this world.
In length of years, I have been given the opportunity to see several generations and have lived what feels like multiple “lifetimes”:
From being a middle child with four brothers and one sister to being a fitness and martial arts instructor; from being a rebellious teenager to becoming a committed Christian; from marrying Karen (I was 18 and she was 17) to the blessings a few years later of two children, followed by 11 grandchildren; from hitchhiking across the country to graduating from Bible college; from working as a youth pastor and training with Youth for Christ to starting this multi-faceted ministry; from producing radio broadcasts and writing books to traveling the world on adventurous missions and speaking engagements…and so much more.
Life experience and lessons have been plentiful. Some of the insights and wisdom gained along the way:
- We are not here by random chance – we are, rather, a unique creation designed for a special purpose.
- We may think we are the masters of our fates, but God is the determiner of our destinies.
- Sometimes the Lord seems to “hide” His face and be shrouded in silence. But those who seek Him with all their hearts will find Him and discover His reality.
- The wisest and most courageous decision I ever made was to give my life to Jesus Christ.
- In spite of dangers and even life threatening circumstances over the years, the Lord has fulfilled His promise that my life would not be taken until His purpose is fulfilled.
- His path is rarely easy – many times it takes us through rugged terrain, dark woods, deep valleys, barren deserts and isolated wildernesses – but He is always faithful and the obstacles really do make us stronger.
- In God’s time and way all things work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
- The Lord has been faithful in the past, therefore I can trust Him with my future.
- When there seems to be no hope, I turn to the only One who can give hope.
- More important than trying to change our circumstances is changing our attitude by trusting the Lord in the midst of them.
- Honor the Lord in the valley and through the wilderness – when your trial or test is over you will be glad you trusted Him. Doubting and complaining are dead ends.
- With God-infused determination and discipline, we can choose to never give up whatever the challenge.
- Half-committed people are most miserable; those committed to Jesus Christ with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength experience the abundant life (despite circumstances).
- The four most important things in life are faith, family, friends and fitness.
- Building my life and ministry on Scripture, with the leading of His Spirit, and desiring to honor the Lord in every aspect of my life, along with fasting and prayer when facing life’s impossibilities, have resulted in amazing victories.
- Handing over our lives, time, money, families and dreams allows God to give them back many times over in unexpected ways.
- Surrounding ourselves with those who are positive and encouraging inspires us to strive for excellence.
- Spending time with children and grandchildren blesses them, but blesses us even more.
- Live in such a way that when we depart this life we leave a legacy of love, faith and integrity.
- We must rise above the waves of “garbage” (verbal assaults…) that come against us in our lives or they will drown us.
- Sometimes you must stand up and defend your integrity; other times the best solution is to let the Lord fight your battle. Pray for discernment.
- Be quick to forgive those who wrong you and love those who despise you – for Christ has forgiven you.
- If we humble ourselves in the presence of the Lord, He will exalt us in due time; those who exalt themselves before others will eventually be humbled.
- You can willingly choose to change your diet and lifestyle now, or one day you may be forced to with little or no choice.
- The longer we walk the path of poor health principles the farther the road back to regain our health.
- Fear (reverence) God, keep His commandments and live by biblical health principles – they will be life to your spirit and health to your body and mind.
- At the beginning of every new decade I review my nutritional protocol and get even more disciplined to compensate for the aging process and to maintain my energy and vitality for the next 10 years.
- The word retirement is not in my vocabulary.
- So much of life is wasted on worry, fear, doubt, impatience, complaining, jealousy, envy, bitterness, revenge, lust and greed. How much better to develop the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
- Be a wise steward of your family, funds, time and talents. All believers in Jesus Christ will one day give an account of how we used the resources entrusted to our care.
- It is better to give than to horde. Never sell or merchandise the Gospel because it was freely given.
- Courage is not the lack of fear, but standing our ground in spite of it.
- Faith is not the absence of doubt, but rather trusting the Lord in spite of it.
- It is not the “giants” that defeat us but our fear of them.
- Failure is not when we fall, but when we lay there and give up in defeat. Christ’s grace is sufficient for all our failures.
- Spending time on our knees before the Lord enables us to stand before anyone and in any situation.
- Be slow to speak and quick to listen – keep your mouth shut when appropriate and you will stay out of trouble.
- Look beyond what someone says or does and consider the motives of why they said what they said or did what they did.
- Do not envy what someone else has or does – materialism and success never truly satisfy and soon fade like spring flowers.
- We cannot be experts in everything. The wise surround themselves with trustworthy people who are skilled in areas of need and then delegate responsibility to them.
- Remember those who have helped us along life’s journey. Remember to thank them.
- The key to many of the successes experienced in my life and ministry can be directly traced to faithful prayer intercessors and ministry supporters behind the scenes.
- An attitude of gratitude multiplies happiness; it changes our focus from fretting over what we do not have to appreciating all we do have.
- Accepting Jesus Christ as Savior means never having to fear standing before Him as Judge.
- Do not attempt to manipulate God into what you want or think He should be, but discover Who He is by His Word and Spirit and what He requires of you.
- Instead of determining what we want God’s will to be for our lives (and seeking to coerce Him to fulfill it), let us desire His will, unwavering in our commitment to accomplish it. In the end, our lives will far exceed what we could ever think or imagine.
- I have met many who, in the face of death, were remorseful for wasted years, but none at the end of their lives who regretted serving Jesus Christ.
- Live every day as though it were your last day on this planet. One day it will be.
- Always be prepared to meet your Maker. Many who plan to get right with God later die in unexpected ways and at unexpected times.
- What we see is temporal but what we cannot see is eternal. The study of biblical prophecy provides hope for the future, creates anticipation of the Lord’s return and instills a desire for Christ’s eternal kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy.
There are many more wonderful truths the Lord has taught me by His Word and Spirit. It is an exciting lifetime quest to know Him and learn His ways.