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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Through the Eyes of a Child

by Darlinda McDonald

The day before kindergarten started, Bill Rudge’s granddaughter broke her collarbone. As painful as that was, the broken collarbone meant she wasn’t going to be able to take the horse riding lessons which she had longed for, even giving up dance lessons to fulfill her dream. The first week of kindergarten, Bill had the opportunity to take his granddaughter to school. He held her little backpack while she struggled to pull out her lunch and papers to put into her cubbyhole. This was a quite a task as she had to use her left hand since her right arm was in a sling and she was right-handed. Bill gave her a kiss on the forehead and told her to try to have a wonderful day and, despite her physical injury and the disappointment of not being able to take horse-riding lessons, she responded, “Papa, I always have a wonderful day.”

Oh, what a lesson we can learn from her words. The Bible clearly instructs us to have this attitude: “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24). In Philippians (4:4), we are told to “Rejoice in the Lord always…” As we make the choice to rejoice, we will learn that “…the joy of the LORD is [our] strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by

And that has made all the difference.

 

As a sophomore in high school, Bill Rudge was assigned Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” to read. Bill was a rebellious soul and the poem caused him to start thinking about taking the road “less traveled” rather than yield to the peer pressure of his friends. Even though Bill had not yet come to know the LORD, God was preparing him even then to learn how to stand alone.

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.

On the Upward Way

by Bill Rudge

DSC_0484Recently, our family and friends decided to “rough it” on a two week journey through the western United States. The trip was challenging and oftentimes extremely difficult. However, all the inconveniences were worth it because of the breathtaking landscapes, incredible experiences, and bountiful witnessing opportunities.

This is a reminder to me that although we may face many challenges and difficult times, our lives are also interspersed with unexpected beauty and many blessings. It is a picture of the hope that we will someday inherit all that God has prepared for us, making any suffering or difficulties in this life pale in comparison.

As it says in 2 Corinthians 4:16-17,

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”