Life Lessons

by Bill Rudge

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Photo 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.

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Path at Bill Rudge Ministries

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 “hideHis 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.

 

Words of Wisdom

Contributed by Dave James of DJ’s Greenhouse, a faithful supporter of Bill Rudge Ministries for many years.

Dad is the head of the house, but Mom is the heart of the home.

Faults are thick when love is thin.

To improve or be a success in anything – you must keep one room empty in your house… “the room for improvement.”

The door to your heart can only be opened from inside.

We may give without loving, but we cannot love without giving.

The devil has many tools, but a lie is the handle that fits all.

Not enough crutches in the world for all the lame excuses.

What you are is God’s gift to you. What you become is your gift to God.

Life is full of joys and sorrows – most of your own making.

Your reputation is what people say about you… your character is what God and your spouse know about you.

Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

Yesterday is history – tomorrow is a mystery – today is a gift – that is why it’s called the present.

Quotes on Courage

compiled by Bill Rudge Ministries

“There is a certain blend of courage, integrity, character and principle which has no satisfactory dictionary name but has been called different things at different times in different countries. Our American name for it is ‘guts.’”

Louis Adamic, A Study in Courage (1944)

“It takes courage to resist the peer pressure of your friends – courage not to go with the crowd. It takes courage to face reality. Courage to admit need. Courage to change. Courage to make decisions. Courage to hold convictions. Success is not based on the ability to say yes, but on the ability to say no. Ask any successful man or woman. Ask anyone with honor or virtue who elicits your respect. They will tell you they learned how to say no. However, courage and firmness must be directed by knowledge. You must know what is right in order to know what to resist and what to yield to.”

Edwin Louis Cole, Courage

“If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows no fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened. The courageous man is the man who forces himself, in spite of his fear, to carry on.”

General George S. Patton, Jr., 19 Stars

“There are really no spur-of-the-moment decisions. Every decision a man makes is based on a lifetime of decisions which either enhanced or diminished his character. Courage is the ability to overcome fear and carry on with the mission. Moral courage, the courage of one’s convictions, is equally important. It takes a different kind of courage to stand up for what is morally right, particularly when others may want to act out of experience or self interest. An important aspect of duty is the courage of each of us to persevere in what we know is right and not make it easy for friends, peers, comrades, or superiors to do the wrong thing. Our professional ethic and individual values or moral principles must not be compromised because of the situation or circumstances.”

Field Manual 100-1

“God is looking for people of courage, strength and power who will stand up and impact this world for Christ. He is also looking for those who will not be compromised by dishonest gain, lying lips or deceptive motives. He is looking for men, women and young people who will live a life of integrity before Him and this world.”

Bill Rudge

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

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

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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).

 

It’s Your Move, Daughter … Son

I gave you life
but I cannot live it for you.

I can teach you things
but I cannot make you learn.

I can give you directions
but I cannot always be there to lead you.

I can take you to church
but I cannot make you believe.

I can teach you right from wrong
but I can’t always decide for you.

I can advise you about friends
but I cannot choose them for you.

I can teach you about sex
but I cannot keep you pure.

I can tell you about alcohol
but I can’t say NO for you.

I can warn you about drugs
but I can’t prevent you from using them.

I can pray for you.
but I cannot make you walk with God.

I can teach you about Jesus
but I cannot make HIM your Savior.

I can teach you to OBEY
but I cannot make Jesus Your Lord.

I can tell you how to live
but I cannot give you Eternal Life.

Author Unknown

 

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.