A man nearing the age of 70 who had squandered his life, told me he had asked the Lord to forgive him many times over the years. But after repeated failures, he felt he could never be forgiven for all he had done and was doomed eternally.
The Lord instantly spoke to my heart the following words – “There is no sin the Lord cannot forgive, except the sin that is not asked to be forgiven.” This man who had fallen into hopeless despair for his wasted life, accepted, once again, the Lord’s offer of forgiveness (1 John 1:9). A few years later he died as a powerful witness for Jesus Christ.
For the past few days, social media outlets have been inundated with reactions to this year’s Super Bowl. Whether it was Chiefs’ fans posting celebratory pictures or 49ers’ fans posting about “questionable” referee calls, Sunday’s game has certainly sparked conversation. But the biggest issue of discussion was actually not the game, or the million-dollar commercials; it was the halftime show. The show, which was seen by over 100 million people, brought a variety of responses. Some saw it as an expression of female power and freedom, others noted it was a beautiful expression of art, while others, such as Franklin Graham, saw it as the sexual exploitation of women. Regardless of where you stand, as a society we seem to be wrestling with this issue of what truly defines what it means to be a woman. This is an important issue that stands in the shadow of one headline addressing the sexual abuse of women by Harvey Weinstein, and another headline that glorifies Jennifer Lopez’ halftime show where she exposed her backside and slid down a stripper pole.
I did not watch the halftime show. Being aware of the image that Jennifer Lopez has portrayed in the past, I did not see any value in watching it myself, especially with my children. So, I will leave it up to each of you to provide the final judgment on how to view it. But as you do, I want to provide some thoughts that I hope will guide your assessment.
As a father of five daughters and one son, I take seriously this issue of what it means to be a woman. In fact, both my wife and I understand that we have been given a mandate by God to teach our daughters how to live as women who reflect Christ, and to teach our son not only how to treat women but what to look for in the type of woman he should marry.
The first step we take in this process is to remind our daughters every day that their value rests not in what they do, or what others ultimately think about them, but who they are in Christ. We want them to clearly understand that the God who created the sun, moon and stars, has created them with intrinsic value and worth. Thus, they do not need to conform to some standard of beauty defined by our fallen culture, or to feel loved by another person for how they look. In turn, I want my son to view women as image bearers of God, who should never be seen as objects for his own personal pleasure. I tell him all the time to treat women just as you would want other men to treat your mom and sisters. Added to this, we stress to our daughters that true beauty lies in the purity of their hearts that will always be reflected to some degree in their outward appearance.
This whole discussion of the halftime show has been a great reminder to me to raise my daughters to be Proverbs 31 women, and to help my son find a Proverbs 31 wife. As you read a section of this passage, allow the description to be more than an evaluation of the halftime show, but a picture of what God desires for women. A picture that, I believe, is much more powerful than anything this world can provide:
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate” (Proverbs 31:1, 25, 29-31).
The following was published in the Bill Rudge Ministries February newsletter, unbeknownst to Karen.
by Bill Rudge
Karen will not know about this until she reads it in the newsletter. Then I’ll be in big trouble.
Since Karen married me when she was 17, she has followed me virtually everywhere I have gone (Bible College in Ohio, Youth Pastor in North Carolina, hundreds of trips across the country and around the world – except a few of the extremely dangerous mission trips). I call her my “tag-a-long” because she tries to keep up with me, and I think this is what often wears her out. She has worked side by side with me in the daily operations of this ministry since we started it 42 years ago.
Karen is involved in virtually every aspect of this ministry: correspondence, prayer, notes of encouragement and thanks; e-mails, tweets, proofreading (but not this article), ordering supplies and equipment; coordinating vehicle rentals and air travel, keeping me abreast of the news and current events (Bill’s secretary at times); prepares packages and boxes for mailing our books and audio messages, makes snacks for the staff and guests, writes articles, hosts staff, board and ministry events; cleans, does the ministry and personal finances and pays all the bills! She saves the ministry thousands of dollars every year by getting the lowest prices and catching double billing or overcharges, and on and on. We are blessed in having many staff who assist her in many ways, but nevertheless, her responsibilities are many.
For all Karen’s services to this ministry, she receives no pay, but her rewards will be great in Heaven. She is a true helpmate who has been instrumental in making this ministry so effective. Thanks Karen!
Love Bill, and please forgive me for writing this!
The founder of a church which gained worldwide attention because of their protests at the funerals of U.S. soldiers, homosexuals and celebrities, passed away several years ago. While only God can judge this man’s heart, his life did not reflect that of a true follower of Jesus Christ, but a life affected by hatred.
We are called as believers to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19, 20, Acts 1:8). Certainly, in the process of doing this some people will be offended and reject what we say (John 15:18, 19; 1 Corinthians 1:22, 23). However, while we share the truth of God’s Word and who Jesus Christ is, if we do this without love, then as the apostle Paul said, we are nothing more than a meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1).
Jesus’ life was defined not by hatred but by love. In fact, His love for mankind is what brought Him to this earth to give up His very life setting us free from our sins (John 3:16, 17). This is what drives us in sharing the truth of the Gospel message: love for God and a love for others (Matthew 22:37-39). We should not alienate non-Christians because of their sin (1 Corinthians 5:9-11), but rather seek to lead them to Christ and trust God’s Holy Spirit to clean up their lives.
As Christians we recognize the eternal reality that awaits every single human being who rejects Jesus Christ (John 3:18, 36) and lives a life contrary to His will (Ephesians 5:5). Therefore, if we are to be an effective witness, it will be displayed through selfless acts of love and compassion:
But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27, 28).
The infamous snow run began one cold and snowy evening many years ago when Bill Rudge was in his home working on a message late at night and needed something at the ministry center –– a distance of about 100 yards (the length of a football field). Instead of taking the time to put on his socks and shoes, he ran barefoot over to the center.
It was such an adventure and challenge, not to mention saving time, that Bill continued this practice for many years –– through ice, snow, and rain –– until the former ministry center was sold. (Now, he runs to the obstacle course and back.)
When guests visited his home, he would ask if they wanted to do the snow run. Most were curious but declined. However, a few did run it with him.
Bill loves doing things like the snow run because the Lord usually gives him an illustration and spiritual application to share. He impressed on Bill’s heart how a believer’s walk with Him is like the snow run in so many ways.
First, before you embark on the snow run you must count the cost and prepare yourself for the ordeal that lies ahead. You must consider the terrain, time (day or night), and temperature to determine the level of difficulty. And be sure you have the key to the ministry door ready.
Similarly, Jesus said to count the cost before becoming His disciple. And before embarking on any endeavor in His name we must prepare our hearts for whatever might lie ahead. We must be certain we are being led by His Word and Spirit.
As a barefoot runner in shorts and a t-shirt, you cannot be diverted to the right or to the left because after the first few steps your feet start burning. So, too, as believers in Jesus Christ, we must keep our focus on Him and not turn to the right or to the left.
By the time you are halfway across the snow-covered field your feet feel like cement blocks, and then quickly go numb. You cannot stop or you will have to crawl back. Likewise for true believers in Jesus Christ, stopping or giving up during our walk with Him is not an option.
As a snow runner you have to run swiftly and make each step count. You cannot look back lest you slip and fall. In similar fashion, believers must throw off every sin that so easily entangles and swiftly run the race of faith, making each day count for the Lord. We must forget what lies behind and press on with faith and determination.
An observer may not realize the full challenge and difficulty of the snow run but participants in bare feet and wearing only shorts and a t-shirt understand quickly the courage necessary to do the snow run. This is especially true at night when it is below zero degrees, there is a foot of snow on the ground, and the wind is blowing hard.
In the top photo, Keira, a college roommate of Bill’s daughter with a heart for missions, went on the snow run with Bill. Keira’s father is an amazing scientist who persevered through great challenges and obstacles to invent the MRI. Several years ago Bill was honored to perform the wedding of Keira and Markus in Long Island, New York. The bottom photo shows Bill’s grandsons, Lucas (left) and Carson. They did the snow run all the way to the obstacle course and then did pull-ups before running all the way back to the house.
So, too, those who do not know the Lord may not comprehend the commitment and sacrifice of a true Christian unless he or she becomes one. Believers must have tremendous courage to face the onslaughts of the enemy and stand –– sometimes alone –– in the midst of opposition.
As you approach the ministry center parking lot you need to have enough energy to leap or climb over a snow bank several feet high which was left by the snow plow. Likewise, as believers we will face many barriers and obstacles that attempt to impede our progress, but we must persevere and overcome through Christ.
Once you jump over the snow mound you will be sliding across the icy parking lot. You have to maintain your balance lest you fall on the blacktop or bang into the steps or front door of the ministry center and injure yourself.
Likewise, as believers we must maintain a biblical balance by avoiding the extremes of legalism and liberalism. We must not slip or fall by compromising our commitment to Christ and injuring our testimony.
Upon reaching the front door, your freezing hands will fumble with the key, sometimes dropping it, in an attempt to unlock the door as quickly as possible. So, too, if a believer fumbles when facing temptations and tribulations, he or she must speedily ask His forgiveness, get up, and press on.
The burning sensation returns as you walk around inside the ministry center trying to warm your feet on the carpet. You may not want to make the return snow run, but you have to. So, too, once we give our lives to Christ and our hearts are warmed by His love, we must go out into an, often times, cold world and share His love and truth with those who may not always want to hear.
Each step of the snow run brought you closer to your destination and the reward of warmth. Likewise, each day brings us as believers closer to our eternal destiny and an everlasting reward.
As we see the day of the Lord approaching, or our time drawing near to go and be with Him, may we remember this illustration of the snow run. May we remain faithful until the very end and be overcomers who run with perseverance, leap over every barrier and obstacle, and joyfully enter His eternal kingdom.
Disappointments, struggles, difficulties, injuries and the everyday circumstances of life can take a toll on your physical, as well as your spiritual health.
Through many challenging times you may have to trust God in situations that are impossible to understand at the time. Your faith that God will work things out for His glory and your good may be all that encourages you.
In Luke 10:19 Jesus gave the “Seventy” authority to trample on snakes, scorpions and to overcome the power of the enemy. But verse 20 caught my eye:
Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
This encouraged me that no matter how overwhelming our circumstances are, this world is not our home. Life here is only temporary. The most important thing is having our names in the Book of Life.
God promised He would never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6) and during trying times, though occasionally rocky, we can be assured of His presence and know He is walking with us. Praising Him, relying on Him and trusting His Word – no matter what we face – provides peace in the midst of life’s storms.
Two distinguishing marks of committed believers are found in Acts 17:10–12:
An eagerness and willingness to hear God’s message from Paul and Silas and learn from it. (Go to church with an attitude of expectation that God speaks through His Word.)
A personal dependence on Scripture to evaluate the message Paul and Silas were preaching. (Examine everything by the Bible.)
Believers are encouraged to subject all teaching to the biblical standard. Consider the following passages: Romans 16:18; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Galatians 6:7; Ephesians 5:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Titus 1:10; James 1:16; 1 John 2:26; 3:7; 2 John 7; Revelation 12:9; 13:14; 18:23; 19:20; 20:3, 8, 10.
Checking out all teaching from those who represent Christ is not being overly critical, but is – according to Luke – “more noble-minded” (Acts 17:11).