Keeping Childlike Faith in Uncertain Times

By BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

The other day my daughter asked me about what it means to have childlike faith. I responded by telling her that just as children trust their parents we, too, need to trust God. In other words, we must learn to walk by faith and not by sight. 

The very next day I was cleaning up after dinner thinking about all the decisions that my wife and I were facing and the challenges we had as a family. 

After four ankle surgeries, my oldest daughter was still having significant pain. What should we do? Should we consult another doctor and face the possibility of a fifth surgery?

My second oldest daughter was still dealing with post-concussion issues, even though a year had passed. Would she ever experience relief from her headaches? Would we have to go through another round of vision therapy? 

Then, the reality of all the medical bills with my daughters’ issues began to make me concerned. How would we pay for them?  

The difficulties in my personal life seemed to only intensify with the proliferating coronavirus and how it might impact our lives and nation. What if our community was put under mandatory quarantine? Did we have enough food and supplies? What would we do if one of us gets sick?   

While feeling completely overwhelmed with all these questions running through my mind, I looked out our kitchen window and saw my two youngest daughters on our trampoline playing with their Barbie dolls. In the midst of all that was going on in my life and the world, they were content and at peace. It was at that moment where God impressed on my heart what it means to have childlike faith. It did not mean I would go through life with no problems or challenges, but in the midst of them, like my children, I could still have peace and joy.  

Just as my children’s peace and joy rested in the fact that they knew my wife and I would take care of their needs, so too, we can have peace and joy knowing that our heavenly Father will also take care of our needs.

As our world continues to face the fear of the uncertainty of the coronavirus, and as we all face difficulties and challenges, may we live with a childlike faith in a God who is truly our refuge in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). 

Sharpsville Students Enjoy “The Good Life” and “Everyday Heroes”

by Darlinda McDonald

Bill Rudge addresses Sharpsville students.

On one day, over a period of four assemblies in the Middle School gymnasium, the entire student body (elementary, middle and high school) of Sharpsville Area School District was able to enjoy powerful presentations by Motivational Media of California. After each program, Bill Rudge addressed the student body sharing some of his experiences as a youth and the importance of making wise choices. The students were well behaved, attentive, and responded enthusiastically to the messages – some students and teachers cried at the more poignant parts.

Three giant 14-foot screens, current music, well-known actors and actresses, sports footage, film clips and familiar animated characters brought strong messages to the students about bullying, kindness, working hard toward your dreams, never giving up, truth matters and encouraging others. The elementary students could barely contain their enthusiasm as they laughed, clapped, cheered, and sang their way through the assembly when they recognized familiar movie scenes and popular songs. You could hear a pin drop, however, as they became silent during the narration and messages of the presentation titled, “Everyday Heroes.”

The Middle and High School students’ assembly was called “The Good Life” which struck a more serious note as the students witnessed the results of using drugs and alcohol, texting and driving, and bullying. A most poignant scene showed teens talking lightheartedly about texting and driving. The mood changed quickly, however, when they viewed a partially-paralyzed woman sit in front of the teens and share her story of the accident that crippled her and killed her parents because of a drunk driver.

According to Elementary Principal Jonathan Fry, the overall themes of perseverance, positivity, and hard work aligned perfectly with our “School Wide Positive Behavior Program.” He also wrote to Bill, “Thank you for all of the hard work that you do for our students. The program you shared with us today was fantastic! Our students and staff truly enjoyed it and learned from it.”

The cost for the local assemblies was underwritten by Andy Canady Concrete Construction and New Virginia United Methodist Missions Fund.

For over 40 years, Bill Rudge has brought educational and inspirational assemblies to area schools, as well as he and his son BJ speaking at assemblies across the U.S. and in many countries. Bill also does self-defense clinics in the schools and runs an Ultimate Challenge Obstacle Course for many athletic teams from various schools.

False Teachers – A Spiritual Coronavirus

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Like many of you, I have been tracking the latest news about the coronavirus. Specifically, this issue has become a point of discussion in the ethics course I teach at a local university. As of March 3, there have been over 90,000 confirmed cases in more than 70 countries, with more than 3,000 confirmed deaths. According to the CDC, there are now 100 confirmed cases in the United States with six people dying from the virus. While, to date, more people have died due to the annual flu, the fear of the unknown about the coronavirus has crippled the entire world.

While keeping up to date on the coronavirus, I am also doing a study on the book of Jude. This study has been a great reminder on the impact that false teaching can have in the church. What has stood out to me in this study is how false teaching spreads, since it does not come from outside the church but within. As Jude states, “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation.”  The Greek word for crept literally means “enter in secretly by stealth.”  Thus, the deception of false teaching lies in the fact that it originates from those who appear to be genuine believers but, in reality, oppose the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, already entrenched inside the church, they can use this position to quickly and effectively spread their deceptive message. As the apostle Peter warned, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies… and many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Peter 2:1, 2).

While we are still learning more each day about the coronavirus, aspects of how this virus spreads are similar to Jude’s warning about false teachers in the church. We know that the coronavirus can be spread by people who show no symptoms (asymptomatic and appear to be healthy), so too, false teaching is sometimes spread by those who outwardly appear to be a genuine follower of Jesus but on the inside are, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “ravenous/vicious wolves” (Acts 20:29).  

In addition, just as experts believe that the coronavirus had already been in the U.S. for several weeks prior to the first official confirmed case, false teachers are already implanted in the church, infecting others with their false teaching.    

At the advice of the CDC, many people have taken precautionary steps to address a potential outbreak of the coronavirus in their community. From having extra food, water, nutritional supplements and cleaning products, to a simple game plan if schools and other public facilities close down, the CDC advises people to be proactive rather than reactive to the potential impact that this may have on everyday life. So, too, Christians must be proactive and not reactive in dealing with the spread of false teaching in the church. In fact, this preparation is of greater significance than preparing for the coronavirus as it deals with issues of eternal significance. 

As we continue to watch and prepare for the coronavirus, may we also watch and prepare for false teaching in our churches. By being a student of God’s Word, and one who daily seeks God in prayer (Jude 1:20), we can be ready to contend for the faith against the virus of false teaching that attacks the very hearts and souls of those it infects.   

As believers in Jesus Christ, we can stand firm in the face of these threats because of WHO our faith rests in. As Jude concludes his letter, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen (Jude 1:24, 25).”

Do You Have a Vision?

Through Scripture and prayer, God’s goals and vision you will conceive…

With all of your heart trust the Lord and believe…

Persevere in faith till fulfillment of His promise you receive…

Through the witness of your life those fallen away you will retrieve…

Then keep serving the Lord till this world you leave.

Bill Rudge

Will God Forgive Anything?

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.

Bill Rudge

Super Bowl Halftime and the Proverbs 31 Woman

By BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

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).