Courage to Stand Alone

by Bill Rudge

Throughout Scripture, we discover that living for God requires believers to occasionally stand alone.

Joseph was thrown into a pit by his brothers. He was all alone, rejected and sold as a slave into Egypt. In Egypt, because he honored God and spurned the affection of Potiphar’s wife, he was thrown into prison. Nevertheless, Joseph continued to honor the Lord and eventually God exalted him to the second highest position in Egypt and used him to save his family from starvation.

David went out alone to meet the giant Goliath. He desired to honor the God of the Bible and shut the mouth of Goliath who was mocking the Lord and intimidating the whole army of Israel. David’s attitude was one of confidence and faith in the Lord.

Elijah, a prophet of God, had an encounter on Mount Carmel against hundreds of prophets of Baal.

Daniel was taken captive to Babylon as a youth. He was ripped from his homeland and separated from his family and friends. In that difficult situation Daniel determined that he would honor the God of the Bible. Daniel was delivered from the power of the lions and prospered during the reigns of Darius and of Cyrus the Persian.

Queen Esther displayed tremendous courage in revealing to the king of Persia, her husband, that she was Jewish. Her bravery, as recounted in the book of Esther, was instrumental in saving the Jewish people of the Persian Empire from being killed. To this day the Jews celebrate Purim, a joyous Jewish festival which commemorates the day Esther saved the Jewish people from a threat of national genocide.

Hebrews 11, the famous chapter on heroes of the faith, frequently uses the words “by faith” which could also easily include “with courage.” Let’s consider a few of them: By faith [and with courage] Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By faith [and with courage] Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith [and with courage] Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward (Hebrews 11:24-26).

Consider the courage of Stephen as he boldly spoke in the power of God’s Spirit to the Jewish Sanhedrin even though it would cost him his life. The Apostle Paul was forsaken by everyone (except the Lord) and had to endure persecution alone. Nevertheless, he bravely stood for Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

All the New Testament writers, except for John, were martyred for their faith. John, the head of the church in Ephesus at the time, was exiled to the Isle of Patmos.

During early church history many Christians were tortured, burned at the stake, thrown to wild animals or beheaded. Some were made to serve as objects of amusement. Others were clad in the hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs. Some were crucified. Others were set on fire to illuminate the night: it is said that Emperor Nero had Christians set afire as human torches to light his gardens.

Being persecuted for faith in Jesus Christ and God’s Word has continued throughout church history. Multitudes of believers have been stoned, drowned, had their brains beat out with clubs, tongues cut out, were stretched on racks or wheels until their joints were dislocated or bones broken, had boiling tar poured over them, were roasted alive like a pig on a spit, dragged through streets by horses, had their stomachs cut open and grain put inside and then pigs let loose to feed on the grain and their intestines, noses or hands cut off and many other horrific tortures.

Christians throughout the world today suffer a wide variety of increasing hostilities and oppression such as loss of freedoms, jobs and income; confiscated property and imprisonment; intensifying persecutions such as being forced into servitude; forced to watch as spouses or children are executed, raped or taken as sex slaves; their houses and churches burned to the ground—sometimes with entire congregations inside; having toes, fingers, hands, noses or heads cut off; and other atrocities—only because they believe the Bible and are committed to Jesus Christ.

During our tenth Holy Land Adventure, we had a meeting with a pastor in Bethlehem who shared his amazing testimony with our group: He had been shot multiple times; his church had been set on fire and the windows broken on several occasions; his brother was martyred in Bethlehem by three men with machetes. Yet still he courageously proclaims the Gospel in this extremely dangerous environment.

I can tell about Josef whom I met while speaking at an Arab Center in California. He had been Saddam Hussein’s English interpreter during the first Iraqi war (Desert Storm). Being a Christian and falsely accused as a traitor, he was tortured for several months. Instead of denying Jesus Christ he chose to believe Jesus’ words: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.”

There are many others in the U.S. and across the world I have either met or have heard about from eye witnesses who have suffered much for the cause of Christ. By God’s grace alone can we endure such atrocities. These courageous Christians are part of God’s elite “heroes of the faith” whom God will one day richly reward! He has prepared a city for them; the splendor of the New Jerusalem is only partially unveiled in Revelation chapters 21 and 22.

Ultimate Peer Pressure

In Revelation 13:8 we are told, “All who dwell on the earth will worship him [antichrist], everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” This will be the ultimate in peer pressure, conformity and compromise. Deny or die! For all who refuse to worship the image of the beast will be killed.

If you cannot resist peer pressure now, then you had better let God infuse you with His power because there is coming a day in the near future when all of society will be in total rebellion against the Lord and hostile toward His people; the cost will be high to stand for Jesus Christ both before and during the Tribulation period.

A case in point: After several conversations with a retired Marine, he admitted the evidence for Christ was overwhelming and said, “You have convinced me, but I have a problem. I don’t like to be laughed at.” I replied, “You can either stand alone for Christ now or one day stand alone before Him.”

Becoming a Christian was not an easy choice for me as a teenager because of the stigma of being considered weak. It was a perception I did not want my peers to have of me. Wanting to be considered tough, I hung around with the toughest of guys which meant rebellious and wild behavior. Looking back I realize how foolish and weak that really was. Besides, the “toughest of the tough” is Jesus Christ who will defeat all His foes with the brightness of His coming and the words of His mouth! That is whose side I want to be on—the One that wins in the end and for all eternity!

Let us get a proper perspective of courage: Goliath was rough and tough. David was smaller and weaker; he tended sheep while his older brothers went off to war. David wrote psalms and sang songs of praise to the Lord, while Goliath was a crude, boastful, mighty warrior who intimidated both the Philistines as well as the Israelites. Yet who do we remember as the brave and powerful one? Not Goliath but David. It took far more courage for David to face Goliath than for Goliath to combat David.

I have seen tough people cry like babies when sentenced to prison; been there when supposedly brave men and women were terrified in the face of impending death; heard arrogant boasts dwindle to fearful cries; witnessed extremely strong people become exceedingly weak.

Choose real courage and true strength—not the distorted perceptions of people who are influenced by foolish and boastful words or wild and unrestrained behavior. These may impress for a brief time those who are easily astonished by such verbosity and physical displays, but in the end they will look just like Goliath—a defeated fool.

That Great Multitude

Throughout the ages there has always been a remnant of God’s people who have had the God-given courage and strength to remain standing, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

You may be facing strong peer pressure today; feeling like you are in the shrinking minority because almost everyone at school, college or work rejects the Bible as God’s unique revelation of truth. However, one day you will be with the billions of people since Creation—heroes of the faith, prophets, kings, warriors, disciples, martyrs from every generation throughout history, men and women, children and teens from across the globe—who resisted the pressures of their day and became part of that great multitude who will inherit all that the Lord has prepared for those who love and honor Him; believers from throughout the ages will live with God forever. Those already in Heaven will one day be joined by a vast host.

On that Day when Jesus Christ establishes His eternal Kingdom, those whose names are written in the Book of Life will receive all He has prepared for those who love Him and obey His Word. We will have endless time to enjoy and explore the wonders of a restored paradise on Earth and share in the countless adventures that await us throughout the expanse of the entire universe. We will never cease to be amazed by the glory of our God and overjoyed with the blessings He will lavish on His children.

By contrast, those who reject God’s offer of salvation in this life, to enjoy the convenience of compromise, pleasure, popularity or prestige will be named among the “cowardly” mentioned in Revelation 21:8. They will forfeit God’s blessed Kingdom, quarantined from His glorious presence.

Don’t succumb to the seductive spirit of this age. Don’t compromise your faith and fashion your lifestyle to the current cultural trends and popular morality standards. Be encouraged, rather, by the throngs of people who have gone before you and whose testimonies spur you on.

Be a part of the millions of people alive on this planet today who faithfully serve and honor Jesus Christ in spite of ridicule, oppression, hostility, persecution and someday, possible martyrdom. I promise that you will never regret serving Jesus Christ. And I assure everyone who rejects or refuses to accept Him that they will eternally regret that decision.

Believers throughout the history of the Church have fought in the “arena of life” to proclaim the Gospel. Now it is our time to stand strong in the “arena” for Christ. We must not shrink back or cower in fear. That great cloud of witnesses, in fact, all of Heaven, is watching and cheering us on!

The world does not need more wasted lives, burnouts, conformers, compromisers or those who cave to all the peer pressure. What we do need are those with God-given courage to stand up and make their lives count. Instead of being influenced by the world, let’s influence our world for Jesus Christ!

It has been said that a strong person stands up for him or herself and a stronger person stands up for others. But I say that the strongest of people stand up for their testimony of Jesus Christ and God’s Word.

As a teenager, my idea of a man of God was that of a weak, foolish, boring, cowardly person—a real loser! After many years of living for Christ, I now know better: The wisest, strongest and most courageous decision of my life was in receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and living for Him. My idea today of a true man or woman of God is of a person strong, wise, adventurous, courageous—a true Champion!

Self Control – The Essence of Strength

by Bill Rudge

From traveling and ministering throughout the U.S. and abroad, and receiving thousands of letters from around the world, I have discovered that one of the biggest problems youth and adults face is the lack of discipline and self-control. Almost all the problems people have and the trouble they get into—whether the result of drugs and alcohol; sexual immorality or lust leading to broken relationships, unwanted pregnancies and STDs; overeating, stealing, lying or gossiping; jealousy, bitterness, revenge, outbursts of anger or acts of violence—all could have been avoided had they exercised discipline and self-control.

Weakness Defined

Before coming to Christ, I was out of control in virtually every area of my life. As a result of my foolish, rebellious, out-of-control behavior, I paid the price with injuries from head to toe. I tell youth I speak to in schools or who are going through our obstacle course: “You are free to make almost any choice you want, but it is like being on a high roof, you can jump off if you want. You are free to make that decision. Once you jump off, however, you are no longer free. You are now a slave to the law of gravity which will splatter you on the ground below. So make wise choices!”

Proverbs 25:28 states: “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” In biblical days cities often had walls built around them which made them strong and easy to defend fortresses. But if the walls were broken down, the inhabitants were vulnerable and defenseless against an enemy’s attack. The biblical inference of being without self-control means that one is without strength, weak and powerless, while the person exercising self-control is strong and powerful.

Alexander the Great was a powerful man who conquered and then controlled most of the known world. His empire extended from Greece to India. But he could not conquer his lusts. He died at age 33 after taking ill following a prolonged banquet and drinking bout. Is that real control? Is that strength? Is that what you want in your life?

Consider many of the rock stars, movie actors and great athletes who were so idolized. They flaunt their out-of-control behavior and rebellious lifestyles; many covet their fame, money and power. However, the outcome of their lives is often tragic. This is not what God desires for you.

Proverbs 16:32 says: “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” You can go out and conquer a city—even conquer the world—but if you cannot tame your spirit, you have not achieved the strength that God wants you to have.

I have known those who could do phenomenal, almost superhuman, feats. Yet they were unable to restrain their tongues or their tempers. They were powerless to control their lusts, jealousy, hatred, bitterness, worry or fear. Is it really that impressive, and is there any real benefit, to being able to do incredible feats while the rest of your life is out of control? Far more important than external displays is the inner molding of one’s character and spirit.

At a maximum-security prison in Florida, I spoke in a large room filled with inmates. I opened by saying: “You are not here because you are strong; you are here because you are weak. Anyone can take drugs, indulge in alcohol, beat their wife, rob, fight, vandalize, shoot someone or engage in other out of control behavior, but it takes true strength to have self-control. So, today, I want to talk about true strength.” Following my message all the men—many who were huge from lifting weights—lined up to shake my hand and said as they looked me in the face, “Thanks for telling it like it is!”

The Strongest Person

Before I became a Christian, I thought Christians were weak. That is one reason why I did not want to give my life to Jesus Christ. I later discovered it takes more strength to live for Christ than any other lifestyle out there.

Do you know who is the strongest person who ever lived? Jesus Christ. He was frequently in situations of extreme pressure and in volatile environments, but He always kept His composure (even when He was driving out the money changers). He was in control of all situations; nobody controlled Him. He let them crucify Him. Before it was His time, He walked through crowds (Luke 4:30), hid Himself and went out (John 8:59) or escaped their grasp (John 10:39); He silenced them with His words (Luke 20:40). Nobody controlled Jesus Christ. As I read the Gospel accounts, I see that Jesus always operated from a position of love, wisdom and self-control.

As a young Christian I maintained an extensive, intensive and rigorous weightlifting and martial arts training program. I would accomplish more in three hours a week and achieve a higher level of conditioning and efficiency than most others did in ten hours. However, God diverted my course as His Word revealed to me what constitutes real strength. Although I still exercise and train on my own, the priority of my life is devoted to achieving true strength as exemplified by Jesus Christ. My desire for physical strength and power has been superseded by something far more important—inner strength, character and spiritual power.

Developing Self Control

There are countless examples in all of our lives, as well as from others throughout history, that show the adverse consequences of not having self-control, and the great benefits from having it.

Many people have made mistakes while being out of control in some area of their lives; but no matter what you have done, there is hope. A man nearing the age of 70, who had squandered his life on reckless behavior, 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 again the Lord’s offer of forgiveness (1 John 1:9). A few years later he died as a powerful witness for Jesus Christ.

We must be motivated to change and the Lord knows how to motivate! He convinced me (through both Scripture and the adverse consequences myself and others were experiencing) that my former way of living led to death and destruction. That motivated me to take steps to bring my life under His control. One reason I fast, exercise, eat nutritiously and limit my viewing of movies and programs to that which is profitable is to help me develop self-control.

Follow the Apostle Paul’s advice to Timothy to flee youthful lusts and evil desires and pursue righteousness (2 Timothy 2:22). I have given many self-defense clinics in schools and for other groups. “The most important principle,” I would say, “is to use wisdom in avoiding places, people and situations in which you know a confrontation or an attack is likely to occur.” Similarly, to overcome temptation for which you have a weakness, avoid places, people, internet sites, movies, music, magazines and so on that would entice you into sin and into compromising circumstances. Stop and consider the consequences before temptation gets out of control.

If you want to change your behavior, you have to change your thought life. Mental discipline is crucial (2 Corinthians 10:5; Romans 12:2; Philippians 4:8). If you want to control your words and actions, learn to control your thoughts and attitudes. Coaches tell players, “You give up first in your mind; then your body quits.”

In Matthew 15:19, Jesus reveals that sin begins in the heart. He states: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” If we are going to overcome the temptations we face daily, we must effectively eradicate the preliminary thoughts before they can control and enslave us.

What you program into your mind will eventually manifest in your thoughts, attitudes, words and behavior. Your thoughts lead to attitudes. Your thoughts and attitudes produce an emotional response. Your thoughts, attitudes and emotions lead to actions. Your actions lead to habits and patterns. Your habits and patterns lead to a lifestyle. Your lifestyle determines your destiny!

That is why God puts so much emphasis on the heart and the inward man. He knows that if you are going to gain victory over your behavior and actions, you must control your thoughts, attitudes and emotions.

If you fill your mind with jealousy, you will eventually end up in bitterness and gossiping. If you fill your mind with hatred and revenge, you will end up verbally, and possibly physically, abusing people. If you fill your mind with lustful thoughts and sexually explicit movies, books and music, your involvement in sexual immorality is inevitable.

If you fill your body with junk food, you will eventually develop a junky body. If you fill your mind with garbage, you will eventually develop a garbage thought life, mental attitude and lifestyle. It is inevitable; it’s just a matter of time. What we watch, read and listen to does affect us.

It is not surprising that so many people have lustful thoughts and sexual problems! No wonder so many cannot control their tongues, tempers or appetites, or are controlled by worry, fear, jealousy, bitterness and hatred! Just consider the degenerate materials that program their minds and the voices they are listening to.

Live by the Spirit

The Lord has taught me that thoughts of worry, fear, jealousy, bitterness, anger, revenge, pride, lust or greed that come into my mind are intruders that will destroy me if allowed to remain. God tells us to “Resist them!” Fight against them as though you were fighting against an intruder in your house who was attempting to rape and murder your family. In such a situation I am sure you would stand and fight and endure until every ounce of strength was gone. You must say, “I will not tolerate these negative and destructive thoughts. I choose right now by an act of my will to resist them. ”

Most Christians think all they have to do is avoid watching, reading or listening to that which is bad for them. While Scripture tells us to avoid things that are unprofitable, it also admonishes us to replace them with that which is beneficial. We should watch, read, listen to, and associate with that which will be positive influences in our lives and inspire us to conform to the likeness of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29).

We have freedom in Christ. However, if something controls you, you no longer have liberty, but enslavement. God wants you free.The choice is yours: Will you be controlled by the lusts of the flesh that eventually lead to destruction, or will you be transformed by the Spirit of Christ, the fruit of which leads to tremendous victory, blessing, peace and joy (Galatians 5:16-25)?

Galatians 5:23 reveals that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, not of will power. If you try to develop self-control merely with your own strength and self-effort, you will be continually frustrated. You need God’s Spirit to help bring your life under control. He will enable you to apply the biblical principles necessary for developing self-control.

When I surrendered my life to Christ, He radically changed me. As I sought the Lord with all my heart, and through the study of His Word, memorizing Scripture, prayer and fasting, His Spirit transformed and empowered me—enabling me to develop the fruit of self-control.

The closer we draw to the Lord, the more we will be conformed to His likeness and the more we will manifest the fruit of His Spirit and walk in victory over that which formerly controlled us.

Nothing but the Lord

The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:12: “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable [beneficial]. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered [controlled] by anything.”

The Apostle Peter reminds us that by what a person is overcome by this they are enslaved (2 Peter 2:19). I do not know about you, but I do not want to be controlled or mastered by my temper or my tongue. I do not want to be conquered by lust, greed or fear. I do not want to be enslaved to destructive behavior such as immorality, stealing, drugs or alcohol. I do not want to be victimized by peer pressure. I do not want to be dominated by sinful thoughts, attitudes, emotions or actions. I only want to be controlled by my Lord. I want to bring every area of my life under His control and walk in His love, wisdom and strength.

It Takes Time

Although my life was dramatically changed when I accepted Jesus Christ at the age of 18, it took time to develop the self-control I have gained from walking with the Lord and growing in my relationship with Him.

It takes time to develop self-control and the discipline to overcome old habits and patterns. Self-control is developed gradually the way fruit grows and ripens on a tree. After giving my life to Christ, I did not wake up the next day with the ability to control my temper or my thoughts and desires. It took time and effort. Spending time throughout the years in prayer and fasting and applying the truth and principles in God’s Word has been life transforming and worth it all.

Equally important to the gifts of the Spirit are the fruit of the Spirit. Although the fruit of discipline and self-control may be one of the hardest to develop, it is also one of the most beneficial and rewarding. Too often we only want to deal with the symptom, but God wants to deal with the root cause. Suppose there is a spider’s web in the corner of your ceiling, and you sweep it down. Why is it that the next day it is back again? Because you did not deal with the real problem: the problem is not the spider’s web; the problem is the spider. Get rid of the spider and the web will not come back.

What is needed more than instant deliverance, or an easy technique or formula that deals only with the symptoms is a consistent life of discipline and self-control. As one who was totally out of control, I am telling you that if God can change me and bring my life under control and give me the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual discipline and victory that He has, He can do it for anybody.

Never forget, the essence of true strength, is self-control—being under His control!

Fasting for Sensitivity and Power

The Purpose of Fasting

Someone opposed to the idea of fasting once made the following statement:

Fasting can be compared to a child holding his breath until his parents give him what he wants. When we fast we are telling God that we aren’t going to eat until He answers our prayers.

This could not be further from the truth! Looking up every Scripture on fasting, I discovered that the primary purpose of fasting is to humble ourselves before the Lord. David said, “I…humbled myself with fasting” (Psalm 35:13). Ezra said, “I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask Him for a safe journey” (Ezra 8:21). Joel said, “‘Even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning’” (Joel 2:12).

When I fast and pray, I am not trying to manipulate God or force Him to do my will. Rather, I get on my knees in humility and dependence on the Lord, seeking to make my heart and spirit yielded and sensitive to Him. I want Him to lead, guide, direct and empower me to fulfill His purpose.

My strong desire to know Jesus Christ compels me to seek Him with all my heart through fasting, as well as in prayer and Scripture study. During fasting, I evaluate my life and ministry and seek the Lord’s goals and direction. Has my will been replaced with His? Do I have the assurance of His Word and Spirit to be able to truthfully say to my board and staff: “The Lord has led me” to do this or that?

Sacrifice means to give up something that is important to you for something that is even more important. I need food to sustain my physical life, but the craving of my spirit to know God in a real and intimate way is more important to me than the natural craving for food. I desire instead that food of which Jesus spoke: “I have food to eat that you know nothing about. My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work” (John 4:32, 34). Therefore, I present my body to the Lord as a burnt offering (Genesis 22:2) and a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).

Most people want an easy formula or quick technique to know God’s will and walk in His power and victory. However, I believe the scriptural requirements for those who really want to be used by God include commitment, obedience, discipline, perseverance, faithfulness, Bible study, prayer and fasting.

We cannot earn, through any effort of our own—including fasting—any right standing before God. Nevertheless, those who have right standing before God (totally by faith and the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ) are encouraged by Scripture to walk in obedience to the truth and principles of His Word and to seek God with all of their hearts.

If you want to…

  • develop discipline in every area of your life
  • overcome temptations and lustful thoughts
  • bring the flesh under control
  • achieve physical, mental, emotional and spiritual cleansing
  • find more time for Bible study and prayer
  • experience the Word of God coming alive in your life and ministry
  • gain discernment and sensitivity to God’s Spirit
  • know that the Lord is your God; that nothing (not even the food you need to sustain life) has mastery over you or is more important to you than Him
  • obtain spiritual power and victory

…then FAST!

Fasting is not merely a technique or method to receive the Lord’s blessings. The Lord’s blessings come from our obedience, not fasting. What fasting does is create humility and sensitivity. Through it we are motivated to know and obey God’s will. When we walk in obedience, He greatly blesses us with His joy and peace, independent of our circumstances.

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Biblical Meditation

I have found that meditating upon God’s Word has been an effective way to keep my life focused on doing His will and not my own.

What do I mean when I say that we should meditate upon God’s Word? Let me first explain what I do not mean. It is not emptying your mind, trying to attain an altered state of consciousness. Rather, it is filling your mind with God’s Word where you study, reflect, and apply what it says to every area of your life.

Just as our bodies need physical food to survive, God’s Word is spiritual food for our soul. The Bible provides us with proper direction (it tells us why we are here and where we are going), proper doctrine (it tells us what we need to know), proper discernment (it tells us how we can know right from wrong), and proper discipline (it tells us how we are to live). – BJ Rudge

Making the Bible Come Alive!

By Bill Rudge

If you are a new Christian or just wanting to study the Bible, I recommend starting with the book of John, then reading through the entire New Testament. If you have time for a second Bible study each day, begin with the book of Genesis and continue reading through the Old Testament. Going back and forth from the Old Testament to the New Testament is insightful, and sometimes hard to stop because there are so many interesting accounts! Before reading Scripture, I ask the Lord to open my spiritual eyes and heart. When finished, I ask Him to enable me to apply that which is beneficial to my life.

When I start a new book of the Bible, I like to read the entire book straight through or listen to it on an audio recording to get a summary. Then I go back and reread it chapter by chapter and contemplate its meaning. I meditate on each verse, like a cow chewing its cud, trying to assimilate it into my spiritual lifeblood. During this second reading, I do background research, examine corresponding Scripture references and sometimes use a commentary or other reference material. It might take me a month or more to go through one book of the Bible in this manner. Then I reread the entire book straight through again. This is an effective way to learn and remember Scripture.

By following this procedure, God’s truth and principles have come alive in my mind, my heart and my life. I try to read the Word and pray three times a day (morning, noon, and evening). When I take time for Bible study and prayer, the Lord seems to multiply my time and the day usually goes much better.

As you study Scripture you will discover the attitudes and behaviors the Lord loves as well as those He hates. His Spirit will transform your life to help you overcome that which dishonors Him and give you a desire to embrace that which honors Him. Developing a biblical worldview and lifestyle will prove to be a most beneficial pursuit and the fulfilling priority of your life.

My desire is to give up anything that hinders my quest to know and live for Christ. My passion is to be empowered by His Spirit to live out what He has called me to be and do. Has it been worth it? Absolutely! May the Lord give each of us an even greater revelation of Him through His Word!

Accuracy vs. Relevance

by Bill Rudge

Instead of trying to be relevant, make it your priority to accurately proclaim God’s Word. Then you will be both accurate and relevant!

The Church today desperately needs leaders who daily delve into the Bible and spend time in prayer so God’s Spirit can breathe spiritual insight into them. They, in turn, can nourish hungry souls. The Body of Christ thirsts for those who proclaim the pure Word of God under the anointing of His Spirit.

May the priority of every pastor, Christian leader and believer in Christ be to seek out, live out and speak out the incredible treasures and wisdom of God’s Word!

“Choice Time”

by Bill Rudge

We all have responsibilities and obligations related to job and family, maintenance on our homes and vehicles, plus unexpected circumstances that require our time and energy.

But what about your “choice time?” “Choice time” is what you do when you have the opportunity to choose. Do you watch television, browse the Internet, play video games or just hang out with friends? Sometimes we need to do certain things to de-stress and enjoy life. However, our priorities and heart commitment are revealed through how we spend our “choice time.”

I encourage you to spend more of your choice time in Bible study, prayer and sharing your faith with those who do not know Christ—all the more as you see the Day of the LORD approaching.