Compiled by Bill Rudge
• Motivation, commitment, determination, discipline and dedication are important elements for a successful fitness program. Your goal should not just be to get in shape, but to keep your body in the best condition possible by making health and fitness a lifetime commitment.
• Before beginning any exercise program, consult your health care provider to determine the best course of action based on your age, level of fitness and health. You may have to use some creativity depending upon your physical limitations.
• Start slowly and gradually increase the length and intensity of your workout. Remember, it took time to get out of shape; it will take time to get back into shape. Set goals that are realistic and monitor your progress to keep on track.
• You can join an organized fitness program, get a personal trainer, exercise alone or workout with a partner. Choose activities you enjoy and use variety to keep your workouts fresh. Design a specialized program that fits your schedule, meets your needs and interests and keeps you motivated.
• Begin with warm-up and loosening exercises. Then do some gentle stretching, flexibility and balance exercises. Progress into strengthening and muscular endurance exercises which are designed to work every major muscle group (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders and arms) against some type of resistance. The resistance may be in the form of your own body weight as in push-ups, pull-ups, dips, squats and lunges; pushing your head against a soft ball or your fingers to strengthen your neck; using weights, dumbbells, battle ropes, flipping tires or other innovative exercises. The amount of resistance develops strength and the number of repetitions helps muscular endurance. Both are important. Give your body at least 48 hours to rest between strength-training workouts.
• Get your body moving: Walk or ride your bike in a park. Aerobic activities like walking, jogging, bicycling and swimming benefit the efficiency of the cardio-respiratory system by actually exercising the heart, blood vessels and lungs—enabling them to supply fuel and oxygen to the muscles. In order to improve and maintain cardio-respiratory fitness, a person should participate in aerobic exercises of moderate intensity for approximately 20 to 30 minutes four to six times a week. My personal style is to do brief stretching or cardio in between sets of resistance exercises so I am constantly moving during the entire workout to maximize time.
• Breathe: When lifting weights or doing pull-ups and push-ups for example, inhale during the less strenuous aspect of each repetition and exhale when performing the most difficult aspect. Research suggests that nasal breathing is more effective and better than mouth breathing during exercise. Also, drink lots of purified water.
• Health experts recommend drinking purified water before, during and after a workout. I usually conclude workouts with a recovery drink containing water with a variety of nutrients and protein. Your personal water needs throughout the day depend on many factors such as your health, level of activity and climate.
• After any form of exercise, have a cooling down time such as gently stretching or walking slowly so your body can gradually return to its normal pace.
• Consuming more calories than your body uses will result in weight gain. A combination of reducing calorie intake as well as burning excess calories through exercise and increased physical activity is the best way to lose weight, and keep it off. If your weight is satisfactory, then exercise to tone, firm and condition. Realize muscle is denser than fat, therefore, you may initially gain weight on the scale, but you will soon look and feel better. Also, eat a mostly plant-based diet rich in whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables.
• Devices and gimmicks that promise instant fitness with little time or effort, are usually a waste of both time and money. Regular, sustained activity, gradually increasing in intensity, is the best way to get and stay in shape.
• My fitness routine often consists of getting up early, and after Bible study and prayer, working out for approximately 30 to 60 minutes four to six days a week. The various regimens I have designed include stretching, balance, strengthening and cardiovascular exercises. Throughout the week I will implement a variety of fitness routines using natural resistance, weights, dumbbells, battle rope, rings or obstacle course, as well as incorporating bouncing on a rebounder, punching a speed bag, kicking a heavy bag, jumping rope, walking, swimming or participating in recreational sports.
• Taking proper care of your miraculous body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, will provide numerous health benefits such as having more energy, feeling and looking better, being less prone to injury, dealing with stress more effectively and having a better, more confident attitude. Keeping fit physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually will also enable you to be a more effective witness for Jesus Christ.
by Bill Rudge
Our fast-paced society and chaotic world creates stress for almost everyone. Family and marital conflicts, senseless violence, deteriorating moral standards, increasing spiritual deception, occupational and financial difficulties, unpredictable weather conditions, environmental pollution, worldwide epidemics and famine, threats of nuclear war, and cataclysmic events happening on a global scale are just some of the things that are causing inner turmoil and tension. No wonder Jesus said ―
“Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world.” (Luke 21:26).
It is impossible for you to avoid all stress. Besides, not all stress is harmful or unpleasant. In fact, life without some stress would be boring!
What may be negative and harmful stress to one person, may be a very positive stress to someone else. An individual who is afraid of heights would be terrified and under severe stress while riding a chair lift up a mountain side, while a person who likes high places would greatly enjoy the beautiful scenery and relaxing ride.
In all types of activities we incur stress. Much of it is beneficial. For example, when we exercise we are stressing our muscles. Without some resistance, our muscles would become weak and useless, and our bodies would quickly deteriorate.
So too, the stresses of life are not always harmful — unless they are too severe, last too long, recur too frequently, or are not alternated with periods of relaxation. This kind of stress and the continual “little hassles” of life accumulate to put our bodies and minds under extreme physical and emotional pressure. This is when our stress becomes distress.
The first principle I want to share concerning reducing stress is to learn to be realistic! My life is often very hectic. My wife and I raised two children, and we occasionally had temporary foster children, as well as many visitors staying with us. I also direct a ministry that used to require me to spend much of my time and energy in stressful situations like crisis intervention, doing research and investigation, organizing numerous events and area-wide outreaches, teaching physical fitness and self-defense, coaching soccer, speaking in churches and schools, producing radio broadcasts, writing newsletters, and many other responsibilities that are part of a growing multi-faceted ministry. I was involved in many things that kept me going full speed from morning till night, often into the middle of the night! Gradually I was burning myself out and losing my health. As a result, I was forced to become a wise steward of my time and energy.
Scripture taught me a great lesson about stress. Like Moses in Exodus, chapter 18, I discovered I could not do it all alone. Moses sat as judge for the children of Israel from morning to evening. When Moses’ father-in-law saw this, he admonished Moses ―
“What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” (Exodus 18:17,18)
He wisely advised Moses to appoint helpers and to delegate to them much of the responsibility that he had previously been assuming.
I also realized that I was unable to personally accept all the ministry opportunities that were coming my way or fulfill all the diversified ministry responsibilities by myself. As I sought the Lord concerning this, He led me to train additional staff members and delegate as much responsibility as possible so I could multiply my efforts. We also developed a referral ministry to whom we could refer those needing help or counseling.
The Lord also spoke to my heart to focus on maximizing speaking engagements to reach as many people as possible, expanding my radio ministry, and producing numerous cassettes, books, and pamphlets. This has greatly multiplied my ministry efforts from merely having impact on hundreds of lives to currently having impact on tens of thousands of lives — not only in my local area, but throughout the U.S. and around the world (Acts 1:8).
Many people have goals in life, but they get sidetracked so often or have so many “irons in the fire” that they have no time or energy with which to fulfill the Lord’s highest calling for their lives. I have seen too many Christian leaders rendered ineffective because they have allowed themselves to be “too busy” doing things they have not been called to do, and not busy enough fulfilling the Lord’s will for their lives and spending more time with Him.
I used to accept every ministry opportunity, but I soon realized that was impossible and had to learn to say “No!” The Lord has given me a strong mandate and made me determined to not be diverted — no matter how good the cause — from fulfilling the primary focus and specific goals and vision He has given me for my life and ministry. It is much wiser to limit our involvements and do a better, more effective job, than to be spread so thin we become totally ineffective. I have discovered that quality is far more important than quantity!
I have also learned that when things are organized, not only is the pressure lessened, but more is accomplished. A cluttered and disorganized home or workplace not only wastes much time in looking for things, but often creates internal stress and anxiety. Waiting till the last minute to fulfill your responsibilities often leads to frantic behavior which causes mistakes or accidents and increases stress. I used to exist on adrenaline because I often lived on the edge and waited until the last possible minute to fulfill deadlines. Although I performed well under pressure, the eventual toll it takes on one’s health is costly. Wisdom dictates, when possible, completing your deadline projects ahead of time. It will remove much of the unnecessary pressure and stress, and you will enjoy peace of mind.
There is an interrelationship between physical, emotional, and spiritual stress. Therefore, if we are going to reduce and effectively deal with the stress in our lives, we must deal with each of these areas.
As we obey the directions in God’s Word and apply the Biblical principles of health and fitness through proper nutrition, proper exercise, proper mental attitude, proper rest and relaxation, and a personal trust in Him, we will be blessed in body, mind, and spirit. To violate or disregard any of these Biblical principles would cause one to be in opposition to the natural health laws established by God. This is one reason why many are in poor health and do not achieve the full purpose God has for them. It is sad indeed that many believers in Christ who have such a strong desire to serve the Lord are unable to do so effectively because they lack the needed health and energy.
Nutrition and Diet
Our diet is an important factor regarding overcoming stress and achieving optimal health. The majority of the foods we eat are refined, with much of the natural vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and other essential nutrients depleted, while many undesirable ingredients and chemicals are added. Excessive consumption of devitalized junk food makes us more vulnerable to depression and sickness and robs us of vitality and energy.
When I used to eat mostly refined, cooked, and devitalized foods containing lots of fat, sugar, salt, and white flour, I experienced fatigue and was less able to cope with stressful situations. But now that I eat mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, natural whole grains, and other nutritious foods, and drink plenty of pure water and fruit and vegetable juices, I not only feel better and am able to more effectively deal with and overcome the pressures in my life, but also I have more energy and vitality for the ministry to which God has called me.
I have discovered that eating foods as close as possible to the way God gave them to us in nature — before man refines, over cooks, and adds artificial colors, preservatives, and sweeteners, etc. — is usually the best principle to follow. The resulting improved digestion, assimilation and elimination are crucial to maintain one’s health and overcome stress.
Exercise is another thing I do to relieve stress and keep in shape. Tests have revealed that those who do not get adequate exercise are less capable of withstanding stress, than those who do. Increasing your physical flexibility, strength, and endurance through a regular and reasonable exercise program is an excellent way to endure times of excessive stress. Tension affects the nervous system and when the muscles are exercised the nervous system relaxes. Going to bed tired from nervous fatigue makes it difficult to sleep, but going to bed tired from muscle fatigue induces sleep.
It doesn’t matter how old you are or what shape you may be in, it’s never too late to begin taking care of your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, and thereby glorify God. A Christian should not be overweight and out of shape, unless he/she has a physical disability or medical problem. We, of all people, should be the example, not only spiritually, but also physically!
I Timothy 4:8 says ―
“For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” (KJV)
Compared to godliness and spiritual development, physical exercise is of less importance. But as one minister wisely pointed out to me when, as a new Christian, I thought I would have to quit all my physical conditioning: “The little bit that exercise does profit, however, is very important and not to be neglected!”
To me, my specially designed 30-60 minute workouts (consisting of stretching, strengthening, and endurance exercises) that I do three or four times a week are tremendously helpful. When I skip a work-out, I sometimes begin to feel sluggish, irritable, and slightly depressed. Not only does my exercise time enable me to get away from all the hassles and pressures, but after a vigorous workout, I always feel refreshed, energetic, and more determined in my work for the Lord.
Walking is still one of the best forms of exercise, and as a natural tranquilizer it is calming, relaxing, and even uplifting. In Bible days, they walked everywhere so they didn’t need additional forms of exercise like we do because of our sedentary lifestyle. Walking with my wife or family around the ministry property or in the park, or walking alone meditating on God’s Word and in prayer is a great stress reliever. In fact, it makes me feel better than any stress reducing technique I ever tried.
Some people tell me they cannot afford to take time to exercise, but I always reply that I cannot afford not to take time to work out. The physical, emotional, and even spiritual benefits, as well as the increased potential, makes these few hours a week a wise and necessary investment.
We wonder why many Christians are sick, yet for God to heal some people would require Him to violate and disregard His own health laws. What we often need more than a quick cure, is a consistent life of discipline and self-control and an endeavor to live in harmony with the laws of nature created by the God of the Bible!
The Apostle Paul said,
“… all things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” (I Corinthians 6:12 – NAS)
God does not want His people mastered or enslaved by anything, whether it is drugs, alcohol, sexual immorality, laziness, gluttony, gossip, jealousy, worry, fear, bitterness, temper, etc. He wants to be in control of our lives!
Many say they cannot develop self-control and discipline in their lives, but Galatians 5:23 reveals that one of the “fruit of the Spirit” is self-control. The closer we draw to the Lord and the more we allow His Spirit to work in our lives, the more we will develop the fruit of self-control in every area of our lives. And the more we develop the fruit of the Spirit in our lives the less stress we will incur from out-of-control behavior and the more we will walk in the Lord’s peace and joy.
Since there is no way to avoid all the pressure and stress in our lives, we must learn to adequately live with them. Instead of allowing stress to victimize us, we can control it by controlling our attitude and how we respond to life’s stress-producing circumstances. The amount of stress is usually not as crucial as the way in which we handle it.
Our attitude really is one of the most important aspects in overcoming the adverse effects of stress. When you “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4) and “give thanks in all circumstances” (I Thessalonians 5:18), then you will discover that “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)! Proverbs 17:22 states, “A cheerful heart is good medicine [causes good healing], but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” The contrast is clear: good emotions and a positive attitude benefit the body’s health, while a negative attitude and destructive emotions deteriorate the body’s health.
When we allow negative and destructive emotions such as jealousy, envy, resentment, anger, bitterness, vengeance, worry, self-pity, fear, hopelessness, and despair to linger, they can do great damage to the body and can cause an inner stress that will ultimately result in a host of psychosomatic diseases. Research indicates the ability of the mind (psyche) to produce various changes in the body (soma), thus the term psychosomatic.
But when we persist in pleasant emotions such as love, joy, peace, hope and faith, we induce good health. Jesus said, “Forgive seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22), and following His advice not only benefits our spiritual life but it can also save our bodies from ulcers, colitis, high blood pressure, and many other ailments.
Philippians 4:8 gives a list of positive things which should fill the thought life of the believer. It tells us to think on things that are pure, lovely, honorable, just, virtuous, and praiseworthy. For how we feel and the way we act is a direct result of what we think!
Much of what is on TV creates a pessimistic, negative, and apathetic attitude, as well as being a waste of time. So in order to maintain a healthy attitude, I have greatly limited my television viewing to only watch that which I deem profitable. And here is another guideline to remember: avoid people who are constantly complaining and draining your energy or who tend to create needless problems and turmoil.
Rest, Relaxation, Recreation
Another key to overcoming stress and having a healthy lifestyle is rest, relaxation, and recreation. As well as getting proper sleep, we must realize that some leisure is not wrong, nor is it a misuse of talent or a waste of time. While it is true that we are living in the last days and we must work while it is yet day, for night cometh when no one can work (John 9:4), we must also follow the example of our Creator who rested on the seventh day following creation. He instructs us to do likewise! Those who rest one day a week from their labors are usually healthier, happier and more productive than those who fail to follow God’s example.
In Mark 6:30-32 we read ―
“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.”
Jesus frequently got away to spend time alone with the Father.
If we neglect time for rest, relaxation, and recreation, we may temporarily accomplish a lot in our vocation but lose our health and family in the process. We need to plan time for relaxation into our daily schedule. We need to occasionally escape the pressures of life by having a brief period of relief which is like a mini-vacation, where we can take a few minutes to just lie on the grass or relax comfortably on a couch or hammock. One of my favorite methods of relaxation is on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the summer, to stretch my hammock between two trees and just lay there relaxing, enjoying the gentle breeze and pondering the wonders of creation.
It is good to occasionally stop the hectic pace of life and allow time for something that will renew, refresh, and rejuvenate your body, mind, and spirit. We must understand that the body and brain both function more effectively and that we can accomplish far more for the Lord when we take time for rest, relaxation, and recreation!
The psalmist did not need tranquilizers and sleeping pills for he said ―
“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)
Waiting on the Lord
Several years ago I realized how important it was to take time to “wait upon the Lord.” I was guest speaker for a week at a nearby camp. I was commuting everyday from camp to my office to handle the regular ministry requirements. Besides all that, we just had 3.7 acres of land donated to our ministry and I was making decisions on the building design and materials, as well as helping with the construction. Towards the end of the week, I was totally exhausted; every ounce of strength and energy was drained. Now I believe in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (KJV) In fact, I have literally built my life and ministry on this Biblical truth. Yet, I had to honestly ask the Lord, “How can I now experience Your strength?” Instantly, the Lord spoke to my heart ―
“but those who hope in [wait upon] the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
That day I forgot about what I thought needed to be done and spent time alone with my Lord. I remembered how Jesus always took time to get away and be alone with His Father, and how this enabled Him to keep His composure and remain cool and calm, even when in the midst of extreme pressure and opposition. The Lord also taught me that no matter how determined I was or how much self-discipline I had, I could never accomplish His purpose and goals for my life through my own strength. He taught me the reality of ―
“‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6)
That evening I gave my final message at camp with renewed strength. The Lord’s Spirit challenged the people as only He can. Following that, I shared with many on a one-to-one basis, yet my mind remained fresh and alert. Truly, I had found a source of strength, “waiting on the Lord!”
Bible Study and Prayer
While in Bible college and during my early ministry days, I used to be so busy that I had little time for Bible study and prayer. I was too busy researching and reading other books and magazines to keep current, that I had little time for God’s Word.
But the Lord dealt with me, that if I wanted everything He had for me, then I needed to spend about 90% of my study time in His Word. I gave away most of my books (except for good resource materials) and covenanted with the Lord to attempt to read the Word and pray three times a day — morning, noon, and evening. That has proven to be one of the most beneficial decisions I ever made.
My Bible study format is as follows: First, I get some time alone and read through a whole book of the Bible or listen to it on cassette. It may take an hour or two hours as I read or listen to that complete book of the Bible from beginning to end so I can get an overview of it.
Then I go back to the beginning and re-read it one chapter at a time. I meditate on each verse, as a cow chewing its cud, to assimilate that into my spiritual lifeblood. I also do some background research, read footnotes, look up Scripture references, and sometimes use a commentary, etc. It might take me a month or more to go through one book of the Bible in this manner. Then I go back and one more time re-read the whole book — chapter by chapter — without reading any footnotes, etc. And from doing this, God’s principles and truths have become very much alive in my heart and life!
When I take time for Bible studies and prayer, not only does my day usually go better, but my time seems to be multiplied and I can cope with the difficulties and deadlines much easier.
The most important aspect of reducing and controlling stress is to be in a right relationship with the God who created us. People who are still spiritually searching, or attempting to please God and attain self-perfection through their own self-effort, usually have tremendous inner turmoil and tension, as do believers who are living in willful sin or know in their heart that something is not right between them and the Lord.
Receiving God’s forgiveness and new life in Christ will definitely not remove all our stress, and in some ways, it may actually increase the pressures in our lives. But through Christ we have the available strength to change those stresses that are unnecessary, to accept those circumstances we cannot change, to control our emotions, and to maintain faith and a positive attitude, even in the midst of stressful situations.
What Motivates You?
We must be certain that we are not “keeping in shape” merely because having a “healthy body” is the current trend or fad, or because we want to impress everyone, but because we realize that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we desire to glorify God with every aspect of our lives!
All of our good nutrition, exercising, self-control, positive mental attitude, rest, relaxation, and recreation may give us several more healthful years, but it will never give us eternal life — unless we also come to know Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord! Far more important than just adding a few more healthful years to our lives is that we come to know the Author of abundant and eternal life (John 10:10). John 17:3 says ―
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”
Then we can look forward with anticipation to our eventual physical, mental, and spiritual perfection in Him (1 John 3:2). Until that time, we can better serve and glorify God now by being in top condition ― physically, mentally/emotionally, and above all, spiritually. This will give us increased energy and vitality for accomplishing the Lord’s will and enable us to achieve the maximum potential and purpose He has for our lives!
We can cope with the stresses of life a lot better when we feel great physically, have a positive mental attitude, and are in a right relationship with the Lord. Knowing that our lives are in the center of Christ’s will and totally trusting Him with everything that happens is the best way to overcome the pressures and stresses of life!
The preceding is excerpted from Bill’s Conquering Stress Before It Conquers You booklet which is available from Bill Rudge’s Bookstore.
Copyright © 1992 by Bill Rudge
The Fall of man and woman in the Garden of Eden not only resulted in spiritual death, it also caused sickness, disease, and physical death to enter the human experience. Humans were hopelessly lost in a fallen and degenerate condition. However, God in His love and mercy provided atonement through Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:1 – 6).
Jesus’ death and resurrection redeems us from every effect of sin. Not only does His atoning redemption provide believers the hope of eternal life in resurrected and glorified bodies, it offers us divine healing while in our fallen state. Matthew 8:14-17 says ―
When Jesus came into Peter’s house, He saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on Him. When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to Him, and He drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases”.
The Lord Is a God Who Heals
Scripture reveals that the God of the Bible heals. Several Old Testament accounts attest to God’s supernatural intervention through healing the sick (2 Kings 4:32-35; 5:14; 20:5-7). The four Gospels are laced with accounts of Jesus’ healing ministry (Matthew 4:24; 8:13; 12:13; Mark 5:29; Luke 4:40; 7:21; John 4:49-53; 5:5-9). A major emphasis of Christ’s ministry on earth involved divine healing because of His compassion for the suffering and to validate His Messianic claims. Jesus sent His twelve disciples (Matthew 10:1-8), and then seventy others (Luke 10:1-20), with instructions to heal the sick.
We read in the book of Acts that following Jesus’ ascension, healings and miracles continued through the power of the Holy Spirit and faith in Jesus’ name. Acts chapter 3 documents the first specific miracle performed after the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost as Peter healed a lame man. Peter gave the following explanation for this miraculous healing ―
… it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all (Acts 3:16).
We then read in First Corinthians 12 about the gifts of the Spirit that were bestowed upon Christ’s church. Included is the gift of healing. Throughout church history ― in spite of numerous spurious claims and charlatan behavior ― there have been many accounts of genuine divine healing.
James 5: 13 – 16 records the primary instruction for divine healing in both the early church and the church today. It states ―
Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
The instructions given by James have never been revoked and are therefore relevant for the church today.
As we consider divine healing in the Scriptures we must acknowledge that there are some accounts which indicate that not everyone was healed (2 Samuel 12:15-18; 1 Timothy 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:20).
Today’s Show vs. Our Lord’s Example
While imitators “perform miracles” to impress people, Jesus did so out of compassion and to the glory of the Father. His miracles were a sign and validation of His message and Messianic claims. Jesus and the apostles healed blind eyes, lepers, palsy, the lame, paralytics, withered hands, a severed ear, and the like. They even raised the dead.
People healed in Scripture did not have to confess, claim, or visualize their healing before it occurred. The healings of Jesus were usually immediate, complete, irreversible, and undeniable ― even to His opponents.
When we think of the “miracles” performed by many of today’s faith healers, could we honestly say what Nicodemus said to Jesus ―
“Rabbi, we know that You have come from God … for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2).
You will not find those whom the Lord is really using in supernatural healings advertising their gift in Christian magazines or on television. Nor will they be showboating and boasting in themselves. They are missionaries praying the prayer of faith; local pastors and elders praying for the sick and anointing them with oil according to James 5:13-15. They are committed believers serving the Lord in places and ways through which they will not get much worldly credit.
One day Jesus’ true servants will receive their reward for faithfulness to Him and for allowing His power to be manifested through their lives — without attempting to use it to exalt themselves, advance their own ministries, or receive financial gain.
Some Amazing Healings
Although I have not yet seen healings of the level of Jesus and the apostle Paul, I have witnessed some amazing healings in Jesus’ name. The following are just a few:
Shortly after giving my life to Christ in May of 1971, I was working at Pit Stop before leaving for Bible college. A car battery exploded right in my face. The pressure on my eyes was tremendous and the severe burning sensation from the battery acid was excruciating. I was certain I was blinded. On the way to the hospital I cried out to the Lord for help ― and He answered in a miraculous way.
In January 1977, Youth For Christ wanted me to move to Washington, Pennsylvania to complete my training. However, Karen had somehow contracted a liver disease and we were concerned she would not survive. Shortly thereafter, the Lord spoke to my heart to start our own ministry in our local area so we would be close to family. About one month later after earnest prayer, Karen’s liver problem disappeared (and God began to unfold his plans for the Bill Rudge Ministries).
My son, BJ, completely tore his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in his knee for the third time while playing soccer his freshman year at college. We took him to Dr. Freddie Fu in Pittsburgh, one of the world’s leading surgeons for this type of injury. Before we went, BJ was anointed with oil and prayed over by the elders of the church we attended. The MRI confirmed that his ACL was completely torn, but upon examination, Dr. Fu was baffled by the strength and tightness of his knee. He told us in amazement that BJ did not need surgery. He then said by way of explanation to his bewildered colleague, “These people are very religious.”
In March 2004 Karen was diagnosed with cancer. The doctor in Pittsburgh only gave her a few years to live. We opted to go the alternative way as she radically modified her diet and lifestyle. We also had the Board of Directors of BRM and the elders of our church anoint her with oil and lay hands on her and pray, as well as the prayers and fasting of many ministry friends and family members. Today she is doing better than she did ten years ago.
On June 25, 2005 I was bitten by a brown recluse spider. I prayed and trusted the Lord and did self treatments. The only side effects I had from this highly venomous and potentially deadly spider bite was a growth on my finger from the venom being drawn out by poultices. I believe the Lord left that growth to validate that it really was a brown recluse spider bite. I prayed and fasted and the pastor and elders at church prayed and anointed me with oil on Sunday, August 28, 2005. The following day I had the tissue mass surgically removed and everyone was amazed that I had no underlying tissue damage.
I could share many more illustrations of God’s protection and healing power for sickness and injuries. But there have also been many times that prayers for healing went unanswered for reasons only God knows. Suffice it to say that each incident ― whether God intervened with healing or not ― ultimately proved to be a time of great spiritual growth and victory.
I do believe that in the near future the Lord is going to manifest His healing power in an even more real and powerful way on believers who desperately need and desire Him. As Jesus’ return approaches I am convinced a great outpouring of genuine healings, as in the days of His apostles, will precede His coming.
If We Are Divinely Made Why Are So Many Believers Sick?
The psalmist declared, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your workmanship is marvelous and how well I know it” (Psalm 139:14). But why are so many Christians sick and not walking in health? In many cases it is because we violate biblical principles, lack self-control, have bad health habits, and overindulge in junk food. We also neglect proper exercise and sleep, have unresolved stress, overwork or are lazy, come in contact with dangerous chemicals and pollutants, receive excessive sun exposure, and allow negative and destructive emotions such as jealousy, hatred, revenge, and bitterness to dominate our lives.
Considering the toxicity of our bodies, minds, and spirits, the fact we live in relatively good health as long as we do is a testimony of how wonderfully we are made. However, when our amazing “machine” malfunctions after years of abuse, we wonder: “Why has God allowed this sickness or disease to come upon me?” We often resort to quick prayers for healing. If healing does not occur, many turn to New Age healing techniques or use drugs and alcohol to mask the pain.
Sometimes, we do not get healed because God wants to deal with the real problem ― not merely the symptoms. The real problem is usually a lack of discipline and self-control and a need to obey biblical health principles. It is hard to pray for divine healing when someone is violating all the biblical health principles or mixing in New Age “healing” techniques.
What Has Taken Its Toll?
Although I now strive for optimum health, there are many things which have taken a toll on my health:
- Damage from my previous abusive lifestyle and junk food diet
- Ten car wrecks
- Other accidents and injuries
- Stress as a result of a growing ministry with continual deadlines, financial pressures, and spiritual warfare
- Hundreds of plane trips and the potential health hazards of many mission trips
- Environmental pollutants from exhaust fumes in Third World countries, exposure to toxic substances, and heavy metal poisoning
- Concern for spiritual and financial needs of missionaries, pastors, and people worldwide
Nevertheless, I am in better physical shape and live a healthier life than most people I have met. I also realize I am in a fallen, deteriorating body. The constant “giving of my body” for the sake of the Gospel takes its toll. Paul states in 2 Corinthians 4:16, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” I am waiting for my resurrected body at the Lord’s return (Romans 8:18-25; 1 Corinthians 15:35-57; Philippians 3:20,21).
By the age of 30 I had depleted my health. It was a long road back but well worth the effort. In spite of all the things that attempt to rob me of my health, the Lord promised that He would restore my youth like the eagles (Psalm 103:5). He has done so as I have attempted to obey His Word and glorify Him with every aspect of my life.
Intense prayer and fasting, renewing my mind with God’s Word, and obedience to the biblical principles and health laws have provided tremendous physical, mental, and spiritual benefits and blessings.
The apostle John’s letter to his dear friend Gaius infers that the prosperity of the soul has a benefit on the whole person. It states: “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (Third John 2). Concerning this verse The MacArthur Study Bible states, “Gaius’ spiritual state was so excellent that John prayed that his physical health would match his spiritual vigor.”
The Lord desires our total being to be healthy ― physically by bringing healing and health; mentally and emotionally by having our minds renewed with His Word and having His thoughts, attitudes, emotions, desires, goals, dreams, and vision; and spiritually by filling us with His Spirit and conforming us to His image, producing the fruit of His Spirit in our lives, and manifesting the gifts of His Spirit through us.
Recovery From Shattered Ankle
If we are this wonderful creation of God as the psalmist said (Psalm 139:14), how can we walk in greater health until the final redemption of our bodies?
Before we deal with some of the biblical principles for optimal health, let me mention that Romans chapter 14 and other Scriptures make it clear that we as believers in Jesus Christ have freedom to eat what we want without endangering our relationship with Him or our eternal destiny. Nevertheless, wisdom spread throughout the pages of the Bible reveals the importance of avoiding gluttony and self-destructive behavior. Such reckless lifestyles are not only unprofitable, they are dangerous and can be deadly.
Optimum health is dependent on each person’s circumstances. It is taking whatever your situation and limitations are and seeking by faith and adherence to God’s principles to improve whatever you can. Some may have irreversible injuries or genetic disabilities to deal with. We can still choose to trust and honor God and seek as far as possible to implement His biblical health principles.
When I shattered my ankle at the age of 27 I had to have extensive surgery and was hospitalized for a week. As soon as I recovered from the anesthesia I began to design and implement my own recovery program. (All before the days of rehab and therapy ― back then it was usually just bed rest.) At first it was merely moving my toes in my cast and light exercises in my hospital bed. Once at home I modified my strength training routine to accommodate my physical limitations. I would hop on one foot to the monkey bars and do pull-ups and dips. After the cast was off, I developed a routine to strengthen my injured ankle and leg. The doctor was amazed by my speedy recovery and how quickly I was able to walk again.
Why Am I Doing It?
Paul states in 1 Timothy 4:8 ―
For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
When I was a new Christian and thought I would have to give up working out, a wise minister told me, “The little that exercise does profit is very important, and not to be neglected.” Exercise is like tires on a car ― small in comparison to the rest of the vehicle, but crucially important.
All believers must ask themselves “Why should I exercise and eat more nutritionally?” Hopefully it is because we want to take care of our bodies, the temples of the Holy Spirit. Having health and vitality to better serve the Lord also enables us to be more effective witnesses for Him.
My goal is to have the health and energy to fulfill God’s purpose and finish the race He has called me to run. Therefore, I work out, eat nutritionally, fast, pray, and study the Word to be prepared for the rigors of the ministry and my next mission trip, and to be able to do things with my grandchildren.
Discipline Yourself Now or …
I have cautioned many people who abused themselves with over consumption of junk food and other unhealthy practices. Most smiled at me and said, “No problem. It is not hurting me.” I usually responded, “You can either discipline yourself now or one day you will be forced to.” Without exception, often within a few months or years, these people were forced to change their diets and lifestyles because of health problems.
Time is the great equalizer and one day you will pay for the poor choices you made concerning diet and lifestyle. Just remember, the farther you walk down the road of poor health habits, the longer the walk back. Usually, the older you get the wiser ― but not always.
Injuries and poor health choices are accumulative. If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have made better choices as a youth.
I try to warn family and friends about the consequences of unhealthy choices and motivate them to make healthy choices. Some used to laugh ― but not so much any more. Many have made crucial changes ― some willingly, others because they were forced to. I guess everyone has to walk their own path before they become motivated to live according to biblical principles. And I suppose some never will be.
For His Glory
Always remember, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). As wise stewards we are responsible to take care of the temples God has given us. We need self-control, a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23), and must bring every area of our lives under His control.
While Scripture declares that death (or the rapture) is inevitable, disease is not. When we walk in obedience to God’s health laws and biblical principles, we can achieve optimal health. We will live a better quality of life. We will not be lured by New Age healing techniques which seduce us from pure devotion to the Lord and compromise our biblical convictions. We will have more energy to accomplish His will and be more effective witnesses for our Lord.
If there ever was a time we need divine healing, it is now! If there ever was a time we need obedience to God’s natural health laws, it is now!
• Develop a Personal and Vibrant Relationship with the Creator
• Start and End Each Day with Prayer, Praise, Bible Study and Meditation (Reflection) on God’s Word
• Seek to Honor the Lord in All Things
• Watch and Read That Which is Profitable
• Have a Positive Mental Attitude – Faith, Hope, Courage and Confidence
• Cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control)
• Eat Healthy: Replace Snacks, Sugar Drinks and Junk Food with Nutritious (Organic when Possible) Fresh Fruit and Vegetables, Whole Grains, Legumes, Raw (Unsalted) Nuts and Seeds, Lean Protein, Healthful Fats, and Plenty of Leafy Greens
• Do Not Overeat; Chew Food Thoroughly to Aid Digestion, Assimilation and Elimination
• Drink Adequate Amounts of Pure Water and Vegetable Juices
• Fast Occasionally
• Avoid Either Extreme of Compulsive Overworking or Persistent Laziness
• Exercise Regularly – Get Your Body Moving
• Protect Your Skin – Enjoy Being Outdoors Getting Exercise (Walking, Yard Work …) but Limit Sun Exposure
• Laugh, Whistle, Hum and Sing to Calm and Revitalize
• Sleep Seven to Nine Hours Nightly and Get Adequate Relaxation (in a Hammock …)
• Rest One Day a Week to Rejuvenate Your Body, Mind and Spirit
• Abstain from Alcohol, Drugs and Needless Medications
• Remove Harmful Pollutants and Toxic Chemicals from Your Home and Workplace
• Use Wisdom to Prevent Careless Accidents and Injuries
© 2022 by Bill Rudge
In order to achieve our maximum potential in Christ, we must develop “balanced lives.” Physically, our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit and should be “living sacrifices” ― totally committed to the Lord in every aspect for His honor and glory. Mentally, our minds are to be renewed by God’s Word ― transformed by His Spirit as we bring every thought captive to obedience to Jesus Christ and as we focus and dwell on that which is true, honorable, and praiseworthy. Emotionally, we must replace destructive emotions such as hate, revenge, bitterness, pride … with the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace …. Spiritually, we are created in God’s image and are to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, walking in the Spirit, manifesting the fruit of the Spirit, and operating the gifts of the Spirit.
May our desire be to serve the Lord wholeheartedly our whole life with our whole being ― body, mind, and spirit.
The first and most important principle of health is to trust in the LORD. Seek Him each day ― preferably as the first thing you do. Find wisdom and strength for your day and your life in His Word and by His Spirit.
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:7, 8).
Words of Wisdom from Paul and John
Many Christians seem to believe that exercise is of very little value. They base their opinion, in part, on what the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). Don Colbert, M.D. comments on this verse in his book, What Would Jesus Eat?:
Biblical times were vastly different from today with regards to people’s need for additional “bodily exercise.” When Jesus walked the earth, most people walked from three to ten miles a day in the course of their daily lives and work. The people did not need to engage in additional exercise. Extra exercise was usually only done in the Roman Empire to increase muscle size and strength for participation in spectator sports. Certainly Paul valued physical health; he simply believed that getting bodily exercise for the purpose of engaging in sports was not as profitable as using one’s time and energy to develop spiritual strength.
In respect of Paul’s inspired words to Timothy, I spend the majority of my time (approximately 40 – 60 hours a week) in Bible study, prayer, and ministry and a minority of my time (about 4 – 6 hours a week) exercising and working out.
The apostle John wrote,
“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 1: 2).
Therefore, my priority is making certain my “soul prospers.” As a result, the Lord has blessed every area of my life and given me seemingly unlimited energy to accomplish the vision He has given me. My prosperity is not wealth and riches but a peace and joy that transcends the circumstances of life.
God looks at the heart, so I attempt to keep my heart totally committed to Him and as pure as possible. Man looks at the outward appearance, so I take care of my body as I seek to walk in discipline and self-control to be a more effective witness and continue the rigors of ministry and mission trips.
When the world sees how our faith in Christ positively impacts every aspect of our lives ― physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually ― many will want to know the Christ we serve. We will also have increased energy and vitality for accomplishing His will.
A simple biblical principle that has proven to be of immense value to me is: “Focus on the spiritual, but don’t neglect the physical.”
Some people tell me they do not have time to exercise, but I do not have time not to workout ― as it always seems to increase my energy to accomplish more throughout the day. The physical, emotional, and even spiritual benefits, as well as the increased potential, makes these few hours a week a wise and necessary investment.
I usually get up at 6:00 a.m., and after Bible study and prayer, workout. I usually workout six days a week for approximately 30 to 60 minutes each day. The various workouts I have designed consist of stretching, balance, strengthening, and cardiovascular exercises. I also get some great exercise doing outside work at the ministry center.
Discipline, self-control, and dedication are vital elements for a successful fitness program. Your goal should not just be to get in shape, but to stay in shape by making health and fitness a lifetime commitment. Since 1965, when I was in the seventh grade, I have been involved in some type of exercise regimen.
Consuming more calories than your body uses will result in weight gain. This occurs because the thrifty body stores the excess in the form of fat. A combination of reducing calorie intake and burning excess calories through exercise and increased physical activity is the best way to lose weight. If your weight is satisfactory then exercise to tone, firm, and condition.
As you shape up your body, the miraculous temple of the Holy Spirit, you will receive numerous health benefits such as having more energy, feeling and looking better, being less prone to injury, dealing with stress more effectively, and having a better attitude, just to name a few.
Junk the Junk
If you do not die prematurely from an accident, violent crime, or childhood disease, the choices you make and the things you do will have a direct bearing on when and how your life terminates. The stresses of life from your job, finances, and relationships, as well as your exposure to environmental pollutants, the type of food you consume, whether you exercise or not, lifestyle choices such as using or not using alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, whether you engage in immoral behavior, if anger, bitterness, despair, and hopelessness or love, forgiveness, peace, and joy dominate your thoughts and emotions … all accumulate over the years and contribute to determining the quality and length of your life on this planet.
Proverbs 14:30 informs us that
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”
Proverbs 17:22 tells us that
“A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”
Dr. Don Colbert shares the following interesting account in his book, What Would Jesus Eat?, after observing people at a breakfast buffet at a large hotel in Las Vegas:
[T]he typical person who ate from the high-sugar, high-fat table tended to be overweight, with more puffiness around the face and eyes, and generally stooped shoulders and a more sallow complexion. These people tended to appear more tired, with a lower general energy level.
On the other hand, the people who chose food from the table with fruits, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and yogurt seemed to be thinner and more energetic, had better complexions and posture, and seemed all around healthier in appearance.
That was an eye-opening experience for my wife. From that day on, she began to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, and nuts. We drastically reduced our intake of fast food, junk food, and highly processed foods. We not only improved our physical appearance, but our energy levels also soared. By choosing to eat the foods that Jesus ate, we turned our diet of empty, useless, and often disease-aiding calories into calories full of health-promoting vitamins, phytonutrients, antioxidants, minerals, fatty acids, and enzymes.
One of the first steps towards health is to junk the junk. In other words, remove foods containing chemical colorings, preservatives, pesticides, refined sugars, unhealthy fats, as well as sausages, meats, and poultry laced with chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics from your diet.
Greater Health through Biblical Principles
A healthy lifestyle of exercise and nutrition, as well as following the Creator’s example and instruction of taking one day off a week to rest and rejuvenate is crucial. To neglect doing so is a sure path to physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion.
From personal experience and studying the topics of health and fitness for many years, I am convinced that Scripture contains superior principles for obtaining maximal physical, emotional, and spiritual health. The Bible reveals the ultimate way to gain health in this life―and the next.
Practical Ideas for Optimum Health
Developing good health habits will reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a host of other health related problems. The following are a few practical ideas to help you obtain optimal health.
Walking is one of the best forms of exercise. It strengthens leg muscles, benefits the heart, and has a calming affect. Walking is nature’s tranquilizer and is good for our emotional, as well as our physical, well-being. I love walking while on mission trips and at our local park with my wife as we pray and quote Scripture.
A peaceful night of sleep will regenerate and revitalize. A 10-minute nap can help restore energy, promote performance, and enhance learning.
Relaxation and meditation on the Word of God are vital. Lying in a hammock on a warm summer day after a busy ministry schedule is a great opportunity to rejuvenate my spirit, renew my mind, and refresh my body. Biblical meditation is superior to any form of Eastern or New Age meditation. (There is an eternity of difference between meditating on the words of the living God and the various methods of Eastern and New Age meditation which often involve vain repetitions of a mantra, chanting a meaningless word or phrase, focusing on a mere object, or the total emptying of one’s mind. Besides, with the conscious mind shifted into neutral during meditation, the meditator may become a channel through which deceiving spirits can work by taking advantage of the person’s state of passivity and nonresistance.)
We also need to evaluate our eating habits. First Corinthians 6:12 states, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” Just as putting inferior fuel in our cars leads to poor performance, filling our bodies with junk food leads to poor health.
Keep your system free of as much toxic food and pollutants as possible and you will feel much better. Eliminate (or at least greatly reduce) refined sugar, white flour, and greasy fried foods which provide empty calories, clog arteries, and cause other health problems. Be sure to read the labels of the foods you are purchasing. The less chemical preservatives, artificial colorings, flavorings, and sweeteners the better.
Make wise choices and eat healthy foods as much as possible. I attempt to eat mostly organic food which I am able to buy less expensively than others pay for their junk food. A principle I try to follow as much as possible is to avoid food that man has tampered with (cooked, refined, added chemicals) and eat food the way God created it (as raw and natural as possible). Our meals should include foods which are rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and other vital nutrients found in fresh fruit and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, whole grain breads and cereals, legumes, and beans.