Noble-Minded Believers

Jim Weikal

Two distinguishing marks of committed believers are found in Acts 17:10–12:

  1. An eagerness and willingness to hear God’s message from Paul and Silas and learn from it. (Go to church with an attitude of expectation that God speaks through His Word.)
  2. A personal dependence on Scripture to evaluate the message Paul and Silas were preaching. (Examine everything by the Bible.)
  3. Believers are encouraged to subject all teaching to the biblical standard. Consider the following passages: Romans 16:18; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Galatians 6:7; Ephesians 5:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Titus 1:10; James 1:16; 1 John 2:26; 3:7; 2 John 7; Revelation 12:9; 13:14; 18:23; 19:20; 20:3, 8, 10.
  4. Checking out all teaching from those who represent Christ is not being overly critical, but is – according to Luke – “more noble-minded” (Acts 17:11).

Power Fasting

Bill Rudge

At the beginning of January, Karen and I fast for a week or more as we pray through our Personal, Family, and Ministry Prayer and Fasting lists. This is an intense; special time of prayer and Scripture study to seek the Lord’s direction and goals for the coming year.

Similar to the principle of lifting weights, I tear myself down physically, emotionally and spiritually through fasting – only to be rebuilt – stronger for the new year. Along with the tremendous spiritual benefits, there are some amazing physical and mental benefits.

At the age of 30 my health was eroding. The indulgent, injurious lifestyle of my younger years were catching up with me. So I prayed, “Lord, if You want me to continue in the ministry, I need Your help.” I am convinced that the Lord honored that earnest prayer by leading me into fasting and nutrition. As a result, I have seen tremendous benefits in obeying His biblical principles of health and fitness.

Many Christians and Christian leaders needlessly suffer from the consequences of being undisciplined, overindulgent and from violating God’s natural health laws. God is calling for a body of believers who will not only serve Him wholeheartedly but also walk in discipline and self-control. Remember, we are not to be mastered by anything or anyone but Him.

Throughout Scripture, the people of God have faced insurmountable circumstances and obstacles. When they humbled themselves and sought the Lord with all their hearts, through prayer and fasting, He intervened in miraculous ways.

I can testify that what was written in the Bible thousands of years ago is true because I have witnessed the God of the Bible do some awesome things in my life and ministry. I have documented in my personal records numerous accounts of supernatural intervention in the midst of impossible situations, and recorded many of the lessons the Lord has taught me. The Impossible (a record of my life and ministry) and Adventures In Missions (a record of my mission trips) are laced with miraculous accounts of what has occurred as a result of fasting, prayer, faith and obedience.

Bill’s e-book, Fasting for Sensitivity and Power is available free of charge at billrudge.org or for purchase at amazon.com.

How Should Christians Respond to Today’s Culture?

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

One of the hottest topics of discussion several months ago was the Grammy Awards. News headlines were saturated with stories about the weddings that took place, the revealing outfits worn, and a performance that had many people claiming she was promoting witchcraft, demons, magic, and Satanism. While I did not watch the Grammy’s, I believe that what went on merely reflects the mindset of a worldly culture; the declaration of independence from the God of the Bible.

This desire for independence began back in the Garden of Eden. Once Satan persuaded Adam and Eve to doubt God, he was able to plant the idea that they no longer needed to look to God to determine what was good and evil (Genesis 3:1-4). In other words, they no longer needed to live under God’s authority: Man can be free from God. This notion of living your life “free” from the God of the Bible is the very spirit that now permeates our culture.

So how do Christians respond to this? Some Christians embrace this culture, ignoring or downplaying any conflicts while being entertained by movies, television shows, and popular musicians openly endorsing and living anti-biblical lifestyles. As one Christian friend said to me, “It is just entertainment and nothing more.”

Other Christians disengage completely from the culture. They stand back awaiting the day when God will finally judge this world and destroy those whom they feel, in their own mind, are not as worthy as they to receive God’s grace and mercy. You will find these people being more preoccupied with endorsing their own political views than with spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Both of the above approaches fail to provide a biblical response to our culture. Instead of embracing our secular culture, or completely disengaging from it, we need to follow the example of Christ. What this means is that we do not conform our lives to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2) but live our lives in such a way that shows our culture how true, personal freedom is found only in the person of Jesus Christ. Remember, if we live by the standards of our culture, we really no longer have a unique message to bring to our culture.

The Grammy’s should be a reminder to all of us that this world desperately needs to hear the news that Jesus Christ has come to set the captives free. Let us live out this message in both word and action.

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” (Colossians 4:5, 6).

“Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world” (1 Peter 2:12).

“If someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ” (1 Peter 3:15, 16).

More Police?

by Bill Rudge

The world is becoming increasingly difficult, dangerous, dark and deadly.

The more the Bible is removed from our society and God is expelled from our schools, the more police are needed to patrol our streets and protect our students and teachers. It has accurately been stated that “Most Americans have barely noticed their descent into a police state, but the ‘land of the free’ is clearly moving in that direction.”

David Ettinger stated in the June 2019 edition of Zion’s Fire magazine:

An acute blindness is permeating the world. A thick darkness is descending upon the hearts and souls of the human race.

The more we demean Jesus Christ – ignore and violate the truth and principles of God’s Word – the more we need therapists to deal with hurting people, broken relationships and devastated families. Someone astutely said, “The more we resist reaching up to Heaven, the more our world falls into chaos and despair.”

Jill Martin Rische accurately stated –

So many know nothing about how great civilizations fall. They don’t connect the historical fact that the rejection of God always leads to the rise of evil. Today, we turn on our TVs or computers and see the glorification of everything vile that crushed ancient Israel and Rome…. Today, clinical depression is a way of life in America and a billion-dollar drug industry sedates us, but cannot stop suicide rates from climbing. (March 22, 2019, http://www.olivetreeviews.org)

Only the spiritually blind person does not recognize the significance and blessing God has shown our nation. Only the foolish person wants God removed from our social and personal lives.

We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a nation without reckoning with the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the Republic. Where we have been the truest and most consistent in obeying its precepts, we have attained the greatest measure of contentment and prosperity. ~ Franklin Roosevelt

May our nation repent and once again discover the truth and reality of Psalm 33:12 –

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.

Why?

by Bill Rudge

Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of mass shootings. Our ministry prayer team prays for the families of those whose lives are cut short, as well as for the recovery of the injured and traumatized. The impact these senseless tragedies have on so many lives and families is incomprehensible. We are grateful for those who “miraculously” survive and for those who prove to be heroes – wounded or killed – while protecting others.

But WHY these insane, cowardly acts of carnage? The answers can be elusive and complex – but are most revealing as to where our society is today. The triggers for acts of violence and mass killings can be anything: seeking revenge for being bullied or fired from a job, experiencing the breakup of a relationship or some other emotional trauma, merely being pulled over for a traffic violation, plotting suicide while killing others, obtaining notoriety…. Some get a twisted pleasure from seeing others suffer or just enjoy killing with little or no remorse.

Many shooters fill their minds with graphic visuals of violent crimes, explosions, shootings, blood splattered victims and walls, people hunted down and murdered by crazed killers. Violence is portrayed in countless movies as every imaginable weapon and technique are used to kill, torture and mutilate. Scenes of terror such as vehicles and buildings being blown apart, pools of blood and other scenes of horror are proliferating. These vivid sights and sounds implanted in one’s mind can (and will) have adverse mental, emotional, physical and spiritual consequences.

Violence in the media and the breakup of families, definitely contribute to these horrific acts of violence. However, another crucial consideration – often overlooked – is that when God is no longer revered or feared, disastrous consequences result from confusion and hopelessness. We have dealt in previous newsletters (and will do so in future ones) about the ramifications of a society losing its faith and respect for God. This abandonment of God and the rejection of biblical moral values, has resulted in segments of society embracing amoralism, atheism, mysticism and occultism – opening the door to a dangerous dilemma: the demonic dimension.

The Demonic Dimension

While my previous research into bizarre behaviors gives some insight into the twisted psyche, there is a realm not frequently considered.

In some cases the only reasonable explanation is found in the demonic connection – and all the more as our society drifts further and further from faith in, and commitment to, Jesus Christ.

Mental health workers (some of whom had previously thought that belief in angels or demons was delusional) have called me about cases they were dealing with which, they said, defied psychological explanation or latent human physical or mental potential and phenomena. They felt they were dealing with something sinister and supernatural.

I am certain that some mass shooters and others who commit heinous acts are influenced or controlled by demonic entities. After the deed is done, if not dead already, the evil spirit motivates them to take their own life or departs from them, leaving them frightened and confused; wondering how they could have performed such an atrocity! Many who were apprehended after committing violent murders have confessed that they heard a voice telling them to do it; some said they felt controlled by an evil force.

While it is inaccurate and unwise to attribute all problems and phenomena to the demonic dimension, the other extreme of unbelief in the existence of Satan and demons, makes it virtually impossible to recognize their activities. Undetected satanic activity negates the possibility of effectively dealing with it.

The Bible records several accounts of Jesus, the apostle Paul and others, encountering demon-possessed individuals. Without sensationalizing the demonic realm, Jesus and the Bible clearly acknowledge its reality.

The Connection

There is always a “connection” – a “trigger” – that makes a person vulnerable to demonic forces which desire to kill and destroy those created in God’s image. Human beings are like defended castles having a wall of protection that shelter them from the demonic realm; however, many let down the drawbridge and open the door to the spirit world through various means (to be addressed in a future newsletter). Those who step outside God’s protection and willingly violate, disregard or defy His mandates put themselves in a perilous position.

The Bible identifies two people possessed by Satan himself: Judas and the future Antichrist. In hindsight we see, concerning Judas, that he had some “issues” which made him vulnerable to be Satan’s tool in betraying Christ to those who wanted to put Him to death. But nothing – even his greed – alerted the disciples to the dastardly deed conceived in his heart. The disciples thought Judas was a “nice guy” (as has been said about some of the shooters) until he actually betrayed Jesus.

Satan, taking advantage of this “connection,” entered Judas who then carried out the religious leaders’ scheme to betray Jesus. Once Satan was done using Judas to put Christ to death, he departed from him – leaving Judas so distraught that he hung himself.

From foresight provided by prophetic Scripture, we discover that the Antichrist (coming to power through false promises of peace and prosperity) will unleash the greatest bloodbath in human history! Scripture foretells a dramatic increase of violence, demonic activity and phenomena in the end times. Just as the book of Revelation foretells, there will be a level of violence never seen before in the history of the world. We definitely appear to be moving in that direction.

Transformed through Christ

The only way to prevent senseless tragedies such as those happening across this nation is either by prevention (often a near impossibility) or for the potential perpetrator of the crime to be truly transformed by the love and forgiveness that comes through a restored relationship with our Creator. Having a life of meaning, purpose and hope (in spite of one’s circumstances) is the best deterrent to prevent someone from wasting their own life and ruining the lives of so many others – including their own family.

Coming to know Jesus Christ by receiving His offer of salvation (conveyed through the pages of the New Testament) is the only hope for a darkened soul in need of the Light. No one who has truly received Jesus and His message of love will participate in acts of cruelty and senseless violence. Those transformed by the power of God’s Spirit will be the solution to society’s problems and not the perpetrator of them.

The Old Adage…

Without getting specific, you probably are aware of an increasing number of sports figures, media personalities, political leaders and others who are mocking and blatantly defying the God of the Bible with either their words or lifestyles. They have the same disrespect and defiance for God that the Israelites had during periods of apostasy in biblical times. Just as the Israelites walked away from the LORD, so too, America is walking away from the LORD.

Do realize, the same individual consequences and national judgments that repeatedly befell the people and nation of Israel will surely come upon this generation unless there is widespread repentance and turning back to the LORD. The old adage bears repeating: Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it.

~ Bill Rudge

Powerful & Effective PRAYER

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Seeking God’s Will

God is looking for men and women who will inspire others. Those who will show, through the way they live, what it means to be totally committed to Jesus Christ regardless of the cost. This will only become a reality by those who devote themselves to prayer and Bible study.

An important principle for having a powerful and effective prayer life is to seek God’s will and not our own. This is taught by Jesus in the Lord’s Prayer:

“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prays in the following manner:

“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

The essence of Jesus’ life reflects His willingness to humble Himself and submit to the will of His Father (see Philippians 2:5-11).

The apostle John reiterates that we should pray according to God’s will:

“This is the confidence that we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14).

John could not have stated it more clearly: If we want God to hear our prayers, then we must seek God’s will and not our own. Our prayer lives will be ineffective if we approach God on our own terms and in accordance to our will. However, they will become powerful and effective if we humble ourselves before the Lord and submit to His will for our lives.

Praying the Promises

Praying the promises in God’s Word, having a powerful prayer life, and living by the truth and principles in the Bible are great ways to keep one’s life in submission to the Lord.

Excerpts from BJ’s E-book, Powerful and Effective Prayer, available free of charge at http://www.billrudge.org.