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

Getting Our Attention

by Bill Rudge

Photo by Karen Rudge

With the non-stop stimulation of electronic devices and society’s increasing fixation with the pursuit of pleasures, how can God get our attention? For many, the eternal significance of having a relationship with the Creator is grossly underestimated.

While driving, it is common for people to listen to music or news on the radio. When walking or jogging many listen to their favorite playlists or podcasts. At home they watch movies, play video games, browse the internet, text and catch up on the latest “gossip” or newest trends on social media platforms. And consider how many people have fogged minds from sleep deprivation, poor diets, drug use (legal and illegal), abuse of alcohol, or overwhelmed by the stresses of life, family, and work.

Due to prejudice or hostility, some people alienate themselves from God because they feel He is indifferent to their pain and suffering, or because they condone lifestyles contrary to His Word. Others, with preconceived ideas and beliefs, seek to determine who or what they think God should be. And some pursue New Age spirituality, leading them down any number of paths away from the true and living God of the Bible.

Pain, Suffering, and Judgment

Often, trouble or tragedy is the wake-up call that motivates people to seek God for help. I have ministered to many who previously had little interest in, or time for, God until a life threatening disease, debilitating injury, loss of a loved one, the breakup of a relationship, or some other crisis opened their eyes.

Experience and history teach us that along life’s journey, God uses a variety of ways to get our attention and motivate us to seek Him. Nevertheless, today’s generation is hardening their hearts and moving in a direction that is diametrically opposed to what the Creator intended for us. No wonder it will take the worst judgments ever­—the cataclysmic events described in the Book of Revelation—to get the attention of this world. While many will be brought to repentance, most will continue to resist and rebel. Then, one day they will discover the shocking reality of a God who so loved them that He died for their sins, but having rejected Jesus’ free offer of salvation, He is no longer their Savior but their Judge!
Throughout their lifetime God attempted to get their attention and desired a relationship with them but was repulsed repeatedly. If we die still choosing to ignore or defy God, rejecting His provision of salvation in Jesus Christ, then at the Final Judgment, God will give us what we have chosen—eternal separation from His presence. In contrast, those who receive Christ will inherit all that God has prepared for those who love Him and obey His Word.

One day soon, Jesus Christ will return as the victorious King of kings and Lord of lords. Prophecies foretold in Scripture thousands of years ago are clearly lining up. Those who do not discern the end time “signs of the times” will be easy prey for the deceptive and seductive spirit of this age. They will be lured away from their only true hope—Jesus Christ.

Dreams, Desires, and Aspirations

Take time while you still have the opportunity to put down your phones and contemplate the reality of a Creator, ponder the meaning of life, and consider the eternal consequences of your choices. Questions such as: Where did I come from? Am I here for a reason? What happens after I die? If you truly examine the evidence for the claims of Jesus Christ and the Bible, you will discover undeniable proof just as Peter realized when he declared to Jesus, “You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

God’s glory is displayed through the wonders of creation, and the knowledge of Him is revealed through His inspired Word. Although we are without excuse, He continues to pursue us through life’s circumstances, dreams and visions, and through pain and suffering—all in an endeavor to bring us back into relationship with Him—both here and now, and for all eternity!

Don’t waste your life thinking that if you only had this or accomplished that you would be happy; temporary happiness will always elude you. The only enduring solution is to come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. I made that choice and have never looked elsewhere for fulfillment, peace, and hope. True, there is still a longing in my heart—not for something or someone else, but to know Christ more deeply, to see Him face to face, and to witness all of creation return to God’s original intended glory. When that day finally comes and we are with our Lord and Savior for all eternity, we will witness the ultimate fulfillment of all our dreams, desires, and aspirations.

He Is Seeking You Now

You may feel that God has distanced Himself from His creation, but consider this situation: What would you do if your spouse disregarded you and instead pursued someone else? You would most likely distance yourself from them; the same is true with Christ. God walked in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve until disobedience and rebellion severed their relationship. Likewise, all of humanity has followed that pattern. We continue to disbelieve, disobey and follow our own path. Today’s generation has distanced itself and mocked the God who created us and our universe. For a time God will give us our space, yet He is always ready to restore our relationship with Him.

Let us no longer remain disinterested in knowing God! Let us stop getting caught up in the frantic pace of life and the cares of this world. Let us not be trapped in the pursuit of pleasure and self-indulgence. Let us not be blinded by false spiritual and philosophical beliefs. Do not let constant distractions, diversions, the endless disturbances of technological advances, chemical dependencies, nutritional deficiencies or fixations, or anything else hinder God from getting your attention!

God graciously responds to our sincere cries of desperation:

In my trouble I cried to the LORD and He answered me (Psalm 120:1).

The LORD is faithful to His promise:

You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

Let your heart be as King David’s:

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God (Psalm 42:1-2).

Call out to God for forgiveness, and be assured by the Apostle Peter’s promise:

Whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved (Romans 10:13).

The Bible, God’s holy Word, affirms:

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).

Test the promise of Isaiah 40:31:

But those who wait on [hope in] the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

As Jesus Himself did, so God desires us to occasionally separate ourselves from the busyness of life to wait on Him in prayer, praise, and to reflect on His Word. Our times of fellowship with God will result in spiritual and physical rejuvenation, mental and emotional renewal, and blessings the psalmist discovered:

Blessed is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the Law of the LORD, and on His Law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3).

Do not wait until it is too late to offer God your time and attention. Get to know Jesus Christ while you still have the chance and the choice. Life is short and unpredictable; death is often unexpected. Your eternal destiny is in God’s hands! Right now you have the opportunity to accept His offer of forgiveness and the promise of a restored relationship with your Creator.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Receiving Him as Savior and Lord is the wisest and most courageous decision you will ever make. Living for Him will be the most exciting, challenging, and fulfilling life you can live.

Accuracy vs. Relevance

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!

Quotes By Famous People Who Believed the Bible

George Washington – “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God or the Bible.”

Thomas Jefferson – “I have always said, and always will say, that the studious perusal of the Sacred Volume will make us better citizens, better fathers and better husbands.”

Noah Webster – “The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. All the miseries and evils which men suffer from—vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression slavery, and war—proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”

Daniel Webster – “I have read the Bible through many times, and now make it a practice to read it through once every year. It fits a man for life—it prepares him for death. If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible our country will go on prospering.”

Abraham Lincoln – “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has given to man.”

Charles Dickens – “The New Testament is the very best book that ever was or ever will be known in the world.”

Samuel Morse (inventor of the telegraph) – “The nearer I approach the end of my pilgrimage, the clearer is the evidence of the divine origin of the Bible. The grandeur and sublimity of God’s remedy for fallen man are more appreciated and the future is illuminated with hope and joy.”

Charles H. Spurgeon – “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.”

William McKinley – “The more profoundly we study this wonderful Book, and the more closely we observe its divine precepts, the better citizens we will become and the higher will be our destiny as a nation.”

Theodore Roosevelt – “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.”

Woodrow Wilson – “There are a good many problems before the American people today, and before me as President, but I expect to find the solution of those problems just in the proportion that I am faithful in the study of the Word of God.”

Calvin Coolidge – “The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt – “We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a nation, without reckoning the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the Republic.”

N. T. Wright – “The Bible is the book of my life. It’s the book I live with, the book I live by, the book I want to die by.”

Herbert Hoover – “The whole inspiration of our civilization springs from the teachings of Christ and the lessons of the prophets. To read the Bible for these fundamentals is a necessity of American life.”

Dwight Eisenhower – “The Bible is endorsed by the ages. Our civilization is built upon its words. In no other Book is there such a collection of inspired wisdom, reality, and hope.”

Ronald Reagan – “Within the covers of the Bible are all the answers for all the problems men face. The Bible can touch hearts, order minds and refresh souls.”

Historian Bill Cooper – “I spent more than 25 years digging into the Table of Nations [in Genesis 10 and 11], looking for a fault, an error, a false statement, or an historical inaccuracy. I found not one.”

The Most Amazing Book in the World

Bill Rudge

The Bible is unique among all books in the world, but it sits closed and silent in many homes. Some consider it outdated and offensive—even dangerous—or only for the uneducated or unenlightened. Yet this Divine Library of 66 books (39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament) is anything but mute, archaic or insignificant—and is dangerous only for those who ignore its instruction and scorn its warnings.

Numerous theologians, historians, doctors and scientists confirm that the Bible is divinely inspired: verified by remarkable historical accuracy, amazing archaeological discoveries, insightful geography, fantastic scientific facts conveyed thousands of years before science learned of them, incredible health and nutritional information, astonishing prophecies concerning Messiah’s first and second comings, undeniable evidence for the resurrection of Christ, eyewitness testimony of those facing persecution and martyrdom—refusing to recant their faith in His resurrection, practical wisdom for living, time-proven morality, perceptive judiciary laws. The Bible genuinely answers life’s questions of who we are, where we came from, where we are going, and solves the dilemmas of evil, sin, suffering, aging and death.

The Bible provides knowledge and wisdom far beyond what the greatest minds could ever conceive. It is a literary masterpiece, with one central theme of redemption, written over a span of 1500 years by more than 40 authors (including shepherds, kings, priests, scholars, and prophets) on three continents (Asia, Africa and Europe) and in three languages (Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic).

All Scripture “is inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16) – literally “God-breathed.” John MacArthur comments: “Sometimes God told the Bible writers the exact words to say, but more often He used their minds, vocabularies, and experiences to produce His own perfect infallible, inerrant Word.” In other words, a Divine Author inspired the authors and oversaw the entire process while allowing them to maintain their own styles and personalities.

The Bible is truly the most fascinating book in the world. It has held my interest and attention—amazing me for over 50 years. The more I study Scripture, the more I am impressed by its harmony, veracity, wisdom and revelation. Both Testaments bear witness of a promised Messiah—His first coming as our Savior and His return to establish a Millennial and Eternal Kingdom.

Dr. Blythe Robinson, a friend and colleague now gone on to be with the Lord, said:

The Bible’s durability transcends the centuries of attacks upon it. Its transforming power for good over the lives of all who accept it, continues. Few realize that it is the most expensive book in the world. It has cost the lives of untold thousands who gave their lives through the ages to preserve it and pass it on unchanged to us.

The Bible is so easy to understand that a child can grasp God’s promise of salvation, yet so complex that a lifetime of extensive study will not even begin to delve the depths of its timeless revelations or discover the priceless jewels of wisdom contained within.

The truths in Scripture and coming to know the One who inspired it have provided purpose for the searching, hope for the downtrodden and have transformed the lives of countless people throughout history—including mine and hopefully yours. Only a personal relationship with the Creator can truly satisfy a yearning heart as we await the day of our complete redemption and God’s creation being restored to its intended glory.

Norman Geisler and Frank Turek wrote an insightful book entitled, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. I completely concur because it would take more faith for me to not believe in Jesus Christ! The miraculous interventions I have witnessed confirm and validate for me the reality of the God of the Bible. I would have to be biased, weak and foolish to deny the Creator and His Word. Surrendering my life to Christ has proven the wisest, strongest and most courageous decision I ever made.

The Bible’s final authority is demonstrated in the fact that all of humanity will one day be judged by Jesus’ words (John 12:48). Begin today to navigate the depths of the riches of God’s Word. It will provide wisdom and hope throughout the remainder of your life’s journey and prepare you for eternity!

Motherhood

by Jim Weikal

The Bible has a high regard for mothers. From Eve, who is “the mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:20), through Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah, Ruth, Hannah, Elizabeth and, of course, Mary, who after listening to the shepherds, “treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Little did she know that one day she would watch the horrible crucifixion of her Son (John 19:25). After this devastating event, Mary set a Godly example devoting herself to prayer in the upper room with the 11 disciples, other women and Jesus’ brothers (Acts 1:12-14).

Motherhood is very rewarding but with it comes the unknown and that unknown is the future. Mary did not know her Son’s future, but she had a firm foundation even as a teenager to deal with it. She knew the sacred texts, exalted the Lord, rejoiced in God her Savior, recognized His holiness, His mercy and His mighty deeds (Luke 1:46-54).

I encourage all you mothers to face your children’s future with a firm belief that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9, 10). A righteous, saved mother is a powerful and beautiful woman in her family’s life!

A Mark of True Love

BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Self-control is a highly esteemed virtue in the Bible, but is no longer in today’s culture, especially regarding sexuality. The motto of our culture is simply to “enjoy the moment,” allowing our passions to control us. “If it feels right, then just do it” has become the defining mark in the expression of “true love” between a man and a woman.

The tragedy that has resulted from this type of thinking has not only been the proliferation of STDs, unwanted pregnancies, extramarital affairs and divorce, but a culture of people who have never experienced the beauty of truly loving someone or being truly loved by another!

In contrast to lust that seeks self-gratification, the Bible calls us to live a life of self-control (1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; 5:8). The Word of God commands Christians to resist “ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12).

A healthy relationship is not built upon self-pleasing lust, but upon self-controlled love. Self-control is a mark of true love and maturity because it reminds us not to look at another person merely as a means to fulfill our lusts and desires, but to seek in them a worthy and virtuous end.

True Greatness ~ Join the Great Multitude

by Bill Rudge

You may be facing a lot of peer pressure today, and feel like you are in a 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 multitudes (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 the 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:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands (Revelation 7:9).

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 the countless adventures awaiting 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.

In contrast, those who reject God’s offer of salvation in this life, so as to enjoy the conveniences 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.

Instead of succumbing to the seductive spirit of this age or pressures to compromise your faith and conform your lifestyle to current cultural and popular morality trends, be encouraged by the throngs of people who have gone before you and whose testimonies spur you on:

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1).

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 even 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!

Wisdom for an 18 Year Old … and All of Us, part two – Wisdom from My Father

Recently Bill and BJ Rudge were requested by a father to each send a letter to his son who was about to turn 18. Their advice is relevant to all – both young and old, male and female. The following is BJ’s response.

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

I feel very honored to share with you the realization that I had become a man. I was blessed to have a godly father who taught me to build my life upon the Word of God. This gave me a great foundation and outlook on what it meant to be a man from God’s (and not the world’s) perspective.

Bill and BJ in the Himalayas.

When I was 18, I took a class on philosophy. My professor did not have a positive view of religion, and more specifically, had a hostile attitude toward Christianity. From the very first class, he spent much of his energy showing why it was “foolish” to believe in God and the Bible. As my faith was attacked, I spoke with my father expecting that he would tell me to drop the course. Instead, he told me to take on my professor’s challenge by investigating the truth of the faith that he had taught me growing up. This led me on an incredible spiritual journey that moved me from having only a belief to a conviction that Jesus Christ was who He claimed to be and that He had risen from the dead. This process created a powerful transition from being just a boy into a man who could take ownership over what I believed and why I believed it.

During this process, at age 19, I was hired as boys’ soccer coach at Hickory High School. To set context, this was the school where I graduated and where I played high school soccer, which meant the players on the team were not only my former teammates but my friends. So, literally overnight, I had to shift from being one of their peers to being their coach, placing me in many situations where I had to deal with “grown-up” issues and decisions.

For example, the very first week of the season one of my players, and very close friend, was caught drinking. As a violation of our program’s policy, this infraction required me, as coach, to not only meet with the player and his parents, but to levy consequences. Just two weeks prior, I was at this player’s house hanging out, talking to his parents as their son’s friend; now I had to meet with all of them as the coach who had to act as judge and jury over what happened.

Being a high school coach at a young age was a life-changing experience that made me realize that, as a man, I had a responsibility toward others that required me to hold them accountable for their actions.

Our world truly needs more godly men: men who will stand for what is right – even if it means standing alone – who will spiritually lead their families, who will protect and love their wives, and who will humbly seek to glorify God in all areas. May the Lord’s hand be upon you as He continues to guide you through the steps of becoming the man He wants you to be.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night (Psalm 1:1-2).

I Could Run But I Couldn’t Hide

By Bill Rudge

Fifty years ago, on May 16, 1971, I began my hitchhiking quest across the country with my weightlifting buddy to get away from my girlfriend and her Jesus. In reality, I was in search of peace, fulfillment and the purpose of life. The adventures along the way – as well as the dangers – were many but the story took a turn while stranded in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We received rides from all types of people.

I remember getting picked up by a businessman outside of Akron, Ohio. I thought, “Nice car!” Wouldn’t you know, he began to witness to me about Jesus Christ. I run right into this religious nut who is telling me about this Jesus who I do not want to hear about. He knew I did not want to hear about Jesus so when he discovered I was going to New Mexico he said, “I know some monks out there.” (I later discovered they were born again, Spirit-filled monks).” He wrote a note and said, “I want you to give this to them and they will take care of you.” He sealed it in an envelope and I filed it away.

I thought, I am never going to see some dumb religious monks, so I later opened the letter. It said something like, “These boys are deeply troubled. Please pray for their souls.” I kept the note just in case we needed to go there and get some food.

Then in Columbus, Ohio, we hitched a ride with a guy who pulled a Bible out of his glove compartment and I thought, “Here we go again!” But when he opened his Bible, there was a hole cut out of the center pages with a stash of marijuana hidden there. As we all shared a joint, I thought, “How cool; no cop would ever think of looking inside a Bible for that.”

Albuquerque, New Mexico

After only two days and nights on the road and many adventures, we reached Albuquerque. I hoped to see my oldest brother who was living in a hippie commune there and to obtain a “hot” [stolen] motorcycle to ride to California. My brother had phoned at Christmas and I told him I might come out to see him sometime. He said he could get me a “hot” motorcycle on which we could travel across the rest of the country. He didn’t really believe I would ever show up.

At the hippie compound I was told that my brother had left the day before to go swimming at some springs in the mountains a hundred miles away. They had no idea when he would be back.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

We decided to hitchhike to Santa Fe, which was about 50 miles north of Albuquerque. After walking about three miles we finally hitched a ride that took us right into Santa Fe. During our ride, the car radio informed us that the temperature was going down to about 25 degrees, a record low for this time of year. I had anticipated warm weather out west in May, so all I had was a short-sleeved shirt and a plastic poncho.

Our ride dropped us off and we walked the cobblestone streets of Santa Fe to find a place to spend the night. Darkness was settling in and it seemed as though the whole city had closed down. Finally we found an open bar but were not allowed inside because we were underage. We asked again if we could just go inside long enough to find someone to put us up for the night. The person running the bar did not care and assured us that without proper I.D. we would not be allowed in.

We saw a girl riding by on a bicycle (the only sign of outside life) and yelled at her to stop but she pedaled all the faster and disappeared down a side street.

We returned to our only hope, the bar, which was now closing. No one leaving the bar was willing to help or put us up for the night. It was very late and the temperatures had dropped drastically.

I had unknowingly served Satan faithfully over the years but now he knew that God was beginning to move in my heart so he led me here and set me up to freeze to death.

Hope was diminishing and then, seemingly out of nowhere, down a narrow street came a small, yellow foreign car with several longhaired hippies and a German Shepherd dog hanging his head out of the window. My friend and I began to wave and yell hoping they would stop. All of a sudden one of them started yelling, “That’s my brother, that’s my brother!” and my brother Larry screeched the car to a halt. One of the passengers, Rick, said, “Yeah, we’re all brothers. You and me are brothers. The guy in the back seat is your brother too.” Larry said, “It is my blood brother.” Rick said, “That’s impossible!”

My brother did not even know I was in New Mexico. He was supposed to be 100 miles away swimming somewhere in the mountains, and there in the small town of Santa Fe, on a narrow street, a God who knew I would one day give my life to Him, intervened and spared my life.

Larry, his buddies, and a German shepherd dog Larry found had hitchhiked up to Jemez Hot Springs (59 miles north of Albuquerque and 50 miles – by road – west of Santa Fe) and stayed for a couple days. Larry and his friends were thrown out of the Hot Springs after a few nights and were hitchhiking back to Albuquerque when a young female school teacher picked them up. She took them to her home – which just happened to be in Santa Fe – and let them sleep on her floor that night. She said to Larry, “You guys aren’t going to trash my house and steal my TV and other items?” Larry promised they would not.

The next day this single female teacher left them a note stating she would be back at noon and that they were welcome to wait at the house. She came back home from school at noon and gave Larry the keys to her car saying they could use it to see Sante Fe but to please bring it back that night since it was the only car she had. She asked Larry again, “You guys aren’t going to steal my car and take everything in my house?” Larry promised her they would not. Another schoolteacher who had followed her home at noon drove her back to school and then dropped her off at her house after school. It was later that night, as Larry was driving the car back to her house, that he saw me. Larry later told me they had thought about stealing her car but wanted to keep his promise to return her car since she had been so nice.

It was on Larry’s way back to her house that God used him to save my life. If the car windows hadn’t been rolled down, Larry would never have seen me. You know why the windows were down in such cold weather? Because they had been feeding Mexican beans to the dog and it had gas. Since the defroster wasn’t working, all the windows would have steamed up, he wouldn’t have seen me, and we would have passed like two ships in the night. So God used the dog’s gas for those windows to be down!

God uses the foolish things to confound the wise and the weak things to confound the strong.

We all scrunched into that small car and soon all of us were hanging out the windows. We went to where they were staying and I completely forgot, or cared, about God. We all smoked some grass and shared stories. Larry explained that he would not be able to get us a motorcycle so the next day my friend and I started hitchhiking back to Pennsylvania. Larry, his buddies, and the dog returned to Albuquerque – never to see that school teacher again and wondering not only why she ever picked them up, let them stay in her house, and borrow her car, but also why they didn’t steal it and take off. For many years, Larry was in and out of prison for drug related charges. He told many prisoners about that miracle in Sante Fe in 1971. Years later, Larry was on fire for Jesus Christ. He died of lung cancer and with his dying words He praised Jesus for what God did in Santa Fe.

Back in Pennsylvania

We encountered many more incidents along the way but were really happy when we arrived home. The first thing I did when I got home was call Karen and then go to see her. It happened to be Sunday so, after our reunion, Karen said, “Bill, I want you to come tonight and hear this fantastic evangelist speaking in Youngstown, Ohio.”

The last thing I wanted to do my first night back was to spend it in church hearing about Jesus. I told her, “Karen, take your religion and shove it.” She persisted so I decided to go since we hadn’t seen each other for so long and she looked so beautiful.

But that night the Holy Spirit was dealing with me in a way I had never known before. The evangelist spoke on Bible prophecy and how we could know God in a real and personal way.

I had been searching for meaning and purpose in life for a long time. I had tried everything imaginable to find lasting happiness and peace. I now knew that what I was looking for would not be found, no matter where I went or what I did, but only through giving my life to Jesus Christ and fulfilling the purpose God had for my life.

When he gave the altar call, Karen and her friends asked the usual question, “Do you want us to walk down with you?” I said, “No. This time I’ll do it alone.”

I stood to my feet and as I walked down the long aisle to the altar, I said, “God, if You prove Yourself real to me tonight, I’ll live my life for You.” That was May 23, 1971. God did, and I’ve never been the same since.

The next night I went to hear this same evangelist speak in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania.

During the service he pointed to me and said, “Young man, last night there was a battle between heaven and hell. Satan and hell wanted to keep you, but God won!”

And that’s exactly what happened. I’ve never been the same and I never will be the same.

God intervened and changed my life in a way no self-realization course, no mind-expansion technique, no latent mental powers, no psychotherapy technique, no martial arts involvement, no weight lifting, no hypnosis, no meditation, no Yoga, no occultism, no Eastern religion, no human potential, no atheism, no self-effort or works of righteousness could! Nothing and no one could change my life, except Him.

Q & A “How can we have hope in the midst of pain and suffering?”

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Question

Life is often full of pain, suffering and disappointment. So how can we have hope in this miserable existence?

Answer

To some extent I understand your disillusionment with life. We all experience two contrasting realities: the ideal and the real. The Ideal are those moments of glory that touch our deepest longings (the birth of a baby, falling in love, watching a beautiful sunset, etc.). However, these moments do not fully satisfy because they do not last and are overshadowed by the other reality in life – the real.

The Real are those moments in life (pain, suffering, death of a loved one, loss of a job, health crisis, etc.) that make us desire something better than this world.

The Bible tells us that we all will experience both moments of joy and pain in life (Ideal and Real):

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die … A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4).

Obviously, this raises the question, if God is all-powerful and all-loving then why do we have to experience these contrasting realities? The short answer is we are not always given full clarity on the WHY, but we can know the WHO.

The Who for me is the person of Jesus Christ. Through my own questions and experiences of brokenness in this life, I have found in Him a HOPE and JOY that transcends this world.

The power of the Christian faith is seen in God’s response to our pain where HE gave up his very life to redeem us. Through His death comes life and a hope of living in a world where the Ideal will no longer be overshadowed by the Real.

So, my simple answer to the Whys of your life is the Who… Because you will find in Him not only your value and purpose, but your ultimate destiny!

Like you, I yearn for a world without pain and suffering. While this will become a future actuality, there is still an ongoing need of finding rest in Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30).

Through the Eyes of a Child

by Darlinda McDonald

Two days before kindergarten started, Bill’s granddaughter broke her collarbone. As painful as that was, it also meant she could not take the horse riding lessons she longed for, having even given up dance lessons to fulfill this dream of hers.

The fourth day of kindergarten Bill had the opportunity to take his granddaughter to school. As he held her backpack, she struggled to pull out her lunch and papers to put into her cubbyhole. Being right-handed, this was quite a task. With her right arm in a sling, she had to use her left hand. Bill gave her a kiss on the forehead and told her to try to have a wonderful day. Despite her physical injury and the disappointment of not being able to take horse riding lessons, she responded, “Papa, I always have a wonderful day!”

Oh, what a lesson we can learn from her words! The Bible clearly instructs us to have this attitude: “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24). In Philippians (4:4), we are told to “Rejoice in the Lord always.” As we make the choice to rejoice, we will learn that “the joy of the LORD is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Considering Eternity

by Bill Rudge

While working out at the YMCA in San Diego, I overheard two businessmen discussing death. One said, “I am not sure what’s beyond the grave, but no one will immortalize me anyway, or remember me years from now.” The other man said, “I figure that whatever is out there will have to accept me as I am.” I said, “I don’t mean to jump in, but don’t you think eternity is a long time? Therefore, it might be wise to spend a little more time considering its implications. Pause to reflect on the complexity of the human body and your DNA, the diversity and splendor of nature, and the vastness and awesomeness of the universe which contains billions of galaxies with billions of stars. If there is a God who created us and this universe – are you going to say to Him, “You must accept me on my terms?” Their look affirmed I was relating, so I continued. “No, if there is a Creator, then I must come to Him on His terms, not mine.”

They listened intently and their body language indicated they agreed with what I said so far, so I shared how I had rejected Christianity and spent many years searching in atheism, occultism, Eastern disciplines, and New Ageism until my search for truth brought me back to the God of the Bible. The one guy asked, “Then Jesus Christ is the only way?” I said, “Without a doubt, because He alone has the overwhelming evidence to validate His claims.” After sharing some of the evidence for the inspiration of the Bible and the claims of Christ, I thanked them for listening and they thanked me for sharing.

Bill Rudge has hundreds of witness opportunities every year. The preceding is from a new book he is writing entitled, Impact Evangelism – Sharing Your Faith Anywhere and Everywhere.

America’s Foundation

By BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

When I was in high school I had the opportunity to play soccer in Europe with the East West Ambassadors. We were the only American team in the tournaments. I recall one tournament – the night before the games were to begin – a ceremony took place where each team walked around the field as the fans in the stadium cheered. It was a thrilling experience to be waving our American flags and representing our country.

In all my travels, I am constantly made aware of the greatness of America and how God has blessed this nation. Yet I see the greatness of America fading. While she is still the most influential nation in the world, her superpower status appears to be declining. I wonder what America will be like when my six children are older. Will the American dream be a faded memory of the past?

“What will be the future of America?” is a common question my father and I are asked when we speak on end-times prophecy. While there is no specific prophetic passage that mentions America, there is much biblical truth which sheds light on America’s future. In order to understand what is to come we must consider America’s past and present.

God is sovereign over nations and kings: “Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For You shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations on earth” (Psalm 67:4). The truth that God governs the nations of the world is spoken of by Daniel after God revealed to him the details of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream:

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings (Daniel 2:20, 21).

Anyone who comes to power does so by the sovereign will of God. Regardless of whether the individual chooses to use his or her power for good or for evil, their authority derives from Almighty God. 

Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler over the Babylonian empire, came to recognize this divine truth the hard way. As he surveyed his empire, he made the following boast:

Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty? (Daniel 4:30).

Babylon certainly was a place of beauty and majesty under Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. He constructed the hanging gardens, which were recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. In addition, his capital city was surrounded with a double wall that was 10 miles in length highlighted by the elaborate Ishtar Gate. And further, he brought Babylon to world dominance as he expanded the empire, becoming the first Babylonian king to rule over Egypt. In the midst of boasting of these great accomplishments, the following occurs:

The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you.” (Daniel 4:31).

The Bible says that pride goes before a fall, and Nebuchadnezzar was a living example of this! The passage in Daniel goes on to tell us that Nebuchadnezzar was driven away from his people, and lived like a wild animal until he acknowledged that the Most High is ruler over the kingdoms of men (Daniel 4:32, 33).

A contemporary example of how pride and arrogance  lead down a destructive path, is Saddam Hussein, former ruler over the nation of Iraq, who desired to be the next Nebuchadnezzar. He planned to rebuild Babylon and gain prominence over the surrounding nations, and like Nebuchadnezzar, he was humbled. The man who lived in opulence while his subjects lived in poverty was found hiding like an animal in a hole in the ground.

However, contrary to Saddam, Nebuchadnezzar was restored to power. In his humility, he came to realize that honor and glory belongs to God alone (Daniel 4:34, 35).

The truth that God is sovereign over nations and kings was commonly acknowledged early in American history. In reading letters and documents by the Founding Fathers, one quickly sees that this was an assumed truth. While not all of them were Christian, the following examples (a small sample), show that those who influenced America in its infancy were impacted by a biblical worldview. Numerous quotes by America’s Founding Fathers not only acknowledge God’s sovereignty over the establishment of America, but over every nation in the world.

Patrick Henry in his speech to the Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775, not only uttered the famous words, “give me liberty or give me death,” but also said, “Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.”

George Washington, first president of the United States of America, uttered these words in the opening statement of his thanksgiving speech on April 3, 1789, “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”

In his address to the Constitutional Convention held at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 28, 1787, Benjamin Franklin made this profound statement, “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the Sacred Writings that ‘except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it (Ps. 127:1).’ I firmly believe this….”

America’s past is saturated with men and women who realized that their nation’s existence and continual preservation was a direct result of the providential hand of Almighty God.

The first constitution of Pennsylvania (the state in which I was born and raised) was established in 1776. The following is an excerpt from this document, which each member of the legislature had to declare before he took his seat in office:

“I do believe in one God, the creator and governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration.”

As this 1776 document reveals, the earliest form of government in Pennsylvania required its officials to acknowledge the sovereignty of God. It is amazing how far America has wandered from its foundational principles!

God Uses Nations to Fulfill His Prophetic Plans

Just as God used the Persian king Cyrus (c. 580-529 BC) to bring the children of Israel back to their land after their long exile, He has used America to fulfill His prophetic plan. One aspect of America’s role in prophecy has been her support of the nation of Israel. Following the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70 by the Roman general Titus, Israel as a nation ceased to exist. The Jewish people were scattered across the earth, while the land, which was given a new name called Palestine, became a barren land occupied by people of both Jewish and Arab descent.

Following World War II Britain was given authority over Palestine. However, because of the ongoing problem between the Arabs and the Jews, Britain gave up its authority of Palestine to the United Nations. Driven by a desire to avoid a repeat of history, where the Jewish people were nearly exterminated by Adolph Hitler and the Nazis, and to help resolve the ongoing Arab/Jewish conflict, the UN proposed to partition the land into two states. Right away this proposal faced opposition.

World leaders were forced to choose whether or not to support the proposal for an independent nation of Israel, and President Truman found himself in the middle of this battle. Many in the State Department and leaders in the military voiced their opposition to this proposal. They felt America’s support of an Israeli nation would create unnecessary tension with the oil rich Arab countries.

Despite facing opposition within his own cabinet, President Truman held to the belief that Israel had a prophetic destiny. This belief came about through his reading of the Bible (which it is reported he had read through it twice by age 12), and conversations with a Jewish friend by the name of Edward Jacobson. These two factors proved to influence the decision that Truman had to make on May 14, 1948. For it was on this day that Israel made a declaration of statehood. Shortly thereafter President Truman declared America’s recognition of the nation of Israel.

A story is told of Truman being introduced by his Jewish friend Jacobson to a group of professors in the following way, “This is the man who helped create the state of Israel.” The story goes that Truman responded by saying, “What do you mean create? I am Cyrus. I am Cyrus.”

Through the prophet Ezekiel, God promised that Israel would come back to its land after being scattered among the nations:

Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land….”

Just as God had used Cyrus to fulfill His prophetic word, so too, God used the American President, Harry Truman, to bring about His prophetic plan to restore His people to their land.

America has also been used to fulfill prophecy through her role in fulfilling the Great Commission. No other nation in history has done more to promote worldwide missions than America, helping to fulfill Jesus’ prophetic words in His Olivet Discourse:

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. 

God Blesses and Judges Nations

In Genesis chapter 12, God calls Abram (whose name is changed to Abraham in chapter 17) to leave his country and relatives for a land that God will show him. God then gives the following promise:

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Genesis 12:2, 3).

Here we see that God not only makes a prophetic promise to Abram, but to all other people depending on how they deal with him. Of course, we know that the great nation God promises to Abram is the Jewish people.

We can see the second part of this prophecy fulfilled in America. No modern nation has supported Israel and been a better friend to the Jewish people than America. This fulfillment of the prophetic statement God made to Abram is a major reason why America has been such a blessed nation. Consider the status of America since 1948 when President Truman set the precedent of supporting Israel as a nation. America has been blessed economically, militarily and become the envy of the other nations.

Moving to the present situation in America, I am sure it is not hard to see how far we have strayed from our past. Just as the nation of Israel walked away from God, the same pattern is being repeated in America.

Israel was commanded by God to pass on a spiritual legacy to the next generation. They were called to show the next generation how faith is related to every area of life (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7).

For a time, the nation of Israel took seriously this mandate from God (as recorded in Judges 2:7). However, just three verses later, we find a drastic change:

All that generation were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor the work which He had done for Israel (Judges 2:10). 

The result of just one generation not fulfilling God’s mandate to teach the next generation about the Lord, lead Israel on a destructive path:

Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals; and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger (Judges 2:11, 12).

No longer did the next generation follow the commands of the Lord, instead, “… everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

Tragically this same path is being taken by America. Our spiritual past and the way in which God has blessed our nation is forgotten. We no longer seek the wisdom of God and His Word. Instead, like the children of Israel, everyone does what is right in his or her own eyes.

We are forfeiting the blessings and freedoms for which America’s founders gave their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

As we contemplate the present reality in America the obvious questions arise, “Is there any hope for our future? Can we once again experience the blessings of God?”

While many answers are proposed – changing laws, legislating conservative values, changing the political makeup in Washington, D.C. – none of these solutions will ultimately succeed. There is one thing America must do to ensure its future. As Solomon reminded the children of Israel of what they should do if they walked away from the Lord, so, too, America needs to heed these words if she expects to see God bless this nation once again:

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

A Call to America!

by Bill Rudge

How long will our flag fly?

America has been the greatest nation in the history of the world. Built upon the principles in God’s Word, she has seemed invincible. Once honoring the LORD, she forsakes and rejects the ways of the One Who has blessed and protected her.

America is hardening her heart to the God of the Bible and enthusiastically embraces beliefs and practices contrary to His nature and will. Accordingly, the testimony of Scripture, the lessons of history, and the witness of God’s Spirit announce America’s inevitable fate – unless she repents.

We must turn from the morally bankrupt path we are pursuing. Instead of following the trends of secular society, the Church must be guided by God’s Word and His Spirit.

Are We Deaf?

Why have we trampled under foot the very Word of God? Are we deaf to God’s calls to repent? Are we too stiff-necked to turn back to the LORD and walk His path before it is too late? Does this generation not realize that the apocalyptic events described in Revelation are on the verge of occurring? As cataclysmic judgments loom at our door, how can we continue this foolhardy course?

Any discerning person can recognize what is happening: America is being methodically attacked and the glory of our beloved country is rapidly diminishing. Under the pretense of protection, U.S. and global citizens are being methodically monitored, strategically controlled, and systematically enslaved. Increasing surveillance and loss of privacy are speeding us toward the reality of Revelation 13 – not being able to buy or sell without a mark on the right hand or forehead.

Are We Blind?

Scripture has proven to be amazingly accurate throughout history and is being fulfilled today. Are we too blind to see that many of these prophesied curses are already being experienced in America for violating God’s laws?
We are facing impending judgment, yet so many have stopped-up ears, blinded eyes, calloused hearts with values too twisted to recognize what is coming.

Although initially written millennia ago for the nation of Israel, Moses’ words are relevant for America today. God promised great blessings for obedience (Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Leviticus 26:3-13) and restoration for repentance in violating His Word (Leviticus 26:40-45; Isaiah 1:18, 19). The LORD also strongly warned of harsh consequences for rebellion, disobedience, and the persistent violation of His decrees (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Leviticus 26:14-39; and Isaiah 1:2-31).

One day America, like Judah, may be invaded, our people humbled and taken captive. One day those who are selling out America and betraying her by actively or passively undermining her historic values will sit in mourning over the loss of our great cities – as the Jews grieved for Jerusalem when they were taken into Babylonian captivity.

I have grave concerns for this nation I love so much. Every Fourth of July for the past several years I have pondered the gradual – sometimes dramatic – changes in America. I see the flag at our ministry center swaying in the breeze and wonder how long it will fly.

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.