Bill has been privileged to train various sports teams, military personnel, new military recruits and many other youth and adults on our Ultimate Challenge Obstacle & Fitness Course. To enter the obstacle course, participants must bend down and go under a low wooden horizontal pole supported by two vertical posts. Bill tells them to look straight ahead toward the woods—where they see a cross. After everyone has entered the course Bill comments, “There is not a chance you are here by random chance. There is a God who created the heavens and the earth and He created each of you for a special purpose. The only way to come to know the Sovereign Lord of the Universe is to humble yourself before the cross.” They get this most important message before Bill takes them through many rigorous challenges on the obstacle course with several life-lessons.
Unlike Navy SEALs or SWCC (Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen) participants, who only ring the bell when they quit, those on our obstacle course get to ring a loud silver bell when they complete the course—but only if they have done so with courage, determination and a positive attitude!
Several groups are already scheduled for the Obstacle Course this summer.
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!
“If you ignore your health, it will go away.”Dr. Stan Harris
“A man whose only goal in life is to seek riches will spend all his waking time finding ways to get more wealth, while neglecting his health. Then later in life he will spend all his wealth to try to gain back his health.”Author Unknown
“You can willingly change your diet and lifestyle now, or one day you will be forced to.” Bill Rudge
“Swallow your pride—it’s non-fattening.”David James
“The best exercise for weight loss is table push-aways.”Author Unknown
“Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it never goes anywhere.” Wanda E. Brunstetter
“The finest form of exercise is to touch the floor regularly with your knees.” Author Unknown
“Many people have difficulty modifying the way they eat. Instead, I recommend they modify the way they shop for food. Keep all junk food, processed food, and tempting foods out of your grocery cart and out of your house. Don’t buy these foods. If you don’t have them readily available, you aren’t going to be as tempted to eat them.”Dr. Don Colbert
“Do you eat fish with high mercury levels, like tuna, King mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, or swordfish? If so, consider switching to the ‘SMASH fish’ (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring). Certain foods enhance detoxification, including: cilantro, the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, arugula, bok choy etc.) avocados, artichokes, beets, garlic, ginger, grapefruit, lemons, olive oil, and seaweed.” Shaklee’s Health Quest
“To neglect the Creator’s instruction of taking one day off a week to rest and rejuvenate is a sure path to physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion.”Author Unknown
Luke 2:52 tells us that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” He developed a balanced life. As believers we, too, should live a balanced life. God cares about our total well being.
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, we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds—thinking about and dwelling on that which is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and praiseworthy. Emotionally, we must not allow negative and destructive feelings such as worry, fear, jealousy, bitterness, hate, revenge, greed, impatience and pride to dominate our lives. Instead, they must be replaced with the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Spiritually, we are created in God’s image and are to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, filled with and walking in the Spirit.
…May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
The most important principle of health is to “Fear [reverence] the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:7, 8). Seek Him daily—preferably first thing in the morning. Find wisdom and strength for your day and your life in His Word and by His Spirit.
Do Not Neglect the Physical
Many Christians believe that exercise is of little value. They base their opinion, in part, on the words of the Apostle Paul 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). When I was a new Christian and thought I would have to give up working out after reading 1 Timothy 4:8, a wise minister said to me, “The little that physical 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. From the age of 12 (1965) when I was in the seventh grade, I have been involved in some type of exercise regimen (except for the brief period just mentioned). My current fitness routine often begins about 5:30 a.m., and after Bible study and prayer, I workout 30 to 60 minutes, four to six days a week. I also get exercise from outside work at the ministry center, as well as pushing grandchildren around in wheelbarrows or pulling them in wagons on “adventures” through “secret” trails in nearby fields and woods.
Bodily exercise and nutrition have temporal profit and are not to be neglected, but knowing Jesus Christ and His Word have eternal benefits! Paul counseled Timothy that godliness promises benefits for this present life and for the life to come; so 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 simple biblical principle that has proven to be of immense value in bringing balance to me is: “Focus on the spiritual while not neglecting the physical.” Since my priority has been making certain my “soul prospers,” the Lord has blessed me in many ways and given me abounding energy to accomplish the vision He placed in my heart. My prosperity is not in material wealth, but in His peace and joy that transcend life’s circumstances.
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones (Proverbs 14:30). A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22).
Like an athlete preparing for his next contest, I discipline myself and am constantly training (exercising, eating nutritionally, fasting, praying, studying Scripture and so on) to be a more effective witness for Christ, to better handle the daily stresses of life, to be able to fulfill an oftentimes rigorous ministry schedule, to be prepared for the rigors of my next mission adventure and to participate in physical activities with my grandchildren. My goal is to have the health and vitality to fulfill God’s purpose and finish the race He has called me to run.
You Have a Choice
Since the psalmist declared, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your workmanship is marvelous and how well I know it” (Psalm 139:14), why are so many Christians sick and not walking in health? In many cases it is because we violate biblical principles: we lack self-control; have poor health habits; neglect proper exercise and sleep; have unresolved stress issues; overwork or are lazy; expose ourselves to dangerous chemicals, pollutants or too much sun. We allow negative emotions such as jealousy, anger and bitterness to dominate our lives. Time is the great equalizer; one day we will pay for our poor choices. Just remember, the farther you walk down the road of bad health habits, the longer the walk back towards better health.
Romans chapter 14 and other Scriptures make it clear that we have the freedom to eat whatever we want without endangering our relationship with Jesus Christ or our eternal destiny. Nevertheless, wisdom, spread throughout the pages of the Bible, reveals the importance of avoiding gluttony and other destructive indulgences. The choices we make and the things we do impact the length and quality of our lives:
• How do you handle relationships, financial and job stress? • What foods do you consume? • Are you exposed to environmental pollutants? • Do you exercise or not? • What is your decision on the use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs? • Do you engage in immoral behavior? • Do you allow anger, bitterness, despair and feelings of hopelessness to rule your thoughts and emotions or do you choose love, forgiveness, peace and joy?
The fallout from these choices accumulate over time and determine the kind of life you will live, and even when and how you will die.
Considering the toxicity of our bodies, minds and spirits, the fact that we live in relatively good health for as long as we do is a testimony of how wonderfully we are made.
Optimum health is dependent on each person’s circumstances. It is taking whatever your situation and limitations are and seeking, with God’s help, to improve wherever you can. Some of you may have irreversible injuries or genetic disabilities to deal with. However, we still can choose to trust and honor God and seek, as far as possible, to implement His biblical health principles.
Greater Health through Biblical Principles
From personal experience and studying health and fitness for decades, I am convinced that Scripture contains superior principles for obtaining maximal physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and the pages of our Bible divulge the ultimate way to gain health in this life, as well as the next! As believers in Christ, we await the blessed hope of the transformation of our physical bodies at the Lord’s return (Romans 8:18-25; 1 Corinthians 15:35-57; Philippians 3:20-21).
Do not settle for imitation or inferior health and healing techniques which could compromise your biblical convictions or seduce you from a pure devotion to Christ. Instead, walk in harmony with, and in obedience to, God’s natural health laws and biblical principles. You will achieve your inherent optimal health, living a better quality of life with increased energy to accomplish His will and be a more effective witness for Jesus Christ! When the world sees how your faith in Christ positively effects every dimension of your life, many will want to know the Christ you represent.
Remember, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). As stewards of the amazing bodies, minds and spirits God has given us, we are responsible to establish balance by seeking to be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually fit!
Excerpted from Reaching Your Maximum Potential in Christwhich is being updated and expanded for its fourth printed edition and E-book.
Is it really that crucial to believe Jesus rose bodily from the dead?
Yes. Jesus’ resurrection is the very foundation of the Christian faith! The Apostle Paul emphasized this point to the church at Corinth where some claimed there was no resurrection of the dead. Paul asserts that without the resurrection there would be no Christian faith:
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain (1 Corinthians 15:13-14).
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus predicted He would die and then three days later rise from the dead (Matthew 12:38-40; Mark 9:9-10; Luke 18:31-33; John 10:17-18). If He made these assertions and they had not come to pass, He would have been a liar or a lunatic—either insane or the greatest deceiver in history.
2. All four Gospels testify to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead (Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20). If He had not, the Gospel accounts would have lost credibility and been discarded as historically unreliable documents. They could not be viewed as primary records of the things that happened (Luke 1:3-4), but products of later editing and manipulation on the part of the early church.
3. The central theme and testimony of the early church was the preaching of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:22-36; 3:13-18; 4:10-12; 5:29-32; 10:37-43; 13:27-37; 17:2-3; 26:22-23). If the resurrection had not occurred, it would have been impossible for Paul and others to persist in affirming that it had, in fact, occurred—especially in the presence of hostile eyewitnesses.
4. Without the death and resurrection, all Christians would still be in sin and under the judgment of God. Paul highlights this point to the Corinthian believers:
For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:16-19).
5. Finally, without the resurrection, no one would have the eschatological (the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind) hope of eternal life. The resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrates His authority over death. Those who place their faith and trust in Him have the assurance that death has been overcome and will be ultimately conquered at His second coming. As Jesus said to Martha who was grieving the loss of her brother Lazarus:
I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die (John 11:25-26).
The resurrection is the crucial point of Christianity which either validates or discredits the Christian faith. This is why the apostle Paul stressed to the Corinthian believers that their faith would be in vain if Christ had not risen from the dead.
Henry M. Morris and Henry M. Morris III summed it up well in their book Many Infallible Proofs – Evidence for the Christian Faith:
If the resurrection did not take place, then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth.
The Christian faith stands firm on the fact of Jesus’ resurrection: The incredible truth that has changed the lives of millions throughout history.
As we currently face global conflicts, pandemics, and natural disasters, many wonder if we are close to the return of Jesus Christ. Pastor BJ addresses this important issue by providing a biblical perspective on how to understand the times that we live in.
UPDATE, part 2: Examining where we are through the lens of Scripture.
As we continue to see war rage in Ukraine, many wonder if this is a sign of a future war foretold by the Prophet Ezekiel. Pastor BJ addresses this issue by looking at the details of this war in light of current events.
“If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” – Jesus, Matthew 5:41
Roman soldiers not only had to walk almost everywhere they went, but they had to carry heavy packs. Just as Roman soldiers forced Simon of Cyrene to carry Jesus’ cross (Matthew 27:32), Roman law allowed military personnel to command those who were not Roman citizens to carry their equipment a prescribed distance, one Roman “mile.” If the civilian refused, he could be prosecuted under Roman law. But having reached the milestone, the civilian had no further obligation.
The Jews would carry the Roman’s gear down the road exactly one mile. When they reached the milestone marker they would say, “This is as far as I go. I fulfilled what Roman law requires.” But Jesus said, “If they ask you to go one mile, go two.” Why? One reason is that when a Roman made them go one mile, the Roman was controlling them, but when they willingly chose to carry the gear one more mile they were saying, “You may have forced me to carry your load the first mile, but now I choose to carry it another mile.” Instead of being victimized, the Christian is showing himself the master of the situation.
Turn the Other Cheek
“Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” – Jesus, Matthew 5:39
Turning the other cheek goes contrary to what comes naturally; unprovoked insult or injury prompts retaliation. It’s interesting that Jesus specified the right cheek. Since most people are right-handed, the only way they can strike someone on the right cheek is with the back of their hand. That is the classic insult or challenge: a backhanded slap on the face. The strike on the right cheek was a most grievous insult in the ancient world. The prophet Micaiah was struck on the cheek by a false prophet (1 Kings 22:24). The ultimate example, however, is Jesus Christ (Isaiah 50:6).
Speaking of turning the other cheek, Jesus refers to the Old Testament lex talionis (law of retaliation). This law was not given to foster vengeance (the law explicitly forbade that – Leviticus 19:18)—but to limit the revenge one could take on another, preventing a blood feud which could easily escalate into retaliation far exceeding the original injury. In other words, if a man knocked out your tooth you could not break his neck for it (Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:19-20, and Deuteronomy 19:21). But now Christ is teaching us a more excellent way—that a Christian should forgive and show love, mercy, and control. If someone insults or slanders you, take no further notice of it; respond with love. By forgiving the injury you may prevent further hostilities and avert aggression.
Give Him Your Cloak
“If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. – Jesus, Matthew 5:40
Old Testament law forbade a creditor to keep a cloak (outer garment) overnight (Exodus 22:26-27). A poor person might only have one inner garment with the outer garment serving as both coat and blanket. Christ actually advocates assertive behavior here—being in control of the situation. So you think you have control over me because you took my shirt? Well, here is my coat too, given of my own free will.
There is a limit, however, to giving our clothes away. On mission trips, I usually give everything away that I bring, except what is worn home. During one mission trip to Haiti, outside the mission compound, I gave clothes away to several guys from nearby villages. Before I knew it there were over 20 guys and I quickly ran out of clothes! As I was going back inside the compound, one guy asked for my shoes, so I said, “Here, have my shoes.” Someone else wanted my shirt, so I said, “Take my shirt.” Another guy wanted the muscle shirt underneath my shirt, so I said, “Here, take it.” Then this little kid said to me in broken English, “I go to school and I got no socks,” pointing at my socks. So I said, “Here, kid, have my socks.” The only thing left was my shorts. I raised my hands and said, “That’s as far as I go!”
Gouge Out Your Eye
While Matthew 5:39 tells us to turn the other cheek, in that very same chapter it states in verses 29 and 30:
If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
We do not follow verses 29 and 30 literally, or we would all be missing a right eye and a right hand. Besides, Jesus did not literally turn the other cheek when an official struck Him in the face, but He did answer him assertively (John 18:22-23).
What is the Lord saying to us in walking the second mile; turning the other cheek; and giving away our cloak? He wants us to walk in love and forgiveness, not hatred, revenge, bitterness, and retaliation. He wants us to walk in discipline, and not be out of control. He does not want us to be victims, nor does He want us to victimize others. He wants us to walk in wisdom, not foolishness. He wants us to walk in victory, not defeat.
The human massacre in Ukraine (having also prophetic implications) makes one realize that evolution must be true — “reverse evolution” that is!
While humans definitely did not evolve from animals, it sure seems that some humans have “devolved” into animals. Putin and others will one day stand before the God they do not believe in or honor. However, there is hope even for murderers through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
“Character is like a muscle; the more it is exercised and used, the stronger it becomes. Every time we choose to do what is right, we build character and moral courage.” Senator Douglas V. Mastriano, PhD (Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired)
Face the Worst
“If you want to be the best you have to face the worst.” Quote from Ken Rudge for a nephew going through rigorous Special Forces training.
What God Does
“It’s not the years in your life, it’s the life in your years.”
“It is not what you do for God, rather, it is what God does through you.” Authors Unknown
“Expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.” William Carey
“You will find your purpose when you make Jesus the center of what you want to do and the focus of what you hope to accomplish.” BJ Rudge
Mary Green, a longtime supporter of BRM and the mother of Ann Ore who is on staff at the ministry, went home to be with the Lord recently. A few months ago, Mary had sent us the following note and the poem, Faith (following note):
Dear Bill and Karen,
Just a note to let you know how much I enjoy your newsletters, and how much I learn from them. This has been a very difficult time for many people, but it is during the stressful times that we grow in our understanding of God’s Word and in growing closer to Him, so I can be thankful for them.
Enclosed is a poem entitled Faith, written by my dearly loved Aunt Lucy. She had a difficult life. She lived in a log cabin with no electricity or running water. I have so many happy memories of times spent on that farm. Aunt Lucy always sang hymns as she worked in her garden or worked around the house. Her book of poetry is called “Dream Petals” and many were written during World War II. May God be with you both. I continue to pray for you, your family, and your ministry.
Mary Green, New Jersey
by Lucy Morgan Johnson
If oft affliction I must bear, I do not mind, for God is there To strengthen me with faith anew, To bear my cross, and weakness too.
Should darkness hide me from His sight, My faith will be a guiding light; To feel, and know that He is near, To lead me when life’s way seems drear.
When pain and shadow ’round me loom That faith will help me pierce the gloom And it will be a beacon light, To guide me safely through the night.
And should my path be rough and steep, I pray that faith will help me keep Life’s weary way without a sigh To feel that God is ever nigh.
My future though I cannot see, Faith makes it seem so real to me; With hope, my bright and shining star, Enriched by love, that gleams afar.
May my affliction be for me Stepping-stones, to eternity; And may I ever understand, That faith is but my Savior’s hand.
And when life’s sun is sinking low, That faith will light my way to go; And when the veil of death is drawn, My soul will rise to greet the dawn.
If dark the way, I will go on, With faith to meet the coming morn, And know that when night’s shades have flown, I’ll see the sun rise o’er God’s throne.
One of my first memories of helping at the Bill Rudge Ministries goes back to August of 1987. The occasion was a “Kids’ Summer Fun Event” on a Friday night from 7 – 11:00 p.m. Bill was reminded at the staff training session the night before that the weather report was calling for thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday. Bill calmly replied, “I’ve heard that before” and assured them that since the Lord had led us to have this outreach, somehow He would also provide good weather.
By 5:00 p.m. on Friday the rain stopped so we could set up the equipment. By 6:00 p.m. the sun was shining brightly and continued to do so during the outside recreation. I recall that the number of kids was close to a couple hundred. All enjoyed the youthful games and supervised activities.
Later that evening, Bill asked me to start a campfire for the kids. I remember looking upward with some skepticism because I anticipated raindrops flowing down at any moment. The ominous, menacing and rolling gray clouds hung low over the Ministry Center. It seemed they would burst at any moment. Bill said a quick prayer asking God to hold back the rain so he could finish the outside activities and feed the kids around the campfire before going inside the Ministry Center as previously planned.
I finished preparing the fire for the kids’ enjoyment. As we answered the call to go inside, the rain started to fall slowly, then progressively increasing in intensity. Amazingly, no one got wet. Bill had on his schedule that at 10:30 p.m. we would go inside the building, and at almost exactly 10:30 it started to rain.
The experience impressed me so much that I recall it even now, over 30 years later.
Keira, a college roommate of Bill’s daughter with a heart for missions, went on the snow run with Bill. Keira’s father is an amazing scientist who persevered through great challenges and obstacles to invent the MRI.
The infamous Snow Run began one cold and snowy evening many years ago. I was at home, working on a message, late at night, and needed something at the ministry center – a distance of about 100 yards (the length of a football field). Instead of taking the time to put on socks and shoes, I ran barefoot over to the center. It was a challenge, an adventure and a time-saver, so I continued this practice through snow and ice many times. Even now, when guests visit us during the winter, I will ask if they want to do the Snow Run, and a few (especially my grandchildren) have run it with me, but most – though curious – decline.
I love doing things like the Snow Run because the Lord usually gives me spiritual applications to share. For instance, a believer’s daily walk with Him is like the Snow Run in many ways.
First, you “count the cost” and mentally prepare yourself for the ordeal that lies ahead. You consider the temperature, terrain and time of day or night to determine the level of difficulty. (Be sure to have the ministry door key ready or are able to make it to the obstacle course and then back to the house!) By way of parallel, Jesus said to count the cost before becoming His disciple. Before embarking on any endeavor in His name, you must be certain of being led by His Spirit and His Word, and that your heart is prepared for whatever might lie ahead.
Second, as a barefoot runner in shorts and T-shirt, you must run swiftly and make each step count; you cannot look back lest you slip and fall. So too, believers must throw off every sin that so easily entangles and swiftly run the race of faith, making each day count for the Lord. We must forget what lies behind and press on with faith and determination.
As a Snow Runner, you must not divert to the right or to the left because after a few steps, your feet start burning. In like manner, the believer in Jesus Christ must be focused on Him, not turning to the right or to the left lest the enemy divert, defeat and devour you.
By the time you are halfway across the snow-covered field, your feet feel like cement blocks, then quickly go numb; you cannot stop or you may have to crawl back. Likewise, for a true believer in Christ, stopping or giving up is not an option – you must stay faithful until the very end.
Running with little or no snow is even more difficult because the ground is covered with hard, uneven clumps of ice and dirt that hurt the bottoms of your feet. In the same way, living for Jesus without the power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of God’s Word will hurt and hinder your witness and effectiveness.
Although watchers may not realize the true challenge and difficulty of the Snow Run, participants in bare feet, wearing only shorts and a T-shirt, quickly understand the fortitude required to accomplish this feat. (At night, when it is below zero, with a foot of snow on the ground and the wind is blowing hard, this is especially true!) Similarly, those who do not know the Lord cannot comprehend the commitment and sacrifice of the true Christian who must often show tremendous courage to face the onslaught of the enemy and stand – sometimes alone – in the midst of opposition.
Approaching the ministry center parking lot, a burst of energy is needed to leap or climb over a snow bank several feet high left by the snow plow. Likewise, the believer will face many barriers and obstacles left to impede progress, but can be overcome through the energizing power of Christ.
Jumping over the snow mound, you will slide across an icy parking lot. If you keep your balance, you won’t fall on the blacktop or crash into the steps or front door of the ministry center and injure yourself! As believers, we maintain a biblical balance by avoiding the extremes of legalism on the one hand, and liberalism on the other. We must not slip or fall by compromising our commitment to Christ, nor injure young Christians because of our complacency.
Upon reaching the front door, your freezing hands will fumble with the key, sometimes dropping it, in an attempt to quickly unlock the door. So too, if as believers, we fumble when facing temptations and tribulations, we speedily ask His forgiveness, get up and press on to maintain our testimony.
The burning sensation returns as you walk around inside the ministry center, trying to warm your feet on the carpet. You may not want to make the return Snow Run, but you have to. In the same way, once you give your life to Christ and your heart is warmed by His love, you must go out into an oftentimes cold world and share His love and truth with those who may not always want to hear.
Finally, each step of the Snow Run takes you closer to your destination and the reward of warmth and comfort. Likewise, each day brings us as believers, closer to our eternal destiny and an everlasting reward.
Since selling the former ministry center, I have modified the Snow Run – making it a little longer and more challenging. Now the goal is to run all the way to the monkey bars in the obstacle course, do a few pull-ups (if possible) then run back to the house with no halfway point to warm our feet! You sprint back to the house as fast as you can to alleviate the intense burning sensation and numbness of your feet; your lungs, straining for every breath, are also burning! At times, spiritual warfare in a believer’s life is so intense that we can feel the fiery darts of the enemy; only the shield of faith will protect us and the Word of God is our source of victory.
Perhaps you will remember this story of the Snow Run as you see the Day of the Lord approaching or your time draws nearer to go to Him. May you be a conqueror who runs your race for the Lord with perseverance, leaping over every obstacle that hinders, remaining faithful to the very end and joyfully entering His eternal kingdom.
Postscript: My summer challenge is to run to the obstacle course in bare feet through the hundreds of clover flowers populating our lawn – carefully avoiding bees collecting their nectar – and dodging “land mines” (animal poop). This puts me in mind of the challenge and adventure of living for Jesus Christ every day of my life! There may be unpleasant times, but in the end, we win – which makes all we go through for our Lord Jesus Christ well worth it!
A terrifying encounter – indescribable and beyond comprehension – awaits those who do not receive God’s provision of salvation. It is an inescapable event that every human being on this planet should soberly contemplate – judgment will one day be a reality to multitudes who remain in the valley of indecision, indifference, or defiance toward Jesus Christ, the only means for a restored relationship with the Creator.
Ultimate and Final
Scripture informs us that following Christ’s millennial reign on earth (during which believers will rule with Him) the Great White Throne Judgment occurs. The bodies of all unbelievers throughout the ages – even those whose ashes were scornfully spread hoping that God would be unable to judge them – will be re-materialized to stand before Him. Every person who is not part of the “first resurrection” will be part of this “second resurrection” – those whose names are not written in the Book of Life will be raised from the dead to stand before the Great White Throne Judgment:
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
This Great White Throne Judgment is the ultimate and conclusive decision – bringing greater trepidation and eternal significance than any other decree throughout history. White typifies the perfect holiness and purity of God and assures that true justice will be determined and pronounced. There is no rainbow around this throne (unlike the throne in Revelation 4:3) nor any mention of the Lamb because the rainbow and the Lamb exemplify God’s grace, mercy, and redemption. At this judgment the Door of Salvation is closed.
During the Tribulation period when Jesus opens the sixth seal, the sky recedes like a scroll when it is rolled up (Revelation 6:14). However, before this Great White Throne Judgment, earth and heaven (physical universe) flee away (disappear) from the presence of the One seated on the throne (Revelation 20:11). There will be no place to hide as people do with the opening of the sixth seal when they hide in caves and among the rocks of the mountains (Revelation 6:15-17). The contaminated universe will be “uncreated” – going into a temporary nonexistence for God’s final judgment foretold many times in Scripture (Matthew 10:15; 11:22, 24; 12:36, 41, 42; Luke 10:14; John 12:48; Acts 17:31; 24:25; Romans 2:5, 16; Hebrews 9:27; 2 Peter 2:9; 3:7; Jude 6).
Two books will be opened for every individual appearing before the Great White Throne Judgment. First, God will examine each person’s deeds as recorded in the Book of Works containing the record of the thoughts, words, and actions of every unsaved person who ever lived. The truth of the matter is that all have sinned, violated God’s commandments, and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Without Christ, no one is found worthy to enter into the Kingdom of a holy, just, and righteous God.
Second, the Book of Life (similar imagery to the registry of citizens kept by ancient cities) is opened to see if the names of the condemned are recorded there. Since they did not receive God’s provision of salvation (those before the time of Jesus Christ looking forward to the coming Promised Redeemer and those after the cross looking back to Christ’s sacrificial death for the sins of the world) they must be forever banned from God’s presence (what many of them supposedly wanted anyway). Without having accepted Christ as Savior, they are without hope.
There will be no excuses, no exceptions, and no exemptions; no future appeal from God’s final verdict. Anyone whose name is not found written in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire because they did not believe or receive God’s clear pronouncement:
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).
Millennia ago the psalmist warned that the ungodly would not be approved in God’s judgment:
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous (Psalm 1:5).
Jesus made an even more alarming statement that should make all of us stop and ponder whether He is truly our Savior and Lord:
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7: 21-23).
Kneel or Stand
You can kneel before Jesus Christ as Savior now or one day stand before Him as Judge. It will be far more fearful to stand alone before the Creator at the Great White Throne Judgment than it is to live for Him in our world today. When King Belshazzar of Babylon merely saw fingers from God writing of his impending judgment and the end of his kingdom on the wall, “his face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking” (Daniel 5:5-6). What will it be like to see God, your Judge, face to face, knowing that He is about to pronounce your eternal destiny?
Those who reject Christ’s sacrificial death as their only means of forgiveness will discover the reality of Hebrews 10:31: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Yet, today is still the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2)! My prayer for you is that you make certain that Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord, and that your name is written in the Book of Life.
Immediately following the Great White Throne Judgment, John saw a new heaven and a new earth and the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (Revelation 21:1-2).
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city…. “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the Root and the Descendant of David, the bright Morning Star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost (Revelation 22:14-17).
The preceding is excerpted from Bill’s upcoming book on The Last Days.
Overcoming sexual immorality is like engaging in a lethal street fight: It takes courage and fortitude to stand up to such a formidable foe. The struggle is an all-out battle, a warfare so to speak, for your very life – your body, mind, heart, soul, and family.
The illustrations and biblical truths contained within this book are intended to be like strikes and kicks in a brawl. Some will hit you squarely and hard while others may glance off. In a real fight you may need to use multiple strikes and hit vulnerable parts of the body to defeat a hostile opponent. Similarly, the principles in the various chapters are intended to hit every vital area possible, sometimes repetitively. Results will prove the decisive victory over your adversary.
This book offers a path to victory for those who desire to be set free from sexually immoral behavior.
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.
The following is excerpted from Rick Renner’s Sparkling Gems from the Greek, Volume II, February 4. Used by permission.
Paul urged the Corinthian believers to “flee fornication…” (1 Corinthians 6:18).
“Fleeing fornication” would have been very hard to do in a city like Corinth! Corinth was known for its perversion and twisted sinful activities, as well as for its drunkenness. In short, it had a worldwide reputation for being a “party city” and a center for “sexual freedom,” where one could avail himself to the vilest of human instincts without any fear of others’ disapproval. The entire city was devoted to the sex industry; therefore, any kind of sex was considered acceptable and fair. Some have speculated that after Sodom and Gomorrah, Corinth may have been one of the most perverted cities in human history.
This was the environment the Corinthian believers faced every day, and because they were so new in their faith, the lure of the world and the flesh still had a strong hold on them. Because there were so many sinful places in Corinth, it took concentration and serious planning for them to obey Paul’s exhortation to “flee fornication.”
The word “flee” that Paul used in First Corinthians 6:18 is the Greek word pheugo, which means to run, to flee, or even to take flight. Paul is telling believers that they need to make a habit of running from sin! In short, the word pheugo means to run like crazy!
In order for the Corinthians to obey Paul’s command, these believers had to make drastic changes in their routines. They had to change the places they frequented, the activities they participated in, and the people who surrounded them. If they were going to walk away from sin and stay free from it, they would have to deliberately avoid the situations that previously made it so easy for them to fall into sin.
How does Paul’s message apply to you?
For you to stay free, it may be necessary for you to choose new friends. You may need to make a break from the places where you used to spend your free time. You may need to quit watching the TV programs or movies that once were a big part of your life. It is possible that you may need to stop reading the material you once read. It may even mean that you need to discontinue Internet service (or add filters to block those sites) so you won’t gravitate to pornographic sites that keep luring you into their seductive, entangling web.
Permanently fix your situation by removing yourself from the things and the places that have a negative influence on you. Taking this commonsense approach may be the answer to the prayers you’ve been praying to be free!
If you are serious about your walk with God, you need to make every change necessary. I admonish you to take Paul’s words deep into your heart and “flee” from those things that have an adverse effect on your soul and on your spiritual life.