Make Your Home An Oasis

Your home should not be laced with land mines – unexpected and shocking images that pop up or scenes which undermine your biblical convictions. Instead, your home should be an oasis and safe haven.

You must evaluate your sources of entertainment and remove whatever is not profitable or dishonors the Lord. If you don’t, seeds will be planted in your children’s hearts that can grow and lead them down a path you do not want them to go.

Caution and discernment concerning all forms of media – even “Christian” movies – is vital. We are living in a day and age when it is imperative to evaluate the content and message of every program or movie before allowing them in your home. Remaining faithful to the Lord and His Word must be your preeminent goal.

Bill Rudge

Praise From Man or God?

A Greater Acclaim

As a teenager I wanted to be accepted by a group of older guys so I was motivated to lift weights and train in the martial arts until I achieved that goal. However, when I became a Christian at age 18 the desire to be accepted by these guys (which I accomplished) was replaced with a passion to be inducted into God’s Hall of Fame.

The aim of my life since then has been hopefully to be included one day in what Hebrews chapter 11 refers to as “heroes of the faith.” What an eternal honor that would be – well worth any sacrifice I may make to attain it!
Athletes and soldiers train hard and give their all just to hear the commendations of their coaches and commanders. Their sacrifices and tremendous efforts result in amazing feats reflecting years of discipline and commitment. But there is greater acclaim than that given by coaches, fans or superior officers – God’s commendation.

The ultimate goal of my life – that for which I sacrifice, discipline myself and persevere – is to hear my Lord someday say these six words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” ~ Bill Rudge

Halls of Fame

Jim Tressel (former head football coach of Ohio State) cited a passage comparing his berth in college football’s shrine to God’s Hall of Fame:

The Hall of Fame is only good as long as time shall be, but keep in mind God’s Hall of Fame, is for eternity. To have your name inscribed up there is greater more by far, than all the praise and all the fame of any man-made star.

Be Strong in Grace

By Jim Weikal

The apostle Paul suffers in a Roman prison due to the persecution set in motion by the infamous emperor Nero. He knows his death is imminent. So what does a dying man say to a “child in the faith” such as Timothy?

Paul points Timothy to the source where he will find the strength to face the challenges of ministry and Roman persecution: “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1). This verse is a straightforward charge to “be strong.” It is a command and not a suggestion. To “be strong” is a continuous action not a one time reaction.

Likewise, the Christian today who faces difficulties, challenges, persecutions, oppressions and the like, Paul’s command resonates with us centuries later – “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Remember our Master’s words, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Jim Weikal is a Biblical instructor at Bill Rudge Ministries.

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).

What Every Pastor and Christian Needs

What every pastor and Christian needs today is God’s power, which only comes about by “tuning out the world” and “waiting on the Lord” through prayer, fasting and Bible study. Begin today to unleash the genuine power of God’s Spirit in your life. In this day and age you need to know Scripture, have discernment and walk in the wisdom and strength of His Spirit.

Bill Rudge

The Infamous Snow Run

The infamous snow run began one cold and snowy evening many years ago when Bill Rudge was in his 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 his socks and shoes, he ran barefoot over to the center.

It was such an adventure and challenge, not to mention saving time, that Bill continued this practice for many years –– through ice, snow, and rain –– until the former ministry center was sold. (Now, he runs to the obstacle course and back.)

When guests visited his home, he would ask if they wanted to do the snow run. Most were curious but declined. However, a few did run it with him.

Bill loves doing things like the snow run because the Lord usually gives him an illustration and spiritual application to share. He impressed on Bill’s heart how a believer’s walk with Him is like the snow run in so many ways. 

First, before you embark on the snow run you must count the cost and prepare yourself for the ordeal that lies ahead. You must consider the terrain, time (day or night), and temperature to determine the level of difficulty. And be sure you have the key to the ministry door ready.

Similarly, Jesus said to count the cost before becoming His disciple. And before embarking on any endeavor in His name we must prepare our hearts for whatever might lie ahead. We must be certain we are being led by His Word and Spirit.

As a barefoot runner in shorts and a t-shirt, you cannot be diverted to the right or to the left because after the first few steps your feet start burning. So, too, as believers in Jesus Christ, we must keep our focus on Him and not turn to the right or to the left.

By the time you are halfway across the snow-covered field your feet feel like cement blocks, and then quickly go numb. You cannot stop or you will have to crawl back. Likewise for true believers in Jesus Christ, stopping or giving up during our walk with Him is not an option.

As a snow runner you have to run swiftly and make each step count. You cannot look back lest you slip and fall. In similar fashion, 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.

An observer may not realize the full challenge and difficulty of the snow run but participants in bare feet and wearing only shorts and a t-shirt understand quickly the courage necessary to do the snow run. This is especially true at night when it is below zero degrees, there is a foot of snow on the ground, and the wind is blowing hard.

In the top photo, 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. Several years ago Bill was honored to perform the wedding of Keira and Markus in Long Island, New York. The bottom photo shows Bill’s grandsons, Lucas (left) and Carson. They did the snow run all the way to the obstacle course and then did pull-ups before running all the way back to the house.

So, too, those who do not know the Lord may not comprehend the commitment and sacrifice of a true Christian unless he or she becomes one. Believers must have tremendous courage to face the onslaughts of the enemy and stand –– sometimes alone –– in the midst of opposition.

As you approach the ministry center parking lot you need to have enough energy to leap or climb over a snow bank several feet high which was left by the snow plow. Likewise, as believers we will face many barriers and obstacles that attempt to impede our progress, but we must persevere and overcome through Christ.

Once you jump over the snow mound you will be sliding across the icy parking lot. You have to maintain your balance lest you fall on the blacktop or bang into the steps or front door of the ministry center and injure yourself.

Likewise, as believers we must maintain a biblical balance by avoiding the extremes of legalism and liberalism. We must not slip or fall by compromising our commitment to Christ and injuring our testimony.

Upon reaching the front door, your freezing hands will fumble with the key, sometimes dropping it, in an attempt to unlock the door as quickly as possible. So, too, if a believer fumbles when facing temptations and tribulations, he or she must speedily ask His forgiveness, get up, and press on.

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. So, too, once we give our lives to Christ and our hearts are warmed by His love, we must go out into an, often times, cold world and share His love and truth with those who may not always want to hear.

Each step of the snow run brought you closer to your destination and the reward of warmth. Likewise, each day brings us as believers closer to our eternal destiny and an everlasting reward.

As we see the day of the Lord approaching, or our time drawing near to go and be with Him, may we remember this illustration of the snow run. May we remain faithful until the very end and be overcomers who run with perseverance, leap over every barrier and obstacle, and joyfully enter His eternal kingdom.

Be Strong in the Lord

by Jim Weikal

All believers know the stress of suffering as Jesus foretold (John 16:33; Luke 9:23). Jesus was well acquainted with our griefs: Isaiah described the pain of the coming Savior centuries before in chapter 53 verses 3 and 4.

Times of stress and grief are not easy on anybody, but believers have a Savior who understands their predicament. Do not be afraid to cry out to Him, because He does hear us. Run to Jesus Christ when suffering comes. He understands and He cares.

The apostle Paul suffers in a Roman prison due to the persecution set in motion by the infamous emperor Nero – he knows that his death is imminent. So what does a dying man say to a “child in the faith” such as Timothy? Paul points Timothy to the source where he will find the strength to face the challenges of ministry and Roman persecution:

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:1).

This verse is a straightforward charge to “be strong.” It is a command and not a suggestion. To “be strong” is a continuous action not a one time reaction. Likewise, the Christian today who faces difficulties, challenges, persecutions, oppression and the like, Paul’s command resonates with us centuries later – “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Remember our Master’s words:

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

What Are Your Convictions?

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

This is one of these fundamental questions, I believe, that we should not only ask ourselves but know how to answer. In fact, this is the very question I ask the students in my ethics class at a local university, pointing out that they must identify what they believe and why they believe it.

The concept of conviction in our culture today seems to have given way to the “virtue” of compromise. While compromise in certain contexts is needed, the idea of following the crowd, doing what everyone else is doing, seems to be the mantra of our time! But our culture is desperate for leaders who will rise above the rest and live with conviction.

Conviction creates a clear path for how to choose to live our lives. It is an every day reminder that certain things must never be compromised; that we must stand for certain core values even if it means we have to stand alone. 

The story of the sacrifice of Riley Howell is an example in point: When the gunman entered his classroom at UNC Charlotte, rather than run or hide Riley charged him. An act – not surprising to those who knew him – that reflected the way he lived his life. Although this decision would cost Riley his life, it saved the lives of others. Conviction does not yield to consequences but lives by principle: doing what one knows is the right thing to do.

The Christian world needs men and women of conviction: Men and women who, like Riley, will stand for what is right, regardless of the cost. Men and women who will not seek the comforts of compromise, but out of a love for Jesus Christ and others will stand for what is true; men and women who, despite the pressures of popular opinion, are willing to stand alone for their faith. 

So, let me ask you the same question I ask my ethics students, what are your convictions? What do you believe and why do you believe it? May we be ready every day to give a reason for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15, 16).

From Christian to New Age Spirituality

by Bill Rudge

During a recent flight I sat beside a woman who had graduated from a conservative Christian College where she met her husband. They first attended a Baptist church, then a non-denominational community church for many years. Yet, along with her profession of faith in Jesus and the Bible, she embraced New Age spirituality. I wanted to know why.

Meditation and yoga were the doorways through which her beliefs and practices were completely modified. Diane and her husband no longer attend church because “nature is her sanctuary.” She said she still has encounters with “Jesus” through her meditation and trance channeling. Judgmental people and “negative energy” are something Diane avoids, so if I was going to have an opportunity to share with her, it had to be in a non-confrontational manner. Several times she said how much she enjoyed conversing with me because I was such a positive person and also respectful of her beliefs.

Diane listened intently as I emphasized the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and the amazing credibility of the Bible through examples from history, archaeology and prophecy. She agreed, but went on to say that I was limited by the Bible: by looking within, through meditation, and to spirit beings, through trance channeling, she felt she has tapped into knowledge and experiences that surpass and transcend the Bible. In reality, however, her scope is limited to subjective experiences, while I possess the unfathomable depth and riches of God’s Word with its amazing evidence in backing up its authority and truth. It will take an eternity to discover the magnificence of God and the wonders of the universe He has created!

I asked Diane by what authority she based her beliefs and eternal destiny? She said it was her inner peace from harmony with nature, a love and acceptance of all things (except biblical Christianity) and her experiences with the spirit entities.

“What about those who never heard of Jesus Christ?” Diane asked. I told her, “God is a merciful God who would move heaven and earth to reach anyone who has a desire to know Him. Jeremiah 29:13 says: ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.’” I then shared some accounts of miraculous conversions of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists and others. “What would God have to do,” I asked, “to convince you that Jesus Christ really is the only way?” Unable (or unwilling) to answer she merely said that her experiences and the spirit guides she encounters through meditation and trance channeling affirm that all ways lead to God.

“Consider the possibility” I stated, “that according to the Bible, the entities you are encountering could be demonic beings who are propagating a deception.” She insisted this was an impossibility because they were so loving and peaceful in her experiences with them. “Besides,” she said, “I am also having encounters with Jesus through my meditation and channeling.” I responded, “The apostle Paul warned about another Jesus…” but she interrupted to say that Paul is negative and judgmental. I retorted that we all have to make judgments every day in the decisions we make concerning what we do or don’t do and what we believe or don’t believe.

I brought up the afterlife and the biblical requirement to enter Heaven. Diane indicated her belief in reincarnation. She will keep coming back until she gets it right just as Jesus was reincarnated several times before He became the Christ. I responded with Hebrews 9:27: “It is destined that each person dies only once and after that comes judgment.” Yet Diane assured me she will see me in heaven, as well as everyone else who believes in peace and unity. I said, “If you are right Diane, I will make it into your Heaven because of my positive faith and lifestyle, but if the Bible is accurate (and I am convinced it is) then those who do not accept God’s provision of salvation through Jesus Christ will be excluded. No wonder Jesus said that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when they realize what they have forfeited.”

In reply she said, “God would never say to anyone, ‘No, no, you can’t enter.’ He will welcome everyone.” So I countered, “Suppose someone walks into your house and decides to move in. You will say, ‘I don’t know you, so please leave!’ Likewise, a righteous and holy God must exclude sin from His eternal Kingdom. Without Christ’s shed blood we all fall far short.” It was ironic that exactly when I said, “The blood of Jesus is our only means of salvation,” she spilled tomato juice all over her lap. As she wiped up the spill with napkins I said, “This will serve as a constant reminder to you that salvation is only through the blood of Jesus Christ.” She smiled squeamishly.

As we reached our destination, we were both amazed how fast time passed, enjoying our conversation for the entire two-hour flight. While she felt the universe brought us together to “expand” my mind and beliefs, I am convinced God put us together for a greater purpose. I pray God’s Spirit draws her back to Jesus Christ – not a New Age Jesus but the Jesus of the Bible. And I do hope to see her again…in Heaven.

A Life Defined by Authenticity and Love

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Making a New Life Resolution for 2019, part 5

In the previous blog, I shared with you my fifth and sixth New Life Resolutions:  5) Conform my life to the standards of God’s Word regardless of what it may cost me in this life; 6) Start and end each day in communion with God so I can know Him more and what He requires of me.  Let us now examine New Life Resolutions seven and eight.

Resolution 7:  Reflect in an authentic way to others the transforming power and reality of Jesus Christ in my life.

In a conversation on religion, a friend of mine, who had emigrated to America from a Middle Eastern country, told me that he would never become a Christian. When I asked him why he said, “When I first came to America, I saw Christians living like the world on Saturday and then worshiping God in church on Sunday.” Like my friend, I have heard others say similar things as hypocrisy among those who label themselves as Christians has become one of the main reasons people reject the Christian faith.

This reality is why I want what to resolve to live out my faith in Jesus Christ in an authentic way. Living this way does not entail perfection, as all of us will fail in this life. What it does entail is allowing God to be Lord over every area of our lives, striving to be consistent in how we live both in public and in private; seeking godly repentance when we fall short (2 Corinthians 7:10; 1 John 1:9); and reflecting a transformed life marked by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24). As we live in a fallen world, may we all take to heart these words by the apostle Peter:

Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.   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 2:11, 12).

Resolution 8:  While I should grieve over the wickedness in the world, I will still approach non-believers with the same love and grace that Jesus has shown me.

We serve a holy and righteous God (Revelation 4:8) who grieves over the wickedness in the world, and one day He will come back to judge all that are ungodly (1 Peter 4:5, Jude 14b, 15; Revelation 20:12, 13). Therefore, we also should grieve over the wickedness in this world, and not find entertainment and pleasure in it. However, we also serve a loving and merciful God, who loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for our sins (John 3:16). This reality should make all of us stand back in awe and wonder at the depth of God’s love for us.

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God (Ephesians 3:18, 19).

Recognizing the depth of God’s love for me has helped me view unbelievers not as my enemies but as my mission field. This is the case because their ultimate need is no different than mine, which is we all need a Savior to set us free from our sins (Romans 3:23; 1 John 2:2). In fact, as Paul reminds the Corinthians, the very behaviors that sent Jesus to the cross, were once practiced by them, but now they have been cleansed, made holy and right with God through Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Once we experience the grace and mercy of God, which we do not deserve, we should feel empowered to show the same grace and mercy to others. The most effective way to demonstrate this is through the same love that God has shown us. In fact, love is the most powerful way for us to show others an authentic and transformed life.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.   If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

In the next blog we will examine the final two New Life Resolutions. Until then, may we all continue to live a life of resolve.