Making the Bible Come Alive!

By Bill Rudge

If you are a new Christian or just wanting to study the Bible, I recommend starting with the book of John, then reading through the entire New Testament. If you have time for a second Bible study each day, begin with the book of Genesis and continue reading through the Old Testament. Going back and forth from the Old Testament to the New Testament is insightful, and sometimes hard to stop because there are so many interesting accounts! Before reading Scripture, I ask the Lord to open my spiritual eyes and heart. When finished, I ask Him to enable me to apply that which is beneficial to my life.

When I start a new book of the Bible, I like to read the entire book straight through or listen to it on an audio recording to get a summary. Then I go back and reread it chapter by chapter and contemplate its meaning. I meditate on each verse, like a cow chewing its cud, trying to assimilate it into my spiritual lifeblood. During this second reading, I do background research, examine corresponding Scripture references and sometimes use a commentary or other reference material. It might take me a month or more to go through one book of the Bible in this manner. Then I reread the entire book straight through again. This is an effective way to learn and remember Scripture.

By following this procedure, God’s truth and principles have come alive in my mind, my heart and my life. I try to read the Word and pray three times a day (morning, noon, and evening). When I take time for Bible study and prayer, the Lord seems to multiply my time and the day usually goes much better.

As you study Scripture you will discover the attitudes and behaviors the Lord loves as well as those He hates. His Spirit will transform your life to help you overcome that which dishonors Him and give you a desire to embrace that which honors Him. Developing a biblical worldview and lifestyle will prove to be a most beneficial pursuit and the fulfilling priority of your life.

My desire is to give up anything that hinders my quest to know and live for Christ. My passion is to be empowered by His Spirit to live out what He has called me to be and do. Has it been worth it? Absolutely! May the Lord give each of us an even greater revelation of Him through His Word!

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.

Count the Cost

by Bill Rudge

“No one can become My disciple without giving up everything for Me.” Luke 14:33

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Photo by Tom Lodge

Once you are convinced that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah, God uniquely manifest in the flesh, and the only way of salvation, you must count the cost before you give your life to Him. In Luke 14:28-33, Jesus shared the importance of counting the cost before following Him. He said, “One should not start building a tower without counting the cost, lest he run out of money and be ridiculed when unable to finish it. Should not a king about to go to war first consider whether he is able with 10,000 men to oppose a force of 20,000?” In the same way, Jesus said, anyone who wants to be His disciple must count the cost of giving up everything for Him.

Before I was a Christian, I thought I was god. Not God the Creator, but god in the sense that I was invincible. I did some crazy things because of that philosophy. Deceived by the same lie Satan used on Adam and Eve, I was walking in rebellion against the one true God.

But I came to the realization that I was not god — that Jesus Christ was God’s unique revelation of truth. He was the One I needed as my Savior and Lord.

I Made the Choice

Once I examined the evidence, and was convinced who Christ is, I had to make a choice. Do I reject Him and walk away in rebellion and self-deluded pride? Or do I humble myself, admit my rebellion, and trust in Him for my salvation?

By God’s grace, I chose to give Christ my life. Making a 180-degree turn, I began following Him as Savior and Lord. It’s called repentance. It’s dying to self and living for Christ. We must dethrone self, quit playing God, and place Christ in His rightful position as Lord of our lives. Then His goals become our goals. His desires become our desires. His will becomes our will.

To illustrate, let’s pretend you are on one trapeze and Jesus is on another. You have one hand holding onto your trapeze, and one hand holding onto Christ. You want to live for Christ, but you also want to live for self. You want to obey the Lord, but you also want to have your own way and do your own thing. You want Him to be your God, but you also want to be your own god. You want to run your own life, make your own decisions, have your own goals, and fulfill your own desires. But you can’t hold onto both. Eventually the two trapeze bars go in opposite directions. If you try to both live for self and for the Lord it will tear you apart.

That’s why there are so many neurotic Christians walking around confused, depressed, and discouraged, not knowing what they believe or what God’s will is. When Christians are only half-committed (trying to live for self and trying to live for the Lord) they are the most miserable of people. They go out to witness and say, “Don’t you want what I have?” The non-Christian says, “No thanks, I have enough problems already.” Instead of having an impact on their world for Christ, as the first century believers did, their compromised lives tend to turn people off. That’s why we will never influence our world for Christ unless we ourselves are first totally sold out to Him.

There is no middle road. You can’t straddle the fence. You must totally accept or reject Him. And to not totally accept Him is to reject Him. Don’t let Jesus’ words in Revelation 3:16 be true of you:

So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of My mouth.

You must count the cost and then make a wise choice – total commitment to Christ as Lord!

Excerpted from Reaching Your Maximum Potential in Christ (which is being updated and expanded for its third printed edition and E-book).

Examining the Evidence

by Bill Rudge

“Be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks the reason for the hope you have.” 1 Peter 3:15

With so many religious and philosophical options to choose from, why are you a Christian? Is it because you’re convinced that Jesus Christ is who He claims to be and that the Bible is the unique revelation of God?

1 Peter 3:15 encourages us:

Always be prepared to give an answer [make a defense] to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

The Quest

I shared Christ with a young man to whom I was giving a ride. He said, “Bill, don’t waste your time. I don’t believe in Jesus Christ, and I don’t believe in the Bible.” I responded, “That’s fine Dan. You have a right to believe whatever you want, but don’t be so foolish as to reject the Bible and Jesus Christ without first examining the overwhelming evidence.”

I then shared with him some of the archaeological discoveries that have established the historical accuracy of innumerable biblical details, as well as the scientific evidence, and the accuracy and superiority of biblical health and nutrition principles. I shared some of the messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) that had been made at least 400 years before Christ walked on earth, explaining the mathematical impossibility for anyone to fulfill just a few of these prophecies, yet Jesus fulfilled them all. I explained to him how the evidence of the resurrection is undeniable and asked him what other religious leader has an empty tomb.

I asked Dan to consider the numerous biblical prophecies written almost 2,000 years ago concerning the end times in which we are now living – prophecies foretelling a one-world government, a one-world monetary system, and a one-world religion. The specific details and exactness of these and many other prophecies that are being fulfilled right before our eyes would have been impossible to foretell without divine inspiration.

Finally, I shared the reality of Jesus Christ through the tremendous way in which He has transformed my life and millions of others throughout history, as well as the miraculous interventions the Lord has done in my life and ministry. These evidences and many more are the reasons why I gave my life to Christ.

The Three Questions

I didn’t believe in Jesus Christ and become a Christian out of random chance or haphazard choice. Initially, there was an intentional bias on my part and a deliberate rejection of Him due to lifestyle choices, ulterior motives, or being unable to resolve the conflict of a loving God with the suffering and death I was witnessing.

Lasting fulfillment always eluded me despite all my searching which either proved insufficient or led to a dead end. My restless heart and relentless quest for truth and purpose forced me to honestly consider three crucial questions:

1) Is there a God? If there isn’t, then I can live any way I want. However, my search and research convinced me there is a Creator.

2) If there is a God, are there many ways or only one way to this Supernatural Being? After examining the evidence I was convinced there is only one way to God – through Jesus Christ.

3) How do I come to know God and what does He require of me? My spiritual journey proved fruitful. I could not deny the truth. At age 18 I became an ardent believer in and follower of Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. God’s Spirit began to transform my life as I spent time in Scripture, prayer, and fasting and started living by the biblical principles I will be sharing in upcoming newsletters.

I have grown in my faith over the years and my continuing investigation and research confirms the wisdom of committing my life to Jesus Christ. There is only One before Whom I willingly bend my knee and bow. To Him alone do I entrust my life, my future, and my eternal destiny!

Excerpted from Reaching Your Maximum Potential in Christ (which is being updated and expanded for its third printed edition and E-book).

Two Rising Stars

by Bill Rudge

The Coming Antichrist and False Prophet

“None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.” Psalm 101.3

The pages of history are laced with accounts of new movements generating such enthusiasm and momentum that a nation – even the world – was swayed.

As a teen in the late 1960s many of my generation got caught up in the sexual revolution, race riots, and rebellion against authority. Very few of us really thought about why we were involved or where these movements were headed. We were seized by the emotion of the moment and went with the flow of the crowd.

Hitler’s media propaganda and hypnotizing speeches influenced a nation and changed the world. Today, terrorists use slick social media to motivate youth and adults to join a regime that commits unbelievable atrocities.

The time is nearing when a prominent person will arise on the world scene. Carnage from terrorism, devastation from natural disasters, threat of nuclear annihilation, and the need to solve other potential global crises is motivating an increasing number of voices to cry for a global leader.

The majority of people on our planet will blindly submit to this compelling leader (revealed in prophetic Scripture as the Antichrist) who promises peace and prosperity. The Antichrist will appear to be the savior of the world and will acquire “authority over every tribe, people, language and nation” (Revelation 13:7). The masses will also readily embrace his cohort – an influential religious leader promoting love and unity, but Biblically identified as the False Prophet.

There is no denying that our world is ripe for such visionary leaders who will astound with apparent solutions to global problems. Their hypnotizing charisma, persuasive words, powerful speeches, pleasing promises, inspiring media visuals, moving testimonies, euphoric music, cheering supporters, incredible popularity, and displays of supernatural power will mesmerize the multitudes. According to Scripture these two “rising stars” will be demonically energized. They will take the reins of this world through deception and intrigue to ultimately lead humankind in a unified rebellion against the God of the Bible.

It is clear that a scenario is unfolding to create a global system of political power, economic control, military might, and religious unification. As Revelation foretells, we are moving toward a global society with a one-world government, a universal economy, and an ecumenical religious system offering tolerance and acceptance for all religions – except one, biblical Christianity. There is a growing movement of globalism, religious unity, and the celebration of diversity – along with a growing intolerance for biblical Christians who believe Jesus is the only way of salvation. Those who use the Bible to speak out against the immorality in today’s society and culture are often accused of bigotry and hate crimes with the aim to be silenced or eliminated.

Underlying the Antichrist’s facade is his ulterior motive to attain control over and receive worship from every human being on this planet. The False Prophet will attempt to help him achieve this – Satan’s ultimate goal.

All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast [the Antichrist] — all whose names have not been written in the Book of Life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world (Revelation 13:8).

It is interesting to note that only two people in Scripture were possessed by Satan himself: Judas, when he betrayed Jesus, and the Antichrist, as he seeks to gain control over and obtain worship from everyone on this planet.

The Bible reveals that the Antichrist’s and False Prophets’s true intent will be concealed under a cloak of intrigue, diplomatic deceit and cunning manipulation. When the layers of glitz and glamour are peeled away, the shocking remains will be far removed from what was promised or anticipated. They will lead a world of undiscerning and biblically illiterate people down a deceitful path to global chaos and unprecedented devastation and destruction.

Words of Hope and Admonition

Although the days in which we live are becoming increasingly dangerous, treacherous, corrupt, and confusing, those who know the Lord in these end times will demonstrate wisdom and strength:

…the people who know their God will display strength and take action. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand (Daniel 11:32; 12:10).

Do not be seduced by the spirit of this age – whether it is in the political arena, social media, pop star realm, religious circles or any other venue. Do not be impressed, influenced or deceived by a well-turned phrase or the surface appearance of those who have ulterior motives and agendas. Do not reflect the values of an amoral society. Do not be a cultural Christian, motivated by feelings, desires and impulses, or influenced by every new and exciting trend or phenomenon that comes along.

Make certain you are, and remain, aligned with Jesus Christ and God’s Word. Follow the genuine leading of His Spirit. Be discerning. Examine all things carefully. Hold fast to that which is good and true. Live by the standards of Scripture. Stand rock solid as a biblical Christian in this day and age when Biblical prophecies of the end times and Jesus Christ’s return are rapidly lining up.

I close, as did Paul to the Corinthians:

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all you do be done with love (1 Corinthians 16:13, 14).

Prayer Cover

An insightful perspective on prayer is provided by Colonel Douglas Mastriano who saw God do miraculous things in Operation Desert Storm.

Prayer is critically important to the Christian. Prayer is a cover of spiritual protection that offers a clear advantage. This “prayer cover” can be equated to the role that air cover plays in modern warfare. I saw firsthand in Operation Desert Storm how important it was to have air cover going ahead of us into battle. It occurred this way: before we fought the Iraqi divisions, our air cover went ahead of us to soften the enemy defenses, dwindle their combat power and reduce their fighting spirit. In effect, our air cover prepared the battlefield to give us an advantage before we even got into the fight. Once we were engaged in a ground battle with the enemy, this air cover did not vanish. We always had at least two F-16 jet aircraft circling above, ready to help us overcome any fierce resistance that the Iraqi Republican Guards offered. This air cover was just a call away. When the Iraqis attempted to maneuver into an advantageous position, all we had to do was to call for the air cover to blunt the adversary’s plans.

Prayer cover operates in the same manner. When we pray, we call upon God to go ahead of us to prepare the battlefield to our advantage even before we are in the fight. As our prayers go forth, God orchestrates “strikes” against the enemy’s plans to weaken his combat power. Then, when the battle rages around us, this prayer cover serves to strike against the adversary’s schemes, while giving us the strength to take the war deeper into enemy territory to ultimate victory. Like air cover in modern combat, prayer cover makes the difference in spiritual warfare.

When we are facing the fiercest of battles, we must put on the full armor of God and pray earnestly. When the smoke is cleared away, may it reveal that we stood firm in the Lord and surrendered no ground to the enemy, but gained territory for the Lord.

Excerpted from Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ by Bill Rudge

Powerful and Effective Prayer

“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.” James 5:16

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

PrayerBookCoverDraftRev_1Do you desire to be a man or woman of great faith? Do you want God to use your life so as to leave a lasting legacy? I recently read a book entitled 50 People Every Christian Should Know. This book presents the biographies of 50 men and women who have left a lasting impression upon the Christian faith. As I read about their lives, I discovered several common traits which defined how they lived. One of these traits was that they were people of prayer. They all understood that their effectiveness in serving God was directly connected to the time they spent on their knees. Just like these individuals of the past, God wants to take ordinary people today and raise up another generation of spiritual giants whose lives are marked by powerful and effective prayer.

After calling his readers to pray in times of trouble and sickness, and to confess their sins one to another, James asserts that, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16). To illustrate, James refers to the prophet Elijah as an example of a person who had an effective prayer life. James tells us that Elijah’s prayers both began and ended a three-and-a-half year drought on the nation of Israel (see 1 Kings 17 and 18). James also reminds us that Elijah was a man with a nature just like us (James 5:17). In other words, according to Donald W. Burdick, “He [Elijah] had no superhuman powers; he was by nature a human being and nothing more. However, when he prayed ‘that it would not rain … it did not rain’…so James assures his readers that such answers to prayer are within the reach of any believer.”

If it is true that we can have a powerful prayer life like the prophet Elijah, then the obvious question is, “How?” Many writers propose answers to this question by suggesting we do things such as recite a verse or a word repeatedly, sit in silence (an altered state of consciousness), or walk a prayer circle. Prayer, however, is not some magical incantation or manipulative tool we can use to control God. As Jesus Himself taught,

And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetitions as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words (Matthew 6:7).

Instead, prayer is communicating with God through means by which He has revealed in His word. Recognizing that we are dependent upon the Bible to understand prayer, in upcoming newsletters I will be sharing biblical principles that can enable any believer to have a powerful and effective prayer life just like Elijah.