The WHYS of Adversities

by Bill Rudge

Bringing Difficulties On Ourselves

We make choices all the time: what we eat, where we go and what we do. Sometimes we suffer the consequences of those choices, such as the young man who called in despair because choices he made require him to appear before a judge who will determine jail time or probation.

Natural Consequences

If I get too close to the edge of a cliff, I am going to fall off. I did not fall because Satan pushed me over or God is punishing me. I violated the law of gravity and suffered the natural consequences.

Spiritual Warfare

There is a real enemy who seeks to defeat and destroy every person committed to Jesus Christ. When we face spiritual warfare, it can become intense. Bizarre things can happen with little or no explanation. At these times we must know the authority we have as believers in Jesus Christ and how to use the armor of God and the sword of the Spirit.

Refining and Molding

Scripture is clear that God purifies and prepares His people. Anyone used by God will go through wilderness experiences to be trained to stand in the midst of life’s challenges and temptations. Just like a soldier is prepared for battle, believers are trained through difficulties to face any circumstance. It has been accurately stated that there is no testimony without a test.

Discerning the Difference

When adverse circumstances rise up and I go through the “flames” of life, I get on my knees and ask, “Lord, is there sin in my life? Am I reaping the consequences of some attitude or choice I made in disobedience to Your Word and Spirit? If so, I repent. Otherwise, I evaluate whether this is “the rain that falls on the just and the unjust” or am I in the midst of spiritual warfare. Has the enemy targeted me and designed a scenario to discourage and defeat me and thwart God’s plan for my life? If this is not the case, I realize that God is doing a work in me and I am going through a season of refining. Therefore, I submit to the process and ask Him to strengthen my trust in Him as He fulfills His purpose to use me as a testimony for His glory.

Spiritual Addiction

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Similar to those struggling with physical addiction there are those who struggle with spiritual addiction. They develop an unhealthy pattern of seeking spiritual highs through “experiences” and phenomena. An acquaintance of mine is on a spiritual “roller coaster” because her relationship with Jesus is solely dependent upon her feelings and emotions. Instead of focusing on the revelation and truth of God’s Word, she chases after dreams, visions, prophecies and mystical experiences. She freely admits to spending little or no time reading the Bible or praying.

Jesus used the term “deception” to describe the time before His return (see Matthew 24). Today, we often see people seeking after signs, wonders and spiritual experiences rather than seeking after God Himself. This was exactly the case when Jesus rebuked the crowd in Galilee:

Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe (John 4:48).

In the day and age we live, it is crucial to not let “experiences” or phenomena become a substitute for time in the Word of God and prayer. Christ’s Spirit, who abides in us and empowers us, cautions that in latter times some will depart from the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons (1 Timothy 4:1). Therefore, we must exercise discernment and examine everything to determine truth from error and the genuine from the fake.

First John 4:1 clearly states:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

You can experience the peace of God, the joy of the Lord and the power of His Spirit and also avoid deception and the “roller coaster” of spiritual addiction. Build your faith and life on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ, His immutable Word and the leading of His Spirit. In Christ and Scripture you will find true contentment, essential discernment and the unlimited power. A deep and abiding relationship with Him supersedes anything the world or false religion has to offer.

 

Counterfeit Christianity

by Bill Rudge

We hear much about signs, wonders and miracles but very little about the need for discernment.

As a new Christian, I did not expect to uncover deception in churches and ministries such as I found in researching the realm of the occult. While I have witnessed genuine miracles and prophecies, there is often too much “flesh” and “fraud” being propagated in Jesus’ name. Consequently, as a new convert, I quickly learned the importance of discernment and integrity.

For instance, a popular evangelist who amazed young and old alike with his knowledge of Bible prophecy had a part in my coming to faith in Christ. A short time later he left his wife, ran off with his secretary, became an alcoholic and embezzled ministry funds, which resulted in prison time. Early experiences like this – that could have easily turned me back to the world – actually proved to be of profound benefit to my life and ministry. I had a crucial choice to make: Do I build my life on man or on God? I chose to build my life and ministry on Jesus Christ and His Word – and that has made all the difference.

In stark contrast, a pastor who had significantly contributed to my accepting Christ, has faithfully served Him all the days of his life. His example has been an inspiration to many.

Then there was the popular Christian singing group who performed at a large camp meeting I attended as a young believer. They sang, cried and moved many to tears with their songs and testimonies. Shortly thereafter, this same group went secular and began performing some raunchy songs. It was hard for me at that time to understand how they could sing about Jesus with such passion and so quickly turn, performing songs that led youth and adults down a path away from Him. It was not surprising to discover that even while on their Christian circuit, they had many illicit relations with girls and women who idolized them.

As a young Christian I had to make yet another important decision: Will I be influenced by surface appearance and emotionalism and use my position of leadership for personal favors or will I follow the path of wisdom and discernment? I chose to seek wisdom and discernment – and that has made all the difference.

Prior to a three-week mission to Mexico, God had impressed on Karen and me to go to Bible college. Upon our return from the mission trip, preparations were underway for our move when a so-called prophetess prophesied that we were to go back to Mexico. I said to her, “I’m still a relatively new Christian and do not know the Word very well yet, but I do know that if God told me to go to Bible college, if God told me to buy a mobile home, if God enabled us to find the very last mobile home lot on which we could put our mobile home in the city, then God wants me there. And that’s where I’m going!”

I had to decide: Do I follow the voice of someone telling me God’s will for my life, or do I follow God’s Word and what His Spirit has led me to do? I chose to follow what I knew to be the clear direction of the Lord – and that has made all the difference.

While attending Bible college, I worked at a window factory with several other students who had been Christians much longer than I. However, it didn’t take long to see the shallowness of their commitment. They mocked others, swore, used vulgar expressions and stole small items from work. So as a young Christian I had to make yet another crucial choice: Do I follow the crowd and live a compromised Christianity or do I, by God’s grace and power, live a life of integrity and discipline? I chose a life of integrity and have sought to honor the Lord in every aspect of my life – and that has made all the difference.

Many times I have reflected back on how ineffective my life and ministry could have been had I not chosen to follow the direction of the Lord during those crucial decisions. But because I obeyed God’s voice, He has produced tremendous fruit through our lives, done the impossible through our ministry and blessed us greatly.

What Then Shall We Do?

Over the years I have encountered in various “Christian” groups: false teachings, erroneous prophecies, faked healings, counterfeit miracles, financial misappropriation, lies, gossip, sexual immorality, drug and alcohol usage, and other un-Christlike behaviors. Some of this could be explained as weakness of the flesh; however, many were using the name of Jesus for personal gain while fleecing the people of God who, because of their lack of discernment and biblical knowledge, enabled them to do so. I have encountered countless people who said they rejected Christianity because of fakery and hypocrisy; for some theirs was a lame excuse, for others a true stumbling block. Turning anyone from the Gospel or hindering someone in their walk with Christ because of our example is something we must all, as believers, strive to avoid.

While I believe in the supernatural power of God and the gifts of the Spirit, I have witnessed too much imitation, manipulation, even demonic phenomena in Jesus’ name. Truly, the Church needs the power of God’s Spirit today – not the flesh or the counterfeit, but the authentic moving of God’s Spirit.

Does fakery and hypocrisy practiced in Jesus’ name mean we ought to reject Him and Christianity? To the contrary, His Word warns about such people and practices. You can be certain that those who resort to deception and manipulation will be held accountable for the Lord “will bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5).

I have spent more than two thirds of my lifetime on an amazing adventure of discovering the truth, reality and faithfulness of the God of the Bible. Scripture encourages believers to be Bereans (Acts 17:10-12) – exercising discernment and examining all things by God’s Word. Imitation and counterfeit should motivate us all the more to earnestly seek the true and the genuine. Without a doubt, only Jesus Christ and Scripture have the answers to life and eternity.

There are some who use the name of Christ for personal gain or to merchandise the Gospel, and others are as deceived as the people who follow them; but there are many more genuine followers of Christ. Countless pastors, missionaries, chaplains and believers love the Lord with all their hearts, minds and strength. Their beliefs and lifestyles – both in the public eye and behind the scenes, the fruit of their ministries and personal sacrifices validate their commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the midst of a corrupt and wicked world, an increasing number of believers desire to live committed and disciplined lives of purity and righteousness. Instead of “liberalism” they walk in obedience; rather than “legalism” they are motivated by love and a desire to honor their Lord. Not perfect in themselves, but relying on the grace of the Perfect One, they press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of them (Philippians 3:12). They will be found faithful when Christ returns and receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10). How about you?

Finally: Each believer should choose to develop a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, know the voice of His Spirit, honor His Word, and walk before Him and the world in love, truth, discipline and integrity.

 

Beneath the Surface

Bill Rudge

The pages of history are laced with accounts of new movements generating such enthusiasm and momentum that a nation – and 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 thousands of youth to join a regime that commits unbelievable atrocities.

The time is now at hand when two prominent individuals will arise on the world scene: Carnage from terrorism and the need to solve global problems is motivating an increasing number of voices to cry for a world president. The majority of people on our planet will blindly submit to this political/military leader, promising peace and prosperity, and will also embrace his cohort – a religious leader promoting love and unity.

There is no denying that like summer fruit on a tree, our world is ripe for such political/military and religious leaders. According to Scripture these two “rising stars” will be demonically energized. Their hypnotizing charisma, persuasive words, powerful speeches, pleasing promises, inspiring media visuals, moving testimonies, euphoric music, cheering supporters, and incredible influence, will mesmerize the masses!

According to Scripture however, their true intent will be concealed under a cloak of intrigue and deception. When the layers of glitz and glamour are peeled away, the shocking remains will be far removed from what was promised. Ultimately they will lead a world of biblically illiterate and undiscerning people down a path to global chaos and unprecedented destruction.

Jesus foretold that,

For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equalled again. If those days had not been cut short, no-one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened (Matthew 24:21, 22).

Although the days in which we live are becoming increasingly dangerous, 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).

So do not be seduced by the spirit of this age – whether it is in the political arena, religious circles, or any other venue. Be discerning! Do not be impressed, influenced, or seduced by mere words and promises, or by surface appearances of those who may have ulterior motives and agendas.

Do not be a cultural Christian. Make certain you are, and remain, aligned with God’s Word and the genuine leading of His Spirit. Examine all things carefully. Hold fast to that which is good and true. Stand rock solid as a biblical Christian.