Getting Our Attention

by Bill Rudge

Photo by Karen Rudge

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

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

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

Pain, Suffering, and Judgment

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

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

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

Dreams, Desires, and Aspirations

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

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

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

He Is Seeking You Now

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

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

God graciously responds to our sincere cries of desperation:

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

The LORD is faithful to His promise:

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

Let your heart be as King David’s:

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

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

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

The Bible, God’s holy Word, affirms:

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

Test the promise of Isaiah 40:31:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kill All The Amalekites

When Saul was anointed king over Israel, God told him to kill all the Amalekites, including their women and children, and to destroy everything they had including their animals. But Saul only did part of what God commanded. He disobeyed God, let some of the Amalekites live, and took some of their animals for booty. About 500 years later Haman the Agagite (the royal family of the Amalekites) attempted to have all the Jews killed. By not carrying out God’s seemingly extreme command, King Saul opened a door that almost wiped out the entire Jewish nation [see Book of Esther]. Those who do not know the future should be careful about questioning the Word of God. – Daymond R. Duck and Larry Richards

Quotes By Famous People Who Believed the Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Motherhood

by Jim Weikal

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

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

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

Evolution is True

Bill Rudge

The human massacre in Ukraine (having also prophetic implications) makes one realize that evolution must be true — “reverse evolution” that is!

While humans definitely did not evolve from animals, it sure seems that some humans have “devolved” into animals. Putin and others will one day stand before the God they do not believe in or honor. However, there is hope even for murderers through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Quotes To Reflect On

Building Character

“Character is like a muscle; the more it is exercised and used, the stronger it becomes. Every time we choose to do what is right, we build character and moral courage.” Senator Douglas V. Mastriano, PhD (Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired)

Face the Worst

“If you want to be the best you have to face the worst.” Quote from Ken Rudge for a nephew going through rigorous Special Forces training.

What God Does

“It’s not the years in your life, it’s the life in your years.”

“It is not what you do for God, rather, it is what God does through you.” Authors Unknown

Great Things

“Expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.” William Carey

The Focus

“You will find your purpose when you make Jesus the center of what you want to do and the focus of what you hope to accomplish.” BJ Rudge

Memories of Aunt Lucy

Mary Green, a longtime supporter of BRM and the mother of Ann Ore who is on staff at the ministry, went home to be with the Lord recently. A few months ago, Mary had sent us the following note and the poem, Faith (following note):

Dear Bill and Karen,

Just a note to let you know how much I enjoy your newsletters, and how much I learn from them. This has been a very difficult time for many people, but it is during the stressful times that we grow in our understanding of God’s Word and in growing closer to Him, so I can be thankful for them.

Enclosed is a poem entitled Faith, written by my dearly loved Aunt Lucy. She had a difficult life. She lived in a log cabin with no electricity or running water. I have so many happy memories of times spent on that farm. Aunt Lucy always sang hymns as she worked in her garden or worked around the house. Her book of poetry is called “Dream Petals” and many were written during World War II. May God be with you both. I continue to pray for you, your family, and your ministry.

Mary Green, New Jersey

Faith

by Lucy Morgan Johnson

If oft affliction I must bear,
I do not mind, for God is there
To strengthen me with faith anew,
To bear my cross, and weakness too.

Should darkness hide me from His sight,
My faith will be a guiding light;
To feel, and know that He is near,
To lead me when life’s way seems drear.

When pain and shadow ’round me loom
That faith will help me pierce the gloom
And it will be a beacon light,
To guide me safely through the night.

And should my path be rough and steep,
I pray that faith will help me keep
Life’s weary way without a sigh
To feel that God is ever nigh.

My future though I cannot see,
Faith makes it seem so real to me;
With hope, my bright and shining star,
Enriched by love, that gleams afar.

May my affliction be for me
Stepping-stones, to eternity;
And may I ever understand,
That faith is but my Savior’s hand.

And when life’s sun is sinking low,
That faith will light my way to go;
And when the veil of death is drawn,
My soul will rise to greet the dawn.

If dark the way, I will go on,
With faith to meet the coming morn,
And know that when night’s shades have flown,
I’ll see the sun rise o’er God’s throne.

The Schemes of Satan

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

A survey revealed that over half of those who watched the Super Bowl did so for the commercials. Advertisers are aware of this and are willing to pay millions of dollars for a 30-second spot. The persuasive power behind these commercials is in the images they portray for the manipulation of your mind into thinking you need their products.

Does this scheme sound familiar? It should, because Satan used this technique in the Garden to seduce Eve. Once he got her to question what God said (“Has God indeed said…” – Genesis 3:1) she was vulnerable to Satan’s lies. She saw the tree was pleasant to the eyes and desirable to make one wise so she gave in to her fleshly desires and ate of its fruit and gave some to her husband (Genesis 3:6).

Just like Adam and Eve, many people today fall prey to Satan’s deceptive ways. They allow their minds to be flooded with images that question whether God really knows what is best for them. If you want to avoid being another victim of Satan’s schemes, heed the advice of the apostle Paul:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).

How do you renew your mind? By studying, reflecting, and applying God’s Word. When you do this you can stand victorious before the schemes of Satan because you know exactly what God has indeed said.

Dealing With Fear

BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Halloween is a holiday focused on the emotion of fear. While some people enjoy the adrenaline rush from walking through a haunted house, for others the ongoing daily battle with fear has kept them paralyzed in bondage.

While occasional fear is something all of us will experience, the question is, how do we prevent this emotion from controlling our lives? Certainly, our mindset is important because what we perceive in our lives through the lens of fear, dramatically impacts how we will deal with reality. Also, realizing the strength and support we can gain from others is vital in helping us overcome our fear.

The real key in dealing with fear is knowing the LORD our God Who is greater than anything or anyone we will ever face. Joshua was reminded of this as he prepared to take the children of Israel into the Promised Land, “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

The next time you feel the emotion of fear holding you back, remember the words the Apostle Paul gave to Timothy, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

The Example of the United States

by Dr. David R. Reagan

We were founded as a Christian nation, committed to Christian values, and God greatly blessed us. But in the 1960s, we began to thumb our nose at God as a cultural revolution was launched. Our society quickly descended into a cesspool of sexual promiscuity, drug abuse, abortion on demand, legalized gambling, rampant blasphemy and a flood of pornography. Our national slogan became, “If it feels good, do it!” We adopted a hedonistic lifestyle, calling evil good and good evil.

God responded by raising up prophetic voices to call the nation to repentance. One of those was Dave Wilkerson, pastor of Times Square Church in New York City. I call him “God’s Jeremiah to America.” In the 1970s he began writing a series of books in which he clearly outlined the sins of America and warned of judgments from God if we did not repent. Like Jeremiah, his popularity plummeted because people – even church people – did not want to hear his “doomsday message.”

When the prophetic voices were ignored, God began to place remedial judgments on our nation – things like our defeat in the Vietnam War, the plague of sexually transmitted diseases and natural disasters in the form of monster earthquakes, killer tornados and hurricanes.

So, true global warming is on its way! But, more importantly, the Signs of the Times are screaming that we are on the threshold of the Tribulation. Meanwhile, the Church needs to wake up to the Signs of Nature and all the other signs that are converging for the first time ever. But for that to happen, our nation’s pastors need to get serious about the fact that we are living in the season of the Lord’s return, and they need to start proclaiming that fact from their pulpits.

The Church needs to stop yawning and start yearning for the return of Jesus. Maranatha!

Lamplighter, May-June 2020 – Used with permission.

If Truth Be Not Diffused

“If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be; if God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy; if the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will; if the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness, will reign without mitigation or end.”

Daniel Webster (1823)

I Could Run But I Couldn’t Hide

By Bill Rudge

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

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

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

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

Albuquerque, New Mexico

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

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

Santa Fe, New Mexico

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back in Pennsylvania

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace in a Time of Uncertainty

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Sea of Galilee by Bill Rudge

We all experience times of uncertainty; moments that raise many questions and concerns about what we should do and how things will work out. Currently, like many of you, my wife and I and our six children are working through our own time of uncertainty.

Our nation is also facing uncertainties. Many are overwhelmed with questions and concerns: When will this pandemic end? Will there be another spike in the virus? Will there be a food shortage? Do masks really help? Should I go out in public settings? Will I lose my job? How will the election results impact my life, my family, America, the world?

So too, Jesus’ disciples experienced their times of uncertainty. For about 3 years, the disciples had served at the side of Jesus where they were direct recipients of His daily teachings and eyewitnesses to His miraculous power. Now, they were confronted with the uncertainty that Jesus was going to leave them and with the uncertainty of the implications to follow. Just as it would be today, we find in John chapters 14-17 many what, how, why, where and when questions (John 14:5, 22; 16:17, 18). In response to their questions, Jesus asserted that even though we will have tribulation in this world, we can have peace because He has overcome the world (John 16:32, 33).

In light of these words by Jesus, we are addressing here three specific questions about the peace that Jesus offered His disciples and is available to us right now.

Question #1: What is this peace?

The peace that Jesus gives (see John 14:27) does not come from this world. Instead of trying to find it by looking to others (celebrities, politicians, etc.) or looking within, the peace Jesus provides can only be found by looking to Him. The idea of peace that the world promotes is a life without conflict and difficulty, but there are problems with this approach to peace: It is circumstantial. In other words, it is a peace that solely depends upon your circumstances/conditions. Because it is circumstantial, a worldly approach to peace is temporary. Certainly, we all have moments when life goes well and we don’t face any direct conflicts or challenges. But we also know that this peace is short-lived because we are all going to face tribulation, conflicts, and difficulties. In fact, the Greek word Jesus used for tribulation in John 16:33 means to be pressured or squeezed to the point you feel confined with no way to escape!

This is exactly how many feel right now with the current pandemic and state of our Union; squeezed with no way to escape as these uncertain times have robbed us of peace, individually, and collectively as a country (and the world). But while the peace of this world depends upon life’s circumstances, the peace that Jesus provides transcends our circumstances. We do not have to wait for circumstances to change.

Jesus’ peace impacts our lives by producing courage. Amidst their questions and fear, Jesus told the disciples to “take heart” (John 16:33). In the Greek this means to take courage and be of good cheer. This is the courage of confidence that rests not in ourselves, nor in our circumstances, but in the God we serve. Consider Joshua who faced uncertainty as he led the children of Israel into the Promised Land. As he took on this momentous task, God instructed him to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). The key for Joshua’s courage did not rest in his own ability but in the fact that He served a faithful God who would be with Him. This is why Joshua was told to meditate upon God’s law (Joshua 1:8), so that he would not only have a proper understanding of what to do but a proper understanding of the One (God) who called him to do it.

Jesus’ peace impacts our lives by the removal of anxiety and fear. As Paul sat in a prison for preaching the Gospel, he wrote these powerful words:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Despite his circumstances and the uncertain outcome, Paul still had the peace of God, a peace that Paul reminds all believers will guard us from being controlled by anxiety, doubt and fear.

Question #2: How is peace provided?

When we examine John chapters 14-17, we discover two ways Jesus provides this peace: first through the presence of the Holy Spirit (John 14:25-26; 15:26-27). “Helper” refers to someone who has been called to come alongside to help and plead the cause of someone else. This is exactly what the Holy Spirit did in the lives of the apostles as He provided them with wisdom, guidance and strength. In fact, Jesus goes on to say that it was for their advantage that He leaves them and sends the Holy Spirit (see John 16:7). How could it be an advantage for the disciples that Jesus would leave them? What could be more spiritually advantageous than literally walking and talking with Jesus? By forcing the disciples to step out of their comfort zone, they could learn to trust God in a deeper way and experience the Holy Spirit’s presence and power.

My sister and brother-in-law recently watched their only son leave for the Navy. But knowing they had raised him to love the Lord, the sadness of seeing him go also brought with it the joy and confidence that God would continue to work in his life in a deeper and more powerful way. Sometimes the only way to grow is to step out of our comfort zones and encounter the uncertainties of life with faith and trust. Thankfully, we do not have to do this in our own strength, because we have the active presence of the Holy Spirit who right now can strengthen and empower us in our inner being (Ephesians 3:16).

The second way Jesus provides His peace is through the fellowship (unity) of believers. As Christians, we are not designed to live as islands unto ourselves. Instead, we are called to live out our faith within the community of other brothers and sisters in Christ. Before Jesus faced His arrest, trial, and crucifixion He specifically prayed for the unity of all believers (John 17:20, 21). Unity within the body of Christ occurs both on a doctrinal level (what we believe) and on a practical level (how we live out our faith). It is on this practical level where – when we go through uncertain and difficult times – it is our function as a body to encourage and bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).

I have several friends with whom I meet on a monthly basis to pray. They have been a source of peace in my life as I have been for them when they faced times of uncertainty. As the Body of Christ, Jesus wants us to face our problems unified, so we may have the peace that comes through the support and love of each other. As believers in Jesus Christ, may we be unified during this time of uncertainty so we can be instruments of hope and peace to a world desperately needing it.

Question #3: How can I experience this peace?

If you want to experience the peace of Jesus right now, the very first thing you must do is repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. The Holy Spirit will dwell within you and begin to produce the fruit of His Spirit in your life – one of which is peace (Galatians 5:22-23). Secondly, you must place your trust in God and not your circumstances. This act of trust will require you to yield your will to God’s will. Jesus provides the best example of this as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42).

Knowing the agony of what He was about to experience, Jesus surrendered His will so that He could fulfill the will of His Father. This same attitude is what we need to display when we face times of uncertainty. We need to trust God and yield to His will, even when it does not seem to line up with what we want. Happily, we have the confidence that we are surrendering ourselves over to a sovereign God who is not only in control of every detail of our lives, but truly has our best interests at heart.

Closing Challenge

In this time of uncertainty, we should do more than strive for personal peace, but also seek to be used by God to bring hope to others. I recently read an article that discussed how previous pandemics in history caused major shifts in the world. Two of these impacted the Roman Empire in the 2nd century and 3rd century A.D. causing a major shift in the Empire’s worldview. According to the author, these pandemics had a mortality rate of about 25-30% of the empire’s population. At this time the empire was pagan; the majority of people worshipped multiple gods. Christianity was less than 1% of the population. The response of the Pagans and Christians to these pandemics was starkly different. The Pagans opted to live in self-isolation with the goal of self-preservation, while the Christians sought opportunities to minister to the sick and hopeless. This response by the Christians, along with several other factors, affected the Roman empire so dramatically that the author concludes by saying, “in roughly a span of a century, an essentially pagan empire found itself well on its way to becoming a majority Christian one.”

While we need to use wisdom during this pandemic – especially those of us who have underlying health risks – let us not waste the opportunity God has provided for us at this time in history! In a world overcome with uncertainty and fear, may we be living testimonies of the PEACE that comes from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:

I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

The Audacity of God

by Bill Rudge

One day every person on this planet is going to have an unexpected interruption.

It doesn’t matter whether you are sleeping, watching a spellbinding movie, celebrating a birthday, at a concert, on vacation, competing in a sports event, at school or work, in the middle of surgery, driving a car or flying in a plane, attending a wedding or funeral ….

It doesn’t matter whether you are ready and willing or not. When it happens, it happens! You have no control over when it occurs or the power to thwart it. From that point on everything in every person’s life will be dramatically altered – never to be the same. To some it will be a shock and an offense (the audacity of God interrupting my “party”) while to others it will be a welcome and blessed event.

Are you ready for Jesus return?

Meditate On This

by Jim Weikal

And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass (Revelation 15:2).

During the brutal time of the Tribulation, many people will accept a false political leader (the beast), worship a false deity (his image), and procure food, clothing, and shelter by participating in an electronically controlled economic system (the number 666).

But there will be those who are victorious over these demonic systems because of the “blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.”

I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her [Babylon], my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues’; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities (Rev. 18:4-5).

The Greek verb translated “piled up” means “to glue” or “to stick together.” These vile sins are stuck together, one on top of the other, until they reach heaven itself.

Contrast the sins of those connected with Babylon, to your sins. We know that no believer is without sin (1 John 1:10). But when we do sin, “we have an advocate with the Father.” An “advocate” is defined as one who assists another or pleads the cause of another (1 John 2:1).

So meditate on this: Jesus Christ is your advocate! Because the righteous One is the payment for your sins, your sins do not pile up. You can go to God and confess your sins to a faithful mediator (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6) and He will “cleanse [you] from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Your sins do not “stick together” like the unrepentant sinners of Babylon. Your sins have been forgiven since you received Christ as your savior. And “no one is able to snatch [you] out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:29).

Jim Weikal is a Biblical instructor at Bill Rudge Ministries.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

by Bill Rudge

Illustration by Pat Marvenko Smith of RevelationIllustrated.com.
Used with permission.

Revelation 6:1-8 foretells Jesus opening the seven seals of a scroll at the beginning of the Tribulation period. With the opening of the first four seals, four horses of different colors with riders who are given various powers over the earth come forth. (This parallels the “beginning of birth pains” foretold by Jesus in Matthew 24).

The rider on the white horse represents the Antichrist who conquers a world in chaos, with a bloodless seizure of power, ushering in a supposedly unequaled time of global peace and prosperity. He will amass great power, deceive the nations, blaspheme God, and eventually demand to be worshiped. A real, potential, or embellished global crisis – perhaps a pandemic – will enable the Antichrist to establish a one-world system by appearing to be the world’s savior. The earth’s inhabitants will follow him, deceived by his false (but short-lived) peace plan for this New World Order.

When the second rider on a red horse goes forth, peace is taken from the earth as violent slaughter and bloodshed ensue. Large numbers of people will slay one another as Antichrist’s illusory peace morphs into worldwide war and massacre.

Third, comes a rider on a black horse holding a pair of scales in his hand. Worldwide warfare and violence will destroy much of the food supply causing shortages and famine. Inflation, poverty, hunger, rationing and food lines will follow. The Antichrist, and his cohort, the False Prophet, will:

cause all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name (Revelation 13:16,17).

The fourth rider goes forth on a pale horse. This cadaverous ashen color symbolizes the name of the rider – Death – with Hades following him. According to Revelation 6:8:

Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
Currently, 25 percent of the people of the earth, would be more than 1.9 billion people. Plagues will follow that will kill one-third of the remaining population
(Revelation 9:18).

Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:4-8 parallel the prophecy of these four horsemen of the apocalypse:

Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Brian C. Thomas stated in the September/ October, 2020 Lamplighter magazine:

One of the signs He [Jesus] mentioned was that nation will rise against nation (Matthew 24:7). In the original Greek, this is written ethnos against ethnos which is where we get the word “ethnicity.” In other words, our Lord said that ethnicity against ethnicity would be a sign of His Second Coming.

In that same journal (8/20) Mike Gendron writes:

Students of Bible prophecy are not surprised by events that have been triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s because the Lord Jesus Christ gave us signs to watch for that would precede His Second Coming, and one of those many signs that we are seeing today is “pestilence” (Luke 21:11). It is true that we have seen devastating plagues and pestilences throughout history, but none of them have had the far-reaching global impact of COVID-19. Could it be that our sovereign Lord is giving a merciful warning of a more devastating pestilence that awaits those who do not seek Him as their Savior and refuge?

When Jesus opens the seventh seal (Revelation 8:1), additional judgments commence (trumpet and bowl) in intensifying waves, bringing many to repentance and purifying this earth of its defilement and corruption in preparation for Christ’s Millennial reign. Then the “birth pains” will give way to the birth of God’s Kingdom, thereby literally fulfilling Revelation 11:15:

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.

As has been said by other prophetic writers: Listen closely, you can almost hear the hoofbeats of the four horses of the apocalypse.

Just As I Am

by Karen Rudge

There may be times you feel the Lord has failed you or is not listening to your cries. Maybe you feel like Charlotte Elliott. She had just turned 30 and her health began to deteriorate. She was in severe pain and became an invalid. She’d always had a sweet disposition but now was getting irritable with people.

One day a minister visited her. She asked him, “Why has God treated me like this? Doesn’t He love me?” He replied, “… You are holding on to hate and anger towards God because you have nothing else to hold on to. You need to come to Christ just as you are and find salvation in Him.”

That night Charlotte pondered his words about coming to Christ just as she was, and gave her life to Him. Years later on the anniversary of accepting Christ she pondered again the words the minister spoke to her the day he visited and she penned the words to the hymn, Just As I Am.

Are you holding on to anger, hate or hurt because of difficult circumstances and wondering why God is allowing this to happen? Consider if you have sincerely given your life to Christ and made Him your Lord. Then come, just as you are. Jesus is waiting.

Broken Vessels: Come As You Are

A Devotional by Caeleana Dawn Smith

Bible Verse:

“But I, through the abundance of Your steadfast love, will enter Your house. I will bow down toward Your holy temple in the fear of You. Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before me”. – Psalm 5:7-8

Devotional:

Growing up, I thought that in order for God to accept my worship I needed to come to Him with a pure, intact heart. And, every Sunday, I fell short and felt unworthy. Abraham was one of the people in the Bible that would be least likely to be used by God; however, despite his brokenness and imperfections, God chose Abraham to be the Father of Nations (Genesis 12). God chooses broken people because He can shape their brokenness into a vessel He can use to bring glory to His name. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God wants us to come to Him with our brokenness and problems because it is during that time He shapes us into who He created us to be. During our times of brokenness, we are vulnerable and humbled before the Lord.

Application:

Remember that no one is more perfect than Jesus. Do not compare yourselves to the standards of the world because God’s standards are different; His are all that matter. During worship, bring your brokenness to Him and lay it at His feet, so He can shape you into the person He created you to be and use you to bring glory to His name.

Prayer:

Dear God, I come to You with a humble and broken heart in need of healing, Lord. Help me not to forget that I am Your child and created in Your image. Lord, I bring my brokenness to You and lay it at Your feet; I surrender it to You, Lord. Heal and shape me into the person You created me to be, Jesus. You are a merciful and loving God. I love You and thank You for loving me. Amen

Hope Even In Sorrow

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

On September 14, 2015 our family awoke to the sad reality that our grandmother was nearing the end of her life – the last living member of a whole generation. In a few days my mother would lose her mother; my sister and I would not have a grandmother; my children, nieces and nephew would be without a great grandmother.

My wife and I took our five oldest children to see her in the nursing home. We knew this would be our last time to say, “I love you,” to the woman we affectionately called Grandma B. Although in extreme pain, she made every effort to open her eyes for each of my children and even tried to kiss one of my daughter’s hands. As each of us said our final goodbye, tears rolled down our faces. I wished I could take away the pain and hurt my children were experiencing.

As much as I want to shelter my children, the realities of living confront us with pain, suffering and death. While my grandmother’s circumstance reminded me of this, it was a reminder that I could help my children face this with HOPE, explaining that although physical death is a consequence of sin, it is not the final destiny for those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Indeed, beyond the pain and suffering and coming death of Grandma B, God has prepared a place; not just for her, but for all who have asked Jesus to forgive their sins. So, while it was natural for us to feel sad and cry, we were not without HOPE.

Paul told the believers in Thessalonica:

Dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died (1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14).

While we mourned as Grandma B approached her final breath, we rejoiced that our children were blessed to know their great grandma and that we had many wonderful memories with her, knowing that one day we will be with her again – without the pain and suffering.

I held her hand and reminded my grandmother of this promise. I told her of what awaited those who have placed their faith in Jesus (Revelation 21-22) and reminded her this was not the final goodbye but that one day she would be reunited with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Despite the pain she was in, I can still see the smile on her face as I spoke those words. That is the facial expression I look forward to one day seeing when I also enter into the presence of my Lord and Savior.

My prayer is that when death closes in, you, too, can have a smile on your face because you know that this life is not your final goodbye. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).