Out of Darkness

by Bill Rudge

The apostle Paul entreats us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and appearing of Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-13). As you see the Day of the Lord approaching, realize that each passing moment brings you closer to eternity.

New Levels of Depravity

Our decadent society is free-falling into an abyss of unrestrained, uninhibited, gratuitous sexual addiction. All limits have been removed as virtually anything and everything is acceptable. Today’s generation has adopted the attitude of the Israelites in the days of the Judges, when “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).

In various ways people in this day and age take the behavior of ancient pagan fertility rites to new levels of depravity. We live in a world given over to every sexual perversion imaginable as people, driven by an appetite for erotica, unsuccessfully attempt to satisfy their lust for sexual gratification. The Bible says –

Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more (Ephesians 4:19).

Many Christians and even pastors carelessly pursue practices and lifestyles that are destructive to their health and testimony, disastrous to their families and devastating to their congregations.

Broken lives, ruined marriages, traumatized families, diminished health and damaged testimonies could be avoided if a fruit of the Spirit – self-control – is exercised. However, those who refuse to repent and do not endeavor to develop discipline, then God’s discipline – whether it comes from reaping the consequences of seeds sown or through remedial judgments – will clean up many in the Body of Christ who tolerate or flaunt immorality.

Come out of Babylon

Time is running out as this nation and world rapidly disintegrate morally. Collapse seems imminent. Priorities and pursuits need to change. Each person must repent of the sin and vileness in their lives and homes. God exhorts each of us to resist the pervasive spirit of apostasy and wanton immorality. He is calling His people to come out of Babylon “so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).

The apostle John encourages everyone who lives in the hope of Christ’s return to purify themselves (1 John 3:2, 3).

The apostle Peter tells us to live holy and godly lives as the day of the Lord approaches (2 Peter 3:9-14).

The Lord Jesus Christ admonishes us to remain faithful.

Challenge to God’s People

In spite of an increasingly corrupt world, Jesus is coming back for a Bride without spot or blemish. So it is time His Church cleans up her act. This is a day and age for believers to evaluate our lives; examine what we are entertained by, contemplate what our minds are exposed to, consider the words we speak, and ponder the meditations of our heart. It is a time to purify our minds and bodies.

Each of us will be tried and tested in our pursuit of holiness and purity. The enemy will use every opportunity and method to pollute our minds with vile images and tempt us to compromise our lives with sinful behavior. We can and must resist by the might of His Spirit and the command of His Word.

The Church does not need pastors who merely tell us how human they are by confessing all their flaws and dark secrets. We need ministers who will show us how they overcame them by the power of God’s Spirit and the authority of His Word. We need Christian leaders who will lead by godly example in a darkening and desperate world. We need those who will inspire us to maintain disciplined lifestyles so we can be effective witnesses with testimonies that shine brightly for His glory.

While God offers the free gift of salvation to everyone who will believe and receive, it is imperative that we seek to walk a path of strength and wisdom in pursuit of purity, maturity, and righteousness as we await the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Super Bowl Halftime and the Proverbs 31 Woman

By BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

For the past few days, social media outlets have been inundated with reactions to this year’s Super Bowl. Whether it was Chiefs’ fans posting celebratory pictures or 49ers’ fans posting about “questionable” referee calls, Sunday’s game has certainly sparked conversation. But the biggest issue of discussion was actually not the game, or the million-dollar commercials; it was the halftime show. The show, which was seen by over 100 million people, brought a variety of responses.  Some saw it as an expression of female power and freedom, others noted it was a beautiful expression of art, while others, such as Franklin Graham, saw it as the sexual exploitation of women. Regardless of where you stand, as a society we seem to be wrestling with this issue of what truly defines what it means to be a woman.  This is an important issue that stands in the shadow of one headline addressing the sexual abuse of women by Harvey Weinstein, and another headline that glorifies Jennifer Lopez’ halftime show where she exposed her backside and slid down a stripper pole.

I did not watch the halftime show. Being aware of the image that Jennifer Lopez has portrayed in the past, I did not see any value in watching it myself, especially with my children. So, I will leave it up to each of you to provide the final judgment on how to view it. But as you do, I want to provide some thoughts that I hope will guide your assessment.

As a father of five daughters and one son, I take seriously this issue of what it means to be a woman. In fact, both my wife and I understand that we have been given a mandate by God to teach our daughters how to live as women who reflect Christ, and to teach our son not only how to treat women but what to look for in the type of woman he should marry. 

The first step we take in this process is to remind our daughters every day that their value rests not in what they do, or what others ultimately think about them, but who they are in Christ. We want them to clearly understand that the God who created the sun, moon and stars, has created them with intrinsic value and worth. Thus, they do not need to conform to some standard of beauty defined by our fallen culture, or to feel loved by another person for how they look. In turn, I want my son to view women as image bearers of God, who should never be seen as objects for his own personal pleasure. I tell him all the time to treat women just as you would want other men to treat your mom and sisters. Added to this, we stress to our daughters that true beauty lies in the purity of their hearts that will always be reflected to some degree in their outward appearance. 

This whole discussion of the halftime show has been a great reminder to me to raise my daughters to be Proverbs 31 women, and to help my son find a Proverbs 31 wife. As you read a section of this passage, allow the description to be more than an evaluation of the halftime show, but a picture of what God desires for women. A picture that, I believe, is much more powerful than anything this world can provide:

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate” (Proverbs 31:1, 25, 29-31).  

The Mark of a Life

BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

The founder of a church which gained worldwide attention because of their protests at the funerals of U.S. soldiers, homosexuals and celebrities, passed away several years ago. While only God can judge this man’s heart, his life did not reflect that of a true follower of Jesus Christ, but a life affected by hatred.

We are called as believers to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19, 20, Acts 1:8). Certainly, in the process of doing this some people will be offended and reject what we say (John 15:18, 19; 1 Corinthians 1:22, 23). However, while we share the truth of God’s Word and who Jesus Christ is, if we do this without love, then as the apostle Paul said, we are nothing more than a meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1).

Jesus’ life was defined not by hatred but by love. In fact, His love for mankind is what brought Him to this earth to give up His very life setting us free from our sins (John 3:16, 17). This is what drives us in sharing the truth of the Gospel message: love for God and a love for others (Matthew 22:37-39). We should not alienate non-Christians because of their sin (1 Corinthians 5:9-11), but rather seek to lead them to Christ and trust God’s Holy Spirit to clean up their lives.

As Christians we recognize the eternal reality that awaits every single human being who rejects Jesus Christ (John 3:18, 36) and lives a life contrary to His will (Ephesians 5:5). Therefore, if we are to be an effective witness, it will be displayed through selfless acts of love and compassion:

But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27, 28).

Trying Times

Karen Rudge

Disappointments, struggles, difficulties, injuries and the everyday circumstances of life can take a toll on your physical, as well as your spiritual health.

Through many challenging times you may have to trust God in situations that are impossible to understand at the time. Your faith that God will work things out for His glory and your good may be all that encourages you.

In Luke 10:19 Jesus gave the “Seventy” authority to trample on snakes, scorpions and to overcome the power of the enemy. But verse 20 caught my eye:

Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

This encouraged me that no matter how overwhelming our circumstances are, this world is not our home. Life here is only temporary. The most important thing is having our names in the Book of Life.

God promised He would never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6) and during trying times, though occasionally rocky, we can be assured of His presence and know He is walking with us. Praising Him, relying on Him and trusting His Word – no matter what we face – provides peace in the midst of life’s storms.

Noble-Minded Believers

Jim Weikal

Two distinguishing marks of committed believers are found in Acts 17:10–12:

  1. An eagerness and willingness to hear God’s message from Paul and Silas and learn from it. (Go to church with an attitude of expectation that God speaks through His Word.)
  2. A personal dependence on Scripture to evaluate the message Paul and Silas were preaching. (Examine everything by the Bible.)
  3. Believers are encouraged to subject all teaching to the biblical standard. Consider the following passages: Romans 16:18; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Galatians 6:7; Ephesians 5:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Titus 1:10; James 1:16; 1 John 2:26; 3:7; 2 John 7; Revelation 12:9; 13:14; 18:23; 19:20; 20:3, 8, 10.
  4. Checking out all teaching from those who represent Christ is not being overly critical, but is – according to Luke – “more noble-minded” (Acts 17:11).

Power Fasting

Bill Rudge

At the beginning of January, Karen and I fast for a week or more as we pray through our Personal, Family, and Ministry Prayer and Fasting lists. This is an intense; special time of prayer and Scripture study to seek the Lord’s direction and goals for the coming year.

Similar to the principle of lifting weights, I tear myself down physically, emotionally and spiritually through fasting – only to be rebuilt – stronger for the new year. Along with the tremendous spiritual benefits, there are some amazing physical and mental benefits.

At the age of 30 my health was eroding. The indulgent, injurious lifestyle of my younger years were catching up with me. So I prayed, “Lord, if You want me to continue in the ministry, I need Your help.” I am convinced that the Lord honored that earnest prayer by leading me into fasting and nutrition. As a result, I have seen tremendous benefits in obeying His biblical principles of health and fitness.

Many Christians and Christian leaders needlessly suffer from the consequences of being undisciplined, overindulgent and from violating God’s natural health laws. God is calling for a body of believers who will not only serve Him wholeheartedly but also walk in discipline and self-control. Remember, we are not to be mastered by anything or anyone but Him.

Throughout Scripture, the people of God have faced insurmountable circumstances and obstacles. When they humbled themselves and sought the Lord with all their hearts, through prayer and fasting, He intervened in miraculous ways.

I can testify that what was written in the Bible thousands of years ago is true because I have witnessed the God of the Bible do some awesome things in my life and ministry. I have documented in my personal records numerous accounts of supernatural intervention in the midst of impossible situations, and recorded many of the lessons the Lord has taught me. The Impossible (a record of my life and ministry) and Adventures In Missions (a record of my mission trips) are laced with miraculous accounts of what has occurred as a result of fasting, prayer, faith and obedience.

Bill’s e-book, Fasting for Sensitivity and Power is available free of charge at billrudge.org or for purchase at amazon.com.

Nativity Challenge

BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

While the nativity story provides opportunity to reflect upon an incredible event in history, it also has great meaning for us today.

A crucial aspect of the nativity is the trust and obedience of Mary and Joseph. Both demonstrated extraordinary faith in their commitment to God and to following His will, regardless of the cost (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:28-38). So too, God wants to use ordinary people today who will have extraordinary faith and commitment to trust and obey Him no matter what the circumstances.

Upon hearing the good news of a Savior, from the angel of the Lord, the shepherds hurried to Bethlehem to see the baby lying in a manger. They departed glorifying and praising God for the birth of the Savior (Luke 2:8-20). In the midst of commercialism, where the true meaning of Christmas can be obscured or lost altogether, may we be like the shepherds in giving praise and glory to our Savior and Lord.

The Wise Men chose to travel hundreds of arduous miles to worship “He who has been born King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). Likewise, may we choose to walk the challenging journey of faith and obedience to Jesus Christ. The rewards at the end will be well worth it.

May this Christmas be more than just the remembrance of a past event or an outpouring of holiday spirit. May the true meaning of the nativity be evident in our lives and homes.