The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by

And that has made all the difference.

 

As a sophomore in high school, Bill Rudge was assigned Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” to read. Bill was a rebellious soul and the poem caused him to start thinking about taking the road “less traveled” rather than yield to the peer pressure of his friends. Even though Bill had not yet come to know the LORD, God was preparing him even then to learn how to stand alone.

Without Excuse

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

I have met many atheists, such as my former college professor who vehemently denied the existence of anything outside the natural world. He spent the whole semester trying to demonstrate the foolishness of believing in God and the Bible. From his perspective, faith in God was devoid of sound reasoning and mere wishful thinking. Although I earned his respect and we had some profitable discussions, he died several years later as a lonely alcoholic.

Many atheists, agnostics and freethinkers claim they have come to their conclusion through rational thinking and by thoroughly examining all the evidence. Despite not having the ability to know everything and be everywhere at the same time, they are certain God does not exist. They often portray themselves as being enlightened and intellectually superior, while those who believe in the existence of God are, in their estimation, delusional and in need of a spiritual crutch.

Atheism leads to self-centered worship,

where man, not God, becomes

the center of the universe.

However, Scripture indicates they are the real fools (Psalm 14:1) and are “without excuse” for denying God’s reality. Consider the insightful words of the apostle Paul:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20).

As Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit says, not only has God instilled within each individual a conscience that bears witness to His existence, He has revealed His reality through His creation. On the Day of Judgment people will be “without excuse,” or anapologetous in the Greek (“without a defense”) for rejecting God because of a supposed lack of evidence. There is more than sufficient proof that He exists.

The Real Reason

While I have heard many arguments against the existence of God, most admitted their initial reasons for rejecting God were of a personal nature such as unanswered prayer, suffering and pain or unwillingness to change immoral behavior. For instance, while at a soccer clinic I met a man named John. Every time someone would bring up the subject of God, John would get very agitated and start yelling that God did not exist and all religions were false.

After a few days of his ranting, I had a chance to talk with John alone. During our conversation, I discovered why he was so hostile: He had family members who were survivors of the Holocaust, and he could not understand why God allowed this atrocious event to happen. Thus, behind all of his arguments and hostile feelings, John was denying God’s existence because of the pain and suffering his family endured.

The apostle Paul goes on to talk about the second step people take after rejecting God: substituting the worship of the true God to worship something within creation:

For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever (Romans 1:25).

When someone refuses to acknowledge the true God, he sets himself up as God. In essence, atheism leads to self-centered worship, where man, not God, becomes the center of the universe. This is the way John lived his life: He became accountable only to himself. He lived a life of self-indulgence as he pursued all forms of temporal pleasures seeking to find lasting fulfillment. Despite all of his attempts, he admitted he still felt a void in his life and a yearning to find purpose and meaning to his existence.

As John and I continued our conversation, I was able to share with him why I believed in Jesus Christ. I explained how my faith was not a blind leap in the dark but was supported by evidence. I specifically detailed the various Messianic prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus as well as the historical evidence that surrounded His resurrection. When we were done with our conversation, this man who had been so hostile toward God and Christianity looked at me and said, “I never knew there was evidence to verify the Christian faith. In all my dealing with Christians, they never once took the time to share this information with me.”

As the week of the clinic moved on, I continued to build a relationship with John. A few weeks later I received an e-mail: John shared how much our conversation touched his life and that he was now open to further investigation. He closed by stating that just as in the movie It’s A Wonderful Life, George Bailey had impacted the lives of others; so too I had been a George Bailey in his life.

The following are three important principles I use when dealing with self-professing atheists such as John: First, be ready to give a reason for the hope you have (1 Peter 3:15). You never know when a John will come across your path. Second, speak the truth in love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Your motivation should be to represent Christ, not trying to win an argument. Third, get beyond what is being said to understand why it is being said. Remember, behind every argument and hostile feeling is a person like John, who is hurting and in need of the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 17).

The Miracle Continues

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Karen and Bill in the early days of the ministry.

Forty years ago God led Bill and Karen Rudge to begin an incredible journey of faith. In August of 1977, with no money or facilities – only a God-given vision and determination – they began a ministry that was destined to become an international outreach.

While most people thought the goals of this young couple could never be achieved, Bill and Karen believed God would fulfill what He led them to do. God used the very determination Bill had for lifting weights and karate before becoming a Christian and miraculously increased and redirected it for His purpose.

Many of you are witnesses to the miraculous ways the Lord has worked in and through Bill and Karen’s lives and ministry. You are aware of the numerous “giants” and impossible circumstances they have faced and how God intervened to overcome them.

The testimony of Bill and Karen is that the God who called them is faithful. He has protected, provided and fulfilled everything He has led them to do. Bill has documented these throughout the years in various newsletters and for an upcoming book entitled The Impossible.

First Samuel 2:30 says “…those who honor Me I will honor….” From the beginning of this ministry Bill and Karen’s heart desire has been to honor the Lord, obey His Word and be led by His Spirit – and His blessings have surpassed anything they could have ever imagined. Our God is truly amazing and awesome!

The Vision

At the inception of Bill Rudge Ministries (1977), the Lord clearly put on Bill’s heart the vision of a local, national and international ministry. It seemed preposterous in light of their circumstances, but they still shared this dream way back in the January 1979 letter. One excerpt follows:

Our goal for the first five years is to establish a strong foundation and a strong local program that is effectively reaching out to area youth and adults so that within the next five years this ministry will be reaching out on a national level – and within 10 years to reach out on a worldwide level. God will bring this vision and dream to fruition. Many will dream, but few are willing to go through what Bill has and will go through to make this dream a reality. This is our goal and our dream. With your prayers and financial support we will continue to attempt it.

Bill’s Reflections

Many of the people who began supporting us in the early days of the ministry continue to this day. Some have gone on to be with the Lord. Virtually all of our family (parents and siblings, as well as many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins), along with numerous ministry friends, have stood with us throughout the years and made our dream their own.

Karen has worked side by side with me and supported me each step of the way. Our daughter and son have been actively involved from their youth through the present (BJ, as my executive assistant and Tabitha, as a volunteer). Some of the grandchildren assist with the obstacle course and help out in various other capacities.

As we celebrate the ministry’s 40th anniversary in August, we rejoice at how God has done the impossible in fulfilling this miracle. There is no explanation except the Lord’s provision through the generosity of our supporters and their earnest prayers on our behalf. They have had a part in this incredible venture of faith. Karen and I will continue to work for the Lord until He returns or calls us home. We are very grateful for all of our ministry friends and partners.

How Would Your Neighbors Describe You?

By BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

For our family devotions, we have been dealing with the issue of love. One of the Bible passages that we looked at was from John, chapter 13. In this chapter, Jesus washes His disciples’ feet, predicts His betrayal by Judas, then gives His disciples the following command:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34, 35).

As we talked about this verse, I asked my kids to describe for me the people who live in our neighborhood. They talked about some neighbors who were not friendly, other neighbors who always complained or caused problems, and others who would do anything to help you out. In response to their descriptions of our neighbors, I then asked them how they thought our neighbors would describe us. Specifically, would they describe us as a family who showed love?

I explained to my children that we should not be surprised to find differences in how we lived from the way many of our neighbors lived. In fact, we should not be surprised to find some neighbors who may not even like us because of our Christian faith (John 15:18-21). However, despite this reality, I told them that we should never have anyone in our neighborhood describe us as a family who did not live out a love for God and for others (1 Peter 2:11, 12).

So how would your neighbors, coworkers, etc. describe you? Would they describe you as a person (or family) who lives out God’s command to love one another? In a time when our world is full of hatred, violence, and discord, let all of us be reflections of Christ-like love.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:7-11).

Life Lessons

by Bill Rudge

DSC_0304_Ripped.jpg

Photo by Bill Rudge

I had just turned 25 when I started this ministry in 1977. In those early days, I was told by ministers, older than myself, that the years would pass quickly. They were right. The ministry will turn 40 at the beginning of next month. Over the years I have learned many important lessons through experience, observation and reflection. The wisdom gained is far more valuable than the wealth of this world.

In length of years, I have been given the opportunity to see several generations and have lived what feels like multiple “lifetimes”:

From being a middle child with four brothers and one sister to being a fitness and martial arts instructor; from being a rebellious teenager to becoming a committed Christian; from marrying Karen (I was 18 and she was 17) to the blessings a few years later of two children, followed by 11 grandchildren; from hitchhiking across the country to graduating from Bible college; from working as a youth pastor and training with Youth for Christ to starting this multi-faceted ministry; from producing radio broadcasts and writing books to traveling the world on adventurous missions and speaking engagements…and so much more.

IMG_2348

Path at Bill Rudge Ministries

Life experience and lessons have been plentiful. Some of the insights and wisdom gained along the way:

  • We are not here by random chance – we are, rather, a unique creation designed for a special purpose.
  • We may think we are the masters of our fates, but God is the determiner of our destinies.
  • Sometimes the Lord seems to “hideHis face and be shrouded in silence. But those who seek Him with all their hearts will find Him and discover His reality.
  • The wisest and most courageous decision I ever made was to give my life to Jesus Christ.
  • In spite of dangers and even life threatening circumstances over the years, the Lord has fulfilled His promise that my life would not be taken until His purpose is fulfilled.
  • His path is rarely easy – many times it takes us through rugged terrain, dark woods, deep valleys, barren deserts and isolated wildernesses – but He is always faithful and the obstacles really do make us stronger.
  • In God’s time and way all things work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
  • The Lord has been faithful in the past, therefore I can trust Him with my future.
  • When there seems to be no hope, I turn to the only One who can give hope.
  • More important than trying to change our circumstances is changing our attitude by trusting the Lord in the midst of them.
  • Honor the Lord in the valley and through the wilderness – when your trial or test is over you will be glad you trusted Him. Doubting and complaining are dead ends.
  • With God-infused determination and discipline, we can choose to never give up whatever the challenge.
  • Half-committed people are most miserable; those committed to Jesus Christ with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength experience the abundant life (despite circumstances).
  • The four most important things in life are faith, family, friends and fitness.
  • Building my life and ministry on Scripture, with the leading of His Spirit, and desiring to honor the Lord in every aspect of my life, along with fasting and prayer when facing life’s impossibilities, have resulted in amazing victories.
  • Handing over our lives, time, money, families and dreams allows God to give them back many times over in unexpected ways.
  • Surrounding ourselves with those who are positive and encouraging inspires us to strive for excellence.
  • Spending time with children and grandchildren blesses them, but blesses us even more.
  • Live in such a way that when we depart this life we leave a legacy of love, faith and integrity.
  • We must rise above the waves of “garbage” (verbal assaults…) that come against us in our lives or they will drown us.
  • Sometimes you must stand up and defend your integrity; other times the best solution is to let the Lord fight your battle. Pray for discernment.
  • Be quick to forgive those who wrong you and love those who despise you – for Christ has forgiven you.
  • If we humble ourselves in the presence of the Lord, He will exalt us in due time; those who exalt themselves before others will eventually be humbled.
  • You can willingly choose to change your diet and lifestyle now, or one day you may be forced to with little or no choice.
  • The longer we walk the path of poor health principles the farther the road back to regain our health.
  • Fear (reverence) God, keep His commandments and live by biblical health principles – they will be life to your spirit and health to your body and mind.
  • At the beginning of every new decade I review my nutritional protocol and get even more disciplined to compensate for the aging process and to maintain my energy and vitality for the next 10 years.
  • The word retirement is not in my vocabulary.
  • So much of life is wasted on worry, fear, doubt, impatience, complaining, jealousy, envy, bitterness, revenge, lust and greed. How much better to develop the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
  • Be a wise steward of your family, funds, time and talents. All believers in Jesus Christ will one day give an account of how we used the resources entrusted to our care.
  • It is better to give than to horde. Never sell or merchandise the Gospel because it was freely given.
  • Courage is not the lack of fear, but standing our ground in spite of it.
  • Faith is not the absence of doubt, but rather trusting the Lord in spite of it.
  • It is not the “giants” that defeat us but our fear of them.
  • Failure is not when we fall, but when we lay there and give up in defeat. Christ’s grace is sufficient for all our failures.
  • Spending time on our knees before the Lord enables us to stand before anyone and in any situation.
  • Be slow to speak and quick to listen – keep your mouth shut when appropriate and you will stay out of trouble.
  • Look beyond what someone says or does and consider the motives of why they said what they said or did what they did.
  • Do not envy what someone else has or does – materialism and success never truly satisfy and soon fade like spring flowers.
  • We cannot be experts in everything. The wise surround themselves with trustworthy people who are skilled in areas of need and then delegate responsibility to them.
  • Remember those who have helped us along life’s journey. Remember to thank them.
  • The key to many of the successes experienced in my life and ministry can be directly traced to faithful prayer intercessors and ministry supporters behind the scenes.
  • An attitude of gratitude multiplies happiness; it changes our focus from fretting over what we do not have to appreciating all we do have.
  • Accepting Jesus Christ as Savior means never having to fear standing before Him as Judge.
  • Do not attempt to manipulate God into what you want or think He should be, but discover Who He is by His Word and Spirit and what He requires of you.
  • Instead of determining what we want God’s will to be for our lives (and seeking to coerce Him to fulfill it), let us desire His will, unwavering in our commitment to accomplish it. In the end, our lives will far exceed what we could ever think or imagine.
  • I have met many who, in the face of death, were remorseful for wasted years, but none at the end of their lives who regretted serving Jesus Christ.
  • Live every day as though it were your last day on this planet. One day it will be.
  • Always be prepared to meet your Maker. Many who plan to get right with God later die in unexpected ways and at unexpected times.
  • What we see is temporal but what we cannot see is eternal. The study of biblical prophecy provides hope for the future, creates anticipation of the Lord’s return and instills a desire for Christ’s eternal kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy.

There are many more wonderful truths the Lord has taught me by His Word and Spirit. It is an exciting lifetime quest to know Him and learn His ways.

 

Words of Wisdom

Contributed by Dave James of DJ’s Greenhouse, a faithful supporter of Bill Rudge Ministries for many years.

Dad is the head of the house, but Mom is the heart of the home.

Faults are thick when love is thin.

To improve or be a success in anything – you must keep one room empty in your house… “the room for improvement.”

The door to your heart can only be opened from inside.

We may give without loving, but we cannot love without giving.

The devil has many tools, but a lie is the handle that fits all.

Not enough crutches in the world for all the lame excuses.

What you are is God’s gift to you. What you become is your gift to God.

Life is full of joys and sorrows – most of your own making.

Your reputation is what people say about you… your character is what God and your spouse know about you.

Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

Yesterday is history – tomorrow is a mystery – today is a gift – that is why it’s called the present.

It’s Your Move, Daughter … Son

I gave you life
but I cannot live it for you.

I can teach you things
but I cannot make you learn.

I can give you directions
but I cannot always be there to lead you.

I can take you to church
but I cannot make you believe.

I can teach you right from wrong
but I can’t always decide for you.

I can advise you about friends
but I cannot choose them for you.

I can teach you about sex
but I cannot keep you pure.

I can tell you about alcohol
but I can’t say NO for you.

I can warn you about drugs
but I can’t prevent you from using them.

I can pray for you.
but I cannot make you walk with God.

I can teach you about Jesus
but I cannot make HIM your Savior.

I can teach you to OBEY
but I cannot make Jesus Your Lord.

I can tell you how to live
but I cannot give you Eternal Life.

Author Unknown