The Greatest Gift

by Jim Weikal

My dad worked hard in the steel mill and made good money during the 1950s. I had a loving home and Christmas season was a joyful time for me and my older brother. The one gift that stands out after 60 years is the red 16 inch Schwinn bicycle that leaned slightly to the left on its chrome kickstand. What a beauty! I didn’t even ask for one.

My attitude towards gifts has shifted over the decades, and I can truly say I enjoy giving more than receiving. Like many of you giving is more about your spouse, the children, the grandchildren, seeing the joy, the smiles, and getting the hugs (my personal favorite).

God likes giving gifts too. As believers, we know His greatest gift is Jesus Christ, who for the joy set before Him took on the form of a slave and dwelled among us (Hebrews 12, Philippians 2, John 1).

The world doesn’t get it. They may have a gift, but not The Gift. You have the Gift and more! You possess an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, unfading, and reserved for you in heaven (1 Peter 1:4)!

Wishing you and your family a Merry Christ-centered Christmas season. And always remember to stay prayed up, read up, and focused up because your Redeemer, God’s eternal Gift, is drawing nearer and nearer (Luke 21:28)!

Jim Weikal is a Biblical instructor at Bill Rudge Ministries.

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).

Persistence In Prayer

by Dr. BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

One of the keys to being persistent in prayer is to be patient. Abraham had to wait about 25 years before God fulfilled His covenant-promise that he would have a son. For me, it took about 15 years of prayer before I saw one of my wife’s family members put his faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Perhaps many of you who are reading this have also been in prayer about a situation for an extended period of time. Regardless of how long it has been, remember not to put a time limit on God; continue to be patient and persistent! You never know when God will respond, and you do not know what God may be doing right now in that situation. Regarding the family member I was praying for; I never knew until later, all that God had been doing in his life during the time I was praying for him.

A quick word of caution! Persistence in prayer does not mean we always get the response we want. Paul understood this as he prayed three times for God to remove his thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-8). Despite his pleading, God’s response to Paul is a great reminder to all of us: His grace is sufficient for anything we may face.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Persistence in prayer is not about trying to get God to do what we want. Instead, it is patiently waiting upon God to respond according to His will.

Praise From Man or God?

A Greater Acclaim

As a teenager I wanted to be accepted by a group of older guys so I was motivated to lift weights and train in the martial arts until I achieved that goal. However, when I became a Christian at age 18 the desire to be accepted by these guys (which I accomplished) was replaced with a passion to be inducted into God’s Hall of Fame.

The aim of my life since then has been hopefully to be included one day in what Hebrews chapter 11 refers to as “heroes of the faith.” What an eternal honor that would be – well worth any sacrifice I may make to attain it!
Athletes and soldiers train hard and give their all just to hear the commendations of their coaches and commanders. Their sacrifices and tremendous efforts result in amazing feats reflecting years of discipline and commitment. But there is greater acclaim than that given by coaches, fans or superior officers – God’s commendation.

The ultimate goal of my life – that for which I sacrifice, discipline myself and persevere – is to hear my Lord someday say these six words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” ~ Bill Rudge

Halls of Fame

Jim Tressel (former head football coach of Ohio State) cited a passage comparing his berth in college football’s shrine to God’s Hall of Fame:

The Hall of Fame is only good as long as time shall be, but keep in mind God’s Hall of Fame, is for eternity. To have your name inscribed up there is greater more by far, than all the praise and all the fame of any man-made star.

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)

Wisdom for an 18 Year Old … and All of Us, part two – Wisdom from My Father

Recently Bill and BJ Rudge were requested by a father to each send a letter to his son who was about to turn 18. Their advice is relevant to all – both young and old, male and female. The following is BJ’s response.

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

I feel very honored to share with you the realization that I had become a man. I was blessed to have a godly father who taught me to build my life upon the Word of God. This gave me a great foundation and outlook on what it meant to be a man from God’s (and not the world’s) perspective.

Bill and BJ in the Himalayas.

When I was 18, I took a class on philosophy. My professor did not have a positive view of religion, and more specifically, had a hostile attitude toward Christianity. From the very first class, he spent much of his energy showing why it was “foolish” to believe in God and the Bible. As my faith was attacked, I spoke with my father expecting that he would tell me to drop the course. Instead, he told me to take on my professor’s challenge by investigating the truth of the faith that he had taught me growing up. This led me on an incredible spiritual journey that moved me from having only a belief to a conviction that Jesus Christ was who He claimed to be and that He had risen from the dead. This process created a powerful transition from being just a boy into a man who could take ownership over what I believed and why I believed it.

During this process, at age 19, I was hired as boys’ soccer coach at Hickory High School. To set context, this was the school where I graduated and where I played high school soccer, which meant the players on the team were not only my former teammates but my friends. So, literally overnight, I had to shift from being one of their peers to being their coach, placing me in many situations where I had to deal with “grown-up” issues and decisions.

For example, the very first week of the season one of my players, and very close friend, was caught drinking. As a violation of our program’s policy, this infraction required me, as coach, to not only meet with the player and his parents, but to levy consequences. Just two weeks prior, I was at this player’s house hanging out, talking to his parents as their son’s friend; now I had to meet with all of them as the coach who had to act as judge and jury over what happened.

Being a high school coach at a young age was a life-changing experience that made me realize that, as a man, I had a responsibility toward others that required me to hold them accountable for their actions.

Our world truly needs more godly men: men who will stand for what is right – even if it means standing alone – who will spiritually lead their families, who will protect and love their wives, and who will humbly seek to glorify God in all areas. May the Lord’s hand be upon you as He continues to guide you through the steps of becoming the man He wants you to be.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night (Psalm 1:1-2).

Leaving A Legacy

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

One afternoon while walking through the woods, and spending time with the Lord in prayer, I reflected upon my life. Not only contemplating my past, I began to examine where I was in the present; specifically how I was spending my time and how this might impact my future. I thought of my children and what type of legacy I was leaving for them, and asked myself, “If I were to pass away, how would my children describe me? Would they talk about a father who not only loved them, but also desired to continually be in the presence of the Lord? Would they see me as a man who invested his life in prayer and in fulfilling God’s calling on his life? Would they want to follow in my footsteps as a man of integrity and emulate my spiritual walk with the Lord?”

The reality is that all of us will leave a legacy. Regardless of whether we are married and have children or not, God places people in our lives who are part of our circle of influence. A friend of mine has never been married and has no children, but he recognizes that he has been called by God to be a spiritual role model for his nieces and nephews. Another friend told me that he and his wife were not able to have children. However, he realizes that God has still called him to be a godly example to others. So he invests his time working with the children at his church, and serving as a chaplain at a local hospital to patients who are dying.

Considering this, ask yourself the following question: “What spiritual legacy am I leaving with the people God has put in my life?” The answer will depend upon how much time you spend in prayer, for it is in the time we spend in prayer that God prepares and equips us for His calling on our lives. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones asserts in his studies on the Sermon on the Mount:

Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when, upon his knees, he comes face to face with God.