IMAGES in the MIND

by Bill Rudge

Everyone has terrifying dreams and frightening thoughts – even King Nebuchadnezzar said, “I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts on my bed and the visions of my head troubled me” (Daniel 4:5). Living in the digital age exposes today’s generation to many undesirable images in our minds from an endless stream of sites and visuals. Feeling lonely or alienated from family and friends, needing to escape the drama of social media, being overwhelmed with the pressures of life, all escort multitudes daily into a cyber-world of movies, games, and virtual reality.

Gruesome Violence

Many people from their youth spend a lifetime filling their minds with frightening and disturbing images: graphic visuals of violent crimes, explosions, shootings, beatings, blood splattered people and walls, people being hunted down, tormented, tortured, maimed, raped, and murdered by crazed killers, wild beasts, monsters, vampires, wolf-men, flesh eating zombies, alien space creatures, and demonic-like beings, to list only a few.

Every imaginable weapon and technique are used to inflict pain, kill, and mutilate. Scenes of terror such as vehicles and buildings being blown apart, horrific car crashes, pools of blood, people dangling over cliffs, trapped in tunnels or graves, or submerged under water are proliferating.

Added to the amazing special effects of blood and gore are terrifying sounds and intense music. These vivid sights and sounds implanted in our minds can (and will if not immediately, then later in life) adversely affect our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

The Fear Factor

Young people and adults love to be scared, especially if they think they are safe. Viewing scary movies can be a badge of courage, so to speak. The scenes and sounds provide a kind of euphoric adrenaline rush from controlled terror in the security of being surrounded by friends in a movie theater or home. But what tantalizes the emotions in secure environments can result in traumatic flashbacks, memories, and nightmares when companionless or in vulnerable circumstances.

Many youth and adults have told me of frightening images, terrifying apparitions, horrific sounds, oppressive thoughts, unseen presences in their rooms, paralyzing sensations of being touched, premonitions of doom while alone in their bedrooms at night.

Young children recount being scared in the dark after watching a terrifying movie, a barrage of eerie visuals and words seared into their impressionable minds. Is it any wonder they are troubled by fear and nightmares?

Some youth and adults have lain in bed in the “twilight zone” state between sleep and full consciousness, or been awakened from a dream with their hearts beating rapidly because of images in their minds, voices or sounds in their heads, or from the sensation of being touched by a person or entity in their rooms. Random involuntary images and words can invade the mind and disturb sleep like unwelcome intruders in one’s house.

A diet of violent entertainment can have similar effects to the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) of soldiers returning from war zones or persons having experienced a traumatic event. Even though most adults and teens claim to be able to handle the images, sounds, and emotions resulting from movies, many are experiencing prolonged negative stress, bouts of chronic anxiety, panic attacks, depression, confusion, and nervousness.

Parents Beware!

Besides the violence, there are other unfavorable elements. Consider the occultism, sorcery, mysticism; scantily clad or naked people, sexual encounters, lies and deceit portrayed in a positive way; crude, obscene, and profane language, and you get a glimpse of today’s mental diet through the media!

The tolerance and acceptance of this is reflective of how far we have drifted as a nation and the lukewarmness of many Christians. God’s commands against sorcery, vulgarity, taking His name in vain, and licentiousness are completely ignored. No wonder so many young people are disrespectful, desensitized to violence, influenced by atheism, have an interest in the occult, and are sexually active. Many parents helped nurture this by neglecting Bible study in their homes and not placing responsible restrictions on their children.

Parents who purposely, or unknowingly, permit their young children and teens to be tainted and seduced by unrestricted media will one day reap the undesired harvest of rebellion and heartbreak. Not to mention the potential victimization by predators that everyone faces today.

I know it is a real struggle for parents (especially single parents) but you must rise to the challenge of providing wholesome entertainment and recreation for your children. Joy Lucius writes about the difficulty of doing so back in 2012:

[S]earch for a book or magazine without profanity, vulgarity, explicit sexuality, new-age propaganda or demonic influences. Decent choices are limited – almost non-existent. The same scenario often plays out when parents shop with children for movies, games, music and toys. The retail world is a culture war zone, constantly attacking the minds and souls of our youngest, most vulnerable citizens. The same culture war constantly rages on the screens of American television, as well. Surf the channels for a family-friendly show to watch with young girls or teens. Violence, nudity, promiscuity in its wildest form, and every deviant lifestyle conceivable can be viewed on almost any given night on most mainstream media channels.

“Be careful little eyes …”

God gave you beautiful children with talents and abilities to be used for His glory. When they are repeatedly exposed to philosophies and worldviews that are contrary to His, it becomes increasingly confusing for them. The only way to resolve the dilemma is for their minds and hearts to be molded by God’s Word so biblical truth and principles are the foundation of their lives. Then they will be able to discern truth from error and not be deceived by distorted, perverted, or counterfeit beliefs.

Melissa Henson states in an article titled “Be careful little eyes what you see” (afaJournal, September 2021):

We know that what kids see influences behavior, and there are decades of research to support this. Kids exposed to more violent content tend to become more violent. Kids exposed to more sexual content become sexually active at a younger age and have more sexual partners over their lifetime. The advertising industry is premised on the idea that seeing an ad can influence consumer behavior.

Alarming Trends in Movies

Reviews of contemporary movies reveal that many are laced with vulgar, obscene and sexually explicit language, sensationalized occultism, sorcery, demonic entities and satanic powers. They display a plethora of suggestive and seductive sexual behaviors and pornographic images that mock, pervert and profane sacred things, and seek to attract viewers with unceasing violence. All of these are descriptive of the end times generation, many of whom according to Scripture will refuse to repent of their evil.

When I spoke in Trinidad in 1989, the people in the villages were uninfluenced by the secular media. But when I returned 12 years later (one week before 9/11), things had changed drastically. I went to a large shopping mall and was amazed to see hundreds of young people with body piercings and tattoos – dressed like prostitutes and gang members. I asked my host, “Was this here before? Did I miss it?” I was told it only came in the last five years, because now they have cable TV; America’s movies and music completely changed a whole generation of the youth of Trinidad in a short span of time.

Speaking to young people and adults a few years ago at Manhattan Beach (near Los Angeles) I told them that there is virtually nothing in Hollywood but death, destruction, and a dead end. Romans 1:28-32 gives an amazingly accurate overview of what is often being spewed out of Hollywood:

God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; … they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

The day approaches when God’s tolerance of the wickedness corrupting this earth will finally cease. God will intervene in the world scene to judge sin and rebellion by bringing people to their knees – either in repentance or judgment. He is calling to His people:

Come out of her [spiritual Babylon which represents rebellion, immorality, sorcery, and false religion] My people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues (Revelation 18:4).

Your Soul Is the Prize

Eons ago Satan rebelled against the Creator. In his rebellion, your eternal soul is the prize he seeks. His goal is to distance you from a pure, holy, and intimate relationship with the One who paid the price to redeem you. Choices made concerning your mental diet play a crucial part in determining who you are and what your destiny will be. So choose wisely! Your attitude, beliefs, worldview, and lifestyle are undeniably influenced by the clear or underlying philosophies conveyed in the movies, television programs, and commercials you watch, the music you listen to, the video games you play, and the Internet sites you visit.

Let me ask you a few questions: If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, why would you want to be entertained by words, images, and behavior that dishonor Him and are inspired by an enemy who opposes God and seeks to destroy His followers? Why participate in that which reflects a philosophy contrary to virtually everything God designed and desires for His creation? Why allow movies and programs in your home which plant wrong images in your mind, lust in your heart, and lead to compromise and harmful consequences? Why degenerate into corrupt cultural morals when you can live victoriously by biblical standards through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit?

It would be in wisdom for you and your children to adhere to the inspired words of the Apostle Paul:

Whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about [dwell on] these things (Philippians 4:8).

Replace the negative, fearful, and immoral images in the media today by discontinuing corrupt movies, disconnecting from unprofitable social media, and limiting Internet usage. It’s okay to be informed by the news but not consumed by it; that is a waste of time and energy, and may lead to unnecessary anxiety. Fill your life with positive alternatives and renew your mind by studying the unsurpassed wisdom and wonder of God’s Word. The following promise awaits:

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed [steadfast] on You, because he trusts in You (Isaiah 26:3).

The person whose mind is “stayed” on the Internet, social media, movies, the news, television programs, talk radio, or video games will be frequently stressed and depressed. The person whose mind is stayed on the Lord will have inner peace – even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

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.

True Greatness ~ Join the Great Multitude

by Bill Rudge

You may be facing a lot of peer pressure today, and feel like you are in a shrinking minority because almost everyone at school, college or work rejects the Bible as God’s unique revelation of truth. However, one day you will be with multitudes (billions of people!) since Creation – heroes of the faith, prophets, kings, warriors, disciples, martyrs from every generation throughout history, men and women, children and teens from across the globe – who resisted the pressures of their day and became part of the great multitude who will inherit all that the Lord has prepared for those who love and honor Him; believers from throughout the ages will live with God forever. Those already in Heaven will one day be joined by a vast host:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands (Revelation 7:9).

On that Day when Jesus Christ establishes His eternal Kingdom, those whose names are written in the Book of Life will receive all He has prepared for those who love Him and obey His Word. We will have endless time to enjoy and explore the wonders of a restored paradise on Earth and the countless adventures awaiting us throughout the expanse of the entire universe. We will never cease to be amazed by the glory of our God and overjoyed with the blessings He will lavish on His children.

In contrast, those who reject God’s offer of salvation in this life, so as to enjoy the conveniences of compromise, pleasure, popularity or prestige will be named among the “cowardly” mentioned in Revelation 21:8. They will forfeit God’s blessed Kingdom, quarantined from His glorious presence.

Instead of succumbing to the seductive spirit of this age or pressures to compromise your faith and conform your lifestyle to current cultural and popular morality trends, be encouraged by the throngs of people who have gone before you and whose testimonies spur you on:

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1).

Be a part of the millions of people alive on this planet today who faithfully serve and honor Jesus Christ in spite of ridicule, oppression, hostility, persecution and even martyrdom. I promise that you will never regret serving Jesus Christ and I assure everyone who rejects or refuses to accept Him that they will eternally regret that decision.

Believers throughout the history of the Church have fought in the “arena of life” to proclaim the Gospel. Now it is our time to stand strong in the “arena” for Christ. We must not shrink back or cower in fear. That Great Cloud of Witnesses – in fact all of Heaven – is watching and cheering us on!

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).

Walk As Royalty

by Bill Rudge

photo by Bill Rudge

Believers in Jesus Christ have an exciting destiny – to rule and reign with Him throughout eternity! Considering this high calling of serving as royalty under the King of Kings, it is imperative that our words, attitudes and actions resemble His. Princes and princesses in God’s Kingdom should be a reflection of their LORD.

A few years ago, while speaking at a military memorial service, I sat between two dignitaries. They were both gracious and very complimentary of the words I spoke. However, what I want to emphasize here is that they handled themselves with dignity.

There is just something different about most dignitaries and royalty in the way they carry themselves. How much more should we, who are “joint heirs” (Romans 8:17) with the very Son of God, carry ourselves with dignity in our public and private lives. We should not be a reproach to His name, but conduct ourselves in a respectable manner.

Just as descendants of a reigning king are prepared for their royal positions, so believers begin on this side of eternity to prepare for our royal positions which will assuredly become reality during the Millennium and forever thereafter. The following qualities and attributes should begin to be manifest in our words, attitudes and behavior: dignity, integrity, righteousness, self-control, courage, compassion, humility, gentleness, generosity, kindness and faithfulness.

When I was twelve years old I was very skinny so I started lifting weights. Even though I remained thin for a long time thereafter, I began to walk and handle myself as if I was this strong person – believing I would eventually become like that and a few years later I was. Likewise, I know that one day I will rule and reign with Jesus Christ so I can begin now to think and behave accordingly.

Just as my thin physique was transformed into muscles as a teenager – one day my mortal body and humble existence will be transformed into a glorified body that will rule and reign with Christ. This will become a reality for those who believe in and commit their lives to Jesus Christ – so let’s begin acting like it in faith and confidence now!

John, a friend I made while in San Diego, is part Mexican and part American Indian. He has a phenomenal attitude, strong faith in Christ and is very talented. He told me that he used to see himself as skinny, dingy and ugly but now sees himself as lean, tan and distinct. He said that change of perspective has made a tremendous difference in how he carries himself.

Our High Calling

Always remember that as Christians, we have the highest calling. No matter what our position in this life, we can hold our heads high because one day we will be dignitaries serving as representatives for all eternity of the KING and LORD of the universe.

You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).

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.

The Shadow of the Cross

by Bill Rudge

While exercising outside in the early morning hours, I noticed the shadow of one of our crosses silhouetted on the lightly snow-covered ground. Looking for the source of this shadow (the security light of our former ministry center – now the Mercer County Area Agency On Aging) it struck me that every person who has ever been born is affected in some way by the Cross.

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was determined before the creation of the world. Since the Fall of humankind in the Garden of Eden, God promised a coming Messiah and Savior. Those before Christ’s sacrificial death looked forward to the coming of this Promised One, while those after Jesus’ crucifixion look back to His finished work on the cross.

Both Sides of the Cross

Who I was and what I did before coming to Christ is in stark contrast to who I am and what I do after coming to know Him. My philosophy of life, words, behavior and lifestyle have so dramatically changed that they are in diametric opposition to what they were before. Before the Shadow of the Cross passed over my life, my passions were rebellion, violence and pleasure. This side of the cross my zeal is for obedience, compassion and reaching this world for Christ.

Some thought I was hopeless as a teenager but Jesus knew otherwise. I thank Him virtually every day for His amazing grace to me, received many years ago when I was 18.

How has the Cross affected you? What kind of a shadow (influence) has it been on your life? Has the cross drawn you closer to God and the Savior or are you still hiding – running from or rebelling against the LORD of all Creation? You do realize that it’s time for you to come home! Fall on your knees beneath the Shadow of the Cross and surrender your life to Jesus.

Remember, eternity will be determined by your association with the cross. The cross of Christ is our only hope to see our departed loved ones again. For believers, it is a guaranteed promise! As Bill Glass succinctly said, “Christ arose! Your redeemed loved ones will too, and you can spend eternity with them in God’s presence.”

Working Together

By Karen Rudge

It is called the great migration of wildebeests and zebras and it happens every year (between January and March). This migration flows between Tanzania and Kenya, the herds looking for good grazing, a safe place to mate and to give birth. It is said that the wildebeests have poor eyesight but a good sense of smell, whereas the Zebra has good eyesight but the sense of smell is poor. As they make the crossing together they compensate for each other and are less vulnerable to attack.

In the church body, we are like these herds: we all have our strong points and our weak points. As a body of believers we are stronger as we assemble and worship together.

Romans 12:4-6 states:

Just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly.

God designed us all differently so we can work together as one body for His Kingdom. We are connected through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Saviour – we are family. We are bought by the blood of Christ. Let us not show partiality, jealousy or anger toward each other. The world is looking at the Church and will know that we are Christians by our love for each other (John 13:35).

Today, more than ever, let’s focus on our likeness of Jesus and not our differences. If we look to Him as our example we will become more alike and can say like Paul: Follow me as I follow Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

True or False Prophets?

By Bill Rudge

So when it comes to pass – as surely it will – then they will know that a prophet has been in their midst (Ezekiel 33:33).

All who claim to have a dream, vision or word from the Lord that does not come to pass need to repent and publicly acknowledge it. No excuses or twisting words and circumstances – just repent and acknowledge! (See 1 Kings 22:1-40 for the difference between false prophets and true prophets of God.)

Many prophecies have been given in recent months by supposed prophets. The following are some questions to ask yourself about each and every “prophecy” (and “prophet”); then seriously consider the answers:

• Is it drawing me closer to Jesus Christ?

• Is it giving me a desire to study God’s Word even more?

• Is it growing in me a passion to witness and lead others to faith in Jesus Christ?

• Is it consistent with God’s Word and biblically accurate?

• Am I obedient to the biblical principle of: “Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophecies. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)?

• Is it in harmony with biblical end-time prophecy?

• Does it prepare the true Church for the prophesied coming apostasy and false unity movement; the persecution and Tribulation period – following the rapture – before the glorious second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

• Does the Holy Spirit and God’s Word bear witness to the truth of the prophecy? Is the messenger living an obedient God-honoring life?

• Again, does it stir my spirit to faithfully serve Jesus Christ and share the Gospel with those who have not yet accepted Him?

Excerpts from an extensive article Bill is writing. In the meantime, you can request a copy of Bill’s popular book, Not Our Father’s Faith, which has an entire chapter on this topic.