The Arnold Sports Festival

by Bill Rudge

Bill Rudge is flanked by two participants in the annual Arnold Sports Festival.

I am sure going to miss the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus this year. It will not be open to the public due to the coronavirus. It was a great place to learn and share ideas at the various booths. It was also an excellent opportunity to hear the spiritual journeys of so many top body builders and athletes who were most respectful of my unique journey of faith in Jesus Christ and receptive to accepting my free book, Reaching Your Maximum Potential. Hopefully, next year will be even bigger and better!

Will God Forgive Anything?

A man nearing the age of 70 who had squandered his life, told me he had asked the Lord to forgive him many times over the years. But after repeated failures, he felt he could never be forgiven for all he had done and was doomed eternally.

The Lord instantly spoke to my heart the following words – “There is no sin the Lord cannot forgive, except the sin that is not asked to be forgiven.”
This man who had fallen into hopeless despair for his wasted life, accepted, once again, the Lord’s offer of forgiveness (1 John 1:9). A few years later he died as a powerful witness for Jesus Christ.

Bill Rudge

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.

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).

Peace in Bethlehem

Peter Kennedy

During the French and Indian War the French incited the Indians to attack non-French colonists. In 1755, at the French fort, Duquesne, now the city of Pittsburgh, colonists suffered a bitter defeat from French and Indian forces. Then, in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, the Conestoga Indians wiped out the Moravian mission at Mahanoy. The Moravian colonists at nearby Gnadenhutten fled to the neighboring fortified village of Bethlehem.

Christmas was fast approaching and everyone in Bethlehem fully expected the Indians to attack. Night after night cries could be heard and fires burned brightly on the surrounding heights.

On Christmas Day, despite imminent attack, the colonists gathered together for worship. Fearing for their lives they sang praises to Christ with more feeling than ever before. The fighting men had hardly returned to their posts after worship when they saw the Indians break camp and leave.

When peace was made years later, the Indians told why they had not attacked. Their war council was preparing for the attack when they heard the sweet sound of Christmas carols. Those blessed tunes soothed the angry warriors. So in the songs of praise to Jesus Christ the colonists found deliverance.

Generation to Generation: Devotional Thoughts Drawn from the Past (www.devotional.com) Used with permission.

Should We Fear God?

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

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Photo by Bill Rudge

During a Sunday morning service I attended, the congregation was told that the most devastating fear in a Christian’s life is the fear of God. The pastor went on to assert that a fear-based approach to spirituality does not promote a healthy and vital faith.

I agree that if we only approach our faith with a fear of God, it will hinder our relationship with Him. If we view our Heavenly Father as an authoritative parent waiting for us to make a mistake so He can punish us, our perception of God will be affected. This type of “cowering fear” can cultivate a faith motivated out of mere duty or obligation to follow God through our own merits and works, as we attempt to appease Him.

However, does this mean we should not have a fear of God? For an adequate answer, we must recognize what it really means to fear God. Fearing God does not mean we fear His wrath and judgment. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are no longer under God’s condemnation. Paul clearly states in Romans:

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus … who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1-4).

Because of Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death, the punishment for our sins has been paid (Romans 5:8, 9; 6:23; 1 John 2:1, 2). As a result, our positional status before God changes as we move from being estranged (Romans 5:10) to being adopted into His family as one of His children:

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15).

While we will still experience God’s discipline (Proverbs 3:11, 12; Hebrews 12:5, 6) and a loss of rewards for unfaithfulness in this life (1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12), as believers we do not have to fear His coming wrath and judgment:

By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love (1 John 4:17, 18).

Rather, it is this fear of a wrathful God that haunts everyone who rejects His plan of salvation and walks in rebellion to His will. As we find in the books of Luke and Revelation:

I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! (Luke 12:4, 5).

They said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:16, 17).

Since we need not fear His wrath and judgment, what then does this mean for believers? It means we are to have a respect and reverence for who He is – the Creator and Sustainer of life! It means we recognize His sovereign authority over our lives; that He is holy and righteous in both His nature and in what He does. As the author of Hebrews says:

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28).

Reverence and Respect

Besides having the privilege to address God as our Father because of what Jesus Christ has done, we are to hallow God’s name when we pray. This means we should approach God with reverence and respect. In ancient times a name expressed the individual’s essential being. In other words, to know the name of a person was to know that person’s total character and nature. (Holman Bible Dictionary)

Thus, by approaching God with reverence for His name, we are in reality expressing a respect for His very being. As David proclaims, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9). Every time we look at creation we should respond like David with a sense of awe and marvel that we have the privilege to draw near to the One who created it.

But many people approach God without this sense of reverence. They pray to God like He is just one of their buddies, or even worse, they dictate their requests to Him and expect Him to respond to their beck and call.

A Dangerous Path

The lack of a proper fear of God is leading our world down a path of violence, immorality, sorcery, thefts and lies. Our country has gone down that slippery slope because it has abandoned the truth of the scriptures and has no reverence for the Creator. Our nation has forgotten that “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). Paul emphasizes this point in describing man’s spiritual condition without Christ: “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18; see also Psalm 36:1; Proverbs 1:29; Jeremiah 2:19).

Even the lifestyles of many who profess faith in God indicate they do not have a holy fear or respect for God and His Word. They attempt to condone and justify sin under the notion that God loves and accepts us no matter what we do.

While we all fall short of God’s perfect standard (Romans 3:23), we should never excuse sinful behavior because God is loving and gracious (Romans 6:1-4). We are called as Christians to a life of holiness (1 Peter 1:14-16). A proper fear (awe) of Him helps to keep us from walking down an evil path:

By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil (Proverbs 16:6).

The Apostle Paul emphasized this point in his letter to the Corinthian believers:
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Going back to the question, “Should we have a fear of God?” Yes. And God’s Word consistently teaches this truth (see Psalm 34:9; 86:11; 89:7; 128:1; Proverbs 1:7; 14:27; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Acts 9:31; 10:35; Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:17). God takes pleasure in those who fear [reverence and respect] Him (Psalm 147:11; see also Luke 1:50).

Therefore, let us always approach God in prayer and live each day with a reverential and holy fear of our loving Lord and Savior:

And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great” (Revelation 19:5).
Never forget. Our worthiness to be in His presence has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with Him (Hebrews 4:14-16; 10:19-22).

Solomon, concludes Ecclesiastes with the following message

The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 

14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14).

Jesus stated in Luke 12:4, 5

4 “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.

Those who reject the Gospel should consider the following warning given by Jesus:

5 “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! (Luke 12:5).

How Should Christians Respond to Today’s Culture?

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

One of the hottest topics of discussion several months ago was the Grammy Awards. News headlines were saturated with stories about the weddings that took place, the revealing outfits worn, and a performance that had many people claiming she was promoting witchcraft, demons, magic, and Satanism. While I did not watch the Grammy’s, I believe that what went on merely reflects the mindset of a worldly culture; the declaration of independence from the God of the Bible.

This desire for independence began back in the Garden of Eden. Once Satan persuaded Adam and Eve to doubt God, he was able to plant the idea that they no longer needed to look to God to determine what was good and evil (Genesis 3:1-4). In other words, they no longer needed to live under God’s authority: Man can be free from God. This notion of living your life “free” from the God of the Bible is the very spirit that now permeates our culture.

So how do Christians respond to this? Some Christians embrace this culture, ignoring or downplaying any conflicts while being entertained by movies, television shows, and popular musicians openly endorsing and living anti-biblical lifestyles. As one Christian friend said to me, “It is just entertainment and nothing more.”

Other Christians disengage completely from the culture. They stand back awaiting the day when God will finally judge this world and destroy those whom they feel, in their own mind, are not as worthy as they to receive God’s grace and mercy. You will find these people being more preoccupied with endorsing their own political views than with spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Both of the above approaches fail to provide a biblical response to our culture. Instead of embracing our secular culture, or completely disengaging from it, we need to follow the example of Christ. What this means is that we do not conform our lives to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2) but live our lives in such a way that shows our culture how true, personal freedom is found only in the person of Jesus Christ. Remember, if we live by the standards of our culture, we really no longer have a unique message to bring to our culture.

The Grammy’s should be a reminder to all of us that this world desperately needs to hear the news that Jesus Christ has come to set the captives free. Let us live out this message in both word and action.

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” (Colossians 4:5, 6).

“Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world” (1 Peter 2:12).

“If someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ” (1 Peter 3:15, 16).