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).

Sorrow and Joy

By Joyce Haslebacher

He’s gone now, this son we love,
Called to his home up above.

The pain, the grief, the woe
Through which he had to go,

It’s over now and he’s at peace,
But we who love him have great grief.

He was kind and gentle, sweet and dear,
Oh, how we’ll miss him being here.

But You know best and do things wise
And though we hurt, praise does arise,

That all his suffering now is past;
He’s in heaven at long last.

The mantle cell that took such toll,
Young he was but grew so old;

At 65 and young at heart,
Yet You called and he must depart.

Thank You, Lord, his pain is gone,
And with You he’s living on.

Due to Christ and His Calvary,
One day soon his face we’ll see,

And all rejoice on heaven’s shore
With love and peace forevermore.

No more cancer called mantle cell
No more misery from devil’s hell.

Just together in Your heavenly place
Due to Your mercy, love, and grace.

Christ shed His blood to end all pain,
Hell to shun and heaven to gain.

Amen and Amen

Joyce Haslebacher wrote the above touching poem in honor of the memory of her son, Charles Haslebacher, who died February 4, 2021 of mantle cell lymphoma. Joyce and her husband Herbert met Bill and Karen Rudge many years ago when Bill spoke at the church they attended in Clarksburg, West Virginia. They have been dear friends and faithful supporters of BRM ever since.

Seniors

by Bill Rudge

Don’t look at yourself as growing older,
consider yourself growing wiser.

Don’t look at yourself as becoming weaker,
look at yourself as becoming stronger in faith.

Don’t look at yourself as having less money,
focus on your riches in Heaven.

Don’t look at yourself as getting more forgetful, rejoice that your mind is overflowing with a lifetime of memories.

Don’t look at yourself as being home bound,
be glad that you can enter the heavenlies through prayer.

Don’t limit aging to diminishing youthfulness, health, talents, memory, and independence,
be thankful it increases knowledge, wisdom, love, peace, and hope.

Don’t be discouraged because more and more of your loved ones and friends are passing away,
be encouraged by the “great cloud of witnesses” awaiting you in Heaven.

Don’t look at life being too short and death looming on the horizon,
reflect on the fact that through Christ you will inherit an endless Eternity in a perfect body.

Just As I Am

by Karen Rudge

There may be times you feel the Lord has failed you or is not listening to your cries. Maybe you feel like Charlotte Elliott. She had just turned 30 and her health began to deteriorate. She was in severe pain and became an invalid. She’d always had a sweet disposition but now was getting irritable with people.

One day a minister visited her. She asked him, “Why has God treated me like this? Doesn’t He love me?” He replied, “… You are holding on to hate and anger towards God because you have nothing else to hold on to. You need to come to Christ just as you are and find salvation in Him.”

That night Charlotte pondered his words about coming to Christ just as she was, and gave her life to Him. Years later on the anniversary of accepting Christ she pondered again the words the minister spoke to her the day he visited and she penned the words to the hymn, Just As I Am.

Are you holding on to anger, hate or hurt because of difficult circumstances and wondering why God is allowing this to happen? Consider if you have sincerely given your life to Christ and made Him your Lord. Then come, just as you are. Jesus is waiting.

Racial Reconciliation in Tumultuous Times

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

It is apparent as we watch today’s national news coverage of current events that we still have a far way to go as a nation with racial reconciliation. Even though we have made great strides in this area, the language and actions displayed by many Americans clearly shows that we have room to improve. Of course, it’s easy to identify a problem; the challenge is trying to determine how to solve it. While there are many proposed answers (changing laws, addressing poverty, better education, etc.), it is my opinion that none of these solutions will ultimately succeed unless Jesus Christ is at the center. These situations only deal with the symptoms of racial discrimination, attempting to modify people’s behavior. In contrast, Jesus deals with the core issue that lies at the heart of sinful individuals. Thus, only He can truly bring reconciliation and peace in this world. In fact, through His death and resurrection, the entire world will experience reconciliation (Romans 8:20, 21).

While total reconciliation awaits His future return, this does not mean that we cannot experience Christ-centered reconciliation now. In fact, this is the charge that is given to the body of Christ, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28; see also Colossians 3:11). The application of this verse is seen in the book of Acts as the early church had to address the issue of racial reconciliation. Here we find the church growing from those who were predominately of Jewish descent to people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. The climax of this occurred as Peter received a vision and then is called to share the Gospel to Cornelius and his Gentile household (Acts 10). The outpouring of the Spirit upon Cornelius’ household confirmed for Peter that God shows no partiality but accepts people from EVERY nation who fear Him and does what is right (Acts 10:34, 35).

Just as the early church did, the body of Christ today needs to continually strive toward Christ-centered reconciliation. In fact, we can never expect a change in the culture around us unless it first starts with us. I have witnessed positive and negative examples of how the body of Christ has exemplified Christ-centered reconciliation. On the negative, I heard about a church that had dwindled to fewer than 10 people and faced the reality they would have to close its doors. Upon hearing of their situation, another church reached out to help them. While initially the tiny congregation was excited to work with the other church, they broke off all fellowship after they found out this church was comprised of various ethnic groups. They said they would rather see their church close its doors than have to worship with people from contrasting ethnic backgrounds.

In contrast to this situation, I spoke at a church in Los Angeles. This church truly exemplified Paul’s admonition in Galatians 3:28. Not only did the congregation include members of numerous ethnic backgrounds, but so did the leadership. In this church, these believers were truly united, regardless of their external differences, as brothers and sisters in Christ. They were evidence of Jesus’ prayer being fulfilled, “I do not pray for these [disciples] alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20, 21).

So how do we function as a body of Christ where we live out Christ-centered reconciliation? I think there are three things to consider:

First, we need to remember that truth in who Jesus Christ is as revealed in the Word of God is what unites us. In other words, our unity as believers is directly connected to our faith in Jesus Christ. This is the case because it is Christ through the Spirit who baptizes us into one body (1 Corinthians 12: 12, 13).

Second, we need to make sure that our unity is maintained by walking in accordance to what Jesus taught. In other words, if we allow sin to permeate our lives, it will begin to erode our fellowship as a body of Christ. As the apostle John taught, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not practice the truth: But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:6, 7).

Lastly, our relationship as believers needs to be motivated out of love. As Jesus said, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). How do we love each other? Jesus goes on to answer this in the next verse as He says that we are to lay down our lives for our friends. Jesus Himself gave us the clearest demonstration of this type of love, as He went to the cross to take on the punishment that we deserved. What a revolution would happen in our world if the body of Christ exemplified this same type of love, a love that seeks to put others before ourselves and strives to seek God’s glory in all things.

If we want Christ-centered reconciliation, then let us never forget the words of the apostle Paul, for they remind us what is foundational to all of our relationships, “… SUBMIT to one another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21).

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).

A Rebel Changed

Because of Christmas, the life of a rebellious teenager on a path to destruction was saved.

A liar, cheat, thief, and vandal, arrogant and profane, this searching person was dramatically transformed. Only the love and forgiveness of Christ can change a deceiver into a person of integrity who freely gives of his time, resources and services to help others instead of hurting them. Only Jesus can take someone from hitchhiking across the country, hostile toward God, to traveling throughout the world proclaiming Him; or inspire someone voted least likely to succeed in motivating multitudes to reach their maximum potential.

Why would any reasonable person oppose the message of Christ’s birth?

Open your New Testament to the book of Luke and learn all about Jesus’ coming. Then continue through the book of John to discover who this Jesus is. Christ just may become the joy and passion of your life as He has come to be in mine. Merry Christmas!

Bill Rudge

A Soldier Meets God

The following poem was found on the body of a nineteen-year-old American soldier in Vietnam.

Look God: I have never spoken to You,
But now I want to say, “How do You do.”
You see God, they told me You did not exist;
And, like a fool, I believed all of this.

Last night from a shell hole I saw Your sky;
I figured right then they had told me a lie.
Had I taken the time to see the things You made,
I would know they weren’t calling a spade a spade.

I wonder, God, if You would shake my hand;
Somehow, I feel that You will understand.
Strange, I had to come to this hellish place
Before I had time to see Your face.

Well, I guess there isn’t much more to say,
But I am sure glad, God, I met You today.
I guess the zero hour will soon be here,
But I am not afraid since I know You are near.

The signal – well, God, I will have to go;
I love You lots, this I want You to know.
Looks like this will be a horrible fight;
Who knows, I may come to Your house tonight.

Though I wasn’t friendly with You before,
I wonder, God, if You would wait at the door.

Look, I am crying, me shedding tears!
I wish I had known You these many years.
Well, I will have to go now, God. Goodbye—
Strange, since I met You, I am not afraid to die.

Reprinted from the Jesus People Newsletter, Volume 47, Issue 2, Sacramento, California.

The Bondage of Freedom

Have you noticed that when people demand their right for uninhibited license to do whatever they want – no matter how twisted – the more enslaved they become?

When virtually all sexual taboos are removed, what is the result? Sexually transmitted diseases, abortions, divorces, broken relationships and a never satisfied and elusive longing for love… When will we figure it out and get back to God’s standards?

~ Bill Rudge

The Great Love of God

Before conversion we followed the ways of this world, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature. Even though we were in willful rebellion “because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ – it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4, 5). No other religion has a God like this: A God who loves His fallen creatures so completely that He gave His only Son and anyone who believes in Him shall have eternal life (John 3:16).

~ Jim Weikal