On the Right Side

by Bill Rudge

Do not think God is sleeping, silent or soft on the sin that is infecting our world. Increasing rebellion and immorality (often expressed as freedom and enlightenment) has not gone unnoticed by the Creator. Throughout history, God has periodically sent judgments to bring individuals and nations to repentance. When they refuse to repent, His judgments intensify.

God, who is long-suffering and not wanting anyone to perish (1 Peter 4), is now storing up His wrath for a day of vengeance and judgment (Revelation 16:19). This day of reckoning will bring even the bravest and most defiant and arrogant of men and women to their knees – either in repentance or judgment.

Don’t be impressed or influenced by today’s society – the day is quickly approaching when the cup of His wrath will reach its fill. Don’t be afraid of the violent and ruthless, for they will be the ones cowering in fear before their just and righteous Creator. The LORD is once again about to enter this world with undeniable power and might. Be certain that you are on the right side – the LORD’s – and living the way you should – honoring Him and abiding by His Word.

A Father’s Responsibility

by Jim Weikal

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who sires a wise son will be glad in him (Proverbs 23:24).

A righteous or wise offspring does not come from great genes or wealth or societal position or by accident. The righteous and wise child is the result of good biblical parenting. But fathers especially are called to instruct:

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction (Proverbs 1:8).

The Hebrew word for “instruction” implies that a father should set right disobedient behavior. Being a wishy-washy father who would rather look the other way at a son’s willful disobedience is not being a good parent.

God is described as a Father who reproves those He loves; in the same manner a good earthly father “corrects the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:12).

Being a good father to a growing family results from loving the children’s mother and making disciplinary decisions that are based on the wisdom found in a biblical worldview.

The White Stone

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

The apostle Paul sets an example for believers in Jesus Christ to stand firm with conviction in regard to what the Bible has to say on sexuality. Yet, countless Christians are clueless concerning what it means to live a holy and righteous life. Many youth and young adults make their decisions about what is right and wrong based upon the relativity of circumstance rather than the absolute authority of God’s Word.

The message of the Gospel is compromised and weakened because of the sexual immorality among professing Christians. For example, a Muslim soccer coach confessed to me that he closed his ears to the Gospel message because of the rampant immorality that plagues the lives of many supposed Christians he has met.

If the church is unwilling to repent and continues to tolerate immoral behavior, its ability to be the “light of the world” will fade into extinction. Our Lord Jesus warned the church at Pergamum not to tolerate teachings that endorse sexually immoral behavior (Revelation 2:14-16).

Like the church at Pergamum in the first century, the church today needs to repent of its immorality. If we do, then just as Pergamum was promised a white stone for overcoming, we too will be given a white stone (Revelation 2:17). What is this white stone? An athlete at that time, after winning a competition, was awarded a white stone – an admission pass to the winner’s celebration. So too, believers who overcome will receive a white stone; their admission pass to Christ’s eternal Kingdom.

A Life Defined by Authenticity and Love

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Making a New Life Resolution for 2019, part 5

In the previous blog, I shared with you my fifth and sixth New Life Resolutions:  5) Conform my life to the standards of God’s Word regardless of what it may cost me in this life; 6) Start and end each day in communion with God so I can know Him more and what He requires of me.  Let us now examine New Life Resolutions seven and eight.

Resolution 7:  Reflect in an authentic way to others the transforming power and reality of Jesus Christ in my life.

In a conversation on religion, a friend of mine, who had emigrated to America from a Middle Eastern country, told me that he would never become a Christian. When I asked him why he said, “When I first came to America, I saw Christians living like the world on Saturday and then worshiping God in church on Sunday.” Like my friend, I have heard others say similar things as hypocrisy among those who label themselves as Christians has become one of the main reasons people reject the Christian faith.

This reality is why I want what to resolve to live out my faith in Jesus Christ in an authentic way. Living this way does not entail perfection, as all of us will fail in this life. What it does entail is allowing God to be Lord over every area of our lives, striving to be consistent in how we live both in public and in private; seeking godly repentance when we fall short (2 Corinthians 7:10; 1 John 1:9); and reflecting a transformed life marked by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24). As we live in a fallen world, may we all take to heart these words by the apostle Peter:

Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.   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 2:11, 12).

Resolution 8:  While I should grieve over the wickedness in the world, I will still approach non-believers with the same love and grace that Jesus has shown me.

We serve a holy and righteous God (Revelation 4:8) who grieves over the wickedness in the world, and one day He will come back to judge all that are ungodly (1 Peter 4:5, Jude 14b, 15; Revelation 20:12, 13). Therefore, we also should grieve over the wickedness in this world, and not find entertainment and pleasure in it. However, we also serve a loving and merciful God, who loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for our sins (John 3:16). This reality should make all of us stand back in awe and wonder at the depth of God’s love for us.

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God (Ephesians 3:18, 19).

Recognizing the depth of God’s love for me has helped me view unbelievers not as my enemies but as my mission field. This is the case because their ultimate need is no different than mine, which is we all need a Savior to set us free from our sins (Romans 3:23; 1 John 2:2). In fact, as Paul reminds the Corinthians, the very behaviors that sent Jesus to the cross, were once practiced by them, but now they have been cleansed, made holy and right with God through Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Once we experience the grace and mercy of God, which we do not deserve, we should feel empowered to show the same grace and mercy to others. The most effective way to demonstrate this is through the same love that God has shown us. In fact, love is the most powerful way for us to show others an authentic and transformed life.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.   If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

In the next blog we will examine the final two New Life Resolutions. Until then, may we all continue to live a life of resolve.

Powerful and Effective Prayer

“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.” James 5:16

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

PrayerBookCoverDraftRev_1Do you desire to be a man or woman of great faith? Do you want God to use your life so as to leave a lasting legacy? I recently read a book entitled 50 People Every Christian Should Know. This book presents the biographies of 50 men and women who have left a lasting impression upon the Christian faith. As I read about their lives, I discovered several common traits which defined how they lived. One of these traits was that they were people of prayer. They all understood that their effectiveness in serving God was directly connected to the time they spent on their knees. Just like these individuals of the past, God wants to take ordinary people today and raise up another generation of spiritual giants whose lives are marked by powerful and effective prayer.

After calling his readers to pray in times of trouble and sickness, and to confess their sins one to another, James asserts that, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16). To illustrate, James refers to the prophet Elijah as an example of a person who had an effective prayer life. James tells us that Elijah’s prayers both began and ended a three-and-a-half year drought on the nation of Israel (see 1 Kings 17 and 18). James also reminds us that Elijah was a man with a nature just like us (James 5:17). In other words, according to Donald W. Burdick, “He [Elijah] had no superhuman powers; he was by nature a human being and nothing more. However, when he prayed ‘that it would not rain … it did not rain’…so James assures his readers that such answers to prayer are within the reach of any believer.”

If it is true that we can have a powerful prayer life like the prophet Elijah, then the obvious question is, “How?” Many writers propose answers to this question by suggesting we do things such as recite a verse or a word repeatedly, sit in silence (an altered state of consciousness), or walk a prayer circle. Prayer, however, is not some magical incantation or manipulative tool we can use to control God. As Jesus Himself taught,

And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetitions as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words (Matthew 6:7).

Instead, prayer is communicating with God through means by which He has revealed in His word. Recognizing that we are dependent upon the Bible to understand prayer, in upcoming newsletters I will be sharing biblical principles that can enable any believer to have a powerful and effective prayer life just like Elijah.