Change is Coming

Change is inevitable.

Think back to your first day of school. Can you remember the excitement? The nerves? Look how many changes have taken place in your life since that day.

Perhaps you’ve changed jobs recently or even your address. A new house can be filled with wonderful new possibilities. A fresh start.

Maybe a relationship has ended – one that was near to your heart. Or perhaps you had to let go of someone who recently passed away. That kind of change can be heart-wrenching.

But there is one change that is certainly coming. It’s on the horizon. It won’t linger much longer. It will be more lasting than changing jobs or relationships.

One day, dear soul, change is coming to your body. Not the wrinkles or the gray hair or even the weight gain that sometimes comes with age.

Your body is going to change in the blink of an eye when Jesus Christ returns, and you’re going to be lifted up to meet Him in the clouds. You’ll be with Him forever and away from the chaos, violence, and wickedness of this world.

If.

Such a powerful little word.

If you are ready. If you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior before the trumpet sounds. There are no shortcuts. There is no substitute. No other path will lead you to Heaven. No other ticket will grant you access.

“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9. NIV.)

You will be lifted up when Jesus returns. Rescued. Taken away and spared more turmoil and mayhem than this world has ever known.

Will you be ready when the trumpet sounds? Are you ready right now?

Any day now. Any moment, precious soul.

No one knows the day or the hour, only the Father. But the day IS coming.

Please be ready. Change is coming.♥️

“But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die – but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes – it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal.”

(1Corinthians 15:51-54 MSG.)

Reading, “Treasures”

It’s that time again – story time! If you’re looking for a fictional tale of God showing up in the life of a single mom who’s struggling to provide for her daughter, “Treasures” is the story for you.

Here’s the link to the video I’ve posted on Facebook where you can listen as I read the story to you from my Christmas office.

I pray it blesses you and touches your heart.

Thanks for watching!

A New Song

God has been doing something new in me.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been reading Scripture as I listen and then, I listen again. Really listen. I wait for the Holy Spirit to lead me in writing and then it comes in waves, flooding and saturating me.

I’ve been sharing these posts on social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) and on my other website.

Some mornings are amazing.

Other mornings have been painful as I write from a place of pain. Let me explain.

I’ve been struggling physically with jaw pain. It seems when I fell in the shower years ago that I did a real number on my face. Anyway, it hurts to chew and…it hurts to talk.

This is no easy task for me, not talking, since I talk all the time. All. The. Time.

I realized at church on Sunday that I also can’t lift my voice to the Lord like I want. Singing was excruciating. I did it anyway (the best I could) and cried when I couldn’t.

Fast forward into Monday, and I found myself in the middle of a spiritual battle. I mean from every angle. It was one of the darkest days of my life. Pain and discouragement felt like a dark dungeon to me.

That morning I didn’t know how I could possibly write anything. I needed help. I NEEDED prayer.

I was bawling on the floor in our living room, the pain in my jaw excruciating and matching the pain in my lower back – I’d hurt myself the week before while lifting our mattress.

So, I wrote a post for others about needing others. But I knew God was using it to speak to me too. I quickly sent a few texts and made a call and asked others to pray for me.

And I felt every prayer lighten the load, the physical pain, and the darkness of discouragement. Every single prayer helped.

And later that night when I got in the shower, I knew I couldn’t sing because of the pain in my jaw, but I realized I could still hum.

I hummed “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” while I was in the shower. The warm water soothed my back and jaw, but it was that song coming from within me that soothed my aching spirit.

And today I’m moving forward with that song tucked in my heart. Yes, I have to be quiet today. But I can hear that song – I can listen to it. All. Day. Long.

If you’re struggling, my friend, cry out to God while you’re lying there on the floor. Don’t hesitate for a minute to ask others to pray for you. The enemy may be ruthless, but because of the blood of Jesus Christ…

You are victorious!

Let God fill your heart with a new song as you sing from a place of victory.

“Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.”

Isaiah 12:5 NIV.

“But I will trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.”

Psalm 13:5-6 NIV.

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”

Psalm 40:3 NIV.

When You Don’t Fit In

Maybe you’re feeling out of sorts like you don’t fit in, like a penguin on a hot sandy beach looking for cooler waters. Or maybe you feel like you’re the only one doing what you’re doing, and you wonder if the world is looking at you like you’re nuts.

You are not alone, my friend! Check out the rest of my blog post here.

Take Care of Yourself

When your body suffers, so does your ministry.

Oh my. I’m sitting in my basement office in my pj’s and when I prayed and asked God for guidance for this post, those words came to me. I suppose God wants me to write about the elephant here in my room.

I’ve been struggling with a physical issue for a few weeks, and I haven’t been able to write a blog post because it felt draining to me. Just being honest. Writing a blog post like this, well, it’s been hard because I open up here in the hopes of helping someone out there.

Being honest about what we’re going through can be hard. Letting others see us without our game faces (or makeup!) can be so revealing, so cringe-worthy. We want to appear to be strong and sleek and on top of things. Not weak, pudgy, and falling asleep on the couch before it gets dark.

And yet when we’re not feeling our best or we’re battling something attacking our bodies, we are not able to perform at our best.

I remember when I used to run a long time ago when my knees would allow it. If I ate a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream the night before, my morning run suffered.

Now if I don’t exercise, I struggle with brain fog and my entire body suffers. (I suppose I’ve been in denial thinking I can eat the way I used to when I was in my twenties and NOT exercise and nothing is going to change. Hello, reality!)

So it seems, if we don’t take care of ourselves, our ministry, our service to God and others suffer.

Your ministry might be spending time with your child and showing them God’s love through nature walks, volunteering at a food pantry, working long hours to put food on the table for your family, encouraging a friend, visiting someone who can’t venture out, writing stories of faith and hope, singing of God’s glory..the list can go on and on.

So, taking care of ourselves would not be a selfish act, but a way to honor God and to love others. And to be ready.

Be ready?

That’s right. When God calls us to expand our ministry or begin a new one, we’ll be excited and full of overall tingling anticipation—not drained at the very thought of doing ONE MORE THING.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

Today, I’m taking the plunge into better health so my ministry won’t suffer and I can be ready. I’ve been here before and wandered off to My Own Way Lane where chocolate chips, potato chips, and bowls of frosting abound. But God is drawing me back. (Thank You, Lord!)

So what does this involve for me? Eating better (cue my grumpy toddler face), exercising (face contorted in pain), and a doctor’s visit (using wisdom here).

What about you? Are you willing to take care of yourself so your ministry can flourish and you can be ready when God calls?

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

(1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV.)

“Be prepared in season and out of season.”

(2 Timothy 4:2b NIV.)

Reading, “Meeting Jesus Face to Face”

Another video and another short story, my friends! I hope this short Easter story touches your heart as it did mine. May we all grow closer to God as we come to His Son, Jesus Christ.

Thanks for watching, and God bless you!

On the Verge of Discouragement

I think we’ve all been on the verge of tears before—that moment when you sense the tears are on their way, but they haven’t formed just yet.

But what about being on the verge of discouragement, when you sense that it’s close?

Let me explain what I’m learning:

I woke up feeling “off” today. My mind wandered to the things that upset me yesterday. And I started remembering the past and the times I’d been manipulated by others. Then some of the toxic relationships God has removed from my life came to mind. Throw in a lot of waiting, and BAM! I was on the verge of discouragement.

It’s like teetering. Which way will I go? Fall over into the muck of discouragement, or lean into God who is waiting to catch me?

The choice is mine. No one can make it for me.

I’ve fallen into discouragement before, and I can tell you it’s no fun. It can take days or even weeks to get “unstuck.” Thankfully, God picked me up and wiped the mud from my face every time.

But God doesn’t leave me (or you!) to deal with this teetering all on our own. His Holy Spirit nudges us to focus on Him. A friend may call to encourage us. We may “stumble” on a video about trusting God. We may even get a message from a co-worker about something good coming our way.

Here’s what I think: Satan roams through the earth, looking for someone to devour. One way he can devour is by filling our minds with consuming, discouraging thoughts, rendering us useless for God’s calling in our lives.

The enemy reminds us of our failures and past hurts, and he lies to us by telling us it’s going to happen again. So we build walls around our hearts to keep people out AND to stop ourselves from stepping out and making more mistakes.

These walls bring isolation. Now we’re dealing with discouragement and loneliness. It’s a double whammy.

Satan wants us to “roam” through our minds, SEARCHING for all the trash, so we’ll pick it up. When it’s right there in our hands, we’ll focus on it.

God, on the other hand, tells us in His Word to think about what’s lovely, pure, noble etc. (see Scripture below). He wants us to think about what’s praiseworthy. All of those things point to God! God wants our focus to be on Him and what He’s doing.

A cherished, intimate memory we have with God can keep us from falling into discouragement by keeping our minds fixed on Him.

So when we’re on the verge of discouragement and our minds are swaying, we have a choice to make:

We can either focus on Satan’s trash, all the littering in our minds, and call it a day. Later, crying ourselves to sleep.

Or…

We can cry out to God and say, “Yes, Lord. Pull me in closer to You! Help me to focus on You and all the good You’re doing in my life.”

Which will you choose, my friend?

Me?

No more teetering in the middle of this teeter-totter with one foot down and one foot up. I’m getting off of this thing.

I’m leaning into God, grabbing onto His hand, and giggling with anticipation for whatever He has in store for this day.

And I’m expecting JOY. Lots and lots of joy in His presence.

“The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.’”

Job 1:7 NIV.

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

1 Peter 5:8 NIV.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Philippians 4:8 NIV.

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.”

Psalm 145:3 NIV.

Distractions – Stepping Off Your Path

God has a specific calling, a path for each of us to walk. But what happens when you step off of that path for just a minute?

Let me give you an example:

My path is writing, and I recently had an opportunity to write a short story for publication. So I prayed. (I’m FINALLY learning this is the first and most important step!) I had such wonderful peace and clarity. The words for the beginning of the story started even before I finished praying. I couldn’t wait to get to the keyboard.

And so I began typing, the story unfolding in crisp, detailed images. And I was enjoying the fellowship with the Holy Spirit as I was, once again, in awe of the delicate way He vividly paints pictures in my mind.

But then a tiny thought like a dandelion seed blew into my mind: I need to send a quick email.

Instead of staying on track and staying close to God in the moment, I stepped off the path just to send a quick email.

When I returned to the story, I tried to pick up where I left off. But text messages started coming in. Then someone stopped by. Then another visitor. The distractions became a whirlwind of dandelion seeds so thick I couldn’t focus on God’s voice or the painting He’d used the tips of my fingers to brush.

It all began when I let my mind wander. Just a quick email.

It was my own fault. If I would have stayed on track, I believe the story would have been finished before the first text came. God knew what my day was going to be like. (And I wouldn’t have been so grumpy with everyone the rest of the day!)

God narrows our path for His perfect reasons. We have divine moments of opportunity, blessings from Him. The timing becomes very specific. He knows the pitfalls to the left and the distractions to the right.

God wants us to keep moving forward with Him. He wants us to stay on track. Stay focused on the very touch of His hand in ours, the gentle guidance of His Holy Spirit, and our path of purpose. We don’t need to know the outcome. We just need to walk it.

Life is FULL of distractions, my friend. Don’t let your mind turn so quickly to see what all the noise is about. Don’t let the tickle of a dandelion seed pull you out of God’s presence.

Stay focused on God and the ever-narrowing path He’s leading you on. It only leads you closer to Him.

“Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.” (Proverbs 4:25 NIV.)

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2a NIV.)

Reading, “Flowers in February”

If you’re struggling with loss or discouragement during this cold and dark season, I pray my short story, “Flowers in February” reminds you of the unending hope you have in the Lord. ♥️

Be blessed, and thank you for watching!

(If you’d rather read the story instead of watching this video, click here.

My New Website

Hello faithful readers and friends!

I want to thank you for reading my blog posts/stories here at Training for Eternity. What a blessing you’ve all been to me! (And a great big shout-out and THANK YOU! to those of you who’ve been following this blog since October 2016. I can’t believe it’s been that long!)

I’ll still blog about the lessons God is teaching me here at Training for Eternity, but…

God has been stirring something new in my heart for a few months, and I’m finally able to share. I have a new website, joeyrudder.com, for this “new” journey where I’m writing stories (and blog posts!) of faith and hope to inspire my fellow underdogs to fight the good fight. I hope you’ll come check it out and follow me there!

Just a sample from my homepage:

Are you an underdog? If you are, you don’t quit. You’re stubborn enough to ignore the naysayers who tell you you’re not going to make it. You push on. Even when things are hard. Especially when things are hard. There have been times, your darkest times, when you’ve considered giving up. But that tiny spark of yours, the one about the size of a mustard seed, ignites something else that keeps you going… [read more]  

And a glimpse at my first blog post:

Waiting is hard work. It’s especially difficult for the underdog. You might feel like you don’t have much support or encouragement, that others don’t believe in you and actually voice such things. You might even feel like you’re stuck in a prison of sorts waiting for the moment when you’ll break free and step into your calling –what God created you to do… [read more]

I hope you’ll join me over at my new website. I’m excited to experience the “new” God has waiting for me…for us!

See you soon!

Joey