Warfare Helps for The Invisible War

As CS Lewis said, There are two extremes to avoid when talking about the reality of Satan and demonic activity: to put way too much emphasis on it or way too little.

In other words – don’t think everything bad that happens is a result of demonic spirits.

On the other hand, don’t forget we are in a real life & death invisible war with demonic forces.

There are a number of things that can help you, but some great resources are:

Tony Evans  (you can use this link or find other info at tonyevans.org)

Chip Ingram – check out Chip’s material online at Living On The Edge

If you have deeper issues we recommend Dr. Ed Laymance at Impact Counseling in Arlington, Texas, who is an expert in helping people deal with spiritual warfare.

We will be doing a Facebook Live Event with Dr. Ed Laymance on Sunday, June 23. Watch for details.

We’ll also be talking about specific things (practical things we can do) related to this Invisible War throughout the month of June at Grace.

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Jesus Didn’t Do Many Miracles There…

I’m finishing Matthew 13 this week and read a verse this morning that brought back an old memory.

And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” Mt. 13:57 ESV

The people in Jesus hometown who saw Him grow up and knew about Him and His family took offense at what God was doing through Him and refused to believe in Him. Therefore, verse 58 says he did not do many miracles there.

As I read this, I thought back to when Jesus changed my life as a 19 year old young man. I began serving Him immediately and a year later He called me to serve Him in ministry (to serve Him in a full-time capacity for the rest of my life).

Several years later I bumped into an old friend (who is a Christian) at a wedding. I’ll never forget what he said to me: “I could never come to your church because I know too much about you.”

In essence, he was not allowing for the fact that God could (and did) change my life. He didn’t have the faith that God could not only change me, but change the dynamic of our relationship.

Jesus couldn’t do many miracles in His hometown, because the people there decided to push back on faith. They chose to dwell in the past and missed out on the miracles God could have done among them.

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Janet and I will be married 42 years in July. We’ve had messy times and magnificent times together. We shared a little about this on Sunday, May 4th, during our Instafam series at Grace Fellowship. You can watch the message online at http://www.gf.church

As stated on Sunday, May 4th, I’ve listed some resources we think can help you. If you’re having serious problems please seek out a Christian Counselor! Most people our pastors counsel at Grace have been having problems for 3-7 years before they ever ask for help and by then, many of them feel like they have no hope. There is hope; get some help!

Here are some resources you may find helpful; they’ve been helpful for us!

Seriously – everyone should watch this!  Incredibly funny and poignant!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViuAblc-M0g

My blog on 40 Years of Marriage   https://bjrutledge.com/2017/07/18/40-years-of-marriage/



His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-proof Marriage   Willard F. Harley Jr

The 5 Love Languages  Gary Chapman

Love & Respect  Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Sacred Marriage Gary Thomas

What Radical Husbands Do Regi Campbell

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Fruity Christians


Jesus said by our fruit people will know us. If you’re a Christ follower, the fruit of your lips, the fruit of your attitudes, the fruit of your actions & reactions, the fruit of your social media posts all paint a picture to the world of what Christians are like. Sour posts, lips, attitudes, actions and reactions don’t help the cause of Christ. A thought from my time in Matthew 7 this morning. Just saying!

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1st Morning In Wise County – Jan. 27, 2004

15 years ago this morning I woke up to spend my first morning in Wise County as the Lead Pastor of Grace Fellowship.  I was so excited about being a part of this new church! I believed and asked God to do something here that had never been done in a rural setting.  I’m still believing & asking Him for this.

I had no idea of the incredible journey God would take us on.

As is my habit, I got up that morning and spent time alone with God praying and reading from His Word.  One portion of what I read that morning was from 1 Kings 3 where Solomon asked God for wisdom as the leader of God’s people.  The verses that grabbed my heart that morning were these…

“Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”  1 Kings 3:7-9 NLT

My prayer was similar.  Lord, I feel like a little child who doesn’t know how to lead this new work.  I’m in desperate need of You.  Please give me wisdom and discernment to lead well and to discern between good and evil.

15 years later I’m still reminded that I am like a little child and am totally dependent upon God.   As I shared on Sunday, January 20th, there are times I’ve gotten ahead of God; making decisions based on my own thoughts and trying to do things in my own power.  Anytime, I’ve done this – I’ve messed things up!  I’m still on the journey and still learning how to submit to God and depend on Him.   In light of this, if you pray for me, please pray that I’ll have God’s wisdom and discernment and depend on His direction and power in all things.

The photo above is of one of the “prayer cards” that I use in my time alone with God.

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1st Night In Wise County

On January 26, 2004, I spent my first night in Bridgeport as the new lead pastor of Grace Fellowship.  As I reflected on the 6 month journey of faith that brought us here from The Woodlands I sat in the recliner in our the apartment we’d moved into that day and wrote a few words.  A photo of that journal sheet is attached.  Since it’s difficult to read my writing, here’s a transcript of the journal page.










Jan 26 First Night Bridgeport

How gracious these folks have been to us.  They have already shown us an outpouring of love – flowers for Janet at Lyon Elementary today – baskets of goodies at the apart – milk cereal – (words I can’t make out) – unload & set up – whatever we need

Some of the 1st things I read sitting in the recliner tonight   Col 1:6 TM Everything finds its purpose in Him.   Eph. 1:11  He has his eye on us for glorious living

Lord, I do see a church of over 1000 – hundreds of students radically changed – hundreds of children begging to go back – families saved & restored – marriages put back together – a rural church w/ a regional draw – 100’s are saved & baptized – church with plenty of acreage to have a great multipurpose worship center – children & student building & ample parking for 1000 people – where 1000+ people are connected in small groups.

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Talk About 2 Amazing Days!

The past couple of days have been “off the charts” for me.  God has encouraged and blessed in so many ways.   I learned some key leadership skills at the 95Network One Day Conference yesterday and learned even more today about improving my own leadership with Terry Thompson as we worked through the Flippen Profile (an amazing leadership tool).

As I shared earlier, the icing on the cake last night was getting to take our 95Network Board to Sweetie Pies where we met Jennifer and heard her amazing story of God’s grace (see earlier post on 2nd Best Server in Wise County).

In addition to all this, I just met with Sage Huggins, a young lady who pretty much grew up in Grace and who’s about to graduate from TCU.  I was doubly blessed to hear how God has been working in her life at TCU and of her plans to serve Him in missions after graduation.

It’s crazy cool to see and hear the commitment and passion of these young adults for Christ!  Thank you Lord for this amazing blessing.   The photo above was probably taken around 14 years ago; it’s me, Sage Huggins and her dad Scott Huggins.

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2nd Best Server In Wise County







I took the 95Network Board to Sweetie Pies last night after our One Day Leadership Conference. We had a great meal and met Jennifer who served us at our table.  She introduced herself as the 2nd best waitress (server) in Wise County; there’s a great story behind this, but you’ll have to ask her to share it with you!

Her joy about what Jesus has done in her life was infectious!  Her story about how Christ has transformed her life is amazing, and she brought joy, hope and laughter to 5 pastors who had the pleasure of meeting her at Sweetie Pies.

We were blessed and encouraged at the way her testimony about Christ flowed so naturally in her conversation with us.   This led to a number of questions and hearing a portion of her story about the life-changing love and grace of God in her life.

We ended up having dessert (not my best choice), but the icing on the cake for all of us was Jennifer’s infectious love for Jesus!

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Jesus’ Sermon On The Mount

Want to know how to live and love as Jesus did?  He gives us a concise description of foundational truths and principles in Matthew 5, shared here in the Amplified version.

3 “Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].

4 “Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted].

5 “Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the gentle [the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled], for they will inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied.

7 “Blessed [content, sheltered by God’s promises] are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

8 “Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God.

9 “Blessed [spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor] are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they will [express His character and] be called the sons of God.

10 “Blessed [comforted by inner peace and God’s love] are those who are persecuted for doing that which is morally right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].

11 “Blessed [morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness] are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you because of [your association with] Me. 12 Be glad and exceedingly joyful, for your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible]; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

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Leadership Lessons From Dabo

I believe Alabama has built one of the premier football dynasties of all time, but I have to admit I was pulling for Clemson in the National Championship Game Monday night.   If for no other reason, I was pulling for them because of what I’ve heard from and seen in Dabo Swinney over the past few years.

Following Clemson’s incredible win in the National Championship on Monday night, I found an number of leadership lessons in the unrehearsed words that flowed from Coach Swinney in his post-game comments.

This is not a direct quote, but he said when you get a group of young people together who believe – who love each other – who sacrifice and are committed to a singular purpose – great things can happen and that’s what you saw tonight.

That’s an amazing axiom for any team; especially those of us who serve on a church team.   When a group of people (young & old) will come together and believe in the mission/vision of the church and each other – when they’ll love each other in spite of mistakes – when they’ll sacrifice for the mission and one another – and are committed to a singular purpose (the purpose of Christ) – great things can (and will) happen.

Players and coaches are going to miss assignments and calls; mistakes will take place.  However, when we can love as Christ did and face those mistakes with grace, encouragement and accountability and keep our focus on our purpose, amazing things take place.   When I know my teammates love me and will sacrifice for me and for the mission, great things take place.   When we are committed to the singular purpose of Christ and His kingdom and not our own individual kingdoms, great things take place.

If you’re part of a team – or want to be – evaluate your attitude based on these axioms.  Be a part of developing this kind of attitude in your own heart and team, and great things will take place.

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