Monday, April 18, 2011

Disciplined Minds - Morris Ruddick

DISCIPLINED MINDS
(c) Morris E. Ruddick

Note: I am penning this post, in part on a bus ride between cities, in my ongoing work with the persecuted church in Vietnam. The correlation of these peoples' disciplined approach to life and the level in which they quickly discern and put into practice the great truths of the Kingdom is a reflection of the fire they've endured and their sold-out commitment to the Lord.

Morris
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"Whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, to him, even more will be taken away." Matthew 13:12

In this sequence in Matthew, Jesus is teaching about the Kingdom of God.

It followed an extremely hard, but related word: "In that day, many will come to me and say, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your same, cast out demons and done many wonders in your name? And I will declare to them, I never knew you. Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness."  Matthew 7:22

The Kingdom of God is not an "add-on" to apply to life. It's the foundation. It's life itself. For its citizens, the Kingdom is their identity. That's why Jesus said we would be in the world, but not belong to the world.

Kingdom Identity and CitizenshipThe identity issue is not in question with those I've worked with in the persecuted church. One of their most distinguishing characteristics is the attribute of a disciplined mind. When they hear the truth; it is not something to tickle their ears. It's life-giving and embraced with fervency in its application.

Jesus made it plain that He was sent to the Jews first. The Jews in Jesus' day were under the rule of Rome. Yet, that was nothing new in Jewish history. Historically, the remnant of Jewish people has had a track record of serving as the business class in societies without a middle class; but also as advisors and financiers to nobility and royalty. They have been a people of influence.

Their host civilizations and societies have come and gone; but the Jewish people have endured. They have been a people who have understood their identity in God. They have been a culture within a culture with the mandate of Abraham to be blessed to be a blessing.

Yet, as the opening passage continues in Matthew 13, Jesus points to Isaiah 6 referring to the Jewish people who had become seduced by the world around them; whose hearts and minds had lost touch with their true citizenship and identity. At risk has not been just those failing to pay attention, but the most talented and elite.

Undisciplined MindsKing Saul had everything going for him. He held the position of king. He had the anointing and he was most certainly called by God. He had to be extremely bright to handle the position. But in his thinking, he got it wrong-side up. He gave heed to a mix of fear, anger and jealousy and then to listening to taunting voices. The position and power he was given to serve God's people became an obsession he feared losing, which seduced him into greater levels of the attention he gave to the wrong voices, which eventually caused him to lose it all.

A similarly sad digression happened with Saul's daughter Michal. She loved David. and cleverly outwitted one of her father's attempts to kill David. She also was an instrumental part of the covenant that brought Judah and Israel together. Yet, not long after this event, before she could fully enter her role serving as wife of King David, she was enticed by seducing voices that like her father before her, distracted her from what could have been the fullness of her identity and purpose in life.

With a seedbed of misaligned priorities of identity, both Saul and his daughter Michal had undisciplined minds that were provoked by seducing voices and the pride of life.
"Yet these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have kept their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the precepts of men." Isaiah 29:14

The Battle in the MindThe battle is in the mind. It is in the subtleties that seduction gains entrance. It's when in the proximity of moving from the called to the chosen that the transfer from the old identity to the new will be most critical. It will be at that point that the old will rear up with a force and enticement that must be seen for what it is and resisted. It is at that point that the seducing voices will be most taunting and even tormenting. It is at that point when the choices marked by discipline will determine the next step. It is the step into the fullness of ones' destiny.

A disciplined mind, that embraces its true priorities and identity, involves the poise of our souls and right choices; and a lifetime of insuring that the life we are leading is no longer ours, but truly belongs to the One who makes us whole as we bear the brandmarks of our Kingdom citizenship.

Saul and Michal had the opportunity to choose and embrace a regal destiny. They were called to royalty, but instead were ruled by their fears and passions which distorted their priorities. The roots of their demise is touched on in Proverbs 30. "Under three things the earth trembles, under four it cannot bear up:  a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when glutted with food; an unloved woman when she gets a husband and a maid when she succeeds her mistress."

The king with a heart of a slave misuses authority. The leader with a heart of a fool is ruled by desires. The one given authority without love will never trust and those with oppressed hearts who are given control will pervert authority. These elements congeal into what scripture refers to as "the bondage of corruption" or what so commonly operates in the world as the abuse of power.

Yet, the abuse of power is not simply found among the ungodly. It was Jesus' major issue with the Pharisees. They touted their hypocritical priorities of prestige, privilege and power. However, it wasn't just the prestige, privilege or power that was at issue, but that these things had blinded them.

Jesus' central theme in His earthly ministry was how to operate according to the way of the Kingdom. We live by dying. We advance by yielding. Generosity brings increase. Honor comes from humility. We love our enemies. We lead by serving. We do good to those who spitefully misuse us. We are called to be a culture of influence to those around us; a culture within a culture making change that gives tangible evidence of the Kingdom.
"Those who are turning the world upside down are now among us!" Acts 17

Disciplined MindsEmbracing and maintaining a heart that avoids the type of positional deceptions and issues that pervert must first choose the path, and then pay the cost at the point where the battle is waged: in the mind. Its distinctiveness gives witness to our identity in God in a manner recognized by the world around us.
"The Lord was with Joseph and he was a successful man and everyone saw that the Lord was with Joseph and made all that he did to prosper." Gen 39: 2-3

Two leaders I've worked with in this land of persecution give dramatic evidence to their true citizenship. One is a businessman and the other a pastor. One saw his mother, three brothers, his grandparents and an uncle all killed together in a Vietcong raid during the Vietnam conflict. At the point of suicide, he heard a message of hope on Christian shortwave radio and became a believer. He went on to begin starting and leading gatherings of believers during the post 1975 regime and was subsequently imprisoned for almost three years for his faith.

The brutal conditions of this prison camp involved working long, hard hours in the fields on only a daily bowl of watered-down gruel. His release came near the point of death through the intervention of an international humane society that had learned of his plight. Upon his release, he had the option to immigrate to the US. God spoke to him that Vietnam was his mission field.

The other man was an officer with the South Vietnamese during the Vietnam conflict. He was not one of the fortunate to be evacuated and was captured in 1975. He spent several years in a Communist re-education camp. These camps were cruel and inhumane. Their goal was to break their former enemies. I've personally known two strong men whose spirits were broken in this way; their minds never the same. However, this man sovereignly found the Lord in this horribly severe situation.

Both this pastor and this businessman are whole. They have memories, but without impeding issues. The joy of the Lord surrounds them. They have a zeal for serving the Lord. They live in "the now." While their wholeness bears witness to their faith in the Lord Jesus; it also punctuates their true identity as citizens of the Kingdom. They are operating as a culture within a culture.

We can speak about values and Christian self-improvement all we want; but if we don't get the identity and citizenship thing down, we are in danger of an alignment with this world that distorts and hinders our true destiny.
"Whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, to him, even more will be taken away." Matthew 13:12

Ongoing Identity StepsFor the transfer into our true identity and citizenship to become complete a disciplined mind is required. It's not about self; but rather serving and bringing change as we are blessed to be a blessing. A disciplined mind will prioritize, leave the past behind, kept its spirit in focus, maintain growth and be a catalyst with the release of its own unique Kingdom purpose.

1. Pay the Cost of Prioritizing. Wrong priorities became tripping points to both Saul and Michal. The history of the Jews gives us a glimmer to the cycles faced by a culture within a culture. Kingdom citizenship is not a seal on a passport; it's the path and focus of everyday life. It matures with decisions requiring a cost.

2. Leave the Past. Soul-ties and memory hooks from the past, both good and bad, evoke both constraints and expectations drawn from the lust of the flesh, the pride of life and the love of the world; and must be resisted. They are enticements and triggers that impede the fullness that a Kingdom identity will bring.

3. Keep Your Spirit in Focus. Speaking truth in your own heart (Ps 15) is pivotal to a vibrant and impactful Christian life. The mature should always have a realistic grasp of the direction of their thinking and priorities; as a discipline to the type of prayer that further determines and unfolds the focus of their thinking and priorities.

4. Maintain Spiritual Growth. Make a practice of proactive repentance that extends into thoughts that digress into "old patterns." Forgive quickly. Proactively practice humility. Staying immersed daily in God's word and prayer is not just a means of developing spiritual maturity. It is the pathway to maintaining it.

5. Be a Catalyst with Activated Purpose. The subtleties at this level warrant ongoing prayerful scrutiny. It's not about ambition. It's not about what we can do for God, but rather what we allow Him to do through us. That means entering His flow by serving as faithful stewards with the gifts He has endowed. This evolves and is often reshaped over time as we develop from faith to faith. It is at the core of the identity matter. When tapped, reach high and serve by enabling opportunity in others as you bring increase to the Kingdom and enter the fullness of His joy.

Our model is not the way of the world or success as the world defines it. Jesus made it clear that we were not called to be like everyone else. The issue is in our identity and the execution of our Kingdom citizenship, as a culture within a culture.
"Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?  Blessed is that steward whom his master will find so doing when he comes" Luke 12:42-43

The pressures the persecuted church live under allow little choice on the matter of identity. The realities do little to promote a love of the world. Becoming a believer where freedom is dim leaves little question on true citizenship; of being a culture within a culture. Survival as a believer within a land of persecution takes a committed, disciplined mind.

Yet, a friend and leader from this sector of the Body, who has paid a high cost for his faith, once shared with me: "Materialism is more dangerous than communism."

The face of communism is clear, but materialism seduces. The need for a disciplined mind carries, at the least, equal significance in the part of the world that shouts its benefits of the pride of life, the lust of the flesh and the love of the world.

A disciplined mind is foundational to maintaining the identity and citizenship of a culture of influence within a culture of seduction.
"When the first came, they supposed that they would receive more. When they had received the same, they complained saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and we have borne the burden and the heat of the day.' But he answered, 'Friend, did you not agree on this amount? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give this last man the same as you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what I own? Or is your eye evil because I am good?' So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen."  Matthew 20: 10-16
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Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and spokesman for the call of God in the marketplace. He is author of "The Joseph-Daniel Calling;" "Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;" "The Heart of a King;" and "Something More," which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders called to impact their communities with God's blessings. They are available from Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other popular outlets.

Mr. Ruddick is also the founder of the Global Equippers Entrepreneurial Program, which imparts hope and equips economic community builders where God's light is dim in both the Western and non-Western world. To schedule a speaking engagement, sponsor a workshop, make a donation or to get more information on how you can help, contact Global Initiatives at 303.741.9000.

2011 Copyright Morris Ruddick - response@strategic-initiatives.org

Reproduction is prohibited unless permission is given by a SIGN advisor.  Since 1996, the Strategic Intercession Global Network (SIGN) has mobilized prophetic intercessors committed to targeting strategic-level issues impacting the Body on a global basis.  For previous posts or more information on SIGN, check:  http://www.strategicintercession.org/


Morris Ruddick
Global Initiatives Foundation
http://www.strategic-initiatives.org/

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Thanks for sharing. Blessings on your head from the Lord Jesus, Yeshua HaMashiach.

Steve Martin
Founder/President
Love For His People
Charlotte, NC USA