Milestone Words

by Morris Ruddick on April 29, 2013


© Morris E. Ruddick


Note: About a month ago, I was uniquely led to go back and review milestone words the Lord has imparted to me over the years. I found it a riveting experience. Our natural tendency is to be either overwhelmed or side-tracked with short-sighted minutiae, rather than keeping our eyes on God’s big-picture goals.

Those at the forefront need to overcompensate for the seductive traps, whether personal, cultural or doctrinal. The bar has been raised. Imparting righteous power in corrupt, defiled settings is not possible without God. We’ve entered a season in which the Western hop-skip-halleluiah model will fall short. May these words from my journey stir you in yours.



“Is not My word like a fire?” says the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” Jer 23:29

The heroes of faith operated in oneness with the priorities and issues of God’s heart, without any vestige of variation between Truth and what they heard from the Spirit. Their impact on history was defined by their view of things from a big-picture God perspective. They heard from God and they embraced His word, regardless the cost. That’s commitment that requires discipline. It’s also the foundation for maturity.

While intimately concerned with the details impacting the lives of individuals, the Lord’s priorities are strategic. He orchestrates things from the stance of generations and the community of His people within a generation. As I look back over four decades of walking with the Lord; that walk has been shaped by a series of milestone words God has imparted that have raised the bar with a long-term, big-picture perspective.

My walk with the Lord began in the early 70s with a dramatic encounter as I was seeking to know Him, to really know Him. I was serious and understood the realities. At that juncture, I had spent over two years of my life in heavy combat as a US Marine. I understood what it meant to believe in something bigger than myself and I understood the importance of the dynamics of discipline and commitment.

With the years that have passed since my salvation experience, I recently was prompted to outline key words the Lord has spoken to me over the years; personal milestone words shaping my calling, my priorities and who I am. As one of my mentors during those days once shared with me; if we can just get the door open sufficiently to capture a glimmer spiritually from God’s perspective, it will be enough.

The Priority
That first encounter; the first time I ever heard the voice of the Lord came from a time of spiritual seeking. Having been brought up in the church, I understood basic precepts of faith, but while I knew about Him, I really didn’t know God. Having met people who did, I was hungry for that reality. An old combat friend, Ted Gatchel, wisely just stuffed a New Testament in my shirt pocket, telling me that I’d find what I was looking for in God’s word of truth.

My spiritual hunger increased. Finally, I began plowing through Matthew, then Mark, Luke and John. After starting the book of Acts, I found myself pausing as I read the story of Stephen. Stephen was facing a life and death situation without hesitation or waffling. It was a commitment I could relate to. He knew what he believed in.

The combat encounters I had had in which I didn’t know whether I would come out of them alive probably numbered more than three dozen. As I reflected on Stephen’s story, one of a man willing to die for what he believed in, I began reflecting on what I believed in; what I had been willing to die for: my country, my Marine Corps, to be remembered for being able to face the ultimate test with honor.

At that point, I heard the voice of the Lord for the first time. In light of what had been going through my mind at the time, He simply asked me: “Would you be willing to do that for Me?” With that question, I understood who Jesus was and what was being asked of me; was I willing to make the Lord the priority I had made as a US Marine. Knowing the cost and commitment, my response was immediate: “Yes Sir!”

The Mission
My encounter with the Lord had taken place on a training mission in the Caribbean. Upon arriving home, I found that remarkably my wife Carol had had a similar personal, life-changing encounter with the Lord. Spiritually, we were like sponges. Then, having found an active Bible-believing church, we read great swaths of the Word of God, attended Bible studies, participated in fellowship gatherings and counseled with our pastor.

At that juncture, I came in contact with a simple phrase that became like a fire in my soul: “God has a perfect plan for your life.” I had chosen a good plan, one that I’d been excelling in with my military career; but what God began holding out before me was the prospect of a higher purpose, a plan for my life that would redirect my mission to one that served Him directly.

I really didn’t know what God had in store for me, other than the fact that I would be serving Him. I suspected my future and my calling might involve a role within what was at the time becoming known as the “para-church ministry,” but the reality is that when I resigned my Marine Corps commission, what Carol and I stepped into was something akin to an Abrahamic journey.

Knowing the importance of preparing, although I already had a college degree, I enrolled in Oral Roberts University where I could dig deeper into God’s word and be immersed in a Christian culture. In the interim, we served as full-time trainee-ministers for a small AG ministry, participated in intense Bible training and helped start a coffee-house ministry.

The time at Oral Roberts University was filled with studies, activities and relationships that laid the foundation. At the core of this setting was the mantle to “Train up young people who hear God’s voice to go to where God’s light is dim.” Additionally, the value of my time at ORU was punctuated by two mentors, Paul McClendon and Harold Fisher. These incredible men of the Spirit had prayer lives, a strategic outlook and a spiritual maturity that set the standard for what lay ahead. Toward the end of the year we spent at ORU, the Lord led me to enroll in a graduate program at a local secular university. Not long into this program, I began to realize I may have bitten off more than I could chew.

The Gift
The program I was in had required courses in statistics, which I had no background in. Somehow the school had overlooked this with my entrance into the program. I soon found myself scrambling and going to the professor for extra help.

Then in the midst of what seemed as sinking sands I was encountering with this required course work in research designs and statistics, the Lord spoke a clear word to me from Psalm 119. That word was: “I’ll make you wiser than your teachers.”

Yet, my efforts didn’t begin to approach what this word suggested. Despite rapt attention during classes, fervent study, getting extra help and praying, I was not grasping the subject matter. Then far too quickly, we were facing a mid-term exam.

My faith shaken, I began to think that somehow I had misfired with what I thought I had heard from God to enroll in this program. The night before the exam, having done all I knew to do, I repented for my presumption. The next day I felt no better as I walked into the exam. I placed my name on the exam paper and read the first question. The only way I can describe what happened was that it was like curtains were pulled back and I had complete understanding of what the question asked.

I went through the entire exam that way. As I read each question, not the answer but understanding was imparted. I was pretty excited as I turned in my paper and left the room. Outside were some of the better students in the class, complaining about how hard the exam was. The star pupil stated he thought it was the hardest test in the subject he had ever had. Doubt encroached at my door and my faith went through the floor.

A week later the professor, with a scowl on his face, entered the classroom with our graded papers in hand. He growled that the median grade was a 62 and he then proceeded to call out the name of each student along with their grade, as he handed the graded exams out.

One doctoral candidate had a 29. The class star had a 73. Finally he called my name and stopped. He looked down again at the paper and then at me and back at the paper. I had a 98. Clearly something supernatural had taken place. Fulfilling the word from Psalm 119 I had to take independent studies in multivariate statistics and psychometric designs to complete the task I had embraced for my thesis. God had given me a gift that would become foundational in the work I was to do.

The Gateway
During this time, we had developed a unique relationship with a man who was a partner in a media ministry in South Africa. Our friend Peter Church had been visiting the US to gather information to help with his plans for a Christian media production and entertainment center. I had been invited to become General Manager of this operation upon completion of my graduate program coursework. Then with a matter of weeks before our intended departure, Peter’s plans changed. He and his partner had a falling out and Peter and his family had decided to immigrate to the land of milk and money (the US).

So, here I was having left a stable career in which I was excelling; approaching the end of my time of retooling, without any prospects whatsoever before me. While in prayer, I asked the Lord for an answer to what I should be expecting. He gave me one. With clarity, I heard Him say that I was going to be a consultant. Without even a realistic idea of what that meant and without any formal background in business, this word strangely gave me great peace.

Then, having put this “word” on a shelf, I found myself becoming very practical with the need to obtain employment to support my family. Following up on an interest in the advertising world, I learned from one executive I spoke with of an opening that existed within a firm that he seemed convinced that I’d be perfect for. His conclusion was based on the “gift” God had given me with research designs.

So, without really understanding what I was pursuing, I followed up on his suggestion. What unfolded was something of a whirlwind that resulted in my being hired by this firm. What I didn’t realize during this process was that I had just been hired by a research-based consulting firm.

The Calling
During those early days in my new “career,” again I was in prayer trying to grasp how this all fit together on this pathway, this adventure that was unfolding with the Lord at the helm. At that juncture, the Lord spoke a word to me that riveted me and subsequently defined the path of my calling. The words the Lord spoke to me were:
“Just as in the days of Joseph and Daniel, I am going to bring out mighty works at your hand. As you are led into the midst of the world, kings, rulers and leaders will be converted and humbled. You’ll work beside them and your counsel will be heeded for their good.”

Once again, I had received a word that I didn’t fully understand. However, I knew that I had heard from the Lord and it brought great peace.

The Spiritual Gift
Then came another unexpected word that has complemented the natural gift the Lord had given me. While on a business trip for my employer, I checked into my hotel. As I went into the room to drop my bags, I noticed an open Gideon Bible on a table across the room. The thought passed through my mind: “I wonder if the Lord has a word for me.” So I went over to this open Bible and my eyes fell upon Jeremiah 51:20:
“You are My battle-ax and weapon of war; for with you I will break nations in pieces; with you I will destroy kingdoms and strongholds.

I was gripped by this word, but couldn’t seem to see its application in what the Lord had been telling me that I was to do. I left for the meetings I had set up. That evening, I opened my own Bible to read and it just happened to fall open to Jeremiah 51:20. I pondered it and prayed. The next morning as I opened my Bible; to spend some time in the word to start my day, it again opened to Jeremiah 51:20. I knew God was telling me something, but I just wasn’t sure what it was.

Upon returning from this business trip, we met with some friends who we prayed with who were older and much wiser in the things of God than we were. I shared my Jeremiah 51:20 experience. Connie replied that “Maybe the Lord is leading you into some type of intercession ministry.” My off-the-cuff response was “I know, but there’s something more to it than that.” Actually I hadn’t “known” that, but the process was serving as a catalyst to unveiling a prophetic and authority dimension to my calling as a consultant that would become very key in the days ahead.

During the next three years, I began learning the tools of the trade; the trade of being a consultant.

Faith and Risk
I then had a most unique encounter that I describe in the last chapter of my “God’s Economy” book. The Lord told me I was to start my own business. That first year of business I felt like Peter who had stepped out of the boat to walk on the water and had started sinking. Again, I was taking on something that was far beyond my experience level. I began realizing that faith involves risk and risk carries a cost.

I traveled the country, gave presentations and attended conferences. Yet, during that first year of being in business for myself, very little of what I did seemed to take root. I managed to sell one (underpriced) assignment during that time, along with compiling sufficient debt to seriously wonder if we were going to lose our home.

Then in a week in time came a most remarkable breakthrough. It began a time of favor and growth. The next several years the greatest challenge was in keeping up with the growth. We grew to have offices in three cities and 27 full-time employees. I was also beginning to realize the fulfillment of the words God had spoken to me before entering the consulting world about being called like Joseph and the influence I would have on my clientele.

I was doing assignments for Fortune 100 companies, as well as a number of respected media ministries. My firm was like a David amidst a group of Goliaths in terms of our competitors, consulting firms like Arthur D. Little and Booze Allen Hamilton. My role as the head of my firm resulted in exploits far beyond my natural abilities.

For example, in work I did for Xerox during the early 80s, I recommended that they enter the facsimile business. It proved to be their most profitable division. Feedback from clients included statements such as: “It’s like your recommendations were prophetic.” Such were the words that God had spoken to me years prior: “Your counsel will be heeded for their good.” Such is the calling of a modern-day Joseph.

The Shaking
There was a wonderful season of an upward spiral of opportunity and fast growth. But then came a sudden turn and the bottom dropped out of the primary market we served. We didn’t seem able to back-pedal and downsize fast enough. Sadly we eventually shut down this amazing God-birthed phenomenon. We shut down honorably, but not without much pain in the process.

Simultaneously one of my clients in the banking industry took over as President of a statewide financial institution with 34 branch locations that had just undergone serious losses the year before he joined them. He reached out to me to join him as his SVP of Marketing and Planning in his role as chief architect of a corporate turnaround. I’m still not sure which was the frying pan and which was the fire; between what I had left behind and this new “opportunity.” Details on that stage in my career are also found in my “God’s Economy” book.

We completed a successful corporate turnaround, putting the organization back in touch with the marketplace and restoring profitability. Then came the subtlety of corporate politics; the games people at my peer level had played that had brought this firm to the place where they needed the corporate turnaround in the first place. So it was that the man, who had recruited me and corporately had become my mentor, became the victim of the ambitions of a dog-eat-dog culture. Being on the wrong side of this political infighting, I also found myself without a job.

New Horizons
As I entered this transition, I became a partner with my old boss in a venture to acquire a failed Savings and Loan. The near-hit of this venture further expanded my horizons, despite the reality of approaching a survival mode financially. I recall when the venture came unraveled that I called the CBN prayer-line. Without any explanation other than the need for restoration, the prayer counselor began her prayer with the words that punctuated my Jeremiah 51:20 gift: “Lord, this man has been a warrior in the natural, but You have made Him a warrior in the spirit.” Without any knowledge of my background, this woman of God spoke words from the Spirit of the Lord that went deep within me and let me know that despite the circumstances, that I was not adrift, but still in the palm of His hand.

Then further into this transition time as the intensity of the turbulence seemed to be peaking, I took time to seek the Lord in fasting and prayer. I began asking the Lord some hard questions such as why my obedience seemed to be reaping such turbulent consequences. His very simple, but profound answer was because He called me into an “interlinking between secular enterprises with overriding Kingdom objectives.” Again, without much of an understanding of what that really meant, but because it was clearly a word from the Lord, it brought peace to my heart. What God was doing in my situation was progressively raising the bar.

Despite the darkness and hurdles of that season, recovery did come and after an interim as COO of a group of privately held firms, in a different type of corporate turnaround, I wound up back in the consulting business. This time the focus was different, without the goal of building an organization. Instead I found myself spending almost equal time between money-generating assignments and special projects I was doing pro-bono for mission organizations. My activities involved the start of several unique ministries tied to the prophetic and renewal movements.

Raising the Bar
However after almost a quarter of a century of walking with the Lord, it was in late 1995 that a major shift took place in my calling. It began at a time I discovered the potential wonder of an Internet search engine. With part of my consulting track record being within the media, I wanted to know if Christians were seizing the opportunity represented by this new medium of the Internet. Specifically, as I sat before my 14 inch computer screen and began putting words into this “tool” called a search engine, there was a burning in my heart to know if Christians were using the Internet to address strategic-level issues impacting the Body globally through intercession.

So, I began putting words into the search engine and coming up with web-sites. For each web-site I identified, I would write them and ask if they or anyone they knew were using the Internet to address strategic-level issues impacting the Body through intercession. I received over 50 negative replies before getting a response from a pastor named Rich Carey who also said no, but that he had a vision to do so. The next day, I received an email from a brother with a computer server and subsequently with a brother with a key role in the Messianic Jewish movement, we formed a group we called the Strategic Intercession Global Network (SIGN).

My new partners came back to me with the wisdom that I had the anointing for this agenda, so it was to be my responsibility.

As I began asking the Lord for clarity on these strategic-level issues, I began realizing what I was seeking to identify were the issues closest to God’s heart. The Lord answered me and very clearly began showing me that the pivot point was Israel and the Jewish people. He let me know that the persecuted/ oppressed church was very close to His heart; and He began giving me a glimpse into a coming move of God in the marketplace that would culminate in a time not unlike the time of Joseph the Patriarch.

As I began praying into these issues, the Lord set the stage for my writing efforts by giving me a blackout in terms of reading books or listening to tapes of what others were saying about these things. In other words, the source for what I was praying into and then turning into articles for this growing SIGN list was to be my prayer closet and the Word of God. Period. Punto.

What the Lord began with this new initiative and the parameters I was to follow required a new level of trust in what I was hearing in my prayer closet. Over the handful of years that followed, I prayed and I wrote, creating articles that defined and gave perspective to strategic-level issues impacting the Body; ones I was discerning as being close to God’s heart. Because of the track record with my own calling, I gave special focus to the marketplace issues and those surrounding the Joseph-Daniel calling. Additionally, my confidence in hearing His voice increased as God was progressively raising the bar.

Applications for Change
All this involved more than just prayer. There were tangible steps bearing on applying what was being imparted in my prayer closet. In 1997 at the GCOWE mission gathering in Pretoria, South Africa that hosted almost 6000 mission delegates from 155 nations, I gave my first talk on the calling of Joseph.

During this time-frame, one of our Messianic Jewish friends, Barbara Fox brought a most unusual word to me. As a mature intercessor, she came to me with something she had received while praying for me. That word was that: “Your calling will map out, build up and bring wealth into Israel and the nations.”

In 1998, in Israel, I was a part of the planning and executive committee that birthed a Jewish believer-directed initiative called “The Joseph Project,” a consortium of Christians and Jews bringing humanitarian aid to assist new Israeli immigrants.

In 1999, I was sent to Ethiopia by my friend Bob Winer to make an evaluation of business opportunity for a persecuted group of believers whose heritage was Jewish. At that point, I had spent time in an array of underdeveloped nations. However, the level of poverty within this group of believers assaulted my sensibilities. I found myself crying out to the Lord with a prayer: “Lord, these are your people. I know You must have an answer and I know its not a Western MBA approach.”

Within a month, my regular Bible reading program had me back in the book of Deuteronomy. At that point in my walk with the Lord I had probably read through this book of the Bible close to 50 times. Yet, I have to confess that, aside from individual premises, I had never seen the big-picture of what this book outlined.

During this reading, however, it was like scales fell off my eyes and I began seeing the principles for operating a God-centered, entrepreneurial community. That was the model. I began realizing that these principles incorporate the wisdom that has made the Jewish people such overcomers in the face of adversity over the centuries.

The notes from that reading of Deuteronomy became the seedbed for the birth of the economic community development program that I was to begin taking to segments of the church living under persecution and oppression. Step by step, the Lord gave definition to the elements comprising the wisdom of the ages of how God has enabled His people, in business and government, to be the head and not the tail and to influence the communities and cultures around them.

Together with what I had already been uncovering through prayer concerning the mantles of Joseph and Daniel, this program that I began referring to as the God’s economy entrepreneurial program began making a difference in some of the most difficult spiritual and economic environments. Using the same approach I was employing for the SIGN ministry (giving primary focus to the Word of God and revelation through prayer), what evolved was a practical program to make God’s people, through business leadership to be the head and not the tail. Its Jewish foundations dovetailed uniquely with Jesus’ Kingdom message whereby God’s people become a true light to those around them, as they lead by serving.

Set Times
Then, following the application of this program in regions ranging from Israel to Eastern Europe, Russia and Africa, I was in mainland China giving a talk on the call of God into business. It was early 2008. Early in this trip, I met a man, Gerry Denbok, who had just come back from a mission assignment in Vietnam.

Upon learning about our God’s economy entrepreneurial program, he made a strong case of the fertile ground and timely need that Vietnam had for this program’s potential. Within ten days, we had visas, flight reservations and an invitation to speak to an underground congregation on Easter Sunday.

Having spent 25 months of my life in this nation as a US Marine in the 60s, I loved the Vietnamese. Being acquainted with the plight of believers in China during the cultural revolution, as well as having had glimpses of the persecution in Vietnam since the 1975 communist takeover, I had given serious time to praying for the church in Vietnam. The joy I had with this opportunity was such that if this were the last opportunity I had to go there, I wanted it to be good and to be God. So, as I prayed about the message I would bring to this Vietnamese congregation, I simply asked the Lord what His word for the Vietnamese church was.

The Lord very clearly gave me a word for them. He said to tell His people in Vietnam that: “He had made them to be the head and not the tail.” With that as the theme of my Easter message, I shared with them about our unique economic community development program that had been transforming communities around the world.

That word spread through a network of underground churches. The schedule for my return trip filled up fast. Two additional month-long schedules with the God’s economy program in Vietnam followed in the remaining months of that year. With each trip, we were connected with more leaders intent on bringing our program to their region of Vietnam.

At the end of that year, I was taking an annual time alone with the Lord to seek Him in prayer and for reconsecration. I was 65 at that point in my life. I asked the Lord a simple question: why hadn’t these wonderful doors of opportunity reflected by the last few months in Vietnam happened when I was younger with more vitality to pursue these efforts. The Lord very clearly shot back at me that it was because: “In your weakness My strength will be more manifest.” There also were matters involving “set times” that were just then emerging for the Vietnamese church.

Then two months later, I was on a layover in Hong Kong, on my way back for still more of the opportunity unfolding in Vietnam. Our good friend Curtis Jones took us to a mid-week Bible study at the downtown offices of some committed believers. They had a special speaker from Australia who had a prophetic gift. After sharing a dramatic testimony about changing the spiritual climate of an area previously held in the bondage of witchcraft, this man began ministering prophetically to people in our group. Without any knowledge of my background, he came to me with a pointed finger and these words: “You sir, have a calling like Abraham. God is going to fulfill words He spoke to you decades ago in your old age. So keep your bags packed and keep going.”

Convergence and Preparedness
Since that time, our efforts in this unique nation have extended to 17 locales from the far north to deep within the Mekong Delta. In each region, we’ve witnessed change. Scores and scores of businesses have been started and leaders trained and mobilized to employ the enduring model God has used over the centuries to execute the mantle of Abraham, as His people are blessed to be a blessing; and serve a unique leadership role in impacting cultures and changing the spiritual climate around them.

Simultaneously during this time frame, through the books and writings that have come from my prayer-closet vigils have come connections with a new generation of leaders. These leaders grasp the dynamic between the Jewish roots and Jesus’ Kingdom message. They are ones who understand God’s heart. They are a generation prepared for the times I wrote about in 1996: “A time of great change in the infrastructures of the world’s system that will create discontinuities such as the world has never seen.” These are ones who reflect a key part of that word as a company of modern-day Josephs and Daniels, who would hear God’s voice and be prepared to prepare.

The Discipline: Actively Hearing God and Obeying
Our foundational work among the nations is converging with an outlook toward what God is doing in Israel. As the pivot point of God’s priorities, I see initiatives emerging that will undergird Israel with key roles served by believers from both the persecuted and oppressed segments of the church. It will parallel the time of Joseph, when God used Joseph to prepare in first harnessing the resources for a time a great reversals; but then in setting up a safe-place to administer those resources. Today, the world is marching toward a clash, a climax that will fulfill God’s word in Isaiah 60 with the restoration of His order, first to His covenant people and then to His creation.

The Word of God is holy. It simultaneously is Truth, God’s heart and His will. It has the power to define and shape. Yet, its fulfillment takes those willing to actively hear, embrace and obey His voice (Heb 3:15). The most significant words God has spoken to me, I didn’t fully grasp at the time. Yet, I embraced them just like Joseph embraced the dreams God gave him when he was 17. These are the words that will carry you through the preparation process. God has always entrusted His purposes to those willing to embrace the cost and discipline to know Him with listening hearts.

With these few examples of defining words the Lord has spoken in shaping my destiny, there is one that personally impacted me the most. At a time when I might have been considered spiritually mature. I was doing something that seemed to mark key stages of my walk with the Lord. I was reaching for something more than I could hope to accomplish in the natural. In doing so, I was searching my heart for any impurities that may have been lingering or lurking.

At that point, the Lord spoke as clearly as I have ever heard His voice. He said very simply: “I trust you, Morris.” Not unlike the experience described in Isaiah 6:1-6, I was undone, but simultaneously released into a dimension I’m not sure I can fully describe, except to say that my passions and priorities simply began flowing with His.

The heroes of faith of today will be no different from those outlined in the Bible. It will evolve from being faithful in the little, in giving priority to hearing and obeying. From this faithful stewardship will unfold the “something more” in each one’s sphere from the big-picture perspective of God’s heart. The dimension of trust will differentiate the maturity reflected between the many who are called and the few who are chosen; those who love not their lives to the death (Rev 12:11).
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”
Prov 3: 5-6

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