The Times and Strategies

by Morris Ruddick on April 6, 2014


© Morris E. Ruddick

“That which has been is what will be, for there is nothing new under the sun.”  Eccl 1:9

Despite Solomon’s prescient grasp of the cycles of the times, he lost his focus. His priorities became muddled. Under his reign, the seeds were sown that undermined Israel’s season of unity, peace and prosperity engineered by his father.

From the beginning, the age-old struggle of evil’s intent against good rears its head at unexpected and subtle junctures. The foundations shift as the times change with new generations. While God has provided the wisdom to build from one generation to another, new generations cannot simply ride the momentum. Again and again over the centuries, during times of spiritual slippage, evil has enveloped God’s people, seeking to destroy them.

On the other hand, the Lord has always had His Davids, His champions, who would risk everything to stand against evil and prevail.
“I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.”
Acts 13:22 NKJV

During this last generation, there has been an incredible dismantling of the assaults of evil against God’s people; ranging from the fall of Nazism, to a standoff of the onslaughts against God’s people in Eastern Europe, Russia and Asia.

Many champions have stood and resisted, some at the cost of their lives. “A Song in Siberia,” by Anita and Peter Deyneka (1977, out-of-print) is one of the most gripping accounts of the severe persecution against believers in Russia during the 1960s. Many excellent accounts have described the plight of the church in China during the Cultural Revolution. The spiritual struggle of God’s people, as cultures within cultures, has again and again reemerged in this recurring struggle between good and evil.

Alongside those resisting the onslaughts of persecution, God has raised up outsiders, even King Cyruses, championing the cause of those directly impacted. In this last generation, these champions have wielded God’s mantle and strategy and undertaken the risks and the burdens of the brethren walking through the fire. They are ones who have heeded the heart of God to walk into the heart of darkness and destabilize and thwart the intents of evil. They have wielded God-strategies to pierce the darkness resulting in many miraculous shifts in the spiritual climates.

The Simple Things
In God’s way of doing things, it has always been the simple things that confound the “wise.” In the early 1970s, a gospel singing group and band known as the Living Sound accepted an invitation to conduct a concert in Poland. What they and their founders, Terry Law and Larry Dalton, didn’t realize was that the invitation had come from the Communist Youth Party and that their performance was at the organization’s headquarters.

When they arrived, their hosts realized the group’s spiritual foundations. Serious flashpoints followed, which included its leaders being interrogated and threats given to try to prevent their “witness.” Still, with an overflow crowd already seated, the concert took place. The anointing and God’s presence pierced the atmosphere. Hearts were deeply touched. Members of the audience lingered long beyond the concert, until after 3 a.m., as the team prayed for and led great numbers to the Lord.

What followed from that concert was a chance meeting with a Catholic Cardinal (Karol Yozef Wojty?a) who subsequently opened the doors to Living Sound for another concert in Eastern Europe, this one with over 100,000 in attendance. This Cardinal went on to become Pope John Paul II.

Strategy in the Face of Darkness
These events were strategic. They were a part of the change of seasons underway at that time. They were a part of God’s strategy to break the stranglehold of the brutal persecution against His people. The spiritual climate change that resulted became a part of the spiritual reverberations and strategies that has since changed nations.

Subsequently, within another time-frame, as the iron curtain was falling, a similar and parallel strategy emerged. This strategy targeted the “lost sheep of the House of Israel.” Jonathan Bernis, along with the Messianic Jewish praise group, Kol Simcha (Joyful Noise), began identifying key strongholds in Eastern Europe, the Former Soviet Union and other lands, in which to hold stadium-sized festivals to attract the persecuted Jews of these areas. Our first God’s economy workshop was for a vibrant Messianic Jewish congregation that was birthed following one of these festivals in Eastern Europe.

What began with our first God’s economy workshop has been a part of God’s strategies. These efforts taken to targeted groups of the persecuted and oppressed have exceeded chance expectations in the way they have taken root. That’s because they have been a part of these initiatives, birthed by God, to restore His people in lands of persecution.

Diverse but Parallel Streams
A wide range of brethren from diverse segments of the Body responded to God’s heart during those days with effective and parallel strategies to assist the persecuted.

I spent many years on the board of a ministry, in which one of its founders, during the days of the Iron and Bamboo Curtains, made many dangerous, yet timely, undercover trips into “closed-access” nations to impart words of wisdom, to pray with, and to encourage the leaders among the persecuted brethren.

In instance after instance, I recall how within months, that reports of changes came, that exceeded human capabilities, which only could have been the result of the Hand of God. These divinely ordained connections with those who many had forgottten, like the efforts of Living Sound and Kol Simcha, were matters very close to God’s heart and as such, an important part of His strategies being released. These initiatives were birthed during as well as following, days of revival.

The Shift
Change results when God’s people, as a whole, fervently seek Him. When that fervency wanes, darkness finds subtle inroads. Historically, the seedbed for revival is either a time of deep moral darkness, national depression or severe persecution. While evil’s seeds of destruction provoke these factors, when amassed and combined with God’s people truly seeking Him, they trigger God’s judgment.
“While following the way of your judgments, we have eagerly waited for You. At night my soul longs for You. Indeed my spirit seeks you diligently. For when the earth experiences Your judgments, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.”
Isa 26:8-9

So, at the change of a generation, which has so incredibly rolled back the tentacles of persecution in lands defying religious freedom, has come a creeping evil. Its target is the foundations of religious freedom in these free societies.

The right response of God’s people in times of both persecution and creeping evil is a fervent focus on God’s ancient standards of seeking Him. When that takes place with broad consistency, God releases strategies for change. God’s strategies spark miracles. God’s strategies penetrate darkness with tangible spiritual climate change.

However, with the waning, has come a shift in the spiritual tempo of our times. With that shift in the spiritual tempo, has come a shift in strategies. The message for “free societies” now comes from brethren in lands of persecution, who have paid high costs for their religious freedoms. The message taps the shift in strategy for lands of “freedom,” where evil subtly, but systematically has been eroding religious freedoms.

Responding to the Shift
Responding strategically to the tempo of the times requires a war-time mind-set. It demands the courage of Elijah to confront evil and a willingness to risk all. It calls for repentant, forgiving hearts with an acceptance of the diversity represented in the various streams comprising the Body. These factors carry the need for a maturity that reflects the discipline to diligently seek God and His priorities, with a revelation of our identity in God, that we are who God says we are, and as such, a light shining on a hill that cannot be hidden.

A War-Time Mind-Set. Far too many within the Western Church have become complacent to the systematic erosion of both righteous standards and the freedoms at the foundation of our society. It is time to draw a line in the sand. There is a war underway that is both spiritual and cultural. There is a critical need to embrace a way of thinking, a war-time mind-set that responds in a manner parallel to the days of WWII, when our freedom was seriously brought into question.

Elijah-Level of Courage to Confront Evil. Elijah put his life on the line in confronting the prophets of baal and asherah. Yet, it wasn’t done arbitrarily. It was God’s strategy and Elijah was God’s champion to draw the line in the sand. Elijah not only brought judgment upon the perpetrators of the spiritual erosion evident among God’s people, but he demonstrated the reality of God to bring restoration to those who were being subjected to the seductions.

Sacrificial Hearts Poised to Quickly Repent and Forgive. During war-time, the expectation is for everyone to be sacrificially operating with and moving toward the same objectives. That requires hearts to be right before God and those we live and work with. We cannot afford the luxury of being offended. We need one another. One of the primary indicators of this type of heart is the readiness to repent when wrong, along with a heart that quickly forgives.

Maturity to Grasp the Essentials of Common Ground. Maturity and being of one accord go hand-in-hand. We work on doing that with those we consider kindred spirits, those with whom we choose to worship. However, there are many streams within the Body with many significant, yet diverse functions. None have the full picture. Yet, we need to understand the essentials, the primary things, representing the common ground of our faith and to embrace a respectful acceptance of the functional and even doctrinal diversity that is comprised within the Body.

Discipline to Diligently Seek God and His Heart Priorities. War-time requires great discipline and sacrifice on the part of all. That begins with giving our first priority to our time spent with the Lord. Seeking God should always be our first priority, but the reality is that there is a tendency toward slippage that comes during the comforts of peace-time settings. The discipline required to diligently seek God’s heart and align ourselves with it is critical for this change in seasons.

Unequivocal Identity in God. It takes an unequivocal revelation of one’s identity in God to survive the brutalities of persecution. That means understanding what God’s word says about who we are and what our role is in this world. That viewpoint should define our priorities. The root of our standing strong in the fire of adversity begins with our identity in Him. That requires a proactive renewing of our minds with His truth and an interactive prayer life that has a foundation in Psalm 15, of speaking truth within our own hearts.

The story unveiled in “A Song in Siberia” gives evidence of how congregation after congregation, at great personal cost, embraced the essentials of Kingdom priorities with one accord. Leaders were jailed. Some were martyred. Despite that, new leaders came to the plate. Against all odds, they prevailed. The fire of persecution not only melded them together, but became a demonstration, a witness, of the reality of God that shouted at their neighbors. Great numbers came to the Lord because of the faithful response of the believers, to God and to each other, despite the harshness of the persecution.

Strategies for the Times
Jesus gave a strong admonition to be alert to the signs of the times and the change in seasons (Luke 12:54-56). The US is divided. Russia is advancing its territories. Rogue states are thumbing their noses at the West. Terrorism and lawlessness abound. Alliances of totalitarians and Muslims threaten advances in Africa. In the face of these developments, those now emerging from years of severe religious persecution are a model for us, in lands where freedom and culture are at-risk.

Jesus came to refocus things, to restore the true foundations for those whose identities are in God. He came to raise the bar. So it is today, that the bar needs to be raised. Jesus came to give us the tactical means to pierce the veil and establish God’s domain, His Kingdom, in what the Apostle Paul referred to as “the bondage of corruption” and what Pope John Paul II famously referred to as “the culture of death.” So it is today, that there is nothing new under the sun.

Centuries ago, God spoke to Abraham and told him to leave his family and his nation. What he left was the land of the Chaldeans, the heart of sorcery and the occult. Today, we need to draw the same line in the sand. We need to call the culture of death for what it is: the occult seedbed for activities of Satan. We need to recognize that our lives have been bought with a price and that our citizenship is first, as God’s people.

The core message from those emerging from the fire is one of stewardship: to prepare and make the decisions of life, as if our freedom might be lost, but to pray fervently to preserve those freedoms, and to live our lives with a faithfulness to God and to the brethren, so that those around us will recognize the difference.
“The servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.”
  Luke 12:47

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