Years ago, the advertising world coined the phrase and began leveraging: “the perception being the reality.” The context, while working on my masters program in the early 70s with journalism studies, was in the importance given to verifying facts, as well as in conducting scrupulous research toward the goal of accurate and truthful reporting. What was known then as advocacy journalism was simply a small segment of journalism’s quest for integrity and responsibility with “reporting.”
Two and a half decades following my time of training in this discipline, a book titled “Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distorts News,” hit the charts. Its review by the Wall Street Journal described: “….stories of repulsive elitism and prejudice on the part of his peers that elevates “Bias” into a must-read status. . . . his case being airtight.”
The author, having covered news stories all over the world, along with being awarded six Emmy awards for excellence in broadcast journalism at his network, short-circuited the fast-track he was on, because he held a greater value for truth and integrity than adhering to the expected narrative.
This growing and often blatant trend has evolved into black being presented as white and white as black. Coupled with the compounding of the influence of social media, which fosters opinion being presented as fact, accurately processing reality can require the need for something more.
The Presentation of Reality
That something-more in the presentation of reality is Truth.
Truth begins at the heart-level. The Psalmist (Psalm 15) describes a series of factors tied to what is on the one hand success, but within that context, stresses the importance of facing reality in order to overcome the snares and pitfalls of the toxic world surrounding a people of Truth. At the core of the Psalmist’s revelation is speaking truth in our own hearts. Doing so begins with being brutally honest with ourselves, getting beyond the superficial: first with our identities and then with the thinking that determines how we respond to and process reality.
How reality is processed and presented by those around us trickles down to impact the thinking across a range from the highest to the lowest in a society. As believers, facing and processing truth, begins the very basis of our roles as reflectors of these realties, in light of the Truth. So, in consistently serving in the role as reflectors of reality will result in our vital function of being standard-bearers of salt and Light for the One we serve.
Yet, the challenge in serving this role and function is expressed by Solomon: of there being nothing new under the sun. During a time in which the encroaching darkness was penetrating the household of faith, during the days of Elijah a serious distortion of reality was reaching the level of being overwhelming. Elijah was subsequently sent by God to set a standard and to demonstrate the authority of God against the distorters, the false prophets together with an anemically weak king whose blindness and mode yielded to evil; then to remove this incursion of evil that had infiltrated the government of God.
Despite Elijah’s courageous and over-the-top herculean assignment with the false prophets, his effort to uphold this standard was followed by him seemingly running out of steam and hitting a wall. It was a time in which the Lord supernaturally needed to strengthen Elijah to provide a reset for Elijah’s own grasp of reality as he was impacted and overwhelmed by Jezebel’s empty threats. In reality strangely, his reaction was to the very thing he had just dismantled. His subsequent encounter with God in the cave served to dispel his misperceptions and weakened grasp of reality; to focus his thinking in preparing Elijah for what was to be the most strategic assignment of his life.
Elijah’s stumbling that followed calling down the fire and his dramatic encounter with the prophets of baal and asherah was not unlike Moses’ dilemma following God’s series of judgments on Egypt: as before Moses was the Red Sea and behind him, the approaching threat of the Egyptians.
Yet, God had to restore Moses’ focus of reality with the instruction that began with asking: “Why are you crying out to me? It is time to move forward, just stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it.” In seeing the approaching Egyptians, Moses’ focus had shifted from the incredible series of judgments he had actuated upon the Egyptians … to being overwhelmed by Pharaoh’s response to what his actions had set in motion.
The Battle for the Mind
The battle for Elijah and Moses, as it is for us today, is in the mind.
Again, it was and is an issue of focus; in discerning, giving attention to and then acting on central issues, rather than being seduced into a obsessing on minor, less important issues, ones that tend to blind God’s supernatural power.
The impact of their adversaries’ response on both Elijah’s and Moses’ thinking resulted in them beginning to flounder. They floundered in recognizing the authority in which they had already been operating. At the core of the function of leadership is the ability to influence. Perceiving reality accurately requires focused thinking. The ability to maintain such focus entails maintenance to be able to discern central issues: Truth from God’s perspective.
Short-sighted thinking can result from becoming battle weary. Paul speaks of the need of the endurance needed to see the bigger, God-picture tied to the importance of what previous actions have been designed to set the stage for.
The previous, albeit spectacular judgments actuated by both Elijah and Moses were not an end in themselves. They had served to set the stage for an entirely new season of much, much more than had been operating before. As it is today, it was a transition of significance that required a far higher dimension of response – and greater focus for the thinking that determined the influence – even for these elite among the heroes of faith.
When spiritual toxicity begins peaking, access to what is required for a Kingdom response takes on new dimensions. More of the same harder is no longer enough. Allowing what can be the seductive feeling or emotive level to rule is a path of self-destruction. Nor will intellectual purity open the gates. Again, the need is for “something more.”
It is noteworthy that the words Jesus used to introduce the central message of His earthly ministry were: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” At its most basic level, this admonition to repent means to change your thinking. Yet, the Kingdom does not operate on the basis of our natural way of thinking. It requires the spiritual dimension and God-perspective.
The Kingdom of God is an anomaly to our standard, even brilliant worldly thinking. We live by dying. We gain by giving. We lead by serving. We pray for our persecutors. We love our enemies. We advance by yielding. Our strength is manifested through weakness. What doesn’t compute in our natural response in processing reality – is coming to the forefront of the focus for those with the mantles as game-changers.
Understanding the Times
The year of 2020 and even more so, the beginning months of 2021 have carried a strong sense of a major reset, with the foundations being significantly reordered. A major reset to make stable the pathway of the season upon us. This reset for those willing to change their thinking and response to their “perception of reality,” has been underway for those able to stay the course and operate outside their comfort zones, as agents of the Kingdom.
For over two decades, each year I’ve prepared my heart for my role in participating in this unfolding drama by immersing myself in a swath of Scripture. It has been a part of the spiritual maintenance needed for any who intend on making an impact. The swath of Scripture I’ve compiled for 2021 with this current sequence of His Truth seems to shout toward this end of the reset needed to overcome the challenge to begin initiating exploits: “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Ps 11:3
The foundations are where it begins and ends. I’ve often observed that while I love the deep things of God, the foundations always return to “the simple things.”
So, the answer is clear: “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” Ps 56: 3-4 Then the resounding Messianic scripture, that contextually seems to point to the role of those called as game-players, mobilized to bring restoration to these very shaken foundations: “For thus says the LORD of hosts: He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me.” Zech 2:8-9
With that expectation is the admonition of holding steady during this time of alignment: “Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. For, even today I declare that I will restore double to you.” Zech 9:12
I’ve expressed it before: that we are closing in on an amazing time, unlike what any of us have seen in our lifetimes.
The Season and Need for Maintenance
We’ve entered a season prophesied by Jesus of when even the elect would be pushed beyond their limits. The need for spiritual maintenance is serious and reaches past what most of this generation have ever experienced. The response involves discipline and it involves the willingness to do what is needed to retool our thinking: to maintain the faith and focused required for the God-perspective.
On a Personal Level. Jesus spent entire nights in the Presence of the Father. He likewise had a mastery of Scripture. On a personal level, the discipline for spiritual maintenance begins with immersing yourself in God’s Presence and Truth. That includes the balance required between Spirit and Truth.
Controlling Toxic Input. Solomon stressed the importance of guarding our hearts. It was an admonition surrounding what he went on to explain that from our hearts would evolve the issues of life. This being how we would respond to the realities around us, which included the challenge of the seductive illusions comprising the narratives that result from the dark side, designed to influence and capture what lies in our emotions, then our thinking.
Moses knew. He made it clear to those he had led out of bondage: before you are the issues of life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose Life that both your seed and you might live.
The Role of Forgiveness. Over the years my counselor-wife has advised literally hundreds that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Forgiveness initiates the deliverance in which we all need to walk. It involves a pathway of genuine freedom, without the residue of what others may have done to us. It is the first step in rooting out parasitical toxicity that resides within our memory-banks, key in the renewal of our minds.
The Discipline of Renewing Your Mind. Regularly exposing yourself to God’s Truth, His Word is a needed discipline to walking a Spirit-filled life. With it is an exercise the Lord gave me years ago, in proactively praying for those who in one way or another had adversely impacted my life.
I made two lists: one being of those who might be considered my Job-friends, those whose words had wrongly judged or accused, resulting in them vocally expressing wrong conclusions about me. The second list, one I had to seek God to better discern, were those who in one way or another had cursed me.
For each one on these lists, I would fervently pray the Lord would fill them with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding; that the love of God would be shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit; and that they would be delivered from the bondage of corruption and their tainted thinking.
Doing so, almost immediately there came a sense of being released, of piercing the darkness that had become such an encumbrance. But there is more. It involves actively engaging with others.
Momentum from Interacting with Others. Jesus selected an inner-circle that He groomed and mentored to not just uphold His standard, but to assume His legacy. This strategy was based on the small group Jewish foundation of Jewish community: the minyan. Whenever ten Jews live within walking distance of one another, they begin meeting for two primary purposes: first to pray and seek God and second to help one another become more successful in their identity and the purpose of the vocation of their journey.
It is about engaging with others in directed Spirit-led prayer: engaging with others as regular prayer-partners, participating in interactive prayer gatherings … all as the basis for building one another up in community. Such should become the regular basis of piercing the darkness during challenging times.
Piercing the Darkness
Piercing the darkness involves action. Piercing the darkness as a feeling is an illusion. As an intellectual proposition, it is not enough. Feelings ultimately betray and undermine. Truth requires action.
Piercing the darkness is a choice and a discipline. A discipline based on a faith and the thinking that draws uniquely from rightly processed reality and Truth.
Scripture tells us that Jesus was made perfect through suffering. Without touching on the deeper message of suffering, that simply means that Jesus was made whole and complete through what He did and experienced. James gives the strong admonishment to be doers of the Word and not simply hearers. There’s a time, a transition when believers need to get out of the pews and be activated.
As a participant of the early days of the Charismatic renewal, one of my fondest memories was simply the wonder of what was actuated from participating in small, simple, interactive prayer meetings. Praying out loud for another, having the courage of sharing a scripture that came to mind …. then finding that it meant more to the recipient than we could have imagined.
My recollections also include ones I have worked with and been mentored by from the academic community. One of my chief mentors was responsible in the late 80s for the launch of a technology incubator that became a phenomenon at Cambridge University. He was a practitioner, a doer in his area of expertise which he skillfully imparted to others. On the other end of the spectrum were ones with similar backgrounds, but whose profound intellectual expertise never crossed that boundary in the application of their capabilities.
So it is with far too many attempting to process reality in today’s toxic spiritual environment. Their bondage is not that of Egypt or the perversions coming from a weakened government of God, but rather in their minds. For some it is being stuck in the emotive level. For others, it is the limitations of the intellectual without action. For both, the transition is the age-old answer of the humility needed to repent, to change their thinking. And to be activated.
Another of those milestone memories for me involved a time when I had pulled out the stops in terms of my commitment: having put a fast-track career on the altar; downsizing my living conditions from a 3500 square foot home to a 28 foot motor home for a family of five with one on the way and then, despite having an undergrad degree from a prestigious university, again becoming an undergraduate to prepare myself within a believer-context for the journey God had before me; then with our baby being born and three weeks later, dying.
Intellectually, I had no answers. On a feeling level, I had never before experienced the laughter of darkness, but an hour before the doctor called to tell us that our baby had died, I consciously heard it.
Before me was a choice, as there is before many today a choice. My choice at that time and still now is the choice for Life. This journey, in reality, is a narrow corridor between Life and death. Choosing Life will involve accurately processing the surrounding reality.
So it was then in a note to those who had responded to our grief in the loss of our child, that I expressed that choice and sentiment from the life of Job that: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Despite his extreme response, Job’s almost desperate choice dramatically launched him into an entirely new dimension in his relationship with God that became the most blessed and fruitful time of his life.
Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and voice for the higher dimensions of spiritual game-changers and intercessors since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program and the Jewish Business Secrets YouTube series, Mr. Ruddick equips economic community builders with strategy where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
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