The Simple Things
In God’s economy of things, more often than not, it will be the simple things that trigger the supernatural, that dimension of God that cannot be stopped.
There came a time in Jesus’ earthly ministry when He prayed: “I thank You Father, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and delivered them to babes.” Long before that, during an important time of restoration for God’s people, the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel was to pay attention and not to despise small beginnings, albeit the simple things.
Why? For the same reason: it’s the way our faith works. The simplicity of the process would remain hidden from the smarts of the self-absorbed and skeptics.
Unfortunately, over the years too many of the most basic and simultaneously profound spiritual facets of our faith have been either deleted or watered down. At the core are the basics that Jesus, as the Jewish Messiah came to raise the bar on … higher dimensions of the foundational truths … truths that He never came to replace. At one point in His earthly sojourn He was pressed and asked for the bottom line to what He was spiritually imparting. Each of the Synoptic Gospels records His response basically with:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and all your mind and all your strength. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The admonition and priority of loving God was repeatedly made in the early chapters of Deuteronomy, being uniquely tied to becoming a recipient of God’s blessings. While there still is much that the Church might glean from the Jewish grasp of community and a genuine love response to those He labeled neighbors, Jesus took the Jewish grasp of community a step further, raising the bar, indicating that this foundational practice of community should tap the standard of loving our neighbor as ourselves. Captured in the book of John, Jesus later expanded this notion to the leaders He had selected as His most trusted emissaries, indicating:
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down his life for his friends.”
The Priority of the Simple Things
While in prayer following a venture into Vietnam in early 2018, the Lord impressed upon me the importance of the simple things. It is in recognizing the simplicity and the faithful response of listening hearts that God does some of His most profound works.
I love the deep things of God. I love just sitting in the consciousness of His presence. I’m awed by the wonders of His ways and the richness of His thoughts and truths. Yet in the practicalities of life, in walking out a life of godly purpose, it will be the glimmers we capture from Him that we act on, the simple things, that will make the biggest difference.
This was the way it was on that particular 2018 venture into Vietnam. In recognizing that realm beyond ourselves, there came a shift. Just a simple change, yet built upon all that we had already been setting in motion.
The Aggregate and God-Factor in the Journey
Following similar, very dramatic developments, after our first year of these efforts in Vietnam in 2008, I had asked the Lord why all these wonderful developments had not begun just a few years prior, when I was younger and better able to take advantage of them. The response was immediate: “Because in your weakness, My strength will be manifested.” I was 65 at the time these Vietnam opportunities had begun to materialize.
Life is never static, but requires the continual recognition and application of the creative, anticipatory God-responses to the change continually happening around us, the simple things. Then, I was reminded of still another very similar shift, roughly six years ago.
Vision Becoming Reality
At one of our workshops during that Vietnam trip was a man who had attended one of our first God’s economy workshops in 2008. We remembered each other. At the time, before him was a risk, a step of faith in acquiring some land on which he was going to grow fruit. My workshop message stirred his faith and his thinking. I remember praying for him and advising him. He began implementing the Kingdom principles tied to entering God’s economy and believing that God was guiding him. So he moved on the opportunity.
Today, the fertile land he purchased supports an orchard of one of the popular fruits in Asia. The venture has prospered and far exceeded his expectations. It began with the simplicity of a vision. Then with a balanced mix of professional preparation and prayer, he stepped out in faith. The Lord blessed his efforts. In turn, he has blessed many people, becoming a man of influence. Today, his vision has expanded and he is a benefactor of the community of which he is a part.
Triggering the Vision
So it has been for another businessman we’ve been close to since the start of what to date has been more than three years on the ground in Vietnam since 2008. I recall sharing with this man the story of a unique community of believers in Eastern Europe, a part of the Former Soviet Union, who had the vision to start the first private Christian school in their nation.
Knowing there would be hurdles of bureaucracy and red-tape, the community decided to begin with a private Christian kindergarten. The start was rough with it taking five attempts of submitting the application which was finally approved. Then, over time it flourished and grew into a much sought-after primary school that was so excellent that even local non-Christians wanted their children to attend, despite its foundations being based on Biblical teachings. Twelve years later, at the time of our visit, they had gained the respect of their entire city and had just opened their secondary school.
In telling this story to our Vietnamese friend, an accomplished business owner, he breathlessly told me: THAT was his vision. So he began with simplicity. I encouraged and prayed together with him. Remarkably he built a building with little support from the West. The first step for that building was to house orphans he had adopted and was already raising. He also used the facility for English classes for children in the neighborhood. Indeed, Jesus punctuated the truth that he who is faithful in what is least will also be faithful in much more; the simple things.
Then, having done his homework by speaking with other private school owners, this man made application to open a private kindergarten. The application was approved. His English and Vietnamese bi-lingual school not only has over 50 students, but during the COVID crisis they used their kitchen facilities to prepare meals for an under-supplied, understaffed local hospital. What has resulted from these steps has become a Light in a culture that has never heard of Noah, Moses or for that matter Jesus … serving its neighborhood village with special classes and Christian festivals on holidays. The simple things.
To catch the simple things, you have to be listening. Listening with your heart.
Faithfulness in the Simple Things
One of the pastors we have an extensive relationship in working with has a very tender heart toward orphans. In addition to the network of churches he oversees, he has played a role in starting and now supports a rural orphanage, young ones rescued from the human trafficking that flourishes in unprotected tribal areas. His effort currently has a well-built facility, dedicated staff and more than a hundred orphans, whose ages range from six to sixteen.
One of the events shaping this pastor’s life happened when he was a young boy in the 1960s. He was impacted by the Toys for Tots program, a Christmas program that US Marines put on for local kids. In this case the program was done for Vietnamese kids during the Vietnam conflict.
The Marines played Christmas carols, fed the kids and gave them each a gift. They showed them kindness. Interesting that this matter of kindness … so foundational to loving your neighbor that Jesus spoke about …. is so evident in today’s Jewish culture. Indeed, does not the Hebrew Bible state that “what is desired in a man is kindness?” For that matter, in Jewish culture, one of the facets defining the exceptional woman comes from the scripture: “…and on her tongue is the law of kindness.” In today’s atmosphere of criticism and one-ups-manship, we might do well to be keenly listening for the tongues that impart kindness.
The ripples of the kindness from Toys for Tots impacting this boy, who would one day become an underground pastor, came at a time when life was very uncertain in Vietnam …. with this man’s remembrance of this kindness, influencing his motivation to reach out in organizing his effort to rescue these orphans. Many of the trips we have made to Vietnam have included a suitcase filled with small chocolate candies for this pastor, who then gives them to the orphans and the young people in his congregations. Children remember kindness. It is the simple things that matter.
The Simplicity of Opportunity
So it was in early 2008, while speaking at a conference in mainland China that the invitation came to us to go to Vietnam to speak to an underground congregation on Easter Sunday. Having spent two years in Vietnam in the 1960s and having prayed fervently for the post-1975 Vietnamese church, my joy was full.
I had nothing to prove to anyone. Not at the age of 65 at the time. Still, God had stirred something deep in my heart, tied to His own priorities. The response was just one of those simple things.
Yet, in the simplicity of that short trip, that simple step of faith, it became a new beginning. The doors opened for a whole new arena that far, far exceeded my expectations. So it has been, that almost a decade and a half later that we’re still facing the realities of the challenges, but in doing so, are still walking out God’s unique expanding opportunities, as we adjust to face the shift in the seasons … to embrace new and even more vital and strategic arenas of opportunity.
From the simple steps of preparation and obedience we are made to realize that we are continually stepping into entire new dimensions of what the Lord has in store for us. While chaos, corruption and dishonest scales both within and outside the community of believers, around the world, may be on the increase, so are the God-opportunities, if we’ll just keep our eyes on the Lord and the simplicity of the turning points unfolding.
A recent kind note from a close friend and long-time working associate gave reference to my “late-in-life calling.” That phrase, describing our current efforts bothered me. It wasn’t right, as what I have been doing began when I made a conscious decision to commit all I was and had been, my career, my future, my life to the Lord. Each new season of opportunity has become the culmination of a series of responses to a life of walking together with the Lord. I’ve consciously avoided the glitter, fame and manipulation too commonly accepted as the pathways to success in my pursuit of “ministry.”
Yet, the “late-in-life” description wasn’t “late” as the timing has dovetailed progressively with something significant God has been doing all along. For that matter, when you really come down to it, this season really wasn’t about me, but rather the uniqueness of the alignment of my life to His, which then set the stage for each unfolding season of opportunity.
The Timing and Response to What Lies Ahead
Having said all that, the timing of the “opportunity” ahead points to still another and even more significant season of fruit-bearing. As we see through a mirror darkly there will come a penetrating of the veil for this new season. It will involve knowing who you can depend on as Jesus-defined friends … as both our community of believers and genuine family.
It all draws from the simplicity of the life-choices made that result from spending time with Him, of knowing Him and His ways and acting on the promptings of His Holy Spirit. What we refer to as ministry is simply the overflow from these responses. So it has been that over the years, as the Lord has guided my steps, gifting me with His concepts of business and community … that I have been used in ways I never could have been used in traditional ministry.
It has been a path that has reshaped my thinking from what most would consider a traditional calling or ministry. Highlighting the impact, I have guided others in the start of over a dozen ministries. I have served on the boards of numerous ministries and missionary organizations, the results of which have had a worldwide outreach and always been tied back to the priority of God’s heart, Israel. I have consulted with and had a major influence with both ministry and secular organizations around the world … some being a part of the top Fortune 500 companies.
Then, with the opportunity in Vietnam, came a “later-in-life opportunity” part of my calling. Thousands have been exposed to Kingdom thinking and God’s economy in the workshops I designed and imparted, which have spanned five continents. Hundreds have taken simple steps to start businesses large enough to feed a family … and begun to be used by God as community builders as they have prospered and grown and become people of influence, in serving their communities.
It was all part of the process; the mosaic that God was weaving into the tapestry of my life and the biblical model He has entrusted me to impart along the way. All of which has set in motion ripples from each of the lives and callings prompted by the richness of the Kingdom truths of our message.
That seems to be the way the simple things operate.
Simple Steps of Prayer, Strategy, Writing and Influence
In conclusion, what God has done through me over the years has been through what He has leveraged through the simplicity of my time in prayer …. and from that, in developing strategy and then capturing that with my writing … with the ripples of influence that have resulted in its application.
My seven Kingdom books have defined and been forerunners in the marketplace ministry movement. They have augmented my God’s economy program and influenced the callings of leaders and community builders on five continents. The foundational message of the God’s economy program in turn was slightly modified to tap a wider audience with 24 fourteen minute videos on Jewish Business Secrets available on YouTube. These combine with a host of articles written for spiritual marketplace leaders reflected in the SIGN and Joseph-Daniel calling audiences since the publishing of my latest book in 2016 …. all serving as resources for those with faith-walks that are reaching for these higher dimensions in God.
Since our last return from Vietnam in early 2020, I have given keen focus to the care needed for my partner and best friend who became my bride in early 1971. In the same way that we have faced challenges over the years …. together …. we have progressively grappled with and pushed back the curse of advanced Alzheimer’s. The simple things also pivot on such things as commitment and sacrificial kindness.
Going through the good and the challenging together should be the mark distinguishing all believer communities. Indeed, it the mark of how Jesus defined friendship, for relationships that matter. It was for these that Jesus raised the bar in pointing to that greater love. This greater love is that which taps the willingness to sacrifice even our lives for our friends. Such truths tend to cut through the clutter and clamor and foolishness that seem to abound in today’s world of selfish ambitions and superficialities.
These are the truths based on the simple things that we need to maintain, as we tap the dimension of manifesting His Kingdom in the world around us.
As I pause in entering what I sense will prove to be a challenging, yet the most strategic of seasons, I’m deeply grateful for the prayers and support of those of you who have contributed to and are contributing to making our simple journey and its impact possible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. May the unique dynamic of God’s economy bring you the multiplication of blessing and increase tied to your very meaningful prayers, generosity and friendship.
“Shout for joy, O barren, desolate one. Enlarge the place of your tent and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out. Do not hold back, lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left and your offspring will dispossess nations. Fear not, for you will not be ashamed. Do not be confounded, for you will not be disgraced. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of Hosts is His Name, the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer.” Is 54:1-5
In His love and mine,
Morris E. Ruddick
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