Ridge Burns's blog

An Unlikely Missionary

The Bible is full of characters who you never think would be valid, qualified missionaries. For example, Rahab: her line of work doesn't exactly fit into most evangelical circles. Paul persecuted Christians. He had a letter authorizing him to arrest them and drag them back to Jerusalem to put them on trial. And yet God broke into his life on the Damascus road. Gideon was afraid, small, and had bad self-esteem, but God said, “Hey mighty warrior, you’re going to lead the Israelites in defeating the enemies that are surrounding them.” God is not done using unlikely people to do amazing things. Recently, I was on a call interviewing a potential new missionary. He began to tell me a little bit about his life and it was all about how he's not qualified: not good enough, not strong or wise enough, not enough experience, not enough faith—everything was not enough. I finally had to say to him, “Listen, you're in the best spot possible because you're in good company with those in God's word who were the most unlikely candidates. God's going to use you in powerful ways.” His face lit up. He smiled and began to look more confident and said, “I understand, but I still feel like I'm not worthy.” Let me just say this to those of you who may be reading this blog and have had that same feeling: Jesus is enough. God is enough. You don't need to add anything. You don't need to get a call and add education or experience or finance or whatever. Jesus is enough. If He has called you and you are obedient, He will take care of you.

Promises

In Hebrews 6:19 it says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” What is that anchor? The anchor is God's word, God's promises, and God’s inability to lie. God is all truth and what He says is true will happen, and that becomes our anchor. That becomes what we hook into to hold us during turbulent times. We have this hope as an anchor for our soul: strong, firm, and secure. When we anchor into God’s promises, we anchor into God's character. And God’s character is always for our good. God's character is always designed to help us be all that He wants us to be. Bill Johnson once said that God answers prayers with His promises and I think that’s true. When we are unsure of our faith, our hope becomes an anchor for our souls. When we're in turbulent times we guard the gift of the Holy Spirit inside us that brings us into hope and to wisdom. What exactly is an anchor? An anchor is there to keep the ship from wandering off or from being in a place where it drifts. So, when we have this hope, God's promises, His character, and His unchangeability become our anchor. And we will stand firm.

The Good Deposit

There's an interesting verse in 2 Timothy 1:14 that says, “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” When I was in seminary, we were taught that the deposit is “true doctrine”; it's making sure that scripture is sound. Verse 13 leading into verse 14 says, “What you have heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching…Guard the good deposit…” So, there's a sense that this good deposit is the gospel. It’s right theology. It's what you believe. It's not polluting or diluting or ignoring this deposit of good, solid theology. But I think there's something more to this deposit. I think God deposits his Holy Spirit in a unique way into each one of us, which is perfectly crafted for us. He takes into consideration our station in life, our maturity in Christ, our giftedness, and our abilities and skills. God deposits the Holy Spirit inside of us to become the landscape for all good things from the Lord to grow from. We have to guard that deposit because we can pollute it so quickly. We can begin to rely on our own skills and talents and God says, “I've given you a deposit. Live within that deposit because there's life in there.” So, the question becomes, what is the deposit that God has placed in us? What is it that's unique to us? What is our unique mantle that we hold on our shoulders? I believe without a doubt that a clear understanding of scripture, as scripture speaks for itself, is part of this deposit. But I think the deposit also includes the giftedness that God has given to us. We need to express our faith within that giftedness. There are times when...

What is in God's Hands?

I think we’ve all sung the song “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” and while that’s true, is there anything else in God’s hands? When you do a study of God's hands in scripture you find that it talks about His “right hand of power.” He has hands of mercy, and of grace. His hands show us belonging when He says, “I hold you in my arms and my hands.” I love that. If you looked at Jesus’ hands, like Thomas did, you could see the nail holes, pierced for our sins and for our salvation. Then there's a really interesting description of God's hands in Isaiah 49. This chapter is about the restoration of the nation of Israel when God gathers them back together in powerful ways for the future. In verse 16 it says, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” He looks at the nation of Israel and says, “I can't neglect you because I'm reminded when I look at the palms of my hands that I've engraved you there.” Now, I hate it when people write notes to themselves on the palms of their hands. I want them to get a piece of paper and write their note there. Writing on your hand just seems sloppy to me. But on the other hand, when you write something in the palm of your hands, you can't ignore it. It's right there with you. So, thank God that He’s engraved you on the palm of His hands! He has put you in a place where He can't forget you. He says, “See, I know you. I know who you are, and I know how you are going to be blessed as we walked together in Kingdom work.”

Human Contact

Last Saturday night, five of us got together because we simply were tired of not talking to human beings. We got tired of Zoom, tired of the phone, tired of FaceTime and Facebook. We were tired of everything being virtual, and all we wanted to do was sit around the table and talk. It was so good! A couple of the people who we gathered with have reason to be very concerned about the virus and so we practiced everything we could to make everyone feel safe and secure. We went around the circle and talked about what's happening to us during this pandemic. We shared about what’s really difficult for us in the part of us that nobody sees. We hung out from 7:00pm until 10:00pm and could have gone a lot longer. It was great! You know why? Human contact. It wasn't drive-in church or virtual church, it was brothers and sisters in Christ gathering together simply to be able to have contact with each other—to be a community. Jesus tells us in kind of a roundabout way how important this is. Remember that Jesus was confronted with some lepers, and if you were a leper in that time no one talked to you. You were isolated—quarantined—forever. The Bible says Jesus touched the leper skin to skin, human being to human being, and that was amazing. So, I would encourage you if you're stuck in this pandemic and feel alone and isolated, find a way to safely have human contact, it's essential to life.

The Blood of Jesus Christ

For a decade I led a large conference center in Southern California called Forest Home. One of our musicians there loved the old hymn “God Leads His Dear Children Along.” One of the verses of that hymn says: Some through the waters, some through the flood, Some through the fire, but all through the blood; Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song, In the night season and all the day long. I love that verse because it points us to the blood of Christ which cleanses us from all unrighteousness. The blood of Christ has power, forgiveness, love, and mercy. The blood of Christ changes us and gives us hope. I was listening to a podcast a couple weeks ago that was talking about the pandemic. The host of the podcast said, “You need to understand that one drop of the blood of Christ would banish this virus from the whole earth.” One drop! Not even the “fountain that flows with the blood of Christ,” not all of the incredible amount of forgiveness there—just one drop, because there's power in the blood. We all know there's wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb. But somehow the translation between what we know about the blood and how we apply the blood seems to get lost in our culture and our society today. I think it's because we've never really placed ourselves under the blood of Christ to wash us clean, to reorient us, and to reboot us to true North. We haven’t allowed ourselves to experience a place where only He exists—and it only exists for those who have been washed in the blood. “Some through the waters, some through the flood. Some through the fire, but all through the blood.” The blood of Jesus Christ has power...

Wait in the City

The last sentence recorded in the book of Luke that Jesus said to his disciples before he ascended into heaven was this, “I'm going to send you what the Father has promised, but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” It seems to me that that's one of the things that's missing from most spiritual Christian relationships with Christ; where is the power? Where is the ability for us to access what is already ours through the work of Christ? Where is it in the church and in Christian fellowship? Where is our casting out of demons and healing people just like in the book of Acts? I don't think the book of Acts was a transition book. I think it's meant to be a normative experience for believers today. “Wait in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” I have a friend who tells a story about when he bought a new lawnmower. His wife started using the lawnmower and was pushing and pushing it. She kept complaining about how hard it was to push, until he showed her that it was a self-propelled lawnmower. All she had to do was push a lever down, and the lawnmower practically moved by itself. It didn’t take any effort because it had power generated not from the user but from inside the lawnmower. Could it be that we do many things that are meant to be spiritual, but we're doing them in our own power? What we need to do is “wait in the city” and the Father has promised that He's going to give us something even better than Christ—the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s amazing that we are able to have the same power that raised Jesus...

Amazing Verses in the Bible, Part 3

There is no one in the Bible who reveals to us the transformation of our character and our self-view as much as Gideon. The amazing verse is this: Judges 6:12, “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.’” Do you know where Gideon was at the time? He was in the winepress hiding because he didn't feel good enough, strong enough, big enough, or courageous enough. He didn't have the right tools, didn't have the right schooling, didn't have the right pedigree to do what God had called him to do. So, he was hiding in a winepress, freaking out, scared, and nervous. And then God changed his perception, his identity. God called him a mighty warrior. Gideon didn't look like a mighty warrior. He didn't smell or dress like a mighty warrior. But God speaks His character into you. He died for you and when you believe in Him, suddenly all of your flaws become tools that God can use. God says, “In your weakness, I am strong.” So, the “mighty warrior” greeting was not because Gideon suddenly became the Incredible Hulk. Gideon became a mighty warrior because the peace of God and the Holy Spirit came on him in such a way that he saw himself differently. Just like David did with Goliath: he didn't see him as a giant, David saw him as somebody who did not respect the people of God. The reason this verse in Judges is one of my favorite verses in the Bible is because I want God's character spoken into my life. Even when I don't feel like a mighty warrior, I know I am. Even when I'm afraid, I'm a mighty warrior. Even when I'm confused and need help, God speaks...

Amazing Verses in the Bible, Part 2

Imagine yourself in Moses’ shoes: you’ve got 1.3 million Israelites yelling at you because you're stuck between Pharaoh's army, who's at your rear, and the Red Sea blocking you in the other direction. You're trapped. Everywhere you look, there's obstacles. There's no way out. In the midst of this, Exodus 14:14 is an amazing verse. Moses has been having a dialogue with God and with the people of Israel. The people of Israel are not happy. They accuse Moses of bringing them out to the desert to die. The Lord is dialoguing with them because Moses has said, “I'm stuck. I don't know what to do. I need an action plan.” “I do not know what to do”—like many of us with this virus. After a dialogue with God, Moses says this to the people, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Stillness is a huge component of finding the way when you're stuck. Being still—sitting down in your favorite chair with your Bible with no extraneous things happening—just you and Jesus, you and the Holy Spirit. When you’re still, God speaks to you. I can't even imagine what the Israelites thought when Moses told them that. “You only need to be still.” God speaks to Moses again and says, “The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.” Stillness is a component of our faith. As Americans, particularly as evangelical churchgoers, we love activity. We love sermons and seminars, worship services and small groups—all that stuff, which is wonderful. Except sometimes God says, “Just be still.”

Amazing Verses in the Bible, Part 1

If you are a student of God's word, you’ve read the Sermon on the Mount and the words really jump off the page. Jesus is standing in front of all kinds of people: they had various levels of understanding about their faith; some of them were critical; some of them were family; some were disciples; some were questioning and curious. And in front of that great variety of people, Jesus stands up and says these words found in Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth.” And in verse 14, “You are the light of the world.” I think most of us know that salt was an important preservative during that time. You packed things in salt as a way to save them before refrigeration existed. There was a sense that salt was required to keep things ready to be used. Jesus looks at us and says, “That’s what you are. You are there to preserve what I've done, to share the cross, and to share the gospel.” And then Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” And he talks about a city being set on a hill that cannot be hidden. I've been thinking about that during these times of crisis when we’re asking, “Do we open church? Or close church? Do we wear a mask or not wear a mask?” Where is the light? Where is the light of the world? Where is it that people look at us and say, “Wow, there's a beacon. There's a lighthouse. There is a way because those people love Jesus.” I'm really amazed that Jesus would look at us and say, “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.” You almost want to say, “Isn't that your job, Jesus? Isn’t that why...

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