Ridge Burns's blog

Wonder and Amazement

I was reading in Acts 3 about Peter and John who went up to the temple to pray and healed a man who had been begging on the road. I love what it says when Peter healed him: “He jumped up to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging by the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement about what had happened to him.” Two things I love about that story; one is the guy jumping around. He’s dancing. He’s excited. He is redeemed. He’s new. He is so excited to show that his newfound body was touched by the miracle of the Savior through the hands of Peter and John. I love that he was dancing and jumping and making a fool of himself. It makes me smile. I’m also amazed at how people responded. It says that they were filled with wonder and amazement. I think that’s what’s missing from many of our churches and fellow believers. It’s missing from their ability to know who God is. They’ve never seen God move in power. They’ve never seen God move in a way that would cause elation like the man in the story. The people were filled with wonder and amazement. They asked, “Who is this? How could this have happened? Why is this man healed? What took place?” They realized it was because of the power of the Holy Spirit and the work of the Blood of Christ that allowed this to happen. They were saying, “What’s next?” They were filled with wonder and amazement. It’s my...

A New Perspective

Recently I got my eyes checked and the prescription for my glasses needed to be significantly changed. After getting used to them, I can’t believe the new perspective. I can’t believe how much better I can see. Everything in the distance is so much clearer. I hadn’t realized that my sight had degenerated so much over a few years. It’s amazing how much better you feel when you see things as they really are. I wonder sometimes if we need to change our “prescription” of how we think God sees us. We see Him as loving, caring, and gracious. But He sees us differently. He doesn’t see us as sinners. He sees us as redeemed people brought to Himself. He sees us as His children coming to Him. Ephesians 4:24 says, “And so put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” God sees us in our new bodies, as our new selves. He sees us as completed human beings through the redemptive work of Christ. He sees us as chosen, elected to Him, washed by His blood, and made righteous. I listen to a lot of people talk about how bad they are. They have such a terrible self-view, and in that negative self-view they can’t escape the depression and the hurt. But, if we put on the new self and put on how God really sees us, we become new creatures and we have new clear perspective on how much God loves us.

Hanging onto Things

I was talking to an individual after church who I really respect and admire. He seems to have it all together—as if he has life planned out and the blessing and favor of God are all over him. He’s a person who is respected by many other people by giving advice and sharing his life. But he didn’t have a good relationship with his father and as soon as the conversation turns on to someone’s father you can just see his resistance. He had a father that abandoned him. In the brief moments when his father was in his life, he was pushed to be excellent—not for the sake of being excellent, but for the sake of being the best. He was never allowed to fail and never allowed to question, just push, push, push to be the best in everything that he did. That created in him a perfectionist spirit, and a spirit that is critical of fathers. I was reading from Acts 7 recently, which is the stoning of Stephen—not exactly my favorite chapter of the Bible. But I was really taken by one thing that I read about Stephen’s death. It was an unjustified stoning; he was being killed simply for his faith. But just before he died Stephen said, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Stephen understood the power of letting go, of not holding things in and letting God remove them. While, it is true that he probably died moments after he spoke those words, the reality is that he spoke them because he did not want anyone to hold anything against him or he against them. It’s called freedom. There are people in my life that need that freedom. They are hanging onto bad relationships, mistakes they’ve made, and things which are...

How Do You Talk to God?

Recently I was talking to someone who said she grew up talking to God like He didn’t know her. We all pray like that sometimes; rehearsing to God what He already knows, and protecting Him from knowing certain things about us, which is so ridiculous and limiting to our view of God. I have some acquaintances that I see every so often. Sometimes we get together and we talk and learn about each other. We spend time together and we try to find out different things about each other in kind of an innocent way. But I have other friends who know me. They know what I struggle with, they know my faults, they see my flaws and they love me. I talk to them differently, I talk to them as a friend. I talk to them as people I respect and learn from. How do you talk to God? Do you talk to Him like He doesn’t know you? Or do you talk to God like He knows you deeply? Isaiah 43 admonishes Israel to listen to the Lord “who created you.” And here is the kicker, the big line: “I have called you by name, you are mine.” I want to encourage you to talk to God like He knows everything about you, like you don’t have to hide anything, like He’s your best friend and you can tell Him anything. He will speak back to you words of wisdom and advice. He will tell you things that are important, because He redeemed you. He called you by name and you are His.

Difference

I was in a meeting with some of our missionaries recently. It was an amazing group of people. We brought them together to see if there was a common thread in their ministries, so we might create a system that would use that common thread to be more effective in reaching our nation for Christ—which is our hope, our dream, and our mission. One story sticks out in my mind from that meeting. One of our missionaries is a woman who has ten children, most of them adopted. They live incarnationally in an urban, ethnically diverse neighborhood. We were talking about the hassles of ministry and her big hassle was that the drug dealers on their street would set their water bottles on her car. That just bothered her. She talked about how she had to get over that, because it’s not that big a deal. But in moments of weakness and flesh, it becomes a really big deal to her. I was sitting there thinking, “I don’t have any problems like that.” I have no drug dealers in my life. I have really good people in my life. I don’t have to spend 50 minutes looking for a parking spot and then the lady next door doesn’t want you to park there because of some unspoken rules in the neighborhood. I was so drawn to their commitment to live in that neighborhood, and the only reason they live there is that God has called them. So, they deal with issues I never have to deal with. They deal with issues that just seem scary. And God uses them in powerful ways. It was really interesting to watch these missionaries affirm that a walk with Christ on the wild side where they live is hard, and messy, and it’s a...

Liberty

Recently, I was talking to a good friend at our church whose son is in the Navy at Great Lakes in Illinois. The son was going to visit for a few days because, as she said, “He has five days of liberty.” Begin to think about that: five days of liberty. Why do they call it liberty? It seems to me that they are under the restrictions placed on them when they are in uniform or on active duty, so when they have time off, they have been liberated from those rules and from the regimen that is necessary for them to be effective sailors in the Navy. For that reason, they don’t call it vacation, holiday, time off, or PTO; they call it liberty. That made me think about us and our relationship with Christ. We live in liberty; we’re not under the rule of law, or the legalism of some of our churches. We have liberty to live life more abundantly. Liberty that allows us to be all that God wants us to be—to receive His goodness, to receive His rightness, to receive who He is as our Savior and Lord. Where the Spirit of God is, there is freedom. And freedom translates in military terms to liberty.

Overcoming Disappointment

If there’s one thing that almost everybody experiences on a regular basis it’s disappointment. Something you thought was going to happen doesn’t. Something you needed to happen somehow takes a twist or doesn’t turn out the way you hoped it would. Disappointment is an attitude. It’s allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by your expectations and your circumstances. God has a plan for people who suffer disappointment. First, we need to believe in God’s plan for us. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “’My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.’” We need to remember that God has a plan for His children. When we understand that we are part of a larger scheme—a wonderful tapestry that God is weaving on the earth—it takes our disappointment to another place. Second, understand that God’s plans for you are good. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” We need to understand and recognize that God has our future in His hands. He will not let us go. He is orchestrating our lives to bring glory to His name. Finally, we have to remember that God is close. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” The Lord is near. His presence is with us. As we live and experience and walk in His presence, our disappointments seem to disappear. Disappointment is a hard thing. Sometimes it scars us for life, but those who wait on...

Fear vs. Joy

Recently I was reading the book of Hebrews and in chapter 12 it talks about two mountains. One is called the Mountain of Fear where people tremble with fear about the rules and condemnation that is coming down. It was a mountain that called out what was wrong, a mountain that made people afraid. I believe it is an image of the Law. The Law was given so that we have a perspective of what it means to be righteous, and the knowledge that we can’t live without a Savior. And the result is fear. The second mountain is the Mountain of Joy. There are angels dancing around this mountain, singing and praising, because of the New Covenant—which isn’t about fear, condemnation, or not measuring up. The New Covenant is about accepting the free gift of God. I just love when it says, “We have come to God, the Judge of All, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant.” Through Jesus our fears are washed away by His blood and replaced by joy.

What Do You Do When Prayer is Hard?

What do you do when you just can’t seem to pray? Everything is blocked up. When there’s no communication between you and God, it just seems hard and fruitless and you can easily give up. Let me give you two things that I think are important for those of you who are in a place where prayer is just hard. One is Hebrews 4:16 which says, “We come boldly to the throne of God.” God is not embarrassed by your despair. He’s not bothered by your hurts. He’s not unconcerned with your mental attitude, but He wants you to come boldly to Him. He wants you to run to Him and say, “God I need You! I need You to help me. I need You to straighten me out. I need You to figure out my thoughts. I am in a battle and, Lord, I need You! I come boldly to You. I don’t come with a timid spirit, I come with a bold spirit that You are God and I’m not and You have the answers.” The second thing that is important, is to pray honestly. We have a great example in King David. This was his prayer, his communication, his conversation with God in Psalm 13: it says, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?” Note the sarcasm. “How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I wrestle in my thoughts, with sorrow in my heart each day? How long will my enemies dominate me?” David just pours his heart out, honestly. When is the last time you had an honest conversation with God? “God, I’m afraid. God, I’m concerned. God, I’m wrong, I’m addicted, I’m hurting.” God says, “Come boldly. Come honestly.” When you do, there’s a divine order that takes place...

Hearing the Voice of God

The scariest verse in the Bible for me is the verse that says, “My sheep hear My voice.” As a lifelong Christ follower—a person who wants to hear the voice of God and wants to experience the presence of the Lord—I find myself feeling like I’m not hearing God enough. I read His word, I spend time in prayer, but there is something missing. There is something that is deeper and stronger in my spirit when it comes to hearing the voice of God. We know 1 Timothy 3 talks about how “all scripture is God breathed.” It’s His powerful letter to us, and a description of the favor of God, in 66 books of the Bible. He speaks to us clearly from His Word and most Christians would have no question that, that is true. But John 16:13 talks about how the Spirit will come and bring us to truth. So, God speaks to us through His Spirit and His Spirit, in my experience, comes when I am quiet and alone and am engulfed by the presence and Spirit of God. God also speaks to us through nature. The theologians call this “general revelation.” Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” They are without excuse because we can look around and see the majesty and the mightiness of God. God speaks to us in unique ways since people are unique and different. In my experience God speaks through dreams and visions. Sometimes I close my eyes and I see played out in front of me a drama or a life lesson. I’m not sure it’s a real dream, I’m not sure if...

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