Ridge Burns's blog

What are you hearing?

For years there has been a debate about how the grace and faith of the New Testament competes, or at least translates into some sort of compatibility, with the law from the Old Testament. The God of the Law seems to be different from the God of the New Testament. But that is so not true—the same God reigns. In the Old Testament we looked forward to the cross of Christ, and now in the time of the New Covenant we look back into what was done on Calvary and it makes an incredible imprint on our lives. In Galatians 3:5 it says, “Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by observing the law, or by believing what you have heard?” That, in my opinion, is the hang up with a lot of people. They see God as a rule maker and the Christian life as a mandate to live under all those rules and do everything right. Does God work miracles? Does God speak to those kinds of people? The answer is yes, but he also corrects them by saying, “I have given you a Spirit that allows you to live in freedom, riches, and the power of Christ.” Freedom does not come from following a bunch of rules, it comes from having a relationship with the Holy Spirit and the ability to see the work of God in front of your life. It seems to me that it's a lot easier to define yourself by what you're not, by what you’re lacking, than it is to define yourself by what you have. And what we have in Christ Jesus is an amazing ability to gather and incorporate the work of God, His riches, His power, and His Spirit into our lives in amazing ways...

What’s in Your Body?

There’s a great little section of scripture in Ephesians 2 that says, “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” How amazing: that the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, the Creator of the Universe, has built us together so we actually host the very Spirit of God! God is not far off. God is not distant, or silent, or inoperable. He lives inside us. And not only does He live inside us, but the book of John talks about how the Spirit will lead us into all truth, He will guide and direct us. Embedded in every Christ follower is a GPS to the Father and to the Son. Embedded in any Christ follower is this idea that God has formed you, built you, constructed you, and assembled you for one reason: so He could be housed there—the Spirit of God housed in your body. So, if that is true, what difference has it made in your life? The Spirit is not your conscience. Only the Spirit of God can cleanse you from all unrighteousness and give you the ability to hear and feel Him. Just as food and water are important for a person to live in the natural, for a Christian, without the Holy Spirit given to you to fill that God shaped vacuum, your walk with God is limited and impaired. His Spirit only dwells in people who love Him and have surrendered their life to Him. So, let me ask you: what’s in your body?

Self-Control

My wife, RobAnne, and I are in a small group that meets every week to discuss scripture, pray for each other, and build into each other's lives. We're purposeful about sharing things that are meaningful, we study scripture, and we apply scripture to our lives. This last week we were in the book of 2 Peter. In 2 Peter 1:5-7 it says, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” We took that list of all those things that we need to add to our faith, and we evaluated ourselves. We went around the circle and said, “Which one of these do you feel like the Lord has really developed in you?” We also asked each other, “Which one of these are we lacking in?” It was unanimous, 100% of us said self-control. We said that we have difficulty with self-control. There is a need for us to learn how to stop ourselves in our tracks, how to think through what we say before we say it, and how to be kind and gentle when we're angry inside. Self-control is the key to us receiving what God wants to give us. Self-control is one of those characteristics that requires us to think about what our self-talk is like. What is our thought process when we make a decision? The reality is self-control starts with one simple step: stopping. Stop before you say something. Stop before you do something. Stop before you think something. Stop and consider, “Is this what God would have me do? Is this of the Spirit? Is this dispensing the fruit of the Spirit?” Self-control seems...

Consider More Podcast

We recently taped our third Consider More Podcast and the topic of this particular one was racial reconciliation. Our speaker for Refresh, our internal InFaith conference, last year was Pastor Terry Davis. He and his wife, Pam, co-pastor Christ Community Church in Philadelphia; a thriving multiethnic community of believers in the University of Pennsylvania area. If you'd like to hear my conversation with the Davises about racial reconciliation and what God is doing in the country, you can tune into this episode of the Consider More Podcast here. I want to share four “L”s about the Davises with you. The first “L” is love. These people love each other, and their love is contagious. They talk respectfully to each other and honor one another. They love their relationship so much that it spills out. Terry is the only person I’ve ever know that at the end of a conversation said, “Love you forever Ridge.” Love is their currency, and they give it freely. Second, Terry and Pam listen. The ideas that they share in the podcast all start with listening. They encouraged us to listen to one another and open up a dialogue in a place where we can exchange ideas. So that we can hear how people come to their conclusions with the information that they give. The Davises listen well. The third “L” is needing to learn. The Davises urge us to not only listen to, but also learn from other people. Learn that others have something to add to your life, that they have something to give to you. We can learn in different situations with different personalities and with different relationships. And finally, the fourth “L” is that they lead. On the podcast there's a great story about what...

A Marked People

I’ve been reading through the epistles lately and was in Ephesians when I ran across a really interesting verse. Ephesians 1:13 says, “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” That jumped off the page to me! When we receive Christ—when we surrender our lives, come to a place where we realize we need a Savior, and give our lives to Him—God marks us. We are a marked people. The evil one no longer has dominion over us. We can take control. We have the weapon of the Holy Spirit. The verse says, “He marked you with the promised Holy Spirit.” The fulfillment of this promise is that a Comforter will come and lead you into all truth and be your guide. So how do we know that we're marked? Well, before the book of Ephesians, in Galatians chapter five it talks about the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When we exhibit those kinds of behaviors and attitudes to all we come in contact with we show our mark. We show that we are marked by the promised Holy Spirit. And when the Spirit marks us, we become dispensers of the fruit of the Spirit.

Janice Carr

I had the privilege of attending Janice Carr’s celebration service in Las Cruces, New Mexico earlier this month. I went because I felt the Lord directed and led me to go. But little did I know what I would observe during that service. Janice and her husband, Conant, have been missionaries with InFaith for a long time. Conant is a police chaplain and has an amazing ministry among the law enforcement community in that area. A few years ago, he arranged a group of police officers and first responders to get together to have breakfast and I was amazed at how they acknowledged his ministry. Several of them said, “He saved my life. I was going down a road that was self-destructive and he stepped into my life and made a difference.” But it wasn't the law enforcement community that impressed me, it was the entire Carr family. I watched grandkids, sons-in-law, daughters, and daughters-in-law just ooze love as a family as they honored Janice. It was not a typical service because almost all of the people who spoke were family. And they began to describe Janice as the glue that held things together. She was hospitable, and she held the role in the family of holding them together. But what impressed me the most was that there seemed to be an absence of normal, sometimes contentious family dynamics. People loved one another. Their kids were family and they acted like family and they showed respect for Janice but also respect for God. Person after person in the family spoke about their relationship with Jesus Christ—it was just a great time. This was my take-away: family is everything and you need to spend time with your family and grow in relationship with them. The entire service was designed by the...

Aging

I want to share a verse that will scare you: 1 Timothy 5:8 says, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, especially members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” My in-laws are in their 90s and they're not doing too well. In fact, we had to move and live with them for a period of time to take care of them, love them, feed them, and help them get around. It was a major inconvenience to us. Our lives are different because my in-laws need our help. There are things that we would like to do that we can't because we need to help them. Sometimes we pray that God would take them home because heaven's pretty great and they would be better off there, but we also feel guilty because that would be easier on us too. At the same time, I feel like it's such an honor to take care of them. It's an honor to help them in their old age because I want to take care of our relatives, the people in our household, as 1 Timothy says. There is a unique bond that’s formed between my wife, my in-laws, and myself. There’s this sense that we're going to get through this crisis together. We're going to end life with sanctity of life and dignity and hope, and with the confidence of our loved ones going to heaven. You know, there's one other thing that happened to me and has surprised me. When I'm caring for my in-laws, my mother-in-law especially, I feel like I'm doing the right thing. I feel like I'm doing what I’ve been made and gifted to do. My wife has certain skills that she's able to apply to this situation, and...

Awake Dry Bones

Every Easter my wife and I go to the “Great Easter Vigil” at Church of the Resurrection, an Anglican church in Chicago. They have six or seven different sections of scripture they go through starting with creation and ending with the resurrection of Jesus Christ that paint the picture of the redemptive theme of the Bible. One of my favorite sections they focus on is the Valley of Dry Bones talked about in Ezekiel 37. The bones become alive and God brings together people who were dead and spread apart and destroyed. At the end of that section in Ezekiel it says, “And then they will know that the Lord has done it.” I want to take this chance to call the dry bones together—to call life into the dry bones. We’ve spent almost a year and a half now in a dry season in this country and in the life of the church. We’ve created masks and vaccinations and had disagreements at all levels, and there’s a resulting deadness on the church and in our land. So, I call the dry bones alive. I call them to build new structures. We look at the church and there will be new and different ways that God is building the church post-COVID. He's doing a brand-new work. The wind of the Holy Spirit is blowing through this land and the dry bones are beginning to come alive. They will become people of God who do the great work of God. It was Jesus who looked at a whole mountain full of people and said, “You are the light of the world, you are the salt of the earth.” So, I call us to be the light and the salt of the earth; I call us back to life. The fight is...

Leadership

Due to the COVID-19 crisis it’s hard to be a leader these days. Nothing is safe or secure. It’s hard to make plans; there are always changes. You can't “look around the corner.” How do you make decisions when things change so quickly? Or when even the facts are hard to really get your arms around? I was taught in seminary that leadership is the ability to make a right decision with only 80% of the facts you need in order to make that decision. In other words, you have to step out in faith. In leadership you also need to see around the corner that nobody else can see. We need to be able to look into a decision or a situation and anticipate all the scenarios that could take place and pick the right one. It's tough to be a leader. You're not always right. You're not always able to make the perfect decision. I remember when our mission was going through some very difficult days with a lot of internal turbulence and distrust. And I did an “Ask Ridge Anything” hour. During that time, I prefaced every statement that I made practically by saying, “I will give you the information we have at this time to make this decision, but it changes so quickly.” But what I haven’t mentioned yet is that there's also a secret weapon that I have as a leader, as a believer, and as a Kingdom worker. Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “Look carefully how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” That's the missing leadership ingredient: we have the ability to listen to the Holy Spirit, who not...

How Big is God?

Lately the Lord's been speaking to me about my concept of God. More specifically, He's been speaking to me about putting human, natural characteristics on the internal image that I have of God. He’s bigger, more powerful, and dispenses goodness and mercy and justice in ways that we don't understand. Our concept of God is tarnished by the fact that we live in space and time and God is great and without constraints. Everything that love was, is, and will be is contained in this God who is everything. I love when Solomon was dedicating the temple and he says in 2 Chronicles 6:18, “But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less is this temple that I have built! Yet, you give attention to your servant’s prayer and pleas for mercy.” That is so unbelievable! They were in this incredible temple that was built, this unbelievable monument and place that housed the glory of God, and Solomon goes, “Are you kidding me? How could anything we build contain you when you've got the heavens, even the highest heavens, to live in?” And yet, that’s exactly what God does. He invades our quiet spaces; spaces that seem too small for Him. We begin to build a construct of God that he's only interested in the big things in our life. We build this idea that God is somehow squeezed into our life. But it’s the opposite: The life that we have is given by Him and we're dispensers of the life of God. God is bigger than you think. In fact, what you think you know, you don't actually know because God is a mystery.

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