Ridge Burns's blog

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...

Consolation

Consolation is an interesting word. I looked it up in the dictionary tonight and it’s defined as “comfort received by a person after a loss or a disappointment.” It’s when someone comes and consoles you and makes you feel better. But the Bible says something different about what consolation really is. Psalm 94:19 says, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” How much more powerful and wonderful is it when God is the one who consoles you at the very center of your being? Your soul doesn’t find comfort, according the Bible, it doesn’t find peace or wholeness—it finds joy. A few months ago, I was in a conference and the seminar was on joy. The teacher of the seminar really believed that laughter and joy are arrows that destroy the tools of the evil one. That’s why when we have so much anxiety and so much pain, concern, and stress, the author of Psalm 94 says “God when you talk to me, it brought joy to me. When I was down, your words brought joy.” I’m going through a rather stressful time right now, a time when I need to think through how I can make God my dwelling, as I talked about in another blog. But I also need to think through how I can receive God’s consolation—through the words of Christ, through the Scriptures, and through the work of the Holy Spirit—which brings joy to my soul. I find myself wanting to open myself up, to lay on my bed or pause in the middle of my day and say, “I need your consolation. I need to be consoled. My soul is heavy. My soul is broken, scarred, and hurting. The stress and anxiety that I am bearing is too much.” God would...

Dwelling

I love my house. I love when I’m there and that it’s decorated with things that remind me of my family and that make me feel comfortable and welcome. Recently I ran across a verse in Psalm 91 that says, “If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.” I just love that. If we make the Most High God our dwelling then His presence is surrounding us. His presence is in us and near us. In His presence we find safety, we are welcome, we find acceptance and authority—all because we have made the Most High our dwelling. We run to that dwelling after a hard day’s work to find that the presence of God has been with us all day but was drowned out by the noise of our lives and the confusion of our culture. When we make God our dwelling we come home to a place of acceptance. We come home to a place where our faults are revealed but we are strengthened in the Spirit to be able to overcome them. Let me just say this to you; when we visualize that God is our dwelling—not a physical place, but a spiritual place—we find ourselves and we find that we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

Waiting

Recently I went to the DMV and I don’t think there’s any place on the planet that exemplifies having to wait more than the DMV. The line went all the way out the building and down the sidewalk. When you got inside, there was no place to sit. And there is no way to speed up the system at all. So, you stand, and you think, and you decide to get mad and then you rationalize out of it. It’s a time of waiting. The Lord tells us sometimes waiting can be good. For example, Isaiah 64:4 “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.” I love that God is someone “who acts for those who wait for him.” There’s a waiting that God desires for us to have. Earlier in Isaiah it says, “but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Those who wait on the Lord. In the mission there are people who are waiting on the Lord to do miraculous things. Some deal with health, some deal with ministry, some deal with kids and problems in the family. But we will wait, because those who run ahead of what God wants to do never receive His blessing. There are some who decide that waiting is of the evil one and we need to step out in faith and move quickly. Sometimes that’s true, but most of the time God says, “Wait, wait on me. I will meet you. I will walk with you. I will be with you. I will be the one...

Hope

Psalm 33:20-22 says, “We put our hope in the LORD. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD, for our hope is in you alone.” We hope in so many things that are just temporal. We hope we have enough finances to retire, we hope to have a good response from the doctor, we hope that our kids turn out alright, we hope that our spouses will live a long happy life. We hope. But the hope that God gives us, is the hope that comes only through Christmas. It’s the hope that comes because the Living Hope, Jesus Himself, has come. He changes the rules. He makes that which is decaying and temporal, alive and eternal. He takes broken people and makes them whole. He is our blessed hope, as the one who allows us to see our future in Him. Hope is not a commodity that we bestow on people. Hope is an attitude, an action, and a fact. It’s an attitude that we don’t hope in luck, we hope in Christ—a solid Savior who takes care of us. And when we hope, we stand on fact. Like is says in Psalm 33, our hope is in Him alone. Christmas is a time that a lot of people hope. They hope for gifts, they hope for family to come together, there’s this overall sense of hoping. I pray that the Lord will allow us to see our Living Hope. Our Blessed Hope. Our Savior, who gives us hope.

Biblical Lens

Recently I was reading an article with the following sentence that popped out at me, “I’ve learned to be able to read the news through a Biblical lens.” I thought to myself, “We all read the scriptures through a theological lens. We make some assumptions without ever questioning them. Without ever asking, ‘Are my assumptions—the lens of my mind—really the Biblical lens that God wants us to have?’” In the case of this article, it was all about justice and what God wants to do in the world. It was about how He wants to create a system, a Kingdom experience, that cares for the disenfranchised as much as it does for the rich and those who have power and authority. But what is a Biblical lens? I suggest that John 16:13 is where we start. The NIV version puts it this way, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” Perhaps the Biblical lens— the thing we need to really foster—is what the first part of this verse says: “He, the Spirit, will lead you into all truth.” He leads us in all truth through the eyes of our heart, our physical eyes, and the eyes of our mind which comes with certain Biblical lenses and certain sociological and historical lenses. For example, I think my view of the Sabbath day changed when I quit looking at the legalistic history I grew up in—where we couldn’t ride our bikes, we went to church all Sunday, and we couldn’t cook on Sunday, because it was work. Now I have a more wholistic view of the Sabbath. The Sabbath...

Changing Culture

I had an interesting discussion with a donor who works at a national retail company. She was telling me that as a company they did an in-store education program to help re-focus their store in a different way. This desire to re-focus came from thinking about the culture of people who are part of the millennial generation and younger. They talked about a “sharing economy.” The difference between a Boomer like myself and even a Gen-Xer is that we really want to be self-sufficient. We want our own cars, our own houses, our own resources. This company is looking ahead and saying that is not always going to be true of people. We have the rise of Airbnb, where you look at your home as a possible income stream when it’s sitting vacant. There are now loaning programs for your car: so you don’t need to have a car, you can just dig into the sharing economy. This sharing economy is not new. The Bible talks about it in the book of Acts when the early church shared everything they had, including eating meals together. In past generations, we’ve dismissed that sort of communal idea. But the culture is now rising up as one that desires a sharing economy, where our stuff is a resource to us. Something to think about: a new way of utilizing our excess to help us really understand what it means to be a community—particularly as the Kingdom of God.

Flavors

Sometimes I’d like the people who read this blog to sit in my chair for a few days and see the different flavors that God’s Kingdom takes on as God’s people work for Him. There are people who are quiet and reserved and you would never think they’d have a ministry, but they have a powerful ministry in their own hometown. Others have vibrant, strong personalities that are a catalyst for people to get together. Some ministries require very little management and just almost run themselves. Others I see striving and working hard to continue going, because it’s difficult. There are also different theological flavors. Now, I’m not talking about our statement of faith. I’m talking about the expression of the gospel in different ways around our country. For some, the expression takes the shape of fighting for a cause, while others quietly counsel and pray. These theological flavors give life. People who are vibrant and strong and overt in their worship. Others who are liturgical and contemplative and in some ways quiet when they worship. It is so fun to see how God uses different personalities and different people to accomplish great things.

Thank You

This is the Thursday after Giving Tuesday and the generosity of God’s people for the work of the Kingdom that is done at InFaith is really amazing. In some ways, every day is Giving Tuesday at InFaith. We process approximately 50,000 different gifts every year. Many of them are small checks written faithfully every month to support our missionaries who are out in the field. It’s amazing the consistency of the people of God and the commitment of God’s people to fund ministries that they care about. Many of the gifts are small gifts, but they come regularly. They come with a rhythm attached to them that allows us to see our missionaries do great things for the Kingdom. So, I want to say thank you. Thank you for the commitment, thank you for the gifts, thank you for standing with us at InFaith.

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