Ridge Burns's blog

Vision

We all know the verse Proverbs 29:18 that says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Most of the time we think of vision as direction that comes from a leader. It comes from the top down. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about corporate vision, particularly in the context of InFaith. How is it that we should define ourselves? Which way is of God so that we can lean in that direction? Another translation reads like this, “Where there is no prophetic vision, the people cast off restraint.” I think we need to recognize that vision defines us. It gives us parameters. When we are accomplishing a God-given vision, there’s something that happens deep inside of us that’s synergistic. There’s an amazing blending of reality with the supernatural. The second thing that vision does is limit us. The verse says, “people cast off restraint.” In other words, vision gives us a common path—with guard rails. Without vision we really are wandering. We don’t know where to go. We become “without restraint” and the ability to say “no” dissipates. By limiting us, vision ends up directing us. It gives us something to focus on for the future. It allows us to dream and begin to make choices that make that future a reality. Finally, and I think most importantly, vision becomes us. I’ve been watching the political scene these days as people think about running for president and their issues become who they are. It defines them. At InFaith vision to take back this nation for Christ and to create an atmosphere of ministry and wholesomeness is who we are. It’s our culture. It’s us. You can see that “the people perish because there is no vision” is true; because vision defines, directs, and finally becomes who we are.

Goals

By my very nature I’m a goal-oriented person. I love to set out to do something and accomplish that task through incremental goals. I found that especially true in education, when pursuing my doctorate. This week, my daughter Barrett, who has been walking the Pacific Crest Trail—a trail from Mexico to Canada—crossed over the border from California to Oregon. It was a big deal. Every hundred miles is a big deal when you walk that far. But, when you leave one state and enter into another, that’s a huge milestone. It was one of her goals. She had her eyes on the prize of getting across that border and this week she made it. Paul talks about goals in Philippians 3:13-14 when he says, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” I love that. You forget what lies behind. Barrett forgets walking through the heavy, burdensome snow in the Sierras, and the heat of the Mojave Desert. She’s forgotten all that. All she knows is that she’s crossed into Oregon and is pressing on toward Canada. I would encourage us to think and ask God what our goals should be? What are the things He calls us to do? We can then press in, single-focused on accomplishing that goal.

Report for Duty

Anyone who was around Los Angeles in the late 1900s knew an amazing African American preacher named E.V. Hill. He had a church in south-central LA and was a great communicator of God’s Word. I was there on a day he dubbed “Report-for-duty Sunday.” He exhorted the congregation that every person who sits in the pews should have something that is their duty, their assignment, that helps carry the rest of the church. He believed everyone in the church has a part to play. Everyone has a bit part that makes up the huge orchestra, this massive team that goes out from the church. He called people to report for duty. He said there are three things that you need to look for in deciding what your particular duty is. First, what is your gifting? What are the things God has given to you that are unique and that put you in a place to do ministry in your church or your neighborhood. Second, what is your passion? What is it that really excites you or that you just have a heart for? Sometimes it’s because you share an issue. You are a mother of multiples kids, you have a child that has died, you’ve chosen not to have children, and you relate to people like you. Sometimes God gives you a specific passion, like for those suffering with cancer and illnesses. So, whatever your passion is, find something that fits your gifting and passion. The third thing to look for is the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life. What is the Spirit leading you to do? You put gifting, passion, and leading together and that sweet spot is going to bring you joy. You will report for duty not out of duty, but out of love.

A Call to Minister

As I write this, I’m wearing a t-shirt that has one of the key values of InFaith written on the front. It says simply, “Reach local. Change lives.” Every one of us has a local in front of us: a sphere of influence or a sphere of need that’s around them. Last night we had some friends over for dinner to get to know each other better and pray through a few things together. We had a great dinner. My wife and I ministered to this couple, and it was wonderful because it was my local. It was right in front of me. Let me give you a couple of guidelines to help you reach local and, hopefully as a result, transform and change lives. First, look to the obvious. This was a couple we see every Sunday. We greet them, they’re involved in Bible study, and they’ve been going to church as long as we have. But, they needed ministry. Second, ask God to show you. Who is it you’re supposed to minister to who’s right in front of your eyes? It doesn’t have to be a big thing; it doesn’t have to be expensive. It could be as simple as calling someone up and ministering to them and praying for them. Ask God to show you that person. Third, don’t let familiarity stop you. Sometimes we are blind to the needs around us, because we simply are too familiar with them. For example: a person came to our house the other day and I invited them back to my office. They said, “Wow, you need to get your rugs cleaned.” As I looked down, I thought, “You’re right! We need to get new carpet or clean the one we have.” It was so familiar that I didn’t see...

Franchising Church Part 2

In my previous blog I wrote about some of the benefits of a franchise church: greater resources, a safer name, a greater outreach, a bigger footprint in the community. I get all that. But there are also some things that are robbed from the church when you go to a franchise. One is the uniqueness of God. A franchise presumes that God is going to work in the same way in different locales. That doesn’t seem to be the way it’s portrayed in the Book of Acts and the rest of Scripture. For example, how is a man healed from blindness in the Bible? Jesus didn’t have a set format. There were no transferable concepts in terms of the “how.” In one case the blind individual was told to just go and wash. In another instance Jesus commanded a person to see. And in yet another case, He put mud and spit in the man’s eyes. Those are all different ways that God healed a person. So, which one’s right? Which one should be franchised? The assumption is that God works the same way in different locales. The second assumption is that a live person preaching is the same as someone preaching on the screen. I think there’s a sense of being impersonal, a sense of being detached from humans, when you franchise a church with video preaching. Why is the suburban American church reverting to a franchise system? I think it speaks deeply to our hearts that we really think bigger is better. We really think that systems can be transferable, and that God’s Spirit can be expected to move in exactly the same way from one locale to another. That’s simply not the case. What is the case is that God wants to do a unique work in...

Franchising Church Part 1

One of the traditions of our new church culture is this idea of franchising—or having multiple campuses—for the same church. There seems to be pros and cons to this approach. Let me say upfront, I do understand that when you franchise a church you provide a greater outreach. There’s a footprint on the community that’s bigger and stronger. It can also help build a safe name, one that’s familiar and respected in the community. A franchise church gives access to people who may not be able to drive a long way or may not want to. There is also the benefit of greater resources that are available; the pooling of existing resources allows a dollar to go further in ministry. For example, a common youth, women’s, or men’s ministry is a good way not only to save money, but to provide more resources. In the old days we called these “denominations.” Now that denominations have changed their names and become almost stealth, the franchising of multiple campus churches seems to be emerging. I believe the great temptation of the franchise church is to simply cut and paste programs that may or may not be culturally appropriate. I’ve been doing some reading on how to enter a community in a way that speaks to their culture. One of the main and clear principles is to listen and create something that is uniquely customized to the locale. The nature of a multi-campus church reduces the ability of the church to adapt to their specific location.

Stand Firm

1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” I want to focus just for a few minutes on those words, “stand firm.” It’s a military term that was used when armies would form columns of soldiers and just walk toward each other to battle. Whatever side was winning would begin to move in on and take over the camp of the opposing army. The Bible uses that illustration of standing firm and not losing ground to show us the right tools we need to use to defeat the evil one. “Stand firm” is all about not giving in to tiredness, depression, hurt, or pain. Standing firm is not about living in lack, but understanding as it says in Philippians that, “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” We don’t live in the lack, or as those who are poor. We’re not talking monetarily or in terms of lifestyle, we’re talking about our attitudes; that we live in the riches of Christ. We stand firm in that. Everything we need is in Him. Everything we need is in the work of the Spirit in our lives. Paul goes on and says, “Let nothing move you.” Not sickness, not hardship, not tiredness, not depression, not poverty; let nothing move you, because the power of the Lord Jesus Christ and the victory we have over sin and over hardship and even over death as 1 Corinthians 15 talks about, is ours to enjoy forever.

Common Focus

Those of you who read my blog regularly know my daughter is on a 2,650-mile trek from Mexico to Canada on what is called the Pacific Crest Trail. While on the five-and-half-month journey hikers form “trail families”—like-minded people who hike at approximately the same pace and end up hiking together through some very difficult terrain. Recently the terrain got even harder for my daughter’s group, with the incredible snow pack we’ve had this year. But they keep going. There’s a unity that is formed within these small groups that keeps them pushing forward—even though it’s difficult and uncomfortable, even as they get wet in the rain and the snow becomes slushy and unstable, making it hard to walk. So why do they keep going? What keeps them focused? The answer is they have one goal: get to Canada. They’ll do everything it takes, because of that one goal. They’re pressing toward the mark like Paul says. There is a huge spiritual connection to this; that unity is important, and it’s actually required for us to minister in ways that are important. We keep our eyes on the prize and the prize is that this world is not our home and that there will be a new life for us, an eternal life, a gift of God that comes in an amazing way. I see disunity in churches and in ministries because there’s not a common focus. Like Proverbs says, “where there is no vision, the people perish.” They perish because of ambiguity and no clear goal in mind. My encouragement to you is to press toward the mark—and the mark is to know Jesus Christ in an intimate way, to walk with Him in power, to let Him know your heart and give the Spirit of God free reign to...

Perspective

I’m writing this blog from seat 7F somewhere over Kansas. The pilot just said we’re cruising at 35,000 feet and we’re going about 550 miles per hour. You know, when you look at our country from this height and going that fast, it looks different than it does from the ground. You begin to see how rivers are formed and how towns are settled near them. You see the reason why things are ordered the way they are. Fields that look very random from the ground, become a tapestry of color from the crops when viewed from the air. It’s about a different perspective. God has a different perspective about you. First of all, He isn’t limited by time and space the way we are. He views you in a whole different way. Not only that, but God knows the truth in all circumstances. A few years ago, we had a real problem with one of our missionaries. People didn’t know the full story and we couldn’t tell the whole story. But the whole story made more sense than just part of the story. God knows the whole story. So, when you’re thinking about your life and you’re thinking about decision making and moving forward, you can go with confidence if you walk in the truth of our Lord, because He knows and He has a different perspective. Our church has a ministry time where we just pray for people after the service and this Sunday there was a woman who came who was so distraught. Things weren’t going her way and she had lived a very tough life. I loved watching her be ministered to. People were speaking words over her and gave her God’s perspective. That’s what we need. We need to ask, “God, what do you see?...

How Long?

There’s a great little section of scripture in the book of 1 Samuel where Samuel is really upset that Saul, who Samuel anointed, has turned out to be a bad king. So the Lord calls him to go and anoint David as the new king of Israel. I just love how the Lord addresses him about this issue. He says, “Samuel, how long will you mourn over Saul? Now, get up and anoint David.” It made me think about how important it is that we don’t hang onto things that we shouldn’t. The evil one goes after people by saying things like, “You’re not good enough, smart enough, or trained enough.” He convinces you to hang onto the things you’ve done in the past as an anchor to weigh you down. That is so contrary to how God wants us to act. He wants us to know that we are free from sin. We are a new creation. We are a new man and we are able to live in the righteousness of Christ. I was in a church service recently where the invitation was to let go; to let go of those things that weigh you down, so God can bring a new freedom to you. So, I ask you; how long are you going to hang onto those things that keep you from being all that God wants you to be? How long are you going to mourn over a bad decision? How long are you going to mourn after a circumstance hasn’t gone right? The Lord says, “Get up! I’ll walk with you; I’ll make you whole.”

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