Ridge Burns's blog

The Goodness of God

There is a wonderful song we sing in church that talks about the way God’s goodness has followed us all our lives, how the goodness of God has been the landscape where God has really grown us, because He’s good. He’s always good. I think about my career. I could not ask for a better career. There is not one thing I would change about it – the positions I’ve held, the leadership. I’ve been a CEO for 39 years. I’ve been able to lead and direct so many great people, and the ministries have been so good to me. I want to declare the goodness of God, that those who walk by faith – not by sight, but by faith – will experience the goodness of God. The goodness of God is not in everything being great. It’s that when you walk your life, through the good times and the hard times, the one thing that is a common thread, a constant, is the goodness of God. And so in this, my last blog as executive director of InFaith, I leave you with this truth: God is good. He is good. He is very good.

The Joy of Working in Community

When I think about my career, there are parts of my jobs that I’ve loved and parts I’ve just had to grind out and work through, but the one thing I will tell you is that no matter where I’ve served and no matter what organizations I’ve led, we’ve worked as a community – as the body of Christ. It’s good being able to say as a leader to the people who report to me, “I trust you. I will resource you. I will help you and guide you, but I will also give you freedom to be you.” If you give people enough resources and enough encouragement, they will amaze you with how good they are. They will amaze you at how powerfully they handle their responsibilities. When I think about the management team I am currently part of (for the next few days!), I think about how we trust each other and love each other. We’re not fighting with each other or grabbing for power. It’s because, at the root of that relationship, I want to be a yes person. I want to say to them, “Yes, you can do that. Yes, that’s a good idea.” Yes has power, and it builds strong community.

Letting Go

There’s no question: when you are finishing your career and moving into retirement, it’s a slow, long, and sometimes agonizing process of letting go. I’ve had to think through what that means. How do I let go in a way that makes sense and propels the organization after I leave? How do I leave with an attitude of graciousness and thankfulness? I’ve discovered as I’ve talked to people who’ve gone through this journey before me that it’s not letting go to the next person, not letting go to the staff that remains. It’s letting go to God. You hand the ministry up and say, “It has been so great for You to allow me to be part of this movement of You, and I thank you. I release the ministry into Your hands. I release my relationships into Your hands, and those that are important for me to keep, Lord, I ask You to provide incredible ways to stay connected.” How do you let go? It’s not easy, but you hand it to our living God.

How God Is Leading Our Mission

Yesterday, I interviewed a candidate for our field staff here at InFaith. His name is Wayne, and he believes, lives, and makes digital events that cause people to know who Christ is. He built into his life a skill that takes digital ministry to a new level. It’s a place where people who love digital kinds of things can come and learn about Jesus. It’s a long way from the guys on horseback who saw kids who were illiterate and allowed God to use them to form this great mission, InFaith, over two hundred years ago. Or is it that different? Wayne sees a whole generation of people who need to hear the gospel but who are deaf to the traditional ways we present it, and so with the power of digital magic, he presents the gospel in ways that are powerful. I just see that God is going to do some great things.

Was This Church?

Last Saturday night, I met with seven other people to pray for a few hours about some issues surrounding a plant, a place that produces material. We met in their auditorium, and there was a powerful sense of God’s presence. We took communion in a way that was very unusual for me – we took the bread at the very beginning of our time, and we celebrated the blood of Jesus at the very end of our time. We were probably together for two and a half to three hours, and it was almost like communion was the bookends. We celebrated the body of Christ that was given for us, and remembered that there were some intentional actions that Jesus took and decisions that He made to bring us to the cross that started at the Last Supper. We sang together, we prayed together, there were expressions of worship with flags, and it didn’t seem to be in the right spot. We don’t typically have that experience in the offices of a very, very large plant – we have a church for that. Could it be that we have disguised and made up our own impressions of what church should be like? God shows up in unusual ways. We began to worship and to pray over this plant, pray over the town, and pray over our nation, and then we stood in agreement with each other about things that are bothering us in our own lives. If that’s not church, what is? Then to end with the blood of Christ, which cleanses us from all unrighteousness – it was an amazing time!

The Amazing Shake, Part II

The Amazing Shake is a program to help identify students who can handle adult situations in powerful ways. There was one particular girl who had an amazing vocabulary, and she was able to take the conversation and put word pictures in it just by the way she expressed herself. Her speaking skills were pretty impressive. She had told me all the things she had done, and I asked her the why question: “What is your passion that makes you want to do these things?” She gave me a bland answer, and so I said, “What about your soul? What does your soul say? What is it passionate about?” She gave me great answer about how she was feeling, and then I said to her, “What is your soul?” Her answer was amazing: “It’s the underground you. It’s who you are, but not visible to anyone but yourself.” This girl had it – that’s exactly what the soul is, the underground you. And the self-talk that the underground you whispers back and forth is sometimes a killer of dreams and passion. It just kills those things. So, just before she left, I told her, “You have an amazing gift to see things differently. Don’t let your differences interfere with your confidence.” The Amazing Shake was a great day I’d love to live again. We have some amazing students in our school systems.

The Amazing Shake, Part I

I spent a day at a middle school here in southern California that has a program called The Amazing Shake. It’s for sixth- through eighth-graders, and it’s to help them know how to handle certain adult situations, like how to interview, how to introduce yourself, and how to make a presentation. It pretty much covers the whole gamut of stressful things that an adolescent might face. One of them is to be interviewed by a CEO and to have a conversation for five minutes in front of their peers. My job was to interview them. The event started with 170 students, and as they went through a variety of tasks and conversations, some got eliminated. I talked with the top 16 students out of 170, and the interviews were amazing! I was impressed by the dreams these students have and their need to belong. One girl was saying, “I don’t fit. I don’t have a place. I’m not a sixth grader; I was never a fifth grader. I never felt like I was myself except when I was in fourth grade.” She needed a safe place that could be connected to her. During this time, I gave a last word to each one of the students. In our church we call it a blessing, but in a secular school, we just called it advice. I would make sure they walked out of that room feeling like they did a good job, like they really communicated well. It was an amazing day and made me proud of our school system, that these students were given a chance to show their confidence. The Amazing Shake was quite a day for me.

God’s Love

Recently I was listening to two young high school girls who were working at McDonald's. They were in the booth behind me and I could hear their conversation about how both of their fathers weren’t present in their lives. They had just been to parties and had done things where one couldn't even remember who she was with the night before. I thought, “How sad! They don't really understand what love is, and they certainly don't understand what unconditional love is. They don't understand the kind of love that comes from the heart of God, from the fatherhood of God.” Paul writes, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Nothing can separate us from God’s love—not the virus, or our vaccinations, the status of the economy, or our kids—none of that! All of those things can be distractions to our ability to bask in the love of God. God’s love changes us when we experience it. It takes away insecurities and gives us the confidence that comes from understanding and feeling the very love of God. We cannot help but be swept up by this incredible God who says, “Come to me all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” In this busy time of Christmas and New Year's, open your heart and your hands and allow God's love to flow in.

Come With Me to a Quiet Place

With life being so busy in the holiday season and the pandemic swelling again, it's hard to find space to get your bearings and hear the voice of God. It's hard to find a quiet place because we’re not only talking about a physical place that's quiet—we can usually find those. But we’re also talking about a quiet space for your soul—for your heart, dreams, and ambitions. A quiet place where God can rework some of the things that you think are important, where your perspective and priorities can change. The Bible talks about Jesus’ disciples being around him and telling him all the great things that were happening and had happened to them. Jesus responded by saying, “Let's get quiet.” Ministry takes energy. So, we need to go to these physical and spiritual quiet places to get refreshed. When Jesus got interrupted and ended up feeding 5,000 people—well actually 5,000 men plus all the women and children, so probably more like 10,000 or 12,000 people—it didn't sound like rest. Sometimes that's exactly what life is like in ministry: you plan a day to rest, to be alone, to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, but the challenges of ministry just drowns it out and you end up still tired, still concerned. After feeding the 5,000, Jesus sent the disciples ahead and He went all by Himself to be with the Father alone. My friends, I believe that's where we need to be in this season. We need to go and find a quiet place where we can hear the voice of God. We need to find a place where the noise of life and of our culture, the noise of the pandemic and the noise of ministry get drowned out by the very voice of God. So that...

Who Can Be Against Us?

Recently, our pastor has been teaching through the book of Romans and has really camped in what he calls the “greatest chapter in all the Bible” — Romans 8. If you are depressed, if you’re hurting, if you feel like everything is against you, you need to read and memorize Romans 8. It has verses that talk about if God is really for us, who can be against us? There is no force, no country, no virus, no health issues, or depression issues, that God cannot reach into; because if God is for us — which He is — nothing can be against us. As I travel and see what's going on with our people here at InFaith, I’m currently seeing a spirit of depression, of loneliness, a spirit that says, “I'm not good enough.” I see that not only in young missionaries, but in some of our senior missionaries as well. People are struggling with their own identity. And what I say to them — and to you, if you’re struggling in this way right now — "If God is for us, who can be against us?”

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