Ridge Burns's blog

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.

Glasses

A few years ago, when our management team at InFaith was just beginning to form relationships, we spent some time talking about what values we wanted to have as a group in order to lead the mission. We came up with nine different characteristics. One of our management team members said, “Let's get a pair of glasses and write those nine words on the inside of the glasses. This will help remind us that the lens through which we’ll do business as a management team of InFaith will be through the lens of these nine characteristics.” The nine characteristics we chose are: trust, grace, truth, fun, excellence, honor, listening, spirit-led, and then finally, prayer. Last Monday we had an all-day meeting. In that meeting we were mostly discussing budget issues and objectives for the coming 12 months. It was an amazing meeting. It was fun, we stepped out in faith, we showed grace to each other, and we spoke truth to each other. And the reason all that was able to happen was because we started with an amazing and powerful time of prayer, asking God to do a great work with us and to bring things together. My point is simply this, what are the lenses with which you look at your marriage? Through what lenses do you look at your fathering or mothering, your parenting skills? What are the lenses that you look at in terms of your job? What are the lenses that you form your worldview with? I think we need to be very careful about the lenses that we somehow have integrated into our faith and into our thinking and decision processes. The lenses need to be the lenses that God gives us. And I would challenge all of you to get a pair of...

Hope

Romans 8:24-25 says, “For in this hope we are saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” I think it's really interesting that Paul writes, “Why would we hope for things we already have? Why would we wish or plead with God to have things that we already have?” The answer is, because we don't really believe we have them. We don’t believe that God has put the Holy Spirit into our lives, who equips us for all good things. Knowing that God has, indeed, blessed us with the Holy Spirit, I hope for what I would just call the great “more.” There are things that I want more of. I want to understand, experience, and know God's presence more. I want more of God's knowledge; to be able through the Holy Spirit to tap into the omnipresent Creator of the universe who allows us to have knowledge. I want more wisdom; wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit who knows, as part of the Trinity, the things that are ahead of us and is not surprised by anything and gives us wisdom on how to navigate the waters of our lives. I want more life. I don't hope for more life, I want to experience more life. And the life I'm talking about is what the Bible calls life abundantly; not a small life, not a dried-up life, not a ‘hope this works’ life, but a life that lives in the abundance of God. There is no poverty spirit, or orphan spirit, or spirit that creates dissonance between us and God, it's just more abundant life. And so, we don't hope for things...

Yesterday’s Event

Last night, InFaith did a 90-minute streaming event online that was just fun. It involved a comedian, an amazing camera crew, and leadership and organization. I look back to it and I just can't believe we pulled it off! I can't believe that the team of writers were able to capture what we needed to say. It’s incredible that there were people who understood how cameras work together to provide something interesting and powerful that shows excellence. And then there was Brad Stine’s talent—he’s funny without telling off-color jokes because he wants to serve God by making people laugh. It was just a really good event. Behind the scenes—the part of this that no one could see—was a group of talented people doing the right thing with the right anointing and the right assignment. When all of those things converge, it's amazing what God will do. It reminds me that the Holy Spirit gives us gifts and equips us for things that are good for the Church and good for the Kingdom. So, I want to encourage you to use your giftedness. There's a place in the Kingdom for the giftedness that God has given you, and He can use it. If you missed watching our event last night, you can watch a recording of it here: infaith.org/event .

Two Things We Should Be as Christians

In Colossians 2:5 Paul is apologizing for not being able to be physically present with the church in Colossae. But, he says, “I'm present with you in Spirit and I delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith is in Christ.” So, in this passage, there are two things that Paul wants us to be known by. First, is that we're disciplined. Even the word discipline for me always brought fear because my parents would discipline me when I didn't do something right, or sometimes I even had this idea that God would discipline me, and I lived under fear. But the discipline talked about here is the discipline of going to God, talking to Him, and having a relationship with Him. We're disciplined in the fact that we want to make sure that the God we serve, the God we know, is a huge number one priority for us. We discipline ourselves to say “no” to certain things in order to say, “Yes God, I am fully disciplined to know you.” We need to be disciplined in knowing God's word, and in prayer. We need to be disciplined in those parts of our life that nobody sees. And in the course of that, we become Christ-like. We become like Him because we discipline ourselves to know Him. The second thing the Colossians are known by is how firm their faith is in Christ. I love that word, firm. I remember when I was younger my mom used to make jello. We loved jello so much that we would always stick our finger in it before it was firm enough—before it had time to become good. God wants us to be firm in our faith. We become firm when we’ve disciplined ourselves in Him. When we...

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