Ridge Burns's blog

A New Year

I loved the first day of school when I was young because all of my school supplies were perfect: I had a new ruler, and pencils and pens, and pads of paper, and a new binder. It just felt like it was a fresh start. New Year’s Day is that for many people. We talk about making resolutions. For me New Year’s Day seems like a clean page on which I'm able to write a different story. But I want to speak to those who carry hurts into the new year: pain, disappointment, inadequacy, memories of years gone by that just haunt you. I have a verse for you from Isaiah 43:16-19: This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? Let me just say to you, I believe that God is doing a new thing at InFaith in 2020. I think He's doing a new thing in the Burns family. And I would encourage you: let's forget past things. Let's start fresh. Let’s open our eyes to see that the Lord is doing a new thing. That's my prayer for you in 2020.

A Christmas Greeting

Now that our kids are older, our Christmas Eve and Christmas traditions have changed. Our kids are no longer in the house and so oftentimes we go to them, instead of them coming to us. Our favorite night of the year was Christmas Eve with our children. We’d all gather together and have a birthday party for Jesus—including a cake—and we would sing “Happy Birthday” and just enjoy each other. When I was growing up, Christmas Eve had such warm memories. We always had clam chowder and bagels for dinner. My mom and dad would make the clam chowder and we had a certain set of silverware that we would use every year. One of the things I asked for when my parents died was to have one of those soup spoons. Even now when I use it the spoon reminds me of the warmth of family and the warmth of those evenings, celebrating Jesus, and enjoying each other as a family. I also recognize that Christmas is a time when there's a lot of hurt that can bubble up to the surface: fathers that weren’t fathers, mothers that were angry, kids that were prodigals. My prayer for this Christmas for those who read this blog is that the spirit of Christ would fall on your home and on your family, and there would be a sense of peace on earth and goodwill to all men.

An Unusual Event

I listen to a podcast that one of my pastors puts out every week and I was surprised by what he shared recently. He began his podcast by saying, “I need to correct some things in my sermon. I need to tell you that there are some things that I said that I would like to recalibrate. They weren't necessarily wrong, but they weren't necessarily right. And they certainly weren't what I meant.” What he had said wasn't amoral or anti-scriptural—he just got carried away. He then spent 20 minutes explaining what he had said, why he said it, and recalibrating and correcting the things that he had said. I loved this podcast. It was one of the best sermons I’ve heard because most of us would never admit—particularly in a public setting like this—that what we did wasn’t quite right. What surprised me the most was when I got to the end of the podcast and he said, “Now I know some of you are thinking I'm doing this because everybody talked to me about my sermon. And I felt embarrassed and didn't have a good answer, so I promised that I would undo what I did.” But that wasn’t the case. What he said happened was, “The Spirit of the Lord has called me to tell you this. I don't want to lead you astray.” That, my friends, is a good pastor.


Romans 15:14 says, “I am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.” One of the goals that we have as Christians is that we have equal ability to influence each other through our teaching and through our lives—that we are competent. And how do we become competent? Is it because of our degrees? Or our position at church? We are competent because the Holy Spirit comes and leads us and guides us into all truth. In that leading, we know how to share. Many of us are bitten by the demon of inadequacy. We don't feel like we’re competent. We don't feel like we have the abilities to really make a difference in people's lives. But God says, “I make you competent.” That's what he said to Moses with all of his excuses about how he couldn’t lead the children of Israel. God said, “I will go with you. You can have my name. You can use my authority. I will make you competent.” I love that there's an equality to instruction in the body of Christ. It’s not just people with a lot of knowledge who are competent enough to get to speak into others’ lives. Each one of us has a piece to fill—a role to perform—that we are totally competent in. It's made for us. It's who we are in our souls. It's what we get up in the morning to do—that's our competency. God gives us a role and an assignment that’s perfect within our competencies, and in that we get to instruct each other.


I’m looking at Romans 15:14 again this week where it says, “I am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge…” What knowledge is he talking about? Is it facts? At InFaith we used to give a Bible content exam which was kind of like Bible trivia. It was important that you scored well on that because it showed that you had an understanding and a working knowledge of God's word, which is certainly one thing we must have. But does God really want us to focus only on facts? We know where the patriarchs are buried. We know the history of the New Testament and the context in which it was written. Those are important things, but I think what God really wants us to know is to know Him. He wants us to know the person of Jesus Christ. He wants us to know that person who is our Redeemer and our Savior. And in that, we have complete knowledge of our position and our authority in Christ Jesus. That’s the knowledge that God wants—it's not facts. It's important we know God's word. And important that we know how to describe God’s kingdom. But to be “complete in knowledge” is to know the riches we have in Christ Jesus.

What is Goodness?

The Bible says in Romans 15:14 that we are to be “full of goodness.” One of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians is goodness. But what does it really mean to be good? What quality or behaviors is God trying to reveal to us through this word “goodness”? Certainly, we can say that goodness means you have right behavior—that you do good things. You help people. Your behavior speaks of goodness, grace, mercy, and kindness. When people look at you, they would say you're “good.” If there's a continuum of good and bad people, you're on the good side because the qualities you possess and the behaviors that you exhibit are summed up in the word “good.” But what the Bible also means by “goodness” is avoiding things that are bad, such as wrong behaviors. Goodness is not only a choice to do what is good—what is right, wholesome, and powerful—but it's also a desire in you to not do certain things in order to protect your goodness. And so Paul writes, “I'm convinced, my brothers, that you are full of goodness”—that when people put a label on you, “good” is one of those words.

What We Are Doing Is Not Right

There's a great little story in 2 Kings 7 about four men with leprosy who were banished from the city and were sitting by the wall of the city. They said to each other, “If we stay here, we're going to die of starvation. If we go to the enemy camp, they may have pity on us and let us stay.” To their surprise, when they went to the place where the army was camped, it was deserted and all of the gold, food, and livestock were left. The enemy army had deserted it all because the Lord had created the sound of chariots in the middle of night and they fled in fear. So these four men who had been banished from the city, were now eating food and had everything they could want that was left by the army. But in 2 Kings 7:9 they said something interesting. “Finally, they said to one another, ‘What we are doing is not right. Today is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, our sin will overtake us. Now let us go tell the King's household.’” I think there's a lot we can learn from this story. First of all, I think we need to realize how good God is and how He has allowed us to eat good food and be people of spiritual privilege. We have to do a self-assessment. That's what those four guys did, they looked at themselves and said, “This isn’t right. We need to share the good news. We need to do what is right.” The same thing applies to us today: we need to share the good news. What we're doing—hoarding Christianity by staying in our little small groups and not letting anybody else in—is not...

Prayer Assignments

Recently I've been interacting with some people who have very specific prayer assignments that don't involve a sick person, a relative, or anything like that. They are issues that these people feel that they have been asked by the Lord to talk to Him about. Let me explain: I was with a woman recently who has prayed and prayer walked a mobile home park in her area for years. She asks the Lord to specifically guide her to certain people as she walks and prays. A second person I know has been called to a piece of land that is not developed. They feel like the Lord has anointed them to pray over that particular piece of land. The most surprising one recently was a woman who told me that she really feels like God has called her to pray for serial killers—that the Lord would give them a sense of His presence, His forgiveness, and His justice. Her prayer assignment is serial killers. That's crazy! No one does that. But then I began to think, “What is my prayer assignment? What am I called to pray?” I know I pray for my family, the mission, our church. But what specifically am I called to pray for? So, I am seeking the Lord on that. And I hope that someday when I’m asked what I pray for, I’ll have some very special, focused prayer target in mind. What is your prayer assignment?


The Bible clearly states in the book of James, “Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” “Widow” is very tough title. It conjures up words like alone, withdrawn, sad, and lonely. That’s why we take care of them. In Biblical days, widows were abandoned by their families. They had lost their usefulness, so many of them had to go to the streets. They had difficulties getting food, let alone finding a place to sleep. Thus, the Bible says those are the very people we are to pursue. Today being a widow is different. Recently, I was with a woman whose husband died about a year ago and she was telling me how difficult it was for her to go to church. She had always been the pastor’s wife and had a spot, but now she’s just alone in a huge church. She was telling me how certain moments at church trigger things and how loneliness makes her want to withdraw. So, she forces herself to go to the women’s Bible study and forces herself to go to church so she has a place to belong. Our job here at InFaith and for the church in general is to take care of the widows and the orphans, to give them a place of belonging, to crown them with dignity and grace. When I watched tears roll down this woman’s face—who is a vibrant, amazing prayer warrior and woman of God—I recognized that there’s something we need to take seriously and that is our mandate to take care of the widows and the orphans.


I had the most amazing experience with a young woman named Katie who is a hospice chaplain. She is a young mom and God has given her the gift of compassion in ways I’ve never seen or experienced before. She’s an amazing child of God who goes into the darkest times of people’s lives and brings light and joy. Let me illustrate. I asked her, “What is the hardest part about your job?” She said, “It’s when people are all alone. They don’t have family, or any visitors, and they’re not part of a faith community. They’re dying and they’re scared, and no one cares. As much as we—as hospital facilities and convalescence homes—try to be warm and inviting, it’s cold and sterile.” She told the story about one of her patients, a woman who was all alone and was going to die in the next few hours. Katie prayed with her, sang with her, and read scripture to her. The woman’s response was, “Will you just lay next to me?” So, Katie got up out of her chair and laid next to this woman as she died. When she was telling this story, I could not help but be amazed by Katie’s heart—which is so selfless that it wants to give to others. Katie is an amazing young woman. And she’s even more amazing because she’s in a predominantly male occupation—an occupation where young moms with eleven-month-olds do not fit the culture. But Katie does it because God has anointed her with compassion.


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