Ridge Burns's blog

What do you do with a hot potato?

We’ve all played the game hot potato—where you pass the potato around until it's cool enough that somebody can hold it. You know, oftentimes with issues that are difficult—issues that rock some of our core beliefs—that's what we do: we just keep passing it around till it gets cold enough that it goes away. There are some current “hot potatoes” facing the Church—both the big universal church, and local churches. What do we do with racism? What does the post-COVID church look like? What's our moral responsibility to the rest of the globe in relation to vaccines? Then there are very practical “hot potatoes” like mask or no mask, vaccine or no vaccine? So, how should we handle these “hot potato” issues? First, with our ears: listen to what people are saying. Don't jump in quickly and give your opinion. Think about it and pray about it. Remember, Jesus said we would be known by our love, because love never fails. We show love by listening and respecting another perspective. Second, we face it. We face these “hot potatoes” with our eyes. We look to see what the fruit of this particular “hot potato” is. What does it do? Does it drive people apart or bring people together? Is the reason that it drives people apart because we're not listening and not hearing and not digesting what the other person is saying? If so, we may be the problem. So, let your eyes look at the fruit. Let your eyes see what this particular “hot potato” does to the church and to our culture. Third, we should handle a “hot potato” with our hearts. The questions that ought to be front and center to us are, “What is God saying? What is God speaking in my heart? What is it...


I think far too often Christians settle for the small. They settle for a small view of God and for a small work of God in their life. When in fact, God says, “I want to give you a life that's abundant, big, and extravagant—a life that is full of incredible things that only God could do.” I think it's time we begin to pray big. Pray that God will eradicate COVID. Pray that God would drive out systemic racism. We should pray that God would do a work of unifying the church, which seems so divided right now. We need to ask God for big things; things that allow Him to be made famous because of His great works. And pray with big faith, believing that God can do a work, that He can do some amazing things that aren't small. They seem impossible, but they are attainable when we have a big God doing big things. And when we have people in the church praying big prayers and inviting Him to do amazing things in their lives. Big is important. That doesn't mean that bigger is better, that's not what I'm saying. Sometimes small is good. The Bible talks about having faith the size of a mustard seed and that that’s enough to move a mountain. But I think it's time for us to act and think big.

The Story of Liberia

When slaves were freed and the Emancipation Proclamation was given, the United States purchased a large plot of land in West Africa and gave it to the freed slaves so they could create their own country if they chose to. If you go to Liberia now some things are a duplicate of what we have in the United States. They have a Congress, Senate, and a House of Representatives. The flag is similar. Liberia was given the right to create a country which shared the values which emancipated them. It was a gift. But do you know what happened? They created a slavery system that was worse and harsher than the system they left in the United States. There was a massive desire to be a master and not the slave. Eventually they also had an Emancipation Proclamation. The story of Liberia reminds us that we can’t forget history. We may want to revise it so that it fits our grid, but the facts are the facts. History is important; it keeps us from making the same mistakes. It also tells us that we have broken the chains of the past. When I look at the story of Liberia, I'm so glad that there aren’t slaves in Liberia now, and that there aren’t slaves in the United States. Instead, there's freedom because the chain of that harsh system has been broken. We need to remember where we’ve come from. We find in scripture, in Revelation 2, that the Church in Ephesus has lost their first love, and it says, “remember where you have come from and repent and go forward.” That's what we do. Let's not forget history; we can learn a lot.

Washington Square

I had an appointment in downtown Philadelphia and went in early to avoid the traffic. I was sitting in Washington Square answering emails, making some phone calls, and in some ways just sitting quietly as the city woke up. I didn't know anything about Washington Square. I could see a statue or two, and then I noticed a small plaque on a stone about five feet from me. It was very inconspicuous, nothing big. It said that this spot is dedicated to honoring the thousands of unknown men and women who died in the American Revolution. And I thought to myself about those thousands of unknown people. They'll never be remembered—their names are not on the plaque, there’s not a statue, they’re not reading the names out loud every year on the 4th of July—because they're unknown. They quietly went around fighting for our freedom. There's a phrase on a memorial in this park that says, “Freedom is the light for which many men and women have died in darkness.” I think we need to remember those who have gone before us, and that’s true in our mission as well. People sacrificed and their sacrifice created hardships for their families, but still they persevered. Over 200 years ago, just a few blocks from the spot where I sat, God raised up a mighty mission called InFaith, whose only desire is to reach America for Christ; to bring the gospel to this place. There was something about sitting in the Square and honoring the thousands of people who were part of the American Revolution. It gave me freedom. It gave our organization the freedom to preach the gospel without any fear of anybody hurting us because of our religious beliefs. I honor them, and I honor the people in our mission...

Why Don't We Hear More About the Afterlife?

Titus 1:2 talks about Paul’s call to further the faith of God’s elect “in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.” I just love that God promises before the beginning of time that there is eternal life available to those who trust in Jesus. When we really believe that there is an afterlife, it does three things. First of all, it puts this life in perspective. We’ll understand that the things we will experience and grow into in the afterlife are so much greater and untarnished. The pure worship of God will allow us to understand what worship really is. No more bickering about theology, no more trying to parse verbs. We will be the theology because of what God has done for us and how He’s allowed us to have eternal life. Second, we don’t hear a lot about the afterlife because we really don't believe that it’s our hope. The Bible in Hebrews calls it the ‘blessed hope’. It should be what we live for. It's what we're preparing for. It becomes our hope. And therefore, when somebody prays and they are not healed they will be healed in heaven—where there is no sickness, no darkness, no sin, and no malice or disunity. Everything is pinned on eternal life, which is our blessed hope. Third, we don't hear a lot about the afterlife because we just believe it's figurative and symbolic. The streets of gold, or the crystal sea, or the throne of the elders casting their crowns in. We think about it so much in terms of the figurative, that we really don't believe all of it's going to happen. We know that those descriptions are just examples trying to put in finite words some of the...


One of the great things spoken at our son’s Anglican church is said while the communion bread is being served and just before it’s given to the congregation. At that point in the service, the rector says, “The gifts of God, for the people of God.” I love that. God has given us gifts to be used. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others.” The gifts that God has given to you are not for you to build yourself up or to give yourself status, they are given to you so that you can help and serve others. The body is full of different gifts that seem like they don't relate to each other until they come together for an event or worship or for prayer and then you begin to see the different gifts of God being utilized to bring His kingdom to the earth at this time. We all have a part to play in this incredible orchestra, to use our gifts to serve others. And when we serve others, it produces a good thing. A few months ago, my son and I went on a tour of the Ford Motor truck plant in Dearborn, Michigan. It's an amazing tour. There are a lot of robots that orchestrate everything to fit perfectly. The truck bodies come in at the perfect time and the engines come in at another time, and then the tires and the glass at their time. It shows in an incredible way how a variety of things can come together to produce one very good thing. If you took the glass robot, or the guy who is installing the tailgate, or the person putting in the seats out of context, they don't seem very significant...

Our Diverse Culture

Last week I went to two memorial services. One was for John Kim, a warrior for God who started Pioneers for Christ here at InFaith. His Korean heritage was clear throughout the service; it was meaningful, it was honoring, and it was just a great service. I went to the Korean service because I wanted to see what it was like. It felt so honoring as it was done in John’s culture, in a way that he appreciated and that his family appreciates. I went from there to Wheatland, Wyoming to the memorial service for Delbert Dick, a long-term missionary in a family who has given their lives to InFaith. And the culture was much different. There were string ties and cowboy hats; 4-wheel-drive pickup trucks and cowboy boots. We sang old hymns and told good stories about this man who served rural churches in Wyoming. The whole service was done in his culture. And that can be the challenge when you're in charge of a mission like ours—it’s so diverse. It's diverse in its ethnicity, in its ministry philosophy, in programming format, and in theology. How do you lead such a diverse organization? The answer is very clear and very simple: You simply honor each other. That doesn't mean you have to agree, or pretend you're closer to someone else’s culture, you just need to be you and let Jesus shine through. When I walked away from that absolutely packed service in Wyoming, I couldn't help thanking God that we're not all the same. Being different is what God has called us to be. The difference is not just because we live a Christian and a pure life, we’re different because our cultures are different. And we respect other cultures.

My In-Laws

My in-laws, who live in Burbank, CA, are wonderful people—a godly man and woman. RobAnne’s mom, Nina, was one of the leaders of the women's ministry in John MacArthur's church for 25 years. She was a respected Bible teacher, a scholar, and a student of God's Word. But dementia has set in, and it was time for her to live in an assisted living facility. We found a great one and moved them in. Then we began to kind of dismantle their house and look through things, have an estate sale, and give things away to family members and those who might want something to remember them by. We were driving home one night when my wife, RobAnne, said, “It's like we're erasing them.” It does feel that way. All their stuff was meaningful to them and significant from family Christmases, Easter dinners, and years of making memories. It was like we were erasing it all away. But what you can't erase away, is the legacy that Nina has left in women’s lives. We see it over and over again as we read letters written to her from young women who embraced her teaching. Jake, RobAnne’s father, is a very generous man with his time and will drop what he's doing at a minute’s notice to help. His legacy also lives on—that of a great father. When you are in Christ, when you have participated in the work of God in the church, when you have moved in a powerful way to understand the work of the Holy Spirit in the saving work of others, you can't be erased. God calls us to leave legacies that point to Him, to leave these markers behind so people know this was a place where God moves. So, we are not erasing, really...

Prayer Shields

I want to encourage you to take 20 minutes and listen to our new podcast with Bruce Latshaw talking about Prayer Shields. He starts by saying, “As a pastor, I always wanted my church to be known as a praying church.” But what does that mean? What does that look like? For many churches it's the Wednesday night prayer meetings with half a dozen people who are great intercessors and work hard to share the needs of the church with the Lord. But it's such a small group, a small percentage of a big church. So, Bruce has developed a system of Prayer Shields that everyone who is in ministry needs to have. It’s an active place where people can hear the need for immediate prayer. It’s different than a Prayer Chain. This is a Prayer Shield and to find out more you need to listen to this podcast I think if we could achieve these kinds of Prayer Shields at InFaith, the blessings of God would be amazing. Listen to the podcast here: Consider More Podcast

The Big It

In their time with us, our candidates go through what is called the School of Ministry. And in that School of Ministry, we share a verse from 1 Thessalonians 5, which simply says, “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” We talk with them about the “it.” Some of us have big “its”—we have lots of responsibility and a big shadow and we tend to be able to influence the atmosphere because our “it” is so big. But there are some people that have little tiny decisions that need to be made. And no matter if it's a big “it” or a small “it”, God says he's going to do it. And so, I want you to think about what your unique “it” is? What if you put whatever God is calling you to do into a sentence and added “the one who calls you, who is faithful, will do it” at the end of the sentence? This is not a new idea. We've talked about it over the last 14 years that I've been writing blogs. But I think we forget God has a special “it” just for you. He has a special “it” that is crafted to be perfectly synchronized with your gifts, talents, and your experiences. I'm encouraging you to ask God to make clear what your “it” is, because He is faithful to do what he has called you to do.


Subscribe to RSS - Ridge Burns's blog