Ridge Burns's blog

Expectations

I heard a great sermon on Palm Sunday this year about expectations. Our expectations are sometimes so out of line with what God wants. Sometimes our expectations limit God to our own finiteness and take away the very power of God. Our expectations need to be in line with what God will do, whether we expect it or not. An example was that the Jews expected Jesus to establish His own kingdom: a political kingdom, an earthly kingdom, a kingdom that would put Him on the throne of one part of the world. They expected Him to ride in on a gilded chariot and a huge white horse and just take over the land. That’s what they expected, but what God did was ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people of god spread branches to mark this incredible passing and then they yelled, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” What a different perspective that is from the expectations that the Jews had. When I go to a meeting, or have a difficult assignment, or have to talk to somebody or correct somebody as a leader, I have certain expectations. What I learned from Sunday is that my expectations frame what I expect God to do. If my expectations are big and include God’s sovereign work and not my skill, great things happen. It is my prayer that I will not let my expectations get in the way of what God will do.

Praying Over Me

Over the years I’ve had many people pray for me. Particularly in recent days I’ve had people pray for me who are more mature than I, who have gifts that I don’t have, and feel strongly about the work of the Lord and giving me instruction. It’s common for me now. I love people praying over me and with me. I like to go to our meetings where we engage in that kind of prayer. But I was not prepared for the other night when a ten-year-old girl was praying for me. I felt an amazing sense of God’s presence in my life by the prayers of this ten-year-old. She was appointed by God to speak into my life – but she’s only ten! It didn’t make sense. It reminds me that God’s gifts are not limited to age or maturity. God gives gifts that emerge from people not because of their age or their education or because of their experience but because openness and obedience are part of the equation. This ten-year-old girl did not represent my stereotype of what someone who prays for me should look like. But when she got through praying for me, I was different. I sensed that the Spirit of the Lord was working in my life. I sensed that I had direction. I sensed that I had an assignment from God. I was not expecting it. It was out of my comfort zone. But God used it. Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “Bring the little children to me.” He cares for them and He gifts them. Sometimes we as adults can learn so much from children.

Four Girls and an Opera

While I was teaching at a Bible school in Germany recently, I had a car to use. There was a great little town up the road that was very fun to walk around in. So I offered to take four girls to this town basically so we could eat pastries and drink coffee. On the way there, they began to tell me a story about how the four of them took a trip to Vienna and decided to go to the opera where they could stand during the opera for only three Euros. All kinds of bizarre things happened. One of them had to go to the bathroom, but they wouldn’t let her back in. And then one of them went to find the other person but couldn’t find them. They were snooping around the opera hall and pretty soon all four of them were outside of the auditorium, but their stuff was inside and they couldn’t get back in because no one spoke English and the girls couldn’t speak German. What was funny was that they were all telling the same story at the same time in our very small little car. So to be honest with you, I couldn’t really understand any of them or figure out the story. I found myself just driving and listening to them being silly and having so much fun. There’s something great about joy. There’s something great about silliness. There’s something about people laughing that is just contagious – even if it’s about four girls and a cheap opera and you can’t understand a word they’re saying. My point is simply this: it’s time we get around people that can have fun. Let’s not take life so seriously that we forget that God has placed us in an environment where fun is...

Words that Stick

I was sitting at the back table in the dining room of the Bible school I was teaching at and listening to student after student tell me their issues. I got to pray over them and with them, lay hands on them, and share some advice about faith with some of the students. I even anointed several of them with oil. There was a commonality with all the students that lined up to talk to me. All of them had had words spoken over them: mean words, tough words, angry words, words of inadequacy, words of stupidity. One student who had attempted to take his life was told by a friend, “If you took your life, no one would care. No one would say a word. No one would miss you.” And those words were deeply embedded into this kid’s life. I loved praying over him, reaching out to him and holding him, and asking God to remove those words – to make him Teflon so that those words would not stick to him anymore, so that he would be free from the bondage of those words. I saw so many kids who were paralyzed by words. How much better would it be if we spoke affirmation to one another? If we spoke words of growth – positive words, words that would propel people on the right trajectory. I think we need to recognize that words stick.

Prayer Flares

Sometimes language is so visual to me. I love people who paint pictures with words, whose words elicit images in my mind. One of the things that I’ve discovered is necessary for Christian growth is a prayer shield. Just like there needs to be a protective shield around people who have destroyed immune systems so they don’t get sick, there needs to be a protective prayer shield around all that we do as brothers and sisters in Christ. We need a prayer shield that repels the forces of evil and allows us to live in the presence and the glory of God. And every once in a while, there needs to be special attention for something. I was with a friend in the midst of a series of meetings and she said, “I shot up a prayer flare.” Isn’t that a great picture? A prayer flare! Bam – the gun goes off, the sky lights up and it almost announces, “Please find me! Help me! I need to grow. I need your prayer right now.” I think personally that we need to have more prayer flares shot up to our prayer shield that takes our needs and issues to the very throne room of God.

The Power of Parents

Last week I lectured for a week in Germany on the topic of the Ten Commandments to about 110 students from all around the world. It’s a delight to work with the Torchbearers to help students understand the great things God is doing and wants to do through their lives. I was talking about the commandment to honor your parents. There’s no qualification depending on if you have good parents or bad parents – you’re to honor your parents either way. It’s interesting the power that parents have on their children. We who have children need to understand that. Our words, our actions, our attitudes, our countenance, and our spirit is embedded in the lives of our kids. When we are positive and we love God and trust Him and share our faith with others, that is imputed into our kids lives simply by them watching how we act. I’m amazed every year at the power of an event that a parent will have with one of their children: a canoe trip, a mountain climbing expedition, going to dinner, a letter. It amazes me how the power of time with your children shapes those kids’ lives. When I teach on this topic, I always ask the students to write a letter to their parents and put it in the mailbox with the purpose of affirming their mom and dad. I tell them that even if their parents are bad, if they can find some good – affirm that good. I’m amazed at the stories of what those letters mean to the parents. The power of parents is why in the framework of the nation of Israel, one of their ten statements was to honor their mother and father. There’s power there.

The Great Azusa Street Revival

On April 9 this year, one hundred thousand people are going to gather at the LA Coliseum to celebrate the revival that took place on Azusa Street in 1906 in Los Angeles. It was a pretty incredible event because it was the first multi-ethnic group gathering in a long time in our nation’s history. And God honored that and a revival broke out and hundreds came to know Christ. Many more were spurred on to do great things for Christ. Many of them understood the power and work of the Holy Spirit in incredible ways. There was prayer and salvations. It was awesome. This gathering of people at the LA Coliseum this year is not to duplicate the revival, but to celebrate it and pray for further revival. It’s interesting to me that our InFaith national conference, called Refresh, also takes place during that week. Could it be that God is doing a stirring? Could it be that God is bringing people together on the same dates – as we pray and we seek God’s will – to have a great awakening in our country? An awakening that will bring people together – people of all different colors, people who speak different languages, people who believe that Jesus Christ died for their sins and rose again that we may have eternal life – people who understand the gospel. Could it be that God is breathing a wind of revival in our country? As InFaith, we want to be part of that. There are some theological differences you may disagree with, but who could argue with the fact that our country needs revival? I believe what took place in 1906 could take place in 2016 if the people of God would pray for the outpouring of God’s power and Spirit on...

Simple Church

Last Sunday I was in church and we were singing a worship song. I didn’t know the song and I didn’t want to learn it. I just sort of shutdown and for a minute drew back and thought about “What is church? And why was I into it?” Our church does a great job of presentation on Sunday morning. We have great lights and sound, a cool stage and lots of props, good signage and incredible hospitality. All these things can make a great experience on Sunday morning. But there in my seat all by myself, I experienced church without any of those components. God just met me. In a song I didn’t know, in a worship service that was full of great things to bring us to worship, God met me quietly in my chair. It made me think about how church doesn’t need to be so complex. Church is really when God and I sync together. Church, as you know, doesn’t necessarily mean getting together in a building. Church is when brothers and sisters in Christ connect at a heart and soul level. I think sometimes we need to think through how we can keep church simple.

Prayer Really Does Change Things

Recently we had an issue at the mission that was creating some strong opinions and even some disunity. It wasn’t that people didn’t like each other; it’s just that they had strong opinions about the direction we should go on a particular topic. Twice we tried to come to a decision through meeting together and prayer, but as the leader, I felt that we weren’t yet ready to come to that decision. We weren’t unified so I delayed the decision for another thirty days. We started the meeting – where we were going to decide how to handle this particular issue – with prayer. For a couple of hours, the four of us on the management team prayed together. We prayed for each other. We prayed for the mission. We prayed that we would have wisdom in this decision. And what had already taken us ninety to 120 days to decide, took us about fifteen minutes to figure out after we prayed together this time and slowed down. I believe that decision was a direct result of answered prayer. I believe that had we not prayed throughout that process, had we not slowed down to invite God into that issue, it would have been another month of presentations and perspectives that did not result in a decision. I really believe prayer changes things.

Snow

Recently you may know that we had a couple feet of snow come down in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. There was no place to put all of the snow. A snow emergency was declared. Parking was at a premium. People were buying out all essential food products at the store. It was a mess. The storm was just as it was predicted to be: there were forty-mile-an-hour winds and ten- to twelve-foot drifts. It was all that the weather people said it would be. And you know what happened? The city shut down – no one left their house, no one was driving around, the mail wasn’t being delivered, many people were without power, our internet was down at our apartment. We were stuck. After the power came back on, I was watching TV and saw an editorial about the snowstorm that I thought gave great insight. It was talking about how nature gets tired of our busyness and every once in awhile just shuts it down so we have to slow down. Nature, in this case, gives us a day alone, a day to enjoy beauty. What a great perspective on the storm. Instead of looking at it as a hassle, this commentator pointed us to those times when we are just so busy that even nature has to slow us down because we simply do not take the time by our own choice.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Ridge Burns's blog