Ridge Burns's blog

A Job Well Done

I just got back from a trip to visit some of our missionaries in Nebraska. I met with some wonderful people. There was one couple that I met with and we had lunch at their house. The man has had some severe medical issues. I began to talk to him about his life. He shared some of the great things that were happening and also some of the hurts in his life. There was fellowship there – a bond – between me, from Southern California working in Philadelphia, with this man in a small town in Nebraska. Fellowship happened because Jesus was the center. The Holy Spirit brought us together. After our conversation we had a great meal. Then I was able to pray with these missionaries, who are dear people and have served the Lord faithfully for years and years. There was a sense that God was at work in our lives. There was a sense of his presence in that room. There’s something powerful about the saints of God getting together and experiencing the presence of God. There’s something very powerful about the gifts of God for the people of God especially when we celebrate and thank God for those gifts. When I walked out of that house into some really frigid weather, all I could say was, “That’s a job well done. That couple has served our King well.”

My Life Verse

Every once in a while I’m in a meeting or with a group of people and they ask, “What is your life verse? What is the part of Scripture that you stake your life one?” I always kind of balk at that idea because it depends on where I’m at in my life and what’s going on around me. The section or verse of Scripture I’m currently clinging to is affected by how things are financially and health-wise. But there is one verse that I think summarizes everything that those smaller life verses have said. It’s found in John 2:5. In that chapter, the wedding feast of Cana is taking place. They run out of wine, people are distraught, Jesus’ mother tells him they have no more wine, and Jesus starts a dialogue with her. Then Jesus’ mother says to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” That’s my life verse – “Do whatever he tells you.” What a great verse! It has at its core some presuppositions. One is that Jesus will tell you what to do. In order for that to happen, we need to listen carefully. Our ears need to be attuned to the Spirit of God as He speaks to us through His Word, through our circumstances, and in some cases through dreams and visions. We need to respond in the same way that those servants did – do whatever He tells us to do. The second presupposition is that Jesus is going to tell us to do things that are good for us, that will help us solve problems and cope with life issues. What He tells us are good things because he’s a good, good God. So I love that verse. I should get a t-shirt that says, “Do whatever He tells you to...

Reach Local

As I’m thinking more lately about the concept of reaching locally, I’m starting to see it being lived out in multiple ways around me. Over their Christmas visit my family was sharing about a ministry they love which helps build support for foster families. It’s so good just to think about how this ministry reaches locally into their surrounding community. They bring support to families who are taking on really tough kids – kids who have been shuffled, kids who have been abused, kids who have been abandoned and have no love so they act out. This group brings together the support structures necessary to make foster families stronger, healthier, and wiser. I love that. It’s looking at the community around you and asking, “Where is it that God wants me to serve? Where is it that He needs to be?” It’s reaching local. And when you do, you change lives. That’s what Jesus did. He ministered to the people as he walked and taught and prayed with people. Let’s reach local together.

Questions

I recently heard a sermon on self-talk and the kinds of questions that we ask each other. It looked at how those questions influence our life, and what they do to our outlook and to the decisions that we make. For example, if you ask yourself the question “Why am I so stupid?” or “Why am I so fat?” or “Why does every bad thing happen to me?” that puts you into a mindset of the natural. You try to solve those problems yourself; you take on all those issues yourself. As opposed to saying “What is God teaching me?” and “How can I grow through this?” or “What is it that God has added to my life that allows me to experience him in full and rich ways?” This isn’t just double talk or some sort of positive thinking. Quite the contrary, we see this illustrated when Jesus fed the five thousand. The disciples kept asking, “How do we feed these people? It’s going to cost eight months’ wages. This is a remote place. There aren’t restaurants nearby.” And all Jesus did was gather what he had and gave thanks. And God performed a miracle – to abundance – where they even had leftovers. Think about the questions you ask yourself. Think about the self-talk that you give yourself. Does it allow you to experience God in whole and different and wild and positive ways? Or does it make God small and your problems big? Let me suggest that we all should ask ourselves the right questions.

The Gifts of God

Let the following verses soak into you as some of the gifts that God has given to us. Romans 11:29 speaks of His unchanging steadfastness: “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Romans 8:32, the gift of God’s son: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” The gift of God is salvation as Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Romans 6:23 talks about the gift of grace. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We know that all good gifts come from God. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 So many great gifts: gifts of salvation, of hope, of healing, of comfort, of joy. Gifts of relationships with our families. Gifts of community with our churches. We’ll give gifts this Christmas, but these gifts from God will last forever – particularly the gift of God – Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Christmas Inflatables

One of the worst inventions ever to reach our planet are Christmas inflatables – you know those Santa Claus, reindeer, manger scenes that are powered by air blowers that take them from lying on the ground to balloon-like shapes sitting on the ground. They look awesome at night – they’re lit from the inside, they bring so much joy to kids and they certainly show a festive spirit. But then the morning comes and you see these dilapidated piles of Santas and reindeer and snowmen. It’s just so ugly. You can’t wait for the night to come so that these sleeping piles of nylon will come alive again. I just don’t like them. Then I began to realize that that’s sort of how we are. Sometimes we are just a pile of nylon and God blows His breath in us and we come alive. We are ugly and we are not valuable and we’re not good to look at. And then God blows His breath on us and we become different. We become festive, we become fully of joy, we become what God has made us to be. We sometimes get a glimpse of what we should be but then morning comes. What we need is the breath of God to bring life to those of us who seem so dead.

Same Power

Jeremy Camp has a great song called Same Power . The chorus has these words: The same power that rose Jesus from the grave The same power that commands the dead to wake Lives in us, lives in us The same power that moves mountains when He speaks The same power that can calm a raging sea Lives in us, lives in us He lives in us, lives in us What a wonderful promise! God says, “I will never leave you or forsake you. I will send you a Comforter that will lead you into all truth.” And that power, that same Holy Spirit power, lives in us. The problem is that we don’t appropriate that. We have small prayers – prayers to protect God’s image, to protect God from seeming like He fails. God says, “No. You have the same power, the same authority. It’s in you. I’ve given you the Holy Spirit that allows you to understand the great work that I want to do.” I think Jeremy Camp spoke so clearly into a powerless church. Another part of the song says, “We (Christians) will not be overtaken. We will not be overcome.” We need to live in that. We need to live in the fact that we will be victorious. I see so many of us defeated, discouraged, depressed. God says, “No. Understand that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” There is power. Let’s live in that power.

Thoughts

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9 Have you ever really thought about what God is thinking? Recently, I’ve been mulling that over. What does God think about me? What is His view of Ridge Burns? When you read the Scriptures: He loves me, He cares for me, He watches over me, He guards me. He creates opportunities for me and gives me dreams. His arms are wide open for me. His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. The reason they are higher than my thoughts is because God is God and I’m not. He has a view of me that has no time or space stamped on it. He sees me for who I am for eternity because I am one of His children. He spends time with me because He views me as important. Sunday we were taking communion at church and I felt the Lord speaking to me about His love for me. We sang a great song about the Father’s love and how He views me. I felt so impressed that I needed a symbol, an object that would remind me this week of His love. Our church uses really chintzy disposable plastic communion cups – they’re not pretty or durable – they’re disposable, and they eat up our environment to boot. But it’s sitting on my desk this week and it reminds me that He loves me, He died for me, and His thoughts about me are good. Even when I disobey, He says, “Come. I will wash you...

Fear

This week I was on an airplane flying from the West Coast to work in Philadelphia. I was upgraded to first-class, which happens at no charge when you fly as much as I do. I was in seat 4A, which is a window seat. There was already an elderly lady in 4B, which is on the aisle. When I got on the plane she got up and let me in the row. I greeted her and we had a very brief conversation. But then all of a sudden she reached over and held my hand. She had her eyes closed so I thought that maybe she didn’t realize that she was doing it. But she kept holding my hand and it got awkward. So I kind of moved my hand and she finally opened her eyes and said, “I’m sorry I’m just so afraid when I fly. Can I just hold your hand?” So, looking around to see if there was anybody from the mission or from my church that might see this, I said, “Sure.” And this dear elderly lady held my hand until we got up in the air. Every time there was a bump and every time there was any sort of abnormality to smooth flying, she would reach over and grab my hand. After a while I kind of liked it. I thought, “You know, as humans, we need each other.” We need each other to overcome the basic fears of our life. And we know through scripture that perfect love casts out all fear. When you’re in unity with people, when you know that people around you are supporting you and carrying you and they exhibit the love of God, there is something that takes place that casts out all fear. So as much as...

Teach Us To Pray

One amazing sentence in Scripture comes from Luke 11:1 where it says, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.'” Jesus, by praying in front of his disciples, was modeling prayer to them. They saw that He had this connection with the Father and desired to have the same. We see so much of how Jesus prayed to the Father as we read through the gospels. One of my favorites is in John 17 where Jesus is praying for himself first, then for his disciples, then for all believers. When He prays for His disciples it’s intimate. It’s deep. It’s sensitive. It’s emotive. I’ve been learning a lot about prayer recently. Yesterday I was in a phenomenal prayer meeting. We were praying over people and asking God to help us lead an event that we are planning. We prayed in the flow – what I mean by that is that it wasn’t just one person praying. We sort of built on each other’s prayers and prayed for each other and stood in unity as we heard each other pray. I love that. I love when you’re in a place where God is speaking and conversing with His people and prayer becomes a conversation. Prayer becomes part of a flow of words from both the Holy Spirit and from our hearts. I think we have often made prayer boring and it is possible that we have made prayer rote. It has such a lack of power when it becomes a recitation of just words. So I would invite you to say to the Lord, “Teach me how to pray. Teach me to know how to communicate with you, Lord Jesus.” When the disciples said that,...

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