Ridge Burns's blog

An Amazing Verse

Every Easter we go to an Anglican church that our son and his family attend in Wheaton, Illinois, called Church of The Resurrection. They have the “Great Easter Vigil.” Any of you who grew up in liturgical churches know that it's an amazing two-hour service celebrating the incredible gift of Jesus Christ, culminating in that one sentence on Easter Sunday morning, “He is Risen!” During the service, they read some scriptures, one of which comes from Zephaniah 3. I'm going to focus on verse 17. It says, “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you; He will quiet you with His love, and rejoice over you with singing.” I just love that verse! The Lord is with me. He is mighty to save me. He is strong enough, big enough, mighty enough. I then love how this verse talks about how God looks at me, and what His eyes see when He views Ridge Burns. It says, “He will take great delight in you, Ridge, and He will quiet you with His love—even with a raging pandemic and a crazy political time.” He will quiet me with His love, and He rejoices over me with singing. “Rejoicing” is the idea that God takes great delight in His creation, and I am part of His creation. He is mighty to save and He sings over me with rejoicing!

When Nobody is Looking

When I was in seminary one of the definitions we were given of integrity is “doing what is right when nobody’s looking—when there's no audience—just because it's right.” It's like stopping for a red light at 3:00 in the morning with nobody in sight. You don't go through the light; you stop because that's the right thing to do. I see that kind of integrity in a lot of our missionaries at InFaith. I see a financial integrity, and a spiritual integrity, but also a quiet, unassuming, non-performance integrity that spills out of our missionaries. Let me give an example: last night I stayed late in the office. Another person was also in the office, and they said, “Let's pray over the space together.” So, we stood over desks and cubicles and we asked God to bless our people; to take care of them. There were some needs that we were able to speak into through prayer, it was as if God was saying to me, “There is spiritual integrity when no one's looking.” We pray for you when you're not around. We guard your space and clean it out spiritually before you come, because we love you and we care for you. It’s silent and invisible to most people. I think that's the kind of Christianity that I want to live. I want to live in the surprising rapids of God's love when no one is looking and God is speaking right into my spirit. So, how are you when nobody's looking?

A Different Perspective

I just got through watching the swearing in of Chief Justice Amy Coney Barrett. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching this incredible woman give answers and be gracious and kind, yet forceful and respectful. It was amazing to watch how she went through the hearings. I understand the debate about whether they should have waited until after the election, but if you put that issue aside, you can see one really amazing person. What I like about her is that she has seven children: two adopted, and one with special needs. She is, according to news reports, very pro-life. She wants to speak for the unborn. We were praying as a ministry staff about this, and one of our missionaries prayed something that rocked me. She said, “Help us to be as concerned for the mom who's at the end of her rope and desperate, as we are for the unborn.” We need to create systems that minister to the moms who will give their babies up to abortion. We need to understand that there are some societal actions that cause women, young women in particular, to be very vulnerable to situations which they would remedy with abortion. We need to have a balance between speaking strongly against abortion and having right-to-life views—not just saying, “You can't have an abortion.” We need to minister to those people; speaking to the potential moms who are struggling with life, who don't know what to do and who feel unsupported and uncared for. We need to be as concerned about that part of abortion as we are about taking the life of an infant. For me, that was very revolutionary. It was a good thing to hear, because I want both. I want the Church to minister to moms who feel desperate, hurt, and...

The God of All Grace

Grace is a marvelous term. We talk at InFaith of putting on the “sweater of grace”—thinking of others more highly than yourself; going the second mile; being gracious, warm, and welcoming to people. God has the title the “God of All Grace.” Everything that we can put in the word “grace”—every action, every activity that forms grace—is found in God alone. This is what it says in 1 Peter 5:10, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ...” This gracious God calls us to eternal life, to live with Him forever, to enjoy Him, to worship Him, to experience Him, and to be engulfed with His presence. 1 Peter 5:10 then continues by saying, “…after you have suffered for a little while…” The Christian life is not easy. It has hassles and hardness attached to it. We suffer knowing that at the end of our suffering, comes something amazing. “…And after you have suffered for a little while, he himself [God himself] will restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” I love that! God will take everything that has been robbed by sin in the world, everything that has been robbed by the evil one, and restore us and make us strong, firm, and steadfast. Why? Because those are the characteristics of God. He's strong and firm and steadfast. Peter puts this in one sentence, “To him be the power forever and ever.” God has the power to do these things because He in Himself is gracious and He will restore. I think about the things that have been robbed in my life, the things that have been difficult and hard, the things that maybe I even feel have been stolen from me. There are land and territories that we've taken...

What Ever Happened to the Supernatural?

I was reading in the New Testament this morning. In the book of Acts, I began to see miracle after miracle: demons cast out, people being healed, lives being turned around, and those who were insecure receiving confidence—all by the ministry of the disciples of Jesus. What ever happened to the supernatural? What ever happened to healings and amazing things? In Luke 10, when the disciples came back after being sent out by Jesus, they didn't say, “We had a great service. We had a wonderful time together. We met a lot of great Christian people.” No, they said, “We cast out demons and healed people. We all understand the power of your name.” So, what has happened to this? Could it be that we've lost a basic belief that God can do anything He wants? Could it be that we've lost belief? We now look only at our experience and only at what we can see, and we leave out the supernatural. As a result, everything becomes dumbed down, everything becomes a place that we can explain. God is not explainable. Could it be that we've reduced God to a manageable, safe space? We are able to put our arms around Him and control Him. He can work in certain ways, but we don't allow Him to do what He wants to do—which may be supernatural and uncomfortable for us. I think the Church and the people of God need to understand the gifts of God. Then we can become spokespeople in the hands of God. And when we do that, we defeat what Satan wants—to make everything in the natural controllable. What ever happened to the supernatural? We have been robbed of our belief that God can do anything.

An Unlikely Missionary

The Bible is full of characters who you never think would be valid, qualified missionaries. For example, Rahab: her line of work doesn't exactly fit into most evangelical circles. Paul persecuted Christians. He had a letter authorizing him to arrest them and drag them back to Jerusalem to put them on trial. And yet God broke into his life on the Damascus road. Gideon was afraid, small, and had bad self-esteem, but God said, “Hey mighty warrior, you’re going to lead the Israelites in defeating the enemies that are surrounding them.” God is not done using unlikely people to do amazing things. Recently, I was on a call interviewing a potential new missionary. He began to tell me a little bit about his life and it was all about how he's not qualified: not good enough, not strong or wise enough, not enough experience, not enough faith—everything was not enough. I finally had to say to him, “Listen, you're in the best spot possible because you're in good company with those in God's word who were the most unlikely candidates. God's going to use you in powerful ways.” His face lit up. He smiled and began to look more confident and said, “I understand, but I still feel like I'm not worthy.” Let me just say this to those of you who may be reading this blog and have had that same feeling: Jesus is enough. God is enough. You don't need to add anything. You don't need to get a call and add education or experience or finance or whatever. Jesus is enough. If He has called you and you are obedient, He will take care of you.

Promises

In Hebrews 6:19 it says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” What is that anchor? The anchor is God's word, God's promises, and God’s inability to lie. God is all truth and what He says is true will happen, and that becomes our anchor. That becomes what we hook into to hold us during turbulent times. We have this hope as an anchor for our soul: strong, firm, and secure. When we anchor into God’s promises, we anchor into God's character. And God’s character is always for our good. God's character is always designed to help us be all that He wants us to be. Bill Johnson once said that God answers prayers with His promises and I think that’s true. When we are unsure of our faith, our hope becomes an anchor for our souls. When we're in turbulent times we guard the gift of the Holy Spirit inside us that brings us into hope and to wisdom. What exactly is an anchor? An anchor is there to keep the ship from wandering off or from being in a place where it drifts. So, when we have this hope, God's promises, His character, and His unchangeability become our anchor. And we will stand firm.

The Good Deposit

There's an interesting verse in 2 Timothy 1:14 that says, “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” When I was in seminary, we were taught that the deposit is “true doctrine”; it's making sure that scripture is sound. Verse 13 leading into verse 14 says, “What you have heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching…Guard the good deposit…” So, there's a sense that this good deposit is the gospel. It’s right theology. It's what you believe. It's not polluting or diluting or ignoring this deposit of good, solid theology. But I think there's something more to this deposit. I think God deposits his Holy Spirit in a unique way into each one of us, which is perfectly crafted for us. He takes into consideration our station in life, our maturity in Christ, our giftedness, and our abilities and skills. God deposits the Holy Spirit inside of us to become the landscape for all good things from the Lord to grow from. We have to guard that deposit because we can pollute it so quickly. We can begin to rely on our own skills and talents and God says, “I've given you a deposit. Live within that deposit because there's life in there.” So, the question becomes, what is the deposit that God has placed in us? What is it that's unique to us? What is our unique mantle that we hold on our shoulders? I believe without a doubt that a clear understanding of scripture, as scripture speaks for itself, is part of this deposit. But I think the deposit also includes the giftedness that God has given to us. We need to express our faith within that giftedness. There are times when...

What is in God's Hands?

I think we’ve all sung the song “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” and while that’s true, is there anything else in God’s hands? When you do a study of God's hands in scripture you find that it talks about His “right hand of power.” He has hands of mercy, and of grace. His hands show us belonging when He says, “I hold you in my arms and my hands.” I love that. If you looked at Jesus’ hands, like Thomas did, you could see the nail holes, pierced for our sins and for our salvation. Then there's a really interesting description of God's hands in Isaiah 49. This chapter is about the restoration of the nation of Israel when God gathers them back together in powerful ways for the future. In verse 16 it says, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” He looks at the nation of Israel and says, “I can't neglect you because I'm reminded when I look at the palms of my hands that I've engraved you there.” Now, I hate it when people write notes to themselves on the palms of their hands. I want them to get a piece of paper and write their note there. Writing on your hand just seems sloppy to me. But on the other hand, when you write something in the palm of your hands, you can't ignore it. It's right there with you. So, thank God that He’s engraved you on the palm of His hands! He has put you in a place where He can't forget you. He says, “See, I know you. I know who you are, and I know how you are going to be blessed as we walked together in Kingdom work.”

Human Contact

Last Saturday night, five of us got together because we simply were tired of not talking to human beings. We got tired of Zoom, tired of the phone, tired of FaceTime and Facebook. We were tired of everything being virtual, and all we wanted to do was sit around the table and talk. It was so good! A couple of the people who we gathered with have reason to be very concerned about the virus and so we practiced everything we could to make everyone feel safe and secure. We went around the circle and talked about what's happening to us during this pandemic. We shared about what’s really difficult for us in the part of us that nobody sees. We hung out from 7:00pm until 10:00pm and could have gone a lot longer. It was great! You know why? Human contact. It wasn't drive-in church or virtual church, it was brothers and sisters in Christ gathering together simply to be able to have contact with each other—to be a community. Jesus tells us in kind of a roundabout way how important this is. Remember that Jesus was confronted with some lepers, and if you were a leper in that time no one talked to you. You were isolated—quarantined—forever. The Bible says Jesus touched the leper skin to skin, human being to human being, and that was amazing. So, I would encourage you if you're stuck in this pandemic and feel alone and isolated, find a way to safely have human contact, it's essential to life.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Ridge Burns's blog