Ridge Burns's blog

The Great Benediction of Jude

The last two verses of Jude say, “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” Oftentimes these verses are quoted at the end of a service—to seal the service up with a benediction; a final charge to those who are listening. The Lord has caused me to really meditate on this verse over the last week or so, and I want to personalize it for you as we close out this year as a benediction that you can read and just let it soak in. This is how I believe that verse is personalized for Ridge Burns: Ridge, there is a God who's able to keep you from stumbling—you can't do it on your own. You're not good enough, wise enough, smart enough. You are tainted by sin. But there is a God who wants to keep you from stumbling and to present you to His glory and His presence. He desires that you be washed white as snow, clean: no bias, no bitterness, no hurt, no pain, no illness. He presents you into His glorious presence with great joy. And so, this benediction is to the only God. There is only one God, there is none like Him. Ridge, do not bring any other gods into His presence; no gods of lust, or power, or misuse. This one God is your savior, Ridge. Without Him, you're doomed—you are lost. There is no one like Him. And so we bring Him glory, and majesty, and power. We embrace His glory so that we can understand how things are put together in His...

A Graveside Service I Attended

A couple of days ago I attended a graveside service for an amazing woman who has an amazing family. There were probably 50 people in attendance, and it seemed like everyone there was either in ministry or part of ministry. They had all come together to share in celebrating this incredible life. Speaker after speaker talked about the amazing fervor of this woman to do what was right—from being a nurse in the Sudan, to raising kids in Korea as a missionary, and even staging a protest at abortion clinics where she was carried off by police. It was cold at the funeral that day, and we were all bundled up and in masks (as required by regulation), but then the most amazing thing happened: it began to snow. As it began to snow people at first seemed frustrated. But for me, in the back of the crowd, it was like God was raining His promises down on this family in the shape of snowflakes. They were covered by the snow—you couldn't escape it. It was like God was saying, “I'm going to give you a visual aid of how much I care for you and how much I love this family and how many amazing things this woman did.” I felt so blessed to be there. And so blessed that the snow showed up and that each one of those flakes were remembrances of the promises of God. So, I went away from that graveside service with a more full and complete appreciation for the promises of God.

Joe Curtis

One of our field directors, Keith Stringfellow, recently got on a prayer phone call with one of our retired missionaries named Joe Curtis. Joe was a firestorm for Christ back in his 50s, 60s, and 70s. He’s now 90 years old and he still lives in the inner city and still has a heart for those who are broken and hurt. In fact, Keith was telling me that Joe regularly covers his neighborhood on a scooter. He’s presented the gospel to every house but one. He is a born evangelist; a person who wants to share the good news. Joe is a person who, if you're within ten feet of him, you will probably get to understand what the gospel, in terms of salvation, is all about. Joe Curtis is still an amazing missionary at 90 some years old! He didn't retire, he just continued in a smaller area to share the gospel so that every house, every person will know the good news because Joe Curtis takes evangelism seriously.

Chasing the Sage

One of our amazing missionaries, Bud Lamb, has written a book called Chasing the Sage. It’s designed primarily for men on about how to get passion and love and authority in the different stages of life. He talks about the first movement from an orphan to a son. The next movement is from a boy to a man. And the final movement is when you “chase the sage.” That’s when you really understand why you're here, and you begin to use your passion and giftedness to bring joy and purpose and passion back to your life. I am about halfway through the book. It's almost a workbook, except you write down the answers in your head, which helps you begin to think about the issues that Bud leads you through in an amazing way. There's a section called “Running with Pain,” and it really helped me understand some of the struggles in my own life and what I can do with them. So, I highly recommend Bud’s new book Chasing the Sage! It's available on Amazon and if you have trouble getting it, just write me and I’ll make sure that we figure out a way to get you information on how to get a copy.

Having Thanksgiving All Alone

This Thanksgiving 2020 was unique for RobAnne and I as we were not with our children; we weren’t with our church family; and we weren’t with our extended family. Because of COVID, we were alone—just RobAnne and I. I dreaded it. I said things I probably shouldn't have said and I just wasn’t looking forward to not being with my kids or with RobAnne’s family this Thanksgiving Day. But I had a great time! We got up late. We cooked a meal like there were 1,000 people coming, and we just enjoyed eating and being together and talking. It was a wonderful day. Not that I wouldn't have rather been with my kids or with the extended family, but for what it was it was amazing. I asked myself why it was so good, and I've come up with four reasons. First, thankfulness is not based on a lot of people around your table. Thankfulness this year was looking for things that you rarely see. Sometimes the festivities of a holiday take away not only from the true meaning but the impact on your own soul. I was watching RobAnne making food in the kitchen and I was so thankful for her and who she is and how she operates and how she loves the Lord. Second, routine is dry; tradition is lifegiving. Routine is that we have a turkey and we have stuffing—we still argue that my mom's stuffing is better than RobAnne’s mom’s stuffing—we have apple pie and pumpkin pie, those are the routines. The tradition is that we stop and we bring our peeps together—the ones we love, the ones we regard, the ones that we are responsible for—we bring them together and we celebrate by doing the routine. But, the routine isn’t the life-giver, the life-giver...

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.

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