Ridge Burns's blog

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.

The Blood of Jesus Christ

For a decade I led a large conference center in Southern California called Forest Home. One of our musicians there loved the old hymn “God Leads His Dear Children Along.” One of the verses of that hymn says: Some through the waters, some through the flood, Some through the fire, but all through the blood; Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song, In the night season and all the day long. I love that verse because it points us to the blood of Christ which cleanses us from all unrighteousness. The blood of Christ has power, forgiveness, love, and mercy. The blood of Christ changes us and gives us hope. I was listening to a podcast a couple weeks ago that was talking about the pandemic. The host of the podcast said, “You need to understand that one drop of the blood of Christ would banish this virus from the whole earth.” One drop! Not even the “fountain that flows with the blood of Christ,” not all of the incredible amount of forgiveness there—just one drop, because there's power in the blood. We all know there's wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb. But somehow the translation between what we know about the blood and how we apply the blood seems to get lost in our culture and our society today. I think it's because we've never really placed ourselves under the blood of Christ to wash us clean, to reorient us, and to reboot us to true North. We haven’t allowed ourselves to experience a place where only He exists—and it only exists for those who have been washed in the blood. “Some through the waters, some through the flood. Some through the fire, but all through the blood.” The blood of Jesus Christ has power...

Wait in the City

The last sentence recorded in the book of Luke that Jesus said to his disciples before he ascended into heaven was this, “I'm going to send you what the Father has promised, but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” It seems to me that that's one of the things that's missing from most spiritual Christian relationships with Christ; where is the power? Where is the ability for us to access what is already ours through the work of Christ? Where is it in the church and in Christian fellowship? Where is our casting out of demons and healing people just like in the book of Acts? I don't think the book of Acts was a transition book. I think it's meant to be a normative experience for believers today. “Wait in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” I have a friend who tells a story about when he bought a new lawnmower. His wife started using the lawnmower and was pushing and pushing it. She kept complaining about how hard it was to push, until he showed her that it was a self-propelled lawnmower. All she had to do was push a lever down, and the lawnmower practically moved by itself. It didn’t take any effort because it had power generated not from the user but from inside the lawnmower. Could it be that we do many things that are meant to be spiritual, but we're doing them in our own power? What we need to do is “wait in the city” and the Father has promised that He's going to give us something even better than Christ—the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s amazing that we are able to have the same power that raised Jesus...

Amazing Verses in the Bible, Part 3

There is no one in the Bible who reveals to us the transformation of our character and our self-view as much as Gideon. The amazing verse is this: Judges 6:12, “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.’” Do you know where Gideon was at the time? He was in the winepress hiding because he didn't feel good enough, strong enough, big enough, or courageous enough. He didn't have the right tools, didn't have the right schooling, didn't have the right pedigree to do what God had called him to do. So, he was hiding in a winepress, freaking out, scared, and nervous. And then God changed his perception, his identity. God called him a mighty warrior. Gideon didn't look like a mighty warrior. He didn't smell or dress like a mighty warrior. But God speaks His character into you. He died for you and when you believe in Him, suddenly all of your flaws become tools that God can use. God says, “In your weakness, I am strong.” So, the “mighty warrior” greeting was not because Gideon suddenly became the Incredible Hulk. Gideon became a mighty warrior because the peace of God and the Holy Spirit came on him in such a way that he saw himself differently. Just like David did with Goliath: he didn't see him as a giant, David saw him as somebody who did not respect the people of God. The reason this verse in Judges is one of my favorite verses in the Bible is because I want God's character spoken into my life. Even when I don't feel like a mighty warrior, I know I am. Even when I'm afraid, I'm a mighty warrior. Even when I'm confused and need help, God speaks...

Amazing Verses in the Bible, Part 2

Imagine yourself in Moses’ shoes: you’ve got 1.3 million Israelites yelling at you because you're stuck between Pharaoh's army, who's at your rear, and the Red Sea blocking you in the other direction. You're trapped. Everywhere you look, there's obstacles. There's no way out. In the midst of this, Exodus 14:14 is an amazing verse. Moses has been having a dialogue with God and with the people of Israel. The people of Israel are not happy. They accuse Moses of bringing them out to the desert to die. The Lord is dialoguing with them because Moses has said, “I'm stuck. I don't know what to do. I need an action plan.” “I do not know what to do”—like many of us with this virus. After a dialogue with God, Moses says this to the people, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Stillness is a huge component of finding the way when you're stuck. Being still—sitting down in your favorite chair with your Bible with no extraneous things happening—just you and Jesus, you and the Holy Spirit. When you’re still, God speaks to you. I can't even imagine what the Israelites thought when Moses told them that. “You only need to be still.” God speaks to Moses again and says, “The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.” Stillness is a component of our faith. As Americans, particularly as evangelical churchgoers, we love activity. We love sermons and seminars, worship services and small groups—all that stuff, which is wonderful. Except sometimes God says, “Just be still.”

Amazing Verses in the Bible, Part 1

If you are a student of God's word, you’ve read the Sermon on the Mount and the words really jump off the page. Jesus is standing in front of all kinds of people: they had various levels of understanding about their faith; some of them were critical; some of them were family; some were disciples; some were questioning and curious. And in front of that great variety of people, Jesus stands up and says these words found in Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth.” And in verse 14, “You are the light of the world.” I think most of us know that salt was an important preservative during that time. You packed things in salt as a way to save them before refrigeration existed. There was a sense that salt was required to keep things ready to be used. Jesus looks at us and says, “That’s what you are. You are there to preserve what I've done, to share the cross, and to share the gospel.” And then Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” And he talks about a city being set on a hill that cannot be hidden. I've been thinking about that during these times of crisis when we’re asking, “Do we open church? Or close church? Do we wear a mask or not wear a mask?” Where is the light? Where is the light of the world? Where is it that people look at us and say, “Wow, there's a beacon. There's a lighthouse. There is a way because those people love Jesus.” I'm really amazed that Jesus would look at us and say, “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.” You almost want to say, “Isn't that your job, Jesus? Isn’t that why...

The Amazing Story of Coventry Cathedral

In the winter of 1940, the city of Coventry in the United Kingdom was under a blitzkrieg. While it was under attack from the air, the magnificent cathedral in Coventry was destroyed. If you go there today, it’s a very moving site. The old footprint of the building and some of the original walls are still there. You can see some of the burns where the old cathedral was destroyed. But now there is a new cathedral in its place—risen from the ashes. It’s an incredible work that takes into consideration old and new. The thing that’s most amazing is how the new cathedral happened. There's a book called Fire in Coventry that talks about the priests and the lay people getting together in small groups after the cathedral was destroyed. The Spirit came on them and out of that experience they said, “We need to show that out of the ashes of our lives, out of the pain and stress of our lives, rises a brand-new work of Christ, which is a work of the Holy Spirit.” And so, the “fire of Coventry” actually came out of the ashes of the old cathedral. What a story! What an amazing experience to go to Coventry and to see this marvelous work of art—the new Coventry cathedral. It is one of those places where heaven and earth is separated by a very thin space.

Solitude

Lately I've been spending some time alone where I purposely shut out everything—turn off my phone, don't look at email, no social media—just me and God, nobody else. It's a quiet place where God speaks to me. In some ways it’s a re-centering place where I'm able to process where I'm at and what I'm doing in deeper, longer ways. Henri Nouwen put it this way, “A spiritual discipline, therefore, is a concentrated effort to create some inner and outer space in our lives where obedience can be practiced. Through a spiritual discipline we prevent the world from filling our lives to such an extent that there's no place left to listen. A spiritual discipline sets us free to pray, or to say it better, it allows the Spirit of God to pray in us.” It's amazing that the Spirit of God is freed up to pray in us. We discipline ourselves to block out everything else so that the Spirit of God who lives inside us and grows us spiritually is now able to take the hardest part of our hearts—our pain, sorrow, grief, and despair—and pray within us to the Father and to the Son. So that as we get quiet, we are communicating with the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit. As we are able to really center in, the Spirit becomes the agenda of our prayers—no prayer lists, no going around sharing prayer requests—the Spirit of God Himself prays within us. I want to be there. That's what I want to learn to do. It's hard. It's difficult. It's hard work to shut the world off to that level, but we must get there if we’re going to grow.

Whatever Happened to Meditation?

I am getting very tired of the world and false theologies polluting words that are important to spiritual growth. When I say the word “meditation,” some of you are going to think about eastern religion or yoga or some other form of inner self-examination that brings levels of peace that we work through. That's not what the Bible talks about. The Bible talks about us meditating on His Word day and night. We breathe it. We live it. We eat it. We experience it. We focus all of our attention—100% laser focused—on a section. Henri Nouwen writes this: “A word or sentence repeated frequently can help us concentrate, to move to the center and create inner stillness.” That's what we want! That's what the Bible calls “shalom”— inner stillness. There's a part of you that no one sees, but you know when you're worked up, or when you’re in conflict. You know when you're not right. And you know when you have inner stillness. That inner stillness is what we seek and that comes through meditation. In the Dare to Journey book by Henri Nouwen it talks about repeating the words “the Lord is my shepherd” over and over again. When you dig deep into those words, you begin to see a care and a protection from the Lord. You begin to see that we are part of His flock. Meditation and repeating those words and focusing on them with all of who you are suddenly becomes a lifeline between you and the Heavenly Father. Meditation is good. The Bible calls us to meditate. Don't let the world rob us of a spiritual discipline that's important.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Ridge Burns's blog