Ridge Burns's blog

Fire

I got to spend the day with the Stromlunds in Arkansas. They are missionaries with InFaith who have been on the field for forty-nine years. They have spent their life, given their energy, and given their dreams to this field. When you are with Rodney Stromlund—on his turf, in his field—you experience the fire of God. This guy loves Jesus and wants this part of the world to acknowledge the lordship of Christ. His life has been threatened, he has driven hundreds of miles, he’s gotten stuck in snow, all for one purpose: to bring the fire of God to the people of Arkansas. It has required boldness and risk because this is a part of our country that has a lot of spiritual battles going on, the adversary has strongholds that are deep and mighty. You can feel that tension in the air as you walk through this area. But Rodney walks in boldness. And because of that boldness, the fire of God consumes the work of the adversary so that Rodney has freedom to share the gospel. He is a delight to be around. In many ways, he is an example of what it means to love God sacrificially for your whole life. Another thing that I like about Rodney is that he knows everybody. He’s friendly. He makes Christianity very attractive—you want to be like him. You want his peace. You want his rest. You want his ability to see clearly with wisdom. But the thing that most people see in Rodney is the very fire of God.

The Beauty of Sacrifice

I spent the last few days on the road with one of our field directors and visited some of our missionaries in the field. I’ve come away with a wonderful feeling of how amazing our people are. They work day by day in sacrificial ways to take the gospel to the unreached in America. I saw something unique this week that I want to tell you about. It really exemplifies the beauty of sacrifice. One of our missionary couples take in foster kids and have done it for quite a while. They’ve adopted one of their foster kids. They tried to adopt another foster child but it didn’t work out for a variety of reasons and they had the pain of letting that little one go. Currently they have a baby — a little innocent, smiling baby—who was rescued from a terrible situation. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to tell you all the details, but this baby had been severely abused. I watched this couple embrace this baby. I watched their arms around this little infant, and their eyes meet with hers. I watched them gather this baby to themselves and saw healing take place. There was safety and a place of rest. The word that came to mind as I watched this mom with this baby was the word “hope.” Her hands spelled hope, her eyes spelled hope, her arms demonstrated this idea that there is hope for this infant who got a terrible start in life. I walked away feeling like I had just seen the beauty of sacrificial love, the beauty of taking on what somebody else rejected, and redeeming them to the kingdom. This child’s story, I’m sure, will be rough and hard with lots of scars and lots of baggage. But what will...

Where There Is No Good Way

Recently I was involved in a Board decision for another organization that was very difficult and resulted in the termination of a dear friend. There was no good way of doing this. There were a lot of different issues and numerous perspectives on the problem. Honestly, there is no good way to do what that Board did. The result of letting someone go is confusion, and lack of trust, and people asking a lot of questions. There is conflict where people have strong feelings and express them in strong ways. It was definitely a hurt for the organization, and for the people who are staying and for the one that had to leave. It created a lot of pain and risk: Can the organization survive? Can things go on? Where will God place this person who needed to move on? This individual is talented and loved and has done a great job. The decision was right, but there was no good way of doing it. As a result, it just feels wrong. You’re probably expecting me to come up with an answer now and say, “This is the way we should’ve handled it and it should have been done.” But the reality is, I don’t have an answer. I’ve been involved several times when there was no good way of doing what was right. I hate that there’s no good way. So I have to trust the Lord and say that all the hurt and pain, the conflict and bitterness will be gathered together and the Holy Spirit will wash over it and will make good come out of what seems to be wrong. I think back on my life when hard things have happened and see how much I’ve learned through that. But it’s easy to say that looking...

Praying for the Sick

“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” James 5:14 I grew up in a church where this rarely happened or if it did, it happened secretly and wasn’t open or visible. But recently I’ve joined a team of people at our church in California to pray for the sick, for those who are really in need. We go to their house and we worship. One of the members of the team has a guitar and we sing together and get into the presence of the Lord. When the time comes to anoint with oil, there’s a surrender on the part of the person who is ill. They surrender their future, their hopes, their desires, and their fears to God. That kind of surrender is powerful. At the same time, there is also hope in the room. There’s hope because as we’ve worshiped, we’ve experienced who God is, we see Him and know Him. We know that where God is there is always hope—that the tomb is not the end, that the ground will shake, and the stone will roll away, and He becomes alive. There is power there. The Spirit of the Lord was in that room as we were there to anoint the person with oil and pray for their healing. You could feel it and sense the way that the Spirit was bringing people together. When we left, the person who had asked us to pray for them sang a song of blessing, a song of hope, a song that brought us to the very throne of God. Praying for the sick is not an option. Praying for the sick is obedience.

Does God Speak to Us Today?

Recently I was reading the story of Moses in the book of Exodus and I was impressed with how many times in the story it said, “The Lord spoke to him. The Lord told him. The Lord directed him. The Lord motivated him to do certain things.” It was almost like the Lord had a conversation with Moses and when it was time to move the people in the desert, the Lord said, “Moses it’s time to move.” Just that clearly! Does God speak that way today? Or was that only a Bible-thing? Did God quit speaking that way? The answer for me is absolutely not. I think that God still speaks in several ways. First, he speaks through people in my life who I trust, who are in His Word and know His spirit and are seeking the best for me. They speak big words into my life. Second, I hear God speaking to me through His Word, the Bible. But the Bible doesn’t always give me the answers for what I need. The Bible doesn’t tell me whether or not I should take a new job or what particular car I’m supposed to buy. The Bible does give us the mental and spiritual framework to make decisions based on our own thoughts and views that come about from the context that His Word creates. In other words, God’s Word puts us in a context where we can make the right decisions by hearing His voice through His Word. The third way God speaks to us is through the Holy Spirit. When we are active and allowing God’s Spirit to move, He can give us pictures and speak to our minds and hearts. But we must realize that His words never contradict what He’s said in Scripture. I want...

Super Bowl

I loved the Super Bowl. I love the fact that the Patriots won. But even more, I love how they won. I love that they never said die, never gave up. They were at the worst deficit of any team that has come back in the Super Bowl and yet pulled it off. They pulled it off because they were calm and focused on what was right in front of them. They didn’t worry about how big the gap was in the score; they only worried about the next step and the step after that. And that next step took them to victory. I love that! I love that we can learn a lesson from that. Sometimes when things aren’t going our way, when God doesn’t show up and we feel like we’re on our own, all we can see is the big picture and we get depressed and can’t seem to get beyond it. But God says, “Hey, one step at a time. Don’t worry about how big the problem is. You just walk with me one step.” When we walk each step together we will accomplish the big goal: to get on with what God calls us to do. I loved the Super Bowl. I think there is a lesson to be learned for all of us that when we feel that we are in desperate times, there are little steps, little decisions, little thoughts that we need to make in order for us to accomplish the bigger goal.

Decisions

One of the things that I’ve always thought about is how our little decisions make up our big decisions. In fact, by the time we have to make a big decision there have been so many little nuances of decisions that it really narrows the field of what we can do in our big decisions. The decisions we make form our lives. In fact the only things you can really control in life are your choices. And the choices we make will determine what kind of value system we have. Recently I presented some decisions to the InFaith Board that I felt were important for us to make as a mission organization. One of them was that I have decided that doing ministry without Jesus is absolutely ridiculous. Instead, we need to be ministering in Jesus’ name and in His power. As we reach into our local communities with the name and the power of Jesus Christ amazing things happen. There is a new power, a new strength, and new insight that take place when we minister not in our strength or power or schemes, but with the power and in the name of Jesus. When those come together in our local communities there is a new birth of the Kingdom, a new understanding of how we can serve our Lord Jesus Christ with our hands, our words, our resources, our skills, and our talents. I have decided that ministering without Jesus is ridiculous. So we at InFaith will minister in the name and power of our Lord Jesus Christ.

A True Servant

The other day I had a meeting in Pasadena, California. I got there early and was waiting in a restaurant at the corner of a very busy intersection. I was looking out the window when I saw a homeless man start to shuffle across the four-lane road. He got about three quarters of the way across and stopped. He was severely handicapped and I think he just needed the break and couldn’t walk any further so he just stood there, blocking both lanes of traffic. Nobody was doing anything and I started debating in my mind if I should go out and help. Three or four minutes went by, enough time that three lights cycled through. The guy in the first car that was blocked started honking and tried to drive around the homeless man, but the traffic wouldn’t let him and he was getting very frustrated. Then I saw the most amazing thing: the door opened on the driver’s side of a minivan and an African American woman on crutches got out. She began to make her way to this homeless man who couldn’t get across the street because he didn’t have any support. She gave him one of her crutches and together they hobbled across the street. Then she took her crutch and went back to her van. I thought that was absolutely amazing! The very person who probably shouldn’t help, helped. And I felt guilty about not going out and just helping the man. But I learned something: that servanthood sometimes is best when people who are in the same condition reach out to each other. Some people call it the “wounded healer”—that the wounds of one person can carry and help create a more empathetic spirit for the same wounds in another person. We call it...

Posture

I’ve been thinking a lot about the posture that we need to have in front of our God. And how that posture changes: sometimes we need to kneel, sometimes we need to lie down, or stand up and raise our hands, or sing, or sometimes even shout. Then there are times we need to be quiet and listen. Our posture indicates our receptivity to what God wants to do. Recently I was in church and I was so overwhelmed with the outreach of this particular church where I was, and all of the things they were doing for the community—job banks, food banks, Habitat for Humanity, meals for people who didn’t have groceries! All the amazing things that this church was doing overwhelmed me. And I wanted to kneel and with my posture say, “I am overwhelmed by how good you are, how these people are working and doing good things, and sharing the gospel. I’m so glad to be part of the kingdom. I’m so happy to be part of what God is doing in my part of the world—my local.” Then on New Year’s Eve we were singing a song and I just wanted to stand and raise my hands and I even wanted to dance because God was doing new and mighty things in our church and in my life. I was so thankful that my posture wanted to express praise. Then I got to pray with a dear person at our church who has been hurting with cancer. My posture was close to them with my arms around them. So what is your posture? What does your body language say about your relationship with God? It’s something worth thinking about.

Kingdom Expression

Our mission has taken on the challenge that we need to encourage people to reach into what’s right in front of them—the local part of their lives. Everyone has a local—it’s where you live, it’s where you work, and play, and spend your money—and there are ministry opportunities within your local. Recently I had three unexpected opportunities. I was in downtown Denver waiting for the train to go to the airport. I was walking the streets and there was a woman with a baby who had a sign that said, “Help. Family struggling.” I walked by and got about a block away when the Lord said, “You need to go back there and you need to bless them.” So I went back, got some money out of my wallet, and in passing gave the woman the money, and went on my way. Later, I was waiting in the train station and the woman showed up. She began to tell me her story and how I blessed her. She told me that they weren’t homeless people, they weren’t living on the street, but they didn’t know where their next meal would come from. She was embarrassed to be out there. I just was so grateful that I was part of the kingdom expression to her. I play golf with some of my friends at a course where we’ve made friends with one of the greens keepers. As I was playing one day, the Lord prompted me to go and bless him with some resources. His response was so powerful and it was such a rewarding experience to watch him be blessed! It was great to be part of the kingdom expression to a greens keeper on a golf course. Then the other day I was in a restaurant where I eat...

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