Ridge Burns's blog

What has happened to power?

I was reading in Luke chapter 24 this morning. Jesus said the following to the disciples just before the Ascension, “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:29). That’s amazing! Jesus says that one of the things we should have as Christians is power, that our lives should reflect the power of God. We need to have power in our churches, power in our life experience, power in our marriages, power with our children, power with our finances. And power doesn’t necessarily mean like a lightening bolt or a hard, boxing punch. Power means there’s this quiet stick-to-itiveness that says, “God is going to come through and we’re going to trust God for everything that we have. We’re going to trust God for all of our problems because He is powerful and He is clothing us with His power from on high.” When you walk in power instead of weakness, amazing things happen. Suddenly, impossible situations cease to exist because He is here in all His power. He has clothed us in His power – not a power from our education to our job status, but a power that comes from being clothed by Him who is on high. I feel that one of the tools that Satan has used to destroy the church and Christians is to whisper to us that God is not powerful, and to make a puny, small, powerless God that we create in our own image. And we call that “God” – when God is wild and powerful and mighty and calls people to incredible things. It is my desire to be clothed in that power from on high. And it is my prayer that...

Serving

Last Sunday I was asked to participate in a celebration for one of our Board members, Rich Cundall, who has been in ministry at the same church for thirty years. It was a great celebration and I was honored to bless Rich and to pray for him. He preached a great sermon on Acts 20:19 which says, “I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents.” Rich spoke about how serving requires humility – we don’t bring attention to ourselves, we bring attention to the Lord. We don’t serve to build ourselves up, we don’t do it to earn our way to heaven or to be something special. We serve with humility because Jesus served with humility. The second thing mentioned is that service comes with tears. He began to recount the times that he cried with members of the congregation. In thinking about my own experience, some of the most phenomenal ways to serve were times when there was a tragedy or death or an unexpected illness and we cried together. There was a power that took place. Then it says in Acts 20 that Paul was severely tested by the plots of the Jews. Serving is a hassle. And sometimes it gets misunderstood. Sometimes you get accused of being self-serving. At other times, people even work against you when you serve because you’re representing the very kingdom of God. Those three things sum up what it means to serve. You serve with humility, with tears, and you keep on serving even though it’s a hassle. I work for an organization that has a lot of servants. They know how to serve humbly. They know how to have empathy and they know how to...

Revival

I have some friends who are really seeking and praying that God would send a revival to our country. I have to admit, it’s not the highest priority of prayer in my life, but I’ve sort of caught their enthusiasm. They’ve told me some things about revival: that it always begins with a season of prayer and that there is an outpouring of God’s Spirit. There are public prayer meetings and private prayer meetings, but the commonality between the revivals that they have studied is that they always began with concerted, focused prayer. The second thing they’ve found is that there’s always an openness to what God wants to do – not a pre-prescribed package, not a plan, not a program – but just an openness of saying, “God, I give you permission to use me any way you want. You have permission to change me, transform me, and equip me for revival.” The third component is confession. Whenever God moves, there’s confession of sin, confession of our unrighteousness. Then God washes us and gives us freedom. It is in that freedom where the revival comes. The bondage and chains of sin are broken and revival is the natural outgrowth of it. The fourth characteristic that seems to emerge is that there’s always a declaration. A declaration of God’s goodness and God’s graciousness and God’s salvation by grace. We declare who God is and we declare His righteousness over our cities and our land. It’s kind of interesting, but the declarations happen in different ways now. Many of them happen electronically. Some of the things that my friends send me are just words over our country that are powerful about revival. And they would never been able to be disseminated without the electronics and technology that we have now. It’s...

Flora

I am writing this blog from Wheaton where my only granddaughter, who turns two on Saturday, lives. For the first time in my life, I get a whole day by myself with my granddaughter. We have already played hide-and-go-seek, she has jumped all over me, we’ve thrown the ball, we’ve colored, and this is only in the first hour! I’ve got another seven hours before her parents come home. I am having a wonderful time. Partly because Flora is just simple: she doesn’t expect much. Throwing the ball is great fun for her. Standing on my chest and falling down is great fun for her. She doesn’t understand personal space. She just is. I love that about her. I also love something I’ve never experienced before: she is a product of our family line. She’s part of me. She has my DNA. And I began to think – Jesus has grafted me into His family. He loves me. He’s accepted me. He’s allowed me to be part of this family. I didn’t make a choice with Flora because she is my DNA. But God chooses us. We have a family relationship. Little Flora calls me “Papa” and when she drags me over for the 53rd time to read the same book, I do it because I love her and she’s part of me. That’s why God has done what he did on the cross for us: because He loves us.

God's Provision

RobAnne and I have been blessed. We have more than enough. Our lives are full and we’re grateful. But even for those who have economic security, we still have this desperate need for God’s provision: when we get sick, we need healing; when we get depressed, we need god’s Spirit to bring us joy and strength. We need god’s provision. We always think about it in terms of material things, but He also provides us with dreams on how to advance His kingdom. He provides us with spiritual gifts that allow us to do effective ministry. God’s provision is key to what he does in our lives. Romans 4:17 says, “the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.” In other words, God’s provision is about calling us to things that we don’t see quite yet. Someone said, “God’s economy is to call forth what is not as if it were.” The first verse of Hebrews 11, about the definition of faith, talks about things “we do not see.” God’s provision is mighty and powerful. I’ve been reading a book recently that talks about God’s provision as this great storehouse in heaven and how the storehouse is full of good gifts that God is waiting for us to receive. We have to put ourselves in the receiving mode. We love to give out. We love to fix our problems. We love to create an environment where we are in control. And, as a result, God’s provision sometimes is short-circuited. He wants to provide extravagantly. He wants to give us gifts that are mighty. He wants to allow us to part the Red Sea and we settle for a bridge. Or we settled for something far less than the extravagant things that...

Breaking Through the Clouds

This morning I took the 6:15am United flight from Philadelphia to Chicago. It was a spring day in Philadelphia that was overcast and a little gloomy with a light sprinkle. I settled into my window seat and was thinking about some of the heavy things that I was hearing from some of our missionaries recently and just praying and asking the Lord to bless them. As we began to climb, we began to go through the clouds and it got even darker. I found myself praying protection over our ministry and our people – that God would protect them from the evil one with the armor of God. Then we broke out of the clouds and we were in sunshine! The tops of the clouds were illumined by the sun and they looked fluffy white. I just wanted to step out of the plane and walk on them. And with the added blue sky it was like a glorious transformation that took place! I felt like God was saying, “Ridge, walk in the light, not in the darkness. Walk where the sun is shining. Walk where my Son has walked. Walk in the glory of the Lord where there’s light and health and wellness and joy.” So many of us live our lives either in the clouds or under the clouds: the cloud of guilt, the cloud of shame, the cloud of inadequacy. God raises us, if we allow him, out of the clouds into His glorious light. He gives us gifts and talents, an identity and an assignment that will bring glory to Him. No longer do we live under the bondage of these clouds, we’re lifted into the glorious sunshine of His ministry. This morning I just got an object lesson about that. I knew that in my...

Electronics Sometimes Cause You to Go Comatose

I was in Pennsylvania driving home from work one night and I had inadvertently bought some potato chip dip thinking it was only sour cream. So I went to a Wawa (for those of you not in the Philadelphia area, it’s a major convenience store that sells gas and everything else. It’s wonderful!) to buy some potato chips. I bought the chips and was just focused on thinking about the day. I paid for the chips, left the store, and promptly opened the door and got in the car. Then I realized it wasn’t my car. And to make matters worse, there was a high school kid in the passenger seat. He was playing a game on his phone and, to my surprise, he just casually looked up like, “Oh, you’re not my mother. I don’t know who you are,” And then promptly went back to playing his game. I quickly scurried out of the car, went to my own car, and drove off – hoping that he wouldn’t call the police for some sort of child abuse act. I couldn’t stop laughing, though. He was so into the game, he didn’t even know some stranger just got in the car with him! And I didn’t just casually almost get in the car. I was sitting down, hands on the steering wheel, ready to start the car before I realized it wasn’t mine. Maybe, just maybe, we ought to put down our electronics and get back in the world. I love my phone: I love to text. I love to stay connected with my friends and my family. But sometimes electronics simply get in the way.

Starting Over

Recently I had a corrupt file on my Mac (which – for all you naysaying PC users – actually happens really infrequently). The corrupt file kept me from doing a task that I must do every month. Work began to pile up and I began to get frustrated. So I called the help desk, was on hold for over an hour and a half, finally spent four hours on the phone with some guy somewhere in the world pirating my computer to fix the problem. As soon as he got off the call, I tried to get back into the program and it immediately crashed again with the same problem. I can’t tell you how frustrated I was. I called the help center again and waited another hour and a half to get a technician to help me. I finally decided to just tell this help desk – which wasn’t a Mac help desk, but the software company’s help desk – “Just wipe it out. I want to start all over again. I don’t want anything of this program on my computer. Just start me new. I have my back up. I just want to start fresh.” (I back up my computer regularly, so I had the data that I needed.) And it was brilliant. In fifteen minutes I was back up and running. I was able to do my work. I was able to get the things done that I had been waiting for because I tried to fix something that was already corrupt and I needed to just start over. I’m not trying to make a sermon out of every event that takes place, but I will tell you this: That is what God wants to do – He doesn’t want you to try to fix and patch...

Spaces

I don’t think it’s any new revelation that we all need to put space in our life for our families and for God and even for ourselves. I’ve heard that all my life. But what do you do with those spaces? What actually happens in those spaces? Could I suggest that one of the things that happens in those spaces is that we become refreshed. Particularly if we start with sacred space that God gives each one of us to renew our spirits and minds and bodies. He creates space that when we walk into it it causes us to become restful. Worries seem to go away. I often listen to a song whose words are, “When He (meaning Jesus) walks into the room, everything changes.” We need to have Him walk into the rooms of our life so that we can change. We change around Him because His presence is powerful. We need time with our families to get to know them. We need space for ourselves. That’s why recreation is so important – it’s a place where we can just relax and be ourselves. Let me suggest that instead of calling it “vacation” or “time off” or whatever comes to your mind, could we call it “sacred space”? God gives us places in our day, in our month, in our week that He wants to invade us in and we need to walk boldly into those spaces.

Who Are You

Abby Mason spoke at our InFaith national conference and talked about our identity in Christ – who we are, who we say we are, who we think we are. She started in a way which at first is shocking, but when you think about it further, is actually so right on. She said, “I am not a sinner, but I sin.” The idea there is that God has redeemed us: He’s grafted us into His family and made us His children. He’s bought us with a price, shed His blood for our forgiveness, and given us hope. So we need to walk in our new identity as a new creation. But as the old man fights with the new creation that God has made us, we sin. We disobey and we do things we shouldn’t. But that does not affect how we see ourselves. How we see ourselves should not be as beaten down, poor, a sinner, worth nothing. We have been bought by a price. We have been redeemed by grace. And so while we sin, we still can speak to ourselves and speak to each other that we are part of God’s family. I see too many Christians who are so discouraged because they feel they can never be Christ-like. Well, wake up! We can only be Christ-like because Christ dwells in us through the Holy Spirit and gives us a new identity – an identity of grace and power and hope and forgiveness. So because I have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, I’m not a sinner, but I sin.

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