Ridge Burns's blog

Expectations

This week I went to a conference for four nights in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It was a hassle to get there – a two-hour drive after working all day, lots of crowds, and hard to find a parking spot. But when you walked into that church, there was an expectation that God was going to speak to them in powerful and good ways. We expected good solid worship where we would allow God to breathe on us during the time. And because we expected it, it happened. Oftentimes I go to a meeting or sometimes even church thinking, “I don’t know why I’m going.” I don’t want to be there. I’m grumpy about it. But if we go expecting God to move, if we go expecting God to use us, it changes everything. When I read the New Testament and read about some of the incredible things that Jesus did in front of His disciples, they had to expect great things! They had to know that God was going to do what He wanted to do, in the way that He wanted to do it. My admonition to you who read this blog is simply: Let’s start expecting God to work in our lives. Let’s get rid of this attitude of “go ahead and bless me and if that happens I’ll be happy.” Let’s allow God to work through our expectations to bring glory to Himself.

Reach Local

When you think about what God wants us to do, you have to look very close to where you live. He wants you to reach into people’s lives through prayer, through helps through mercy, through justice – through things that will make a difference in their lives. He wants you to reach. When I’m in Philadelphia I live in West Chester, Pennsylvania and there is a large Planned Parenthood clinic not too far from my house. Every Saturday there have been huge demonstrations and protests there. During the summer, I walk by the clinic on a regular basis on my way downtown. As I think through why God put me in this neighborhood, I’ve been convicted to pray over that place – to reach by prayer into the behaviors of Planned Parenthood. For me, it’s reaching very locally because it’s where I live. Sometimes people ask, “What is it that God wants me to do? What is God’s will of my life?” I can tell you with authority that it is to reach local. It’s to find those bits of darkness – those places where God’s light needs to shine – and be light. Be all that God has called you to be. What does it mean for you to be a Christ-follower? It means that you look at things around you, begin to see them through the eyes of our Savior, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, change lives. We don’t change lives because of what we do – we change lives because we open the door wide for God to move in people’s lives. We allow people to experience the presence of God. My invitation to all of us is: Let’s reach local.

Donald and Marlis

I have some really amazing friends whose names are Donald and Marlis Shambling. they are both in their eighties and they are on-fire Christians. What I love about Donald and Marlis is that they are prayer warriors. They believe prayer changes things. When you pray with Donald and Marlis you pray for three or four hours. You plead for God’s mercy on the nation, on our church, and on each other. Marlins and Donald have my schedule and every day they pray through my schedule. When I’m home, they gather around me and lay hands on me and pray. They are believers; they believe that God is going to do big things. Donald and Marlis are also people who enjoy worship. I want to be like them when I get older. I want to be on fire for God. I want to take people into my home and just pray over them and love them. Everyone should have a Donald and a Marlis in their life. They are not only examples, but they plead for God’s mercy upon me.

Psalm 139:19-24

If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. The last part of Psalm 139 shouts that we are captured by God. The writer of Psalm 139 begins to take up God’s battles. “I hate those who hate you and I abhor those who rise up against you. I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them as my enemies.” God captures us! Forty-one years ago a young woman named RobAnne captured my heart. I’ll defend her. I love her. I stand with her. I believe in her because she captured my heart. God says, “Listen, stand up against those who oppose me.” The writer ends the psalm with “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me…See if there’s any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” God pursues you. He captures you. He says, “Follow me and I will lead you in the way everlasting.” It’s wonderful to be captured by God. It’s wonderful to have your dreams and your thoughts captured. It’s beautiful when your family and passions and giftedness are captured by God and used for His kingdom. I love what God is doing in my life; I love how He has captured me. It’s a ride that I don’t want...

Psalm 139:13-18

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you. Let me review: Psalm 130 starts out with God declaring how much He knows about us. There’s nothing hidden from Him – He knows everything. It continues with how God will pursue us. We can never escape His presence. We may shut it out, but His presence is there. The third clear point that God wants to make in Psalm 139 is that we are His handiwork. He made us. I remember when our kids were small they would scribble some things on a page and come and present it to us. We would put it on the refrigerator because our kids made it and we were proud of them. God says, “I made you. I knit you together in your mother’s womb. You were fearfully and wonderfully made.” You are made with a purpose. You are made with a special recipe – a unique DNA – to be a valued, powerful, and needed part of His kingdom. We work in His kingdom as people...

Psalm 139:7-12

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. In this particular part of Psalm 139 God shouts to us that He pursues us. “Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, you’re there.” You’re there and your hand guides me. Darkness cannot hide me. There is nothing that can keep God from pursuing you. I love those verses when He says, “I will be there. I am there. I am there.” Listen to that carefully. God wants us to understand that He is pursuing us. It’s us who shut Him away. It’s us who keep Him out of our lives. It’s us who take over His rightful place in our lives. “I pursue you,” says the Lord. For some of you, that has to feel good. It has to feel good that the Lord desires you. I sense there are people who read this blog who feel rejected, inadequate, not valuable. God says, “Not true. You need to understand...

Psalm 139:1-6

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my living down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Psalm 139 has to be one of my favorite psalms. It covers our entire being and shows the greatness and pursuit of God in our lives. This blog and the next three will all deal with this great psalm. The first six verses declare over and over again how much God knows us. God says to us, “I know you. I know everything about you. I know when you sit and when you rise. I know what words you’re going to say. I know everything that’s before you and behind you. I know everything about you: your movements, your thoughts, your words.” I love the phrase “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” This psalm reminds us that there’s nothing hidden from God. He knows everything about you. He knows your thoughts – that ought to scare some of us. He takes those thoughts and He refines them. And He calls us His children! It’s amazing. Hear the word of the Lord carefully. “I know everything about you and I still love you,” says the Lord.

Reaching a Goal

Philippians 3:14 says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” I am addicted to reaching goals. If there’s one thing I know I have – which is both a positive and negative – it’s that I set goals and will do everything I can to obtain those goals. Whether it’s finishing my postgraduate degree or playing golf well or writing a book – all of those are goals I have accomplished. They all have finish lines; they all have a start and an end. When I accomplish a goal it’s emotional for me: it’s part of who I am. It’s my soul. Last Monday was very emotional for me: we signed the building over and gave the keys to the new owner of the Villanova property, and had a grand opening of our new offices in Exton, Pennsylvania. This has been a five-year goal of mine: quietly for the first couple years working with our Board to see the value of reducing our liabilities, to a more openly-expressed desire in the last few years to see the building sold and us to relocate. It took us two years to buy a building and sell the other one. All of the inspections and permits and zoning variances that we needed to have all came together last Monday at 7:30am when our staff arrived in our new offices. I found myself overwhelmed. I found myself emotional because we had reached the prize. We had a goal and we accomplished it. I don’t know how interesting that is to you reading this blog. But for me, it makes me want to set more goals. Most of my job is without finish lines. I never really see the end; I just...

No Heart. No Soul.

If you follow my blog you’ll know that we have moved our InFaith Home Office this week. For almost the last fifty years, we’ve been located in a huge mansion in Villanova. It was massive: 14,000 sq. ft. not counting a 6,000 sq. ft. basement. But we filled it with furniture and the lives of the people on our staff. We filled it with memories: with dinners and lunches and planning sessions. So the building had heart and soul: it was us. But I just walked through the totally empty building. There are no desks. There are no people or photographs on the wall. It’s silent. It’s quiet and I feel like the building has lost its heart. It’s lost its soul; it’s no longer home to anybody. It’s a shell. It doesn’t feel very good. It’s kind of sad. It’s just a shell because what makes a building home is people. We’ve taken our heart and our soul and transported it twenty-three miles west into a really cool office space. But that too was just a shell until last Monday arrived and all our people showed up. In the noise of work, the laughter of people interacting with each other, the cafe, the conference room all became alive because people were there. Relationships are huge. They’re mighty and they’re important. I would suggest that the lesson of the old building in Villanova makes me want even more to have relationships in my life that are filled with the noise of people, the laughter of relationships, with journeying together in life. We need to remember that what makes life what it is is not our stuff or our environment – it’s what we bring to the environment. Who we are brings life and heart and soul to any space.

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