Ridge Burns's blog

Prayer Really Does Change Things

Recently we had an issue at the mission that was creating some strong opinions and even some disunity. It wasn’t that people didn’t like each other; it’s just that they had strong opinions about the direction we should go on a particular topic. Twice we tried to come to a decision through meeting together and prayer, but as the leader, I felt that we weren’t yet ready to come to that decision. We weren’t unified so I delayed the decision for another thirty days. We started the meeting – where we were going to decide how to handle this particular issue – with prayer. For a couple of hours, the four of us on the management team prayed together. We prayed for each other. We prayed for the mission. We prayed that we would have wisdom in this decision. And what had already taken us ninety to 120 days to decide, took us about fifteen minutes to figure out after we prayed together this time and slowed down. I believe that decision was a direct result of answered prayer. I believe that had we not prayed throughout that process, had we not slowed down to invite God into that issue, it would have been another month of presentations and perspectives that did not result in a decision. I really believe prayer changes things.

Snow

Recently you may know that we had a couple feet of snow come down in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. There was no place to put all of the snow. A snow emergency was declared. Parking was at a premium. People were buying out all essential food products at the store. It was a mess. The storm was just as it was predicted to be: there were forty-mile-an-hour winds and ten- to twelve-foot drifts. It was all that the weather people said it would be. And you know what happened? The city shut down – no one left their house, no one was driving around, the mail wasn’t being delivered, many people were without power, our internet was down at our apartment. We were stuck. After the power came back on, I was watching TV and saw an editorial about the snowstorm that I thought gave great insight. It was talking about how nature gets tired of our busyness and every once in awhile just shuts it down so we have to slow down. Nature, in this case, gives us a day alone, a day to enjoy beauty. What a great perspective on the storm. Instead of looking at it as a hassle, this commentator pointed us to those times when we are just so busy that even nature has to slow us down because we simply do not take the time by our own choice.

A Job Well Done

I just got back from a trip to visit some of our missionaries in Nebraska. I met with some wonderful people. There was one couple that I met with and we had lunch at their house. The man has had some severe medical issues. I began to talk to him about his life. He shared some of the great things that were happening and also some of the hurts in his life. There was fellowship there – a bond – between me, from Southern California working in Philadelphia, with this man in a small town in Nebraska. Fellowship happened because Jesus was the center. The Holy Spirit brought us together. After our conversation we had a great meal. Then I was able to pray with these missionaries, who are dear people and have served the Lord faithfully for years and years. There was a sense that God was at work in our lives. There was a sense of his presence in that room. There’s something powerful about the saints of God getting together and experiencing the presence of God. There’s something very powerful about the gifts of God for the people of God especially when we celebrate and thank God for those gifts. When I walked out of that house into some really frigid weather, all I could say was, “That’s a job well done. That couple has served our King well.”

My Life Verse

Every once in a while I’m in a meeting or with a group of people and they ask, “What is your life verse? What is the part of Scripture that you stake your life one?” I always kind of balk at that idea because it depends on where I’m at in my life and what’s going on around me. The section or verse of Scripture I’m currently clinging to is affected by how things are financially and health-wise. But there is one verse that I think summarizes everything that those smaller life verses have said. It’s found in John 2:5. In that chapter, the wedding feast of Cana is taking place. They run out of wine, people are distraught, Jesus’ mother tells him they have no more wine, and Jesus starts a dialogue with her. Then Jesus’ mother says to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” That’s my life verse – “Do whatever he tells you.” What a great verse! It has at its core some presuppositions. One is that Jesus will tell you what to do. In order for that to happen, we need to listen carefully. Our ears need to be attuned to the Spirit of God as He speaks to us through His Word, through our circumstances, and in some cases through dreams and visions. We need to respond in the same way that those servants did – do whatever He tells us to do. The second presupposition is that Jesus is going to tell us to do things that are good for us, that will help us solve problems and cope with life issues. What He tells us are good things because he’s a good, good God. So I love that verse. I should get a t-shirt that says, “Do whatever He tells you to...

Reach Local

As I’m thinking more lately about the concept of reaching locally, I’m starting to see it being lived out in multiple ways around me. Over their Christmas visit my family was sharing about a ministry they love which helps build support for foster families. It’s so good just to think about how this ministry reaches locally into their surrounding community. They bring support to families who are taking on really tough kids – kids who have been shuffled, kids who have been abused, kids who have been abandoned and have no love so they act out. This group brings together the support structures necessary to make foster families stronger, healthier, and wiser. I love that. It’s looking at the community around you and asking, “Where is it that God wants me to serve? Where is it that He needs to be?” It’s reaching local. And when you do, you change lives. That’s what Jesus did. He ministered to the people as he walked and taught and prayed with people. Let’s reach local together.

Questions

I recently heard a sermon on self-talk and the kinds of questions that we ask each other. It looked at how those questions influence our life, and what they do to our outlook and to the decisions that we make. For example, if you ask yourself the question “Why am I so stupid?” or “Why am I so fat?” or “Why does every bad thing happen to me?” that puts you into a mindset of the natural. You try to solve those problems yourself; you take on all those issues yourself. As opposed to saying “What is God teaching me?” and “How can I grow through this?” or “What is it that God has added to my life that allows me to experience him in full and rich ways?” This isn’t just double talk or some sort of positive thinking. Quite the contrary, we see this illustrated when Jesus fed the five thousand. The disciples kept asking, “How do we feed these people? It’s going to cost eight months’ wages. This is a remote place. There aren’t restaurants nearby.” And all Jesus did was gather what he had and gave thanks. And God performed a miracle – to abundance – where they even had leftovers. Think about the questions you ask yourself. Think about the self-talk that you give yourself. Does it allow you to experience God in whole and different and wild and positive ways? Or does it make God small and your problems big? Let me suggest that we all should ask ourselves the right questions.

The Gifts of God

Let the following verses soak into you as some of the gifts that God has given to us. Romans 11:29 speaks of His unchanging steadfastness: “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Romans 8:32, the gift of God’s son: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” The gift of God is salvation as Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Romans 6:23 talks about the gift of grace. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We know that all good gifts come from God. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 So many great gifts: gifts of salvation, of hope, of healing, of comfort, of joy. Gifts of relationships with our families. Gifts of community with our churches. We’ll give gifts this Christmas, but these gifts from God will last forever – particularly the gift of God – Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Christmas Inflatables

One of the worst inventions ever to reach our planet are Christmas inflatables – you know those Santa Claus, reindeer, manger scenes that are powered by air blowers that take them from lying on the ground to balloon-like shapes sitting on the ground. They look awesome at night – they’re lit from the inside, they bring so much joy to kids and they certainly show a festive spirit. But then the morning comes and you see these dilapidated piles of Santas and reindeer and snowmen. It’s just so ugly. You can’t wait for the night to come so that these sleeping piles of nylon will come alive again. I just don’t like them. Then I began to realize that that’s sort of how we are. Sometimes we are just a pile of nylon and God blows His breath in us and we come alive. We are ugly and we are not valuable and we’re not good to look at. And then God blows His breath on us and we become different. We become festive, we become fully of joy, we become what God has made us to be. We sometimes get a glimpse of what we should be but then morning comes. What we need is the breath of God to bring life to those of us who seem so dead.

Same Power

Jeremy Camp has a great song called Same Power . The chorus has these words: The same power that rose Jesus from the grave The same power that commands the dead to wake Lives in us, lives in us The same power that moves mountains when He speaks The same power that can calm a raging sea Lives in us, lives in us He lives in us, lives in us What a wonderful promise! God says, “I will never leave you or forsake you. I will send you a Comforter that will lead you into all truth.” And that power, that same Holy Spirit power, lives in us. The problem is that we don’t appropriate that. We have small prayers – prayers to protect God’s image, to protect God from seeming like He fails. God says, “No. You have the same power, the same authority. It’s in you. I’ve given you the Holy Spirit that allows you to understand the great work that I want to do.” I think Jeremy Camp spoke so clearly into a powerless church. Another part of the song says, “We (Christians) will not be overtaken. We will not be overcome.” We need to live in that. We need to live in the fact that we will be victorious. I see so many of us defeated, discouraged, depressed. God says, “No. Understand that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” There is power. Let’s live in that power.

Thoughts

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9 Have you ever really thought about what God is thinking? Recently, I’ve been mulling that over. What does God think about me? What is His view of Ridge Burns? When you read the Scriptures: He loves me, He cares for me, He watches over me, He guards me. He creates opportunities for me and gives me dreams. His arms are wide open for me. His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. The reason they are higher than my thoughts is because God is God and I’m not. He has a view of me that has no time or space stamped on it. He sees me for who I am for eternity because I am one of His children. He spends time with me because He views me as important. Sunday we were taking communion at church and I felt the Lord speaking to me about His love for me. We sang a great song about the Father’s love and how He views me. I felt so impressed that I needed a symbol, an object that would remind me this week of His love. Our church uses really chintzy disposable plastic communion cups – they’re not pretty or durable – they’re disposable, and they eat up our environment to boot. But it’s sitting on my desk this week and it reminds me that He loves me, He died for me, and His thoughts about me are good. Even when I disobey, He says, “Come. I will wash you...

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