Ridge Burns's blog

Biblical Lens

Recently I was reading an article with the following sentence that popped out at me, “I’ve learned to be able to read the news through a Biblical lens.” I thought to myself, “We all read the scriptures through a theological lens. We make some assumptions without ever questioning them. Without ever asking, ‘Are my assumptions—the lens of my mind—really the Biblical lens that God wants us to have?’” In the case of this article, it was all about justice and what God wants to do in the world. It was about how He wants to create a system, a Kingdom experience, that cares for the disenfranchised as much as it does for the rich and those who have power and authority. But what is a Biblical lens? I suggest that John 16:13 is where we start. The NIV version puts it this way, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” Perhaps the Biblical lens— the thing we need to really foster—is what the first part of this verse says: “He, the Spirit, will lead you into all truth.” He leads us in all truth through the eyes of our heart, our physical eyes, and the eyes of our mind which comes with certain Biblical lenses and certain sociological and historical lenses. For example, I think my view of the Sabbath day changed when I quit looking at the legalistic history I grew up in—where we couldn’t ride our bikes, we went to church all Sunday, and we couldn’t cook on Sunday, because it was work. Now I have a more wholistic view of the Sabbath. The Sabbath...

Changing Culture

I had an interesting discussion with a donor who works at a national retail company. She was telling me that as a company they did an in-store education program to help re-focus their store in a different way. This desire to re-focus came from thinking about the culture of people who are part of the millennial generation and younger. They talked about a “sharing economy.” The difference between a Boomer like myself and even a Gen-Xer is that we really want to be self-sufficient. We want our own cars, our own houses, our own resources. This company is looking ahead and saying that is not always going to be true of people. We have the rise of Airbnb, where you look at your home as a possible income stream when it’s sitting vacant. There are now loaning programs for your car: so you don’t need to have a car, you can just dig into the sharing economy. This sharing economy is not new. The Bible talks about it in the book of Acts when the early church shared everything they had, including eating meals together. In past generations, we’ve dismissed that sort of communal idea. But the culture is now rising up as one that desires a sharing economy, where our stuff is a resource to us. Something to think about: a new way of utilizing our excess to help us really understand what it means to be a community—particularly as the Kingdom of God.

Flavors

Sometimes I’d like the people who read this blog to sit in my chair for a few days and see the different flavors that God’s Kingdom takes on as God’s people work for Him. There are people who are quiet and reserved and you would never think they’d have a ministry, but they have a powerful ministry in their own hometown. Others have vibrant, strong personalities that are a catalyst for people to get together. Some ministries require very little management and just almost run themselves. Others I see striving and working hard to continue going, because it’s difficult. There are also different theological flavors. Now, I’m not talking about our statement of faith. I’m talking about the expression of the gospel in different ways around our country. For some, the expression takes the shape of fighting for a cause, while others quietly counsel and pray. These theological flavors give life. People who are vibrant and strong and overt in their worship. Others who are liturgical and contemplative and in some ways quiet when they worship. It is so fun to see how God uses different personalities and different people to accomplish great things.

Thank You

This is the Thursday after Giving Tuesday and the generosity of God’s people for the work of the Kingdom that is done at InFaith is really amazing. In some ways, every day is Giving Tuesday at InFaith. We process approximately 50,000 different gifts every year. Many of them are small checks written faithfully every month to support our missionaries who are out in the field. It’s amazing the consistency of the people of God and the commitment of God’s people to fund ministries that they care about. Many of the gifts are small gifts, but they come regularly. They come with a rhythm attached to them that allows us to see our missionaries do great things for the Kingdom. So, I want to say thank you. Thank you for the commitment, thank you for the gifts, thank you for standing with us at InFaith.

Giving Tuesday

After all the busyness of Cyber Monday and Black Friday when we rush to the stores to buy merchandise at ridiculously low prices—where some people will spend all night trying to get into these sales—we come to Tuesday and it’s Giving Tuesday. I love it. November 27 is when people give to causes that they love. In some ways it’s used to speak against the craziness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I love it when the people of God give on Giving Tuesday. It goes to the Kingdom. It allows generosity to penetrate the selfishness and self-centeredness of the days before. It gives our missionaries a space, a place to be able to display and talk about the great things God is doing in their lives and ask people to partner with them. I love that people can get on our website and browse profiles for our 160 missionaries and hear and see what God is doing in their lives. I love the fact that Giving Tuesday is a reaction to culture that is selfish. So, no matter what your favorite or heartfelt charity is, give on Giving Tuesday. It’s a place where we can speak into the Kingdom. It’s Tuesday, November 27—the Tuesday after Thanksgiving—and it allows our missionaries to experience the generosity of the people of God.

What’s Your Local?

If you follow my blog, have been on our website, or been around people who are a part of InFaith, you’ll know that our thrust is to reach local. Everyone has a local. It’s right in front of you. It’s your neighbor, it’s your employer, it’s your co-worker, it’s your fellow classmate or teammate. We have local people that God has put in our sphere of influence. We know what our local is because it’s people or things that God has placed right in front of our noses. That’s what I love about InFaith. We reach local. We empower people. We equip people. We give people tools to reach what is right in front of them and it comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. From an auto garage that helps single moms get their cars serviced and repaired at a reasonable rate, to a young man working in an Alzheimer’s unit to allow them to feel and experience the Kingdom of God. Reach Local expresses itself in community and youth centers, and in Bible studies after school. It’s amazing to see what God will do in the places right in front of you. Take time and look at the Casady’s video that’s on our website. There you’ll see a couple who returned from years of service in Africa who saw a need in Oregon among homeless teenagers and responded by creating something that will allow them to experience the love of God. That’s “Reach Local.” It’s time we think about what it is that God has put right in front of us that we need to reach. What is it for you?

Being Content

I think most people who are followers of Christ have either read or memorized Philippians 4:12-13; “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” The secret to being content is not self-control or thinking the right things or cutting back or planning. It’s simply having a relationship with Christ—having deep spiritual conversations with Christ and a belief that He will take care of you no matter what. You need to believe that He will step in when He needs to step in and allow you to move when it’s appropriate for you to move by yourself, but He will always guard and protect you. Then He gives you this promise: “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” For those who are weak, those who are hurting, for those who struggle, for those who are stale, you can do all things. Why? Because, Christ strengthens you.

An Amazing Prayer

There are a lot of us around the nation praying that God would send revival to our country. Full on God-driven, Holy Spirit-igniting revival. Similar to those that have happened in Europe, Wales, and Azusa Street. I want to see God move in miraculous ways, and recently one of our missionaries wrote me an amazing email about revival. It says this: “I just want to thank you for coming and speaking on revival. I’m asking others to pray for revival in nursing homes in the U.S.A. specifically for persons suffering from dementia. I sense that God is raising persons with dementia who will preach the Good News.” Isn’t that amazing? Out of all the people you would think would be exempt from revival would be people in memory care units. But, our missionary is saying, “No, revival will start there. Those who cannot speak, will speak. Those who cannot remember, will begin to remember. Those who cannot comprehend will suddenly have insights beyond their abilities.” I love that: a plea for revival for people with dementia.

Frequent Flyer Programs

I’ve found myself on airplanes a lot over the past ten years and have developed a pattern of using the same airline. Therefore, I have a high status in their frequent flyer program, and I love it. I get upgrades to first class. I get priority boarding. I get to call and talk to a human being and not pay for it. And I get waived baggage and change fees. I love the frequent flyer program. It makes me want to fly that airline all the time. But the other day I got in a situation where I had to fly a different airline and I ended up in the middle seat at the back of the plane. I haven’t been there in years. It was miserable. I hated it. It was crowded, there was no service, and no place for your bag. It was near the restroom and didn’t smell very good. It just was not a good experience. I wanted and longed for the privilege of the frequent flyer program on my choice airline. It made me think about how there are two places that you can live: in a place of privilege, or of lack. You can live in the knowledge that you have God’s favor and blessing (a bit like how I have favor with my airline of choice). Or you can live in a place where you’re constantly looking for something that’s not there and looking only at what you don’t have. In Isaiah 40:28 it says, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is an everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow weary and His understanding no one can fathom.” When we are in Christ, we are privileged and favored. It doesn’t mean we’re...

Our Authority

Recently I was in a situation with one of our missionaries where they needed me to make a statement to a bunch of people in order to get things done. I asked the missionary, “Why do you want me to make this speech? Why is it that you want me to talk to these people?” His response was, “Because you have authority.” Very interesting. The Bible teaches quite a bit about authority. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says, “Though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Two phrases jump out from that section of scripture. One is that we have divine power. Our authority is not in our words, or in our education, or in our ability to persuade people. No, our authority is in the power—the divine power—that has been given to us through the Holy Spirit. We use divine power to invade the soul and the mind of a person. I’m concerned that our churches and our fellow Christians try to do things in their own power. When we need to be tapping into that divine power. The second phrase that jumps off the page for me is that we need to “take every thought captive.” That is amazing to me. I’ve been working with a lot of people recently who have had things spoken over them. Therefore, when they hear something said or they’re in a certain situation it triggers what’s been spoken over them, but the Bible says “take every thought captive to obey Christ.” There is a way for us to...

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