Ridge Burns's blog

Difference

I was in a meeting with some of our missionaries recently. It was an amazing group of people. We brought them together to see if there was a common thread in their ministries, so we might create a system that would use that common thread to be more effective in reaching our nation for Christ—which is our hope, our dream, and our mission. One story sticks out in my mind from that meeting. One of our missionaries is a woman who has ten children, most of them adopted. They live incarnationally in an urban, ethnically diverse neighborhood. We were talking about the hassles of ministry and her big hassle was that the drug dealers on their street would set their water bottles on her car. That just bothered her. She talked about how she had to get over that, because it’s not that big a deal. But in moments of weakness and flesh, it becomes a really big deal to her. I was sitting there thinking, “I don’t have any problems like that.” I have no drug dealers in my life. I have really good people in my life. I don’t have to spend 50 minutes looking for a parking spot and then the lady next door doesn’t want you to park there because of some unspoken rules in the neighborhood. I was so drawn to their commitment to live in that neighborhood, and the only reason they live there is that God has called them. So, they deal with issues I never have to deal with. They deal with issues that just seem scary. And God uses them in powerful ways. It was really interesting to watch these missionaries affirm that a walk with Christ on the wild side where they live is hard, and messy, and it’s a...

Liberty

Recently, I was talking to a good friend at our church whose son is in the Navy at Great Lakes in Illinois. The son was going to visit for a few days because, as she said, “He has five days of liberty.” Begin to think about that: five days of liberty. Why do they call it liberty? It seems to me that they are under the restrictions placed on them when they are in uniform or on active duty, so when they have time off, they have been liberated from those rules and from the regimen that is necessary for them to be effective sailors in the Navy. For that reason, they don’t call it vacation, holiday, time off, or PTO; they call it liberty. That made me think about us and our relationship with Christ. We live in liberty; we’re not under the rule of law, or the legalism of some of our churches. We have liberty to live life more abundantly. Liberty that allows us to be all that God wants us to be—to receive His goodness, to receive His rightness, to receive who He is as our Savior and Lord. Where the Spirit of God is, there is freedom. And freedom translates in military terms to liberty.

Overcoming Disappointment

If there’s one thing that almost everybody experiences on a regular basis it’s disappointment. Something you thought was going to happen doesn’t. Something you needed to happen somehow takes a twist or doesn’t turn out the way you hoped it would. Disappointment is an attitude. It’s allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by your expectations and your circumstances. God has a plan for people who suffer disappointment. First, we need to believe in God’s plan for us. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “’My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.’” We need to remember that God has a plan for His children. When we understand that we are part of a larger scheme—a wonderful tapestry that God is weaving on the earth—it takes our disappointment to another place. Second, understand that God’s plans for you are good. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” We need to understand and recognize that God has our future in His hands. He will not let us go. He is orchestrating our lives to bring glory to His name. Finally, we have to remember that God is close. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” The Lord is near. His presence is with us. As we live and experience and walk in His presence, our disappointments seem to disappear. Disappointment is a hard thing. Sometimes it scars us for life, but those who wait on...

Fear vs. Joy

Recently I was reading the book of Hebrews and in chapter 12 it talks about two mountains. One is called the Mountain of Fear where people tremble with fear about the rules and condemnation that is coming down. It was a mountain that called out what was wrong, a mountain that made people afraid. I believe it is an image of the Law. The Law was given so that we have a perspective of what it means to be righteous, and the knowledge that we can’t live without a Savior. And the result is fear. The second mountain is the Mountain of Joy. There are angels dancing around this mountain, singing and praising, because of the New Covenant—which isn’t about fear, condemnation, or not measuring up. The New Covenant is about accepting the free gift of God. I just love when it says, “We have come to God, the Judge of All, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant.” Through Jesus our fears are washed away by His blood and replaced by joy.

What Do You Do When Prayer is Hard?

What do you do when you just can’t seem to pray? Everything is blocked up. When there’s no communication between you and God, it just seems hard and fruitless and you can easily give up. Let me give you two things that I think are important for those of you who are in a place where prayer is just hard. One is Hebrews 4:16 which says, “We come boldly to the throne of God.” God is not embarrassed by your despair. He’s not bothered by your hurts. He’s not unconcerned with your mental attitude, but He wants you to come boldly to Him. He wants you to run to Him and say, “God I need You! I need You to help me. I need You to straighten me out. I need You to figure out my thoughts. I am in a battle and, Lord, I need You! I come boldly to You. I don’t come with a timid spirit, I come with a bold spirit that You are God and I’m not and You have the answers.” The second thing that is important, is to pray honestly. We have a great example in King David. This was his prayer, his communication, his conversation with God in Psalm 13: it says, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?” Note the sarcasm. “How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I wrestle in my thoughts, with sorrow in my heart each day? How long will my enemies dominate me?” David just pours his heart out, honestly. When is the last time you had an honest conversation with God? “God, I’m afraid. God, I’m concerned. God, I’m wrong, I’m addicted, I’m hurting.” God says, “Come boldly. Come honestly.” When you do, there’s a divine order that takes place...

Hearing the Voice of God

The scariest verse in the Bible for me is the verse that says, “My sheep hear My voice.” As a lifelong Christ follower—a person who wants to hear the voice of God and wants to experience the presence of the Lord—I find myself feeling like I’m not hearing God enough. I read His word, I spend time in prayer, but there is something missing. There is something that is deeper and stronger in my spirit when it comes to hearing the voice of God. We know 1 Timothy 3 talks about how “all scripture is God breathed.” It’s His powerful letter to us, and a description of the favor of God, in 66 books of the Bible. He speaks to us clearly from His Word and most Christians would have no question that, that is true. But John 16:13 talks about how the Spirit will come and bring us to truth. So, God speaks to us through His Spirit and His Spirit, in my experience, comes when I am quiet and alone and am engulfed by the presence and Spirit of God. God also speaks to us through nature. The theologians call this “general revelation.” Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” They are without excuse because we can look around and see the majesty and the mightiness of God. God speaks to us in unique ways since people are unique and different. In my experience God speaks through dreams and visions. Sometimes I close my eyes and I see played out in front of me a drama or a life lesson. I’m not sure it’s a real dream, I’m not sure if...

Consolation

Consolation is an interesting word. I looked it up in the dictionary tonight and it’s defined as “comfort received by a person after a loss or a disappointment.” It’s when someone comes and consoles you and makes you feel better. But the Bible says something different about what consolation really is. Psalm 94:19 says, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” How much more powerful and wonderful is it when God is the one who consoles you at the very center of your being? Your soul doesn’t find comfort, according the Bible, it doesn’t find peace or wholeness—it finds joy. A few months ago, I was in a conference and the seminar was on joy. The teacher of the seminar really believed that laughter and joy are arrows that destroy the tools of the evil one. That’s why when we have so much anxiety and so much pain, concern, and stress, the author of Psalm 94 says “God when you talk to me, it brought joy to me. When I was down, your words brought joy.” I’m going through a rather stressful time right now, a time when I need to think through how I can make God my dwelling, as I talked about in another blog. But I also need to think through how I can receive God’s consolation—through the words of Christ, through the Scriptures, and through the work of the Holy Spirit—which brings joy to my soul. I find myself wanting to open myself up, to lay on my bed or pause in the middle of my day and say, “I need your consolation. I need to be consoled. My soul is heavy. My soul is broken, scarred, and hurting. The stress and anxiety that I am bearing is too much.” God would...

Dwelling

I love my house. I love when I’m there and that it’s decorated with things that remind me of my family and that make me feel comfortable and welcome. Recently I ran across a verse in Psalm 91 that says, “If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.” I just love that. If we make the Most High God our dwelling then His presence is surrounding us. His presence is in us and near us. In His presence we find safety, we are welcome, we find acceptance and authority—all because we have made the Most High our dwelling. We run to that dwelling after a hard day’s work to find that the presence of God has been with us all day but was drowned out by the noise of our lives and the confusion of our culture. When we make God our dwelling we come home to a place of acceptance. We come home to a place where our faults are revealed but we are strengthened in the Spirit to be able to overcome them. Let me just say this to you; when we visualize that God is our dwelling—not a physical place, but a spiritual place—we find ourselves and we find that we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

Waiting

Recently I went to the DMV and I don’t think there’s any place on the planet that exemplifies having to wait more than the DMV. The line went all the way out the building and down the sidewalk. When you got inside, there was no place to sit. And there is no way to speed up the system at all. So, you stand, and you think, and you decide to get mad and then you rationalize out of it. It’s a time of waiting. The Lord tells us sometimes waiting can be good. For example, Isaiah 64:4 “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.” I love that God is someone “who acts for those who wait for him.” There’s a waiting that God desires for us to have. Earlier in Isaiah it says, “but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Those who wait on the Lord. In the mission there are people who are waiting on the Lord to do miraculous things. Some deal with health, some deal with ministry, some deal with kids and problems in the family. But we will wait, because those who run ahead of what God wants to do never receive His blessing. There are some who decide that waiting is of the evil one and we need to step out in faith and move quickly. Sometimes that’s true, but most of the time God says, “Wait, wait on me. I will meet you. I will walk with you. I will be with you. I will be the one...

Hope

Psalm 33:20-22 says, “We put our hope in the LORD. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD, for our hope is in you alone.” We hope in so many things that are just temporal. We hope we have enough finances to retire, we hope to have a good response from the doctor, we hope that our kids turn out alright, we hope that our spouses will live a long happy life. We hope. But the hope that God gives us, is the hope that comes only through Christmas. It’s the hope that comes because the Living Hope, Jesus Himself, has come. He changes the rules. He makes that which is decaying and temporal, alive and eternal. He takes broken people and makes them whole. He is our blessed hope, as the one who allows us to see our future in Him. Hope is not a commodity that we bestow on people. Hope is an attitude, an action, and a fact. It’s an attitude that we don’t hope in luck, we hope in Christ—a solid Savior who takes care of us. And when we hope, we stand on fact. Like is says in Psalm 33, our hope is in Him alone. Christmas is a time that a lot of people hope. They hope for gifts, they hope for family to come together, there’s this overall sense of hoping. I pray that the Lord will allow us to see our Living Hope. Our Blessed Hope. Our Savior, who gives us hope.

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