Ridge Burns's blog

Joy

I am writing this blog the day after the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl, and I want to tell you, the city is filled with joy. People are happy. People are talking to each other. Everybody asks, “Where were you during the game? Did you watch it?” You can just feel the sense of enormous joy that has come into the city. As soon as the game was over, the streets filled up with people. People were honking their horns—even this morning coming to work—people were still honking their car horns when they saw an Eagles flag on a car or a house. It’s amazing! But it does raise the question, “Where is our joy?” Where is our celebration as Christians? Where’s our celebration over the victory of Jesus Christ? Psalm 47:1 says, “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.” God wants us to celebrate Him. He wants us to magnify Him. In 1967 there was a riot fueled by racism in the city of Detroit where I grew up. It was ugly. Businesses and homes were burned. There was anger and bitterness and rage. But in 1968 the Detroit Tigers won the World Series for the first time in a long, long time. And the city burst with joy. Those very people who were enemies and arguing with each other and burning parts of the city down, now were joining hands and celebrating the great victory of the Detroit Tigers. What’s amazing about that is how joy changes the atmosphere. It changes hate into acceptance. It’s really hard to be angry and joyful at the same time. It’s enormously difficult to be bitter in a season of joy. Joy changes the atmosphere. That’s why God says, “Clap your hands, shout with joy...

Space

We who live in the United States, have a lot of space: we have large houses, our own rooms, and we usually have a couple of cars per family. We have a lot more space than most of the rest of the world. Much of the world is more crowded and would put five or six people in the room a couple in the U.S. sleeps in. Knowing that most of the world doesn’t have the kind of space I have, I want to utilize my space in a more practical and powerful way for the kingdom. So let me be real practical: we are made to have space to think. This is a different kind of space than I’ve been talking about—space to think and pray, to know who I am, and to ask questions. We are made to have that space in our lives which allows us to be who we are and to not just get caught up on how we perform. Here’s how it works for me: I choose a place that is my sacred space. It’s a place where I meet God and have conversations with Him. In that space I can also be very distracted so I have to stick with the idea of shutting down what I have to do and allowing myself to just concentrate on who I am. I talk to the Lord out loud. I get less distracted when I can actually hear my voice outside of my head declaring and believing things about our Lord. I read scripture out loud and there’s something that happens when I do: it washes over me and allows me to get re-calibrated. Scripture is a powerful tool for us that fills our spaces with God’s Word instead of the things of this world...

God's Word is Not Chained

2 Timothy 2:9 says, “I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.” Paul was chained in prison. He could not move. He could not leave where he was. But in the midst of being chained like a criminal, his mind goes to what God’s Word has done in his life. All of Paul’s comforts have been taken away, and he rises to the occasion and says, “God’s word will not be chained.” And yet we act like it’s chained. We have chains of sin on us. We have chains of theological misconceptions. We have chains of patterns of worship that have become dull and dry. We allow the gospel to be chained in us because we don’t guard it properly. But God’s word cannot be contained by our chains. God’s word cannot be short circuited by us. It will do what it is intended to do, and that is to bring us to the cross of Jesus Christ. God’s word is freedom and power. It is rich and has authority. So I think about Paul in a prison cell knowing that the teaching he has done on his missionary journey and what he has done to build up the kingdom, will not be bound by his prison walls or by his chains. God breaks the chains and allows us to do his good and perfect will. Verse 10 says, “I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” Paul says clearly that he’ll endure everything so that others can obtain this incredible deposit that God gives us through His Word.

Guarding the Good Deposit

“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” 2 Timothy 1:14 God makes a deposit in every one of us—He gives us gifts, salvation, redemption, hope, healing, and faith. He deposits His very being inside us through the power of the Holy Spirit. And we have to guard that gift because there is an evil one who wants to rob us of the joy and the power of that gift. So many Christians often have gifts that should be used to build up the body of Christ, but they lay dormant because they haven’t guarded them. Notice that they are good gifts. Gifts that build up people. Gifts that advance the kingdom. They are good gifts that we guard with the help of the Holy Spirit. Why the Holy Spirit? Well, for one, as it says earlier in that verse, “He lives inside us.” And, two, the Bible tells us in the book of John that the Spirit will guide us into all truth. We will know the truth about that which is given to us, and He will guard the good deposit that God has given to us so that it will not be robbed by the evil one. We will have power and victory, and chains will be broken. I wonder sometimes about the deposit that God has put in my life. I wonder if I fully understand all the goodness and all of the amazing things that He has given me? I so often operate in the flesh, in what I can see. I don’t operate in faith, or in the supernatural, or when I can’t see. I operate on what’s safe and comfortable. I believe that there are gifts that take us beyond...

A Culture of Blessing

Recently I’ve been involved in two different meetings that both ended in the same way—with people blessing people with the ways they’ve seen the Lord working in their life or gifts that they have from the Lord. I was doing an exit interview for another organization. A very important person left the ministry and my job—along with two other people—was to do an exit interview to find out ways that the organization could improve and things we should’ve done differently. It was a last way for the person leaving to give input into the organization. It was a really positive meeting. At the end, I asked the other two people doing the exit interview if we could do a time of blessing for the person who was leaving. We went around the circle and blessed this guy who had worked for us for fourteen years. We blessed him with wisdom, patience, hope, and eyes to see the fruit of his ministry. It was unbelievably great. Today our management team here at InFaith started our meeting with blessing each other. Hearing someone else talk about how God has used you and worked in your life is much different than affirmation. Affirmation is almost a way of thanking someone; it’s a man-made thing. But blessing is, “You have these skills. You have this capacity. You have this ability. And now I want to bless you to bless others with it.” We live in the natural, but we reach into the supernatural when we say to people, “We bless you because of the way God has worked in you.” We also bless people because it changes their perspective—it gives them a chance to hear about gifts that are evident to others that they haven’t yet seen in themselves. The blessing helps break down...

A Flight Attendant

Recently I was on a flight from Philadelphia to San Francisco. I fly a lot—living on both coasts of the country—and so I’ve had the opportunity to observe the behaviors of many flight attendants. Some are efficient: they do their job and they don’t share much with the passengers. Some are talkers. Some are tired and grouchy. Some want to just get the job done so they can sit down and do nothing. But there was a flight attendant on this flight that was really busy. She was always asking, “Can I help you?” She actually spent time going down the aisle and learning about different people: “Do you live here? Tell me about your family.” It was an amazing thing to watch this flight attendant win the hearts of the people in that section of the airplane. The guy sitting next to me didn’t like the food he’d been served, so she actually got a different menu for him. I’ve never seen anyone serve people like that. I got up to use the restroom and saw her in the galley. So I told her, “I’ve noticed you the whole flight. You’re just a good worker and you seem to have a different spirit. Why do you work so hard? Why are you so different than most of the other flight attendants?” She looked at me and said, “The Lord Jesus Christ is Lord of my life and He lights it up. He tells me I must share love because they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Her whole life was shaped around that one mandate—that we’re going to be known by our love. We’re not known by what we decide to do or by how we choose to define ourselves and what we stand for. We are known...

The Good News

There’s a great story in the Old Testament, found in 2 Kings chapter seven, about four guys with leprosy. They weren’t able to go into the city because leprosy is a communicable disease. So these men were banished to sit by the city gate and beg for food in order to exist. But the problem was that the city was under siege from an army that was camped not too far away, ready to attack. These four lepers had a conversation. They said, “It’s dumb for us to sit here and die and beg for food. We might as well go to see this army and maybe they’ll accept us. Maybe they’ll have compassion on us and give us food.” So they went to the army’s camp and found that God had done a great miracle. God had scared the army so that they all ran off and left everything that was good: cattle, food, gold, silver, and tents. It was an amazing find. The four lepers began to eat the food and you can imagine them just shoveling in all of this good food that they haven’t had very often because of their plight of being banished from the city. And then, one of the guys said, “It is not good for us to sit here and enjoy this. We need to share this with others.” And that, my friends, is why we evangelize. We are like the beggars who are eating this incredible food and we want other people to join us. We don’t want to horde the gospel to ourselves. We want to give it away. Like the four guys who initially just wanted to eat the food, we also need to realize that God gives us gifts in order to share. He gives us salvation to...

Family Bonds

We brought all of our family together for Thanksgiving—our son and his wife and our granddaughter, and our daughter who is in seminary. I sat there thinking about how there was something special about the people in that room. There is a biological bond that brings us together. It’s our flesh, it’s our DNA lived out in another human being. I can see the resemblance of my wife in our kids. I can see some of my behavior traits in our kids. There’s a biological bond. There is also an emotional bond. I love my family. I want to spend time with them. I love being with them. I want to give and dispense love to them. I want them to feel secure and safe. I want them to feel like family is something that’s important and a value. And then there’s a spiritual bond. I am called to disciple my kids and my spouse. As RobAnne and I lead our family, we lead them into a spiritual bond that brings us together through a common belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and an active work of the Holy Spirit. I love my family. We are biologically connected, emotionally connected, and spiritually protected.

Hunger

It seems ridiculous to write a blog about hunger after Thanksgiving when we stuff ourselves with turkey and mashed potatoes and all kinds of great food. But the Lord’s been teaching me about hunger lately—not physical hunger—spiritual hunger. Hunger that only God can fill. Psalm 81:10 says, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” God wants us to hunger for Him and then allow Him to feed us. I’ve been thinking a lot about what He will feed us with. What is spiritual food? What are the things that that will help us grow spiritually? His Word, obviously, but also the way we walk with Him and talk with Him. As we live our lives in and through Him, and spend time around the people of God, we learn about hunger. Revelation 22:17 says, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” God wants to lavish water on us when we’re thirsty. We open up our mouths when we’re hungry, because God loves us and He takes care of us. He desires to walk with us. Jesus put it this way, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.” So we hunger. And we desire. And God fills us.

Asking God Questions

I grew up in an environment where you asked God about things—you asked Him to bless things, to reveal things—but you didn’t ask God questions. It seemed to be disrespectful, or for some reason making God too small. The questions that seemed inappropriate as I was growing up in a much more legalistic faith community were questions like “why” questions or “how” questions. But lately God has been showing me that He likes my questions. In fact, He likes specific questions—“yes” and “no” questions. “Should I take this speaking assignment? Should I go to lunch with this person? Should I make this decision, yes or no?” I search His word; I listen to the person of the Holy Spirit. And it is amazing. God does speak. He does reveal His good and perfect will to people who ask pointed questions. Now I’m not in any way saying that you should ask God to help you choose what’s on the menu at a restaurant or something maybe even more trivial, but there are lots of times that we just don’t know what to do. We are confused or perplexed. There’s a sense of fog in our life and we just need a clear word from God: “yes” or “no.” I think the Lord takes delight in people who ask questions, not only in their quiet time in the morning, but all day long. “God, am I doing what you called me to do? Is it my assignment for me to be involved in this situation? Am I carrying a grudge or am I responding to a person out of my personal need for affirmation? Am I really being the leader you want me to be?” What I’m trying to say is simply this: ask God good questions. Don’t be afraid to...

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