Ridge Burns's blog

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...

Give Local

Every community has an underbelly. It’s disguised with nice homes and parks and maybe surrounded by really good things, but there’s still an underbelly. An underbelly of hunger, of homelessness, of anger and bitterness. An underbelly that eats at people and tells them that they’re not worth anything and tells them that there’s not any hope. But there are people who look at that underbelly as a great opportunity. They look at it as a place to minister. They look at it as a place where they can use the gifts that God has given to them—the gifts of compassion and mercy and grace. They work with hunger programs and lodging homeless people and they work with children who can’t learn. They begin to dig deep into the underbelly to bring the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ to that which is hidden in many of our American communities. There is an organization that is focused on reaching local—focused on empowering and supporting people who look at their local and say, “I can make a difference.” And those people are supported by people who also believe in the local, but can’t dig as deep into the underbelly. When you give to InFaith, you’re giving to local ministries—not overseas, not all over the nation—but to people like Dayna Carr in Greensboro, North Carolina, who move into a neighborhood to do only one thing, and that is be Christ in that community. She sees “local” as her mission field. And that local can be made up of all kinds of different ethnic groups and people groups and languages, but the one thing they have in common is that they live locally. So when you give, you’re not giving to some far-off country or some far-off problem, you’re giving to people who...

The Clear Instruction of God

I Thessalonians 4:11-12 outlines three things that God says should be our ambition, what we are living for. The first one, from verse eleven, is, “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.” A quiet life is solid. It's not flamboyant. It doesn’t draw attention to itself. It’s a quiet life that goes about doing the will of God and will do the will of God even when no one is watching. The second ambition is also in verse eleven: “You should mind your own business.” There is a sense that God has a unique plan, a unique assignment for each one of us. Your business on earth is to find the assignment that’s perfectly aligned to your skills, your gifts, and your passions, and then use all of those to bring the kingdom of God to the place where you are—to your local. Everyone has a local and you should strive to quietly go about serving your local. You “mind your own business” by bringing the kingdom of God to your local. Thirdly, it says this, “Work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders.” So the idea there is to watch how you behave in front of non-Christians. The non-Christians in your local, are looking at those who claim to be Christ-like and watching them fail. When we fail to be Christ-like, we can become a stumbling block. We can become the reason that people do not know the Savior because of our inconsistency. If you want to reach your local, then reach it by quietly going about the will of God, and minding your own business by staying on your own assignment. And finally, make sure that your life is consistent to those who do...

Worship in the Earthly Tabernacle

Hebrews 9:1-14 talks about the tabernacle and how it leads us to the atoning work of Christ—always through the blood. In the first room of the tabernacle there was a lampstand and consecrated bread. That was the Holy Place. It was where more than one person could gather and they could experience the presence of God and His love and peace. They knew they were in a room where they met God. It was a powerful experience. Once a year, the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies where the ark of the covenant was kept. He was able to enter into this Holy of Holies—the holiest place—but he could only do it with a blood offering. We’ve forgotten how much it cost our Savior to make us able to enter into God’s presence—His own life! There was a blood sacrifice, but this time it wasn’t animal blood, it was human blood. It came through the sacrifice of a totally innocent man who bore all of our sins in order for us to have freedom. Hebrews 9:15 says, “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” We are free because of the blood of Jesus Christ! We learn through the Old Testament and through the example of the earthly tabernacle what it means to need to have a sacrifice. Now the new covenant is fully enforced: that when someone dies who knows Jesus—who has accepted the sacrifice of His blood—they get to live eternally with God. That, my friends, is what I live for.

Everyone Gets to Play

Recently I heard a pastor say that he wants to be part of a church where everyone gets to play. In other words: everyone has a gift and a contribution. Everyone has a stake in the game and has a place where they can serve each other. No one sits on the perimeter. No one piles up on the fringes, because everyone gets to play. And the church makes space for people to play. There are opportunities for people who are new to the faith to be able to serve and to have influence. I just love that. I love that God is not impressed with longevity; He’s impressed with hearts. He is impressed with people who have a fresh, new awakening of God in their life. With the new gifts, skills, and thoughts that God gives us, we get to be part of His kingdom—a significant part of His kingdom. I love that everyone gets to play, no matter who you are, as long as Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior.

Spring or Fall

I was sitting with the Lord recently thinking about my life: all the great people I’ve worked with, the jobs I’ve had, the churches I’ve been involved with, my family, and my education. I was just generally reviewing my life. I’m so grateful for all of the things that God has given to me. As you get older, you begin to think about what’s next. Some people view getting older as the Fall of their life—that they are surrounded by decaying leaves. It may be beautiful for a while, but sooner or later the snow’s going to fly, winter is going to be here, and everybody has to hunker down for another few months to get through it. There are others—like me—who look at aging as springtime. All these great experiences and people in my life have given me the ability to speak into people’s lives and to be able to understand some of the nuances of life. It’s Spring because there’s so much more waiting for me, and God has new and different places for me to enjoy Him. I’m not currently thinking about an immediate change, but as you get older you do start thinking, “Am I in the Spring or the Fall of my life?” I want to stay in the Spring. I want to be a person who is always looking for the new blessings and for the mercies that are new every morning.

Opposing God

There’s a great section of scripture in Acts 11 where Peter is explaining his actions and why he believes the Gentiles are equal heirs in Christ with the Jews. The background to that is Acts 10 when Peter is in a trance or a vision and he sees a sheet come down with all the things which were prohibited for him to eat. And God said to him, “Peter, eat these things.” Peter responded, “I’ve never done that, Lord, and I won’t start.” The Lord told him again that what He has made pure, Peter should not rebel against. In Acts 11 when Peter is explaining this, there is a sentence that jumped out at me: “So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” Acts 11:17 That is a great sentence for us all because God wants to do a new work. He wants to teach us more about Him and more about the mystery of God—more about how He has redeemed us through His sacrifice and what that actually means in our everyday life. It’s new. It’s different. It’s fresh. It’s blossoming. It’s of the Spirit. And yet, we want sameness: we love routine and what’s safe. We love that which we can control. Let me suggest the following: Who am I to think that I can stand in God’s way? The last part of that verse seems to indicate that we need to quit getting in God’s way because God wants to do a fresh work in us. So I pray that our mission would never say or never have to say, “Who am I to oppose what God wants to do?” Instead I pray that...

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