Monthly Archives: January 2014

Hearing the voice of God

225

Hi Everyone,

 

One of my favorite books in the Old Testament is first Kings, because it contains the story of Elijah.  Elijah is one of only two people who never died according to scripture.  Enoch was the first…”He walked with God and God took him.” (Gen. 5:21-24)  The book of Hebrews in the New Testament says, “Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found because God had taken him away.” (Hebrews 11:5)  And Elijah was the second mentioned that never died…he was taken by God up into heaven in a whirlwind…riding in a chariot of fire. “Suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated Elijah from Elisha and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.”  (2 Kings 2:11)  As my beloved departed brother Rich Mullins sang….”I WANT TO GO OUT LIKE ELIJAH!”

 

But in first Kings we see a lot more of Elijah’s personality….in First Kings we see him standing boldly on Mt. Camel calling fire down from heaven and defeating the false prophets of Baal.  With his challenge and God’s reaction to Elijah’s call the Israelites are led back into a relationship with Jehovah God.  It’s a total and complete victory for Elijah as God shows Himself with great power.  But as is so often the case, right after Elijah’s mountaintop experience, he finds himself discouraged and in the wilderness.  He feels alone…he feels depressed and worn out…so much so, he even asked God…”Take my life, I am no better than my ancestors.” (1 Kings 19:4)  As God is prone to do, instead of taking Elijah’s life (In fact He never will)..God refreshes Elijah….an Angel comes and fixes him cake (angel food cake)…he provides him with water and then tells him to “go to Horeb, the Mountain of God.” (1 Kings 19:8)  Elijah does this…it’s a long journey…forty days and forty nights….when he arrives he went into a cave and spent the night.

 

Here’s where the story takes on a renewed power.  God asks Elijah, “What are you doing here?”  and Elijah answers, “I’ve been zealous for the Lord God.  The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death.  I’m the only one left, and they’re trying to kill me too!” (1 Kings 19:10)  Elijah’s perspective is really messed up….and just like Elijah, our perspective can get really messed up as well…..”I’m working my butt off for you God, teaching classes, doing stuff, helping at the shelter and working with our kids….I’m in church every time the doors are open…..and I’m the only one that seems to work this hard!”

 

And then God does something amazing…as He usually does.  He tells Elijah to go out in front of the cave and stand in the Lord presence…for the Lord is about to pass by….and then God unleashes a great and powerful wind….it tears the rocks from the ground….and following this violent wind is an Earthquake….and following the earthquake is a raging fire….and God is not in the violent wind, and God is not in the earthquake, and God is not in the raging fire…..but then a gentle whisper says, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”  And Elijah answers, “I’ve been zealous for the Lord God.  The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death.  I’m the only one left, and they’re trying to kill me too!” (1 Kings 19:10) And God says, “Go back the way you came, there are 7000 faithful servants who haven’t rejected my covenant…and I want you to find a successor named Elisha.”  (1 Kings 19:15-21)

 

There are some things I’ve learned by experience in ministry, and I would share them with you in hopes that these insights might help you in your journey with God, and hopefully change your perspective if it’s really messed up.

 

1.  AFTER A SPIRITUAL MOUNTAINTOP THERE IS ALWAYS AN EMOTIONAL WILDERNESS:  Whether it’s Elijah after Mt. Carmel or Peter, James and John after the Mount of transfiguration, or Rick Burdette after the North American Christian Convention…real life always makes the Mountaintop look like a place you’d like to live….no one lives on the mountaintop!!!!!!!

2.  IT’S EASY FOR OUR PERSPECTIVE TO TURN INWARD:  I’m the only one working this hard….I’m the only one that really cares this deeply…I’m the only one that really gets it….NO YOU’RE NOT!!!  When we listen to the god of this world and begin to focus on ourselves, and live our lives looking into a mirror for satisfaction….trouble, discouragement, and sometimes even despair are waiting right around the bend.  Satan cannot steal your salvation, but if you let him…he can steal your joy.  That’s why God gave Elijah these two tasks:

3.  GO BACK THE WAY YOU CAME:  “Remember your first love!”  Whether it’s your relationship with God, or your wife, this is good advice.  Love doesn’t grow by osmosis…it grows like a fire that is feed with wood.  And many time we feel far from the One that we should love the most, because we have taken for granted…the One we should love the most…and we’ve traded doing stuff for intimacy with Him….or her.

4.  POUR YOUR LIFE INTO OTHERS:  Elijah had 7000 he could share his life with…encourage and receive encouragement from.  Church isn’t a place you go…it’s a people who love, encourage, worship, strengthen, and serve.  And Elijah probably needed Elisha more than Elisha needed Elijah.  Paul’s have to find Timothy’s…Jesus’ plan is “there is no success without a successor!!!!!”  

 

Let me end by sharing…hearing God requires we shut up and listen.  It requires a Mary’s heart more than Martha’s hands.  Don’t get me wrong…I am greatly appreciative of every one who serves with Martha’s hands…but do that long enough without occasionally cultivating a Mary’s heart….and you’ll end up in the wilderness asking God to take your life, just sayin’

 

I love you all, (Trying to Listen)

 

Rick Burdette

 

 

 

Advertisements

The “Beautiful ” House

The Dominican Republic 2013

Hey Everyone,

Sorry this blog is a little late, but this week your minister has seen every Doctor in Lexington in preparation for a bilateral hip replacement February 3rd. I’m not sure how I wore out both hips at the age of 53…possibly the time I spent in Cuba as an undercover C.I.A operative disguised as a Salsa dancer,,,who knows?

But like most of the United States this past week the average temperature in Lexington, Kentucky has hovered somewhere around -22…or at least it’s felt that way. So, my thoughts went back to last year at about this time. I was doing mission work in the Dominican Republic, and the average temperature was a balmy 77…and sunny. One of the works we did that week was to paint one of the local church leader’s home. It was a small concrete building…4 small rooms and a bathroom, built on a dirt road, among many similar houses. There was a creek at the end of the road were animals and people got their water and washed…(tip to visiting American missionaries…be ready for pubic nudity and don’t scream or point)

Here’s the part of the story that you will enjoy…hopefully. We spent about two days priming and painting this little house…the teenagers that were with me and our student minister worked very very hard to get it done and make it beautiful. We didn’t meet the church leader whose house we were painting, until we went to a worship service later that week. But there was a young lady at the house for both days…looking after their children and making sure we didn’t mess things up too badly. She didn’t speak a word of English and my Spanish would only direct you to the “Banyo”…or to order some food at a restaurant. Amaury, our contact introduced me to the young woman when we first met and told me her name was…”Bonita,” I’m pretty sure in the next two days I talked to her dozens of times…and called her by name. “How’s it look Bonita?” “Thank you for the kool aid and cookies, Bonita.” After the first day “Bonita” started following me around and smiling at me a lot…it was then that Amaury told me that her name wasn’t “Bonita.” He was cracking up because “Bonita” means “Beautiful or pretty.” So for the last two day this woman thought I was complementing her on her beauty or appearance. She thought I was coming on to her….AND SHE LOVED IT!!!!!!!!

I guess there are a couple of insights from this experience…which my student minister and Amaury thought were hilarious….first, never trust a laughing missionary when they introduce you to a pretty young woman…two, people everywhere love to be complimented, three, you get more kool aid and cookies, if you come on to the woman of the house (even unintentionally!!!!!!) And four, the house was beautiful, because these young people, and their leaders served in a “bonita” way so God could be glorified….and on this cold January day, that warms my heart

His servant and yours,

Rick Burdette

Through the mine field

Image

Greeting in the name of Jesus,

We are right in the middle of the 69th anniversary of the Battle of the bulge.  The writer who describes this event on the Army’s web page, wrote: “In late 1944, in the wake of the allied forces’ successful D-Day invasion of Normandy, France, it seemed as if the Second World War was all but over. But on December 16, with the onset of winter, the German army launched a counteroffensive that was intended to cut through the Allied forces in a manner that would turn the tide of the war in Hitler’s favor. The battle that ensued is known historically as The Battle of the Bulge. The courage and fortitude of the American Soldier was tested against great adversity. Nevertheless, the quality of his response ultimately meant the victory of freedom over tyranny.”

I love history, and I must confess I am the son of a World War 2 Purple heart recipient (more on that in a moment), and I am the Father of an Iraqi Freedom Veteran, a gunner who had his vehicle blown out from under him, and returned to a world at home where nightmares would be his constant companion.  I feel honored to be both son and father…but I was born at the wrong time.  My childhood was inundated with The Vietnam war, but I was 4 when it began and 15 when it ended.  I was 31 when Suddam Hussien invaded Kuwait, and already a father of 3…with another baby on the way.  I have the greatest of respect for those who served in our armed forces during more peaceful time, but it wasn’t for me…both my father and son are war torn veteran’s….my son and I share this truth with each other….one from the wars of a battle against a spiritual dark enemy, and one from the horrors of war where 14 year old distribute ammo in battle for their fathers….”You cannot unsee what you’ve seen.”  It made me afraid to wake up my father in the midst of dreams of death, and it makes me pray for God to bring peace to my tattered son’s soul when the nightmares attack.

But some of my Father’s history in battle reminds me a great deal of my salvation….In the middle of the Battle of the Bulge…January 19, 1945…My Father was on point as he lead a recon group in the black forest…when he stepped on a three pronged landmine…it blow off his left leg and shrapnel pierced his right leg severely.  He ended up 20 feet way from the impact and staring into the night sky…he was going to die….by all rights he should have bleed out right there where he lay….and then he felt Frank Carlisle, his best friend…pick him up.  Frank had disobeyed orders to wait for the mine sweepers….he ran through the mine field….wrapped his arms around Pvt. Burdette and carried him to an aid station….where they put a tourniquet on his left leg and stopped the bleeding in his right leg….and saved my father’s life….Without the heroic and selfless actions of Pvt. Frank Carlisle….Rick Burdette would not have been born….life wouldn’t have been possible.

There are so many stories I could share with you concerning God’s providence…..how my Dad met my Mom in an amputee hospital in Atlanta Georgia…but I’ll save those for another time.  Here’s what I know, without a doubt…At one point in my rebelious, sinful life, the enemy was winning in my life….I lay on the battle field blown apart, each flaming arrow found it’s mark….and I was dying….in fact…spiritually dead already.  But Jesus would not allow that….”He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother,”  He ran through the mine field of sin…he never gave into a one of them….and because of that, he stretched his arms out on Calvary and saved me….an empty tomb not only conquered his death…it became the cure for my death…and yours.  So, it’s not a coincidence that on January 17, 1998 Ricky Burdette died, and was reborn…53 years after my Dad’s rescue….Today as I reflect, I’m 53. By the Way, God sent a friend running into my life to carry me to the aid station as well…thanks Becky Henry.

A thankful soldier,

Rick Burdette

Broken handles

Hi All,

 

Like the rest of the United States we’re experiencing some pretty frigid weather in Kentucky.  It’s so cold my wife did that boiling water thrown into the air experiment yesterday….pretty cool.  But those temperatures make plastic brittle and easily breakable…so when I went to get into my 2003 Hyundai Tiburon with 186, 000 miles Saturday morning, the temperature hovering somewhere around -4, I tried to open the door…I knew it would be brittle, but the handle snapped off in my hand with the gentlest  of tugs.  I stood there in my driveway at 4:00 AM holding onto the black plastic handle and thought thoughts that no person should ever really think.  If I had been a cartoon these symbols would have been floating above my head:  @#$#%$#@@#$.

 

Now here’s what makes it a story worth telling, or at least I hope it makes it a story worth telling.  My wife thinks it hilarious, so I thought you might enjoy it as well.  And yes there is a morale.  

 

Get in your Delorean and go back in time with me to last year about this time of year.  It was another very cold day and I was getting ready to take my daughter and 5 year old grandson (The Peanut) to the store.  Karissa and I walked out and Peyton (The Peanut) ran ahead of us, about 20 feet to my car.  He preceded to grab the outside handle of the passenger door and pull on it so he could get in.  And you guessed it…the handle snapped off in his hand before he knew it.  My reaction was:  “Dag gone it!  Peanut!!”  And he started to cry….I ran and scooped him up, hugged him and told him it was O.K.  “PaPaw knew it was an accident.”  

 

So, here’s the morale of the story….God sometimes takes a year to teach you love, grace and patience…(or longer).  Because the first thing I did when I got home from my trip was, grab the broken handle, find Peanut….show him what I had done, and laugh with him as I asked for his forgiveness again.

 

This might be your favorite part of the morale…I know it’s my wife’s…with both outside handles broken off the only way you can get into my tiburon is to open the back hatch and crawl in from behind.  There is no way to do this gracefully.  So, maybe the greatest lesson God was teaching me in the handle fiasco was “Humility,” something of which we all need a dose.  Because I was headed for a funeral….and there is no way you can reverently crawl through the back hatch of a 2003 Hyundai Tiburon!!!!

 

Love you all,

 

Rick