Monthly Archives: April 2014

It’s not about Titles

It's not about Titles

Greetings in the Lord,

“Leadership: It’s Action, not position,” That statement graces the bottom of a picture that hangs as a centerpiece on my office wall. It’s the picture of an eagle (not beagle) soaring just off the water’s surface with a fish in it’s talons. I see it every single day that I walk in to go to work, and it means a great deal because it was given to me by a group of leaders as I was transitioning into a new ministry.

This world loves titles. We hang them on doors…we put them on brass plates to adorn our desks…we emboss them on business cards, but the problem with titles is they are just words. A title means absolutely nothing unless it is lived out in the real world. And those who covet the title almost never make very good leaders. True leadership is always identified in action before the title is bestowed. What do I mean by that? I mean true leaders are always shepherding and mentoring people in their lives way before any public recognition takes place. And in the Church, leadership is a God given quality. Some people realize it, some do not. Some have a special awareness that the call to leadership is a call to serve God in a special way. Please realize, you can train yourself to be a more effective leader, but you cannot train yourself to be a leader and think God had nothing to do with it. God’s choice of leadership in the Bible is an interesting study because of the variety of types, methods and results…Jesus choose the twelve, and you could not have compiled a more different collection of personalities and backgrounds. He knew Judas was not truly one of the group from the beginning, and only after the Gift of the Holy Spirit did these men have the power to fulfill their purpose. The Apostles instigated the choosing of the first deacons in Acts chapter six. “Men full of the Holy Spirit and Wisdom,” and these individuals were chosen for a specific ministry…to care for the widows that were being left out in the distribution of food. Servants, or Deacons always had a specific ministry and were carrying it out for the unity of the Church. If you notice the order of selection….The Apostle’s needed to be committed to the “Ministry of the Word of God and Prayer,” so “7 men were chosen who had already identified themselves as spirit-filled and wise for a specific ministry.” If we are to follow the precedent of the New Testament it’s important that leaders not only have the qualities identified in Titus and Timothy, but that the selection always has to do with the service that’s needed for the Church, not because we desire to bestow a title…action, not position.

One of my favorite leaders was a guy named Sox Cox…no kidding. He was an old coal miner from West Virginia (I minbistered there in the mid 80’s as a Student/Children’s minister). Sox was one of the most genuine, loving, gentle, and self sacrificing people I’d ever met. Every word that came from his mouth was encouraging or it didn’t come from his mouth. He was bold when it came to the important purposes of the church, but he was never showy or self promoting….and even though he was super respected…he never had a title like Elder or Deacon or Superintendent….or minister, as long as I knew him. Sox worked in the coal mines all his life…he got his nickname by collecting socks for the orphanage that we supported. And every Sunday, even though he struggled for each breath he took and toted a green oxygen bottle around with him on wheels…Sox parked in the farthest parking place away from the front doors…and if you asked him why, he’d say, “We might have a visitor that needs that spot more and I want to do everything possible for them to know they’re important and what we are about as a church.” And then he would wait in the foyer to greet with a smile, or a hug anyone he possibly could. Like I said, Leadership is action not position….and you can always tell what kind of leader someone is by how they view the needs of others (all others, not just their crew) above their own.

Looking for and wanting to do…leadership in Action,

Rick Burdette


Sending a Son To War

Sending a Son To War

Tyler Burdette, Iraq…2006

Greetings in the Lord,

I call my article reflections, because most of the time I’m thinking back….reflecting on what God has taught me or is teaching me through past events. It’s these events that help me understand God’s interaction in my life to a better degree. In 2006 I was in Texas at Fort Hood to say good bye to my son Tyler as he was preparing to deploy to Iraq. Tyler would begin this war in Kuwait, but then be sent to Northern Iraq on November 7, 2006. He told us he would be on the second floor of Saddam’s old palace, right in the middle of Baghdad. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the safest place to be in the world. Tyler was a Calvary Scout, the gunner in a fighting vehicle (the one who sticks out from the top)….he made somewhere around 4,000 missions (sometimes several a day) over 18 months (this included a 3 month emergency extension). He had his Humvee blown out from under him, and came home a veteran of experiences beyond words. Tyler and I share with one another this saying, “You can’t unsee what you have seen.”

And yet, here is what the Lord is teaching Tyler’s Mother and Father. As he left the (relative) safety of America to enter a war zone. Some of the last words he shared with me before he left were, “Dad, I’m not going to Iraq to kill anybody. We’re there to win the hearts and minds of the people.” I knew I couldn’t protect my son. It was way beyond my control. However, I’ve thought a great deal about what God did for us through this trial. Especially as I go through the Passion week of Jesus in my daily devotions. God’s Son was in the safety and glory of heaven, but left it to enter a war zone. He did it for a greater purpose than to only win our hearts and minds. He left heaven to come to this war zone we call earth to die for my sins. In fact. the sins of all mankind. I had great hopes that Tyler would come back from Iraq safe and sound. Sometimes I would wake up in the night or as my eyes opened in the morning my first prayer was, “Father use Tyler for your glory, but my heart’s desire is that you’ll bring him home to me. Please protect him Father! I know he’s your child, and you love him more than I do, but please hear my heart and protect him.” I’ve come to realize God did not have the luxury to protect his son from the effects of the war. Jesus, the Son encountered every fiery missile that could be launched His way, and yet remained–perfect, pure, sinless. And yet He now can sympathize with every trial we face as our intercessor in Heaven. But to win this war on sin, God’s Son had to die. In a battle I had no power to fight and no hope of winning. The King of Kings, the 5 star General of heaven took the place of me, a buck Private. And His Father watched Him die on a garbage heap outside of Jerusalem, but then three days later He would rise from the grave, victorious over death. That is the hope I have. It is the hope we all have! Jesus is The Resurrection and the Life!

So, as I reflect on the lessons God continues to teach me in ways I never would have chosen. I remember and celebrate this Easter that salvation is found in the cross, and our hope is in the empty tomb–All because “God so loved the world He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” That’s something worth reflecting on.

A Father who sent his son to war,


P.S. The second greatest homecoming I’ll ever experience was watching my son get off a big white bus in 2007 as he came back to Texas. The first, when Jesus comes back for His children.


Greetings in the Lord,

When I think about Moses in the Old Testament I can’t help but get the mental image of Charlton Heston with that long flowing white beard, the robe and staff in his hand, fiery eyes and shouting to Pharaoh…’LET MY PEOPLE GO!” I have no idea if Moses really looked like Charlton Heston in the movie “The Ten Commandments,” or not, but I like the image.

Moses started life just like any other Israelite baby of his time, but the little boy babies of his time had a rough start. Pharaoh Had determined to put to death any new born male child, and little baby Moses would be no exception. His Mother tried to hide him, but with three grand babies of my own I can only imagine how difficult a prospect that must have been…babies are not always quiet when you want them to be, nor do they obey instantly when you want them to do something. So when it got almost impossible to hide the child Moses’s Mother put him in a little boat made out of bullrushes, covered it with waterproof tar and pitch and set him afloat on the Nile River with Marian, his sister following at a safe distance. God’s providence and plan put him safe in the arms of Pharaoh’s daughter, and even allowed for his Mother to serve as his nurse maid. Is God awesome or what? He was raised in a palace, with all the privileges that went with being the son of royalty, but he would forsake those privileges. He would kill another man to protect a follow Israelite being beaten and have to flee to the desert. For years he would shepherd his father-in-laws flock in the desert until one day he would meet God on the Mountain.

That day must have been embedded in his brain. A bush burning on the side of the Mountain, but not being consumed. The booming voice of God proclaiming…”Moses, take off your sandals, because the ground on which you stand is Holy.” That day on the Mountain God would call Moses to service. God would send Moses to Pharaoh as His messenger so His people could be free from slavery. And Moses asked an important question…”God, when the people ask me who has sent me how do I respond? Who do I tell them has sent me?” And God answered. “You tell them “I AM” sent you.” Not “I Was,” or “I Will Be,” but, “I AM.”

“I AM.” focuses on the fact that God is the God of right now. God’s name has not changed and neither has His power to rescue us from slavery of sin.. He has chosen to do that through His son, Jesus Christ and He constantly claimed to be God by using this very personal name to introduce His ministry and mission…”I Am the bread of life,” “I Am The Vine,” “I Am The resurrection and the Life.” Jesus knew exactly what He was doing when He used this powerful name to introduce who He is, and it was one of the main reasons His enemies sought to Kill Him. Jesus is still the God of right now! He is still the God who rescues and delivers us from slavery. He is still “I AM!”

Taking off my sandals,


My Gettysburg Address (revisited)

My Gettysburg Address (revisited)

6 Months and 1 day ago Our Heavenly Father….just kidding. I wrote something to our congregation at Gardenside Christian Church ( when I first came here at a congregational meeting. I think I promised them 5 minutes and went 8….in preacher math….that’s close enough. But it was an honest examination of my heart and what I believed God was leading me to do in our congregation. Now looking back….I continue to see his affirmation and the firm belief that if we will be sacrificial when it comes to Loving our “pioneers in the faith,” but knowing our future is in young families with children and Students… here it is again and I ask you to read it with an examination of what our God has done and what He is still leading us to do….

On November 19th we celebrated the 150 year anniversary of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. I have trouble remembering what I preached about last Sunday, and I know you guys do…how come we remember a speech made 150 years ago? It’s only 270 words long…Lincoln delivered it in about 2 minutes…the guy who spoke before Lincoln, Edward Everett spoke for over two hours…and no one remembers his speech…

So I asked the Chairman of our leadership if I might share my heart with you……

I was born in a little log cabin….just kidding. On August 18th I came and preached for the very first time here at Gardenside Christian Church…I shared with you a message called “One Thing I do,” from Paul’s letter to the Philippians….One thing I do, forgetting what is behind I press on toward what is ahead.” I couldn’t think of a more fitting message to share with you….for your experiences over the past few years…and also for me, leaving a 15 year ministry in Louisville Kentucky…I believe that the search committee and then in turn your leadership recommended me to come here for one primary reason….”Lead us in a new way….help us forget about so many of the past struggles and difficulties and help us get back to a place where we are doing what God wants us to do. Help our staff focus on the primary purpose of our calling instead of just putting out fires and dealing with things in a reactionary way…help our leadership and our people to dream again and to rekindle that fire for God’s mission for Gardenside Christian Church…C’Mon….let’s go forward….let’s forget what is behind. Even our victories need to be remembrances, not things that we live in…we are called by God to be a people moving forward for His great plan.

Just shy of three months ago I had no real idea about what we should do…Kari and I just wanted to share our lives with you…begin to love you and for you to begin to love me, my wife, daughter and grandson as well. So that’s what I’ve been doing…preaching and sharing on Sunday mornings and Sunday Evenings, leading a smaller group on Wednesday nights, encouraging and spurring the staff and leadership on to better things, and meeting with other ministers, and folks within the community…One of those individuals is named Charles Knox…Chal to his friends, Carlos to the congregation he pastors, Iglasia Neuava Vida…When I left Louisville one of the things I was most thankful for was our ministry within the Hispanic community…the fastest growing demographic in Fern Creek…One of my elders, Stan Holstein and I began to pray for opportunities to impact this huge group of people in Fern Creek, and after two years a Missionary from Ecuador returned to the states with a desire to do work within the American Hispanic community. His name is Mike Hook. He and his wife Jill began to work and share their lives with this segment of our community and God grew it to be a beautiful, loving part of Fern Creek. Gardenside, Cardinal Valley Garden Springs has a huge population of Hispanic people…we’ve already witnessed the opportunities we have at James Lane Allen and in other outreach ministries at our door. Chal and I have become friends…He’s served on Staff at Southland Christian Church and pastured Iglesia Neuva Vida for almost 10 years…He, Holly and their family are deeply invested in this ministry….He shared the other evening at our Men’s Fellowship that there are 50,000 Hispanics in Lexington and only about 2,000 are involved in any kind of church. It’s one of the largest communities that need Christ in our area….What would Jesus do?….well, His church would be about lost people…and opening doors for ministries to impact people for eternity. I believe God would have Gardenside Christian Church open our doors and partner with Iglesia Neuva Vida in ministering to the Hispanic community AT OUR DOOR. What does this mean entirely? I don’t know, but if we really believe that every tongue, tribe and nation will be present before the throne of God, then we should begin to intentionally seek that also here in ministry. Will it mean changes….absolutely….will it require some sacrifices and adjustments….yep…but nothing that is done to please God operates outside of the arena of faith. This has become clear to me, our staff, our leadership and I believe also the same groups at Iglesia Neuva Vida….who brought this confirmation…I believe the Holy Spirit did. I hope you will be excited about the opportunities and trust us to follow God’s lead.

One last note as I finish out this 5 minutes…This next year we believe God will bless us as we follow His leading. Especially as we reach out to young families with Students and children so God’s church can be infused with new life and leaders for the coming generations. Our finances, as people sacrifice and God blesses will focus on Raising up an overseer to give structure to our youth and children’s ministry. A weekend intern to focus on our students and instead of a children’s ministry that just survives…we will have one that flourishes with newness and excitement. Hopefully we will have one special offering this next year and the funds will help us reach those goals, maybe a new van for “the Ramblers” and our students and children, and a redone and refreshed playground…plus other items that show our community our priorities.

I find it one of the greatest privileges to be your lead minister her at Gardenside Christian….and as we seek God…He draws near to us….and the power and intimacy that develops within His will will change our community and our world.