Monthly Archives: August 2014

LETTER TO THE FAMILY OF GOD AT GARDENSIDE

GARDENSIDE CC PICTURE

To The Family of God at Gardenside,

There are times when you need to evaluate and take stock of circumstances and situations. And if Jesus tarries in His return, Sunday August 31st will be one of those times (1 year since Kari, Karissa, Peanut and I began our ministry here at Gardenside Christian Church). I followed a minister that had been here for only 16 months…he followed a minister that had been here for 10 years and when his ministry ended here at Gardenside there was a separation that still causes pain today. At close to the same time Gardenside went through the grieving process of the death of their beloved Worship Leader, one of my dearest friends, Gary Nelson.

I knew all of this as I met with Gardenside’s present leaders, and some from the past. I remember one of them saying…“This is our last chance.” And I told them a story…one I’ve told from the pulpit, at least once. “If you get up every day of your life for 20 years, take your shower, eat your breakfast and walk down the same path that leads to the barn…it gets very familiar, worn down, you could travel it with your eyes closed. But suppose one day you get up, take your shower, eat your breakfast and decide you don’t want to go to the place you’ve gone for the past 20 years…you want to go to the pond instead. But the path to the pond is different, new, uncomfortable….so you decide you will take the path that you always have….to the pond. No matter how much you want to go to a new place…if you travel the same path you always have, you will end up where you’ve always been.” The definition of Insanity is “doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result.”

So, my calling and ministry here, alongside some courageous leadership and staff, is to lead Gardenside Christian Church to a healthier place. I know that the only way this is possible is through discernment and courage given by the Holy Spirit, and a willingness to stay on a path that fulfills God’s plan and purpose for His Church, even when there are “old path” people who shout about how much they dislike this new journey.
God’s plan and purpose for His Church has always been twofold: 1. Reach lost people, and 2. Help Christ’s followers grow in their faith to maturity. It involves surrendering some of the things we’ve always done…like a Sunday night service, so that we could partner with Iglesia Nueva Vida…they desperately needed a place to meet on Sunday evenings because they were losing their current meeting place…and as our leadership connected with their leadership, we clearly recognized the leading of the Holy Spirit. In this past 8 months they have baptized 7 people into Christ, and are making deep connections within the quickest growing demographic in the Gardenside community. God continues to open new ministries that allow us to walk a new path of passion and purpose…will it involve change? Absolutely. Will everyone like it? Absolutely not! But if Gardenside Christian Church is to have a future beyond the next 10 years then we must invest ourselves in that future. Young families with students and children have to be made a priority. One of my deepest desires is for our mature leaders, both male and female, to connect with younger leaders. Biblically this is what we are called to do…it creates an influx of new enthusiasm, but tempers it with wisdom and patience. Each of our present Elders have been challenged to adopt a young man or men to mentor and prepare for future leadership. Why? Because “people are always more important than programs and things, and kids are people too.” On August 31st at our combined family meeting at 11:11 am (there will not be a 9 am service), we also will present to you “The Timothy Build,” an exciting part of our future that goes right along with the other mentoring projects.

In September we are going to call the church together in unity to study and hear from the book of James in a 7 week study called “Life App.” 7 Sunday morning sessions…each of our adult Sunday School classes studying the same material…and 4 Sunday evening sessions for new adults, and young families to help support our Student ministry.

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On September 19th through 21st Gardenside will have a Mission and Focus weekend with David and Rachel Kibler from Catalyst Christian Church in Nicholasville. Everyone is invited to the 6:30 Friday night session where we’ll talk about our mission. Saturday morning at 9:00AM David will address our men and Rachel will share with our women…and then David and I will exchange pulpits for Sunday morning services.

You will also hear about our new ministry group studies for Wednesday nights on the 31st, as well as a miracle offering we have planned for November 2 called, “The Measure of Grace Is the Gift.” Our goal will be to raise $75,000 and that offering would be focused in three purpose driven areas: Pastoral, Our Facilities, and Outreach (others). We will celebrate and plan forward with an “All-In” (congregational meeting) on Wednesday, November 5th.

What can you do in preparation for the 31st and beyond? Pray for the Spirit of God to be at work in us and in you. Plan to be a part of the unifying study and ministries. Proclaim “good news.” Instead of being a critic…be an encourager….trust that God is working in your leadership and staff so that we can courageously follow His example “in a new and living way.” Thank you in advance for choosing to be a part of God’s Kingdom at work in our community.

His servant and yours,

Rick Burdette, Lead Minister
Gardenside Christian Church

Robin Williams, Depression, And A Jesus-Like Response

robin-williams

Dear Family, Friends and Blog Readers,

I’m on my way home from a lunch meeting when my youngest daughter Karissa texts me…”I can’t believe Robin Williams is dead. Mrs. Doubtfire and Jumanji will always be my top favorites #RIProbinwilliams” And like so many others I thought it was a hoax initially…like Bon Jovi’s death, and Chum’s from Pawnstars…but it became painfully clear, very quickly that this notification was no sick joke or hoax, but was indeed true.

Why is it important? Why is Robin Williams’ suicide more important than the thousands of others which take place every single day, week, month and year? It’s not that his death is more important…it’s that his suicide is more public. We feel like we know celebrities because of movies that have impacted us emotionally like “Patch Adams,” “Good Morning Vietnam,” and “Hook.” We feel like we know Mr. Williams because we’ve been touched and moved emotionally by “Good Will Hunting,” and “The Dead Poet’s Society.” (My personal favorite). We remember the absolute laughter and joy from “Mork and Mindy,” and if you grew up in the sixties like me…”Laugh In.”

But like all of us, the hard truth behind the movie screen and public persona is a “real life.” And like many of us Mr. Williams’ real life was a battle and a struggle…like myself and others, self medication, addictions, and crying out for some help and some real answers was a constant part of each day…perhaps each breath.  Any yet, because he was so successful and so funny and outgoing publicly maybe we assume that “there should be no inner struggle….there should be no darkness.” But the scary truth…there is darkness internally for all of us. And for some, that darkness can envelope every fiber of our soul as we seek answers in the hopelessness.

If you’ve had the privilege like I have to spend some time with Soldiers who have returned from war and suffer with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), some even dealing with TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) alongside their PTSD…you encounter a struggle to survive the darkness and  changes that confuse our very soul and emotions. Please, Please know that I do not have all the answers, nor would I ever throw rocks at those who are dealing with “something I cannot totally understand.” And yet, for 35 years I’ve been with parents whose children have committed suicide…or cut themselves to try to release the inner pain. I’ve looked into “hopeless eyes enveloped by the darkness.” I’ve seen Mother’s, Father’s, Mate’s and children try to find some reason why the one that they loved so much chose to leave them. I’ve sat at a funeral with my son Tyler who struggles with PTSD after serving as a gunner in Iraq for the better part of two years during some of the worst of the fighting. He came home and tried to deal with “the darkness” and the nightmares, and the lack of sleep and the self medication and stuff only those who have been there, like his grandfather, and other combat vets know. The preacher doing the funeral kept talking about this person being in heaven. And about this choice not making a difference about eternal destiny.  (And there isn’t a loving preacher I know that isn’t tempted to try and say the things that “we all want.”) As we stopped at the gas station to put gas in his car Tyler said, “Dad, do you believe that?” And I knew exactly what he was asking me…so here was my frail, ignorant, hurting answer to him on that day:

1. “Tyler, I don’t know. I can’t preach anyone into heaven, nor can anyone else and you wouldn’t ask me that question if you didn’t have some doubt. I’ve not walked the road you or they have, I cannot throw rocks at anyone or throw out stupid cliche’s that hurt instead of help. I believe that only God is the judge of eternal matters and only He sees everything that is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of the One to whom we must give an account.” (Heb. 4:13) So those who try to Stand in God’s place when it comes to the unanswerable questions of life and death I struggle with.” And…

2. “I believe that the most destructive thing in anyone’s life is to reach a point where there is no hope for things to get better…or believing you are not worth things getting better for.” Satan is the god of darkness. He is a liar and murderer. His native tonque is lying…”and my beloved son…I’ve tried to speak eternal hope into eyes that had no “hope”…and it seemed the darkness had totally enveloped their soul. Eyes that had been scared by abuse, pain and inner turmoil…and hope had been smothered like a campfire with gallons and gallons of water…maybe, even to the point of “no return,” I don’t know…but I believe in a God of “hope.” I believe in His power. I believe in His promises…and I have to shout that I don’t believe there is anything so dark that His light cannot penetrate it…I believe that with all my heart for you and for me and for everyone. And he said, “So do I, I just don’t want anyone to think that suicide is the answer.”

3. Finally, I need to say this boldly. When I was 10 years old I was burned over 50% of my body with third degree burns after knocking a chemistry alcohol lamp over on myself. I still bare the deep scars on my face, stomach, back and arms after the skin graft surgery was performed…I spent 2 1/2 months in the burn unit in St. Joseph’s hospital…and my recovery was looooooooooooong and painful. I remember going out into the public and people would stare…adults as well as children would ask out of curiosity…”What happened to your face?” After awhile it irritated me so deeply I would respond….”What happened to yours?!!!” Well meaning people would come visit with me…pray with me…talk to my parents….and some would talk about understanding what I was going through. “We know how you feel.” My thoughts were “No you don’t….why would you say that?” And I felt anger…not consolation…Until one day Mr. Bryant came by to see me…he brought an old yellowed letter he had written from a Pearl Harbor Hospital to his girlfriend….after the bombing…during the time he lay in that hospital horribly burned and scared by an explosion of oil…even telling his girlfriend to go on without him because of his disfigurement (She didn’t…they married…and raised a beautiful family). He let me keep that letter for awhile (an amazing act of trust… considering I had just turned 11 in the hospital). He prayed with me…and as he left he said…”Ricky, I know how you feel and what your going through…give me a call anytime you want and I’ll be talking to you soon…and he did. When he left, for the first time I felt a hope…a consolation….true compassion from a fellow scared soul…It was the most Jesus-like response to pain I’ve personally experienced in 54 years….

Please….Please….may this be our response to the “darkness” and “hopelessness” in the world…if you don’t know someone’s pain…don’t say you do!!!! But extend hope nonetheless. If you do know someone’s pain, then…head to the burn unit…head to the PTSD meeting….head to the abused and injured small group with the power of God being demonstrated in your weakness…that is a Jesus like response to Mr. Williams’ family, Tyler and Rick Burdette and everyone who fights “the darkness.”

Trying to light the way,

Rick Burdette

Reefer Madness

Marihuana joint

Hey All,

I’ve been know to approach subjects that I know very little about. I try to do the appropriate research so I don’t sound too much like an idiot. I accomplish this with varying degrees of success.

Any yet when it comes to the issue of Marijuana…I have a PHD in THC…starting at the age of 12 with my first joint with my best friend underneath a bridge…(ironically, about 100 yards down the street from the church where I now serve) to when I was 17, three months shy of my 18th birthday…

So, here’s something I’d share…marijuana isn’t physically addictive, like Oxy or Vicodin, or heroin or any other narcotic. It won’t leave you with the DT’s like an alcoholic experiences when he or she tries to go cold turkey. And if you asked me whether I think a “pothead” is more dangerous than a drunk…In my opinion I’d have to say, “NO.” Overall the effects of pot leave you more introspective and calm than many who get “jacked” up on Jack Daniels. I’ve seen, and ministered to many more wrecks, spousal abuse cases and broken relationships because of alcohol, than because of marijuana. Some of this has to do with it being a “legal” drug and marijuana being a secrete, hidden drug, but alcohol changes different personalities in very different ways….marijuana seems to “mellow” most people. I’m not writing this to argue or compare the damages of one drug verses another….nor is this about pot being a “gateway” drug. Whatever that might be….because I’ve seen lots of gates that lead to horrible places.

This isn’t even about the fact that marijuana is the number one cash crop in the State of Kentucky…or the fact that if you legalized marijuana many of the nefarious characters and drug Lords would loose power, and financially, as it’s taxed….The united States becomes flush with a new income. By the way I’ll say publicly that you cannot make people choose the best things….no law can make people be good, upright, compassionate or loving. Laws are fences built to protect those who do not break them. And if marijuana is proven to help cancer patients, MS sufferers, those who deal with epilepsy or seizures…then I believe it’s as useful as any other prescribed drug. But since this is my blog…and I’m not sure how many read it anyway 🙂 Here’s my PHD in THC

It’s that I believe certain things will destroy your life, your health, and your relationships…I know this by experience. I’m a pedal to the metal kind of guy….a person of extremes. When I do something, I do it “All In.” And for six years of my life I delved into the “rebel” culture of pot usage. And that’s what it is, a “rebel” culture….illegal…or even now still somewhat forbidden. So for teenagers and millennials it’s a let’s break the law a little and smile about it drug. It’s a culture creating and culture sustaining drug. Friends that get high together…share something….relaxing, cool, secrete. But the Dragon behind that “cool” foreground is the fact that for some of us….(and the danger is we don’t know who before hand)… is it becomes our Master and we become it’s slave. True, it can happen with “materialism”, “booze” and “prescription” drugs….even some unhealthy relationships…..but marijuana is currently being presented as the “cute” dragon….the “safe” little monster….for me and many of my friends it was much much more…..it’s flames burned away any desire to go forward….it provided a safe, munchy filled stopping place to listen to “hotel California” or “Boston.” And six years later I’d dropped out of High School and was washing dishes at the Campbell House. That is, when I had enough incentive to crawl out of the basement and go to work. If I wasn’t high I was thinking about getting high and figuring out how I could afford it, do it, and who with….it occupied my soul…It held me in it’s grasp….and it would not let me go. So, tell me all the good things about marijuana and what it does and I’ll tell you that I’ve never ever met someone who says….“My life’s better for getting high….my family and kids are stronger and I make others better while I smell like burnt rope….it’s the most awesome motivator I’ve ever experienced.”

I’ll gently step off my “soapbox” now….knowing that real morality can never be legislated, and that the “libertarian” part of my being thinks….”The government dictates way too much of our lives and choices now anyway.” But it just seems to me that we’ve begun to call evil good and good evil…and one of the most evil experiences I’ve had in my life…one that I only escaped because a loving Savior came looking for me in a smokey haze is being not only “legalized” but presented as a “Starbucks Coffee Break,” It’s not!!!! and I needed to share what I thought about this “Reefer Madness.” Thank you Lord for being the calm in my storm….thank you Lord for being the foundation of my home…..thank you for letting me love you with clarity of mind and heart….thank you for slaying the dragon.

Always His,

Rick Burdette