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Meet John Burke.

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This past Friday was a pretty incredible day in ministry for me and The Knead. As many of you probably already know, we have the joy and privilege of serving in recovery and reentry ministry through a collaborative effort called the Hope Road Project. I just wanted to take a few minutes to share more about The Knead and this effort by introducing you to my friend, John Burke.

We officially launched The Knead last December and it’s with a great sense of excitement and anticipation that we give this update. John was one of our very first clients that began with us nearly 10 months ago. Under the direction of Charles Hickman, this journey started. John knew nothing of baking and cooking other than that which involved the chemistry of ‘cooking’ illegal substances. Let’s just say that since December, we’ve seen John changed by the power of the Gospel and he has discovered many transferable skills.

I’m grateful for the many people who have poured into John… too many to name… that have played a role in his second chance. HE IS OUR FIRST SUCCESS STORY! 

This past Friday, John was officially promoted to Kitchen Manager at The Knead and presented with his Baker’s Jacket. He now leads out in the daily operations of lunch and baking. He has also begun the process of mentoring our newest clients and has settled into a crucial leadership role. His responsibilities continue to grow daily. His passion for seeing others experience the same life-change motivates him. Continue to pray for him on this journey! Thanks to the MANY who have made the vision for The Knead become a reality!


Here is a video of that presentation…



Also here is the text of the letter I read from John’s mother during the presentation…

I write this through tears of thanksgiving in the awareness that God is BIG…IN A GOD SIZED WAY! I share your prayer often and use it again now, ‘God, you know the deal!’ and add ‘please hear my heart, not my words’.

I remember when you asked me to find out what it takes for you to go to Mission Missouri. “It’s the best place to go Mom.” I questioned your motives as to what best as viewed through your glasses looked like. It wasn’t quite what you expected when you got there.

You know I believe God has a plan in which we each get to make choices. You know I support your good choices.

You told me you thought church with this ‘pretty cool’ pastor that comes by The Mission would be good. YAY! So you won’t have ‘forced worship’ with a ‘bunch of DUDES’. I just shook my head, OKAY! I laugh in hind-sight. Have I mentioned God is BIG!!

Even from as far away as I am I start to see changes. Church Saturday night so you can sleep in on Sunday turned into church on Saturday night AND Sunday morning! Then I hear about this thing called ‘Fight Club’. I implode thinking ALL the wrong stuff. I finally ask you about it. You giggle and tell me it’s a ‘secret’. I experienced the ‘PEACE THAT PASSES UNDERSTANDING’ scripture talks about. Later I hear it’s your men’s group. Then you tell me about what I now know to be GO GROUP! OMG! WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO MY SON!! (Conviction in a completely different way! 🙂

In the mean-time you were working in a job you were frustrated with. You no longer found a negative environment something you wanted to engage in. Pastor Chad offered you an opportunity to ‘help out’ at THE KNEAD and you took it. I noticed you rarely curse anymore! WEIRD!

Something really strange started to happen. You were edgy, fidgety like a caged wild animal. You shared that THE KNEAD needed you and you loved it. The paying job kept you angry and frustrated. How could you leave a job for money to work full time at THE KNEAD? “Mom, does that sound like me?! NO! Well, that’s what I’m doing! Who would EVER believe that?”

I have felt for many years that God was using your poor choices to mentor you for some great work in His name. I have also felt that a GOOD male role model in your life would have made such a huge difference. What does God do? He gives you an entire Bible centered fraternity of members as strong-willed and opinionated as you are! WOW! I am just overwhelmed. Add their families to the bunch and the relationships you have built with amazing people who love you right where you are!

I have heard humility as you shared through your tears the impact THE KNEAD has on yourself, the community of Sikeston and the clients it serves on both sides of the counter. Through your tears I hear your fear of disappointing Pastor Chad, Pastor Chas, Jodi, or Tim. Claim your God-given power son. You are an amazing man! God has carried you from convict to community leader! BIG? YES!

Everyone knows how you love word plays! You had a need. The Knead filled it. Now you knead every day. What you knead fills a need. What was fed to you was far more than bread. It was the Bread of Eternal Life. Your testimony serves the Bread to others.

You truly are living your purpose: ‘John Burke is a proud, successful man helping others by listening to what they have to say.’

I am so proud of you! I love you!!

-MOM

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Holy Spirit

For the past two weeks I’ve been leading our church through a series about the person of the Holy Spirit… I truly believe that we will not see the Biblical mission of the church carried out and the world changed apart from the POWER of the Holy Spirit.

We have accessible to us the same Holy Spirit POWER that enabled the virgin Mary to conceive the Son of God and the same Holy Spirit POWER that raised Christ Jesus from the dead.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. — Luke 1:34-35

The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. — Romans 1:3-4

When we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit within us… We give Him freedom to do what we are POWERLESS to do on our own. Here is a REAL testimony and example from our weekend worship service… this could not have happened apart from the Holy Spirit.

As I was standing at the door following our worship service a man shared with me that he did something that he could not explain other than it was the prompting of the Holy Spirit. He said, “Throughout the service I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to say something to the young lady in front of me, but I didn’t know who she was.” He battled with it through the service, but his faith in the Holy Spirit gave him assurance that he was to share a message with her.

So, after church he politely asked her if she had a minute and spoke these words to her… “You ARE a beautiful woman and you are going to be the best mother and give your children the childhood you always wished you had.” Pretty simple, right? To him it was nothing earth shattering.

However, when he asked me who she was and told me what the Holy Spirit prompted him to share… IT WAS A SIGNIFICANT WORD FOR HER. You see, this young lady was here for the first time in months and has been battling an addiction to heroine. She hasn’t felt beautiful in years. Also, this young lady had been adopted. He didn’t know these things… he just trusted the Holy Spirit.

As if that wasn’t awesome enough… I received a text message after church from this young lady’s mother. This is what it said… “God is so amazing! Someone had a word for my daughter that was right on target! I don’t really remember, but I don’t even think you knew about this. My daughter had been pregnant and she aborted the baby for health concerns for her and the baby (the addiction had much to do with this)… the baby was due this month. It blew her away… she told me that she had to get away from him before she started sobbing. We serve an awesome God!”

Let me remind you of the simple yet POWERFUL word that God had for this young lady… that she would have missed if this gentleman had not been listening to the Holy Spirit. “You ARE a beautiful woman and you are going to be the best mother and give your children the childhood you always wished you had.”

Will you listen to the Holy Spirit today?

 

 

This past weekend I shared a message concerning worship. I continue to be convinced that we don’t really get it. If we did, our churches and personal lives would erupt in worship. This post is just a collection of thoughts, scriptures, quotes, and videos that have spoken to me the past few weeks concerning worship. Enjoy!

 

  • Worship is responding to WHO God is and WHAT He has done. Not who He is generically, but who He is to you intimately! Not what He has done generically, but what He has done for you intimately!

 

  • All creation worships… Check out this video! It’s worth the time!

 

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. — Psalm 19:1

 

You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God. — Exodus 20:3-5

 

  • There is a WAR for our worship! The enemy is crafty… If he can just simply get us to be distracted and place our value and attention on anyone or anything above God… That’s a win for him.

 

  • What is an idol? It is anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give. — Tim Keller

 

 

  • To refuse worship to the God who gives life is arrogance; to fight against Him is insanity; to scorn Him is the epitome of ingratitude. — Paul Washer

 

  • Today we have far too many desires and interests, and our lives are being consumed and wasted by them. — Oswald Chambers

 

  • In worship we are NOT the audience… we are participates. There is an audience of One!

 

  • Authentic worship changes the worshiper into the image of the One being worshiped.

 

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. — Romans 12:1

Finally, here is Sunday’s message if you missed it or need context.

What are your thoughts? Do we really understand worship? Is our daily living sacrifice proportional to His ultimate sacrifice?

summer-bbq-party-tableIt’s that time of year… BBQ, watermelon, homemade ice cream, swimming pools, and fireworks… Tomorrow is the 4th of July… America’s Independence Day.

First, let me be clear… I’m proud to live in what I believe is STILL the greatest country on the planet. I’m grateful for the daily freedoms that men like my father have fought to preserve.

With that being said, I often think for those who profess to be followers of Jesus… We have been far too consumed with being American rather than striving to be like Jesus. We’ve treated Jesus as customizable; We’ve tried to make Him a politically correct, non-offensive version of ourselves, who thinks and acts like an American. We’ve worked hard to conform Him and fashion Him out of the fabric of the American constitution. I’m just not convinced that my identity is to be rooted in my American freedoms. My identity is rooted in the freedom of the Gospel.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. — John 8:36

Don’t be confused though. When we become FREE in Christ, it’s really only as we become DEPENDENT on Him. I truly believe this is why so many in the American church struggle with authentically following Jesus. We’ve been inundated with the idea that we are to be totally independent and we’ve filtered the Gospel through the lens of American politics.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. — John 15:5

As the true vine, Jesus is the source of life and strength and fruit. There is a relationship of complete DEPENDENCE between the branch and the vine. The vine supplies life-giving nourishment to the branches. Apart from it, the branches have neither life nor the production of fruit.

As believers, we MUST abandon the idea of framing the Gospel with our own American perspectives that we simply do not find in scripture. Jesus did NOT die for your freedom as we in America understand freedom… He died that we might surrender and actually become His bond-servant… a slave to the Gospel.

So, celebrate the 4th of July… enjoy the freedoms we have as Americans… However, may we daily celebrate DEPENDENCE DAY… as we die to ourselves and serve Jesus!

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. — Matthew 16:24

HAPPY DEPENDENCE DAY!

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You are the SALT of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the LIGHT of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. — Matthew 5:13-16

The Bible has some pretty clear mandates for the follower of Jesus… To be a disciple means to be salt and light.

Salt gives us the reality that we are to be an agent that preserves… Light ensures that we show the way among the darkness… So, is your life displaying salt and light?

When it comes to advancing the Gospel… Salt and light WORKS! If you are a follower of Jesus today it’s because someone was salt and light.

When it comes to being a “good Christian”… I’m not so sure about that… The Bible doesn’t tell us that. However, it does give great detail about what it looks like to be a disciple or follower of Jesus. And I assure you a disciple is salt and light.

THIS IS TRUTH: Salt always preserves and light always shows the way.

Be salt. Be light.

Love

This past weekend we began a new series at Terra Nova Church called Christian. The reality is that MANY things can fall under the label of ‘Christian’ and yet not truly reflect Biblical truth. In fact, Jesus didn’t call us to become Christians, but rather disciples… learners, pupils, adherents, followers. And the Bible gives CLEAR expectations for those individuals.

We discovered that one way others will know that we are His disciples is based upon how we love others.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  — John 13:34-35

Also, when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was… He again replies with the idea that loving others is vital and a true reflection of being His disciples.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  — Matthew 22:36-40

So, where do we start? What does loving others really look like?

It is interesting that God’s greatest commandment doesn’t ask you to love humanity in general. It asks you to love your neighbor specifically. God wants you to love the actual people that you know. The one who borrows your stuff and doesn’t return it. The one whose dog gets in your trash and leaves unwanted deposits in your yard. The one who takes credit for your work. The one who spreads rumors about you. The one who constantly clings to you.

You would probably say that you love people in general. But do you love the specific, real live people you encounter each day? That is much more difficult, and that is what God wants from you. Love your neighbor as yourself.

When we, the Church, love others the way Jesus loves us… something incredible happens… the Gospel is put on display and totally validated in a real way!

So, GO LOVE OTHERS AS JESUS HAS LOVED YOU!

This weekend we continue our series… BOLD. I truly believe that talking through the message during the week helps you turn what God is saying to you into action steps. These talking points, questions, and scriptures are designed to help you take the next step. Use these questions to stir your heart and develop a personal action plan.

  • What’s one of the most miraculous things you’ve ever seen or heard about?

 

READ: with your Bible or YouVersion, read Acts 4:23-37.

In this passage, Peter and John prayed bold prayers before God that led to bold results.

  • How would you describe the way you typically pray? In what ways do your prayers reflect what you believe about God?
  • What stood out to you about bold prayers after reading Peter and John’s prayers in Acts 4?
  • When was the last time you were amazed by the power of prayer? How did that experience affect your relationship with God?
  • Why do you think prayers become bolder when they are prayed together in a group?
  • What’s keeping you from changing your selfish and small prayers into bold prayers?
  • What bold prayers do you need to start praying today?
  • Peter and John’s prayers led to bold results. What bold results would you like to see come from your bold prayers?
  • What impact do you think it would have on your church if everyone began praying bold prayers?
  • In what ways have you seen the power of bold prayers build your faith in Christ?

 

NEXT STEPS:

Stop praying selfish and small prayers this week and begin to pray bold prayers. Start by picking two or three bold things to pray for. Follow the example in Acts 4 by praying for boldness in your life and in the lives of others. If you or someone you know has a great need, pray that God will work a miracle in that situation. Consider sharing your bold prayer requests with others and ask them to pray your bold prayers with you.

PRAYER GUIDE:

  • Thank God for the bold and miraculous things He has done in your life and in the lives of others.
  • Ask God for boldness in your life. Ask Him to give you boldness in your prayers, speech, obedience, and actions.
  • Share some great needs that you or someone you know may have. Pray boldly that God will work miracles in these situations.
  • Ask God to make your church bold and to stir within your church the desire for bold prayers and results.
  • Ask God to help help you make a difference in the world through your bold prayers and actions.

This weekend we began a brand-new series… BOLD. I truly believe that talking through the message during the week helps you turn what God is saying to you into action steps. These talking points, questions, and scriptures are designed to help you take the next step. Use these questions to stir your heart and develop a personal action plan.

  • What’s one of the most amazing acts of boldness that you’ve seen?

 

READ: with your Bible or YouVersion, read Acts 4:1-22.

In this passage, Peter and John exhibit such boldness before the Sadducees that it tremendously impacted those around them.

  • What can you learn about being bold for Christ from Peter and John’s example in Acts 4?
  • Peter and John were ordinary people who spoke and acted with boldness. How do you think being bolder for Christ would impact you and your relationship with God?
  • In what areas of life do you most need amazing boldness?
  • Boldness is behavior born out of belief. What beliefs about yourself do you need to change that are keeping you from living with amazing boldness?
  • Describe a time when you were bold. What was the outcome of your boldness and what did you learn from it?
  • Peter and John’s boldness amazed the Sadducees. Who could benefit from your being bold for Christ?
  • How would you rate your current level of boldness? What’s keeping you from being bold?
  • Who would you describe as being amazingly bold for Christ? What about their boldness inspires you?
  • As Jesus builds your faith, your boldness will also grow. What steps do you need to take immediately to grow your faith in Christ?

 

NEXT STEPS:

This weekend I communicated that spiritual boldness comes from knowing Christ. In other words, the more Jesus builds your faith, the more boldness you will see in your life. Take inventory of your relationship with Christ this week and see what steps you need to take immediately in order to grow your faith in Christ. Those steps could be more prayer time, increasing your time reading God’s Word, or seeking a mature believer to mentor you.

The Book of Acts is full of examples of amazing boldness as the first church began the task Jesus entrusted them with and advanced His kingdom into all the nations. During this series, read the Acts Reading Plan in YouVersion. As you read, be intentional about finding examples of bold living that you can follow in your own life and share with others.

 

PRAYER GUIDE:

  • Ask God to reveal what He would like boldness in your life to look like.
  • Thank God for the bold people He has placed in your life who have helped you grow your faith in Christ.
  • Ask God to develop amazing boldness in all areas of your life and in your faith in Christ.
  • Ask God to deepen your faith in Him so that boldness will result out of your faith.
  • Pray for those you feel would benefit in their faith by your boldness. Ask God to give you the boldness you need to impact them.

Read Mark 14:43-45

One of the many characteristics of God is that He knows ALL things before they ever happen. I love how this plays out during Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. God permits the sin of man and yet faithfully brings glory to Himself out of it. Be assured that God does not oblige sin; nor does He excuse sinful behavior… but rather He has faithfully REDEEMED ALL sin for those who repent and trust Him.

Let’s be honest, any person reading this blog has been or certainly could in the future… find they too are guilty of betrayal. We often give Judas a bad rap, but praise God He came to rescue even the Judas’ of the world. Don’t miss it… We are Judas. Every time we continue to sit on the throne of our lives and do things our way… We betray the work of Christ of the cross.

Passion Week is ALL about YOUR redemption! There is NOBODY that is too far beyond His reach. Though He knew the many days you would betray His redeeming work… He still chose you! Take a few minutes and spend some time repenting of your betraying heart as you watch the video below.

 

 

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As we prepare for Passion Week and the Resurrection Celebration… I’ve been deeply moved by the following video. PLEASE, set aside 30 minutes and prepare to CELEBRATE every opportunity we have to lovingly be a FRUITCAKE.

 

 

If you are like me… This video has left you weeping and ready to sing… Everyone needs compassion… Love that’s never failing… Let mercy fall on me…

 

 

Coming NEXT WEEK during Passion Week… I will be blogging a short devotional thought each day as we prepare for Easter Sunday. Below will be the schedule. I look forward to sharing with you.

Monday, March 25 – The Garden of Gethsemane: Jesus Christ Preparing to Die

Tuesday, March 26 – The Betrayal of Judas and the Kiss of Death

Wednesday, March 27 – The Denials of Peter and his Deep Regret

Thursday, March 28 – The Scourging of Jesus Christ and the Final Hours Before His Death

Friday, March 29 – The Crucifixion and The Death of Jesus Christ

Friday Night at 7pm – Good Friday Worship Experience at Terra Nova Church

Sunday Morning at 10am – Resurrection Celebration at Terra Nova Church

Let’s be faithful to celebrate Jesus!