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Tag Archives: Grace

Thanks to the generous folks that I have the joy of pastoring at Terra Nova Church, Jennifer and I are spending a week away… ALONE… on sabbatical in St. George Island, Florida. It’s our earnest desire to return refreshed and renewed… ready to continue the journey before us!

This was our first full day here and we’ve done nothing other than REST and obviously enjoy the beauty of our surroundings. This evening we walked down to the beach for a quick walk and to watch the sunset. It was absolutely gorgeous… as you can see in the picture below!


Beach Sunset

As we were walking, Jennifer began to collect seashells. This is traditionally what she has done every time we have been on the beach together, but the conversation today was different. It encouraged me and brought me a great amount of joy. So, I want to briefly share it here in hopes that you too may find joy in the Gospel… the provision of our gracious Savior!

Broken Seashells As we walked, I too joined in the adventure of collecting seashells. I would grab one, show Jennifer, and wait for her approval. She would look at each one and decide if it made the cut. If it was approved, she placed it in her pocket… If not, it was tossed back into the water. I began to grow confident in this process and bypass those that appeared to be broken… assuming this was part of the criteria… NO BROKEN SHELLS. However, apparently I was wrong.

Out in front of me was a pretty shell, but it was broken. Jennifer asked me to grab that one. I inquired why she wanted it due to its broken condition. Her response is what prompted this blog and my finding joy in the Gospel. She said, “It’s broken, but it’s still beautiful. Like me… I’m truly broken, but God still thinks I’m pretty beautiful.” Wow! I couldn’t agree more!

You see we are ALL broken people… filled with sin… and lost apart from Christ. Please hear me, I’m constantly aware of my brokenness… my sinfulness. This is why the Gospel is the GOOD NEWS. He has redeemed us and chooses to use us… even in our brokenness!

I’m personally grateful for this time that Jennifer and I get to spend away… TOGETHER. It’s already been an amazing time of personal reflection, repentance, and renewal. Believe it or not… Pastors are people too… their personal lives… their relationships… their marriages… have brokenness. It’s so easy to run 100 miles an hour IN MINISTRY and not slow down to nurture our own relationship with Jesus and one another.

So, tonight I REST spiritually… IN HIM… JESUS… and His grace… and forgiveness. I’m broken, but I’m still beautiful to Him. I hope you too will find peace in the redemption that is available in Jesus.

Finally, when it comes to my precious wife… she too is broken. And truthfully, I’ve fallen in love with her many times despite the brokenness… However, today… I’ve fallen in love with her because of her brokenness. The video below pretty much sums up desire for us as we continue this journey called marriage… parenting… ministry… and life.

Stay tuned. I’ll share much more as I spend some much-needed time in the arms of Jesus.

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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

I’m super excited about this ministry…

Please join us in praying as we continue to hear from God and obediently launch The Knead.

It is the MISSION of THE KNEAD to be a catalyst for AUTHENTIC LIFE-CHANGE for those in our community that find it virtually impossible to secure mainstream employment and struggle with traditional support services.

Because ALL people MATTER we thoroughly assess needs and respond by ministering to the WHOLE person. We do this with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and through LOVING relationships ALL for GOD’S GLORY.

SPECIFIC PRAYER: Pray for us as we close on the facility that will house The Knead on May 1st… Then we will be in full swing transforming it to open in August.

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