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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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Are you in conversation with the Holy Spirit?

 

For the past few weeks I’ve been preaching about the Holy Spirit. It has been a great journey and I’ve truly enjoyed watching our church grow in our understanding. The video below is a great and even humorous look into a conversation that we ALL need to have with the Holy Spirit based on Psalm 139.

 

 

How would this conversation go for you? Are you growing in your relationship with the Holy Spirit? Take some time to read Psalm 139. Better yet, let Psalm 139 read you!

 

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?

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.

 

 

This weekend at Terra Nova Church I will be sharing about some incredible opportunities for us to BE ALL IN for the sake of the Gospel in our community. We’ve been commanded to do WAY MORE than simply fill seats during a weekend worship experience… We’ve been asked to truly BE ALL IN

We love because he first loved us. — 1 John 4:19

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” — Matthew 28:19-20

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

Jesus was certainly ALL IN for us…

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. — Romans 5:8

So, as you prepare your heart for this weekend at Terra Nova Church… or just preparing to celebrate the resurrection in a couple weeks… watch this video to discover what ALL IN really looks like.

Are you really ALL in?

As pastor there is no greater joy than seeing and having confirmation that people are GETTING IT… The Gospel is changing people… Enjoy this post!

Guest Post By Justin McLemore

You think you know me but you don’t… I’m not who you think I am… All my life people have told me that I’m such a nice and sweet person. They are wrong… I am a liar, thief, murderer (Matthew 5: 21-22), and adulterer (Matthew 5:28). I have worshipped false idols. I’m a horrible person that is undeserving of God’s mercy and grace. The only thing that I truly deserve is a sinner’s hell!

For a very long time I tried to correct these problems on my own. I believed that if I did well enough, I would be able to save myself from hell. I was wrong. No matter how many good things I did, there was always more bad than good. I couldn’t erase or repay my debt to God. Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. All the things that I tried to do to make myself right with God were destroyed by this one verse. Isaiah 64:6 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;…” God saw my good deeds, my deeds I did trying to earn His favor, as filthy rags. Nothing that I could do would ever be good enough. That’s when I realized I couldn’t help myself and that’s when I finally understood the truth of the Gospel. 

It’s not about what I’ve done!!!! It’s all about what Jesus did!!!! It is a gift that God gave to me and every other person on the Earth. Jesus stood in the gap for me! He took all my sins, all my shame, and all of my mess and died on a cross for me. He made me pure and blameless in God’s sight. Not a single one of us deserved it but He gave it to us anyway. I stand in awe at just how amazing God’s love is for us. God didn’t have to do it. He allowed his own son to die for me!! He did it all!! Ephesians 2: 8-9 reads “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”   

Nothing about me has changed. There is nothing good about me. The only thing is now because of Jesus dying for me I am free from the chains that bound me in my past. Because of Jesus I am no longer a slave to sin. Because of Him, the gap between me and God is gone. Just typing this gives me chills. I am so thankful for the Gospel and I will do anything and everything short of sin to spread the Gospel.

I went for a much-needed bike ride this morning. While the bike ride was needed, it was the alone time with God that I was actually pursuing. It was such a refreshing time… emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

If you’ve ever spent much time outdoors, you know that a variety of SMELLS exist. This became very evident for me while on my ride. There were many smells, but I just want to mention two. These two smells would be “bookends” on opposite ends of the spectrum. So, what were they?

The stench of the SEWER TREATMENT PLANT and the refreshing aroma of a HONEYSUCKLE VINE. See I told you that they were complete opposites!

As I considered these contrasting odors, I began to think about and ponder the following scripture…

Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)

So, the reality is this… to some YOU JUST STINK… and to others YOUR LIFE IS A SWEET FRAGRANCE.

To those who are rebellious toward the drawing of God… YOU STINK. Let’s face it, the Gospel is offensive. The Gospel informs people, among other things, the following…

  • You are a sinner by nature and choice.  (Romans 3:10-18)
  • You are under the wrath of an almighty God. (Romans 1:18 ; Romans 2:5)
  • You can’t fix yourself. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
  • Your best efforts to do good are more stinky than a pile of poo and filthy menstual rags.
  • You cannot know God via any other means or religions outside of Christ, everything else is damnable. (John 14:6)

 

If you are living or preaching a Gospel that’s not offending, THEN YOU ARE NOT LIVING OR PREACHING THE RIGHT GOSPEL. The results of the Gospel will always be drastic. It will either result in radical life-change or anger and even persecution towards the one who proclaims it.

However, we can’t end this post with that because the Gospel is also GOOD NEWS! It is a SWEET FRAGRANCE to those recieving it because the benefits are MANY… salvation, eternity with God, unity with Goddeepest satisfaction and joy, personal holiness, freedom from sin, and a life that brings glory to God.

So, following my bike ride… Me and God are good… I can’t say the same for how others percieve me (or my spiritual odor), but that’s okay! My pursuit is to know Jesus and make Him known today!

With that being said, DON’T try to cover or mask your odor for acceptence of those who think YOU STINK… it’s really NOT YOU THAT STINKS… that’s really the smell of THEIR OWN SIN. Keep being salt and light and continue loving and pointing them to JESUS!

In closing…

How do you smell today?

How do others smell to you?

How does your life smell to God?

The Gospel… How I long for the Church of America to be awakened…

If this post and this video activates the Gospel within you… please share it!

 

I absolutely love this time of year! I love it because it forces me to think about the harvest… not corn, wheat, or beans, but rather the spiritual harvest. I love to see the seed we’ve sown produce a harvest! After all, that is the purpose of the Church!

I’m a great fan of Francis Chan’s heart… I’m a fan of the harvest that is being reaped because of the seed he’s sown! I enjoyed this video when I viewed it months ago, but want to share it here to spur you on in the HARVEST… Enjoy!

 

 

What truths does this video reveal about the Church?

What does it reveal about how we value our instruction manual, the Bible?

What other parallels do you see?

How could the Church become more productive?