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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!

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.

I’m super excited to launch a brand new series this weekend called BOLD. God has called ordinary people just like you and me to live out our faith boldly. The power of one simple act of boldness could be life-changing.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. — Acts 4:13

When we’ve truly been with Jesus… our actions simply reveal it…

In the video below a young man, Lance, makes one choice that reveals his love for Christ and his quick act of BOLDNESS makes a HUGE difference. Not only was his competitor overwhelmed, but so was all who witnessed his simple act of boldness.

 

 

How about you? Are you ready to be BOLD for Jesus? Get ready… this is going to be a great series! See you this weekend.

Read Matthew 26:36-46

Have you ever felt lonely? Lonely to the point of deep discouragement?

When you feel alone… or even abandoned… This is the perfect time to contemplate Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as He waited for Judas to lead the soldiers to Him and take Him into custody.

His suffering was intense to the point that His sweat turned to blood. He agonized for the sins of all mankind. He knows and fully understands those times you are suffering a similar pain due to loneliness or abandonment.

Christ becomes frustrated when He sees the apostles have fallen asleep. All He asked them to do was watch and pray. Jesus knows how you feel in the wake of those who have let you down.

At last, the soldiers arrive and Judas approaches Him, kissing Him on the cheek and calling Him, “Master.” Jesus’ heart was broken for Judas’s hardened one. He understands very well your own heart that has been broken by betrayal.

My encouragement for you when you are feeling beaten down and discouraged by the suffering caused by loneliness or abandonment, get away to a quiet place and contemplate Jesus in the garden. Meditate on that scene and place yourself in the story, sitting next to Him.

Unite your suffering with His and take consolation in the fact that the joy of the Resurrection is just a short time away, and you will share in that joy!

 

 

 

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?

This blog post was written by Lyn Smith. She and her family reside in Oklahoma City, OK where she leads Solid Foundations. We have become friends through social media and share mutual friends in ministry. Visit and SUBSCRIBE to her Blog HERE. Also connect with Lyn on Facebook and Twitter.

I loved this post because it truly echoed my Renewed Bliss message… Till Death Do Us Part. In case you missed it, here it is on YouTube and here is the iTunes Podcast. Enjoy and please share your thoughts and comments!

divorceValentine’s Day was fun and all that, but many of us are confused about what love is, what marriage is, what commitment is, and what covenant is.

February 15, as I was skimming through articles on my iPad CNN app, my eyes were caught by this one … “Day After Valentine’s Kicks Off Divorce Season.

Divorce season? I didn’t even know there was one.

“February 15th starts the busy season for divorce lawyers, as people who were unhappy with their marriages heading into Valentine’s Day often decide that they no longer want to be with the one they used to love.”

“There’s a very large number of people who are considering divorce all the time… on Valentine’s Day, they take stock of things.”

The article goes on to suggest reasons why… but the point is, even with a nationally designated day to express our love… many people don’t understand what love really is.

It isn’t candy and flowers, or lingerie and cologne. It’s not dinner and a movie, or sex. Those are expressions not love. Love is choosing to put someone else’s needs above our own. It is staying in it on purpose, intentionally, because of a vow made to and before God. It is forgiving wrongs and supporting where the other is weak. It is accepting that every day is not fun but still valuable and right.

Marriage is a sacred, unbreakable covenant.

Something like this…

 

and like this…

 

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?