{March 18, 2018}

Heartland Community Church


March 18-24, 2018


Run To Win: What Is The Gospel?

By Kori Carew

“There’s no shadow you won’t light up, mountain you won’t climb up coming after me. There’s no wall you won’t kick down, lie you won’t tear down, coming after me.” Lyrics from Reckless Love by Caleb Culver / Cory Asbury / Ran Jackson

Every time I hear those lyrics they wreck me. Perhaps because they indicate the kind of love I know I need. Perhaps because they represent the way in which God has met me in all my bad news. Or perhaps because it reminds me of how I wish I loved others all the time. I see my parents in these lyrics. I see myself chasing my daughters in these lyrics. And each time I have been wrecked, hurt, confused, in pain, at risk—God has met me with his good news and covered my bad news.

“You can become so heavenly minded that you are of no use on earth.” Yes. Amen. Hallelujah! You must have read my mind, Pastor Dan. Or maybe my social media posts. Or listened to me speak with friends about the need to meet the needs of people who are hurting. When the hurt cry out to God asking where he is as they suffer, are alone, or are oppressed, where are the believers saying, “Here I am, Lord, send me”?

Ah! Right there. That’s me. I started my life as a born-again Christian handing out tracks and feeling pushed to preach the “gospel” and pray with everyone and anyone to be saved. Back then I wouldn’t waste a bus ride or chance to walk door-to-door. Why? Because how could I miss a chance not to save a soul? But, it didn’t feel right. Even as a young Jesus follower I knew that connection and life change happen through relationship. The passion God placed in me led me to speak up, act, do.

In the Bible I found a Jesus who met people where they were. In the Bible I found a God whose heart wept for (and his anger was aroused on behalf of) the poor, oppressed, orphaned, the sojourner/immigrant. In the Bible I found a Jesus who calls us to love one another. And I have asked over and over, “how can I love others if I don’t care about your earthly needs?” How do I worship a God of justice but not care about justice for those around me? My eyes are most frequently focused on the Jesus who says, “I am with THEM (the oppressed, the widowed, the orphaned, the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the marginalized).”

And yet as I listened to Pastor Dan today I was reminded of how often my ministry and life is expressed in the social gospel camp. The truth is my “social gospel” external manifestation of my faith IS driven by the “get saved” philosophy. I am in my heart in the middle. Except that it isn’t until a further discussion or in answer to a question that I tell you how the good news of Jesus frames and fuels my “social gospel.” Worse, is that I judge other believers who are so high-minded on salvation they minimize the work of serving, advocating, seeking justice and feeding the hungry. I judge, asking, “What Jesus do they serve?”

Jesus has met me in my bad news so many times in so many ways. Jesus has met me in my depression, during workplace bullying, during anxiety and financial crisis. Jesus has met me when under attack, in times where physical safety was at risk, and during deep personal loss. And I turn to him because he is my savior. He IS my help and also my joy and strength. Where can God meet you in your bad news?

And so today, while my practice has been “not just right belief, but right practice” I am convicted to speak more boldly of my belief. And like Jesus, who forgave the paralyzed man first before healing him, I will also seek to live “not just right practice, but also right belief.”

My spiritual pathway (the way I best connect with God) is activism. My challenge is to not be so focused on action that I roll over others and forget to connect with the right belief. My invitation to you is to discover where you best connect with and follow God.

CLICK HERE to take this assessment, which will help you better understand your spiritual pathway. It may reveal where you lean on this gospel continuum and what you need to balance that out.


{sunday 3.18.18}

Read Matthew 25:35-36, Mark 2:5-11

Observe, Reflect, Apply: In these verses, we see practical ways to meet people where they are at, as Jesus did. Take time this week to read and pray over them. Take time to look around where you work, live, study and play. What practical needs could you meet? Who is hurting, and could use your friendship? Who might relate to your story of turning from bad news to good news? Find one practical way you can act on your take away.


{personal reflection and bible reading plan}

As you read the verses each day, make notes of questions you have about what you’re reading as well as answering the reflection questions below. Grab a friend or two to discuss what you are learning and what God is doing in your lives.

CLICK HERE or on image below to dive into Matthew 24-25 with our friend, Seth Davidson.

{monday 3.19.18}

Read Matthew 24:45-51

Observe, Reflect, Apply: I think most people would agree that we should all do what is right when no one is looking because it is the right thing to do. When ideas like this were told me to as a young kid it made no sense. Probably because I had no real context and not enough life experience to understand. Why do you think people have a tough time making the right decisions when no one else is looking?

{tuesday 3.20.18}

Read Matthew 25:1-13

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Here is another parable talking about how we should always be prepared for the return of Jesus because we have no idea when he will return. What do you think it means to be prepared for Jesus’ return?

{wednesday 3.21.18}

Read Matthew 25:14-30

Observe, Reflect, Apply: What is your “take away” from this parable? How can this be applied to your life?

{thursday 3.22.18}

Read Matthew 25:31-46

Observe, Reflect, Apply: “When you did it to one of the least significant of my brothers and sisters here, you did it to me.” What is God saying to you in this parable? What are you going to do in response?

{friday 3.23.18}

Read Matthew 26:1-13

Observe, Reflect, Apply: I can see myself and a lot of “church” people being bothered by the “wasted resource” just like the disciples were. It’s easy to sit back and make opinions about what other people are doing. Unless we have the full picture (like Jesus had in this scenario), we will find ourselves over stepping. How do you discern between when you should say something and when you should not? Have you ever over stepped and said something when you should not have? How would you do it now knowing what you know now? Share this experience with a trusted group or friend.

{saturday 3.24.18}

Read Matthew 26:14-30

Observe, Reflect, Apply: It’s easy to cast Judas as the “bad guy” in the story here. I’m not sure many of us would have done much better than Judas given the circumstances. Have you ever betrayed a friend? Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? Share your experience with a trusted group or friend.


{community discussion questions}

We weren’t meant to experience the life of Jesus alone, so we encourage you to rally a few others to discuss what you are hearing, reading, and reflecting on together. Whether you are meeting as a Journey Community group, talking with a few friends throughout the week, or bringing up spiritual conversations around your table at home, feel free to use some of these questions as conversation starters on your journey.

  • Can you name a takeaway or challenge from the Sunday message?
  • How has that been relevant, challenging, or meaningful to your life this week?
  • What have you observed about God, Jesus, yourself, others, or God’s plan for you from these readings?
  • Where do you need a breakthrough from God this week?
  • Who do you need to share what you’re learning about God with?


{extra journey resources}

CLICK HERE for more on how to use the observe-reflect-apply approach to getting the most out of your Bible reading.

The Bible App Get a free Bible for your phone, tablet, and computer. Experience the Bible anywhere, with options to highlight, save notes, and share what you are reading with others.

Bible Gateway Provides advanced Bible searching capabilities, which allow readers to find passages in scripture based on keywords, phrases, or scripture reference.


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