{March 7, 2021}






Heartland Community Church


THE JOURNEY

 

FIRST WORDS OF JESUS: Follow Me

By Lisa Zulke

Follow me. As a twenty-something I responded to this invitation from Jesus. At the time, it felt esoteric. This invisible person of Jesus, God-in-the-flesh, couldn’t be seen. Or heard. Or touched. All I had were practices that others told me helped them follow Jesus. And so I set about trying those practices and following . . . but mostly following humans.

The call that inspired me to follow Jesus came from the stories of his life. He was a world changer! A master teacher, speaking to everyone in the language of story that they might understand. He was a table turner, challenging anyone who would block or dismiss or despise people. He was a gatherer of all sorts of folks, from all walks of life. Everyone had value in his stories.

My early experiences following Jesus didn’t always match up to those stories. I kept wondering if I’d done it right. Had I said the right words? Confessed all the things? How is one to know, if Jesus has entered their life? I admit to choosing a lot of do-overs for a while, just to cover the bases, and in hopes of having that epiphany experience that said, "Oh, this is what it’s like!"

For a time, I moved out of the corporate world of human resources and into the world of working for a church. It was a church plant, setting up in a middle school every Sunday. I was the communications/graphics/set design/office manager of this church plant. Oh, and for a time, the chair setter and the maintenance staff and high school pastor. I met Jesus many times in that role, and often was brought to my knees overwhelmed with how he was leading and providing.

As we moved from that place to Kansas City the church had been in a season of hardship. I found myself often looking around the office (literally) and saying, "Seriously, God? This is what is next for us? Where are you in this? I don’t see hide nor hair of you . . ." I arrived in Kansas City and sat down. Might have even crossed my arms. If what happened the year before we moved couldn’t be explained by God, I wasn’t interested in following any more. And so I sat, and waited for an answer.

There was this person, Jenae, who I think got tired of walking around me. She kept crossing my path, and inviting me to join her. I told her a bit of my where-did-God-go-in-this story pain, and she said something like, "I’m sorry about that. It really stinks. Hey, come and hang with me at this brainstorm thing." She was persistent! And, she was Jesus in flesh. He knew that I needed to be invited in, and connected to a Jesus follower who was ready to lock arms with me. Even the slightly obstinate, sitting in the middle of the road me. Because Jesus knew I was still looking for that answer.

Over the years here at Heartland he has surrounded me with a tribe of people who lock arms, who work out the hard stuff, who seek in all things "to be what is needed" so that someone might find Jesus in the flesh. He has given me the space and the community to grow with, to learn to follow him out into deeper water. To have confidence that even in the hardship and the messiness of life he is always present, even when I can’t see him (thank you, Tyler).

To be clear, Jenae and all the other amazing people Jesus has surrrounded me with were not the answer . . . but they were faithful people, following him, who were conduits of his Spirit and his influence in my life. Jesus was the answer, and he always is. He has gotten louder in my life, and I have grown in my ability to trust his presence.

If you’ve not walked the zig-zag sidewalk out in front of Heartland, I encourage you to try it. When we moved to 12175 Strang Line Road we were following Jesus. His call was crystal clear. We were uncertain at times, but he kept leading us to this place. The zig-zag sidewalks are an intentional representation of our lives and our attempts to follow Jesus. We don’t all arrive here on the direct path. We don’t all follow a straight line. But this is a place, a community, where all are welcome, and all are invited to find and follow Jesus. Jesus can find us anywhere, and he invites us to follow him from our "anywhere". He invites us to be a Jesus first people.

Will you follow with me? It’s such a great journey when we go alongside one another. Your path does not need to be straight. Your life does not need to be perfect. There is a place for you here, to wrangle with your questions, and to consider Jesus’ invitation to follow him. Let’s go!

 

{sunday 3.7.21}

Read Matthew 11:28-30

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Following Jesus happens in the ordinary spaces of our lives. Where is he inviting you to take a next step? What spaces have you readily let him into, and what spaces do you struggle to let him lead? Who might he be surrounding you with to follow together?

 

{prayer for the week}

Join us this week in a shared community-wide prayer.

Jesus, thank you for inviting us on the lifelong adventure of following you. My steps have been many, and sometimes they zig and they zag . . . would you help me see the next step you want me to take as I follow you? Help me let you into all the ordinary spaces in my life, and help me see your guidance there. Help me lay down my excuses, and fully engage with all that I am in the adventure you are creating in my world. Help me conquer the fear of change, of taking the next step, of following you. Increase my confidence that you have got me! Help me leave what is comfortable to take a next step into what is new. Help me name my people, and invite them into this adventure of following you, too. Thank you, Jesus, for being a leader worth following, for being a God who longs to connect with us. Amen.

 

{bible reading plan: lent readings in john}

LENT 101

You’ve likely heard about Ash Wednesday and Lent, but may have never fully understood or engaged in this season of the church calendar in a more intentional way. Most of us celebrate Easter in some way…perhaps through a church celebration, or something involving baskets, eggs and rabbits. This guide is meant to shed light on the basics of Jesus-followers honoring Lent and Easter, and allow you to engage more intentionally along the way.

This year, Lent begins on February 17 with Ash Wednesday, which we’ll break down later, and ends Thursday, April 1 on Holy Thursday. The other big days all happen in the same week, appropriately named Holy Week. It marks the final week of Lent. These days include Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter.

Lent lasts for forty days because that’s how long Jesus wandered in the desert, fasting, while he resisted Satan’s temptations. We have an opportunity, during the forty days of Lent, to reflect on our lives and draw closer to Jesus. Perhaps to slow the pace of life.

During Lent, Jesus followers often “fast” in various ways to connect with and honor him, similar to his forty day fast in the desert. Note that “fasting” may not always involve food. It may simply be choosing something (a habit, a block of time) to set aside that frees up space you can spend learning about Jesus, or practicing prayer. The main goal is to choose a way to practice sacrifice and intentionality so we can become closer to Jesus.

 

By Marnie Vasquez

{monday 3.8.21}

Read John 14:15-31

Read, Ponder, Pray: Imagine never being alone, never feeling lonely. Image someone always by your side. Always with you, no matter what kind of foul or delightful mood you’re in. No matter if you’re losing, winning or standing still. Someone who’s always listening when you have little or a lot to say. Someone who always guides you into something better. I want that. Do you? Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit. Take a moment and breathe this in.

{tuesday 3.9.21}

Read John 15:1-17

Observe, Reflect, Apply: This past week, I had an international client meeting with our competitor, a tense meeting. Going into the call, I wasn’t feeling confident. I prayed, “Please be with me, help me.” Halfway through the call, I found little room to say something useful or compelling. My spirit dropped, I prayed again, “Please be with me, please take care of me.” A moment later, I found an opening, I offered something that was a different perspective from our competitor. The clients appreciated this. Towards the end of the call, the main client Direct Messaged me to personally thank me for sharing what I did, as it helped him further understand why their company needed both my company and our competitor. My mouth dropped. When the call was over, I cried. Christ did that. Christ made that happen. When I was down, disbelieving, not confident, I turned to Christ, and He responded. To me! Today’s passage is true today as when it was written. Turn to Christ always. No matter what mountain, large or small, you’re facing.

{wednesday 3.10.21}

Read John 15:18-16:4

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Do you ever look around and feel like you don’t fit in, like you don’t belong, like the way you do things is different than everyone else? Well, maybe there’s something to what you’re experiencing. Maybe there’s a reason you’re feeling that way. Maybe, it’s a good thing. A good thing! Christ followers don’t fit the mold of the world. Remember, when Christ was here, he disrupted and transformed how people thought and behaved towards, well, everything. And those that follow Christ will see they don’t march to the drumbeat of the world. Stop comparing yourself to this world. Chin up, sister. Chin up, brother! You belong to Christ!

{thursday 3.11.21}

Read John 16:5-16

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Often, when we want to say something important to someone we love, we will get close to them. Our voices will lower. We will look them in the eyes and take our time to ensure they understand what we’re saying. Keep this is mind as you read today’s passage. Do you see Jesus huddling close to the disciples? Can you feel how much he loves them? Do you feel how serious He is when he’s talking about the Holy Spirit? This is also Jesus leaning in close to us today so we can understand the importance the Holy Spirit i and the incredible work the Holy Spirit is doing today.

{friday 3.12.21}

Read John 16:17-33

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Do you sometimes feel confused by what you read in the Bible? Like you should understand it, but don’t? You’re not alone. The disciples felt this way. Throughout the gospels, again and again, Jesus pauses and plainly explains many of the things the disciples were experiencing that you and I will experience today. Jesus also pauses and explains many of the inner workings of the Holy Spirit, the Father, himself, and all that will come. Jesus gives us much hope, peace, encouragement and comfort. What do you take from today’s passage?

{extra journey resources}

CLICK HERE to visit The Bible Project site and explore their super simple, super informative Bible videos (and other resources).

CLICK HERE to get the Read Scripture App, from our friends at The Bible Project.

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

The Bible App For Kids YouVersion partnered with OneHope to develop the Bible App for Kids, designing it specifically to engage children with Bible stories on an age-appropriate level. The Bible App for Kids is a free app for Android, Apple, and Kindle devices, available in over 60 languages.

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

 

Please visit us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and share what you are learning, questioning or experiencing. We love conversations!

 

© 2021 Heartland Community Church

12175 S Strang Line Road, Olathe, KS 66062

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