{March 21, 2021}

Heartland Community Church




By Lisa Zulke

We crossed paths with Gary on a trail in the desert. It was high noon. No, a tumbleweed didn’t blow by…but it was hot! Gary was heading the opposite direction of my husband and I. He passed us with a casual hello, but stopped a few yards past and shouted back, "Hey, do you know where Overlook Street is?" He was not headed toward Overlook Street. In fact, with no water, he was headed further from home in the midday sun. My husband shared the directions to Overlook Street, which was about 2 miles the other direction. It became clear that Gary, who had just moved from Minneapolis, didn’t really know the area yet and needed to get home and get some water soon. We had used ours and had no water to offer. Gary joined us, and we walked him off the trail, into his neighborhood and back to water. He was super thankful with his words, and a bit overwhelmed by what might have happened had he kept wandering in the wrong direction. To his gracious, "Thank you for going so far out of your way for a guy you don’t know," I offered my standard midwestern, "Youbetcha! No worries. Happy to help!" If I’d had a casserole to offer him that would have completed the midwestern scene.

In the teaching today, I took notice of how clearly and succinctly Jesus named his need. "I am thirsty." And I am equally struck by how unclearly I – and our new friend Gary – often fail at clarity. Gary didn’t say, "I am overwhelmed, tired and thirsty." He casually asked if we knew where a certain street was. Had we been less observant, in a hurry, we might have given the directions and moved on. I confess I am terrible at naming my need. Goes back to that whole growing-up-in-the-midwest nature. I don’t want to put anybody out. Don’t want to be a burden, get in your way, or spoil your day. Maybe I want to be seen as self-sufficient, but mostly I think it’s the burden thing. The trouble with that is if I am unclear as to my need, I remain alone in my ability to meet that need. Whether it is asking a friend, or asking Jesus to meet me in that need, I must name it well, or risk being left alone on a hot, dusty trail in the noonday sun.

When we fail to name our own needs clearly, we miss the opportunity to connect with Jesus. Or to connect with another person who might come alongside us and help us find our way. I think lack of clarity in naming our need can also lead us to become numb or distant to sensing need in others. If Jesus as a man had the same feelings, needs, struggles and experiences I do and could name his most basic need that clearly, I ought to practice that example until it becomes my nature. Midwest sensibility, get behind me!

In the naming of that need, in the sensing of that need in others, we step on holy ground. The trail we walk is no longer lonely, hot and dusty…it is lined with fellow travelers who can come alongside and walk and work together to meet one another’s need. As Jesus puts it, "For I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink…I tell you the truth, when you did it for one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it for me."

I don’t know if Gary knows Jesus. But I am pretty sure Jesus was among us on that hot and dusty trail yesterday. Thankful for those sorts of God winks.


{sunday 3.21.21}

Read Matthew 25:35-36, 40

Observe, Reflect, Apply: After reading these verses, take an inventory of the past week, month or year. Where has someone come alongside you and offered help for a tangible need? Where did you have the opportunity to do the same for someone else? Write or say a prayer, inviting God to give you an opportunity this very week to meet a tangible need. Let’s sharpen each other with stories of stepping into a need, naming a need, and receiving help from another. You can share yours on our Facebook and Instagram posts from today. You can also email me at lisaz@heartlandchurch.org. I’d love to hear your God winks stories!


{prayer for the week}

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

Jesus, we are so grateful that you came to earth both fully God and fully human. The learnings from Easter are painful as we are confronted with your abandonment. Your pain. Your suffering. Yet without those human experiences, we might struggle to believe you identify with us. Thank you for sacrificing your life for ours, for being the waymaker that cut a trail directly to unity with you and God in heaven someday. Help us embrace and understand this incredible gift. And help us see the need around us. Give us confidence to follow in your footsteps, as waymakers for a friend or a family member, a neighbor or a stranger in need. Thank you for trusting us to be your hands and feet in this world. 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 Brooke Hodnefield

{monday 3.22.21}

Read John 18:28-40

Read, Ponder, Pray: You have likely had one of those days…the one in which you are moving through the day as you do, but it’s ill-fitting. Something doesn’t set right. Life is complicated, with both its beauty and pain. You may have one foot on this earthly place, but your eyes drift to a longing for worries to fade, heartache to disappear, to be unified, rested and at peace, for…heaven. In Jesus’s response to Pilate’s question, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (vs 36). We are reminded by Phillipians 3:20-21 – ‘But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.’ The tension is to be expected, we are not meant for an eternal life on earth, but in heaven. If you stumble upon one of those days, be reminded that we are but passing through, and God will give you the strength you need this day, your daily bread.

{tuesday 3.23.21}

Read John 19:1-16

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Pilate could not have been more of a waffler. He was a people-pleaser, looking for the crowds to make the decision surrounding Jesus’s guilt. Despite TWICE stating, ‘I find no basis for a charge against him,’ he still allowed the fear of dissastifying the crowds to determine his action. And even though Pilate clearly acknowledged that Jesus was free of guilt, ultimately his words meant nothing. His actions were what communicated power, and that is what is remembered. As we consider the weight of our words, we must also back that which we say, with how we act and what we do. As you consider your spaces and places of influence, are there areas of your life in which your words and your actions are mis-aligned?

{wednesday 3.24.21}

Read John 19:17-27

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Today is an unsettled day for my soul. There is a grieving in my soul that I can’t quite put my finger on, a lament of some sort of for days gone by, relationships (even in my own home) that I’ve not cared for as I should, and the pull to make the right decision at each turn – even the smallest of ones. I read this passage and feel a smallness, a stillness and a hush. Jesus carried His own cross and slowly made his way to the place in which he would breathe His last. If the God of our universe did this for you, and did this for me, how much more so can he handle our pain, our confusion, our regrets and our sadness. I rest in that truth today, and pray you will do the same.

{thursday 3.25.21}

Read John 19:28-37

Observe, Reflect, Apply: ‘These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled…’ There are roughly 40 times in the Bible where a statement such as this tags a scripture with a fulfillment to come later in scripture – a prediction of what is to come. I’ve seen this happen for myself, as well as others, when something hijacks your path – could be a welcome shift, or not, but our journey shifts off course, and we are left to wonder why. We can cling to Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” And just as the Bible is peppered with instances of ‘hope deferred,’ we can know that our God is a good God, and we can trust that we can place our hope in Him as the redeemer of ALL things.

{friday 3.26.21}

Read John 19:38-42

Observe, Reflect, Apply: What a contradiction of death, the grave, a garden, and soon to be new life. This brings to mind a song by Elevation Worship, Graves into Gardens, and specifically a point where the lyrics cut deeply into my heart…

‘Cause the God of the mountain

Is the God of the valley

There’s not a place

Your mercy and grace

Won’t find me again

We can be in a place of darkness and death, much like a graveyard. God will meet us there. We can be in a place of lightness and life, much like a garden. God will meet us there. Regardless how many times you find yourself returning to Him, in whatever state you find yourself, He will meet you each and every time. 

{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.


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© 2021 Heartland Community Church

12175 S Strang Line Road, Olathe, KS 66062

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