{March 28, 2021}

Heartland Community Church




By Lisa Zulke

There’s a tool we use often at Heartland called the learning circle. The circle is a way to take a moment in time–an event, a learning, a struggle, an opportunity–and process it with God. The two key questions we process through are, "What is God saying to me?" and "What am I going to do about it?" It is my go-to in taking a confusing passage of scripture and finding meaning from it, as well as to process life. In January I took 2020 around the learning circle. Boy, was that a hot mess to sort! In fact, God made it clear we had more than 2020 to sort. So this became a 2018-2020 come-to-Jesus moment.

What is God saying to me, about the last three years? I made a bullet list of observations. The general themes: tons of change, lots of things outside my control, great opportunities launching new friendships and a new community, confusion and lack of clarity in some areas of life. I summed my list up with the phrase, "Yelling into the void." You know, that feeling you can have when you are passionate about something, but aren’t sure anybody hears, or cares?

What happened next was breakthrough. In hindsight, God was asking me to name the hardship. And to celebrate the wins. And to name where he was located in all of it. For months and months I had been praying and pleading over the hardships. Asking for clarity, asking for release, asking for help. What did I hear? Mostly, nothing. There were moments of personal clarity, growth, and fun wins. But on the big, hard stuff…silence. And the "aha" God needed me to name? That HE was in the void, and wasn’t hearing or caring about my prayers. Whew.

What happened next was fascinating. God sent me words. Not just any words. The. Exact. Words. I. Needed. To. Hear. I’ll be honest, it was weird. But it was overwhelmingly consistent, over a period of 5 weeks, and from a variety of sources. None of these sources new what I needed to hear. Some didn’t know me from Eve. But God spoke through each of their words, actions, stories and verses. Crystal clear. The message may not sound profound in print. But it spoke to my soul. It released the power of some stuff I hadn’t let go. And it gave me hope. "I saw it all. I heard it all. I grieve it all, too. I will redeem it all," said God. Mind. Blown.

The second half of the learning circle asks us to take what God says, and act upon it. What are you going to do about this? Well, my first step seemed obvious: trust God. Trust that he is who he says he is, and he will do what he says he is going to do. Again, not profound, but when you hear God say those words above, over and over again for 5 weeks…it is time to declare your trust in the messenger and his message. What does trusting God in my situation look like? Time to be specific. God had been teaching me about endurance in 2020. I believe he was forming in me the muscle and strength needed to stand in confidence. My action steps to live this out: Don’t become hard. Don’t go silent. Do not give up. Be hopeful in the hangar. (Another story for another day!)

I am still processing the depths that those words reach. Today’s teaching shared that when Jesus speaks, his words to us are personal, timely, powerful, honest and true. I am praying this week that Jesus finds you in your ordinary, everyday life, and speaks to you exactly what you need to hear. And that you take notice of it! Join me in that prayer!


{sunday 3.28.21}

Read Luke 8:40-55

Observe, Reflect, Apply: "‘My child, get up!’ And at that moment, her life returned, and she immediately stood up!" As you read these stories of faith and answered prayers, consider where God might be inviting you to get up. Where do you need your life to return? What might Jesus be inviting you to name, so that he can meet you in that joy, or that pain?


{prayer for the week}

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

Jesus, thank you for speaking the words we need to hear. May you give us all hearing, sight, taste, smell or touch to receive the words you have to say. Help us be noticers this week. Help us name the hardships and the joys. Help us consider what you are saying to us. And make us brave to stand up and step into our next steps. Thank you for being a God who longs to communicate to 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 Meghan Hemenway

{monday 3.29.21}

Read John 20:1-10

Read, Ponder, Pray: We know the story of Jesus’ resurrection. It’s not new and probably not even surprising. I have the picture of this event through all the memories from church services over many years – the palm leaves at my childhood church, the bells and the choir in robes singing, Up From the Grave He Arose, at my grandmother’s Methodist church. But Mary Magdalene and the disciples did not yet have these pictures or memories. They were experiencing Jesus’ resurrection firsthand. They knew what he had said, but now it was happening. It was real. Imagine wiping clean your memories of Easter and read the passage as if you were hearing this news for the first time. What feelings do you have? What would you do first? Who would you tell?

{tuesday 3.30.21}

Read John 20:11-23

Observe, Reflect, Apply: In this passage the disciples have gone away, probably to tell others about the empty tomb, but Mary cannot leave. Her grief compels her to stay in the last place she had seen Jesus. I imagine that she longs to be close to him. Grief can cloud our judgement, our understanding of reality, even block us from others. This is how I imagine Mary feeling when Jesus appears to her and she doesn’t recognize him. I don’t think it was disbelief, but deep longing and love that made it impossible for her to see him. And then he says her name. Imagine what it must have felt like for her to hear that! Compare Mary’s response to that of the disciples. For them, Jesus showed the wounds in his hands and side to reveal himself. In what ways were their responses different from Mary’s and why did Jesus reveal himself in these different ways?

{wednesday 3.31.21}

Read John 20:24-31

Observe, Reflect, Apply: In this part of the resurrection story we see Thomas’ response. He had not been with the disciples when Jesus first showed them his wounds and they believed. He had trouble believing the story he was hearing from his friends. He wanted proof, something tangible. Thomas is remembered unfavorably for his response and his doubt. But wasn’t he asking for the same treatment as the other disciples? I wonder what he must have been feeling to know he had missed out on this moment of witnessing his savior coming back to life. All his buddies would get to share that story firsthand, but he would just have to believe like everyone else. I imagine he felt left out or maybe less special in Jesus’ eyes. But Thomas is really like all of us, everyone who came after the disciples and would not get that firsthand experience. We all have to believe in something we didn’t see. Maybe Jesus was actually giving Thomas a more difficult mission – to model belief even without evidence. How do you believe in a Jesus you didn’t see firsthand?

{thursday 4.1.21}

Read John 21:1-9

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Jesus continues to appear to the disciples after his resurrection. Perhaps he is reinforcing the message or appearing in different ways and places to help the men have many ways to share the story. They would be telling all kinds of people about Jesus after this and maybe the different scenarios would help them connect with people with many different backgrounds and experiences. I think Jesus is showing how he wants to connect with us wherever we are in life. Where do you connect most easily with Jesus? Where could you increase your connection with Jesus in your everyday life?

{friday 4.2.21}

Read John 21:10-25

Observe, Reflect, Apply: In this final passage of John we see Jesus having a meal with the disciples. Jesus is passing on the duty of tending to the flock, or in other words, he is giving the disciples the mission of caring for his people and sharing the message after he is gone. Peter, who had denied knowing Jesus, is here and Jesus forgives and sets him back on his mission of caring for and teaching new followers. Jesus is forgiving, gracious, and humble. When Peter makes a mistake he is not kicked out with no way to start over. Jesus forgives and puts the same task in front of him again. In what ways have you stumbled on your walk with Jesus? Do you know that he will forgive you? That he has? How can you carry on with his mission of sharing the good news as a forgiven follower?

{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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