[August 27, 2023]

Heartland Community Church


Helping People Make Jesus First

By Lisa Zulke

This past week, I had the opportunity to participate as a member of the Kansas City Hood To Coast relay team with Team World Vision. It was an incredible experience and a microcosm of the Jesus first life we help one another pursue at Heartland. Most of us had met one another in the last few months. I was nervous about running a 200-mile relay with people I didn’t know, unknown conditions, and the reality of traveling in an SUV for 200 miles with little to no sleep. (It turned out to be no sleep, leading to why you are receiving this edition on Monday.) Harsh conditions and lots of potential for hardship, discord, and conflict.

In preparation, we all trained to be able to go the distance and to run our race in the dark of night, the heat of the day, and on tired legs come the final run for each of us. Everyone on our team lives connected to Jesus, and that was evident. There were so many conversations about what got us here and what we do in the parts of our lives beyond running. The common bond we have is living a life connected to Jesus. He became our strength when the going got hard. The person we could talk to on those lonely legs, running to meet the car at the next exchange while processing all the hard we were experiencing with Jesus. My overnight run was incredibly steep and winding on cambered blacktop roads and loose-pack gravel. I talked to Jesus…a lot…on that run! He got me up and over the pass, and there were my teammates. One was ready to run the next leg, and the others encouraged me as we loaded up and drove to the following exchange.

Jesus changed us before, during, and after this experience. We haven’t all processed that out, as the breakneck pace of a 200-mile relay, protein and carb deficiency, and pure exhaustion create this disorienting condition I call "runner’s brain." Everything slows down, and words form slowly. Processing the experience will take me a few more days. Plus a steak and a big bowl of pasta. In this early stage, the change I’m experiencing from this community experience is that we can do hard things, even with strangers, if we locate the common ground we all possess. For our team, that was Jesus, a passion for helping others and a belief that we can make a world-changing impact when we aggregate our work, prayers, donations, and running shoes.

Each of these runners, in their own way, is committed to the mission of Jesus. I heard their stories over 36 hours in the car, driving and running from Mt. Hood to the Pacific Ocean in Seaside. Our team was a mix of ages and stages of life, backgrounds, and careers. It was really fun to hear how each one is living out the mission of Jesus where they live, work, study, and play. I have come home inspired by the diversity of our lives and the incredible things we accomplished together…without conflict. (Hard things, but no conflict.) It was Jesus who helped weave our paths to this event together and helped us through all the incredible good and the hardship of our task because we discovered along the way our unique expressions of a shared commitment to following him.

If you are looking for a community of people, I’d encourage you to be open to literally anything. It may look differently than you expect it to. I thought about backing out and offering my spot to some other faster runner, well-connected fundraiser or stronger human. I’m so glad that I didn’t. The beauty in a community is seeing how Jesus creatively brings humans together and fills the gaps between us. Those are the moments when something beautiful can happen!

To learn more about Community at Heartland, CLICK HERE.


[Monday, August 28 – Friday, September 1]

Luke 9:57-62, John 10:10, Matthew 4:19

Take time with these same passages each day, and consider what they teach us about following Jesus first in community with others. Here are some questions to get you started.

What was Jesus saying the cost of following him would include?

What are the benefits of following Jesus first?

Where have you been faced with a hard choice, or a hard season as you follow Jesus? What or who helped you navigate the decisions and relationships of that season?

Where in your life are you following Jesus first. Where are you struggling to put him first?

Who might be a guide you can trust in making choices that make Jesus first?

Who might God be inviting you to guide and encourage in the Jesus first life?

In what ways is following Jesus rich and satisfying for you? Where are you struggling to experience depth and satisfaction?

Who has Jesus placed in your life that you can invite and walk with as you follow Jesus together?

Each day, pray for the things that come to mind or jump out at you as you dive deeper into these teachings. Pay attention to any recurring themes or questions and consider sharing those with someone to process them out.



{extra journey resources}

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

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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© 2023 Heartland Community Church

12175 S Strang Line Road, Olathe, KS 66062

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