The Heart Ablaze series has come to an end and we’re wrapping up the month of January 2022 with a special message: Can You Hear the Beat? That’s right, Church…Heartbeat Weekend has arrived! This is a special time for our church family, for our community. We’re coming together to reunify, regather, and resurrender to the heartbeat of Jesus in both our personal lives and in our church as a whole.
PS – if you missed any of the 4 messages from our Heart Ablaze series, you can watch all the replays on the VFC YouTube channel or listen on VFC’s Apple Podcast. This is a series you won’t want to miss! We discover how to keep our hearts on fire for God in an age of apathy as we seek to passionately and intentionally pursue Him this year.
30 years ago, founding senior pastors Jeff and Beth Jones moved to Kalamazoo with a vision in their hearts and a sense of calling and purpose to start a church in Southwest Michigan. They believed this church would be used by God to make a difference for His kingdom that would help raise up families in the faith. They believed this church would help us know the basics of the gospel and be a source of hope for people who need to know Jesus.
The vision of VFC has always been to live by great faith, live for the great commission, and live out the great commandment. What started as a dream, a vision, a calling, has now come to fruition over the last 30 years as we have committed to “know it, live it, and share it.” Over the last three decades, we have actively seen God’s hand move. Amen! We have seen God’s kindness and faithfulness and goodness.
We’ve seen families that were shattered get put back together.
We’ve seen bodies that were sick be miraculously healed.
We’ve seen the lost get saved.
Praise the Lord!
As Valley Family Church celebrated its 30 year anniversary in September of 2021, we transitioned into The Exchange Zone. In this season, we’re positioning ourselves and setting our church up for the future. This church was started by faith and will transition by faith. Where we are headed will take place by faith with a vision from God. Like the prophet Isaiah said, here we are, God! Send us!
All that has culminated throughout the history of Valley Family Church has brought us to now: Heartbeat Weekend. During this time, we lean in together as a community to the heartbeat of God and remind ourselves of the heartbeats that radiate through our church.
We exist to help people know the truth of Jesus, the basics of God’s word, and know the way He’s called us to live. VFC has always existed for that reason. We’re not presenting a new vision; we’re simply diving into the heart of the vision of our church.
Our church has not yet seen its best days! We are praising God for what was and setting our eyes on what will be. We’re looking forward and expecting God to use this community of believers to love and care for each other as we’re on a mission to make a difference for the Lord.
We will see thousands of people saved through our church.
We will see broken people find Jesus and be healed.
We will see people who are dead be raised back to life.
We will see families shift to the course God intends for them.
We will see passionate believers live with the sole purpose of following Jesus.
We’re remembering and reflecting on the heartbeats of Valley Family Church, we’re tuning in to who we are as a church, so that we can know it, live it, and share it with the world around us. Amen!
Did you know, the heart is the very first organ to develop in an unborn baby? A heartbeat represents life. In Can You Hear the Beat?, at timestamp 9:59, Eric Jones shares a moving story that helps us identify with the importance and awe-inspiring magnificence of a heartbeat.
There’s lots going on in our lives—work, school, dreams, stresses of day-to-day life–we’re busy; the world is busy. It’s easy to get distracted by all the busyness of life and forget to listen to the precious heartbeat of God. To help us tune back in and set our hearts and minds on the Lord, we’re taking a close look at the 3 heartbeats of Valley Family Church.
The early church in Acts gives us a perfect model of how the church ought to live. Acts 2:44-47 says:
(NLT) 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity[a]— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
Church is not just a place we attend on a Sunday; it’s a community that we are a part of. Just like the early church, we are a family–we do life together, we pray together, we encourage each other. As a result, the Lord will add to the number of people who are saved and continue to grow His family.
There’s something powerful about a church that lives like family! We’re not just consumers of Christian content; we are actual brothers and sisters in God’s family, called to support one another and do life together. We laugh together, share meals together, pray for each other, stand with each other in the good, and weep with each other in the bad.
We are not just people who casually observe what’s happening on a Sunday morning; we are people who are committed to doing life together as a family. Our highest calling and utmost privilege is to love one another, like we see in John 13:34-35:
(NKJV) 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus said that people would know we’re with Him if we love each other. We are a church that’s a family and we’re defined by love. In Can You Hear the Beat?, at timestamp 18:56, Eric Jones shares some encouraging examples of who our family is and what that means. Here’s the breakdown of what it looks like to love each other:
We are quick to forgive when someone wrongs or offends us.
We sacrificially serve each other.
We have compassion for each other when someone’s hurting in our family.
We celebrate with those who celebrate.
We mourn with those who mourn.
We are inclusive.
We don’t push people out to the fringe.
We don’t speak bad of each other or gossip.
We make meals for each other.
We pray for one another and invest in our relationships.
We choose to believe the best in every situation.
We love like Jesus loves.
1 John 3:16 says, “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” Love is sacrificial.
THE CHALLENGE: Let’s dive into community. God wants us to be active members of our family. We are created for relationships and there is opportunity to find just that at VFC. Whether you join a small group or commit to serving on the VCrew or simply extend an invitation to someone to spend time together, grab a cup of coffee next week, share dinner together after church.
In what ways does our church feel like a family to you?
What do you need from our church family this week, this month, this year?
What can you contribute to our church family this week, this month, this year?
In the New Testament, a rabbi (a teacher and spiritual leader) would find young men around age 15 and call them to follow him and learn his ways; it was a one-on-one mentor relationship. This is the way Jesus lived.
In that day and age, when a rabbi would call a disciple to come follow him, that meant the disciple or young man would literally leave everything they knew and watch the way the rabbi lived. The goal in this was reproduction, that the follower or disciple would learn so much from the rabbi that when their time together was over, the disciple could take the rabbi’s way of life and reproduce it in others.
This is the way Jesus called us to live as disciples. Listen to timestamp 23:17 in Can You Hear the Beat? – Eric vividly describes the weight and magnitude of what it means to be a disciple. We are called to get so close to our Rabbi, Jesus Christ, and to follow Him intimately, step by step.
We live in a world where enjoying Christianity is very easy. It’s easy to come and enjoy an encouraging message and then we go on about our day. That is consumeristic Christianity; that is not us.
At VFC we are not consumer Christians; we are all in, Rabbi following, Jesus committed Christians who walk, talk, and live like Jesus did. We see an example of Jesus calling disciples to himself in Matthew 4:18-20:
(NKJV) 18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
As we are disciples–followers of Jesus–it means we leave all else behind and we are fully engaged and committed to Him. It means we make Jesus our #1 priority and surrender our way of thinking and doing things and instead choose to adopt His way. We talk about Jesus because He’s all that we have and love in this world. We obey His word and live out His lifestyle. We commit to walking, talking, and living like Him.
Discipleship is the process of becoming who Jesus would be if He were you.
– Dallas Willard
In Romans 12:1-2, we find clear instructions on how to be disciples of Jesus:
(MSG) So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
THE CHALLENGE: Let’s be committed to the way of discipleship. We have an opportunity for our faith to go from something we practice on a Sunday to something we dive into, where we get into our Bibles and start to learn about who it is that Jesus said He was and learn about the way of the Christian life. Join our Bible Basics classes and be sure to check out Getting a Grip on the Basics for Kids, too!
What does discipleship mean to you?
What would it look like for us to be followers of Jesus, not just observers?
It’s awesome to be a family where you’re loved and known and cared for. It’s awesome to be disciples where our lives are committed to following the way of our King. But this last heartbeat is who we are; it’s what we do, it’s our call. Matthew 28:18-19 says:
(NKJV) 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
May we never forget that we aren’t just a family, we’re not just disciples; we are a rescue team. We have been called to go and help others to know God for themselves. We are called to make Jesus’ last command our first priority. We have a mission!
Our mission is not to distance ourselves from the world and cozy up only with believers; our mission is to get out into the world and to help those who don’t know Jesus come to know him personally. We have a literal life-or-death mission; we are called to help those who are dying find life in Jesus. Matthew 5:14 says:
(NKJV) You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
We are a light in this world, in this community. Our light has one purpose: to glorify God and point to him. 2 Corinthians 5:20 says:
(NKJV) Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
Remember, Jesus spent more time with sinners than He did with religious people and we need to be a church that looks like Him, loving the lost. The enemy’s #1 goal is to take us off the course of rescuing the lost.
The story Eric Jones shares at timestamp 31:42 in Can You Hear the Beat? will help you feel the heartbeat as it shows us the exact reason why we need to prioritize rescue missions. It’s not about the crowd; it’s about the one.
Continue watching the replay of Eric’s message through timestamp 35:23 where you’ll hear another powerful story about Desmond Doss in WWII that will highlight again the utmost importance of our rescue mission.
THE CHALLENGE: Let’s be a soul-winning church this year. We will see people saved–people brought from death to life–if we commit to our rescue mission. We can be a part of the Great Commission and we will see lost be found in Jesus.
Who is on your mind, on your heart, that you can be a part of their rescue journey this year?
What does a rescue mission look like in our day-to-day lives?
We are a family. We are disciples. We are a rescue team. This is going to be an amazing year for our church and for our community! We will see more people come to the family of God. We will grow as passionate, hungry, committed disciples. We will be an active part of this rescue team in our community as we commit to helping the lost be found. Amen!
Lord, we love you. We are grateful to be a part of this community and thankful that what we are a part of is bigger than the part we play. We are grateful that you are Lord of this house; You are king, You are in control, and You have good plans for us. As we lean into the heartbeat of our church, we listen for your heartbeat, Lord. Father, help us to hear the beat–the thing you are doing, the house you are building, and how we can be a part of your plan. In Jesus’ name, Amen.