Taking the Next Step

My wife Debbie and I are typically long-term planners.  Organized, figured out, written down.  We plan our steps in the direction that our heart beats, knowing all along that God may choose to redirect us.  And though spontaneity is not a daily occurrence in our marriage, flexibility and spontaneity is a required component as we serve the Lord. Our intent is to let God steer our moving heart.  He has placed within each of us a passion to follow Christ, pursue our God-given gifting, and at the same time, allow Him to have the freedom to direct our steps.  We also allow each other space to serve in the areas of our strength.  We are a team even though, at times, we minister in different areas.  As Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one for they have a good reward for their labor.”  

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Stories from Bangkok

“How was your trip?” The eight members of the Thailand team have been asked this question many times since touching down at the Omaha O'Hare Airport. The team members are still asking themselves that question. “Good” seemed too simplified, “Amazing” doesn’t exactly ring true. Was there one word that we can use to tell acquaintances in passing how the last three weeks impacted us physically, mentally, and spiritually? We laughed, we cried, we prayed through physical illness and mental hardships, and some days it seemed Satan was throwing every kind of ammo in his artillery at us. How do we describe that the spiritual warfare was real and , but our God was faithful to come alongside us through everything!

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Jasey Christensen
Vanderveen Story pt. 2

We moved into the apartments on 51st and NW Radial Hwy out of obedience on January 6th. It was difficult to track down the landlord, and even after we had made an appointment to view the apartments, he had forgotten about us and didn't show up. I mentioned in the last blog post that there was every reason to say no to this place, but we knew Jesus was asking for our yes. We ashamedly lived for three years in our last apartment full of Americans and zero language barriers and never had a meal with any of them nor shared any more experiences than simply talking occasionally in the parking lot. We knew it would take getting far out of our comfort zones paired with tremendous effort to step into this place, build trust, get to know our neighbors intimately, and share the love of Jesus with them—all while overcoming a language barrier.

We prayed and prayed: “God, would you use us?” The first week here started off as hard as I expected. I was spending my days editing a wedding from the previous weekend (the only one I had planned for the whole year) and constantly questioning how I was supposed to reach out to my neighbors. The horrifying obstacle of language barriers, the awkwardness of just knocking on a stranger’s door with no warning and no point other than to come in and attempt to get to know them, the fear of rejection. It felt impossible. I justified doing nothing but “work” for Monday and Tuesday.  

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Chase Vanderveen
Vanderveen Story pt. 1

Prayer is what got us here.

And I don't mean the occasional praying in our heads some nights, tucked into our covers, minds drifting away into dreamland only half-focused on what we are saying to the Lord and half-focused on some event from our day—kind of prayer. I mean worshipful, focused, time-consuming, passionate, faithful, actually-on-our-knees daily prayer. That kind of prayer got us to this place. That kind of prayer is why my husband, Robbie, and I live in low-income, majority refugee housing here in Omaha. But it was quite a journey to this shabby space that has become the single greatest thing to ever happen to me outside of my Salvation and my marriage to my precious husband.  

It is May 2018 as I write this now, but the story starts in March 2016. In March two years ago, our church, Citylight Benson, hosted a Holy Spirit conference. It was in those two days that I became vastly aware of not only my neglect of the Holy Spirit in my entire faith journey but my intense need for Him. I was thankful for truthful reminders that the Spirit was God's merciful gift to us so that we would not be alone on this earth after Jesus was resurrected and that we would have another advocate in the Spirit. (John 14:16-20). I knew the Spirit was within me now, as He had always been, but now I was passionately calling on His name, pursuing Him, and asking for His guidance every day. It began radically changing my heart and Robbie's too.  

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Chase Vanderveen
Why Psalms?

This summer Providence Church is spending 10 weeks going through the first 10 Psalms. “A Summer in the Psalms”is by no means a new concept. Churches for decades or more have been spending summer months in the Old Testament book of Psalms. We are by no means innovative in preaching through the Psalms this summer, but we are also by no means thoughtless in preaching through the Psalms this summer. 

So why preach through the Psalms? Believe it or not, it is not because we are tired of coming up with new ideas or just want to take the summer off of anything hard. Far from it. In fact, let me give you answers to three basic questions on why we chose to preach through the Psalms this summer.

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Andrew Rutten

I used to think that trusting in God meant a rosy future filled with nothing but good things. The more I trusted him, the easier my life would be. Picture an “up and to the right” graph—this was going to be my life.

What I’ve learned since then is that suffering is a normal part of the human experience, and especially part of the Christian life. An emotional upheaval gave me the biggest opportunity for growth in my relationship with God. This article is meant to give some Biblical perspective on the issue of suffering.

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Aubrey Schieuer
What is Discipleship?

Discipleship. We throw this word out a lot in the church or in ministries, and if we are honest, it all may be a little confusing. In Matthew 28:19 it says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” SO, we know the call to make disciples is there but if you’re anything like me sometimes that call is a bit daunting. I want to try and explain discipleship through 3 ideas: what is discipleship, what discipleship looks like, and why discipleship matters.

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Jourdan Fichter
Why Read the Bible at Church?

Have you ever attended a wedding and found yourself at the end of the evening without so much as a glance at the bride and groom? Not once witnessing the bride in her full white dress at the altar? Not once catching the groom in his svelte black tux cutting his dance moves on the polished wood floor?

No, probably not, because to attend a wedding ceremony and not once lay your eyes on the bride and groom would be to miss the integral component of that day—the union of these two people. You would, dare I say, miss the centerpiece of the event.

I use this illustration loosely to demonstrate that if we are a church that does not read Scripture aloud during our Sunday gatherings (or our weekly Citygroup gatherings), then we are a church that misses entirely the centerpiece of why we gather

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Anne Backer
Soli Deo Gloria

Sound theology fuels joyful worship and obedient Christian living. The Protestant Reformation was aimed at rooting the wayward Church in sound theology once again. While there is a gap that exists to this day, the focus of this article is on the all-important fifth sola: the exaltation of God's glory.

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Ben Webb
Solus Christus

In Christian circles there seems to be a revival of Jesus-centered churches. We love to talk about Jesus, which is great! But, as much as we love to say Jesus, we don't seem to speak of Christ all that often.

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Kent McCrimmon
Sola Fide

Faith. A word tossed around so frequently in the Christian world that it loses its significance over time. Faith is both complex and simple, and so the meaning can also be lost on us. If you have been a Christian for a long time, it’s easy to gloss over the word in Scripture. It’s one you’ve seen a thousand times before, and your brain doesn’t pause anymore to revel in its meaning. Or, if you are a new Christian, it’s a word you’ve started hearing in sermons and city group discussions. You keep spotting it in the New Testament, and you wonder how important it is to understand.

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Anne Backer