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Catalyst 2.0 Prayer Guide : A Space in a Place for Face to Face by Becky Dempsey

A Space in a Place for Face-to-Face!  

by Becky Dempsey

Exodus 25:8:  Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.  

 A change in about 5% of our church building has, I think, resulted in about 95% of the change in our church personality. The Welcome Center is playing a big part in how we connect with one another.    

Remember how it used to be? Three of the one-time four church entrances opened into a hallway or small landing with steps. The front entrance still uses steps to get us into a small narrow foyer, bounded on two sides by steps leading up and down. That foyer leads into the Sanctuary, whose name and ambiance invite holy meditation more than relaxed or exuberant meet-and-greet. Even the newest entrance leads into a larger lobby area, to be sure, but that area is busy with parents and children—and from there you go right back into a hallway. 

The hallways encouraged us to move on to our destinations—Sunday School classes, meeting rooms—places where we met our small groups separate from the rest of the church body. The larger spaces—Social Room and Assembly Room—are still more like destinations than pass-throughs, and are often filled with small groups already in session. So we spoke our “hellos” hurriedly in the halls and moved on.

Now the Welcome Center is filled with happy sound—laughter and conversation among people of different age groups.  It’s a space where you can gather until all the group has arrived for a meeting.  It’s a space where you can catch up on all the news of the entire church body, with the written materials, the video, and, of course, the people.

Hospitality, community, fellowship—these are holy values. And the Welcome Center is one of the encouragers of those values.

A space in a place for face-to-face! 

As we celebrate paying off our Renovation Debt this month, thank God for wonderful transformations that have occurred in our church because of the Welcome Center and other updates in the building. 
Posted by Terri Soper at Friday, October 24, 2014

Catalyst 2.0 Prayer Guide : Presence by Blane Baker


by Blane Baker

Matthew 28:20b:  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  

In June 2014 ten of us from Second Baptist Church traveled to northern Thailand to participate in several projects among hill-tribe people near the border between Thailand and Myanmar. Our partner on these projects was Upland Holistic Development Project UHDP, founded by CBF and dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture and serving as advocates for human rights. In addition to working on various projects in this hill-tribe region, we experienced opportunities for spiritual renewal and reflection. Several factors, I believe, contributed to our focus on relationship with God.   

As part of daily devotions, we participated in daily readings together twice a day and also prayed individually during the day. As we reflected as a group, we felt that God was here before us and presently with us. While not a new discovery, the presence of God permeating our world is truly one of the mysteries of our faith. This reality both comforts us and challenges us to be aware of God’s presence.             

Another way that we focused more on God’s presence was through our interactions with local people. Even though we often did not speak the same human language, we shared bonds of commitment to sustainability in our world and advocacy for all people. We could see God’s hand at work through the development of an 80% edible forest from land that was once barren; we also saw how once-displaced villagers were finding paths to citizenship.             

Through these experiences we are reminded of God’s constant presence. We cannot be separated from God’s love or comforting, supporting presence. Where we go God has already been and continues to be. With support from Catalyst and our SEND Initiative, many of us have experienced God’s presence through missions. I am grateful for these experiences and pray that we will continue these efforts throughout the world.     

You don’t have to ask God to be with you; realize that God is present with you right now and always.  Jesus promised it.
Posted by Terri Soper at Thursday, October 23, 2014

Catalyst 2.0 Prayer Guide : Positive Sacrifice by Don and Lisa Long

Positive Sacrifice

by Don and Lisa Long    

Romans 12:1:  Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.   

Life’s opportunities for sacrifice are presented in different ways and are usually out of our control. Our employer needs a worker for an extra event. A friend cancels an outing and needs someone to just listen. A family member asks for financial assistance. Large and small, sacrifices are a frequent and necessary part of our existence.    

Our reaction is also perceived as out of our control but we frequently approach sacrifice with a negative attitude.  After all, sacrifice has a negative connotation and by definition means that we are giving up something. We are somehow instinctively designed to not like giving up anything.   

But can we learn more about sacrifice?  Can sacrifice be more than a burden?   

We struggled to meet our Catalyst goal and actually fell short, but in making the extra financial sacrifice, we reaffirmed our belief in God’s promise to pour out blessings without measure. We have been provided with all that we need and much more. Our involvement in the Music Ministry at Second Baptist has been enriched by Catalyst giving in the forms of great music to teach and perform.  And even though we could not go on a mission trip, our giving to the SEND Initiative has allowed us ownership in helping to send others.   

But beyond all this, we have become more positive about how we approach life’s sacrifices. God has a plan for us. The opportunities His hand presents can be a joy and an opportunity to do His work.  Sacrifice, in all its different forms, is an ancient and sacred instrument for focusing on our eternal Father.

How can you change your mindset from “sacrifice is a burden” to “sacrifice is a privilege?”
Posted by Terri Soper at Wednesday, October 22, 2014