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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 | 0 comments
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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 | 0 comments
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Catalyst 2.0 Prayer Guide : Why Should I Bring My Tithe Into the Storehouse by Larry Jones

Why Should I Bring My Tithe Into the Storehouse? 

by Larry Jones    

Malachi 3:10:  “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”   

There are so many ways to spend my money these days.  There are many opportunities for entertainment, or if I really feel philanthropic I can find lots of non-profit organizations that are doing great work. However, while I enjoy concerts, and I have my favorite organizations that help the poor in our community and make the community better, I support them with the funds I have available AFTER I bring my tithe into the storehouse of the Lord. While I work hard for the salary I receive, I only have that job because God made it available to me. I only have the education I need to be able to do the job I do because God prepared the way for me. With this in mind it only seems appropriate that I also return to the Lord at least a tenth of what He has given to me.   

I don’t believe that by giving back to the Lord, I will not face challenges in my life. I don’t believe that you can buy salvation. I don’t believe that by giving to the Lord it makes me any better than anyone else.  I do believe that it is what God wants, what God teaches, and what is expected of a Christian.    

Giving must be from the heart, and it must be without a grudge, for scripture also says that the Lord loves a cheerful giver.  As we enter into Catalyst 2.0, I hope you will give to your fullest capability and thank the Lord for the opportunity.

We are an affluent people.  Ask yourself if you are maximizing the resources God has gifted you with in order to further God’s kingdom.
Posted by Terri Soper at Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | 0 comments
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