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Catalyst 2.0 Prayer Guide : The Habit of Tithing by Greg Duncan


The Habit of Tithing

by Greg Duncan    

 Mark 12:17:  Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him.    

When I first started mowing lawns and walking home with crisp bills in my hands, my parents unabashedly explained the tithing concept to me – and promptly made change for my earnings so that I would have the right amount of dollar bills to put in the offering plate. Not optional. It certainly wasn’t a foreign concept. I knew that my parents gave to the church every month. It was fun to be a copy-cat giver.   

When I graduated to an actual job with an actual uniform (brown, pink & orange striped shirt complemented by brown baseball cap) at the local Baskin Robbins, I got my first actual paper paycheck! Having calculated the hours I worked times $2.10, I was shocked that my check was less than what I had earned. What’s a deduction? And who’s this FICA guy and why does he get some? I explained to my parents that I could no longer give 10% to the church now that I was only getting partially paid. Wrong. As a dishwasher, a pizza driver, a recreation assistant, a clothing salesman, a paralegal wannabe, the checks gradually got larger, but so did the deductions, and so did the things I “needed” the money for.  But I was in the habit of tithing, I knew it was right, and I simply did it.   

Fast forward to marriage, mortgage, children, medical expenses, and all sorts of grown-up things that compound financial pressure. As our incomes have risen (and fallen) and as our financial security has strengthened (and faltered) our commitment to a 10% tithe has remained steady. Sometimes it’s tough to write that check. Sometimes “joyful giver” is a real misnomer.   

But looking back over more than 30 years of consistent tithing I’m grateful for parents who instilled a value and cultivated a habit. I’m grateful for a wife who shares the belief and reinforces the commitment. I’m grateful for the ability and opportunity to continue to give to my God and my church through the Catalyst programs. With time and space it would be easy to enumerate all the reasons why, but suffice it to say, I can’t imagine not!   

 Are you a habitual tither? What steps, with God’s help, could you take to develop the habit of tithing?

Posted by Terri Soper at Tuesday, October 7, 2014 | 0 comments
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Catalyst 2.0 Prayer Guide : One Direction by Loulla Efstathiou


One Direction 

by Loulla Efstathiou   

Proverbs 3:5–6:  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (NKIV)   

This verse is both broad and precise. Numerous times in my life I have come to the end of the road, not knowing which direction to take. Growing up I often felt I was not understood and had no one to turn to for support. So where does one go for guidance and reflection? Trust in the LORD . . . He shall direct your paths.   

When I was fifteen years old, pursuing additional levels of education seemed an impossible goal for me. I had failed class for two consecutive years; thus it was probably time for me to marry and begin my family. However, God had different plans for me.  God sent a missionary who believed that I could finish my high school education if I would agree to come with her to the United States. What once seemed impossible now became a reality. After graduating high school, I returned to Cyprus and was again encouraged to get married, settle down and have a family. God again directed my path because the impossible came into reality. I would be returning to the United States to attend the School of the Ozarks to get a teaching degree. Eventually, God guided me to Liberty and the mission-minded Second Baptist Church filled both my spiritual and human needs. Trust in the LORD . . . He shall direct thy paths.   

Our upbringing and environment shape our future. Each and every one of our experiences help prepare us to better glorify Him. He assures us that He will send the Holy Spirt to illuminate our ways and to shield us from danger.   

Growing up in a fourth world environment, being educated in America, living and teaching in Liberty and worshipping and communing at Second Baptist Church makes Proverbs 3:5-6 come alive for me. God is indeed leading and guiding my way. Having experienced His presence through the Holy Spirit, I fault myself every time I spend time worrying about the insignificant road blocks that tempt my thoughts and actions. The Holy Spirit's presence provides everything needed plus much more.  

 Ask God to show you the roadblocks in your life and how to overcome them with God’s strength.

Posted by Terri Soper at Monday, October 6, 2014 | 0 comments
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Catalyst 2.0 Prayer Guide: The Dream of God by Jason Edwards

The Dream of God

by Jason Edwards

 Genesis 31:11:  The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ I answered, ‘Here I am.’   

I have this series of images running through my mind: 

  • Watching my son Jackson moving dirt alongside Blane Baker while on mission in South Dakota.
  • Being prompted in worship by the beaming faces and joy-filled voices of a 2BC children’s choir.  
  • Observing your enthusiasm while many of you have shared stories with me about how God has impacted you not only through worship, learning, and   service in the past two years, but by your sacrificial choices to give to God through our Catalyst plan. 
  • Learning about how Community Groups and Stephen Minsters have changed and strengthened the lives and the faith of specific people in our church.  
  • Seeing light bulbs of understanding coming on in the minds of friends across the generational spectrum as we learned from Diana Butler Bass at our all   church retreat. 
  • Listening to friends like Luke Zahnd and Cathy Baker name what God was teaching them as we served among marginalized people in Northern Thailand.     

This is only a snapshot of the images that parade through my mind as my eyes run across each line item in our Catalyst ministry plan. As your pastor, my access to your stories and experiences make it easy for each planned dollar to pop off the page as an expression of service, worship, growth, compassion or transformation. When I see the plan, I see lives encouraged, changed, supported, and served for Christ’s sake. My hope is that you will too. As you read through the stories in this book, may they inspire, challenge and encourage you. And may they serve as a reminder that at Second Baptist, a budget is never really about dollars and cents. It’s about the Dream of God, and how we plan to participate with it in real life, among real people, with real intentionality.   

How will you plan to participate in the dreams of God coming true in the days ahead? Will you use this book as a resource for your plans and prayers this month? 

Will you ask God today to help you notice every opportunity God is giving you to give your life to the good work of God in this world? 

Posted by Terri Soper at Saturday, October 4, 2014 | 0 comments
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