Tuesday, August 30, 2016


As many of you know, we started the I Believe bible study series at our church and it covers the basic beliefs that all Christians should follow. Last week the lesson was on compassion and I wanted to write about the lesson and share an inspiring story a friend of mine experienced on the subject just last week.

The verse for this week was: “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.”- Palms 82:3-4.  The lesson first went over God’s compassion on the Jews throughout their history.  Using Nehemiah 9:1-38 it showed how they rebelled and sinned against God, but each time they repented and cried out for help, He forgave them of their sins over and over again. 

Then we looked at Deuteronomy 24:17-22 & 25:5-10 where Moses gave the law about leaving some of the grain, olives and grapes for the poor to harvest, as well as not taking the items poor people put up as collateral for a loan and paying workers what was due them each day. All of these were the way those who had money helped the poor and needy. It also looked at James 1:19-2:13 where he taught against treating the rich different from the poor and how the church was giving the best seats to the rich. 

There were also a few questions to get us thinking about how to apply these lessons to our everyday lives and we had some good discussion on these points, but this question made us think the most: What hinders you from showing compassion to those in need? We listed the following:

1.    We are too busy and don’t have enough time to stop and help others.
2.    We are in debt too much and don’t have any extra money to help all the causes we would like to.
3.    We don’t trust God to take care of our needs if we give help to someone else.
4.    People make the same mistake over and over and we lose patience with them.
5.    We think that some folks are just scamming the system and don’t really need help.
6.    We think there are government programs that we already pay for that could help them.

These are the ones we identified that cause us to not help those in need as often as we should.  The lesson pointed out that we should trust God to provide for us. It also pointed out that changing our priorities and how we use our time is important. Most of us agreed that we watch too much TV (NFL Network for me). The other big point that really hit home was not spending all our money and being in debt.  Our debts and spending on our comforts can really limit our ability to help those who are hurting. We think we are poor, but 1/3 of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day.  That’s only $730 a year, which makes even a low $20,000 a year job in America look like a millionaire to most of the world!     

My friend Scott called me Friday with a wonderful testimony of God working in his life, and when I shared it with my class they were inspired.  Scott went to the Ferguson Christian Church for a special prayer service and fellowship supper on the two year anniversary of the riots. When he walked in, he noticed a man sitting by himself who looked very sad.  The guy was kind of dirty, disheveled and looked needy. Despite his appearance, Scott decided to go sit by him and start a conversation.

Scott said the man seemed a bit confused as he told him things were really bad for him.  He had come to the service for the free meal because he was out of money.  The day before he had been informed by the court that he would have to start paying 1.5 years of back child support for his grown children.  He has a very low paying job and the child support would take most of the money from his check leaving him no money for bus fare to get to work. He was afraid he might have to quit and this left him distraught.   

As Scott was praying for the community, he also prayed for this man’s problems and felt the Lord lay on his heart to help him.  He had a feeling that $300 is what he should give him. Now Scott is a kind-hearted person, but he is very tight with money and he doesn’t just give it away willy-nilly.  He went to Pastor Kingston Arthur and told him about the man and asked the preacher to check out his story and see if it was true. Scott said he felt led to help the man and asked the preacher to let him know once he checked things out, but never told the preacher an amount.

The preacher called this week and gave Scott a rundown of all the man’s bills.
- $78 for the bus pass
- $138.26 for the child support ($69.23 x 2 weeks)
- $80 for two weeks rent

That came to $296.46. When Scott informed him that the Lord had laid $300 on his heart, they both felt the Lord was at work. The preacher said, “God is good! I definitely think the number $300 was divinely laid on your heart. Are you okay if I share this with others? I find it to be a powerful testimony.”
Scott told him that would be fine and he was sending the $300 right away.

There are several things worth noting in this testimony:
1.    Scott saw someone who was hurting and despite his appearance took the time to talk with him.  He showed he cared and learned about a need.
2.    Scott took time to pray about that need and when prompted by the Holy Spirit to give his money away, he obeyed.
3.    He talked with the preacher and investigated to make sure the help would go where needed.
4.    Scott is a saver with low debt and was able to answer the call to give $300 away.
5.    He didn’t focus on how this man had caused some of his own problems.
6.    He didn’t just let the government or church help the man.
7.    Not that it matters, but in this time of difficult race relations, I think it is good to mention this gentleman was black. So there is still a lot of good going on between blacks and whites that never is reported in the news.

I thought his story perfectly reinforced Palms 82:3-4 and the points in our lesson.  Scott took the time away from his busy work schedule to attend a church event. Then he went out of his comfort zone to talk with a stranger he could tell was hurting. He prayed about a need for someone else and even though he is on a tight budget he did what the Lord led him to do.

Too often I don’t take the time to talk with those less fortunate than myself. I’m willing to pray for others, but when it comes to giving $300 out of my monthly budget that is hard.  $30 or even $50 I could easily swing, but $300 would be rough. How many of us would trust God enough to give away $300 to a stranger who was behind on child support?   

Our lesson defined compassion as “suffering with” someone, and I think that is exactly what Scott did.
The lesson also made four statements about what we believe.

·         I believe God calls me to be involved in the lives of the poor and suffering.
·         I believe I am responsible before God to show compassion to the sick and imprisoned.
·         I believe I should stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
·         I believe that Christians should NOT purchase everything they can afford, so that their discretionary money might be available to help those in need.

I checked that I believed all of those. The lesson pointed out that saying you believe it, but not doing it, shows you really don’t believe it.  The true test is if you follow through with actions. So can you say your actions show you believe all four of those?  We decided the last one was the hardest.

God Bless,

  ***Bonus story about not letting mistrust keep you from helping others***

Dad’s Generosity

I learned a very important lesson from Dad when we lived in Charleston. A man stopped by the church and told Dad that his wife had cancer and that he had no money and needed help to pay her hospital bills. Dad couldn’t give him the church’s money without talking to the deacons but since this man was just passing through and couldn’t stay, Dad prayed with him and gave him some of his personal money.

A few days later, after talking with other community leaders, we found out that this man had stopped at all of the churches with the same story. Sadly, it was all a lie. He didn’t have a sick wife and was only scamming folks out of money. Dad was not the only one to give him money, but I will always remember everyone making fun of Dad for giving the guy money and not getting his contact information or even his license plate number in exchange.

Dad never cared about money, but he admitted he should have checked into the man more. I will never forget what Dad said: “We are not responsible for what people do with the money we give them. That’s between them and God. We are supposed to be generous and help others, and God will take care of the rest.” I have tried to remember that lesson when I see people who need help. Many times I think they are just lazy, or drunk, or scamming people, and I don’t want to help them. But then I think of Dad and how he helped that guy.  Who knows what his real problem was, and who knows if Dad’s kindness had an effect on him or brought him to the Lord.

Many times, we don’t help people because we judge that they don’t need the help. We should be wise in our giving, but we should also understand that while we may occasionally give help to undeserving people, we want to make sure we don’t withhold help from those who truly do need it. I hope I can be as generous and giving as Dad was. I know I try.

Thursday, June 30, 2016


How important is it to know what you believe and why it matters? At Sweet Prospect General Baptist Church we are beginning the BELIEVE Sundayschool study, which is an innovative Bible-reading experience that will guide families on how to “live” out the teachings of the Bible. It focuses on 10 key beliefs, 10 practices and 10 virtues of the Christian faith, which will guide you to think, act and be more like Jesus. “Too many Christians attend church every Sunday, but don’t really know why they believe what they do about Christianity. This affects their actions, damages their witness and limits the true joy of being a Christian,” said Pastor Ray Rowland.  

The best thing about the BELIEVE study is its grounded in the Bible and offers a unique discipleship experience that will help Christians of all ages become more like Jesus in their beliefs, actions, and character. This series illuminates the core beliefs of the Christian faith to help you think, act, and be more like Christ. The three sections will challenge you to ask yourself. What Do I Believe? What Should I Do? Who Am I Becoming?

Another wonderful aspect to this study is how the lessons are written for all age groups. The BELIEVE experience includes books of carefully selected Scripture for adults, students, and kids; a companion book for discipleship and growth; a storybook and a coloring book for children; and curriculum for every age group. Each Sunday the adults, teenagers, kids and even preschools will be going over the same 10 key beliefs, 10 key practices, and 10 key virtues of a Christian, so our whole church can learn to be more like Jesus together. Adult Sunday school member Mary Boyer added, “I love the fact that each week my kids will be studying the same key belief that we went over in the adult’s class and then the sermon will be on that same topic allowing me to go home and discuss how we are living out that week’s lesson.”

The first 10 lessons will make you think by asking, “What do I believe?” What you believe drives everything. The way you behave, the habits you form, the character that defines you – all are driven by your beliefs. The way we know we truly believe something is when it affects our actions. It’s not enough to believe something as the right answer; that belief must become a way of life. The BELIEVE study not only helps you understand the key beliefs of Christianity, but also allows you to explain why you believe them.  Once we really know why we believe what we do, it can create true change in our individual lives, in the church, and in the world.

Here are 5 of the 10 key belief questions the study explores:

·         Who is God?
·         Does God care about me?
·         How do I have a relationship with God?
·         How do I know God’s will for my life?
·         What is God’s call on my life?

At first glance these seem like easy questions, but can you answer them? What if someone asked you to explain these beliefs to them?  What would you say? How would you prove you’re right? This study will give everyone a chance to think about the most important things in life and explore what the Bible has to say about these central truths.

The next 10 lessons will cause you to ponder, “What should I do?” Understanding what you believe is just the beginning. To become like Jesus, your beliefs need to not only inform you, but also transform you. It is the practice of reaching up to God and out to others that drive beliefs from your head…to your heart. The BELIEVE study will teach you the life-giving spiritual disciplines that will lead you in fulfilling your mission to love God and love your neighbor.
Here are 5 of the 10 key act questions the study explores:

·         How do I honor God in the way that He deserves?
·         How do I study God’s Word?
·         How do I keep my focus on Jesus amidst distractions?
·         How do I develop healthy relationships with others?
·         How do I best use my time to serve God and others?

These are questions, or should we say actions that all Christians struggle with, but too often we don’t get an answer so we give up and just go through the motions of being a Christian.  These lessons will give you and your family not only a chance to learn from each other, but to also encourage one another in doing what Christ teaches.  “Hearing how others have overcome life’s struggles is so encouraging to me. Sunday school is exciting because each week I learn something new and am uplifted to hear how God is working in all our lives,” remarked adult Sunday school teacher Rod Jetton.    

The last 10 lessons will help you explore, “Who am I becoming?” Jesus wants us to bear fruit that glorifies God and brings great joy to us and to others. For this to happen, we must remain in Christ. And the longer we remain in community with Christ, the more spiritual fruit, or virtues, we will produce. The BELIEVE study illuminates the virtues – the outward life changes in us – that are formed by the 10 beliefs and cemented through the 10 practices. It is a grand cycle that shapes us into the image of Christ more and more every day.

Here are 5 of the 10 key become questions the study explores:

·         What gives us true happiness and contentment in our lives?
·         Where do I find strength to battle anxiety and fear?
·         How does God free me from addictions and sinful habits?
·         How do I deal with the struggles and hardships of life?
·         What does it mean to do the right thing? How do I know?

These are the types of questions everyone has to deal with at some point in life. When an unbelieving co-worker or friend is struggling in life and turns to us for help, we need to be ready to offer assistance and advice based on what Jesus taught. Can you plainly answer these questions today? What can you tell others to help them through difficult times? Are you living the Christian life described in the Bible? 

We want to invite anyone who is desiring to find more meaning in life to attend Sunday school and morning worship services. Sweet Prospect is at 1201 E. Elk St. across from the Tyson plant and Sunday school starts at 9:45 with morning worship following at 11:00. This will be a wonderful opportunity to study and reflect on what you believe about the important things in life.  For more information email sweetprospectgbc@gmail.com or call (573) 624-2036.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Voice of the Martyrs 6-Week “i am ن” Study

Learn about the true stories of persecution taking place in the Middle East today.

DEXTER, MO- Sunday April 17th Sweet ProspectGeneral Baptist Church will be starting the i am n” study about the persecuted Christians in northern Iraq. Radical Muslims (ISIS) are spray-painting the Arabic letter ن, or “N,” on the homes and businesses of Christians. This publicly identifies the property owners as Christ-followers and soon after the persecution begins.

This 6 week study put together by Voice of the Martyrs and David Cook publishing explores the true stories of Christians who have been persecuted by the radical Muslims (ISIS.)  These Christ-followers are given a choice; convert to Islam, leave or die. We will see how these courageous believers refused to deny their faith, and more than 100,000 fled with little more than the clothes on their backs. These 6 weeks will inspire participants to grow deeper in their relationship with Christ and witness with boldness and joy to their friends, family and co-workers.

These lessons will challenge us to examine our own lives in light of the stories of persecuted Christians.  Each classes will include a scripture, short video, Bible study and response questions focused on the themes of — forgiveness, sacrifice, faithfulness, joy, perseverance and courage.  There is also a companion book with 50 true stories of Christians facing Islamic extremists that are organized into 6 chapters reinforcing the 6 themes that participants will read prior to each week’s class. 

The engaging video curriculum presents true stories of Christians facing Islamic extremists around the world. Each 15-minute video includes interviews with persecuted Christians as well as commentary and teaching by leaders from The Voice of the Martyrs and other leading missions

Have you ever considered the cost of flowing Jesus? Do you ever pray for the persecuted around the world? Have you ever wondered how you would respond if you faced direct persecution as these Christians do? This study will assure you that you do have everything you need to respond well. If you have Christ, you have everything you need.

The goal of this study is not to elicit pity for persecuted Jesus followers in hostile Muslim countries. Nor is it intended to stimulate any hatred for Muslims. The goal is to share the stories of persecuted Christians so you will stand with them, care for them, encourage them and pray for them. The key scripture for the study is, “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” Hebrews 13:3.     

Class leader Rodney Jetton added, “The i am n study reminds us that wherever we live, we are the brothers and sisters of those who are persecuted. So come meet them and their families. Read their stories. Learn from them, pray for them and deepen your faith in a God who gives us the courage to love even our persecutors.” The meetings will start at 9:45 a.m. at Sweet Prospect General Baptist Church located at 1201 Elk Street in Dexter, Missouri across from the Tyson plant.  For more information call or email class leader Rodney Jetton at rodjetton@gmail.com or 573-225-4444.

The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) is a nonprofit interdenominational missions organization seeking to awaken the West to the persecution faced by our Christian brothers and sisters and to provide ways to stand with them. Our fellowship with persecuted Christians is two-fold: 1) helping with practical needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical and legal assistance, and 2) serving with the persecuted as they advance God’s kingdom by providing them with Bibles, ministry tools, and support for pastors and lay workers. The Voice of the Martyrs works in more than 60 nations where Christians face hostility and systematic persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Founded in 1967, VOM is dedicated to inspiring all believers to deepen their commitment to Christ and to fulfill his Great Commission no matter what the cost.