Understanding Love Through Reading from the Scripture

Perhaps the most common scripture that is read at a wedding is from 1 Corinthians 13. This is beautiful scripture that defines what is — and what is not — love and it is a favorite of Todd Shupe.

Todd Shupe, formerly of LSU, encourages you to read this passage and substitute your name for “love.” Our goal in life should be to achieve the characteristics that are described in this scripture. God is love and if we want to be closer to God, we must show His love to the world.

“13:1 through 13:3 are very close to my heart. I think far too often we focus on learning and understanding the Bible and doing good deeds to try to earn favor with God,” Todd Shupe said, adding, “the most important thing we can do once we have accepted the love of Christ is to show the love of Christ to others. This love starts with our spouse and family and works outward to the world in both word and deed.”

13:1 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
13:2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
13:3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
13:4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant.
13:5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
13:6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
13:7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
13:8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.
13:13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Love is also making time for those you love. Love is listening, not just hearing. Love is crying together and rejoicing together. Love is when two become one body and love each other as Christ loved His church. Todd Shupe, a retired LSU professor, encourages you to tell your loved ones that you love them and reinforce it with your actions.

Todd Shupe Shares His Thoughts on Marriage

At almost every marriage ceremony that Todd Shupe has attended, the words “What God has put together, let no man separate,” are often spoken by the pastor or person conducting the ceremony. Rings are also exchanged by the happy couple. The rings are essentially a circle which has no beginning or end and is therefore a symbol of infinity. It is endless and eternal — just the way love should be. The wedding ring is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand. This is because the vein in this finger was believed to lead directly to the wearer’s heart.

According to Todd Shupe, marriage is a holy sacrament and a three-way covenant between the husband, wife and God. However, the National Survey of Family Growth and PolitiFact.com estimated that the lifelong probability of a marriage ending in divorce is between 40 and 50 percent. A key factor that affects rates of divorce is the importance of religion to the couple. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:24-27 to build our house on the rock. Remember, your first responsibility is to love God, then your spouse and then your children. Not even your own children should come between a married couple.

Below are five steps for a healthy marriage.

1) Start with God: Both members of the couple should accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior and make Him their main priority. God is love and a loving marriage must include God. Remember, we follow God; God does not follow us.

2) Pray for and with each other: Todd Shupe encourages you to pray each day for God’s blessings to be poured out abundantly on your spouse. Pray for protection and wisdom for them. Pray that their words, actions and thoughts that day will bring glory to Him. Also, pray with your spouse; this shows each other that you want to seek His face and understand His will and are putting Him first. You will also learn the particular concerns of your spouse and this will help you to develop your prayers for your spouse in a more focused manner.

3) Husbands, honor your wives: Husbands should treat their wives with honor and respect. Treat your wife as you would want your mother, daughter or sister to be treated. Honor her with your words and actions. Loving words are nice, but loving actions mean more. You don’t need to buy expensive jewelry to accomplish this. You do need to study your wife and find out what she enjoys and try to provide it. The more she observes you trying to please her, the more she will want to please you. So, if you attend an opera show with her, she will be much more likely to attend a football game with you. Don’t push it; let the Holy Spirit work on her. According to Todd Shupe, a pertinent scripture in this regard is Ephesians 5:25. It reads, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

4) Become one body: Genesis tells us that a man will leave his parents to join his wife and become one body with her. This means that the two shall cease to have separate lives and have one life together. If your spouse is unhappy, then that means half of you is unhappy and you need to address it.

5) Forgiveness: Couples will always disagree and argue. However, it is essential that we are slow to anger and quick to forgive. If we do not forgive others for their sins, then how can we expect God to forgive us for our sins (Matthew 6:15). We all make mistakes and married couples will inevitably disappoint and anger each other, but we must offer each other grace and forgiveness. We may be hesitant to offer forgiveness for a “repeat offense,” but don’t we seek God’s forgiveness for our repeated sins? Todd Shupe believes that when you let go of bitterness and offer forgiveness, you are truly freeing yourself.

God clearly does not want man to live alone. He gave Adam a partner to live with him. In the same way, God will — or has — given you a partner. I encourage you to love, honor and forgive your spouse and make God the focal point of your marriage. May God richly bless you, your spouse and your marriage!

Todd Shupe Discusses Happiness

Our society has achieved a point of technological advancement that was unthinkable a mere 10-20 years ago.  In the Western world, we have freedoms of speech and access to clean drinking water that are unheard of in other countries that Todd Shupe has visited.   All of us, even those barely out of diapers, have smart phones.  However, most Americans are unhappy and seeking answers from pharmaceutical companies to the bottom of a beer bottle.  In my 47 years of life I have learned 5 keys to happiness.

 

  1. Read and BELIEVE God’s Promises

 

Reading the Bible is a great thing to do.  However, you must do your part.  James 1:22 reads “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”  The Bible is a road map to peace and joy.  Todd Shupe encourages you to pray each day to remove all that is bad from within me and replace it the light of Christ.

 

  1. Recognize the connection of mental, physical, and spiritual health

 

Great strides in mental health can be achieved by improving our physical health.  Todd Shupe says that his mental health improves after a walk in the woods or by a stream.  Nature has a great calming effect.  Our mental health can also be improved by focusing on our spiritual health.  Studies have shown that people that engage daily with the Word have a better spiritual life.  The Bible is a love book from God to us and full of his promises of forgiveness and desires for our happiness.

 

  1. Smile

 

Even if you don’t feel happy you can think of a happy memory and smile.  Smiling has a proven health benefit on your health and happiness.  Natural hormones that make us “feel good” are released when we smile.  Todd Shupe likes the old song “Smile and the whole world smiles back at you.”

 

  1. Surround Yourself With Positive People

 

Life is hard and we need positive people to yoke up with and support us.  Positive people will have a positive effect on you.  Eventually, they will be in need of support and it will be a blessing for you to support them.  If you are married, communicate with your spouse.  The two of you are one body.  If half of your body is unhappy, you are unhappy.

 

  1. Guard Your Brain

 

Focus on positive thoughts.  Negative thoughts drain our energy and lead to negatives thoughts and actions.  Proverbs 4:23 tells us “More than anything you guard, protect your mind, for life flows from it.”  Life represents happiness and joy that originate in our mind.  Negative thoughts of self doubt and worry are tools of Satan and should be rebuked in the name of Jesus.

 

Always remember that God loves you and walks with you every day.  Be blessed.

Todd Shupe on Finding Peace in Times of Adversity

According to Todd Shupe, we learn at a young age that there are two things certain in life – death and taxes.  I would add a third to that list:  adversity.  We all have experienced some form of adversity in our life from death of a family member, loss of a job, divorce, etc.  My first real experience with adversity was when I was 9 years old and my sister died in a car crash.  My Christian roots were shallow and so my coping skills ranged from very limited to non-existent.  I believed then that God caused my loss or at least was indifferent.

Todd Shupe attended church as a child and as an adult and had a distant relationship with Christ.  I did not read the Bible, pray, or support any of the ministries of my church.  Thirty one years later my father died and I began to hear a calling which I discerned was from God.  I attended the Walk to Emmaus after wandering this earth for 40 years.  The Walk is a three day spiritual retreat with talks by laity and clergy and lots of fun and fellowship.  I left that weekend on fire for Christ and with a strong desire to learn more about God through the Bible, small groups, and being the hands and feet of Christ.  I learned that Christ does not want His people to suffer.  The Psalmist writes in 149:4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory.   I am comforted that the creator of the universe takes pleasure in me and knows every detail about me but yet loves me anyway.

If you are dealing with adversity now, I encourage you to meditate on this scripture from Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and learn not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.”  Todd Shupe encourages you to call The Upper Room Living Prayer Center at (800)251-2468 (7:00 am – 11:00 pm CST) which is a 7-day a week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by Christian volunteers.

Remember God’s strength often begins when our strength ends.  Once we submit to God, His promises will come true.  My favorite promise is found in Jeremiah 29:11 “For surely I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   May God bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you and give you peace.

Four Ways To Turn Father’s Day Into A Celebration Of The Selfless Service Men Do Daily

While we’d rather see more than one day per year dedicated to recognizing the fathers in all our lives, we’ll take one and seize upon it for now.

With Father’s Day just around the corner, now’s the time to start planning the best ways to mark the occasion. From family outings to intimate sit-downs with like-minded family and friends, Father’s Day is a chance to show respect, appreciation and utmost gratitude for the sacrifices our fathers have made throughout their lives and ours to better our quality of living. Todd Shupe — a member of Gulf South Men, a Christian men’s organization — is a firm believer in Father’s Day. That’s because it can be used for purposes beyond a card in the mail or a nice dinner.  For more information on Gulf South Men, click here.

With that in mind, here are four ways to spend the upcoming holiday thanks to suggestions from the Charlotte, North Carolina-based arm of Band of Brothers. For more information on that organization, click here. For ways to turn this upcoming Sunday into a celebration of men everywhere, keep reading.

 

– Angels in the Outfield: What says “spring has arrived” more than an afternoon at a baseball game? If sports aren’t your thing but you still want to spend time outdoors with your family, Todd Shupe suggests a nature walk, day at the beach or visit to an animal sanctuary.

 

– Leading by Example: Reach out to your congregation and see if they will allow you to use the church for an educational seminar on the modern role of a father. Invite the community at large and be surprised at how much new information and insight into other’s lives that you’ll walk away with.

 

– Sunday Service: When it comes time to attend church on Father’s Day, those in the position to preach should take their role to heart and spread a message that will reach all men – not just fathers. Encourage a handful of men in the congregation to share stories of success through faith. You can also distribute a survey to men in attendance to get a better idea of issues they face today. That survey can then be used by your church’s leadership team to shape fall programming in hopes of reaching more with resonating messages. St. Andrews United Methodist in Baton Rouge, La., has an United Methodist Men Sunday that occurs on or near Father’s Day.  The service is lead by the men of the church and they select a special guest speaker to bring a powerful message of God’s love and grace.

– Rest and Relaxation: After church, head outdoors for a family picnic or to a site with recreational options for you and the family to consider. It’s both a team-building exercise and quality time well spent with loved ones.