The Holy Covenant of Marriage – Part 4: Divorce

The Holy Covenant of Marriage – Part 4: Divorce

And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9 NIV). 

 

If marriage is a Godly uniting of a couple together, then divorce is a secular process to separate what God has united.  The separation is not done with surgical precision and results in a “tearing apart.”   The result is ugly and does not honor God.

It is well known that approximately half of all first marriages end in divorce, and the divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher. I think this is because most marriages involve people that do not understand the Holy covenant nature of their marriage. People cannot put into practice that which they do not understand. If couples did understand the marriage covenant, then they would realize that they should not place each other as number one in their life.  Also, the children should not be number one or even number two.  In a covenant marriage, God is always welcome, always present, and both parties are always seeking His face and place Him above all else.  They place each other as second.  Finally, any children are then third.  Of course, situations will arise in which the children need to become a higher priority, but this should be the exception and not the norm or the marriage will be harmed. 

The Bible makes it very clear that the responsibility of leadership in marriage falls squarely on the husband’s shoulders. 1 Corinthians 11:3 teaches,

 “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.”

If God has created the marriage, then the couple can claim the promise of Romans 8:31. “If God is for us, then who can be against us?”  I think we can insert the word “what” in place of “who” in Romans 8:31 for an even broader understanding of the unlimited power and providence of our God.

Sadly, approximately half of all first marriages and a higher percentage of subsequent marriages end in divorce. God clearly grieves the Heart of God.  The Word teaches in Malachi 2:16, “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty.”

The Bible only explicitly allows divorce for two reasons. Jesus specifically allowed divorce for infidelity. “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9).  Adultery is forbidden by the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 13:4. “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4).  In such a case, however, divorce is not mandated or even encouraged.  The Christian spouse should always strive toward forgiveness and reconciliation should be extended and pursued if possible. But divorce is allowed, especially in cases where the sinning spouse persists in an adulterous relationship.

“Paul adds a second exception, in instances where an unbelieving spouse abandons the marriage. This would typically be the case when one of the two partners is converted to Christ at some point after marrying and the other person refuses to continue in the marriage. “For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. Yet if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace” (1 Corinthians 7:14-15).

The idea for a couple to become married should be Divinely initiated by God and affirmed by the couple before they proceed with any wedding planning.  If God did not bless the wedding at the beginning and the Holy Spirit was not welcome during the marriage, then the marriage will likely end in divorce because neither party truly understood the Holy covenant nature of the marriage. 

Prayer:  Dear God, We know that your heart grieves each time a marriage covenant ends in divorce.  Help us to live out our wedding vows and to love our wives as You love us.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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The Holy Covenant of Marriage Part 3: Submission and Leadership

The Holy Covenant of Marriage Part 3: Submission and Leadership

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:24 NIV). 

Perhaps no other Scripture is more misunderstood than the concept of submission in marriage.  Although there is much Scripture regarding marital roles, perhaps none is cited more than Ephesians 5.  It should be noted that the first directive for submission is for general submission to each other.  “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).  This submission is in deference to the ultimate leadership of the husband for the health and harmonious working of the marriage relationship.

One of the more highly debated verses, which occurs later in Ephesians 5. concerns the role of a Christian wife. “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:24).  This Scripture is troubling to many wives and needs further explanation.  Since the best method to understand Scripture is other Scripture, we see that the concept of submission from Ephesians 5:24 is supported in Colossians 3:18-19Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”  This idea is further reinforced in 1 Peter 3:1. “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.”

These Scriptures are often misinterpreted to mean that women are viewed as second-class citizens. However, this is not true.  Scripture states that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 5:23). A good husband loves his wife unconditionally and is a servant leader just like Christ. 

The submission of wives is not like the obedience children owe parents (Ephesians 6:1), nor does this text command all women to submit to all men (only to your own husbands, not to all husbands!). Both genders are equally created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–28) and joint heirs of eternal life (Galatians 3:28–29). Both genders should be equally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14) in their Christian walk with Jesus.

The husband and wife are equal partners but charged with different areas of responsibility.  The husband is asked to love his wife and the wife is asked to respect her husband.  The final directive of Ephesians 5 details the different requirements of the couple.

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband (Ephesians 5:33, emphasis added).”   Remember, both are equally called to submit to each other so therefore both are effectively called to love and respect the other.

Equality is an important concept to understand as we probe into marital roles. The equality of the husband and wife is similar to that of God and Jesus.  The Son told us He had equal authority as the Father.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me (Matthew 28:18).

Here, He is proclaiming His divinity and equality to the Father in this Scripture.  At Calvary, Jesus, while still being equally yoked to the Father, showed His submission to the Father by stating, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Matthew 26:39, emphasis added).  Not only did He die in submission, but He lived and ministered in submission.  “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me” (John 6:38).  Jesus taught that prayer is a form of submission to the Father.  When Jesus gave the disciples the Lord’s prayer, He taught them to pray for God’s sovereign rule (not His rule) by speaking,  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, emphasis added).

It is important to note that the focus in these verses is on Christ because husbands do not “sanctify” their wives or “wash” them of their sins, though they are to do all in their power to promote their wives’ holiness.

The leadership of the husband is defined by Paul not as demanding his rights but rather as laying down his life for the good of his wife (Ephesians 5:25).

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Jesus walked this earth as a servant leader and gave His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45) Jesus is also the head of the church.  Men, your primary church is your family, and you serve as a priest for that family. The right next step after reading this is to joyfully and readily serve, honor, and cherish your wife. 

Sacrificial action is an integral part of the husband’s role as the head of the home. Again, Christ is a wonderful example of this. He demonstrated servant leadership by washing his disciple’s feet. In marriage, being a servant leader means ensuring that the wife’s material, emotional and spiritual needs are met. 

Let me leave you with one final thought.  Men, are you giving mercy and forgiveness to your wife as freely as God has given it to you?  If not, now is the time to start.

Prayer:  Dear God, May we focus our attention on submitting ourselves to You rather than the submission of our wives to ourselves.  Amen.

 

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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The Holy Covenant of Marriage Part 2: Marriage as a Holy Covenant

The Holy Covenant of Marriage – Part 2: Marriage as a Holy Covenant

For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31 NIV).

From the very beginning, it was clear that God did not intend for man to be without a partner.  The man, Adam, was made first and then God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).  So, the Biblical roles of husband and wife were divinely created in the Garden of Eden.  Subsequent Scripture provides further guidance for marital roles and expectations (Ephesians 5:22-27, Matthew 19:4-6, Colossians 3:18, 1 Peter 3:7, Hebrews 13:4, Isaiah 62:5, 1 Corinthians 7:2–5).

One of the essential pillars of marriage is the concept of “one flesh.”  Scripture teaches us in Ephesians 5:31, “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”  The concept of “one flesh” refers to a new Christ-centered life for each spouse that is Divinely, eternally, and intimately connected to each other and God.  This concept of “new life” is addressed in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here (emphasis added).”  This concept of “new life” is supernatural and is just as hard for us to understand today as it was when Nicodemus visited Jesus at night and was taught a similar lesson regarding new life (John 3:1-21). 

Your church and/or denomination may not recognize marriage as a sacrament, and we can debate if marriage is a sacrament, but there is no doubt that it is most certainly a Holy covenant between husband, wife, and God.  A marriage ceremony is beautiful because it symbolizes new life of two people that are joining their lives together in the presence of God, family, and friends.  The purpose of marriage has been long debated.  Some would argue that it is to provide the husband with “a helper” (Genesis 2:18).”  Others believe it is for both parties to share love and create a family.  I believe the purpose of marriage is for the couple to glorify God in everything they say, do, and dream, and to be living witnesses of sacrificial love, grace, mercy, and justice to everyone, particularly to each other and, if they are so blessed with children, to their children.

Near the end of a traditional marriage ceremony, we often hear the phrase, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” This phrase, drawn from the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:6, reminds us that marriage is a covenant created by God. 

‘Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate’” (Matthew 19:4-6 NIV).

Men, as the Spiritual leader of the house and in accordance with Ephesians 5:22-27 and 1 Corinthians 11:3, you are entrusted with the health and harmonious workings of the marriage. In short, if the marriage fails, you have failed.  You have been given much (authority), so you also have even greater expectations (responsibility).  “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48). Full disclosure:  I was divorced in 2017 after 20 years of marriage.  I did not file for divorce, but I own the fact that I failed but am grateful for the grace and redemption that I have through the blood of the Son. 

You are also responsible for the spiritual health of your wife.  Once again, we return to Ephesians 5 for guidance.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27).

The phrase “washing with the Word” is important to our understanding of this Scripture because it indicates the proper role of Scripture in the marriage.  Only through the supernatural power of the Word can the wife be presented to the husband as “holy and blameless.”  Ritual bathing as a means of spiritual purification (Leviticus 14:8-9, 15:18, 15:5-6) was an important spiritual practice for Jews at the time the Apostle Paul wrote this Scripture. 

I believe that if we understand and commit to a covenant marriage, we are joining our hearts together in a supernatural way that only God can orchestrate.  If God created the marriage, then only God should end the marriage so the words “to death do us part” is only true in the physical sense because the marital bond will last for eternity, regardless if one party has been healed into the Church Triumphant.  If God has dominion over death, then death certainly does not have dominion over marriage.  If God has created the marriage, then the couple can claim the promise of Romans 8:31. “If God is for us, then who can be against us?”  I think we can insert the word “what” in place of “who” in Romans 8:31 for an even broader understanding of the unlimited power and providence of our God.

If you are married or engaged, there are a few questions you may want to think about and discuss with your partner.  Do you and your wife or fiancé have the same understanding of marriage?  Are you both praying for yourself and each other?  Do you spend time in Scripture each day?  What role does God play in your marriage?

Prayer:  Dear God:  Thank you for providing us with a helper that is fearfully and wonderfully made.  Help us to understand that each marriage is a Holy covenant with our wife and you.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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The Holy Covenant of Marriage – Part 1: Instructions For Men

The Holy Covenant of Marriage Part 1: Instructions For Men

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7 NIV).

I have been asked a few times over the years to share my thoughts about marriage.  I have prayerfully organized my thoughts into four blogs.  My target audience is men.  Hopefully any man regardless of his current marital status will find these blogs useful at best or thought provoking at worst.    If you find the blogs helpful, then that indicates that God was at work, and He deserves your thanks, not me.  

Living together as a husband and wife is so much more than residing at the same address, eating at the same table, sleeping in the same bed, having the same checking account, sharing the same insurance policies, and maintaining the same house.  None of these tasks guarantee intimacy.     An intimate relationship is guaranteed when you commit yourself to a life lived in Christ and for Christ and when you treasure, respect, and cherish your union with your wife more than any other relationship (except for your relationship with God) or any other thing (e.g., job, hobby, or possession).

A healthy marriage is contingent upon you choosing to lead by example.  You show Biblical leadership when you prioritize your wife as the most important person in your life behind God.  Listen to your wife.  You show respect by listening.  You affirm her feelings by listening.  You establish and grow trust by partnering with her to work out her fears and achieve her goals.  I think we would have fewer divorces and happier marriages if more husbands focused on the Biblical command to respect their wives rather than demanding their submission.

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7).

Intimacy with your wife is so vitally important to a healthy marriage.  You must be committed to maintaining this intimacy and understand that to do so you need to be intentional in helping your wife with her struggles, fears, goals, and pain and accept that some of these issues may have started before you ever met.

During the dating period we want to get to know our partner.  Getting to know your spouse is a lifelong journey and dating after marriage will help you get to know your wife on a much deeper basis than her favorite actress or restaurant.  Always remember that there is no relationship with another human that is more important than your relationship with your wife.  God first, wife second.   

Prayer:  Dear God, Your Word teaches that You sit as a refiner of siler.  Refine us, dear God, and burn away all impurities which separate us from You.  Help us to be men after your own heart.  Help us to love our wife as Christ loved His Church.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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The Darkness Of Spiritual Blindness

The Darkness Of Spiritual Blindness

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11 NIV).

One of the worst things we can say to another person is to call them a liar.  The words sting because they are often perceived as an attack on the character of the accused.  Yes, the words are often hurtful, but they are always true.  Men, each one of us has at one time fallen short of honesty.   Sin entered the world through the lying words of the serpent, and it continues to be pervasive in this now fallen world.

Our natural tendency is to lie to ourselves.  We do this by believing our feelings, which are not always accurate. We believe our thoughts, but they may not be true.  When thoughts and feelings are not true, then who do you think is the author?  Scripture teaches us that our heart is not to be trusted.  “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).  I think we give credibility to certain thoughts and feelings due to our spiritual “blind spots,” which are attitudes or insecurities which we either cannot or will not see.

We all have spiritual blindness which is a spiritual problem.  The first step with any problem is to take it to God in prayer. I am reminded of the story of the blind beggar Bartimaeus who sits by the roadside and calls out (prays) in faith to Jesus to heal him of physical blindness (Mark 10:46-52).

To better see our spiritual blind spots, we should ask for clarity from the One who knows all and sees all.  I love the prayer: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.   See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

(Psalm 139:23-24).  This Scripture is so important because it is teaching us to invite God into our hearts to reveal to us anything that is unclean, which only serves to limit our relationship with Him.

The Psalmist wisely, beautifully, and repeatedly asks God to teach him His ways (Psalm 25:4-5, 86:11, 119:33). The Psalmist is putting into action the teaching of Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

After you’ve asked God for clarity, ask some trusted Christian friends or family for help. Proverbs 12:15 teaches, “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.”  If you think you do not need help and advice from Christian friends, then that in itself is a blind spot and self-deception.   God can speak to you through your friends.  Pray for their tongues and your own ears.

Then, ask the One to change you that can truly change you.  Jesus identified himself as “truth.”  “I am . . . the truth” (John 14:6) and told us, “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). The closer we are to Jesus, the more your life will be filled with truth and freedom. One fruit of this intimacy is we will be less vulnerable to negative thought and feelings as we walk in the light of God’s truth. God’s truth helps us to understand in our minds and believe in our hearts who we are and Whose we are.

Jesus said in John 9:39, “I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”  Those who admit their need for His grace and favor, are those who will be granted true and eternal sight.  Bartimaeus asked in faith for sight and our Lord honored that petition due to his faith.  However, Scripture warns us about our perils of our tendency to be “stiff-necked,” which means obstinate and difficult to lead.  (Exodus 33:3; Deuteronomy 9:13; Nehemiah 9:16; Acts 7:51).   Some may have great knowledge about Christ (John 5:39-40), but they are already dead and will not find the “narrow gate” (Matthew 7:13-14) because they never knew Him (Matthew 7:21-23).

If you do not know Christ, then invite Him into your heart today.  If you do know Christ but are struggling with negative thoughts and feelings, follow the three- step plan above and yoke up with other members of the Body of Christ.  He is worthy, and YOU are precious in His sight.

Prayer: “I  will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise Your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise You and extol Your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom” (Psalm 145:1-3 NIV).

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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  • Evangelism Begins With Discernment


    Evangelism Begins With Discernment

    Evangelism Begins With Discernment
    “Calling the Twelve to Him, He began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits”  (Mark 6:7 NIV)
    Evangelism is typically defined as the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness.  Many Christians are uncomfortable with active engagement in evangelism because they do not consider themselves a preacher and are too timid to engage in personal witness. The gift of evangelism is directly from Christ:  “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and teachers.”  (Ephesians 4:11).You may not be called to pastoral ministry…
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  • Is Your Burden Too Heavy?


    Is Your Burden Too Heavy?

    Is Your Burden Too Heavy?
    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.   For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”  (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).Many of us carry heavy burdens due to a wide variety of physical, mental, and spiritual reasons.  The burden can cause us to ache at the deepest level, our soul.   At this point two conclusions can be drawn: (1) the burden is not from God…
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  • Doubting Your Doubts


    Carve Out Space For Quiet Time To Ask God And Await An Answer

    Doubting Your Doubts
    “The world’s sin is unbelief in me” (John 16:9 TLB).I have always been more interested in the root cause of a problem rather than dealing with the results of the problem.  As Christians we talk a lot about sin, particularly the separation of the sinner from God and the forgiveness of sin due to the blood of Jesus for those that repent and earnestly seek His face.However, I wonder if we truly understand the basis behind our sin.  Some would argue that the root cause is a desire to live in the flesh, pursue our own desires rather…
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Where Do You Look For Help?

Where Do You Look For Help?

I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2 NIV).

All members of the Body of Christ are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) and each of u have unique gifts that serve to build up the Body.   Nobody can really live alone.  We all need assistance in some form.     

In times of need, we are faced with a great question – where do we turn for help?  The answer will reveal who we trust.  The Psalmist modeled the proper response for us by writing, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).

In Louisiana, the first step to make recipes is to make a roux.  There is also a right first step when dealing with a problem – take it to God.  The second step is to wait for His response.  For me, that often means time in Scripture, prayer, and talking with Christian friends and knowing that God might use them to speak truth in love to me.  I try to be intentional and pray blessings on my friends and a personal prayer for myself for ears to hear the often “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12).

By the way, for a reminder regarding the blessing of praying for your friends, go read the book of Job and pay particular attention to Chapter 42.  “After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10).

Golly, how we tend to go everywhere else for help. Maybe to the bar, to the counselor, to the self-help book, or to the friend next door.  Now, it is very important to understand that God can use anything in this fallen world to provide us with help.  He very well might send us to see a friend for help, but it is so important that we do not assume we know His plan and deny ourselves the worship opportunity that is always present through prayer.  Remember this – God is God and we are not. 

How did Jesus respond when He was on the cross and in need of help?  Did he ask for help from the crowd, His disciples, or His mother?  The first one to hear His fear was His Father in heaven.  Jesus said, “Father, if you are willing, take away this cup of suffering” (Luke 22:42).

Much earlier in Biblical times, David was urging the fearful as he penned the well-known 23rd Psalm.  “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).  David knew that he needed help, and he also knew exactly where to find it.  He linked fear with faith and kept his focus on the blessed assurance that only comes from the Hand of the Father.  How blessed would we be if we would simply go and do the same?

 

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the Holy Spirit, our Paraclete, that comes along side of us to comfort and counsel.  Forgive us for failing to go to You first for help.  Forgive us for taking our plans to you and asking for Your blessing.  Create in us a clean heart and a right spirit that seeks unity with You and Your children.  We love you and need you.  Amen.   

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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  • Open My Eyes


    Open My Eyes

    Open My Eyes
    “When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:30-32 NIV).The title of this blog makes me recall the two men walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus.  After walking and talking with Him all day, they did not know they were with…
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  • Run, Don’t Walk!


    Run, Don’t Walk!

    Run, Don’t Walk!
    “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV).
    As a child, I reminder being told to walk and not to run.  Today, many of us use the expression, “I am going to run to the store.”  In fact, we are going to get in our car and drive to the store and then walk in to shop.  I see many more walkers than runners in my neighborhood.   I prefer to walk than to run but sometimes in life we need to run.  Running is great for exercise,…
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  • You Got Questions? So Does God!


    You Got Questions? So Does God!

    You Got Questions? So Does God!
    “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9).We all have questioned God when adversity or disappointment occurs.   I suspect we all excel at clearly telling God what we want.   How many times have you questioned God?  When will I get promoted?  Why did my good friend die?  Where am I going to live when I can no longer care for myself?  What does God want from me?   Who am I? A teacher encourages their students to learn.  Of the 90 times Jesus was directly addressed in the gospels, on 60 occasions He was addressed as “Teacher.” …
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The Precious Gift of Time

The Precious Gift of Time

“Use your time in the best way you can” (Colossians 4:5 ICB). 

I recently had a nice visit with a young man at my church.  He told me that he was about to graduate high school and study engineering in college so he could “make a lot of money.”  I told him there is nothing wrong with making a lot of money.  I reminded him that the founder of the Methodist church, John Wesley, had a profound statement in this regard.  Wesley stated, “Having, first, gained all you can, and, secondly saved all you can, then give all you can.”

Clearly, Wesley was teaching that money should be used wisely and ultimately as a tool, along with our time and talents, to help build up the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12).  However, I think there is deeper component to Wesley’s quote which is related to the goal of my young friend.  Money is not our greatest resource.  We can always make more money. 

Time is our greatest resource.  Colossians 4:5 says, “Use your time in the best way you can.”  Time is our most precious resource.  It’s far more important and precious than money. We can get more money, but we can’t get more time.  In the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18), the king demanded payment from a servant that owed him a substantial amount of money.  The servant asked for the gift of more time.  Do people on their death bed ask for more time or money? 

Our Lord and Savior had much to say, and model, about time.  Jesus was mission minded.  I am drawn to His words to His mother at the wedding festival in Cana. “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4).  Matthew 10:14 further supports the idea that our time is precious.  “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”  As Christians we are called into ministry, but we are not called to waste our time. 

Jesus used His time to prepare Himself and all of us for eternity.  We would be wise to use our time with the understanding that all which can be seen is temporary and is only useful in preparing us for eternity. 

The parable of the talents is widely interpreted as encouragement for wise investment of our resources.  Do we have a greater resource than our time?  The reward in heaven will surely be great for those that have wisely used their time on earth!

The Bible teaches how we should use our time: “My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:24).   Your work, and mine, is the Great Commission.  We each have a unique role to play which can be discerned through study, prayer, and talking with your pastor. 

I have long felt that nothing brings more joy to the enemy than to see people with great potential for ministry wasting their time on tasks that have little or no impact on the Kingdom.  The right next step for all of us is to look at how we spend our time and then ask, “What is the impact of my activities in terms of bringing others to eternal life?  Then, join me to use our answers to prayerfully refocus our time.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the precious gift of time.  Help us to discern Your will for our time and to boldly partner with you in ministry to live a life in You, through You, and for You.  Then, may we so blessed as to hear the words, “well done good and faithful servant” upon seeing Your face at the time of our healing.  Amen. 

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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  • Men, What Do You Crave?



    Men, What Do You Crave?
    “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2 NIV).
    We all have cravings.  A craving is a deep desire that implies something stronger than a mere want or desire.  Life is full of temptations and urgent problems which all serve as distractions from our spiritual cravings.  So, how can we be expected to sustain a spiritual appetite?  Below are five steps to consider.
    1.
    Remember God loves you always
    Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).  His grace is infinitely stronger than our sin.  A…
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  • Be Childlike not Immature


    Be Childlike not Immature

    Be Childlike not Immature
    “At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children” (Matthew 11:25 NIV).
    One of the better-known Scriptures in the Bible is, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).  Jesus clearly had a love for children.  Jesus wants us to be like little children because most children are eager to learn.  If we are to be followers of God, we need to know God…
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  • Gentleness In Action



    Gentleness In Action
    “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1, underline added for emphasis).What image comes to your mind when you hear the word “gentleness”?  I think most men (and probably most women too ) envision someone that is extremely kind, does not cause any trouble, and always has a smile on their face.  However, we can show gentleness and also be actively engaged in the lives of others.  In fact, we can be gentle while helping a…
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Tell Yourself The Truth

Tell Yourself The Truth

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit” (Romans 8:5 NLT).

If you were raised in a Christian home, you were surely taught the importance of honesty and always telling the truth.   I feel that honesty and respect go hand in hand.  You are not respecting someone if you are not telling them the truth. 

It is sad that we often fail to extend the same courtesy to ourselves that we extend to others.  When we believe negative thoughts about ourselves, we are lying to ourselves about who we are and Whose we are.  I know that sometimes we just simply can’t get a negative thought out of our mind. We sometimes knowingly engage in self-defeating behavior and thoughts.  

Our mind is a battlefield where the enemy sows seeds of doubt and insecurity.  Romans 7:23 says, “I see a different law at work in my body—a law that fights against the law which my mind approves of. It makes me a prisoner to the law of sin which is at work in my body.”  I consider these attacks a back-handed compliment because it indicates that the devil knows you have great potential to make a positive impact on the Body of Christ.  The seeds of doubt are sown to   neutralize your witness and ministry. 

Demonic thoughts are intended to rob us of our joy.  Jesus taught us how to live not to have earthly joy but so that we may have His joy.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11, emphasis added).

During times of attack, I remind myself that serving the Lord is a conscious decision and each day I need to rebuke in His name all that is evil, including evil thoughts, and recommit myself to Him, His ministry, and His will.   Evil is ever present in this fallen world. Scripture teaches us how to react to all forms of evil.  “Love sincerely. Hate evil. Hold on to what is good” (Romans 12:9).

I cannot emphasize enough the importance and power of memorizing Scripture and speaking it out loud during times of self-doubt.  Speak the Word with confidence and claim the promise it contains!  Hebrews 4:12 teaches the benefit of the Word.  “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” 

You have the power to change the way that you think.  It is not easy, but it begins by claiming the familiar promise found in Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  One of the things you can do through Him is to not believe every thought in your head. 

Our mind frequently lies to us. Just because you think or feel something is true doesn’t make it true.  Proverbs 14:12 speaks to this truth.  “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”  It is important to realize that your mind and your emotions often lie to you.  This doesn’t mean you are anything less than human.  As Christians we are certainly not immune to adversity.  A large step in our spiritual growth—becoming more like Jesus—is learning to discern the true author of our thoughts and therefore know which thoughts are true and false.  The Apostle Paul knew the importance of properly focusing our thoughts as evidenced by His encouragement to the church in Philippi.  “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

As a mature Christian you must ask yourself a few questions.  Who is the author of this thought?  Is this thought true?   If you have any doubt about your true identity and value, then spend some time in Ephesians Chapter 1.

No matter how far you go in your spiritual walk, your old, sinful nature will keep trying to take control of your thoughts. The battle is real and constant.  You have to learn to question your thoughts, not just one time but throughout your day and throughout your life!

Scripture teaches, “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  Don’t you think your thoughts are included under “all things”?  A big part of holding fast to “what is good” is thinking about the things listed in Philippians 4:8.   Be blessed.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for your promises to us as found in Scripture.  Forgive us for failing to claim these promises and giving credence to negative self-thoughts.  Help us to boldly and courageously rebuke in Your name all thoughts that do not bring honor and glory to your name. Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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



    “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…
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  • Complete The Mission



    Complete The Mission
    “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24 NIV).As men, we love projects.  We love to build something and to be a part of something greater than ourselves.  Most men enjoy working with their hands and tend not be comfortable speaking to a group of strangers, especially about their faith.  We have many large tasks that we want to accomplish in life – pay off the mortgage, raise our children…
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  • Thank God for THE False Accusation


    Thank God for THE False Accusation

    Thank God for THE False Accusation
    “Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame”   (1 Peter 3:16 ESV).
    Have you ever falsely accused somebody of something and later discovered that your accusation was false?  Perhaps you accused your spouse of eating the last slice of pie only later to find out that it was one of the kids?  I think we all have both made and received false accusations.  It is part of the human condition.
    Rarely do we give thanks for false accusations.  The more serious the…
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Where Are You On The Road From Capernaum to Cana?

Where Are You On The Road From Capernaum to Cana?

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:14 ESV).

It has often been said that two things are certain in this life – death and taxes.  I would add one more to the list – problems.   We all face problems in life that are too great for us alone to handle.  I do not  know your particular story but I do know that each reader is in one of three seasons in life:  (1) in a storm, (2) exiting a storm, or (3) preparing for the next storm. 

The Bible documents many examples of people with faith bringing their problems to Jesus.  One of my favorite stories regarding faith is minimal in length but enormous in its impact and is found in John 4:43-54.

A man identified as a royal official from Capernaum left his hometown and approached Jesus in Cana. “Come heal my son” the man asked Jesus.  The man must have had faith to leave his town and seek out Jesus.  Our Lord responded to the man and said the boy would be healed.  The man then began his trip back to Capernaum. While the man was on his way, some of his servants met him, with the news that the son was alive and well. The good news from the servants was met with a good question from the father:  “What time did he get better?” The reply was “One o’clock.” This was the very time Jesus had spoken the word.  His word was powerful, effective, and immediate. 

Scripture teaches of the power of the laying of hands on the sick (Luke 4:40, Acts 6:5-6, 8:14-19).  However, in this instance our Lord performed a double, long-distance healing. The miracle was not just in the life of the boy but in the saving faith of the entire household.

However, the boy eventually died. The life-giving miracle of Jesus was short-term, but the faith-giving miracle of Jesus was eternal and will continue serve to draw His children near to Him until He returns in final victory. The entire household believed in Jesus, and this resulted in everlasting life.   At the beginning of this post, I wrote that as Christians we can really count on two things – taxes and trouble.  Jesus has providence over life and death.  The Apostle Paul knew this when he wrote, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).  Jesus acknowledged that taxes are inevitable.  “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s (Mark 12:17).  Jesus also recognized that we would all face problems, but He gave us a powerful encouragement!  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Let’s return back to our from journey Capernaum to Cana.  The father likely thought he was walking the road to Capernaum all alone. Quite the contrary.  Our Lord had supernaturally gone ahead (Exodus 13:21) into the nobleman’s residence and not only healed the son, but also won the hearts of the entire household. The father’s prayer was answered in a manner greater than he had requested or expected because he claimed the promise of John 14:13 and received favor. “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

All prayers are answered.  The answer may be yes, no, or not now.  Some are answered while we walk this fallen world, but others are saved for when we are healed. 

Your prayer will receive an answer.  So, what is the lesson for us regarding the road from Capernaum to Cana?  For me, this story urges me to keep walking and believing in our God who is our “ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Ever present. That’s the message of this miracle, and that’s the message of the Gospel.

This life contains many, many walks from Cana to Capernaum, journeys between prayer offered and prayer answered.  Jesus promise to the boy’s father is a promise for us also.   I have lots of people that I want to talk to when I am healed and join the Great Cloud of Witnesses.  I want to thank this man for inspiring this verse: “The man took Jesus at His word and departed” (John 4:50).  May we be so wise and blessed as to go and do likewise.  

The journey is completed one step at a time.  The race is never won until we get off the starting block.  Place one weary foot in front of the other. Jesus has spoken!  He promises provision and protection far better than anything secular of this fallen world.  If you feel you are an outcast, receive His living water.  If you are tired, take refuge in His arms.  If you have sinned, return as modeled by the prodigal son.  Nothing can separate you from the love of God that is revealed to us in Christ Jesus.  Your debt is cancelled.  Your sins are forgiven.  Victory is now!  The victory is in Jesus!  He is the life, the truth, and the way. 

Prayer:  Dear God:  Thank you for the encouragement we receive as you read Scripture.  Forgive our impatience as You walk with us between prayer and provision.   Help us to always have at least a mustard seed of faith even on our darkest days and may we never forget the power of that seed.  Amen

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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  • A Spiritual Health Check-Up – How is Your Discipleship?


    A Spiritual Health Check-Up - How is Your Discipleship?

    A Spiritual Health Check-Up – How is Your Discipleship?
    “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2 NIV).
    Our health is very important to us.  Many of us try to watch what we eat and try to exercise.  We go to the doctor each year for a flu shot and an annual check-up.   There has been an increased awareness in recent years regarding the need for mental health awareness.   Our mental health is related to our physical health.  I wonder if we…
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  • A Holy Calling


    A Holy Calling

    A Holy Calling
    “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12 NIV).There are many examples in the Bible of God calling His people.  He called out to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, and to Samuel in 1 Samuel 3, and Elijah in 1 Kings 19.  These are all great stories of God seeking out His people in spite of their fear or inability to recognize His voice.  God later walked the earth in the form of Jesus and continued to…
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  • Living Your Faith


    Living Your Faith

    Living Your Faith
    “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2 14-17)
    I think I can speak for most of us when I say that we typically have an easy time…
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The Ministry Of Listening

The Ministry Of Listening

To answer before listening– that is folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13 NIV).

Most men like to take action to solve a problem.  We tend to jump in and begin formulating a solution before we have even heard the entire story.  Fixing a problem is great but before it is fixed, it needs to be felt.  I think God wants us to feel the pain before we fix the pain. 

Have you ever been just seconds into a conversation about a problem and say, “I know how to fix this.” But that’s not loving. It has been said that people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.  You show that you care by listening.  People want to feel heard. They want to feel loved. They want to feel understood.

As men we want to fix problems, and that is fine, but we need to first consider the feelings behind the problem.  Perhaps our desire to fix someone else’s problem is also due to a need to shift the focus to ourselves?  Philippians 2:3 warns, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”  This is a matter of the heart and only you and God know what is truly in your heart. 

How did Jesus respond when He encountered people with problems?  His typical response was to listen.  One of the most well-known Bible stories is when Jesus raised His friend Lazarus from the dead.  When Jesus hears that His friend Lazarus is sick, Jesus takes three days to travel to see him.  This is noteworthy because the trip should have taken less than a day. By the time Jesus arrives, Lazarus is dead, and his sisters are grieving and tell Jesus that if he had come sooner Lazarus would not have died.

Jesus’ delay might seem callous at first glance, but God is love and not callous.  He doesn’t want to simply heal Lazarus. He wants to raise him from the dead to show His divinity.  Jesus already knew the solution before Lazarus even got sick.  Jesus was not unconcerned about their pain. When He sees others around Him crying, He weeps with them.  Yes, Jesus knew the solution to the problem.  However, He stopped to share their grief to show that He cares before He implements a solution.  He was present in the moment and listened.  This is how a real man handles a problem!

You may know the solution, but you need to hold off. If you’re going to be a good friend or husband, you’ve got to listen to the feelings behind the story and enter into that person’s pain.

I find it interesting that as Jesus was arrested one of His disciples drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the guards from the Temple (Luke 22:47-52).  Perhaps Jesus healed the ear because He knew that the ear was essential for its owner to hear His call in the future?  Jesus said in Matthew 11:15, “He who has ears, let him hear.”  Before the gospel can be lived or told, it must be heard.  Jesus did not come to call the righteous but rather sinners to repentance.  This includes temple guards, you, me, and all of our fellow sinners. 

You have probably heard it said that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.  Did you realize that your ears are an instrument for healing?  There is healing that begins when someone starts sharing their pain with you.  So please do not disturb the healing process by rushing to implement your solution.  Listening is showing love.  Listening is modelling Christ.  Listening is ministry.  I love the motto of the Kairos prison ministry teams – listen, listen, love, love.  Amen?

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for our ears and the ability to hear our brothers and sisters as they communicate their problems to us.  Grant us wisdom and discernment to actively listen and engage in their lives.  I pray that all solutions that we formulate are done so in tandem with You, to glorify Your name, and be a testimony to Your love, grace, and mercy.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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