Buy A Tent – It’s Important!

Buy A Tent – It’s Important!

“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching”  (1 Timothy 5:17 ESV).

It is natural when many people think of the Apostle Paul they think of his ministry as his work, and this is true, but perhaps we can look at his situation from a different perspective.  I think his ministry was his calling from God, and he was gifted and equipped with the spiritual gifts of

teaching and preaching to step into his calling.  His actual work was making and selling tents as described in Acts 18:1-3.

Paul knew that he must work to support the ministry that God had entrusted him with.  This was the very same Paul who wrote, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat’” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

I am blessed to serve as a “Timothy” under two “Pauls” who have dedicated their earlier lives to pastoral ministry and now to ministry to men.  I have known Rev. Elmo Winters and Rev. Mark Lubbock for many, many years, and in my 53 years on earth, I have never met anybody else who has their level of dedication, perseverance, and effectiveness to advancing God’s Kingdom here on earth.

They both need our help.  They need our prayers and words of affirmation.  Today’s ministry leaders no longer sell tents but need financial support.  We are stewards of the money God has blessed us with, and investing money from God back into the Kingdom is a blessing for the giver and the receiver.

These men have worked secular jobs their entire lives, as have their Proverbs 31 wives, and continue to do so.  Much of their income goes to support their church first, their ministry second, and their family third with what is left.  They all know the teaching of Paul in 2 Thessalonians better than anyone.

I think one of the greatest weapons that the enemy uses is to instill a sense of apathy within us that hinders us from supporting our church and ministries.  Clearly, not all of us are called or able to support all ministries.  However, many reading this blog have (1) a personal friendship with Mark and Elmo and are aware of their integrity and effectiveness in ministry, (2) an awareness of the positive impacts of the ministries that Mark and Elmo steward, and (3) knowledge of the need for financial support but fail to do so due to apathy.  I am the first to admit that this has been one of my many faults for many years, but it stopped as I got more involved in ministry and grew closer to God, Mark, and Elmo.

Below, I want to share a few thoughts about Elmo and Mark’s ministry and how you can partner with them.  I can assure you that each dime is prayerfully and wisely used.

As for my dear brother Mark, I encourage you to prayerfully consider joining me in donating to Rev. Mark Lubbock’s ministry – Gulf South Men.  Please visit Gulf South Men’s website and GSMen.org to get a glimpse of the scope and impact of this ministry.  Donations can be made HERE.  Mark’s ministry helps men become disciples who are servant leaders as modeled by Jesus.  His work cuts across boundaries of denomination, race, age, etc. His goal is to raise up Godly men that bring Christ into their homes and families and then out into the world.  There have been dramatic impacts on men, but the ultimate beneficiaries are wives and families.

I have been blessed to have worked alongside Mark in ministry for several years and have seen the Holy Spirit work through him.  If you have any questions or suggestions about the ministry, financial plans, etc., please give Mark a call at (225)252-3331 or email at [email protected]

To donate to Gulf South Men, please click HERE or mail a check to 7533 Quorum Dr, Baton Rouge, LA 70817.

Now for my dear brother Elmo, I also want to bring to your attention a dynamic ministry that is making a positive impact locally and nationally.  The KINGDOM Group International, Inc. is a Baton Rouge based organization that is successfully addressing racial and cultural divisiveness.  For the past several years, this ministry has held meetings and special events that have resulted in very positive changes in the area of unity and reconciliation.

Giving to the KINGDOM GROUP is easy.  You can visit the Kingdom Group website and click the GIVE NOW button.  Or, you can mail your donation to KINGDOM Group, 8733 Siegen Lane, Ste. 141, Baton Rouge, LA 70810.  You can also call Rev. Elmo Winters at (225) 305-3006 or email at [email protected] for additional information.

Both of these ministries are 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations, so your gifts are tax deductible.  Giving to any ministry is a second-mile donation.  Your home church should receive your first mile, your tithe.  After prayerful consideration, if you discern the ability and need to give more, then and only then should you give to any ministry.  Please ask God what amount He would have you contribute, and whatever amount He puts on your heart is certainly the right amount, even if that amount is zero.

I pray that you can join me and call both of these godly men to learn how you can support and participate in their ministries.  Please prayerfully consider becoming a monthly donor.  Most importantly, I ask that you pray for God’s provision and protection for these men of Christ, their wives and families, and ministries.

The image above is that of a mite coin embedded in a ring.  The mite, also known as a lepton, was a Jewish coin and the smallest used in New Testament time. At the time of Mark’s writing, it was worth 1/64 of a denarius. A denarius was a day’s wage for a common worker.  In today’s terms, it would be worth about 1/8 of a cent.  In Luke 21:1-4, we learn about a poor widow’s offering.  “As Jesus looked up, He saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.  ‘Truly I tell you,” He said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.  All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she had to live on.’”  The same can be said of Brother Mark and Elmo.

Prayer:  Thank you for the teachers and preachers that You have called, gifted, and equipped to help point us to You.  Help us to consider financially supporting ministries that are bearing good fruit prayerfully.  Most importantly, send your Spirit to remind us to pray daily for the success of all ministries that are seeking to glorify and honor You and point Your children to You.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and a Certified Lay Speaker with the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is a Board Member for Gulf South Men, an Action Team member for The Kingdom Group, and a Board Member for the Lagniappe Country Walk to Emmaus.  Todd is a Past President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and remains active in this and many other local, regional, and international ministries.  Todd is the proud father of Emma and Kyle and resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Additionally, he’s the author of the inspiring book “Fathering A Special Needs Child.” Todd also enjoys filling the pulpit for pastors to share the Good News of our Lord and Savior.

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Attention Men! Stop And Be Grateful For The Blessings You Have Today

Attention Men! Stop And Be Grateful For The Blessings You Have Today

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36 NKJV).

There is a focus in our society for “more.”  Some of these desires can actually be healthy.  I think we all want more Jesus in our lives and more peace, right?  One of the “mores” I want is to make decisions that improve my overall physical health, strength, and agility daily.  I have made good

progress, but I do not let this pursuit become an obsession, and I am not focused on some far-away fitness goal that robs me of the ability to enjoy today.   I can attend church potluck dinners even though I might not have many healthy options.  I can go to a Halloween party, have a moderate portion of candy, and not feel that I have ruined my diet, nor do I feel disappointed that I missed out on all the fun.  The key is to focus on the right here and right now and ENJOY what and/or whom is right here and right now.  This blog, as with most of my blogs, is essentially a sermon to myself with the hope that perhaps somebody else might benefit.

Life is lived now in the present tense.  The present tense of the verb live is “living.”  The past is for learning, not living.  Life may or may not be lived in the future, and it is wise to prepare for the future, but we must remember that the primary purpose of today is living today.  Easy to type into a blog, but hard to do for myself.  Tomorrow is not promised, and Scripture teaches that none of us know the day or hour of our Healing. 

Living today does not make us immune to troubles today.  Matthew 6:24-34 is an excellent reminder about living today and not worrying about tomorrow.  ‘“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes?   Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?   Can any one of you, by worrying, add a single hour to your life.”’

Some cannot move past the anger, shame, or hurt from the past.  They need to understand that not only is the past for learning and not living, but they are a new person in Christ as taught in 2 Corinthians 5:17.  “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

So, we have talked about the past and future, but what about the present?  As we live today, adversity will undoubtedly come and challenge our ability to find joy in all circumstances.  I certainly am unable to find joy in tragic circumstances.  However, we can still live today and weep today as we stand steadfast on Psalm 30:5, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Some have made their joy contingent on material things as they seek to store up treasure on earth rather than heaven.  For example, some may say, “I will be joyful when/if …..”  Spoiler alert:  if your joy is contingent on anything rather than Christ, you will never have joy.

This drive for more can take our focus off the blessings of today because we are too busy preparing for tomorrow.  If you have not read the Mary and Martha story lately, go read Luke 10:38-42 and ask yourself if you identify more with Mary or Martha.

Some people work all the time and essentially sacrifice living today for a better but unpromised tomorrow.  The goal for many, including myself as a young man, was to work 24/7, ignore my health, and put in minimal time for my family, church, and friends because I needed to climb the ladder and be a better provider.  Families need fathers who are present and engaged today and every day.  Families also need fathers to take them to church today if today is Sunday joyfully.  Friends need friends that they can talk to today if they are in a crisis.  Life is to be lived today.

In our personal relationships, we may be blessed with a beautiful, godly woman to court and date, perhaps an ever so rare and virtuous Proverbs 31 woman.   This type of woman is a God-sent blessing for any man.  A smart man will recognize and enjoy the blessings that he has.  A foolish man will not. 

Many Christians love Jeremiah 29:11, which reads, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”  It should go without saying, but since I am preaching to myself here, please notice that it is God with the plans for us, not vice versa.  Also, the key to claiming these beautiful plans is not to push our own self-based agenda on God or others but rather to follow the wise teaching of the Psalmist.  “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

On my better days, I follow the above Scriptures, and I pray each day that our Lord and Savior may grant me the wisdom to see, embrace, and give thanks for all the blessings that I have – today.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for all the blessings that you have so richly blessed me with.  Forgive me for the times that I have ignored Your blessings of today in foolish pursuit of a self-perceived, self-focused blessing in the future.  I confess that I have not honored You by not following Your teachings but instead have sadly tried to have You follow my plans.  As the perpetual prodigal son, I am grateful that I can claim the promise of Your Word that every new morning brings fresh compassion from the LORD.  Today, pour out Your Holy Spirit and create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right and steadfast spirit within me.  Amen and Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and a Certified Lay Speaker with the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is a Board Member for Gulf South Men, an Action Team member for The Kingdom Group, and a Board Member for the Lagniappe Country Walk to Emmaus.  Todd is a Past President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and remains active in this and many other local, regional, and international ministries.  Todd is the proud father of Emma and Kyle and resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Additionally, he’s the author of the inspiring book “Fathering A Special Needs Child.” Todd also enjoys filling the pulpit for pastors to share the Good News of our Lord and Savior.

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The Only Thing Left To Do Now Is Pray?

The Only Thing Left To Do Now Is Pray?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV).

Have you ever been in a hospital when the doctor tells the family, “I have done all that I can do.  The only thing left to do is to pray?” Or maybe you have heard these words in a dramatic scene in a television show or movie?

I find these words sad because I wonder if the message that is “heard” by the family is something along these lines – The doctor has run out of options, so I guess we should now turn to God and see what He can do for us.

Prayer should not be viewed as the last option of a desperate person but rather a constant part of a Christ-centered life.  Each day, a Christian actively seeks a closer walk with God by praying. In fact, we are all called to pray without ceasing.  Since prayer is the foundation of everything we do, nothing changes when we go to the hospital.  Before and after we know something is wrong, we pray.  While the medical team is at work, we pray.  If the medical team elects not to proceed, we pray.  And regardless of the outcome, we pray.  Of course, we would all prefer to lift a prayer of thanksgiving after a successful outcome.

Sometimes, the result is not what we want, but we are still called to pray.  At times like this, we may cry out in anger or frustration, which is the theme of some of the Psalms by King David.  Or perhaps we are too tired to offer anything more than wordless groans, but we are grateful for the intercessory prayer of the Holy Spirit.

Dr. Stan Purdum is a Biblical scholar, and he wrote the following.  “So, if we believe God is all-powerful, praying for the impossible makes sense only if we also believe that God wants things to be different than they are.  We cannot by ourselves bring about world peace, end all racial discrimination, eliminate hunger, and make all Christians one as Jesus and the Father are one. We may be able to accomplish small parts of those things, but only God can make them happen in a complete way.

What we do know, however, is this: In praying for everyone who follows Him to be united and one, Jesus asked for the seemingly impossible.  When He taught His disciples the prayer we call “The Lord’s Prayer,” He included the petition, “Thy will be one,” which is another seemingly impossible thing when applied to the population as a whole.

If Jesus prayed for the impossible, is there any reason that we who follow Him should not?  Is not the act of praying for the impossible an expression of that mustard seed of faith that Jesus said was crucial? Is it not, in the end, a way of saying that we believe that whatever happens, ultimately, we are in God’s loving hands?

Yes, hospital scenes can be grim, but Job’s trials were also grim.  His story is a great example of a faithful person who remained steadfast in prayer when the enemy was determined to try to break his faith.  I think of Job as I read James 1:3-4. “Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

If we believe that possibilities are limited and the boundaries are set, then praying for the impossible makes no sense. At a minimum, it is wasted effort. But even more, it is evidence of how ridiculous we are. But if we believe in God – in God’s power, love, and goodness – then our prayer is cooperation with God’s will. It may even be that our prayer, which is a new element in the situation, will be part of how God’s will is done.”

So, returning back to the hospital scene. I was told years ago that everybody who goes to the hospital gets healed.  Some are healed, and others are Healed.  This means that the doctor heals some of them, and they go home. Others are Healed by the Great Physician, and they too go Home.

The advances in medical science are amazing!  Miracles occur at hospitals every day, yet Isaiah 2:22 teaches, “Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils.  Why hold them in esteem?” Returning back to King David, he echoed the words of Isaiah in Psalm 118:8.  “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans.” I believe that doctors are often the Hands of Jesus.  However, we would be wise to put our ultimate trust in God and pray while in the valley and on the mountaintop.

Prayer: Dear Lord, Forgive us for the times when we turn to You as a last resort.  Help us to live a prayer-based life that remains steadfast regardless of our circumstances.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and a Certified Lay Speaker with the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is a Board Member for Gulf South Men, an Action Team member for The Kingdom Group, and a Board Member for the Lagniappe Country Walk to Emmaus.  Todd is a Past President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and remains active in this and many other local, regional, and international ministries.  Todd is the proud father of Emma and Kyle and resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Additionally, he’s the author of the inspiring book “Fathering A Special Needs Child.” Todd also enjoys filling the pulpit for pastors to share the Good News of our Lord and Savior.

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Sin Is Never Private

Sin Is Never Private

“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.  What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs” (Luke 12:2-3 NIV).

 

One thing we all have in common is that we are sinners and all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).   Most people work very hard to keep their sin a secret.  Indeed, we may be successful at keeping most, or even all, of our sins secret but it is foolish to think that sin is private.  Some sins are revealed here on earth, but many are not. 

Our entire lives will be judged when we die, and most assuredly even the sins that remained private on earth will be revealed.  Scripture teaches that everyone who has ever lived will be there (heaven) in their resurrected bodies. Jesus separates the sheep on His right; the goats on His left (Matthew 25:32, 33). There is but one judgment day (Revelation 11:18). Both the saved and lost will be judged (Romans 14:10, 2 Corinthians 5:10).

Perhaps the most sobering verse in the Bible is Numbers 43:23, “You may be sure that your sin will find you out.”

Our sin also has consequences here on earth.  All of our actions, good or bad, are going to affect both directions on the cross.   Our sins separate us from God, which is the vertical axis.  And all of our actions, including sins, affect other people, directly or indirectly.

Not all sins are due to commission.  Some sins are an act of omission.  If a person that regularly plugs into God through worship, prayer, study, service, and tithing and then stops, there will be a change in this person.  The “lens” on how they view the world will change as manifested in how they react to people and situations and how they reflect (or don’t) the Fruits of the Spirit.  They have omitted God from their life and are no longer connected to the Vine.  A person that is not plugged in, does not have spiritual power nor desire to fight sin.  Romans 14:7 teaches about our connectivity to each other. “None of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone.” 

A lot of people will say, “What I do with my life is my business.  As long as I’m not hurting anybody, why should anyone else care?”  Our sins are hurting other people. God made us to be connected to other people.  We are one Body and what we do and say always has an effect on others.  We hurt ourselves and distance ourselves from God with sin, particularly unrepentant sin.  A sinful life limits our ability to reach our potential, the impact we can have on the Kingdom, and the blessing that comes from a life lived in and for our Lord and Savior.

There is only one way to move past the sin that clings so tightly.  Confess it, repent from it, and abide in the love of the Father.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the victory that we have over sin and death through the blood of Your Son.  Send your Spirit to reveal to us the sin that separates us from You and give us the strength to repent from that sin so that we may grow closer to You on this earth and be presented holy and blameless to You upon the day that we are Healed.  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 a Certified Lay Speaker with the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is a Board Member for Gulf South Men, an Action Team member for The Kingdom Group, and a Board Member for the Lagniappe Country Walk to Emmaus.  Todd is a Past President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and remains active in this and many other local, regional, and international ministries.  Todd is the proud father of Emma and Kyle and resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Additionally, he’s the author of the inspiring book “Fathering A Special Needs Child.” Todd also enjoys filling the pulpit for pastors to share the Good News of our Lord and Savior.

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Who Is A Righteous Man?

Who Is A Righteous Man?

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye me be healed.  The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:15 KJV).

 

During the Great Awakening of the 18th century, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, believed that justifying grace is only the door to salvation, and sanctification is the house.  The key to the spiritual revival in England and America, in his opinion, was for small groups of same gender people to come together in bands, and the meetings were known as band meetings.  The meetings were structured to allow for mutual accountability, where spiritual friends confessed sin without fear of condemnation.  The goal was not to offer judgement but rather to offer a time and place to pursue holiness together.  Members were given tickets after each meeting, which were necessary to attend church on Sunday.  The participants were regularly asked five questions of one another:

5 Questions to Ask During a Band Meeting
1.  How is it with your soul?

2.  What are your struggles and successes?

3.  How might the Spirit and Scriptures be speaking in your life?

4.  Do you have any sin that you want to confess?

5.  Are there any secrets or hidden things that you would like to share?

Confession was/is a key component of the band meeting.  James 5:16 links the power of confession to the strength of prayer.  A person that has confessed sin as an outward manifestation of an inner faith, is righteous in the Eyes of our Lord.   If we believe in God, then we certainty have faith in Him.   Genesis 15:1-6 describes how God viewed Abram, later to be known as Father Abraham, due to Abram’s belief in Him.

“After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:  ’Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield, your very great reward.’  But Abram said, ‘Sovereign Lord, what can You give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?’  And Abram said, ‘You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.’  Then the word of the Lord came to him: ‘This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.’  He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.’ Then He said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’  Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness(emphasis added).

The Apostle Paul was directed by the Spirit to mention the connections between Abram/Abraham’s faith and righteousness in his letter to the church in Galatia.  So also Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Galatians 3:6, emphasis added).”  The true children of Father Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.

Our faith, not your actions, will determine our righteousness.  Our actions are a natural manifestation of your faith.   Hebrews 11, called the “Hall of Faith” or “Faith Hall of fame,” is a list of men and women who immense faith in God was manifested in tremendous action for the Kingdom.   These were deeply flawed people (cheaters, murders, prostitutes, etc.) but they had faith in God and that faith was the basis for their actions that helped advance God’s Kingdom in earth.  Also, their faith was the basis for their righteousness.   

I pray that you join me to step out in faith, confess our sins, and use our righteousness to draw ourselves closer to Jesus and to point others toward Him.  To God be the glory!

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the blessing of righteousness that is available to use through our faith in You.  Help us to claim the promise of James 5:16 to use our righteousness to pray for ourselves and our family, neighbors, friends, enemies, those marginalized in society, those imprisoned by physical or mental walls, pastors, our political leaders, and all in need of Your favor of provision, protection, and pardon.  Lord, hear our prayer.  Amen and amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and a Certified Lay Speaker with the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is a Board Member for Gulf South Men, an Action Team member for The Kingdom Group, and a Board Member for the Lagniappe Country Walk to Emmaus.  Todd is a Past President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and remains active in this and many other local, regional, and international ministries.  Todd is the proud father of Emma and Kyle and resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Additionally, he’s the author of the inspiring book “Fathering A Special Needs Child.” Todd also enjoys filling the pulpit for pastors to share the Good News of our Lord and Savior.

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How Should We “Tell It?”

How Should We “Tell It?”

“Love . . . always looks for the best.”  (1 Corinthians 13:7 MSG).

I have been told by my close friends that I sometimes have unrealistic expectations, both of myself and of others.  It’s not that I expect perfection of any human, especially myself, but I do have high expectations.  Of course, this can, and often does lead to disappointment, but every once in a while, it leads to something wonderful, and that is the basis for my continuing high expectations.  I want to show a connection between our expectations and our words or how we “tell it.”

We all know people that “tell it like it is,” right?  They tell the honest and ugly truth, which can be great, but can also be a weapon if the truth is spoken absent of love.  Indeed, Jesus identified Himself as truth in John 14:6 by stating, “I am the way, the truth and the life (emphasis added).”

In Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus, he was concerned about dissension in the church, which can be caused by how we “tell it.”  Paul was certainly aware of the Old Testament warning in Proverbs 18:21. “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”  Paul was focused on our unity in the faith, knowledge of the Son of God, and Christian maturity.  Paul’s letter links the importance of truth and love when we speak.  A key verse from Ephesians Chapter 4 reads:  “Instead, speaking the truth in lovewe will grow to become in every respect the mature Body of Him who is the Head, that is, Christ (Ephesians 4:15, emphasis added).   Speaking the truth in love is a fruit of Spiritual maturity. 

When we have high expectations of someone, you don’t tell it like it is.  We can speak the truth in love and tell it how it could be. What does that mean?  It’s means you believe in what God wants to do in and through that person, and you affirm God’s purpose for them, and hopefully they will do the same for you.  All of this should be done truthfully, lovingly, and privately.    This is Proverbs 27:17 “iron sharpens iron” and love in action.

An excellent example of the good fruit of telling it like it could be comes from Bruce Wilkinson, author and teacher. Years ago, he was a new professor at Multnomah University, and at the first faculty meeting, he received his class assignments. Another professor saw his sheet and said, “Bruce, you’ve been given two section A classes. They’re the brightest students in the university. They’re really engaged and a joy to teach. You’re fortunate to have section A students in your first year.”

Bruce discovered that to be true—he absolutely loved teaching those kids.  They were so much more fun to teach than the other classes. They were smarter and asked better questions.  At the end of the year, Bruce told his department supervisor, “Man, I sure hope I get the section A classes again next year!” The supervisor told him, “Bruce, there is no section A. We canceled that program six years ago.”

When Bruce went back and checked his grade books, he found that those “section A” classes may not have been advanced placement, but they received higher grades and wrote more thoughtful term papers than his other classes. Bruce realized—because he expected them to be better students—they rose to the challenge.   He had high expectations because his supervisor told him like it could be regarding his students.  I would argue that Bruce was not lied to but rather he was told how it could be.  Then, he accordingly established his expectations and what “could be” became reality. 

My mother gave me some parenting advice many years ago.  She told me that most children are equal in terms of intelligence and capability.  The only difference is the level of expectations of them from their teachers and parents. 

Throughout our lives we all will shape the people around us by our expectations of them, and the reciprocal is also true.  On my better days, I expect the best from others, and it is at these brief moments that I am hopefully reflecting the lasting love of Jesus.  You may ask how expectations are connected to love? 

I stand steadfast on the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth.  “Love . . . always looks for the best” (1 Corinthians 13:7, emphasis added).  Lasting love is forward-looking, optimistic, and bathed equally in truth, hope, and grace.   

I think the greatest, and most difficult, lesson that we can learn in life is how to love others as Jesus loved others.  It is hard to love some people, and the truth is I cannot do it.  However, you and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13).  If we let God’s love flow through us, we can tell it like it should be by speaking the truth in love.   

I love hearing success stories from people that were raised in disadvantaged situations, but somebody was in their life on a daily basis to mentor and inspire them.  The focus of the child shifts from the current situation to what could be through hard work and the favor of our Lord.

Paul wrote in Philippians 2:5, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”  I think the Mindset of Jesus was one that tuned out the voices of the flesh, society, and the enemy and tuned in the Voice of God.  As we grow and mature as Christians, we can have the same mindset as Jesus, and we can tell it like it “should be.”  Jesus expects our best.  God sets a very high expectation of us in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  

This is not an unrealistic expectation but rather a command regarding how it “should be.”  Indeed, this is how it “will be” when the Son presents us to the Father, if on earth we havedeclared with our mouths, “Jesus is Lord,” and believed in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead.  Telling it like it “should be” is inspirational and the key to unlocking the chains of low expectations.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the gift of our tongues.  Forgive us for the times we dishonor You by speaking words of death regarding other members of the Body.  Send your Holy Spirit to reveal to us the sin that clings so tightly and help us repent of anything that separates us from You.  Give us a new heart and Your Spirit so that others may see You and come to know You as Your Holy Spirit guides us to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with You.  Amen and amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and a Certified Lay Speaker with the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is a Board Member for Gulf South Men, an Action Team member for The Kingdom Group, and a Board Member for the Lagniappe Country Walk to Emmaus.  Todd is a Past President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and remains active in this and many other local, regional, and international ministries.  Todd is the proud father of Emma and Kyle and resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Additionally, he’s the author of the inspiring book “Fathering A Special Needs Child.” Todd also enjoys filling the pulpit for pastors to share the Good News of our Lord and Savior.

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The Heart of the Problem is A Problem of the Heart

The Heart of the Problem is A Problem of the Heart

Sin lurks deep in the hearts of the wicked, forever urging them on to evil deeds” (Psalm 36:1 TLB).

The human heart can be a dark place. When God is not pursued, and people declare themselves as Lord the result is dark.   Yes, the light overcomes the darkness, but darkness rules where there is no light.  We become savages. We victimize the vulnerable, spread gossip, and give in to every sinful desire of the flesh.

Dark hearts lead to a dark society where people suppress their better selves and rise based on intimidation, bribery, and blackmail.   A dark society rewards power and force and downplays the Fruits of the Spirit. 

Jesus taught, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander” (Matthew 15:19).  The heart of the problem, is simply a problem of the heart.  We truly need a new heart and a renewed spirit that seeks Him above all else.

To be clear, in the Christian theology, humanity is treasured, priceless, and is destined for Glory. We are created in God’s image. But we have squandered our inheritance and dishonored God by ignoring Him and flowing another voice.  Yet there is hope!  And his name is Jesus.  He came to rescue us from us.

I love the book of Genesis because it is so foundational to Judeo-Christian theology.  It is in this book that the “first mention” often occurs, which is when a word or term is first used.  The introductory use is often filled with foundational instruction and understanding.  As with all Scripture, it is always important to remember the context and to use Scripture to interpret Scripture. 

Most Jews and Christians will point to Genesis 3 as when sin first entered the world.  The serpent came to sew seeds of doubt with his typical goal to deceive, divide, and destroy. 

Yes, sin entered the world in Genesis 3, but the word “sin” does not appear until Genesis 4.  The first teaching on the dynamics of sin is in the context of Cain’s bitterness towards his brother Abel, and the fact that Abel’s sacrifice was accepted, and Cain’s wasn’t.  It’s in this context that we have the first mention of sin. 

Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?   If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?  But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.’  Now Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let’s go out to the field.’  While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him” (Genesis 4:6-8).

Cain was just warned by God that sin is imminent in his life, “crouching at your door,” its intention is “to have you,” and provided an escape route, “you must rule over it.”

I suspect that the Apostle Paul had Genesis 4 in mind when he wrote his first letter to the church in Corinth.  “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13, emphasis added).

So, how do we “rule over sin”?  Romans 7:21-24 provides insight.  “I have discovered this principle of life–that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?”  This “other power” that is at work in Paul is the same other power that is at work in all of us.  In the book, “The Four Voices: Taking Control of the Conversation in Your Head” by Patrick Morley, founder of Man in the Mirror and author, he identifies the four voices inside all of our heads as God, the enemy, our flesh, and society. 

Sin is so much more than “a mistake” but rather the result of saying no to God and yes to one of the other three voices.  Sin is just like the enemy in that both seek to deceive, divide, and destroy you and me.  Sin searches for our soft spots, which are typically one or more of the following:  pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. 

Throughout Scripture, God demands blood for the redemption of sin, and that is as true today as it was in the beginning.  The only difference is our sin has been paid by the blood of Jesus on Calvary.  Colossians 1:22 (emphasis added) reads, “But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical Body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation (emphasis added).”

Jesus wants us to be reconciled to Him and died for this purpose – to preset us holy to God.  Our free will is a two-edged sword.  We are free to earnestly repent of our sins or not.

Romans 6:22-23 tells us that each of us will ultimately end up in heaven or hell even though we have been “set free of sin”.  “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.   For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (emphasis added)”  Please note that a “gift” has not fulfilled its intended purpose if it is rejected by its intended recipient.  The recipient of each and every gift has free will to accept or reject any gift. 

Some people think that if the blood of Jesus covers their sin, then they do not need to repent of their sin.  Matthew 18:18 goes directly to the problem of unrepented sin.  Jesus taught, “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”  In short, if you are bound by sin on earth, so shall you be similarly bound in heaven. 

Repenting from sin is much, much deeper than saying “I’m sorry” or feeling regret for our words, thoughts, or actions.  True repentance is a sacred, holy, and private conversation in the presence of the Holy Spirit and is completed by confessing the sin to the Holy Spirit and asking for His help to literally turn your focus away from that sin and toward your Lord and Savior. 

In 2 Corinthians 7:10 Paul writes, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”  True repentance from our soul bears fruit that is seen by God and leads towards reconciliation and salvation. God wants us in righteous relationship with Him and sin separates us from Him.  The blood of Jesus will cover our repented sins.  The unrepented sinner does not listen to the Shepard’s voice on earth, and their salvation is a matter of theological debate.

Jesus warns us in Matthew 7:21-23 of the perils that await those that “practice lawlessness.” 

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.   Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’   And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Jesus only gave us two laws.  He told us in Matthew 22:37-39, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”   If you are living in unrepentant sin, ask yourself this one question.  Am I loving God by living in unrepentant sin? 

We have free will to repent or not.  Choose wisely.   

Prayer:  Dear good and gracious God, Thank you for your love, grace, and mercy.  Thank you for Jesus and the forgiveness of sin and life everlasting that is available to us through Him.  Send Your Holy Spirit upon each of us to search us and reveal everything that separates us from You.  Help us to wisely use our free will to earnestly and sincerely repent of the sins that Your Spirit has revealed to us.  Amen and amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and a Certified Lay Speaker with the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is a Board Member for Gulf South Men, an Action Team member for The Kingdom Group, and a Board Member for the Lagniappe Country Walk to Emmaus.  Todd is a Past President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and remains active in this and many other local, regional, and international ministries.  Todd is the proud father of Emma and Kyle and resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Additionally, he’s the author of the inspiring book “Fathering A Special Needs Child.” Todd also enjoys filling the pulpit for pastors to share the Good News of our Lord and Savior.

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Lessons Learned Under A Broom Tree

Lessons Learned Under A Broom Tree

A voice said to him, Why are you here, Elijah? He replied, “I have been most zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts, but the Israelites have forsaken your covenant. They have destroyed your altars and murdered your prophets by the sword. I alone remain, and they seek to take my life. (1 Kings 19:13-14 NIV).

 

 

The broom tree is a desert shrub that grows across Arabia and throughout the Judean wilderness. Its deep roots draw in the moisture of land that is otherwise barren.  In the Bible, desert shrubs such as the broom tree appear in moments of despair as well as times of divine encounter.

Chapter 21 of Genesis describes a young mother who was sent away into the wilderness. With little to sustain her, she wandered until her water supply completely ran out. Placing her son under a broom tree to die, she then sat down and wept.  Job describes the broom tree as a place of desolation, ruin, and abandonment (Job 30:3-4).  The Psalmist connects the broom tree with mourning, distress, and punishment (Psalm 120). 

For many Christians the broom tree is most often associated with Elijah.  Elijah is first mentioned in 1 Kings 17, where he proclaimed a drought as penalty for the evil deeds of the kings of Israel.

Elijah later presented himself to King Ahab, telling him to summon the prophets of Baal and Asherah on Mount Carmel, along with all the people of Israel. He confronted the people and told them that if they prepared a sacrifice and called on Baal, he would prepare a sacrifice and call on the Lord. Whichever caught fire would then demonstrate who was the true God. The worshippers of Baal prepared their sacrifice and called upon him from morning until noon, with no answer.

Then Elijah rebuilt the altar of the Lord, prepared the sacrifice, and poured four jugs of water on it. He called upon the Lord, and the Lord answered him by sending down fire to consume the altar. 

After this, the prophets of Baal were seized and killed. When King Ahab told his wife Jezebel what Elijah had done, she vowed to kill him. Elijah was terrified and fled into the desert, where he prayed for the Lord to take his life, then fell asleep under a broom tree. A messenger from the Lord came to him twice, urging him to eat and drink. After doing so, he journeyed 40 days in the wilderness to Mt. Horeb, where he hid in a cave.  Then…..

A Voice said to him, ‘Why are you here, Elijah?’ He replied, ‘I have been most zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts, but the Israelites have forsaken your covenant. They have destroyed your altars and murdered your prophets by the sword. I alone remain, and they seek to take my life.’ (1 Kings 19:13-14 NIV).  Elijah was anxious, angry, and tired. 

The good news is that God met with Elijah at the broom tree. He revealed himself to Moses in a thorny acacia. He also heard Ishmael’s cries from beneath the bush and directed his mother to a well in the desert.  He rescued Isaac by revealing a young ram whose horns were caught in a bush so Abraham could sacrifice it instead of his son, Isaac.  God shows up in some very thorny situations.

The lesson of the broom tree is that sometimes when God meets us in the desert times of our lives, God provides us relief like a broom tree.  The shade is not enough to last us forever, but enough to help us take the next steps.  It is enough for us to sit under for a few minutes to draw strength for the next step and then the next step.  The journey is not always short, sometimes it takes a long time to get through it. Elijah’s journey took over a month to go from Judah to Mt. Horeb in the hot Egyptian desert.  When he met God at Mt. Horeb, he was still struggling, still searching for a solution to his problem.  God did not make his circumstances disappear.  God did not give him much sympathy.  However, God did give Elijah direction, sustenance for the road, a renewed purpose and later, in that same chapter in 1 Kings, a companion on the road—all things that kept Elijah going.

The broom tree also offers us an image for our mission and ministry. We, like broom trees, spring up in all kinds of places. We can provide shade for those in need of encouragement and sustenance.  Some will come and stay and plant roots in our shade and become part of the plant (Body of Christ) that offers even a little more shade to others. Others may only stay for a moment, just long enough to get the energy to take the next step.  Sometimes a brief rest, a kind word, a simple sandwich may be just what God uses to help someone take the next step.  It has been said that sometimes we are the windshield and sometimes we are bug.  Similarly, sometimes we are the broom tree (the giver), and sometimes we are the traveler (the taker).  Sadly, some in life are forever determined to remain as the latter.

When we are exhausted or depressed, we can be strengthened under the broom tree.  It is there we can find shade when we are traveling through the dry, hot wilderness.  It is there we can find warmth when we are cold and miserable.  It is there we can find nourishment when we are hungry and thirsty.  It is there we find communion with God, as His angels minister to us, like they ministered to Elijah, serving him the bread and water.  This world needs more broom trees providing random acts of kindness and kind words.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the broom trees that you provide us in our time of need.  Help us to be rooted in You in such a way that the Fruits of Your Spirit are manifested in our words, thoughts, and actions.  Help us to remember that our strongest witness is often absent words but rather in simple acts of kindness.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and a Certified Lay Speaker with the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.  He is a Board Member for Gulf South Men, an Action Team member for The Kingdom Group, and a Board Member for the Lagniappe Community Walk to Emmaus.  Todd is a Past President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and remains active in this and many other local, regional, and international ministries.  Todd is the proud father of Emma and Kyle and resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Thank you for visiting. We trust that you have enjoyed reading our articles.

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  • Lessons Learned Under A Broom Tree

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Will I See My Pets in Heaven?

Will I See My Pets in Heaven?

’And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between Me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between Me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.’ So God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I have established between Me and all life on the earth’” (Genesis 9:12-17 NIV).

 Pets are good for humans.  They provide love, joy, and companionship so we know they are good.  James 1:17 teaches us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights.”  So, pets are from God, and they are very much good.  Humans that are wise will take actions regarding pets that honors God.

I think many of us have wondered if we will see our pets in Heaven.  To answer this question, we can determine what God values by reading His word to see what He values.    It is noteworthy to me that God instructed Noah to load his arc with animals, not plants, even though plants were created earlier than plants in Genesis 1 and 40 days of flooding would certainly create anaerobic conditions that would certainly kill all plants and animals besides fish.  According to Genesis 7:8-9, “Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah.”  God created and valued/values animals and they are included in His covenant with man in Genesis 9.

Most birds are not pets and are not given much consideration by society.  However, God values all of His animals.  Matthew 6:26 addresses this by teaching, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”  The importance of “mere birds” is also found in Matthew 10:29.  “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.”

I have been blessed to have had so many pets in my life.  As a young boy, I learned the Creation Story and animals are most certainly part of Creation.  Psalm 50:10-11 reads, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is Mine.”  I also learned that animals were put here on earth for companionship and a food source, but the earth and all plants and animals on the earth belong to God, and as such we dishonor God if we abuse His earth or His animals.  I support the wise and humane use of animals, but I am equally opposed to the misuse and abuse of animals.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, taught that humans are stewards of—and responsible for the care of—God’s creation. When they failed to protect His perfect creation, humans sinned against God, and when pain and suffering then entered the world, animals had to endure it, too. The bond God had created was broken, and humans’ exploitation of and cruelty to animals began. Wesley spoke with anticipation of a new creation in which God would restore animals to their intended glory.

 

Martin Luther, who founded the Lutheran church, held a view similar to Wesley’s, saying, “In Paradise there was complete harmony between man and animals; one day again that harmony will be restored and all creation will be made anew as Christ will be in all and all.”

Scripture is rich in describing the Paradise that awaits Christians upon our Healing.  We all look forward to seeing the Father’s Face as the Son presents us as perfect, clean and without sin.  I am confident that any Perfect resting place for me will also include all of my beloved pets from throughout the years. 

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the blessing of pets.  Their unconditional love, companionship, and goodness is a constant reminder to us that they belong to You as do we.  Help us to be good stewards of all pets and all animals and to make decisions regarding all of Your creatures that bring honor and glory to You.  Amen!

Meet the Author

We welcome your comments below.

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and a Certified Lay Speaker with the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.  He is a Board Member for Gulf South Men, an Action Team member for The Kingdom Group, and a Board Member for the Lagniappe Community Walk to Emmaus.  Todd is a Past President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and remains active in this and many other local, regional, and international ministries.  Todd is the proud father of Emma and Kyle and resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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In Search of Equity in the Vineyard and Today’s Society

In Search of Equity in the Vineyard and Today’s Society

“But He answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?  Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.   Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’” (Matthew 20:13-15 NIV).

The terms “equity” and “fairness” are often used to support an argument in favor of one person that has less resources and against the other person who has more resources.  As a result of our actions in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3, we live in a fallen world and as such there is pain, injustice, and unfairness.  I really wish Adam and Eve had made a roux and turned the snake into a coubion stew!

Now, greed, injustice, and unfairness are prevalent in our society.  There are winners and losers in a zero-sum game for resources.  My understanding of Scripture is such that God is less interested in equity on earth than He is in us accepting Him as Lord and Savior and leading others to Him. 

For those who have been blessed with many resources, they would do well to be generous and remember that to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48).  Also, they would also be wise to heed the words of Micah 6:8, “ O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Yes, the Lord wants us to do nice things for each other – to practice justice, love, and mercy.  John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church, summed it up with the three rules: Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God.  On our better days, we all make progress in all three categories, but sadly, on other days we fail.  The good news is that although we are all prone to greed and other sins, God’s love remains steadfast, and we are reminded in Psalm 118:8 to put our trust in Him, not men.

I think God also knows that as sinners, we will fall short, and all of our “good” acts are in reality “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) in His presence.  In short, good deeds are a manifestation of our faith in Him, but there is certainly no salvation through works.  Jesus is the way, not our good acts. 

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard in Matthew 20 is a powerful reminder that God uses a different metric than us to decide equity and fairness.  If we work longer than a peer, we want more money than our peer and we will argue that it is not “fair” or “equitable” to pay our colleague the same as us since we have more seniority.    The reality is each worker in the vineyard agreed to work for a given wage, and at the end of the day they received what they were promised. 

I wonder what would have happened if someone had formed a union among the vineyard workers and negotiated a raise for all workers and a bigger raise for those that work longer hours.  Would this person truly be showing love to these workers if he/she was exclusively focused on collective bargaining and did not point the workers to Christ for eternal salvation?  Would the workers be better served in the long-term by the extra dollars on earth or by life everlasting with the Father?  As I typed that last sentence, my mind was drawn to Mark 8:36.  “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

If the owner of the vineyard wants to give the new hires the same wage as those with more seniority, that is at the discretion of the owner.   The owner is the owner, and we are not.  God is God, and we are not.  Clearly, this parable is also teaching us that those that come to Christ later in life after years of denying Him will also receive the same reward as those that came to Christ early in life – the forgiveness of sin and life everlasting with the Father.   There is no extra reward in Heaven for life-long Christians as compared to those that recently accepted Christ prior to their death.  The reward for the life-long Christian is that of an entire life spent in and for Christ.

A lack of equity and fairness can rob us of our peace, but a life lived in Christ and for Christ will grant us a peace that transcends all understanding.  A lack of equity is certainly one of the many troubles that we face on earth, but we can take comfort in the Words of our Lord and Savior in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The pursuit of equity and fairness is a noble pursuit but one that will always come up short.  I do not like a lack of equity or fairness and understand that sometimes those with less resources are responsible for their situation and sometimes they are not.  Regardless, I suspect that the enemy smiles when we continually forgo our calling for evangelism and discipleship in pursuit of chasing the ever-elusive goal of equity and fairness.

Jesus told us that the poor will always be with us.  To me, he was telling us that we will always have inequity and unfairness and we should indeed do all the good we can to help them and in doing so we are showing the love of Christ.  Just because the poor will always be with us is not an excuse to become complacent but rather it is an acknowledgment that equity and fairness will never be found on this fallen earth.

Yes, we will always lack equity in resources, but we do not lack equity in our ability to be in covenant with God and reach Him through His word and prayer.  We all have equity in our ability to submit ourselves to God and live out our faith by daily showing the Fruits of the Spirit.  Salvation is equally available to all, and this is the greatest equity to be found on earth!

Prayer:  Dear God, We have not been an obedient church and we fall short in so many ways.  Life is often unfair, unjust, and resources are not distributed in an equitable manner.  Help us to understand that true equity exists in our access to reach You through your Word and through prayer.  Grant us discretion on how to best use our time to bring honor and glory to You and to show true love to our neighbor.  Amen. 

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and a Certified Lay Speaker with the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.  He is a Board Member for Gulf South Men, an Action Team member for The Kingdom Group, and a Board Member for the Lagniappe Community Walk to Emmaus.  Todd is a Past President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and remains active in this and many other local, regional, and international ministries.  Todd is the proud father of Emma and Kyle and resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

We welcome your comments below.

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