Recipe for Joy

Recipe for Joy

“I will continue to rejoice. For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance” (Philippians 1:18-19 NLT).

I love to cook.  As any chef will tell you, the key to a good dish is the proper ingredients.   Sometimes if I cook something good, I wonder what can I add to make it great?  God is known by many names but is seldom referred to as the “master chef.”  However, He provides all the ingredients we need to regain our joy. 

Sometimes in life things are simply falling apart and as men we try and try to put the pieces back together and get more and more tired and frustrated.  We cry out and ask, “Where is God?” when the fact is the He is right next to you waiting for you to trust in Him and let Him take the pieces of your old life and transform them into a new life that is centered in Him. 

We all reach a defining crossroad at times of great adversity.  Our options are to worry (depend on yourself) or worship (trust in God).  Paul modeled for us the value of choosing worship.  His ministry in Philippi was grueling.  When Paul went to this city to start a church, he was whipped, falsely arrested, thrown into prison, and survived an earthquake.  Despite these obstacles, Paul gave thanks.  “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God” (Philippians 1:3).  Paul had learned the “secret of being content in any and every situation (Philippians 4:12).

Paul reveals several “ingredients” for strength for being joyful in tough times.  Paul says in Philippians 1:18-19, “I will continue to rejoice. For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance.”   Paul keep his perspective on God and not his problems.  I like how Paul writes “For I know.” In times of trouble we fall back on what we know to be true.   Paul was falling back on the promises of God that he knew to be true.   

Paul knew that he had people praying for him.  He also knew that “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5:16).   Paul also acknowledges “The Helper” (John 14:16) and received support from the .   The passage ends with “This will lead to my deliverance.” Paul had faith that God would work out his problem for good (Romans 8:28).

Paul had God’s perspective, the prayer of righteous men, the Holy Spirit, and faith.   Paul had all the necessary ingredients to continue to rejoice.” We also have the same ingredients.  So, do we choose to worship or worry during hard times?

Prayer: “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.   The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed” (Psalm 103: 1-6).

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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Happy Memories from Bad Experiences

Happy Memories from Bad Experiences

Happy Memories from Bad Experiences

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God”  (Philippians 1:3 NLT).

Happy Memories from Bad Experiences

I love the encouragement found in the book of Philippians.  One of the reasons Paul wrote this book was to thank the church at Philippi for their helpHe writes, “I thank God for the help you gave me” (Philippians 1:5).  He also wrote, “no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only” (Philippians 4:15); “Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again” (Philippians 4:16).    The generosity of the Philippians to Paul compelled him to assure them “my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).   This is quite a thank you letter.

It should be noted that Paul did not have a pleasant experience in Philippi.  He was beaten, whipped, humiliated, falsely arrested, thrown into prison, and survived an earthquake. Then, he

was asked by the city leaders to leave town.  In spite of all of this, Paul writes, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God” (Philippians 1:3).

How can he survive such a difficult experience but express such deep gratitude?  Paul is consciously choosing where to focus his attention.  He has selected not to dwell on the painful memories but to express gratitude for the good things that had been done for him and through him.

I have a friend that lost his house and all of his possessions in a flood a few years ago.  We were recently talking about the flood and he said, “I do not really remember the flood itself, damages, or losses, but I vividly remember the angels that God sent to help rebuild and refurnish my house.”  What a testimony!  He saw the Hand of Christ throughout the flood and the subsequent recovery.

Our mental, physical, and spiritual health is connected.  Too often we allow painful memories to linger in our minds and then suffer the adverse consequences to our physical and spiritual health.  Scripture teaches us to “…take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).   This process allows us to “weed out” negative thoughts and live a life of gratitude.  Paul was likely following his own advice that he gave the Philippians.  “… Fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable” (Philippians 4:8).

Paul had a lot of reasons to focus on painful memories of Philippi. Instead, he chose to be grateful for the people that helped him, and the work God was doing in and through them to build His church.  When we forgive others for their wrongs against us, then we can have happy memories even though we had difficult circumstances.  This attitude honors God, and He bless our relationships far beyond our expectations when we focus on His blessings.

Prayer:  Dear God:  Thank you for helping us to forget painful memories and focus our thoughts on you.  Please continue to lead, guide, and direct us in all that we do.   May others know that we are Christians by our love.  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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Finding a Way Out from Temptation

Finding a Way Out from Temptation

Evangelism Begins With Discernment

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13).

Finding a Way Out from Temptation

I recently ate lunch with friends at a local cafeteria.  As I walked with my tray to the cash register, I passed the desserts.  They looked really good, and I was very tempted to get one but did not.   In the overall scheme of things, this was a pretty mild form of temptation.

Temptation comes at us each day in a variety of forms.  It has been around since the very beginning when the serpent tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve disobeyed God and gave in to the desires of the flesh and ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

The enemy later tempted Jesus immediately following His baptism.  You may recall that Jesus used Scripture to “rebuke” (2 Timothy 3:16) satan as Jesus was tested and tempted by satan

(Matthew 4:1-11).  Jesus modelled for us the power of Scripture.  Also, Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife to sleep with her.  Joseph modelled for us that we should remove ourselves from temptation.  As Potiphar’s wife grabbed Joseph’s cloak, he ran out of the house (Genesis 39:12).

The enemy knows that we each have a weakness and will use these as temptations to move us away from God and toward sin.  Temptation should be dealt with consistently, ruthlessly, and immediately because sin is “crouching at the door” (Genesis 4:7).

It is important that we realize the pathway and source of temptation.  James 1:13-15 teaches,  “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”  Adam and Eve did not die in their physical bodies, but their sin separated them from God.  A life separated from God is no life at all.   

Yes, “the wages of sin are death” (Romans 6:23).  However, we have eternal life through the blood of Jesus because the complete verse of Romans 6:23 is: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  “As the Scripture says, “The person who is put right with God through faith shall live” (Romans 1:17).

Temptation is clearly not from God, but we can use temptation to deepen our relationship with God.  John Quincy Adams, our sixth President, said, “Every temptation is an opportunity of our getting nearer to God.”  God will provide a way out from temptation, and He is “the way and the truth and the life”  (John 14:6).

Prayer:  Dear God:  Please protect us as we face temptations that would serve to draw us away from you.  Grant us a keen sense of discernment as we seek comfort from you and not from this world.  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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Judge Others or Pray?

Judge Others or Pray?
Judge Others or Pray?

Judge Others or Pray?

“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin”  (John 8:11).

It is so very tempting to judge others as we can go about our day.  We often do not say anything negative but in our minds, we condemn others.  Some of us will pass judgment when we see someone smoking cigarettes.  Others will pass judgment when they see a person with multiple tattoos and piercings.  We can even quote Scripture to support our case.  Don’t they know that their bodies are a “holy temple”?  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

If we harbor negative thoughts in our minds, it is inevitable that negative words will come from our mouths.  According to Matthew 12:34, “… for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”  Negative thoughts and harsh judgment places us on the road to hate.  “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him” 1 John 3:15).

We judge harshly when a clergy has fallen to sins of the flesh.  We assume the worst when a brother or sister in Christ is accused of some wrongdoing.  We laugh when there is another political scandal, but if the accused is “our” person, we judge the motives of the accuser.

All sin is sin, and it is detestable to our Lord.  There is no big or little sin.  When we hear that a friend or neighbor is in trouble, rather than gossiping about them and accepting the accusation, let’s instead say a prayer for the accuser.   May they all be surrounded by God’s love, mercy, and grace.   Life will give us plenty of opportunities to pass judgment on others, but let’s use those opportunities to pass along prayers.

Imagine a world in which we all offer grace to sinners (each other) and encouragement rather than judgment.  To me, this would be the answer to the Lord’s Prayer in which we pray “your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10).

We are all God’s chosen people. We have been given grace upon grace from our Lord.  Our response to such grace should be to extend it to others.  Paul writes in Colossians 3:12, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Prayer:  Dear good and gracious God, We have so many opportunities throughout each day to harshly judge our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We know that this dishonors you and us.  Help us to use these opportunities to offer prayers rather than judgement.  May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts always be pleasing to 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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Obstacles to Joy

Obstacles to Joy

Obstacles to Joy

“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 NIV).

Obstacles to Joy

We all have stress and anxiety.  These are obstacles to the happiness that we all seek.  I think what is important is how we deal with these obstacles.  A little bit of stress is natural and no problem.  It can be helpful and protect us from dangerous situations. 

Regardless of the source of our stress, we as Christians have a proven method to rid ourselves of it but it takes courage and faith.  The Apostle Paul wrote, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 4:7).  Think about that for a moment – a peace that surpasses all understanding.   Below are a few thoughts that hopefully will help us all find that peace and navigate the obstacles to happiness.

1.

Make peace with your past so it won’t impede your present and future.

Everybody has regrets from their past.  Our hindsight is always 20/20.  Your past is your testimony today and not your destiny for tomorrow.  The enemy will constantly seek to remind you of your past failures to rob you of the joy that God wants you to enjoy today.  God wants to give us a future with hope.  “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” (Jeremiah 29:11).

2.

Do no worry about what others think of you. Teenagers are often obsessed with what others think of them.  As adults we also want to fit in and be held in high esteem.  Our identify does not come from our social media profiles, gossip of others, or even the support of others.  Our identify comes from Jesus.  The Bible states, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).

3.

Time heals most wounds.

There is an old saying that time heals all wounds.  This is not from the Bible but is generally true in my experience.   Some wounds are healed within days, others years, and others are healed upon death.  We often struggle with patience while we wait.  The Psalmist wrote, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).  God will heal us mentally and physically in His perfect time, not ours.

4.

Do no allow others to control your happiness. We let others control our happiness when we worry about what others think of us or when we are jealous because of the success of a neighbor.  Our true joy is based on the fact that we are children of God.   You will always have people that gossip about you behind your back.  That is their burden to carry, not yours.  We are blessed when we “learn to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).

5.

Avoid comparisons to others. Jealousy is a terrible emotion and a favorite tool of the enemy.  If somebody else has success, we should celebrate with them.  God does not have a finite number of blessings to bestow.  The Parable of the Lost Coin in Luke 15:8-10 tells of a woman that has lost a coin but sweeps the house in search of it.  “And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin” (Luke 15:9).  Surely, we should rejoice and not be jealous when God’s favor is on our neighbor.  Don’t we want them to join us in times of celebration also?

Prayer“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace”  (Numbers 6:24-26).

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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Reached the End of Your Rope?

Reached the End of Your Rope?

Reached the End of Your Rope?

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV).

If you are not at the end of your rope now, I am certain that you have been in the past.  Also, I am certain that you will be again in the future.  This is as certain as death and taxes.  Also, this feeling of frustration is as old as the Old Testament and a good example of this is presented in the story of Elijah as detailed in 1 Kings. 

Elijah was a prophet who lived in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of King Ahab (9th century BC). In 1 Kings 18, Elijah defended the worship of the Hebrew God over that of the Canaanite deity Baal.  Elijah grew frustrated and scared and fled from Jezebel, wife of king Ahab and follower of Baal.  When Elijah reached the end of his rope, God led him to do three things that helped him recover—and they’re things that can help us recover.

Rest your body.  In the most famous Psalm the Word teaches us, “He makes me lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2). Sometimes God will force you to lie down because you’re unwilling to do it on your own. You can’t be spiritually and emotionally strong while you’re physically depleted. You cannot be of service to others if you are exhausted.  That’s what happened to Elijah. God did not  scold Elijah but rather He simply let Elijah sleep. The Bible says about Elijah in 1 Kings 19:5, “Then he lay down  under the bush and fell asleep.”  Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do when you’re emotionally exhausted is to take a nap.

Release your frustrations.  Releasing your feeling is the beginning of healing. In 1 Kings 19:10, Elijah says this to God: “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”  Elijah didn’t hold anything back. He told God his frustrations.  God isn’t shocked when you complain to him. He’ll listen to you until you run out of words and then the Holy Spirit will intercede for us (Romans 8:26-27).

Remember and refocus on God.  When you’re emotionally exhausted and nearing burnout, you need to remember what God says and who He is. When we do that, we shift our eyes away from our problem and toward Jesus. We get a fresh awareness of God’s power and God’s presence and God’s personality. We gain a new perspective on our problem because it is so small compared to God.  In 1 Kings 19:11-13, God demonstrated his power firsthand to Elijah. The Lord showed him who was in control. When we are struggling through burnout, it’s often because you’re trying to play God and control everything. When you refocus on God, you realize He is in control. You can stop exerting your own control and energy.

If you’re feeling burned out and emotionally exhausted, God hasn’t forgotten you. Just like God did with Elijah, God stands ready and willing to help.

Prayer: Dear God:  Thank you for your patience, grace, and love.  Please continue to help us through good times and bad.  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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    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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  • Five Steps for Handling Frustration



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Confronting our Confrontations

Confronting our Confrontations

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up” (Proverbs 12:25 NIV)

Our words will invariably hurt somebody’s feelings and cause pain.  Proverbs 18:21 teaches us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”  Our words can be used to share the Good News with others or cause pain. 

I think most of us try to avoid confrontations.  They are unpleasant and awkward.  However, sometimes it is important that we have a serious conversation or a “confrontation” with someone.  It may be needed to resolve a lingering issue, to improve the relationship, and to better understand each other.  Yes, sometimes we need to prune our relationships if they are not bearing good fruit.  So, we must confront our reluctance to have a confrontation.  Hopefully, at the end of the

confrontation the two people better understand and appreciate each other than before.  When in a confrontation, I try to remember the words of Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

The purpose of the confrontation should not be to tear down the other person or get even.  The purpose should be to try to identify common ground and should be done out of love and respect.   Remember, one of the Fruits of the Spirit is self control.

Today, many of our confrontations become legal disputes.  I understand that sometimes this is unavoidable, but we must realize the Word cautions us, When you take another believer to court, you have lost the battle already” (1 Corinthians 6:7).  The Apostle condemns the Corinthians because their tribunals were heathen, and the spirit of the litigation was void of Christ.  The battle is lost because we have missed an opportunity to build up the Church.  The Bible presents a better option that brings honor to God and both parties.  “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.   But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’  If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17).

The Bible tells us that unresolved conflict blocks our fellowship with God and keeps our prayers from being answered. This is why Jesus commands us in to restore our broken relationships before we worship (Matthew 5:23-24).  Job’s friends reminded him, “To worry yourself to death with resentment would be a foolish, senseless thing to do,” (Job 5:2) and, “You are only hurting yourself with your anger,” (Job 18:4). It has often been said that when you forgive someone, the prisoner you set free is yourself.

I was taught years ago that if you were going to have a “come to Jesus meeting” with someone, it was best to begin and end on a positive note and insert your concerns in the middle.  This lightens the tension at the beginning and ends the meeting on a positive note.  A meaningful confrontation will convey three messages.

          1. You love and care for that person.
          2. You will pray for and help that person.
          3. You believe that person can change.

The Apostle Paul did this in 1 and 2 Corinthians by beginning and ending with affirmation. For example, Paul starts one letter by saying, “I always thank God for you,” and ends with, “My love to all of you in Christ Jesus.” Between that he’s dealing with some very tough truths while also giving affirmation in the middle: “I have great confidence in you, and I have a lot of reasons to be proud of you” (2 Corinthians 7:4).  Paul wisely used the word “and” instead of “but.”  The former maintains engagement but the later will make the listener defensive and invalidate your previous words of affirmation.

Prayer:  Dear God:  Please be with us during times of confrontation and help us use these occasions to speak words of truth in love that will bring honor and glory to 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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  • Book Review: Overcoming Racial And Cultural Barriers To Disciple Men by Rev. Elmo Winters

    Book Review: Overcoming Racial And Cultural Barriers To Disciple Men by Rev. Elmo Winters “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation” (Acts 17:26 KJV).Each generation faces unique challenges that historians use to define that time period or generation.  There are some challenges that seem to transcend time and linger from one generation to the next.  The issue of race is as old as the Biblical story of the Samaritan woman at the well that...
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  • Who Is In Your Foxhole?

    Who Is In Your Foxhole? “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24 NIV). A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Coach Jeff Kisiah “Coach K” at an Iron Sharpens Iron men’s equipping conference.  He spoke about the importance of foxhole friends and the strength of a threefold cord (Ecclesiastes 4:12).  This man of God recently went on to Glory, but he left behind a legacy.  The basis for the annual, national conference is Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another.” Men...

What Can Grasshoppers and Mustard Seeds Teach Us About Fear?

What Can Grasshoppers and Mustard Seeds Teach Us About Fear?

What Can Grasshoppers and Mustard Seeds
Teach Us About Fear?

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV).

Fear is our natural response to physical or emotional danger.  Fear can be healthy to help us avoid dangerous situations.  We often fear situations that are not as serious as we perceive, which can trigger an extreme, and often unnecessary, fight-flight-or-freeze response. As a result, we may find ourselves avoiding challenges that could benefit them in the long run or hanging back during social interactions for no good reason.

When I think about the root cause of so many mistakes and spiritual pitfalls in my life, the source seems to be fear. Fear will cause us to buckle and settle for less than God’s best. It’ll cause us to disobey after diluting our trust in Him, and even when do stay strong, it’ll rob us of our peace and joy.  The enemy wants to keep us fearful and not faithful.

Numbers 13 tells us that twelve spies went into the Promised Land to scout it out before the Hebrew nation was to enter and claim what God promised them.  Joshua and Caleb came back ready to invade. The other 10 spies were terrified of the so called “giants” in the land.  They later confessed, “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them (Numbers 13:33).”  

Why did the “giants” view the ten spies as little “grasshoppers”? Because the spies viewed themselves as little “grasshoppers.”  Instead of trusting God, believing His promise, and moving out with courage, fear paralyzed them.  If we see ourselves as grasshoppers, we will always see giants and deny ourselves the blessings that God has placed before us.

The cure for fear is faith.  Matthew 17 teaches about a man that brought his sick son to Jesus to heal.  The man stated that he had previously brought his son to the disciples, but they could not heal him.  Jesus rebuked the demon, and the boy was immediately healed.  The disciples asked Jesus why they could not drive the demon out.  “He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you (Matthew 17:20-21).

The faith of a mustard seed is enough for us to move mountains and certainly to conquer any real or imaginary giant.  Faith and confidence are important in our spiritual and secular life.    If a potential customer or client senses that you possess a “grasshopper mentality” they will pick up on it. “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” Proverbs 23:7.  Think of yourself as a child of God, and He loves you more than words can describe. 

Prayer:  Dear God:  Please help us to strengthen our faith in you.  We rebuke fear from the enemy in your name.  Be with us, lead us, and guide 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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  • Forgiveness


    Forgiveness

    The Power of the Mind
    “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:22 NIV).It is inevitable that we will accidentally hurt someone’s feelings, often of those who are closest to us, and need to ask for their forgiveness. Sometimes they are forgiven and, unfortunately, sometimes not. But what happens when the person who hurt us does not seek our forgiveness? In either case, we have a decision to make:…
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  • Knowledge


    Knowledge

    Knowledge
    “My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the LORD grants wisdom! From His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:1-6 NLT).I think society tends to confuse knowledge with education.  However, a person can have extensive education and college degrees and not necessarily be very knowledgeable.   Perhaps they…
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  • Who Is Responsible For My Salvation?


    Who Is Responsible For My Salvation?

    Who Is Responsible For My Salvation?
    “So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God” Romans 14:12 (NIV).Throughout the Bible we are encouraged whenever possible to live in peace with our neighbors.  For example, Scripture teaches us to live in harmony (Romans 12:16), carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and help others in need (Deuteronomy 15:11).   Godly living calls us to turn the other cheek and returning evil with love.  We have the ability, and the Christian joyful obligation, to positively impact each other’s spiritual lives.  There is certainly strength in numbers.  You may recall the Scripture…
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Defeating Evil

Defeating Evil

Defeating Evil

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’   Then the devil left Him, and angels came and attended Him  (Matthew 4:10-11 NIV).

Defeating Evil

I find it troubling that many Christians do not believe in the existence of satan.  I always use a lower case “s” when referring to the enemy because I want to be as disrespectful as possible.  If you doubt the reality of evil as an active force in this world, simply remember that Jesus dealt with the enemy first hand on multiple occasions. A single-dimensional outlook, unwilling to confront the possibility of darkness simply plays into the hands of evil. In C. S. Lewis’s classic book, The Screwtape Letters, the crafty older demon acknowledges that the cause of evil accrues much more power when Christians fail to concede that it exists.  At the same time, it is important to understand that as children of light evil has no long-term power over us.

The Word of God is authoritative.  The Psalmist writes, “All your words are true” (Psalm 119:160).  Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”  A Christian is on a discipleship pathway to constantly grow closer to Christ and discern His will for our lives.  Prayer, worship, and small groups are all important in this regard.  However, God primarily reveals himself through His Word.  In John 1:14, we learn that, “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”  God gave us Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting but also so we can better understand the Word.

We read in Genesis 3 that there was a real serpent and it received a real physical curse to crawl on its belly and eat dust for the duration of its life (Genesis 3:14). satan is not a physical being, although he can operate in the physical realm (Job 1–2). He is a spiritual being that operates in the spiritual realm as evidenced in many passages that detail his spiritual attributes (1 Peter 5:8Matthew 16:23Acts 5:3; and Ephesians 6:12).

Jesus cast out demons into pigs.  Matthew 8:28-34Mark 5:1-20, and Luke 8:26-33 state that the demons were concerned about the time, as it was not the “appointed time.” Luke discusses the demons concern about going into the “Abyss” (Luke 8:31).  Jesus knew His purpose here on earth – to accomplish the perfect will of His Father. Jesus followed His Fathers plans and did not torment the demons before the “appointed time.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 states, “there is a time for everything.”  I think the demons had a concern of their impending doom and thought that their time was over and they would be sent to the Abyss.  The “appointed time” comes when Jesus defeats the enemy as detailed in the book of Revelation.

The Lord is speaking to the serpent and satan in Genesis 3.  The Bible tells us that satan used a real serpent to deceive Eve.  And because of his entrance into the serpent, he can rightly be called the “serpent of old” or “great dragon” (Revelation 12:920:2).  To defeat evil, we must acknowledge it and name it, and then rebuke it in the name of Jesus.

Prayer:  Dear God:  We know that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth.  The demons believe in you and shudder.  Thank you for the ability to rebuke evil in Your name and for Your glory.  We are your sheep and we trust in the Good Shepard.  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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  • How to be a AAA-Rated Father

    How to be a AAA-Rated Father “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.  Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.   How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!  He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates )(Psalm 127:3-5 NLT). Each year parents with good intentions will search for books to improve their parenting skills.  As parents we love our children and want them to have a good life and be happy.  We purchase material things to make them happy.  We take them on...
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    The Greatest Threat To The Church Is… “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others” (Matthew 6:5 NIV).I think when most people think about threats to the local church, they think about declining membership and attendance and associated financial issues.  Yes, it is true that many small churches have closed or will close in the near future due to insufficient membership and finances.  However, in the book The Myth of the Dying Church by Glenn T. Stanton, the author presents a...
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    What Motivates You? “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord”  (Proverbs 16:2 NIV). We typically won’t do anything unless we are motivated to do so.  We take action based on a variety of motivations.  Our motivations can be positive or negative.  Some of the common negative motivators include pride, anger, revenge, entitlement, or the desire for approval or to impress others. These motivations are clearly negative and come from a sinful flesh and do not honor God (Romans 8:8). Nothing is hidden from our Lord.  He even evaluates the motivation of our hearts when we give offerings to...

Finding Clarity in a World of Confusion

Finding Clarity in a World of Confusion

Finding Clarity in a World of Confusion

“Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there!” (Psalm 77:19 NLT).

I think many of dislike to be in “limbo.”  We want to know where we stand.  We seek clarity.  Perhaps at no time is this greater than in times of adversity.  It is in these times, that we face the proverbial fork in the road.  Pursue clarity from the secular world or obtain clarity from God’s word.  If you pursue clarity from the secular world, you will never find it.  However, God provides us clarity in the Bible.  Matthew 7:7 provides the guide to finding what we seek.  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Twice it is recorded in the Gospels that Jesus asked, “What do you want?” (John 1:38); “What do you want me to do for you?” (Matthew 20:32; Mark 10:51; Luke 18:41).  He is prompting us to ask and then it will be given. We must be intentional. 

We cannot judge our situation apart from God’s wisdom. In other words, we must leave it up to God to interpret our circumstances. Only He is capable of understanding all the facts, and only He sees the significance of every detail. That’s why it is so important that we test it all by His Word.  If you feel overwhelmed or confused about a decision, you may be living in the flesh and not the Spirit.  Our selfish desires can hinder our ability to hear God’s voice.  The Bible teaches, “God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). He is not the author of confusion. So, if you’re feeling confused it’s not God’s voice speaking in your life.

Sometimes in life we come up against enormous financial, spiritual, or physical barriers.  We seemed trapped and the situation seems hopeless.  The temptation is to lean on our own understanding and trust ourselves to make our paths straight.  1 Corinthians 10:13 reads, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

When you don’t know what to do, God will guide you. He didn’t design you to go through life on your own ingenuity and power. God wants to lead you on the right path, and He will when you trust in Him.  Seek and you will find “the way out” of confusion and into clarity and a peace that transcends all understanding. 

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the peace that comes when we trust in you.  Help us to always seek clarity in your Word and to wait patiently for the way out to appear.  It is in Jesus name that we pray and we live.  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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  • Want to Better Understand Your Identity?



    Want to Better Understand Your Identity?
    “Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!” (Lamentations 3:40 ESV).
    I have some friends that are interested in genealogy.  They want to better understand themselves by tracing their ancestry back as many generations as possible.  This is a fun process and can provide some interesting anecdotes about your family tree.  I think it is natural for all of us at some point in our lives to seek to better understand ourselves.  I have taken several personality profiles and spiritual gifts assessments.  They are interesting, useful, and yield very good information to help…
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  • The Purpose and Daily Use of Prayer



    Purpose And Proper Daily Use Of Prayer
    Perhaps one of the most intimate means available for us to communicate with God is through prayer. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 55 percent of all Americans report that they pray each day. The same study also states that, at a rate of 14 percent, more American women pray daily compared to men. According to Todd Shupe however, a 55 percent would be a failing exam grade for us overall. That’s an F, folks.
    “I think many of us have a false perception of God.  We see God as Santa Claus and approach…
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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 alwaysNothing 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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