A Lesson On Patience From A Rock Song

A Lesson On Patience From A Rock Song?
A Lesson On Patience From A Rock Song?

A Lesson On Patience From A Rock Song?

“But those who wait on 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 40:31 NKJV).

I loved the rock singer Tom Petty. One of my favorite songs by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers was called “The Waiting.” The chorus is: “The waiting is the hardest part. Every day you see one more card. You take it on faith, you take it to the heart. The waiting is the hardest part.”  I totally agree that waiting is the hardest part.  We spend much of lives waiting. We all wait in line at the grocery store, doctor’s office, and on the phone for customer service.  These are annoying but we all do it. It is much more difficult when we wait for God to move in our lives.

God is faithful and He most certainly loves us, but He also moves at His own pace. I think part of the waiting and slow pace is deliberate, but not out of spite – but rather love. He desires for us to trust and love Him completely – in good times and bad. He wants us to turn over all aspects of our lives, public and private, to Him. He wants your obedience even when you don’t understand.

In Genesis 22 God clearly tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac.  As Tom Petty said, “you take it on faith.” In all seriousness, I doubt if I would have the courage or faith that Abraham displayed. Would you? When we wait, we suffer.  We endure mental pain which is just as significant as physical pain. A body cannot be healthy unless it is in good condition physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I have often wondered about 1 Peter 5:10: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” This is a beautiful promise from God that He will eventually rescue us from our suffering. However, the troubling part is “a little while.”   I would prefer that to be better quantified. Does this mean weeks, months or years?  This issue of time is addressed in 2 Peter 3:8: “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

At first glance, this appears to be a riddle. But with deeper thinking, we can see that God is telling us that the concept of human time is irrelevant to Him. The bottom line is your suffering and waiting will last until He decides it is time for it to end. Your job during the interim is to remain in Him and He will remain in you.  He will wait with you and comfort you. If the waiting does not end today, it is certainly not because He does not love you but because today is not the right day – but be assured that the right day is coming.

I take comfort in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “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.” During periods of waiting, we are tempted. We are tempted by the enemy to turn from God and put our faith in ourselves. The enemy is a liar and must always be rebuked in the name of Jesus.

I love the beautiful scripture of Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.”  Forbearance includes the concept of patience during periods of long-suffering. We cannot develop forbearance alone. We must remain in Him and Him in us. Alone we can accomplish nothing of significance.

Prayer:  Dear God, Forgive us for our lack of patience and failure to use our time waiting as a time of spiritual growth and introspection. Continue to develop in us the Fruit of forbearance. Amen.

Meet the Author

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

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The Battle Within Yourself

The Battle Within Yourself
The Battle Within Yourself

The Battle Within Yourself

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an ” (Luke 6:45 NIV).

Perhaps there is no part of the human body that is more necessary to life – but as poorly understood – as the human brain. My son has autism and as a child had several CT scans of his brain that all appeared “normal.” However, there is clearly something unique that is occurring in his brain that serves to limit his speech and overall development.

Both of my children are blessings from God,  and I treasure them. His diagnosis of autism some years ago has set me on a path of intense interest in the human brain. As part of my studies, I have learned that the brain is not only a key component of our mental and physical health but, from a biological perspective, is critically responsible for our spiritual health along with our heart.  Therefore, I am a proud member of organizations that serve to equip men to become better Christian leaders at home, work and church. 

Equipping is essential because without the right equipment, you can’t do the job. You can’t drive a nail without a hammer, and you can’t catch a fish without a pole.  I am intentionally leaving out catfish noodling!  There is no bigger battle that we face than the battle in our mind – and it is a daily fight.  According to Rev. Rick Warren, “the reason why most people are ineffective in life is that they’ve never learned how to fight the battle of the mind.”

In order to fight the battle in your mind, you need to recognize your enemy and remove it from your mind. This is much easier said than done. But we know that “all things are possible with God” (Matthew 19:26). The job of satan is to prevent you from doing the good works that God has prepared you to do. Your job is to call upon The Spirit to help you to fulfill your ministry (yes, YOU are a minister and a member of the Priesthood of all believers) and be a blessing to others and make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Below are three steps to equip you in your fight:

1. The first enemy is your flesh. Paul says in Romans 7:23, “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.”  Paul is referring to his own flesh “mind.” God speaks through Paul in Galatians 2:20 to elaborate this point:  “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Paul wrote in the book of Romans that he would find himself doing things that he really did not want to do. THIS is the battle of the mind.

2. The second enemy is satan.  He is often referred to as the enemy and should be treated as such. We as Christians have only one enemy and his name is satan. Paul makes this point much more clearly than myself in Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Satan is the tempter.  He tempted Adam and Eve and continues to this day.  He is constantly planting negative thoughts in your mind of self-doubt, anxiety and fear. He will use other people to help plant these seeds of doubt.  Therefore, when others speak to us we must discern if this is Godly advice: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world”  (1 John 4:1.)

3. The third enemy is the fallen world. Most advertising campaigns are not appealing to our Christian nature but rather appeal to the flesh. This is done through sexual suggestive imagery, overindulgence and a desire to feed ourselves and not others. The Bible says in 1 John 2:16:   “For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world.”  It is obvious we cannot fight this alone. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says: “Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  Each thought that enters your mind should be examined to determine its source – from God or the enemy. If from the enemy, rebuke it in the name of Jesus. Jesus knew that the enemy was speaking through Peter in Matthew 16:23 when He said, “get behind me satan!”  We have freedom in the laws of God and we have freewill for joyful obedience or not. The Psalmist writes in Psalms 119:112  “I have made up my mind to obey your laws forever, no matter what.” The victory awaits you. We have victory in Jesus. Be blessed.

Prayer:  Dear God, We confess that not all of our thoughts honor You. Please help us to take each thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. Amen.

Meet the Author

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

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A Perversion of a Gift from God

A Perversion of a Gift from God

A Perversion of a Gift from God

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body”  (1 Corinthians 6:18 NIV).

A Perversion of a Gift from God

I recently heard an interview with Rev. Levi Lusco. He was discussing his new book “Swipe Right.” The dating app Tinder provides pictures and basic information that people “looking to date” have uploaded of themselves. If the user swipes to the left of a particular image, then that means he or she is not interested. However, if you swipe to the right, that means you are interested and if the other person does the same thing to your picture, you are very likely going to have sex with them very soon.

You may ask what does that have to do with pornography?  They both are feeding a desire for sex in an immoral manner. Sex is a gift from God and its value decreases when it is approached with such a nonchalant attitude.

Pornography can be as addicting as any drug. Studies have shown that it releases endorphins in the brain which make it “feel good” when in fact it is actually harmful to the body and soul. In reality, it is the fruit of the enemy. Every relationship comes with a moral commitment; this commitment is absent in the relationships of the flesh.

Mark 7:15 tells us: “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” If you “feed” yourself with immorality, then what do you expect to come out of you? Christians are certainly not immune to pornography addition.  The same can be said for the clergy. Many of the millennial generations are products of divorced parents. They see no benefits of marriage and feed their desires through illicit relationships and pornography. Rev. Lusco stated that 1 out of 3 boys who are 13 years of age have a pornography problem. As men of the church, we must be the defenders of these young boys. We must explain to them why this behavior is harmful. The pleasure that they are feeling is not Godly and if they do get married later in life, they often report a less satisfying sex life, according to Rev. Lesko.

Do you recall the story in Genesis of Jacob and Esau? These were twin sons of Issac. Esau was the oldest by seconds and by right he held a higher position in the family. One day Esau returned to his brother, Jacob, and was famished from working in the fields. He begged his twin brother to give him some “red pottage” (stew). Jacob offered to give Esau a bowl of stew in exchange for his birthright (the right to be recognized as firstborn) and Esau agreed.

This is huge because the birthright has to do with the inheritance of both goods and positions. Esau acted impulsively, as he did not value his birthright over a bowl of lentil stew.  The lesson here is that your standards are low when your stomach is empty.  Esau gave into the desires of the flesh without thinking of the consequences.

Rev. Lusco advises that we do not overreact if we find our son or daughter looking at pornography. Do not shame them. Instead, calmly explain to them why this is wrong and why it is important to live in the Spirit rather than living in the flesh. My advice:  Keep your stomach full of Godly things and you will not have an appetite for impure things. Develop an accountability group of friends that form a barrier around you to keep the enemy out.

Prayer:  Dear God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me”  (Psalm 51:10 KJV).

Meet the Author

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

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The Walk to Emmaus: The Best Spiritual Weekend Retreat

The Walk to Emmaus: The Best Spiritual Weekend Retreat

The Walk to Emmaus: The Best Spiritual Weekend Retreat

“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:30-32 NIV).

The Walk to Emmaus “Walk” is a three-day spiritual retreat that came out of the Roman Catholic Cursillo movement. The Walk to Emmaus is held numerous times during the year at various locations throughout the U.S. and the world. Separate walks are held for men and women.  

Luke 24 tells of two of Jesus’s followers walking to the village of Emmaus. Jesus joins them, although they do not recognize Him, and eventually begins to explain all of the Scriptures regarding Himself.  At nightfall, the men urged Jesus to stay with them and He agreed. He took the bread and blessed it. Then He broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him and at that moment He disappeared! The men returned to Jerusalem to tell their story to the eleven disciples.

The Walk to Emmaus is a unique experience of Christian spiritual renewal that begins with a three-day short course in Christianity.  It is an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ in a new way as God’s grace and love is revealed to you through other believers.

The Walk to Emmaus experience begins with the prayerful discernment and invitation from a sponsor. After one accepts this invitation, they complete an application. The Emmaus leaders prayerfully consider each applicant and in God’s time, the person is invited to attend a three-day experience of New Testament Christianity as a lifestyle. After the walk is over, participants are encouraged to join in weekly small groups to support each other in their ongoing walk with Christ.

Through the formational process of accountable discipleship in small groups and participation in the Emmaus community, each participant’s individual gifts and servant-leadership skills are developed for use in the local church and mission. Participants are encouraged to find ways to live out their individual call to discipleship in their home, church and community.

The objective of Emmaus is to inspire, challenge and equip the local church member for Christian action in their homes, churches, communities, and places of work.  Emmaus lifts up a way for our grace-filled lives to be lived and shared with others.

There is much symbolism in the Luke 24 story regarding our own walk with Christ. How often do we fail to recognize Christ in our presence? Once we do recognize Him, do we act as His witnesses? I ask that you prayerfully consider being a pilgrim on the next Walk to Emmaus in your area.

Prayer:  Dear God, May our eyes be opened anew to Your love each time we receive Holy Communion.  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 you for visiting. We trust that you have enjoyed reading our articles.

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  • Look Past The Sin To See The Person – Examples From Godly Women


    Look Past The Sin To See The Person – Examples From Godly Women

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How To Turn Bad into Good

todd shupe
todd shupe

How To Turn Bad into Good

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV).

I think we all have been the recipient of bad behavior by others. Perhaps your spouse cheated on you or a dear friend was unable to keep a secret. My heart breaks for those that have been incarcerated for decades for a crime and then are finally released when DNA evidence, which was not available at the time of the trial, proves they are innocent.

The Biblical story of Joseph is a powerful example of God turning bad into good. As you may recall, Joseph was the youngest of Jacob’s children. The oldest son typically was held in highest regard but Jacob favored Joseph and gave him  “a coat of many colors.” Joseph told his brothers of his dreams and in one dream they were all bowing down to him. The brothers began to hate Joseph and one day threw him into a pit to die. However, they realized that they could receive a small amount of money for selling him and when a trader passed, they sold their brother into slavery.  This is not just bad — it is evil!

Joseph spent many years in prison but maintained his faith in God. His ability to interpret dreams (a gift from God) eventually allowed him to interpret Pharoh’s dreams and manage the surplus of grain for the seven years of plenty to be ready for the following seven years of nothing. The boy ascended from a death pit to second in command of Egypt!  When his brothers come to Egypt for grain, I am struck by Joseph’s response to them: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives”  (Genesis 50:20). Joseph knew that God would use the bad that had been done to him and eventually turn it into good. Isn’t that the message of Romans 8:28?  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  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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Partner With God While Waiting

Partner With God While Waiting

Partner With God While Waiting

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1 KJV).

Waiting is a daily occurrence: We wait in line at the grocery store, post office or on the phone. Sometimes, we are waiting long-term for news regarding a loved one who has suddenly become ill or was in an accident. Waiting is also a part of joyous occasions such as the birth of a child or marriage. In any case, worrying almost always leads to anxiety. I have five favorite scriptures that I go to while waiting.

1) In Isaiah 40:31, it says: “…but those 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.” we follow God and he doesn’t follow us. The Lord is promising us His stamina.  Our faith is demonstrated by maintaining our faith while waiting and knowing that He will act. “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1).

2) In Psalm 46:10, He says: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” This is calming scripture in times of worry and my  “go-to” verse in times of uncertainty. Moreover, I like to meditate on each word of “Be still, and know that I am God” and wait for the peace that surpasses all understanding.

3) Matthew 6:26-27 reads: “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” Our God loves us more than we can begin to comprehend. God will provide His daily bread to us all.

4) In Philippians 4:6-7, it states: “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.” Once we have prayed and given our worries to God, we are freeing ourselves from the chains of anxiety. God will take our worry and replace it with a peace that cannot be described with mere human words.

5) In Matthew 11:28-30, it reads: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” God is our partner and once we accept His yoke and let Him work in tandem with us, we can accomplish so much more. When a friend helps you through a difficult period, he or she is acting as the body of Christ and providing His yoke to you. In turn you will hopefully pass the yoke on to somebody else when they are in need.

In summary, remember that you are loved by God and He wants you to come to him in prayer and unburden yourself of worry and fear. You are far more valuable than the birds in the air and the lilies in the field. In fact, you are a child of the risen Christ.

Prayer:  Dear God, As we wait for You to move, help us to find peace in knowing that You will take the perfect action at the perfect time.  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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Living Your Faith

Living Your Faith

Living Your Faith

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2 14-17)

Living Your Faith

I think I can speak for most of us when I say that we typically have an easy time “living our faith” on Sunday mornings. As the week goes on however, it’s clear that we tend to look less and less like Jesus. So, how can we live our faith? How can we seek His face and His will each day of the week?

Below are five tips that are useful in my life and I pray that you find them useful also.

1. Be Caring:
Caring is all about being physically present to a brother or sister in Christ who needs help. We 

acknowledge that we are not someone who takes the pain away, but rather someone who is willing to share it.

Matthew 11:29: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

2. Be Confident:
Confidence is not arrogance, but rather it is a confidence that the best is yet to come. It is the realization that I am a child of God and I have a covenant relationship with Him. He will work good out of all situations

Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

3. Be Courageous:
Courage is the ability to fight giants with the knowledge that you are wearing the armor of God. “Your giant may be drugs or alcohol or depression. Regardless if God is with you, who can be against you?” Read Joshua 1 for a good lesson on courage.”

Joshua 1:9: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

4. Be of Action:
There is an old song called “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love.” Your love for others will speak volumes. A natural manifestation of this love is to be of service to others. Jesus wants us to feed his sheep and this takes action.

James 2:17: In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

5. Be Blessed:
God loves to bless those who are obedient and faithful. We see a perfect example of this in Luke 8. Jesus is in a crowd that nearly crushed him. A woman who has been bleeding for 12 years touches his cloak and is immediately healed. The woman believed in Jesus Christ by faith, and He rewarded her for it. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)

Prayer: Dear God, Help us to live our our faith as Your hands and feet each day of the week. 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 you for visiting. We trust that you have enjoyed reading our articles.

Water Under The Bridge

Water Under The Bridge

Water Under The Bridge

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).

Water Under The Bridge

“This is just water under the bridge.” If you can say this one day during trying times and mean it, know that you’ve achieved something that so many of us strive for. Forgiveness is a skill that takes time to learn and patience to practice when offering it upon others. That’s because the world isn’t always fair and gut-wrenching situations can’t immediately be solved with forgiveness. However, time heals all wounds and those who practice this trait will feel a lot better than walking around all day with a grudge hung around your neck like an albatross.  There are Biblical teachings on forgiveness that are beneficial for us all.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 tells us, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.”   I realize that that this passage may be of little consolation to those of us who are hurting

due to trespasses against us. In time however, we’ll understand that we’re not perfect and we could one day be in the position where we’re the one desperately seeking forgiveness.  In Luke 6:37, we see that this exact  predicament is addressed and resolved:  “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.”  To the point of damage done to us, Matthew 6:15 has this to say: “But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Forgiveness is a journey and a process and often takes time. If you are showing signs of increased criticism, negativity, and impatience, you are still on the journey.  It has been said that when we forgive someone the prisoner that we set free is ourself.  Unforgiveness also hurts our relations with others due to our sour disposition, depressed attitude, and tendency to easily be annoyed.  The hurt becomes water under the bridge when we achieve forgiveness.  We then release the other person from the debt and no longer desire payback for the offense. We acknowledge that the hurt is real and the relationship may be unable to be reconciled, but we also acknowledge that we are called to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us.

Prayer:  Dear God: Help us to forgive others as You have forgiven us. Whenever possible may we be reconciled with our brothers and sisters in Christ. 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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From Flooded Out To Flooded With Faith: A First-Hand Recollection

From Flooded Out To Flooded With Faith: A First-Hand Recollection

In this blog I would like to explore the effects that the 2016 flooding in Baton Rouge had on my home and why it only strengthened his faith in the end. As I type this on August 13, 2017, I reflect on the one year anniversary of the “great” flood of 2016 that damaged so many homes in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area – mine included. In my humble opinion there was nothing “great” about the flood; it was a terrible event for all and resulted in hardship for many.

The “great” part occurred a few days later when dozens of people from my church came to my house to assist with the gutting — removal of the sheetrock up to four feet from the floor — and mucking — removal of all flooded furniture and clothing from the house. In the middle of the day, there was a mountain of debris in front of my house. Family antiques and heirlooms, treasured books 

beds, toys and so much more were in a mountain in front of our house.  The mountain grew to include everything that was blocking access to the studs.

So, the kitchen cabinets, custom-made wood shelving and bathtub and shower were added to the heap. In the middle of building the debris mountain, I had a short but memorable talk with a long-time dear friend of mine who is more like an older brother.  His name is David, just like my own brother. They are similar in many ways. My friend David was standing next to me by the debris pile. He noticed my sadness and he said to me, “The Lord says, ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; … I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.’” 

He quoted Isaiah 43:18-19 to me. This is a favorite scripture of mine but, like all scripture, it can have a totally different meaning to you depending on your current situation. I felt at peace and a calm came over me as he said those words and hugged me. I think back on that day and I realize without a doubt that David was not talking to me. David was merely a vessel for Christ to talk to me and deliver the words that I needed to hear at that time to provide me a peace that surpasses all understanding. David was helping me to understand that this day was not the end — but rather the beginning of a new life.

As a child of God, I can stand steadfast that the new life will be good. The scripture above was intended for the Jews, who had provoked God to send them into captivity so that they might repent and seek God. The flood was not a result of God being provoked; rather it was a chance for him to grant a fresh start to many of us. God often does His best work when we are weakest.

If you are nearing the end of a marriage, job or other major life events, I encourage you to focus on the beginning of a new life and not the loss of the old. Focus on Jeremiah 29:11, “ 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.”

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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Loneliness: There’s A Time To Give And Time To Receive

Loneliness: There’s A Time To Give And Time To Receive

Loneliness: There’s A Time To Give And Time To Receive

“May the LORD our God be with us as He was with our ancestors; may He never leave us or abandon us”  (1 Kings 8:57 NLT).

Loneliness: There’s A Time To Give And Time To Receive

Loneliness can be a problem for nearly everyone at some point. It is particularly problematic with widows, orphans and incarcerated individuals.  Good friendships can reverse feelings of loneliness.  We all yearn for a “wind beneath our wings,” to quote from a Bette Midler song. We must realize that that wind already exists. Ezekiel 37:1-14 and “The Valley of Dry Bones” is a great story. Ezekiel was in a valley of dry bones and God commanded him to prophesy to the bones.

The bones eventually came together and skin formed, but they lacked life. “Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’ So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet — a 

vast army.”  You may also recall the story of Jesus and the disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was asleep and the winds became severe and scared the disciples. They awoke Jesus and He rebuked the wind and calmed the sea. So, it is clear that God controls the wind.

The wind is already beneath our wings. We can find that wind by reading scripture, yoking up to fellow Christians in small groups, and hearing His word proclaimed at church.  I love the scripture recounting the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-17), “Following the baptism, God spoke down from heaven, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.”  You too are a child of God and He takes great delight in your well-being. He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).  Romans 8 tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Loneliness is a darkness and we cannot live in darkness. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5). God is shining His light on your darkness now. I encourage you to open your hearts and receive His light and love.

For those that are not lonely, I encourage you to pray and ask God to identify who can you help? We are in community with each other. Those that are not struggling should help those that are. In time, you will be in need and others will come to your aid. There is a season for all things (Ecclesiastes 3); a time to give and a time to receive. Please prayerfully consider your role at this time. Blessed be the giver and the receiver.

Prayer: Dear God, Help us to realize that we never walk alone. You always love us and will never forsake 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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