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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Know Your Enemy

Know Your Enemy

Know Your Enemy

“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  (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).

Know Your Enemy

Coaches of all sports will study game film of their upcoming opponent. Their goal is to understand their opponent and the better you understand them, the better you make the necessary adjustments and preparation to defeat your opponent. It’s much the same in the game of life.  We often mistakenly label our neighbor as our enemy when they are not our enemy at all. You may wonder how can that be – my neighbor deliberately does things to upset myself and my family.

First, you must understand that your neighbor is your brother or sister and is just as loved in God’s eye as yourself. Your neighbor is a sinner, as are you, but you both are saved by the blood of the Lamb. You must first remove the splinter from your eye before you criticize your neighbor for the plank in their eye (Matthew 7:5).

Now, this does not mean that you should not protect yourself or your family from danger. I am speaking of your heart, not your physical safety.

We all have experienced frustration.   Sometimes we are frustrated with ourselves and sometimes with others, including God.  Our frustrations present an opportunity to either deepen our relationships with others or divide us.  Regardless of the nature of our frustration, our response will determine if good fruit comes from the situation. 

Back to our coaches example: In this case, their opponent is easily identifiable — it is the other team. However, our opponent is so often unseen. We may think it is our neighbor or the guy that cut us off in traffic.  However, our brothers and sisters are not our enemy.

St. Paul writes 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.”

The enemy walks among us and uses lies and treachery to create division among God’s people and to tear down the body of Christ. I think this is why God asks us to turn the other cheek and pray for those who persecute us. Because He knows that these people need the love of Christ to overcome their wicked ways. Every knee will bow in response to the love of Christ. It is so easy to act out of the flesh and return rudeness with rudeness. Next time, I pray that you return rudeness with a kind word and smile and then when alone, pray that God will touch his/her heart. If God can turn Saul into Paul, He can certainly help you with your problems with your neighbor. Seek Him first in prayer and carefully examine yourself. Then, go out and be the light of Christ. The light always conquers the darkness. Know your enemy and pray for your enemy. Be blessed!

Prayer:  Dear God, Help us to realize that 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 realm. 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 Joyful Life

A Joyful Life

A Joyful Life

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).

Our society has achieved a point of technological advancement that was unthinkable a mere 10-20 years ago.  In the Western world, we have freedoms of speech and access to clean drinking water that are unheard of in other countries.   All of us, even those barely out of diapers, have smart phones.  However, many Americans are without joy and are seeking answers from pharmaceutical companies to the bottom of a beer bottle.  I have found a few universal truths that can help bring about joy.

1. Read and BELIEVE God’s Promises

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

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

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

3. Smile

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

4. Surround Yourself With Positive People

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

5. Guard Your Brain

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

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

Prayer:  Dear God, Help us to to be thankful not for all circumstances but through all circumstances.  May we find our joy in You, and peace knowing that nothing can separate us from Your 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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“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV ).

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

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

If you are dealing with adversity now, I encourage you to meditate on this scripture from Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and learn not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.”  We are made for community and this is never more true than during a time of adversity.  Speak to your pastor, yoke up with a close friend, spend time alone with God, and cast all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

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

Prayer:  Dear God, Help us to cast all of our anxiety on You and abide in Your love and grace.  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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