Where Do You Look For Help?

Where Do You Look For Help?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Meet the Author

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

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  • Open My Eyes


    Open My Eyes

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


    Run, Don’t Walk!

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


    You Got Questions? So Does God!

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

The Precious Gift of Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet the Author

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

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  • Men, What Do You Crave?



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


    Be Childlike not Immature

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



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

Tell Yourself The Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet the Author

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

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



    “Four Ways To Turn Father’s Day Into A Celebration Of The Selfless Service Men Do Daily”
    While we’d rather see more than one day per year dedicated to recognizing the fathers in all our lives, we’ll take one and seize upon it for now.With Father’s Day just around the corner, now’s the time to start planning the best ways to mark the occasion. From family outings to intimate sit-downs with like-minded family and friends, Father’s Day is a chance to show respect, appreciation and utmost gratitude for the sacrifices our fathers have made throughout their lives and ours to better our quality…
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  • Complete The Mission



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


    Thank God for THE False Accusation

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

todd shupe lsu

The Right Prayer Is…

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27 NIV).

 

As Christians, we all know that prayer is our direct means of communication with God.  Through our prayers and petitions we communicate with God our needs, worries, and joys.  Some people have a poor prayer life because they are not certain how to pray.   What do I say?  Do I have to be alone with a candle?  Should I speak out loud? 

I feel it is much more important that we communicate with God rather than not communicate because we are paralyzed with uncertainty on how to pray.  Who you are talking to is so much more important than your words.  The Bible tells us in Matthew 6:8, “…your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”  Jesus then proceeds in Matthew 6 to bless us and tell us how to pray.  You may already know it as the Lord’s Prayer, which is found in Matthew 6:9-13

 

You may wonder if He already knows what I need and what I am going to say then why I should I pray?  As for me, I yearn for prayer because it is a key means to understand the One whose love for me is constant and unconditional.  My relationship with Jesus is not based on rules regarding how to pray but is based on mutual love.   Sometimes I am too tired to pray or simply too overwhelmed.   I am comforted that, “…the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).

The Psalms are beautiful and moving prayers.   They express the range of human emotions from anger to love.   We all feel disappointed, frustrated, or with God or with others from time to time.  God wants us to take it all to Him in prayer and leave it with Him.  The enemy wants us to keep it and allow it to grow and separate us from Him.  God understands all of our emotions, and it is ok to express our anger, disappointment, or frustration with Him.  Many characters in the Bible did this.   I encourage you to read Psalm 13, Jonah 4, the Book of Job, Numbers 20, and Genesis 4 to name a few. 

 

So, what is the right prayer?  Is it the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), the prayer of Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:9-10), or something else?  The right prayer is the one offered with confidence and thanksgiving that God already knows what you need and is already at work in delivering it to you. 

 

 

Prayer:  Dear God, We often do not know what to pray when life is so cruel.  Help us to find contentment in all circumstances.  We thank you for the Holy Spirit that intercedes for us in accordance with your perfect will.  We thank you for your son Jesus and the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting.  And dear God, we thank you for always loving us and never leaving 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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  • Understanding Love Through Reading Scripture


    Understanding Love Through Reading from the Scripture

    Understanding Love Through Reading from the Scripture
    “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love”(1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV).Perhaps the most common scripture that is read at a wedding is from 1 Corinthians 13. This is beautiful scripture that defines what is — and what is not — love.   This scripture reveals the deep and unbreakable love that God has for us.   Love is the heart of the Gospel because God is love.   When Jesus was asked to identify the greatest commandment in the Law, He responded, “Love the Lord your God with all…
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  • Looking for Something Good to Taste?



    Looking for Something Good to Taste?
    “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him” (Psalm 34:8 NIV).
    The only thing I like better than eating food is eating food that is tasty.  We all love a tasty meal and many of us have our own unique spice combination to make a dish more appealing.  I think about all the elaborate cooking shows that are popular on television.  I too enjoy watching many of them.  Then, I consider the most significant meal that we consume is the Lord’s supper, Holy communion, Holy Eucharist, or the Blessed Sacrament.
    The consecrated body…
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  • Grace Upon Grace: An Exploration Of God’s Love And How To Receive It


    Grace Upon Grace: An Exploration Of God’s Love And How To Receive It2

    Grace Upon Grace: An Exploration Of God’s Love And How To Receive It
    “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace”
    (Romans 6:14 ESV).
    We are created with a deep need to be loved.  There are two radically different kinds of love: conditional and unconditional. Conditional love involves bargaining and there are conditions that we must meet in order to receive love from others. Such conditional living is exhausting, involving a treadmill of constant doing in order to earn and maintain love.
    Unconditional love is radically different, involving a conversion of our motives. The Christian…
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Who Knows The Truth?

Who Knows The Truth?

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).

One of my favorite Bible studies focused on the questions of God in the Old Testament and the questions of Jesus in the New Testament.   I would not pretend to fully know the meaning behind the questions.  However, it is apparent to me that the questions are, at least in part, designed to draw the listener into a deeper state of self-examination.

I enjoy my “red letter” Bible and understand the added significance of the words of Jesus.  I am drawn to one of the questions that was posed to Jesus.  It did not come from the disciples to better understand Him.  It did not come from the Pharisees to trap him.  It did not come from any of the witnesses to His many public miracles.  It came from the Roman governor Pontius Pilate in an effort to understand “the truth.”  John 18:28-40 details the complete encounter of Jesus with Pilate.  Jesus states, “I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  Pilot responded, “What is truth?” (John 18: 37-38).

I find it particularly noteworthy that this whole discussion of truth is subsequent to an arrest of Jesus by the Jewish leaders based on false allegations.   I wonder how many times in my life I have heard allegations, rumors, or derogatory stories about someone and accepted the story as true.  Surely, some of the stories were true but again some were probably not true.  How many times did I pass these stories on to others?   We all have at times underestimated the power of our words.  Proverbs 18:21 teaches, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”   Jesus not only understood the power of our words but also their origins.   He taught, “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them” (Matthew 15:18).

Ephesians 6 is a well cited section of Scripture on how to use the Armor of God for spiritual attacks.   I am drawn to Ephesians 6:14, Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.”  In many, but not all, situations in life there are two “people” who know the truth about a given situation – you and God.

Pilate’s question is simple but so very profound.  He was not a Jew.  He did not know the truth that Jesus was the Messiah.  The Jewish leaders were intimately familiar with the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.  They had heard Jesus read the scroll and declare, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).  So, even the Jewish leaders when the truth was revealed to them could not accept the truth.

As you go about your day, you can be sure that some have determined “the truth” about you.   Hopefully, you have not determined “the truth” about others.  One truth that I know is, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).  Even if I do know “the truth” about someone else, I am focused on trying to repent from my own sins rather than degrading someone else for their sins, regardless if their sin is “true” or not.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for being the way, the truth, and the life.  Help us to repent of our sins and not judge or speak negatively about others but rather to pray for their repentance.  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 Heart of a Child is the Key to Heaven


    The Heart of a Child is the Key to Heaven

    The Heart of a Child is the Key to Heaven
    “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them” (Mark 10:13-16 ESV).There is no greater gift from God…
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  • Who Do You Listen To?


    Who Do You Listen To?

    Who Do You Listen To?
    “Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say” (Isaiah 28:23 NIV).
    Listening is essential to learning.  I hear many voices, especially on television, but I don’t really listen to them.  I hear them but am not listening.  I feel that much, if not all, of what they have to say is not important and/or is too depressing or divisive.  The story of The Transfiguration in Matthew 17 is a powerful reminder of the importance to listen to Jesus.
    “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led…
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  • The ‘Fruit of The Spirit’ Attributes


    The ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ Attributes2

    The ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ Attributes
    “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” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).
    “The Fruit of the Holy Spirit” is a Biblical term that sums up nine attributes of a Christian. According to Paul the Apostle in his Epistle to the Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).  These are all characteristics of the Holy Spirit’s active presence in lives and a healthy Christian soul contains all of the…
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All We Can Do Now Is Pray?

todd shupe

All We Can Do Now Is Pray?

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16 KJV).

I was recently talking with a friend of mine whose wife is in hospice care.  He has been keeping in close contact with his pastor and passing along daily medical updates.  Each day the pastor told my friend to “hang in there” and then politely end the conversation.  Eventually her condition became critical and the doctors estimated that she only a few more days to live.  My friend spoke to his pastor that day and relayed the devastation news.  The pastor said, “All we can do now is pray.”

I was heart broken when my friend told me this story.  I was sad that he was about to lose his wife, but also sad that the pastor did not invite the Holy Spirit to be present at the beginning of the process.  Prayer is not the last thing we do.  It is the first thing we do.  One of my favorite Bible verses is, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).   We are made righteous through the blood of Jesus and our prayers are powerful.  Certainly, God does not always answer our prayers in the way that we want.  However, our prayers are a form of worship, and He will honor that.  We were made to worship Him rather than to fully understand Him.

Our prayers when offered in confidence and thanksgiving may not always bring about our desired outcome but they will bring about peace.  Philippians 4:6 teaches, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Unanswered prayers will certainly test our faith and an appropriate response might be to say, “God, I do not like this or understand this, but I know you will work this out for good so I trust you and I am claiming your promises.”

2 Chronicles 20 tells an amazing story of King Jehoshaphat when he was confronted by three overwhelming armies. I realize you may not be facing an army to overtake your kingdom, but we sometimes are placed in what appears to be a hopeless situation. The king modeled for us the proper sequence of steps to take in such a situation. First, pray to God. This is putting Matthew 6:33 into action. “But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness.”

Then, take action based on His guidance. After the king’s prayer, the Spirit of the Lord came and said, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15). The people sang songs of praise (worship) and went out to watch the battle as instructed by the Spirit. The three armies destroyed each other. This is a perfect example of “the battle belongs to the Lord (1 Samuel 17:47). All battles belong to the Lord, not just physical battles.

The faith of a mustard seed can do amazing things. It doesn’t always do amazing things, but it always has great potential. We can best position ourselves to tap into God’s power when we live in accordance with His Word. So, don’t pray as a last resort. Instead, follow the instruction and promise of Matthew 6:33. Be blessed as you bless others.

Prayer:   Dear God, Forgive us when we rush ahead and do what is right in our own eyes.  Help us to always pray first and seek Your guidance and know that the battle belongs to You.

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 Biblical Roots Of Trust



    The Biblical Roots Of Trust
    Trust is an essential component to any relationship. Trust is essential for a relationship to move past a superficial level to a more intimate and personal basis. Our relationship with God is based on our trust that first, He lived and died for our sins and second, He has our best interests at heart and loves us unconditionally.The actual phrase “Jesus loves me,” cannot be found in the Bible but there are examples that support this fact. In John 13:34 Jesus said, “As I have loved you, you must love one another” and in John 15:9 He said, “As the Father has…
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  • Trust God, Not Your Feelings


    Trust God, Not Your Feelings

    Trust God, Not Your Feelings
    “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12 NIV).Have you ever heard the expression, “trust your gut.”  This speaks to our natural desire to go with our feelings.  If it feels right, it must be right.  The problem is that often what feels right to us is not always right to God. The Bible teaches about a time when the world was in anarchy because of this attitude: “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).   Today, do we do what feels…
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  • Are You Patiently or Impatiently Waiting on God?


    Are You Patiently or Impatiently Waiting on God?

    Are You Patiently or Impatiently Waiting on God?
    “Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” (Psalm 27:14 NKJV).According to the website Brainboost.com, the average person will spend 10 years standing in line over their lifetime.  I wonder how much time will be added on if they factored in waiting on the phone, waiting for a movie to start, or one of my favorite past times – waiting on God.The Bible is full of stories of those who waited on God to move.  Joseph waited over 13 years before…
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Love Must Be Shown

Love Must Be Shown

“Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds’” (James 2:18 NLT).

Some people think faith is a strong belief in something or someone.  Some may argue that it is a concept or a part of theology.  Faith is so much more than any of that.  The second chapter of James teaches us that real faith transforms lives.   2 Corinthians 5:7 is essential in this regard because it tells us, “For we live by faith, not by sight.”  Faith is an essential part of our very life as a Christian. 

James 2:18 reads, “Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’”  James is describing a person who thinks faith can be separated from works (actions).  This is impossible because our faith and our deeds are inseparable. 

James is essentially saying if you claim to be a Christian, then your actions should support that faith and be visible for others to see.  He is passionate about faith because his life was transformed by his faith.  His faith in God was manifested by his service to God and others.  A fruit of our faith today should also be our works. 

In other words, our works are a natural product from our faith in God and are not done in an attempt to gain favor with God. Our works are not a means of salvation.  Jesus is the only path to salvation.  Isaiah 64:6 tells us that our good deeds are like filthy rags.  This means that our attempts to be “good” are nothing compared to the true goodness of God because we are all sinners and fall short of His glory.

It is good and helpful to talk about our faith and use it to encourage others.  Faith cannot end with words.  Our words are important but must be accompanied by action.  Mother Teresa once said, “The world can be changed by your example, not by your opinions.”

So you may be wondering what does all this talk have to do with the title of this blog?  Faith is very similar to love in one aspect.  Love isn’t visible unless you are able to see it in action. In the same way, the only way you know if someone has real faith is by looking at how they live.  Faith and love are not ideas, emotions, or theological concepts.  They are actions.

Prayer:  Dear God, Forgive us for not only our lack of faith but also our lack of actions.  Send your Holy Spirit to walk with us and teach us as we walk by faith and show our faith with our actions.  We need you and love you.  Amen. 

Meet the Author

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

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  • The 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…
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  • Words Of Life Or Death


    todd shupe

    Words Of Life Or Death
    “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:36 NIV)
    You can turn on the tv news any day at any time to see that things are not peaceful.  People have strong opinions on political, social environmental, and other issues.  A variety of opinions and perspectives can help form a good decision.  However, we all tend to wear blinders and have a very limited field of view on certain issues.  This hinders our perspective and therefore our ability to see issues…
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  • Boundaries Benefit All


    Boundaries Benefit All

    Boundaries Benefit All
    “Moses’ father-in-law replied, What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus 18:17-18 NIV).I just finished reading a book called “Boundaries” by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  It is a New York Times Bestseller and has sold over two million copies since it was first published in 1992 and then revised in 2017.  This is a Christian book that uses appropriate Scripture to help readers take control of their lives by learning when…
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The True Meaning of Salvation

The True Meaning Of Salvation

The True Meaning Of Salvation

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12 NIV).

I had heard the term salvation for years, but was not entirely clear of its meaning. I have come to understand that salvation is “deliverance from danger or suffering.” To save is to deliver or protect. The word carries the idea of victory, health or preservation. Sometimes, the Bible uses the words “saved” or “salvation” to refer to temporal, physical deliverance — such as St. Paul’s deliverance from prison (Philippians 1:19).

Salvation is God’s gracious gift to us.  Ephesians 2:8 teaches us,  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

St. Paul describes salvation in Romans 3:23-24: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

So what is it then to be justified?  This means God treats us as if we were righteous. It is imperative that we remember that our righteousness comes from our faith in God and not our obedience to the Law (Philippians 3:9).

Jesus retreated from the crowds to find rest for Himself and His disciples.  According to Mark 6:31, “Crowds of people were coming and going so that Jesus and his followers did not even have time to eat. He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves, and we will go to a lonely place to get some rest.’”  God wants us to life a joy-filled life.  He also wants us to show His love to others.  He realizes that we can do neither if we are worn out.  If we recognize the true importance of our bodies as indicated in 1 Cor. 6:19-20, then rest seems more essential than a luxury.  “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” 

Moreover, St. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8, “it’s by His grace.” It has nothing to do with me; we are saved by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Redemption is simply a ransom that’s been paid for our sin and all of this is His free gift to us. Jesus equated being saved with entering the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24-26). We are saved from “wrath,” that is, from God’s judgment of sin (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9). Our sin has separated us from God, and the consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  Biblical salvation refers to our deliverance from the consequence of sin and therefore involves the removal of sin.

We are saved by faith. First, we must hear the gospel — the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Ephesians 1:13). Then, we must believe — fully trust the Lord Jesus (Romans 1:16). This involves repentance, a changing of mind about sin and Christ (Acts 3:19) and calling on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:9-10, 13). Then as part of the Body of Christ, our service flows. Faith without works is dead (James 2:26) so I encourage you to accept this free gift and life everlasting. Stay in the Word and the Word will stay in you!  Be blessed.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the free gift of salvation due to the Blood of Jesus. 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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  • Making a Difference in the Lives of Men



    Making a Difference in the Lives of Men
    I encourage you to prayerfully consider joining me in donating to Rev. Mark Lubbock’s ministry – Gulf South Men. Please visit Gulf South Men’s website and GSMen.org to get a glimpse of the scope and impact of this ministry or give Mark a call at (225)252-3331. Mark’s ministry helps men become Disciples that are servant leaders as modeled by Jesus. His work cuts across boundaries of denomination, race, age, etc. His goal is to raise up Godly men that bring Christ into their homes and families and then out into the world. There…
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  • Service is Ministry


    Service is Ministry

    Service is Ministry
    “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”  (Galatians 6:10 NIV)
    We live in a self-serving secular world in which people act to serve their own self interests.  I had a dear friend that has gone on to Glory but on earth he worked as an economist.  He claimed that the entire system of economic theory is so purely deductive that everything in it can be deduced from one essential axiom.   The rationality axiom states that “a rational person maximizes his/her utility.” Some economists will…
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  • Trusting In The Valley and the Mountaintop


    Trusting In The Valley and the Mountaintop

    Trusting In The Valley and the Mountaintop
    “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4 KJV).Jesus warned us that we’d have problems in life. No one is immune from pain or insulated from suffering, and no one gets to skate through life problem-free. You may have heard the old saying “nobody is an atheist in a fox hole.”  Many of us turn to God during the difficult times in our lives but then go back to living…
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Grace Upon Grace: An Exploration Of God’s Love And How To Receive It

Grace Upon Grace: An Exploration Of God’s Love And How To Receive It2

Grace Upon Grace: An Exploration Of God’s Love And How To Receive It

“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace”

(Romans 6:14 ESV).

We are created with a deep need to be loved.  There are two radically different kinds of love: conditional and unconditional. Conditional love involves bargaining and there are conditions that we must meet in order to receive love from others. Such conditional living is exhausting, involving a treadmill of constant doing in order to earn and maintain love.

Unconditional love is radically different, involving a conversion of our motives. The Christian dynamic is “not that we loved God, but that He loved us” (1 John 4:10). Unconditional love is a gift in which the initiative is God’s — and not ours. Human love always expects something in return, yet God’s love does not. Grace is the name for God’s incredible love. God loves us because of who God is; not because of who we are or what we have done.

There is nothing we can do to earn or lose God’s grace.  It is freely given. In fact, God has given us an abundance of grace. “For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16). This grace is so large that “nothing can separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:35-39).  This is astonishing, and I encourage you to pause and think about this.

Now that we have received God’s grace, what is our response?  First, never let your hearts be troubled.  Be confident and courageous and know that God’s favor is upon you. Second, extend grace to others. A few examples are teaching Sunday school, be involved in Christian service, give a full tithe to your church, pray for your pastor and the church, witness your faith and be engaged in the Bible daily and show compassion to the hungry.

Whenever you help the poor, incarcerated, homeless, and marginalized, you are helping our Lord. “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40). Go with the knowledge and confidence that God’s grace is forever upon you. Be blessed.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for pouring out grace upon grace upon us even though we do not deserve it. Help us to realize that Your grace is not to kept to ourselves but to share with others.  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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  • What Motivates You?


    What Motivates You?

    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…
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  • We Grow In The Light


    We Grow In The Light

    We Grow In The Light
    “But if we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other. Then the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from every sin. If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:7-8 NCV).
    Light is essential for all life on earth.  Many plants will alter their growth to maximize the amount of light that their leaves can capture.  I love watching sunflowers move as the sun changes positions in the sky.
    The secular world thinks intimacy occurs in…
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  • 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…
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The Great Question: Where Is God?

The Great Question: Where Is God?

The Great Question: Where Is God?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV, emphasis added).

The Bible teaches us that self-control is essential to living a Christian life. We must exercise our self-control or we become controlled by our weakness. Our weakness may be food, alcohol, drugs, pornography, etc.  The enemy knows our weakness better than we do ourselves and will encourage us to go to it rather than God in times of need.  Our lives can soon be dominated by our weakness and we are living completely in the flesh rather than in the Spirit.  Self-control is the very essence of “dying to self” and living in righteousness with God. Our righteousness cannot — and will not ever — come from ourselves, but only as a means of grace from God as a result of totally surrendering yourself to His will and becoming His disciple.

If you are struggling with self-control, then first begin with prayer and ask God for His help. Then, go into the Bible and study and memorize some particular verses that speak to you and your particular situation.

For me, my go-to verse in times when my patience is growing thin is Proverbs 29:11. It reads in part, “A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back.” We must remember that all wisdom comes from God.  So how does one obtain wisdom?  James 1:5 tells us, If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

The exercise of self-control will not only keep us away from our temptations but will allow us to be a powerful witness for God. You may ask, “How can I be a good witness for God by exercising self-control?” The best witness is one who demonstrates his faith with his actions. St. Francis of Assisi encouraged people to speak the gospel wherever they go and use words when necessary.

Self-control will allow you to remain silent when verbally attacked.  It will allow you to respond with love when confronted with hate. Self-control will also keep you pure when you are alone.  Self-control will also keep you sane in times of great adversity, such as a flooded home, divorce or loss of a family member. We freely and willingly yield control of ourselves to God and instead of worrying about what will happen, we stand steadfast in His promise of Romans 8:28. The passage reads, “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.”

Self-control does not mean that we are to go it alone. Life is tough and we need fellow Christians for the journey. We need accountability groups that are small, honest and safe so we can be vulnerable and encouraging to each other. Christ encouraged us to come to Him with our burdens and He will give us rest. Read Matthew 11 and then fasten your yoke to a friend!

Prayer:  Dear God, May the Fruit of self control be a blessing to us and a witness to others of Your 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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  • Thanksgiving Is Not Just For November


    Thanksgiving Is Not Just For November

    Thanksgiving Is Not Just For November
    “Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 GW).I love Thanksgiving!  It is a fun time of year to get together with family, eat some great home cooked meals, and watch football.  Thanksgiving is a time for us to reflect on the past year and identify things which we are thankful.  In some families, they go around the table and each person states one or two things for which they are thankful. God has blessed us with many emotions with which we can express ourselves. …
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  • The Great Question: Where Is God?


    The Great Question: Where Is God?

    The Great Question: Where Is God?
    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV.The Bible teaches us that self-control is essential to living a Christian life. We must exercise our self-control or we become controlled by our weakness. Our weakness may be food, alcohol, drugs, pornography, etc.  The enemy knows our weakness better than we do ourselves and will encourage us to go to it rather than God in times of need.  Our lives can soon be dominated by our weakness and we are living completely in the flesh…
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  • The ‘Fruit of The Spirit’ Attributes


    The ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ Attributes2

    The ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ Attributes
    “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” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).
    “The Fruit of the Holy Spirit” is a Biblical term that sums up nine attributes of a Christian. According to Paul the Apostle in his Epistle to the Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).  These are all characteristics of the Holy Spirit’s active presence in lives and a healthy Christian soul contains all of the…
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