Benefits of giving back to the church are many

Benefits of Giving Back To The Church Are Many

Benefits of Giving Back To The Church Are Many

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45 NIV).

At any church, “giving” is one of the more sensitive topics for many but is also very important to discuss. That’s because “giving” is fundamentally essential for the existence and the growth of the local church and the church universal. We often associate giving with money. Although money is important, giving involves more than money.  A disciple will give of their financial resources, time and talents. Recent studies show that tithers make up only 10 to 25 percent of a normal congregation. Only 5 percent of the U.S. tithes, with 80 percent of Americans only giving 2 percent of their income. Christians are only giving at 2.5 percent per capita, while they gave at a 3.3 percent rate during the Great Depression.

Finances:
Most Christians are familiar with the 10 percent tithe. “Make an offering of 10 percent, a tithe, of all the produce which grows in your fields year after year” (Deuteronomy 14:22-26).  First, it is important to stop here and acknowledge that God does not need our money. However, God desires our hearts and our commitment to Him. A full tithe is a sign of trust and commitment and helps to support and advance the local church and its missions.

Our financial resources are a blessing from God and our tithe is returning a small portion to God what we have received from God. Stewardship is much more than financial giving to the church. It is also giving our time, talents, and witness.

Time:
Time is a gift of God. How we choose to use it is a matter of discernment and stewardship. Some people lead lives of quiet desperation, always overextending themselves to the point of exhaustion while others sit around in apathetic boredom. Some spend all their hours serving the needs of others at the expense of their own, while others live only for themselves. As Christian stewards, we try to manage time wisely and in a balanced way. As such, we give our time gladly to family and friends, to strangers, to the community, the church and to ourselves.

Talents:
Do you remember Jesus’ parable of the three servants who received different amounts of money to manage while the master was away? We’ve each received from God distinctive gifts and talents. I believe we develop and use these talents is a matter of stewardship. Like two of the servants in Jesus’ story, we can invest them wisely — or like the third, out of fear we can hide them (Matthew 25:14-30).

Witness:
God desires that we serve as His witness wherever we go. For some, this may be mission trips or full time missionaries. For others, it may be as St. Francis of Assisi said, to “speak the gospel wherever you go and use words when necessary.” Your best witness is your actions – service to others.

Selected Scripture on Giving

1. The Lord Jesus expects and requires us to give: Jesus said to His disciples, “When you give,” not “if you give” (Matthew 6:2).  Hence, Christian giving is not optional but rather essential. We often hear folks say, in the Old Testament they had to give, but not in the New — now we only give if we want to.  This is clearly incorrect. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

2. The Lord Jesus wants us to give for the right reasons: Jesus warned His disciples not to give for the sake of being admired by men. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them” (Matthew 6:1). When we give, we must be careful to examine our motives. We ought to give for the glory of God and the good of His people. We must desire His approval of our giving, rather than the praise and admiration of people.

3. The Lord Jesus wants us to practice benevolent or charitable giving: Jesus said, “When you give to the poor…” (Matthew 6:2-3). Jesus is specifically teaching about “alms” in this passage: aid, charity or benevolent offerings for the needy.

4. The Lord Jesus reminds us that our giving is ultimately to the all-seeing heavenly Father: Jesus said, “When you give…; your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:3-4). When we give, we are not simply adding to the Church budget, we are giving back to God what came from God.

5. The Bible teaches that Christian giving is an act of worship: In connection with the previous point, we see this truth stressed in another way in Paul’s word’s “On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Paul here teaches the Corinthians that their taking up of the collection is an act of worship which is to be a part of their regular Lord’s Day worship. When we put our money in the plate, we are worshiping Almighty God in accordance with His Word. Paul is speaking here of a “collection for the saints.” This is giving by the Church to the Church for the Church.

In summary, the Bible teaches that Christian giving ought to be cheerful giving.  As Paul says “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).  Paul assures us here that the Lord takes a special delight in those who are joyful, energetic, merry givers.   God says in Malachi 3:10: “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.'” This is the only occasion in which God asks us to test him. In fact, after Jesus was baptized, the Enemy tempted him and He answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test'” (Luke 4:12).

Clearly, we have not come close to reaching our potential for giving. Won’t you pray that we will give as we ought? That we will give for the right motives? That we will give joyously? And that we will give extravagantly.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the opportunity to return to You what You so generously given to us. May it be used to further Your Kingdom on earth. 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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  • Nurture Your Friendships


    Nurture Your Friendships

    Nurture Your Friendships
    “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4 NIV).I love to grow plants.  Every gardener knows that the key to a bountiful harvest of flowers, fruits, or vegetables is to carefully nurture the plants.  Gardening is a test of patience.  We plant and then wait. Our friendships are similar to gardening in that both require nurturing.  If we don’t feed our relationships with our friends, we will eventually have no friends.  Life is about priorities. …
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    Who Is In Your Foxhole?
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    Owners and Stewards

    Owners and Stewards
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Joy Of Being ‘Saved’ Just One Stop On Long Road Toward Salvation

Joy Of Being ‘Saved’ Just One Stop On Long Road Toward Salvation

One of the phrases that I hear from fellow Christians quite often is one that gives him both joy and concern: “I am saved!” Quite often, the person has recently been born again and is joyous and with good reason: They have accepted Christ into their life and have accepted Him as their Lord and Savior. However, after speaking with the person, I begin to realize that they feel that they are now “good with God” and there is no need for anything else.

“I rejoice when another brother or sister has decided to give their life to Christ. However, I lament that the church universal has not properly conveyed the discipleship process to new Christians.

As a disciple of Christ, we are called into action. It’s true that not all of us are able to participate in physical ministries such as Habitat for Humanity or travel to foreign countries on mission trips. However, all of us are able to do non-physical tasks that are also needed to build the Kingdom; we can all offer a smile or a kind word to our neighbor and we can all pray for those in need. All of these are necessary to build up our fellow Christians and ourselves.

It is great to believe in Christ and to accept Christ, but remember that even the enemy believes in God (James 2:19). What God needs is your hands and feet, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also,” (James 2:26).

As a born-again Christian, our eyes and hearts are now open to the love of Christ. This love is not to be stored, but received and given to others. Discipleship is a life-long process of growing closer to Christ. This is not accomplished by just attending church on Sundays. However, participation in worship is very important because we need to be full-time Christians and not just on Sunday mornings. We must engage in some sort of Christian action and we need to read and study scripture. We need to pray for ourselves, spouses, family, clergy, and the entire Body of Christ. Our life should be lived as a witness to God. This is true evangelism and this is the mark of a disciple.

At the same time, it is important to realize that we will miss the mark. Sin is the human condition and is inevitable. We will not go through life as perfect angels. We can acknowledge our sins, apologize to those that we have offended and repent our sins to God. Then, on our final day we can be presented to “blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation,” (Philippians 2:15). “Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky and hear the words well down my good and faithful servant,” (Matthew 25:23).

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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  • The Purpose and Daily Use of Prayer

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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 your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it:  Love your neighbor as yourself.   All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).

I encourage you to read this passage and substitute your name for “love.” Our goal in life should be to achieve the characteristics that are described in this scripture. God is love and if we want to be closer to God, we must show His love to the world.

13:1 through 13:3 are very close to my heart. I think far too often we focus on learning and understanding the Bible and doing good deeds to try to earn favor with God.  The most important thing we can do once we have accepted the love of Christ is to show the love of Christ to others. This love starts with our spouse and family and works outward to the world in both word and deed.”

13:1 “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

13:2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

13:3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

13:4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant.

13:5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;

13:6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.

13:7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

13:8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.

13:13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

Love is also making time for those you love. Love is listening, not just hearing. Love is crying together and rejoicing together. Love is when two become one body and love each other as Christ loved His church. Every day tell your loved ones that you love them and reinforce it with your actions.

Prayer:  Dear God:  Help us to love each other as you love 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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  • Benefits of giving back to the church are many


    Benefits of Giving Back To The Church Are Many

    Benefits of Giving Back To The Church Are Many
    “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45 NIV).At any church, “giving” is one of the more sensitive topics for many but is also very important to discuss. That’s because “giving” is fundamentally essential for the existence and the growth of the local church and the church universal. We often associate giving with money. Although money is…
    Read More

  • 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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  • The Power of the Mind


    The Power of the Mind

    The Power of the Mind
    “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45 NIV).I think we are all pretty much aware of the importance of good mental health and the power of positive thinking.  However, the importance of our thoughts also has a profound effect on our spiritual health.    This point is made clear in Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever…
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Forgiveness

Forgiveness

The Power of the Mind

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:22 NIV).

It is inevitable that we will accidentally hurt someone’s feelings, often of those who are closest to us, and need to ask for their forgiveness. Sometimes they are forgiven and, unfortunately, sometimes not. But what happens when the person who hurt us does not seek our forgiveness? In either case, we have a decision to make: Do we or do we not forgive that person?

Below are five thoughts on forgiveness.

1) Forgiveness is good for you: Holding on to anger or resentment is a tool of the enemy.  It is life-taking and not life-giving.  When you forgive someone, even if they don’t know you have forgiven them, will free you from the chains of darkness and improve not only your spiritual health, but your physical and mental health, too.

2) Remove the log from your own eye: In Matthew 7, we are warned to remove the log from our own eye before we criticize someone else. Earlier in the chapter, we are warned about judging others. I think the word “forgiveness” can be substituted for “judge.” “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

3) Forgive and be forgiven: Matthew 6:15 is a classic scripture for forgiveness. “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” We must forgive others in order to receive forgiveness for our sins.

4) Jesus offers forgiveness on the cross: During his death on the cross, Jesus asked God to forgive those responsible. This is the ultimate act of forgiveness. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

5) The Lord’s Prayer: Jesus tells us in the Lord’s prayer, as found in Matthew 6:9-13, that we are to ask and give forgiveness. “This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Clearly Jesus is telling us the importance of giving and receiving forgiveness.  A fundamental component of our Christian walk with Christ.

In summary, forgiveness is not easy. Sometimes, we have been hurt badly and really don’t want to offer forgiveness. However, it is essential for forgiveness to be given, regardless if the offender knows or not, in order for your healing process to begin. If we are seek God’s forgiveness of our sins, then we must forgive others when they sin against us. You will feel better and be blessed by doing so! If you are holding onto anger toward somebody,  prayerfully forgive them now and free yourself.

Prayer:  Dear God, May we always remember to forgive others who sin against us just as You have forgiven our sins against 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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Thank you for visiting. We trust that you have enjoyed reading our articles.

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  • The Great Question: Where Is God?



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  • Thank God for THE False Accusation


    Thank God for THE False Accusation

    Thank God for THE False Accusation
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Evangelism Begins With Discernment

Evangelism Begins With Discernment

Evangelism Begins With Discernment

“Calling the Twelve to Him, He began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits”  (Mark 6:7 NIV)

Evangelism Begins With Discernment

Evangelism is typically defined as the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness.  Many Christians are uncomfortable with active engagement in evangelism because they do not consider themselves a preacher and are too timid to engage in personal witness. The gift of evangelism is directly from Christ:  “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and teachers.”  (Ephesians 4:11).

You may not be called to pastoral ministry but by your baptism and profession of faith you are called to ministry.  It is important to acknowledge we are all uniquely called to spread the Good 

News. According to Romans 12:6-8, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;  if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

Below are five steps to help discern if evangelism is right for you. 

Start with prayer: Prayer is essential to discern God’s will for us.  It is essential that we follow His will and not try to have Him follow our will. God demonstrated in Exodus 13:21 that He wants us to follow him. “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light so that they could travel by day or night.”

 Talk with your pastor and friends.  In addition to prayer, God will speak to us through our friends and our pastor. Talk and pray with them and ask for their assistance in determining what your spiritual gifts are.

The best evangelism doesn’t involve words. St. Francis of Assisi is known to have said, “Speak the gospel wherever you go and use words when necessary.”  The best method to extend the reach of the church is by sharing Christ’s love through missions and Christian action; be the hands and feet of Christ to the unchurched.

The Great Commission.  One of the greatest blessings we have as Christians is The Great Commission. We have all been called to the priesthood of all believers and to make disciples of all nations. Matthew 28:16-20 teaches, “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.   When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Be the light of Christ:  There is plenty of darkness in the world.  As Christians, we should all strive to be the light of Christ and bring His light into the darkness. John 1:5 tells us “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Be the light. Be blessed.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the blessing of evangelism. Please give us the courage and discernment to live out the Great Commission.

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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The Purpose and Daily Use of Prayer

Purpose And Proper Daily Use Of Prayer

Perhaps one of the most intimate means available for us to communicate with God is through prayer. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 55 percent of all Americans report that they pray each day. The same study also states that, at a rate of 14 percent, more American women pray daily compared to men. According to Todd Shupe however, a 55 percent would be a failing exam grade for us overall. That’s an F, folks.

“I think many of us have a false perception of God.  We see God as Santa Claus and approach Him with our lists of requests when we are in need — but seldom go to God with prayers for others or prayers of thanksgiving for ourselves during good times,” Shupe said.

Todd Shupe believes that it is important to understand the purpose of prayer: It is not to bend the will of God to be in accordance with your desires. Rather, prayer is an important way for you to discern the will of God for you in your life. Then, you should follow God; do not attempt to get God to follow you.

According to Todd Shupe, perhaps the highest form of prayer comes in Jesus’ words in Gethsemane: “Yet not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus did not say, “You will be borne,” which is how we often translate it. He said, “Your will be done,” which implies cooperation with an outgoing, redemptive will that desires our highest good.

The Bible is full of scripture that explains the benefits of prayer. Below are seven of the favorite prayer related scriptures of Todd Shupe. You will notice a very consistent theme in them all, which is very similar to the “knock, seek, ask” scripture of Matthew 7:7. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Philippians 4:6-7:  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

James 5:16:  Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

John 15:7:   If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

1 John 5:14-15:  And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

1 John 3:22:  And whatever we ask we receive from him because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

John 14:13-14: Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

Todd Shupe’s favorite prayer related scripture is Psalm 66:20: “Blessed be God because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.” Be blessed and be in prayer each day!

PrayerThis, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, you will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  11 Give us today our daily bread.  12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (Matthew 6:9-13).

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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Breaking Down the Components of Love

Breaking Down the Components of Love

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 and is a favorite of mine.

I encourage you to read 13:4 and substitute your name for “love.”  Our goal in life should be to achieve the characteristics that are described in this scripture.  God is love and if we want to be closer to God we must show His love to the world.

13:1-13:3 are very close to my heart.  I think far too often we focus on learning and understanding the Bible and doing good deeds to try to earn favor with God.  The most important thing we can do once we have accepted the love of Christ is to show the love of Christ to others.  This love starts with our spouse and family and works outward to the world in both word and deed. 

13:1 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
13:2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
13:3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
13:4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant
13:5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
13:6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
13:7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
13:8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.
13:13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

 Love is also making time for those you love.   Love is listening not just hearing.  It is crying together and rejoicing together.  Love is when two become one body and love each other as Christ loved His church.  Tell your loved ones that you love them and reinforce it with your actions.

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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Opportunities Abound For Those Seeking Volunteer Roles With Christian Organizations

Opportunities Abound For Those Seeking Volunteer Roles With Christian Organizations

Opportunities Abound For Those Seeking
Volunteer Roles With Christian Organizations

“The greatest among you will be your servant” (Matthew 23:11 NIV)

Opportunities Abound For Those Seeking Volunteer Roles With Christian Organizations

Volunteer work should be seen as a hallmark of every good Christian’s character. Those who want to live a life in God’s good graces should feel compelled to help out their brothers and sisters around them. The next question then is how to get involved with a volunteer effort, as it’s often one of the only ways to accomplish the goodwill work that needs to be addressed in this world. Fortunately, there is no shortage of organizations that need volunteers. I would begin by speaking with your pastor and ask her or him about any volunteer opportunities.  Some may exist inside of your church and others maybe found outside the church.  Another option is that your church may have an evangelism group that seeks to take the church to those outside of the church to meet people where they are.

As you speak with your pastor, discuss with her or him your interests and strengths.  Your best ministry will combine your unique gifts and talents with your interests.

The service: There’s no shortage of need in this country. From general social services roles where volunteers will make home or site visits to work with clients or more specialized tasks for those with a teaching background, there’s plenty of chances to get involved. Medical professionals can start their volunteer work by working events such as Adopt-a-Senior on holidays or the opportunity to help out in an orphanage, the highly-specialized skills here are always in demand.

The sector: From your local church group to international missions, the type and duration of your visit is up to you. When searching for volunteer opportunities, it’s important to state to the organization running the effort what you’re comfortable with and capable of. Some commitments will require no relocation and come in the form of a comforting phone call to those in distress while others are going to have you in for the long haul.

The state: No matter where you are located in the U.S., there’s an organization carrying out selfless volunteer work. By visiting www.christianvolunteering.org, you’ll be able to find the right fit for you. The search for a local Christian volunteer organization can be broken down by country, state, metro area denomination and more. For those in the Louisiana area, a number of hospice, youth care, and pregnancy resources are available to serve as a conduit between your volunteering and helping to make the word a better place.

Prayer: Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for the opportunities to be vessels of Your love. Help us to recognize and act upon these opportunities. 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 Biblical Roots Of Trust

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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 loved me so have I loved you.” In John 15:13, we read, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” According to Todd Shupe, while He spoke these words to His disciples, it’s clear He was speaking through them to us.

My favorite example of trust comes in Matthew 14 when Jesus walks on the water. After Peter sees Jesus, He tells him to “come.” Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and as he was beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.“You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

The message of this story is clear. We can do great things if we have faith in God. Recall Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” But if we let doubt, worry, fear or anxiety control us then we become weak, self-reliant and are living in the flesh and our ability to accomplish great tasks is severely limited.

There is an old saying that anybody can be the captain of the ship when the water is calm, but the true character of a captain is revealed during bad weather. The same is true of our Christian walk. It is easy to be a good Christian when all is well with yourself, your family and friends. However, how do we respond when the winds of adversity inevitably come? Do we keep our focus and faith in Jesus and stand steadfast on His promises of health and prosperity?

Faith is essential in our Christian walk. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Have faith and be blessed as you bless others.

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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Dealing With Toxic People

Dealing With Toxic People

Dealing With Toxic People

“Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV).

Dealing With Toxic People

Many years ago as a college student I took a biology class, and we spent some time learning about toxicology.  I remember learning about the toxic threshold, which is the exposure level or dose of an agent above which toxicity or adverse health effects can occur.

I recently listened to a radio show about “toxic” people on a local Christian station.  Clearly, exposure to these people is not lethal, but it is very problematic.  All of us can be toxic to others at times, and Christians are not immune.  Some Christians are particularly prone to being toxic due to arrogance or self-righteousness. 

A toxic person is driven by pride and ego.  They have a need for control, and their heart is often filled will hate, shame, or other negative emotions.  They are not aware of their problem and will become defensive and accusatory if even gently confronted.

As Christians we are all called into ministry through our baptism and our profession of faith in Jesus Christ.  In any ministry you will encounter toxic people.  I think many of us struggle to deal with these people.  As parents we want to model for our children how to live a life of ministry.  We want to be helpful but some of these people consume so much of our time and it feels as if our time is wasted because they are not receptive, and there is no progress.  I am blessed to minister to anybody in need, and I honestly don’t mind being placed in an uncomfortable position if I detect that I am being productive.  In other words, I want to see that even a mustard seed of conviction is present.  However, if there is no conviction then counseling will not yield good fruit, and I am not being a good steward of my time.

Time spent in ministry is holy and it is foolish to offer something valuable to someone who is unable to appreciate that value. The Bible speaks to this in Matthew 7:6, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”  Our job is to plant seeds, but it is wasteful to endlessly plant on rocky soil when there is so much fertile soil that needs to be sewn.  Matthew 7:13-14 expand on the reality that not all will respond to the invitation; “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” 

Ministry must be done in tandem with the Holy Spirit.  One of the guests on the radio show said, “without the Spirit we cannot receive God’s blessings.”  This comment made my mind wander to “…apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).   It also made me ponder on the power of humility.   If we keep ourselves humble, we reduce the chances of being toxic to others.  We also must realize that we may not be able to significantly help every person that we encounter.  Sometimes we have to stop and refer them to someone else and pray that our work with the Spirit did make a small positive impact, and the next person will be able to make more progress.

Prayer:  Dear God:  Please continue to be with us as we do ministry to glorify you.  Give us a sense of discernment to know when our efforts our futile, and it is time to refer to another brother or sister 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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