Not Happy?

Not Happy?
Not Happy?

Not Happy?

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 NIV).

A recent Harris poll reported that in 2017 only 33% of Americans are happy.  A first reaction might be that only 33% are true followers of Jesus.  Christianity is the most adhered to religion in the United States, with 75% of polled American adults identifying themselves as Christian in 2015.

Upon deeper reflection I realize that not all Christians are happy, nor should they be.  Life is complicated, difficult, and busy.  We live in a broken world and broken promises are the norm.  Life sometimes seems to be more about loss than gain.  We lose our children as they grow up and move away, we lose our parents and friends as they enter into glory, we sometimes lose our sense of purpose upon retirement, etc.

Upon deeper reflection I realize that not all Christians are happy, nor should they be.  Life is complicated, difficult, and busy.  We live in a broken world and broken promises are the norm.  Life sometimes seems to be more about loss than gain.  We lose our children as they grow up and move away, we lose our parents and friends as they enter into glory, we sometimes lose our sense of purpose upon retirement, etc. 

We live in an era of instant gratification in both our spiritual and secular lives.  We want to be happy, and we know that God wants us to be happy so why do we have periods when we are not happy?

There is an old saying “Life is not always a bowl of cherries.  Sometimes it is the pits.”  There is some Biblical truth behind this saying because God doesn’t expect us to be happy all the time.  The Bible teaches, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4).  Sometimes the only appropriate, logical response to life is grief. The Bible teaches us to grieve over your losses, sin, injustice, and your friends who are spiritually lost. God doesn’t expect you to be happy all the time.

 It is important to remember that we were created in the “image and likeness of God” (Genesis 1:26).  So, does this mean that God cried?  There are few passages in the Bible that express grief as pointedly and passionately as Jeremiah. 8,9.  The Bible tells us that Jesus was “a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief” (Isaiah 53:3).   Other Scripture tells us of God’s sadness (Genesis 6:6, Psalm 78:40).  Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44) and over the death of Lazarus (John 11).

Grief is important for our physical health.  Grief is a painful and difficult emotion, but it is also a healthy and helpful emotion.  Grief is a gift from God and has an appropriate place in our lives.  It is essential that we grieve to move, with the help of the Holy Spirit, through tragedy and adversity.   David expressed the need for grief in Psalm 32:3: “When I kept things to myself, I felt weak deep inside me. I moaned all day long.”  The bad things that happen to us are not your choice, but our response is our choice.

Prayer:  Dear God, As we grieve may we receive a peace that surpasses all understanding.  Help us move through the grief as we stand steadfast on your promises.  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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Seeing Without Sight

Seeing Without Sight

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”  So, they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus” (Mark 10: 49-50 NIV).

I am grateful to have good vision, but yet I wonder how much I don’t see.  I am often reminded of the story of the blind beggar Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52) who sits by the roadside hopefully calling out to Jesus to pay attention to him and heal him. Some of the people in the crowd tried to hush him up. (Probably they felt, as we so often do, that he should set his mind on “higher things”).  The more they tried to silence him, the louder he shouts.

Jesus turns to him instantly and asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”  Within each of us is that which cries out, begging to be heard.  Often the manner of its crying out is expressed through

grumbling, negativity, irritability, and anxiety.  To shout down the cry, to put it out of the room, to breathe it away, or to shake it off is not how we should show God’s love.

In verse 52, Jesus names faith as what has healed Bartimaeus.  We see his faith in what Bartimaeus does.

  • He understands who Jesus is. No one else so far in the Book of Mark has been able to perceive so much about Jesus from so little information. For Bartimaeus, the title he uses to address Jesus, Son of David, obviously indicates that Jesus is God’s designated agent, and it introduces the notion of Jesus as a royal figure Bartimaeus, despite his blindness sees the divinity of Jesus.
  • He persists despite hindrances. Faith does not come easily to people in Mark; it must surmount obstacles to obtain what it seeks (see 2:4; 5:27, 35-36; 7:27; 9:18b). Others in the crowd rebuke Bartimaeus, demanding he be silent. This detail reminds us that blind beggars dwell near the bottom rung of social privilege in ancient (and contemporary) society. The people shout Bartimaeus down because they probably think he deserves to be who he is Bartimaeus knows better, and so he yells “even more loudly” until his words penetrate Jesus’ ears.
  • He expects a transformation. Jesus could have walked to Bartimaeus to talk with him. Instead, he tells the onlookers to summon Bartimaeus to him.  Now those who sought to inhibit the beggar are engaged in Jesus’ ministry to him.  Scripture tells us that Bartimaeus tosses aside his cloak.  Clearly, he expects to regain his sight because a blind beggar would ordinarily keep his possessions close at hand.  When  Bartimaeus casts off his cloak, he expects that he will no longer sit on it as a blind beggar.
  • He asks for the right thing. Jesus asks Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” His reply is simple request voiced with confidence and brings honor to Jesus.  “That I would see again,” is the response.  Bartimaeus seeks no special privileges. This reiterates that Jesus has not come to bestow power and honor but to “seek and save the lost”  (Luke 19:10).

In Mark, Bartimaeus is not the first person seeking a miracle who approaches Jesus in faith, but he is the only one who winds up following him, presumably straight into Jerusalem and His ultimate crucifixion.  He is also not the only one who was told by Jesus “your faith has made you well” (Matthew 8:13, 15:28 9:22; Mark 5:34; Luke 17:19, 18:42).

How many times have we tried to quiet or ignore someone who was in need?  How many times are we that person in need that keeps shouting out?  I think throughout life we will all find ourselves in all of the roles in the story of Bartimaeus.

Prayer:  Dear God, As we go through life and encounter others that are in need of your love, please give us the courage and conviction to approach them and ask “what do you want me to do for you?”  We know that whatever we do for the least, we do for 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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Can saying ‘No’ please God?

Can saying ‘No’ please God?

Can saying ‘No’ please God?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1 NIV).

Can saying ‘No’ please God?

Each day we all get asked by others to do things.  Some tasks are fun, some are mundane, and some are someplace in the middle.  Service to others is an important way in which we show the love of Christ.  Service is ministry.  Service is important.

I struggle with saying “no” to help people, especially when the request is from my home church, a Christian organization to which I belong, or a good friend.  I guess I am a people pleaser, and I suspect I am not alone in that regard.  However, I have come to learn that perhaps the most important word to remember for a meaningful spiritual journey may be a surprising one – “no.”

Our faith journey is a long journey. Several people start off well in their spiritual journey but burn out, lose interest, or become detached due to a tragedy that they cannot reconcile.

As we learn in Hebrews 12:1, God has set out a race for us.  We can still run a good race with some extra weight in our pockets.  “Some extra weight” to me means an appropriate amount of carrying other’s burdens.  If we overload ourselves with Christian work, we can not run our race that “has been marked out for us.”  God wants us to run our race and finish the race.  He wants to tell us at the end of our race, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

Hebrews 12:1 says, “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down.”  To me, the key here is “that slows us down.”  Weights are not bad or sinful.  I can run with a little bit of weight in my pockets and not be slowed down.  Each of us is different in how fast we can run and how much weight we can carry.  Each of us must discern through the Holy Spirit what weight we should and should not carry.

So, if we feel that everything is important, then nothing is important.  We are not all called to participate in every service project, mission trip, etc.  Yes, these activities are great and an excellent way to bring the light of Christ into the world.   Our first responsibility is honor God, and we do that by “running with perseverance the race marked out for us.” 

My race is essential for me to “work out my salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).  Your race is essential for your salvation.  Works are how we show the love of Christ, but our salvation is through the grace of God and the blood of Jesus.  So, saying “no” can please God, if you are saying “yes” to Him.

Prayer:  Dear God:  Help us realize that sometimes when we say no to others we are saying yes to you.  You are our rock and redeemer.  We have faith in you, your Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Our righteousness comes from you.  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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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).

What Motivates You?

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 Him (2 Corinthians 9:7).  If we have selfish motives our prayers will be hindered.  James 

4:3 teaches us, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”  This is why it is so important for us to invite the Holy Spirit to search us and reveal our sins to us.  I love the prayer of the Psalmist, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

The Bible has much to say about motives and many examples of people that took action based on sinful motives.  In Genesis 4, Cain kills his brother Abel due to jealousy.  Proverbs 16:2 reads, “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.” The human heart can be deceitful, and we can rationalize to ourselves that are motives are pure.  I suspect that Cain was convinced he was doing the right thing.  We can fool ourselves and often those around us that we are pure of heart, generous, and kind, but God is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). 

So, what is a good motivation?  The Apostle Paul demonstrated good motives to the Church in Thessalonica by writing, “We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).  On becoming king of Israel, Solomon prays to our Lord: “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?” (1 Kings 3:9). Solomon was motivated by a sincere desire to discern good from evil rather than a desire to glorify himself.  His prayer had power. 

When we give the outward appearance of obeying God, but our hearts are hard we have not fooled God.  The only way we can operate from pure motives is when we “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16, 25).  When we allow Him to control every part of us, then our desire is to please Him and not ourselves.   As we yield more of our heart to God, then we can approach our prayers with confidence and thanksgiving because we are both seeking the same things.

Prayer:  Dear God:  Thank you for loving us.  Please continue to draw us closer to you.  Help us to desire what you desire.  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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Amen is the Beginning of Discipleship

Amen is the Beginning of Discipleship

Amen is the Beginning of Discipleship

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12 NIV).

Amen is the Beginning of Discipleship

One of the more challenging scriptures for me has been from 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”  The first time I read this I wondered how can I get anything done if I am constantly praying?  As I grew and matured spiritually, I began to believe that it is indeed possible to pray nonstop. It’s possible because we can cultivate a spirit that is habitually devotional, keeping our hearts attuned to God. The Greek word for “without ceasing” in 1 Thessalonian 5:17 is “adialeiptos,” which doesn’t mean nonstop — but actually means constantly recurring. In other words, we can punctuate our moments with intervals of recurring prayer. 

Part of learning to pray continually, or constantly recurring, is to stay open in prayer. Sometimes after we say amen, we check off prayer on our to-do list and shut down the

conversation. But God has invited us — called us — to pray without ceasing, to keep the conversation going all day, every day.  Constant prayer becomes a lifestyle.  The more you understand that God is love, the more you will be drawn to him in prayer.

Jesus did not pray constantly but he did live a prayerful life.  He modelled for us how prayer can and should be used to connect us to the Father.  Prayer is always the first step to anything.  So, it follows that prayer is also the first step to discipleship. 

One of the greatest evangelists of all time was the Apostle Paul.  He was committed to preaching the good news and making disciples.  He also understood that there is an essential link between prayer and discipleship.  Paul told the Ephesians to pray for one another and asked them to pray for him.  “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:18-19).  Paul recognized the power of prayer and called upon that power to fulfill the Great Commission.

Prayer:  Dear Good and gracious God, Thank you for the blessing of prayer.  Help us, dear God, to live a life of constant prayer.  A life that is lived in you, for you, and to glorify you.  May all that we do help fulfill the Great Commission and may all of our activities begin with seeking your Face through prayer.  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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Priorities

Priorities

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

We men have numerous options on how we can spend our time.  As Americans we live in a free country.  Many of us have hobbies such as golf, fishing, gardening, etc.  These are great activities for our badly needed sabbath. 

However, hobbies can become obsessions and dominate our time.  Wherever you invest the most time, money, and thought is your priority.  You alone have the power to set your priorities.  Either you choose your priorities, or the world will choose for you.  We all have a finite number of hours in each day and a finite number of days on this earth, but we don’t all use our time wisely.  I continue to struggle with this. 

I have seen men that spend all their free time consumed with a hobby.  They are nourishing their hobby with time, money, and thought.  The hobby becomes a false god and the family suffers.  I wonder what kind of world we would have if men nourished their relationships with God and their family more than anything else – work, hobbies, etc. 

An authentic priority gives meaning to life.  As fathers, our priority should be to love God, love your wife, and love your children.  In fact, our first priority is to God, then to your wife, and then to your children.  A man that loves God with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength and with all his mind (Luke 10:27), will surely love his wife as Christ loved His church (Ephesians 5:25).  Also, a Godly man will want to work with his wife to raise their children in the training and instruction of God (Ephesians 6:4).

In order to truly determine your current priorities, take out a sheet of paper and make three columns.  One column will represent money, another will represent thoughts, and another will represent time.  Then list your favorite five items or activities in each column.  Then, look at each column and decide which of the five is the most important to you and circle it.  Now, you have identified your true priorities.  If you are satisfied with what you see, then that is good.  If not, it is time to rethink your priorities.

Matthew 6:19-21 teaches us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  A Godly man’s heart is in heaven, and his greatest desire is to see that his wife and children’s hearts are next to his.

Prayer:  Dear God:  We thank you for the blessing of children.  Help us to raise our children to understand that you are their Father and all glory and honor belongs to you.  Amen.

Meet the Author

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

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Lessons From Gideon

Lessons From Gideon
Lessons From Gideon

Lessons From Gideon

Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”  The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive” (Judges 6:15-16 NIV).

I love the story of Gideon as told in Judges chapters 6-8.  Below are a few of the many lessons that we can learn from this Holy Scripture.

1.  You Shall Have no Other Gods but Me

The Israelites were worshipping the false god Baal, and for seven years the Israelites were under the control of the Midianites.  God spoke to His people in Judges 6:10, “I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”  God is expressing His jealousy.  What He is jealous of belongs to Him; worship and service belong to Him alone, and are to be given to Him alone.  The Israelites had broken the first two of the Ten Commandments that were given two Moses in Exodus 34.

2.  God is Slow to Anger

An angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon to let him know that the Lord is with him.  Gideon has his doubts that God is with him and tells the angel “the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian” (Judges 6:13).  Gideon also does not believe in the power of God by telling the angel, “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (Judges 6:15).  Later in Judges 6 the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and were prepared to fight the Israelites.  Gideon asks God on three separate occasions to give him a sign that He is still with him and will help Him defeat the enemy.  God obliges each time.  Gideon was experiencing the blessing described by the Psalmist in Psalm 145:8, “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”

3.  The Battle is the Lord’s

Perhaps the most remarkable part of the story is told in Judges 7.  God told Gideon that he had too many men for battle.  God knew that if the Israelites had overwhelming numbers and defeated Midian they would claim victory by their own actions and not the Hand of God.  God told Gideon to send away anyone who trembles with fear and twenty-two thousand men left and ten thousand remained.  There were still too many men so God had Gideon to separate the men based on how they drink water – lap the water with their tongues or with cupped hands

“The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home (Judges 7:7).”  The army that was left was not a special unit.  It was a group that was outnumbered 450 to 1.  We are best able to tap into God’s strength when we can acknowledge our own weakness.  The Apostle Paul knew this and stated “for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).  The young shepherd boy David, later to become King, defeated the giant Goliath of the Philistine army and then stated, “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give all of you into our hands (1 Samuel 17:47).”

4.  Trust God at ALL times

It is our nature to claim credit for our victories and blame our defeats on others or God.  God is actively working in the lives of those that have completely given their lives over to Him and trust Him completely.  The Bible is full of such stories, and these stories continue today with clergy and laity alike.  A true relationship with God is based on faith.  Hebrews 11:1 teaches us about faith.  “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Prayer:  Dear God:  Thank you for the story of Gideon.  May we learn all of the lessons from this story that you intend for us to learn.  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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In Search of Wisdom

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10 NIV).

If you are reading this, you are older today than you were yesterday.  However, just because we are older does not necessarily make us wiser.  Not everyone grows wise with age, but everyone does grow old with age.  It is important to note that we should all show respect to our elders, regardless of their level of wisdom.

However, I think society tends to confuse wisdom with age.  However, a person can be old and not necessarily be very wise.  Education is fine and knowledge is great.  However, a person that has understanding of a subject has mastered the topic and is on the path to wisdom.  To understand something goes far beyond education and knowledge.   A person with understanding can use their education and knowledge to figure out (understand) any new situation or problem

I have always been attracted to older men just like a moth to a light at night.  They have experiences, stories, and knowledge.  I believe that I can learn something from everyone that I meet, even if they are unable to speak or heart.  These people in particular can teach one of the greatest lessons of all – gratitude.

Yes, I enjoy spending time with older men and hearing stories of the good old days.  I particularly enjoy spending time with older men that have wisdom to share.  Wisdom isn’t about knowing how to operate the latest piece of technology or keeping up with popular culture. Those with wisdom discern truth and justice in a world filled with many, many false voices.

The discernment of truth begins by loving God and gaining wisdom through His word, Holy Scripture. Proverbs 2:1-6 gives us insight into wisdom.  “My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the LORD grants wisdom! From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

Knowledge of the Bible will provide you the wisdom to make proper decisions.  We tend to make poor decisions when we are hungry or tired.  We are told in Matthew 4:2 that Jesus had fasted 40 days after His baptism and was hungry.  It was in this condition that the Spirit delivered Him to Satan.  The first words that Jesus spoke to the enemy was “It is written…” (Matthew 4:4) and then He proceeded to quote Scripture.  Jesus is showing great wisdom in the face of great temptation because He has a complete understanding of Scripture. 

Prayer:  Dear God, Renew in us a clean spirit that seeks to gain true wisdom that only comes from you.  Your Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light to unto our path.  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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Serving Single Dads: How the Church Can do More

Serving Single Dads: How the Church Can do More

Serving Single Dads

Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court” (Psalm 127:5 NIV).

How the church can do more?

According to a recent post in the DailySignal.com, one in three children live in a single-parent household. This clearly presents challenges for the parent who is raising the children. A child needs an active father and mother in their life and when one is missing or present on a limited basis, it can be difficult for the child. Men face the same challenges as women in raising children, but some churches fail to offer programs and support for single fathers.

Mark May with Caedan and Kamden

Jermaine Maberry with Trinity and Tristan

Peter Signorelli with Seth and Luke

James Haase with Sophia and Olivia

This issue is very personal for Mark May. During the day, he is the chairman and CEO of his own company. But his real job is raising his two boys, Caedan, 15, and Kamden, 13. May has been a single dad for four years, and he shares joint custody with his ex-wife.

May says that when he sees a single mom, his instinct is to offer help and assistance, but as a single dad, he doesn’t feel the same concern from others. (Perhaps they feel that men don’t need help?) Or it could be that since most pastors have not been divorced, they are at a disadvantage in relating to the needs of single dads. They don’t have the necessary experience to relate to these men who tend to be quiet and low-key. As a result, church leaders tend not to develop ministries for them … the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” theory.

A few close friends can make all the difference. May has a small circle of friends that he can meet 

Paul Murphy with Kara and Jaelyn

with immediately if he needs parenting advice or emotional support. His circle is totally comprised of married men who are caring and very good listeners. They are a valuable resource because of their availability and willingness to help with any problem.

As for the children, an active church-based youth program is critical. Mark felt blessed by a youth pastor who was engaged in his kids’ lives and made sure they always felt welcome and had a good time. Because of an open door policy, the children felt comfortable talking with him about problems such as “Why are my parents getting divorced and what does this mean for me?”

Mark is passionate about helping the next generation of single and divorced dads. He does not want them to have to go through the same hardships he did. He says he “muscled through it,” but he encourages fathers to do more than that.”

“Keep your kids involved in youth programs at church and attend church on a weekly basis,” he said. “Engage them in Bible studies at home and reinforce God’s love for them. Show them God’s love with your actions as well as your words, and get a small group of friends or an accountability group that has open, confidential and honest communication.”

Single Dads Share Their Thoughts

“ it is important to remember that we are the church, the Body of Christ, and we are called to serve each other. The church has the opportunity to help single dads raise children as effectively as a single mom. The church can provide fathers with the confidence to know they can do it alone. ” – Erik Burns, Denham Springs

“ Churches need an engaged youth program to help children understand divorce and that God’s love is greater than divorce or anything created by man. ” – Peter signorelli, Prairieville

“ i would say the biggest struggle as a single dad was feeling the void that i imagine my daughter felt from the absence of her mother. ” – Jimmy Haase, Addis

“ Single dads need help to address the needs of young girls. Women in church can advise them on a number of issues and provide a strong faith-based woman in their lives. ” – Paul Murphy, French Settlement

“ Church and society seem to believe single dads can do everything alone and tend not to provide them with the assistance that they give single moms. ” – Pastor Jermaine T. Maberry, Crowley

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the blessing of children. Help us to raise them to seek Your face.

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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Unity in the Body of Christ

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called” (Ephesians 4:2-4 NIV).

Unity in the Body of Christ

Church attendance and tithing continues to plunge.  Sadly, many churches close each year due to insufficient funds to operate.  As disciples of Christ, it is incumbent upon us to raise up new disciples.  We must find our “Timothy” as did the Apostle Paul.  Actually, we must find at least two or three for the church universal to grow.

I have spoken to friends that tell me they are not interested in attending any church because of “division, gossip, and politics.”  If there is any place that we should be able to go to avoid division, it should be to the church.  However, we are all human and are all sinners.  As humans, we have a

desire for sin.  Scripture warns of actions that are despised by God.  “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community” (Proverbs 6:16-19).   Our mutual love for God should always be greater than our individual differences in politics or theology.

People do not want to join any secular or religious organization in which they feel uncomfortable.  Also, people want to join groups that build them up.  We have all been hypocrites at various times.   Remember, a disciple is one that is actively seeking to disciple others.  How can we disciple others when our words don’t match our actions?

Christians are called to live in community and not in isolation.  This experience of community stands in marked contrast to the fractious ways we meet together in most other places in our culture.  We all need to be taught how to be “together in Christ.” It does not come naturally. Our national political discourse reinforces polarizing viewpoints. Rarely are we taught how to watch over one another in love. By coming together in a prayerful posture and listening for God’s message through scripture, a sense of community is created.  Unity in the Body of Christ is essential for us to fulfill The Great Commission.

Living in peace with our neighbors is essential for our discipleship efforts.  We are a royal priesthood and sanctified for His purpose.  Our sin separates us from holiness and prevents us and others from an intimate relationship with Christ.  Hebrews 12:14 teaches us, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord.”

Prayer:  Dear God, Help us to live in unity with our neighbor.  Help us to use our words to build up the Body of Christ.  We ask that love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness guide our words and actions.  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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