Be The Same Person Everywhere

Be The Same Person Everywhere

“I hate double-minded people, but I love your law” (Psalm 119:113).

Have you ever heard of the term “Sunday morning Christian?”  This is a derogatory term for people that are Christian on Sunday morning but the complete opposite the rest of the week.  Some of us are a little bit better and we make sure to “act Christian” in public but not in private.  The “Sunday morning Christian” and the “public Christian” are both hypocrites.

The word hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player.” The Greek word itself is a compound noun:  it’s made up of two Greek words that literally translate as “an interpreter from underneath.”  That bizarre compound makes more sense when you know that the actors in ancient Greek theater wore large masks to mark

which character they were playing, and so they interpreted the story from underneath their masks.  A Christian follows Jesus 24/7 – in public and private.  In our “human condition” we strive to impress others and God with our acts of piety.   Jesus addressed this issue in Matthew 6:1-8.

1“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Good works are how we show Christian love to others.  However, our works should flow naturally as a result of our love for Christ and our desire to share His love.  Ephesians 2:8-9, 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— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

PrayerThis, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your 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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  • Dealing With Toxic People

    Dealing With Toxic People "Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character" (1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV). 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...
  • Healing A Broken Relationship

    Healing A Broken Relationship “If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God" (Matthew 5:23-24 NIV).One thing that is as certain as death and taxes is that others will let us down.  This can take many forms such as someone not living up to their end of an agreement, spreading gossip or taking advantage of our friendship.  It is natural to be...
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What Are Your Priorities

What Are Your Priorities?

Perhaps our greatest power is to establish our priorities.  These are the things that motivate us.  Priorities are based on values, beliefs, ideals, and commitment.  They define each of us as a person.  Some are motivated by fame or money.  Others are motivated by their friends or family.  In short, there can be hundreds of reasons that motivate us each day.  It is critically important to recognize that we alone have the power to set our priorities and if we do not set them, then society will set them for us.   Popular culture will set our priorities to feed our flesh. 

If we prayerfully chose our priorities we will use our imagination, intelligence, and desire.   An authentic priority will give your life meaning and will be well defined, provide enthusiasm, and be free from the force of our current circumstances.  A priority must also be realistic.  Some people wait until they are on their death bed to establish their true priorities.  This is a shame.  Nobody with terminal cancer ever wished that they had spent more time at work. 

Our priorities are a product of how we spend our time, money, and thoughts.  As a Methodist, all members are called to faithfully participate support the church with their prayers, presence, gifts, and service.  Doesn’t this sound very similar to time, money, and thoughts?  In short, the church is calling its members to make God a priority and be a disciple of Him

Scripture teaches us that time is important.  “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).  Each day is a gift from God and should be used to bring honor to Him, not ourselves.  I think time is our most precious priority.  If we use our time to help others, are we not showing the love of God?  Consider these holy words from Matthew 25:40.   “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.’

Money is important for all of us to provide for ourselves and our families, but we should not treat it as a “golden calf.”   We often pursue earthly wealth with little to no consideration to God’s blessing.  The pursuit of wealth is beautifully addressed in Matthew 6:19-21.   “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.”

Our thoughts have tremendous power and often lead to action.  Perhaps this is why the Apostle Paul instructed us in Philippians 4:8: “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.”  Paul elaborates on this concept in 2 Cor. 10:5: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).

We would all be wise to prayerfully set our own priorities.  Be blessed.

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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  • Put On The ‘Full Armor Of God’ To Maintain Hope

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The Best Christmas Present

The Best Christmas Present

The Best Christmas Present

18 “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.  We implore you on behalf of
Christ, be reconciled to God
” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

I love Christmas and the Advent season.   It is a special time of year for families and the church.   The Advent season allows us to prepare our hearts for the birth of the Christ child.   I also love all of the traditions that come with Christmas – decorating the tree with ornaments that have been passed down from generations, giving and receiving presents, candlelight service at church on Christmas eve, the smell of ginger bread baking and a fresh pine tree in the house, and the anticipation of Christmas day. 

One of the traditions of Christmas is the Nativity story.  The New Testament contains two Christmas stories. They appear in Matthew 1–2 and Luke 1–2.  In the familiar version of the Christmas story, Mary and Joseph travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Because there was no room in the inn, the baby Jesus is born in a stable and placed in a manger.   It is important to tell the Nativity story each year to help us better understand the Christ portion of Christmas.

I think as fathers and priests of our houses we should also teach our children about the best Christmas present ever – the blood of Christ on the cross at Calvary.    John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”   We are reconciled to the Father by His sacrifice of His son.  God has provided us a path for forgiveness of sins that leads to life everlasting and salvation.  We do not deserve this, but we receive it as the ultimate blessing.  Ephesians 2:9 instruct us that “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

So, this Advent season I encourage you to enjoy your family, church services, and all the special traditions of your family.  Tell your children or grandchildren the Nativity story but also tell them that Jesus himself is the best present.  A life lived in Him and for Him will help build His kingdom on earth and will lead to life everlasting.  Now that is some gift!

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for sending your son to earth.  Thank you for giving us the way, the truth, and the life.  Help keep us mindful that His blood is the most precious gift that we can ever receive it.  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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  • Acceptance is not Approval


    Acceptance is not Approval

    Acceptance is not Approval
    “Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory”  (Romans 15:7 NLT).
    The blood of Jesus provides us the opportunity for forgiveness of our sins.  Our sins will be cast as far as the east is from the west once we earnestly repent and ask His forgiveness.   However, our society has slowly tried to redefine what is and is not a sin.  In the political world, these are known as wedge issues that force people to one side or the other.  By design, there is no common ground.   Similarly, the enemy…
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  • Judgment or Grace?


    Judgment or Grace?

    Judgment or Grace?
    “…Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  (John 8:11 NIV)John 8:1-11 tells us the story of a woman caught in adultery.  The religious leaders, the Pharisees, tried to use her sin to force Jesus to support their decision to stone her to death, which was in accordance with Mosaic law. “1 Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought…
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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).
    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…
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The New Year

Setting Goals For 2019

The New Year

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19).

As the new year approaches so does a surge in membership applications to local fitness centers.   Many of us make a new year’s resolution to lose weight, and this is a great resolution.  Our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, and we are to honor God with our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-20).   

At this time of the year, I like to reflect on Isaiah 43:19. “See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”  The prophet Isaiah is referring to the past deliverance of the Jews from Egypt and giving assurance that He will return them from captivity by the Babylonians.  I wonder what “new thing” God wants to do in my life.  I look forward to each new year with joyful anticipation to see how God is going to move in my life and those around me. 

So, what new thing do you have planned for the new year?  Researchers have found that 80% of all New Year’s Resolutions will fail by February.  This begs the question of why?  I would like to offer up the following possible reasons for your consideration.

1.  No plan.  If you do not make a plan to succeed, by default you have made a plan to fail.  The Word teaches us in Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”

2.  Not realistic.  A foolish person does begin by seeking first “His kingdom and His righteousness” as we are encouraged to do in Matthew 6:33.  “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise”  (Proverbs 12:15). 

3.  Not known. We must be in community with others.  If we disclose our goals to our small groups, they can help us refine them and keep us from going astray.  Matthew 18:20 teaches us, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

4.  No reward.  Many of us are not motivated if there is not a reward.  There is no true reward on this earth.   Our real reward awaits us in heaven, and is described in Matthew 6:19-21.  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.”

I try to avoid the typical New Year trap by prayerfully setting goals that I know will bring honor to God and therefore He will honor in His way and in His time. 

As you set your goals and resolutions for the new year, I ask you to consider the following guidelines.

1.   Find a secluded quiet place and ask God what do you need to prune to become more like Him?

2.   Talk with your pastor and share the results of your time of prayer and listening.  Do not be discouraged if you are unable to discern His will.  Be open and honest with your pastor, and God will speak through him or her to you.

3.   Find a small support group at your local church to keep you on track with your goals.

4.   Check in with your pastor as often as you are moved by the Spirit.

Prayer:  “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26 NIV).  Amen.

Meet the Author

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

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  • Know Your Enemy


    Know Your Enemy

    Know Your Enemy
    “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms  (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).
    Coaches of all sports will study game film of their upcoming opponent. Their goal is to understand their opponent and the better you understand them, the better you make the necessary adjustments and preparation to defeat your opponent. It’s much the same in the game of life.  We often mistakenly label our neighbor as our enemy when they are not our enemy…
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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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  • How Can I Help Others?



    How Can I Help Others?
    “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NIV).
    As Christians we are all called into ministry through our baptism and profession of faith in Jesus Christ.  Our greatest ministry for all Christians is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  When we show love to our neighbor, we are showing them Christ.   It is important that we pause to discern how can we best help others.   Below are a few ideas on helping, counseling, or ministering (any word will suffice I think) when a person is in need.  Of…
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Who Is Responsible For My Salvation?

Who Is Responsible For My Salvation?

Who Is Responsible For My Salvation?

“So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God” Romans 14:12 (NIV).

Throughout the Bible we are encouraged whenever possible to live in peace with our neighbors.  For example, Scripture teaches us to live in harmony (Romans 12:16), carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and help others in need (Deuteronomy 15:11).   Godly living calls us to turn the other cheek and returning evil with love.  We have the ability, and the Christian joyful obligation, to positively impact each other’s spiritual lives.  There is certainly strength in numbers.  You may recall the Scripture from Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

As a young man I took piano lessons and had a team.  My teacher and parents were my support team.  I was dependent on my teacher’s expert instruction to improve as a pianist.  Similarly, I treasured the moral and financial support from my parents.  Their encouragement and support meant everything to me.  Each year all of the teacher’s students would participate in a recital performance.  One by one we would go to the piano and play a song.  At that moment, each student stood alone.

I shared that story because it is similar to our path to salvation.  In this fallen and temporary world, we do indeed carry each other’s burdens.  We live out Proverbs 27:17 in formal and informal small groups.  Teamwork is essential to build God’s kingdom on earth.  We are called to live in community.  Matthew 18:20 encourages small groups by teaching us, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” 

However, we are ultimately responsible for our own salvation.  The Apostle Paul addresses this in Philippians 2:12“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.”  Please note the wording “work out your salvation.”  Paul is clearly telling us that nobody except you can achieve your salvation.  This is consistent with his letter to Romans.  In Romans 14:12 he tells us exactly who will ultimately give our account to God.  “So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”   My account will be given by me, and your account will be given by you.  Your pastor, parents, friend, or Sunday school teacher will not give your account to God.  I certainly don’t want to die today, but if I do I am confident in my salvation through the grace of God and the blood of His son.  I stand firm on the promise of Romans 10:9-10.  “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

Prayer:  Dear good and gracious God, You have blessed us with community.  From the beginning, you knew it was not good for man to live alone.  We thank you for fellow Christians that help, challenge, and sharpen us.   We joyfully confess with our mouth and believe in our heart that Jesus in our Lord and savior.  We take comfort in knowing that on the day of your choosing we will hear your words “Well done good and faithful servant” and we will join the great cloud of witnesses.  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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  • Knowledge


    Knowledge

    Knowledge
    “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” (Proverbs 2:1-6 NLT).I think society tends to confuse knowledge with education.  However, a person can have extensive education and college degrees and not necessarily be very knowledgeable.   Perhaps they…
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  • Resolve to Rest


    Resolve to Rest

    Resolve to Rest
    “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’” (Mark 6:31 NCV).Each year our lives get busier.  We have more responsibilities at home, work, and church.  According to a recent ABC news report, 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week.  Now, add on to this our responsibilities with our family, church, and other community organizations.  Each year we all…
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  • Evil Can Occur During Church


    Evil Can Occur During Church

    Evil Can Occur During Church
    “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me” 
    (Romans 7:21 NIV).
    I am angry about the continued shootings at our churches. Our churches are God’s house on earth.  Psalm 46:1 teaches us, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).   I think we can substitute “church” for “God” in the scripture.  As Christians we seek out His refuge and strength, particularly on Sunday mornings as we gather with the Body of Christ.   This is a special, holy, sacred time.  It should…
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A Prayerful Life

A Prayerful Life

16Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

The Bible has much Scripture that encourages us to seek God through prayer.  The Gospels and the Epistles are particularly filled with Holy Scripture that encourages us to seek God’s face through prayer.   Our direct line of communication to God is prayer.  It is a deeply personal process by which we bring Him our prayers of thanksgiving and supplication.  We go into our inner room and pray to our loving Father with full confidence that He hears us and will act on our behalf in the perfect manner and time.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 calls us to “pray continually” and other translations will indicate “without ceasing.”  I don’t think we are expected to spend all of our life on our knees in prayer.  I do feel

 that we can and should lead a prayerful life.  This includes having a prayerful attitude.  Look at the context of “pray continually” in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.  The Scripture begins with “Rejoice always” and then tells us how by “pray continually.”  It concludes by giving the reason: “for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

A prayerful life has two fundamental components.  First, we are constantly aware of the many blessings that we have because of Him.  Second, we are able to be grateful in any circumstance.  We are not grateful for all circumstances because some circumstances are evil and not from God.  However, just as Paul was able to find joy while shipwrecked or in prison, we can find joy in our adversity because we wait with child-like anticipation of how He will use it for good.

A prayerful attitude is developed by acknowledging our dependence on God (Proverbs 3:5-6), realizing He is always with us (Isaiah 41:10), and choosing to trust and obey (Psalm 9:10).  Prayer then becomes a continual process of offloading our fears and worries and uploading His love and grace.  In a prayerful life, we put God first not out of obligation or fear but out of faith and love.  Matthew 6:33 instructs us to, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.”  If we do put God first, then He will surely give us His provision and protection as the good Father.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, We thank you for the gift of prayer and the comfort of knowing that you hear all of our prayers.  We thank you for the comfort of knowing that you desire greater things for us than we can ever imagine.  Help us to develop a deeper sense of appreciation for our blessings.  Keep us mindful that we can find joy in all circumstances because we know that any adversity we face on earth is temporary and will be used by you for our good.  Help us to always prayerfully proceed in life and seek your kingdom first in all that we do.  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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    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 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...
  • 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...

Acceptance is not Approval

Acceptance is not Approval

Acceptance is not Approval

“Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory”  (Romans 15:7 NLT).

Acceptance is not Approval

The blood of Jesus provides us the opportunity for forgiveness of our sins.  Our sins will be cast as far as the east is from the west once we earnestly repent and ask His forgiveness.   However, our society has slowly tried to redefine what is and is not a sin.  In the political world, these are known as wedge issues that force people to one side or the other.  By design, there is no common ground.   Similarly, the enemy seeks to find issues to divide us because he knows we are weaker when divided.

Some people living a non-repented sinful life want the Body of Christ to categorize their sin as acceptable.  The exact type of sin is not necessarily as important as its reclassification.  The goal is to allow the sin to become acceptable and label those that do not approve as intolerant.

I have a friend living in a sinful manner with no desire to change.  I do not feel it is my place to judge him.  However, I do feel it is my place to love him.  I know that by showing him love, I am giving glory to God.  I know that God is love and great glory comes from revealing God to others without judgment.  I have my own sins so I am in no place to judge anybody else, but I can and do offer intercessory prayers for my friend.  I hope he prays for me too!

You can show love to others just by accepting them. Just because you don’t like what people do doesn’t mean you can’t accept them.  I think that non-repented sinner need our love and acceptance the most.  Jesus said in Luke 5:32, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” 

Most of us are familiar with the story of Jesus encountering a woman accused of adultery in John 8.  The men left after Jesus told them that whoever is without sin should cast the first stone.  I feel that Jesus was indicating that if you are without sin, then by definition you must be God, and as such you are free to render judgment.  His last words to her were, “Neither do I condemn thee:  go, and sin no more (John 8:11).”  Our Lord had every right to offer judgment, instead offered mercy and grace.  It is critical that we all recognize that He did not condone the sin and instructed her to “sin no more.”

Jesus was modeling for us the difference between acceptance and approval. We can accept people without approving of everything they do.  We are called to accept everybody; we are not called to approve of everything everybody does.  God loves us, but it doesn’t mean He approves of everything we do.  Love is not saying I approve of everything you do.  Love is saying I accept you in spite of what you do.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the unconditional love you bestow upon your children.  Help us to show that love to everyone we meet.  You are our sovereign God, and we trust in you and you alone. 

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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  • Book Review: Forgiveness, the Passionate Journey Nine Steps of Forgiving through Jesus’ Beatitudes

    Book Review: Forgiveness, the Passionate Journey Nine Steps of Forgiving through Jesus’ Beatitudes by Flora Slosson Wuellner “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete”  (John 15:11 NIV).I think most Christians understand that that through the blood of Jesus we have forgiveness for our sins and life everlasting with the Father.  However, many of us still struggle with the concept of forgiveness.  This book uses the Beatitudes, eight blessings recounted by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew, to point the reader toward...
  • 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...
  • Meal Time is Ministry Time

    Meal Time is Ministry Time “When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them” (Luke 24:30 NIV). Many people have the false notion that ministry only occurs inside the walls of the local church.  The truth is we go to worship on Sunday to be fed the Word so that we can be the hands and feet of Christ – to feed others.  However, it should be noted that we need to feed ourselves throughout the week by reading Scripture, prayer and meditation, and small groups. We are all ministers.  We...

Are You Living To Do or Living To Serve?

Are You Living To Do or Living To Serve?

Are You Living To Do or Living To Serve?

“…choose this day whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:15 ESV).

I like to make “to do” lists.  I don’t trust myself to remember the various big and little chores I need to do at home or at work so I always have a list for both.    The list is great for helping me keep track of projects and staying on top of things.  I feel a sense of accomplishment when I can cross something off of the list.  A close friend recently asked me about my attention to my list.  I appreciate his candor and honesty, and it has really gotten me to think about things.

In short, his point was do you control the lists or they control you?  They can certainly be a useful tool, but they also have the potential to control you and dominate your thoughts and time.  I began to wonder if my lists were a false idol.  I have used the lists to organize my time and how you spend your time is how you identify your priorities.   Household chores and work tasks are critical and should not be taken lightly but nobody on their death bed ever claimed that they wished they had done a better job of mowing their grass.

A workaholic is not honoring God.  If you make your work at home or at work your master, you have in essence place another god before Him.  My friend and I both had our houses flooded in 2016.  I admire his ability to go on a vacation during the recovery and rest and renew his physical, mental, and spiritual strength.   I have tended to take on a pit bull attitude with big projects – bite down and stay with it until the end.   I also don’t think approach is consistent with Holy scripture.

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work but the seventh ay is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.  On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.  Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 8-11).

Living according to lists is living a life “to do.”  However, we are not called to do but rather “to serve.”  Perhaps instead of numbering my chores I should consider the prayer of Moses in Psalm 90:12.  “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  Living a life to serve takes away the inward focus and replaces it with an outward focus to be the Body of Christ.

We can number our days by asking God each day “What can I do this day to advance Your kingdom?  How can I make my life a living sacrifice?  Numbering your days does not require moving mountains.  But when you realize that your days are numbered and time is precious, you begin to want to use your time wisely.  Using your time wisely is certainly the fruit of a heart yearning for God’s wisdom.

Prayer:  Dear God, Help us to choose each day how we can best honor you in our actions and thoughts. May others see Christ when they see us, and may we see Christ when we see 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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  • Dealing With Anxiety: Have Faith, For ‘God Is Our Partner’



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  • An Attitude of Gratitude


    Your Gratitude Determines Your Attitude

    An Attitude of Gratitude
    “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).
    We all know someone with a lousy attitude, maybe that person is you.  If your attitude is bad, you probably lack gratitude.  If we focus on our past mistakes and sins, we can’t see our present blessings.  Sometimes, we are stuck in the past with a legitimate complaint – Why did I not get the promotion?  Why did my house burn down?  Why did my child die before me?   Life is hard and sometimes unfair.  Jesus spoke about the certainty of…
    Read More

  • What Is A “Real” Man?



    What Is A “Real” Man?
    I recently heard a term that caught my attention.  A friend commented on a movie actor that he liked because the actor is a “real man.” He plays tough-guy characters that don’t put up with any nonsense.    A segment of pop music encourages boys and men to be “real men” by selling drugs, killing rivals, and prostituting women.    Some TV sitcoms portray “real men” as clowns, grouchy, or unable to communicate with their family.   I reject all of these notions of a man and submit to you five characteristics of a real man:A real man honors…
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Who Do You Trust?

Who Do You Trust?

Who Do You Trust?

“‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT).

Many years ago, I was an undergraduate student.  I took a few Philosophy courses to fulfill the degree requirements in liberal arts.  I loved the classes because they forced me to attempt a deeper level of understanding.  One class was on Logic and Reasoning and we (students) were given an assignment to use logic and reasoning to write an essay that supported our belief or non-belief in God.  I thoroughly enjoyed the teaching assistant that taught the class.  She was very knowledgeable, laid back, and approachable.  We had some great conversations, and I learned a lot.  She was an atheist and we had great talks to challenge each other in a kind but profound manner, which I enjoyed.  I used the above Holy Scripture as the basis of my position as a Christian.  I recall I got an A on the paper and the class, which likely influences my fond memories of the class. 

This Scripture is critical to my Christian faith.  How can we as mere humans pretend to understand the ways of God?  It is as silly as expecting a single cell organism to understand macroeconomics.  If we were to fully understand the ways of God, then there would be no need for faith.  Christ wants us to walk with Him by faith and not by sight.  Do you recall His words to Thomas after He appeared following His death?  “Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).  Jesus wants to bless those that are following Him based on faith. 

Some may lose trust because they feel that God has failed to hold up His end of the deal and allowed tragedy to enter our life.  It is not God’s job to make every moment of your life easy. If He did, we would never mature but would be spoiled and self-centered. That is clearly not what God wants for us.  We live in an age of instant gratification.  So, when we are in pain and pray and don’t immediately see the results that we want, we may be tempted to lose trust.  However, His grace is sufficient for us, and His power is made perfect in our weakness. 

God is more interested in drawing us closer than in making us comfortable.  We will be comfortable for all of eternity in heaven.  I know He wants good for our lives even more than we do.  Psalm 118:8 tells us, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”  So, I trust Him more than I trust any person, especially myself. 

Prayer:  Dear God, We often do not understand your ways.  We lack your vision and perspective.  Forgive us when we cry out for you during times of tragedy but yet fail to thank you for the many blessings that you have given us.  Help us to realize that any tragedy that comes to us is not from you but will be used by you to bring about good for us.  Give us the courage to walk with you in faith regardless of the clarity of our sight.  You are the Good Father and we trust in your provision, protection, love, and grace.  Amen.

Meet the Author

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

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Liked this post?

Read more below or search for more topics…

  • Joyful Obedience


    Joyful Obedience

    Joyful Obedience
    “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15 NIV).If you were to list ten words to describe yourself, do you think “obedient” would be one of the words?  You probably hope that when others describe you that they see some evidence of the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).“Obedient” is not a fruit of the Spirit but is the conscious use of our God-given free will.  God has given us free will to either obey His commands or not. Since the beginning of time in the Garden of…
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  • Book Review: God Knows Your Story (and He’s Not Mad!)


    Book Review: God Knows Your Story (And He’s Not Mad!) by Carter Featherston

    Book Review: God Knows Your Story (And He’s Not Mad!)
    by Carter Featherston
    “For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6 TPT).
    If you have never done anything wrong and do not have any regrets or shame, then this book is not for you.  However, I strongly suspect that all of us have regrets and feel some sense of shame for poor choices.  This is a Biblically based book that points the reader to the only true source of victory of sin and shame, Jesus.
    This book is valuable because it addresses a topic that all struggle…
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  • Evil Can Occur During Church


    Evil Can Occur During Church

    Evil Can Occur During Church
    “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me” 
    (Romans 7:21 NIV).
    I am angry about the continued shootings at our churches. Our churches are God’s house on earth.  Psalm 46:1 teaches us, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).   I think we can substitute “church” for “God” in the scripture.  As Christians we seek out His refuge and strength, particularly on Sunday mornings as we gather with the Body of Christ.   This is a special, holy, sacred time.  It should…
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Five Keys To Balancing Home And Work To Be A Good Parent

Five Keys To Balancing Home And Work To Be A Good Parent
Five Keys To Balancing Home And Work To Be A Good Parent

Five Keys To Balancing Home And Work To Be A Good Parent

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV).

Most, if not all, of us have a job in order to supply for the needs of our family. Hopefully you enjoy your job but at the end of the day, you are working to provide for your family.  We often feel the struggle between balancing work life and family life. As such, our work may sometimes cause us to miss ball games and other events and we’ll feel guilty that we’re not being a good parent. I have gathered five keys to help you balance your home and work life and be the parent that God has called you to be.

Focus on being a Godly parent.  Children are always watching their parents and they put much more importance on actions than words. One of my favorite sayings is from St. Francis of Assisi: “Speak the gospel wherever you go and use words when necessary.”

You cannot lead somebody to a place where you are not.  Complete and honest self-examination is one of the most difficult things that we can do.  However, it is necessary to do this so we can continue to grow in our relationship in Christ. We must continually examine and then prune ourselves. We should pray for each day to grow closer to Christ by allowing the Holy Spirit to remove more of yourself from your soul and allow more of Christ to fill the void.

Remember the First Commandment.  We know that we are not to have any gods before God. However, work and home life should not be put before your spiritual life. Matthew 6:24 tells us about the dangers of trying to serve two masters.

Pray for discernment.  A life out of balance is often due to us trying to lead God and not following. We can seek discernment from prayer, Christian friends, local pastor and The Bible.

Raise your children right.  We all love our children, but we must be careful not to spoil them. They need to see that in our words and actions, we are putting God first, spouse second and children third. Scripture reveals that our primary responsibility is to train our children to honor God and follow His teaching. Proverbs 7:2 reads, “Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.”

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for being our Father. Help us to find balance in our lives.  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 Holy Covenant of Marriage – Part 4: Divorce

    The Holy Covenant of Marriage - Part 4: Divorce “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9 NIV).  If marriage is a Godly uniting of a couple together, then divorce is a secular process to separate what God has united.  The separation is not done with surgical precision and results in a “tearing apart.”   The result is ugly and does not honor God.It is well known that approximately half of all first marriages end in divorce, and the divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher. I think this...
  • Owners and Stewards

    Owners and Stewards "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" (Malachi 3:10 NIV).Stewardship at most churches is an awkward topic because most of us look at it as a means to give up “our” money.  We all have worked hard for our money and naturally want to protect it, which is in fact good stewardship.  According to...
  • Give to Receive?

    Give to Receive? “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV). Most Christians understand the need for giving.  For early Jews and Christians, almsgiving was the act of filling a material need for someone less fortunate, usually by giving money. God incorporated the concept of alms into the Mosaic Law when He ordered land-owners to leave to the poor the corners of the fields (Leviticus 19:9-10), and every seventh year, leave the entire field (Exodus 23:10-11). In churches today, "alms"...