Use Conflict To Build Respect

Use Conflict To Build Respect

“A good reputation and respect are worth much more than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1 CEV).

  

We all have a desire to be respected by others.  There are two schools of thought on respect.  Some say that in any relationship, including parent-child or employer-employee, you have to give respect to get respect.  These people feel that are entitled to withhold respect from their parents or boss until the other person first shows them a sufficient amount of respect.  This group will point to Romans 13:7. “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”  This verse is not teaching us to withhold respect to others but rather is commanding us to give respect to those that are in governmental authority.  The reason is found in Romans 13:1.  “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

Others say that respect is absolutely required in certain situations.  For example, as a father you love your child.  They hopefully will love you also, but they certainly must respect you.  I have had some young people tell me that they cannot respect their father because he is not a respectable person.  My thought is that children do not have to love their father, although that would be ideal, but they must always respect both parents not because of their poor behavior but because they are your parents.  Period.   You probably have encountered some authority people in your life (e.g., political leaders, law enforcement, boss) that you do not like but you hopefully realized that you must respect their authority.

Malachi 1:6 reads, “A son honors his father, and a servant his master.”  There are numerous Bible verses that command a child to honor their father and mother and there is a promise of a long life for doing so (Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16).  The command to honor the parents is never predicated on if the parents are good, fun, honorable, respectable, etc., but rather is because the parents are the parents.  I think we should show respect to our elders, parents, those in authority, and bosses regardless of if we feel they “deserve” our respect. 

We all seek respect and desire a good reputation.  Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good reputation and respect are worth much more than silver and gold.”  Sadly, you will likely encounter people that are envious of your good reputation and will act out of jealousy to try to harm your reputation.  Those that know your true character will realize that this attack says little about your character but rather speaks volumes about the character of the other person.

In most secular relationships, respect must be earned.  Any type of conflict presents an opportunity for us to gain or lose respect.  People tend to “tune in” when they realize that you are in some sort of conflict.  They will watch you carefully to see how you handle the conflict, and then you will gain or lose respect in their eyes.

The book of Nehemiah is a great example of someone who earned the respect of others by the way he handled conflict. Nehemiah was governor of Persian Judea under Artaxerxes.  He responded to God’s call and left this position to lead the effort to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls in an astonishing 52-day period.  He had to address a difficult situation in which wealthy Jews were profiteering off the plight of their working countrymen.  Nehemiah addressed the profiteering issue in such a way to build respect.  Below are a few key actions that he took that are beneficial for us today.

Nehemiah paused to think before he spoke

He listened to the complaints and charges the Israelites had against those who exploited them during a famine. Before he responded, he “pondered them in [his] mind” (Nehemiah 5:7).  He thought before he spoke.  How many times today do we all do the opposite?  We all need to be

“quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19-20).

Nehemiah privately resolved the conflict

When Nehemiah realized the injustice that was happening, he did not start a slander campaign or publicly attack the offenders or start a whisper campaign to “plant seeds of doubt”.  He first tried to build a bridge with the offenders who were taking advantage of the poor to increase their own net worth.  He “called together a large meeting to deal with them” (Nehemiah 5:7).  He addressed them face to face.  That builds respect.

This is also the way Jesus commanded His followers to handle conflict.  Jesus said in Matthew 18:15, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.”  Going public should be the last resort.   Many of the most successful coaches in sports today will publicly praise their athletes and privately correct them.  That shows character and builds respect.

Nehemiah appealed to their sense of honor

Nehemiah said to the rich Jews, “What you are doing is not right! Should you not walk in the fear of our God . . . ? . . . but now let us stop this business of charging interest. You must restore their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes” (Nehemiah 5:9-11).  They obeyed him because he had their respect and appealed to their sense of honor.   

A good leader brings out the best in people and is therefore respected.  A poor leader will lead by fear or prejudice but will never gain respect.  People can sense your true goals and “If your goals are good, you will be respected” (Proverbs 11:27).

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the story of Nehemiah.  Help us to use his example to gain respect and use our influence to do good and honor 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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Attention Men: Insecurity and Jealousy Lead to Problems

Attention Men: Insecurity and Jealousy Lead to Problems!

Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him but had left Saul.  So Saul made David go away from him, and had him lead a thousand men. And David went out to the people.   David did well in all that he did, because the Lord was with him.  When Saul saw how well he did, he was afraid of him.   But all Israel and Judah loved David, for he went out and came in before them (1 Samuel 18:12-16).

Insecurity and jealously has been around since the beginning of time and is well documented in the story of Cain killing Abel in Genesis 4 and also Joseph’s brothers selling him in Genesis 37.  Another example comes later in the Bible in 1 Samuel and involves Saul and David.

Saul was the first king of Israel (c. 1021–1000 BC) and was chosen king both by the judge Samuel and by public acclamation.  His primary purpose was to defend Israel against its many enemies, especially the Philistines.  David was a solider under Saul and initially become a favorite of Saul.  However, under the paranoia that David was seeking to usurp the throne, Saul attempted to kill David, forcing the latter to go into hiding for several years. 

Saul becomes jealous of David because David slayed “the Philistine,” that is Goliath and the women praise David with the words, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7).  Saul’s decline is marked by the frequent visitation of an “evil spirit from God.”  In his depression, he twice throws his spear at David (1 Samuel 18:10-11), and even makes David a field officer in the hopes of killing him. Nevertheless, all Saul’s plans crash to the ground as David’s success mounts: “for the LORD was with him.”

Insecurity always leads to jealousy which ruins relationships and hinders leaderships.  An insecure person views the world through an insecure lens, which informs every decision they make.

Saul was a classic insecure leader.  He was infuriated that the women praised David received more attention than him after David killed Goliath.  Instead of being happy that David was successful in battle, Saul chose to spend of the rest of his years tracking down (in David’s words) “a flea.”  His jealousy clouded his judgement, hurt his relationships, and separated him from God.   I am sure that Saul thought he was doing the right thing.  Perhaps he was living out Proverbs 14:12. “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”  This story from Saul and David is not intended to be an interesting history story.  This is Holy Scripture and as such it is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (emphasis added).  So, what is God teaching us with this story?

I think the lesson here is that envy is indeed a deadly sin. Interestingly, David later wrote in Psalms 37:8, “refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” (emphasis added). 

 

If you are insecure as a person, you how two options.  Conquer it, or it will conquer you.

Below are some ideas that I ask you to prayerfully consider if you are an insecure person.

Identify A Father

Saul did not have a spiritual father.  Samuel, a priest and Israel’s last judge and first prophet, served in that capacity for a while, but Saul’s actions eventually destroyed that relationship.  We all need a spiritual father to affirm us and correct us.  In the absence of a father, men tend to look to themselves for self-affirmation.  As a boy and young man, when I had a great accomplishment, I wanted to first tell my father to hear him say, “Good job!”  Of course, I wanted to tell my mother too!  I still seek that affirmation, and correction, from my mother and my elder Christian brothers.  If the spiritual father is absent in the life of a man, he will enter an endless loop of trying to prove himself to himself. The result is failure and insecurity. 

Support Others

A jealous and insure person is constantly monitoring the accomplishments of others.  If a “competitor” is mentioned in conversation, they will dismiss and downplay their achievement.  A true leader empowers, encourages, and supports others.  A great leader will go out of their way to publicly praise others but privately corrects them.

You may recall that Jesus told us that we would do even greater things than Him.  Would an insecure person have made such a statement?

 Where Do You Store Your Treasure?

An insecure person is always trying to outdo everybody else for money, status, and recognition.  The root cause is valuing the opinion of man more than the rewards of God.  This life is only temporary, but upon our death, we will live forever.   Our reward comes in heaven.  Your income and status will mean nothing in heaven.  If we only sought to enrich ourselves on earth, I think Jesus will say, “I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.” (Matthew 25:45).

Jesus values our heart more than our money.  The Word teaches us, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20).”  The next verse gives the reason for this instruction.  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).  The approval of man is fickle, but the approval of God has eternal implications. 

The bottom line is you CAN and MUST conquer insecurity or it WILL conquer you.  David was an imperfect man, like all of us, but Scripture tells us twice that he was a man “after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). The right next step is to surround yourself with men like David, not Saul and seek affirmation from God, store up your treasure in heaven, and publicly praise others every chance you get.

Prayer:  Dear God, Forgive us for the times our insecurity leads to acts of jealousness.  Give us a new heart and a new spirit that seeks to honor and glorify You in all that we say and 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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When you give to the poor, it is like lending to the LORD, and the LORD will pay you back” (Proverbs 19:17 GNT).

 

Scripture is full of stories of women that have played essential roles in advancing the work of our Lord.  These prominent women include the Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, Miriam the prophetess, Deborah the judge, Huldah the prophetess, Rahab, Esther, and many more.  Many of these women are recognized in the Faith Hall of Fame found in Hebrews 11. 

Proverbs 31 describes the many virtues of Godly woman.  The Proverbs 31 woman can be commended for all the wonderful things she does, what is most important is that she loves the Lord.  She lives her entire life to honor and serve Him. This and this alone is what makes her a virtuous woman.

I recently enjoyed coffee with my good friend Mark.  As we discussed how God has blessed us, I told him that he was particularly blessed because his wife is a Proverbs 31 woman.  Her love for the Lord is evident in all that she says and does.  If you spend five minutes with her, she will tell you what God has done for her today.  As I speak with her, my mind is often drawn to Luke 6:45 “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”  Her heart is full of a love for God.  She lives a Spirit-led life, and the Fruits are manifested in her love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

My Sunday school class has been watching a series of videos entitled Pearls by Kristi McLelland.  In a recent episode, Rev. McLelland emphasized the need to “zachar” as a means of moving forward.  The word “zachar” is a Hebrew word that means to remember.   The Jewish people would often take time to look back and remember God’s faithful presence in their lives and that would help them to move forward through difficult times in the present.  The Psalmist was remembering God’s past faithfulness when he wrote, “My soul is downcast within me; therefore, I will remember You (Psalm 42:6).

As I speak with my friend’s wife, I often hear the zachar in her words.  If a storm is coming, she will talk about how God rebuilt her house after the flood of 2016.  If her car needs a major engine work, she will mention that the car itself was a gift from one of God’s angels.  None of her present problems are impossible because she remembers her past victories, which she quickly and wisely attributes to God.

Her life is dedicated to loving God and her neighbor (e.g., everybody).  She is not rich by secular standards, but she is rich beyond measure because of her continual efforts to store up her treasure in heaven.  In fact, Scripture says that a Proverbs 31 wife of noble character is “worth far more than rubies” (Proverbs 31:10).

There are few things in this fallen world of which I have confidence.  However, I am confident that when this kind lady is Healed and meets the Father, she will pass on the right Hand of God with the other sheep.  How do I know this?  Because she is actively serving the least, the lost, and the hurt.  God commands us in Matthew 25:34-36 to show compassion, kindness, and hospitality to all, particularly those on the fringes of society.  The Word says, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me’” (Matthew 25:34-36).  This is her calling in life.  It is real and powerful.

We all know that there is a gap between asking God for something and receiving it.  This is the inevitable period of waiting.  During this period, I have seen this Proverbs 31 woman living out Proverbs 3:5, which teaches, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).  Initially I was not sure how this woman was so successful in her prayers.  Then I finally realized that she is also living out the instruction of the Psalmist.  “Delight yourself in the ways of the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).”  Her prayers are answered because she wants the same thing for her life and her family that God wants for her and her family. 

Do you know a Proverbs 31 woman?  I am blessed that I do.  Her name is Vickie Lubbock, and there is no stronger solider in God’s army than this Proverbs 31 woman. 

I can’t think of a better conclusion than the last three verses from Proverbs 31.

Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.   Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate” (Proverbs 31:29-31)

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for all the Proverbs 31 women of the past, present, and future.  Their life is a powerful witness to your enduring 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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… “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Matthew 19:5 NIV).

 

Several years ago, I was talking with a female friend, let’s call her Sally, about marriage.  Sally told me an interesting story about her first marriage.  Sally got married many years ago to her first husband.  Her father, let’s call him Dick, did not like her husband because he was a “loser.”  Sally was very close to Dick, and he was always her first phone call when she needed advice on anything. 

A few weeks after she got married, Sally called her father for advice.  Sally told me what sort of advice she was seeking from her father, but I forget the details.  What is more important, to me, is the response she got from her father.  Dick calmly and politely responded to her question, “Have you asked your husband about this?”  She indicated to her father that she had not asked her husband about the situation.  The father said, “Honey, you have a husband now so go ask him.” 

Sally’s father was not a deeply religious man.  He had been the main man in his daughter’s life for her entire life.  Remember, he did not like her new husband.  However, he wanted what is best for his daughter so he did everything he could do to support her and her marriage.  Sally’s father had always loved her and would continue to love her.  I think it was because of his love for Sally that he realized the best way he could support his daughter’s marriage was to let her know that “she has a husband now.”

Sally’s father had many reasons, some valid and some invalid, to not like her new husband.  He had advised her before the wedding to not get married.  However, he knew that a marriage bond is sacred so after the wedding he kept his thoughts regarding his son in law to himself and did his best to be kind and pleasant to his daughter’s new husband.  Sally’s father wanted to give unsolicited advice to Sally and her husband regarding how things should be done in their house.

Again, Sally’s father was not a close follower of Jesus.  However, he knew that he did not want another man to undermine his authority in his house, so he knew he had to respect the authority of his new son in law.  Perhaps he had attended Sunday school as a young boy and remembered the Gospel lesson of a house divided cannot stand. 

Perhaps Sally told me this story because she knew I had a young daughter, and she knew that I love my daughter with all my heart.  I wonder if Sally was giving me a warning to prepare myself to take a step back if and when my daughter gets married.  I want my daughter to have a husband.  I know that any husband that she finds will be a sinner, and my initial reaction will to be find fault in him and try to maintain “control.”  So, I have decided to control what I can control, what I should control.  I will control my words.  Also, I will control my prayers and begin praying now that God will send a husband for my daughter that will love, provide, protect, and lead her spiritually in far better ways that I ever could or did. 

As men, many of have jobs in which we have some sort of control over people, budgets, or projects.  At home, many men have control over their young children, and this may continue later in life for unmarried daughters.  Men don’t like to be told what to do, but some fathers have no problem telling their married daughter and son in laws what to do because of a deep-rooted desire to maintain control of their daughter. 

I completely understand this desire for control.  I have a beautiful, intelligent, and kind daughter and will always view my daughter as a sweet and innocent child, and I would love to “control” her in an attempt to protect her.  But, as much as I want to have control over her life, I realize that is futile because that is not in her best interest or mine.  I want to be available to give advice, when asked and with respect to any future husband, but I want to raise my daughter in such a way that she will be able to make wise decisions without me because someday I won’t be here.    

Matthew 19:5 teaches that “….a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”  The same is true for a woman.  She will also leave her father and mother and become one flesh with her husband.  There is a leaving and cleaving that occurs during marriage.  As we leave our parents, we still love them and regularly talk and visit with them, but they no longer have access to the inner workings of our lives, marriage, or our new family regardless if they demand access or feel entitled to private information.  The marriage consists of three – husband, wife, and God. 

It is understandable for a daughter to want to cling to her father after marriage.  The love for any child for a parent is strong and should be respected.  However, it is not respectful for a father to allow his daughter to cling to him once she is married or to continue to demand control over his daughter once she is married.  Fathers can support their daughter and her marriage by keeping negative opinions and unsolicited advice to themselves.  I hope I can do this if and when my daughter gets married.  I know that the time to speak my peace is before the wedding, not after.

Ladies, remember, once you are married, you have a husband now.  Fathers, remember, once your daughter is married, she has a husband now. 

Prayer:  Thank you for the Holy Covenant of marriage.  Help us as husbands to love our wives as you so loved your church.  Help us as fathers to best support our daughters by recognizing the sacredness of their marriage.  Help us as brides to remember that once we are married, we have a husband now.  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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Why Are You Asking “Why?”

“I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I – and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me . . . I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance” (Job 42:2-3, 6 NLT).

 

I suspect the most common question that people ask God begins with “why.”  Why was my house destroyed in the fire?  Why am I so unhappy?  Why don’t I have more money?  We will never fully understand the ways of God, but we take comfort in knowing that God is good.  This is the essence of the mystery of faith.  It is important to understand that faith is not hoping for something or having a strong feeling about a future event or situation.  Faith is based on assurance and conviction as described in Hebrews 11:1. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

We do not understand God because we are not God.  For us to try to understand God is as futile as it would be for the birds in my backyard to understand calculus.  God addresses the fundamental different between Himself and us in Isaiah 55:8-9.  “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”

We all struggle with our faith in the midst of a storm.  Questions that begin with “why” are a sign of fear rather than faith and trust. 

In the first 37 chapters of the book of Job, we read time and again of Job asking God questions that begin with “why.”  “Why is this happening to me? Why are you allowing this? Why so much pain? Why so much discomfort? Why haven’t you answered my prayers?”   Does this sound familiar?

In chapter 38, Job stops asking “why.” God begins to ask some very difficult question to Job.

In the next two chapters, God asks questions to Job that only God could answer. He asks things like, “Where were you when I made the universe? Can you explain the law of gravity?”

After two chapters, Job realizes that he is just a man, and his knowledge is limited. It appears that Job has had an epiphany and his response is in accordance with Isaiah 55:8-9.

Job stops questioning—and starts trusting. He replies to the Lord, “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I – and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me . . . I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance” (Job 42:2-3, 6).

The strength of our faith is revealed when we don’t understand what is happening.  Do we choose fear or faith when life doesn’t make sense?

Of course, we all know we should choose faith, but it is not quite that simple in practice.  We don’t understand the situation, and we certainly don’t understand God’s thoughts, but we can remind ourselves of the things we do know about God to help us through the storm.  As we return back to Scripture, we can learn from Job.

Even while doubting, Job affirmed what he knew to be true about God: God is loving (Job 10:12), God is all powerful (Job 36:22), God is in control (Job 34:13), God had a plan for his life (Job 23:14), and God would protect him (Job 5:11).

You may be experiencing a major problem right now and feel that nobody understands you or your problem, and you may be exactly right!  However, you need to realize that the God of heaven and earth understands you and your problem better than you do!  If He knows the number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7), don’t you think He also is passionately and intimately aware of every detail of your life?  As His children, we have the Holy Trinity on our side.  Jesus Christ is interceding for us to the Father (Romans 8:34).  The Holy Spirit is offering intercessory prayer to God through our wordless groans (Romans 8:27).  And God is leading the way for us.  “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

You may not understand what you’re going through, but you can still say this to God: “I don’t like this, and I don’t understand this, but I know you’re good. I know you’re loving. I know you’re powerful. I know you know the details of my life. I know you’re in control. I know you have a plan. I know you will protect me.”

We mature as Christians when we stop asking “why” and start trusting God—no matter what.  There is freedom and peace that comes from trusting God all the time.  We are each free to chose faith or fear.  Choose wisely.

Prayer:  Dear God, You have delivered us from slavery and captivity and made a Holy covenant with us as your children.  Your love, wisdom, grace, and providence is impossible for us to understand.  Forgive us for our doubt and help us to remember what we know about you.  Use these periods of adversity as opportunities to grow our faith and draw us closer in ministry to you and each other until you come again in final victory.  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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Leaving A Truly Lasting Legacy

Leaving A Truly Lasting Legacy

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).

 

I think most of us are interested in leaving behind a “legacy.”  I see this “legacy” term used in many applications.  Non-profit religious and secular organizations often court donors to donate money to establish a “legacy.”  This concept of having something, particularly something intrinsically good, that lives on after we are forever healed is appealing to most men. 

Your legacy is not contingent on the amount of money that you donate to any organization, including your church.  Yes, we are to do all the good that we can but with the knowledge that “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

If you have been blessed as a father, then you been given the greatest opportunity to leave a legacy by living out Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  A child that loves God will become an adult that loves God and will rear children that love God.  Your Christian legacy continues through your heirs for eternity. 

Many fathers do not place God first, love their wife as Christ loved His church, or make any effort to seek His face.  Their legacy is one of sin.  Scripture is very clear that the sin and iniquity of fathers that do not follow God will be passed on to the children for three and four generations (Exodus 20:5, 34:7; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 5:9).

The phrase, “the sins of the father” reminds us that God’s law has been established with blessings, as well as judgment.  We cannot live in violation of God’s commandments and expect those closest to us to experience no effect from our sin.  We see this truth manifested in the inheritance of alcoholism, sexual prevision, abuse, etc.  This reality should stir us to obedience to God’s word.  In the Prayer of Confession and Pardon in the United Methodist Church, we ask our Lord to, “free us for joyful obedience.”  This concept of obedience is essential to those seeking a “Closer Walk With Thee.”  Ephesians 6:1 reads, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”  We are all children of the Father, and our obedience to our earthly parents is one way we honor and obey our Father in heaven. 

We can all agree that proper training of children is essential for their future development.  The disagreement occurs when we discuss what is proper training.  I would never proport myself to have all of the answers on raising children.  I have raised two children and am very proud of them both but acknowledge that I made some poor choices as a father.

Scripture teaches us that “nothing can separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8:38).  The Father has modelled for us in His love for us as to how we are to love our children.  It is imperative to understand that discipline is not an action we take instead of love but rather is love in action.  Proverbs 13:24 reads, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (Proverbs 13:24).  Wisdom is a result of discipline, and an undisciplined child will not make wise decisions.  This connection between discipline and wisdom is evident in Proverbs 29:15. “A rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother” (Proverbs 29:15).

The brain of a child is not fully developed.  Their understanding of the world is limited, and their focus is typically immature and inward.  Parents do their children a disservice by treating them as adults.  Children are children and should not be robbed of their childhood by adults that want children to help them make important adult decisions, engage in adult conversations, etc.

All parents want to ensure that their children are happy.  The easiest way to attempt this is to give the child what they want.  So, many parents consistently give their children what they want (candy, toys, expensive clothes, etc.) and withhold items and activities that they don’t want (meeting new friends, cleaning their room, eating a healthy diet, etc.). 

Some parents also withhold one big item – discipline.  As a result, they fail to heed the warning of Proverbs 22:15. “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.”  Discipline is so important because it puts us on the road to making good decisions.  One really good decision is to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  Proverbs 23:13-14 reads,  “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.  Punish them with the rod and save them from death.”

Discipline is the key to yielding good fruit in your children and leaving a true legacy.  As fathers, we must realize that most lessons are caught rather than taught.  So, our actions are important because our children are constantly watching us.  We exasperate them by using arbitrary discipline.  We confuse them when our actions conflict with our words.  We demoralize them when we do not recognize and affirm their achievements. 

Yes, discipline is important but so is grace.  Children of all ages will make mistakes.  Do you recall how the father welcomed back the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32?  As fathers, we show God to our children when we show grace.  My mind is drawn to Malachi 3:3, “He will sit as a refiner of silver.”  I think God is using a mixture of discipline and grace to work out our sanctification.  I cannot think of a better method to help our children to do likewise. 

The right next step here is for all of us to consider what are we showing to our children by our words and actions.  Are we setting a good example?  Are we serious about raising Christian children?  Do we want our sins passed on for three or four generations?  In short, where do we want to store up our treasure?  I pray that all of us can find our response within the God-breathed words of Joshua 24:15, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the blessing of children.  Thank you for modelling for us how to be a father.  Grant us wisdom and discernment on when and how to offer discipline and grace.  Help us to leave behind a legacy of children that love you.  Amen. 

Meet the Author

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

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Do You Control Your Feelings Or Do They Control You?

“From now on, then, you must live the rest of your earthly lives controlled by God’s will and not by human desires” (1 Peter 4:2 (GNT).

 

Our feelings are a gift from God and can be used for His glory or ours.  It is fine to have and express feelings.  The problem occurs when our feelings begin to control our life rather than God’s will.

Our feelings of frustration, anger, etc. are often a result of not obtaining something we desire.  There is a recurring theme throughout Scripture of the inherent battle in man between the desires of the flesh and the Spirit.   The flesh may want a new house or a new boat.   There is nothing inherently wrong with these things and if the Spirit wants you to have these things, you will. 

One of my favorite promises from Scripture is found in Psalm 37:4. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  As we begin to move closer to Christ, we also begin to desire the same things that He desires.   It is important to remember that God is not Santa Claus.  God will give you everything that you need (2 Thessalonians 1:2), but he will not give you everything that you want.  This is particularly true if you are not following the first part of Psalm 37:4.  God wants us to delight ourselves in His ways, not our ways.  If we are truly delighting ourselves in God, then the evidence (fruit) will be manifested in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Just as blood in the water can attract shark, so can anger in your heart attract the enemy.  Ephesians 4:26-27 warns that anger opens the door to the enemy.  “In your anger do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”  Jesus certainly was angry at times, but He never did allow himself to sin.

Our minds are a battlefield because our thoughts can originate from God or the enemy.  How can we tell who is the author of each thought?  When we are angry, or feeling any range of emotion, we can “take each thought captive and make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) by asking ourselves a few questions.

“What is really going on here?”  A strong feeling of anger may be because there is residual resentment from some unresolved issue.  If you had a bad day at work, then that frustration can be transferred to your spouse.  Maybe you are not happy with how an issue has been handled at home, so this anger is carried over to other interactions with your spouse.  Maybe a parent, teacher, or friend said something years ago that that struck a nerve and when someone today says something similar, your overreaction is really a demand that they pay for that past offense.

“Is it true?”  Is what you’re feeling at that moment true?   Anger and fear can often cloud our judgment.  The enemy will introduce angry thoughts into your mind to cause you to feel alone, marginalized, misunderstood, or unappreciated.  As you separate yourself from others and from God, you are more vulnerable to further negative emotions.  In 1 Kings 19 Elijah gets so discouraged that he complains, “God, I’m the only one in the entire nation of Israel left serving you.”  This was false, but it was his truth.  God’s truth regarding our identity is found in Ephesians 1.  Please, go read it. 

“Is this feeling helping me or hurting me?”  Another way to ask this question is – will you get what you want by continuing to feel this way?  For example, if you want a new car and don’t have a new car, it is self-defeating to continue to feel angry month after month.   Your anger will not expedite the delivery of a new car or motivate somebody to buy you a new car, but it will make it much more likely for you to sin (Ephesians 4:26-27).

It is normal and healthy to feel angry when you are not happy with a decision.  It is also normal and healthy to “find your voice” and express your anger to your spouse.  However, at some point you are denying reality if you feel that the key to obtain what you want is to continue to express your anger.  If you hang on to anger, you allow yourself to miss the blessings of the present and future.  Now, that is something to be angry about!  An attitude of gratitude is much more beneficial than an attitude of anger.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the gift of emotions.  Forgive us for our emotions that dishonor you.  Give us the wisdom to seek out the origin of our anger and the courage to boldly lay it down at the foot of your cross.  Amen.

Tear A Hole In The Roof!

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Tear A Hole In The Roof!

todd shupe

One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.  Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus.   When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.  When Jesus saw their faith, He said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven’” (Luke 5:17-20 NIV).

 

As I write this the damage from Hurricane Ida is still fresh all throughout south Louisiana.  The winds were some of the strongest ever and damaged the roofs of many houses.  The winds forced scores of trees to fall and some punched holes in the roofs of some houses. Nobody wants a hole in their roof but if you were paralyzed during the time of Jesus you would be grateful if your friends made a hole in the roof of a house to lower you into the presence of our Lord. 

In Luke 5 we read a fascinating story in which a group of men bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus to be healed.   At first glance this is “just” another story in which Jesus performs a miracle.  You may recall in Matthew 20:16 that Mary addressed Jesus as Rabonni, which means teacher in Hebew.  As a teacher, perhaps Jesus likely recognized the opportunity as a “teachable moment.”  Yes, this was a moment for our Lord to again demonstrate His divinity.  In addition, the four friends in the story were also teaching by modeling godly behavior.   Below are a few characteristics of these friends that are invaluable to us today as we seek to minster to a fallen world.

Faith.  Scripture does not tell us about the strength of the faith of the paralytic man. However, Scripture does teach us that the man was healed because Jesus saw the faith of his friends.  So, we can assume that the friends at a minimum had the faith of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20). Jesus repeatedly teaches the importance of faith throughout the Gospels. All ministry must be deeply rooted in faith in Jesus.

Friendship.  The paralytic man wisely chose to be friends with four men that were there for him when he most needed their friendship.  The friends were ministering to the paralytic man    The friends were showing true friendship based on Proverbs 17:17 – “A friend loves at all times,, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”  A very important spiritual gift is that of presence. Zoom and FaceTime are wonderful but, there is no substitute for being physically present with a friend in a time of adversity.

Persistence.   It is so easy to give up when things get tough.  The men in Luke 5 encountered a huge crowd around Jesus and could have easily given up and their friend would not have been healed.  However, they persisted to find a way to help their friend. Scripture repeatedly addresses the benefits of persistence with the parable of “A Friend Comes at Midnight” (Luke 11:5-8) and the lesson of “Keep Asking, Seeking, and Knocking” (Luke 11:9-13).  It is easy to get discouraged as we try to reach family, friends, and acquaintances with the Gospel. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  We must be persistent in our ministry to others because the stakes are huge and eternal.

Innovation.  If the friends had persisted in what they were doing, then their friend would not have been healed.  The crowd was too large, and they could not get through. God gave us brains so we can think.  It’s innovative to tear a hole in a roof and lower your friend down to be with Jesus!   Don’t you think the friends made a mess when they made the hole in the roof? Ministry can sometimes be messy, but if we speak the truth in love then we have a powerful witness.

Cooperation.  These men had to cooperate to do this job. One many simply could not do this job alone.  There is strength in numbers. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). The men not only had strength in their own numbers but stepped out in faith to tap into the immeasurable strength of Jesus for non-selfish reasons.  This small group of men brought another man to Jesus. People are more likely to respond to the Gospel in the context of a supportive, small group.

Sacrifice.  In your ministry you will be subjected to jealousy, hatred, and slander.   Jesus said, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22). The friends not only sacrificed their time, but they also sacrificed the roof of a stranger! Scripture does not tell us who repaired the roof, but I suspect the friends sacrificed their time and resources to do this. Whether it’s time, money, or something else, there is always a cost to bringing someone to Christ.  Luke 16:9 teaches, “Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.” We must be willing to make sacrifices if we are truly going to fulfill the Great Commission.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for speaking to us through Holy Scripture. Help us to not only understand but to also apply the lessons of Scripture to our daily lives. In particular, help us to use the lessons of Luke and all of Scripture as we minister to the world in Your name.  Amen. 

Meet the Author

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

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Thank you for visiting. We trust that you have enjoyed reading our articles.

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Why Is There So Much Anger Out There?

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Why Is There So Much Anger Out There?

todd shupe

A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel” (Proverbs 15:18 NIV).

Have you noticed a change in people in recent years?  I sure have.  I think it has been accelerated by COVID-19 and sadly will probably get worse before it gets better.   We have become meaner, more aggressive, more entitled, less patient, less appreciative, less respectful, and less forgiving.   How can this be in a country in which approximately ¾ of the adult population identifies as Christian?   Aren’t Christians called to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God” as instructed in Micah 6:8?  Similarly, Romans 12:17-18 gives further instruction to Christians on how to interact with others.  “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Each day Christians are revealing the nature of their heart and the strength of their witness by the words of their mouth.  Jesus drew this connection when He said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45).  Proverbs 18:21 puts it this way.  “The tongue has the power of life and death.”  Am I the only Christian that sometimes says things that I later regret?

Our words and actions (or inactions) are the outward manifestation of our relationship with God.  The Bible uses the term “fruit” to represent this outward appearance of our inner spirit.  We know others by their fruits just as they know us by ours (Matthew 7:15-20). 

As I think of fruits in this context, my mind is drawn to the parable of the cursing of the fig tree in Matthew 21:18-22.  Cursing the fig tree was Jesus’s way of saying that the whole nation had become spiritually barren before the Lord just as the tree was barren of fruit. The people had knowledge of religion, but it was not a part of their heart.  No good fruit.

I think many Christians today have a pretty good idea about the divinity of Jesus and a fair appreciation for His sacrifice and ministry.  However, many Christians are not yielding good fruit as evidenced by the negative attributes listed in the first paragraph. 

Why do so many Christians show these negative attributes when Jesus came to give them joy?  What is causing all of this anger and other negative emotions?  The short answer is fear, which is manifested as anger.  I think its noteworthy that Scripture encourages us 365 times (one for each day) to not be fearful or afraid. 

As we drill deeper to see what is behind the anger, we will find a primal cry deeply rooted in a suffering that is longing to be soothed.  These negative emotions are the only means some people know to beg for attention and care.  Their anger has been birthed by paralyzing fears, unfulfilled desires, raw wounds that are fresh even though years have passed, and dreams that have been stifled. Their harsh actions. loud words, and demand for control indicate a false bravado which is being driven by a deep cry – I am afraid.  I am not heard.  I am not satisfied.  I am hurt.  I want to be affirmed. 

As Christians we know we are called to trust God but in practice we often trust ourselves.  We want to give control to God but, we want to control our life and those close to us because we, and only we, know best.  We often trust God, or a spouse, to make decisions but only if they make the decision that we want. 

The right next step here is to stop and invite the Holy Spirit to reveal negative emotions and other sins that are separating you from God.  Then, repent and turn from the sin.   As men we can model this by being “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).

It is important to realize that this requires daily prayer and a small accountability group.  A life lived in the Spirit is joy, but one lived in the flesh is death.  Choose life. 

Prayer:  Dear God, We know that apart from you we can do nothing.  Yet, so often we go our own way and do what is right in our own eyes.  Forgive us for our seasons of bad fruit.  Prune us to remove all that is impure and prepare new growth that is pleasing to your Eye.  In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 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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How Did You Like Your Heart Attack?

todd shupe

How Did You Like Your Heart Attack?

todd shupe

Remember today what you have learned about the LORD through your experiences with Him” (Deuteronomy 11:2 GNT).

 

There is certainly nothing to like or funny about a heart attack.  You know somebody is serious when they say, “I am serious as a heart attack.” 

In the book See You at the House by Bob Benson, the author details a conversation about his friend who had a heart attack.  The prognosis was grim for a while but ultimately his friend recovered. Months later Bob asked him a rather odd question. “Well, how did you like your heart attack?”  His friend responded, It scared me to death, almost.”  Bob asked, “Would you do it again?” “No!,” his friend said.  “Would you recommend it?” Bob asked.  “Definitely not,” said his friend. 

Now, the conversation begins to turn.  Bob said, “Does your life mean more to you now than it did before?”  “Well, yeah” was the response.  Bob continued, “You and your wife always had a beautiful marriage, but are you closer now more than ever?” Yes,” said his friend.  Bob probed deeper and asked, “Do you have a new compassion for people—a deeper understanding and sympathy?” “Yes, I do.”  “Do you know the Lord in richer fellowship than you’d ever realized?”  “Yes.”  And then Bob said, “So how did you like your heart attack?”

God is with us in the storms of life, including heart attacks, and often uses these situations as a learning opportunity for us.  Deuteronomy 11:2 reads, “Remember today what you have learned about the Lord through your experiences with Him.”  Sometimes it takes a heart attack or similar event for God to get our attention.  At this point, it is up to us to us to respond. 

Our response will ultimately increase or decrease our faith in God.  Scripture speaks to the relationship between trials and faith.  “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (I Peter 1:6-8).

We can choose to consider it all joy (James 1:2-4) because we know we have final victory over sin and death and glory and eternity await.  We can partner with God in times of trials to make us into the kinds of people He wants us to be (Romans 8:28–29). I believe that our good, compassionate God longs for all of us to be on a formational journey in Christian perfection to be more Christ-like and pain provides a unique “on-ramp” to expedite the journey.

God reveals Himself to us through various means.  Sadly, many men do not recognize God’s grace until they have their “heart attack” moment.  We can certainly experience God’s presence while in church or reading the Bible.  However, His presence transcends any sort of limits or preconceptions that we might have.  I sense His presence in babies, nature, and random acts of kindness.  The earth is God’s canvas.  The Psalmist expresses it beautifully in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”  If you want to see proof of God and see evidence of His work, look out the window or better yet go for a walk.

Don’t wait for your heart attack to begin living life!

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for pursuing us even when we fail to pursue you.  Help us to see first your kingdom and your righteousness.  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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