The Thorn of Divorce

The Thorn of Divorce

Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated.  Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV).

Scripture teaches that marriage is a lifelong commitment. Jesus described the relationship between husband and wife this way in Matthew 19:6: “They are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”  I think our divorce rate is high because we fail to truly comprehend this message.  Dr. Craig Keener, Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary, explained the importance by saying, “Jesus reminds us that in the beginning God joined man and woman together. “One flesh” often refers to one’s relatives or kin, so the husband and wife becoming ‘one flesh’ should be a family unit no less permanent than our families of origin should be.”

The Bible only explicitly allows divorce for two reasons.  Jesus stated divorce is permissible due to adultery (Matthew 19:9).   Paul adds a second exception, in instances where an unbelieving spouse abandons the marriage (1 Corinthians 7).

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.”  This tearing is painful reminds me of the thorn in the side of the Apostle Paul as described in 2 Corinthians 12.

In verse 7 Paul states, “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”  First, we need some context about the “thorn.”  In the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint, the word skolops (thorn) is “something which frustrates and causes trouble in the lives of those afflicted.

Notice that Paul states that the thorn was “given to him.” His focus is not on the immediate pain but rather his assurance of the future glory that will come from this situation.  This is faith!  This is the same Paul that wrote to the church in Rome about this very concept of God turning bad into good.  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

A “thorn in your soul” is what’s left of your soul after it has been torn apart by divorce. God can and will heal you if you draw nearer to Him.  Your painful soul can be mended. The Bible says, “He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:3).   Many believe that God can restore their soul but are frustrated when He does not.  To claim the promise of Psalm 23 we need to live out the command of Psalm 19:7. “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.” Scripture is intended to revive your soul, but that can only occur when we do our part – trust and obey.

Proverbs 3:8 says that wisdom will bring “healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.”  Wisdom comes from seeking God, learning more about Him, and surrendering fully to Him.  God understands our need for wisdom.  James 1:5 teaches, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  It takes a wise man to recognize his need for wisdom and a wiser man knows the true source of all true wisdom.   Imagine the decrease in divorce rates if men loved their wives as Christ loved His church.   Imagine.

Prayer:  Dear God, Forgive us for tearing apart what you have joined together.  Send your Holy Spirit to teach us as we read Scripture.  Open our hearts and minds and help us to use your Word in our daily lives.  Grant us wisdom that can only come from 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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  • Recipe for Joy



    Recipe for Joy
    “I will continue to rejoice. For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance” (Philippians 1:18-19 NLT).
    I love to cook.  As any chef will tell you, the key to a good dish is the proper ingredients.   Sometimes if I cook something good, I wonder what can I add to make it great?  God is known by many names but is seldom referred to as the “master chef.”  However, He provides all the ingredients we need to regain our joy.
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  • Self-Control: “Fools Lose Their Temper; Wise Men Hold It Back”



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


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    “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…
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An Identity Crisis Hurts Men and Families

An Identity Crisis Hurts Men and Families

In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will” (Ephesians 1:11 (NIV).

One of the saddest things I have seen is what happens on occasion to some strong and successful men when they retire from their job.  Yes, they might embrace new hobbies and have more time for old hobbies.  However, they sometimes miss their old job, especially if they were in a position of leadership or authority.  I had a friend tell me once that at work he was somebody and had power but outside of work he felt like he was nobody with no power. 

I am amazed at how so many men can not separate their identity as a person from the job that they performed to provide for their family.  Our identity as a person is perfect and independent from our occupation or anything that we might do, think, pray, or speak.  

To help us better understand our true identity, I encourage you to read the book God Knows Your Story And He’s Not Mad by Rev. Carter Featherston.  This is an excellent book that unpacks Ephesians Chapter 1.  This chapter gives me peace and hope but perhaps more importantly it helps me to understand my true identity, and I pray that it will do the same for you.  Below are just a few of the verses selected from Carter’s book. 

In Love He Adopted us as sons (verse 5).   Historical evidence indicates that in ancient Rome certain people adopted adults as a legal maneuver done in the interest of political or economic gain.  The wealthy ruling class would adopt young men to become ruling heirs, sometimes in place of biological sons that had proven themselves to be unfit for ruling.  In fact, many of the Emperors of Rome came to the throne through adoption.  Therefore, in the culture of Rome in the days of the Apostle Paul (who was a Roman), adoption was about singling out a person to confer power and authority on him.   We have all been adopted by our heavenly Father.  Romans 8:17 reads, “If we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, God adopted us.”  What an inheritance we have as His heirs!

In Him we have Redemption.  By the blood of Jesus we were bought, redeemed out of slavery and sin, and have been forgiven of our trespasses (verse 7).  God knows that we are slaves to sin.  But with the death of Jesus we have been ransomed.  He pronounced us “forgiven” by the blood of Jesus.   We are no longer defined by our sins.  Our new identity is forgiven, pure, and blameless.  Colossians 1:22 teaches, “But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”

We all want to know our purpose in life but this can only be revealed to us through Jesus.  Just as the Bible will not be meaningful if it is read independent of the Holy Spirit, your purpose will not be revealed if you seek it independently from Jesus. 

Ephesians 1:11 (NIV) is the feature Scripture at the top of this blog.  The Message translation of this verse reads, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for” (The Message).  In Christ, you find out who you are—that’s your identity. And you find what you’re living for—that’s your purpose.

The only way to know your identity and purpose in life is by getting to know your Creator.  God reveals Himself in many different ways – worship, prayer, friends, and more.  For me, there is no substitute for spending time in His word to better understand Him and myself.  If you really want to find out what your purpose is and how to pursue it, you have to get to know Jesus Christ and ask for His wisdom and direction.

Your work is not your identity.  Your identity is an heir of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).  I pray that you already know your identity and if not you claim it today. 

Prayer:  Dear God, Forgive us for failing to claim our true identity.  Help us to understand that our true identity is in You and not in anything of this earth.  Amen. 

Meet the Author

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

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  • Getting To The Heart Of The Issue



    Getting To The Heart Of The Issue
    Over the years, I have spoken with many Christians and enjoyed having the opportunity to hear their testimony. Some are “intellectual Christians,” so to speak, and believe that science has proved the existence of Christ and therefore they also believe. Many have provided me with compelling arguments for their Christian faith.   I also believe in Jesus and in science.
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  • “Four Ways To Turn Father’s Day Into A Celebration Of The Selfless Service Men Do Daily”



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  • Use Your Words to Build Up the Body of Christ


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Showing Humility Is Showing Jesus

Showing Humility Is Showing Jesus

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather; in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4 NIV).

Jesus walked the earth and engaged in meaningful and transformational relationships with people.  Today, we are called to be in relationship with Him and with others.  But how can we be the Face of God to others in our relationships?  Some may dismiss this notion out of hand because we are not Jesus.  How can we be expected to show His face?

The simple answer is we can’t, but with the Holy Spirit we can and we should.  After His death, Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit upon His disciples in John 20:22.  The Spirit was later breathed on to us all at Pentecost, 50 days after the Resurrection and 10 days after the Ascension.  Through our baptism and profession of faith, we also have received the power of the Holy Spirit just as the people gathered at Pentecost in Acts 2. 

 Our faith is evidenced in our humility with others.   Humility is a form of kindness and as such is a fruit of the Spirit.  The opposite of humility is narcissism, which is an extreme selfish inward focus, a lack of empathy for others, and a failure to “value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).  It is inconsistent with the nature of our Lord as revealed through Scripture.  Jesus described Himself as “gentle and humble at heart” (Matthew 11:29).  This disorder is typically manifested in men that are inwardly spiritually bankrupt and consequentially are incapable to lead like Jesus as a servant leader.

Showing humility and blessing others can also be a blessing for ourselves.  Hebrews 13:2 reads, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”  I think we can safely substitute the word “humility” for “hospitality.” God often works through people that others would overlook. 

We show God’s face, and humility, when we truly listen to others.   According to Trevor Hudson in Pauses for Lent: 40 Words for 40 Days, “Listening lies at the heart of life with God. But in order to listen to God, we need to learn how to listen to the person next to us. After all, how can we listen to God, whom we cannot see, if we cannot listen to the person we can see?”  Our failure to listen is included in the prayer of confession and pardon prior to Holy Communion in the United Methodist Church – “We have not heard the cry of the needy.”

We show God’s Face, and humility, when we give honor to all and use our words to build up others.  We do this by paying attention to other people.  We honor others by, “not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:4).  Our real relationships with real people are important, not our status on social media or the comments of those that are slaves to gossip and division.  We lay the groundwork for real relations by showing kindness to others that are not in a position to return the favor.

Meaningful relationships with others allow us to identify and respond to the needs of others.    Jesus told us that, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).  Imitation is often called the sincerest form of flattery.  As Christians, we want to imitate Jesus.  The next time you are talking with a friend, stranger, or family member please listen.  Jesus might be talking.

Prayer:  Dear God:  Bless us with lips of fire that speak your truth in love, kindness, and compassion to all that we meet.  May all that we do and say bring honor to you so that others may see your Face when they see us.  Amen. 

Meet the Author

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

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  • 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

    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…
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  • Generosity is Proven to be Good for the Giver


    Generosity is Proven to be Good for the Giver

    Generosity is Proven to be Good for the Giver
    “If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them.   Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need” (Deuteronomy 15:7-8 NIV).
    If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need” (Deuteronomy 15:7-8 NIV).
    As Christians, we know that we are called upon to be generous….
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  • Gentleness In Action



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

Meekness Is Not Weakness

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5 NIV). 

Jesus described himself as gentle in Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (emphasis added).  A gentle man is meek.  Meekness is a humble attitude that expresses itself in the patient endurance of offenses.  Meekness is not weakness. Many men confuse the two. However, the difference between a meek person and a weak person is a weak person can’t do anything. A meek person, on the other hand, can do something but chooses not to do it out of strength, not weakness.

When we “turn the other cheek” we do so out of meekness.  We may have the ability and even the right to retaliate, but in strength, not weakness, we show restraint.  Meekness is a virtue that we cannot

Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount about the meek.  “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).  Jesus saw the virtue in meekness.  Meekness is a Christ-like attribute and a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).  It’s a virtue that draws courage, strength, and conviction not from self-centered flesh or pride.  Meekness is certainly not weakness; it is power under control.

Probably the least admired character quality in America is meekness. And yet the greatest one who ever lived was a meek and humble man.  He was certainly not weak.

We are quick to judge others as weak when they may indeed be showing meekness.  I read a story about a man that murdered a stranger.  The evidence was overwhelming, and he admitted to the crime.  The family of the deceased woman forgave the man and asked the judge to not sentence the man to death.  I was overwhelmed with the meekness of this family.  I know some viewed the family as weak or cowardly, but I wonder if these people understand the difference between weakness and meekness.

I saw a story on television years ago about a man that was released from prison after spending many years inside for a crime in which he was later proved innocent due to DNA evidence that was not available at the time of his trial.  He was given a very small cash award from the state and released to get on with his life.  This man had every right to curse those responsible for his time in prison.  Instead, he prayed blessings on all those involved to relieve them of any pain and regret that they may feel due this injustice.  He became a Christian while in prison and later became a minister to many of the other inmates.  He was meek.  May we all be so blessed as to show such meekness the next time we have the opportunity to seek revenge.

Prayer:  Dear God:  Help us remember that by showing meekness we are showing strength, and we are showing Jesus.  Amen. 

Meet the Author

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

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  • I Can’t Get No Satisfaction


    I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

    I Can’t Get No Satisfaction
    “He has set the right time for everything. He has given us a desire to know the future, but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding what He does”  (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV).
    “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was a song by the English rock band The Rolling Stones, released in 1965. The lyrics refer to secular frustration and commercialism, not Christianity.  However, there is a message in the song that has been true since the book of Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon around 935 BC.  In many instances, we cannot get satisfaction, at least not…
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  • What Can Grasshoppers and Mustard Seeds Teach Us About Fear?


    What Can Grasshoppers and Mustard Seeds Teach Us About Fear?

    What Can Grasshoppers and Mustard Seeds
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  • What Are Your Priorities



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    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…
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Gentleness In Action

Gentleness In Action

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1, underline added for emphasis).

What image comes to your mind when you hear the word “gentleness”?  I think most men (and probably most women too ) envision someone that is extremely kind, does not cause any trouble, and always has a smile on their face.  However, we can show gentleness and also be actively engaged in the lives of others.  In fact, we can be gentle while helping a fellow brother or sister in Christ become aware and repent of the sin in their life.  Some might try to argue that what somebody else does in their life is their business.  But how are we to follow the instructions of 1 Thessalonians 5:11 to “build each other up” if we do not help to tear down those things that are separating us from God? 

I think it is important to stop here and acknowledge that all Christians can and do sin.  While we are all growing in Christian perfection, the only one to achieve it on earth was Jesus.  We all know that a Christian is called to trust in God.  However, the calling goes deeper and requires us to stop living for the sins of our human nature (flesh) desires (Galatians 5:24).  We are no less of a Christian if we fall into sin and fail to immediately follow the direction of the Spirit away from sin.  Paul is telling us that we need help, and God will provide this help in the form of other Christians. 

Paul is expanding upon Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron so does one man sharpen another.”  He is teaching others, particularly spiritually mature Christians, to step in and help reconcile us to God.  It is imperative that those performing this task are clearly walking with the Spirit.  We can tell if they are in the Spirit because then the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) will be evident in the them.  In this case, the fruit of gentleness is important.  To avoid being tempted by the same sin, they must possess humility.  Paul teaches about the importance of humility in Colossians 3:12. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (underline added for emphasis)” 

The bottom line is a Spiritually mature person must help restore sinners in order for the body of Christ to continue to grow and function.  To restore something is to make it whole and functional again.  When it comes to sin, it must involve repentance and a return to a Spirit-led life.  We all have sinned and made poor choices, but just like the prodigal son (Luke 15), the Father is always waiting to welcome us back!

 

Prayer:  Dear God, We confess our sins of omission and commission in helping to restore others.  Please reconcile us to You and be with us as we work with You to reconcile others to You.  Amen.

Meet the Author

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

We welcome your comments below.

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

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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…
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  • Revival Starts With Your Heart


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  • The Purpose and Daily Use of Prayer



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How Can We Lead During A Pandemic?

How Can We Lead During A Pandemic?

todd shupe

Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save” (Psalm 146 NIV).

I enjoy participating in several men’s groups throughout the week.  Before COVID-19 these groups would meet in person at a local church, restaurant, or somebody’s house and we would read and discuss Scripture or a devotional, share our concerns and prayer requests, and enjoy fellowship with each other. 

These meetings are now on Zoom.  Although I prefer in person meetings, I am grateful for these opportunities on Zoom to spend time with my friends.  One recurrent issue that I have encountered when talking with men in group meetings or one on one is – how am I supposed to lead during this pandemic? 

These men have long been the spiritual leader in their house.  Their family looks to them for advice, leadership, and direction.  These guys have embraced this role.  Now, they are uncertain how to lead.  Their questions are:  How can I lead if I don’t know where I am going?  How can I answer questions from my family if I don’t have any answers?  How can I project calmness when I am anxious and worried? 

To be honest, I have not had very good answers to these questions.  I have many of the same questions and more.  After much thought and prayer and talking with some close friends, I hope the following may be helpful to men that are struggling with this situation. 

 

It is ok to feel uneasy during these times. 

If the disciples were nervous during a storm on the Sea of Galilee, I think it is understandable for us to be a little uneasy in our storms of life.  I think many of us have a false perception of a man based on Hollywood.  I love movies that have a strong, silent man as the hero.  He might be a cowboy working alone on the range, the last gladiator, or a street savvy boxer, etc.  These men are tough and can handle anything that comes along by themselves.   These guys are physically strong and sometimes mentally strong but without the vertical and horizonal axes of the Cross, they are spiritually bankrupt.   The vertical axis represents our relationship with God, and the horizontal axis denotes our relationship with each other.

 

Your leadership is not based upon your ability.

As we learn more about Christ and grow closer to Him, we begin to desire more of the things that He does.  We can lead more like Him when we filter our decisions through His truth, which is the only truth.  Moses and the prophets of the Old Testament were selected by God to provide His leadership to the Jewish people.  Their leadership was good and pleasing to God based on one condition:  Did they listen to God and follow His direction.  Moses, Jacob, David and others were at times obedient to God and as such enjoyed His consolations.  At other times, they were rebellious and did not have His favor.  We can also provide good leadership to our families but can only do so if we are yoked and obedient to Christ.  The Bible is full of examples in which God uses an ordinary person to do the extraordinary.  Remember King David was the youngest of eight sons.  However, the Prophet Isaiah knew that, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit (Isaiah 11:1).  We don’t have any control over this pandemic, but we can take comfort in the assurance that God does.  We can lead our family in prayer to “cast all of our anxiety on Him” (1 Peter 5:7).

 

Diet and exercise are important.

Many self-help books talk about the need for proper diet and exercise to maintain good physical and mental health, particularly during times of adversity.  However, we tend to be less aware of the importance of diet and exercise for our spiritual health.  Our spiritual health is a manifestation of how we feed ourselves spiritually.  We can strengthen our spiritual health through prayer, study, fellowship with other Christians, service, tithing, witness, and other means of grace.  1 Peter 2:2 teaches, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.”  We can model and gently encourage proper diet and exercise for our family.

God places others in your life.

Yes, God places other people in your lives.  We should all have a few close friends that we can turn to for good advice.  If you are blessed to have a wife, you can honor her by sharing your feelings and worries with her.  God will use her to speak truth to you just as He uses you to speak to her.  Listen carefully and with discernment, and you may be blessed to hear the still small Voice of God. 

 

Prayer:  We want to be good leaders during times of uncertainty.  We question our ability to lead when we don’t know where we are going.  Help us to realize that is far more comforting for us to know You rather than to know anything else.  We cast our anxiety upon you because we know you care for us.  Amen. 

 

Meet the Author

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

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Book Review: Overcoming Racial And Cultural Barriers To Disciple Men by Rev. Elmo Winters

Book Review: Overcoming Racial And Cultural Barriers To Disciple Men by Rev. Elmo Winters

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation” (Acts 17:26 KJV).

Each generation faces unique challenges that historians use to define that time period or generation.  There are some challenges that seem to transcend time and linger from one generation to the next.  The issue of race is as old as the Biblical story of the Samaritan woman at the well that encounters Jesus, a Jew.  The nature of her heart is revealed in John 4:9. “The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

I have been blessed to have known Elmo Winters for many years.  I am a member of the Action Team of his ministry The Kingdom Group.  A key focus of his ministry is the discipleship of men of all races.  He hosts a monthly breakfast for men of all races to openly and honestly discuss their opinions on contemporary issues.  I have seen new friendships forged from these breakfasts and improved racial relations.

The book Overcoming Racial And Cultural Barriers To Disciple Men is a welcome respite in our current divisive and polarized times.  The book addresses this lingering societal predicament among men and provides some practical solutions.  Reverend Elmo Winters has over 40 years of international ministry experience with various races to draw upon for this book. The primary focus of the book is to prepare all men to be on the front line as disciples of Christ. These targeted guys are called to lead like Christ, which goes well beyond being “born again.”  They must be committed and determined followers (disciples) of the Lord.  Disciples of Christ are not only birthed into the family of God but are skillfully trained imitators of Him.  Each chapter covers a discussion on a major hindrance to making disciples of all men, including suggestions on how to successfully overcome it.

The first chapter is titled “Examining Your Heart” and this forms an essential theme throughout the book.  The author states, “The success or failure of many endeavors are directly determined by the degree of heart engagement.”  Reconciliation is predicated upon healthy relationships but there must be a desire to be a part of the solution. 

The book states that many white people view Black Lives Matter and the Black Panthers, as divisive and offensive. “It is difficult to embrace a man who sees the merits of any organization that believes one race or people group is more valuable than another. Being a part of these is akin to being a member of the Ku Klux Klan. All such alliances as these indicate that there is a problem in the heart.”

The book is honest and real.  As a disciple of Christ, we men are called to disciple other men and not just the ones that look like us.  This book is a valuable tool for men that are serious about their discipleship.

The book can be obtained from The Kingdom Group at this Book Link.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for my friend and brother Elmo Winters and this book.  Help us to love each other as You have loved us.  Help us to examine our heart and forge new relationships that are based on the heart and not outward appearances. 

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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A Ministry Making a Positive Impact – The KINGDOM Group!

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I want to bring to your attention to a ministry that is making a positive impact in locally and nationally.  The KINGDOM Group International, Inc. is a Baton Rouge based organization that is successfully addressing racial and cultural divisiveness.  For the past 3 years this ministry has held meetings and special events that have resulted in very positive changes in the area of unity and reconciliation.

  • Giving a SINGLE GIFTin any amount; or
  • Becoming a MONTHLY DONORof $10, $25, $50, $100 or any amount; or
  • By giving an IN-KIND GIFT(office space, equipment or supplies, volunteering, other donations, etc.)

Always remember to give to your local church first.  Then, prayerfully consider how God would like you to partner with the KINGDOM Group. 

Giving to the KINGDOM GROUP is easy. You can visit Kingdom Group website and click the GIVE NOW button.  Or, you can mail your donation to KINGDOM Group, 8733 Siegen Lane, Ste. 141, Baton Rouge, LA 70810.  You may also call Rev. Elmo Winters at (225) 305-3006 for additional information. The KINGDOM Group is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.

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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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 have been dramatic impacts on men, but the ultimate beneficiaries are wives and families.

I have been blessed to have worked alongside Mark in ministry for several years and have seen the Holy Spirit work through him. If you have any questions or suggestions about the ministry, financial plans, etc. please give Mark a call (225)252-3331. I know he will be happy to chat with you.

To donate please go to — Donate.. Most importantly, I ask that you pray for God’s provision and protection for Mark and his wife, Vickie, and his ministry. Please ask God what amount He would have you contribute and whatever amount He puts on your heart is certainly the right amount, even if its zero. God bless!

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 to be a AAA-Rated Father

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Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.  Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.   How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!  He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates )(Psalm 127:3-5 NLT).

Each year parents with good intentions will search for books to improve their parenting skills.  As parents we love our children and want them to have a good life and be happy.  We purchase material things to make them happy.  We take them on vacations, baseball practice, etc. to make them happy.  All of these are good things, but they don’t really provide the child with what he or she really craves.

The Bible is the best book for raising children because, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

The greatest need for our children is our unconditional love.  The home must be a place where they are always accepted and appreciated.  Go back and read The Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32.  The 

unconditional love that our Heavenly Father has for us is the same love we must have for our children.  When we show our children love, we are showing them God.  As fathers we need to model love at home.  They need to see how we love them, the rest of the family, and all guests that enter our house.   Our actions must reinforce our words.

Our children will soon be adults and their parenting skills will largely be based on what they observed from us.   The gifts and trips will fade from memory.  Our words will also fade.  What remains is feelings.  Hopefully, the feelings are of unconditional love, which will be passed on to the next generation.

Some fathers are the life of the party when out in public.  They are considered a fun guy, always quick with a joke, but at home they are the opposite.   I think it’s easy to love people at a distance, but when you’re with them all the time, little things can become annoying.  If we are intentional to ensure that our words are words of life, wherever we are, then we are showing and teaching love to our family and our entire life is a powerful witness.

Back in school, if you received a grade of an A you knew that you did good.  A lot of times we love our kids, but we don’t express it in a way they can understand it. Children understand love in three ways: affection, affirmation, and attention.  These provide the basis for a AAA-rated father.

1.

Affection. Children need our hugs and kisses. They need to feel our love.

2.

Affirmation. Children need to be affirmed.  Build them up with words of love.  

3.

Attention. Children need our attention. Our time is precious and when we give our time to our children, we are creating valuable memories for us and them. Be present when you are present – put down the smart phone.

Prayer:  Thank you for the blessing of children.  Be with us as we try to raise our children to love 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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