Judgment or Grace

John 8:1-11 tells us the story of a woman caught in adultery.  The religious leaders, the Pharisees, tried to use her sin to force Jesus to support their decision to stone her to death, which was in accordance with Mosaic law. 

“Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

I think this is very powerful scripture and conveys an example of prevenient grace.  I have struggled with this scripture because I felt that it contradicted Matthew 5:17-19.

“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s la ws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Upon deeper reflection, we see that Jesus “did not come to abolish the law of Moses.”  Therefore, shouldn’t He support the stoning of the woman?  However, He gives us some insight as to the purpose of His coming when He states, “I came to accomplish their purpose.”  So, this raises the question, what was their purpose?  Not to be over simplistic but I feel their purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus who offers a new covenant based on grace.  The epistles of Paul clearly indicate that Christians are no longer under the rule of the Mosaic law.  This is clearly stated in Rom. 6:14; 7:1-14; Gal. 3:10-13, 24-25; 4:21; 5:1; 13; 2 Cor. 3:7-18.   It is interesting to note that the Ten Commandments were certainly a component of the law of Moses but most modern Christians, including myself, believe they are still relevant today.

So, back to the woman that committed adultery.  Jesus did not enforce the law of Moses but rather showed her grace.  However, He did not condone her sin.  I think it is noteworthy that His last words to her were “Go and sin no more.”  Imagine a world in which we all offer grace to sinners (each other) and encouragement rather than judgment.  To me, this would be the answer to the Lord’s Prayer in which we pray “your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). 

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for 18 years and Quality Manager for Eco Environmental (Louisville, KY) for 2 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

Proper Casting is Essential for a Bountiful Harvest

 “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

All fishermen know that proper casting is essential to catching fish.  For some fish such as bass, we cast and then slowly reel the hook back in to attract a strike.  However, the opposite is true for some other fish.  For example, when I fish for catfish, I cast and wait.  1Peter 5:7 is a favorite scripture of mine because it tells us that we can cast all of our anxieties on Him.  The Psalmist gives similar instructions in Pslam 55:22.  “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” 

Each day I cast my anxiety on our Lord.  However, each day I also take it back.  The key to fishing with God is patience.  Fishing for catfish requires sitting patiently and waiting. “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord  (Psalm 27:14).  Our time and God’s time are as far as the East is from the West.  2 Peter 3:8 tells us “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

Some would say that an inability to cast and leave your anxiety on God is an indication of a lack of faith.  Perhaps this is true but I don’t think so.  I have faith but I think many of us struggle with the “human condition.”  Faith is critical for a disciple, and I think it is a natural consequence of our human condition to cry out to God in times of despair.  I would never underestimate the need for faith or the value of all the fruits of the spirit.  However, I think love is of upmost importance to the disciple.  “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing”  (1 Cor. 13:2).

 Our God is waiting patiently for us to come to surrender to Him and give Him our anxiety.  Then, and only then, we can live without worry.  “Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you” (Isaiah 35:4).

 

Fishing was a common trade in the time of Jesus.  It is well known that some of His diciples were fishermen and even returned to fishing after His crucifixion.  I love the story in John 21 when the disciples were not catching fish and a Jesus tells the disciples to “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”   The disciples did not know at the time to whom they were speaking.   His advice is still applicable today.  We may not be physically fishing with nets or poles but all of us are fishing for peace.  The key is to cast it on Him and leave it.  Jesus will tell you where and how to cast it, just be patient and wait for His voice and don’t be surprised if you don’t immediately recognize the source of the voice.  Cast your anxiety on Him and the harvest of peace will surpass that of all understanding. 

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for 18 years and Quality Manager for Eco Environmental (Louisville, KY) for 2 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

Are You Living To Do or Living To Serve?

Are You Living To Do or Living To Serve?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for 18 years and Quality Manager for Eco Environmental (Louisville, KY) for 2 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

What is Truth?

What is Truth?

In today’s society there is a constant battle over the truth.  I wonder how can something so simple as the truth be so difficult to understand and agree upon.  Facts are disputed, alternative facts are presented, and various groups all claim to have the truth regarding any issue: social, financial, medical, and even spiritual.

In today’s society there is a constant battle over the truth.  I wonder how can something so simple as the truth be so difficult to understand and agree upon.  Facts are disputed, alternative facts are presented, and various groups all claim to have the truth regarding any issue: social, financial, medical, and even spiritual.

You will never grow closer to Christ unless you understand the truth. Growth requires truth.  We might disagree on how to best grow a flower.  Some will argue to fertilizer, others for water, and others for more or less sunlight.   I look at today’s problems and then ponder on Ecclesiastes 1:9 “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”  Pontius Pilate was not a Christian and this was clearly evident when he said to Jesus “What is truth?” (John 18:38).

One of the more well-known statements of Jesus was, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).  The truth brings with it freedom.   We all seek freedom but struggle with the truth when it is so plainly evident.  Jesus told Thomas about truth.  “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).  We can argue about truth in many aspects of life but when it comes to Christianity it is clear that Jesus is the truth. 

I think one of the hardest things for any of us to do is an honest self-assessment.  We frequently lie to ourselves or try to justify our actions and thoughts but we know they are not really true.  As a disciple our goal is to grow closer to Christ.  The truth is that our earthy bodies are inherently sinful and to know Christ is to know the truth and to live in His word.   You can trust his Word.  His Word is the Bible and it contains the truth to prepare us to live as disciples.  “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  

There is one God, one Son, and one Holy Spirit.  The truth is that Jesus died for your sins and mine.  “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). This is the truth.  This is the promise of God.  This is Holy Scripture.   

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for 18 years and Quality Manager for Eco Environmental (Louisville, KY) for 2 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

Five Challenges Facing the Church Universal Explained by Todd Shupe

todd shupe baton rougeEvery church is the Holy House of God. However, the real church is the people and not the building. Therefore, each church has challenges that it must overcome to be successful. The church universal is a blessing from God. The holy covenant of marriage is applied to Christ and the body of believers is known as the church. The church is comprised of those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and have received eternal life. Christ, the Bridegroom, has sacrificially and lovingly chosen the church to be His bride (Ephesians 5:25–27).  This union is the same union as expressed in Mark 10:8: “… and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

“Christ lives in all of us. This is what is mean by ‘living in The Sprit’ rather than ‘living in the flesh,’” said Todd Shupe, a dedicated Christian ministries volunteer. “Consequently, we approach church with a desire to give as a joyful response to all that we have received from His hand.”

Below are five challenges of each church. All can be summarized to one root cause: Failure to live in The Spirit.

  1. Discipleship: It is great to attend church on Sunday. We attend to worship, pray, sing, and fellowship. However, it is important that we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior and follow him, says Todd Shupe, a Baton Rouge resident. Romans 10:9 tells us, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” A disciple has the love of God in his heart and a desire to fish for men. He generously shares his prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness to build up the church.
  2. Leadership: All leaders of all organizations, Christian or secular, need to develop plans to replace themselves, transfer knowledge to the new person and then support the new leader. Jesus modeled this by teaching His disciples and preparing them for leadership, recounts Todd Shupe. He supported their works though the Holy Spirit. Also, St. Paul took Timothy and Titus under his wing and prepared them for leadership.
  3. Gossip: We are called to build one another up and not tear each other down with gossip and slander. James 4:11 tells us, “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.” Ephesians 4:29 instructs us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
  4. Forgiveness: If we are going to work together for the glory of God, we must be able to forgive each other. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:15).
  5. Fear: A church must not be afraid of trying new ministries after prayerful consideration, says Baton Rouge resident Todd Shupe. Joshua 1 is a great chapter for those seeking courage. Multiple times, God instructs Joshua to be bold and courageous. In Joshua 1:9 we read, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Don’t be afraid of new things.  God instructs us in Isaiah 43:19, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Getting To The Heart Of The Issue With Baton Rouge’s Todd Shupe

todd shupe lsuOver the years, I have spoken to 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. Former LSU professor Todd Shupe also believes that science has proven that Christ walked the Earth “and I can provide strong arguments to support that fact and my belief in God,” he said.

However, at the heart of the issue is our heart,” says Todd Shupe, of Baton Rouge. “Do you believe in Him in your heart and seek him with your whole heart?”

God gave us a brain and He certainly wants us to use it to better understand Him. He also seeks a relationship with us and a true relationship must come from the heart. Below are five Biblical themes that emphasize the importance of your heart in your Christian walk.

1. Trust: Trust is probably the most fundamental component in any relationship. We may not always understand His ways, but we are called to trust and obey. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, (Proverbs 3:5).

2. Love: Any meaningful relationship must be built on love, says Baton Rouge’s Todd Shupe. This is especially true with God because God is love, (1 John 4:8).

Jesus replied, “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” (Matthew 22:37).

Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” (Mark 12:30).

3. Seek: Jesus asks us to seek Him, says Todd Shupe, LSU’s former wood science lab director. He is asking for us to daily die to our sinful ourselves and live in Him. To do so, we must daily seek His face.

But if from there you seek the Lord, your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul,” (Deuteronomy 4:29)

 “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart,” (Jeremiah 29:13).

4. What Comes Out of the Heart: Jesus was making a new covenant with the people who were unable to maintain the Mosaic law. Food preparation was very important under the old law and was considered necessary to earn your salvation.

[Jesus] said, “It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart,” Mark 7:14-15.

5. Guard your Heart: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it,” (Proverbs 4:23).

Our words and opinions first originate in our heart,” says Todd Shupe, of Baton Rouge. If we guard our heart and only allow love to enter our heart, then love will flow out of our mouths and will be the basis of our action and ministry. Be blessed.

Faith Is An Overwhelming Force Of Good For Families, Friends And Children, Todd Shupe Says

todd shupeIt almost seems counterintuitive: faith in a higher power is a driving force behind ill will. However, that’s the stance many take and they’ll point to extreme examples of domestic and international terrorism as a way to prove their point. It’s a bit overblown, says National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia director W. Bradford Wilcox. What’s more, Wilcox asserts in a Washington Post op-ed that citing examples of shootings outside of abortion clinics is also a bit overblown. That’s because, as Wilcox points out, research shows Americans who regularly attend religious services are less likely to cheat on a spouse, abuse them or divorce. Todd Shupe, a faithful Christian volunteer who has given his services to religious groups across the country, wholeheartedly agrees. As Wilcox points out in his exploration of the effects of faith, a recent survey shows that children who go to church are also more likely to benefit from home-cooked meals, exhibit better social skills and even receive more hugs from parents. With such wholesome benefits stemming from church attendance, Todd Shupe ponders why anyone would consider being faithful a negative trait.

The reason why Todd Shupe questions the seemingly critical look that some in society give regular church attendance is because he’s seen the good it can do. He has gleaned such first-hand knowledge through his involvement with Promise Keepers, United Methodist Men, Walk to Emmaus, Gulf Men South, Iron Sharpens Iron and other ministries. What’s more, Todd Shupe has volunteered with Grace Camp as a fishing instructor for children of incarcerated parents; worked with Open Air Ministries to deliver services to the homeless in Baton Rouge; helped sell advertising for Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine; was past chairman of St. Andrews United Methodist Church board of trustees and serves as the database coordinator for Gulf South Men.

The above are merely examples of volunteer work. Todd Shupe has unquestionably practiced what he preaches and regularly offers insight to friends and family who may be in need of the word of God. For example, he recently published a blog here regarding the importance of forgiveness. In that article, Todd Shupe took the time to find passages from the scripture that clearly conveys why we need to give others a chance at redemption if we hope to one day receive such mercies. Circling back to the Washington Post op-ed, Wilcox closes by saying that religion in America is “a source of inspiration” that benefits friends and families. Todd Shupe, who has seen first-hand the effects that a comforting word from the Bible can have, couldn’t agree more.

Muda, Muri & Mura: The Pillars of Lean Manufacturing

todd shupeAs an expert in lean manufacturing and Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma (Villanova University’s Master Certificate program), Todd Shupe can add value to any company’s production system through his consulting.

Todd Shupe, LSU professor, lab director, and quality manager of ISO 17025 Testing Lab from 1994-2014, has done extensive research on history and evolution of lean manufacturing, which has been derived mostly from the Toyota Production System (TPS) in Japan. Using this method of manufacturing, Toyota has grown from a small company to the world’s largest automaker.

Lean manufacturing revolves around three key aspects that are categorized under three Japanese terms: Muda, Muri, and Mura.

Muda is the systematic method for waste minimization within a production system without sacrificing productivity. The word itself means “futility, uselessness, or wastefulness.” Focusing on waste reduction has helped Toyota and other companies that utilize lean manufacturing increase profitability over time.

Muri is a Japanese word meaning “unreasonableness, impossible, or beyond one’s power.” Within lean manufacturing, this term refers to waste created through overburden during the production process. Many times Muri can be avoided through “standardized work.” This standardized work condition can be achieved by reducing every process and function within the production system to its simplest elements. These simple work elements are then combined into standardized work sequences that can include work flow, repeatable or machine processes, and Takt time (the average time between the start of production of one unit and the start of production of the next unit). Once the standardized work sequences are set, the results obtained can include heightened employee morale, higher product quality, improved productivity, and reduced costs.

Mura is waste created through the unevenness of workloads. In Japan, Mura means “unevenness, irregularity, or inequality.” Mura can be avoided in most production systems through a Just-in-Time system that uses first-in, first-out (FIFO) component flow. In this type of system, each sub-process pulls what it needs from the preceding sub-process, and ultimately from an outside source. When there is no request made to the preceding process, the production system stops. This method is intended to maximize productivity and minimize storage overhead.

Todd Shupe will continue to provide useful information to those interested in the world of lean manufacturing. The time spent researching by Todd Shupe at LSU has led to his vast knowledge on the subject, making him one of the most sought-after consultants in the field.

Loneliness: Todd Shupe Says There’s A Time To Give And Time To Receive

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Loneliness can be a problem for nearly everyone at some point. It is particularly problematic with widows, orphans and incarcerated individuals. Citing a recent University of Chicago research study, Todd Shupe says that good friendships can reverse feelings of loneliness.

We all yearn for a “wind beneath our wings,” to quote from a Bette Midler song. We must realize that that wind already exists. Ezekiel 37:1-14 and “The Valley of Dry Bones” is a great story. Ezekiel was in a valley of dry bones and God commanded him to prophesy to the bones.

The bones eventually came together and skin formed, but they lacked life. “Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet — a vast army.”

You may also recall the story of Jesus and the disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee. Todd Shupe, a former LSU professor and long-time Christian ministry volunteer, says Jesus was asleep and the winds became severe and scared the disciples. They awoke Jesus and He rebuked the wind and calmed the sea. So, it is clear that God controls the wind.

The wind is already beneath our wings. We can find that wind by reading scripture, yoking up to fellow Christians in small groups, and hearing His word proclaimed at church. “I love the scripture recounting the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-17),” says Todd Shupe. Following the baptism, God spoke down from heaven, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.” You too are a child of God and He takes great delight in your well-being. He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). Romans 8 tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Loneliness is a darkness and we cannot live in darkness. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5). God is shining His light on your darkness now. I encourage you to open your hearts and receive His light and love.

For those that are not lonely, I encourage you to pray and ask God to identify who can you help? We are in community with each other. Those that are not struggling should help those that are. In time, you will be in need and others will come to your aid. There is a season for all things (Ecclesiastes 3); a time to give and a time to receive. Please prayerfully consider your role at this time. Blessed be the giver and the receiver.

Todd Shupe’s Take On Prayer: Approach With Confidence And Thanksgiving

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Prayer is an essential component to our relationship with God. We offer prayers for those who are sick or in need of help and prayers of thanksgiving for our blessings. Prayer is also a time for us to be quiet and listen for the gentle voice of God. The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Todd Shupe has decided to focus on this scripture while waiting for God’s gentle whisper.

“Even if I don’t hear a response to my prayer, I still come away with peace and comfort knowing that God is God and He loves me more than I can begin to understand,” says former LSU professor and faith-based volunteer Todd Shupe. “This gives me a peace that transcends all understanding and prepares me to hopefully be a better witness and brother today than I was yesterday.”

According to Todd Shupe, it is important for us to approach prayer in the right manner.  The Bible tells us what to pray — “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13) — and also how to pray: “In your room,” (Matthew 6:6).  However, it does not necessarily tell us how to prepare for prayer.

Todd Shupe, a former professor at LSU, feels that too many Christians approach prayer in one of two ways. First, many come to God in fear and doubt. We know that God can do what we are asking — but are fearful that He will not do it as we want or when we want.

“The second group of Christians I refer to as the ‘Santa Claus Christians.’ They think that if they are good all year then when they make a prayer request to God that He is “obligated” to do as asked. In both cases, resentment can develop if God does not provide what is asked and when it is asked,” says Todd Shupe, a former LSU professor.

According to Todd Shupe, it is important at this point to note that we follow God. God does not follow us and this fact provides the opportunity to tell the story of God leading His people in Exodus 13:21-22. “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.”

“I encourage you to approach prayer with confidence and thanksgiving that God already knows what you need and is already at work in delivering it to you,” says Todd Shupe. “Also, what He provides will likely not be what you requested. Instead, it will be better and it will be a holy blessing upon you. God loves you more than you can ever understand.”

He will most certainly listen and respond to your prayers. We must be open to His response and accept it with gladness and thanksgiving because any gift from God is precious and holy — as was His son.