Be The Same Person Everywhere

Be The Same Person Everywhere

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good works are how we show Christian love to others.  However, our works should flow naturally as a result of our love for Christ and our desire to share His love.  Ephesians 2:8-9, teaches us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

PrayerThis, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  11 Give us today our daily bread.  12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (Matthew 6:9-13).

About the Author:  

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 over 20 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.

A Prayerful Life

A Prayerful Life

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

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

1 Thessalonians 5:17 calls us to “pray continually” and other translations will indicate “without ceasing.”  I don’t think we are expected to spend all of our life on our knees in prayer.  I do feel that we can and should lead a prayerful life.  This includes having a prayerful attitude.  Look at the context of “pray continually” in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.  The Scripture begins with “Rejoice always” and then tells us how by “pray continually.”  It concludes by giving the reason: “for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”   

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

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

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

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.

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.”

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.

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

todd shupe

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

todd shupe

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.