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.

Todd Shupe Explains ‘Fruit of The Spirit’ Attributes

“The Fruit of the Holy Spirit” is a biblical term that sums up nine attributes of a Christian, says Todd Shupe. According to Paul the Apostle in his Epistle to the Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” (Galatians 5:22-23).
These are all characteristics of the Holy Spirit’s active presence in lives and a healthy Christian soul contains all of the fruits. In this article, former LSU professor Todd Shupe explains the nine attributes.
1. Love: Love gives freely without looking at whether the other person deserves it and it gives without expecting anything back. “Agape” describes the unconditional love God has for the world.
2. Joy: Joy is contentment that is independent of the good or bad things that happen to us, says Todd Shupe. True joy is evident in gladness during hard times (James 1:2-4). This is a supernatural joy that comes from the Spirit and is present regardless of our circumstances.
3. Peace: Peace from the Spirit and transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and gives us a sense of calm knowing that God is in control and He loves us dearly.
4. Patience: Other words that describe this fruit are lenience, long-suffering, forbearance, perseverance and steadfastness. Patience includes the concepts of forbearance, long-suffering and the willingness to bear wrongs patiently (Romans 5:3-4).
5. Kindness: This fruit is evident in a desire to serve others, according to Todd Shupe, a former LSU professor. Kindness is the light that will conquer the darkness (malice).
6. Goodness: True goodness is the character of God. Goodness is exhibited by your desire to see goodness in others and recognize all others as children of God.
7. Faithfulness: A faithful person has integrity beyond reproach. We walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
8. Gentleness: Gentleness chooses to defer to others. It forgives others, corrects with kindness and lives in tranquility.
9. Self-control: Self-control is dying to our self and our desires of the flesh. It is choosing to live in the Spirit and follow His will.
We should all periodically review this list. One of the hardest things we can do is an honest self-evaluation of ourselves. John Wesley, the founder of the United Methodist Church, recognized this and organized “class meetings” in which attendance was mandatory and participants were asked to honestly answer questions regarding their spiritual health. The mission statement of the United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. A disciple should be able to honestly assess his or her status on the nine fruits of the Spirit above.
“I pray that we all will be a better disciple each day and will help bring about transformation of the world,” says Todd Shupe.

Todd Shupe Talks Self-Control: ‘Fools Lose Their Temple; Wise Men Hold It Back’

The Bible teaches us that self-control is essential to living a Christian life. We must exercise our self-control or we become controlled by our weakness. Our weakness may be food, alcohol, drugs or pornography. Todd Shupe says that enemy knows our weakness better than we do ourselves and will encourage us to go to it rather than God in times of need. According to Todd Shupe, formerly of LSU, our lives can soon be dominated by our weakness and we are living completely in the flesh rather than in the Spirit. Self-control is the very essence of “dying to self” and living in righteousness with God. Our righteousness cannot — and will not ever — come from ourselves, but only as a means of grace from God as a result of totally surrendering yourself to His will and becoming His disciple.

If you are struggling with self-control, Todd Shupe encourages you to first begin with prayer and ask God for His help. Then, go into the Bible and study and memorize some particular verses that speak to you and your particular situation. For me, my go-to verse in times when my patience is growing thin is Proverbs 29:11. It reads in part, “A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back.” We must remember that all wisdom comes from God.  So how does one obtain wisdom?  James 1:5 tells us, 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.”

The exercise of self-control will not only keep us away from our temptations but will allow us to be a powerful witness for God. You may ask, “How can I be a good witness for God by exercising self-control?” The best witness is one who demonstrates his faith with his actions. St. Francis of Assisi encouraged people to speak the gospel wherever they go and use words when necessary.

Todd Shupe, formerly of LSU, says that self-control will allow you to remain silent when verbally attacked.  It will allow you to respond with love when confronted with hate. Self-control will also keep you pure when you are alone.  Self-control will also keep you sane in times of great adversity, such as a flooded home, divorce or loss of a family member. We freely and willingly yield control of ourselves to God and instead of worrying about what will happen, we stand steadfast in His promise of Romans 8:28. The passage reads, “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.”

Self-control does not mean that we are to go it alone. Life is tough and we need fellow Christians for the journey. We need accountability groups that are small, honest and safe so we can be vulnerable and encouraging to each other. Christ encouraged us to come to Him with our burdens and He will give us rest. Read Matthew 11 and then fasten your yoke to a friend!

Todd Shupe Discusses Prayer, Its Purpose And Proper Daily Use

Perhaps one of the most intimate means available for us to communicate with God is through prayer. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 55 percent of all Americans report that they pray each day. The same study also states that, at a rate of 14 percent, more American women pray daily compared to men. According to Todd Shupe however, a 55 percent would be a failing exam grade for us overall. That’s an F, folks.

“I think many of us have a false perception of God.  We see God as Santa Claus and approach Him with our lists of requests when we are in need — but seldom go to God with prayers for others or prayers of thanksgiving for ourselves during good times,” Shupe said.

Todd Shupe believes that it is important to understand the purpose of prayer: It is not to bend the will of God to be in accordance with your desires. Rather, prayer is an important way for you to discern the will of God for you in your life. Then, you should follow God; do not attempt to get God to follow you.

According to Todd Shupe, perhaps the highest form of prayer comes in Jesus’ words in Gethsemane: “Yet not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus did not say, “Your will be borne,” which is how we often translate it. He said, “Your will be done,” which implies a cooperation with an outgoing, redemptive will that desires our highest good.

The Bible is full of scripture that explains the benefits of prayer. Below are seven of the favorite prayer related scriptures of Todd Shupe. You will notice a very consistent theme in them all, which is very similar to the “knock, seek, ask” scripture of Matthew 7:7. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Mark 11:24

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

James 5:16

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

John 15:7

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

1 John 5:14-15

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

1 John 3:22

And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

John 14:13-14

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

Todd Shupe’s favorite prayer related scripture is Psalm 66:20: “Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.” Be blessed and be in prayer each day!

Todd Shupe Breaks Down the Components of Love

Perhaps the most common scripture that is read at a wedding is from 1 Corinthians 13.  This is beautiful scripture that defines what is and what is not love and is a favorite of Todd Shupe.

Todd Shupe encourages you to read 13:4 and substitute your name for “love.”  Our goal in life should be to achieve the characteristics that are described in this scripture.  God is love and if we want to be closer to God we must show His love to the world.

13:1-13:3 are very close to my heart.  I think far too often we focus on learning and understanding the Bible and doing good deeds to try to earn favor with God.  According to Todd Shupe, the most important thing we can do once we have accepted the love of Christ is to show the love of Christ to others.  This love starts with our spouse and family and works outward to the world in both word and deed.Todd Shupe 

13:1 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
13:2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
13:3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
13:4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant
13:5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
13:6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
13:7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
13:8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.
13:13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

 

Love is also making time for those you love.   Love is listening not just hearing.  It is crying together and rejoicing together.  Love is when two become one body and love each other as Christ loved His church.  Todd Shupe encourages you to tell your loved ones that you love them and reinforce it with your actions.