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 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!