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.

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.