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.
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.
I recently heard a term that caught my attention. A friend commented on a movie actor that he liked because the actor is a “real man.” He plays tough-guy characters that don’t put up with any nonsense. A segment of pop music encourages boys and men to be “real men” by selling drugs, killing rivals, and prostituting women. Some TV sitcoms portray “real men” as clowns, grouchy, or unable to communicate with their family. Todd Shupe rejects all of these notions of a man and submits to you five characteristics of a real man:
- A real man honors and respects his wife above all else. He affirms her with his actions and words and supports her at all times. There is nothing or no one more important to him than his wife, including his own children according to Todd Shupe.
- A real man bows down before he ever attempts to stand up and lead his family. He recognizes that all authority on heaven and earth come from God.
- He knows that upon his death Christ will say to him “Well done my good and faith servant.” Matthew 25:21. A real man straps on the armor of God and encourages his family and others in spiritual war fare.
- A real man accepts responsibility and is able to freely accept AND give grace and forgiveness. He does not carry grudges and realizes that before he throws any stones or criticizes his neighbor for the splinter in their eye, he must carefully examine himself and recognizes that he himself is not without fault.
- A real man is committed to The Great Commissioning and understands that before he can be the hands and feet of God he must first disciple himself and then his family.
In summary, a real man loves his wife as Christ loves the church. He earnestly prays every day for her physical, mental, and spiritual well being. He realizes that he and his spouse are one body and that anything that affects his wife also affects him. A real man is not perfect nor without sin, but he is constantly striving to grow closer to Christ and bring His light into the world.
According to Todd Shupe, we learn at a young age that there are two things certain in life – death and taxes. I would add a third to that list: adversity. We all have experienced some form of adversity in our life from death of a family member, loss of a job, divorce, etc. My first real experience with adversity was when I was 9 years old and my sister died in a car crash. My Christian roots were shallow and so my coping skills ranged from very limited to non-existent. I believed then that God caused my loss or at least was indifferent.
Todd Shupe attended church as a child and as an adult and had a distant relationship with Christ. I did not read the Bible, pray, or support any of the ministries of my church. Thirty one years later my father died and I began to hear a calling which I discerned was from God. I attended the Walk to Emmaus after wandering this earth for 40 years. The Walk is a three day spiritual retreat with talks by laity and clergy and lots of fun and fellowship. I left that weekend on fire for Christ and with a strong desire to learn more about God through the Bible, small groups, and being the hands and feet of Christ. I learned that Christ does not want His people to suffer. The Psalmist writes in 149:4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory. I am comforted that the creator of the universe takes pleasure in me and knows every detail about me but yet loves me anyway.
If you are dealing with adversity now, I encourage you to meditate on this scripture from Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and learn not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” Todd Shupe encourages you to call The Upper Room Living Prayer Center at (800)251-2468 (7:00 am – 11:00 pm CST) which is a 7-day a week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by Christian volunteers.
Remember God’s strength often begins when our strength ends. Once we submit to God, His promises will come true. My favorite promise is found in Jeremiah 29:11 “For surely I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” May God bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you and give you peace.
While we’d rather see more than one day per year dedicated to recognizing the fathers in all our lives, we’ll take one and seize upon it for now.
With Father’s Day just around the corner, now’s the time to start planning the best ways to mark the occasion. From family outings to intimate sit-downs with like-minded family and friends, Father’s Day is a chance to show respect, appreciation and utmost gratitude for the sacrifices our fathers have made throughout their lives and ours to better our quality of living. Todd Shupe — a member of Gulf South Men, a Christian men’s organization — is a firm believer in Father’s Day. That’s because it can be used for purposes beyond a card in the mail or a nice dinner. For more information on Gulf South Men, click here.
With that in mind, here are four ways to spend the upcoming holiday thanks to suggestions from the Charlotte, North Carolina-based arm of Band of Brothers. For more information on that organization, click here. For ways to turn this upcoming Sunday into a celebration of men everywhere, keep reading.
– Angels in the Outfield: What says “spring has arrived” more than an afternoon at a baseball game? If sports aren’t your thing but you still want to spend time outdoors with your family, Todd Shupe suggests a nature walk, day at the beach or visit to an animal sanctuary.
– Leading by Example: Reach out to your congregation and see if they will allow you to use the church for an educational seminar on the modern role of a father. Invite the community at large and be surprised at how much new information and insight into other’s lives that you’ll walk away with.
– Sunday Service: When it comes time to attend church on Father’s Day, those in the position to preach should take their role to heart and spread a message that will reach all men – not just fathers. Encourage a handful of men in the congregation to share stories of success through faith. You can also distribute a survey to men in attendance to get a better idea of issues they face today. That survey can then be used by your church’s leadership team to shape fall programming in hopes of reaching more with resonating messages. St. Andrews United Methodist in Baton Rouge, La., has an United Methodist Men Sunday that occurs on or near Father’s Day. The service is lead by the men of the church and they select a special guest speaker to bring a powerful message of God’s love and grace.
– Rest and Relaxation: After church, head outdoors for a family picnic or to a site with recreational options for you and the family to consider. It’s both a team-building exercise and quality time well spent with loved ones.