Defeating Fear

Defeating Fear

There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment.”  (1 John 4:18 GNT)

I have two dear friends that have no worries.  They are not financially rich, but they are rich in the Spirit.  I admire their love of God.  They have absolute confidence in Him and His provision for them and their families.  I love God but, I also have worries.  I have a son with autism that will likely never speak complete sentences or have a job to support himself.  I worry about his future when I am gone.  I do not want to put a large burden on his sister, and I am very hesitant for him to be in a group home where he may be abused. 

I have to remind myself of the endless love that God has for all of His children.  My son will truly always be a child at heart and mind and as such I know he will one day enter heaven.  Matthew 18:3 tells us “And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  

My son has an inner innocence and kindness to him.  He has no fear.  He only gives and receives love.  His vocabulary is limited so he has never professed Jesus as his Lord and savior, but I know that Jesus wants the children to come to him – children of all ages.

We can all take our fears and cast them on God.  Once we focus on thoughts on God and His love for us, we become confident of our present and future.  I realize how much God loves me and my son and in turn it is my joyful response to share His love with others.   There are many opportunities and ways in which we can share God’s love.  For some, it may be to join the choir.  For others, it may be to help maintain and beautify the grounds of the local church.  For me, it is to write and speak about my challenges and how I have yoked myself to Him to share my burden.  I was comforted during my divorce by older men that had already gone through a divorce.  I was comforted during the flood of my house by a close friend that quoted Isaiah 43:19  to me.  I will always believe that God was speaking to me but was using my friend’s tongue.

God is love and wants good for all of us.  His light will always conquer the darkness in our hearts and minds, if we let Him in.  Faith and trust are essential to opening our hearts.  If He loved us so much to send His son to die for our sins, He certainly loves us enough for us to leave our burdens with Him and then walk away with confidence that we are in His hand and there is no better place to be.  Consider the words Jesus left with his disciples immediately following the Last Supper.  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  (John 14:27).  We are His disciples.  Let our hearts not be troubled and let us not be afraid.

Prayer:  Dear God we live in a fallen world and we have so many worries about ourselves and our loved ones.  Help us to give these worries over to you and to not take them back.  We know that You have plans to prosper us and not to harm us.  We know that You have plans to give us hope and a future.  We thank you for your tremendous love which we cannot even begin to fully comprehend.  Please help us cast out the fear in our lives and replace it with the confidence that can only come from your love.

 

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.

Who Do You Listen To?

Listening is essential to learning.  I hear many voices, especially on television, but I don’t really listen to them.  I hear them but am not listening.  I feel that much, if not all, of what they have to say is not important and/or is too depressing or divisive.  The story of The Transfiguration in Matthew 17 is a powerful reminder of the importance to listen to Jesus.

“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.  Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”  While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”  When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.”

There are many pieces of this story that are important for us to understand.  One particular area of interest to me is that Peter offered to put up shelters for Jesus, Moses, and Elijiah. surely did this out of love and respect for them all.   It is noteworthy that the following verse is the voice of God saying “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!”  The last three words particularly resonate with me – “Listen to Him.”  The disciples fall facedown to the ground and later arise and only Jesus is present. 

I wonder if the words and timing of God’s words were meant to not only send a message to Peter but to all of us.  Perhaps that message is do not put good men on the same level as Jesus.  Do not worship your pastor, the preacher on television, or your favorite football player.  They are merely men and as such are sinners and no better than anybody else.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

This story reminds me of the first pubic miracle of Jesus.  The transformation of water into wine at the Marriage at Cana or Wedding at Cana is the first miracle attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of John. In the Gospel account, Jesus, his mother and his disciples are invited to a wedding, and when the wine runs out, Jesus delivers a sign of his glory by turning water into wine.  Many of us know this story and marvel at this.  The part of the story that stands out for me is what his mother said to the servants when she noticed they had no wine.  “Whatever He says to you, do it.”  The counsel of a mother is always wise, especially that of Jesus.  I wonder how simple and blessed my life would be if I followed the advice that God gave to Peter and Mary gave to the servants.   Listen for His voice and be blessed my friends.

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.

Todd Shupe Explores The Traits Of True Leadership

todd shupeIf you are like me, you have seen several books on leadership. The books are typically authored by successful CEOs of large companies or military leaders. These books are often best-sellers and contain very useful information on the principles of secular leadership. The themes are typically along the lines of this: A leader is a visionary. A leader knows how to delegate. A leader surrounds himself/herself with good people. A leader leads by example. A leader is trustworthy. A leader is tough under pressure and, finally, a leader doesn’t tolerate nonsense, says Baton Rouge’s Todd Shupe, who is also a dedicated Christian ministry volunteer.
The best leader that ever walked the earth was not a CEO or a decorated military leader. Jesus modeled true leadership to us by his service to others. Jesus was a servant leader who never once used his authority to serve himself but rather to serve and help others. This point is amplified in Matthew: “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
The Psalmist wrote in 119:125, I am Your servant; give me understanding, That I may know Your testimonies. He is acknowledging himself as a servant to God.. In turn, God wants us to serve him by serving others. Matthew 25 tells the story of the sheep and the goats and contains this great message in verse 40. “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
According to Todd Shupe, a Christian leader is humble. Jesus demonstrated humility by washing the feet of his disciples in John 13. You may be wondering what is the benefit of humility. 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” The ultimate gift of Christ was the forgiveness of sins for those that believe in Him and life everlasting. “I encourage you to lead by serving others,” says Todd Shupe. “Be blessed.”

Baton Rouge’s Todd Shupe Asks The Great Question: Where Is God?

todd shupe baton rougeWe were created as curious creatures, designed to seek, learn and discover. As Christians, we have a desire to seek God’s face. We read in 1 Peter 2:2, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk so that by it, you may grow up in your salvation.”
Craving spiritual milk is a holy desire to become more Christ-like, says Todd Shupe, LSU’s former wood science professor and lab director. “However, in your journey to understand God, we often ask ‘Where is God?’”

In the book “Economy” by Henry David Thoreau, he writes “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Todd Shupe, of Baton Rouge, thinks that all of us as curious creatures of God are seeking something. The “desperation” occurs when we don’t find what we are seeking. Matthew 6:33 tells us precisely what to seek: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

It is easy to become discouraged when we don’t have a “mountain top” experience with God as did Moses or if we don’t walk on the water as did St. Peter. We then “swim away” disappointed and search for answers in places that are unable to provide them – alcohol, gambling, pornography, etc. “We fail to realize that God is present now,” says former LSU professor Todd Shupe. “In the boring rainy days, stuck in traffic and the day-to-day work grind.”

You must have eyes to see the beauty of Christ that is present all around you. St. Thomas did not believe that Christ had risen even though he was told so by the other Disciples. Jesus appeared to him and said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” (John 20:29).

With human eyes we only see as humans; with God’s eyes, we can see His presence all around us. Imagine yourself this day walking on the road to Damascus with Saul. Scales cover your eyes and you are blinded but you follow God’s instructions and the scales are removed.

For the first time in your life, you can see. You are seeing the world through God’s eyes and you see His presence all around you. You are filled with the love of the Holy Spirit and a burning desire to fulfill the Great Commission. You are a child of God and He loves you more than you can ever imagine. He is always with you and will never leave you. “Go out into the world with the peace and knowledge that God leads you, just as he did Moses, by day and by night,” said Todd Shupe, of Baton Rouge. “Be blessed.”

‘Water Will One Day Flow Under The Bridge,’ Todd Shupe Says Regarding Road To Forgiveness

todd shupe“Water under the bridge.” If you can say this one day during trying times and mean it, know that you’ve achieved something that so many of us strive for. According to Christian ministry volunteer Todd Shupe, forgiveness is a skill that takes time to learn and patience to practice when offering it upon others. That’s because the world isn’t always fair and gut-wrenching situations can’t immediately be solved with forgiveness. However, time heals all wounds and those who practice this trait will feel a lot better than walking around all day with a grudge hung around your neck like an albatross. In this article, Todd Shupe will further explore the Biblical interpretations of forgiveness and explain how it’s comforting to him to know that some folks are working toward perfecting this personal trait.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 tells us, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” Former LSU professor Todd Shupe understands that this passage may be of little consolation to those of us who are hurting due to trespasses against us. In time however, we’ll understand that we’re not perfect and we could one day be in the position where we’re the one desperately seeking forgiveness.  In Luke 6:37, we see that this exact  predicament is addressed and resolved: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.” To the point of damage done to us, Matthew 6:15 has this to say: “But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

According to Todd Shupe, who has helped out with numerous Christian outreach efforts and mentoring programs for children of incarcerated parents, it’s the endgame that is of great significance. When working with groups such as the United Methodist Men, Promise Keepers, Gulf Men South, Walk to Emmaus, Iron Sharpens Iron and other ministries, Todd Shupe has met many wounded by wrongdoing. It’s been a topic of conversation many times, too. However, turning to the Bible for the best form of advice has not only comforted those who’ve been wronged, but put them on the right path toward recovery and self-improvement. The road to forgiveness is long and can be painful for the victims. “Trust me: Water will one day flow under the bridge,” says Todd Shupe.

Todd Shupe’s Take On Race Relations And The Bible Interpretations

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We have had problems in this country with race relations for many years. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark civil rights and federal labor law in the United States, which outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. In recent years, untold news reports have documented the civil unrest in New York City, Los Angeles, Ferguson, Missouri; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Atlanta, Georgia and numerous other cities across our country. This unrest is often associated with police brutality against young black men, explains Todd Shupe.

What’s more, such instances have occurred repeatedly with seemingly no plan to curb them. If we turn to the Bible, however, it’s clear that such divisions were never intended by our creator. In this article, Todd Shupe explains the way we should treat each other as evidenced by scripture.

“Any time one human dehumanizes another through racism, sexism, ageism, religion or more, it breaks my heart,” Christian organization volunteer Todd Shupe said recently. “There is truly one race of people — the human race. Throughout history, the enemy has used his weapons of fear, jealously and greed to develop hatred and mistrust of the races.”

St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:12, “There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body.” Acts 17:26 tells us, “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth.” In other translations, the wording is “from one blood.”

We are all children of God and we all seek to enter His kingdom through the narrow gate, Todd Shupe says. We are all commanded to love and respect one another. A Christian seeks to be a disciple and a disciple is known by their actions.  “By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Be blessed!

Todd Shupe Explains The True Meaning Of Salvation

todd shupeI had heard the term salvation for years, but was not entirely clear of its meaning. I have come to understand that salvation is “deliverance from danger or suffering.” To save is to deliver or protect. The word carries the idea of victory, health or preservation. Sometimes, the Bible uses the words “saved” or “salvation” to refer to temporal, physical deliverance — such as St. Paul’s deliverance from prison (Philippians 1:19).

“Salvation is God’s gracious gift to us,” says Christian organization volunteer Todd Shupe.

St. Paul describes salvation in Romans 3:23-24: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

“So what is it then to be justified,” asks Todd Shupe. “This means God treats us as if we were righteous. It is imperative that we remember that our righteousness comes from our faith in God and not our obedience to the Law (Philippians 3:9).”

Moreover, St. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8, “it’s by His grace.” It has nothing to do with me; we are saved by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Redemption is simply a ransom that’s been paid for our sin and all of this is His free gift to us. Jesus equated being saved with entering the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24-26). We are saved from “wrath,” that is, from God’s judgment of sin (Romans 5:91 Thessalonians 5:9). Our sin has separated us from God, and the consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23), explains Todd Shupe. Biblical salvation refers to our deliverance from the consequence of sin and therefore involves the removal of sin.

We are saved by faith. First, we must hear the gospel — the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Ephesians 1:13). Then, we must believe — fully trust the Lord Jesus (Romans 1:16). This involves repentance, a changing of mind about sin and Christ (Acts 3:19) and calling on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:9-1013). Then as part of the Body of Christ, Todd Shupe states that we must serve. Faith without works is dead (James 2:26) so I encourage you to accept this free gift and life everlasting. Stay in the Word and the Word will stay in you! Be blessed.

Areas of Wood Science Research

todd shupe lsuOf the many hats worn in the illustrious career of Todd Shupe, LSU professor, lab director and quality manager of ISO 17025 Testing lab (1994-2014), wood scientist is among the most intriguing.

While teaching Wood Science at LSU, Todd Shupe performed proprietary third-party mechanical, physical, and chemical tests for new and existing wood-based products, biocides, coatings, etc. so that they could gain approval/re-registration from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

While wood science is extremely important for utilizing one of the world’s most widely used natural resources, not many are aware of the types of research that goes into this field.

To help shine some light on the subject, Todd Shupe reviews some of the main areas of wood science research.

Biodeterioration, Materials Protection, & Product Durability

This is the research of wood decay, and the information gathered through this research has a wide-range of industrial applications. Improvement in the science of wood product durability is a result of this type of research. For those who want to learn more about how to sustainably design and manage wood products, this is the field of research for them.

Composite Materials

Wood composite materials research ranges from composite manufacturing to formaldehyde-free adhesives to the study of composite fracturing. All of this is important when trying to understand the ever-changing applications of wood composites and the diverse range of materials that can be used to make them.

Forest Products Business and Marketing

Forest product innovation relies on the research of business management and marketing strategies for these products.  Those who study this area learn marketing in renewable materials, corporate responsibility, and how to use the competitiveness of the industry as an advantage.

Green Building and Environmental Performance

The use of wood in green building and sustainable design has increased and so has the research of this area. The development of reliable wood-based green materials is in high demand as the market for green products continues to grow.

Timber Engineering, Mechanics, & Structural Design

Timber engineering and structural wood design involves advanced mathematical and engineering, including the studying of materials and components, the performance of structural systems and fasteners, and the design of wood structures. This research helps determine the integrity of wood structures.

Wood Aesthetics & Natural Coloration

The natural coloration of wood by fungi—or spalting—is another area of wood science research that some find fascinating. This field of study explores this process and sometimes unexpected aesthetic or commercial opportunities come along as a result.

Wood BioEnergy

Perhaps the fasting growing area of wood research is bioenergy and includes many agricultural residues that are not even wood such as sugar cane bagasse, corn stover, etc.  This research identifies cost effective methods of converting wood and other raw materials into pellets and thermos-chemical methods to develop energy such as pyrolysis, gasification, super critical conversion, and liquefaction.

Be sure to check back to learn more from Todd Shupe about his many areas of expertise!

What Todd Shupe Means When He Says ‘Iron Sharpens Iron’

I am a volunteer with a national men’s ministry known as “Iron Sharpens Iron.” The name of our group is based on Proverb 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  Iron Sharpens Iron is a Conference Network made up of individual ministries that are working interdependently to most effectively offer local church resources for men.

According to Todd Shupe, his group is accomplishing this by mobilizing ministries to resource local churches with a first-class one-day equipping conference that is designed for men age 13 and older.  These one-day conferences bring in world-class speakers to address critical topics that men of all ages deal with.

“I strongly believe in men’s ministry and the goal of Iron Sharpens Iron – to prepare the man to be a Christian leader in his home, church and community.  Gulf South Men is the host group for Iron Sharpens Iron in my area and I am proud to be a volunteer with these men,” Todd Shupe said recently.

We all need to be in community with each other.  Iron Sharpens Iron has equipped me to be the leader that I believe I am called to be, notes Todd Shupe, who volunteers with a number of other Christian ministries. I need the accountability and fellowship of fellow Christian men in my life. They breathe life into me and I pray that God uses me to have the same effect on them and all that I meet.

“There are numerous Christian-based retreats that are available. I encourage you to talk to your pastor and prayerfully consider what opportunity is best for you and/or your family. You will become a better Christian-based leader in your home, church, and community,” said Todd Shupe.

Grace Upon Grace: An Exploration Of God’s Love And How To Receive It

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We are created with a deep need to be loved. This is Todd Shupe’s firm belief. What’s more, he says that there are two radically different kinds of love: conditional and unconditional. Conditional love involves bargaining and there are conditions that we must meet in order to receive love from others. Such conditional living is exhausting, involving a treadmill of constant doing in order to earn and maintain love.

Unconditional love is radically different, involving a conversion of our motives. The Christian dynamic is “not that we loved God, but that he loved us,” (1 John 4:10). Unconditional love is a gift in which the initiative is God’s — and not ours. Human love always expects something in return, yet God’s love does not. Grace is the name for God’s incredible love. God loves us because of who God is; not because of who we are or what we have done.

There is nothing we can do to earn or lose God’s grace, says Christian organization volunteer and former LSU professor Todd Shupe. It is freely given. In fact, God has given us an abundance of grace. “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace,” (John 1:16). This grace is so large that “nothing can separate us from the love of God,” (Romans 8:35-39).  According to Todd Shupe, this is astonishing and I encourage you to pause and think about what you have just read.

Now that we have received God’s grace, what is our response?  First, never let your hearts be troubled.  Be confident and courageous and know that God’s favor is upon you. Second, extend grace to others. A few examples are teaching Sunday school, be involved in Christian service, give a full tithe to your church, pray for your pastor and the church, witness your faith and be engaged in the Bible daily and show compassion to the hungry.

According to Todd Shupe, who previously at LSU instructed wood science operations, whenever you help the poor, incarcerated, homeless, and marginalized, you are helping our Lord. “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,’” (Matthew 25:40). Go with the knowledge and confidence that God’s grace is forever upon you. Be blessed.