Leading Life Abundantly

Leading Life Abundantly

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21 KJV).

I have talked to many men that have expressed an inner emptiness.  Life is boring and seems to have no real purpose.  Many of these men are very successful businessmen and want for no material items.  It would be somewhat trite to say all they need is some Jesus.  Indeed, Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).  I believe that for a person to lead a fulfilled life you must live in God’s power.  1 Cor. 4:20 teaches us, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.”  So, how do we access this power? 

1.  First, we must realize that God is God and we are not.  His ways are perfect, and He desires nothing but good for us.  We tend to trust ourselves and make decisions without prayerful consideration of His will.  However, we tend to only trust ourselves or maybe our spouse or a friend.  Yes, God can and does speak through others and we should seek counsel from both.  However, we eventually must choose who will we follow – ourselves or God.  Psalm 118:8 is a favorite scripture of mine.  “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.”    People will let you down.  God never will.  We may not always understand His ways, but we love and trust Him. 

2.  In order to tap into the power of the kingdom, we must first seek it. Matthew 6:33 encourages us to, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  So, how do we seek God?  “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).  We seek with all of our heart when we give our lives to Him.  God will not bless self-reliant people.  You may be financially successful and self-reliant, but recall the inner emptiness I talked about earlier?  God blesses those that are dependent upon him and surrendered to Him.  Matthew 5:5-9 tells us exactly who are blessed. 

  1. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

    “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

    “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

    “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

    “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

      “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”  (John 20:29).”

     

3.  The power of the kingdom comes from a direct relationship with God. We can cultivate that relationship by prayer and listening, studying Holy Scripture and discussing it with fellow Christians in small groups to gain a deeper understanding, worship, and talking and praying for and with your pastor.  Each day strap on the Armor of God!  “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:10-11).  Note the reference to “His mighty power.”   The Apostle Paul describes the full armor in subsequent verses.

Prayer:  Dear Father, Thank you for the opportunity to live life abundantly.  Thank you for providing the path to do so.  Please keep us on the path.  We yearn for living water and to see Your face.  Help us to seek first Your kingdom and righteousness.  Amen.

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.

 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

  1. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

    “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

    “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

    “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

      “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”  (John 20:29).”

     

Complete The Mission

Complete The Mission

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24 NIV).

As men, we love projects.  We love to build something and to be a part of something greater than ourselves.  Most men enjoy working with their hands and tend not be comfortable speaking to a group of strangers, especially about their faith.  We have many large tasks that we want to accomplish in life – pay off the mortgage, raise our children to love God and their neighbor, get promoted at work to get the coveted corner office, etc.  

The term “bucket list” has recently come into vogue with many men.  Most bucket lists include things such as visit a foreign country, take a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, go fishing in Alaska, learn how to fly, etc.  These are all fine things to do but they are not the mission that you have been given by God.  You can and should still do these things, but keep in mind that God wants you “testify to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24). 

The Great Commission is our mission and is found in Matthew 28:19. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  God put each of us on Earth for a purpose. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). He has a mission that only you can fulfill. That mission is to tell other people the Good News of God’s grace. Somebody told you about Him. Who will you tell?  The way we show our gratitude for the grace of God is by making our own lives count; living a life of extravagant generosity with our time, talents, and money; and by telling as many people as we can about the Good News.  

Now consider the words of St. Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:7. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”   The mission is clear to finish the race and finish strong!  God has anointed and equipped you to be His hands and feet.  Please remember that the greatest testimony is lived and not spoken.  As St. Francis of Asi Asi said, “Preach the Gospel wherever you go 

and use words when necessary.”  Go with the confidence that God has prepared good works for you and Jesus is walking with you.  Go from this day forward that “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Prayer:  Dear Holy Father, we long to complete our mission.  With Your help we will fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith.  Help us to live a life of meaning and be a role model for our families and the young men in our church.  Help us to find a Timothy to continue our ministry and to expand it in ways that we can only imagine.  Amen.

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.

Proper Casting is Essential for a Bountiful Harvest

 “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

All fishermen know that proper casting is essential to catching fish.  For some fish such as bass, we cast and then slowly reel the hook back in to attract a strike.  However, the opposite is true for some other fish.  For example, when I fish for catfish, I cast and wait.  1Peter 5:7 is a favorite scripture of mine because it tells us that we can cast all of our anxieties on Him.  The Psalmist gives similar instructions in Pslam 55:22.  “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” 

Each day I cast my anxiety on our Lord.  However, each day I also take it back.  The key to fishing with God is patience.  Fishing for catfish requires sitting patiently and waiting. “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord  (Psalm 27:14).  Our time and God’s time are as far as the East is from the West.  2 Peter 3:8 tells us “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

Some would say that an inability to cast and leave your anxiety on God is an indication of a lack of faith.  Perhaps this is true but I don’t think so.  I have faith but I think many of us struggle with the “human condition.”  Faith is critical for a disciple, and I think it is a natural consequence of our human condition to cry out to God in times of despair.  I would never underestimate the need for faith or the value of all the fruits of the spirit.  However, I think love is of upmost importance to the disciple.  “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing”  (1 Cor. 13:2).

 Our God is waiting patiently for us to come to surrender to Him and give Him our anxiety.  Then, and only then, we can live without worry.  “Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you” (Isaiah 35:4).

 

Fishing was a common trade in the time of Jesus.  It is well known that some of His diciples were fishermen and even returned to fishing after His crucifixion.  I love the story in John 21 when the disciples were not catching fish and a Jesus tells the disciples to “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”   The disciples did not know at the time to whom they were speaking.   His advice is still applicable today.  We may not be physically fishing with nets or poles but all of us are fishing for peace.  The key is to cast it on Him and leave it.  Jesus will tell you where and how to cast it, just be patient and wait for His voice and don’t be surprised if you don’t immediately recognize the source of the voice.  Cast your anxiety on Him and the harvest of peace will surpass that of all understanding. 

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.

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.

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.

From Flooded Out To Flooded With Faith: A First-Hand Recollection

<img class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-31″ src=”https://www.toddshupelsu.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/AdobeStock_131035009-300×123.jpeg” alt=”todd shupe” width=”300″ height=”123″ />

In this personal <a href=”http://todd-shupe.com/”>recollection from Todd Shupe</a>, we explore the effects that 2016 flooding in Baton Rouge had on his home and why it only strengthened his faith in the end.

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As I type this on August 13, 2017, I reflect on the one year anniversary of the great flood of 2016 that damaged so many homes in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area – mine included. In <a href=”https://toddshupe.com/blog/”>the humble opinion of former LSU professor Todd Shupe</a>, there was nothing “great” about the flood; it was a terrible event for all and resulted in hardship for many. The “great” part occurred a few days later when dozens of people from my church came to my house to assist with the gutting — removal of the sheet rock up to four feet from the floor — and mucking — removal of all flooded furniture and clothing from the house. In the middle of the day, there was a mountain of debris in front of my house. Family antiques and heirlooms, treasured books and pictures, all of our beds, toys and so much more were in a mountain in front of our house. The mountain grew to include everything that was blocking access to the studs. So, the kitchen cabinets, custom-made wood shelving and bath tub and shower were added to the heap.

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In the middle of building the debris mountain, I had a short but memorable talk with a long-time dear friend of mine who is more like an older brother.  His name is David, just like my own brother. They are similar in many ways. My friend David was standing next to me by the debris pile. He noticed my sadness and he said to me, “The Lord says, ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; … I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.’”

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He quoted Isaiah 43:18-19 to me. This is a favorite scripture of mine but, like all scripture, it can have a totally different meaning to you depending on your current situation. I felt at peace and a calm came over me as he said those words and hugged me. I think back on that day and I realize without a doubt that David was not talking to me. David was merely a vessel for Christ to talk to me and deliver the words that I needed to hear at that time to provide me a peace that surpasses all understanding.

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David was helping me to understand that this day was not the end — but rather the beginning of a new life. “As a child of God, I can stand steadfast that the new life will be good,” former wood sciences LSU professor Todd Shupe said recently. The scripture above was intended for the Jews, who had provoked God to send them into captivity so that they might repent and seek God. According to Todd Shupe, the flood was not a result of God being provoked; rather it was a chance for him to grant a fresh start to many of us. If you are nearing the end of a marriage, job or other major life event, I encourage you to focus on the beginning of a new life and not the loss of the old. Focus on Jeremiah 29:11, “ For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

Joy Of Being ‘Saved’ Just One Stop On Long Road Toward Salvation, Todd Shupe Says

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One of the phrases that Todd Shupe hears from fellow Christians quite often is one that gives him both joy and concern: “I am saved!” Quite often, the person has recently been born again and is joyous and with good reason: They have accepted Christ into their life and have accepted Him as their Lord and Savior. However, after speaking with the person, Todd Shupe begins to realize that they feel that they are now “good with God” and there is no need for anything else.

“I rejoice when another brother or sister has decided to give their life to Christ. However, I lament that the church universal has not properly conveyed the discipleship process to new Christians,” Todd Shupe said recently.

As a disciple of Christ, we are called into action. It’s true that not all of us are able to participate in physical ministries such as Habitat for Humanity or travel to foreign countries on mission trips. However, all of us are able to do non-physical tasks that are also needed to build the Kingdom; we can all offer a smile or a kind word to our neighbor and we can all pray for those in need. All of these are necessary to build up our fellow Christians and ourselves, Todd Shupe said recently.

It is great to believe in Christ and to accept Christ, but remember that even the enemy believes in God (James 2:19). What God needs is your hands and feet, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also,” (James 2:26).

As a born-again Christian, our eyes and hearts are now open to the love of Christ. Todd Shupe warns that this love is not to be stored, but received and given to others. Discipleship is a life-long process of growing closer to Christ. This is not accomplished by just attending church on Sundays. However, participation in worship is very important because we need to be full-time Christians and not just on Sunday mornings. We must engage in some sort of Christian action and we need to read and study scripture. We need to pray for ourselves, spouses, family, clergy, and the entire Body of Christ. Our life should be lived as a witness to God. This is true evangelism and this is the mark of a disciple.

At the same time, it is important to realize that we will miss the mark. Sin is the human condition and is inevitable. We will not go through life as perfect angels. According to Todd Shupe, we can acknowledge our sins, apologize to those that we have offended and repent our sins to God. Then, on our final day we can be presented to “blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation,” (Philippians 2:15). “Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky and hear the words well down my good and faithful servant,” (Matthew 25:23).

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.