Civil Discourse

Civil Discourse

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”  (John 13:34-35).

Have you noticed a breakdown in our ability as a society to engage in civil discourse?  I have.  It seems we prefer to argue with each other rather than engage in a constructive exchange of ideas.  The goal for many is to “win” the argument with a snarky comment.  This is particularly true on social media.

Jesus certainly did not agree with the views of the Pharisees, but instead of engaging in devise arguments he often told asked questions or made statements to encourage them to search their heart.  For example, in John 8 we learn that a woman had been caught in the act of 

adultery.   The Pharisees brought the women in front of crowd and then confronted Jesus.   “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”  They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.  They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”

In Mark 3 Jesus heals on the Sabbath at the displeasure of the Pharisees because the Mosaic law prohibited work on the Sabbath.  “Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there.  Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”   Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.   He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.”

One strategy that we can use when confronted by an offensive person is to say “What I heard you say was (fill in the blank).  Is that what you intended to say?”  This will allow a break in the conversation for both parties to “cool off” and reflect on what they are saying and hearing.  Many years ago, I took a speech communications class.  One thing I remember most vividly is the art of communication.  This means that it is the responsibility of the sender of the message to ensure that the message delivered is the same message that is received.   We should be mindful that much of our message is non-verbal and the verbal component is influenced by our tone.

We can disagree with each other without being disagreeable.  Isn’t it better to win a friend than win an argument?

About the Author:

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.

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Service is Ministry

Service is Ministry

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”  (Galatians 6:10 NIV)

We live in a self-serving secular world in which people act to serve their own self interests.  I had a dear friend that has gone on to Glory but on earth he worked as an economist.  He claimed that the entire system of economic theory is so purely deductive that everything in it can be deduced from one essential axiom.   The rationality axiom states that “a rational person maximizes his/her utility.” Some economists will substitute “utility” with “self-interest,” or “well-being.”  This statement has often been interpreted to mean that the pursuit of self-interest is the only thing that is done by rational economic people and that anything else is irrational. This theory has been criticized by some economists, but it still raises an interesting point.  If we serve others are we acting in an irrational manner or are we displaying true leadership, as modeled by Jesus, by being a servant leader?

In my opinion, service to others is the heart of Christianity and the visible sign of a disciple.  We can give our service to God and the Bible refers to this as “storing up treasure in Heaven.”   When we give our talents and resources to others are we not engaging in Christian ministry?  Each of us was made for ministry.  Each of us has been given unique talents to build up the Body of Christ.  “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us…” (Romans 12:6).  Not all of us are called to ministry or capable of physical labor.  However, these are just a few of the numerous possible ministries.  I once heard of a woman that had a unique ministry of prayer.  Each day she opened up her local newspaper and prayed for the newborn babies and for the newly married couples.  When asked why she did not pray for those listed in the obituaries she responded.  I rejoice for them for they have entered into eternal glory for our loving God.  Ministry can also be listening to others that are having a tough day, making it known that your house is always open to talk with those hurting.  God has gifted us all with the ability to smile.  A ministry of smiling can have a tremendous positive impact on others. 

Let’s return back to the economic discussion.  We all know the basic economic principle of supply and demand.  For most goods or services, there is a finite supply.  However, it is important to realize that our “demands” (e.g., prayers and petitions) on God can never exceed His infinite supply of grace.  In short, nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39).  So we are justified in Christ Jesus and have the confidence that He goes with us as we go to do ministry that he has prepared for us.  “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

So, why should we do ministry?  The Bible says, “This service you do not only helps the needs of God’s people, it also brings many more thanks to God. It is a proof of your faith. Many people will praise God because you obey the Good News of Christ—the gospel you say you believe—and because you freely share with them and with all others” (2 Corinthians 9:12-13).  Ministry is fulfilling The Great Commission.  How you engage in ministry is a process of constant discernment.

Prayer:  Dear God, We seek to share your love with others.  We desire to have a meaningful ministry that will glorify your name.  We need your help each day to identify opportunities for ministry.  Equip us with Your love and wisdom and we walk with the peace that surely you will be with us until the end of the age.

About the Author:

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.

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Five Challenges Facing the Church Universal Explained by Todd Shupe

Five Challenges Facing the Church Universal
Explained by Todd Shupe

todd shupe baton rouge

Every 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 Spirit’ 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.”

About the Author:

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.

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Discipleship is 24/7 and Hands-On, Christian Ministries Volunteer Todd Shupe Says

Dealing With Your Own Judas

It’s no news flash that the number of people who identify as Christian is in decline and has been for some time now. Some would attribute this to selfish desires rather than a generous heart. Others might refer to the Bible and the number of times that God’s people turned their back on Him. “So, perhaps we are just in ‘another cycle,’” says Christian ministries volunteer Todd Shupe. “There may be some truth in both of these explanations, but I believe there is something much deeper and profound.”

The church universal has failed to create disciples. Many church-going Christians consider themselves to be disciples. “It is great to attend church on Sunday; we attend to worship, pray, sing, tithe, and fellowship,” says former LSU lab leader Todd Shupe. “However, a disciple is not a passive sport and it certainly is not contained to one hour a week on Sunday.” The natural question at this point is what is your definition of a disciple? Jesus answered this when he first encountered his disciples and said, “Follow me.” My definition of a disciple is one that follows Jesus. Colossians 2:6 reads, “Just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.”

The heart of discipleship is The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20: “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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” God is calling us to spread the Good News. We are called to be His witness and to “make disciples of all nations,” says Todd Shupe.  I think it is important here to recognize that a person cannot disciple another until he or she is a disciple. You simply cannot give to others what you do not have yourself. 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. “I urge you to prayerfully assess your spiritual life. Talk to your pastor, spouse, and close friends,” says Todd Shupe, LSU wood sciences expert. “Continue to feed yourself with the Word. Discipleship is a life-long process.”

We should always be seeking to grow closer to Christ. Feed yourself with the body and blood of Christ. Drink the living water from Jacob’s well. Then, you can pass along what you have and can feed His sheep. Prayerfully consider how God is calling you to be His disciple and how you can help build His kingdom.

About the Author:

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.

Thank you for reading our blog post!

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

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

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!

About the Author:

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.

Thank you for reading our blog post!

Loneliness: Todd Shupe Says There’s A Time To Give And Time To Receive

Loneliness: Todd Shupe Says There’s
A Time To Give And Time To Receive

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.

About the Author:

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.

Thank you for reading our blog post!

Opportunities Abound For Those Seeking Volunteer Roles With Christian Organizations

Opportunities Abound For Those Seeking
Volunteer Roles With Christian Organizations

Volunteer work should be seen as a hallmark of every good Christian’s character. Those who want to live a life in God’s good graces should feel compelled to help out their brothers and sisters around them. The next question then is how to get involved with a volunteer effort, as it’s often one of the only ways to accomplish the goodwill work that needs to be addressed in this world. Fortunately, there is no shortage of organizations with plenty of volunteers in their ranks. Todd Shupe, a former LSU professor who has spent many man-hours helping out the less fortunate, says it’s easy to find such groups if you know who to look for. That’s because Todd Shupe has worked with Grace Camp, Baton

Rouge Christian Life Magazine, St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church and more. While with these groups, he helped teach the children of incarcerated parents how to swim, ministered to the homeless in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area and assisted with internal church functions. With such experience, Todd Shupe would like to offer advice for finding the group that’s the right fit for you.

The service: There’s no shortage of need in this country. From general social services roles where volunteers will make home or site visits to work with clients or more specialized tasks for those with a teaching background, there’s plenty of chances to get involved. Medical professionals can start their volunteer work by working events such as Adopt-a-Senior on holidays or the opportunity to help out in an orphanage, the highly-specialized skills here are always in demand.

The sector: From your local church group to international missions, the type and duration of your visit is up to you. When searching for volunteer opportunities, it’s important to state to the organization running the effort what you’re comfortable with and capable of. Some commitments will require no relocation and come in the form of a comforting phone call to those in distress while others are going to have you in for the long haul.

The state: No matter where you are located in the U.S., there’s an organization carrying out selfless volunteer work. By visiting www.christianvolunteering.org, Todd Shupe says you’ll be able to find the right fit for you. The search for a local Christian volunteer organization can be broken down by country, state, metro area denomination and more. For those in the Louisiana area like Todd Shupe, a number of hospice, youth care, and pregnancy resources are available to serve as a conduit between your volunteering and helping to make the word a better place.

About the Author:

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.

Thank you for reading our blog post!