‘Use Your Words’ to Build Up the Body of Christ, Says Todd Shupe

todd shupe lsuWe all say things that we regret and wish we could take back. Our words will invariably hurt somebody’s feelings and cause pain. Proverbs 18:21 tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue; And they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” The tongue is a symbol of life or death “Our words can be used to share the Good News with others or tear down the Body of Christ,” says Todd Shupe, a well-known and respected Christian ministries volunteer.

The Bible explains that what comes out of your mouth is simply what is in your mind, (Proverbs 12:18Proverbs 26:28). James 3:5-6 explains the importance of the tongue: “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

The above passage spurred LSU’s Todd Shupe to look inward. “I often do a poor job of reflecting on Matthew 12:36 before I speak,” said Shupe, a former wood sciences professor at LSU. “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”

A better use of our words is described in Romans 4:17. It says that God “speaks of future events with as much certainty as though they were already past.” That’s called speaking in faith — you announce it in order to experience it. As Todd Shupe sees it, your words are essentially a prayer, “which makes me recall the words of Matthew 21:22. ‘If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.’”

I admire people who have the spiritual gift of faith. I certainly have faith in God and love Him with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind, (Matthew 22:37). I want to tell it like it could be, like it ought to be and like I think God wants it to be. I get too easily frustrated and begin to lean on my own understanding and then wonder why my path is not straight, LSU’s Todd Shupe said recently. “I do not particularly admire people whose ministry is just telling it like it is about the world. There are a lot of things in the world that are bad.” Clergy and laity will criticize people and problems and are negative and depressing. They are in the “tell-it-like-it-is” business.  This does nothing to build up The Body of Christ.  A better option is to tell it like it could be! “This brings life and hope to people,” according to Todd Shupe.

For example, you could say to someone, “You’re a lousy husband and you don’t spend enough time with your family.” However, any label — positive or negative — will reinforce it. I think a better option might be, “I see enormous potential in you. I urge you to let Jesus Christ into your heart and become the godly man that I know you can be.” That’s the kind of talk that builds up others and motivates change! Speak it in advance and speak it in faith!

The Walk to Emmaus: The Best Spiritual Weekend Retreat, Says Todd Shupe

todd shupe lsuThe Walk to Emmaus “Walk” is a three-day spiritual retreat that came out of the Roman Catholic Cursillo movement. The Walk to Emmaus is held numerous times during the year at various locations throughout the U.S. and the world. Separate walks are held for men and women, notes LSU’s Todd Shupe, who is also a dedicated Christian ministry volunteer.

Luke 24 tells of two of Jesus’s followers walking to the village of Emmaus. Jesus joins them, although they do not recognize him, and eventually begins to explain all of the scriptures regarding Himself. At nightfall, the men urged Jesus to stay with them and he agreed. He took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him and at that moment he disappeared! The men returned to Jerusalem to tell their story to the eleven disciples.

The Walk to Emmaus is a unique experience of Christian spiritual renewal that begins with a three-day short course in Christianity,” says Todd Shupe.”It is an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ in a new way as God’s grace and love is revealed to you through other believers.”

The Walk to Emmaus experience begins with the prayerful discernment and invitation from a sponsor. After one accepts this invitation, they complete an application. The Emmaus leaders prayerfully consider each applicant and in God’s time, the person is invited to attend a three-day experience of New Testament Christianity as a lifestyle. After the walk is over, participants are encouraged to join in weekly small groups to support each other in their ongoing walk with Christ.

Through the formational process of accountable discipleship in small groups and participation in the Emmaus community, each participant’s individual gifts and servant-leadership skills are developed for use in the local church and mission. Participants are encouraged to find ways to live out their individual call to discipleship in their home, church and community.

The objective Emmaus is to inspire, challenge and equip the local church member for Christian action in their homes, churches, communities, and places of work,” says Todd Shupe. “Emmaus lifts up a way for our grace-filled lives to be lived and shared with others.”

There is much symbolism in the Luke 24 story regarding our own walk with Christ. How often do we fail to recognize Christ in our presence? Once we do recognize Him, do we act as His witnesses? I ask that you prayerfully consider being a pilgrim on the next Walk to Emmaus in your area.