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  • Understanding Love Through Reading Scripture

    Understanding Love Through Reading from the Scripture 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.   This scripture reveals the deep and unbreakable love that God has for us.   Love is the heart of the Gospel because God is love.   When Jesus was asked to identify the greatest commandment in the Law, He responded, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest...
  • Forgiveness

    Forgiveness It is inevitable that we will accidentally hurt someone’s feelings, often of those who are closest to us, and need to ask for their forgiveness. Sometimes they are forgiven and, unfortunately, sometimes not. But what happens when the person who hurt us does not seek our forgiveness? In either case, we have a decision to make: Do we or do we not forgive that person? Below are five thoughts on forgiveness. 1) Forgiveness is good for you: Holding on to anger or resentment is a tool of the enemy.  It is life-taking and not life-giving. When you forgive someone, even if they don’t...
  • Benefits of Giving Back To The Church Are Many

    Benefits of Giving Back To The Church Are Many At any church, “giving” is one of the more sensitive topics for many that is also very important to discuss. That’s because “giving” is fundamentally essential for the existence and the growth of the local church and the church universal. We often associate giving with money. Although money is important, giving involves more than money.  A disciple will give of their financial resources, time and talents. Recent studies show that tithers make up only 10 to 25 percent of a normal congregation. Only 5 percent of the U.S. tithes, with 80 percent...
  • The ‘Fruit of The Spirit’ Attributes

    The ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ Attributes “The Fruit of the Holy Spirit” is a biblical term that sums up nine attributes of a Christian. According to Paul the Apostle in his Epistle to the Galatians: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” (Galatians 5:22-23). These are all characteristics of the Holy Spirit’s active presence in lives and a healthy Christian soul contains all of the fruits. There are nine attributes and each is a unique blessing. 1. Love: Love gives freely without looking at whether the other person deserves it and it gives without...
  • Grace Upon Grace: An Exploration Of God’s Love And How To Receive It

    Grace Upon Grace: An Exploration Of God’s Love And How To Receive It We are created with a deep need to be loved.  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...
  • The True Meaning Of Salvation

    The True Meaning Of Salvation I 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.  Ephesians 2:8 teaches us,  "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the...
  • My Dream That Carried A Message From God

    My Dream That Carried A Message From God I have lived 47 years and never felt that I had received a message from God.  I envied the people in the Bible that spoke to God either in person, through dreams or angels. I had decided that I was only going to hear God’s word through Godly friends, church, small groups and reading the Bible. I longed to hear God talk directly to me.  Several friends would tell me of dreams or hearing direction from God -- but not me.  Two nights ago I heard from God for the first time.  He sent...
  • Dealing With Anxiety: Have Faith, For ‘God Is Our Partner’

    Dealing With Anxiety: Have Faith, For 'God Is Our Partner' Waiting is a daily occurrence: We wait in line at the grocery store, post office or on the phone. Sometimes, we are waiting long-term for news regarding a loved one who has suddenly become ill or was in an accident. Waiting is also a part of joyous occasions such as the birth of a child or marriage. In any case, worrying almost always leads to anxiety. I have five favorite scriptures that I refer to in times of waiting.1) In Isaiah 40:31, it says: “…but those who wait for the Lord...
  • The Great Question: Where Is God?

    The Great Question: Where Is God? The Bible teaches us that self-control is essential to living a Christian life. We must exercise our self-control or we become controlled by our weakness. Our weakness may be food, alcohol, drugs or pornography. The enemy knows our weakness better than we do ourselves and will encourage us to go to it rather than God in times of need.  Our lives can soon be dominated by our weakness and we are living completely in the flesh rather than in the Spirit.  Self-control is the very essence of “dying to self” and living in righteousness with...
  • The Traits Of True Leadership

    The Traits Of True Leadership If 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. The best leader that ever walked...
  • Significance of ‘Sheep and Goats’ Passage

    Significance of ‘Sheep and Goats’ Passage I have talked to many Christians who believe they are destined for heaven because they have been a good person, attended church, contributed money and even helped their neighbor a few times and participated in committee meetings at church. They are essentially saying that they have “earned” their way into heaven. They may admit to believing in some sort of “higher power” and call themselves “spiritual.” They may even know some scripture regarding God’s love and the miracles performed by Jesus.  My heart goes out to these people because they are deceived. This notion that Jesus...
  • ‘Stealing’ Credit From God

    “As a young man I was proud of ‘my’ accomplishments. I worked hard, graduated, and got a job.   I bought a nice house and we had a nice summer vacation. I was proud of “my” accomplishments for the first 40 years of my life. “It was at this age that I was a pilgrim on the Walk to Emmaus and my eyes were opened to who I was and to Whom I belong. I still enjoyed my work, but I began to engage in a much more fulfilling work – helping to build God’s kingdom on earth.The number 40 has...
  • What is Truth?

    What is Truth?In today’s society there is a constant battle over the truth.  I wonder how can something so simple as the truth be so difficult to understand and agree upon.  Facts are disputed, alternative facts are presented, and various groups all claim to have the truth regarding any issue: social, financial, medical, and even spiritual. In today’s society there is a constant battle over the truth.  I wonder how can something so simple as the truth be so difficult to understand and agree upon.  Facts are disputed, alternative facts are presented, and various groups all claim to have the truth...
  • Open My Eyes

    Open My Eyes The title of this blog makes me recall the two men walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus.  After walking and talking with Him all day, they did not know they were with the Risen Christ.   It was not until He had joined them for dinner at the end of the day that their eyes were opened.  “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight” (Luke 24:30-32).    I wonder how many...
  • Carve Out Space For Quiet Time To Ask God And Await An Answer

    Carve Out Space For Quiet Time To Ask God And Await An Answer “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). If you are like me, you enjoy a quiet and peaceful evening to rest and renew yourself. Noise fills our days from the time the alarm clock goes off to evening commute home. There is something special about quiet that appeals to many of us. Below are five benefits to setting aside...
  • Owners and Stewards

    Owners and Stewards Stewardship at most churches is an awkward topic because most of us look at it as a means to give up “our” money.  We all have worked hard for our money and naturally want to protect it, which is in fact good stewardship.  According to a recent article in Church Leaders, Christians are now giving at 2.5% of their income but gave 3.3% during the Great Depression.   Both of these numbers are sad and do not reflect the Biblical instruction from Malachi 3:10 “bring the full tithe into the storehouse.”  However, isn’t it human nature during times of great...
  • 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.2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun,...
  • Who Do You Trust?

    Who Do You Trust? “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts’”  (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT). Many years ago, I was an undergraduate student.  I took a few Philosophy courses to fulfill the degree requirements in liberal arts.  I loved the classes because they forced me to attempt a deeper level of understanding.  One class was on Logic and Reasoning and we (students) were given an assignment...
  • Are You Living To Do or Living To Serve?

    Are You Living To Do or Living To Serve?I like to make “to do” lists.  I don’t trust myself to remember the various big and little chores I need to do at home or at work so I always have a list for both.    The list is great for helping me keep track of projects and staying on top of things.  I feel a sense of accomplishment when I can cross something off of the list.  A close friend recently asked me about my attention to my list.  I appreciate his candor and honesty, and it has really gotten me...
  • Who Is Responsible For My Salvation?

    Who Is Responsible For My Salvation? “So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”   Romans 14:12 (NIV)Throughout the Bible we are encouraged whenever possible to live in peace with our neighbors.  For example, Scripture teaches us to live in harmony (Romans 12:16), carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and help others in need (Deuteronomy 15:11).   Godly living calls us to turn the other cheek and returning evil with love.  We have the ability, and the Christian joyful obligation, to positively impact each other’s spiritual lives.  There is certainly strength in numbers.  You may recall the Scripture from...
  • Setting Goals For 2019

    Setting Goals For 2019 As the new year approaches so does a surge in membership applications to local fitness centers.   Many of us make a new year’s resolution to lose weight, and this is a great resolution.  Our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, and we are to honor God with our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-20). At this time of the year, I like to reflect on 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.”  The prophet Isaiah...
  • The Best Christmas Present

    The Best Christmas Present 18 “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.We implore you on behalf ofChrist, be reconciled to God.”  2 Corinthians 5:18-20 I love Christmas and the Advent season.   It is a special time of year for families and the church.   The Advent season allows us to prepare our hearts for the birth of the Christ child.   I also love all of the traditions that come with Christmas – decorating the tree with ornaments that have been passed down from generations, giving and receiving presents, candlelight service at church on Christmas eve, the smell of ginger bread baking and a fresh pine...
  • Seeing Jesus Through the Crowd

    Seeing Jesus Through the Crowd 1 “Jesus was going through the city of Jericho. 2 A man was there named Zacchaeus, who was a very important tax collector, and he was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but he was not able because he was too short to see above the crowd. 4 He ran ahead to a place where Jesus would come, and he climbed a sycamore tree so he could see him. 5 When Jesus came to that place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down! I must stay at your house today.”  6 Zacchaeus came down quickly and welcomed him gladly. 7 All...
  • Judgment or Grace?

    Judgment or Grace? “…Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  (John 8:11 NIV) John 8:1-11 tells us the story of a woman caught in adultery.  The religious leaders, the Pharisees, tried to use her sin to force Jesus to support their decision to stone her to death, which was in accordance with Mosaic law. “1 Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought...
  • Resolve to Rest

    Resolve to Rest  “Crowds of people were coming and going so that Jesus and his followers did not even have time to eat. He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves, and we will go to a lonely place to get some rest.’” Mark 6:31 (NCV) Each year our lives get busier.  We have more responsibilities at home, work, and church.  According to a recent ABC news report, 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week.  Now, add on to this our responsibilities with our family, church, and other community organizations.  Each year we all get...
  • Knowledge

    Knowledge “My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the LORD grants wisdom! From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”  Proverbs 2:1-6 (NLT) I think society tends to confuse knowledge with education.  However, a person can have extensive education and college degrees and not necessarily be very knowledgeable.   Perhaps they...
  • If You Want God’s Mercy, Then Give Mercy to God’s Children

    If You Want God’s Mercy, Then Give Mercy to God’s Children “God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7 NLT) We all sin and want mercy.  God is quick to forgive and offer mercy when we approach Him with an earnest desire to repent from our sin.  Why is it then that as children of God we are so reluctant to offer mercy to our brothers and sisters in Christ?  Yes, forgiveness is not easy, but nobody ever promised us that a life with God would be easy.  Jesus says in Matthew 5:7, “God blesses those who are...
  • Finding the Fruits of the Spirit

    Finding the Fruits of the Spirit “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:25-276 KJV). I love to watch St. Louis Cardinals baseball games on television.  I played little league baseball but knew at a very young age that I would never play professional baseball at any level.  I simply did not have the talent.  It was not “in” me.  I had the gift of a strong arm.  However, it was not the strongest by far and when combined with an...
  • A Holy Calling

    A Holy Calling “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12 NIV). There are many examples in the Bible of God calling His people.  He called out to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, and to Samuel in 1 Samuel 3, and Elijah in 1 Kings 19.  These are all great stories of God seeking out His people in spite of their fear or inability to recognize His voice.  God later walked the earth in the form of Jesus and continued to...
  • The Heart of a Child is the Key to Heaven

    The Heart of a Child is the Key to Heaven “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them” (Mark 10:13-16 ESV). There is no greater gift from God...
  • The Importance of Christian Study

    The Importance of Christian Study For many of us the thought of studying brings back memories of cramming for exams in high school or college.    Many men would rather engage in Christian action rather than Christian study.  Through action we can see the fruits of our labor and be the Body of Christ in our neighborhood and beyond. Our goal as Christians should be to develop an intimate relationship with God.  There are many paths in which God can reveal Himself to us:  prayer, worship, sacred moments, and fellowship with fellow Christians.   For us to have a relationship with God, we must...
  • Special Needs Children & Special Needs Families

    Special Needs Children & Special Needs Families My second child, Kyle, was born May 24, 2002. He was a big, healthy baby and was, and will always be, a tremendous blessing to me. We noticed at an early age that he was not reaching the typical milestones for babies and toddlers in terms of walking, talking, etc. We had him tested for hearing loss, brain function, blood tests and more. All of the tests came back normal, but his development was not normal. In particular, he showed little interest in talking and had a very limited vocabulary.Eventually, we received a diagnosis...
  • What Does God Want From You?

    What Does God Want From You? “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6 NIV) Through our prayers and petitions we make it very clear what we want from God, but have you ever stopped to think what does God want from me?  I had a friend once tell me that for years he viewed God as a “mystical vending machine.”  Many Christians believe that if we give our tithes and offerings to our local church, then we have “done our part.”  Moreover, we sometimes confuse God with Santa Claus and think that if we are...
  • The Stranger

    The Stranger A friend recently told me an amazing story of kindness that begin with the simple words “excuse me.”  She was walking to her car in a parking lot when a voice from behind called out to her, “excuse me.”  She froze for a second and did not immediately respond.  She thought that this is likely a con man or a beggar wanting a hand out.  Questions raced through her mind.  Why doesn’t he get a job?  If I give him money, is he going to use it to buy drugs?  Doesn’t he realize that I have stuff to do? She...
  • Nurture Your Friendships

    Nurture Your Friendships “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4 NIV). I love to grow plants.  Every gardener knows that the key to a bountiful harvest of flowers, fruits, or vegetables is to carefully nurture the plants.  Gardening is a test of patience.  We plant and then wait. Our friendships are similar to gardening in that both require nurturing.  If we don’t feed our relationships with our friends, we will eventually have no friends.  Life is about priorities. ...
  • Lessons From Gideon

    Lessons From Gideon “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”  The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive” (Judges 6:15-16 NIV).I love the story of Gideon as told in Judges chapters 6-8.  Below are a few of the many lessons that we can learn from this Holy Scripture. You Shall Have no Other Gods but MeThe Israelites were worshipping the false god Baal, and for seven years the Israelites were under the control...
  • Not Happy?

    Not Happy? “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 NIV). A recent Harris poll reported that in 2017 only 33% of Americans are happy.  A first reaction might be that only 33% are true followers of Jesus.  Christianity is the most adhered to religion in the United States, with 75% of polled American adults identifying themselves as Christian in 2015.Upon deeper reflection I realize that not all Christians are happy, nor should they be.  Life...
  • You Got Questions? So Does God!

    You Got Questions? So Does God! “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9) We all have questioned God when adversity or disappointment occurs.   I suspect we all excel at clearly telling God what we want.   How many times have you questioned God?  When will I get promoted?  Why did my good friend die?  Where am I going to live when I can no longer care for myself?  What doe God want from me?   Who am I? A teacher encourages their students to learn.  Of the 90 times Jesus was directly addressed in the gospels, on 60 occasions He was addressed as “Teacher.” ...
  • Give to Receive?

    Give to Receive? “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV). Most Christians understand the need for giving.  For early Jews and Christians, almsgiving was the act of filling a material need for someone less fortunate, usually by giving money. God incorporated the concept of alms into the Mosaic Law when He ordered land-owners to leave to the poor the corners of the fields (Leviticus 19:9-10), and every seventh year, leave the entire field (Exodus 23:10-11). In churches today, "alms"...
  • Joyful Obedience

    Joyful Obedience “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15 NIV). If you were to list ten words to describe yourself, do you think “obedient” would be one of the words?  You probably hope that when others describe you that they see some evidence of the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). “Obedient” is not a fruit of the Spirit but is the conscious use of our God-given free will.  God has given us free will to either obey His commands or not. Since the beginning of time in the Gardenof Eden...
  • An Attitude of Gratitude

    Your Gratitude Determines Your Attitude “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV). We all know someone with a lousy attitude, maybe that person is you.  If your attitude is bad, you probably lack gratitude.  If we focus on our past mistakes and sins, we can’t see our present blessings.  Sometimes, we are stuck in the past with a legitimate complaint – Why did I not get the promotion?  Why did my house burn down?  Why did my child die before me?   Life is hard and sometimes unfair.  Jesus spoke about the certainty...
  • Are You Patiently or Impatiently Waiting on God?

    Are You Patiently or Impatiently Waiting on God? “Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” (Psalm 27:14 NKJV). According to the website Brainboost.com, the average person will spend 10 years standing in line over their lifetime.  I wonder how much time will be added on if they factored in waiting on the phone, waiting for a movie to start, or one of my favorite past times – waiting on God. The Bible is full of stories of those who waited on God to move.  Joseph waited over 13 years before...
  • Unanswered Prayers

    Unanswered Prayers “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 KJV)..  In 1990 Garth Brooks wrote a popular country song entitled, “Unanswered Prayers.”  The song described a time when he ran into a high-school girlfriend while he was with his wife.   In a recent interview Brooks admits that during the first two years of his marriage he still had strong feelings for this other woman and felt that she was the one that he should had married.  However, as he ran into his old flame, he realized that this girl was not the “angel he remembered...
  • Read Scripture And Then Use It

    Read Scripture And Then Use It “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24 NIV). I enjoy reading the Bible, and I if you are reading this you probably do as well.  I also enjoy group Bible studies, Sunday School, small groups and any other means of studying and learning Scripture.  We study Scripture because we want to learn more about God, the truth, how to live life abundantly, and gain spiritual strength.  We know “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting...
  • Book Review: God Knows Your Story (and He’s Not Mad!)

    Book Review: God Knows Your Story (And He’s Not Mad!) by Carter Featherston “For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6 TPT). . If you have never done anything wrong and do not have any regrets or shame, then this book is not for you.  However, I strongly suspect that all of us have regrets and feel some sense of shame for poor choices.  This is a Biblically based book that points the reader to the only true source of victory of sin and shame, Jesus. This book is valuable because it addresses a topic that all struggle...
  • Book Review: Forgiveness, the Passionate Journey Nine Steps of Forgiving through Jesus’ Beatitudes

    Book Review: Forgiveness, the Passionate Journey Nine Steps of Forgiving through Jesus’ Beatitudes by Flora Slosson Wuellner “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11 NIV)..  I think most Christians understand that that through the blood of Jesus we have forgiveness for our sins and life everlasting with the Father.  However, many of us still struggle with the concept of forgiveness.  This book uses the Beatitudes, eight blessings recounted by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew, to point the reader toward...

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and building materials, wood decay and degradation, 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 President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, and Board Member for Gulf South Men and a Team Leader for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.