My Monday Morning Cup: A Look Back

As we near the midpoint of the year, I want to take a look back at the most popular posts of 2018 so far. Starting with number 10 and leading all the way to the most popular post of the last 6 months, this post will reflect back on the posts readers engaged with the most.

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  1. Day 8339: Continuing to Face the Challenges of Living Life in Recovery

In the post Day 8339, I presented a transparent glimpse at the challenges recovering addicts face even after years of sobriety. We make a conscious choice to live clean and sober today, free from the chains of hurts, habits, and hang-ups. The story of our lives could have been interrupted, but by the grace of God we have been delivered and live a life redeemed.

  1. Psalm 90: In God We CAN Trust

Part of our Psalm Saturdays series, Psalm 90 struck a chord with readers. Believed to be one of the oldest recorded psalms and ascribed to Moses, Psalm 90 examines how the Lord is a trustworthy God.

  1. Blogging Isn’t All PJs and Coffee

Just like anything worthwhile, blogging takes time and commitment. While it may seem easy, even glamorous, blogging is hard work that demands intentionality and creativity. Blogs don’t grow without the blogger’s willingness to devote time, talents, and resources to them.

  1. The Seven Wonders of God

In my post “The Seven Wonders of God,” I recall a sermon given by the late Reverend Billy Graham about the wonders of God.

  1. Writing After 50: You Can Do It!

Writing is hard. Writing after 50 is even harder. The window of success appears closed, but it doesn’t have to be. There is really no reason, other than preconceived notions, that should prevent you from finding success as a writer after the age of 50. You will need to put in time and effort to develop your craft and have the discipline to commit and invest to your writing passion.

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  1. Remembering My Dad Ten Years Later

This past March marked the 10th anniversary of my Dad’s death from the complications brought on by a massive stroke. I reflect on what was, what is, and what is yet to come.

  1. Happy Easter! He Has Risen!

My Easter post seeks to celebrate the goodness and glory of God and the gift of eternal life He gave us through sacrificing and resurrecting His son.

  1. Why Good Friday Matters

This post looks at what makes Good Friday a significant holiday that Christians all around the world observer annually.

  1. My Mom is my Hero

In this post, our 2nd most popular post of the year so far, I celebrate my Mom and all the great things she has done and continues to do in her life.

  1. More of Him. Less of me.

Perennially the most popular, most read on my blog “More of Him. Less of me,” takes a long hard look on our relationship with God and to God. Are we humble enough to let God be God?

2018 has proven to be a year of tremendous growth at The Devotional Guy. I encourage you to continue sharing this blog with your family and friends. I am genuinely grateful for the wonderful things the Lord has done and continues to do through this blog.

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Peeking Behind the Curtain: Blogging as a Lifestyle

Blogging is a global phenomenon. Over one million blog posts are published every single day. Recent estimates calculate the number of blogs that exist at nearly 200 million. While there are many blogs that are dormant and cluttering cyberspace, the competition among the best blogs online today remains fierce as the audience, hungry for relevant and helpful content, continues to grow.

Blog is short for weblog, a term credited to American blogger and editor of Robot Wisdom Jorn Barger in the late 1990s. Barger’s Robot Wisdom is an early influential blog that launched in 1995 and featured essays and resources on James Joyce, artificial intelligence (AI), history, Internet culture, hypertext design, and technology trends.

A couple years later after Barger introduced the term, Peter Merholz shortened weblog to blog. Before the beginning of the new millennium, it became common to use the term blog both as a noun and a verb.

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What are blogs?

Basically, blogs are discussion or informational websites that feature content written, created, and curated by individuals or teams of people focusing on a set of topics. Prior to 2009, almost all blogs were the work of individual bloggers. In 2010, multi-author blogs(MAB) began to develop and surface in greater frequency on the World Wide Web. Businesses and institutions now account for a growing number of blogs, often marketing companies, services, or opportunities.

What kinds of blogs are there?

Blogs differ in types and content as well as in how the content is delivered, written, and created.

Personal blogs are generally written by an individual, sharing their observations, thoughts, and commentary on a topic or series of subjects. Personal blogs generally have a smaller reach and limited audience, unless an influential person writes them. However, a small number of personal blogs have garnered immense popularity and attracted lucrative advertising sponsors. In an increasingly digital world, bloggers can acquire a level of notoriety and fame in the real world, as well as online. My blog, The Devotional Guy, is an example of a personal blog. BeautyBeyondBones, Unleashing the Next Chapter, and Seth’s Blog are a couple of other examples that I enjoy reading frequently. There are many others in addition to these, like FitRecovery, RabBits, and The Recovering Legalist are couple of others I read regularly as well.

Multi-author blogs

Multiple-author blogs first surfaced in 2010, and as the title indicates, feature more than one author. Multi-author blogs tend to focus on one overall them like technology, politics, or advocacy. With the advent of smart technology, multi-author blogs have benefited from the increased ease of collaborative work. People like to work together with other people for some common purpose or greater good. No doubt, the pooling of talents and treasures makes maintaining a popular site simpler and often translates into a bigger audience. The Huffington Post’s HuffPost is an example of a multi-author blog.

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Microblogging

Microblogging features short, spontaneous posts that help people keep in touch, coordinate business meetings, create flash mob events, and a host of other things, limited only by an individual’s imagination. Twitter and Instagram are notable examples of this type of digital content.

Business or Organization Blogs

Businesses, non-profits, and government agencies make up an increasing number of new blogs communicating in cyberspace. Company and organization blogs can be private and used for internal purposes only. They can also be used to market, communicate, and promote companies and organizations. Coca-Cola’s “Unbottled” is an example of a corporate blog. You can find additional examples of corporate blogs, here. Your church may produce a blog that features content written by your pastor or other ministry leaders. Examples of non-profit blogs include John Hayden, Nonprofit Quarterly, and the GuideStar blog. You can learn more about non-profit blogs here.

That’s just a few examples of the different types of blogs that populate cyberspace.

Want More?

Here is a list of the most popular blogs in all of cyberspace for the month of May 2018.

If you’re a writer, checkout this list of popular author blogs.

Until next time…keep blogging!

Blessings.

 

My Two Cents: Be All In

Recently, after attending an Easter celebration at my alma mater, Dallas Baptist University, Sweet T and I drove through the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery. Terri’s mom, Joyce, accompanied us that evening. We were in awe of all the rows of headstones marking lives of service and sacrifice.

Memorial Day is a federal holiday set aside to honor and remember the men and women who sacrificed their lives for the United States of America. Rooted in early traditions of mothers decorating the graves of their sons who had fallen in battle, Memorial Day grew nationally out of the ashes of the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history that pitted brother against brother and claimed the lives of over 600,000 soldiers. The ashes of that war still glow dimly in our nation today.

Our nation’s story rests on the remains of those who gave their all for a greater purpose than themselves. They did not seek glory. They did not desire praise. They only wanted to ensure victory over the enemies that seek to do us harm.

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Sacrifice seems like a fitting theme for this annual holiday weekend. Many of us will celebrate, cooking out, consuming food and drink, maybe taking a trip out on the boat on a local lake or floating on a raft or innertube down a nearby river. We will rejoice in the freedom that thousands of men and women made throughout America’s history. We live in a land where we are free to agree and disagree. It is a privilege paid for by the blood of those who, as their generation called upon them, paid the ultimate price. Like the Cross, the further removed we become from those moments of sacrifice, the easier it is for us to forget. That’s why we pause throughout the year to reflect on the service and the sacrifice of others.

There is no such thing as a free lunch.” ~ Ruby Page (my junior high Texas History teacher).

Do you remember the moment you were saved? Do you recall when you turned your life over to Christ and how you beamed with joy and burned with an inner fire, ready to follow the Lord wherever He called you to go? Like the widow in our passage, our cup of faith overflowed.

Jesus spent a lot of his time on Earth devoted to teaching the disciples. He taught them everywhere they went, sharing valuable truths on the way between point A and point B. He loved to teach in parables (stories).

The story of the widow giving everything she had is found in two gospels: Mark and Luke.

Mark 12:41-44 (ESV)

41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.

Luke 21:1-4 (ESV)

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 And he said, Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.

Mark and Luke, along with Matthew, are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they share a lot of the same material, although each often gives us their distinct perspective on the events that they communicate to us.

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In the passage about the widow, Jesus teaches us, like He taught the audience back then, about the difference between authentic faith and pretend faith. In other words, we can have a faith that is true or carry a faith that is false.

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” ~ Pastor A.W. Tozer

What we believe about God should inform our attitude toward things like money and possessions. Do you share freely or do you hoard what you got? Do you pay God first or last?

Years ago, when I first came to know the Lord, my father and I had an interesting discussion about how I came to benefit from the blessings we had. Was it my Dad—my earthly father—who was responsible for providing the roof over our head and the food on the table that we enjoyed OR was it God-my heavenly father-who had provided these blessings for us?

What would you say? How would you respond? Are you a self-made individual who credits yourself with all that you have? Or do you recognize that God is the one who ultimately provided you with all that you can say grace over?

My take, from reading and studying the passage, is that the widow believed that God was the source of everything she had. She credited the Lord with providing for her. She was not worried about giving God all that she had. She trusted that He would provide for her just as He had in the past. Her faith, her belief in who God is and how God worked, informed her life. She didn’t hesitate to throw her two cents in the offering plate.

In their culture, just as in ours today, humans tend to value the amount of the gift rather than the sacrifice that went into it. That’s easily demonstrated in the cards we get at birthdays, Christmas, or other special occasions. When you open a card do you open it and read it first or do you look to see if somebody put a little sumthin’ in it? I confess, I am often guilty of looking for the cash first. I love me some “surprise money.” Trust me, if you ever want to give me something and you don’t know what to get me, I like cold, hard cash.

This incident described in this passage contrasts the spiritual poverty and physical prosperity of the scribes with the physical poverty and spiritual prosperity of the widow. It also contrasts the greed of the scribes with the generosity of the widow.

We see the widow follow her convictions. She knew where her blessings came from. What she lacked for in physical wealth, she more than made up for in spiritual riches.

Are you following your convictions? Would someone know what you believe about Jesus if they saw you going about your daily routines?

We are either pointing people to Jesus or pushing them away. Our job is to point them to Christ.” ~ Worship Pastor Mark W. Jones

By now, the disciples had learned that they needed to pay attention when Jesus uttered the phrase “Truly, I say to you” or “I tell you the truth.” Those words meant, “Pay Attention! I’m about to tell you something IMPORTANT!”

It was Jesus’ way of saying “Watch this…”

Mark 12:41-44 (NET)

41 Then he sat down opposite the offering box, and watched the crowd putting coins into it. Many rich people were throwing in large amounts. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, worth less than a penny. 43 He called his disciples and said to them, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the offering box than all the others. 44 For they all gave out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in what she had to live on, everything she had.”

Luke 21:1-4 (NET)

21 Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all offered their gifts out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in everything she had to live on.”

The scribes had made their donation when the widow walked up in the middle of them and tossed in her two cents. In her poverty, Jesus saw her wealth. Her riches were not stored up where moths or vermin could destroy them or where thieves could come and steal them in the middle of the night.

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The widow’s gift demonstrated her love for God, her complete faith and trust in Him, and that He would provide everything she needed. Her faith proved to be real. It was authentic. Her beliefs informed her actions.

On the other hand, the priests and the scribes—the rich men—they gave more in dollar amount, but only that which didn’t cause them any difficulty. They probably didn’t even feel the money lighten their wallet—although I can hear them now, bemoaning how much they gave.

The widow did not lust for money. She did not covet material things. She did not make idols of her possessions. She simply trusted God and recognized He was in control of the outcome She didn’t hold back. She was all in.

You can be earthly rich and heavenly poor. You can have everything there is to have in the here and now, only to inherit nothing in eternity tomorrow. You can be physically rich and spiritually broke.

That which costs you nothing is not sacrifice. Sacrifice comes with a price tag. If it cost you nothing, it probably is worth even less. Except for salvation—you and I only brought our sin to the cross. That’s our contribution. Our sin. God gave His Son-Jesus. You can’t out-give God.

God values wholehearted commitment to Him. He delights in it.

Don’t be lukewarm when it comes to God. Don’t be half in, half out. Don’t be in the world but be set apart from it so that people will know that there is something different about you. Let them see Jesus in you. That doesn’t mean you go hide up in some mountain far, far away from people. No…you do like Jesus did and walk right up in the middle of the people—the challenge is not to become like them but to reflect Christ in such a way that they want to be like you. They should want what you have. You don’t need what they’re peddling. You’ve been there done that, no need to go back. As believers, we are forever changed because of the atoning sacrifice Jesus made on that Cross some two centuries ago. Let the fire of the Gospel burn brightly in you, so that others might come to know Him too.

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Just like the freedoms we enjoy living in America today did not come without sacrifice, freeing us from our chains of sin came at a great cost.

When it comes to you, God is all in.

When it comes to God—Be All In.

That’s my two cents…

I pray you’ll have a fantastic Memorial Day weekend. Pause a moment over the weekend to reflect on the sacrifice of others. I hope you’ll consider the meaning of the Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross as well. Peace be with you and yours.

Blessings.

Mark 12:41-44 (The Message)

41 Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. 42 One poor widow came up and put in two small coins-a measly two cents. 43 Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. 44 All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford-she gave her all.”

Luke 21:1-4 (The Message)

21 Just then he looked up and saw the rich people dropping offerings in the collection plate. 2 Then he saw a poor widow put in two pennies. 3 He said, “The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today. 4 All these others made offerings that they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford-she gave her all!”

My Two Cents

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