Ministering to the Men at the Union Gospel Mission

Since 2011, I have had the privilege of leading a team of volunteers who venture down to the Union Gospel Mission Dallas to conduct 4th Friday Chapel and minister to the homeless men temporarily residing at the Downtown Dallas shelter. Some of the names and faces have changed over time. Others have remained steadfastly the same. This is true on both sides of the pulpit. Of the 300 or so men who come to the shelter located at 3211 Irving Boulevard, some have been there every single time since my wife Terri and I started going there to minister to them. Others have graduated, gotten back on their feet. Some have strayed, leaving the structure of the shelter to return to life on the streets.

I read an article the other day that proclaimed that the universal consensus is that homelessness can be alleviated if we will simply provide more affordable housing. I certainly don’t doubt that this is part of the solution. But I don’t believe that is all of the answer. Almost all of the men had a place to call home once. That tells me there’s more to the story then we might like to think or than we’re ready to hear.

Indeed, experience has taught me that homelessness is a multifaceted problem. The men need jobs and better skills, both work-related and lifestyle focused. While some might recoil at this thought, it is true that there is a spiritual component that must be addressed in addition to dealing with the physical challenges that these men face. You see, many of these men have had their spirit broken. Others, need guidance in how to live among others. Some genuinely don’t know right from wrong; at least not anymore.

There exists a clear physical deficit that we must address. We should feed their bellies. We must train their hands and educate their minds. Indeed, we have to develop more affordable housing. But, in the process of meeting their real physical needs, we cannot starve their souls. We must not fail to speak to their hearts.

These men need to have their hope restored and their faith rebuilt. They need to know that despite the current circumstances that they find themselves in, God has not forgotten nor forsaken them. While they may feel unlovable, they need to hear that God does indeed love them. And that’s the message we try to share with them.

Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:37-40 (The Message)

Going down to the mission every 4th Friday, our ministry team is able to share the love of God with these men in a real and tangible way. We have a time of worship, singing songs of faith and praise. We share a message of hope from the Word of God, and we stand with them in prayer, crying out to the Lord alongside them, lifting up their dreams and laying down their burdens. That we would do this may come as a shock to people. You might read this and wonder how what we’re doing is helping these men recover from their fall from grace. And that’s ok…we have seen the evidence confirming that it is.

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We show these men, considered to be the last and least, often lonely, many lost, that they are worth loving and that they have value. Yes, their lives matter. Yes, their lives have value. Yes, life can be better than the present situation they find themselves in. Yes, with the help of others, they can rise above their current circumstances.

I am proud of the men and women who serve on our team, including my wife Terri, who I have witnessed grow in her ability to meet these men where they are and show them the love of Christ in her glowing smile and kind words.

I am thankful for our ministry partners, Matt and Laurie, Ed C., Michael G., and Bill and Ann. Their faithfulness and devotion to this ministry is remarkable and noteworthy.

It’s been said that there is no safer place to be than in the center of God’s will. I’m glad He has us here, in the palms of His hands, using us for His praise and glory. That He would use a broken vessel like me seems truly unbelievable, if I’m honest about it.  Yet, He does. Thankfully.

Blessings.

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 post on my blog, “More of Him. Less of me,” takes a long hard look at 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.