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Updates to Google Docs

April 13, 2010 — 5 Comments

If you have never tried using Google Docs, now is the time to jump in and try it out. Essentially it is an online version of Office. You can create and edit documents, spreadsheets, drawings, and presentations online. The files are stored on Google’s servers so you can access them from any computer with internet access.  It also allows you to share files with others, even accessing the documents at the same time.

Yesterday, Google announced several great new features for Google Docs.  Real-time collaboration, new spreadsheet enhancements, a new drawing tool, and more control over document formatting were all added features. They also allow you to upload any files to their server for online storage.

You can combine this with Google apps for your domain and have the ability to provide email and calendar scheduling, all for free for churches and non-profits. If you are a church, this is a great service to use for sharing important information. For more reasons why you should consider using Google apps, check out this post over at ChurchCrunch.

I am a big Google fan and this just reinforces the fact that you don’t have to charge high prices to offer a great service. Between Google Docs and the free OpenOffice suite, I really don’t see myself spending any money for Microsoft Office in the future. Check out the video below for more info on Google Docs.

Over the years I have collected quite a few video backgrounds for worship. From our co-pastor Sam’s past involvement with Digital Juice and from years of downloading videos and bundles, I have a hard drive full of content. But if you are just starting out, it can get expensive.  One of my passions is using video technology to create environments to help present the timeless truths of scripture.  It is hard finding the right background to complement songs and not create distractions in worship.  If we’re really honest, much of the content out there is not that great.

That’s why I got excited when I read about the playback drive on several different websites (visualworshiper and churchcreate and WorshipVJ)   For $249, you get an external hard drive filled with quality backgrounds.  I get a lot of questions about video backgrounds we use when we do public events, so I think this makes it simple for smaller churches with smaller technology budgets to get started. It puts new meaning into plug and play.  Here’s a video with more details.

Playback Drive Promo from Orange Thread Media on Vimeo.

I thought I would post a link to my sermon from our Easter service. We plan on integrating these videos into our church website in the very near future. We have started using Vimeo to host our video sermons. The cost is only $60 per year for their plus service which allows you to upload longer length HD quality videos. I do need someone from Cornerstone to take our video files and upload them each week, so if you’re interested, please let me know.

Open Doors from Cornerstone on Vimeo.

Christ is Risen!

April 5, 2010 — 1 Comment

Christ is risen, and that changes everything. We worship Jesus who reversed the irreversible by defeating death.  The resurrection is the dividing point of history, because we have been given life. The grave no longer is something to be feared! This Easter at Cornerstone, we celebrated that new life in Christ. I wanted to share a few things about our weekend at Cornerstone.

  • This was the first week we went to two Sunday morning services. It was a big step of faith because it required more people serving and getting involved. I appreciate all of our volunteers who sacrificed and served in so many ways. We have a great group of people who want to see our community transformed for Christ.
  • The greatest comment from our response cards came from someone visiting from out of town. Here’s what they said “I was only visiting for the weekend since I live in (…)  You were all so welcoming! I am from the north and not used to being so welcomed by other believers. God Bless you!”  I love it when people feel welcomed because it allows us to challenge them with truth from God’s Word.
  • We had our biggest crowd with more children and young families at our 9:15am service. That surprised me, and it will be interesting to see if that changes next week.
  • Both services were full but not crowded. I was excited to see that we still have room to grow even with our largest attendance ever this weekend. Next weekend we will start offering three services every week! 9:15am, 11am, and 6pm
  • Our worship team did an awesome job as usual. I don’t think there is another church our size in the entire country that has as much musical talent as we do!
  • I was also excited to see lots of new faces and families worshiping with us this weekend. And of course, it’s always amazing when you see people place their faith and trust in Christ and cross over from death to life!
  • Not excited to see that our offering was low again this weekend.  Our local economy is really struggling and it has definitely affected the giving at church this year. We have to start making some tough decisions in our budget.
  • We started a new series this week called One Month to Live.  We are challenging everyone to ask the question “What changes would you make in your life if you only had one month to live?” That question is powerful, because it forces us to look at our priorities and values in life.  Can you honestly say that you are living passionately for Christ? The truth of the resurrection changes everything. It causes us to change the way we live and change the way we love others.

Nothing can be the same again because of the resurrection. I encourage you to watch the video below to think about how the resurrection has changed your life.

Resurrection: Rob Bell from The Work of Rob Bell on Vimeo.

At the heart of the historical Jesus story is the provocative, compelling, subversive, beautiful insistence that nothing can ever be the same again, not after resurrection.

We are excited to start a new morning worship service at Cornerstone this weekend. For Easter we will have two services at 9:15am and 11am.  Please help us spread the word and let people know. We have grown to the point that we simply don’t have enough parking or seating for everyone who was coming to our 10am service.  For Easter, our children’s ministry has a great morning planned as well. We are not having our 6pm service since many of you are traveling and have family activities that night.

We will be starting a new series at Cornerstone this Easter called One Month To Live. What if you only had one month to live? How would you make each day really matter? What would you start, or stop, doing? How would you live passionately for Christ? We are excited about this series and we are hoping for a huge turnout to hear the life-changing message of hope, found only in Jesus Christ.

Starting April 11th, we will continue or 9:15am and 11am services, as well as start back our 6pm services. This will be a huge step of faith for us, but we believe that God has raised up enough servants and leaders to offer these services. We want to give you several opportunities to join us each and every weekend. God is moving and changing lives at Cornerstone, will you join us?

If you do any graphic design, let me give you a huge tip. Do not use Comic Sans! If you want your publication to look professional, please take time to pick fonts that actually look professional. I prefer clean sleek fonts for most projects. Distressed or grunge fonts are also popular for a more contemporary look. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing fonts.

  • Don’t mix too many fonts! Make sure the fonts you use work together. You can mix size, color, and weight of the font, but try not to have more than 2 or 3 different font syles on a page. Less is more.
  • Readability is key! If people can’t read it, it doesn’t matter how cool the font is.
  • Match the font to the mood you want to convey.  Whimsical fonts work great on a kid’s invitation, but not in most church print pieces.
  • Go beyond built in fonts. Here are two great sites to find free fonts.

Font Squirrel has fonts that you can embed in websites or use for commercial print pieces for free. They seem to have a great selection of fonts to choose from. You can browse my most popular or newly added. They also have font sets to use in website design.

dafont.com is another excellent website with a huge collection of fonts. They have more than 10,000 fonts to choose from. You can search by style or name. It’s always interesting to check out the most popular fonts. If you ever have a need to mimic the font used on a tv show or commercial company, this is a great place to start. I have used this extensively in the past, especially for youth designs and for newspaper ads.

Both sites have instructions on how to add the fonts into your system.

Every believer will go through times of doubt, discouragement, despair, and disbelief at some point in your life. At our youth life group last night, we talked about growing through these times. It may feel like you’re in a spiritual wilderness and it may even seem like God is silent, but be encouraged that God can use these times to purify you and move you on to greater heights in your walk with Christ.

I shared the story of two men who are battling cancer right now. We have a choice in how we respond to suffering and pain. We can allow it to draw us closer to God and rely on Him for our strength, or we can become disillusioned and frustrating, looking for someone or something to blame. Both these men have decided that no matter what happens in their life, that God is still God, and God is still good. Can we say the same thing when we go through wilderness experiences?

Here is Zac’s story. He is on staff at NewSpring and his story should be an inspiration to all of us.

Matt Chandler has also been in my prayers. He is a pastor that is battling cancer right now. I have been amazed at his strength and wisdom as he has struggled with a malignant brain tumor. He is posting weekly video updates on The Village Church blog. Here is a recent video where he shares both good and bad news.

Will you please join me in prayers for both these men.

American Christianity has a perception problem. My eyes were really opened to this when I read the book UnChristian. It tells how the younger generation really views the church. In the eyes of the world, Christians have become known more for what we are against, instead of the Christ we are supposed to follow. I’ll be honest, I was discouraged and frustrated by the recent healthcare vote. I know the current system needs an overhaul. I’ve experienced the frustration of trying to get insurance when you have a pre-existing condition. But this legislation was pushed through against the will of the people without being fully explained and without the input of both parties.  But as a follower of Christ, I am not going to resort to name calling and over-exaggeration to get my point across.

I don’t talk much about politics here on the blog, but I am concerned with the reaction from Christians to our current President and Congress. Proverbs 16:33 tells us that God is still in control. He is still on the throne and ultimately we will all answer to Him. The world is not going to end because of a vote in Congress. What this country needs is not a political revival, but a Spiritual revival. We are not going to see a change in Washington by complaining and telling everyone how upset we are. Instead, let’s change this world by sharing the message of the Gospel of Christ. Christians should definitely be involved in the political process. I’m not saying that we ignore the problems. But when people reject the Gospel, not because of the message of the cross, but because of our anger and activism, we have lost our way. I have shared in church that we are called to do more than vote our values, we are called to live them out.  Criticize by creating and getting involved in the process.

Let me challenge you to be known by your love, by your truthfulness, and by your passion. May we be known for Jesus Christ instead of the things we are against.

Here is a video introduction to the book UnChristian. It’s a research book that shows how Christians are perceived by non-Christians.  “Christians are supposed to represent Christ to the world. But according to the latest report card, something has gone terribly wrong. Using descriptions like “hypocritical,” “insensitive,” and “judgmental,” young Americans share an impression of Christians that’s nothing short of . . . unChristian.”

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