I’m in the process of writing a research paper on the life of Billy Graham. I have read several books about his life and ministry, and I am constantly amazed at what God has done through his life. I also had the privilege of attending one of his last crusades held in Charlotte. He encountered criticism from both liberals and conservatives, yet he held strong to his convictions and preached boldly. I am thankful for men like Billy Graham who have shown us the power of the Gospel. This video is just one small example of what happens when the Gospel is preached. Lives are changed for eternity. That is why I am in the ministry.
What a great weekend. We had a Cornerstone baptism service at Camp Dickenson on the New River and we saw 17 people demonstrate their commitment to Christ through baptism. And the best part was that I had the opportunity to baptize my youngest son Drew. I’m thankful to be part of a church where lives are being changed!
Recently, I’ve read about a string of high profile cases of account hacking. It made me really think about how much information I have online, and how some of my accounts are not as secure as they should be. Think about how much information you have online. If just one of your email accounts gets compromised, all your information is at risk. Your online banking accounts, your credit card info, your personal information about family members, and more are typically contained in your emails.
If you want to get serious about securing your accounts, you need to make sure you have a strong password and make sure you change it on a regular basis. One that contains upper and lower case letters, numbers, and punctuation. Passphrases are even better because of their length. And the other thing is that you don’t need to reuse passwords between services. I know it’s a hassle, but you don’t want to deal with being locked out of your own accounts. So how do you deal with keeping up with these passwords?
Let me introduce you to two different password managers: LastPass and 1Password. Both of these applications generate secure passwords and organize your passwords so that you have access to them from your phone, mobile device, or computer. LastPass has a free version, or a premium version for $12 per year. 1Password has a one-time cost of $49, but it will work across all of your devices and sync through dropbox. I’ve been using 1Password for several years now with great results. The best way to show how they work is to share a few videos about each. Of course, you will need a very secure password to use for this. In my next post, I’ll share how you can make you Google Accounts more secure through two-step verification.
I played backup for my son Luke at the Fiddler’s Convention this week while he played the mandolin on youth night. I was definitely a lot more nervous than he was. Here’s a little Foggy Mountain Breakdown. I enjoy making these special memories with the kids.
The Old Fiddler’s Convention in our hometown of Galax is the largest and oldest convention in the world. This is the 77th year and they estimate over 50,000 people come into our city each year for this week. Here’s an old post with some more info.
While I use the Bible app YouVersion for most of my devotional reading, I typically switch to Logos for my serious Bible study. Unfortunately Logos is out of reach for most people simply because of the cost. So I was interested when I started reading about a new study Bible app created by Logos that would be much more accessible. The FaithLife Study Bible is available on iOS and Android and through the web. It has an incredible amount of content and they plan on adding even more in the future. I am impressed with this and I’ve already found a lot of helpful information in preparing for my sermons the past few weeks. Here are some of the technical details and I’ve included a video below for even more information.
The Faithlife Study Bible contains a variety of new Bible study tools:
- Three layers of study notes
- The Lexham Bible Dictionary (2,700+ articles)
- The Lexham English Bible
- Shared notes and reading plans
- About 400 photos, videos, and infographics
I encourage you to check this out and use it for your study. I have several other study Bibles as well, but this one is by far the most interactive. I’m hoping they decide to keep it free, but even at $29 per year I think it is a good value. The folks at FaithLife have graciously provided a free code for access to the FaithLife Study Bible for free through March of 2014. Here’s your chance to try it out.
Click Here to create your free account:
Here is your free Coupon Code: RETWEETFSB
Two years ago, I shared about a number of ways you can embed sermons in your church website. I’ve been thinking about making a change on our church website, so I’ve been looking at the options that are currently available. Since the last post, WordPress has become a popular options for church websites, so I want to focus on options that work as plugins in WordPress. I found two options that both seem great.
For me, the ideal sermon plugin
- handles both sermon audio and video
- creates a podcast feed that can be plugged into feedburner or iTunes
- allows you to include sermon notes, small group discussion guides, and even sermon outlines or text
- organizes sermons by series, speaker, date, and topics
- allows you to share sermons with your friends through social networks
Series Engine is a brand new plugin which is by the same author that developed PrayerEngine. It looks like a great solution for most churches. It has great sharing options and it includes a options panel with many configuration options. It also has a podcast builder that allows you to easily customize and create podcast feeds. I like the fact that is works within WordPress and that it has a custom embed shortcode generator that allows you to easily embed sermon series into different pages throughout your site. It also includes widgets that can be used in any widgetized area. The one-time cost is a little high at $99, but I still think it is a great value for most church websites. The cost includes lifetime support and upgrades The best way to see how it works is to watch the demo video below. This is the plugin that I’m considering using for our church website.
WP For Church SermonManager
SermonManager is a great little plugin that you can download for free. They offer support forums, video tutorials, and access to other plugins and themes for a membership of $2.50 per month. It is not quite as full featured as SeriesEngine, but it is definitely powerful. It offers podcasting support, audio and video embed support, widgets, and sorting by series, speaker, and topics. The best way to see how it works is by viewing their demo page
We’ve been using the MediaFusion service for several years now. It is a great service that works with any website, including those that are not based on WordPress. It works great, but they had a recent price increase for new customers that makes the cost $290 per year. I feel that it is a great service for us at the former price, but a little overpriced now for our needs. It’s also starting to look a little dated since it doesn’t match the style of our site. I’m also wanting to bring our sermons into WordPress for SEO reasons. Having all the content available in sitemaps should help people find sermons and increase the web traffic to our site. These plugins also allow you to use custom CSS to match the styling of your site. So for what we are looking for, SeriesEngine looks like a good fit.
I’m hoping more people also start developing plugins for church websites using WordPress. I do know that iThemes has an excellent sermon plugin that works for their builder themes, and church theme vendors like ChurchThemer offer built-in sermon support. I also saw a new responsive WordPress theme called Risen on ThemeForest that offers built-in sermon support.
Click this link to checkout a great new ebook for Churches about Facebook.
Facebook for Churches is a 32-page quick read loaded with tips, examples and strategies for getting the most out of your church Facebook page. Whether you’re attempting to pick the perfect Timeline photo or trying to figure out what and when to post, this resources has you covered. By the way, it’s free. Really.
Thanks to ChurchJuice for the link.