WPRemote

I manage multiple WordPress sites, so I’m always looking for a way to help me keep them updated and running smoothly.  WordPress Multisite is one option, but it’s hard to setup and all of my sites are running very different themes and plugins, so it would be hard to make work correctly.  I’ve tried ManageWP, and it is awesome, but it also has a monthly fee. So when I read about the free WP Remote on ChurchMag, I decided to try it out.

After using it for a few days, this is something that will definitely save me time and energy. From one screen, I can see the update status of all my sites. Green means everything is up-to-date, and yellow means I have plugins or themes to update.

ScreenShot

There is one more big feature that makes this service go over the top. From the WP Remote dashboard, you can make backups of all of your sites. For now, they are encrypting and storing your backups for free. I didn’t have any problems backing up all of my sites, although I’ve read that others are having a little trouble with larger sites. They are looking at adding automatic daily backups in the future. This one feature alone makes this service awesome.

If you are managing multiple WordPress sites, then check out the WP Remote service.

Video has been an integral part of our church services for the last six years. We  project song lyrics, testimonies, photos, video clips, and even occasionally live video. We started using Easyworship running on a used PC we bought for $300 five years ago. We finally are upgrading our computer and software to allow us to do even more with our video system. Unfortunately, Easyworship seems to have stalled in development, with the planned 2010 update still not on the market. So we have chosen to go with ProPresenter 5 running on a 27″ iMac computer. ProPresenter has really become the market leader balancing both ease of use with tons of power.

I’m really looking forward to using prop layers for logos and other overlays on the screen. We will also have the ability to have different information displayed on the rear wall for our praise team. We can even display a countdown timer for a certain long-winded preacher :-)  It also features a great text reflow feature as well as integration with Planning Center Online. They even offer iPad apps to control your presentations. Check out their website for a complete list of the new features in version 5. I’ve also attached a playlist of their great video tutorials. If you want to learn more about it, then check out the following videos.

We should have the new system up and running in a few weeks. I’ll let you know more about it as we get it installed and working.

When it comes to backing up data, I want to make sure I have a plan. So when I got my new Macbook Air, I decided to add a new backup device at home. After evaluating several options, I decided to go with a Western Digital My Book Live 2 terabyte network drive. The great thing about a network drive is accessibility. I can access files on it from any computer in the house. Western Digital also has Android and iOS apps to allow you to download files or view pictures on your mobile devices.

The only negative about this unit is that it only has a single drive. The dual drive systems offer better protection against hard drive failure, but come at a much greater cost. Now if I can just figure out how to organize all my digital photos from the last ten years. That’s my next big challenge to tackle.

It hooks up with an ethernet cable to your router, and it works great with both macs and pcs. I have my time machine backup on it for my new macbook. I added a network switch with my home entertainment system and placed it there so that it is easy to access. Here are a couple of videos that show how it works and what it can do. You can pick one up on Amazon. Here’s a link to it on my Amazon estore.

I love our college kids from Cornerstone!


It’s amazing how quickly we can travel around our world. Saturday morning I was in the comforts of my own home, and Saturday night I was in a hotel in Managua, Nicaragua. I’ve spent the last few days working with Because We Care Ministries training pastors in Choluteca, Honduras and Somotillo, Nicaragua. The men above are my hereos. They serve as pastors in small villages around northern Nicaragua. They live a tough life, and nothing about their life is easy. One of the pastors in Honduras had to walk over three hours in order to take a two hour bus ride so that he could be at our 9am pastor training. That’s commitment. The excitement these men have for learning God’s Word is contagious.

I don’t have to tell you how easy we have it in the United States. The poverty and struggle that I see here is humbling. And yet the problems they face in their churches are very similar to the problems we see in the North American church. We are challenging them to serve their communities and to lead with a Holy boldness. Will you join me in praying for these men as they are studying and learning this week.

 

 

I had the honor of speaking at a fund-raising dinner for the Boy Scouts this week. I received my Eagle Scout award back in 1991, and Scouting was a big part of my teenage years. I loved the hiking and camping, and was even able to go backpacking in New Mexico at Philmont two times. In thinking through what I learned from scouting, I remembered one experience from my freshman engineering class.

I had good grades and was blessed to have a major university scholarship to Virginia Tech. I was in a special scholarship section of my freshman engineering class with a bunch of people that were smarter than me. The professor went through a series of questions about our backgrounds. He asked how many straight A students, how many perfect scores on SAT, how many valedictorians, and finally how many Eagle Scouts were in the class. Over half the class raised their hands and shared that they were Eagle Scouts and I realized that scouting had prepared me to be a leader. That one incident gave me the confidence that I belonged.

This week at the dinner, I shared some of the leadership lessons I learned from scouting. These have helped shape me into the leader that I am, so I wanted to share these lessons with you. I learned …

  • The importance of discipline – There are constant goals you are working towards, and it takes discipline  to meet the requirements. You can’t quit until you reach your goal.
  • The importance of working together – When you are backpacking, you have to work together and learn to get along with the people you are with. You learn a lot about conflict resolution and teamwork.
  • The importance of responsibility – When teaching younger scouts or leading the group, you learn the importance of taking responsibility.
  • The importance of being prepared – You never know what to expect, so you learn to always be prepared.
  • The importance of ingenuity – Scouting teaches you how to be a problem solver. It’s a skill that defined my career as an engineer, and it definitely helps me in ministry as well.
  • The importance of worship – You can’t help but worship when you see God’s beautiful creation. Hiking through pristine mountains teaches you to slow down and simply worship God.
  • The importance of service – You learn how to serve others. The Scout Oath teaches you to “help other people at all times”

Scouting is so much more than hiking and camping, because it is a place where young leaders are developed.

Here’s a great use of the internet. Most churches spend a lot of time trying to organize meals for people who are sick or in need. But it’s always confusing knowing who is bringing what, and when they are bringing it. Recently we used Take Them a Meal to help organize meals for a family at our church for over a week.

Simply create an online signup form on the site, then send it out for people to view and signup. It’s easy to use and it works great. It’s crowd-sourcing on a whole new level. There is also a companion site for organizing potluck dinners – check it out at perfectpotluck.com.

For those times in life when filling their table will warm their hearts.
Simplifying meal coordination so friends, family, neighbors and co-workers can show they care.
Create a customized online sign up sheet to include phone numbers, driving directions, food allergies and more that makes it easy for friends and family to take meals to those in need.

I shared a video in church last week that a lot of people have been asking me about. The video has received over 20 million views over the past few months on Youtube. It’s titled, Why I hate religion, but love Jesus. The focus of the video by Jefferson Bethke is to highlight the difference between false religion and a relationship with Jesus. The video seems to have hit a nerve, with many critiquing it and criticizing it, but I think the video serves as a wakeup call to the church. We do have to be careful in defining what we mean by religion, but I think Bethke defines it accurately in the video. He says that religion is man searching for God, while Christianity is God searching for man.

Are we inviting people into a relationship with Jesus Christ, or are we inviting them into our system of rules and tradition and religion? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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