One of the reasons that I do a little web design in my spare time is that I have a passion to help smaller churches and ministries understand and implement technology. I’ve recently had two opportunities to do websites that build and advance the cause of Christ. Check out both of these sites.
This is the new website for the Galax Area Ministerial Association. By sharing contact information, upcoming events, and service times for our local churches, we are cooperating rather than competing. It always seems like churches find out about great events and opportunities after the event has taken place. Our hope is that this will be a place where we can share how God is moving in our community. Please visit the site and submit any upcoming events that you are hosting. One Savior, Many Churches.
I have been to Nicaragua twice in the past two years with this ministry. Dr. Donald Gillette and his wife Pam do an incredible job of mobilizing ministry groups to serve in one of the poorest areas of Nicaragua. Their new website let’s you easily sign up for their Nica News newsletter. I encourage you to visit their website and consider how you can support their ministry.
I shared this past Sunday about what it means to be a true worshiper (link to video) In John 4:23-24, Jesus tells us that He is looking for true worshipers, people who worship in Spirit and Truth. Unfortunately, many people view worship as simply a time of singing songs during Sunday morning. Romans 12:1-2 expands our definition of worship to include our entire lives. Listen to how the Message paraphrases this passage:
Romans 12:1-2 MSG So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
This is our spiritual act of worship, giving our entire lives before God. We give God our time, we give God our devotion, we give God our worship, we give Him what He rightfully deserves, the first place in our life. When we meet together on Sunday to worship, everything we do is worship! We worship through gathering together and encouraging one another, we worship through singing and praising God, we worship through the teaching of His Word, and we worship through giving. It’s this last one that typically gets neglected in most church services. Instead of viewing giving as worship, we view giving as an obligation.
In my recent trip to Nicaragua, I was able to truly worship through giving. I literally gave away every dollar I had before I left. When you experience God moving and working, you want to support God’s work and help advance the Kingdom. I want to encourage you to view giving to your local church as worship. As honoring God and giving back to Him a portion of what He has blessed you with. God owns everything, and He has entrusted you to manage it wisely. Let’s work together to transform the communities we live in through the local church.
Several churches that I know of actually stand up and applaud while the offering is taken, knowing that God is going to do incredible things through the resources and money that are being given. During the message, I also mentioned a video I viewed on YouTube about a man celebrating while giving his offering. I love the joy that he shows in giving back to God. It’s a little over the top, but that’s why I like it!
Are you a true worshiper? Someone who worships God for who He is, for what He has done, and what He will do in the future.
During my recent travels to Nicaragua, I finally was able to finish reading a great book by David Platt titled Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. The timing couldn’t have been better to read a book like this. Whenever you experience poverty and suffering in another country, you naturally question why we have been blessed with so much while the rest of the world suffers in hunger and spiritual darkness. Materialism and greed and comfort have replaced our love for our brothers.
I really regret not having a highlighter while reading this book. It just means that I will have to read it again to slow down and really let the words sink in. This is a book that reminds me of Crazy Love by Francis Chan. It is similar in that it calls us to live a counter-cultural life, a life that is radical and crazy by our society’s standard. Being a disciple is much more than attending church, it means a radical devotion to the God who created us and who desires us to bring Him glory. I appreciate the author’s faithfulness in keeping Christ at the center of everything. Here are some quotes that really made me think.
And the danger now is that when we gather in our church buildings to sing and lift up our hands in worship, we may not actually be worshiping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead we may be worshiping ourselves.
The message of biblical Christianity is not “God loves me, period,” as if we were the object of our own faith. The message of biblical Christianity is “God loves me so that I might make him – his ways, his salvation, his glory, and his greatness – known among all nations.” Now God is the object of our faith, and Christianity centers around him. We are not the end of the gospel; God is.
One of the unintended consequences of contemporary church strategies that revolve around performances, places, programs, and professionals is that somewhere along the way people get left out of the picture. But according to Jesus, people are God’s method for winning the world to himself.
Whereas disinfecting Christians involves isolating them and teaching them to be good, discipling Christians involves propelling Christians into the world to risk their lives for the sake of others.
Are you and I looking to Jesus for advice that seems fiscally responsible according to the standards of the world around us? Or are we looking to Jesus for total leadership in our lives …
If we are going to live in radical obedience to Christ, we will need the church to do it. We will need to show one another how to give liberally, go urgently, and live dangerously.
After reading these quotes, I think you will agree with me that this is a book that will make you evaluate your life and evaluate your priorities. For me personally, missions was always something that I thought was reserved for people who were called to the mission field. I might not have said it that way, but when I listened to stories and watched presentations, it never really had a direct impact on the way I lived my life. But when I actually traveled to remote villages in Nicaragua, something in my heart changed. Reading this book really helped me understand the urgent need for everyone in the church to be involved in their community and in our world. The author ends with a one year challenge to the way you live your life. I’m up for the challenge. Who else is with me? Next month, he is releasing the followup to this book. I can’t wait to read Radical Together, a challenge to take the next step. From radical followers of Christ to radical communities of faith.
Here’s the info from the back cover.
In Radical, David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple – then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a “successful” suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus.
I’ll end with a couple of videos about the book. I encourage you to pick up a copy and read it for yourself.
Just take a look at some of these faces. The sights and sounds are hard to describe, and pictures don’t really do justice to what we have experienced, but these pictures give you a small glimpse into rural Nicaragua. We have seen extreme poverty, malnutrition, and hunger, but in the midst of the pain, the people here are still joyful. It’s hard to explain how people who have nothing are so content. And yet we have so much but still want more.
We have fed hungry children hot nutritious meals in these villages, we have shared the gospel and seen many people respond, and hopefully we have given them hope and love. The needs are great, and the resources are lacking, but God has used our group to touch lives and spread the love of Christ. I have especially enjoyed getting to know a group of local pastors that we have spent the last three days with. It has been a great privilege to teach and encourage them in ministry. I will share more about how you can help and get involved with Because We Care Ministries in a later post, but for now, just look through these pictures and pray.
I’ve had a long and incredible day. Yesterday was spent in airports and on airplanes, and it’s really hard to believe that yesterday morning I was at home. I’ve been to Roanoke, Washington D.C., San Salvador in El Salvador, Managua in Nicaragua, and I’m finally in Somotillo.
It still amazes me that I’m sitting in a village in the remote part of Nicaragua and blogging. Today was awesome. It started a little too early because I was using my phone as an alarm clock and it jumped ahead an hour because of daylight savings. Unfortunately, they don’t observe daylight savings here which means I woke up at 5:30am. So I had a little extra time to relax and get ready for church this morning. I preached at the Casa de Padre church in Managua and it was rocking. The music was loud (I’m guessing 105 to 110 db), the people were passionate, and best of all, 4 people came forward at the end of the service during the invitation to accept Christ. Right before I got up to preach, their pastor was encouraging the church by telling them that God was in control. He had no idea that my message was on the same topic. I spoke from Job and Philippians about worry, stress, and the fact that we must trust God in the good and the bad.
After church, we had a big lunch and made the 3 1/2 hour drive up to Somotillo. The people really do drive crazy here, but I missed most of it sleeping. We relaxed for a while and then headed to church at the Principe de Paz church here in Somotillo. I preached here on my last trip and I have a lot of good memories here. There was another mission group from Oklahoma here and their pastor shared the message tonight. We saw yet another person accept Christ, and I want you to know that it never gets boring seeing lives changed by Jesus Christ.
God is at work, not just at Cornerstone, but around the world. I heard that we had two great services at home and I appreciate everybody filling in for me while I’m gone. We are blessed to have a great group of people who love Jesus Christ and who love to serve others. Let’s remember that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost and that He is still in control of this world we live in. My challenge to you is to let Him orchestrate and guide your life, to simply trust Him and follow Him. I’ll try to post some more updates as we go through the week. The internet is a little slow here, so it will be tough to get pictures uploaded. The picture above is from the Father’s House church in Managua.
Just read about the new CCLI license on ChurchCreate and I am excited! Have you ever wondered why most churches just have video of their sermons online and don’t include the music? Legally, if you want to include worship music online in your church audio or video, you need a special license. Our church has looked at the WORSHIPcast license in the past, but decided that it was too expensive.
update: WORSHIPcast now offers a new price of $500 for churches with less than 500 people. check the comments below for more info
Now CCLI has introduced a new option that is much more affordable for smaller churches. This means that we can start including our worship music online in our videos and on our podcast. It even works for live streaming of your services as well. This is exciting news for churches who want to expand their online presence. Check out churchstreaminglicense.com for more information and watch the video below.
Still not sure if you need this, check out the information below from their website
Many churches have already begun to webcast the pastor’s message online…on the church website or through a third party streaming service. A lot of these churches would also like to include the song service as part of their webcasts, but they’re not sure about the legal implications.
Their concern is legitimate. Including copyrighted songs in a webcast without permission is considered copyright infringement, and the penalties can be severe…up to $150,000 per infringement.
Over the past year, I have done a little website design in my spare time. I created a new website FEDesign.net to handle my webdesign and consulting, and I wanted to share a few of my recent projects with my readers. I do some WordPress design work and for the rest of the sites I use a custom content management system that is incredibly easy for clients to update on their own. My speciality is smaller businesses and churches that don’t have a huge budget.
Since my primary passion is preaching and teaching, I have limited time to work on websites. But it’s something that I really enjoy and I like to stay current on web technology. I’m working on several sites now, so let me know if you are interested in working together. For more information, check out this page about the different services I offer. The images below are some of my recent projects.
We have more accessibility to the Bible now than we’ve ever had. You can read the Bible on your iPod, iPad, laptop, phone, xbox, and almost every other electronic device. And now, we are getting to the place where we can not only read the Bible anywhere, but we can also listen to the Bible anywhere. I wanted to highlight two different mobile apps you can use to listen to the Bible.
YouVersion recently added audio Bible to their android app. They have audio for several different translations and plan on adding more. It’s still officially in Beta, but it works great. You can read the details on the YouVersion Blog. I expect that you will see this feature rollout to other platforms in the near future. I know I have blogged about YouVersion a lot lately, but they keep innovating and adding features, and it is one of the most used apps on my phone.
I also found another option on the web and for android and iPhone/iPod/iPad. Bible.is is a great tool to listen to the Bible on the go. The Bible text scrolls as it is being read, so that you can both listen and read at the same time.
I plan on using this when working out, while driving on long road trips, and while doing work around the house. Learning and listening and meditating on Scripture helps me to stand strong against temptation, and it helps me to worship in any and every situation.
How will you listen to the Bible? Is this something that you will actually use?
I am a former design engineer who now pastors Cornerstone Community Church in Galax, Virginia. I'm passionate about following Jesus and I love technology. I've been married to Jennifer for 19 years, and we have three awesome kids, Emma, Luke, and Drew.