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John 3:16 -Teaching Kids With Origami Doodle Card

We have a new card we would like to ask your opinion about before we go to press in a couple weeks.  This card is designed to teach children ages 4 to 10 John 3:16.  It will be available in NIV, KJV, Spanish and maybe Haitian if we get enough requests.  It can also be translate it into any language with an order of 250 cards and at least 3 weeks notice.

Today were asking for your opinion on symbols, which will remain the same between the translations.  I’ve had a few people write about why we ask for input.  We talk to people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences who give us input which we never thought about.  We don’t guarantee we’ll make the changes but we do read and discuss every suggestion.

The question that we want to know is do the symbols make sense and are they the best ones to use or are there others that we did not think about?   Our hope is that adults will not only help children learn the verse but teach the meaning of the symbols which will reinforce this verse.

The potential use for this John 3:16 card are many:  mission trips, VBS, teaching children John 3:16 during Sunday School, Children’s Church or used in a children’s worship bag.  It could also be used as a goodie for Trick or Treat and children in the Awanna program learn John 3:16 as the first verse.

Here are the four panels and if you prefer you can click here to download a PDF of each panel.

John 3:16 panel 1

John 3:16 panel 2john-3.16-panel-3-proof

John 3:16 panel 4

Thanks for leaving your comments in the section below.

 

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Unique Wedding Coasters and Favors

I’m departing from my normal writing to tell you about a new product we have developed around the Memory Cross design.  They are wedding coasters and favors which are unique among all the coasters and favors available for weddings today.

We used the unique Memory Cross origami design, printed it on coaster paper, known as beverage board or blotter paper, and added four images which are personalized for each couple.  Here is a picture of one of the cards we’ve developed.

Unique wedding coasters and favors

 

Wedding Coasters Video

We also put together a video that showcases these unique wedding coasters.

Delivery will take a couple weeks and we’re planning to make them available on the Memory Cross website, Amazon, WeddingWire, Ebay and we may also list it on Etsy.  Free samples are also available by clicking on this link.  We’re excited at this new creative use for Memory Cross cards.  People all across the world are constantly finding new ways to use this unique design.  We’ve also created a few wedding invitations using the 4 x 4 coaster size or the larger 6 x 6.

Creating this coaster is simple.  Just visit the site and upload the four images that you wan to use.  Within a couple days a proof will be sent to you electronically.  If you are looking for a wedding favor that your friends and family will remember order a free sample so you can evaluate this coaster for yourself.

Let us know what you think?

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30 things to bring on a mission trip outside the United States

Things to bring on a mission trip

30 things to bring on a mission trip

Going on a international mission trip can be one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of your life, but preparation can make the difference between a great experience and a nightmare.  Every country is different and the situation within a country will also vary significantly.  If the mission trip you are going on is sponsored by  an agency that operates multiple mission trips during the year they should have a specific list of items you will want to bring as well as what you need to do to prepare for the trip.  Here is my general list of the 30 most important things to bring or prepare before going on a mission trip.

  1.  Passport – Okay I thought I’d start with the obvious but you would be surprised how many people get ready for a mission trip out of the United States and don’t think about a passport.  One thing people don’t realize is how long it takes to get a passport.  Normal service is 4-6 weeks and expedited, which costs $60 more takes 3 weeks.  You can also drive or fly to Washington DC and get one in 24 hours.  I know of one person who totally forgot about her passport and ended up taking this route.  Here is the link to more information on getting a passport.  Even if you have one, check and see that you know where it is and that it is still valid at least 6 weeks ahead of time.  You don’t want any last minute surprises with your passport.
  2. Clothes – Make sure they are appropriate for what you will be doing, for the temperature and for modesty.  Find out if you are going to be attending a church service because you will want to dress up for the service.  Contemporary casual is not nearly as popular in most other countries.
  3. Shoes – I recommend sneakers or other shoes that cover your entire foot.  Don’t bring new ones, especially if you are going to be standing or walking most of the day.  Something that is comfortable will be very important.
  4. Vaccinations – You’ll want to make sure you are properly vaccinated for any diseases or infections in the country you are traveling in.  Luckily the CDC provides a quick easy way for you to make sure you are getting the right vaccinations.   Just click here and enter your country and that you are going on a mission trip.  It will provide you with a list that you can take to your doctor.  Don’t wait to the last minute.  Some shots take time before they are effective.
  5. Bring something for diarrhea.  Contaminated food and water are the two biggest threats to your trip.  First be careful what you eat and drink.  Even bottled water can be contaminated in some countries.  Over the counter prescriptions include:  Imodium, Pepto-Bismol, and Kaopectate.
  6. Personal items including shampoo, soap, tooth paste, tooth brush, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.  Females should bring feminine hygiene products since what is available varies from country to country.  Buy TSA approved sizes, put them in a plastic bag and put it toward the top so you can get it out easily if requested.
  7. Personal medications.  Keep them in original bottles and check with the country you are going to about any restrictions.  You don’t want to spend the night in the local jail for drug dealing!
  8. Sunscreen preferably in a spray bottle.
  9. Bug spray with Deet or Mosquito Repellant Wipes.
  10. Benadryl or a good antihistamine
  11. When you are at the doctors ask for a prescription of Cipro.  Friends who are doctors and go on mission trips say they would not leave home without it.
  12. Money belt that you can wear underneath your cloths that can also carry your credit card and passport.  Unfortunately some people love to see tourists loaded down with purses, cell phones, iPads and cameras.   Best to keep your most important documents as safe as possible.
  13. Cash – new and in $5, 10 and 20.  Most places I’ve been to accept MC or Visa in the markets and you can usually exchange dollars at the airport, which probably has the best (fairest) exchange rate.
  14. Copy of your passport that is kept either with another person traveling with you, in another location besides where the original is or even online if you will have internet access.  Dropbox or Evernote are both free services where you can keep all your important documents.  Even if you won’t have internet access it is likely that you could find it someplace.
  15. Medicine for motion sickness.  There are many.  Here is a link to WebMD.
  16. Camera/Video recorder.  It depends where you are going as to what I recommend.  If you have a smart phone that will probably work okay.  If you are going to be taking pictures of kids who will want to see the photos I probably recommend bringing something different.  Something small that does not cost a lot and that has a memory card that you can change out daily.  I was in the DR one time and a kid took my camera.  It happened in a second and he was gone.  Luckily justice is swift in the DR.  The police and our off duty police officer found who stole it, put a couple assault rifles to his head and asked that he return the camera.  He was told the camera or your life!  I’m glad he decided wisely.  In 30 minutes I had it back but he did manage to erase all the pictures I had taken for the day.  Luckily I had been swapping out memory cards so I only lost one day.
  17. Bathing suit – I know it goes with clothes but it is very possible you’ll find some place to swim.
  18. Shower shoes.  I know women are pretty good about this but if you are not staying in a hotel room even you men who are reading this list should consider bringing along a pair of flip flops.
  19. Adapter for your power accessories.  Not all countries have the same plugs that we have and it will be easier to find the right adapter in the United States than when you are on your mission trip.  If you don’t know what type of power adapter to take here is a complete list by country.
  20. Neck pillow for plan or bus.  Not necessary but you know you want to bring one.  If you have a long trip makes for better sleeping.
  21. Antibiotic cream in case you get a cut.
  22. Basic first aid kit.  If you are going as a group either create one central first aid kit or have 10 people bring a few of the basic items.  The American Red Cross has a list of items that they recommend that can be found on their website.
  23. Travel insurance – Check with your health provider to see if you are covered in the country you are serving in.  Travel insurance also has several other benefits.  We’ve included a link if you would like to learn more.
  24. Language translator.  If you have time learn basic words in the country’s native language.  If you have a smart phone translation apps like Google translate are available and can be downloaded locally onto your phone which is handy since you probably will not have high speed internet connection.  (But you never know.  I’ve been out in the country surrounded by fields and houses with no power and come across a internet cafe run by generators!)
  25. Water bottle which you can use on the trip and while you are there.  Please make sure you have found safe drinking water.
  26. Earplugs or headphones depending on your power situation.  Different beds and noises may make sleeping difficult or you might be so tired you could sleep through anything!
  27. Zip-lock bags.  Pack a extra 4-5.  You’ll probably find uses for them and they take up no space in your luggage.
  28. Bible.  Actually if you have a smart phone I recommend the Bible App.  It is 100% free, can be downloaded to your phone or tablet and probably is available in the language of the country you are traveling to.
  29. Gospel tracts or some way to share the Gospel, especially if you are working with kids.  I’m biased since I am partners at Memory Cross so if you have other suggestions write them in the comment box.  This is why I like Memory Cross.  They have an origami design that catches kid’s attention and are in black and white so bring along pencils or crayons and let the kids color them in.  They present the Gospel in Spanish/English or Haitian Creole/English on the same card so kids not only hear the Gospel in their native language but they can also learn English.  Order a free sample and see for yourself.  Just click this link.  I gave you this link even though you might not work full time for the church but we’ll pick up the freight using this link.
  30. Prayer/Attitude.   Pray before you go, pray while you are there.  Don’t be upset because your careful plans don’t go the way you thought.  God is working through your efforts to reach others with His love.  Look for God working.  Open your heart.  Realize that many countries do not operate on “American Time”.  Things will get done.  Be patient, love others.

Short term mission trips can change the lives of the kids you meet as well as your own life.  Memory Cross supports a Medical center outside of Barahona Dominican Republic and a orphanage in Barahona all because of my first short term mission trip to the region.  We’re helping to set up a support network that will allow more homeless children to have a safe place to live and know of God’s love with a goal of housing 100 kids.  Presently there are 40 kids.

Before my first mission trip out of the country I looked at it as an inefficient use of funds.  After all we could pay someone who is already down there to reach others.  After my first trip my opinion was totally changed.  If you are in doubt, go.  If your heart and mind are open I think you will find it life changing.

I put together this list of 30 things to bring on a mission trip with the help of advice of friends who have  been on a number of mission trips.  If we missed anything please let us know.  I put together some of my favorite photos from a few of our trips to the DR.

If would like to check out Mission trip Gospel tracts by Memory Cross click this link.  The video below shows how all of our tracts work.

Mission Trip Dominican Republic

If you found this list of 30 things to bring on mission trip useful let others who are going on a mission trip know and if we missed something add it to the comment box.  Copy the address at the top of your URL or click the share button.

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How to share your faith today – Evangelism 102

Jesus said: “You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.” – John 4:35 NLV.

How to Share your Faith Evangelism

How to Share your Faith

When the early Christians came to know Jesus they did not go to Evangelism class or get their divinity degree.  They did not have to.  They were excited about the change God had made in their lives.  They were excited because the Holy Spirit had come into their heart and given them a new life and it was something they had to share.  We get excited also.  How many vacation pictures on Facebook have I seen this summer, all sharing the excitement of a chance to get away, or pictures of kids or grandchildren, of baseball games and music festivals?

We still want to share our life with people who we have a relationship with.  Jesus said look around, the fields are already ripe for harvest.  Of all the good news and fabulous vacation photos, the best news we can share is that God loves us and wants to have a relationship with us.  Share what God is doing in your life, that is how to share your faith.  It does not need to be anything polished and don’t worry about what your friends or family might say.  If God has changed your life and you believe he can change your friend’s lives then share your faith.

It has never been easier.  It might be harder in person, but online has opened up opportunities to reach thousands of people.  I did a quick search on YouTube of “my testimony” and “how God has changed my life” and found lots of videos, some from people who had large followings but others who just wanted to share their faith.  The video below has had 1,230 views.  That is 1,230 times she has been able to share her faith.

 

If you don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera can you write something on your Facebook page or can you upload a image to Instagram or post something on Twitter?  You don’t know who is listening or who is searching but God knows.  We are responsible for planting seeds.

Pray to God and ask Him what He wants you to do and then follow it.  You never know where your efforts will take you.  It is easy to reach people in the real offline world also.  Do you go out to eat where a server waits on you?  Can you leave a Gospel tract along with your tip?  Do you have people standing on the street corners begging for food or money?  You can make up a care bag that includes a Gospel tract.  Can you give up a meal a month and send the money toward missions, either directly or through your church?  You become partners in telling the Gospel.

The opportunities are truly endless if we just open up our eyes.  Everything we do and spend our money on that is for ourselves will turn to dust but those things that we do for God?  They’ll become rewards in Heaven.  Rick Warren said we won’t be in Heaven 5 minutes before we wish we’d spent more time and money serving God and less on ourselves.

You don’t need a degree, you can start today.  Read your Bible and share a verse that means something special to you and pray that God will lead you in other ways to share your faith.  Comments, questions and resources are always welcome.

What does it mean to be a Christian and share your faith?  Watch the video and find out.

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How to make Sunday School lessons exciting

Even the best Sunday School lessons can be made more exciting by adding videos.  Kids today are immersed in multimedia: TV, YouTube, Facebook, Netflix…  In order to keep their attention during Sunday School why not add a video or two?

In this Internet age it is easy to add a few videos to your Sunday School lesson for free and today I’ll show you how.  I have always tried to reach kids using media.  In the past I’ve used songs and videos on VHS tapes and cassette tapes, if you remember what they were.  The problem back then it was hard to find resources that were not supplied with the lesson.  There was no internet or Google.  Now everything has changed.

The internet and YouTube in particular have opened up almost an endless supply of videos that are available instantly on almost any topic.  For example this week I’m teaching on Exodus 1:1-2:0, which FaithweaverNow has titled God Protects Moses.  The passage talks about Joseph’s family coming to Egypt and how they greatly increased in numbers over 400 years.  Chapter 2 talks about the birth of Moses.  Group Publishing has done a great job giving us a lot of ideas for this Sunday School lesson, but I wanted to add a couple videos.

I did a quick search on YouTube for “Exodus 1” and found number of videos that I could use.  Here is one example.

I then searched for “Exodus 1 Kids” which yielded another set of videos.  Here is one of the results

 

You’ll find videos for younger and older children, youth and even adults.  Here is one for older children.  It is 3 hours so you would want to only show the first part of the video.

The Sunday School lesson in Faithweaver is mostly about the birth of Moses so I also did a search for birth of Moses, which yielded more results.  Here are a few.

 

There were many more than I listed here, but as you can tell there are a number of videos available to help children learn about the birth of Moses.

TIP: When searching for videos think about various terms since some yield better results than others.  Try searching for the Bible verse as well as any subject the verses might be covering.  Also try adding children or kids to the search if you are getting results that are to mature for your Sunday School class.

Other potential videos for Sunday School

You can also find videos that share personal testimonies of the topic.  In the example of God watching over Moses I might use a video that talks about God watching of you.  A quick search on YouTube gives me several videos that might work, one of which I included below.

 

The point of this Sunday School lesson on the birth of Moses is that God will protect us.  Faithweaver says: “But trying to understand how God protects us is kind of like trying to understand an entire scenario by looking at only one small part.  We can draw pictures and explain what we see happening right now, but it’s hard to predict what God is going to do in the next frame of our lives, especially when we’re facing difficult or even dangerous circumstances.  All we can be sure of is that God is able to protect us and we can trust God no matter what we face.”

A video can be a good way to make the connection between a Biblical story and the practical application for our life.

There are two personal testimony channels on YouTube that I use a fair amount.  They are Ransom TeeVee and I am Second.  The video below is one from Ransom TeeVee.  I wanted to tie God protecting Moses to God protecting us and the video by Jamie Grace will help me do that.  She is a Christian artist who faced challenges growing up (like Moses) and she talks about how God worked in her life.

One other person I want to mention is David Bowden.  He has a number of very creative YouTube videos that you might find useful in sharing the Gospel with kids in a unique way.

So you found a couple videos to use, now what?

If you have a laptop and the church has internet connection (something still rare among most churches) you are set to go.  If you have laptop but not internet connection you can download any YouTube video to your hard drive.  At the top of your browser you’ll see the URL of the video that will look something like this:

How to make Sunday School lessons exciting

To download the video put “ss” in front of youtube.  Your browser will look like this: https://www.ssyoutube.com/watch?v=45UluS20Y.  You might get a warning about security issues but it is safe.  Here is the page you’ll be taken to.  The video will change depending on what video you are downloading.

Download videos from YouTube

Once you download it you can click on the video and watch it whether or not you have a internet connection.  Once it is on your computer most computers allow you to burn a DVD.  If you have a DVD player in your classroom, check it out ahead of time because not all DVD players read DVDs created by a computer.

Showing a video on a iPad

If you have a small group and an iPad you can use it to show videos even if you don’t have internet connection.  The first thing you’ll want to do is download an app called Document 5 (shown below).  Open up Documents and click on the browser on the left hand side.  Go to You-Tube and search for the video you want to use, then add the “ss” in front of Youtube.

It will bring up the savefrom.net and allow you to download the video to your iPad.  It should default to Documents/Downloads, select that then when you are done click on the documents link which is located on the top left and you will see the video that you downloaded.  Click it and it will play on your iPad.

TIP: if you have small kids and are going on a trip and plan to use your iPad to entertain them, you can download their favorite videos.  If your iPad has wireless it will still save your data plus make it play better and you won’t have to worry about no cell service.

Document 4 app

If you have any comments or suggestions let us know in the comment box.  Finally Memory Cross has a number of origami coloring cards that help children remember Bible stories including the birth of Moses.  If you don’t know how Memory Cross works I’ve included the video below.

If you would like a free sample, click this link and if you’d like to see the card about the birth of Moses, click here.  On this blog we write about sharing our faith and reaching out to others along with practical ideas on making Sunday School more exciting and ideas to grow your church.  If that is something that is of interest to you, subscribe by entering your email address in the box to the right or left.

 

 

 

 

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Obamacare and Christians

Obamacare and christians

A new ruling to the National Health program has just recently been made making even the nuns who are serving the poor provide access to contraceptives and even abortion-causing drugs. This is currently causing tensions and issues between the government and Christians, including faith-based organizations like “Little Sisters of the Poor,” to name one of dozens that filed against the Obama administration.

THE ISSUE

The issue between the church and state has always existed not only now but also during the early times. The problem is that the new law makes Christian organizations comply in paying for abortion-causing drugs or face IRS penalties. The nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor feel that the government demands they choose between their care for the elderly poor and their faith, which they cannot do and should not have to.

Why Christian Organizations are Reacting

Christian organizations are reacting over recent rulings to the National Health Program for a several reasons:

  1. Life during conception.

Most Christians strongly believe that there’s life after fertilization. The Bible speaks clearly talks about life before a child is even born. The Bible says in Jeremiah 1:5 that “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” This verse is one of the many verses in the Bible that talks about life even during conception. Most Christians are pro-life and will definitely not support any program that has something to do with aborting a life in progress.

  1. Abortion is killing.

Most Christians believe that when a life inside the womb is aborted it means killing. Killing is a sin, and sin is anything that we do that doesn’t please God. Abortion involves shedding of an innocent blood. Deuteronomy 27:25 says “Cursed is anyone who accepts a bribe to kill an innocent person.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” Furthermore, Exodus 20:13 says “You shall not murder.” This law is specifically given by God to us and is part of the 10 commandments and since we believe that there’s life during conception, aborting it means stopping the life inside a mother’s womb and is therefore considered killing. And supporting a law that allows abortion-causing drugs can mean support abortion itself.

  1. Abortion belittles human life.

Human life is very precious to God. In fact, during His 6-day creation in Genesis, he only called his work “very good” after he created man – who was created after His own image and likeness. Human life has a great value in the sight of God that in fact, He instituted the Death Penalty for anyone who takes the life of another (“Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death” – Exodus 21:12).

  1. Abortion brings heartache and regrets.

Many people later regretted at one point that they underwent abortion; some don’t even want to talk about it. In the book, The Christian and Social Issues, by Tom Wallace, a reference is made to a full page Washington Post ad, dated June 13, 1983. A lady who had undergone a saline abortion six months earlier describes the mental torments that she now suffers every day. She speaks of her “…everyday hell of never hearing a baby cry without crying within myself; counting days to see how old the baby would have been; wondering what contributions my baby would have made to our desperate society; and wondering if there will ever be another chance for motherhood.” Abortion can bring regrets for the rest of a mother’s life.

Supporting the recent rulings to Obamacare program is just wrong for all Christian-based organizations. Christians feel like they’re being forced to follow the new law and forget about their conscience and what they believe, otherwise, they will have to face the penalties for not following the new government law.

Even in the past, there has already been a tension between the Church and the state which was why the previous government leaders carefully place their federal laws, making sure they do not violate any Christian beliefs, otherwise, it will cause debates and endless opposing ideas. The new National Health program law though, seem to have currently violated Christian beliefs, which in turn made Christian organizations react and oppose this way.

Conclusion:

Romans chapter 13 verses 1-7 talks about submission to governing authorities. It says:

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.

Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

However, what would you do when the state laws start opposing what God’s command is? The answer can also be found in the bible. Apostle Peter in Acts 5:29 say, “We must obey God rather than human beings!” This is why it is very much understandable why many Christian organizations oppose the new Obamacare law. They don’t want to be forced to do what they know is clearly wrong for a very long time.

Other articles worth checking out:

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Stand firm in the faith

What does it mean to stand firm in the faith and how can we teach children to stand firm in the faith?  In Matthew Jesus says that now all seed that is sown will bare fruit.stand firm in the faith

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds.  As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them.  Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow.  But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died.  Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants.  Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!  Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” – Matthew 13: 4-9 NLT

Why and what can we do to prevent that in our lives and in the lives of our children?

Later on in Matthew Jesus gives explains the parable and also gives us instructions about what we can do to stand firm in the faith.

“Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts.  The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy.  But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.  The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.  The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” – Matthew 18-23

Each of the seeds that did not take root could have a different outcome.  From a personal standpoint that is telling me that I need to study God’s Word until it sinks in, making it a priority even when I  don’t understand it.  From the church standpoint, who is charged with making disciples we need to encourage seekers and young Christians to get involved in a Bible study put God’s Word into their hearts.

Here are a few things I have found that help me stand firm in the faith:

  • Take walks and listen to the Bible.  I have the Bible app downloaded onto my iPhone.  It has tons of translations and many have the audio version that you can listen to.  Sometimes when I’m walking my mind will start to wonder.  I stop, pray and refocus on God’s Word.  That seems to work for me.
  • Memorize Scripture – I’m not nearly as good at it as I was when I was younger.  I notice it not only in memorizing Scripture but in listening to music also.  Songs that were  popular in the 60s and 70s I know word for word.  Current songs – well it is getting harder.
  • Pray and spend time with God.  The older I get the less I like to waste time, probably because I now have less of it.  Spending time with God improves my attitude and gives me peace and strength to deal with the challenges I’m facing.
  • Slow down and do what is important.  We’ve become a very busy and connected world but so much of the stuff is just that, stuff that will not make any difference if we stop.
  • Listen to sermons by pastors who are passionate about following Jesus.  Before the internet you heard one sermon a week unless you tuned into one of the TV evangelists.  Now millions of sermons are available on iTunes Podcasts or YouTube.  I’ve found a few of my favorite that I listen to on a regular basis, one that I have included below.
  • Keeping it fresh.  It is easy to turn your relationship with Jesus into something that is mechanical and loose the passion.  It is human nature.  It can happen with all relationships.  Remember when you first met your spouse.  You probably wanted to spend every minute with them.  Keeping that spark alive in your marriage, with your children and with God takes work and commitment.

Don’t give up.  Run the race.  Paul said at the end of his life:  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. – 2 Timothy 4:7.

Comments are always welcome.  Consider sharing it with your friends.

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Online advertising for non-profits

If you are a non-profit you may have noticed that your clients, members and potential donors are all moving online.  If this is making it more difficult to get your message out, we might just have some good news for you and it comes direct from Google.

Google Grants for Non-Profits

Online Advertising for non-profits

Google Grants for Non-Profits is a grant available to 501C corporations in the United States.  Non-profits that are not allowed to participate include:

  • Governmental entities and organizations;
  • Hospitals and health care organizations;
  • Schools, childcare centers, academic institutions, and universities (philanthropic arms of educational organizations are eligible).

If your church or non-profit qualifies they will receive $10,000 a month in free Google Advertising.  For many non-profits that could be a game changer.  Imagine your local paper giving you $10,000 a month in free advertising?  The advertising Google can give you is more targeted and direct which means you’ll reach more customers through Google than through your local paper.

The money needs to be spent on Google’s advertising program called Adwords and cannot be used with any Adwords partners but hey Google is the most visited website in the world and gets a ton of traffic.

To apply or find out more, click this link.  What have you got to loose except a few minutes of your time?  What you have to gain could be a game changer for your organization.

My mind is buzzing thinking about the non-profits I know who could benefit from this.  If you know an organization that would benefit from Google for Non-Profits, send this this link.

We’ve also written about how Facebook Ads can help you reach your community.  Our posts were aimed at reaching people who had just moved into your community and how churches can reach people for Trunk or Treat or Fall events but the principles and actions would be the same for a non-profit who wanted to reach a certain demographic. Online advertising for non-profits needs to be done in order to reach new people.  If your organization qualifies Google for non-profits will help you achieve those goals.

Related articles you might want to check out:

How churches can reach the community for Fall Festivals and Trunk or Treat. (and how a non profit can use Facebook to reach their ideal donor)

How churches can use Facebook to reach people who have moved.

 

 

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Helping children become disciples of Christ

There is nothing parents can do that is more important than helping children become disciples of Christ and there are a lot of people who will have a hand in achieving this goal.  Parents are the most influential, especially in the early years along with Sunday School teachers and if your child goes to a Christian school, teachers.

Helping children become disciples of Christ

 

Other influences include:

  • Youth group counselors can play a major role in helping children become disciples of Christ during middle and early high school years
  • Friends.  It may be hard to control who they select as friends but parents can exert an influence which will pay off.  Your kids are more than likely to end up looking like their friends rather than their friends looking like them.
  • Music can have a profound influence on children as they grow up.  Encourage them to listen to music that is positive and uplifting.  Christian music is available in all types of styles now so encourage kids to find a style that they like.
  • God.  Look for opportunities for God to influence kid’s lives.  Only he has the power to make a permanent change in their lives.  God can work in a variety of ways so pray for your child daily and open up your eyes to opportunities.  Mission trips where kids get to see what life is like in other countries can have a profound influence on their life.  Reading their Bible, praying, serving the needy locally and attending a Christian concert can all influence their life.
  • Encourage your children to memorize Scripture.  This is easier to start when they are young but it is still possible even if kids are now teens.  At Memory Cross we have developed a fun way to help children put God’s Word into their heart.  Click this link for more information.

  • Parents.  I know I said it before but the way you live your life and the passion you have for following Jesus, kids will see and respond to that.  Read your Bible every day, pray all the time, and spend time with your kids.  If you are having a hard time reading your Bible install the Bible App on your phone and listen to God’s word on your commute to work or when you are working around the house or working out.  It make a difference, try it.
  • Sunday School teachers – If you teach Sunday School, don’t look at it as a job but a tremendous opportunity to help make disciples.  You have one hour a week to teach them what it means to become a disciple of Christ.  Don’t waste this opportunity.

If you don’t think you can make a difference in a child’s life watch the video.  If you are struggling with kids who have not turned their life over to God and who are living out of control our prayers are with you.  I’ve been there and I know that it is not easy.  Don’t stop praying and exposing them to God influences.  Find people who can support you and pray that God will work in your child’s life.  Ask others to pray for you and your children.

Helping children become disciples of Christ is by far the most important thing we can give to our children so don’t give up.

If you have resources or comments that you’d like to share, please post them in the comment section.

 

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How to promote Fall Festivals and Trunk or Treat

If your church is having a fall festival or trunk or treat and want to invite the community we’ve put together some of the best ways to promote it in 2015.  Traditional methods have not changed much but the internet and Facebook in particular has changed a lot since 2014.  At the bottom I’ll provide links to articles we wrote in 2013 and 2014.  They are short and still have a lot of relevant information.

How to promote a Fall Festival or Trunk or Treat in 2015

Facebook is the most effective way for most churches to reach people for any event including Fall Festivals and Trunk or Treats.   Around 70% of the entire U.S. population is on Facebook and the percentage is higher among young families, which is the group you are most likely trying to reach.  Facebook has changed in the past year and posting an announcement without promoting it will no longer be effective but by paying to promote the announcement you can reach the exact people who are most likely to attend.  We’re already created a post on how to create a Facebook ad which you can find here.  The post was written to help churches reach new movers but the information is the same.  You just need to change the demographics which I’ve listed below.

Under who do you want to reach, select the city or zip codes you want, age group and whether they have kids and the ages.  Facebook will show you how many people they have that match your demographics.  I made a screen shot as a visual reference.  Everything else in our post on advertising on Facebook will be the same.

How to promote a Fall Festival or trunk or treat

Plan to run your ad 10-15 days before the event and set it to expire the day of the event.  Set the amount you want to spend each day and you’ll see approximately how many people Facebook will show your ad to each day.  One of the nice things about online advertising is you get to set how much you want to pay each day.

I recommend that you create a Facebook post with a link to your website and promote the post.  Ask church members to like and share the post.  That will tell Facebook that this event is important and they will not only show it organically (for free!!) but will charge you less for clicks that you do receive.

Promote on your website and blog

This is a good free way to let people know about your event.  List the date, time and address of the event with city and state along with details and pictures from last year’s event.  Link to it from your Facebook page post, the one you created above.  Now go to Pingler and ping the two pages.  To do that click on the announcement on your webpage and copy the URL at the top of your browser.  That is what you’ll copy into Pingler.  Make the keyword “Fall Festival city state” or “Trunk or treat city state”.  In the category select “news”.   Pingler will then send out your pages to a number of search engines, and news feeds that will help rank the page and make it more visible on the web.

Promote Church Pingler

Craig’s List and other local event listing sites

Craig’s list allows you to post your event for free and you’ll be amazed at how many people visit this site looking for things to do.  Craig’s list is not one site but hundreds so Google Craig’s list or go to www.craigslist.org and you should arrive at your local Craig’s List.  Click posts to classified and then event/class (last one on the list) and then I’m advertising an event other than the above (last one).  You’ll then be taken to a listing page where you can put the information about the event.    I believe that you can list a link to your blog post or site that has more information (http://www.your-church.com).  There are also a number of other free listings available in your area but since each city has different ones Google “free places to list events, city state” or “places to list events, city, state” if you don’t mind paying a small fee.

Promoting Fall Festivals and Trunk or Treats using videos

The internet is moving toward video and you can take advantage of this by creating a video about your Fall Festival/Trunk or Treat and posting it on YouTube, Facebook and GodTube.  For Facebook upload the video and write a description, in this case about your Fall Festival.  Encourage members to like and share the video.  You can also spend more to promote it.  The cost to promote it is low and you can put a link for more information at the end of the video.  The video will get more views if you keep it around 3 minutes.

For YouTube and GodTube follow these instructions when uploading.  They will vary some so I wrote the instructions for YouTube since it gets much more traffic.  You can use the same video.

  •  When you upload the video keep it unlisted until you are have the information that follows completed.
  • First your church should have a YouTube channel.  If you don’t check out this video.
  • Next you’ll want to put the following information in the description:  Title of video (in this case Trunk or Tread, name of church city and state).  Right underneath that put the link to the page on your website that has more information.  Now put a brief description of the event and include the city, state, and date of the event.  Encourage people to leave a comment by posting: leave your comment below.  Then you can post a link to another video or encourage them to subscribe to your channel and finally put the link to your church website.  Now put keywords in the tags section.  (fall festival, trunk or treat, Halloween, etc.)
  • You now want to click on the button that says “cards”.  That will allow you to create a link that goes to your website.
  • You are ready to make it public and here is where you need the help from your church because the video needs to have some views to rank, especially in the first 24 hours.  It is a great idea if you have a group of people who agree to help with church outreach by watching videos that are put up.  If you have an email program create a list and add everyone who agrees to that list.  Then email them the link once the video is up and live.  If you don’t yet have this list post the video on Your churches Facebook page and ask people to watch the video.
  • Hopefully it will start ranking now only in YouTube but also on Google.
  • You can also advertise the video on YouTube.  You’ll need a Adwords account but the link will walk you through that.  If you want to know more about how to get views on YouTube take a look at the video below.  I have taken several of James Wedmore’s courses and he gives practical information that has value.

 

 Advertise on Google

Finally you can advertise on Google.  It is the reverse of Facebook advertising.  Using Facebook you find people who match your demographic and then show ads to them.  With Google you put your ad in front of people who are searching for specific keywords.  I’m not going into a lot of details here because I think there are better ways to reach people for Fall Festivals and Trunk or Treats but if you have the budget (you get to set it) and want to try advertising here is a quick guideline.

  • Find the keywords that people are looking for.  You’ll need an Adwords account and when you log in click Keyword planner tool on the top right hand side.  You can then search for keywords and see how many searches are done nationally.  Keywords that you’ll probably want to target will be: Alternative Halloween, Halloween events, Trick or Treat events, Trunk or Treat, What’s happening in city.  Make sure when you create an ad that you tell it to only show up in your area.  You don’t want to pay for ads that are showing up thousands of miles away.

Other articles you might want to check out

If you have ideas or suggestions, write a comment.  We’d like to know what other churches are doing to reach others with the Gospel during the Fall and check out some of the amazing tracts that are available from Memory Cross.

 

 

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