Excited for Advent

9780825443930.jpgLast Year

Our family is very excited for the start of Advent. Last year we enjoyed a story called Ishtar’s Odyssey by Arnold Ytreeide which was a wonderful adventure across Persia as their caravan follows a star across the desert. You can read more about this and other books by Arnold at kregel.com.

This Year

9780825441745This year we will be reading another book by the same author called; Jotham’s Journey. This is a widely popular, exciting story for the advent season, where readers follow ten-year-old Jotham across Israel as he searches for his family. Though he faces thieves, robbers, and kidnappers, Jotham also encounters the wise men, shepherds, and innkeepers until at last he finds his way to the Savior born in Bethlehem.

Are you doing anything for Advent? Does your family follow any traditions? Share in the comments below.

Tech Tools to Share the Gospel

As a church or ministry, you have some free (or heavily discounted) technology available to you, but only if you know where to find them. Using these 5 tech tools, you can get the message of Christ’s love out to your members, your community and the world.

Here are 5 free or discounted technology tools you can use today:

#1 | Office 365 for Non Profits | FREE

Office 365 is a full suite of tools that can help your ministry or church get the message out in so many different ways. The Office 365 suite includes custom domain email (you@yourchurch.com), 1Tb of OneDrive storage per user, 25Tb of SharePoint storage, Forms (for event sign ups), Connections (email campaigns), Yammer (private social network), and so much more!

The backbone of almost all communication today is email and this suite from Microsoft does it best. To get setup, start a trial at https://products.office.com/en-us/business/office and once you are logged in to Admin Center, click on the Need Help button and ask how to get Non Profit pricing. The support team will have you fill out a form and submit your eligibility with TechSoup and in a day or two you will have a free working Microsoft Office 365 tenant.

NOTE: You can also work with us to implement Office 365 for your church or ministry.

#2 | Mailchimp | FREE*

Mailchimp is an email campaign service that allows you to email hundreds or thousands of people at once through a distribution list. The reason you want to use a service like Mailchimp is because you DO NOT want to use your own email server or service to send out these bulk messages. That is how you get marked as a spammer.

So sending bulk email is a legislated activity which is governed by the CAN-SPAM Act which is linked here. The CAN-SPAM Act sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations. Which means, you have to abide by the law when sending group messages outside of your organization. And Mailchimp helps you do that for FREE, *as long as you keep the list to under 2000 recipients.

If you have more recipients you can ask about non profit pricing by contacting their support and filing the appropriate paper work with them. I don’t believe they use TechSoup for validation, but that doesn’t mean they won’t approve you based on what you provide them directly. Learn more about their Forever Free plan here.

#3 | Amazingmail

Amazingmail is a mailer service that sends postcards, letters, brochures and more to a list of street addresses that you provide. They also have access to mailing addresses of residents and businesses all over the country that you can purchase and use to send a mailing to all residents within a geographical area or to addresses that meet a particular demographic within that geographical area.

For example, if you are ministering to the elderly and want to reach residents who are over 60 years in age, Amazingmail can prepare that list for you and send out your custom postcard for you.

Amazingmail is not free, but it is an effective method for reaching people who may not be online. Visit https://sendcards.amazingmail.com/templates/business/non-profit-business-postcards for more information on how Amazingmail can help your non profit, church or ministry.

#4 | Buffer and Pablo | FREE

Although we are not a big fans of social networks, it is abundantly clear that there are lots of people who use these services. Now, all social networks require an email for you to even sign up for them, so I believe email is a superior communication method, however, if you want to publish on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others, Buffer and Pablo are the way to do it.

Buffer is a web app that allows you to connect all your social networks at once and queue your postings out for several weeks. Using their free individual plan you can queue up to 10 messages on up to 5 different social networks. Using Buffer allows you to use one portal to update all your networks without having to visit them individually and login to them separately. A real time saver!

Pablo is an image creator for Buffer. Visiting https://pablo.buffer.com will allow you to create some artwork using royalty free images or your own artwork and add some text and logos to the artwork to personalize it. Once completed, you can Buffer that image across all your social networks.

I personally have used Buffer and Pablo for years now and have used it to encourage our followers with scripture passages and words of encouragement. Sharing the promises from scripture can lift people up and remind them of God’s love for them in Christ.

#5 | Stripe | FREE*

Okay, so this is not a service for directly sharing the Gospel, it is more about being equipped with resources in order to share the Gospel. Stripe is a merchant service that allows you to process credit cards and collect funds electronically. *The fees for the service come out of the actual transaction so there is no direct fee for the ministry for having the service.

Stripe integrates with all kinds of services and applications on the web which will enable you to request donations for your ministry or non profit. Stripe invites non profits to reach out to them at sales+nonprofit@stripe.com to see about reduced rates or other benefits.


There are other tools and services out there that can help spread the message of Christ that I did not mention here. Services like YouTube and Vimeo require producing video content which can be difficult.

The 5 tools mentioned here are either free (Office 365, Mailchimp, Buffer) or discounted (Amazingmail, Stripe) so that you can control your message with little to no advertising and communicate with the people in your community effectively to let them know about Christ’s love for them and the message of grace and forgiveness that is available through Jesus, the Lord of all creation.

What tools are you using that are free or heavily discounted? Share them in the comments below.

Hurricane Harvey | Children’s Hunger Fund

As listed on USA Today’s Top 40 places to donate for Hurricane Harvey relief, Children’s Hunger Fund is a trusted organization helping those who are suffering in Texas.

Help Children’s Hunger Fund provide food and aid for families facing devastation from Hurricane Harvey. Updated 09/06/17 5:45 PM PST CHF teams have begun distribution of resources in Corpus Christi, Houston, and surrounding areas devastated by the hurricane. We are working with pastors to focus on long-lasting relational ministry with those they meet. We have […]

Source: Hurricane Harvey | Children’s Hunger Fund

Why the Nashville Statement is Necessary

A Peculiar Pilgrim

The Council of Biblical Manhood & Womanhood recently released a declaration of belief regarding sex & gender ethics on behalf of the entire realm of Evangelical Christianity. It is called the Nashville Statement. The reason for the ambiguous title is that according to Christian tradition when a council or synod occurs, the meeting place is often used to identify the creed or statement of faith thereby produced. For example, the Nicene Creed was formulated in Nicaea, Turkey. The Canons of Dort were forged in the city of Dordrecht, Netherlands (often called Dort in English). More recently, the Manhattan Declaration was articulated in New York.

These kind of declarations, a clarion call to truth, are not common in this postmodern era. However, they have a rich history throughout the church age. During the explosion of biblical knowledge during the Protestant Reformation many confessions and creeds were put to pen and parchment. Other…

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