Free Online Resources for Your Local Church

In light of all that is happening in the world right now, many churches are moving their worship gatherings online. I know a lot of larger, urban churches have probably been doing this for some time now, but this might be a first for smaller or more rural congregations. In an effort to help, I’ve compiled a list of free resources to help your local church transition to gathering digitally.

Live Streaming

There are many ways to go about live-streaming your church service, but for the sake of this discussion I will only be looking at free resources.

Facebook Live

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Facebook Live is a powerful live streaming tool that any one can use for free with a Facebook account. If your church has a Facebook page you can stream directly from your page.

Pros: You can like, share, and comment on the live video. Once you are done streaming it will save directly to your videos. You can also embed the video to your church’s website later.

Cons: You cannot customize your feed without a third-party broadcasting software.

 

YouTube Live

YouTube Live.png

The second free live streaming tool is YouTube Live. If your church has a YouTube account you can easily start streaming videos which will save directly to your YouTube channel.

Pros: YouTube is arguably the most popular place on the Internet to watch videos. You can potentially reach a very large audience beyond just your congregation.

Cons: The social aspect of liking, share, and commenting is not as strong in my opinion. If the video is public, it is open to abuse in the comment sections.

 

WIX Live Stream (App)

WIX livestream.png

If your church has a WIX website, you can download the Live Stream App in their app store. If you don’t have a WIX website, it is free to create one. However, if you want to connect a personalized domain name you have to purchase it along with a hosting plan.

Pros: Every video you stream is automatically uploaded to your church’s WIX website. You can customize and personalize your video player to match your website’s design.

Cons: The WIX IOS app has given me trouble in the past with the mobile stream feature. It is prone to crash when I switch from WiFi to cellular data.

 

Broadcasting Software

OBS

Obs.png

For free broadcasting software, I recommend OBS (Open Broadcaster Software). I tried it for the first time this Sunday and it worked great. There is a little bit of a learning curve at first, but once you get the hang of it it’s fairly easy to use. This will allow you to have multiple video and audio sources, as well as, add graphics and text to your video feeds. I used it this Sunday to stream a Google slides doc and the video/audio of one of our pastors preaching, all on one screen.

 

Learning Management Software

Learnnn

learnnn.png

Perhaps your church is also considering moving its Bible studies or courses online. If so, learnnn.com might be a good option. I have used it in the past to create online ESL classes for private tutoring. To be clear, these would be courses that you prepare ahead of time and then have students work through at their convenience. It is really great for creating online quizzes. I also love that you can customize your own page with a personalized logo and colors. They even have ready-made bible courses that you can add to your own page.


Video Conferencing Recommendations:

Facebook Messenger

Zoom

Google Hangouts

Online Bible Courses:

The Bible Project

Thirdmill

biblicaltraining.org

The Gospel Coalition

International Mission Board

smiling coffee cup

Monday Motivation – September 9, 2019

News

Expanding the Digital Footprint of Our Churches

Still trying to figure out how to use social media to the glory of God? You’re not alone, friend. Here is a helpful article from Ed Stetzer that I think will help us all as we head into this work week (source: Christianity Today).

Benny Hinn Renounces the Prosperity Gospel?

This video clip has been making the rounds on the internet this past week. If it is truly sincere, then this is something to celebrate! If it turns out to be just “talk,” then Christians everywhere need to become more and more vigilant. I do pray that Benny would come to know and embrace the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ (source: YouTube).

Sanders: My Administration Would Feature Population Control In Climate Fight

There is much I could say about Senator Sander’s remarks, but I’ll just say this: the rhetoric he uses in this video is beyond troubling to me (source: the Washington Free Beacon).

Does a Remote Worker Need to Put in 40 Hours?

As someone who works odd hours with strange schedules, I struggle with this issue a lot. I am glad to hear some Christian voices starting to address these questions because tons of my friends work or have worked remotely in the past. Let me know if you have any suggestions or advice on this topic as I am curious to hear other people’s opinions (source: the Gospel Coalition).


There are 3.1 billion unreached people on the planet even though experts estimate that the church has 3,000 times the financial resources and 9,000 times the man power to finish the great commission.
#TheSend

Posted by The Send on Thursday, September 5, 2019

 

Note: This post is not an affirmation of The Send movement, rather it is a reminder that the Church has little excuse for not going to the unreached.


Music

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Monday Motivation – September 2, 2019

News

Desegregation Plan: Eliminate All Gifted Programs in New York (source: New York Times)

A friend of mine shared this New York Times article on Facebook recently. It is somewhat of a long read, but I think it is an important read, especially for teachers and those serving in youth ministry. Here’s an excerpt:

As the city has tried for decades to improve its underperforming schools, it has long relied on accelerated academic offerings and screened schools, including the specialized high schools, to entice white families to stay in public schools. But at the same time, white, Asian and middle-class families have sometimes exacerbated segregation by avoiding neighborhood schools, and instead choosing gifted programs or other selective schools. In gentrifying neighborhoods, some white parents have rallied for more gifted classes, which has in some cases led to segregated classrooms within diverse schools.

Bible Translator Butchered to Death in Cameroon, Wife’s Arm Chopped Off (source: Christian Reporter)

“Bible translator Angus Abraham Fung was among seven people said to have been killed during an attack carried out by suspected Fulani herdsmen sometime during the early hours of Sunday morning in the town of Wum, according to Efi Tembon, who leads a ministry called Oasis Network for Community Transformation.”

This is such a tragic story, but I find peace in knowing that Angus is now in the presence of his Savior. Be in prayer for his wife, Eveline, as she mourns the loss of her husband and recovers in the hospital.

Patterson Denies Claims in Former Student’s Lawsuit (source: Baptist Press)

Here is the latest development I have heard for those of you who have been following this story: “Neither the seminary nor Patterson disputed the rapes but did dispute numerous allegations in the suit involving the student’s interactions with Patterson and other seminary staff. Patterson’s court response stated that he “was not a cause, the cause, the sole cause, a proximate cause, the sole proximate cause, or a contributing cause of any injuries or damages claimed by Roe.”

Surgeon is Hailed as a Hero for Completing Seven Operations Without a Break Before Falling Asleep on the Floor (source: Daily Mail)

“Dr. Dai said it was his responsibility to give patients treatment as soon as possible to help them recover. He added that his goal was to further improve his surgical skills and make his operations textbook examples for his peers.”

Kudos to this guy!

6 years later, Hannah Truelove’s Murder Remains Unsolved (source: 11 Alive News)

This story is very close to me because I knew Hannah; she was on my bus in middle school and we went to the same high school together. I pray that God would bring justice to this situation and answers for her family.


Attention Parents:


Music

 

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Monday Motivation – August 26, 2019

Monday Motivation consists of links to articles, books, podcasts and/or music I am enjoying at the moment. I hope that they bless you as you begin your work week.

News

Thai boy rescued from cave recounts harrowing ordeal one year later: ‘God answered me’

Here is a short quote from Adun, the only Christian among the 13 boys: “Help came from God during the hardest time,” Adun said. “I very intently prayed, and God answered me with His help. It was me and God together facing that situation, and I am thankful to Him for helping me get out of the cave.” (source: Fox News)

How the Shortage of Young Men in Churches Affects Marriage

Editor at the Gospel Coalition, Joe Carter, examines the recent data coming out of the Institute for Family Studies. What do you think? Did you meet your spouse in the church? (source: the Gospel Coalition)

Facebook’s AI team maps the whole population of Africa

I thought that these maps were fascinating. I am curious to see how missions agencies and NGOs will use this information in the days to come. (source: Tech Crunch)

Greg Laurie: Johnny Cash Sometimes Heard Holy Spirit Say, ‘I Still Love You’

American evangelist, Greg Laurie, takes a look at the faith of the Man in Black himself, Johnny Cash. I believe he has also written a book about Johnny Cash’s relationship with Lord. Be sure to check it out! (source: Charisma News)

Mexican pastor shot and killed after Sunday church service

On a much more serious note, be praying about this situation in Mexico. May God strengthen the families and congregation directly affected by this tragedy. Lord, come soon. (source: Christian Post)

Planned Parenthood Refuses Title X Funding in Response to Trump Administration Restrictions

“Prior to its withdrawal, Planned Parenthood was receiving $60 million of the $286 million allocated annually through Title X. The organization will continue to receive roughly $500 million in annual Medicaid reimbursements from the federal government.” (source: National Review)


Watch the animated film “The Pilgrim’s Progress” for Free (2 days only)

Here is the trailer!


 

Music

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Monday Motivation – August 19th, 2019

Monday Motivation will consist of links to articles, books, podcasts and/or music I am enjoying at the moment. I hope that they bless you as you begin your work week.

News

Americans Spend More Money on Pet Halloween Costumes Than Reaching Lost: Missions Expert

Andrew Scott, president of OM USA, addresses some of the problems and issues surrounding mission work among the unreached, as well as, strongly urging for a mass sending movement of Christians to work in these places.

What Do You Do If Most of Your Church Members Do Not Live In the Community?

In this article, Thom S. Rainer answers a frequently asked question about how church geography and demographics interact with one another. Does your church reflect the demographics of the community in which it is located or does it stand out as being very different?

Dayton Shooter’s Scrawls Reveals He Fantasized ‘Hunting’ for Humans

In light of the recent events in America, I think it is important to remember that there is always a underlying spiritual battle going on. It begs the question: do American pastors know how to identify and respond to demonic oppression? Do we still believe it exists?

Eugene Bach Talks About Their New Pill-Sized Hologram Bible!

Check out this Missions Pulse podcast clip! It sounds crazy, but I sincerely hope it’s not for the sake of the persecuted church.


This Young Man’s Poem

 

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Let’s all strive to be more aware of those around us this week. They might be going through something more difficult than we even realize.


Music

 

abortion and the god Molech in the Old Testament

21st Century Molech

“You are not to make any of your children pass through the fire to Molech. Do not profane the name of your God; I am Yahweh.” Leviticus 18:21

There is an interesting command God gives to the Israelites in Leviticus chapter 18. It is sandwiched between other commands concerning prohibited sexual relations and forbidden pagan practices. God specifically calls out Molech, a god of the Canaanite people. According to ancient historians, worshipers of Molech would sacrifice their infants to Molech to ensure prosperity for their future. It is said that the Canaanite people would also get rid of their illegitimate children by way of child sacrifice. I even read somewhere that poor families would sell their infants to those who did not have babies of their own.

It is important to understand what was going on when people worshiped Molech. The Canaanites would heat up a statue of Molech until it was red hot. The statue usually featured a bull-like figure with outstretched arms that slopped down like a slide into a fire pit. The infants literally melted before the eyes of those in attendance. Keep in mind that the child’s parents were among those watching. Yet, they were told not to cry or shed a tear lest they forfeit the blessing that would come as a result of their sacrifice. In fact, the Canaanites would play loud flutes and drums to drown out the sound of the infant’s screams.

Wicked is not strong enough a word to describe what was going on here.

Going back to the command that God gave Israel, we see that He abhors such behavior and practices. Don’t forget that the command was given amidst other commands about  sinful sexual practices. This type of “worship” would be tempting to those who either didn’t want their child or felt this was the way they could take hold of their future.

Make no mistake, Molech is still being worshiped today. He has just taken on a more modern, 21st century look. The drums and flutes have been discarded, but there is still plenty of noise to drown out the cries of the infants. In both situations, the baby is offered up so that the parents might have a “better life.”

God was patient with the Canaanites for 400 years before He sent His righteous judgement. When will His patience run out with us? Oh Lord, have mercy!

chiang mai air pollution number 1

Is There Smoke in Our Lungs?

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen some of the posts I have made about the air pollution here in Chiang Mai. Most of the pollution is due to the burning of rice fields for future harvests. Today the pollution is especially bad. Chiang Mai is a city surrounded by mountains, but you cannot see them at all due to the smoke. If you have to be outside for an extended period of time, you most certainly need to wear a mask.

Breathing in this toxic air will make you feel sick and sluggish. But it doesn’t happen right away. It happens slowly—slow enough to where you can’t always perceive the harm it is doing to your body. I think the same can be said of sin in our lives.

There are certain things we know are not good for us and therefore, we avoid them completely. For example, we know it is sinful to cheat on our spouses. After all, it is the seventh commandment. But a flirtatious comment or joke with someone other than your spouse is okay every now and then, right? It’s not like your actually going to sleep with them or anything. You’re just playing around!

There might be smoke in your lungs.

Let’s look at another commandment, shall we? Obviously, we know it is wrong to murder someone. I mean, that’s number 6 on the list! But, what about that guy you despise at work. Don’t you treat a dead person better than you treat him? Okay, maybe that’s too harsh. Try this on for size. What about that “weird lady” at church everyone avoids? Do you treat her like a sister-in-Christ? Or in your heart do you wish she wasn’t a Christian? At least then she wouldn’t talk your head off for 10 minutes every Sunday after church.

There might be smoke in your lungs, friend.

Tell me if this describes you. You aren’t a “full-blown” sinner like those heathens out there in the world are. You don’t smoke or drink or cuss. You go to church every Sunday. You tithe. You even teach a Sunday School class. You’re squeaky clean from the outside. But, on the inside…your lungs are black. You don’t have a thirst for righteousness or a hunger to love others. You’ve been breathing in the pollution of the world and its desires thinking that it won’t have any affect on you. Now you are sluggish when it comes to prayer. You start to feel sick when you think of reading God’s Word. Your spiritual lungs have become so damaged that you can’t even utter an “Amen.” How did this happen, you ask? You traded the fresh, clean air of truth for the toxic fumes of lies.

But there is good news! Unlike the damage of real second-hand smoke, spiritual second-hand smoke is reversible. All you need to do is repent and Christ will be faithful to forgive you and cleanse you (1 John 1:9). Breathe in the pure Gospel that saved you. Inhale the grace of God once again that was purchased by the blood of His Son. And then breathe out new thanksgivings and praises to Him.

I may not be able to do much about the air I breathe in here in Chiang Mai, but I can do something about the sin I tolerate in my life. And that helps me breathe easy.

 

Burnt World Map

When Sin Goes Unchecked the Nations Suffer

Like yesterday’s blog, I was inspired to write after having seen something on my Facebook feed. However, today’s topic is not about an up-and-coming musician, rather it is a cautionary tale for up-and-coming ministers of the Gospel. News broke today that former Southern Baptist Seminary professor, David Sills (who resigned 9 months ago), resigned due to an inappropriate sexual relationship with former student, Jennifer Lyell, that lasted over a decade. If you would like to read the report, here is the link. I do not know either of the people involved, personally, but as a Southern Baptist, I do know people who do. Some of them have already shared with me about how shocked they were to find this news out. And since I do not know what really happened, I will not speculate beyond what information has been made public. All we know right now is that the affair began in 2004 while the two were on a mission trip.

Some people on Facebook were saying that it is insane that this man’s life is being ruined, while this “girl” (who is now in her 40s, mind you) gets off scot-free. One commenter said that “they were both consenting adults, so why does she get to play the victim?” First, we don’t know all the details. Second, although the student may have been 26 when the affair began, she was still a student and he was her professor. We cannot overlook the reality that Dr. Sills was someone she trusted and was viewed as an authority figure. The fact is, he failed her as a professor and he failed her as a brother in Christ, regardless of her willingness to participate. 

Listen folks, no one is safe when it comes to temptation. Not me, not you. Temptation doesn’t care how long you’ve been a Christian. It doesn’t care how many people you’ve led to the Lord. And it certainly doesn’t care about your Bible degrees and accolades. Sin is always crouching at the door—we must rule over it (Genesis 4:7). And when it comes to fulfilling the Great Commission, if there is any hidden sin in our lives, it will inevitably ruin our witness. If we want the people God is calling us to reach to trust us, we have to be trustworthy. I’m talking truly trustworthy and holy before God! This veneer of holiness will not cut it. Know that I am preaching to myself here, too. If we want to reach the nations for Christ, we must make a priority of killing sin in our lives with the Sword of the Spirit. 

My prayers go out to the hurting families, churches, and communities that have been and will be affected by this revelation. I find hope in knowing that God’s love can cover a multitude of sins, can heal all wounds, and can forgive the most egregious of wrongdoings. Even still, may there be a flood of justice within our churches and denominations as we seek to address more unchecked sin. It will be painful. It will be costly. But, ultimately, it will set us free.

Spare me the sound of your songs. I won’t listen to the music of your harps. 

But let justice flow like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Amos 5:23-24

Alejandro Aranda American Idol audition

In the Presence of Greatness

This morning, I stumbled across a video that one of my friends shared on Facebook. It was a clip from last night’s episode of American Idol. A 24 year old guy by the name of Alejandro Aranda preformed his original song on the guitar in front of celebrity judges: Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan. As soon as he started playing, I knew that this guy is going to be a superstar; I believe the judges did too. With his creative guitar strumming, interesting cord progressions, and lyrical depth, Alejandro has captivated the hearts and ears of people all over the world. If you haven’t see the performance, here is the link  The video already has over a million views in one day!

Lionel Richie loved his performance so much that he asked him to play something on the piano as well. Alejandro did not disappoint— it was spellbinding. After he finished, the judges gave their thoughts. Richie said Alejandro is “no joke” and “not playing around.” Perry basically said that she believed Alejandro will be the next American Idol. I would have to agree. But, it was Luke Bryan’s response that struck me the most. He said that he felt like he was in the “presence of greatness.” He said he had never seen anything like it.

Have you ever felt that way before? Have you ever felt like you were in the presence of greatness? As a musician (I play the drums), I have been to concerts and listened to albums that made me feel this way. I think I am an okay drummer when its just me, but if I look up a video of the late Buddy Rich I feel unworthy to even call myself a drummer in comparison to him. There are many people who are decent, a lot who are really good, but only a handful are truly great.


Brother and sisters, as great and talented as some are, no one can compare to the greatness of Jesus. He captivated the Jewish scholars as a twelve year old with His knowledge of the Word of God. He amazed the crowds with His authority to cast out demons and heal the sick. He gave the best sermon ever given on the Mount. He walked on water in the midst of a storm, and then calmed the storm! The men in the boat said, “Who is this that even the winds and waves obey Him?” But this isn’t the greatest thing He did. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He endured the wrath of God that we deserved. And three days later He rose victoriously from the grave! There is truly no one greater than Jesus.

And the greatest person who ever lived (and will ever live) lives within us, brothers and sisters. We won’t just be in the presence of greatness one day in heaven; we are in the presence of greatness now because of Jesus. Luke Bryan said that Alejandro’s performance “rocked him.” In other words, it changed him deeply. If a musician can do this with his song, what can Jesus, our God and King, do with His love? Being in the presence of greatness changes you; there is no doubt about it. Could it be that some so-called “Christians” do not behave like Jesus because they have never truly been in His presence? Jesus either lives in you or he doesn’t. You have either encountered Him or you haven’t.

And here is one last thing to think about. After Alejandro’s incredible audition, people have shared the video like wildfire, saying “hey, you’ve got to see this guy!” Christians, if we have truly experienced the greatness and goodness of God, then why aren’t we telling the whole world about it? Let’s make the greatness of our God known in all the world today! Amen?


How great is our Lord! His power is absolute!
His understanding is beyond comprehension! 

Psalm 147:5