Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Remembrances of Christmases Past

All of us have a Christmas memory that holds a very special place in our heart. One of those for me took place in the small West Texas town of Pecos when I was in the sixth grade.

On that particular Christmas, my mom and dad had decided that it would be a waste of money to buy a Christmas tree since we were going to my grandmother's house for Christmas.

I wasn't too happy about it, but it wasn't too bad.  After all, in those days, every classroom at school had a full-sized Christmas tree which the children had the joy of decorating.  You probably remember the chains made of red and green links made from construction paper. Ornaments were cut-outs of bells, balls, stars, snowmen and other holiday items made by the students.  The best part was that the tree was covered with silver icicles.  Lots and lots of icicles. We thought it was a thing of real beauty!

When the time came for class to dismiss on the final day before our Christmas holiday, our teacher, Mrs. Stewart, stood up in front of the class and said, "Is there anyone who doesn't have a Christmas tree?" Faster than a speeding bullet, my hand shot up!  Since no one else raised their hand, Mrs. Stewart announced that I could have the tree if I wanted it.  If I wanted it? Of course I wanted it!

When school dismissed, I claimed my prize tree.  We only lived about three blocks from the school, so I walked home dragging my tree behind me.  When I reached home, my mom opened the front door and, with a surprised look on her face asked, "Where did you get that tree?"

"Mrs. Stewart asked our class if there was anyone who didn't have a tree and, since I was the only one who raised his hand, she said I could have  it!"

"Oh my!  I can't imagine what Mrs. Stewart must think of us!" my mother exclaimed.

I didn't understand why my mother wasn't as happy as I was about the tree, but one thing is for certain, we ALWAYS had a Christmas tree in the years to come...whether we were going to grandmother's house or not.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Searching for Sermons has been live on the Internet for eleven years.  We had a presence on the web under another name for four years prior to that.  You would think everything would be running smoothly after fifteen years.  One thing I have learned about the Internet is that just when you think you have everything just the way you want it, something changes.  Eight years ago, we added a site search tool to our web site to help people find a sermon on a specific subject or Scripture reference. We used a company called PicoSearch to provide the search engine.  For the past eight years, it has worked without a problem.

Several weeks ago, I was looking for a sermon on a specific Scripture reference and when I hit the search button, a page opened with the dreaded "page not found" message.  After several attempts with the same results, I went to the PicoSearch home page and was greeted with the message, "PicoSearch web service ended on July 1, 2014."

Oh how I wish I had an in-house web master to turn to in situations such as this.  Unfortunately, our web master is me and everything I know is what I have learned through reading books, tutorials, and by trial and error.  I began to scour the Internet to see what was out there.  It appeared to me that most web sites were using Google Custom Search as their site search tool.  That makes sense—Google pretty well owns the market on web searches.  So, I went to Google and began setting up my site search.  I must say, that I felt like a first year seminary student in Greek class!

Well, after struggling with this project for almost a month, it all seems to have come together.  We now have a site search tool that seems to be working the way I want it to work.  Below you will see two images.  The first image will show you where to find the search tool.  It is at the very top of the page.  The second will show a partial page of the search results for "love one another."  Please notice that I have placed my search query in quotation marks.  The reason for that is that without the quotation marks, the search engine will find all pages which contain the words love, one, and another.  Within quotes, it only finds pages with the exact phrase "love one another."

One thing that I have noticed that is a distinct improvement over our previous site search tool is that the results do not take you away from our site.  You remain on our site and all of the links and menus are functional.  This was not the case in our previous site search tool.

I hope you will make use of this tool in your search for children's sermons on our web site.  Visit our web site and leave your  comments and suggestions on our "Contact Us" page.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Global Warming of a Different Kind

Hardly any subject gets more press coverage or sparks more debate than global warming.  It is being blamed for higher temperatures, storms, rising sea levels, droughts, and virtually any other phenomenon which we can't explain.  There are some who believe that if a solution is not found, the world is doomed.  There are others who think global warming is just a natural trend which will correct itself in time. The purpose of this blog entry is not to try to persuade you one way or the other about the issue of global warming.  I would, however, like to discuss global warming of a different kind and encourage you to do your part to increase it.

Back in 1969, a composer by the name of Kurt Kaiser wrote a song entitled "Pass It On." Here is a part of the lyrics of that song:   

Pass It On

It only takes a spark,
To get a fire going.
And soon all those around
Can warm up it it's glowing.

That's how it is with God's love
Once you've experienced it;
You spread his love to everyone,
You want to pass it on.

There is no doubt that our Lord approved of this form of global warming.  Before he returned to heaven, he gave this admonition to his disciples, Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

You have the Good News that our world needs—"Pass It On."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sermons4Kids Mobile Apps

In late January 2014, Sermons4Kids announced the launch of mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.  While it may not be earth shaking, we hope it will be another tool which those in children's ministry will find helpful. In the month of January, there were 41,607 users who accessed our web site using a tablet and 39,565 using a mobile device. That is more than 81,000 users!  By introducing mobile apps, we are trying to reach out to those users and to keep up with trends in technology.  I was somewhat surprised by the reaction of some who thought that this move meant that they would no longer receive their Sermon of the Week by email.  Let me emphasize that nothing has changed the way we have done things in the past. These mobile apps are merely an additional tool for you to use.

No doubt, there will be some glitches in our app.  This is new territory for us and it is a learning process.  I hope you will be patient as we move into this new area of technology.  When I look back on our first web site, it was pretty ugly, but I think it has evolved into a pretty useful tool for those who work with children.

What can you do with the new app?  Well suppose you work in Children's Church and one of your co-workers calls you on your iPhone and says, "I need a lesson for the first Sunday in Lent.  Open up your Sermons4Kids app, and click on Sermons, choose Lectionary Yr A, click on Lent and there you will find a couple of sermons for the first Sunday in Lent.  Choose one of the sermons and at the top of the sermon page, you will see a button which will allow you to send an email link for that sermon to your co-worker.

If you have the ability to air print from your mobile device, you can print sermons, coloring pages, or puzzles directly from your device.  If you don't have an air-print printer there are also apps such as the HP e_Print which will allow you to print from you mobile device whether you are at home, in your office, or on the go.

As with all Sermons4Kids services, the mobile app is free. Sermons4Kids is supported entirely by the voluntary donations of those who use our services and feel that our ministry is worthy of their support.  If you find our Sermons4Kids helpful, won't you please consider making a donation? Visit our web site for more information about how to make a donation.

We hope you find our mobile apps helpful to you in your ministry to children.