Help Me Choose A New Cover For My Book

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My publisher is reworking the exterior cover design and interior format of my book, REVEALED: God’s Will for Your Life.

REVEALED (Cover Options)

Above is a PDF link for 6 cover designs to choose from. The main differences are the font type and size of the endorsement at the top of the cover, and how the subtitle and author’s name appear at the bottom.

If you would, in the comments section below, tell me which of the 6 designs you like the most and why.

Also, if you like one design for the top endorsement but another design for the subtitle and author name, tell me that as well. [Read more...]

Pinterest: What Is It And Why You Should Ask For An Invitation

Interested in knowing more about Pinterest, the social networking site that is taking over the internet by storm?  What, you’ve never heard of Pinterest?  Not sure what Pinterest is all about?

Okay, here’s the scoop.  Essentially, Pinterest is a virtual social media pinboard.  (Here’s my personal Pinterest board.  Um, yeah…I’m new to Pinterest, myself.)

Brian Gardner, the founder of StudioPress (the company I purchased my blog theme from), wrote the following about Pinterest on his blog.

The invite-only Pinterest, a smash hit social networking site, has increasingly grown in popularity. The concept is simple: users create boards whereby they “pin” relevant photos to those boards, allowing other Pinterest users to re-pin those images, comment on them, and/or follow others with similar interests.

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, organize their favorite recipes, and tell people about their ministries or services.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.  And it’s also a great way to tell people about the gospel, via social media, by showing them a visual picture to spark some interest.

Did you know that, as of today, Pinterest has an Alexa rank of 73…which means that there are only 72 other websites around the world that get more monthly traffic than them?  Impressive, right?  Want to know more?  Here’s an infographic that will do just that.

Image via: Lemon.ly

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Leap Year: An Infographic To Explain What It Is All About

Today is February 29th and when I looked at the calendar on my iPhone, I did a double-take.  February 29th?  Oh, yeah.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few days, you’re no doubt aware that today is an “extra day” in February to account for keeping our calendars in sync with time, the seasons, etc.  Without this extra day, we get out of sync, which I suppose is not a good thing.

But what in the world is Leap Year all about?  Here’s an interesting infographic to help you understand it all.  Enjoy!

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* Image credit: CheapSally.com

Church Analytics: Information Technology for Christian Ministry

I’m taking a step back for just a moment so that I can get all technical on you.  Trust me, it won’t hurt (much)—for very long, that is.

I recently got in touch with the owner of a great company called Church Analytics.  I’m testing out his company’s product here on my blog.  I believe the results will be quite interesting, indeed.  (At least for me.  LOL)

Church Analytics is a computer program that tracks data on websites so that the owners/administrators of those sites can see if anyone has been visiting their website, their blog, etc.  It gives me a chance to see which articles people are reading the most, how long they stay on my blog, where they come from (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Google+, Delicious, etc.), and even which country they are from!

Google has a program that does something similar to this but Church Analytics does it better, quicker, faster…and it has been specifically designed for churches and Christian minisitries.  And it is for that reason that I wanted to tell you all about it.

There is some seriously awesome data that Church Analytics provides right at your finger tips.  You should check it out.  It will help you to see which articles your website visitors are reading and, Lord willing, will give you some idea about what you should be writing in the future!  Knowledge is the key to power.

Below is some information about what Church Analytics does.  You should check out their website, because their tracking program can do more than I could ever explain here…and more than I can even understand.  Ultimately, it’s a great deal, and for less than only $7.00 a month!

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The Real Time Advantage

Church Analytics is a real time web analytics service. This means that when you login and view your stats, you are seeing up to the minute data on the traffic to your web site. Most services don’t let you see what’s happening “today” until the day after.

Real time data lets you react to changes in your traffic as they occur. For example, if you had an article that hit the front page of a popular site like digg.com, you would see the traffic spike in Church Analytics immediately, along with links back to the sources sending you the traffic. Knowing this, you could make changes to your site or to the article itself to take advantage of the situation.

If instead you relied solely on a service like Google Analytics, it would be up to 24 hours before you even knew about the traffic, and by then it would be too late to do anything about it.

Below is an example of part of your site’s dashboard that shows you the types of traffic sources to your web site. Each item has a number next to it representing how many visitors arrived from that type of traffic source. In addition, you’ll see the amount of engagement the users are having with your property, the number of actions they are taking, as well as their relative location. Analyzing and understanding this data can help you create more targeted use of your website.

QUESTION FOR COMMENTING:  Do you use any analytic tracking programs on your website or blog?  If so, which one do you use and why?

[stextbox id="custom"]As an FYI, you can see Crazy About Church’s analytics in action at the bottom of my sidebar in the lower right (just installed last night).[/stextbox]

Approved As A Contributing Writer For Pastors.com (Rick Warren)

Are you familiar with Rick Warren and his ministry?  Pastor Rick leads a very large church called Saddleback Church, located primarily in southern California, but also with other campuses and church plants scattered around the world.

Rick has been used by God in amazing and diverse ways, and I personally have benefited from his pastoral ministry and his books.  His ministry has been both edifying and controversial (not intentionally by him, I should add) among many of those who might call themselves Reformed.  (See the well-done video interview Pastor Rick had with John Piper to answer some of his critics concerns.)

Rick has written a number of books, one of which is entitled The Purpose Driven Life.  His latest book, The Purpose Driven Church, was called “the best book on entrepreneurship, management, and leadership in print” by Forbes magazine.

But one of the things you might not know about Pastor Rick is that he also leads another ministry called Pastors.com (facilitated by Brandon Cox), which serves pastors and other church leaders from all around the globe.  I have appreciated the Pastors.com website and many of the articles have proven quite helpful.

Personally, I started blogging regularly in the last quarter of 2011.  It has been fun, refreshing, rewarding, and I’ve seen fruit come from it.  It gives me a chance to rant, rave, and edify whenever possible (hopefully mostly the latter one).  And that’s why I was excited to have been approved—just last night—to serve as a contributing writer for Pastors.com!

I’m totally excited.  I plan to write and upload my first article this weekend, but I haven’t decided on a topic quite yet.  There are lots of categories and articles in the Pastors.com database, but I think I will focus initially on their Missions & Outreach category.

Anyway, you should check out some of their articles.  Who knows, you just might get blessed.

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“Where’s The Link Love” Shameless Weekend (2/19/12)

Today is Shameless Weekend.  Say it with me now: Hip, Hip, Hoorah!

I’m totally stealing (um, I mean “borrowing”) this idea from John Acuff and his Stuff Christians Like blog but…hey…it’s all good.  (And I’m giving him some link-love as payment.  LOL)

What Shameless Weekend means is that you are FREE and ENCOURAGED to leave a link to your personal blog, your church, a favorite para-church ministry, your own Facebook page, and your Twitter account.

What’s your blog and what’s it all about?

What’s your cause?  What’s your ministry?  What’s the Amazon link for your book?

What’s the link you want people to see more than anything else?

Go ahead and post a link to whatever it is you’re all about, with no shame or apologizing or feeling like you’re making a comment on a post you really don’t care about but are instead secretly trying to promote your own blog. (Admit it, you’ve probably done it.)

Use the comments section below to let us know about your blog or your cause or your ministry or your…whatever.  The Internet is so big it’s hard to find everything worthwhile, so help us find you!  But don’t miss my P.S. below.

PS: I reserve the right (as always) to remove any and all links or comments that are offensive, either to me or anyone who reads this blog.

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Shameless Saturday

Today is my blog’s first official Shameless Saturday.  Say it with me now: Hip, Hip, Hoorah!

I’m totally stealing (um, I mean “borrowing”) this idea from John Acuff and his Stuff Christians Like blog but…hey…it’s all good.  (And I’m giving him some link-love as payment.  LOL)

What Shameless Saturday means is that you are FREE and ENCOURAGED to leave a link to your personal blog, your church, a favorite para-church ministry, your own Facebook page, and your Twitter account.

What’s your blog and what’s it all about?

What’s your cause?  What’s your ministry?  What’s the Amazon link for your book?

What’s the link you want people to see more than anything else?

Go ahead and post a link to whatever it is you’re all about, with no shame or apologizing or feeling like you’re making a comment on a post you really don’t care about but are instead secretly trying to promote your own blog. (Admit it, you’ve probably done it.)

Use the comments section below to let us know about your blog or your cause or your ministry or your…whatever.  The Internet is so big it’s hard to find everything worthwhile, so help us find you!  But don’t miss my P.S. below.

[stextbox id="custom"]PS: I reserve the right (as always) to remove any and all links or comments that are offensive, either to me or anyone who reads this blog.[/stextbox]

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What Is “Cyber Monday” All About Anyway? [Infographic]

Did you know that there was roughly $165.4 billion dollars spent in 2010 on e-commerce sales?  That equates to about $453,000,000 per day in online purchases!

When I left the house this morning, my wife was online scooping up a few sweet deals from Cyber Monday’s mania.  (She’s getting to be so good at frugality!)

Actually, she was also on the telephone talking to someone from customer service, just to make sure she was purchasing what she truly wanted.

Are you buying anything online today or this week?  What are you getting for me?  Shoot me an email and I’ll tell you what I want! [JK]

Below is an infographic that provides a few details regarding the history surrounding Cyber Monday.  It’s actually pretty interesting.  Let me know your thoughts about it.

Did you learn anything?

QUESTIONS FOR COMMENTING BELOW:  What electronic gadgets are you buying for yourself or for others this Cyber Monday?  And how can this technology be used for the glory of God? (You are intending to use it for the glory of God, aren’t you?)

Photo credit: {a href="http://mashable.com/2011/11/27/cyber-monday-history/"}Mashable.com{/a}

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A Few Things You Need To Know About Thanksgiving Day

Below is a very interesting infographic about the celebration of Thanksgiving Day.

I didn’t know some of this information, but it is interesting that the Detroit Lions (a seriously troubled NFL football team without much to look forward to) needed a gimmick to get people to watch them (some things never change).

And after watching them lose badly to the Green Bay Packers…again…on this Thanksgiving Day, maybe it’s time to pull another gimmick out of the hat. (Ha!)

Enjoy!

Photo credit: {a href="http://collisionlabs.com/blog/some-thanksgiving-facts-infographic"}Collision Labs{/a} (Flickr)

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Book Review: A HEART FOR FREEDOM

Few books have affected me like A Heart For Freedom, authored by Chai Ling and published by Tyndale House Publishers.  I have been changed; forever looking differently at China — and the world — because I’ve done nothing more than read this book. (And I’ve already adopted two young children from China, by the way.)

If you are at all familiar with the Chinese massacre of dozens of college students that took place at Tiananmen Square back in 1989 then you will likely know the name Chai Ling.

Chai Ling was an energetic, brilliant student who grew up in oppressive China, eventually finding herself as one of Beijing’s elite university students.  Through many toils, challenges and circumstances, Mrs. Ling was thrust into the international spotlight as one of the key student leaders in protest against the oppressive Chinese regime.  However, when the massacre reached its fatal, world-changing climax, Chai Ling found herself both on the run and as one of China’s most wanted criminals.

Fleeing China’s mainland, and being forced to leave her family behind, Ling was then flung into the political spotlight time and time again, even being twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

But this is much more than a book about the Chinese government, political oppression, and a massacre of college students.  It also has to do with a woman finding her own identity after the consequences of unprotected premarital sex, multiple abortions, adultery, grief, divorce, remarriage, and a search for the one true God.

This autobiography made me think about my own life as a man growing up in a “free” country.  It caused me to think culturally, spiritually, and politically; and in ways that I never have before.  It forced me to realize that there are billions of people around the world who are struggling against powers and political systems that are far beyond their control; powers that I couldn’t even imagine if I tried.

I highly recommend A Heart For Freedom.  It is an autobiography that I will likely read again someday, but only after digesting the thick, controversial content I’ve swallowed.

Here is some commentary from the back cover of the book:

Facing imprisonment and possible death at the hands of the Chinese authorities, Chai Ling went deep underground—eventually hiding in a cargo box for five days to escape to safety in the United States.  Though haunted by her past, Ling threw herself into pursuing the American dream, completing Ivy League degrees, finding love, and becoming a highly successful entrepreneur.  She was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.  Yet her longing for true freedom, purpose, and peace remained unfulfilled.  Years after the events at Tiananmen Square, she was still searching to find the meaning in all the violence, fear, and tragedy she’d endured.

A Heart For Freedom is a tale of passion, political furor, and spiritual awakening.  An inside look at China, then and now.  A love song to a now forbidden country.  And the inspirational true story of a woman who has dedicated everything to giving people in China their chance at a future.

(* This post is from a Blog Series on Book Reviews)