Domain Name Basics

Once you have decided that you want or need a Web site, the first thing you should do is register your desired domain name.

What is a domain name you ask?

Your domain name is your address on the internet. And, for those who just laughed at such a simple question, be warned, this post is not for you. Spend your time reading about the difference between a URL and URI. For the rest, I want to offer some information in laymen’s terms that you can use when planning a Web site.

Registering a domain is done through one of the many registrars such a Network Solutions (the first but no longer the best), GoDaddy (which for completely non-technical reasons I don’t recommend) and my personal choice, MyDomain.com. The registrar will charge an annual fee of anywhere from $10 to $30. While some registrars have gotten into the hosting business, domain name registration is a separate thing altogether, and in general, I would not recommend the hosting they provide as their plans tend to be quite restrictive. Most registrars will offer domain forwarding, email forwarding and the ability to modify DNS records as part of the annual fee. Some offer “private” registration so that your personal address and email are not listed in the Whois database for all the world to see (including spammers).

When choosing a domain name, try your organization’s name, a word, or simple phrase that relates to what you do. Ideally, it should easy to spell, pronounce, and remember. Try to get a .com domain name, even if you are a non-profit organization. People will generally try the .com version first. While a dash can be used, try to avoid it if at all possible. Also, write it out all lowercase, running together and make sure it still makes sense and can’t be mistaken for something else (for example, therapist.com).

If the domain name you want is taken, go ahead and visit the site. If the site is not up and running, you may want to contact the owner and see if they are willing to sell. You can get information on the domain name owner by doing a whois lookup.

Sometimes the site will announce that the name is for sale. There is no standard price for buying an existing domain name, and unless the domain name includes a trademark, you don’t have much leverage. I have purchased existing domain names for clients ranging from a few hundred dollars up to a couple thousand. Then there are the half-crazy people who will ask for an insane amount of money. I once tracked down the owner of a 3-letter domain name ending in .org for a church. The person who had it was in South Korea. He stated that he wanted $1 million for it. For my own amusement, I started negotiations. After a few back and forth emails, he lowered it to $125,000. Needless to say, the church didn’t get that one.

Once you have your domain name, keep in mind that it needs to be renewed annually. Also, if you have had a domain name for a while and then change to a new one, keep the old one as long as possible. Some people may still be linked to it. You should have your Web guru set up a 301 (permanent) redirect to the new one. If they don’t know what that means, find a Web guru that does or ask them to find out about it. Another reason to keep it is that there are some less than tasteful online marketers who are just waiting to pounce on recently expired domain names. They realize that with them, they may get instant traffic and older domain names do better in search results—especially with Google. By the way, Google also prefers domain names that are registered for more than one year, so go ahead and register for two years if you plan on using the name for sure.

Get The Art & Science of CSS Free

SitePoint, a great resource for anything web-related, is giving away The Art & Science of CSS as a PDF. It is only available until December 2, so be sure to take advantage of this offer soon. They’ve given away sample chapters from their books before, but this time it is the full book. Yep, that is over 200 pages of CSS goodness just waiting to be absorbed by your tech-hungry brain cells.

All you have to do is either give them your email or follow them on Twitter. Either way, you get a great CSS guide for the price of a glass of water (tap water—not bottled). While you’re there, sign up for their email newsletters.

Scam Alert: Domain Registry of America

I have been getting these letters for years—you know, the one that says your domain name is about to expire so renew now or risk being forever lost in cyberspace, blah, blah, blah. I’ll admit they almost got me the first time, but now anything with Domain Registry of America goes straight to the trash, or gets shredded into a thousand pieces, or gets burned—you get the picture.

I am used to it, so I don’t give it much thought, but when I got one today, I realized how many people I know get these, too. And, being personalized, with a lot of your domain information on there, it is easy to think it is legit and pay up and be done with it.

Don’t.

Not only are they dubious at best, but they are one of the most expensive registrars. They mention being cheaper, but they base that on information that is way out of date—back when Network Solutions had a monopoly. In Web-time that is ancient history.

Even if they were the low-cost leader, I still wouldn’t think of transferring to them. If they use scam-like tactics to get your business, there is no telling what they will do once they have control of your domain and everything associated with it like your website and email.

If you want more information about this particular scam, Google for “Domain Registry of America Scam” and read until your heart’s content. If you want, check out the official word from the Federal Trade Commission.

Apple Wireless Mighty Mouse

Here it comes to save the day…

OK, so this post doesn’t exactly fit into the normal Web design related categories, but I have been waiting for this one. The Wireless Mighty Mouse from Apple was released today. I currently use and love the wired version on my desktop, and am now tempted to make the purchase for my laptop.

Other than the obvious—no wire—the Wireless Mighty Mouse features a new laser tracking engine, which provides 20 times more surface sensitivity. What this means is that you can use it on just about any surface without it skipping.

Apple is not paying me to write this so enough for now. If/when I get it, I’ll append this post.

If someone else gets one, please comment.

Does Google Favor?

I ran across something rather interesting the other day. Now, every search engine has a different way of producing its search results. Google among many other things, considers what it calls page rank in how it orders search results.

Google gives the pages it indexes a rank from 0 to 10, with 10 being the most coveted. There are only a handful of pages with a rank of 10. Apple.com is one of them. I am not that surprised. (Disclosure—I am a big Mac fan.) What did surprise me was that Microsoft.com was not one of them. Rather, Microsoft.com had a page rank of 9. What was even more bizarre was that when I checked the backlinks to both sites, here is what came up:

For www.apple.com:

  • Yahoo! has found 1,968,600 links to this site.
  • MSN Search has found 1,624,874 links to this site.

And, for www.microsoft.com

  • Yahoo! has found 4,661,700 links to this site.
  • MSN Search has found 3,299,908 links to this site.

So much for the rule of “he who has the most links wins.” Microsoft has more than double. Now, these things can rapidly change. A slight shift in Google’s algorithm and everything I am writing now could be history, so don’t email me or comment about my info being off.

So I have to wonder, is Google favoring Apple? Could it be that since Microsoft competes with Google for search engine market share, that could be impacting its page rank? Could it be that since Apple’s Safari was one of the first browsers to include Google as the default search engine, that its a some kind of kickback?

Enough on this, I have to get back to catching up with the big boys—I only need a few million more backlinks.

Careful Little Hands What You Post!

Information. Everybody wants it. A lot of people are more than happy to give it. We print brochures, create ads, mail out flyers and—of course—post as much as we can on the Web so people can have our information. Printed materials are generally reviewed much more closely than items that are posted online. We realize that changing something in print tends to be costly and you can’t change it at all once it is on someone’s hands. On the web, things are sometimes scrutinized to a lesser degree.

Unfortunately, this less rigorous review and approval process means that on occasion, content gets posted that really should not be on the web at all. I am not talking about typos or grammatical mistakes, but the actual content itself.

Churches, ministries, and many non-profit organizations are unique in that in addition to full-time staff, they depend on a large number of volunteers. Volunteers often lead several ministries such as on-campus and off-campus small group Bible studies, support groups, vacation bible school, and the list goes on. As such, volunteers are often the key points of contact for their respective ministries. This makes it very tempting to simply post their personal contact information on the web and direct people to it. In a perfect world—no problem. However, I don’t need to go into a lesson on the depravity of man, to say the world is far from perfect.

When posting any information to your site, realize that someone can easily gain even more information from the little that you gave them. For example, let’s say you list an off-campus women’s bible study that meets at 8:00 p.m. along with a name and phone number. Simply typing in the name or phone into a search engine can quickly display an address, map and driving directions to that person’s location.

There are different tactics that you could try to protect such information, but the best solution is to simply not list personal information on the site at all. Instead, direct them to call the church office, send an email or fill out a form. Anyone legitimately interested should have no problem doing this, and it offers some basic safety for your volunteers, especially those in off-campus ministries.

Hits, Visits and Page Views…Oh My!

Beyond the technical jargon of site stats.

So you’re at one of those after-hours gatherings with some business associates and you end up at the table with your boss and a friend of his who is “in the biz”. The friend has just told the story of how his company just launched a website last week and they have already had over 10,000 hits. Your boss turns to you, and in that competitive, elementary-school, well-my-dad-can-beat-up-your-dad tone asks how many hits your site has had this week.

You’re in luck. You just checked your site stats earlier in the day. You think back, trying to sort out all those numbers in your head. Let’s see…how many people came to your site? Oh yes, you remember, there were 562 visitors as of 2:15 p.m. today. Great. You now have the opportunity to impress your boss with your keen abilities to remember data.

Wait a second. What did that other guy say? Over 10,000? Ouch!

The are an infinite number of reasons why site stat numbers could be way off, but one of the most common is simply the result of confusing terms.

Ten thousand hits! A million hits! Great, but what exactly is a hit? And how is it different from a visit or a pageview?

Hits are probably the single most misleading term when talking about site stats. A hit is simply a request to the server for a file—any file. A single, typical web page will register several hits. One for the page itself, one for each external CSS or Javascript file (most sites have at least one of each), and one for every graphic on the page, including invisible spacer GIF’s which should be extinct.

Imagine that you were tracking statistics for a mall. A hit would be like counting every item (including people) that enters the mall. If I walk into the mall you would count me, my shirt, pants, shoes, socks, watch, wallets, keys, and whatever else is on me. As I walk through the entrance, the mall may get a dozen or more hits easily.

In the early days of the web, some unscrupulous sites would purposely have many tiny images on single pages to increase their “hit counts”. If their site had more hits than a competitor’s they could charge more for advertising. Not to incriminate anyone, many people use “hits” and “page views” interchangeably without meaning to deceive anyone. But, they are different and most site stats recognize this. Hits may be somewhat useful in monitoring server loads and activity, but for determining a site’s popularity and for marketing purposes, hits are useless. Ignore them.

Visits are simply visits (or sessions if you want the technical term) to a website. If someone (or something in the case of various search engine robots) goes to your site and leaves without clicking on anything or they click through and read every page, it counts as one visit. If someone walks into the mall, it is one visit until the person leaves. By the way, you would also count the delivery guys, mall employees, and security, too. They would be like the “robots” that crawl your site. They are not going there to shop, but they still get counted. They would have to leave and come back for it to count as two visits.

On the web, a visit is usually ended when the user closes the browser. Under some circumstances, visits or sessions, will expire after a set period of time—usually for security reasons. Visits are a good way of knowing how many people go to your site.

Pageviews are the total number of pages viewed. This would be like our mall shoppers not just entering the mall, but walking into the individual stores and browsing. Just as one may visit several stores at the mall, one visit may generate multiple page views. In fact, ideally it should. If the number of visits equals the number of page views it could mean people are going to your site and it is not what they were looking for. For example, if I am looking for a classic ’69 Mustang and site comes up about horses I am not likely to click on the links and therefore generate multiple page views since it wasn’t what I was looking for. Page view information becomes even more valuable when it is coupled with individual pages. This will help determine what sections of the site your visitors are going to.

Good site stats provide a lot of data. Great site stats simplify that data into useful information. 

The Bible Still Stands

Whether it’s ancient manuscripts, a paperback or the finest genuine leather bound, reference edition, the text in it contains the most valuable information man can ever possess. It chronicles the generation and degeneration of man and reveals God’s plan of regeneration through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Now grab your Bible, but don’t open it. Just hold it there in your hands. Nothing in all of literary history, whether secular or religious, has had such an impact on mankind. Nothing else even comes close in comparison. The Bible was written over a 1500-year span. It was written by 40 generations, by over 40 human authors from every walk of life including kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, and scholars. It was written in different places, including in the wilderness, in palaces, in prisons, while traveling, and on lonely islands. It was written at different times—times of peace, and times of war. It was written from the mountain tops of joy as well as from the valleys of sorrow. It was written in three continents: Asia, Africa, and Europe. It was written in three languages—Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Its subject matter includes controversial topics. Yet, throughout the entire sixty-six books of the Bible—from Genesis to Revelation—there is one unfolding story of the redemption of man through Jesus Christ.

Throughout history, the Bible has evoked extreme reactions. There have been those who have hated it, and those have been hated for it; those who have denied it and those who have denied themselves for it; those who have banned it and those who have been banned for it; those who have burned it and those who have been burned for it; those who have torn it to pieces and those who have been torn to pieces for it.

In 600 B.C. King Jehoiakim is seen cutting up the Word of the Lord, page by page with a scribe’s knife and throwing it into the fire. He also imprisoned all the prophets and priests. In 90 A.D., John is banished to the Isle of Patmos. In the early 1380s, John Wycliffe instigated two English translations of the Bible, at that time everyone who was found with a copy in English was killed by the Roman Catholic church. As these martyrs in England were burned, they held the scriptures close to their chest. Over 40 years later, in 1428, the Catholic Church is still so upset with John Wycliffe that they declared him a heretic and dug up and removed his remains from sacred ground. In 1536, William Tyndale, who has again translated the New Testament, is strangled and burned at the stake. Thousands of people who have either written, translated or distributed the Bible have suffered persecution or died horrible deaths for doing so. In spite of persecution and death the Word of God still stands.

In the late 1700s, a French atheist traveled the world speaking against the Bible. He predicted that 100 years after his death, the Bible would no longer be in existence. He died in 1778. Fifty years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society bought his home. The Geneva Bible Society then used the same printing presses that he used to produce his atheistic propaganda, to produce Bibles and has been doing so ever since. Few remember his name—it was Voltaire—but despite criticism, the Word of God still stands.

In America, we are now facing one of the greatest attacks on the Bible. I am not referring to the criticism and persecution done by those outside of the church, but rather the apathy that is present within the church and those that claim to be Christians. Chuck Colson, in one of his books, mentioned the fact that so many of us have Bibles, yet the Bible doesn’t seem to change us as it should. Out of 1382 people that were surveyed, 81% of the people surveyed in a recent poll said that they were evangelical. However, only 42% of them knew that Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount and only 48% of them could name the first four books of the New Testament. Even more tragic, less than 1% of them said that their lives were directed and truly changed by what the Word of God said. In other words, many people read it, but it doesn’t always change them.

Although these statistics are bleak, I do not fear the collapse of Christianity—?not because of any faith I might have in mankind, but because of the faith I have in God. You see, when Jesus says in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away.” I believe it. And when I read in Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” I believe it. The question is not will the Word of God stand, the question is will you stand with it?

Rules For Bible Study

(Or Hermeneutics for those who like multi-syllable words that sound funny)  By Blake J. Matthews

How is it the there can be so many denominations and so many different beliefs among Christians who all say that they believe and follow the same Bible? How can so many well-meaning pastors, teachers, and Christians arrive at such a variety of beliefs? For some, I would say it could be a lack of study altogether. Others, while they may study intensely, interpret the Bible through their own presuppositions and experiences and impose their beliefs on the Bible. Some even have differing opinions of the Bible itself.

There are others, however, that humbly approach the Word of God, and allow it to unfold the truth for us, regardless of our own opinions. This is most difficult at times, especially when what we find contradicts our preconceived ideas and traditions. It causes us to wrestle with the truth. It points out our shortcomings and reminds of God’s grace.

Before you study the Bible you should size up what you believe about the Bible itself. Most churches and denominations have some sort of statement regarding their view of scriptures. Beware of any claiming that they have revelation equal to or greater than the Bible, or that you can only understand the Bible through them, or they say the Bible changes with the times.

The following is Article One of the Baptist Faith and Message of the Southern Baptist Convention along with references to the verses that support it.

I. The Scriptures

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.

Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21.

This statement or one similar to it, is vitally important to any study of the Bible. Without an absolute adherence to the fact that the Bible is the inspired, infallible and inerrant Word of God, there is room for anyone to make the Bible mean virtually anything, and there are many who do. If Christians don’t agree on that, then they certainly won’t agree on other matters of faith and practice.

In searching the scriptures ,one should use the principles of the Literal Grammatical Historical approach. Not only does it sound scholarly, but?more importantly?it also allows the Bible to speak for itself without our opinions getting in the way. Bible study should be inductive, not deductive. In other words do not impose a meaning on a passage, but seek a meaning from the passage.

The Literal Grammatical Historical approach is as follows:

  • It is Literal in that the words mean what they say in the normal or plain sense. The literal method does allow for symbolism, parables, poetry, similes, metaphor, figurative language, etc. where indicated.
  • It is Grammatical in that we follow the rules of literature and language, especially in the original languages (e.g. Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic). While the full working knowledge of Biblical languages would certainly aid in this area, most correct interpretations can be arrived at by using language commentaries, study aids and perhaps a few good English translations.
  • It is Historical in that we determine the historical background and context before rendering an interpretation. To whom, where and when was it written?

Other principles to follow:

  • Interpret according to context within passages, books, and the entire Bible. A text without a context is a pretext.
  • Compare scripture with scripture. Let scripture interpret scripture. God?s Word will not contradict itself. If one particular passage is unclear, compare it to one that is clear on that subject. If a contradiction remains, then you have not yet arrived at the truth. This is not to say we will know or understand everything in scripture, but that it will not contradict itself.

In studying a passage, begin with observation. Ask the who, what, why, when, and where questions. What is the main idea of the passage? Sometimes it is a good practice to ignore chapters and verses when searching for main ideas and the context. Chapter and verse markings were not part of the original text and were added between the 11th and 16th centuries. Sometimes ideas in scriptures are divided in chapter and/or verses. For this first part, wear your detective hat and look for all the clues you can find.

The next step is interpretation. Following the literal grammatical-historical approach, determine the original intended meaning of the verse. There is only one correct interpretation for a particular passage, however, there may be many applications.

The final and perhaps the most fulfilling step is application. Application answers the question “What do I do?” It transforms a Bible study from an academic exercise to a life-changing challenge. When going through this process ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there an example to follow?
  • Is there an action to take?
  • Is there an action to avoid?
  • Is there a challenge to accept?
  • Is there an attitude to change?

As you study the Bible, either by yourself or in a group, you are presented with truth. That truth may be in line with what you already believe, do or don?t do. In which case, your beliefs and/or actions are affirmed and you should continue in them with even more fervency and confidence. However, the truth revealed in scripture may also be contradictory to what you may already believe, do or don?t do. Sometimes God’s Word will conflict with our experiences. It may conflict with what is taught by one who exhibits signs and wonders. It may conflict with lifelong traditions. In these cases, we must repent and follow the truths and teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as revealed in scripture. It is His Word that endures forever.

2 Thessalonians 2:9?12
9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

One last thing, discovering Biblical truth is like coming to a fork in the road. When you come to it you must take one of two paths, remaining still is not an option. Following one path makes you more of a disciple. Following the other makes you a deserter. This desertion is exactly what happened in John 6:66:

John 6:60 & 66
60 Many therefore of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” 66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore.

My prayer for you is that as you study God?s Word, may you always leave changed and made into more of a disciple of Christ.

The Light Of The World

Matthew 5:14—16

There was once a nomad, traveling across the desert in the Middle East. He woke up in the middle of the night hungry. Remembering that he had some dried figs, he lit a lamp and grabbed a fig. After taking a bite, and to his disgust, he noticed a worm in it. Without hesitation, he threw it outside his tent and reached for another fig and took a bite. Shocked and disgusted he saw another worm after biting into it. This fig, too, quickly found its way out of the tent. Now realizing that at his rate, he would soon be out of figs and still be hungry, he did what most of us would do in that situation, he extinguished the lamp and continued to eat the figs.

Now on to our text.

Matthew 5
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 “Nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Now I don’t know about you, but when someone calls me something I usually like to know what it means. When Jesus calls me something in relation to the world, I definitely want to know what it means. The Greek word used here for light if phos. Phos is the light of the sun or of the day as opposed to the light of the moon or other luminaries of the night. (footnote) Phos is never kindled and, therefore, can never be quenched. This contrasts another word for light, luchnos, which is kindled by the hand of another.

The light we are to be is not our own. This light is not something that we can create, whether by our actions, our abilities, or our appearance.

2 Corinthians
6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves;

Because we did not create it, we can not quench it. The light that is in us is unquenchable. However, we can put it under a basket. Notice that putting it under a basket would conceal the light, but not extinguish it. We can, however, cover and dim that light by either our actions or our own timidity.

Remember what happened when Gideon’s army of three hundred men broke their pitchers and let their light shine? The whole Midianite army fled. Some were so distressed that they killed each other. Imagine what God would do through a group of believers who are not afraid nor ashamed to let their let shine before men. All those who stand against God would flee. Unfortunately, we have grown content to stay inside the four walls of the church. We have been intimidated by the world and have been told a lie that our faith should be a private matter, and, shamefully we have believed it.

Sometimes we justify keeping our faith, our light, hidden be claiming that we are undercover. There is no place for undercover or secret agent Christianity. We are to be as prominent as a city on a hill, as a candle on a lampstand, as a watchman on a wall. And, we are to share the light with all those around us. As the world grows darker, our light should be even more evident.

I attended a Christian School from pre-kindergarten through to the eighth grade. I sat in classes with my peers for ten years. We were all in Bible classes together. We were all went to chapel together on Wednesdays. We all participated in the Christmas and Easter programs together. We all prayed together. With few exceptions, I cannot say absolutely, positively for sure how many were or are saved. I am sure there were many. But I do not know for sure who and how many. You see there was a lot of ambient light around in that Christian School. First, there were a lot of Christians, and second there was a Christian environment. It was difficult to distinguish between those who were truly saved and those who were going through the motions.

That changed when I went to a public high school. Certain people seemed different from others. That high school was a darker place, and those who were lights could be seen more clearly amongst the darkness. I distinctly remember students, teachers, deans and principals who were Christians.

Now when I went to the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Christians were like halogen headlights on a car traveling on a cross-country highway in the middle of a moonless night.

Christians will stand out when they are in God’s will. Their countenance will be different. Their priorities will be different.

The world is asking, “What’s so different about Christians?” Now allow me to ask you a question. Are they asking about the cause and reason for the difference or are they asking, “Is there even a difference?” Have you given anybody a reason to ask what is different about you? Have you given anyone a reason to glorify your Father in heaven?

O.K. we’re light. Now, as light, what are we supposed to do? What does light do?

Light Exposes Sin and Brings Conviction

Ephesians 5
7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”

John 3
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. 20 “For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 “But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

Conviction should result not solely from preaching, but from practicing what we preach. We need to live out the standard that Christ established. It is convicting to be around someone who lives a life set apart for God, especially if you are ensnared in sin. Have you ever noticed how you’re not always invited to the same social events as everybody else? Not that they don’t like you, but your being there would convict them. They know your convictions. People often sin socially. They want people around them who are going to conform to their ways and do the same things they do. There is a fallacy of (S)afety (I)n (N)umbers.

Why do you think that there are so many people who are trying to get rid of all traces of Christianity in public life? Whether it is “In God We Trust” on a coin, the Ten Commandments in a courtroom, prayer in public schools, a cross in a cemetery, or a nativity scene on public property. These things remind them of God, and ultimately of their own sin.

Convicting the world of sin doesn’t always mean going around and pointing your finger, hitting them over the head with your Bible and yelling “You’re going to hell you low-down, good-for-nothing, heathen sinner. By the way, God loves you!” But it does mean calling sin, “sin”, and not bowing to political correctness and social pressures. It does mean proclaiming the message of repentance and faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ harshest words were for the scribes and Pharisees and their self-righteous attitudes. Others who met Christ knew they were sinners by simply being in His presence.

After a miraculous catch of fish, Simon Peter was well aware of his condition. In fact, so aware of it that he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8).

Later on in Luke, chapter 7, a sinful woman came to the house where Jesus was dining with a Pharisee. Jesus didn’t rebuke her or call out all her sins. She knew she was a sinner. She knew it so well that she brought an expensive vial of perfume, anointed His feet with it and then used hair own hair to wipe His feet as she kissed them. Jesus pointed out that it was the Pharisee whose attitude was wrong, not hers. How often have we been that Pharisee? Remember 1 Peter 5:5, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. The more we are in His presence, the more we become acutely aware of just how much we need His grace. May we never be proud or haughty as we share with others what has been so graciously given to us.

There were also those who acknowledged their sinfulness and their neediness by hearing the gospel.

Acts 2
37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 10
13 for “WHOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” 14 How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!” 16 However, they did not all heed the glad tidings; for Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

There’s not a person here who, if all their deeds were exposed, wouldn’t run down these aisles and repent of their sins before God and cry out for forgiveness through the atoning death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Conviction does not only apply to the unsaved but also to Christians as well.

Light Explains/Exemplifies the Truth (Christ) and Brings Clarity

John 1
9 There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.

Luke 2 (Simeon in the Temple)
27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, 28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant depart in peace, according to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation, 31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.”

Acts 8
26 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Arise and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) 27 And he arose and went; and behold, there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship. 28 And he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” 30 And when Philip had run up, he heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: “HE WAS LED AS A SHEEP TO SLAUGHTER; AND AS A LAMB BEFORE ITS SHEARER IS SILENT, SO HE DOES NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH. 33 “IN HUMILIATION HIS JUDGMENT WAS TAKEN AWAY; WHO SHALL RELATE HIS GENERATION? FOR HIS LIFE IS REMOVED FROM THE EARTH.” 34 And the eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself, or of someone else?” 35 And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.

Light Exalts God and Brings Commendation (Praise)

All that we do shall cause those around to glorify God.

Matthew 5:16
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Luke 2:32
A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.”

2 Corinthians 4:4
in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

How can we possibly be light?

This is a tall order. Jesus was identified as the Light of the world. And in Matthew 5:14, Jesus states that we are to be the light. 1 John 2:6 ?the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

John 20
21 Jesus therefore said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

John 16
7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. [Exposes and Convicts of sin] 8 “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. [Explains and Clarifies the truth] 12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. [Exalts Christ, or Commends, glorifies Christ] 14 “He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you. 15 “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you.

The Holy Spirit now convicts concerning righteousness because Christ, the Righteous One has gone to the Father. In the O.T. the Law was the standard of righteousness and brought conviction of sin. When Christ was on earth, He himself was the standard, having fulfilled the Law. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.”

Remember the nomad in the tent. Notice that he didn’t run down to the supermarket and get a new bag of figs, he didn’t even try to wash the ones he had. He simply got rid of the light and continued to eat the figs, paying no attention at all to reality. What you don’t know can’t hurt you, right? Unfortunately, there are many who live their lives avoiding the light. Ignoring the problem of sin. Ignoring the truth of God’s word. They simply would rather not see sin and it’s consequences.

In 1 John, chapter one, the disciple whom Jesus loved warns us against lying about sin.

1 John 1
5 And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; [lie to others, hypocrisy, no light] 7 but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [lie to self, duplicity, no truth] 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. [lie to God, apostasy, no word]