Hopefully you’ve noticed that on the www.nazareneblogs.org homepage we now have a list of recent posts that show an avatar next to the post. An avatar is just an image that is associated with the person who wrote that post. Avatars also show next to comments posted by registered users. We’d love to have everyone set up an avatar image. There are several places you can set up an avatar, but below I am going to show you how to do it through Gravatar.

Step # 1: Sign up for your Gravatar account.

Signup at http://www.gravatar.com. All you need is your email address! Use the same email address you used to create your nazareneblog account. You will then receive a confirmation email including a link that will activate your Gravatar account and allow you to set your password.

Step # 2: Set up a password.

Click on the link in the confirmation email. You will then be taken to a page where you will be asked to type in your password. Set your password.

Step # 3: Upload a picture, set up your Gravatar

You are now told you have no gravatar. Click on Add a new one. You can choose and upload this image from your computers hard drive, from the internet somewhere or use a webcam to capture a new photo. The picture can be anything you like.

Step # 4: Crop your picture and set up a rating for your picture.

Yes, you get to set a rating for the picture you just uploaded as G, PG, R or X rated. X rated means you uploaded an inappropriate picture. We’ll ask that all bloggers here go ahead and use a G rated picture. Thanks

Step # 5: Associate your Gravatar with your Email address

This is the last step. Once the image is uploaded click on it and click confirm to associate that picture with the email address you signed up with. Once done you are all set. As long as you are logged in, any blog post or comment you post on another blog will show your Gravatar.

-special thanks to our blog technical crew for writing these instructions-

Most people publish what they blog immediately but sometimes it’s handy to schedule a post to be published at a later date or time. I can think of a couple of reasons for that. First, you might want to post about some special occasion, like a special birthday or anniversary. You want to write the post now, but not have it seen until that date. Second, you might want to spread your posts out. Maybe you want to do a series of posts, one a week, but you want to do your writing now and not have to remember to come back and do the entries one at a time. Also, some subscribers only want a limited number of posts coming their way. If you generally write one post a week and suddenly post a series of five posts they’ll likely not read them all (and may unsubscribe!). Spread them out, one every few days, and you’ll keep your readers and those readers will actually read what you post!

To the right of the post entry box is a “Publish Status” section. There you’ll see an “edit” button by “Publish immediately.” If you click on the edit button, you’ll be given options for Month, Day, Year, and time. When finished, click on “Publish” and you’re in business.

A funny aside on this, since I want my devotionals to be there first thing in the morning for my North American readers, I schedule them to post at 3:30 am Central time. As a result, I’ve had several people tell me how impressed they are that I rise so early each morning and post a thoughtful devotional. Confession time: no, I don’t get up that early…ever!

On Christmas Day I received an email from an Australian pastor. It was a short note of appreciation for my devotional writing. Receiving that email was such an encouragement to me. I responded to his email, thanking him for taking time to write and for his kind words, I saved it so I could read it to my wife when she got home, and I’ve thought about it a few times since. I doubt that it took more than a minute for him to fire off that email but, for me, it was just what the doctor ordered!

I’m reminded today that it doesn’t take a huge effort to show appreciation to someone. Out in the “real world” just a few words of thanks does the trick. Here in cyberspace, an email of just one line will brighten someone’s day.

Maybe this is a project we can undertake in the New Year: to be more thankful people who take that small, but extra, effort to let people know that they are, indeed, appreciated.

I often type my posts in Microsoft Word and then copy/paste them into my blog here. It can be done, but one must take care. If you paste using the “Visual” tab the formatting codes will be included in the text. That creates problems for people who visit your blog using IE. The pages will stop loading at the point of the formatting. (Strangely, Firefox and Chrome handle the Microsoft Word formatting codes and Microsoft Internet Explorer doesn’t!) Things look fine as you paste, but if you switch to the HTML Tab you’ll see the formatting codes.  That’s what you see in the example below.  I typed some text using Microsoft Word, then pasted it into the blog using the “Visual”tab.  Then, switched to the HTML tab.  You can see the format codes.

My solution is to always paste into the HTML Tab. Once it’s pasted in you can switch back to “Visual” and format the text as you like. Do you have a better solution you can share?

Google Analytics is the free stats tracking system supplied by Google and produces very attractive (and comprehensive) stats. You can now use it on your NazareneBlogs account if you would like information such as how many people view your blog.

Here’s how -

  1. Sign in to your NazareneBlogs account and select the Settings link on the upper right side.
  2. Then Select the Google Analytics link.
  3. In another window/tab sign up for a Google Analytics account using your blog URL.
  4. When you finish, copy the tracking code (it’ll start with ‘UA-’) into the Tracking Code box on your blog settings page and press ‘Save’*

For more information on finding the tracking code, please visit this Google help site.
*It can take several hours before you see any stats.

Folks, I’m loving the inclusion of recent posts on the front page.  It makes it so easy to find current posts and discover the more active participants of Nazareneblogs!  I’ve already read some posts from people I’ve not read before.  I think that more and more people will discover this feature and start using it to see what other participants are saying.  What if several people mentioned this feature in their own blogs?  Maybe it would increase readership for everyone.

globeIt’s not as though I heard a Voice or had a vision but almost 15 years ago even as I excitedly began exploring the Internet on my Windows 95 machine I sensed the Lord directing me to do ministry on the Internet. At that time, I wasn’t sure what that meant, but (being a tech kind of guy) that was fine with me. Since that day I’ve designed websites for myself and other ministries, learned a little about site administration, and involved myself in the fellowship ministry of NazNet. I think, though, that one of the most rewarding Internet ministries for me has been blogging. My wife tells me that the last thing (not counting root canals, etc) she’d ever want to do would be to write something every day. I’ve noted that other folks see blogging as a chance to let off some steam and even enjoy having some sort of alter ego. I’m not being critical of them, but for me, blogging is a chance to speak to people I might never encounter otherwise. Everyday, or more likely, every minute, someone somewhere is typing into the Google search box, “How can I find God?” or “How can I save my marriage?” If my blogging can play even a small role in helping someone find answers to big questions like that I’ll feel I’ve been obedient to my call to Internet ministry. I’ve seen some fine ministry efforts here on NazareneBlogs.org and want to commend those who are part of this online community endeavoring to minister through blogging.

change signThe Nazarene Blogs environment has been active on Nazarene.org since January of 2009.  In that time the environment has grown continually.  With more blogs in the community, it has gotten harder and harder to keep track of new blogs and new posts. So to try and help, we recently launched a new homepage that shows the newest posts, a featured post and some other new features.  Please visit Nazarene Blogs and see the new homepage.  We hope you will find it helpful.  There is still space for more bloggers.  Feel free to read the terms of service and sign up for a blog of your own!

We have noticed that periodically someone will write a blog post eluding to the frustration of writing blogs but having very few if anyone read it.  This is a very valid concern as many of you are new bloggers.  It does take a little effort in order to make your blog known.  Here are a few tips that may be helpful to you if you are feeling that your blog is not being interacted with.

1.  Be active in reading other people’s blog posts and make comments when you have something to add.

2.  Notify your circle of friends and colleagues that you have a blog by posting links to your blog on emails, e-newsletters, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

3.  Make sure to also provide an address to your blog in offline literature like business cards, Letterhead, church bulletin(if appropriate), etc.

4.  Aggregate helpful links to other blogs or resources online.  Many of your readers will find these link helpful and could bring them back to your blog periodically, hoping to find more helpful links.

5.  Don’t blog about yourself exclusively.  A blog is not typically a personal diary.  Often you will be blogging out of personal experience but if you want to author a blog that others find valuable to them you need to make sure to add in pertinent anecdotes and examples that you may find in your research.

6  Again, if you want to author a blog that others find valuable you need to step back and view it from their perspective.  Always try to provide a “take away” in your blog.  Ask yourself what point you are trying to make or the lesson you are trying to instill?

7.  If you have a friend or colleague that has an established blog you might ask them to write a guest post on your blog.  You might even give them a specific topic you would like them to write about.

8.  At the end of your posts encourage readers to comment and discuss the topic.  Even suggest that they ask questions or suggest future blogs topics.  Become a resource to them.

Thank you so much for being part of our community.  We are happy to say our blogging environment continues to grow almost daily.  We encourage you to stay active and keep those new posts coming.

We have recently revisited our Terms of Use document for all of our online presence.  This also affects the Terms of Service for the blogging environment.  We would ask that you take a moment and review the section of our Terms of Service at:  http://nazareneblogs.org/terms-of-service/and if you want to read through the entire Terms of Use document on our websites found at: http://www.nazarene.org/ministries/administration/termsofuse/display.aspx

If you feel that any of your blog posts violate our terms please consider erasing that post(s). If you have questions as to the content of your blogs please feel free to contact us.

We appreciate your understanding on these matters.  Should you disagree with our position on acceptable blog content we are sorry and will hate to see you blog elsewhere but we will also understand and wish you the best of luck.

Nazarene Blogs Team