Choosing WordPress: “She’s got guts”

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Wordpress as a CMS

In the previous article in this series I introduced the first reason for why I chose to use WordPress as the engine for three CMS-like sites that I designed recently. I wrote about the theming/template system in WordPress – the “looks”. In this article I’m going to talk about the “guts” of WordPress.

Why I chose WordPress

2. The Guts

When I refer to guts, I mean the following things that are “inside” the WordPress engine:

i. File Structure

From the perspective of a newbie developer, the WordPress file structure greatly aids in comprehending where things are and what files need to be edited/looked at in the development process. The fact that directory trees and file names are descriptive of their function cuts down on a lot of the guesswork into where things are located.

Here’s the layout of the directory tree structure:

/wordpress (root): You’ll find all the main configuration and base level files such as config.php (database settings), wp-blog-header.php (calls necessary includes and header information), and various feed related files among others. I’m not going to go into detail about each of the files but I’ll just mention that for the most part, the files in the root wordpress directory are what WordPress accesses when initializing.

/wordpress/wp-admin: In this directory are located all the core files that run the administration interface of wordpress. Files are named appropriately according to what their purpose is. For example, guess what the “edit-category-form.php” file is for? Or how about, “inline-uploading.php”?

/wordpress/wp-includes: For the most part this directory contains files that are called/included when various other WordPress .php files are executed behind the scenes – hence the name of the directory is wp-includes! Also, within this directory is found a sub-directory for all the javascript files/libraries included with the WordPress install. Again file names are very suggestive of their purpose. Examples like, “category-template.php”, “comment-template.php”, and “template-functions-post.php” all are indicative of this. A little bit later in this article I’ll mention the wonderful world of template-tags in WordPress but just a quick mention that the files that make the template-tag magic happen are located in the wp-includes directory.

/wordpress/wp-content: For most self-hosted WordPress users, the wp-content folder will be the one you’ll access the most. Within this folder is found all the user modifiable/plugginable content.

There is the /wp-content/themes/ folder which is where all the themes/template related files are found. Each theme is found in it’s own named folder. There is also the /wp-content/plugins/ folder which is where all the various WordPress plugins are put.
A brief word about naming convention with themes since this is another area that I really appreciate about WordPress when it comes to design/development. The files for themes all have a naming convention that just makes sense and again aids in understanding the purpose of the code found within. Here’s a brief list of the some of the various file options found in WordPress themes. (Important note: Not every theme has every file as some theme authors choose to keep their file arrangement compact and thus include various theme structure elements in a smaller number of files – which is possible with WordPress)

  • index.php – This is the layout for the initial page when WordPress is loaded. Alternatively (but not necessary with WordPress 2.1) home.php can be used for the first page. WordPress 2.1 however allows you to set what you want to be the first page loaded up via the administration options page.
  • single.php – The file that contains the layout for single post pages.
  • 404.php – Contains the layout for what is displayed on error 404 pages (when someone is trying to access a page that doesn’t exist).
  • archives.php – Usually contains the layout for archives pages
  • category.php – Contains the layout for category archive pages
  • sidebar.php – Contains the layout for the sidebar section of a page.
  • header.php -Contains the layout for the header section of a page (the top that usually contains the Blog Title/logo and the main navigation menu)
  • footer.php – Contains the layout for the footer section of a page (footers widely vary between themes but at the minimum usually contain the copyright info for the blog, powered by WordPress text etc.)
  • functions.php – Contain any theme specific functions. If your theme is widget enabled you’ll see this file as the code to enable widgets for the theme is found therein. Some theme authors also use the function.php file to add theme specific functions to the blog (without using the plugin functionality of WordPress).
  • page.php – Contains the layout for static pages on your WordPress blog.

So you can see from this list that the naming convention with WordPress themes also helps in understanding where various elements of the site design can be found. There is much more regarding this but since the WordPress Codex has great help files I’ll direct you there instead.

Also found within the /wp-content folder is the /plugins/ folder. This is the central location for where all the various plugins you can download and install for your WordPress powered site. This makes it easy for keeping track of what plugins you have installed and also knowing where to install the plugins you download.

Yes, the File Structure of WordPress is one component of her “guts” that help in developing CMS based sites.

ii. Coding Practice
Something else that is found in the WordPress core that might not be really obvious at first is the actual coding practice that is followed. Not only have WordPress developers followed good coding practices in the files they’ve written but they also encourage it for those adding to WordPress via themes/plugins.

When I talk about coding practice, I’m talking about adherence to x-html/.css/php standards – and certain structural elements in writing code so it’s easy to read and parses correctly. This, along with standards for inline documentation, make it easier to track various code elements and what it affects. When you read through WordPress core code not only is the structure fairly easy to follow (for someone who understands php of course 😉 ) but because functions are named for what they do it greatly helps in locating things you want to edit/understand. Clean code makes for less headaches!

When I was designing my sites and needed to understand how something worked in WordPress, not only did the file structure make it easy to find out what file the particular function might be in but the coding practice made it easier to find the snippet of code in that file.

iii. Template Tags
Probably one of the most important aspect of WordPress guts that stood out for me were the usage of what the WordPress community knows as template tags. Put simply, template tags are php functions that are used in your theme templates to perform specific tasks. There are a variety of different functions built into WordPress that make customizing themes and designing a CMS based site less time-intensive than most CMS-based scripts that are out there. Add to that the fact that Template Tags are fairly well-documented and this makes them even more powerful.

iv. Category System
One of the strengths of WordPress in my opinion is the way content can be organized via the built-in category system. Using this and various conditional template tags, the possibilities for making a dynamic CMS becomes much simpler. For instance, on my church website that I designed, I greatly utilized the category system to “split-out” various sections of content that the site would serve up. I have an “upcoming-events” category for events, a “Pastor’s Perspective” category for all my pastoral blog entries, an “announcements” category for various news and announcements made on the church site, and many more other categories. Then using the conditional template tags I can place content from a specific category in the design the way I want it. Whenever I want to add content to a particular section of the site I just have to add the post to the correct category.

Another bonus with WordPress is not only are there categories but you can also further classify posts by subcategory creating more possibilities for dynamic design.

v. Paging
One important component of WordPress that is key to it’s use as a CMS is the ability to create static pages from the administration interface along with dynamic posts. If this component were not available then it is likely I might not have used WP in designing my sites. Put simply, there are instances when you will be presenting content that rarely changes (hence, “static”) and thus you want an easy way to add this content and edit it if and when needed. If WordPress didn’t have this feature the only way to add static content would be to develop specific theme template files that have the static content encoded via html.

An added feature that was also appealing to me was the fact that I could create certain “page templates” in my theme that could be selected in the “write page” panel. This makes it possible for me to create different page layouts for different topics/subjects.

Again, the WordPress Codex has excellent documentation on everything to do with using Pages.

vi. Admin Interface
I could probably write a whole article on just the administration interface of WordPress but I’ll just include a short list of what was important to me in reviewing using WordPress as a CMS (everyone loves lists don’t they?)

  • Simple Layout – A novice user won’t have to read through a thick readme file to understand how to get around. That was important to me because for two of the sites I designed (gohpc.net and vigliottiwoodworking.com) I would not be the only one maintaining them and I wanted things to be as easy as possible for people who would be doing that.
  • Quick Load Time – The interface is not graphic intensive which makes things load fast for those on slower ISP connections. This was an important consideration for one of my site designs as the person maintaining that site is on dial-up (shudder)
  • WYSIWYG write/edit window – Although I’m not a big fan of the Tiny-MCE window that is included with WordPress for my own use – it does come in handy for those who are not familiar with html code. Once again an important consideration for me when designing for end-users who would be maintaining the sites. A plus for me is that I don’t have to use the “Visual-Rich Editor” (as WP developers have named it!) if I don’t wish to. WP 2.1 makes this even easier by giving the ability to switch between visual and non-visual (code) right on the same page.
  • Built in Roles Management – basically this means that I can give other people access to add things to a website without giving them full access to other administration functions.
  • Easy Plugin/Theme Management – The activation/deactivation of plugins and themes is ridiculously easy in WordPress.

vii. Security
The final “guts” component of WordPress that was important to me is something that few novice web developers think of but has nevertheless become one of the more important priorities in web-design. One of the dangers of dynamic websites that invite interactive contributions from visitors is the accessibility to malicious hackers. Insecure sites become targets for activities that can be as “benign” as the changing of your sites homepage to as harmful as the complete erasure of your database. Either way, when an unauthorized individual invades your website it’s never pretty.

Although, I’ve been fortunate to not experience being hacked, I realize that it’s only a matter of time before it happens if steps aren’t taken to ensure good security measures are in place.

I’ve written all that to write this, WordPress is one of the most secure publishing engines available. I’ve heard of very few WordPress based sites that have been hacked and even the ones that have been were due to the owners not ensuring that the latest WordPress updates have been applied.

In reviewing the WordPress development over the years I noticed that a great deal of attention is given to the security of the code and as such whenever there are updates released there are usually security patches included as a result of the diligent testing and reporting of the WordPress developer and user community.

No platform can ever be 100% secure from malicious hackers – but WordPress comes pretty close. That’s important.

That’s all I’m going to highlight about the guts of WordPress in this article. While there is much more that can be written, I wanted to try and limit what I wrote to what actually contributed to my decision to use WordPress as a CMS.

Next up, I’m going to talk about the beautiful appendages of WordPress – plugins. In the next article (or two) I’m going to highlight how the plugin architecture of WordPress makes it easy for developers/designers to expand on the core functions and then I’ll list some of the plugins I used in the sites I designed.

Organize Series Bug Fix: Disappearing Content

Thanks to Thomas Sutton, I became aware of a bug in the plugin that caused the post content for all posts to disappear when the auto-tag toggle for the series-meta was disabled. I’ve updated the .zip file for the download – which you can get quickly here. The only file that needs to be replaced is orgSeries.php.

Or if you are comfortable editing .php files do the following in the orgSeries.php file:

Find,
if($settings['auto_tag_seriesmeta_toggle']) {
$content = wp_seriesmeta_write($postID) . $content;
return $content;
}

which is at about line 375 (to 378)

ADD (at line 379 right before the })
return $content;

That’s it! I really apologize for that bug. It is something I should have noticed earlier. Thanks Thomas for pointing it out!

What Happens When Children Lead – Christianity.ca

Reading the article, What Happens When Children Lead by Patrice Wheeler was exciting for me because it matches the desire I have for children in my own church (and of course my own kids).? Patrice writes about taking some children from the children’s ministry at her church (Scarborough Gospel Temple) on a Short Term Missions trip to Trinidad.? The team consisted of five children aged 11 to 13 and two other adults and as Patrice writes in her article, the children were very involved in the actual ministry on the trip.? Not only that but the preparation leading up to, and the followup afterwards involved not only the children on the team but other children from the church as well in various support activities for the trip.

What excited me in reading this article is to see these young children not only encouraged to be involved in ministry but also released to serve in ministry.? In other words, this church didn’t only talk about wanting to see their kids doing ministry but they actually equipped them and released them into opportunities to serve.

Part of the vision I have for HPC (Hanover Pentecostal Church – my home church) is to see this same thing happen with the children in our church.? I truly believe that God can work in and through our children in unique and powerful ways if we only enable them to be involved.

Save Time on Passports

This entry is part 4 of 27 in the series Zimbabwe 2007 Project

Yesterday I made the journey to the Canada Passport office in Kitchener with one of the other team members, Alex Pendergast, so that we could get our passport applications handed in and begin the processing. Ordinarily I wouldn’t post something as mundane as this but we learned something that I think will be beneficial for anyone looking to get their Canada Passport in the next few months and so here’s the post.

Due to a recent U.S. Law entitled the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), Canadians who want to travel to the United States are now required to have their passport (currently only required if traveling into the U.S. by air, but in 2008 will be required for border crossings as well). As a result the passport applications have skyrocketed and the wait time for getting passports has gone up as well. Not only that, but you can expect when going to a passport office to deliver the application in person (which speeds up the actual processing time vs. mailing in the application), that there will be a long waiting line for that as well.

However, there is an easier way to go about doing things – as Alex and I recently discovered (and no it has nothing to do with anything illegal!). When Alex went to get his passport photo taken at our local travel agency a couple weeks ago, the person taking his photo happened to mention that a relative of his filled out his passport application online and his subsequent trip to the passport office was quick compared to regular paper applications. As a result, Alex and I decided to fill out our passport applications online and go that route.

Well let’s just say, we were glad we did. We arrived around 11:00am at the Passport Office in Kitchener, Ont. When we travelled in the elevator there were a few other people with us with paper passport applications. Upon arriving at the office the place was packed with people – not only was there lineups for getting the applications processed but also a lineup for getting a number to get in line! Needless to say we weren’t looking forward to the wait. Then, one of the passport officers yelled out, “People will Online Applications follow me” and we were directed to a special line for those with applications that had been prepared online. We got our numbers, and went to wait. Within 15-20 minutes we were back in our car headed home. Yes, that’s right – 15-20 minutes!

Further, while we werewaiting Alex happened to run into someone he knew who had been waiting (paper application) since the office opened that morning. She had number A58, and they were only up to A35 when we were there. When we left they just changed to A36. Not only that, but the people who were on the elevator with us? They had numbers beginning at A126! They certainly were in for a long wait! We had numbers C345, and C346 respectively which is the queue for online applications – so you can see there were a large number processed already that day.

Bottom line, if you are applying for a Canada Passport any time soon – do it online. It’s as simple as pie. I’ll help with a brief outline of what to do.

1. Go to the government passport website at http://www.ppt.gc.ca/index.aspx?lang=e

2. Follow the links to the “online passport application” section. If you don’t have an E-pass you’ll have to register for one. (HINT: Do all of this on off-peak hours [really early in the morning, or late at night] or you may have difficulty finishing the process due to high volume load on the government servers [they don’t have super-hampsters running their servers of course…])

3. If you have an E-Pass you can login and start the application process (can take anywhere from 20-60 minutes depending on your typing speed and whether you’ve got all your necessary information handy). The instructions are fairly straightforward – follow them and fill out the application.

4. When done filling everything out you can then print the form. VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure you follow their print instructions to the tee, as they will be picky about that. If you have a crappy printer consider saving your application and printing it off on an office printer, or a friends printer if they are better. Most standard printers should do the job just fine though.

5. Get the necessary signatures and then you’re all done. Make sure you take the printed out application, all your necessary ID and documents, and your passport photos to the closest Passport Office to where you live and you’ll be all set.

Well, hopefully that helps some of you save some time when going through the passport process. Of course as more people catch on to the online applications that the government of Canada has made available the lineups for that will pick up a bit – but they’ll still go faster due to the decreased time a clerk has to enter the information.

One more caveat – at this point online passport applications can only be filled out by adults 16 and older and is only available for Canadians living in Canada. Still, for the majority of you that will greatly help – and for the rest, maybe the wait won’t be so long when more people apply online!

Choosing WordPress: “ooo doesn’t she LOOK fine?”

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Wordpress as a CMS

In the previous article in this series I gave a summary of some of the core differences between a CMS (content management system) and a blogging engine. I talked about some of the cases where one system is more preferable over the other when designing websites. In the conclusion to the article I mentioned that in light of what I had just written, it would have made more sense for me to go with a CMS for the website designs of Hanover Pentecostal Church, UnashamedSermons.com, and VigliottiWoodworking. Yet, as can be observed from the title of the series I obviously used WordPress instead. This article will focus on the first reason for why I made that choice.

But before I get to that I’ll give a quick rundown of some of the requirements that needed to be considered for each site.

UnashamedSermons.com
UnashamedSermons.com UnashamedSermons.com is where I host all the various sermons I have (and still am!) written and preached while pastoring at my church. There were predominately two purposes for me creating UnashamedSermons. One, I wanted a place where I could archive all my messages and access it for personal reference. Two, I wanted to make available to as many people possible these messages in the hopes more people would be impacted.

Some of the requirements needed for this site:

  • Custom theme to deal with a specific structure I wanted for the front page
  • A way of cataloging/archiving all the messages I submit

VigliottiWoodworking.com
vigliottiwoodworking.com My brother in law wanted to me to design a website for him that could be used as an online portfolio for his cabinet making business.

His requirements:

  • Simple design with pages he could edit that describe his business. Simple, but still professional looking.
  • Capability to add/remove pages at will (for him)
  • A gallery system that he could use to display pictures of work he had done. And again something he could easily edit
  • Everything had to be fast especially since he is usually working with dial-up internet access (affordable broadband is still no available where he lives) and didn’t want to have to wait through long page load-ups.

Hanover Pentecostal Church Website
hpconline In redesigning the website for my church I wanted to move away from the generic cms look in the previous design I had used (phpNuke based) and give it a more up to date look. The purpose of “HPCOnline” is to:

  • inform visitors of what my church is all about
  • to provide updates/event information for members/guests of the church
  • to make maintenance and adding of features in the future easier to do (and open up the possibility for church volunteers to assist in maintaining the site)
  • to provide a place for me to post a “Pastor’s Blog” as a way of communicating with people associating themselves with HPC (and reaching a wider audience as well).
  • show the latest sermon I’ve preached and provide not only the text of the sermon but also a podcast/downloadable file.
  • In the future, I hope to add an online library system where people can see what resources our church library contains, who has signed it out, and also sign out books themselves. On the backend the librarian can use this to maintain the church library (printing out reports of overdue books etc.)

With outlining some of the requirements I was looking to meet (just remember that’s only a summary!) in designing the three websites out of the way – it’s now time to (finally!) get to what won me over to WordPress as the solution.

Why I chose WordPress

1. Looks
When I refer to “looks” I’m referring to the robust theming/templating system that WordPress offers. While I can do graphical design work, it takes me a long time and my skills at coming up with something clean and neat are limited at best. With literally hundreds (thousands yet?) of themes currently available (and more being added daily!) there are a wide variety of not only color/graphical combinations but also site layouts to choose from. Since a large part of site design is developing a layout and graphical interface that makes it look polished to visitors, having this wide variety of themes to choose from saves time in the development process.

Another plus with the theming system WordPress offers is that due to the thought that has gone into the code architecture – the themes are for the most part – version independent. That is, with most themes you won’t have to update them when you upgrade WordPress to the latest version. Again, a plus on the maintenance side of the ledger.

Also, I must not forget to mention that creating/modifying themes is fairly straightforward and there are many excellent resources available that aid in learning how to create your own themes. If you are familiar with .css that goes a long way in the theme creation/modification process.

The first full-fledge design that I used WordPress for was my sermons site (UnashamedSermons.com). I decided I would give a go at creating a theme from scratch and even though it took me a bit longer it helped me to appreciate just how robust the theming system of WordPress is.

When I designed VigliottiWoodworking.com I again went with a custom built theme due to the requirements my brother in law had for loading speed and presentation. I was able to easily strip the theme of any extraneous WordPress functions that were not needed and yet still leave the dynamic capabilities intact for future use.

Then when it came to designing my church site I decided to go with a modification of the fresh theme since I liked the existing layout for it so much! Of course, I heavily modified the structure of various templates/pages etc so that it would fit my uses, but I was able to save alot of time by not having to worry about the graphical design so much.

Of course, looks aren’t the only reason why I went with WordPress – and looks, while important, are definitely not the only defining criteria in determining what should be used as a script for a website.

In the next article I’ll look at the guts of WordPress in all their gruesome glory!

The dreaded needle…

This entry is part 3 of 27 in the series Zimbabwe 2007 Project

Well today I got my (hopefully only round) first round of shots in preparation for traveling to Zimbabwe. Even though the actual journey is still nearly 4 months away I want to make sure I get any necessary medical stuff out of the way. Did I tell you I hate needles yet? Well then, let me tell you, I HATE NEEDLES. But I was surprised, it didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it would. At least not as much as getting bloodwork done. When I visited the lab due to doctor’s orders to get my blood checked out for who knows what, I didn’t think they were going to take THAT much blood! Did I tell you I hate needles yet? Yeah I hate needles. I nearly passed out when they stuck that instrument of torture into my veins…at least the kind nurse found my vein on the first try! (clump, the sound of my body passing out and hitting the floor).

Well, on to another subject shall we? While getting my dose of the Hep-A vaccine and the mumps/measles/rubella concotion – I started to think about how much we take for granted here in our country. In the travel package I received from our local public health unit I noted the differences in disease risk – for Canada (my country), the traveler is warned,

Food-borne and water-borne illness:
* Minimal risk throughout the country.

And then the disease risk for Zimbabwe…

Food-borne and water-borne illness:
* High risk throughout the country including deluxe acommodations in major cities.

Did you catch that? Even in deluxe accomodations in Zimbabwe there are high risks for food-borne and water-borne illnesses – let alone the daily acommodations most Zimbabweans live with! In western society (especially in Canada) we have such freedom from concern when it comes to diseases and illness – not to say it doesn’t happen here – but in Zimbabwe its a fact of life!

Here’s another sobering thought – 1 in 4 Zimbabweans have AIDS. That means that if I walk down the streets of Harare and shake hands with folks, chances are that every 4th person I shake hands with has AIDS. Compare that to Canada? Well, AIDS doesn’t even make it to the travel advisory to Canada, I had to do some digging around to find statistics about the incidences of AIDS in my country. Here’s what I found: according to Public Health Canada, approximately 58,000 Canadians were living with AIDS by the end of 2005. According to Statistics Canada, the population of Canada is 32,623,490 at the end of 2005. Doing some simple math that means that 0.17778600634082987442483927991763% of the Canadian population has AIDS or in more understandable terms (and rounded) – 1 in 1779 people have AIDS. So in Zimbabwe, 1 in 4 people I shake hands with has AIDS, in Canada I’ll have to shake hands with 1,779 people before I shake hands with a person with AIDS. Wow, yeah…we kind of do take things for granted here don’t we?

By the way, did I tell you I hate needles…?

Organize Series 1.5 Released!

I just can’t get away from working on this plugin – I find it too useful for the various websites I write and I keep tweaking it to make it easier for me to write posts that are a part of a series and display the information that I want to display. The problem is, I’m spending so much time on developing this plugin that I have little time to actually write articles 😆 !

Anyway, this release of the Organize Series WordPress Plugin is chock full of great enhancements and minor bug fixes including the following:

  • Added a function/tag for counting the number of posts in a series. (tag returns a value). See usage instructions below for manually placing this tag (it is automatically included in the auto-tag insertion for series meta information)
  • Added a function for writing series meta information (?This entry is part x of x in the series, ?The name of my series?) to the posts that belong to a series. This is automatically added by default to your blog but it can be disabled for manual insertion via the new option on the options page for the plugin. See usage instructions below for manually placing the series meta tag.
  • Added options for the html tags surrounding the series meta and for the post description word. Added to the options page for the plugin.
  • Redid the layout of the admin options page for the plugin so it?s organized a bit better and a ?little? bit more prettier. I recognize that more work still needs to be done of course ;) .
  • Added to the admin options page for the plugin a feed from this blog that displays posts related to the Organize Series WordPress Plugin so that users can see at a glance if there are any updates available.
  • Fixed the requirement for posts that are part of a series to have the parent series category selected.

There are some other goodies I’ve added as well for those of you who want more control over how your series info is displayed on your blog/website. Head on over to the plugin page to see all the details and download the new version!

Debate anyone?

Convince Me – Debate Online is a new site I came across that provides a forum for debates to take place.? In their words,

Convinceme.net is the ultimate debating website. First off it’s free to join. You can create any number challenges, and compete in any number of debates that other users create as challenges. Compete for votes, a winning record, and points. It’s your chance to convince the world that you are right! If you get a certain number of points, and have a winning record, you can also have the chance of competing in our Debate Playoffs, with a chance to win a grand prize in the Super Bowl of debating!

If you don’t want to compete, and are just interested in debating your opinion along with others, you can create open debates. These have no winners, losers, or points but the general public can still vote on the subject.

It’s an interesting concept, albeit one that’s existed in a limited fashion ever since the first online forum hit cyberspace.? What’s unique about convince me however is the way its formatted so there’s a way of tracking “winners” or “losers” in debates.

One of the unique features is that in open debates there is a “I’m convinced” button where if someone has written an argument that convinces you to their side you can click it and they receive a “convince” point.? Those with the most convince points have their arguments moved to the top of the list.? In theory it should help to present the most convincing arguments at a glance but in practice it doesn’t seem to be doing the job – I did a quick glance at the top debates and it seemed to me that the top arguments were poor at best – of course that opinion is fairly subjective in nature.

While the site will probably attract a certain breed of people who like debating and trying to convince people of their arguments I really don’t think it would be a good idea to quote from the site as a statistical resource for seeing where the “majority” of people stand on a certain issue.? Among the “debaters” making serious and thought out arguments there are a lot of rather flippant comments as well which are obviously from people who are just trying to be humourous.

Is it for everyone? Nah, probably not – but for any forum administrators having problems with people who love starting up arguments – refer this site to them and see your problems go away… ;)? – well maybe…

What makes the site interesting for me is that in reading through the various arguments and comments people make, I gain perspective on the way people think on different issues.? From a pastoral perspective, this becomes really helpful on the hot-button topics like abortion, the existence of God, and gay marriage.? It’s enlightening to see the wide variety of popular opinions and beliefs people have developed regarding these topics and in some cases the resources that they use to support those opinions.? This better equips me to understand the different responses people may have when I address those same topics in various conversations I have and makes me think through some of the positions I have taken.

Definitely a site I’ll visit every once and a while!

Zimbabwe 2007 makes front page news

This entry is part 1 of 27 in the series Zimbabwe 2007 Project

Our local newspaper carried a front page article covering the Zimbabwe 2007 project that I’m a part of.? It’s exciting seeing the word of this project being spread throughout the community.? We really hope that people catch the vision for helping these children who have been orphaned by AIDS and the opportunity to give the people of Zimbabwe hope.? It is our prayer that when we go, we will be able to take along a great contribution that will help towards the building of this community.