Monthly Archives: November 2008

“I don’t preach long – it only seems that way”

Anytime the length of my sermons comes up I always respond with a smile and say, “I don’t preach long – it only seems that way.”

Actually, I preached my first sermon while I was still a teen – I think it was 5 minutes long and in it I said everything I knew. Now, I’ve been in the ministry over 35 years and I can honestly say I never pay any attention what-so-ever to the time.

However, since nearly all my sermons are archived online, it is easy to check out the length of them and the time is amazingly consistent at between 23 and 33 minutes. I have a personal rule that when I get up to preach, I preach and when I finish I quit. I don’t do add on announcements before the message and I don’t rehash the message at the end.

Also, my style is almost completely expository. I’m not a story teller and I’m not a joke teller. There’s plenty of light-hearted stuff along the way and I try to illustrate points the best I am able, but I don’t have long drawn out stories to tell.

A few decades (no kidding!) ago when I spent a few months preaching in Australia, my friend John White (now gone to heaven) told me I didn’t preach like the famous American preachers who came to Australia – that I preached like Australian preachers who were less story prone and more “come now, let us reason together” in my approach. I think it was a compliment!

In fact, I think that is the major difference between most pastors today and the more famous preachers of my youth. The evangelists who came to our church were terrific story tellers who could make you laugh and cry at the same time. They preached 45 minutes to an hour, with about half of the time spent telling stories. There’s a big difference between that and an hour of more intense expository preaching.

Because of that, I think any question about sermon length has to be qualified as to the purpose and content of the sermon. Had some of those wonderful story tellers preached only 20 minutes people would have been very frustrated. In fact, to be fair, you almost have to subtract the “story time” in the sermons of great preachers like him and time the sermon only by the remainder of the content. If you do that (and I’m exaggerating) some of the “great” preachers of the past only preached 5 minute sermons (the other 55 minutes were great stories).

htaccess htpasswd and Godaddy

On a Godaddy hosted website I wanted to do two things. First, I wanted to allow users to view list of files in the directory. Second, I wanted to password protect that directory.

I’ve used htaccess before, but not often enough to really understand it. However, a bit of googling and I was ready to go.

I started off with the directory listing side of things. Using a simple text editor I made a one line file containing this command:
Options +Indexes

Windows doesn’t like saving a filename with no name before the dot so it balks at naming a file .htaccess. The solution is to save it in quotes:
I ftp’ed it to the directory and it immediately disappeared (it’s supposed to). The first time you upload htaccess to godaddy it takes awhile to be recognized. Give it about 10 minutes. After that, changes to htaccess (and htpassword) are immediate. Once it was recognized, I used my web browser to navigate to the directory it worked.

I had one complaint, the filename column was too narrow. A little more googling and I came up with the fix of adding a second line:
IndexOptions NameWidth=*
That caused the filename column to expand to whatever size it needed to to display the full file name.

Now, I was ready to go for password protection. Godaddy’s help files describe the process. First, I added to .htaccess

AuthName “User Name and Password Please”
AuthUserFile /home/content/x/x/x/xxxname/html/.htpasswd
AuthGroupFile /dev/null
AuthType Basic

(remove the underscores)
require valid-user

The main thing you have to understand is the “x’s.” Let’s say your godaddy username is “scott.” In that case you replace the x’s with the first three letters of scott (letter case matters). Now that line would read:
AuthUserFile /home/content/s/c/o/scott/html/.htpasswd

Or another example, say the username is “Pastor.” Now that line is:
AuthUserFile /home/content/P/a/s/Pastor/html/.htpasswd

One caution – and this cost me about an hour. I was so focused on the /home/content/e/t/c stuff that I forgot to designate the actual directory. I wasn’t changing .htaccess for the root (html) directory, but a sub directory. Therefore, I needed to add the directory to the above command:
AuthUserFile /home/content/x/x/x/xxxname/html/password-protected-dir/.htpasswd

That line has to point to the actual location of .htpasswd! After an hour or so the light finally dawned on me – hopefully this will save you that hour of frustration!

Next, we create the .htpasswd file – following the same approach we used for the creation of the .htaccess file.

Do a google search for “htpasswd creation” – you’ll find many websites that will hash the password for you. Once you get it, the .htpasswd file will contain lines like this:

Upload it to the directory and you should now have a password protected directory.