A few quick notes . . .

1) We are getting ready for our first ministry trip of 2008. This morning we leave for a nine-day trip to Bolivia where we will minister to missionaries serving with the South America Mission. To get there we will drive to Memphis, fly to Miami where we will spend the night, then on Sunday we fly to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The conference begins on Monday night and ends on Friday. We start our trip back late on Sunday night–from Santa Cruz to Miami to Dallas to Memphis, arriving sometime on Monday, January 14.

2) If you are looking for a good source for customized church bulletins, check out a brand-new company called Church Bulletin Direct.

3) I have been reading an excellent new book whose title is self-explanatory: Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church by Mark Deymaz. A good blend of theory and practical advice.

4) I’m rooting for Eli Manning and the New York Giants to defeat the Bucs this Sunday.

5) I have joined the iPod revolution because Mark and Vanessa gave me an iPod Shuffle for Christmas. It’s amazingly small–smaller than a business card. If I can figure out how to make it work, I’m going to take it with me on the trip to Bolivia.

6) Special thanks to Sabrina Thompson for sending us some post-Christmas fudge. It arrived when we got back from Gulf Shores, and I have been enjoying it a bit too much. If someone would invent the Fudge Diet, I’d have it made.

7) An old friend was fired yesterday. The news came suddenly, though it was not totally unexpected. He lost his job for reasons that have nothing to do with his performance. When he called me with the news, he sounded sober but not discouraged. Then I reflected that over the years, he and I have been through the highs and lows of life together. It helps when friends have laughed together and wept together. It gives you hope and perspective to remember that God has a million ways (and more than million) to see us through the hard times of life. I am confident that my friend will land on his feet, and that his faith will grow even deeper as a result.

8) Tyndale House, the evangelical study center at Cambridge University in England, publishes a weblog called Tyndale Tech, an online resource for biblical studies. While browsing their site, I found this comprehensive list of English Bible translations available on the Internet. The same blog contains a fascinating article called The Future of Communication. The writer says that emails are dying and being replaced by instant messaging (which I happen to be doing with Josh in China at this moment), by blogs (which I’m writing at the moment), by social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook (I’m on Facebook). He also says that future of communication is in phones that will take the place of personal computers. That’s already happening with the iPhone.

9) Check out these Teen Trend Predictions for 2008, especially # 4 about teens using technology to share their faith.

10) Josh has posted a gallery with his 40 favorite photos from 2007. Most were taken in and around Nanchang, China.  

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.