Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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Hillcrest Church Office
September 1, 2004

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Here is this week's WINNING WAYS . . . .

“Exploring and Explaining the Faith”
by Tom Goodman

He was friendly, but blunt.  “My friend gave me this because I was asking him a lot of questions about Jesus,” he said, holding up a copy of the Gospel of John.  “You expect a lot when the first thing I'm supposed to believe is that Jesus turned water into wine.”

That was my introduction to a Canadian businessman with a practical mind who had begun to explore Christianity.  He was part of a seeker class I had formed to give people freedom to ask these kinds of questions.  After the classes, participants have expressed appreciation for the opportunity, but I've also benefited.  Rarely am I left unchanged from hearing their remarkable insights as well as their faulty assumptions and prejudices about Christianity.  My sermons and plans for the church are influenced through regular interaction with those who really ought to be our church's “customers.”

Now I’m writing my own material for future seeker classes, and I would appreciate your input.  The Anchor Course is being designed for two groups—those wanting to explore the faith and those wanting to explain the faith.

My goal is to finish it by April.  I’m writing a chapter a week and I’m presenting the material to those attending our midweek service (Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m).  I’ve appreciated the comments from the group after presenting the first two chapters, and I hope you’ll join us.  If you’re unable to attend the midweek service, you can still read and comment on the chapters at

Reading these chapters will help you explain the faith, and forwarding these chapters to your seeking friends will help them explore the faith.

Are efforts like this worth it?  Let me return to my Canadian friend who said, “You expect a lot when the first thing I'm supposed to believe is that Jesus turned water into wine.”

“But that's not the first thing you're asked to believe,” I said.  “Look at the first sentence in the book you were given.  The first thing you're asked to believe is ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... and the Word became flesh’ (John 1:1, 14).  That's the first thing to believe.  After that, everything else is a piece of cake!”

A few weeks later, he and his family crossed the line of faith and were baptized.

Yep.  I’d say it’s worth it.

— Tom —

This Week at Hillcrest:

The Big Kahuna:  This Sunday, September 5, we continue our Bible study of the topics that inspired some mainstream movies with a look at the 2000 film, The Big Kahuna.  The film focuses on three men from a lubricants company at a convention with hopes of landing a contract with the “big kahuna,” the largest manufacturer in the Midwest.  Newcomer Peter Facinelli plays the company’s research engineer, “Bob,” an earnest young Christian on his first sales trip.  Kevin Spacey plays “Larry,” a cynical middle-aged man whose impatient hostility toward his Christian colleague is sometimes tough to watch.  Danny DeVito, in the most amazing performance of his career, plays “Phil,” an older man with a weary, resigned take on life.  The film is rated “R” for language, and if you decide to rent the film, let me warn you that the language is intense in a couple of scenes.  It will, however, raise all kinds of conversations about the role that your faith should play in your work.  I’ve chosen Labor Day weekend to discuss the film.
Interesting Articles About Movies: has posted a four-part series about movies written by David Taylor, a minister at Hope Chapel here in Austin.  The first of the four articles, and links to the other three, are found here:
Does Your Neighborhood Association or Apartment Complex Have a Newsletter?  If so, please sponsor an ad in your area’s newsletter about our upcoming Purpose-Driven Life campaign.  You’ll want to contact those who publish your newsletter to find out about cost, deadline, and other details.  Then contact Patty Waldo at so she can get you the information you’ll need.



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