Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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“A Gift for Jesus”
by Tom Goodman
December 1, 2004

Did you brave the crowds of shoppers last Friday?  The day after Thanksgiving has become the unofficial kickoff for Christmas shopping, and according to the Statesman retail sales were up ten percent from the big kickoff last year.

This Sunday, I’ll be speaking about our gift-giving.  With all our Christmas shopping, we need to think about what gift we’ll give to Jesus.  After all, isn’t it his birthday celebration?

Like many churches, Hillcrest promotes a special gift for international missions at Christmas.  The Bible says that “wise men” from the East brought gifts for the newborn king, and we should, too.

Now, legend often rushes in to fill the vacuum that history sometimes leaves.  Tradition has it that the “wise men” were three in number, that they were kings, and that their names were Melchior (or Melcon), Balthasar, and Gaspar.

In fact, tradition and folk legend have even come up with a description of each man:  Melchior we are told, was a very old man with white hair and a long beard who brought the gold.  Gaspar is said to have been a young, beardless man of ruddy complexion who brought frankincense.  And the legends say Balthasar was a black man, heavy bearded, and he brought the myrrh.

Not only that, but people have even assigned deep and prophetic meanings to each of the gifts.  For example, gold, we are told, was brought to symbolize Christ’s kingly status.  And incense was brought to symbolize Christ’s divine status since incense was used in the Temple and burned as a part of worshipping God.  And myrrh was brought as a kind of prophecy that the baby before them was born to die as a sacrifice for our sins since myrrh was a spice often used in embalming.

Of course, none of these elaborate details can be known from the Bible.  Still, there are several things we can learn about these Magi from Scripture.  The wise men can teach us some important things while we consider what our gift to Jesus should be.  Come this Sunday, December 5, at 10:45 a.m., and let’s discover the wisdom of these wise men.

Also, time is running out to get your tickets for this year’s Dessert Theater.  It’s called “Four Tickets to Christmas” and I suggest you get at least four tickets: one for yourself and three for those you plan to invite.  What a great way to introduce your THEMs to your church!  Be sure to use an e-card to invite a friend—just go to


P.S.  Thanks to Jim Siegel for handling the preaching this past Sunday while I was on Thanksgiving break.  And, speaking of thanksgiving, I really liked Gene Chappell’s tribute to Steve Williams in this week’s Beacon.  Read it online at

Important Notes:

Christmas Around the World.  Here’s a note from Mrs. BJ about this Friday’s kids program:  “We have an exciting night planned for Hillcrest Kids and their friends this Friday (December 3)!  We are going to explore Christmas celebrations around the world.  We'll begin with dinner from Mexico at 6:30pm.  We will be serving nachos and tamales.  Preschool children will be served in their classrooms.  Kindergartners through 5th Graders will eat in the MPC.  Following dinner preschoolers will participate in a variety of activities from ‘around the world.’  K's–5th will be divided into smaller groups that will "travel" to England, Germany, and Mexico.  They will take part in traditions and activities from each country.  Along the way they will participate in a pasada, make angel ornaments, decorate a tree, light Advent candles, and create cards to share with others.  We will end the evening with Christmas carols, piñatas, and gingerbread cookies.  Kids of all ages are invited to attend!  There is no charge for the evening, but I need to know who is coming!  Please RSVP through the church office at 345-3771 or email me at”
Youth Progressive Dinner.  Here’s a note from Jim:  “This Saturday (December 4) is our Christmas Progressive Dinner.  Our theme this year is Italian.  If you are a parent of a student, you may receive a call asking you to provide some food for this event.  Thanks in advance for your help.  I know the students and youth workers greatly appreciate it.  Students, don't forget to sign up with Dee, and don't forget your white elephant gift!”  For more information, drop a line to
Post-PDL Sunday School.  This Sunday, December 5, all pre "40 Days" departments/classes will resume.
Four Tickets to Christmas.  Hillcrest Dessert Theater, December 10-12.  Seating is limited.  Tickets are $5 and going fast.  Pick up tickets in the lobby this week!  You can use an e-card to invite a friend—just go to
Be an Upward Basketball Prayer Partner!  It’s not too late to sign up.  We currently have 101 people who have volunteered to pray daily for 100 days for our Upward Basketball season—for the players and their families; for the coaches, referees, and other volunteers.  It’s already Day 10, so take this link ( and get on board for the last 90 days!  If you sign up, you’ll receive (1) a prayer calendar with a specific recommended prayer for each day, and (2) a short list of players and coaches to keep in your prayers.
New Chapter:  I’ve added a new chapter to The Anchor Course at www.anchorcourse.blogspot.comReading these chapters will help you explain the faith, and forwarding these chapters to your seeking friends will help them explore the faith.

Do you know friends who would appreciate Winning Ways?  Just forward this e-mail to them!

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