Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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“Courage is a Three-Letter Word”
by Tom Goodman
December 8, 2004

Special Note:  This edition of Winning Ways contains the famous Praline French Toast recipe everyone’s been asking for!  (Note:  The original recipe sent out with this Winning Ways had some errors in the amounts for butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  These have been corrected below.)

Another Special Note: We have a few seats left for our Christmas musical, “Four Tickets to Christmas.”  Invite someone and contact the church office at 345-3771 or so we can make arrangements.  You can use an e-card to invite a friend—just go to

Now, here’s this week’s e-ncouragement . . .

“Courage is a Three-Letter Word”

A group of Christian young people were shown two video covers:  One was a video of Indiana Jones and the other was a training video for a sewing machine.  When asked which of the two pictures best represented Christianity as seen in churches today, every one of them chose the training video.

H-m-m.  Let’s make sure that’s not the impression of Christianity Hillcrest leaves.  We need the spirit of S.L. Potter, who made the news for bungee jumping for the first time at age one hundred!  Potter's children, ages 68 to 74, were vehemently opposed to the leap, but Potter climbed a 210-foot tower and successfully executed his jump.   His first words when he got off the cord?  “Give me back my teeth!”

The Christmas story is a story of risk-taking.  Have you ever thought of that?  We’ve domesticated the story so that it’s nothing but a safe and heartwarming tale, but think about it.  It’s a story of a pregnant unmarried teenager, a vulnerable baby born into an impoverished family under a tyrannical king.  This isn’t a Hallmark Channel story.  It’s full of risk:  it’s socially and politically dangerous.

The founders of a monastery on the coast of France knew this.  They named their establishment, “Our Lady of the Risk.”

This Sunday, we’ll look at the risk Mary willingly took, and prepare ourselves for saying “yes” to the risky commands God gives us.  The redemption of the world hinged in part on Mary’s willingness to say “yes” to God.

A few years ago at a Southern Baptist annual meeting, the convention president held up a stack of missions commitment cards that had been turned in at the conclusion of the mission presentation on the previous evening.  He choked with tears as he held them and stood silent, head bowed.  Then he read one as representative of the type of decisions that had been made.  It was from a fifth grader who wrote “little girl” as her occupation.  And in bold letters, complete with exclamation point, she had written, “You can count on me.”

That’s the moral of the Christmas story:  God is looking for people who know that courage is a three-letter word:  yes!


Here it Is!  Okay, you guys have been asking and asking for the Praline French Toast recipe from our Celebration Sunday Breakfast.  I predict that divulging this recipe in Winning Ways will cause it to be forwarded more than any previous e-newsletter!  Here it is:

        Praline French Toast

             20 1-inch slices of baguette or bread equivalent

             8 large eggs
             2 cups half-and-half
             1 cup whole milk
             2 tablespoons sugar
             1 teaspoon vanilla extract
             ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
             ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
             dash of salt

        Praline Topping:

             ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
             1 cup packed light brown sugar
             1 cup chopped pecans
             2 tablespoons Vermont maple syrup
             ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
             ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Arrange bread slices in a 9x13 baking dish.  Combine next 8 ingredients.  Beat until blended but not too bubbly.  Pour over bread, moistening all slices.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
To prepare the topping, combine all the ingredients until well blended.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
To bake:  Bring the topping mixture to room temperature.  Preheat oven to 350.  Just before baking, evenly spread topping on each slice of bread.  Bake 40 minutes until puffy.  Serve with Vermont maple syrup.
Update:  I received this note from David Kemerling regarding Luke Connally.  Luke is a Marine serving in Iraq, and he is the son of Pat and Angie Connally, and David’s soon-to-be son-in-law:  “Last Thursday, Luke and his company were attacked by a car suicide/bomber.  Luke was injured and immediately shipped out of Iraq to Germany.  He sustained a broken femur and tibia (not in the same leg), broken collar bone, injury to one of his shoulders and right hand (had to have surgery).  Unfortunately, he lost two of his fellow marines.  One was a student at UT.  Luke is scheduled to arrive in San Diego today and will be going through rehab there.  We are very happy and praise the Lord for Luke's life being spared; however, Luke, along with the rest of us, are grieving for the families who lost loved ones.  Please continue to pray for those who were left behind serving in Iraq.  Never doubt that every soldier desires peace.”

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.

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