Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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"What If God Was One of Us?"
by Tom Goodman
April 26, 2006

The shortest verse in the Bible can teach you a lot about Jesus.

The New Testament wasn’t written with chapter-and-verse divisions.  A French printer named Robert Stephens placed chapters and verses in his 1551 edition of the New Testament, and we’ve had them ever since.  For reasons known only to him, the printer assigned just two words to John 11:35—“Jesus wept.”  When I was a kid, my friends and I chose this verse whenever a teacher at church challenged us to recite a scripture from memory.

Without knowing it, we had actually selected one of the most revealing texts about Jesus.  You see, John tells us about Jesus’ tears in a setting that’s natural for tears.  Jesus’ good friend Lazarus had died, and Jesus did what you and I do at funerals for good friends:  He cried.

In her 1995 hit song, “One of Us,” Joan Osbourne sang:

     What if God was one of us
     Just a slob like one of us
     Just a stranger on the bus
     Trying to make his way home

Some just consider the song irreverent, but Osbourne was asking an important question:  Does God know what we’re dealing with down here?  The answer is found in the life of Jesus.  Scripture teaches that Jesus is everything it means to be God and he is everything it means to be human.  God was one of us.

But not according to the bestseller, The Da Vinci Code.  Dan Brown believes that Jesus was nothing more than a remarkable man, and the divinity of Jesus was a notion developed centuries later.  This Sunday we’ll look Brown’s claims.  It’s part a biblical response to the popular novel that we began last Sunday.  I want to give you the tools you need to assess it for yourself and discuss it with others.  We’re looking at three “Code Breakers” in our series:  You can trust the story of Christ; you can understand the nature of Christ; and you can experience the community of Christ.  If you missed the first message, you can listen online.

Bring a friend to our second study this week, because it’s the most important one in the series.  Join us for our 9:30 “Bold” service or our 10:45 “Smooth” service.  Adults who attend the first service can stay after the service and discuss the topic at our new “Common Ground” coffee fellowship.  Check it out!


Important Notes:

The Power of the “Forward” Button!  Want to invite someone to join you for our response to The Da Vinci Code?  Just click the “forward” button on your e-mail program and send this e-newsletter to them!  Also, we have an e-card you can send from our website!

Find Your P.L.A.C.E. of Service!  Herb Ingram has led hundreds of people to discover how God has designed them for service.  Join him for a two-night P.L.A.C.E. seminar on April 30 and May 7, 5:30-7:00 p.m.  For more information, see Herb’s article online.  Write Herb and let him know you’ll be there.

Discover Hillcrest!  Our next “Discover Hillcrest” class will be held THIS SUNDAY, April 30, from 12:15 to 2:15 p.m.  LUNCH IS PROVIDED!  The class is for those who want to become members, and for those who just want to learn more about Hillcrest.  While I teach the adult class, BJ teaches "Discover Hillcrest Kids" for children ages 8-12, and Jim teaches "Discover Hillcrest Youth" for students in grades 6-12.  Childcare is provided for children under the age of 8.  Pre-registration is encouraged but not required.  You can register by contacting my Ministry Assistant, Jami, by e-mail or phone (345-3771).

Children’s Choir Musical.  Spread the word about our children’s choir musical, “Donkey Tales.”  Join us at 7:00 p.m. Sunday, May 7, for all the fun.  Send an e-card to your friends!

Do You Still Have Questions About Our Sunday Morning Schedule?  If you’re wondering what to do with the kids, click here.  If you want to know how the schedule impacts middle school and high school students, click here.  If you have a question about adult Bible study, click here.  For all other questions about our new Sunday morning schedule, click here.  If these web pages don’t answer your question, write me.

Show Kids Christ’s Love!  Speaking of a place to serve, take a Sunday with the little ones in our nursery.  As the song says, they are “precious in His sight.”  Write BJ for more information or to let her know you want to serve in this ministry.

Interesting Links:

See “God Created the Heavens... and the Earth” on the Lifeway website and reflect on a Christian view of “creation care.”
Lifeway has a great article on the power of our words, especially in our families.  Read “You Don’t Say” to help you think before you speak.
National Public Radio has a couple of interesting audio files from their “All Things Considered” Easter program.  Listen to “Sunday Sermons, No Longer Unplugged” for an interview with a Boston pastor on using media in sermons.  Also, there’s “Simple Gifts: The Power of Classic Hymns.”  Bill Henderson’s view of the resurrection is disappointing, but the interview captures the power of classic worship songs in our culture.
I was moved at the stories of Iraqi Christians overcoming great odds to gather together for worship.  It sure shows how feeble American excuses are for neglecting church attendance.  Read, “Where attending church is itself a test of faith” from the New York Times.

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