Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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"How to Investigate the Faith"
by Tom Goodman
September 19, 2006

Daniel and Tiffany Kilcoyne have been accepted by the International Mission Board as new missionaries to France!  We will have a commissioning service for them on Wednesday, September 20, at 6:30 p.m.  Join us!
Forward this e-mail to someone who’s been asking honest questions about Christianity.  A thorough investigation of the faith will involve three things.

Investigate reliable books.  I imagine that when you get ready to travel to a new place, you read up on the culture and customs of the place.  In fact, we would think of someone as naive at best or arrogant at worst if they thought they already knew everything about a place they had never been to.

I wrote The Anchor Course as a kind of travel guide for people who are exploring this new territory called Christian faith.  It’s 280 pages of material designed for a seeker’s spiritual discovery and a believer’s spiritual development.  You can receive a free book when you attend Hillcrest during our current sermon series, or you can order copies online by clicking here.  To learn more about the book, read the introduction by clicking here or check out the website at

Investigate the Bible.  I suggest you get a modern translation of the Bible and start to read.  I like the New International Version, and the New Living Translation.  Now, the Bible is really a collection of books, so don’t think you have to treat the Bible like you would a novel and start at page one.  Instead, I suggest you begin with one of the four “biographies” of Jesus:  Start with the Gospel of John.  Your Christian friends may suggest their favorite Bible books to read after that.  The point is, don’t think your investigation of the faith is over until you’ve read the book that Christianity is founded upon.

Investigate the lives of Christians you respect.  Maybe you’re close to someone who has become a follower of Christ and it has made you curious.  You see in them a new patience in the face of frustration, a new strength, a sense of purpose and direction.  Maybe you see a greater capacity for kindness and compassion.  Maybe you’ve seen a commitment to Christ lead to victory over addiction or lead to healing for a troubled marriage.  Of course, no human being is perfect, and any follower of Christ you investigate will have flaws and make mistakes.  But when you see characteristics developing and things happening in someone else’s life that you want in your life, maybe you should treat those things as evidence worth investigating.

Investigate reliable books . . . investigate the Bible . . . investigate believers you know.  Three ways to get started on your spiritual search.  Our current sermon series will help, too.  We’re examining the “basics” of the Christian faith in a study called “The Anchor Holds.”  Join us Sundays at 9:30am or 10:45am, or listen online (iTunes or website).


Links to Your World

Your “homework assignment” this week is to read Chapters 1-4 in The Anchor Course  to get ready for this week’s sermon.  You might also want to check out the article, “Can We Trust the Gospels?” by popular New Testament Scholar, N.T. Wright.  This is an excerpt from his new book, Simply Christian, written for spiritual seekers.
See Sliced and diced 'Veggie Tales' for the good news and the bad news.  The good news:  NBC will air “Veggie Tales” as part of their Saturday cartoon line-up.  The bad news:  All Bible verses and any references to faith in God have been removed.  Sigh.
Did you see Eileen Flynn’s article in the Statesman last Monday? “Christians shunning labels” introduced some local Southern Baptist churches that you need to know about.  It was her way of showing the local relevance to a nationwide study that finds millions of Americans don't identify strongly with any particular denomination.  See the article, “God Really Is Winning” for more about this much-discussed study conducted by Baylor University.
You’ll find more articles and commentary at my weblog, “Get Anchored,” including my reaction to the death of a Somali Christian who was killed because he refused to join his community in Islamic prayers.  To keep up with the weblog, sign up for e-mail updates or assign the RSS feed to your news reader.

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