Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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"Discover Hope Again"
by Tom Goodman
April 4, 2007

Botanist Elaine Solowey has successfully grown a palm tree from a seed that’s 2,000 old.

It is the oldest seed ever known to produce a viable young tree, and the news story is a parable about hope.

The seed was discovered 30 years ago during archaeological excavations at Masada.  When she heard of the excavation’s findings in 2004, she asked for some of the seeds.

Solowey said she didn’t think anything would come of her planting, but then she saw something in the potting soil.  “Much to my astonishment, after five weeks, a small little date shoot came up,” she said.  “It was pale, almost whitish green.  The first two leaves were abnormal-looking.  They were very flat and very pale.  The third leaf started to have the striations of a normal date plant.  Now it looks perfectly normal to me.”  Another researcher at the botanical center said, “It feels remarkable to see this seed growing, to see it coming out of the soil after two thousand years.”

The botanist has brought back to life more than 100 rare or near-extinct species of plants and herbs in a study of ancient natural cures, but this is the oldest seed to ever produce new life.

It’s not just a story of seeds; it’s a story of hope.

According to an old saying, “Where there’s life there’s hope”—but that’s not true.  Where there’s life there’s cancer.  Where there’s life there’s layoffs.  Where there’s life there’s failure and miscarriage and broken promises.  There’s a lot in life that can make us lose hope.  Maybe it’s been a long time since you’ve had any hope.

If so, you can identify with those downcast disciples in Luke 24.  Their hope in all that Jesus had promised them was crushed at the cross, but then they met Jesus alive, victorious over his horrible death, and hope blossomed.

Where there’s hope there’s life!  As the Canadian musician, Bruce Cockburn, put it:

This world can be better than it is today
You can say I'm a dreamer but that's okay
Without the ‘Could be’ and the ‘Might have been’
All you've got left is your fragile skin

This Easter Sunday, April 8, we’ll look at how Jesus restored hope in those two disciples from Luke 24.  We have a “Bold Blend” service at 9:30am or a “Smooth Blend” service at 10:45am.  Join us and discover hope again!


Easter Sunday, April 8.  Bring someone with you at 9:30am or 10:45am.  At 9:30am “Bold Blend” service, let the praise band lead you and your friend to discover the power of praise.  Or come to the 10:45am “Smooth Blend” service to hear, The Story—made up of familiar hymns, narration, solos and congregational singing.  The message will be the same in both services: “Discover Hope Again.”'

Extreme Makeover: Changed By Christ’s Toughest Words.  Spread the word about our new sermon series through the rest of Matthew 5.  We begin April 15, the Sunday after Easter.

Second-Half Ministries Work Day.  Saturday, April 14, 2nd-Half Ministries will be taking a group to the Down Home Farm for a work day.  Learn more in Gene’s article.

Links to Your World

A new survey has found that three million people who have stopped going to church or who have never been in their lives would consider attending if they were given the right invitation.

Ever thought about getting your mortgage off your back?  Find out why here and find out how here.

Here is a detailed summary of Joni Earekson Tada's new book, How to Be a Christian in a Brave New World.  If you've been confused about recent debates on stem cell research and cloning, Tada's book will help.

Research shows how important a dad is for the development of a child's vocabulary—and no, I'm not talking about his "golf words"!

In A Boomer Tsunami? The Southern Baptist Texan says that as Boomers age, churches will face unique challenges and opportunities.  I'm so thankful for our new "Second Half Ministries," under the direction of Sheila Evaslage and her team!  Learn more about Second Half Ministries and their upcoming mission project in Gene's article here.

The organization, “Texas Baptist Men,” celebrates 40 years.  They are best known for disaster relief and construction of church facilities.

Check out Newsweek's dialogue between Purpose-Driven Life author Rick Warren and ardent atheist Sam Harris.

Did you read about the church that has replaced “Amen” with “Boo-yah” as their response to the pastor's points?  If you like that April Fools joke, check out EHarmony for Kids.

“Switchfoot is one of the few acts today that remains secular-friendly while being grounded firmly in the faith.”  Read more from Christianity Today here.

Paul Drake, a member of our church’s college group, is part of a band called Deep Sea Diving, a “tougher than metal” band as one fan described them.  Check them out on MySpace.

Very cool.  Find out what it would be like to swim past a Blue Whale at this website.  (HT: Seed’s Daily Zeitgeist)

There’s more at my weblog, Get Anchored, including the "Song of the Week" ("Abraham" by Sufjan Stevens), my reaction to "Children of Men," some important comments about fulfilling our church's vision, and a funny video about the fears of church visitors.  To keep up with the journal, sign up for e-mail updates or assign the feed to your news reader or Google Personalized Home Page.

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