Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas 
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(Sermon series beginning June 26)
Hillcrest Baptist Church

Hillcrest Blessings
by Tom Goodman
August 3, 2011

We Southerners have our phrases.  One that shows up a lot has to do with blessings and hearts, but like any Southernisms, you have to know how to use it.  Whether it's your heart, his heart, or my heart someone is blessing clues you in to how the heart's being blessed.

"Bless Your Heart":  This is an expression of empathy when someone has just reported their bad news.  We're so often confronted with news that leaves us speechless, and it's good to have a response ready at hand.  How the rest of the country gets by without a phrase like this, I'll never know.

"Bless His Heart":  This is an expression of indulgent tolerance for foolishness.  As in, "That boy is dumber than a sack of hammers, bless his heart."

"It Blessed My Heart":  This is said in testimony to what awakened you to a new appreciation of God's activity.

I had a number of little moments last Sunday with our Hillcrest Family that, well, blessed my heart.

There was that time before the service as I turned the corner and saw Brent McKanna reading to his two kids.  They were on a hallway bench, one child on each side of him, finishing up their last book in our library's summer reading challenge.  That's a moment of grace where you want to snap a picture for your Facebook status update, but doing so would ruin the moment.

Then there was the hour after the service as I joined my Common Ground group.  We pastors tend to enlist others into a small group without joining one ourselves because we worry it will look like favoritism.  We pastors need to get over that worry.  I watched my group interact on Sunday and thought, "This is the way its supposed to be."  The only problem is, now I know why groups are so resistant to split up with they get too large!  That doesn't mean it shouldn't happen:  It just means its harder than I realized when I used to tell everyone to do it.

Finally, there was the memorial service for Alexis Lennart.  This dear young woman lost her battle with an eating disorder last week, and we gathered to honor her life Sunday afternoon.  Lori Shepard shared some memories, and Herb Ingram reminded everyone of the gospel promises.  What struck me was the intergenerational interaction that makes Hillcrest so special.

Take a moment to sift through your experiences with the Hillcrest Family and count the ways God is using your church in your spiritual growth.

It will bless your heart.


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