Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas 
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God With Us
by Tom Goodman
December 10, 2014

It's a popular custom to add a family newsletter to Christmas cards, summarizing the year.  But Gordon MacDonald has started to notice something . . . .

I was thinking the other day about our Christmas letters . . . .  When Gail and I were younger the letters would pour in at every Christmastime with an amazing amount of good news from all our friends.  As they recapped the year, they would say, 'I got married to the most wonderful man this year,' or 'Mary Ann and I moved to San Diego this past year and bought a lovely home.  We're so fortunate,' or 'Our little Todd got the highest batting average on his Little League team,' or 'Tom got a tremendous promotion this year . . . .'

But we're in our fifties now.  And the Christmas letters include a lot of mixed news:  'I'm sorry to have to tell you that Mary Ann and I separated this past year,' or 'Todd dropped out of college this year, he was married in November, and he and his new wife have a baby girl,' or 'These have been difficult months for us since Tom got laid off . . . .'

Sooner or later almost everyone gets tested by storms.

The message of Christmas is precisely for these times.  Matthew reminds us that one of the names for Jesus was "Immanuel" -- which means, "God with us" (Matthew 1:22-23).

When life gives us trouble, God gives us his personal presence.  Let's meditate on this good news this coming Sunday.  Join us at 10!

Malawi Challenge Met!  Two months ago I challenged you to give $25,000 toward a mission trip to serve 200 missionaries and their families in Malawi.  Over $27,000 has come in!  You guys are amazing!

Once More to Middle Earth.  Next Saturday, December 20, Tolkien fans at Hillcrest will gather to watch the first two films in The Hobbit trilogy (extended editions), and then go watch the final film.  The fun starts in our MPC:  Bring your own comfortable chair (optional) and food to share (appreciated!).  An Unexpected Journey will screen at 10am, lunch break at 1pm, then The Desolation of Smaug will screen at 2pm.  We'll then go together to see The Battle of the Five Armies at Regal Gateway at the 7:30pm showing.  You're responsible to secure your own ticket for that (click here).  For more information contact Debbie Wuthnow at


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