A Word With You with Ron Hutchcraft A Word With You with Ron Hutchcraft Four-and-a-half fast moving minutes, using the power of Scripture and the warmth of everyday life stories to present the Gospel and challenge believers to be rescuers. Influencers/Authors


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    December 6, 2023 Bringing Back a Loved One - #9628

    The funeral plans for Matt were in the works. The Park Service had announced that Matt was one of five people who had been killed in a plane crash on a mountainside in Montana. The funeral never happened. Suddenly, Matt's bereaved parents heard the stunning news: although he had been badly injured, their son, along with one other Forest Service worker, had just been rescued alive, miles from the crash site. Rescue workers at the scene of the crash had concluded that the charred wreckage and the scattered human remains indicated that the crash had been "un-survivable." But amazingly, Matt and his fellow worker hiked for 29 hours, often in subfreezing temperatures, until they reached a highway where a motorist picked them up. One news magazine called it, "A Miracle in the Snows of Montana" (Newsweek, October 4, 2004).
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Bringing Back a Loved One."
    Many a parent with a child away from God has despaired of them ever coming out of the spiritual death that they've chosen. There may be wreckage, there may be damage, injuries, but it's way too soon to think it's over.
    If someone you love is away from the Lord and hope is sometimes hard to hang onto, God has a promise for you today in Psalm 126:5-6. It's our word for today from the Word of God and it's a good one. He says: "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him." All those months and years of praying and weeping and sowing the seed of God's Word in their life will not return un-harvested.
    How God does it, when God does it, whether or not you may even be here to see it is totally in God's hands. But you can be sure the Shepherd is persistently, skillfully pursuing that lost sheep you love and that He loves so much more. Remember, He's more concerned about the one who's lost than the 99 who are doing okay.
    I can't begin to list the wanderers and rebels that my heart has ached for over the years; so many who had tasted the goodness of God but who wandered away - some of whom are still wandering. Some of whom have gloriously come home to Jesus, now living for Him with the fervor of one who loves much because they've been forgiven much. Through all these battles for people away from Jesus, I've learned a couple of simple principles that are grounded in Scripture. They've been anchors when it looked like there was no hope.
    First, remember the difference between a chapter and a book. These dark times in the life of that one you love are not the whole book - they're a chapter, or even a series of chapters. But many a book with sad chapters has had a happy ending. Don't judge the ending by the dark chapters in the middle of a book. Don't decide the game is lost because your team is losing at halftime.
    If you think it's over, you may actually contribute to their continued wandering by resorting to nagging. And that's only going to drive them further away. Or by compromise and accepting what can never be acceptable before God. By slowly giving up on your prayer of faith for them, or maybe just withdrawing from them when your unconditional love may actually be their best hope. See, when someone you love is the least lovable, that's when they need your love the most.
    Remember, as long as there's breath, there's hope. It just isn't over so long as they have breath to cry out to God for rescue. So keep on fighting for them in the Throne Room of Almighty God with defiant faith - faith that defies the devil's lie that "it's over. What's the use?" Keep on loving them. Keep on gently sowing seed, as the Holy Spirit opens up natural opportunities. Keep on asking God to make their sin unsatisfying to them, and cry out to the Lord, "Do whatever it takes, Lord, within Your will, to bring them to You!"
    Jesus is still bringing back, alive, loved ones that had been spiritually given up for dead.

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    December 5, 2023 Chasing Bubbles - and Meaning - #9627

    A dog and bubbles: ah, there's an amusing combination! I think my wife discovered this when our little Shih tzu dog was just a puppy, a new member of our family, and she was kind of still discovering her world. My wife went out and bought one of those containers of bubbles, you know the one with the little wand.
    Well, the puppy couldn't resist those bubbles. She'd try to pounce on the bubble as soon as it landed on the floor. And when they were in the air, she'd watch them come down, she'd wait for them. She was in attack mode. The problem is that the bubbles disappeared as soon as she could get to them. She'd open her mouth to attack it (or eat it or whatever you do with it), and suddenly it wasn't there anymore! All that was left was this bewildered dog sniffing and searching and looking up at the new bubbles coming down. She wasted an awful lot of energy looking for bubbles.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Chasing Bubbles - and Meaning."
    Our word for today from the Word of God; Ecclesiastes 1:14. It's from a man who chased plenty of them. King Solomon, the ancient Jewish King said this, "I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind." Our dog would have said chasing after the bubbles. See, Solomon probably lived life with more gusto than anybody you ever knew. He was the richest man of his time. He built an incredible temple with his name on it. There were roads and buildings everywhere that he was responsible for. He had the best of entertainment. He had more women than you could possibly imagine, and he studied the greatest ideas of his time, and repeatedly he says in his book, "it was all chasing after the wind."
    Chasing bubbles - maybe you know that feeling. You see something or someone that looks promising as a goal and you think it would give you personal happiness or personal fulfillment. So, you pounce on it with everything you've got and poof - it's gone! It leaves you sniffing and wondering why you're still empty and you keep looking for the next bubble to come along. How long is it going to be before we realize that what we really want isn't any of life's bubbles, any of the things that earth can even offer us?
    Okay, Ecclesiastes 3:11 - Solomon got it figured out. He says, "God has placed eternity in our hearts." See, there's this eternal hole in our heart. It's so big that only someone as eternal as God can fill it. We've been trying to put earth stuff there and earth people to fill a God hole in our heart. We're hungry for something that's going to be there forever.
    Right now you might be aggressively pursuing a position or a possession or a person with everything you've got. But when you get it, you're going to discover what you always discover - it's a bubble that bursts. That's why Solomon concludes after his life-long search in Ecclesiastes 12:1, "Remember your creator, in the days of your youth." There's only one pursuit worth everything you've got - and it's a personal relationship with your Creator. Life lived for what matters to God. The Bible says this, speaking of Jesus Christ, "He is our peace."
    Maybe you're away from God right now and you know you are. The Bible says we all are actually, because of our sin, our self rule of our life; but Jesus came to pay for that sin on His cross. He took the death penalty for it, and when you meet Jesus at His cross, you are finally as the Bible says, "complete in Him." So how soon are you going to give up chasing the wind? Looking for love and peace in things that will disappear as soon as you get them? It's time for you to belong to Jesus, isn't it?
    Do you want to do that? Would you tell Him that today; "Jesus, I'm yours." Let me invite you to go to our website - ANewStory.com. Meet me there and I'll explain how you can be sure you have this relationship and your search is finally over.
    Remember, you're finally ready for something that's eternal, that's unloseable, that's unbreakable. You, my friend, are ready for Jesus.

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    December 4, 2023 The Christmas Window - #9626

    You may remember when the word window just referred to that opening in a wall that kind of, you know, you covered with glass? Well, NASA changed all that. A window is still an opening, but the folks at Cape Canaveral use that word to refer to that brief period of time where everything is right for the launch: the wind is okay, the weather's okay, they've checked it at the Cape, they've checked it down range, and the atmospherics are okay for communication. The conditions have been predicted for the time of return and they look good, too. But the window will pass soon. If you're going to get this thing off the ground, go when the window's open.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Christmas Window."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Luke 2 beginning at verse 16. This might be a dimension of Christmas that we often miss; maybe with tragic consequences. "So the shepherds hurried off and found Mary, and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in a manger. And when they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child. And all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them."
    Now, notice it says they had seen Him and then they spread the word. The first people to ever celebrate Christmas saw it as a time for telling. That was their first response! "Man, it's time to spread this good news!" Now, 2 Corinthians 5:20 tells you what your lifetime assignment for Jesus is, "We are Christ's ambassadors." Whatever you do for a living, or go to school for, your highest calling is that you're an ambassador for Jesus Christ. If the people in your world are ever going to hear about Him, it's going to be through you. See, He's assigned you to this particular little tribe that's around where you work, or go to school, or live, or recreate. That's your territory as a "missionary."
    Your environment might change. You may move, but your assignment doesn't. You are His ambassador wherever He puts you. Christmas, I think, is the best window of the year for telling about your Jesus. Hearts are softer this time of year. People are open. Christ is kind of like everywhere. You can't even go to the mall without hearing songs about Him. It's never easier to talk about Jesus than it is during the Christmas season.
    But the Devil? Oh, he loves to see us so consumed with Christmas busyness that he keeps us distracted when the window in lost hearts is the most open. Think about it. Who is there this Christmas, in this countdown to Christmas, that you need to communicate Christ to? They need to hear about your Jesus. This Christmas season would be the time to tell them about the One who promised peace, and brought peace to your heart.
    Maybe it's time to take that person out to lunch. Maybe it's time to give them a Christian recording of some kind or contemporary worship music. Share with them the songs that really mean a lot to you. Most of all, tell your Hope Story; write down your Hope Story. If you do Christmas cards, put it in the cards. Look for opportunities to tell your personal Hope Story of the difference Jesus is making in your life. Maybe you need to invite them to an event that will be a good place for lost people to go and some place "seeker friendly." They're ready to hear Christmas music, it's that time of year! Everybody wants to hear that.
    Invite them to your home afterwards. Don't just go to the concert. Invite them to your home to fellowship and talk about what was sung and what was said about Jesus there. My wife and I had great opportunity to make progress in communicating our Jesus to our friends by that alone. Just invite them to a concert or a Christmas event and have them over afterwards and talk about what we all felt.
    Jesus said that it was "harvest time." He said the harvest is plentiful. And I've asked farmers, I've asked what harvest means to them and they say, "ready." Well, I think someone around you is ready because it's Christmas. They desperately need your Lord, and they may be more ready than ever before.
    If you're ever going to launch an effort to take that person to heaven with you, would you do it now while the Christmas window is open?

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    December 1, 2023 Unconditional Surrender - #9625

    Christians that were in Russia anytime during the 1950s to about 1990 were familiar with the voice of Nick Leonovich. For decades before the Iron Curtain came down, Nick had been faithfully broadcasting the gospel in Russian to his people. When the doors began to open, and Nick would travel through Russia and meet those Russian believers finally, a lot of them would stop him and they'd say, "Hey, I know your voice! You led me to Christ." Wow!
    Well, I've got to tell you, Nick wasn't always working for the Lord. That took a miracle. Nick was living as a teenager in Passaic, New Jersey, and his older brother, Alex, was pioneering Christian broadcasts in Russian for a company and ministry in Ecuador. And when he would ask Nick about his relationship with Christ, Nick kind of waved him off and said, "Hey, that's my business." It was an August day in 1945 when older brother Alex was driving to the radio station in Ecuador, and he heard the breaking news. He threw out his planned message and he spoke spontaneously from what he had just heard on the news. Nick happened to be listening on shortwave radio in New Jersey. He would never be the same.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I was to have A Word With You today about "Unconditional Surrender."
    The news that day? The unconditional surrender of Japan to the Allied Forces. Japan had expressed earlier interest in a surrender with specific conditions. But that day in 1945, they surrendered without condition. Alex Leonovich spoke on the subject Unconditional Surrender to Jesus Christ. Nick heard it in New Jersey, and he fell to his knees. He said, "Lord, I've been a Christian but on my terms. Now I want to surrender to You with no terms. I unconditionally surrender." Well, I'll tell you, the lid came off his life from that day on.
    And just as God directed a man to speak about unconditional surrender over a radio almost 70 years ago, I really believe God has wanted me to do that today, maybe for you. Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Romans 12:1-2. "I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is; His good, pleasing and perfect will."
    You notice here, that the appeal is made on the basis of God's mercy; after all He's done for you through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. So, we're being asked to respond to what He did for us. Then it says, "Offer yourself as a living sacrifice." A sacrifice. Well, that means that you have no further plans of your own. But you're still going to go on living, except from now on you will live surrendered to Jesus and His plan for your life.
    No longer marching to the drum beat of your generation, or the culture, or your surroundings, your environment, your occupation. No, you won't be conformed to the world, because you're hearing another drummer. The result: You will be experiencing God's good, and pleasing, and perfect plan for you. The reason you're here.
    See, conditional surrender, which is what most of us would like to do, hands Jesus a contract for Him to sign with your conditions. Unconditional surrender gives Jesus a blank piece of paper which you've already signed, and then He fills it in. Have you ever done that? That's how you get His best. That's when He's truly your Lord.
    The world was changed by an unconditional surrender. And the world will always remember that day. One man's life was changed by an unconditional surrender, and he would always remember that day. Maybe that day is today for you; the day you win the battle because you unconditionally surrender to the Savior who unconditionally surrendered His life to rescue you.

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    November 30, 2023 Dying From Doing Nothing - #9624

    If you live on the East Coast, there is one word that's pretty sure to get your attention - hurricane. Yep! I'll tell you, Hurricane Hugo was one of those mega storms that really got our attention. You could watch the news for several nights before Hugo arrived. And they would show you this cyclonic circle inching across the weather map toward, well at that point, an uncertain destination. Half a million people were evacuated from Florida to the Carolinas, not knowing where that destructive little circle on the map was going to land. Finally, it became clear that Hugo's 130-mile-an-hour winds were going to slam ashore at Charleston, South Carolina.
    Now, the challenge for public officials was to convince everyone that it was time to move. The mayor at the time gave a very solemn warning to the people there. He was quoted as saying, "Hugo is a killer! If you stay, you may very well die." That was true then; that's still true today.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Dying From Doing Nothing."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from the prophet Ezekiel in the Old Testament. Chapter 18, beginning in verse 30, he says, "Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart; a new spirit." And then God asks a very pointed question. He might be asking you this today, "Why will you die?" Then He turns it around and He says, "Repent and live."
    In the Bible the word repent always refers to changing your mind about your sin. Whatever you've been cuddling and tolerating in your life that's wrong, displeasing to God, you turn your back on it. You change your mind about God and you pin all your hopes on Him instead of on you.
    Remember that mayor of Charleston who said the hurricane was a killer? Well, God's trying to tell us here sin is not to mess with. It's a killer! With a hurricane, those who don't leave might survive. But when it comes to sin, there are no survivors. There are eternal consequences of not dealing with our sin. But sin kills us even now. It kills marriages, it damages the people you love with your temper, and ruins the beauty and purity of sex, and it destroys your reputation.
    See, the people who die in a hurricane don't have to do anything to be killed by it. No, they die from doing nothing; just staying where they are. And that's how it is with sin. All you have to do to have this life cheapened by sin is to do nothing. All you have to do to spend eternity in hell instead of heaven is to do nothing. Stay where you are and sin will kill you.
    God says, "Rid yourself of your sin. Get a new heart." And you can only do that in one place. It's the cross where Christ died for you; where He took all the fury of all God's judgment, for all your sin and mine and paid for it out of His love for us. He said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." He was forgiving you and me when He said that. He was giving us the possibility of a new beginning; that new heart the Bible talks about.
    God's been warning you. He's saying, "If you stay where you are, you'll die." In the words of the book of Hebrews, "How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?" Don't flirt with disaster. In fact, that's why He had me talk about this. He wants you ready to meet Him.
    If you want to be sure you're ready for that appointment with God that you will keep on His schedule; if you want to be sure you've begun your love relationship with Him; if you want to be sure you'll never meet your sin on Judgment Day, this is your day to get started with Jesus, the One who died to pay for your sin and walked out of His grave so He could walk into your life.
    That's what our website's all about. It's about having this most important relationship. It's called ANewStory.com, and that's the right name to call it, because that's where your new story can begin. Would you go there?
    Move away from living your own way, because the storm is closer than it's ever been to your coast. It's time to flee right now to the safety of the cross of Jesus Christ.

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    November 29, 2023 Being the Harbor In Their Hurricane - #9623

    It was a crazy Christmas at our house! Everybody in our family, three generations, is really excited about giving gifts to the others, and getting them. Well, sometimes our festivities aren't quite like "peace on earth." Such was this particular Christmas. The chatter was loud, the laughter was hearty, and the buzz was intense. Or, in the case of a two-year old grandchild at the time, it was just confusing. My wife had this finely-tuned grandma's radar, and she noticed that our little grandson seemed a little dazed by all this happy Christmas crossfire. So you know what? She just quietly slipped to the floor. (We didn't even notice.) She got down where he was and began working patiently with him on assembling a toy he had just opened. That precious scene had been going on for a few minutes I think before any of us even noticed in the chaos. But there was Grandma, quietly creating this island of sanity in a sea of craziness.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Being the Harbor In Their Hurricane."
    That's what Grandma was for our little guy. She provided the human harbor that protected him from the storm that was blowing all around him. There are some people in your life who need a harbor like that - someone who will be for them a safe place in the middle of a life bombardment. God has put you there to be that harbor.
    And He's given us a wonderful flesh-and-blood example of it in our word for today from the Word of God which begins in Acts 4:36 where a man named Joseph was renamed by the church leaders, "Joseph...whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement)." I love that. I mean, we've all been called some names we'd like to forget, but wouldn't it be great if people thought you should be called "Encouragement"?
    Well, let's watch Mr. Encouragement in action. Saul, the chief persecutor of the early Christians, has just been brought miraculously to Christ. But with his reputation, man, he's radioactive. No one wants to risk letting him in the door, except for Barnabas. The Bible says, "When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles"'' (Acts 9:26-27). He was the harbor when no one else was there for Saul.
    When Gentiles, who the Jewish believers weren't very excited about, reportedly came to Christ in Antioch, guess who was there for them? Yep, Barnabas. The Bible says, "He encouraged them all" (Acts 11:23). Saul became the Apostle Paul and he and Barnabas went out as the first Christian missionaries. But they got into a major disagreement over bringing a young man named Mark along. He'd washed out in a previous mission and Paul didn't want to take him along. But Barnabas, the guy who believed in second chances, he took Mark with him to another ministry assignment. Wouldn't you know, later in life, Paul wrote that Mark was "helpful to me in my ministry" (2 Timothy 4:11). I think that was because a guy named Barnabas kept believing in him.
    Will you be the Barnabas for the people around you? While the world is going crazy and the bullets are flying, will you be the one who makes each person feel like they're the only person in the world when they're with you. You can be their island of sanity in an insane world just by giving each person your total focus and your undistracted listening. Human harbor folks like Barnabas give people the "Three Life-Changing A's": your attention, your affection, and your affirmation.
    Those positive strokes will help them feel how special they really are. Not just to you, but to God. They know they can come to you and they'll be uncondemned, they will be unjudged, and they will be unafraid. There are few things you can do that will mean more in the midst of a storm than to pray, right then and there, with that person who's under pressure.
    In the midst of the crossfire and the craziness of this very cold and confusing world, you have so much to give, because you have found your harbor in the arms of Jesus Christ.
    Be what the people around you need so desperately. Be the one place that they will know they are safe.

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    November 28, 2023 You Shouldn't be Driving - #9622

    One of the milestone days of any kid's life is the day they get their driver's license. It's usually cause for great excitement and celebrating. It's been about a century, I think, since I first got mine. They traded in the horse and buggy. But not long ago, I was a teenager again, celebrating getting my license. No, I hadn't lost it. The law didn't take it away. My license had expired, and the motor vehicle department had mailed my renewal form when my wife and I were on the road during a time of extended ministry.
    We'd been traveling to, as we always do during the summer to Native American reservations, reaching out to young Native people where they are. Once we returned home, we mailed the form in immediately, and of course the state responded with the usual governmental eye-blurring speed, many weeks later. Meanwhile I was one frustrated man. I like to drive, but I had to be a passenger for weeks. Once I got past my initial pouting, I've got to say I assumed a different identity. I mean, there were some advantages to being a passenger. I never knew this before. I got a lot of work done when someone else was driving. I even got a little sleep that I probably shouldn't have gotten when I was driving.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "You Shouldn't be Driving."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 2 Chronicles 20. We hear about King Jehoshaphat, a man who's used to driving, until the day several powerful armies formed an alliance and came against him with an overwhelming force. In fact, he is praying in verse 12, "O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You."
    There is a crisis here that Jehoshaphat's in, but there might be some issues here that you could relate to right now in your situation. Like how about this? No power to face it. Does that sound familiar? "A vast army"...You don't know what to do. Pretty bleak, except for one hope factor, "Our eyes are upon You, God."
    In verse 15, God says, "This is what the Lord says to you. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours but God's." God's saying, "Move over, man. You've got no business driving right now. I'll drive." Here was a king that was used to driving. He's king, but he learned to be a passenger because of an overwhelming situation, and the result, by the way, was an overwhelming victory.
    Verse 29: "The fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel." This isn't the first time the Lord took over an impossible battle and won it. Think about when David went against Goliath. David said, "The battle is the Lord's." The giant was bigger than David, but God was bigger than the giant.
    Frankly, the outcome of your battle will depend on who's driving. So, are you? See, most of us are control freaks. We insist on controlling what really matters to us. We insist on controlling who really matters to us. But spiritually, you and I were never meant to have a license to drive. That's what it means when you talk about the Lord Jesus Christ. He drives; we ride. He can't be our passenger. It seems so risky to let go of the wheel, I know. But it's a lot more risky to hang on to it. The battle is the Lord's.
    The very essence of our broken relationship with God is that we've been driving the life that He was meant to. In the words of Scripture, speaking of Jesus, "All things were created by Him and for Him." You and I were created by Jesus. We were created for Him. We're supposed to be revolving our lives around Him. Instead, we have taken over the wheel and hijacked our life from the One who gave it to us, who we will face in judgment one day, except for the fact that Christ came to be the cure of this sin cancer by dying on the cross. And all of the years of rebellion that have amounted to a death sentence for us.
    That could be forgiven for you today if you'd turn over the wheel to Jesus. I would love to help you know how to get started with that. Go to our website ANewStory.com. Your new story could start today.
    I had to be forced to give up driving by not having my license. But I learned one thing - a lot can get done when someone else is driving; especially when that someone else is the Lord Jesus Christ.

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    November 27, 2023 Chased By The Past - #9621

    Over the years, there were two words that could really stir up some action at our house. They go like this, "Let's romp!" Yeah, you have to understand I was a father of two sons, and that meant that Dad is ready for some "rough housing" with one or maybe two sons. But I learned I had to be careful, because then one day they got to be my size. So I didn't say that much any more. No.
    That was a key to a lot of fun though, "Let's romp!" And when they were small, I'd sort of antagonize them until they took after me. Uh-huh. And they'd pursue me through the house. And much to my wife's dismay, I can hear her yelling three words, "Save the furniture!" Well, the boys would jump me, and they'd make loud noises and growl and try to keep me down. Of course I acted real scared and I acted like I was almost beat, but it was no contest. They were after me, but they couldn't really hurt me. Just like some attackers who may be chasing you right now.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Chased By The Past."
    Our word for today from the Word of God; we are in Exodus 14. It's a story about people who are being chased. They are the Jews who have just gotten out of Egypt. The Egyptians are not really happy that they've just lost their entire slave workforce, so this familiar story finds the Egyptians pursuing them until the Israelites have their back against the Red Sea. So the pursuers are people who used to be their masters. It's going to be important for you to remember that in just a minute.
    Let's read from Exodus 14, beginning with verse 23 right now. "The Egyptians pursued them, and all of Pharaoh's chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. He made the wheels of the chariots come off so they had difficulty driving." (I guess you would.) "And the Egyptians said, 'Let's get away from the Israelites. The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.'" And the rest is history, as the waters of the Red Sea swallowed the Egyptian army.
    Now, I think we're looking, not just at a historical picture here; there's a spiritual picture. See, you and I used to be slaves, but you are, if you know Christ, no longer a slave to something that used to own you - that used to control you. But you know what? I'll bet it's still chasing you. See, our old slave masters always pursue us. The difference is that you have Christ in control of that area in your life right now. You can say to that old slave master, "Hey, you can chase me, but you can't have me." Just like when my boys were little, chasing me. Yeah, they could chase me, but they couldn't conquer me.
    Think of what used to be your Egypt. Was it that habit that once mastered you? Was it that depressed way of thinking, that temptation, a destructive attitude maybe? Or was it a sexual sin, or an uncontrollable temper. It could have been some selfish way of getting your own way. But that was all B.C. - before Christ - before that came under the all-powerful lordship of a risen Christ.
    But that old master hasn't given up has he? No, just like Pharaoh in the Old Testament, the old master's pursuing you right now, trying to bring you back to that old slavery. Well, you go to your new Master and once again you give Him that part of you that was the enslaved part. Turn Him loose to fight for you. You've lived in Egypt long enough; you don't ever have to go back to that slavery again. Oh, you'll be pursued, but in Christ you don't ever need to be a prisoner again.
    You'll hear the noise of the chariots, you'll feel the pressure. But turn and face your enemy and tell him, "Because of Jesus, you can chase me, but you can't have me."

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    November 24, 2023 You Are Their Best Chance - #9620

    Our son-in-law was visiting his grandfather in Florida, with a nice Florida view outside his bedroom window - grapefruit trees. It wasn't all a happy view though. Many of the grapefruit were actually rotting on the ground. His grandfather wasn't up to harvesting them anymore. So those grapefruit got all ready to be picked and no one came, and they dropped to the ground and died.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "You Are Their Best Chance."
    That's what happens when there's no one there to harvest a crop when it's ready. It will die ready. Tragically, that same thing can happen to something much, much more valuable - a human soul. But it doesn't have to happen.
    In Luke 10:2, our word for today from the Word of God, Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." Okay, I grew up in an apartment in Chicago. What do I know about harvesting? I mean, we harvested cockroaches in our apartment. But I've asked a lot of farmers what's the first thing they think of when I say the word "harvest." Their answer is almost always the same, "ready."
    So Jesus was saying, "The ready is plentiful." In other words, He's got a lot of lost people ready to hear about Him. They don't know that it's Jesus they're ready for, but they will when they hear about Him...if they hear about Him. Because Jesus' problem isn't with the people who don't know Him; it's with the people who do - His spiritual harvesters. He has so many of His people He's counting on to harvest the hearts He's gotten ready for Him, but they're just sitting in the farmhouse with the rest of God's family. Meanwhile, the harvest of hearts is waiting in the field ready...until that person dies ready.
    This is a heartbreaking spiritual tragedy - lives lost because the Christian they know isn't telling them about Jesus. Here's what He says to do about this deadly apathy. "Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest field." Those words "send out" sound so gentle in English - send out. But the original Greek word is "ekballo." You know what it means? "Forcibly expel." It's, like, used to throw demons out of people, and undesirables out of the temple. Many uses of the word include at least a hint of getting pretty aggressive, even violent. Jesus said His people need to be forcibly thrown out into the harvest of ready hearts. That's what He's trying to do with you.
    That's why you're restless. That's why you're unfulfilled as a believer. He's rescued you to be using your everyday influence for something eternal - rescuing others from a Christless eternity. In Jesus, you've got so much that lost people around you are looking for. You've got peace in times of trouble, when Jesus is the only explanation for your peace. You've got a love you know you will never lose. You've got the power to change the dark parts of you that you could have never changed yourself. You have a purpose to live for beyond just making it through the day and an eternity you are sure of. You have all of that because you have Jesus. They have none of that because they don't have Jesus.
    The Savior who died for them has been working in their life to get them ready to hear about Him. And He's moving and shaking things in your life and in your soul to get you to tell about Him. You are in possibly the best position of anyone in their life to tell them. Before you talk to someone without Jesus, pray that 3-Open Prayer: "Lord, open a door to talk with them," "Lord, open their heart," and "Lord, open my mouth."
    You have no idea how important you are to the people you know. And they have no idea how important you are, but Jesus does. You are their best chance at Him and their best chance at heaven. It's harvest time, but it won't be for long. The ready time never is long. Don't wait 'til their heart turns hard or until it beats for the very last time. Please don't let the people you know die ready. Look in the mirror today and say these words, "I am someone's chance."

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    November 23, 2023 No Days to Waste - #9619

    I used to work with our high school football team quite a bit, and their practices were in full swing. And I was talking with one of the soon to be freshman football players, and he said, "Ron, it seems like just yesterday we were having our first practices back in the summer." And I talked to some seniors, and then they said, "Ron, weren't we just freshmen? How did we get here so fast?"
    Well, another friend's daughter was getting ready to make a decision about college, and he said, "It just seemed like yesterday that she needed my hand even to go anywhere outside the yard." You know this feeling? And then I heard a pastor not long ago who was soon to turn 60, and he said, "You know, when I was 16, 60 seemed like forever; seemed like it was so far off. It was just yesterday I was 16 and saying that." I think we all know about this, huh? Billy Graham said when he was asked what the biggest surprise of his life was, he said, "The brevity of it."
    I guess it's somewhere early in our teenage years that we realize that time is limited. Time seems to, like, hit the accelerator and it never looks back, never slows down. Months and years fly by like months used to fall off the calendars in those old movies. The speed of sound and the speed of light have a companion called the speed of time. And when you realize the speed at which your life is racing by, you don't just watch it happen. You do something about it.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "No Days to Waste."
    It's been a theme with us this week. I think it's important, very much on my heart. It comes from our word for today from the Word of God, and it comments on the flyingness of time. It's in Psalm 90. It goes back to at least when the psalmist wrote and said in verse 10, "The length of our days is 70 years, 80 if we have the strength. They quickly pass and we fly away." But in verse 12 (a favorite of mine), he comes up with a flight plan for when time is flying. He says, "Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
    Ephesians 5:16 tells us to "make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." It's kind of like the psalmist is saying, "That life that seemed so long is really so short." It's given to us in something called days. He said, "Our days are flying by." "Teach us to number our days."
    Now, life seems to come sometimes as sort of this, you know, dull routine pace. The days just sort of slip by and then the days become weeks, and weeks become months, and we don't know where they went. There's no plan; there's no thought. They're sort of this plodding cycle. But this is a call from the Scripture to have no wasted days.
    Smart living makes each 24 hours matter. Older people wake up one day in their life and wish they could have their days back. And you may still have a lot of years ahead. Hey, capture them now. Awaken each morning with an awareness that this 24 hours is a gift not to be wasted, never to be lived again. You say, "Well, I've got school, or work, or traffic, or errands." That's not the wise way to live.
    There are people who need you, opportunities to see God at work in your every day. A chance to give love. A chance to receive love. And nowhere is time more precious than investing in your family. This is a building block; this day that will either bring you closer to God and His will or farther from it.
    "This is the day the Lord has made." Don't just dedicate your life to Him, dedicate this 24 hours. When you fly a plane you don't just cruise wherever you feel like. You file a flight plan of where you're going. As you face time flying by, file a flight plan for that day; seize that day. Don't just let that day happen to you. Pray for it, plan for it, make it count.
    Well used days may fly by just as fast, but they'll land you where you want to land.

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    November 22, 2023 Thanksgiving Goodbyes - #9618

    Millions of Americans are on the move right now. It's part of the annual Thanksgiving migration. They'll get to experience turkey on the table today and turkeys in those traffic jams!
    My friend Bev said that she's baked ten pumpkin pies. Yeah! Tons of folks will watch Macy's big balloons - and then later feel like one of those balloons after pigging out. And tomorrow, stores will be stormed with people that camped out in parking lots just so they could get that coveted Black Friday bargain.
    I'm thinking about the people who aren't here this Thanksgiving. Some friends who have slipped into eternity recently. Their passing reminded me of my own mortality - and, in some cases, how quickly it can all be over.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Thanksgiving Goodbyes."
    Doing Thanksgiving against that backdrop has made one word loom very big - cherish. My big dictionary says "cherish" means to "hold dear; treat with tenderness and affection; to keep or guard carefully; to make much of."
    So this Thanksgiving weekend, remembering how fragile life is and how close eternity is, I want to cherish my dear ones. I always love them, but I'm thinking more about what it means to "hold them dear," to "treat them with tenderness and affection," to "make much of them."
    There was one Thanksgiving that was like all the others, where my wife and I stood and prayed together over our family. By the next Thanksgiving it was just me. I have so many blessings and so many kindnesses to thank my family for, so many strong points that I need to affirm in them. And some things to apologize for. To cherish someone is to say, as God says, to "live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us" (Ephesians 5:2). Cherishing - giving me up for them.
    And I'm cherishing my days a little more, too, this mortality-shaped Thanksgiving. Like the Bible says to do in our Word for today from the Word of God, Psalm 90:10-12. "Our days...quickly pass, and we fly away...Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
    Weeks, months, and even years, just seem to fly off the calendar. Right? I'm pretty sure there are only about, like, a hundred days now between Christmases. There are just zero days to waste. Each new day is a treasure from God to be invested, not just spent. I need to sit with Him before I hear any other voices and find out His desires for this day, "the day the Lord has made" the Bible says.(Psalm 118:24)
    One other "cherish" for me this Thanksgiving - my destination. Heaven seems a little closer with each friend or loved one, and especially the love of my life. They are there. It's the place Jesus said He was going Home to prepare for those who belong to Him. All the earth-stuff that we cling to so tightly? It's just so trivial. Because the Bible says "our citizenship is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20) and we're really (it says) "aliens and strangers in the world" (1 Peter 2:11). This isn't home. It's Hotel Earth.
    When I've been away, I love to come home. After all is said and done, home isn't so much a place; it's those people I love who wait for you there. Knowing each day I'm one day closer to eternity, I cherish the eternal destination Jesus made possible. It cost Him His life! He made it possible by His awful death but His awesome resurrection. It's really not so much because it's such an amazing place. But because the One who loves me - Jesus - is waiting for me there.
    What great peace it is to know beyond any shadow of a doubt you're going to heaven when you die. You can if you know Jesus. And if you're not sure you do, would you tell Him this Thanksgiving, "I'm yours!"
    Go to our website. I think it will help you know how to belong to Him. It's ANewStory.com. Home for this Thanksgiving? It's a relationship you were made for and the love you were made to experience. His name is Jesus. This Thanksgiving, come on home.

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    November 21, 2023 Misguided Worship - #9617

    You can find it at a football game. You can find it in a concert. There are thousands of people drawn to a gathering, and they're talking excitedly about some star they've come to see or hear. Hands and voices are raised in praise and all eyes are on the star, or the stars. In fact, if you want to get people really agitated, use the name of their favorite musician in vain. Yeah, or say something negative about their favorite athlete. Uh-huh. I mean, people who might be relatively passive about minor issues like nuclear war, or abortion, or people starving to death are majorly aggressive about their heroes. I mean, we're excited about our favorite musician, or politician, or sports star, even our favorite spiritual celebrity...maybe too excited.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Misguided Worship."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is found in Luke 4:5-8. I think you'll find the passage familiar; it finds Jesus in the wilderness just before He launches into His public ministry. And here is this cosmic confrontation between the Son of God and the enemy of God - the devil. And the story I want to point us to goes something like this, "The devil led Jesus to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. He said to him, 'I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.' Jesus answered, 'It is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.'"
    Well, the issue in this, and it's the second temptation of Jesus. It's the issue I want us to look at for a couple of minutes today. The issue was worship. Jesus and the devil obviously both know that we're wired for worship. We're just built that way. We're instinctively worshippers. We want to lose ourselves in someone; find out all we can about that person that we lose ourselves in; identify ourselves enthusiastically with them. Talk about what we know about that person; tell about what we feel about that person.
    But it's God alone that we're built to wrap our lives around... to think about most of the time. That's why Jesus said when given another worship option, "Only worship God; only serve God."
    Sometimes I think we use up a lot of our - can I call it worship-ness - on someone human. Oh, we don't call it worship. But a lot of our thinking, our loyalty, our time, our energy, our passion, our money, our enthusiasm gets taken over by our favorite music group, or by an obsession with sports that finds us talking about our favorites most of the time, or even a politician.
    There was an article in a New York area newspaper that had this headline, "Sport takes its place among the religions of America." Sometimes we can actually inadvertently worship some Christian teacher or personality. We quote them more than the Bible. We've gotten unbalanced without realizing it. We've got to guard this worship thing we've got. It's easy to become such a fan of someone on earth that the King of Kings gets pushed to the side - gets our leftovers. The devil's strategy is to just get our worshiping redirected. Because he knows we're going to worship something.
    So let me recommend that we begin our day getting overwhelmed by Jesus Christ; focusing all of our worship-ness, our fan mail so to speak, on Him. Evaluate...maybe are you a little too excited about some earthly star? See, you're wired for worship, but save it for the only One who deserves it.

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    November 20, 2023 The Way to Miss Jesus - #9616

    You know, flying commercial airlines isn't as much fun as it used to be. A lot of people who have to fly seem to agree with that. There are overbooked flights, and there's long lines at security, and canceled flights, and crowded flights, and equipment problems, and all kinds of frustrating delays. If you don't like something about the way the airline is performing, guess who usually gets all the grief? I've seen it happen at the airport over and over again. That poor ticket agent.
    See, the ticket agent usually has nothing to do with causing the problem, but you can go to almost any airport, go to some desk and find an agent being besieged by people yelling, waving their arms, and using various forms of unpleasant language. I want to say, "Hey, man, don't blame the agent! Take your complaints to someone in charge." The representative isn't the issue. You've got to deal with the person in charge.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Way to Miss Jesus."
    Alright, our word for today from the Word of God. It comes from Matthew 16, beginning at verse 13. "Jesus asked His disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; still others say Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' 'But what about you,' He asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Then Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'"
    Now Jesus says here the issue is "Who do you say I am? See, the issue is Me" Jesus says. Well, the issue is still Jesus. The disciples kind of give the answer in the local Gallop Poll, "35% say You are John the Baptist, 22% say You are Elijah..." Well, finally Jesus closes in and says, "Who do you say I am?" That's the real issue. A lot of people are dealing with the representative of Jesus rather than dealing with the boss.
    Jim is the son of some friends of ours, and they said that he has been really wandering from the Lord. He said to them the other day, "What if I had grown up in a different family? Maybe I'd be another religion. I'm not sure I believe any of this any more." And I said, "Would you tell him that Jesus would still be who He claims He is, wherever he grew up. Let him know the issue isn't his parent's beliefs. It's a Savior who's been there for 2,000 years before His parents were born, before that church existed. Jesus is the issue and He's saying, 'Who do you say I am?'"
    Some other friends came to us about their son, and he had said to them, "I don't know if I believe it any more." And I said, "Well don't let him get away with that. The 'It' in Christianity is a Him - it's Jesus. Don't look at Christians, don't look at the church, don't look at Christian leaders, or your background and your friends. They're just His representatives. Jesus is the issue. He said "follow Me." The only reason not to be with Jesus is something about Jesus.
    Listen, don't let people become the issue. Don't let religion become the issue. Go back 2,000 years before all of these things existed and there on the middle cross is the Son of God paying the price for every sin you ever committed. If you're rejecting Christianity or rebelling in some way, don't deal with smoke screens. It's God's Son, who gave His life for you, who blew the doors off death when He walked out of His grave, He is the issue. Not His representatives, not His agent. Go to the person in charge. The issue is Jesus.
    This day, in spite of a back you may have had turned to you for many years, He's waiting for you with open arms, to welcome you into His love, which He expressed and proven when He died on a cross for you. I want you to know Jesus. Not His religion, but Jesus. If you want to finally belong to Him, I'd love to point you in that direction. I think it could help if you'd check out our website ANewStory.com and find for yourself, this Jesus who's been transforming lives for 2,000 years, who walked out of His grave so He could walk into your life today.

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    November 17, 2023 Whatever It Takes to Win Your Race - #9615

    Honest, we really didn't mean to be in northern Kentucky on Kentucky Derby weekend. But obviously, thousands of people did! In trying to avoid flooding as we traveled, that's exactly where we managed to be. So there we were in the middle of rampant Derby Fever. I didn't bet on anybody, and I refuse to wear one of those floppy hats.
    The restaurant where we had dinner made sure the TV was on so everyone could watch the world's most famous horse race. Boy, I'll tell you, it is impressive! High-stakes horsemanship, a drama-packed "run for the roses" - over in two minutes. Yep!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Whatever It Takes to Win Your Race."
    Now, actually that race is pretty amazing to watch. Those horses, like, explode with raw power and they've got this give-it-all intensity; they're driving with everything they've got to win their race.
    So should I. So should you. Like the original thoroughbred Jesus-man, Paul. Yeah, he talks about it in our word for today from the Word of God in 2 Timothy 4. I'm going to begin reading in verse 6, with Paul's final words of his final letter before he made the final sacrifice for Jesus. He will soon die for his allegiance to Christ. Here's what he wrote: "I am already being poured out...I have finished the race" (2 Timothy 4:6-7). Hey, when you pour out what's in a pitcher, it's empty; there's nothing left. Paul says, "Man, I've got nothing left at the finish line. That's the way I want it to be." It's just like his Master.
    I've actually been thinking a lot lately about the fact that God calls our life in Him a race. Not a jog, but a race to the finish line. Are you running it with that kind of intensity, that kind of passion? See, the thing is, we don't know how much longer we have before we get to the finish line. That's why we've got to run with everything we've got. We're talking about thoroughbred intensity here, not just casual, go-to-church, business-as-usual Christianity. Even if I live to be 108, there are so few days to make the eternity difference I was put here to make. There are no days to waste, my friend, no opportunities we can afford to miss. There's no time to say "maybe later" to say that "I love you"...or to say the "thank you"...or to say the "here am I, Lord"...or maybe "let me tell you about Jesus."
    I think it's time to make the prayer of Moses our prayer: "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12). I think that's saying, "Make every day count, man." That's what it means to live smart. He said that's wisdom. We've got to race to the finish line. Randy Alcorn said, "Thirty seconds after we die, we will know how we should have lived." Wow! It's a little late then. How about getting that figured out now instead of when it's too late?
    Because my finish line...well, it's not a carpet of roses. My finish line is Jesus. And, you know, His "well done" - that's the only prize that matters.

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    November 16, 2023 When Sin Looks Safe - #9614

    Three New York City boys broke into a zoo there, and one of them climbed into the polar bear area to swim in the moat. He was attacked by those bears. He was brutally killed. I was intrigued by an interview with the Park's Commissioner of New York City who said afterwards, "You know, bears are portrayed to children as friendly animals, even as cuddly animals. We've got Winnie the Pooh, Paddington Bear, and Smokey the Bear. But the Park's Commissioner went on to say, "Actually, they're carnivorous killers." He was right. I mean look, the image of bears is cuddly; the reality is deadly. And not just in bear country.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When Sin Looks Safe."
    Which leads us to our word for today from the Word of God which is found in James 1:15. It's a very revealing verse. "After desire has conceived" - okay, wait, I want to do this, I want to have this - "After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin when it is full grown gives birth to death." Now it's interesting this scenario ends in the death of a relationship or the death of self-respect, or even physical death, or the death of a reputation. It all starts out only as a desire - just an enticement. Sin looks so good. It looks like so much fun. It looks like it will meet a need for me; it will benefit me in some way. Like those polar bears. Looks cuddly, but it's a killer.
    You see, in reality, there is nothing more beautiful than good, and nothing more ugly than evil. But our world and our imaginations tell us that the opposite is true, there is nothing more ugly than good, and nothing more beautiful than evil. So we flirt with what we should be fleeing from. Maybe you're playing right now in the bear cage of sin. And the wrong still looks cuddly and exciting, enticing. You're in a relationship you never should have gotten into.
    Maybe you've fallen for the pressure to try some things that are wrong, but apparently they're not hurting you now, right? Or maybe it's all in your mind, playing with sin right now, fantasizing, considering. You're doing something you never thought you would do as God's child. Or maybe you're thinking about something you still think you'll never do, but remember it's inevitable. It starts as a desire, and desire becomes sin. You think it, you do it, and then you pay for it. That compromise seems to promise love, or attention, or excitement. But remember, God's equation is never wrong; it will always lead to dying. Sin will fascinate you but it will ultimately assassinate you.
    A New York boy underestimated the danger of a bear, and he died as a result. Right now, you might be underestimating the danger of what seems to be a very desirable sin. And if you don't get out now while you can, it will turn on you and it will kill everything you care about.
    If you want to know what sin really looks like, unwrapped in all of its ugliness, in all of its dyingness, you take a look at the cross and the mangled body of the Son of God hanging on that cross, nailed there, beaten beyond recognition. And you will see Jesus crying out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" That is the price of sin. But one He never meant for you to pay. He paid it himself. That's how much he loves you.
    This is a day for you to be set free from the sin that can only carry a death penalty forever. "The wages of sin is death" the Bible says, "but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." I invite you today, to abandon the killer called sin at His cross, and allow Him to forgive you and set you free. If that's never happened for you, never made personal for you what He did on the cross, I'd love to help you do that. Would you go to our website? It's ANewStory.com.
    It doesn't matter how warm and cuddly a sin may appear, it's a killer, not to be played with but abandoned, forgiven, and set free from.

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    November 15, 2023 How to Bring People Together - #9613

    I had just finished speaking for a Christian leaders' gathering that was part of the countdown to a Franklin Graham Festival. The setup team there was in their early days of working together on this massive mobilization. The team leader thought it would be a good idea to get his team together for a few minutes after the meeting ended, and he invited me to join them. Then he handed me a cluster of helium balloons tied together. Suddenly, I felt like I'd gone from speaker to circus clown. And, you know, I've read Winnie the Pooh stories to our kids enough that I couldn't help but picture Pooh Bear being carried into the sky by a bunch of balloons like that.
    Well, anyway, in spite of my trivial imagination, the team leader had a holy purpose actually for having me stand there with all those balloons. He asked his team members to spread out around the room. They ended up widely separated, and he asked them to get as close to me and my balloons as they could. Within moments, those workers, who had been so scattered, were shoulder-to-shoulder in a clump around me and my balloons.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Bring People Together."
    That morning the team leader actually made a powerful point. He said, "You guys notice this, that the closer each of you got to Ron, the closer you got to each other?" He said, "The more we focus on Jesus and lift up His cross, the closer we will get to each other." (I love that.) We didn't have a cross in the room, and I think the balloons were a strange but available substitute for me to hold up, but the point was made.
    And that point reaches to where you are right now in your family, your church, your ministry, your community. The closer each person on your team gets to Jesus and what He did on the cross for us, the closer those people are going to get to each other. It's focusing on lesser things; titles, personal agendas, hard feelings, little issues, politics, comparing with another person, the things we disagree on - that's what makes any group of people distant, divided and very easy for our enemy to defeat.
    The 133rd Psalm says, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity...for there the Lord bestows His blessing." There's a helpful picture of how the right focus can bring people together in our word for today from the Word of God in Acts 2, beginning with verse 42. It actually shows us the lifestyle of the original Christians; possibly the most powerful people in history. It says, "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Celebrating Jesus' death together in Communion, talking to Him together, learning about Him together - that's what they were doing. So it says, "So all the believers were together and had everything in common. They continued to meet together, and the Lord added to their number daily (This is extraordinary.) those who were being saved."
    Imagine people coming to Christ every day! When was the last time you saw that? But then, when's the last time you saw God's people setting aside their differences and coming together consistently around Jesus and His cross?
    If someone's depending on the same Savior for their eternity, if they've been to the same cross to be forgiven, isn't that enough to at least pray together, if nothing else? If you want, you can focus on the 90% that we agree on or you can focus on the 10% we disagree on. We can focus 90% of our energy on the 10% that makes "our group" or we can focus on our magnificent Savior and the magnet that is His cross.
    When we realize that He has left us here to draw a world of lost people to that cross, we realize we can rescue far more people together than we ever could apart. Remember, Jesus said, "When I am lifted up...I will draw all men to Myself" (John 12:32). Jesus and His cross - they're the magnet that pulls His people together and pulls lost people to Him. Isn't it time we made that our focus instead of whatever has kept us in separate parts of the room? Because the closer we get to Jesus, the closer we get to His cross, the closer we're going to get to each other.

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    November 14, 2023 A Father to Run With You - #9612

    Many of the world's greatest dramas are not on a stage or a screen. They're played out in that quadrennial spectacle we call the Olympics. Maybe you remember the year, many years ago now really, that Britain's representative in the 400-meter race, Derrick Redman, began to falter and went down in the back stretch with a torn right hamstring. As the medical attendants were approaching, Derrick Redman was fighting his way to his feet. Now, he's limping along in anguish. Hopping, desperately trying to finish the race. He knew he wouldn't win; he was just trying to finish.
    If you remember this at all, he reached that final stretch. And as he did, a large man in a tee-shirt forced his way out of the stands, ran up to Derrick and hugged him. That big man was Jim Redman, Derrick's Father. And he said to him, "Son, you don't have to do this." Gritting his teeth, with tears in his eyes, his son said, "Yes, I do." His Father said, "Then we're going to finish this together." And Derrick's head was literally buried in his Father's shoulder, but he stayed in his lane to the end. And when they crossed the finish line, the crowd who had been stunned at first, stood to their feet. They cheered, they wept, and they watched those two men finish that race together.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Father to Run With You."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is a simple statement from Deuteronomy 1:30. It says this: "The Lord your God carried you as a Father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place." Maybe today finds you very tired, stressed out. And like that 400-meter runner in the Olympics you're staggering right now. You're having a hard time finishing your race.
    You started well. You've been running real hard, but you're about to go down. Maybe you've been hit by discouragement, or illness, you've got family trouble, a lack of support. Or maybe there's just obstacles. You're just hurting and there's a lot more race ahead of you.
    Well, God wants to give you the good news that someone has left the stands to help you, and He's coming to the track to get you the rest of the way. It is your Father. It's your Heavenly Father. First, God left the stands to come to a cross, and there He rescued us from the sin wound that would have kept us forever from reaching heaven.
    There's a rich promise here that when you're in the desert and you can't go on, your resources are dried up, you say, "Daddy, I can't go any farther." Then He says, "Then I will carry you." Right now, let's be honest. You're not going to make it alone. But today there is an all-powerful Father who is offering to carry you. But you've got to let Him. If you're too proud to collapse in His arms, surrender to His control, then your power is limited. You're not going to make it.
    But if you will totally release the control and in the words of the Bible, "humble yourself" you will have all of your Father's power. Each of us reaches days when we just don't have any more to give. Maybe you're there right now. It's those moments in the race that can take you deeper into the love and the power of Jesus than you've ever been before. Your Father is not a spectator in the stands today. His arm is around you right now where you are.
    And it could be you have never established your own personal relationship with God as your Father made possible by the death of His Son, Jesus, on that cross for the sin that has separated you from God for a lifetime, and will separate you forever unless that wall comes down. He's come down. He's come down to a cross; all the way down to die and to pay for you. That's how much He loves you. You don't have to do life alone any more - never again.
    You've spent your last day alone if this day you will invite this Jesus to be your Savior from your sin. Listen, we've set up our website to help you begin to belong to Him today. I hope you'll go there. It's ANewStory.com. I'm telling you, the voice of God is saying to you today, "You're not doing this alone. From now on we'll finish this race together."

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    November 13, 2023 When It Looks Like It's Over - #9611

    Well, I'd been asked to speak at an adult couples thing at our church. And they did this auction sort of deal. It was sort of a "Let's Make a Deal game." I think some people call it a White Elephant Auction or something like that. It's the kind of game where you go to your garage and you get something you really want to throw away, and you wrap it up in real pretty paper and you bring it to the auction. And what happens is this: One person goes up and has to pick one of those packages, and they open it and then they have it. From that point on everyone can either take an unwrapped package and take their chances on that, or they can trade for something that's already been unwrapped that looks interesting.
    Well, there was really only one valuable thing there that night. It was like this beautiful hand-carved lamp stand. And I'll tell you, these were adults, but they were acting like ten-year-old kids going crazy like, "Where's that lamp stand?" Ladies had it under their skirts; men took it to the Men's Room with them. I mean, it was nuts! Everybody was going bananas except for one guy. He sat there the whole time kind of just smiling wisely. And I thought, "Hey, wake up man. Get with the program! What's the deal here?" You know who he was? He was the guy who opened the first package. Yeah, he was the only one who remembered the rules of the game, which are that the person who opens the first one, since he didn't get to make a trade, he's going to make the last trade of the game. So, this guy's sitting there while everyone else is going crazy saying to himself, "I know how this is going to end!" You know what? That could be you.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When It Looks Like It's Over."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Psalm 30:5, and today is especially for someone who's got a heavy burden on their heart. Maybe there's a major disappointment recently, or a painful loss, or a deep hurt. This is for you. Psalm 30:5, "Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."
    God does not deny the pain or the tears. They're real. But compared to the joy coming, God says, they're brief. He's seen your tears. The Bible says He stores them up in a bottle; He's so involved in your grief. And He's also scheduled the morning celebration. Now, I know it feels like it's always going to be like this, but rejoicing will come in the morning. This is temporary. This, too, shall pass.
    Lord Wellington won for Great Britain at the famous Battle of Waterloo. He defeated Napoleon, and he passed the word up the British coast by semaphore - by flags. And finally the word got to the Tower of London, where they posted the message up on the tower. Here's what it said, "Wellington defeated..." And then - it's London - a fog settled in, and for an hour no one could see anything else. They couldn't see the rest of the message, and I mean people were so depressed. "Wellington has lost!" And then the fog cleared, and they saw the rest of the message, "Wellington defeated the enemy."
    You know, right now your feelings are sending you only half the news, and it feels like a defeat. It seems over, like it did for Mary and Martha when their brother Lazarus died and Jesus didn't do anything about it. Little did they know He was going to do something far greater than they ever dreamed. That which seems to have won right now will be defeated unless you despair and you walk away from the God who will finish this battle victoriously.
    Right now it's night time and there still are tears, and you need to dig deep into His strength until the rest of the message comes clear. You can stay peaceful, you can stay poised while everybody else is going crazy, because you know that ultimately joy is coming, victory is coming. You can sit back and smile in the middle of great chaos and hurt and say, "I know how this is going to end!"

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    November 10, 2023 The Last Monster in the Closet - #9610

    I suspect that children go to secret seminars on how to manipulate parents. They are so good at it, so early! Especially at bedtime. You notice? The object seems to be to squeeze out a few more minutes before you have to go to sleep, right? Let's see, there's water, and then there's praying. And then, "Let's pray some more." Who can argue with that one? There's a sudden interest in talking about things; they are suddenly communicators. Then, of course, the ever popular "monsters in my closet."
    Actually a lot of these things are based on real needs and real feelings. I mean, a lot of children really believe there's a monster in their closet, and that the monster will come out and get them as soon as there's not a mommy or daddy in the room. Well, I'm sure glad we're all grown up now and we don't have to be afraid of a monster in the dark any more...except for one.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Last Monster in the Closet."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is 1 Corinthians 15:54 where this audacious statement is made, "Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Well, there's the last monster; the one that lurks in the dark no matter how old we are - death!
    A doctor friend of mine who is a follower of Jesus Christ was at his 45th class reunion talking with another doctor friend who's always been an atheist his whole life since high school. But all of a sudden he said to my doctor friend, "Can you tell me a little bit about what you believe in?" My friend was really surprised! And he said, "Well, I'd be glad to, but can I ask you why you're asking?" And this man who had been an atheist all his life just said, "Well, frankly, I'm nervous about eternity."
    You know, we should be, especially if we're not ready to meet God. God says that because of Jesus' death, death can be swallowed up in victory. Why? Well, see, the only thing to fear about death ultimately is meeting God. And that's because as the Bible says, "All have sinned and missed God's glorious ideal."
    And the sentence that follows that verdict says, "The soul that sins, it shall die." That eternal death penalty hangs over us. I think even deep down inside we know that, and it makes us nervous about eternity. But Jesus came as our substitute, to die the death penalty we deserve. And anyone who puts all his trust in Him will have their sin erased from God's Book forever.
    John 5:24 in the Bible says at the moment you come to Christ, you "cross over from death to life." It's wonderful to be able to look forward to eternity and not fear it; not be nervous about it. One of the world's great preachers, D. L. Moody in another generation, said, "When you see in the newspaper that Dwight Moody of Northfield, Massachusetts is dead, don't you believe it, for I will be more alive then than I've ever been before."
    I'll tell you, it's so great to know that the Savior who's waiting for you on the other side of your last breath is the One you will meet and that you are ready to meet Him. If you're not sure you belong to Him, then you're not ready for eternity, you can take care of that right now. You say, "Jesus, I get it. You paid for my sins. I hereby trade the death penalty I deserve for an eternal life I could never deserve. Jesus, right here right now I'm giving me to You."
    I've kind of laid out this path, knowing that you're ready for eternity at our website, and that's ANewStory.com. I urge you to go there today. I think it will really help at this moment.
    Death, that last monster in the dark, pursues us all our life, and we know it will always will. But you never need to fear that monster again if you have your hand in the hand of Jesus, because He has beaten that monster once and for all.

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    November 9, 2023 The Purpose In Your Pain - #9609

    Oh, it was a great time to be traveling out East! I got to be there at cherry blossom time. I was where those pink beauties were popping out everywhere! I'm so glad. I mean, wherever we went there they were. One of the gals on the Weather Channel was broadcasting from Washington, DC, and she had this beautiful backdrop of these exploding cherry blossoms all around the Jefferson Memorial.
    And the Park Ranger there, she interviewed him, and he provided some information that surprised her and actually made me slightly smarter. He said those springtime wonders have a normal life span of about 60 years. But because the Park Service prunes them regularly, they can keep beautifying their world for up to a hundred years. I mean, these guys live a long time, these Park Service cherry blossoms. Of course, if I'm a cherry blossom tree, I'm not thinking happy thoughts as someone's chopping off my branches. I'm going, "Hey! This guy's killin' me!" No, silly tree, he's making you more fruitful for a lot longer.
    I can almost imagine having a conversation with God like that.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Purpose In Your Pain."
    Now there are those painful times when I don't especially like the cuts and the wounds: bad news, bad treatment, bad health, bad finances, bad people, bad feelings. It turns out, though, that they may not really be bad. No, Ron, He's making you more fruitful for a lot longer.
    Because God is the Master Horticulturist, and He prunes what He loves. Jesus said so in our word for today from the word of God, in John 15:2, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener...Every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." So, life's cuts aren't ultimately to hurt me but to make me more valuable to God and to other people than I've ever been before.
    It's when life gets harder that I ask those life-changing questions that I'd never ask otherwise. I find myself asking God, "Is there something I need to change, Lord?" Somehow my vision improves when I'm hurting. I see things I couldn't see when life was rosy. I need mid-course corrections that usually are revealed to me by those shock waves of struggle. I need to get my hands off the steering wheel and let God drive again. Sometimes it actually takes a close call or even a crash to show me that. And whatever I have to give to hurting people around me, I can tell you this, it grew out of the times when God used suffering to show me how to care.
    Maybe realizing God's loving purposes can help me get to that peaceful plateau that Paul reached when he said these words: "I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10).
    Calling all cherry blossom trees and people like me. The pruning knife is your friend. The Gardener knows what He's doing. See, He knows what you can become.

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    November 8, 2023 Room in Your Lifeboat - #9608

    When I'm in a new city, I don't usually make visiting a local cemetery one of my sightseeing priorities. But I did in a ministry trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia. I visited the cemetery where 121 passengers of the doomed Titanic are buried; many with their names still unknown.
    Not long after the midnight radio transmission, "Have struck iceberg," three telegraph cable repair ships were dispatched from Halifax to make the 500-mile trip to the collision site to pick up the bodies of the victims. In a way, the aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic is a tale of two ships. One was the Carpathia, the ship that rescued hundreds who had made it into lifeboats, and then took them into New York Harbor. The Carpathia carried a ship full of rescued people, but not the Mackay Bennett. No, that was the first funeral ship to arrive at the scene of the sinking. All they found was 328 people, floating in their life jackets, frozen to death. The first one they found was a little two-year-old boy, floating face up. They were devastated.
    By the time they sailed into Halifax Harbor with every church bell in town tolling, there were three long rows of bodies on their deck - every one a person who did not have to die. Because see, those lifeboats had been half empty. But as the people in the water cried out for help, the people in the lifeboats just kept rowing away. So one ship carried those who had been rescued, and the other ship carried those no one cared enough to rescue.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Room in Your Lifeboat."
    Those people in the water died, not because the Titanic sank; they survived that. But because the people who were already saved did nothing for those who were dying. Dear God, is that us - the already saved, secure in our half-empty lifeboat, doing nothing about the spiritually dying people all around us? We're enjoying the fellowship of the folks already in the lifeboat, singing our lifeboat songs, and maybe even making the lifeboat bigger or more comfortable for us. But our coworkers, our fellow-students, our neighbors who don't have a relationship with Jesus, the only one who could forgive their sin, they just go on living and dying without Him.
    Our word for today from the Word of God paints a portrait of stark contrast as it describes the destinations of those who were rescued and those who never were. It's in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10. "When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels, He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and the majesty of His power." Think about it! Those are real people, condemned to pay for the sins Jesus already paid for on the cross - some because they didn't take what Jesus died to give them and others probably because no one ever told them how.
    The Bible goes on to describe this as the day when "He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed." Don't you want the people you know, the people who you love to be there? Then whatever has kept you from telling them about Jesus - your fears, your inadequacy, your hang-ups - can they possibly be as important as rescuing someone who's dying?
    In a sense, eternity will be a place where the ones someone rescued will sail to one port where there will be celebration and reunion. While those no one rescued will go to another port where there's only death and sorrow.
    You've got room in your lifeboat and there's still time. Why don't you spend the rest of your life pulling as many dying people into your lifeboat as you can?

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    November 7, 2023 Why We Need Each Other - #9607

    The five members of the Hutchcraft family have the same last name, of course, except for our married daughter, but that's pretty much where the sameness ends. And I think it's good that we're different.
    When we needed an emotional lift, for example, well we've always had our oldest son there with his sense of humor. If we needed a physical lift, he was there with his very well developed physical strength. When we needed a job done or something fixed, oh, go to our youngest son. He has sort of... Well, he sort of had the helping hands and the figure-it-out mind in the family. And when it comes to greeting people or talking with people, or giving guidance, well our daughter was always there with her great people gifts. And, Mom? Well, she was always there with her common sense. Thank the Lord for my sake! And she had this great "drop everything for you" attitude.
    I guess every family's like that. Youknow, you have the same name, but you've got different styles; you make different contributions. You know what? That includes God's family. And some of the family who are the most different from you, guess what? They're the ones you need the most.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Why We Need Each Other."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is from 1 Corinthians 12. I'll be reading from verses 12, 21, 25, and 27. Basically it tells you that you're not all there. Yeah. Listen to this: "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts. And though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you.' And the hand cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you.'"
    Then verse 25 says, "So there should be no division in the body, but its parts should have equal concern for each other. Now, you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." You know what God is saying here is that basically He has made all of us incomplete. None of us has all of Him. But you put us all together and all the gifts are there. Or to put it another way, you're not all there. There is no family member in God's family that you don't need. Wow!
    You say, "Oh, wait a minute! What about those folks who..." You need them! "Yeah, but I know a group of people who are very different from us. They don't have as much (you know...)" You need them. See, we're not all there. We need those people who are different from us. We tend to get into our own clusters and we appreciate only Christians who see it our way, say it our way, do it our way, express it our way. But you're not all there; I'm not all there; we're incomplete!
    Now, if you're a feeling oriented Christian, you need the stabilizing influence of some believers who are more content oriented. But if you're real fact oriented, content oriented, guess what? You could use some of the warmth and spontaneity of the more feeling oriented Christians. Or maybe you're a free-wheeling believer, well you need some Christians who are more structured, who stress boundaries in the Christian life. You need that. But if you're real structured, you need some of those more spontaneous people. You could use their openness.
    See, some of God's children will teach you how to really worship, because they're really good at that; they're experienced in that. Others will stimulate your vision for a lost world. Some, by being around them, you'll learn to give; other Christians may show you how to really pray. There are others who will teach you to go reach the lost. Then there's others, well, you hang out around them and you'll learn to love unconditionally. And then there will be others who will teach you to dig into the Bible as your source of authority. I'll just say of my life I'm like a river that's been created by a lot of tributaries and I've been so enriched by the variety of the body of Christ. I've needed them all.
    See, if you will open up to the rest of the family, you're going to be really rich! Let different Christians challenge you, and balance you, and complete you. There is no family member in God's family that you don't need and who doesn't need you, because we're just not all there.

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    November 6, 2023 What Your Quake Cannot Shake - #9606

    It wasn't the big one, but it was pretty big. It was that 6.6 earthquake that rocked Los Angeles some years ago. It was 4:31 A.M. and the ground began to tremble underneath Southern California again. And those who watched it will not forget the picture of what collapsed; those Northridge Meadows Apartments where 16 people died in those apartments. But in the midst of the Northridge tragedy, you heard the word miracle a lot. Maria Ballesteros was one who survived that apartment collapse and she was rescued. And she claimed she knew why. She said there were 50 pictures hanging on her wall and 49 of them were destroyed. But one was still there when the shaking was all over. Maria said this, "The one of the Lord was the only one left hanging."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "What Your Quake Cannot Shake."
    Frankly I was pretty touched when I heard about that one picture that the quake couldn't shake. It was a picture of Jesus. It made me think of two men in the Bible who had a similar experience and of how you and I can live in times when it seems like everything is shaking. Job was a wealthy man. He had a wonderful family, and he lost it all. His children all died violently, he lost everything he had materially. He later lost his health. He was living in constant pain. Even his wife turned on him. Every picture fell but one.
    And Job, in the book named after him, said in his agony in chapter 19, verse 25, our word for today from the Word of God, "I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end He will stand upon the earth." Now, Paul was that major ambassador for Christ in the early days of the Christian faith. He wrote about half of the books in the New Testament. And in his last one, 2 Timothy, Paul was in prison in Rome. He was facing execution by Nero. Every picture has been shaken off the wall of his heart except one. He talks about it in 2 Timothy 1:12. "I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day." He's speaking about Jesus Christ. Job and Paul - unsinkable, unshakable because of a personal Savior who cannot be shaken who lives in our heart.
    Working with young people, I've often handed out four 3x5 cards in a meeting, and I've asked them to put on those cards the four most important things, people or activities in their life. Then I've said, "Okay, now there's been a tragedy and you have to lose one of those four most important things. But you've got to choose which one." Like real life, sometimes something comes along and you are forced to drop a card. It's hard.
    Then I tell them there's another tragedy, and they've got to drop another card. It's getting tough; they're resisting now. But finally they're down to one card. They can keep one. But one is all. Even though it's just a card, they battle over it. But that one card, I ask them one question, "Is it something you can lose?" How about your last card? Is it something you can lose?
    In our world today you need something that's quakeproof, someone that's quakeproof, and there's only One. It's God's Son, Jesus Christ. We need Him desperately. A relationship with Him, it's the only dependable anchor there is.
    And the Bible says, "Our self rule of our life has cut us off from that God." But that's why Jesus came to remove the barrier by paying our death penalty for our sin on His cross. In the words of the Bible, "Nothing can ever separate us from His love." But you've got to choose Him for yourself.
    If you've never done that and grabbed that one hand that will never let you go, the one picture that will be there when all the others have fallen, let this be the day you do that. Tell Him, "Jesus, I'm yours." Go to our website. It's all about beginning this personal relationship. The website's ANewStory.com.
    Once you choose Christ, then you can know there is no life quake so powerful that it will cost you Jesus. No matter how you're shaken, you can be quakeproof, because nothing can shake Him and He has got you.

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    November 3, 2023 The Devil and Your Weakness - #9605

    Monday was not a favorite day for our local high school football players during the season. No, that was the day they watched the film of last Saturday's game. Oh, it's nice to see what you did right, of course, but see, coaches don't spend much time on that. Most of the coach's attention is focused on what you did wrong or what you could do better. And so, on Monday you may get yelled at, critiqued, pushed to improve.
    I happened to know our head coach pretty well, and I knew that he spent many, many hours - late hours - reviewing those films so he'd be ready by Monday. Why? Well, is it because he liked to yell at 16-year-old guys? No. See, he was looking for weaknesses that an opponent could use to hurt them, to beat them. And you know what? That's not a bad idea.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Devil and Your Weakness."
    Our word for today from the Word of God; we are in Luke 4, and I'll be reading verses 1-4. Basically, you should know as we enter this passage that someone has been watching your films of how you've been playing your game. And they've been sizing up what could bring you down. That opponent is identified for us in Luke 4.
    "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them He was hungry. The devil said to Him, 'If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.' Jesus answered, 'It is written, man does not live by bread alone.'"
    Now, this passage really exposes for us the two areas the devil tries to exploit. First, he'll exploit an area where God has been specifically speaking to you. Yeah. He will, because well look, just before this incident, Jesus was baptized, a voice came from heaven saying, "You are My Son." So what does the devil say? "If you are God's Son..."
    Think of areas where God has been speaking to you over the last few months; things He's really affirmed to you, challenged you with, changed you with. Well, the devil's going to try to discourage you in that very area (put an "if" there. Oh, "if." Are you sure?) because He's got to get you to be too strong to be stopped.
    Secondly, he'll try to attack us in an area where we have a weakness. And where would Jesus be weak after forty days of not eating? Of course, He's going to be tempted to leave God's will to get some food, and the devil tries that temptation on Him. He appeals to his appetite. Now, maybe you have an appetite that keeps showing up in the films as a weak spot of yours; an appetite for attention that you'll do almost anything to get, or for acceptance, an appetite for power, or to be in control, maybe it's a sexual appetite, an appetite for money, for the spotlight, or to get even.
    See, the devil will go after a sin in that area, and it's all downhill from there. It's important for you to look at the films and see what your opponent is seeing. Be honest about your vulnerabilities. Imagine the devil having a map of you with red pins in that map wherever he can get you. Now, where would those red pins be for you?
    Now, the point here is not to focus on the enemy. He doesn't need any more credit. It's to make your weak spots the centerpiece of your growing relationship with Christ. That's where you need to be opening up completely to Him, daily bringing those areas specifically under His lordship for that day; to win for that day.
    Find the scriptures that deal with that weak spot of yours. That's what Jesus did. "It is written..." He said. Be ready to quote the Word of God to the enemy. Treat your weak areas with generous applications of the memorized Word of God so it's part of you.
    And when your weak spots drive you to depend on Jesus as you never have before, well then you can say with Paul, "When I am weak, then I am strong."

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    November 1, 2023 The Faith of a Child - #9603

    I was on an airplane flight and I overheard a conversation in the seats behind me. Eavesdropping? Maybe. In any case, there was this boy flying with his Dad and he was full of questions...I mean the little guy. He said, "Daddy, what are all those lights for? Daddy, why did part of the wing go down? Daddy, why is it called Lake Erie?" See, the pilot told us the name of it, but he didn't necessarily tell us why it's named that.
    Most of the flight Dad just patiently answered each question. It was a kind of a nice sound to hear! What I especially noticed was the reaction of the boy to the answers that his Dad gave. Some of them, he obviously understood, others he obviously didn't. His Dad said, "Now, do you understand that?" "Well, no." I liked the one about how air holds up the plane. Of course I don't understand that, so how could a little boy be expected to? But each time, no matter whether he understood the answer or not he always seemed satisfied with the answer.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Faith of a Child."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Matthew 18. I'll begin reading at verse 1, "At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, 'Who's the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?' He called a little child and had him stand among them and He said, 'I'll tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.'"
    Well, you know, for some strange reason, this passage came to my mind on that airplane flight when I heard a curious little boy asking his Daddy questions. He knew who to ask, he knew where to go for answers, and he believed what his Father told him. Even when he didn't understand the answer he got, he was satisfied with his Daddy's answers.
    How about you and me? Jesus said we need to be like a little child in order to be in His kingdom. So, are you satisfied with your Daddy's answers? I'm talking now about your Heavenly Father, of course. Jesus said our faith had to be childlike. And that means, "I will see what my Father has to say about this and I will choose to be satisfied. I may not understand my Father's answers, but I'll be satisfied just because I trust Him."
    Maybe you've prayed and you've said, "I'm not getting any answer to my prayer." Well, you know, actually, every prayer is answered. God says, "Call unto Me and I will answer you." And He's answering; maybe not in the way you want it; not in the time that you wanted. Could you settle back in your seat and relax in the answer that He's been giving?
    Maybe God's Word speaks about the situation you're in right now or the choice you have to make. And it's pretty clear what you ought to do. But it goes against what you're feeling, or it's going against what your family, or your friends, or the conventional wisdom or our culture's telling you to do. You may not like it. Would you trust what your Father says and act on His answer?
    See, you and I are still like that little boy, no matter how old we are. We're full of questions about "Why God?", and "God, how come...?", and "Father, when is it going to be?", and "Who?" I just hope you'll be like that boy in another way. When your Father gives an answer, be satisfied with your Daddy's answers.

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    October 31, 2023 Fireproof Fulfillment - #9602

    The summer of '88 was a long time ago, but man, it left an indelible mark on Yellowstone National Park. Forest fires? They ravaged our national treasure. And you know, it left behind thousands of acres of charred landscape, displaced animals, dead animals. In fact, the fire almost reached that famous geyser called Old Faithful. It came really, really close to it.
    There's a historic inn right nearby where people have stayed for almost a hundred years, and it was rescued from the wall of flames that was closing in on it, but it was close. A lot changed dramatically at Yellowstone when the fires hit. One thing didn't. No matter how hot the fire got, no matter how close; no matter what else was destroyed, Old Faithful went off right on time every day. The fire just could not affect her performance for one very simple reason.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Fireproof Fulfillment."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from John 4. It's a familiar story of Jesus talking to the woman of Samaria who has tried so many ways and so many men to fill that aching void in her life. They both meet at the same well for a drink on a hot afternoon and Jesus says to her, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water." I think we were just talking about that a moment ago, but it was a geyser, right? "...a spring of water" (in this case) "welling up to eternal life."
    Jesus says, "I want to put in your life... In fact, I want to make you a faithful fountain and we'll be able to handle any fire, any storm, any hurt, any disappointment. Oh, you'll still be able to perform even with the fire closing in around you because of two words." Ready? He wants to put the source in you, which is different from it being something around you.
    Old Faithful-that geyser that continued to function no matter how hot the fire got or how close? The source is underground and the fire cannot touch that source. Now, when you have Christ living in you and you're counting on Him-not on yourself-you believe He's your source of strength, you become an Old Faithful, or maybe a young faithful. See, your source is where it can't be touched. No depression, no bankruptcy, no election, no lost job, no illness, no personal loss, no national tragedy can touch that source of your strength because it's in you where it can't be touched.
    Jesus spoke to a woman here who was depending on a source that she would lose; in her case, the men in her life. She'd been through a lot of guys, but always disappointed. Whenever your identity or your source of strength is something external-something you can lose-you're going to be up and down all the time. Your career can be touched by life's fires, your family can, your income, the body you've worked so hard to develop, your friendships, the person you love-you can lose those. The fire can get to them.
    That's why Jesus makes you an offer of something that is everlasting. He said, "This will spring up into something eternal," what I'm about to plant in you, and it will be a life that will begin now but will last through all eternity. He's talking heaven there. Wouldn't this be a good time for you to open up to this Jesus and let Him, and your relationship to Him, be who you are; be where you get your security, be where you get your strength. Then you can be steady, you can be consistent no matter how hot the flames.
    You say, "Well, Ron, I'm not sure I've ever begun a personal relationship with Jesus." Well, you can. Tell Him today, "Jesus, I'm Yours." Our website's there to help you make sure you've gotten going with Him, how to belong to Him. Go there, please. Check out ANewStory.com.
    A human "Old Faithful" with Christ as your underground source. Why, you could be counted on for fireproof faithfulness.

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    October 30, 2023 Racing to Get There, Missing the View - #9601

    It was another one of Daddy's great vacation adventures! I announced to the family that we were going to climb Panther Mountain that day. The idea was greeted with underwhelming enthusiasm, but off we went, hiking up the gentle uphill trail that would get us to our goal: the rock fortress I had been told was at the top. As we trudged up the trail, my wife kept pointing out nice things along the way, "Oh, look at the chipmunk! Look at that tree growing out of the rock! Oh, don't you love the sound of the wind blowing through the pines?" I would smile and politely acknowledge her little observations, all the while keeping my male mind firmly focused on the real reason for this activity-getting to the top of the mountain. You can imagine how un-thrilled I was when my wife suddenly said, "Well, the kids are getting tired, and this has been a really neat hike. Let's head back." What? Head back? We were only halfway to our goal? If we went back now, this would all have been a waste of time!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Racing To Get There, Missing the View."
    I learned a lesson that day on Panther Mountain. My wife said, " Honey, this has been a great hike. We've seen a lot of neat things God made, we've had a nice time together as a family, there's no need to keep pushing." I objected, "But what about our goal? What about getting to the top?" That's when the wise woman I married pointed out something to me that I've never forgotten. She said, "Ron, it isn't just the result that matters. It's the process!"
    The process is as important as the result? It's not just my wife who feels that way. Now I'm learning that the process is important to God; maybe more important than the result. Many of us are like I was the day we hiked up the mountain. We're so focused on getting to our goal that we miss the good things along the way to get to our goal. But I'm beginning to think that the process is more important to God than the result. He could answer your prayers and deliver you to your destination immediately if He wanted to.
    But God has a process, a journey; and He wants to take us through that first and show us things that we've never seen before. But we miss those things because of our race to get there. We only care about the destination. God cares about the process and what we'll learn and what we'll become through that process.
    He talks about that process in our word for today from the Word of God in Psalm 84 beginning with verse 5. "Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca (now, here's the process), they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength 'til each appears before God in Zion" - okay, there's the goal. The Lord blesses those who enjoy the journey...who make a difference along the way...who look for Him in the process.
    Most pregnant women? They'd probably like to shorten the process and have their baby in three months or six months; those nine months, that gets pretty long. But it's the process that makes the baby what he or she is. It's the time on the potter's wheel, spinning and being shaped that makes the pottery the masterpiece it becomes. It's the same for you and me.
    You may be in God's waiting room right now, frustrated. Your answer hasn't come. The process is taking so long! But that's the plan! Take in the scenery, enjoy what God's doing along the way, look for "God sightings." Look for the lessons God is trying to teach you. Light up each spot along the way.
    Here's a great prayer: "Lord, I'm not only trusting You for the result, I'm asking You to do it in the way that will bring You the greatest glory and make me what You want me to be." Whether or not you make it to that mountaintop, enjoy the great things that God wants to show you along the way!

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    October 27, 2023 I Want to Drive! - #9600

    I know the flight attendant was trying to be polite. The kid wasn't! No. We're on this plane and everyone's eager to take off, everybody's got their seatbelt on and we're ready to go, except for this mother and her four-year-old boy who were standing in the aisle of the plane. The son wouldn't sit down. He's crying, he's yelling at his mother, and the flight attendant was making the announcement, "We'll be able to leave as soon as everyone is seated."
    The mother was trying. Oh yeah, but this boy went rigid. He started yelling his reason for standing up. "I want to drive!" The more she pressured him the louder he got, "I want to drive!" This is a very big plane. He's a very little boy. He really shouldn't drive.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "I Want to Drive!"
    The boy wanted to "drive" that airplane. We wanted the pilot to "drive." The boy didn't seem to understand he wasn't capable of driving. Well, guess what? We've got the same problem.
    Our word for today from the Word of God - Isaiah 53:6. Here we go, "We all like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity (or the wrong doing) of us all." Life, kind of like that airplane, is too big for us to drive. We've taken over the cockpit anyway. Again in the Bible's words, "Everyone has turned to his own way."
    God gave us our life. He's supposed to run it. He's doing a very good job of running a hundred billion galaxies, but we shake our fist and we say, "Excuse me, God, I'll pilot my own life." He's the only One who can pilot your life properly. But see, "We want to drive!" Like the little boy, if we try to fly, we're going to crash.
    Maybe you're facing right now some of the wreckage of trying to run a life that God was supposed to run. Or maybe you're cruising along right now but you're headed for a crash. See, no one ultimately gets away with hijacking God's property. And that's what we all do.
    I once asked a Navajo shepherdess what happens to sheep when they get away from the shepherd. She answered with one word. She said, "Coyotes." See, it always ends up in disaster when we get away from the Shepherd, or from the Pilot. "We all like sheep have gone astray." That means we're away from God. And you know what? Maybe you can even feel that loneliness right now. Maybe you can sense the confusion, the lostness of being away from God. Unless you're rescued, I'll tell you, it always leads to death.
    The Bible puts it this way, "The wages of sin is death." But the Bible says, "God placed the penalty for all our wrong doing on Jesus Christ, His Son. God's only Son has paid the price for the sin you and I have done. Isaiah 53:5 says, "The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him." You and I did the sinning; Jesus did the dying.
    If you can get yourself to that cross in your heart, get to that cross where Jesus paid your death penalty for your sin and give yourself to Him, you can trade death for life. Jesus Christ sacrificed His life, shed His blood. He was dying in exchange for your life; taking your death penalty. Why would anyone reject Him? Is it pride? Is it stubbornness? Is it thinking somehow our religion will get us there, our goodness? Well, if it could, He would have never gone to that cross.
    This is the day to let go of that wheel and start to become who you were meant to be in the relationship you were made for. If you want to get that started today? Go to our website. I can help you there, I believe, know that you actually belong to Him from this day on. That's ANewStory.com.
    Can you just picture Jesus reaching out a nail-pierced hand to you? Are you going to keep saying, "I want to drive!" Or are you going to say today, "Jesus, I don't want to drive. I want to live."

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    October 26, 2023 Plowing the Road for Your Journey - #9599

    I had been scheduled to speak at a winter retreat in Pennsylvania. I lived in New Jersey. It was the kind of thing where I could drive to Well, that day, winter decided it was time to do some serious wintering. We had heavy snow all day long and I knew it was going to be a very exciting drive along Interstate 80 out to Pennsylvania.
    Actually, it turned out to be much easier than I expected. Much of the way I managed to get behind snow plows. Yeah, they were out, and they were doing a good job, and it was a whole lot easier because I was right behind them. So, where I was driving, the plows had already been. Now, if you have a snow plow ahead of you, you're a lot less likely to end up in a ditch.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Plowing the Road for Your Journey."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is in John 10, and we're going to begin reading at verse 3. It's that great Good Shepherd passage. It says, "He calls His own sheep by name and He leads them out. And when He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them." I love that!
    These verses took on a very personal meaning for my wife and me some years ago. We were getting ready to leave the city of Chicago, where we had lived for many years, and we were going to move to northern New Jersey to begin a ministry in the New York area. And I'll tell you what, we were stepping into a total unknown. We had no office, no supporters, we had nobody that we knew, no friends, no kids to work with, and no staff. Other than that, everything was ready for us. Well, in Chicago, I knew people, I knew how to get things done, I knew what number to call, I knew where the resources were, I knew where all the roads were. New Jersey, New York-a total unknown.
    And then, as we asked the Lord for some reassurance, guess what? He gave us John 10:4. I just read it. I like that because you know, the troopers say that on a CB before they sign off - everything's under control. They go, "10-4 good buddy." Well, this is the "10-4 good buddy" verse. It says, "When He brings out all His sheep, He goes on ahead of them." We learned that the Shepherd always goes where he is about to take his sheep. He gets there before you do.
    The Shepherd also makes sure that there's going to be food there, no wolves, no danger of walking off the edge. Kind of like that snow plow I was following, plowing the path in front of me, making it a lot safer.
    And when we got there, boy did we find that out! The apartment we needed, the friends we needed, the office we needed, the open arms that we needed. Everywhere we went we found the footsteps of our Shepherd. And so will you. He promised.
    Anywhere Jesus takes you; He will always get there ahead of you and get it ready. It may be that fear is holding you back right now from God's next step for you. Fear of the "might's" and the "could's" and the "what if's." Maybe you can't go any farther in Christ without taking some risks; trying some things you've never tried, or leaving some things you've never done without, going into situations that are unfamiliar to you, or reaching some people whose reactions you can't be sure of. Maybe you're in a transition time and you're about to move from one season or one stage to another.
    There's a wonderful answer to the fear that spreads that shadow on your future, and it's in this verse, "the Shepherd goes ahead of you." How often I've claimed that verse, the big things and the little things. I've gone into offices and found the Lord had gotten there ahead of me, into meetings, taxi cabs, doctor's offices, ministry situations. You can count on it. He promised!
    The Lord will never lead you anywhere that He has not first scouted and prepared for you. The snow plow clears the road ahead of you, and so does the Shepherd. And because He does, my friend, you will never end up stuck.

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    October 25, 2023 No Conquest Without Risk - #9598

    Now, excuse me, but I don't expect to be inspired when I eat at McDonald's. I mean, fed, but not inspired. There was a time when there was a little inspiration with my burger and fries. It was a striking poster on the wall. It showed two mountain climbers near the peak of this Alpine mountain, straining to reach the top. But it was the inscription that impressed me most. "Conquest without risk is a triumph without glory." Oh! That's pretty good.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft,and I want to have A Word With You today about "No Conquest Without Risk."
    That doesn't just apply to reaching the top of a mountain. In fact, it pretty much describes everything worth doing in life. No risk, no meaningful conquest - a triumph without glory. Low risk - low return. High risk - high return. It's a principle that defines spiritual greatness or spiritual mediocrity.
    In Numbers 13, the conquest was not a mountain; it was the taking of the Promised Land that God had promised. Of course, it was currently inhabited by fierce people who, of course, didn't plan to hand it over. And whether or not they would ever experience all God had for them depended on whether or not they would trust Him enough to take some really big risks. Now whether or not you experience all God has for you may depend on that same thing.
    Twelve scouts had explored the land of Canaan, and they reported back on the fabulous beauty and bounty they found there. But ten of those scouts chose to focus on the risks, two on the Lord who had promised them this land. It boiled down to an exchange like this, recorded in our word for today from the Word of God in Numbers 13, beginning with verse 30.
    "Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, 'We should go up and take possession of the land for we certainly can do it.' But the men who had gone up with him said, 'We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are.' And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, 'The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people there are of great size...we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.'"
    You probably know the result. The people followed the lead of the ten scouts who said, "The risks are too great." And they never saw the Promised Land. They chose what was safe, and they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. They could have had wonderful. Instead, they lived and died in the wilderness. Many of God's children over the years have made that same tragic miscalculation at their crossroads. And they have lived that same sad result.
    Right now your Lord may be asking you to follow Him into something risky. To obey Him is going to mean taking a financial risk, or a geographical risk, a social risk, doing something that's way beyond your comfort zone. In fact, serious obedience usually involves risk. But the great danger is not in obeying God's "risky" leading; it's in not obeying because you won't risk it. You'll miss the top of the mountain. You'll miss the best God has for you. You'll miss the promised land.
    Almost always, God's will means going out of your comfort zone. If you're addicted to your comfort zone, you're almost sure to miss God's best.
    Maybe you're all settled in at your little base camp at the bottom of the mountain. You're safe, but you'll never see the view from the top if you stay where you've always been. You can dare to risk if you know your security is never in your situation - it's in your Savior, and He's everywhere you go. Like the old hymn says, "Anywhere with Jesus I can safely go" - even if He's leading you where it just doesn't look very safe.
    The conquest, the triumph, the glory of living for Christ is for those who are willing to risk.

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    October 24, 2023 Wearing His Colors, Win or Lose - #9597

    One Sunday afternoon, my son and I were chasing a Giants football game wherever we went. When we were near the TV at home, of course, we were glued to that. And then we were in the car, and so we'd listen on the radio. And when we got to a place where one of us had to go in, only one of us went in so the other one could stay in the car and could get an update. A little fanatic! Yeah.And then the one who went in got back as soon as he could.
    You can see why the word fan is short for fanatic, right? We were in bad shape! But, you know, it was a decisive game and the outcome was up for grabs. When the Giants took the lead, my son said, "Dad, I'm wearing my Giants sweater to school tomorrow." I said, "Good. What if they lose?" He paused for a moment and then he very proudly said, "Either way." I respect loyalty like that, and I'm not the only one.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Wearing His Colors, Win or Lose."
    There's a man in the Bible who didn't always wear Jesus' colors. In John 19:38, our word for today from the Word of God, Jesus has been crucified. Later it says, "Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away." Now, listen, it's interesting that Joseph of Arimathea probably, well, figuratively had a jersey that said, "I belong to Jesus Christ." But he took it off when he was in settings where it could be embarrassing or where it could cost him something like in the Sanhedrin.
    Jesus has a lot of followers like that-maybe you. You're probably His when that's the winning idea; when that's the thing everybody's doing, is singing the songs and maybe give a testimony. You voice His values when you're in His meetings, and then you go to the office or your workplace where being identified with Jesus might give you a loser status. Or you go to school, or you're with that group of friends, and suddenly you submerge faster than a submarine. See, we're like "fit in" people; changing our allegiance as the environment changes.
    Well, there's good news for people like that, because people like that can change. Joseph did. Notice he came out of hiding. He took his stand for good. He said, "Jesus can be buried in my tomb." He would be forever identified with Jesus from that day on. There was no turning back. Why? Because he saw what Jesus did on the cross for him.
    Isn't it time for you to go public with your commitment to Christ - to let people know where you stand and who you stand with; to let them know you're not ashamed of the Man who was not ashamed of you as He hung on a cross?
    The fans who can truly celebrate when their team finally wins are the ones who were loyal when no one else was. Jesus will win. Every knee will bow at His name. The real winners will be those who stood by Jesus when it cost them something.
    So, step up to the freedom and the adventure of finally saying, "I belong to Jesus Christ no matter what it costs." And if someone should ask you, "But what if it means you lose?" You'll answer proudly, "Either way."

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    October 23, 2023 No One Left Behind - #9596

    "Never leave a soldier behind." That's pretty powerful stuff. It's the time-tested promise of our military to its men and women. And the stated reason that our government swapped some dangerous detainees for one imprisoned - and controversial - sergeant in Afghanistan. It was some years ago, but they made that trade.
    But in all the emotional debate about this particular soldier, I never heard anyone say that "never left behind" is anything but the right thing. It's just too bad life isn't like the military in that case - "no one left behind."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "No One Left Behind."
    We've got plenty of people around us who actually feel like we do leave people behind. That widow who feels like everybody withdrew once her husband died. The senior citizen, feeling like she might as well die because everyone treats her like she already has. Kids abandoned to a foster care system that often leaves them abused and angry.
    How many times has the immigrant, or the newcomer in the neighborhood felt abandoned? I've been the guy, in another culture, surrounded by a language and customs I didn't understand. And I'll tell you, it was just plain lonely!
    The crowd blows right by those that they consider "un-cool," leaving them feeling like a discarded paper plate. It's people who can't do anything for us, whose association might make us look bad. So many are feeling "left behind" by a world of people too self-absorbed to go after them; the painfully shy person, the troubled - or maybe troublesome - kid. In virtually every workplace, every school, every neighborhood, every roomful of people - there's someone who feels invisible, small, unseen, left out, left behind.
    It's been bothering me. I want eyes to see those people no one sees. To stop for those people no one's got time for. To gravitate to the person on the edge, in the corner. To make the "little guy" feel big for once. To show love even when it's inconvenient. Because that's what my Hero did.
    See, in His world - in Jesus' world - no one touched the repulsive lepers. But He did. No one treated children like they were more important than the big shots. But He did. No one treated women with dignity and respect. But Jesus did. No respectable person hung out with those reviled "sinners." But He did. See, that's my Jesus. He came after me when I was a deserter, a cosmic deserter, because I had turned my back on the very God who gave me my life. Walking away from the One who loved me like no one else; selling out to my dark side. In essence, waving at God with one hand and shaking a fist in His face with the other.
    The Bible says that's a choice we've all made, that all of us have "wandered away like sheep" it says that in Isaiah 53. "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." So we've left Him behind, but He refused to leave us behind. I'm so glad.
    Our word for today from the Word Of God, 1 Peter 3:18: "Christ died...the righteous (that's Him) for the unrighteous (that's me), that He might bring us safely home to God." That's how much He doesn't want to lose you and me.
    That's why He's come after you where you are now. Perhaps through what you're hearing right now, He's reaching out and the voice you're hearing now in your heart, that's not mine. It is the heart of Jesus who said, "I'm not leaving her behind. I'm not leaving him behind." And He's not leaving you behind!
    This is your day to reach out and grab the man who loved you enough to pay the death penalty for your sin. Nobody loves you like He does. And I'd love to help you be sure that you've made that connection and gotten this settled. That's why our website. That's why I ask you to go there - ANewStory.com. Check out ANewStory.com.
    I want to be like Him, and leave no one behind.

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    October 20, 2023 Showing Up at God's Gym - #9595

    Our local high school football players survived grueling triple practice sessions one summer. Our sons were on the team, and I know. But you know what? It was then off season, and I noticed then that several of them were going for a relatively simple one-mile run. I mean, simple compared to those triple sessions. When they got back, they were totally wiped out, they were gasping for breath, they were sore, they were exhausted. My son was among them, and he summed up what he learned that day. He kind of collapsed in the car when I picked him up after the little run, and he said, "You know, Dad, it doesn't take long to get out of condition." Well, he's right - especially when it comes to your heart.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Showing Up at God's Gym."
    Now our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 Timothy 4. I'm going to begin reading at verse 7. Paul says, "Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."
    Now, this word train...where Paul says, "train yourself to be Godly." It's an interesting word. If you looked at it in the original Greek language that the New Testament was written in, it's the word gymnazo. Does that sound like any word we have today? Well, of course, gymnasium. We go to the gymnasium. That's where we get the word gymnasium from this gymnazo word. It's talking about workouts, exercise, staying fit.
    And I think it's appropriate that God should suggest that staying in shape spiritually is something like staying in shape physically. He's saying, "Train to be Godly. Go to the gym to be Godly. Work out; exercise to be Godly."
    See, as our football players discovered, it doesn't take long to get out of condition. You just can't miss many days, or you lose most of the conditioning you've gained. I know what happens when I'm off the treadmill for a few days. I get back on it and I'm like, "Oh, boy! I've got to work my way back up again." When am I going to learn you can't be spiritually strong if you only have an occasional workout? It wouldn't work physically; it doesn't work spiritually. Oh, we go to the retreat, we go to the big conference, we get the Sunday sermon from the pastor who preaches so well, we get occasional binges of Bible study where we do it and then we quit, we do it - we quit.
    You can't stay in condition unless you exercise consistently. Our binges usually just bring us back to the condition we were in before. We just get back to zero. We never really grow; we never really expand spiritually the distance we can run, or the weight we can lift, or the challenges we can handle. We get stuck at one level, and we fall back through neglect, then we make it up on a spiritual binge, and then we repeat the process over and over again.
    Why don't we try Paul's better idea? He says, "Train yourself to be Godly." Get in a regular, consistent program. And commitment is the key, whether it's physical or spiritual. You have to set a time to get into God's Word. So, when do you do that? When is your non-negotiable time to be with Jesus? You have to set the alarm, you have to set a place where you're going to do it, and then all day long you live with discipline, staying within the boundaries, creating good habits that keep you on track.
    You know, there's no such thing as a spiritual day off. Oh, King David took one and he paid for it the rest of his life. See, you step into spiritual adulthood the day you commit yourself to the daily discipline of life in Christ.
    You know, in sports and in spiritual growth it just doesn't take long to get out of condition.

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    October 19, 2023 Those Hard-Hitting Holy Men - #9594

    My son used to sleep and drink and eat football - especially eat. You should have seen him after a game. He was a sophomore lineman, and he played with great intensity. John was one of his teammates. John was, let's say, a hard-living kid who had sampled a little bit of everything. And John knew that my son was a Jesus follower. Well, John came to him after the first week of football practice and he said, "Hey, Hutch! I thought you were a holy man!" My son said, "Well, yeah, what do you mean?" John said, "Well if you're a holy man, how come you hit so hard?" Well, right there he was speaking volumes about what our world thinks Christian manhood is all about and he was wrong.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Those Hard-Hitting Holy Men."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God will come from John 2, and I'll begin reading at verse 13. It's a seldom seen view of Jesus. In fact, I've never seen a painting of Him like this. I remember what one young man from Harlem said a while back. He said, "You know, Jesus in those religious paintings, He doesn't look like He could last ten minutes in my neighborhood."
    Well, listen to the Jesus of John 2. "When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts He found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at the tables exchanging money. So He made a whip out of cords and drove them all from the temple area; both sheep and cattle. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves, He said, 'Get these out of here. How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!'" Woah! This is the hard-hitting Jesus; the Jesus we sometimes lose in those pictures of lowly Jesus meek and mild.
    Now, we don't have a physical description of Jesus, but we do know He was a carpenter before they invented power tools. And that took a lot of strength. We know He spent forty days in the wilderness fasting without food and He emerged strong. And we know that He physically expelled these crooks. He didn't just say, "Would you guys please leave?" Listen; when a man comes to Jesus, this is the Jesus he comes to. And He doesn't lose his manhood, he discovers it.
    See, I think a man is wired to give himself 110% to something he believes in-a cause he thinks is worth giving himself to. That's why he likes sports; something he can give himself totally to for a little while. Then the game's over or the season is over. Or he gives himself to his business career, to something. I mean, every cause is a letdown, it runs out. A man is still looking for that cause for which he was made. And when a man like Simon Peter, that rugged fisherman, encounters Christ, he says, "This is it. This is the cause I can give my manhood to."
    As a man, you're going to be incurably restless until you find the Lord that you were built to serve. When you find Him, you discover a better best and a greater intensity than you've ever experienced in your life, plus a new capacity for love, for sensitivity, for courage you never knew before. He exhibited all of those when He paid the ultimate price for you. The man Jesus died for, a man like you and a man like me, knowing our anger, knowing our lust, knowing our selfishness, and taking the price for all of that on Himself; paying the death penalty for your sin and mine.
    And this man, Jesus, now says, "Give your life to Me and I will make it what it was created to be." This could be the day of a new beginning for you, as you fall at the feet of Jesus, as those men that were His disciples did years ago and you say, "Jesus, I'm Yours."
    If you want to know more about how to begin a relationship with Him, then go to our website. It's ANewStory.com. Check it out!
    Listen to Jesus, the God-man, as He says to you, "Follow me." You'll find in His strength an intensity you were created to have in everything you do. And then, like your Master, you'll be one of those hard-hitting holy men.

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    October 18, 2023 Never Off Duty - #9593

    It was four months after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center a moving postscript was added to the accounts of rescue heroism that we had already heard. Some 343 firefighters lost their lives on September 11, going in to rescue people at a time when everyone else was fleeing. But a subsequent review of the fatalities actually revealed that sixty of those who died were "off duty" when they rushed into the burning towers. Some of the firefighters who gave their lives that day had been home or working second jobs when they heard about the fires at the towers and they sped to the scene in taxis or in their own cars. A fire department spokesman said, "Those who were 'off duty' joined those who were already working in a valiant and courageous effort to save as many lives as possible." Wow!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Never Off Duty."
    That actually is the mindset of someone who's concerned about saving lives. You're not always rescuing, but you're never "off duty" when it's time for a rescue. That's a powerful picture of a follower of Jesus Christ whose life is truly available for Christ's service. You never go "off duty." Not when lives are at stake.
    Paul, the early church's greatest rescuer, gave that kind of instruction to an up-and-coming rescuer. His name was Timothy. We're in 2 Timothy 4:2, our word for today from the Word of God. Here's what Paul says, "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season." See, you never know when the opportunity is going to pop up to talk about having a relationship with Jesus Christ or to reach out and let someone else see Christ in some way that you love them. You can't schedule those things. And you don't just do it when it's your "job" to do it - when you're "on duty."
    You never know when the call is going to come from your Lord, when He says through His Holy Spirit, "Hey, there's a life right there that needs a rescuer right now. I've opened the door. There's an opportunity here, my son, my daughter. You have a chance to speak for your Jesus. I'm sending you to that person right now."
    This doesn't mean you don't follow God's command to take time off or to focus on your primary ministry (your family), or to take care of your everyday responsibilities. They're part of your life's work, too. But this "never off duty" mindset means you're always open to the opportunities in your everyday life to represent Jesus. Actually, you go into your day looking for, praying for those opportunities. And you're flexible enough to drop what you're doing when the summons comes from Headquarters to touch a life with God's redeeming love...always on call, always on assignment, always like a policeman in his patrol car, ready to hear from the dispatcher.
    Maybe you've seen those city buses that have a sign on the front, "Out of Service." Well, let me tell you, if you understand what it means to belong to Jesus Christ, you are never "out of service." Those who have joined Jesus in the spiritual rescue mission for which He came, for which He died, just don't go "off duty," not when there are lives at stake.
    No matter how uncomfortable they are, no matter how weary they are, no matter how they're feeling, no matter how risky it is, that tragic day at the burning World Trade Center, people showed up to make a difference who didn't have to be there. But they were rescuers. They knew that when lives are at stake, you drop everything to do whatever you can to save a life.
    Well, can those whose job it is to rescue people for all eternity do anything less?

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    October 17, 2023 The Pain Behind the Laughs - #9592

    Robin Williams, many thought was one of the funniest men in America, successful in movies, TV, even Broadway. But a suicide? That was the shocking news that left the entertainment world - and the entertained world - reeling. It just seems that the joy and laughter he gave so many just somehow wasn't enough for him. Not to keep on living.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Pain Behind the Laughs."
    You know, his death makes me think of Jimmy, who always made me laugh. He made a lot of people laugh. He was never famous, but he was the funniest guy we knew at the time. I tried not to show how shocked I was the night I got a call from Jimmy to say goodbye. In fact, he had broken into my office. He said, "I just was going to call you - because you're the only person I want to say goodbye to." He was on his way to kill himself.
    Well, thank God, he stayed there until I could get there. We talked all night. And Jimmy poured out all the pain that his humor had concealed. I never knew. And seemingly, so full of life, he was thinking about dying.That's part of what has made Robin Williams' death so hard to grasp. There is this huge gap between the bright light we saw on the outside and the darkness that must have been stalking him on the inside. And there's certainly many other examples of this as well. Sadly, that haunting contradiction, it's all too familiar to a lot of folks who may never have their name in the headlines. See, we've got it all together on the outside, but we're falling apart on the inside. You see my smile - inside, I'm battling my secret pain.
    And it's that word secret that makes our inner darkness so dangerous. When I hide my monsters in the shadows, they stalk me constantly. Rather than facing our monsters, we opt for pain relievers. Which, rather than solving our problems, become another problem in themselves.
    Stuffing our pain? That's not a cure. "Outing" our pain, that's where a cure begins. When I drag those monsters into the light, they begin to lose their power over me. There is no shame in letting people into your battle. There is great danger in trying to fight it alone.
    I'm forever grateful that young Jimmy called me that night that he was going to die. Strangely, he found a reason to live that night; actually, the reason to live. He opened up all his pain to the One who said, "The Lord has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted." He talked about a darkness that comes to us when He spoke of it in our word for today from the Word of God, John 10:10. He said, "The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. But I have come that they may have life and have it to the full."
    That's Jesus, of course. The Bible actually says we were "created by Him and for Him." Which means we've got this God-sized hole in our heart that no relationship, no accomplishment can fill. So, we're ever searching; we're never finding, because God has planted what the Bible calls "eternity in our hearts."
    I'm so thankful that I found that "forever" thing when I embraced that relationship with the God I was made by and made for. A relationship that was free for me, but it cost Jesus everything. It meant sacrificing His life, dying on a cross, to open the way for a sinful me to belong to a perfect God and to live forever.
    Now, with the vista of my life opened up beyond my years here to this amazing forever, I can live life here to the fullest, doing life with the One who said, "Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life."
    On this very day, this Jesus stands ready to come in and turn the darkness to light inside of you. Please tell Him today, "Jesus, you died for me. I'm yours." Go to our website and there I'll show you how to be sure you belong to Him. It's ANewStory.com.
    See, because of Jesus, we know the darkness doesn't have to win, because light has come.

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    October 16, 2023 When Your Supply Line Stops - #9591

    Sometimes I forget all the things that our uncle pays for. I mean, Uncle Sam. Well, a while back they were talking about another government shutdown. Oh, it's happened before, and it probably will happen again sometime when there's political deadlock in Washington. But I remember this time as they talked about it, they started to reveal all the things that wouldn't happen if the government shut down; all the people and the services that would feel the pain if Uncle Sam didn't get some money. For example, it looked like America's military and government workers might not get paid, and they're doing more things for us than we ever realized, and they wouldn't be seeing their paycheck on time. It looked like even our National Parks were going to be affected. Can you imagine Smokey the Bear not getting paid?
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When Your Supply Line Stops."
    You know, beyond all the convoluted politics, I'm actually thinking about times when our personal supply (my wife and I), that when that's been shut down. Like the time the ministry we worked in...well, they couldn't pay us for a while. We were six months behind in our salary; we were two years behind in getting our expenses reimbursed. My wife worked for a Christian organization who actually had some "Chicken and Stars" soup leftover from some summer camps. Well, that kept us going for a little while, although I have to tell you, I haven't eaten any "Chicken and Stars'' since then. We reached the point where our fridge was literally empty. Well, no, wait a minute... wait, almost empty. There was this half bottle of ketchup. That's right. We racked our brains; we really couldn't think of a good ketchup recipe. (Feel free to send me...no, don't, please.) There was no food and there was no money to buy any.
    Now, that morning we prayed and we committed our need to our Heavenly Father again and we went off to work. We got home that night, guess what? The fridge was still empty. Well, again, almost empty. Did I mention the ketchup? Yeah. Well, suddenly, the doorbell rang. I opened the door and I met a miracle. Up the stairs came one lady after another, carrying a big bag of groceries. They didn't know anything about our need, but their women's missionary group was having a meeting and they up and decided, "You know, let's have a pantry shower for the Hutchcrafts." It might as well have been God Himself coming up the stairs with all that food.
    I can't begin to tell you all the times and all the ways that amazing God has shown up when the usual supply line was shut down. It's true that God often, even usually, supplies through our job and our paycheck. But there are those times when that faucet is suddenly turned off. And that's when God has said to me, "Ron, did you think it was ever your work or your boss that was providing for you? That was just one of My many delivery systems. I'm your Provider, and I never run out of resources, my son."
    Well, our word for today from the word of God shows us that Jesus was pretty plain about this. Matthew 6 beginning in verse 31 says, "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

    If you have put your trust in Jesus, you belong to the God who Jeremiah said has "compassions that never fail. They are new every morning" (Lamentations 3:22-23). He's the faithful Father who is infinitely creative in how He meets our needs: bread from heaven, water from rocks, shoes that don't wear out in the wilderness, one lunch that feeds a multitude, food delivered by ravens...or ladies from the church.
    When the usual supply line suddenly shuts down, it might be a good idea to open the windows for the ravens.

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    October 13, 2023 No Greater Gift You Can Give Your Child - #9590

    If a flight attendant ever faints during a safety briefing on a flight, well, I think I could take over. Yeah, I've heard about the seat belt, and the seat and the tray being in the right position. Oh yeah! There's one thing that they mention that I've never experienced, and that's fine with me-the oxygen mask. It goes something like this, "In the event of a sudden change in cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will drop down from the compartment above your head." And then they explain this, "If you're traveling with a child, please make sure you put your mask on first, and then put it on your child." That's a good idea. Make sure you can breathe, and then take care of your child.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "No Greater Gift You Can Give Your Child."
    Our word for today from the Word of God; we're in Deuteronomy 6. I guess I'd call it flight instructions for parents. It's addressed to parents who are raising kids in a culture that is more pagan than the one they grew up in, where their kids are going to be handed what their parents had to work for. That's kind of true of the generation this was written to, and it's kind of true today.
    Deuteronomy 6:5, the flight instructions begin this way. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. These commandments that I give to you today are to be upon your heart. Then impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the road, and when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your foreheads and hands, and write them on the door frames of your houses."
    But verse 12 warns, "Be careful that you do not forget the Lord." Well, the Bible says here that your children are going to need a love relationship with the Lord if they're going to make it, where they love the Lord their God with everything they've got. That's an inner guidance system that you can plant in a child that will keep them from crashing when you're not with them. It's that internal spiritual strength that keeps them from collapsing when the external pressure on them is insane and intense. They need this deep, real, personal relationship with the God who made them, who is the key to their purpose for living.
    But you've got to breathe that spiritual oxygen before you can give it to them. That's why it says this has got to be impressed on your heart before it can be impressed on theirs. You've got to love Him first. Frankly, there's nothing like the needs of our kids' lives to expose the needs of our own lives. Right? I mean, you look in your son's or daughter's eyes, and you're face-to-face with your own inadequacies, your own needs, your pain, your failures; parts of you that you may want to deny or excuse. But when we look at our kids those things stare at us in the mirror right there in the lives of our children. And their spiritual needs? Well, they're the mirror of your own. We can't lead them where we haven't been.
    Maybe it's time for you to experience for yourself as a Mom or Dad this love relationship with God. First, we have to recognize why we don't have one. Because of this monster called sin, it's the self-rule of our life really. Secondly, we need to recognize how we can have that relationship. And the Bible makes that really clear. It's by visiting the cross where God's Son took the rap for our sin and made it possible for the sin wall between us and God to finally come down. And then thirdly, we need to pin all our hopes on that Savior; telling Jesus He's in charge from this day on and then beyond that commitment.
    We can't settle for a relationship that's just mostly rules and rituals and religion and meetings, and beliefs. They're not going to sign up for that. The only Christianity that our kids will breathe themselves is one that is lived out before them.
    But if you've never experienced Jesus for yourself, you can have Him change your family by changing Mom, by changing a Dad. By saying, "Jesus, I bring you all of my needs, my failures, my sins, my inadequacies and I lay them at your cross where you died for me. Beginning this day I'm Yours."
    Man, I'd love to help you nail down that relationship so you know you have Jesus for sure. Would you go to our website? It's ANewStory.com. Because it will be a new story for you and for your family.

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    October 12, 2023 How Your Weakest Time Can Be Your Best Time - #9589

    Sometime when you're tired of pushing your way through the mall, just sit down somewhere and watch the children play. Yeah, playing the amateur psychologist, I've observed children relating to their parents there on three different levels. First, there are the kids who are running ahead of their parents - until they suddenly realize they are lost in a sea of legs. Now, at my height, I can relate to that feeling. Then there are also those children who are walking along, holding Mom or Dad's hand - they know the mall is not for the small, so they hang onto a tall. But my favorites are the little ones who are totally exhausted and sort of collapsed in their parents' arms. Their legs have gone on strike and their parents are carrying them. In fact, the child is often sleeping soundly with his head embedded in his parent's shoulder. You've seen them all. Sometimes, I've even said to a parent carrying a child like that - "Now that's the way to travel, isn't it?" It really is.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "How Your Weakest Time Can Be Your Best Time."
    In those little children collapsed in their parents' arms is a helpful picture of how God may want you to be traveling right now. After all, you're pretty tired aren't you? It's been a long walk, a lot of pushing and shoving - your resources are pretty depleted.
    Enter the Apostle Paul in our word for today from the Word of God beginning in 2 Corinthians 12:7. Paul says, "There was given me a thorn in my flesh... Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me." We don't know what Paul's thorn was, but, whatever it was, it was something that limited him, that frustrated him, that caused him pain. Paul thought what God would do was to miraculously remove it. God had a better idea.
    Paul continues, "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
    Now, Paul's first reaction to the thing that makes him weak, that's beyond his control is pretty much the same as ours - he struggles with it. But eventually, he ends up celebrating it! Why? Because he has discovered a power he could never touch when he was strong. Like that child in the mall with no strength left - he's experiencing in his Daddy's arms a strength and stride he could never experience on his own two legs.
    Those kids in the mall? They're a picture of how we experience God in a deeper and deeper way. First, we're running around, not caring where God is - until we realize we're lost and our Father finds us. Then, we move into walking along holding His hand, allowing the Lord to help us - I know I can't make it alone, but I'm still walking in my own strength. Then the "thorn" hits - something in my life that levels me. I can do nothing about it. It leaves me limp. It leaves me powerless.
    That's when I discover how strong a Heavenly Father I have. Not just one who saves me, not just one who or helps me - but my Father who carries me. Now it's all Him! And you can go farther and faster in His arms than you could ever go on your legs! So you can honestly look at your powerlessness and say, "I'm glad I can't."
    You see, at that point, you are about to taste God's grace and power as only powerless people can - and your struggle will become your platform for talking about a Savior who is all you need when you have nothing. Maybe you're still trying to get there on your own. Isn't it time to look up and say, "Daddy, carry me"? Because you're never stronger than when your Father is carrying you.

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    October 11, 2023 Why You're His Best Messenger - #9588

    Some friends of ours struggled with a wide variety of health issues over several years. And a while back, a trusted friend told them about a juice taken from a rare fruit that seemed to have measurably improved their health, and the health of several people that they love. Well, our friends invested in that juice, and they liked the early results. I can just imagine what would have happened, though, if some telemarketer had called them cold and tried to sell this product to them. "Hey, I have some juice for you." Click. See, I know these people. They never would have bought it from some professional salesman. But, you know, it helped when someone like them, someone they knew and trusted, was the one who told them about it. They wanted what she believed in. They wanted what was changing her.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Why You're His Best Messenger."
    You are divinely positioned. Yeah, because someone will believe you about Jesus that would never believe anyone else. You know, most of us are like my friends that I described. We're not going to buy from Mr. Slick Salesman. We'll buy from someone who's like us. Even when it comes to the most important choice we'll ever make in our life - our relationship with the God we will stand before when we die.
    Many of us have found at the cross of Jesus Christ the greatest love in the universe. And in His empty grave, we found the greatest power in the universe - the power of the only man who ever walked out of His grave under His own power. But every day we're with folks who've never experienced His love or His power and who will never experience His heaven if they don't meet Him for themselves. But whose responsibility is it to tell them?
    Many of us would like to leave it to someone who can do it better - like my pastor or that evangelist. He's really good. He's better at this. The problem is that in our world today, those folks are perceived as professional God-salesmen, which most lost folks aren't interested in listening to. But then, God's strategy never has been to leave spiritual rescuing just to His professional lifeguards. He works through the everyday believer; His satisfied customers.
    Take our word for today from the Word of God, for example, in John 4:39. Jesus wants to reach the Samaritans in a nearby village, but He's Jewish and they don't like Jews. He doesn't go into that village and have rallies there. He reaches one Samaritan woman and sends her back to her village to tell about Him. The Bible says, "Many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the woman's testimony." They listened to someone like them, and so will the people around you.
    Over the past twenty plus summers, I've been an eyewitness to a modern miracle. I think in 400 years of missionary effort, only about 4% of Native Americans know Jesus Christ. And yet, over the years I've seen thousands of Native young people give their lives to Christ, because our On Eagles' Wings teams - they're the ones telling about Jesus and their people just like them, young Native Americans who have lived the drinking, the drugs, the gang life, the violence, the despair and the suicide. But now they have found hope in the Creator's Son, Jesus Christ, and they're going to reservation after reservation introducing people just like them to Jesus Christ. It could be one of the greatest harvests in 400 years among Native people. Why? Because the messenger is someone like them! That's why I believe there's been a breakthrough.
    Do you see yourself in all of this life-saving picture? Who are the people around you going to listen to about your Jesus? Someone from their tribe, their vocation, their avocation, their generation, their location, their association. And showing them in that world - their world - the Jesus-difference.
    Is there someone who could say it better? Maybe. Would they listen to that person? Probably not. They'll listen to you. Jesus is sending you to your people to tell them about Him. Humanly speaking, you are their best chance.

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    October 10, 2023 All the Light You Need - #9587

    When our kids were younger, we did a lot of camping together. You say, "Well, how was it being like that with the kids?" Well, I get to say camping was intense. Intense! Well, okay, there is a pun in there somewhere.
    Anyway, we'd get ready for bed at night, and it was in tents, and we would just tuck each one of those three kids into their sleeping bag, get it all zipped up, tied up, and then I would go and tie the flap of the tent, zip it closed, turn out the light, crawl in, get nicely situated in my sleeping bag all secure, turn over.
    And then, there in the dark you would hear a little voice saying, "Daddy, I've got to go to potty." Great! So, reverse the process: unzip my sleeping bag, get unsecure, go over untie theirs, unzip their sleeping bag, untie the tent flap, etc. Oh, you know, stagger out into the night, of course guided just by our trusty little Coleman lantern. I'll tell you, it was a long, dark walk usually to that bathroom. We couldn't see our destination, but we could see enough.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "All the Light You Need."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is in Psalm 119:105 - pretty familiar words. "Your Word," David says to the Lord, "is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." Man, I'll tell you, that makes me think back to my campground days and going out staggering toward that bathroom with a little child in the middle of the night with only my lantern. And you know what? It gave us insight into how God leads us; how He makes His will known. You might be wondering what His will is right now; something you've got to decide. You need to know it right now.
    Well, He does it like my camping lantern did. We had just enough light for the next step. That's not how we want it. We want to see the whole path don't we? We want to see the destination. We want all our questions answered. We're trying to figure out the big plan, and God's trying to show us the next step. Now, why does He just give us light for that next step, for the next place we need to go on the path?
    Well, first, you can only take one step anyway, so He gives us what we can handle. Secondly, if God shows you everything ahead, you would probably either run to it or run from it. Either way, you'd ruin it. Now, when you get to it, after all the steps toward it, it will seem natural. It will seem just right. But, see, you're not ready for that yet. You will be, but you can't skip the steps.
    That's why Psalm 37 says, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord." Now, since our lives are really days, God tends to shed enough light for today's choices and today's challenges. God's will is actually the natural next step for someone who's been following Christ a day at a time. So, begin your day with His Word, which is the light for your path. And you say, "Lord, what obedient step do You want me to take today? What are Your orders for today?"
    Now, you'll want more information than that, especially if you've got a major choice ahead of you. But you really don't need more than that. You only need today's assignment. Put all those obediences together. After seven of those, you've got a week of following Jesus and His will a day at a time. Thirty of them, you've got a month. Three hundred sixty-five of them, you've got a year. Pretty soon you've got a life that way.
    God will take all those daily obediences. He will weave them together in His perfectly timed, perfectly constructed, master plan for you. You know what it is? It's called take a step, see a step. So, like a child walking with his Dad through that dark campground, you just step where the light falls next.
    See, light for the next step is really all the light you need.

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    October 9, 2023 Cheering for Jesus - But Missing Him - #9586

    Years ago, when I went to Niagara Falls, there was this waxed figure on a tightrope over the street in Niagara Falls. And I learned that that's a real remembrance of an incredible moment in Niagara Falls history. It goes back to the turn of the century, The Great Blondin, a great aerialist, had drawn a tightrope across the roar of Niagara Falls. And then he took his balancing pole and ran across the falls on that rope and back. I thought, "Man! This guy must be a crazy person!" Well, there were thousands of people there to see him.
    Then he said, "Now, how many of you believe that I can take a 150-pound man across the falls on that wire in that wheelbarrow?" Oh the crowd cheered, and they hooted and hollered, "We do! We do!" And he said, "All right, who would like to climb in the wheelbarrow?" There wasn't a big rush for the wheelbarrow. No, there was one volunteer, his manager. And he took him across and came back safely.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Cheering for Jesus - But Missing Him."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Isaiah 6:1. Isaiah says, "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted." Then there were angels calling to one another: "'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.' At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 'Woe to me!' I cried. 'I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty." Then a little later he said, "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'"
    Now, Isaiah here is just absolutely caught up in praise and worship. "I saw the Lord high and lifted up." That's like many contemporary followers of Christ. I mean, you love praise music, you love to go to praise gatherings, you love praise concerts. I do too. You often hear, "Praise the Lord!" and that's good. God invites our praise; He desires our praise. He deserves our praise. He inhabits our praise. We need to lift Him up and praise Him. I mean, He is worthy of all the praise we give Him and more.
    But, see, praise doesn't end in itself. It's supposed to make a difference. As he sees how big God is, Isaiah begins to see what he's got to deal with himself. It's kind of like, "God, you are awesome, and now I see that I'm a mess." He's talking about his sin. See, after you've done all the praising the Lord's, are you saying, "Lord, I've got a mess inside me that needs to be dealt with?" We've got to deal with our sin.
    Biblical praise isn't just a feeling; it leads to repentance if it's the real deal. But then it leads to action, "Here am I. Send me." Well, I'm concerned that a lot of our praise never gets past the experience of praise. And you look around and you say, "I have seen the King, but I'm surrounded by people who've never seen Him." Just like in the days of that aerialist with the tightrope over Niagara Falls. A lot of people were cheering. A lot of people believed in him, until it was a matter of getting into the wheelbarrow and resting everything on him.
    You know, you may have heard about Jesus your whole life. You are a very religious person. You may have a ton of Christianity in your background. But Jesus is going, "Thank you for cheering for Me. Thank you for being enthusiastic about Me, but did you ever get in the wheelbarrow? Did you ever pin all your hopes on Him to carry you to heaven with Him someday?"
    If you've never really had that day when you put your trust in Him, all you've heard and all you've cheered Him for will not matter. For it's getting in the wheelbarrow and letting Jesus take you home. That's what brings you to heaven.
    If you've never done that, I'd love to help you get started with Him and get this settled once and for all. Would you go to our website right away today? That's ANewStory.com. And there you will find the man who thought you were worth so much that He went to a cross for you.

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    October 6, 2023 God's Truth - Your Deep Dive - #9585

    Our family had a chance to visit Colonial Williamsburg, that great restored 18th-century village there in Virginia. And as we were looking at one of the more important homes there in Colonial Williamsburg, we noticed a lot of activity in the yard next to the house. I went over and I asked some people what was going on, and they said, "It's a dig." Sure enough, there were some archeologists and college students excavating in that yard to find the remains of the old slave quarters and to discover some treasures there in the dirt that would give them some idea of the lifestyle of those slaves back in the 18th century.
    Now, I don't know what your image of an archeologist is, but they weren't throwing around big shovelfuls of dirt. Let me tell you that. They weren't even using a shovel. No, they were dealing with spoonfuls of dirt, in carefully marked off little sectors of the yard. And they meticulously scraped one tiny layer of dirt at a time, put it in a little sifter, sifted it out, and then they carefully numbered and logged anything they found. You know, I think they have a lot to teach us about how to investigate something valuable.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "God's Truth - Your Deep Dive."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Joshua 1:8. Joshua is standing on the river bank of the Jordan River, looking at a swollen river. Beyond them are the great walls of Jericho and the Promised Land that he is to go conquer. And here is a formula for success. "Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night so you may be careful to do everything written in it." Then here's a great promise: "you will be prosperous and successful." It's a blueprint for conquering a big challenge. Maybe like you've got right now. You could be looking at one. Well, this is your blueprint for success, and it's all in how you approach God's Word.
    He says, "Meditate on it day and night." Now, that's an interesting word in Hebrew. It's the same word used for a cow chewing its cud. So you could almost translate this verse to say, "Here's what you do with the Bible. Chew and do." Chew it and then do it. That's how you can be successful, it says. Now, most of us approach this biblical archeology project of digging into the Bible with a shovel, not a spoon.
    Now, I have nothing against reading through the Bible in a year. That's good. But you grow the most when you get a spoonful of God's truth, examine the layers, sift it carefully, and then log what you found. It isn't how much you get of the Bible, but how much of you the Bible gets. We're archeologists on a daily dig for a word with you from God.
    Now, if you're serious about growing; if you want to succeed, slow down and dig into a few verses at a time. Read them over two or three times. Look for phrases or ideas that are repeated and try to connect them. Try to enter into the situation of the writer; maybe the reader that was receiving it. Where am I in this passage? Where am I in this story? Stay with it until you can connect something in those verses to something that's happening in your life right now. Then, like a good archeologist, log it. Write it down in a spiritual journal. So as it says in Joshua, you would be "careful to do it." Remember, chew it and do it.
    I've got a drawer full of the spiritual journals that I've kept over the years. Man, what a treasure it is to be able to write down each day, "What did God say to me today, and what am I going to do differently because He said it?" You don't get the treasure out of an archeological site by the shovelful. You find it in those little spoonfuls. It's the same with treasure from God's life-changing Word.
    Slow down, take your time, and get all the treasure you can from your daily dig into the truth of Almighty God.

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    October 5, 2023 Sandcastles and Things That Last - #9584

    I love high tide! It's when you can see and hear the ocean at its max power. It just takes over everything. I distinctly remember one powerful moment at the Jersey shore during a summer visit. It happened to be high tide and I walked out on a jetty; you know, these huge boulders. What an experience! Everything in front of me and behind me was just covered by this surging surf, but I was standing in the middle of those rocks and in the middle of that high tide. But something fascinating occurred to me. It was that the tide and the ocean and the storms had beat on that rock for centuries, but the rocks never moved.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Sandcastles and Things That Last."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 John 2. I'll begin reading at verse 15 where the apostle says, "Do not love the world or anything in the world." And then in verse 17, "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." That happens to be on the tombstone of the great evangelist D. L. Moody. And there's something about our heart that needs something that will be there forever. Actually, I think I know why. Because Ecclesiastes 3:11 in the Bible says, "God has placed eternity in the hearts of men." We need something that's going to always be there. And there isn't much that's going to last forever. Right?
    I'm thinking of sand castles, you know? I've seen kids build sand castles at the shore, and some of them are like these huge, elaborate civilizations. But they're gone by morning, because the tide always wins. I mean, you put a lot of effort into a sand castle; it just doesn't last long. You got any sand castles you've built in your life? Maybe you've invested a lot of time and effort in it. You thought it would last: that relationship, those investments, that position. High tide took it away. Do you have a relationship that turned out to be a sand castle? You were so sure this was the one. You were so sure this was the thing that was going to satisfy your heart, and then high tide hit and took it away.
    God's Word says that all earth stuff "passes away." Maybe you've been distracted by the sand castles. Maybe you've wasted a lot of energy on sand castles. See, that's a hint that we're meant to hold onto the one thing that never goes away - Jesus Christ. Hebrews 6:19 says, speaking of Jesus, "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." The rocks that are never taken away by the high tide. All of this other stuff is soon going to pass away. In fact, there's an old saying I heard a lot when I was a teenager. "Only one life, will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last."
    Maybe you've gotten so busy doing things your way, that you've neglected God's way. Maybe you've been putting a lot into your house, your recreation, your romance, your career, and those aren't bad things. But they've just kind of marginalized the one thing that really matters. They've marginalized Jesus.
    You know, everything you've built, eternity could prove was a sand castle, because you've missed the one thing that lasts forever - eternal life; that one anchor for a life that never goes away. And it's talked about in Romans 8:38-39. "I am convinced that neither death nor life, not angels nor demons, nor the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
    What have you got that time can't take away? What have you got that will last forever? Have you got that one relationship, that one love that's unloseable? If not, I would encourage you today to say, "Jesus, I'm yours." Go to our website and find out more about how to be sure you have begun that relationship. It's ANewStory.com.
    Don't settle for sand castles. Put your feet on something no tide can take away; that can stand every strong tide. Put your best efforts into what's going to be there forever.

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    October 4, 2023 A World That Needs You - #9583

    I heard mooing from our kitchen, and it wasn't a cow in the kitchen. No, it was my wife. No, I don't mean... she wasn't mooing. No, she was doing something that caused the mooing sound. I bought my wife these charming salt and pepper shakers in honor of her farm upbringing. The pepper shaker is a pig and the salt shaker is a cow. Whenever you turn over the pepper shaker, you cause it to start this pig-snorting sound. Would you like to hear one? Nope, I will not demonstrate. The salt shaker? Well, that was a cow, and it worked in the same way. So when I hear that mooing from the kitchen, I know it's announcing that the salt is doing what salt is supposed to do-which is get out of that salt shaker!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A World That Needs You."
    I'm sure God would love to hear the sounds of His salt getting out of the salt shaker more often. After all, the work salt is supposed to do is not inside the salt shaker, all clustered together with the other salt. It's supposed to get out and change the flavor of something!
    Well, according to Jesus, "You are the salt of the earth." That's His word to His followers in our word for today from the Word of God in Matthew 5:13. He goes on to say that "You are the light of the world," and that light is supposed to be "put on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." Look, you don't put all the light bulbs in one room in the house, do you? You'd have one blazing bright room and the rest of the house would be totally dark. You don't keep the salt all stored up together in the shaker. You scatter it around so it will be in contact with the things that need their flavor changed.
    And Christians were never meant to be all clustered together in their spiritual salt shaker, just salting each other and soaking up more blessing and more fellowship. The salt's got to be in direct contact with the meat or the vegetables that need it. So guess what? You and I have to be in meaningful contact with the people who really, really need our Jesus. We're not supposed to be hiding out, playing defense all the time, trying to keep from being contaminated by avoiding the world that Jesus left us here to change!
    If your social life, if your discretionary time is pretty much with Christians all the time, maybe you're missing your mission! We'll do that in heaven. We'll hang out together all that time. Right now we've got to be involved with some people who aren't going to heaven yet! It's time for you to take all that you've been storing up spiritually and start taking it to places and people where it's really needed.
    It's time to be intentional about building relationships with that neighbor of yours, you know, with that lost co-worker, with some of your fellow students who need your Jesus. It's time to look around your community and find some human needs that you can be involved in meeting in Jesus' name; to build some bridges into those lives. They're all around us.
    It's time to look around your community for a place to volunteer, maybe, so you can be in contact with some unreached people with some really deep needs. You just need a community connection of some kind, not just a church connection; something that will put the salt of your life in Jesus in contact with some of the lives that really need the flavor of Jesus; with some lives He gave His life for but they don't know it yet.
    Don't you think we need to be actively involved in the life of our church? Absolutely no doubt! God wants that. You need it, but not to the exclusion of connecting with the world that God so loves. You are the spiritual salt where you live. So, get out of that salt shaker!

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    October 3, 2023 Sin's Permanent Marker - #9582

    It was time for the annual Prayer and Planning Retreat for our ministry team. And someone offered their large farmhouse to us. So we took them up on it. We drove out in the country, hauled in our suitcases, and our bags of groceries, our files, and our bags of groceries, our flip charts, our easel, and our bags of groceries.
    Now, one of our team was setting up our dry erase board for us; the kind you write on with a dry erase marker. This was a brand new board; we kind of just got it for this occasion, and it was ready for our great ideas to be written on it. And so, Ryan decided once that he set it up, he'd try it out. So he grabbed a marker and drew an amusing cartoon of us. While we were having a good laugh, somebody said, "You didn't use the permanent marker did you?" There was this very long, awkward silence followed by a very long groan, and then, "I'm so sorry." Poor guy! He really thought it could be erased. I don't think the word permanent ever occurred to him.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Sin's Permanent Marker."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Psalm 51. It's right out of the very personal diary of King David after his adultery with someone else's wife, a woman named Bathsheba. He says, "Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin." He's hurting pretty bad. "For I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight." In verse 7 he says, "Cleanse me and I will be clean. Wash me and I'll be whiter than snow." Can you see how desperately he wants to be clean again?
    Verse 12, "Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me." I don't know how good the thrill was with that woman, but the bill haunted David a long time after the thrill was gone. Sin's always like that. It promises to give you so much before you do it and then it takes so much from you after you do it.
    We know David was forgiven. He says in Psalm 32, "You forgave the guilt of my sin." But the scars remained. See, sin is a permanent marker. You have no idea the marks it will leave on your relationships with others, your sense of worth, your reputation, people's trust in you.
    It could be right now that you're looking at something that's out-of-bounds spiritually and it's tempting. It's looking good. It would be easy to give in to that temptation and to tell less than the truth, or to hurt that person back who hurt you. But first, get out your calculator and add up the bill. It can't be that good; not when you see how much it will cost you long after the brief benefits of that sin are gone. You say, "Ron, the marks are already there." Well, realize that the most deadly marks of all are the record of your sins in God's spiritual accounting book. And those were erased at the cross where Jesus went to the hell that you and I deserve.
    Acts 3:19 says, "Repent and turn to God, and your sins will be washed away." And His forgiveness, it's total. It's eternal because of the nail prints, the permanent marks in His hands and feet; the price He paid to forgive you - His unfathomable love. Forgiveness makes us clean before God. But don't forget, if you just think you will abuse that grace the scars will remain.
    Listen, we forgave our brother when he made those marks on that board. Our relationship was okay, but it didn't make the marks go away. Sin could be forgiven, but its consequences may be there until we see Jesus. And you just can't afford those marks.
    But maybe you've never had that day where you've had your sins forgiven by God once and for all, and you know what it is to feel dirty inside and you're ready to feel clean. You're ready to be forgiven. That can happen this very day. Tell Jesus, "I'm Yours, based on what you died for." Go to our website and get the rest of the story there. It's called ANewStory.com.
    My coworker had no idea that the result of putting those little marks on the board could not be erased-a permanent marker, just like sin. But when you do it God's way, there are no regrets and no marks that you can't erase.

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    October 2, 2023 My Bible, My Bottom Line - #9581

    You know, you and I are living in a, well, a pretty adjustable world. I mean, we have adjustable rate mortgages, and I have an adjustable wrench that changes sizes for different jobs. Good thing we have adjustable clothes, because it seems like we have adjustable bodies don't we? We have one size that fits all even . And, of course, negotiations that go on between nations, oh yeah, constantly adjusting their views, and their policies, and their public statements. And then politicians...you get it. As the situation changes, we all seem willing to change almost everything with it-sometimes including the truth.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "My Bible, My Bottom Line."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God. We're in Luke 5:5. And we find out that Simon Peter, for all of his weaknesses, had one thing that gave him the heart of a disciple. There was one bottom line in his life that simply was not negotiable. And that must have been what Jesus loved about him. Maybe you remember the incident where he had just been out all night fishing, and he came in and Jesus said, "Now, I'd like you to go out again." Okay, it was already the heat of the day, and Simon Peter could think of all kinds of reasons to do something else. It's going to be inconvenient, we're going to get the nets dirty again. You don't catch fish in the day if you don't catch them at night. I'm going to look foolish to the other fishermen. "Hello! Nobody goes out in the middle of the day, Simon." It's not going to work. No, and he'd already tried and he failed.
    A lot of reasons; a lot of things that told him not to do what Jesus said. But listen to what he says, "Master, we've worked hard all night. We haven't caught anything" - which sounds like that's going to be the reason he won't do what Jesus said. But listen to the next sentence: "but because You say so, I will let down the nets." That's the heart of a disciple. "If you say so, Jesus, I'll do it." That's the bottom line no matter what anyone else says. Now, today there's kind of a dangerous drift from that kind of spirit-filled, scripture-anchored stability. "Thus saith the Lord." Well, that's often compromised by "thus saith society" or "thus saith the Gallup Survey" or the culture, or it's compromised by the latest best seller or what somebody said on a talk show or a website.
    Sometimes I think we have a tendency to follow sociology more than theology. For example, you could take the issue of divorce. In the Christian world, divorce became accepted pretty quickly. Now, society says it's okay, but has God changed His mind? He uses strong language in Malachi 3, and He doesn't say he hates divorced people, He doesn't. But He does say, "I hate divorce." He hates to see a marriage break up. See, the problem is we tend to have an adjustable truth. There are a lot of examples of that if it's out-of-step with what's culturally cool or personally convenient.
    God's truth has always been out-of-step with the culture. Like Peter, we must go to the Bible alone for our view, not to what makes sense to us or to say, "Well, now this is affecting someone I know, or maybe I could change my view." I always say, "When the verse gets a face, the verse is going out the window." See, the Bible clearly tells us what fulfilling womanhood is, no matter what sociology says. It tells us what manhood is; it tells us that marriage is forever. It talks about sex that is meant to be between one man and one woman within a lifetime, permanent commitment. Anything else is outside of God's boundaries. It certainly shows us that politics are not the focus of a Christian's energies. No, it's the Kingdom of God that we're supposed to seek first.
    It's time that we returned, I think, with humility to an open Bible and say, "God, how do You feel about this? Whatever You say, that's it! I'll do it." Now, we have to always speak with love and with humility, but always with His authority too. We, who love the Bible, are the only ones with the whole story; we've got God's truth. And those things? They're just not adjustable. They are not negotiable.

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    September 29, 2023 Our Inescapable Dark Side - #9580

    Some friends said, "How would you like to use our condominium down by the ocean in Florida?" Oh, it was a very hard decision, took about ten seconds. I'll tell you what, it was really a great place. I never thought I'd stay in a place like that. It had some very distinctive furnishings. Well, yeah, the mirrors! They were everywhere. And they were very strategically placed so you could see the ocean from almost any spot in the house. Cool!
    I was the first one up that first morning. I'm not familiar with this place, right? So, I'm puttering around in the kitchen for breakfast. I went over to the kitchen table. I leaned over to get something and suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw this hand reaching for me. Scared me to death! Of course I spun around to see who was sneaking up on me. It was me. I hadn't realized that there was a mirror on the wall right next to me reflecting everything I did. Everywhere I went in this place I kept running into me.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Our Inescapable Dark Side."
    One of the writers of the Bible kept running into himself everywhere, and he didn't like what he saw. He wrote words that people have been able to identify with very closely for a long time. His name is Paul. He wrote much of the New Testament. So our word for today from the Word of God comes from Romans 7, beginning with verse 18. "I have the desire to do what is good, but I can't carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do. No, the evil I do not want to do. This I keep on doing." Oh for goodness sake, who can't relate to that, in our marriage, with our kids, with our friends?
    Then he says in verse 21, "I find this law at work: when I want to do good, evil is right there with me." And finally he's desperate. In verse 24 he says, "What a wretched man I am. Who will rescue me from this body of death?" Then he's got an answer. He says, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
    In spite of being a very religious man, Paul kept running into this dark side of himself that was selfish and sinful. Is that unique to him? No! Like that condo we were in, we've got a lot of mirrors that show us some things that scare us. If you're married, your spouse is probably a mirror for you, showing you things that you may not like about yourself; you may not like to hear.
    Our children - man, are they our mirrors! They reflect our inadequacies, our weaknesses, our baggage, our mistakes, and our pain. And a crisis where things are coming apart, that's when you see the real you. Now, when our dark side is suddenly staring us in the face, we try to run from it, we try to rationalize it, blame someone else. Until one day we finally get honest and say, "You know what? There is a darkness inside of me that scares me. I can't change the ugly parts of me. If I could, I would've." And that's where Paul was here, "Who will rescue me?" And then there's the answer: God would through Jesus Christ. See, life's mirrors all seem to say the same thing, "You need a Savior."
    That's why the Bible says in Romans 5:8, "While we were still sinners (that means running our own lives that God was supposed to run) God proved His love for us by Christ dying for us." We have this killer disease called sin, and God's Son came to break its power, to die for your sin and to be our Rescuer. And then He showed His power over the most powerful force on earth, which is death. He conquered it on Easter morning.
    Couldn't you use that power in your life? There's a new beginning that comes when you get every sin and every mistake forgiven by God. This all happens when you go to the cross of Jesus in your heart and you surrender to this wonderful Savior. Have you ever started your relationship with Him? If you haven't and you want to, can I ask you to take the next step on that journey and go to our website? It's ANewStory.com. I want to help you get this going.
    Maybe you are even running into yourself in life's mirrors recently and you don't like what you see. Look again. Right behind you, just over your shoulder, there's someone there. That's Jesus. He's helped you run into yourself so you'll run to Him.

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    September 28, 2023 Why Temptation Wins - #9579

    A few months earlier it had been "Wild Winter." And then it came into spring, what they called "Soggy Spring" that year - the sequel. Oh yeah, we might have thought that we had seen the last of those mountains of snow. Wrong again. In fact, the weather guys had predicted that all that snow would come floating in melted form down our rivers and streams. And there were the floods again! Listen, I lived a long time in a town who has one claim to fame in national newscasts - major flooding. They made it again that year. It's just a heartache that we knew all too well.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Why Temptation Wins."
    You know when it's flood season, the weather people all across the country issue their oft-repeated warning: "Turn around, don't drown." In a matter of minutes, an always-safe bridge or water crossing can suddenly become a torrent of racing flood water, and a death trap for those who think they can cross as usual. Cars, vans, trucks, and even there was even an Amish buggy a few months earlier. They can be swept away in a fatal current. So keep it coming, weather guys; tell us when we need to hear it, "Turn around, don't drown."
    Actually, that's advice that some folks wish that they had heeded much sooner. I mean morally and spiritually. Few people who have become addicted or adulterous ever expected to get carried away. No one thinks that today's deception, today's "little" compromise of integrity or purity will one day sweep them away in an inescapable flood. Who could guess that a click on a web page, a little flirtation, a lie to get out of a jam would lead to a torrent of expensive consequences?
    After national headlines exposed the unfaithfulness of her politician husband, his betrayed wife said this: "You can pick your sin. You can't pick your consequences." Boy, isn't that true!
    One TV meteorologist said that the reason people die crossing familiar bridges in flood times is a fatal miscalculation. He said, "They overestimate the power of their car, and they underestimate the power of the water."
    Let's tweak that just a little to identify what makes even spiritual giants fall farther than they ever dreamed: "They overestimate their power to resist, and they underestimate the power of sin." The inexorable progression of spiritual seduction and disaster goes like this in James 1:15, "Desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."
    And our word for today from the Word of God in 1 Corinthians 10:12 sounds this alarm: "If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall." There's probably someone who's hearing this today, who's driving very close to the edge of the flood. Flirting with those famous last words, "I can handle it." No, you can't. Listen to these words from Genesis. Take it, if necessary, as a personal warning, "Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it" (Genesis 4:7).
    Turn around. Don't drown. Please.

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    September 27, 2023 The Mark You Will Leave - #9578

    I met a man from St. Joseph, Missouri, and I surprised him with my trivia knowledge when I said, "Oh, Pony Express country, right?" He confirmed my recollection that his town was the beginning of the famous Pony Express. What guys those were! Man, they rode their way right into the history books. They're practically legends of the Old West. They rode endless hours through hostile territory, risked their lives to deliver the mail to the West Coast. You knew that part. What you may not know is how many guys we're talking about here in this legendary operation - just 80 riders, and only one mail delivery was ever lost. How long did the Pony Express run? Only 18 months! It only took a few people a short time to make a great impact!
    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Mark You Will Leave."
    For most of us, our ride through this life will last, what do they say on average, 70 years or so? Some will get more, some a lot less. The question is how much of a mark will you leave in the years you have left? I think inside all of us is this deep desire to make our life count, to do something significant while we're here.
    Maybe you know that restlessness that says, "I want to make a much greater difference with the rest of my life than I have made up until now." Then you need to hear our word for today from the Word of God in Daniel 12:3. It's God's roadmap to making the greatest possible mark you can make with the one life you have. Here's what it says. "Those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever and ever." Wow!
    God says the way to have a life that matters forever is to "lead many to righteousness." And this side of Jesus' cross, we know that means leading many people to Jesus. Now what immortalized those young men of the Pony Express? They were people with a message willing to risk whatever necessary to deliver that message. And they made a huge mark in a very short time.
    If you belong to Jesus, you've got to see your life-assignment like God does. You are a person trusted with a message to deliver. The significance of your life depends on how faithful you are in delivering it. In 2 Corinthians 5:19, the Bible says, "God has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us." The message: "Come to Jesus and get the relationship with God you were made for." The assignment: "ambassador" - Jesus' personal representative to the people where you work, or live, or go to school, or shop, or recreate. You're there by assignment from God to help some of those people be in heaven with you.
    How are you doing with that? Maybe you say, "Well, I'm afraid to tell them about what Jesus did on the cross for them. I might mess it up." Listen, God doesn't need your perfect presentation to reach the heart of the person you care about. He does need for you to tell them about your Jesus. The only way you can fail in your mission is to remain silent.
    Maybe you're not delivering your message because you fear the risks - the risk of building a relationship with someone who's lost, or getting started, of being rejected. But the Bible says, "God has not given us a spirit of fear." Please let God show you that the greatest risk of all is that you will lose this person forever because they never got the message about Jesus. Isn't that a greater fear, what might happen to them than what could happen to you if you do tell them?
    Like those heroic Pony Express riders, if you'll dedicate your life to delivering your life-giving message, if you'll risk whatever it takes to get that message through, then your heart-cry for a life that counts? Oh, it's going to be answered big-time. As you lead people to Jesus, you're riding to glory - eternal glory.

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    September 26, 2023 The Detour is the Main Road - #9577

    I'm one of those people with a wall-to-wall schedule I'm afraid. And maybe like you, there's just like no time in there for Murphy's Law - no time for anything to go wrong. Occasionally, Mr. Murphy does visit me.
    Some years ago I was on an overseas assignment for a youth ministry in New Zealand. You can't get much farther from home than that. And I had booked a lot of meetings for as soon as I returned; which is typical of my crazy schedule. "Oh boy, as soon as I get back we'll have this meeting and that meeting." The problem was that while I was in New Zealand (you ready?) all the DC10s in the world were grounded. Yeah, there was some kind of a flaw or defect, and they grounded all of those planes. And I was stuck with about 4,000 other Americans in New Zealand, because what flew out of New Zealand at that time was pretty much DC10s.
    Oh, I was frustrated! I wanted to get out of there; I needed to get back. I had a schedule!" Well, somebody offered me a home and they said, "Look, this home is vacant right now. Why don't you go in there and take it until you can get a plane?" So, the next morning I woke up all frustrated and anxious, but I went to sleep that night very excited and very much at peace. Now, you may be stuck in a situation right now, you're frustrated by a detour from the plan like I was. Well, like me, stranded 10,000 miles away from home, you may be about to learn a wonderful secret.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Detour is the Main Road."
    I had been asking God for some time prior to my New Zealand stranded experience, for some time just to stop and reflect. I said, "Lord, I just need to stop and get in a room somewhere for a day or two with just You and my Bible and a legal pad." Yep, so God took me 10,000 miles to stop me so I could have what I had been asking for.
    I woke up that morning in New Zealand saying, "Well, I'm not going anywhere." And when I realized that, then I realized I could meet with the Lord there! And boy did I ever! In fact, I couldn't write fast enough! After I spent some extended hours with Him, my legal pad was going. I thought I was going to overheat and melt down from the ideas He was giving me. I couldn't write them down fast enough.
    You know, He works that way with His kids. He has for a long time. Exodus 19:1-3, our word for today from the Word of God. It says, "In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt, they came to the Desert of Sinai. And they entered the Desert of Sinai and Israel camped there in the desert in front of a mountain. Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain." And verse 11 says, "On the third day the Lord will come down on Mt. Sinai in the sight of all the people."
    Now, Mt. Sinai wasn't on the way to the Promised Land. From where they were it was a detour; it was a southern detour. I'm sure I might have said, "Hey, wait! This isn't the way to Canaan." But God detoured them to meet them dramatically at Sinai and to give them the Ten Commandments and a historic revelation from Him. What appeared to be a detour was actually the main road.
    Now, God will often take you on a sudden detour from your course so you can see Him better. For a spirit-led follower of Christ, there is destiny in each detour. Something God wants to do in your life that can only be done by slowing you down, and stopping your relentless forward progress.
    Have you had any detours lately? Maybe your health, your finances, a dream that's on hold, a relationship that meant a lot is coming apart. Even daily detours when your schedule gets interrupted by someone or something that just drops in.
    Well, remember, when God directs you to a sidetrack, that's no accident. He wants to meet you there. God's sidetracks are often God's Sinais. Trust that today's unplanned diversions are really part of the plan.
    Remember, when God is leading His people, the detour is really the main road.

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    September 25, 2023 Life-Twisting Lies About Love - #9576

    It was one of so many of these that happened more regularly than ever. And we may never know why this particular one happened. That's the usual reaction when another "senseless" shooting leaves its trail of death and heartbreak. This time, this vengeful gunman in the horrific rampage near Santa Barbara, California left this hate-filled, 141-page manifesto to explain it. As one student's self-described "day of retribution" he called it.
    "My Twisted World" his manifesto was called. And in part, it was a journal of growing romantic and sexual frustration. Girls went for other guys but not for him. Others were having sex while he was an unintentional virgin. Frustration morphed into loneliness, then into desperation, and then a hellish personal agenda of destroying what he thought had hurt him.
    In the midst of the subsequent discussions about gun control and mental illness, few were addressing his convoluted ideas about love and sex and women; they permeate our culture, our hopes, our expectations.
    They're lies I'm all too familiar with. From knowing so many who've bought these lies, who feel worthless, and feel rejected. Who often driven to withdrawal, bitterness, self-pity. Some lash out. Some just decide to die. They are wrong ideas that need to be exposed because they're hurting too many people.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Life-Twisting Lies About Love."
    Here's the first one: sex and love give you worth. That seems to be what the California mass shooter believed. Along with millions of people who've been bombarded with a Hollywood story line that holds up romantic love as the ultimate happy ending; the ultimate validation that, "Yes, you are worth something."
    But, as many can attest, they got used, not loved. Like the teenage girl who called for advice about whether to give in to her boyfriend's pressure to have sex. She hadn't dated much. She was a virgin. She really didn't want to lose this guy though. I told her she'd probably lose him anyway once she gave in and lose something she could never get back. But he made her feel valuable. She gave him what he wanted. He moved on. She said, "I thought I'd feel worth more if I did it. I don't. I feel more worth-less than ever."
    Secondly, a man proves his manhood by conquering a woman. Boy, there's another lie. The Bible says we're all "made in the image of God" (Genesis 1:27). It actually commands young men to "treat the younger women as sisters, with absolute purity" (1 Timothy 5:2). So using them for your pleasure diminishes both of you. A guy doesn't prove his manhood by conquering a woman. He proves it by being a man women are safe with, respected, protected, un-violated. He conquers himself.
    And then a third life-twisting idea out there is that love and sex will make you fulfilled. The most passionate love, the greatest sex still leave you with this haunting whisper in your soul, "Someone's missing." Yeah, well, Someone is. That's Someone with a capital S.
    A boyfriend, a girlfriend, a lover, a husband or wife; they don't fill that hole in your heart because they can't. God says He has "planted eternity in the human heart" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). And nobody on earth can fill that eternity vacuum.
    Which leads us to our word for today from the Word of God in Colossians 1:16 that talks about the relationship you were made for. It says, "All things were made by Him and for Him." It's talking about Jesus. He's the One who gave you your worth before you were born. He's the One who restored the worth that your sin had stolen by sending His Son, Jesus, to build a bridge to get to Him; a bridge in the shape of a cross.
    If you've never begun that ultimate relationship that you were made for and found the fulfillment and the love that only He can give, I invite you to go to our website and there you will find a simple explanation of how to be sure you have begun this life-changing relationship. The website is ANewStory.com.
    Today, the deep hunger of your restless heart can only be satisfied in one way. By the love that heart was made for.

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    September 22, 2023 Always Time for a Time Out - #9575

    If you're a sports spectator, it's the least exciting part of the event. If you're a player, it can really make an important difference. It's called a "time out." Now on TV, a time out is a good excuse for a commercial. Right? But some important things are sorted out during time outs. A coach can give you some perspective on what you're doing right or wrong, some suggestions on how to play better, to improve, to change the play, look at the weaknesses of the other team. You can catch your breath, you can recover, you can regroup. A time out wisely used can actually make a decisive difference in the game... in your game.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Always Time for a Time Out."
    Time outs are part of God's game plan for you and me. I know that because of our word for today from the Word of God in Exodus 31. I'll begin reading in verse 13. "Say to the Israelites, you must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between Me and you for the generations to come." God goes on to say, "For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest." And then He says, "It will be a sign between Me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth. And on the seventh day He abstained from work and rested."
    Well it's pretty obvious from what God is saying here that regular rest is built into our creation. The problem is this: nonstop running is built into our culture. No matter what we were created for, our culture has us running all the time. God says here, "You must. I insist you build a time out into every week. Not just a big annual vacation where you try to catch up for a whole year of not resting." In every week He says, "Time out - regular rest and recovery; time with Him."
    Work will take over your life. It is a slave master. You don't have responsibilities; responsibilities have you a lot of times. And God's saying here, "Don't let it take over." He puts a Sabbath in every week to break the dictatorial momentum of work. The rule of work: cross out two of the things that sustain your life. One, it doesn't allow any time for worship of the Lord. And number two, it does not allow any time for the restoration of the worker. That's what Sabbaths are all about. Get together with God and get yourself together.
    If you've allowed responsibility to cancel out the Sabbath thing in your life, you're flat out disobeying God's plan. The Lord's model was that He abstained from work and He rested.
    Resting is the easy part; abstaining from work, that's the hard part. I mean, here's a mountain of responsibility in front of you. It is an act of faith to say, "I believe I'll obey God and I believe God will do more with six days than my seven because I'm honoring Him."
    It's similar to what you believe about tithing, that God can do more with the 90 percent than with your 100 percent if you didn't tithe. When you exercise the faith to take your time out each week, your judgment improves, your energy goes up, your creativity is greater, your confidence is greater, your personality's better to be around, and you return to your responsibilities a better you. God insists on this practical step of sanity; rest whether you have time or not because you don't have time not to.
    God calls you to stop the clock each week and remember who you are and whose you are. A time out wisely used can make all the difference in the outcome of your game.

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    September 21, 2023 The Name on Your Heaven Reservation - #9574

    Sometimes it's just fun to surprise people. But not when you're trying to check into a hotel. It didn't work out so well for me in Houston. Chuck had contacted me on behalf of an organization to fly to Houston and film a training video. He told me what hotel to go to, and I strolled in with my suitcase. I was confident I'd be greeted with a room number and a key. Instead I was greeted with, "Uh, I never heard of you." They had no record of me! Well, finally, after some frustration I tried one more thing. I gave them Chuck's name. Bingo! The reservation was not in my name; it was in the name of the one who was paying for it.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Name on Your Heaven Reservation."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Acts 4:12 - very important words. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." And the name referred to two verses earlier is "the name of Jesus Christ, whom you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead."
    The verse starts out with the word "salvation is found in no one else." What is this salvation thing? Well, obviously it implies that someone needs rescuing. Well, you and I do, because we have messed up the greatest life-or-death choice there is. We have decided the wrong person will run our lives. According to the Bible, the One who gave you your life is supposed to run your life. But, no, each of us has defied our Creator. We've have and I have.
    The Bible says, "All of us have sinned and come short of God's glorious ideal." We've chosen to do what we want to do with our body, our mind, our sexuality, our future, our money, etc. God's diagnostic name for that rebellion is sin. And it's terminal. We're away from God; we're separated by a wall of sin, which you can probably feel in your soul - that separation. If we die like this, we literally get the hell of never-ending separation from God and His love.
    Romans 6:23 says, "The wages of sin is death." But then there's good news; the best news. "But the gift of God is eternal life." The Bible says there's only one name in which you can get that - the name of Jesus. See, you and I are going to keep our appointment with God someday. We all hope we're going to go to heaven. But if the reservation is in your name, you're not getting in. The reservation has to be in Jesus' name, because He paid for it. He paid for you to go there.
    There are going to be some tragic surprises on Judgment Day. Someone will walk up to God and give their name and say, "Hey, look at all the good things I've done, Lord. Here are my references; all the people who will vouch for me." That's not going to be enough to get you in. Or, "Maybe, Lord, it's in my church's name, or my husband's name, or my wife's name. They're real good Christians. My parent's name." And then will come the agony of realizing that we've been depending on a name that cannot get us into heaven.
    Only the name of Jesus Christ can get you in, because it took His death on the cross to do it. He's the only Savior there is. There are other religious teachers, there are religious systems. There are a lot of good works. None of which can satisfy a perfect God. Only Jesus paid the price with His life. And God says, "What will you do with Him? Salvation is in no other name." So we need to walk up to God and say, "Lord, look under Jesus. I know that He died on that cross for me. I've accepted His death for me as my only hope. I've made Him my Savior and my Lord. My reservation is in Jesus' name."
    If you've been depending on anything else to get you to heaven, this is your day to pin all your hopes on the only one who can take you there. That is God's Son, Jesus. Get this settled. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. I'd love to help you get this settled. Would you go to our website, it's what it's there. It's ANewStory.com.
    I'll tell you, if your heaven reservation is in Jesus' name, I'll tell you what you're going to hear from God, "Welcome home!"

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    September 20, 2023 Why Customers Aren't Coming - #9573

    If you've driven across America much, you might have seen a sign at one point that says "Wall Drug Store." It's in Wall, South Dakota. They advertise all over the country. I was even in Singapore years ago. I saw an arrow pointing West. It said something like "Wall Drug Store 10,000 miles." This once little drug store in an unknown town grew into a major tourist attraction. On some days I've heard they'll draw like 20,000 people! But it wasn't always that way.
    In 1931 a young pharmacist and his wife bought the drug store in Wall, a dusty little town on the edge of the Badlands. And for five years, they barely eked out a living. They were on the verge of giving up, and then the druggist's wife had an idea. Because of the new Mt. Rushmore attraction, lots of cars were going by but they weren't stopping. Her idea? Advertise the one thing those travelers needed after driving across that hot prairie in the 1930's - ice water. So they put out signs for free ice water and people began to stop. The rest is history. Here's what the couple said looking back over the years at the amazing things that had happened. No matter where you live; you can succeed because wherever you are, you can reach out to other people with something they need!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I'd like to have A Word With You today about "Why Customers Aren't Coming."
    People weren't coming when all the drug store did was sell their products. But people started pouring in when that store identified a need those people had and started doing something about it!
    Jesus was doing that with people 2,000 years ago. Our word for today from the Word of God comes from John 4:6. Jesus was giving the Samaritans a chance to know Him as their Savior. And believe me, it was going to be a hard sell. He's a Jew and the Samaritans don't like Jews. They're very into their religion. As Jesus enters the area, He meets a hardened Samaritan woman at a well where they both stop for a drink. Does He come up and say, "How do you do? I'm the Messiah."
    It says this: "When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?'" Verse 10: "Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water." He starts by talking about a need she has - water. That's why she's at the well. Not necessarily ice water in this case, but water. In verse 13 Jesus says, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst." Her reaction? "Sir, give me this water."
    Jesus ends up talking about eternal life and this woman's endless search for love in her relationships with men. Then He gently leads her to deal with the sin in those relationships. Eventually, this woman gets her whole village to come out and meet Jesus. How did it all start? By Jesus identifying a need that the woman cared about and using it to turn her attention to a Savior.
    Question: How can there be so many Christians and so few lost people coming to Christ or even coming to church or to Christian meetings? We're selling our product - the good news of Jesus. But they drive right on by. They don't care about sin so they don't care about what Jesus did for sin.
    But would they start coming if we identify the need they feel and started doing something about it? If we began helping them be a husband or a wife or a parent, offering services that would meet the needs of local teenagers. And in our personal witness, would more people listen if we took an interest in their felt needs? If we told them what a difference Jesus makes for our loneliness, our emptiness, our brokenness, the pain of our past? It's not about changing the Gospel. No, it's about changing our starting point to get to the Gospel.
    Jesus knew that closed hearts open when you start with a need that matters to people. When it comes to interesting people in the Savior who died for them, you really can succeed wherever you are - if you reach out to them with something they need!

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    September 19, 2023 Our Own Ground Zero - #9572

    Even the hard-core reporters were having a hard time talking about it. Apparently, that Ground Zero Museum where the Twin Towers once stood is one powerful experience. As you walk in, you hear the last "I love you" messages people sent from the towers or from the doomed planes. It's a heart-rending walk through this nation's darkest hour I guess, and the heroism and hope that lit up that darkness.
    Like the man President Obama spoke about at the dedication service. After the wingtip of a hijacked plane sliced through the 78th floor, a group of people were huddling together in the Elevator Sky Lobby, waiting for help. Then they heard the voice. "I found the stairs - follow me!" It was Welles Crowther, a 24-year-old equities trader, whose trademark was the red bandanna he had carried in his pocket since he was a boy.
    With a woman on his back and a red bandanna in his hand, he led the group to a stairwell. He gave one woman a fire extinguisher, told the group to stay together and go on down the stairs, and they made it out. But Welles didn't go with them. No, he went back upstairs to help others.
    That's when another woman, badly injured, saw this man with a red bandanna over his nose and mouth, running across the lobby. He led them to an obscure staircase and then went back for others. Then the tower came down. They found Welles Crowther's body six months later. His red bandanna is on display in the museum.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You about "Our Own Ground Zero."
    His father was there at the dedication, and his words actually touched a pretty deep chord in me. He said, "I don't think for a moment he was thinking about his own safety. He was thinking about the lives of all those people. Welles' last hour was his legacy."
    Just like my hero. His last hour was on a cross where He bled out His life to save people who otherwise would have died. I'm one of them. All of us whose sins were paid for on that day were His legacy. The Bible tells us in Revelation 1:5 that "Jesus loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood." And then in our word for today from the Word of God, in Galatians 1:4 it says, "He gave himself to rescue us."
    Jesus came where I was one day and He said, "Hey, I have the way out. Follow Me." Following Him saved my life and saved my soul. Me and the millions who have accepted His invitation, "Follow Me."
    There's one stop in the Ground Zero Museum that is reportedly one of the most moving. I know I'd be spending some time there. It's that cross. The construction worker who found those girders in the shape of a cross said, "My one goal was to find someone alive. I didn't. But I found the cross." The rubble cavern where it was found came to be known as "God's House" to those hope-starved workers at Ground Zero.
    It was a Ground Zero chaplain who brought the hope found there right into my hope-hungry life and yours. He said, "When the ground is shaking all around you, find your cross and your Ground Zero." I did. It's the ground that never moves. It's the Love I'll never lose. It's Jesus. Who you find when you go to the cross where He died for you and say, "Jesus, this is for me."
    If you never have, I invite you to find your way to the safe place, and I would love to help you do that. That's what our website is there for. Would you go there? It's ANewStory.com. It's time to say, "Jesus, I'm yours" and be welcomed into the safety of the Son of God, who died for you.

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    September 18, 2023 Grumblers Anonymous - #9571

    In many years of youth ministry I have learned that teenagers love to get mail, and if they get mail, whatever form it's in, they probably look at it. They don't actually get all that much sometimes. And then, oh yeah, well, we used to send out promotional pieces when, you know, there was snail mail. And there had to be a good attention-getter on it.
    One of my favorites that we used to send out, it took up most of the page, and it said this: If you have any complaints about our group, please explain them fully in the box provided below. The box was about the size of a dime. Yeah, we really want the complaints. Obviously, the complaint box isn't big enough. For most of us, when it comes to gripes, I'm not sure we could make a big enough box to put it in.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Grumblers Anonymous."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is from Exodus 15, 16 and 17. You'll be glad to know we won't be reading all of that, but you'll see a repeating pattern here. And it shows the major occupation of God's people in the wilderness and sometimes God's people today.
    They've not had water for a couple of days, and so it says in Exodus 15:25, "And the people grumbled against Moses." Now, they go a little further and they're a little hungry. And so it says in chapter 16, verses 2-3, "In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, 'If only we had died by the Lord's hand in Egypt. There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted. But you've brought us out into this desert to starve us to death.'" And then in chapter 17, verse 3, "But the people were thirsty for water there and they (want to guess?) grumbled against Moses."
    They're like actors on cue. OK, we go through something we don't like, cue the grumbling. We always seem to have to talk about what isn't rather than what is. What we don't have rather than what we do have. About what's wrong rather than what's right. It seems as if we're never content just like those ancient children of Israel.
    You know, there are four mistakes grumblers make. Yeah. One, they blame men for what God is doing. Did you notice they blamed Moses and Aaron? We personalize it; we break down the relationship with those people and with God. We don't find any meaning in the situation until we go to God. Like Moses did, it says "He cried out to the Lord." You can either crab to other people, or you can cry to the Lord about it.
    Second mistake grumblers make is they deny the goodness of God. What you're really saying is, "God, you don't take very good care of us." Or maybe you're blaming it on some human situation, but you're really saying, "God, you haven't done a very good job." And it causes us to focus on the situation instead of on the Savior.
    The third mistake grumblers make is that they poison other people - people who have never even thought about the problem. We're really positive until somebody starts grumbling. The poison spreads and finally, they forget the big picture. These people had no gratitude for the waters that had been parted or the relief they found in the desert earlier. See, when you look at the big picture, it leads to gratitude. You see the whole thing God is doing.
    When you look at a close up of this hard moment, it leads to grumbling. Why don't you turn your grumbling to gratitude? There will always be full membership in Grumblers Anonymous. No more members needed there.
    So why don't you resign and join a better organization - The Builder Uppers.

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    September 15, 2023 Where's God in the Tornadoes? - #9570

    Well, Spring is tornado time, and there were some Mississippi folks at the conference we were at getting some pretty scary reports from back home. There were friends in a ministry organization we know of who were deeply wounded by the death of a coworker and daughters in Arkansas.
    One of the daughters who survived that twister quoted the Book of Job, the biblical man who lost everything. Here's what she wrote: "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Somehow, that girl's faith was sustaining her amid a horrific loss.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Where's God in the Tornadoes?"
    There were some others during that outbreak who responded with tragedy's frequent heart cry. "Why, God?" We try to make sense of the shattered pieces of our life. We can't. We want answers from God. Sometimes "Why, God?" is a cry for help. But "Why, God?" might be the wrong question.
    I think most of the "why's" are hard to see in the middle of the pain. We're looking at the dark thread that we're living right now. Meanwhile God's working on this much larger tapestry that my thread is a part of. And the thread often cannot make sense without the big tapestry, which we won't see for a while. Maybe not until God shows it to us Himself some day.
    But there is a question I've resorted to in the dark valleys. A question that may have some answers - sooner rather than later. Here's the question: "How can God use this?" See, turning from God in our devastation erases any hope of the suffering having any meaning. That road takes us to dark places of bitterness and despair. Turning to God is the only road to hope when we have no answers.
    I saw my parents heartbroken when my baby brother died. But I saw their lives totally transformed when their grief actually drove them to the God who had been a stranger to my parents before. It was a tragedy that seemed initially to have no "why." But it was a tragedy that God used to give me a new mom and dad.
    See, I saw from a very early age, there was purpose in the pain. I know it's been grief and pain that have taught this spoiled only child right here the meaning of compassion. As it says in 2 Corinthians 1:4, "We comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." People who know what it is to be broken have the credentials to be healers in a hurting world. And, like my parents, our darkest hour may be when we find the Light as never before in the God who came from a perfect heaven to be broken by the people He had made. I can tell you this, He was and has been my anchor since the day my wife, the love of my life since I was nineteen, was suddenly gone. And I said later, "I will not waste this grief." And God has been the anchor through it all.
    In our word for today from the Word of God, in God's own words in Isaiah 53:3-5, speaking of Jesus, it says, "He was crushed...He was pierced...a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering." Paying my bill with God. That's what Jesus was doing so I wouldn't have to pay it forever; choosing to die so I could live.
    This is a God who's lived our grief, who carries us when we can't take another step. Who went through all of the pain, all of the hell that I deserve. All the payment of my sin, all of the guilt and shame for one simple purpose: so that I could be with Him forever and have the wall between me and God removed.
    Could it be the storm you're in right now has been to bring you to the place where you would grab the long-extended hand of Jesus, who's offered it for so many years? And now you grab Him and make Him your Savior from your sin and you will never face a storm alone again.
    If you want to get that done, would you go to our website? I think we could help you. It's ANewStory.com.
    When our shattered soul reaches in desperation for this God who hung on a cross for us, we find what that old song describes - grace... amazing grace.

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    September 14, 2023 God of the Next Step - #9569

    A number of years ago I was driving for a pretty extended trip with my son. And in that relaxed moment I said, "Hey, there's something we need to talk about." He rolled his eyes, "Dad, is this 'the talk'?" Well, he must have read me pretty well. He was right. It was time for "the talk."
    Yeah, it was time to talk about sex. And so, feeling that he needed this information at this point in his life, I explained everything very clearly. I even used all the right words; we didn't talk about "oogie boogie wagga boogie" or something you know. We didn't use the crazy names that parents make up for body parts. No, we were very clear about everything. And he's usually pretty communicative, but he was strangely silent during this conversation.
    Finally when it was all over, I said, "Hey, what do you think?" He gave me his three-word reaction. He said, "Dad, that's gross!" Well, apparently he changed his mind. He later learned that it was beautiful. One of the truths in parenting is recognizing how much and how soon to tell our children all kinds of important life information. It's knowing when they need to know. Did you know you're being raised that way?
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "God of the Next Step."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God comes from Psalm 119:105. And there we have a very revealing look at how God likes to lead us into His will. "Your word," it says, "is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."
    I got a new appreciation of that verse when I was camping with my kids. You know, you get all settled into the tent in the middle of the night, and then they say, "I got to go potty." And so you untie the tent, and you get out, you go out with your Coleman lantern and start down the dark path. Did you know you can't see the whole path? You can't see the bathroom. All you can see is the next step. But then, how many steps can you take at one time? One at a time, and that's enough. You don't have to see the destination; you just have to see the path ahead of you and know you're on the path.
    That's how God leads us. "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." That's one step at a time guidance. See, we want God to show us next month, the next year, the next five years. And He shows you all you can handle, because He's a good Father. He knows you only give what your son or daughter can handle at that time. And that is one step. On the day when the next step is a major decision, He'll tell you then. But He won't tell you early.
    Now why does God give it to you in daily instructions? Why doesn't He give us the bigger picture? Well, if He told us early, we'd probably make one of two mistakes. We'd either run ahead of Him to get to it because it looks so exciting, and thereby ruin it because we're not ready for it yet, or we'd run away from it like my son saying, "Oh, that's gross, Dad!" Well, he wasn't ready for the information. We'll run away from it.
    But you see, by God leading us a day at a time, when we get to it, it will seem like the most natural, exciting thing. But right now we're not ready for it. If you rush it, you'll ruin it. And if He told us early we would just take the plan, fold it up under our arms and walk away.
    I like the old hymn that says, "We cannot see what lies before, and so we cling to Him the more." Maybe you're frustrated because you want to know the future now. But maybe you're not ready for all of that yet. Can you focus on today - God's leading for this 24 hours? His macro will for your life is made up of a thousand micro wills - a day at a time. So you stay on the path that leads to God's ultimate best, the day-at-a-time path.
    Let God tell you His will in bite-sized chunks. Like any good Father, He won't dump the whole load on you before you're ready. He'll keep you on His need-to-know basis.

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    September 13, 2023 Right Answers Under Pressure - #9568

    I've never really been addicted to TV game shows. But years ago, my son got me to kind of be interested in one. It's called Jeopardy. Three contestants, given several categories ranging from U.S. presidents to cat food, and the contestant picks a dollar value question. The host gives the answer to the question in that category. Then the three contestants vie to see who can get the right question, because the right answer is the question. Understand that. Some of them do very well and they win lots of money; others just kind of fold up. I said to my son, "Look at those people! They wind up in the hole with their money! How did they get on the show?" He reminded me, "Dad, it's hard to come up with right answers when you have all that pressure on you." (OK, I stand corrected.)
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Right Answers Under Pressure."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Nehemiah 2, beginning at verse 1. Now, we all know the feeling of those Jeopardy contestants. The pressure's on, the right answer is needed. Maybe you're in a conversation with your boss, or your parents, or you're dealing with one of your children on an important key issue, or you're trying to speak to a friend about the Lord.
    Well, Nehemiah knew that feeling. He is the king's cup bearer as a Jewish exile in Persia. He'd heard of the shape that his city - God's city, Jerusalem - was in, and he had a burden from the Lord to go and rebuild the city of Jerusalem. He knew he would need the king's help to do that. He knew he would need time off from his royal job. And he didn't quite know how he was going to bring all this up with the most powerful man in the world who was his boss - the King of Persia.
    He says, "I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, 'Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This could be nothing but sadness of heart.' I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, 'May the king live forever!" Which is a good way to start with kings. "Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruin and its gates have been destroyed by fire?' The king said to me, 'What is it you want?'" Drum roll please! Man, everything hinges on this answer. Nehemiah: "Then I prayed to the God of heaven and I answered the king."
    From this point on the king becomes his ally in this great, historic cause. Now, this is a conversation you might say that changed the course of history, as the walls and the gates of Jerusalem do end up getting rebuilt. Maybe your issue isn't quite that cosmic, but you do need God's help for some important conversation.
    Here is how he displays his hand in important conversations. First, there's a divine nudge. See, Nehemiah had been praying about this situation for some time. So God said, "There's a need I want to address, and I want to address it through you, Nehemiah." See, God will put this burden on your heart; this divine nudge.
    Secondly, there's a natural opportunity. You'll think, "How in the world am I going to get into this conversation? How am I going to bring this up? How am I going to get started?" Listen, ask God for a natural opportunity. Nehemiah actually was asked the magic question by the king, "What is it you want?" Could you serve it up any better than that? Just ask God for an open door like that and then look for the opening when it comes.
    Thirdly, there is an inspired answer. Nehemiah gave a tremendous answer to the king's question, and it launched a whole change of events. The key is what Nehemiah did. "I prayed to the God of heaven and then I answered." Talk to the God of heaven before you talk to the person on earth, before you answer that call, before you answer that email, that text, before you respond, get all prayed up. And even if you're scared like Nehemiah was, go ahead to the opportunity when God opens the door.
    We're all playing Jeopardy and we're coming up with right answers under pressure. But it's because we have a direct pipeline to the One who has all the right answers. Hey, let God come up with your answer.

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    September 12, 2023 Saturated But Not Strong - #9567

    You know, I've been told so many times in my life, "Go take a hike," so I finally did. Yeah, this particular summer I was at a lovely Christian conference center in California. One day when I wasn't speaking, they had a nature hike. They had a fellow called Father Nature who took us out (You didn't know there was a Father Nature I'll bet.) and he showed us the four different kinds of nature zones they had on their property.
    There was the river bed; the desert section, and so on. It's rather amazing from a scientific standpoint. And he showed us two kinds of trees: First, there were these beautiful White Alder trees. They grow lushly by the river and they wave their leaves. And he said they can evaporate up to 400 gallons of water a day!
    Now, the roots of the White Alder are very shallow apparently. They get plenty of water and therefore they have shallow roots. But when the floods come, oh boy, we've got a problem. He showed us the desert zone trees, and the ones in the desert survive on 40 gallons of water a year sometimes. How come? They use everything they get, and their roots are deep. Guess which one is still standing after a violent storm? Yep, the one with the roots.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Saturated But Not Strong."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God is about those roots. Not so much the roots of trees in the desert or trees by the river bed, but God's trees - that would be you and me. Colossians 2:6-7, "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Now, this describes the point of entry into a relationship with Christ. It says, "just as you received Christ."
    Do you remember when you opened your life to Christ and how dependent you were on Him; how hungry you were to get into His Word; how boldly and frequently you prayed; how trusting you were? Well, you see, this verse is necessary to talk to us about our roots because we have a tendency to get lazy about those spiritual roots.
    See, in many ways, we American Christians, are the White Alder tree that I described earlier - the one that has all that nourishment that evaporates up to 400 gallons of water a day, lives by the river bed, saturated but with weak roots. See, we're saturated, too: Christian resources. We've got Christian radio, websites, books, TV, Bible studies, seminars, conferences, and we're waving and we're celebrating. But could it be we're depending on meetings and events, and feelings, and miracles, and experiences? We've got weak roots and we are vulnerable to the storm.
    Now, you talk to Christians in the desert places like China, and they know where their roots are: consistent, personal Bible study every day; fervent prayer; deep roots in the church; always learning... always growing. But we get lazy here in our spiritual rain forest. It takes a heavy hit to show us that what we have is broad but not very deep, and maybe then it is too late.
    You know, maybe it's time now for us to see that our roots need to be growing, not just our leaves. Do you know some things about the Lord that you didn't know a month ago? Have you given Him some new ground that He didn't have a month ago? Are you praying in fresh, new ways? Are you going by the book and not by your feelings? Is your relationship with God mostly vertical... not horizontal, like just when you're with His people?
    Well, you could be saturated but not strong. You've got to go to your roots. Then when the storm or the drought comes, you will stand tall through it all.

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    September 11, 2023 September 11th and Its Haunting Question - #9566

    We had a few days off, and the phone rang in our little cabin in the woods. A family member was calling. She said, "You need to turn on the news. A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center." I watched the news for much of the next three days. I was trying to absorb a scene that I had no mental file folder for. I don't think any of us did. I felt sickened, I felt vulnerable and profoundly sad beyond words.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "September 11th and Its Haunting Question."
    Radio stations began calling and asking if I would do an interview the next day to talk about what had happened. How could I help thousands of listeners process this unprecedented trauma when I was still trying to sort my own thoughts and feelings? Then I just bowed my head and prayed: "God, would You please help me see what's happening today through Your eyes? What are You seeing here?"
    Suddenly, I wasn't just seeing collapsing towers or a terrorist attack. This was about thousands of people unexpectedly rushing into eternity at one place and one time, ready or not. Nothing can diminish the deep grief and the horror of that defining September morning. But looming above those images and memories is a deeply personal question for each of us, "Am I personally ready for eternity whenever it comes, however it comes?"
    That's why the Bible tells us in our word for today from the Word of God in Amos 4:12, "prepare to meet your God." See, you and I have an appointment with God that's long been scheduled in His calendar. But it's not in mine. It will come without warning, and only one thing will matter at that moment. Listen to this from the book of 1 John in the Bible, "God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:11-12 ).
    All that matters in a person's eternity moment is, "What did I do with Jesus?" Because it was only Jesus who did the dying that I deserve for the lifetime of the wrong things I've done against God. If a religion could have taken care of my sin or your sin, there's no way Jesus would have been butchered on a cross like that. But He loves me too much to lose me. He loves you too much to lose you. So He died for you; He died for me.
    One of God's greatest blessings to us is the stunning discovery that we actually can be sure - right here and now - that we will go to heaven when we die; never have to sweat that question again. Not because of how good we are, but because of how good God is. In the words of the Bible, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). From the moment you take that gift, it's yours and it's yours forever.
    Every day in America alone, it's like there are two September 11ths, at least in terms of lives lost. Six thousand Americans go into eternity each day and 150,000 in our world. One day that will be you. One day it will be me, and we don't know when that is.
    To be ready for eternity, to know you're going to heaven when you die, means to know that you have had every sin of your life - the sin that would keep any of us out of heaven - it has been erased from God's Book forever. Only one person can do that; the man who paid the penalty for it. That's Jesus. He did it when He died on the cross. But He's alive - resurrected - to give you life. He walked out of His grave. He's ready to walk into your life today, if you'll just open up your heart to Him. Put your life in His hands.
    Let me encourage you to join me at our website, and I can explain to you there exactly how to be sure you belong to Him. It's ANewStory.com. There's one final heartbeat, and then God, ready or not. It's life-or-death stuff to make sure you are ready for eternity.

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    September 8, 2023 Commitment Insurance - #9565

    Okay, for all too many of us the words diet and failure are synonyms. I guess that's why Weight Watchers was born and others like it. There were a lot of people who have never lost weight, or at least been able to keep it off, and suddenly the word diet became synonymous with success.
    What's the difference? Well, part of it is this. I guess once a week with Weight Watchers you get together with a group of people who are in this with you. If you lose, you lose in front of all of them. Yeah, and if you've gained, you've gained in front of all of them. I don't think they do that. You see, there's something about that... let's call it "with-ness" that makes it easier to get where you want to be.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Commitment Insurance."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God is found in Acts 2. Listen for the key word that describes these powerful, first Christians. "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. All the believers were together and had everything in common, selling their possessions and goods; they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people."
    Now, listen to the power they had. "And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." Now you probably noticed the word that was repeated three times. It's the word "together." They were growing, serving, praying together, and it was powerful. Apparently it was magnetic! I believe the early Christians had learned the power of accountability... just like that Weight Watchers plan; people who are keeping me true to my commitment, cheering for my success, and caring when I fail.
    Except the issues here are much larger than weight could ever be; the issue is like will I keep the commitments I have made to my Lord, about getting into His Word, about conquering that enslaving sin? I want to beat it. The commitments I've made about reaching my friends, about praying more consistently and aggressively, about getting serious regarding sexual purity. What we need is commitment insurance. And accountability is commitment insurance.
    It could well be that right now you need to surround yourself with some people who will help you stay on course, who care if you do, and who will pray for you, who will pull you back to your commitment if you get very far astray. There is tremendous power in an accountability group. Maybe you've tried to do it alone in a corner before and you know it hasn't worked.
    Well, today is a call to do it together. In the words of Ecclesiastes, "Two are better than one. If one falls down, the other can help him up. If one can be overpowered, two can prevail."
    Look, it's just too easy to make a commitment and then just kind of drift off quietly, but not if you've got some "with" persons. It should probably be some peers of yours who are your "with" persons. And then there should be one person who's not a peer; who's a spiritual leader. And you tell them your commitments and you say, "Help me stay true to these."
    Box yourself in; put yourself on the line for your commitments to Christ - the ones you really do want to keep in your heart. If you're tired of the ups and downs of spiritual inconsistency, you're hungry for a Christian lifestyle instead of just Christian binges, well take out some commitment insurance; some brothers or sisters who will help you weigh in regularly.

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    September 7, 2023 "Spare Parts" Faith - #9564

    This is probably going to take a little imagination; maybe a lot of imagination. Let's say you go to buy a new car and you're going to pay in cash. So, let's make up a number - $30,000 in cash. Now, the dealer stamps the invoice Paid In Full. He says it will be here in two weeks. You show up all excited about getting your new car and you say, "Here I am. Remember me?" He says, "Oh yeah! Sure!" And he gives you this gift-wrapped box, shakes your hand and walks away. You go, "Whoa, whoa, wait a minute!" He says, "No, open the box, I think you're going to like it." So you open it up and here's a new steering wheel, a new carburetor, and a new hub cap. You go, "Hey, wait, Buddy! These are just spare parts! I paid the full price! I should get the full product."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "'Spare Parts' Faith."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Revelation 5. I think in many ways this is one of the most incredible chapters in the Bible. It pulls the curtain on heaven in John's vision and it reveals Christ in all His majesty as we seldom see Him in the Bible. This is not the Jesus of Bethlehem or the cross. This is Jesus as He is now; as we're going to meet Him one day.
    In this vision there are 24 elders who represent the church - us believers. And in the middle of their praise and their amazement they say this to Jesus Christ in Revelation 5:9-10, "And they sang a new song. You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because You were slain and with Your blood You purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God. And they will reign on the earth."
    Man, in heaven they're celebrating nonstop the inconceivable price the Son of God paid for you and me, which brings us to that box of spare parts. How much of you have you given to this One who gave everything for you? This says that Jesus purchased men for God with His blood. A lot of us tend to divide our lives into compartments, and we've got a nice Jesus compartment. In that compartment we've got our Bible reading, our prayer, our church, our ministry work.
    And then there's all those other compartments; how we treat our family, how we treat our coworkers, here's what we do for fun, there's our music over there, here's our recreation, here's the websites we go to. And then there's the compartment for our business, our career, the sexuality of our life, our friends. Those are the things that really matter to us.
    When we heard the knock of Jesus on our heart, we said, "Come into my life, Lord." And maybe we gave Him a compartment. In essence, we brought Him a gift-wrapped box filled with spare parts; the things that didn't matter all that much to us. But this is Jesus. This is the King of kings. He's expecting to get what He paid so much for. Could it be Jesus is coming to you where you are right now and He's saying, "Please don't give Me the parts of your life you don't need anyway. I paid the whole price for you. I should get the whole product."
    He could have stopped in the garden when He wanted to, but He didn't. He could have stopped when they were torturing Him, but He didn't. He could have stopped when He was agonizing on that cross, but He went ahead and paid your death penalty instead. The old hymn writer said, "He could have called ten thousand angels to destroy the world and set Him free. But He died alone for you and me."
    Remember, you are very expensive. God's one and only Son paid for you with His life. By the way, have you ever embraced this man as your only hope of a relationship with God, of having your sins forgiven, of going to heaven? If you've never done that, you know one day God's going to ask you, "What did you do with My Son who died for you?" You need to be able to say, "I gave Him me."
    If you never have, well I'd love to introduce you to Him and show you how that could begin. Would you go to our website today - ANewStory.com. Give Jesus what He paid for. And that's all of you. He sure deserves more than your spare parts.

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    September 6, 2023 What You Can See With Eternity Eyes - #9563

    As a kid, I often rode my bike up to the old theater on 79th Street for the Saturday afternoon flick. But this day was different. They handed me this strange-looking pair of glasses made of cardboard with tinted plastic lenses. Those goofy-looking glasses opened up a whole new world where the events in a movie no longer just stayed flat on the screen. They leaped off the screen and right into my face. Hello, 3-D!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "What You Can See With Eternity Eyes."
    Looking through three-dimensional glasses, we saw things we could never see without them. When Jesus summons someone to follow Him and be a part of what He's doing, He wants to outfit them with a new pair of spiritual glasses. Not 3-D glasses, no - 4-D glasses. They give you the ability to see a fourth dimension in the people around you, to see what Jesus sees, to see the lostness beneath what's on the surface of the people in your world.
    Looking through the eyes of Jesus, you see things you could never see without them. Like the "eternalness," the lostness of your co-workers, your fellow students, your neighbors, your teammates, the folks at the club, your friends at school, family members. You're driven to action to reach them for Jesus because now you see them as they really are - precious creations of God, but headed for an awful eternity without Him.
    In our word for today from the Word of God in Proverbs 24:11-12, God describes the real condition of people around us, no matter how religious, or how together, or how nice they seem to be. He calls to you and me, "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, 'But we knew nothing about this,' does not He who weighs the heart perceive it?... Will He not repay each person according to what He has done?"
    Jesus came here on a mission to rescue spiritually dying people and now He's expecting you and me to join that mission, to be a rescuer for the people within your reach. But you'll just sit passively soaking up the blessings until you see the people around you as Jesus does.
    My friend Mike is a pastor. He was in his study the other day and his six-year-old daughter came in and she began to study the chart of end-times events that he has on his wall. The end of the chart shows one group of people going up to eternal life and another group of people going down to eternal punishment. Suddenly she blurted, "Daddy, look!" My friend said, "At what?" and he was shaken by her answer. "Daddy, can't you see all those people going to hell?"
    Mike said he hadn't seen all those people going to hell for a long time until his daughter helped him put on Jesus' glasses. Maybe you haven't seen them either and they're all around you. God describes the people you know who don't belong to Jesus with words like these out of the Bible: they are "being led away to death" (Proverbs 24:11)... they are "separated from God" (Isaiah 59:2)... they are "lost" (Luke 19:10)... they are, the Bible says, "condemned already"... they will be "punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord" (2 Thessalonians 1:9). This isn't just some theological concept.
    This is someone you know, people Jesus died for so they could be rescued from all this; people who may never know Jesus unless you introduce them to Him. He has divinely positioned you in their life to be their rescuer, to be their chance at Jesus, to be their chance at heaven.
    Once you see what Jesus sees, you'll rescue the dying whatever it takes and whatever it costs! And you'll look in the mirror and say, "I am someone's chance."

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    September 5, 2023 How You Can Fly Again - #9562

    We met this couple at a conference we were attending. They were telling us about how just the day before, a storm had blown in across the lake while they were down at the beach.
    All of a sudden they noticed all these Monarch butterflies that were unable to go against that wind. They'd been blown right onto the beach and right into the sand. So, there were stranded Monarch butterflies all over the beach. Their wings became coated with the sand. They were literally grounded.
    The lady tried to help them, but she didn't want to hold them. So she tried to balance them on a stick. And she hoped they would hold on while she cleaned their wings, but they were too weighed down with sand and they just fell off.
    Well, the man of the family kind of let them come up on his fingers, and he picked them up one by one and he just used his finger to gently clean the sand off these Monarchs. You know what? One by one they were able to fly again.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How You Can Fly Again."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Psalm 51 where King David is in recovery. Not from an operation or an illness, but from a terrible moral failure; his sin of adultery. Psalm 51:1 - "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquities and cleanse me from my sins."
    Later on in verse 10 he says, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will turn back to you."
    I think David must have felt like one of those butterflies on the beach - he's grounded. His security is gone. He's saying, "Give me back a steadfast spirit." His sense of God's presence seems to be gone. He says, "Don't cast me from your presence." His joy is gone. "Restore to me the joy of your salvation." He wants to reach out. He says, "I want to teach transgressors your ways." But he feels unworthy to do it. And the sand and dirt of sin have grounded him.
    Sin never advertises it's going to do this to you; this bill you're going to get. But the bill always comes. And you might know some of these feelings right now. Most of us do one time or another. Some people might be like that lady on the beach. You know, they'd like to help us get it back together, but they don't want to get too close. And then there's Jesus. He wants to pick you up out of the sand that you're stuck in, and if you've repented of that sin; if you've told Him you're so sorry for it and that you won't do it again, He's heard your cry and He is ready, willing and able to pick you up out of the sand.
    But before He could pick up your wings, He laid down His life. 1 Peter 2:24 says, "He carried our sins in His own body on the tree." That means that David had been forgiven; but he had to be restored. And that's what your Savior wants to do for you. If you surrender that part of you each day to Him, open up all the scars and the feelings to Him. And then make it right with anyone who maybe got wounded by that sin. Then you choose to believe His promise of forgiveness rather than your feelings of condemnation.
    What great news! Romans 8:1, "There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." Listen, the sooner you open up to Him, the sooner this healing can begin. Why don't you tell Him, "Lord, I've sinned. I know I've hurt You. I don't deserve your forgiveness. I'm thankful you don't work on the business of deserve. I'm grounded because of the weight of what I've done. Clean me up and help me fly again."
    If you've never been to the cross in your heart to have that lifetime of sin forgiven; the place where Jesus paid for it all, tell Him today, "Jesus, I'm pinning all my hopes on you." We'd love to help you do that. Go to our website today. It's ANewStory.com. He'll pick you up. He'll hold you close. He'll gently restore your beauty, your buoyancy. Sin takes its toll. It will leave scars, but with Jesus, failure is never final. You can fly again!

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    September 4, 2023 End Times Praying End Times Loving - #9561

    Now, the problem with professional football games is they keep slowing down for huddles and time outs; especially those commercials. I'll tell you when they don't slow down. It's near the end of the game where your team is behind, and with two minutes left, a team often skips the huddle, all the delays, and they just go right from one play to the next. They forget the game plan; there's two minutes left. They go for broke!
    Now, this is called the "hurry-up offense," and that's pretty literally named. Skip the huddle, skip all the game plan; let's win this game - do whatever it takes. You play differently when there isn't much time...or you should.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "End Times Praying End Times Loving."
    Which brings us to our word for today from the Word of God in 1 Peter 4, beginning with verse 7, where he talks about "the end of all things is at hand." Now, all of us are living in a world that seems to be winding down, or maybe winding up to Christ's return. It's obvious even to unbelievers that we seem to be moving to some kind of dramatic climax. It's all bubbling up into something. And if you've read the final chapters of the Bible, you know what that climax is. So, how should we be playing in light of this what might be a two-minute warning from God so to speak?
    Well, there are two areas that are supposed to be affected the most: How we pray, because verse 7 in 1 Peter 4, talks about being clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. OK, the first area is we ought to be praying differently - open-mindedly, ready for whatever God might say to us in these urgent times. So, don't be surprised if God says to do something outside of your box.
    The second area that is affected is how we treat each other. Listen to this, coming off that statement, "the end of all things is near." It says, "Above all..." (okay, that's important) "...Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins." I love that phrase. It seems to be summed up in these two words, "covering love."
    Urgent times - times when you see climactic events taking place. Those are times in which our relationships should be described by those two words, "covering love." Love covers all kinds of wrongs that might be done to you. What's the opposite? Is it hate? Is it indifference? Well, let's call it un-love... if I'm giving you anything less than love, it's un-love. You know what it does? It uncovers every wrong that's done to you; it keeps score. "If I don't love you, I will maintain a list of grievances I'll never forget. But these are urgent times. There's no time to dissect every misunderstanding, every harsh word, every miscommunication, every hurt feeling. In sports they say, "Shake it off" when you get hurt.
    That's what you do with end-times loving. You "shake it off" if you've been hurt by somebody. You choose to move on. This isn't some passive little tame love. It's active loving, active forgiving. Actually it's the word in the Greek stretched out. That's what "love each other deeply" means. It's like a fully extended runner. It's fully extended love.
    That's the kind of offense that is worthy of the time that's on the clock. You pray ready for anything God might say, and you love ready to forgive anything, and to give anything. I think we may have heard God's two-minute warning. It's time for God's hurry-up offense. Hey, it's time to go for broke.

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    September 1, 2023 Never Meant to Drive - #9560

    He was five years old, and his mommy wasn't feeling well. So she was taking a nap. His little two-year-old sister wanted an ice cream cone, so he did what Mommy would do. Yeah. He picked up the car keys Mommy had left on the kitchen table, took his little sister out to the car, put her in the back seat, turned on the car and somehow started driving (this is a true story). Then Mr. Five-Year-Old pulled out into the main thoroughfare at the corner. Thankfully, a police officer saw the car going by apparently without a driver from what he could see. That got his attention! He pursued the mystery car and managed to get the driver to pull over. Needless to say, there was one shocked policeman when he opened the door and saw a little boy at the wheel. I'd say it's a pretty good thing he stopped him.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Never Meant to Drive."
    That little guy was never meant to drive. Just like you and me - our life I mean. The One who gave you your life, that's the one who's supposed to be driving your life. In the words of the Bible, we were "created by Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16). There's a fundamental reason that we continue to wonder what the purpose of our life is and why it doesn't have the meaning we want it to have; a fundamental reason that no relationship, no accomplishment or experience, or even religion has filled the hole in our heart. It's the reason we continue to end up feeling lonely and lost. We insist on driving our life when God is supposed to.
    In our word for today from the Word of God, Isaiah 53:6, the Bible says: "We all, like sheep, have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way." The result is described a little later in a subsequent chapter: "Your sins have separated you from your God" (Isaiah 59:2). Here we are, cruising down the road without the One we were made by and made for. That explains so much of our frustration, and our hurt, and even the times we've crashed - all because we are obsessed with doing the driving.
    You may be, by nature, a self-reliant person. And that could be good. You've had to figure out things on your own. And maybe you've done a pretty good job of it. Then God comes along and says, "If you want your life to work, if you want to have a relationship with Me, you have to let go of the wheel." You'll go to some of God's meetings, you believe God's beliefs, maybe even contribute to some of God's causes, but you're not about to let go of the wheel.
    In the same verses that talk about us going our own way, God goes on to say, "The Lord has laid on Him (that's God's Son, Jesus) the iniquity (or the wrong doing) of us all... the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him." Jesus actually went to a cross to absorb all the guilt of all our wrong doing so we could be forgiven, so we could be reunited with the God who made us; so we could make it into His heaven when we die. If there was something you or I could do to make it with God, there's no way He would have sent His Son to go through what He did when He died for us. It was the only way. It's your only way.
    But you have to let go of the wheel. You and I are dying spiritually, and Jesus is the Rescuer who's come to save us. You'll have to abandon trusting in yourself to let go and trust the Man who died and rose again for you. If you insist on hanging onto the wheel of your life, you will ultimately drive it over the cliff of an eternity away from God. And if you've got a family or people who follow you, you may even take others with you.
    Today, the God who made you, the God who gave His Son for you, is saying to you, "Let go of the wheel so I can take your life where I meant for it to go." The release of that wheel will result in the greatest peace you've ever experienced, because the One who was supposed to drive will finally be driving.
    Man, I would love for you to begin this life-changing relationship with Him. If you want that, go to our website and find there the information that will help you get this settled. It's ANewStory.com.
    The greatest tragedy in life would be if you go into eternity with your hands still stubbornly hanging onto the wheel. Because only Jesus can drive you where you want to end up.

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    August 31, 2023 No Huddle, Big Muddle - #9559

    Now if you've ever been a football widow, you understand how long those games seem to take. "I want my husband back. When is this thing going to be over?" Of course the commercials help it feel a lot longer, but you might ask yourself, "Well, what about all those huddles? I mean what a waste of time! Do they have to do that? There's a game to win. These guys are stopping after every play to get their heads together." Well, of course, it's not a waste of time at all. If they try to play without that regular huddle, they're going to all go off in all kinds of directions, all kinds of confusion. Oh, by the way, and so will we.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "No Huddle, Big Muddle."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is in Luke 10; we're beginning in verse 38. "As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, they came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to them. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me.' 'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you're worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'"
    Okay, here's a brief description of what we just saw here: Mary, in the huddle, and Martha in a muddle. That would be my title for this passage today. Martha made a choice that I've made many times, and maybe you have too. Usually to my frustration and chagrin, "I've got so much to do! I just don't have time to sit down and be with Jesus right now!" That's where she was. She didn't have time for the huddle. Mary's over there in the huddle. Martha says, "That's a waste of time when there's so much to do. I've got to get all this done."
    Well, as you probably learned, it's because you have so much to do that you must meet with Jesus. That huddle with Him? That's what, as the kids would say, "gets your head together." As you spend quiet time in that huddle before you head into that overpowering schedule, you take a few moments to see your work as it looks through Jesus' eyes. You see the people in your world that are going to be pressing on you, and you see them through His eyes then. You begin to see what He sees, and they look different. You get some perspective. Often you'll even get a fresh idea in His presence as you listen to Him. That's happened to me so many times. And suddenly, something that was a log jam mentally becomes a breakthrough in His presence.
    Most importantly, you remember during those moments how powerful He is. How much bigger Jesus is than the list you face - than the pressure you face. And you remember how much He loves you. In those moments you find yourself off-loading your work to Him. And the result is a wonderful peace, a poise, a confidence that makes your work much less intimidating and much more manageable.
    Hey, maybe you've been running plays with no huddle in-between, thinking you don't have time for the huddle. It now needs to become a non-negotiable in your schedule. See, when you don't have the huddle, it would be like a football team not having one - stressed, confusion, broken plays. So, commit yourself to a regular scheduled huddle time with your Jesus, and make it the highest priority of your personal schedule with everything else revolving around your time with Him.
    Because remember, no huddle - big muddle.

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    August 30, 2023 A Donkey Lesson In Humility - #9558

    I've lived in the city; I've lived in the country. And when I live in the country... there are a lot more farm animals, so I learn a lot. I've actually learned a lot about donkeys. It's kind of fun to hear their braying. I mean there's no other animal that sounds quite like a donkey. Now, the ones that I knew best, the gray one and the brown one, but they both have the same marking on their back. It's one long dark line along their spine and then there's a shorter dark line across their shoulders. It actually makes a cross. One old farmer told my wife that all donkeys have that cross, and that they have it because a donkey carried Jesus to His birth and on Palm Sunday. I don't know the reason, but there's no doubt that many donkeys carry the cross on their backs.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and want to have A Word With You today about "A Donkey Lesson In Humility."
    I have to tell you something, I saw myself when I looked at those donkeys. No, I don't have the ears. I don't bray. But in a lot of ways, I am sort of a donkey who carries the cross of Jesus.
    Jesus' great ambassador, Paul, knew that the message of the cross - the one that he carried everywhere he went - was all he really had to offer. In our word for today from the Word of God in Galatians 6:14, he simply says, "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." Oh, Paul had a list of Christian accomplishments that would dwarf anything any of us could be proud of. But he knew who he was. In his own words, "less than the least of all the Lord's people" (Ephesians 3:8). Then He said, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst" (1 Timothy 1:15).
    Several years ago I was surprised at a large Christian event by the presentation of a wonderful award. In fact, I was almost in shock as I went up to accept the award. They wanted me to say something. Believe it or not, for once in my life, I literally did not know what I would say. And this verse, King James style, was all I could think of, "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." Look, I'm nothing without the cross. Paul was nothing without the cross. You are nothing without the cross.
    This isn't a matter of putting yourself down and insulting God by saying He created someone worthless. We are "His workmanship" the Bible says (Ephesians 2:10). But without the cross, we're stranded in an orbit away from the One who gave us our worth, and the death of Jesus on that brutal cross is the only way to connect with our Creator.
    If you've drifted into promoting yourself these days, if you've been trying to get attention or recognition or advancement for you, how about going out of the self-promoting business? God has you here to promote Jesus and to promote His cross.
    God doesn't really need you or me, but when we pick up our cross to follow Jesus, He appoints us to His service. And He gives us a simple mission. In a sense, the one He's given those donkeys, "Carry My cross wherever you go!" Are you?
    Your mission is to take as many people as you can by the hand and lead them up Skull Hill to the foot of Jesus' cross where you show them how much this Jesus loves them. Anyone who knows you for very long should be guided by you to the cross. I just pray you won't be ashamed of the cross of Jesus. Aren't you thankful that He wasn't ashamed of you when He died for you on a cross?

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    August 29, 2023 The Brink of "I Think I Can't" - #9557

    I'll bet you remember these familiar words, "I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can." Sure you do. Well, I hope you do, or else you had a deprived childhood. Because most of us grew up on those words. It's that little book, The Little Engine That Could. I think Fred Flintstone must have read it to his kids. I mean it's that old. Remember, the little engine tries to make it up to the top of the mountain, with this train load of toys. It's a mountain no other train was able to navigate. And as he gets near the top, he says, "I think I can. I think I can (puff, puff, chug, chug)." Oh, I've read it so many times to my kids and my grandkids. Well, as you remember, of course, he makes it to the top of the mountain. It's a great book. It's got a great philosophy of life. It's a great confidence builder. But maybe right now you've hit a mountain that you really can't climb. Maybe you need to read that book again - or I've got an idea. How about a much better book.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Brink of 'I Think I Can't.'"
    Now, about that mountain that you're having a hard time getting to the top of. And I'll tell you, I know what it is to chug up mine and not be making it. Maybe you're there. There's just too much right now. Maybe it's one of those Morton salt times - they're the ones who have the commercial "when it rains it pours." It's gotten worse before it got better. It could be you're just too tired, you're too depleted. Maybe you have in front of you a responsibility or even a ministry that looks... well, just too big for you. And you are living on the brink of "I think I can't."
    Well, if it's any comfort to you, someone as strong as the great Apostle Paul was there. He recorded it in 2 Corinthians 1:8. He talks about pressure in his life. He says, "We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life." Paul literally, he's on the brink of "I think I can't." He talks about the responsibilities of his ministry. In chapter 2, verse 16, he says, "Who is equal to such a task?" He's just barely hanging on... maybe just like you.
    And then all of a sudden in chapter 3, verse 4, he talks about "such confidence is ours through Christ before God." Wait a minute! Where did this confidence come from? I thought you couldn't make it up the mountain, Paul.
    Well, our secret is our word for today from the Word of God from 2 Corinthians 3:5. He says this, "Our competence comes from God. Not that we are confident in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, He has made us competent." Now, there's a re-appearing Greek word here that means "adequate," "qualified for," "worthy," "large enough." It's the word that John the Baptist used when he said, "I'm not worthy... " I don't deserve to untie Jesus' sandals. Paul said, "I don't deserve to be an apostle," but now he's confident.
    Well, if you feel you're not adequate, you're right. If you feel like you don't deserve the position you have, right again. If you feel like you can't handle what you've got, you're right. God lets us get to those overload points so He can show us what we can't do and what He can do. The simple fact is whatever the gap between your strength and your challenge, God makes up the difference. He has made us competent.
    So, my friend, draw deeply on His strength. Be honest about how desperate you are. And then proceed as if God will get you to the top of the mountain. Because He will, if you are at the brink of "I think I can't." Because then, you're at the brink of God's miraculous enabling.

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    August 28, 2023 The Most Expensive Choice - #9556

    Raising children! You know, it's not easy to know what's best for those little lives that God entrusts to us is it? A lot of times we don't know until years later if we did too much or not enough, or just the right amount. We have choices to make about discipline, medical treatment, and education. We've got to decide where the boundaries are going to be; what happens if they go out-of-bounds. Some choices actually make the difference between life and death.
    It was exactly that for a couple who had Siamese twins. The girls were joined at the chest. They shared a common heart. The doctor said there was no way they both could live, but if they were separated, one would certainly die, but the other one had a chance of living. Those parents were faced with a choice for which there was no textbook. They had to decide whether they would let one die so the other child could live.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Most Expensive Choice."
    Our word for today from the Word of God - Romans 8:32. Here's what it says: "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all - how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?" This is the most expensive choice God the Father ever had to make. The most expensive choice ever made in the history of this planet. Someone had to die for your sins and for mine or we would.
    According to Romans 6:23, "The wages of sin is death." There is a death penalty for our sin, and it can only be paid one way; somebody's got to die. God loved us so much He sent His one and only Son to be your substitute and mine. But then came that heart-wrenching moment for a Father; that moment when the Son of God is on the cross. He actually carried all the guilt and all the hell of all my sin and your sin. If I were God, I think my fist would have come crashing down on that hill and said, "You can't do this to my Son!"
    There God is faced with that awful choice, "Who would die for your sins?" Look, I deserve to; you deserve to. Only one could live, and He chose you. That's why Jesus cried, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?" God looked at His Son carrying all of my sins, all of your sins, and He turned His back on His Son so He would never have to turn His back on you. And that is what makes it so tragic and so unforgivable when you ignore that love. We try to make it to God with our pitiful good works; our religion. If that could do it, He never would have sacrificed His Son for our sins.
    So today, you and I stand confronted with this question, "What will you do with Jesus?" God's most expensive choice was to turn His back on His Son. Your most expensive choice will be if you turn your back on His Son. Because there goes forgiveness, there goes a relationship with God, there goes eternal life, there goes heaven.
    So, what will you do right now? Isn't it time you say to this God who paid this price, "Oh, God, thank You. I am so grateful You chose to have Your Son die so I can live. I am Yours." This is the price God paid so you could have a relationship with Him. Don't wait another day. Don't risk missing this relationship with God. It's time to open your heart to Him. Nobody loves you more.
    Are you ready to make that choice? You ready to open your heart to Jesus? I'd love to help you get this settled today, now. That's what our website's all about. Just go there - ANewStory.com. Please go there today.
    God made His most expensive choice at the cross when His Son died for you. You are now making your most important choice to give yourself to Him and to live.

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    August 25, 2023 How to Act When Your Seasons Change - #9555

    Hey, I really like Florida. It's a great place, but I'll probably never live there. I enjoy going there, but my problem is I'm a four-seasons freak. I grew up with the four seasons. I enjoy the changes of season. I think I would miss that a lot. Of course, I grew up in the north and I probably got used to it.
    But, you know, it's kind of neat when the fall colors come in, and then a hundred bags of leaves that we used to take out of our yard every fall. And then when the fall changes to winter, and there's a whole new set of sports and activities and fun, and festivities. It goes a little long in some places; I could stand to cut a month or two off of that one.
    And then, all of a sudden you're driving along one day and you'll see this burst of yellow. When we lived in New Jersey it was the forsythia. Where we live now, you see the daffodils coming out... these beautiful flowers are exploding in color! It's spring; it feels so good to be warm again. And then you head into all the fun of summer and the relaxation and the things you can only do there. And, you know, you don't have to wear all those coats. Each season has its unique lifestyle, wardrobe, and equipment.
    There's sort of a cycle of putting away your boots, your coats, and your skis. And then you get out your shorts, and your lawn chairs, and your beach umbrella. Then you put them away and you get out your boots, your coats... Well, you know how all that goes.
    Well, God seems to be into seasons too. After all, He thought them up. Actually, it doesn't matter if you live at the North Pole or the Equator; you live in God's changing seasons, and your life? It's probably in one right now.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You about "How to Act When Your Seasons Change."
    God's people seem to live in three seasons. The reason I can tell that is I've been studying them in the book of Exodus, and that's where we're going to find our word for today from the Word of God. Now, as the children of Israel left Egypt and came to the Red Sea, and then after the Red Sea parted, and they went on through toward the Promised Land, it's evident in three kinds of water they found, that they lived in three seasons.
    And their seasons are the same as yours or mine. In fact, at any given point in your life, it's very possible you're in one of these three. That means right now you are. And each one, just like the meteorological seasons, has an appropriate way for you to live. Three waters that God's people encountered and they still do, and they represent a season and a way to live.
    In Exodus 14, for example, here's the first kind of water. They are up to the Red Sea. "As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians marching after them." It says, "Moses answered the people 'Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians (and I love this) you see today, you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still.'"
    The first season is the season of barrier waters. Have you ever been there? There's the Red Sea ahead of you. There's nowhere to go. The chariots are coming at you; there's no exit. It's impossible. Well God's instructions during that period of time - that season - are to stay where you are and pray. God parts the waters. That's His job. You know what you do? You leave it to Him. You wait for Him to act.
    Then they went on. In Exodus 15 it says, "They came to Marah where they could not drink the water because it was bitter, until Moses cried to the Lord and the Lord showed him a piece of wood which he threw in the water and the water became sweet." OK, now there are the bitter waters. You've got the barrier waters, and God parts those; you leave that to Him. And then when you hit bitter waters, God sweetens the bitter water seasons in your life. Your job is to look for the sweetener. What can you throw into that situation that would sweeten it?
    And then finally it says, "They came to Elim and there were 12 springs and 79 palm trees." That's the bubbling waters. Maybe you're in that season now. God surprises us with bubbling waters. And you know what your job is? You soak it up; you store it up. You won't stay in any one season though. God will keep changing them. In a barrier time, you wait for Him to act supernaturally. In a bitter time, you seek the sweetener. In a bubbling time, you enjoy it.
    They're all designed to teach us to depend on Him. And you can be sure the seasons will change, but your Savior will not.

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    August 24, 2023 Ready or Not, Here He Comes - #9554

    The real Noah stirred things up when he was here. Guess what? He did it again a few years ago. Yeah, on the big screen they did a Noah movie Noah and his ark. Yeah, the movie version; it had a big launch when it came out. And actually Captain Noah proved that he still has the ability to be controversial. Except this time, it was mostly among Bible people.
    There were some people objecting to all that the movie adds and subtracts from the original account. And then others expressed hope that it would interest some un-Bible people in the real Story. And, in fact, that is what happened. There was a sudden spike in Bible reading and Bible websites. That's a good thing.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Ready or Not, Here He Comes."
    What is interesting is that thousands of years later, Jesus was talking about Noah. And He actually was suggesting that when people are thinking about Noah, they should be looking for Jesus to come.
    Here's what He said in our word for today from the Word of God. It's in Luke 17:26-27. "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man."
    So what we've got here is Jesus establishing this linkage between Noah and the time Jesus is going to come back to earth. That's worth thinking about. Jesus used the story of Noah as a picture of what the world would look like on the eve of the climactic event of all human history - His return. When He said, "They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:30). Bottom line? The world isn't done with Jesus Christ. Jesus is our future. Actually, Jesus is your future.
    See, He will come to a world that, basically using the Noah example that He did, will be busy ignoring Him; too busy to have time for Him, living for their appetites, caught up in the gerbil wheel of their lives, spinning and spinning, doing whatever they feel like and oblivious to the flood of God's judgment that's coming.
    But at the same time, there will be an ark where they can be rescued. His name is Jesus. But see, nobody took Noah seriously. Nobody took his message seriously, so none of them were in the ark. So Jesus is going to write the final chapter of human history. It won't be some president or prime minister or powerful nation. No, it will be Jesus.
    By the way, Jesus will write the final chapter of your personal history. See, the Bible says, "How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?" Salvation? That's a rescue word isn't it? Well, Jesus came here to pay the price for the sin that carries an awful death penalty. I was on death row spiritually, except for the fact that Jesus came and became my substitute for my penalty for my sin when He died on the cross. Then He walked out of His grave to prove that if I would let Him walk into my life He would give me the eternal life that only He has demonstrated He has on that first Easter morning.
    He said one thing about His return. He said, "You must be ready" (Matthew 24:44). I wonder, are you? Are you ready to meet Him, either when He comes back or when your last breath is taken? Because the Bible says, "It is appointed to man to die once, and after this the judgment." But see, that's the judgment that Jesus took on the cross; the judgment that you can have canceled by your decision this day to pin all your hopes on Jesus. Tell Him, "Jesus, I'm Yours."
    Have you ever done that? I'd love to help you do it. Our website is there for that express purpose. I invite you to go to ANewStory.com right away today. Let's get this settled. See, Jesus isn't just the future of this world. He's my future. He's your future. Be ready.

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    August 23, 2023 The Legacy of Your Life - #9553

    The Kentucky Derby always has its share of drama. I remember the 2006 Kentucky Derby. That was a blowout! A horse named Barbaro took the lead in America's most famous race and left every other horse in the dust. Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby by an astounding 6 & 1/2 lengths! Many thought that horse could go on to be one of the few who has ever won the Triple Crown. Well, sadly, an injury ended that dream. But it didn't take away the glory of Barbaro's dramatic Kentucky Derby victory.
    The horse was only part of the story that day. In some ways, the bigger story was about Barbaro's trainer, Michael Matz. Eighteen years earlier, Michael Matz had been a passenger on an airplane flight that crashed in an Iowa cornfield. During the flight, he had struck up conversations with three young children who were traveling that day without their parents. Then came the crash. Many died that day as the plane caught fire. Survivors were struggling to find a way out of that burning wreckage, but all Michael Matz could do was think about those three children. He risked his life to find all of them and bring them out alive. And on that day, when the horse Michael trained crossed the finish line, there was jubilant celebration in the box where he was watching. Michael Matz, his wife, and the three (now grownup) children whose lives he had saved eighteen years before. Wow!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Legacy of Your Life."
    In our word for today from the Word of God, Paul's thinking ahead to the day when his race will be over; when he'll be in heaven celebrating the lasting legacy of his life. In 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, speaking to people he had introduced to Jesus Christ, Paul says: "What is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when He comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy."
    So, crossing the finish line to heaven - celebrating being there. First with Jesus, whose death and resurrection got you there, and then, with all those who are there (at least in part) because you helped to rescue them. You did what your Bible said to do: "Snatch others from the fire and save them" (Jude 23). You weren't content to just get you out of that burning wreckage of sin. No, you had to help those around you make it, too. That's going to make heaven even sweeter. Or is it?
    As you look at the legacy of your life so far, do you see many people you've pointed to Jesus? Can you see some folks who will be in heaven because you were part of helping them go there? How many people understand what Jesus did on the cross for them because you explained it to them? Have you been to some funerals, and looked into the casket and asked yourself, "Why didn't I tell them about Jesus while there was still time?"
    You can't have any of those days back. But you do have whatever days God still has ahead for you. And you can decide what kind of difference you want to make with the rest of your life. I hope it's to help as many people be in heaven with you as possible; to give as many people a chance at being rescued by Jesus as you can. Much of what we do and accomplish here won't mean anything, even one moment after our last breath. But there's one thing you can do that will last forever, and that's to help someone else live forever by showing them Jesus.
    The prophet Daniel described that day when "multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt." Every person you know is headed for one of those two destinations.
    Then he describes ultimate legacy: "Those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever and ever" (Daniel 12:2-3). Why? Because they'll be celebrating forever with people whose lives they've rescued.

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    August 22, 2023 Nothing to Hide - #9552

    My wife and I had just visited her father and we were driving on this busy Interstate that's right near a large city. Suddenly everyone was coming to a complete stop, and we immediately thought, "Oh, there's got to be an accident, or maybe construction."
    Well, my wife was driving, and as we inch along we see that there is a roadblock ahead that was stopping everything. A man with a hard hat stuck his head in the window and began asking questions. "Where did you begin your journey today? How long have you been driving? Where are you headed?" My wife said, "What's this for?" He replied, "Oh, we're just taking a survey here to see if we need to widen the road."
    So, they are stopping the busiest highway in the area to do a survey as the traffic is backing up behind us? Really? My wife then notices this video camera filming the conversation with Mr. Hard Hat, and a woman with a microphone in her hand. And she saw the letters on the microphone. We've got a TV anchor woman here. And suddenly my wife began to think, what any of us would think if we suddenly saw a TV camera filming us, "Oh, what do I look like?" Well, that morning we had hurried to get started on a long drive, so no makeup, no hair grooming, kind of crummy travel clothes. As we pulled away, my wife pulled down the visor mirror and she said, "Is this what they saw?" Well, you never know when folks are going to be seeing you.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Nothing to Hide."
    Here's our word for today from the Word of God from chapter 3 in John, beginning at verse 19. "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men love darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been through God."
    Now, this verse makes me think about people who have one of life's great freedoms - nothing to hide. "I'm living in the light. I don't care what's exposed. Roll the film, roll the tape. I don't fear discovery." Boy, that's a great way to live isn't it? I mean, you never know when someone will be watching, as my wife discovered on that busy Interstate that day.
    You can be sure that God's tape is rolling on every conversation you have, no matter how secret you might think it is. His camera is rolling on every activity, no matter how alone you may think you are, and usually people find that out too. The Bible says, "Be sure your sin will find you out." It's often not right away, but at a later time when the disclosure can do the greatest damage to your family, or your ministry, or to your representation of Christ.
    It's a good idea to never leave home without making sure you look okay inside. Each new day, why don't we deal with the attitudes that we don't want recorded that day, the compromises, the selfish way we get things done, the immoral thoughts. See, repentance is what makes you a camera-ready person who's got nothing to hide. "Hey, I've confessed it to Jesus. I've let Him clean me up today." And repentance honestly should be a regular part of getting dressed spiritually every morning. It just feels so good to know that you can welcome the light. You don't need to hide in a dark corner because somebody might find out.
    Maybe God's using our visit today to speak to you about that dark secret. Would you listen to His voice? It's not mine; it's His. By the way, the Bible says that when Jesus comes and when we stand before Him that "all men's secrets will be revealed." And we will be judged based on the things that were in the dark. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have all that erased from God's Book, forgiven so you would never meet them on Judgment Day? There's one man who can do that; the man who died to make it happen. That's Jesus. The day you say, "Jesus, I'm Yours" that's the day every sin of your life is forgiven forever.
    I'd love to help you know how to make that happen. Would you visit our website? It's ANewStory.com. The cameras are rolling in heaven and they're rolling on earth, in public and in private. So let Jesus give you a picture that you could be proud of.

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    August 21, 2023 The Price of Withholding - #9551

    Gross and net. Yeah, that's the words that you can use to describe what you really can use from your paycheck. Gross, of course, is the total amount you get in the paycheck. Then, of course, that's not what you can use, because net is the amount that's left after taxes, right? That's what you've still got in the net. You've never even seen the government's share... and that's what's gross. Well, they call what goes to the government withholding tax. Now, it's not just the government that's in the withholding business. No, you and I are too, and it's gross.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Price of Withholding."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is in Genesis 22; it's the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice the most precious thing in his life. It is a test to clarify Abraham's love for God. You may remember that there was a son for whom he waited many, many years and miraculously God gave him a son in Isaac; the son of his and Sarah's old age. And Isaac was to be the one through whom a whole nation would come - a nation that God had promised to Abraham.
    Now God says to him, "I want you to take him to the mountain and sacrifice him." Now, as I said, it was a test to clarify Abraham's love. You see, it's easy for one of God's gifts to become an idol that we love more than Him. And so here is the call to sacrifice his son. Of course, as you may remember, God provides a ram that he can sacrifice instead. But He calls on him to sacrifice his son, and it is a call that later God himself would respond to; only He would go all the way with the sacrifice, and sacrifice His Son on a cross for us.
    Now, we go to Genesis 22 and we learn about withholding. In fact, it's a key word of the passage. Genesis 22:12 - "'Do not lay a hand on the boy,' God says. 'Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God because you have not withheld from Me your son... your only son.'" Verse 16: "I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you." Did you notice, "You have not withheld."
    Now we know that in our tax system, the money the government takes out of our paycheck is because they have prior claim to it. We don't even consider hanging onto that money. Now, with our most precious relationships and possessions, we have a choice. The government doesn't give us a choice, but we have a choice about withholding these precious things. But God has a prior claim to that loved one that you're holding onto so tightly. He made them. He paid for them. They're His. He has a prior claim to that house, that car, that possession you may have hung onto for yourself. He has a prior claim to the money you want to spend mostly on your kingdom instead of His.
    Yeah, God has prior claim to that position you hold or aspire to hold, to your gifts, to your talents, the opportunities He's entrusted to you. They're His! He has prior claim to your children. Could it be you're withholding them from God? Are you hanging onto something or someone you love? You have plans. You have dreams, and security riding on it as Abraham did. But God's hands are reaching your way saying, "Can you trust Me with what you love so much?"
    Two thousand years after this incident, God proved that He could be trusted by sacrificing His Son on that very mountain. And if you give what you love to Him, He will either improve it or replace it with something better.
    Can you hear God saying, "You have not withheld from Me what you love so much. Surely I will bless you." I hope so. After all, God has prior claim, so withholding from Him is stealing from God.

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    August 18, 2023 How the Captain Can Sink a Family - #9550

    It was one of those scenes in the news that's hard to forget. It was the image of a Korean ferry just rolling into the sea with all the passengers disappearing with it beneath the waves. It was heartbreaking to look at all those loved ones on the dock grieving inconsolably over children who would never come home again. What was outrageous was that the captain was one of the first to abandon ship. They charged him with negligence of duty and abandoning people in need. Sadly, there are a lot of captains that can be charged with crimes like that.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How the Captain Can Sink a Family."
    See, I'm talking about being the captain of your family. The ship starts to drift...the crew gets confused...the vessel is in danger of a fatal turn when Dad keeps "abandoning the ship."
    When the cruise ship Costa Concordia shipwrecked off the coast of Italy, again it was the captain who was charged. A maritime lawyer said at that time: "The captain is the master of the vessel. Every crew member looks to the captain for guidance and leadership. It's the captain's responsibility to know the waters and avoid coming close to any shoals and reefs."
    Sad to say, I've sometimes gotten too busy to know the waters that our family ship was navigating; when this captain was "below decks" at a critical point. We know there's a devastating epidemic of fatherlessness in families these days. But it isn't just dads who are physically absent. You can be emotionally absent, and that may be even more damaging; around your family but not with your family. There, but not really there. "Abandoning people in need."
    A daughter, missing her father's love, ends up looking for that love in all the wrong places. A son who can't get his father's approval or attention, growing angrier by the day. A wife who's left to run things alone. In many ways, that ferry disaster mirrors the family disaster caused by a "captain's" three tragic mistakes.
    Number one - leaving the wheel. It appears that the ferry captain left the ship in the hands of a third mate at a decisive turning point. How many of us husbands have forfeited leadership when the going got rough, when finances were turbulent, when discipline was needed, when hard choices had to be made? Criminal negligence.
    Our word for today from the Word of God, Proverbs 27:23-24. Here's what they say: "Be sure you know the condition of your flocks." (May I say your family.) "Give careful attention to your herds. For riches do not endure forever and a crown is not secure for all generations." Translation: Take care of it or risk losing it all.
    There's a second way a captain can sink his family ship - looking out for me. Apparently, that ferry captain was so concerned about himself that he left his passengers to fend for themselves. "Me first" while those he was responsible for were going down. Consumed with our personal pursuits, our work, our recreation, our sports, our hobby, our toys; effectively oblivious to the leadership that we're abandoning.
    And then there's a third way that any captain can sink his ship. There are rocks to avoid. There are crises requiring direction. And a husband - a father - cannot be AWOL when a steady hand at the wheel is needed. Along with a wise, reassuring guide when the water is rising.
    I have to confess this to you. I don't know how in the world to be a dad today without the power of Jesus Christ. If I didn't have Jesus as my Savior, being a dad would have driven me to my knees to find Him. Being a dad is when you find out you are not enough by yourself. You're not in control. You're not in charge. You need a Savior.
    Today if you're a dad, and maybe the ship is not going the right direction, let this be the day your family gets a new dad, as you turn that dad over to Jesus Christ. Want to know how? Would you go to our website, and boy, we can help you know that - how you can be sure you belong to Him. It's ANewStory.com.
    For the beginning of your new story could be the beginning of a new story for the people you love too.

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    August 17, 2023 It's Not Yours to Break - #9549

    Now, I haven't seen my son angry very often, but I remember one time. And I think it's safe to say that he was "fit to be tied." See, he had this elaborate race car set that his grandparents had given him, and it was all set up in the basement. Then the cars raced with each other and they did these loops, and went around these curves. He loved that! I mean, he loved this thing. And there were dump trucks that could be loaded and unloaded with gravel, and he had all kinds of lights and sounds, and bells and whistles.
    Well, one day we had some company over to our house and they had two sons. And they were getting a little bored just listening to adult conversation, so they went downstairs to play with my son's race car set. It was never the same; and I didn't think he would be. See, after they left, my son went down to the basement and he found that one of the race cars wouldn't work - which means there's not much of a race when you've only got one car. The gravel loader? That didn't work any more. Basically, the set was generally wrecked! And he could never really use it quite the same after that. Well, he wasn't angry, of course. No, he was righteously indignant. He said, "Dad, if they want to break their own toys, that's okay. But they have no business breaking what belongs to me." I agree with that. Wouldn't you? Well then, why do we do it so often?
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "It's Not Yours to Break."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 Corinthians 6, and I'm going to be reading verses 19 and 20. "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you; whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body." In this passage before Paul writes these words, he's been discussing sex outside of God's fence of marriage. And basically what he's saying is, "What right do you have to use God's property for something He hates... for something that breaks His heart?" He says, "You are not your own; you've been bought and paid for."
    I saw my son's distress over someone misusing what he owned. And I know a little bit of how God feels when He sees what you and I do with these bodies of ours. It's a startling realization when you look in the mirror and say, "That's not your body. It has been bought and paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ."
    Years ago I remember when we closed on our house. And from that moment, the former owner had no say about where the furniture went, or how the rooms would be used, or what color the walls would be. It was mine by right of purchase.
    You are Jesus' property by right of purchase; a high price, an expensive price, an unthinkable price - His life on the cross for your body and for your soul so it could be restored to what it was made for - to glorify God. How are you taking care of God's blood-bought body? Have you been cheapening it by what you've been doing sexually? Has His body been over-eating and damaging itself that way, or overworking and not getting the rest that God asks us to get? How about the garbage you've been putting into His body; or the times, maybe, when you've turned it over to the control of a chemical or to alcohol? Hey, that's His body!
    Augustine was tempted to plunge back into his old life and he said, "Thou fool, doest thou not know that thou art carrying God around with thee?" This is His body. It's made by Him; paid for by Him. Cared for, like a temple where God himself lives, because it is. And honestly, it's just not yours to break.

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    August 16, 2023 Maui Fires - A Landscape of Loss...and One Symbol of Hope

    Words fail at a time like this. I mean even words like "apocalyptic"... "war zone"... "total devastation."
    I mean those racing flames in the iconic Lahaina community of Maui just consumed everything in its path and left just ash where there had been a building there before.
    Fire doesn't care what it destroys. Even if it's centuries of royal and religious history, the lives and livelihoods of countless Hawaiians. The number of lives lost? We don't even know yet, maybe we never will.
    That charming tourist magnet and idyllic community has suddenly become a desolate landscape of loss.
    Except for the tree. The 150-year-old banyan tree that soars to 60 feet and covers an entire city block. It is badly charred and its future is uncertain.
    But today it stands as one surviving symbol of hope amidst all the sadness and ruin.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Maui fires - A Landscape of Loss...and One Symbol of Hope."
    One survivor said, "Everything is gone." But the tree is still standing.
    Which, I realized as I prayed for Lahaina, is just how I felt on that May day when my "everything" was gone. My Karen. The love of my life since I was 19. The only person on earth who had done my whole adult life with me. Our family treasure. Gone. Suddenly gone.
    But one thing was still standing. The Tree. The cross where Jesus died a death that has changed millions of lives ever since. I'm one of them. That cross became an anchor on the darkest day of my life.
    I know my days of life-altering loss certainly aren't unique to me. Some time or another, the fire comes for all of us.
    Maybe in the form of a devastating diagnosis, a disease, ora disaster that destroys our treasures. Maybe desertion or divorce that leaves us emotionally "homeless."
    And, of course, the ultimate hope-robber. Death.
    I've been to a lot of funerals. But the one at that windswept burial ground on a Native American reservation is one I'll never forget. Danny's brother had died suddenly and tragically. And Danny wasn't only grieving - he was broken. After we had all passed by the open grave and thrown in our handful of dirt, and as people were leaving, there was Danny at the head of his brother's grave. Hugging as he wept, the rugged wooden cross that had been placed there. It just seemed like that cross was literally holding him up that day. The "fire" that burned through his life must have seemed like everything was gone.
    But the Tree was still standing. As it has for millions of broken people for 2,000 years. People like me.
    Some stunning things happened on that grotesque day when the Son of God was nailed to a criminal's cross. From that cross, He declared, "It is finished!" The spiritual penalty for every sin of every person on this planet had been paid for by the only One who could.
    In the Bible's words: 'He personally carried our sins in His own body on the cross...He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God" (1 Peter 2:24, 3:18). Safely home. When it feels like I've lost everything, I'm still "safely home" in the unlosable love of God. I have an anchor relationship that is fireproof... disaster-proof... death-proof! Our word for today from the word of God - Romans 8:39 - assures us that, "Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." That is God's personal guarantee to those who belong to Him.
    If you're not sure you do. If you've never given your life to this Jesus. If you've never experienced that unloseable love. Can I invite you to go to our website? Because there I've laid out how you can begin that relationship for a lifetime and a forever lifetime. It's ANewStory.com.
    As I stood by my Karen's fresh grave, I didn't stand alone. My Jesus was there.
    Lahaina's banyan tree has an uncertain future. But God's "safely home" Tree is there forever. It's Indestructible.
    That Tree says I am forever loved. I'm forever forgiven. I'm forever safe. I'm never alone. And no fire can take that away.

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    August 15, 2023 Prayer That Changes Things - #9547

    One sure way to finally be successful is to write a book about success. It doesn't have to be a book about your success. You can just study what made major corporations or some other leaders successful, and you can write about their success. It probably would be a bestseller.
    Everywhere you look today there are seminars, and workshops, and books, and websites, and all kinds of stuff; formulas about how to be a winner in what you do.
    But all the books and seminars are missing the major determining factor in personal success. Now I can't offer you what one book did. It was called The One Minute Manager. I can't do it quite that quickly; this will take just a little longer than that, but maybe it will be a little better too.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Prayer That Changes Things."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God, Genesis 24. It's about Abraham's trusted servant Eliezer. Now he's gotten to be an old man, and so has Abraham. And he gets his biggest assignment, which is to go find Isaac (who in a sense is almost like the prince of what will one day be Israel. They've got this great family, and this great little empire they've built.) Well, the prince needs a princess; he needs a wife. And so Eliezer is sent to find the woman who will be in that first generation of Jews; in a sense to be the mother of that generation. And of course, Eliezer wants to succeed. So he goes back to the land from which Abraham came so he can get a believing wife for Isaac.
    And here's how the Bible describes his prayer. "Then he prayed, 'O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today.'" Now we know that he really meant that prayer, because after he got the success and found Rebekah and did a bang-up job of getting his goal accomplished, here's what it says, "I bowed down and worshiped the Lord; I praised the Lord." You know, success is rooted in a prayer like this. Now, you may not find it in the books or the seminars or the workshops. But when you say, "Lord, give me success today," that's the key to getting it done.
    Three factors, I think, in that prayer. One is dailyness. Eliezer recognizes here that success happens in 24-hour periods; that you have to have a good day. "Lord, give me success in this 24-hour period. Not this month, not this year; not for the rest of my life. Help me to succeed today." It's a daily prayer.
    Secondly, there's a concept of destiny here. He's recognizing that there is someone already picked out for him to find - recognition that there is a plan. He's going to walk into a divine plan. See, success is fitting into God's plan. From God's perspective, it means being the right person at the right place at the right time, doing it the right way, and God will bring the goal to you.
    And then there's dependency here. Praying through your day; making your calls His calls; your exam, His exam; your appointments, His appointments; your contest, your challenges, your problems - they're His. And you can tell by Eliezer's response that he's not bragging; he's praising after he gets what he was after, because he knows (and this is important to remember) that success is ultimately not so much an achievement as it is a gift of God. You don't achieve it, you receive it.
    There's a much larger, more lasting success than you could possibly construct. Ultimately, your success is not the result of your degree, or your plan, or your intelligence, or your hard work. It's the result of the blessing of Almighty God - those few minutes in the morning when you say, "Oh Lord, give me success today."

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    August 14, 2023 A Volcano Called Anger - #9546

    Violence in a movie theater? That's not news. I mean, there's a lot of it on the screen. But, this time, there was violence in the seats of a Florida theater. A man actually killed a man in front of him. Shot him! Apparently because the victim was texting during the previews. Turns out he was texting daycare to check on his three-year-old daughter.
    It's a disturbing reminder of a troubling reality of our time. We're surrounded by angry people who are one provocation away from an explosion. I mean, you could tell by how they're enraged about seemingly small things. You know they already had to have a very full glass for it to take just a single drop to make them spill all over everybody. Our easily-triggered and quickly-provoked anger should scare us. Because rage crushes reason and makes us blind to the expensive of consequences of our eruption.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Volcano Called Anger."
    When I was in Quito, Ecuador, I was surprised to learn that the city is virtually ringed by volcanic mountains. Dormant, I hoped. The locals pointed out one in particular - Antisana. "It's 18,000 feet," they said, and I was impressed. "They believe it used to be 28,000 feet." I was curious. Turns out that it just blew its top one day. The eruption didn't really last all that long, but the damage was forever. What was lost was lost for good.
    Anger's like that. Just ask the spouses, the children who bear the permanent scars from a human volcano near them. Or the countless people who are forever diminished by the angry words, the names, the accusations heaped on them. Probably by someone who supposedly loves them.
    The "molten lava" of rage often comes from a lot of junk we stuffed inside: wounds, disappointments and perceived injustices. I've found you have just two choices with life's bad stuff. You can let it go or you'll let it grow. Bitterness, grudges, unforgiveness; they don't stay the same size. They morph from deal-withable grass fires into uncontrollable infernos unless you deal with them when they're small.
    I found this simple defusing technique in the ancient wisdom of the world's best-selling book. The Bible says, "Do not let the sun go down while you're angry." In other words, deal with it while it's small - manageable. Talk it through. Forgive, if necessary. Just don't stuff it.
    Our hair-trigger temper should scare us enough to seek out a place to dump the build-up of years. Someone we can pour it all out to. Someone who can help us work through it. Even to trace our rage back to those original wounds we never dealt with; wounds that became the foundation for what is now a volcanic backlog of angry "sundowns." Unconfronted anger? It's a ticking time bomb. And it's sure to explode, carrying us to consequences we could never imagine. If we're honest, we've all got a dark side. Some of us are better concealing it than others, but it's still a defining part of who we are.
    Rage, passion, greed, self-destruction, selfishness: they're all symptoms, the Bible explains, of a much deeper cancer. Our rebellion against God. We've left the Son that we were made for and drifted into ever-darker corners of ourselves. In our word for today from the Word of God, Romans 7 beginning with verse 24, one Bible writer describes himself as a "prisoner of sin," and he cried out, "Who will rescue me?" Then the answer. "Thank God! Jesus Christ our Lord!"
    The Bible reveals that Jesus turned the full wrath of the beast of sin on Himself when He absorbed all our darkness by dying on the cross. And the darkness doesn't have to win any more.
    There is a Liberator. There's a Savior I want you to know as I've come to know Him. So, would you go to our website and find there the road to begin a relationship with Him that is so transforming? Go to ANewStory.com. Because this could be the beginning of a new story for you.

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    August 11, 2023 God of the Little Problems - #9545

    In ongoing attempts to establish more regular exercise in our lives, my wife and I had moved into this walking kick. And, you know, that was a good idea. Actually, my wife took the research approach, including reading books on walking, which I wasn't sure was necessary since I've been walking since I was about a year old. One of those books was by a man who literally walked across America. I was hoping that was not one of my wife's goals for our exercise program. I was intrigued, though, by an observation made by this super-walker. When someone asked him what the greatest obstacle was in his long hike across the country, (You want to guess?) he gave a pretty surprising answer. He said, "The little pebbles I got in my shoes."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "God of the Little Problems."
    It's interesting that the Bible actually describes our life-journey with Jesus as a walk. And some of us share with that man who hiked America the same obstacle in getting to our destination.
    In Song of Solomon 2:15, our word for today from the Word of God, we find an intriguing insight about our life journey. It says, "Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom." It's the little foxes that ruin things; that spoil what could have been a good result. If it's a big fox, it's easy to shoot it. But it's harder to fight the little foxes that just kind of nibble away. Sounds like an animal kingdom equivalent of a hiker's "little pebbles in your shoes."
    And we all experience the aggravation of those little pebbles; the car trouble, the sick child, an inconvenient illness, the appliance on the blink, the banking problems, the office politics, those little injustices, or that unexpected expense. The peace of God is one of a child of God's greatest gifts, but often these little stresses do more to rob us of that peace than even the big crises.

    When a major crisis comes, we tend to run to God for His grace. We know we can't fight a giant by ourselves. But when we run into those little mini-headaches of everyday life, we often try to handle those on our own. We fight the big foxes with spiritual weapons and the little foxes with human weapons.
    So we lose, not to huge temptations or overwhelming problems, but to flat tires and the flu, to bills and bad traffic. Not because they're so big, but because we don't think to go to Jesus about them. I'm so glad that Jesus is a sparrow-counting, hair-counting, daily bread kind of Savior, aren't you? But I need to go to Him with the small frustrations! We could live much more victoriously if we would immediately go to Jesus for the grace He's promised us in the mini-messes - not just the big ones.
    Why let those "little foxes" create a negative, angry, stressed-out you? Turn them over to your Lord who told us He cares about those things. In 1 Peter 5:7 it says, "Casting all your care on Him because He cares for you." You'll walk much longer; you'll walk much lighter if your God is the God of the little pebbles - not just the big boulders.

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    August 10, 2023 Climbing a Mountain to Nowhere - #9544

    It just sounds weird: "Mount Everest is closed." Well, at the time, that was the headline. No one was going to climb that most iconic of all mountaineering quests, because 16 Sherpa guides were lost on the mountain, as blocks of ice as big as automobiles cascaded down on them.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Climbing a Mountain to Nowhere."
    You don't venture onto that peak without a Sherpa guide. They are the legendary people of the mountain; the guides who take climbers there - climbers who pay up to $100,000 to the Nepalese government to go. And the Sherpas didn't want the mountain "open for business" the rest of the year because it had cost too much. Did you know getting to the top of a mountain often does.
    Our personal "Everest's"; that treasured goal that we're driven to achieve. "I'll be married no matter what." So many who conquered that slope now wish they had never dreamed the dream, because it turned into a nightmare.
    "I will get to the top in what I do, whatever it takes." Only to sacrifice a spouse, a marriage, a child, a good name to get there. A price too high to pay. "My kid's going to be a winner. I'll make sure of it." So he or she becomes more of a performer than a person. A creation of a parent's ego rather than the person God made them to be. A robot programmed to please, but dangerously lonely and stressed.
    Success. We each have our own definition don't we? And there's nothing intrinsically wrong with wanting to climb our mountain. But in the words of Jesus, "Count the cost" in relationships, in integrity. What's it going to cost you in your health, in the lives of your children, in your reputation, in your personal peace?
    No conquest, no dream is worth ending up in the emergency room with a medical crisis of your own or the emotional meltdown of someone you love, leaving behind you a trail of people that you've wounded or crushed as you race to your finish line. That's a price too high to pay.
    I've seen it too many times. Driving for a goal - even a noble goal - can make you blind to the needs around you and deaf to their cries, and oblivious to the cost until the avalanche.
    Jesus asked a haunting question. It's in our word for today from the Word of God in Mark 8:36. It is worth thinking about seriously. "What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?" And so many have. It's a price too high to pay.
    Isn't it amazing we keep climbing these mountains thinking that surely the peace I've been looking for, the significance I've been looking for, the meaning I've been looking for, the wholeness I've been looking for in my soul, it will be at the top of this mountain. You got to the top of the mountain and it wasn't there. Or you think it's going to be at the top of the mountain, but the people who've been there have found nothing there.
    There's a reason for that, because we were never meant ultimately to find our happiness, find our wholeness, find our identity in anything other than the person who gave us our life in the first place. And that is the God who put us here. It says in the Bible, "You were created by Him and for Him." And we've lived for everything else but Him. There's only one hill you can climb, only one mountain, where you're going to find what you're looking for. It's called Skull Hill in the Bible. There's a cross at the top, and that is where God's Son died to pay the price to reunite you and me with the God who fills the hole in our soul and who holds our eternity in His hands.
    Maybe you've been climbing the wrong hills. Maybe you've been climbing the wrong mountains. This may be your day to to find your way to where Jesus has died for you and say, "Jesus, I'm Yours." And to finally find what has eluded you for a lifetime that can only be found in Him. If you've never done that, and you say, "I wish I knew how to begin that personal relationship with Him." I invite you to our website where I'd love to show you how. It's ANewStory.com. Because there is no Everest that is worth giving up an irreplaceable eternal treasure.

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    August 9, 2023 Living It Won't Do It - #9543

    I invented this little game years ago to play with our two young grandsons. I call it Bible Charades. We tried it one Sunday afternoon during a visit to our house, and then they wanted to do it every time. It's pretty simple. Just write a brief description of several Bible stories on cards, and then the boys would take turns drawing a card and acting out the story with either their Daddy or me as their teammate. Whoever isn't playing is supposed to be guessing. My favorite was when the younger boy - who was three years old - was David and his tall Daddy was Goliath. Yeah. The little guy pretended that this dishtowel was his slingshot, and he spun it around his head - followed by Daddy holding his forehead and crashing dramatically to the living room floor. No talking is allowed. You can only act it out. One problem: our five-year-old grandson knew a lot more Bible stories than his three-year-old brother, which made the game pretty challenging and sometimes kind of frustrating for the little guy. The story that we hoped that he'd guess by our actions might be a story he doesn't even know!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Living It Won't Do It."
    Some of us have been playing Bible Charades for a long time - acting out a story we hope the people around us will guess by our actions but no words. If you've ever played real charades, you know there are some things people just aren't going to figure out without your putting it into words. Right? So it is with the most important story of all - the story of what Jesus did on the cross to pay for the sins of each person you know. The story of the spiritual Rescuer from heaven who not only died for them, but who's alive for them because He walked out of His grave three days later!
    Many followers of Jesus are committed to what some have called "lifestyle evangelism." And that's very important - demonstrating in your everyday life the difference that Jesus makes, creating curiosity about Him in the hearts of people who don't know Him. It's important, but it's not enough. See, they're not going to guess the Gospel. I mean, they could watch you for the next fifty years. They're not going to suddenly say, "You know Charlie is such a nice guy, I'll bet Jesus died on the cross for my sins!" They're not going to figure that out! You have to tell them. Gospel Charades will turn out to be fatal charades for them if you never tell them what Jesus did for them on the cross!
    Paul's prayer in our word for today from the Word of God needs to be your prayer and mine. In Ephesians 6:19-20, he says, "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel." (By the way, it's going to be a mystery to the people around you until you tell them about it! Right?) He goes on to say, "Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should" (Ephesians 6:20). In Colossians 4:3-4, Paul asks for prayer that "God will open a door for us." Now, a door? That's a natural opportunity to bring up your relationship with Jesus and the difference He's making in your everyday life.
    I call this the "three-open prayer." Prayed each new day, it can give you some exciting opportunities to be a spiritual rescuer, maybe for some people who are spiritually dying around you. It goes like this: "Lord, open a door." See, you're trusting Him to open some natural opportunity and to help you see that opportunity when He does. Then, "Lord, open their heart." Get them ready, Lord, to hear about you before I ever speak to them. And finally, "Lord (this might be the toughest one!), open my mouth." Give me the courage, give me the words, give me the approach to use to point this person to you. Try it with me. "Lord, open a door. Lord, open their heart. Lord, open my mouth."
    Don't just depend on your acting out Jesus - your Gospel charades - to give someone you care about the life-or-death information they've got to have to go to heaven. There's too much at stake for that. For you to remain silent about what you know about Jesus could be, in essence, a death sentence for them because of your silence.

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    August 8, 2023 No One to Welcome You - #9542

    If you want to make friends fast in an airport sometime and fast, just stand there with a big Welcome Home banner. Yeah, we were contacted by a young woman who had been part of our Native American work in the past. She was going through a time of severe struggle and she really wanted to turn things around. So she asked us if she could come and spend some recovery time with our team in New Jersey at that time. We'd been praying for her, so we were wide open to her coming.
    Well, we scrambled to find a way to get an airplane ticket for her, and we decided to try to let her know how special she was by giving her this special airport welcome. We got some colorful helium balloons, we got a bright Welcome Home banner, and five of us stationed ourselves at the end of the concourse that she was scheduled to come in on. It was really funny to watch the reactions of these expressionless arriving passengers. And suddenly they see that sign, and they're laughing, they're waving, they're thanking us as if the welcome party was for them. It was fun... until we saw the last flight attendant coming down the concourse with no other passengers coming behind her. See, the person we'd come to welcome? She never came.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "No One to Welcome You."
    Even though she wasn't on the plane, of course we still prayed for that young woman to follow through and to leave the dark situation she was in. It's a pretty sad feeling when you prepare a big welcome and the one you did it for never comes. Boy, Jesus knows that feeling. He's prepared a Welcome Home, an expensive welcome for some people who've never come - maybe you.
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Luke 19:41. It says, "As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it and said, 'If you'd only known on this day what would bring you peace - but now it's hidden from your eyes. You did not recognize the time of God's coming.'" Wow! Now that scene, that feeling has been repeated many times since then as someone Jesus has been inviting to have a relationship with Him has been too busy or too disinterested to respond.
    He actually weeps over those who do not respond to His love, because of what He wants to do for them. He said, "If you had only known what would bring you peace." Could it be that the peace that's eluded you for so long is peace that only God's Son can give you? Could it be there's never been peace because there's never been room for Jesus?
    I know how sad I felt when the person we worked to bring home never came. Well, then, imagine how Jesus feels when someone He died for doesn't come. The Bible clearly spells out the uncomfortable fact that we are all on death row spiritually. We've sinned against the God who made us. We've insisted on living our way instead of His way. And the Bible says, "The soul that sins will die." Life here without God and His love, and then a life forever without God and His love and no pain relievers to cover the pain, except for the loving intervention of God's Son, Jesus.
    The Bible declares "Christ died for our sins." For your sins. We did the sinning, but Jesus did the dying. And having purchased your rescue with His blood, He holds up a banner for you - Welcome Home. He's been holding it for a long time, waiting for you to come to Him in faith. Listen, tell Him you're putting your total trust in Him for a relationship with God. That's what He's been waiting for, but you haven't come home. And someday you won't be able to. The banner will be gone; the open arms will be gone. But today you can still come.
    You want to come home to the One you were made for? If you want to begin that relationship with Him, would you go to our website? It's there for you today - ANewStory.com.
    Too many times the banner's been up and Jesus has been waiting for you and you didn't come. Would you please come today? Make this the day you finally experience the wonderful "Welcome Home" from Jesus Christ.

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    August 7, 2023 When Things Are Overwhelming - #9541

    My wife always said I usually try to cram in one more thing before I leave for an appointment. No, she was right. Yeah, she'd say that I usually try to make it up on the road, and sometimes I do have to plead guilty I guess. And it usually works okay if the weather's on my side. And then there are those very rainy days when it's a little tougher to hurry. You know, you're zipping down the highway at top speed, and suddenly you feel yourself losing control of the rear wheels. You ever had that happen to you? Yeah, it's what they call hydroplaning. The water builds up under those tires so that well, you're suddenly skiing. You're skimming along on water rather than on the pavement and the rear of your car starts to go somewhere you don't want it to go. Now, if that's ever happened to you, you know it is a scary feeling to start hydroplaning because, well, you're going so fast and you're starting to start losing control.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When Things Are Overwhelming."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God comes from Psalm 42. As we read this, the author is hydroplaning. Well, he didn't have a car, he had a chariot. And I don't know if chariots hydroplane or not, but things were moving so fast for him, he was beginning to lose control. In fact, listen to some of the descriptions he gives. He says, "My tears have been my food day and night." Then as you read on later in this very personal Psalm, he uses words like this: "Why are you so downcast oh my soul? Why are you so disturbed within me?" Then he says, "My soul is downcast within me. All Your waves and breakers, Lord, have swept over me." This guy's in bad shape!
    He says, "Man, things are just totally out of control." I was there not too long ago feeling this way. I think it was accumulated over a period of several weeks. Challenges had just been getting much bigger than my resources. Personally I felt like my faith was kind of like a fitted sheet on a king sized bed and I couldn't quite get it over that fourth corner. I couldn't get it to reach far enough to cover the particular challenges and the pressures that were accumulating. And I'll be honest with you, I was overwhelmed, I get there sometimes. I was pretty anxious, I was feeling like I would never catch up. And then I wandered into Psalm 42, where I was hit with a very probing question by a man who was feeling things out-of-control like I was. And as it turned out, that question turned out to be the answer.
    Here's our word for today from the Word of God. The question is in Psalm 42:2. It says this: "When can I go and meet with God?" So the writer says, "I'm losing control. It's bigger than I am. When can I go and meet with God?" You know, just like the writer of that Psalm, I needed to stop the world and get away for 24 hours with my Bible and a notepad and meet with God. And I did.
    That's been repeated many times. Maybe that's the prescription for you right now. You say, "Well, there's too much for me to stop right now." See, that's why you need to. Set a time to stop. Stand back, and listen to your Lord for an extended, unhurried chunk of time - for hours, not just minutes. Write down what you're feeling and what you're thinking as you're in His presence for that extended time. And ask Him for a fresh look at the people and the pressures so you can see the forest and not just the trees. Ask Him to help you see it through His eyes. Set some priorities while you're in that away spot. Make plans. Weed out things that can go. You can trust what you get from God when you're in an extended time in His presence. And those need to be scheduled on a pretty regular basis.
    So, if you're traveling at high speed, you feel yourself losing control, slow down, hit the brakes, carve out time away where your Lord can show you what He wants, and He can have your undivided attention.
    The number one question you have to answer right now is this: "When can I go and meet with God?"

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    August 4, 2023 The Life or Death Verb - #9540

    Pete came to me with this very unusual request when we were freshmen in college together. He asked me who I thought were the five best girls to date in our class. (Just call me Dr. Love.) Well, I gave him my top five list; four of whom I had actually been out with on my mad "date them all" freshman rush.
    The one on the list that I hadn't dated was this beautiful perky brunette. Well, after I gave Pete that list, I began to ask myself an obvious question, "Why haven't I dated her?" So I did, and I did it again, and again. And I did pretty much my whole adult life. By the time we graduated, we were engaged to be married, my beautiful Karen. Now, Pete was a New Englander, so he was a man of few words. He wrote only six words next to his picture in my senior yearbook: You believe in your product... Pete. And yes I did! See, she and I got married one week after graduation.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Life or Death Verb."
    Now, my friend summed it up pretty well; I really believed in this girl. Not just intellectually. No, I believed in her with everything I had. Believe as in committing my whole life to her. When it comes to God and where we spend the next hundred billion years, believe is the decisive action word. It's the life-or-death verb. Not in the official or intellectual sense like, "Pete, I believe this girl is a great catch for somebody." No, no! "I'm trusting my life to her." That belief.
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Acts 16:30-31. A man is asking the great missionary, Paul, this timeless question, "What must I do to be saved?" Well, the answer is so clear and so unmistakable, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved." Now obviously saved is a life-or-death word. Right? Just ask the people who were saved from the rubble of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, or someone who was saved by an emergency medical team. If the rescuer saved you, you lived. If he didn't, you died.
    Now, the kind of saving the Bible talks about is being rescued from the death penalty we are all under with God. Why? Well, the Bible says "all of us have wandered like sheep. We have turned each one to his own way." That's my way instead of God's way. And that is ultimate rebellion against the ultimate authority of the One who gave me my life to live for Him.
    The death we suffer in this life is a life of trying to make it without God's love, without God's peace, without God's purpose for our days. And if we die still away from Him, the penalty is what Jesus called hell. But that's where believing in Jesus comes in, because He's the only Rescuer, the only Savior that can keep you from dying spiritually. Because He died on the cross to bear all the guilt and all the penalty of the sins we've committed. That's how much He loves you. But you've got to believe in the Lord Jesus if you're going to be saved.
    You say, "Well, I believe in Jesus." But did you know you can have Him in your head but not in your heart? The Bible says in Romans 10:10, "It is with your heart that you believe and are justified." That means made right with God. Believe, like committing yourself in total trust to the One who died in your place.
    Now, here's a question on which your eternity could depend, "Has there ever been a time in your life when you've told Jesus, 'I'm pinning all my hopes on You, Jesus, and what You did on the cross to rescue me from my sin.'" If there's never been a time like that, my friend, you're not saved. You're in eternal danger.
    But that could change in the next few minutes if you just reach out to this Savior that you've known about but never really known. If you want to know Him for sure, listen, go to our website. That's what it's there for, to help you know you belong to Him. The website is ANewStory.com.
    One day I walked into a church not married. I walked out married, because I believed in someone. You need a day like that; a day to commit yourself to the One who loves you the most - Jesus Christ. A day like today.

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    August 3, 2023 Running Into Busyness - #9539

    For years, Haiti's had a special place in the hearts of my wife and myself. We've been there sometimes. My wife went down there on a photography mission. It's always touched our hearts. And when it's in the news, like earthquakes etc. it really gets to us. You know, I remember some years ago when my wife brought back a strange souvenir from her visit. She came home with I guess you'd call it a bacterial souvenir from a mission trip there.
    We got home from the airport, opened up the luggage, greeted our three children and started to hand out the little souvenirs that we got them. Well, meanwhile, my wife retreated to the bedroom and within an hour she was like in intestinal agony with gastroenteritis. I went to the doctor a couple of times and I tried to get her something to give her relief. When all else failed, they said, "Hey, you'd better get the emergency medical people over there and bring her to the hospital.
    That was a little scary. Here comes the EMS people barging in, they've got a stretcher, they've got the ambulance out in front, they're barking orders to each other. Our poor little boys just stood there wide-eyed trying to process it all, but not our 14-year-old daughter. No. No, she responded to this bad news situation differently. Suddenly she's in the kitchen doing dishes; cleaning madly; working frantically. First born! I guess she didn't want to deal directly with what was going on, so she just got busy. Yeah, it could be that first-born thing. That's not all bad unless it's God that you're avoiding dealing with.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Running Into Busyness."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Isaiah 30. I'll begin reading at verse 15. It's about people on the run. "This is what the sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says, 'In repentance and rest is your salvation. In quietness and trust is your strength.' But you would have none of it. You said, 'No, we will flee on horses.' Therefore you will flee! You said, 'We will ride off on swift horses.' Therefore, your pursuers will be swift."
    Now, notice here, God says to people, "I want you to repent; to rest, to trust." And they say, "Nope! I want to run. I want to run as fast as I can." You know, some of us are lifetime fugitives. Yep, we're running from something God is trying to get us to face. This says here that your pursuers will be swift; they will always catch up with you. Some escapes that we try are obviously destructive: like alcohol, drugs, or physically running away. But many Christians take the noble escape from facing issues. They just get busy in worthy causes, like my daughter bustling around in the kitchen. We get so busy, so we don't have to face the situation.
    Now, on the one hand, serving others; that's a positive way to find personal healing, but not if you're working as a substitute for dealing with the issue. Think about it. When you slow down, don't you start to see some things about yourself that you don't see any other time? Some of it, well, it might be hard to face: a deeply entrenched personal sin, maybe it's a deep wound that you've never dealt with. Something God wants you to do that you'd rather avoid. It's the still, small voice of God trying to get through.
    Now, either we face what He's saying, or we run like mad. If you run into busyness, even spiritual busyness, oh everyone will praise you for your dedication. But busyness that is running from the truth, is running from God, that's an escape as surely as drugs or alcohol. And it's just as addicting. Isn't it time to stop running finally and unload the stress of a neurotic, destructive busyness and just listen to God? "Be still and know that He is God." Deal with what he's been chasing you for all these years, and you won't have to run nearly so much.
    Wouldn't it be nice to live without always having to look over your shoulder?

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    August 2, 2023 Undervalued - #9538

    I guess it might be nice to own a copy of the Declaration of Independence. It's not on my top ten list of things I'd like to have, but if it's cheap, why not? That's what Michael Sparks thought when he bought a copy of the Declaration in a thrift store. Yeah, he spent a whopping $2.48. What a deal! It turns out what he bought for $2.48 is one of the 200 "official copies" commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1820. So, the man who bought it for $2.48, sold it for almost half a million dollars!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Undervalued."
    Somebody looked at an old copy of a document and made a serious mistake. They just really undervalued it big-time! Of course, we make that mistake too, with people. It's happened to someone who's listening right now. You've been undervalued many times, maybe by lots of people. It's to the point where you've come to believe yourself that you're not really worth that much. How could you be after the names you've been called, the rejection you've experienced, those failed relationships, and the ways you've been treated?
    I've got news for you. None of those people have any idea what you're really worth, anymore than some merchant knew what a rare Declaration of Independence was worth. But somebody knows, and they will pay a lot for it.
    Someone knows what you're really worth, and you can tell because of how much He paid for you. He is no one less than the Son of God. Here's how the Bible puts it: "You are not your own; you were bought at a price" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). See, the price that Jesus paid for you is spelled out graphically in our word for today from the Word of God in Revelation 5:9. The inhabitants of heaven are saying, "You were slain, and with Your blood You purchased men for God." Jesus thought you were worth the shedding of His blood; the blood of the one and only Son of God. Think about that cross where Jesus hung with nails in His hands and feet, and a crown of thorns jammed on His head, a spear driven into His side, and say these two words, "For me."
    That's how bad your sin was. That's what it took to pay for your sin and mine. And that's how big God's love is for you. He did that so He would not lose you. Sin is serious business. It's living the way you want to live instead of the way your Creator put you here to live. It's the spiritual hijacking of your life from the One who gave it to you in the first place. And hijacking is punishable by a death penalty. I deserved that penalty. But Jesus stepped in and said, "Take me instead." In the words of the Bible, "He loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). He really, really loves you. He's the One who gave you your worth when He made you. You are His one-of-a-kind original. He wants to restore the worth that sin has taken from you.
    But you have to choose Him. He won't force His way into your life. You have to invite Him in. That invitation involves a lifetime choice to turn from running your own life and putting your life in His hands, where it's belonged all along. It's a step of total trust in Jesus as being the only hope of having your sins forgiven, your only hope of going to heaven, of experiencing the love you were made for. He's waiting for you to tell Him with all your heart, "Jesus, I am Yours." After all He's paid for you, is there any reason not to trust Him?
    On our website, I've laid out a simple explanation of just how you can be sure you belong to Him. I encourage you to go there right away today. Check it out for yourself. It's ANewStory.com. You'll find a lot of hope there.
    His love will show you how very much you're worth, because honestly, nobody loves you like Jesus.

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    August 1, 2023 3 Dimensions of Knowing Jesus - #9537

    Now, look, if we get together regularly by radio, we kind of have sort of a strange relationship. I mean you know me by radio, but maybe only by radio. Some people might think that gives you a break because they'd say, "Yeah, that's probably better we just know him by radio." You just know my voice, right; sort of a one-dimensional relationship. It's pretty amusing when people find out how I look. Yeah, they get this mental image of what they think I look like. One lady said "You don't look like yourself." What? I've never looked like anybody else. I'll be somewhere I'm speaking, they'll say, "Oh, we thought you looked different. This is it?" Yeah, this is it.
    Now, occasionally I've had an opportunity to be on television. And maybe when I did a guest appearance on Wild Kingdom maybe that was it; you might have seen me there - Animal World. But, when I am on television, and if you were to see me there, you'd know me two dimensionally. You'd be able to see me and hear me. Frankly, what I enjoy most, I like meeting you in person, as I've had the opportunity maybe to be with you. And I do have that chance many times. We can shake hands, we can look each other in the eye, we can interact with each other instead of just being in a one-way conversation like today. And when you meet someone that you've only seen or heard before, you've got a 3-D, a three-dimensional relationship. And that's the best kind.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "3 Dimensions of Knowing Jesus."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God is found in John 12. I'll begin reading in verse 1. "Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with Him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume."
    Did you notice there are three levels in this passage of being around Jesus? See, we have a Savior who can only be really known three-dimensionally. The problem is that usually maybe at least one of these dimensions is missing in a Christian's life. And following and knowing Christ is like a three-legged stool. You take one leg away, the stool keeps falling over. Now, the Christian life keeps falling over I guess you might say. Because maybe we're missing one of the parts of the relationship.
    First it says here Martha served. Now, that's the first dimension of knowing Jesus - working... busy for the Lord. It's important to be sure that it's Him you're busy for; not the church, not some human leader. The question is, "Are you actively serving your Lord in some capacity?" There are things you can only know about Him that way. As you work for Jesus, you find out how much you need Him. Because you say, "Boy, I've got to have some resources beyond mine to serve Him with." And then you really really reach out for Him. You download Him.
    Now, Lazarus, well he isn't working. He demonstrates what I call "withness." He's spending time with Jesus listening to Him. The way you listen to Him today is through what He wrote - the Bible. So are you regularly meeting with Jesus around His Word? Often the people who are working hard for the Lord, neglect their "with Him" time. And the "with" people who are spending time with Jesus maybe often aren't busy enough for the Lord. As you're consciously with Jesus, you find out what He wants you to do.
    Now, Mary? She's the worshiper. She worships with lavish worship; extravagant appreciation, sincere humility, time to just stand back and see how big and loving and how in control your Lord is. Now, are you allowing regular time just to worship His majesty... to be awed by who He is? As you worship Jesus, you find out how awesome He really is. Some who have work time and with time are just cranking it out because they're missing time just to worship Him.
    Those are three dimensions of knowing Jesus. The problem might be that one dimension is maybe out of focus for you, or maybe not even in the picture. So why not go for it all?
    Work for Him. Be with Him. Worship Him.

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    July 31, 2023 How God's Words Become Yours - #9536

    Oh I've come a long way for a technically challenged person. Well, there was a time I'd never used a computer - wasn't planning to. Somebody bought me one, said, "You're gonna." I didn't understand all about it, but I did learn how to use it. I remember back before the days of autosave, you know? There were some lessons I learned the hard way: I'd type in part of a book or a magazine article or notes of some kind, and then type in a password to save it. But I'd make one fatal mistake. See, you were supposed to hit this little key that said Enter or you wouldn't be seeing that material again. Just because it appeared on the screen didn't mean I had it. You had to save it by pressing the Enter command.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How God's Words Become Yours."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from James 1, beginning at verse 22. God says, "Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard but doing it, he will be blessed in what he does."
    Now, these verses are about people who read and hear the Bible a lot. Is that you? Oh, it appears on their mental screen often, but it's people who don't really have it. They read it and then it disappears. See, there's no autosave here. Just hearing and knowing the Word of God does not a Christian make. Just because it appeared on your screen doesn't make it yours. You've got to hit Enter. How do you do that?
    Well, the passage talks about not forgetting what you've read. So, first of all, you need to memorize it. You've got to know it isn't enough to just to have God's Words in your Bible. They've got to be in your heart so you can bring them up on your screen when the pressure's on. Your intuitive response. And that happens when you memorize a verse or a promise or a challenge and you enter it as yours.
    I think you are also better able to remember when you write it down. That's my experience. Have you tried keeping a Jesus Journal with your Bible? It's the greatest thing I've ever done in terms of my growth in Christ to journal my Jesus time. After you've read, then you write what God has said to you in your own words and then you write what you're going to do differently that day because of what He said. See, you're processing it. Now it's autosaving because you're saving it when you write it.
    God's words become yours when you use them too, not just when you write them. During the day, tell someone else the words God has spoken to you. Share them. That enters it into your heart more. And most of all, you enter the truths of God's Word when you apply what appeared on your Bible screen. In other words you ask yourself, "Lord, what application can I make to something I'm going to face today?" And then that means that day you do something that is a specific "that day" obedience to what you read in God's Word that morning.
    Have you ever wondered how you could have heard so much Bible in your life and still be so far from your spiritual goals? Maybe you've not entered God's words by writing them down, by memorizing them, by telling somebody about them, applying it to your life.
    Churches are filled with people who have heard God's Word about what Christ did on the cross, coming out of His grave, our need to pin all our hopes on Jesus and yet those people will not be in heaven. Because they knew all about Jesus but they never pressed Enter, they never opened their heart to Jesus.
    Have you done that? If you're not sure you have, would you tell Him today, "Jesus, I'm yours." Get to our website. I think you could come away from there knowing you belong to Him. That's ANewStory.com.
    When the message is important, which it always is when it comes from God, make sure it's not just good on the screen, but you've entered it in your life.

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    July 28, 2023 Why Failure Doesn't Have to Be Final - #9535

    Some years ago, I took my second trip on behalf of a youth ministry to South Africa. On the first trip, I remember how very lost I felt when I got to the airport. I'd been on an airplane for 18 wonderful hours. I got there late at night, I had no car, no directions. I didn't know anything about anywhere in the nation of South Africa.
    Well, I'm glad to report to you that someone met me there at the airport. They didn't just leave me saying, "Hey, listen, if you can get out to where we are we'll take care of you once you get there." That's a good thing. They'd have never seen me. I went as far as I could go, and they met me there. I know someone who does that for people all the time. And if you understand how He works, well you might just be willing to risk the trip.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Why Failure Doesn't Have to Be Final."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God is found in John 21, and I'll begin reading at verse 15. Let me put this in context: Jesus has risen from the dead. Not long before, Peter had said to Him, "Lord, I will follow you to prison and to the death." You remember that Jesus said, "No, you'll betray Me three times." And sure enough he did. He denied the Lord three times. He even said, "I never knew Him." What an embarrassment now. He's about to face the Lord, knowing he has failed Him.
    Well, Jesus meets Peter as he's out on a fishing trip. It looks like Peter's about to go back to that same old mediocrity. He's returning to fishing, it appears, but Jesus says, "I want to meet you privately." And you can imagine Peter. I don't know, maybe he thinks, "Oh-oh. Are we going to talk about that night?"
    Here's what Jesus said, "When they finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you truly love Me more than these?' 'Yes, Lord, he said, You know that I love You.' Jesus said, 'Feed my lambs.' Again Jesus said, 'Simon, son of John, do you truly love me?' He answered, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Take care of my sheep.' The third time He said to him, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?' Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, 'Do you love me?' But he said, 'Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you.'"
    Now, with the backdrop of a major failure, all Jesus wants to know is, "Peter, do you love me?" Maybe you have failed Him recently. Do you know what He wants to know? "Do you love me?" Now, there are two very different love words used here. Phileo, which is a friendship kind of love, and agapao which is "I will love you, no strings attached." The first two times Jesus says, "Do you love me, no strings attached?" Peter says, "Yes, Lord, I phileo - I friendship love you." Finally Jesus says, "Okay, Peter, do you phileo - do you friendship love me?" And Peter says, "I do love you."
    Do you know what's interesting here? Jesus meets Peter where he is. He wants to do the same with you. He says, "Let's start with the little love that you have - let's start with the little faith that you have. You can get back to Me. You can begin again." And one day Peter will die for Christ. But right now He's just got that little, but growing love.
    So, would you bring Jesus the little love you have, but would you bring Him all you have? You can begin again. You don't have to get all the way there, because Jesus...He's the Savior who's waiting to meet you where you are.

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    July 27, 2023 Love That Pursues You - #9534

    If you want to ask me the five greatest victories in my life, I'm not sure I can tell you what two, three, four or five would be. But I could sure tell you what number one would be - my wife! She was not an easy conquest, man. She was dating this other guy. I was after her long before she had any romantic thoughts about me. So I really had to work on this one. So I plotted ways to be with her, I plotted ways to impress her. I plotted ways to try to help her. Is this stalking? I'm not sure. But this is all under the heading "Oh, we have a brother and sister relationship." That's what it was.
    After several months of this brother/sister thing, I blurted out to her one night, standing by a water fountain - I remember it. We were in college. I said, "I'm sick and tired of this brother/sister thing. I want to have more than that." See, I loved her before she loved me and I pursued her. Oh, p.s., and I got her.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Love That Pursues You."
    Our word for today from the Word of God, John 1 beginning at verse 45. It's actually loaded with some revealing information about what Jesus might be doing in your life right now. Philip has just come to Christ. And it says, 'Philip found Nathanael and told him, 'We have found the One Moses wrote about in the law and about whom the prophets also wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.'" Here's what Nathanael says. "'Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?' 'Come and see' said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, 'Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.' 'How do you know me?' Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, 'I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.' Then Nathanael declared, 'Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.'"
    You notice Nathanael's not initially interested in Jesus. But then Jesus says, "I saw you long before you saw me." Well that melted Nathanael's heart and it ultimately made him one of the disciples of Jesus Christ.
    Actually, Jesus has had His eye on you for a long time. Here's what the Bible says in Ephesians 1:4, "He chose us in Christ before the creation of the world." God has had His eye on you since before there was a world. And over the years of your life He has been pursuing you with His love whether you were paying any attention to Him or not. Like this guy I know who pursued this girl, and she was beautiful and attractive. The Bible says we're not beautiful and attractive to God. In fact it says, "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
    God's love for you and me? It's not romantic love. It isn't because we're lovable. In fact, we're sinners. We've hijacked our life from our Creator - the life that He gave us. Listen to this description of God's love for you. "This is love. Not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (John 4:10).
    Now, I know on a finite level what it means to love someone before that person responds, to pursue the one you love. Well, the God of the universe has been doing that with you. He's been waiting for you while you've been checking out all those other options for your heart. Today, again, He's knocking on the door of your heart saying, "Isn't it time you opened your heart and your life to Me?"
    He won't wait forever. That's why the Bible says, "Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near." Today's really the only day you can be sure He'll still be found. You need to respond to God's love by committing yourself to Jesus Christ with all your heart. How? I would be honored to help you get that settled this very day. So, would you go to the website to help you begin with Jesus? It's ANewStory.com.
    Christ has loved you enough to sacrifice His life for yours. And today, where you are, He is pursuing you with His love. And He's been waiting patiently for you to respond. Please, my friend, don't risk losing the love that your heart was made for.

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    July 26, 2023 Heaven's Heroes - #9533

    Because I lived in the New York area for so many years, went to the World Trade Center so many times, even knew people in the building, the events of September 11th always come back to me. And part of the incredible impact of the attacks on the World Trade Center was that everyday people suddenly became national heroes. Fire trucks would roll through New York City with weary firefighters on board. Can't you picture it? Maybe you saw that stuff on the news. And New Yorkers would erupt in spontaneous cheers - scenes that I would never forget. Ground Zero, that devastated area at and around the site of the collapsed towers, became known as Ground Hero. Professional athletes, who are supposedly our nation's heroes in less turbulent times, kept saying, "We're not the heroes - they're the heroes." Americans will not soon forget those firefighters, the police, the medical personnel, and those countless volunteers who gave everything they had to try to rescue those who were caught in those collapsing towers. I'll tell you what. For me, the word "hero" was never the same again.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Heaven's Heroes."
    We know what a hero is. Ultimately, it is someone who does whatever it takes to rescue someone who will die if they don't. Apparently, that's God's definition of a "hero" too.
    Consider this exciting promise from Daniel 12:3. I love this verse. It's our word for today from the Word of God. "Those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever and ever." Wow! God seems to be reserving special reward, special recognition, and special significance for those who lead people into a right relationship with Him. And heaven's applause will last "forever and ever." In other words, heaven's heroes are those who help other people get to heaven.
    Proverbs 24:11 underscores, I guess I call it the "life-or-deathness" of our spiritual rescue mission. God says, "Rescue those being led away to death." Ezekiel puts it in the context of a watchman on the city wall helping people know when there's approaching danger. "If the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood." Now, that's a sobering verse.
    If you belong to Jesus Christ, you have a life-or-death responsibility for the folks in your world who don't belong to Jesus. You have the information. You know what they need to know about what Jesus did for them on the cross and how they can have a relationship with Him - and that message that you know is their only hope of heaven. You can't keep it to yourself. Your silence is like giving them a silent death sentence.
    So you are uniquely positioned to be the spiritual rescuer of the people you know, the people you care about. You are where you are to give the people there a chance to go to heaven. That's why God put you there. Don't let them down. This isn't about rescuing someone so they can have 30 or 40 more years to live on earth. This is about whether they live or die for all eternity!
    I know it feels risky to tell them about Jesus. "Oh, I might lose this. This might happen." All the yeah, buts. But then rescue is always risky. The reason you take the risks is because you can't stand the thought of that person dying without a chance to live. So you go where they are. You pray with a desperate urgency for God's open doors and God's words, and you give whatever you have to give to bring them out.
    Saving lives makes a person a hero. When you lead someone to the Man who died for them, you are saving a life forever my friend. And you just became one of heaven's heroes.

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    July 25, 2023 The Chief and the Thief - #9532

    For many years now I've spent most of my summer working with Native American young people. So I was especially interested when I heard the touching story of an Indian chief who was chief during the time when tribes were still wandering tribes. He had a reputation for being a really great leader. In fact it was said that he was always just, but he was always loving. That was about to be severely tested, though, in a way he could have never dreamed.
    There had been some theft in his tribe and he needed to get to the bottom of it. So he actually set a trap with some goods that were left out, and he hoped that those would trap the thief. He only told two braves, and then those two braves waited. At dawn they came to the chief's teepee. One brave entered, and he said, "We have caught the thief." The chief said, "Good! We will sentence him to 20 lashes with the whip. Bring him in." And they did to the shock and horror of the chief. The hours that followed would never be forgotten by that tribe.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Chief and the Thief."
    When those braves brought in the thief who had been caught in the act, they brought in the chief's mother. Well, word spread very quickly through the tribe, because there was to be a punishment of 20 lashes with the whip. And the people began to say, "Well, now we'll find out which is greater, his justice or his love." At noon his mother was tied to a stake in the middle of the encampment, her garment was loosened to expose her back, and a warrior drew back his arm with the whip. And suddenly there was an order that came from the chief, "Stop!"
    The people began to talk to each other and say, "You know, he's setting aside his justice for his love isn't he? His love's greater than his justice." And that's when something happened that no one there would ever forget. The chief took off his robe so that his back was exposed, placed his body between his mother and the whip and gave a two-word order, "The whip!" And that day the punishment fell - 20 lashes, not on the one who deserved it, but on one who loved her enough to take the punishment that she deserved. That is what God's one and only Son did for you and for me.
    Our word for today from the Word of God, 1 Peter 2:24, "He carried our sins in His own body on the tree so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed." The penalty for sinning had been set from the beginning of time, from the Garden of Eden, "You will surely die."
    We've all broken God's laws; we've all broken God's heart by running the life He gave us to live for Him. There's a death penalty for that. I deserve the whip of God and so do you. But He said, "Take Me instead." When Jesus went to that cross, the punishment of God fell not on the one who deserved it (that's me), but on the one who loved you and loved me enough to take the punishment we deserved. God's love sent His one and only Son to die in your place.
    If you thought your good deeds or your religion could pay your bill with God, look at that cross. It takes someone dying to pay a death penalty. But that sacrifice only rescues you if you put your total trust in what Jesus did and embrace Him as the Rescuer from your sin.
    John 3:16 says, "Whoever believes in Him will not die but will have everlasting life." Have you ever done that? Have you ever believed in the sense of like grabbing Jesus consciously like a drowning person would grab a lifeguard? If you're not sure you've done that with Jesus, make sure today. Tell Him, "Lord, I believe some of those sins you died for were mine. I'm putting all my trust in You today.
    I'd love to help you get started with Him. So I want to invite you to our website where there's a lot of information that will help you get started with Him. ANewStory.com. That's the website. It could be the beginning of your new story.
    The Son of God has stood between you and the punishment of God. Now He stands in front of you with outstretched hands, nail-pierced hands. He's waiting for you to respond to His love. Please don't wait another day.

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    July 24, 2023 The Most Powerful Prayer You'll Ever Pray - #9531

    When you've been sick in bed for six weeks, you are pretty desperate for things to do. That's probably why my wife spent so long just watching a frustrated lady bug one day during an illness. My wife had been sick long enough to be almost at that point of desperation.
    The kids and I were at a conference where I was speaking. I had booked it two years in advance and my wife insisted that we still should do it. It just so happened, unbeknownst to all of us, that all of my wife's closest friends were out of town that same weekend - nobody knew that was going to happen. So, she was struggling a little bit with her situation.
    And then along came the lady bug. Yeh, the lady bug was trying to climb up our bedroom window, and she came to this little metal strip. And my wife was watching this little drama play itself out. The lady bug tried to come at it from every direction. She couldn't get over that little tiny obstacle - even the most heroic efforts no matter how she approached it didn't work. And my wife kept thinking, "Why can't you get over this little thing?" And then she told me how she began to see herself through God's eyes in a lady bug perspective. And then she told me about the wonderful moments that followed.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Most Powerful Prayer You'll Ever Pray."
    Our word for today from the Word of God - Mark 5, and we'll get to it in just a moment. I told you about my wife watching that lady bug, and she was struggling with her attitude on that lonely, bedridden weekend. And she saw herself in that frustrated lady bug. It was as if God was saying to her what she was saying to that insect, "Why can't you get over this little thing?" At least that's how my wife told it to me. And at that moment, she said, she just gave up the fight to the Lord. And minutes later, a beautiful bouquet of yellow roses arrived at the door. It was like God delivered them.
    Okay, now our word for today from the Word of God - Mark 5, begins at verse 24, "And Jesus had a large crowd following Him, and a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had. Yet instead of getting better, she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in a crowd and touched His cloak. Because she thought, 'If I could just touch His clothes I'll be healed.' And immediately her bleeding stopped." Well she was healed that day. She'd tried everything she knew. She'd given up on the doctors. She gave up on buying a cure. She was desperate. All she could do was lunge for Jesus.
    Do you know it's that desperation that gives birth to a miracle, which leads us to the most powerful prayer you can ever pray: Three little words, "I give up." I talked to a girl whose depression had led to a suicide attempt, and now she was finally enjoying a whole new peace she found in Christ. I said, "What turned the tide?" She said, "Well I finally just said, 'Lord, I give up.'" It could be those three words are all that's keeping you from a supernatural answer.
    The Lord says, "You've tried everything my child. None of your schemes, none of your dreams, have done it. You've got your fingerprints all over everything from trying to make it happen. Now you're tired and frustrated and you're out of options. Are you ready for Me to take over?" Yeah you've been praying about it, but maybe not the prayer of desperation - not the prayer of total surrender. Desperation: that's the heart condition with which God can do the most.
    So get out of the way of what God wants to do through you and for you. Sample His greatest power. You know where it comes from? Yeah, right after "I give up." That could turn out to very well be the most powerful prayer you will ever pray.

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    July 21, 2023 Stabbings, Shootings and Three Ways to Defuse Our Time Bomb

    It seems to happen so many nights on the news, the anchorman or anchorwoman telling us there's been another school shooting. I remember the time it wasn't even a shooting. It was knives. A student rampaged through the halls of Franklin Regional High School. Two long knives left a trail of blood and 22 wounded victims - Murrysville, Pennsylvania. Yeah, another one they added to the list of schools nobody wants to be on. We know the names: Parkland, Newtown, and Fort Hood. And on and on it goes. Of course, starting with Columbine. Places where one angry person changes lives and families forever.
    And quite often anger is a big part of it. In fact, anger's at the root of most of the explosions we hear about in the headlines. And lots more that never make it into the headlines.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Stabbings, Shootings and Three Ways to Defuse Our Time Bomb."
    Rage that detonates every day: homes, work, school, sporting events, traffic. And the trigger for that rage turns out to be usually something relatively small. It's like the final drop that made this glass full of anger overflow. And there are always victims, occasionally bleeding on the outside, almost always bleeding on the inside.
    The world's best-seller, the Bible, says this about the power of our angry words. It's in our word for today from the Word of God in Proverbs 12:18 and then Proverbs 18:21. "Reckless words pierce like a sword" and "the tongue has the power of life and death."
    But behind the guns and the knives, that verbal sword. That's the deeper issue, the ticking time bomb of seething anger inside us that seems more widespread than ever. Making places we once thought were "safe" increasingly more dangerous. The problem is we've got this bomb inside. How do we defuse it?
    Well, first, you've got to unload your pain before you explode your pain. Behind our anger is almost always hurt, over mistreatment, or failure, or frustration over a relationship, or feeling attacked, excluded. See, stored-up hurt morphs into the ticking time bomb of rage. Unless you unload it, not in a blast of anger that scars often innocent victims, but by facing your deepest hurts with someone you can trust: a family member, a friend, a counselor or pastor. But say it. Don't stuff it. That just feeds that ugly anger monster.
    Secondly, reach out to the people in the shadows - those shy ones - the people who seem to be saying, "Leave me alone." That person who's negative or mean or left out. It's the people who feel isolated - sometimes by their own actions - who need us the most.
    Most importantly, let God into the darkness. There's only so much people can do to heal our wounds and to defuse the ticking time bomb inside us. I know it's risky to let someone into that room in our soul where the hurt and the anger are stored. But it's a whole lot more risky not to. I think everyone needs a place to go with the wounds and the feelings that have no words. I found that place in the God who "gets" me because He's been here as a victim of the worst of human injustice and brutality on that first Good Friday. Jesus. He's the God who understands. Who loves me enough to die for every wrong thing, every hurting thing, every angry thing I've ever done. He's my one safe place. He's your one safe place.
    If you've never begun a relationship with Him and you'd like to, let Him into the darkest corners of your soul to do what only a Savior like Jesus can do. Make this the day you give you to Him. Go to our website and find out there how to be sure you belong to Him. It's ANewStory.com. Today, experience for yourself the love of Jesus that has liberated so many people. Come to the one safe place.

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    July 20, 2023 A Bigger God Than Ever - #9529

    I was blessed one time by an observation made by a three-year-old granddaughter. A friend asked her, "What's your granddad up to these days?" To which she simply replied: "Oh, he's getting taller." I am? I'd like to think she's right. I think I'll go measure.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Bigger God Than Ever."
    I actually wish my granddaughter had been right. Unfortunately, I am, in spite of whatever she have thought by that wonderful observation, just as vertically challenged as I've ever been. But her comment brought to mind a memorable conversation from C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. Narnia is this magical land where the animals talk and where a majestic lion named Aslan is the ultimate king. Those stories offer some powerful analogies of our experience with Jesus, the One the Bible calls "the Lion of the Tribe of Judah."
    In one story, Lucy, one of the children, has not seen Aslan for a long time. When she does, there's a really tender reunion. And Lucy asks, "Aslan, have you gotten bigger?" To which Aslan replies, "Oh, no my child, you have. And the more you grow, the bigger I will seem." Wow!
    That's exactly how God intends for it to be as we grow in our relationship with Him. Our God seems to get bigger and bigger as we grow. My granddaughter might have thought I was getting taller. I'm wasn't. And God, of course, doesn't get bigger, but He wants us to see more and more how big He really is. The bigger your God is, the bigger things you'll believe Him for, the bigger your life can be. We have, for too long, allowed our problems and our pain to loom so large that they have obscured the greatness of our God who is so much bigger than the things that are bigger than we are. They're like my thumb blocking the view of the sun, this little thing blocking my view of something massive.
    In fact, God plans our life-journey in such a way that we'll see more and more of what an awesome God He is. Let's look at a memorable example in Exodus 14, beginning with verse 13. Happens to be our word for today from the Word of God. God's people have the Red Sea in front of them and the mightiest army on earth behind them. Well, facing one of history's greatest "Mission Impossible" moments, Moses tells the people: "Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Lord will fight for you...the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord." So, God parted the waters, His people walked through on dry land, and waters came together again and drowned the entire Egyptian army.
    And the Bible says, "Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: 'The Lord is highly exalted...the Lord is my strength and my song...the Lord is a warrior; the Lord is His name...Who among the gods is like You, O Lord?...majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders." How did they discover the majesty of the God they belonged to? Through something so big that only God could do it. How will you discover what an awesome God you have? The same way.
    And that may explain some of the "why" of what you're facing right now. It's God's plan to grow your view of Him through challenges that are bigger than your resources but not bigger than His. He may be putting you through something that's stretching your faith, but it's all part of the plan to give you a front row seat on the greatness of your God, to blow the lid off your relationship with Him, and to teach you the unshakeable peace of being able to say, "God's God and I'm not."
    You haven't even begun to see the glory and power of the God you belong to. You need some very big mountains to see what a very big God you have. So don't be frustrated over the challenge you're facing. Celebrate it as your ticket to a front row seat on the glory of God. Because the more you grow, the bigger He will be.

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    July 19, 2023 The Power of One Lonely Light - #9528

    It was one of those many nights with our team of young Native Americans when God had dramatically shown His power. We were in the middle of a major outreach on a reservation basketball court and these huge storms started to surround us. There were predictions of severe thunderstorms, and it appeared they were bearing right down on us. Two hours later, when we had had the time to help many Native young people there begin a relationship with Jesus, the storms roared through. By then we were having our team debriefing in a church fellowship hall. Suddenly, in the middle of our sharing time, all the lights went out. We were in total darkness. And in a matter of moments, someone had found some candles, and as soon as we lit a candle, things changed in the room. We could see each other again, even if it was a little dim. It was just one light, but it wasn't totally dark anymore.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Power of One Lonely Light."
    That lonely light in a dark place might be you. Maybe you're in a place where dishonesty is like the norm, or talking dirty, or talking trash against other people. Where sin is a laughing matter and a way of life people don't even give much thought to. And then there's you. You are the living proof there's another way to be, that there's hope, not just despair. There's looking out for others, not just looking out for yourself. There's joy, not being negative all the time. You're not self-righteous. But you are the light.
    That's exactly what our Lord said we were supposed to be. In Matthew 5, beginning with verse 14, our word for today from the Word of God, Jesus said, "You are the light of the world." You certainly are meant to be the light at least for your little corner of the world. "A city on a hill..." He said, "...cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
    One thing I saw that night when we were in total darkness is this: it only takes a little light to make a big difference. You may not feel like you're making much of a difference, but take you out of that place, and it's totally dark. You are the conscience there. You are the face, you are the voice, you are the hands of Jesus there. You are the hope of something better.
    And you can be sure Satan is doing everything possible to blow out your light, isn't he? He's pushing all your buttons to discourage you, to get you to compromise, or even to bail out.
    But you can't let your light flicker. You can't let your light go dim or go out. When our daughter-in-law was expecting our grandchild, she suddenly gave up something we've kiddingly said she's addicted to - a certain soft drink. Why should she suddenly change her behavior like that? Because she knew that now another life was being affected by her choices. That's how it is where Jesus has placed you as His light. If you flicker, if you go out, it's going to make other lives darker. Whether you realize it or not, whether they realize it or not, you are their best hope.
    Some Christians just try to put all the lights together and withdraw the light from dark places. Can you imagine a dark house where you put all the light fixtures in one room and leave the rest of the house dark? No, you need to spread the light into all the dark places. And if your Savior has placed you in one of those dark places, you know what that means? He's trusting you to be His light there. Don't fail them. Don't fail Him by letting your light flicker or go out.
    In a totally dark place one night, I saw the power of one lonely light - it was a very different place because of that one little light. You may be that one lonely light. Burn brightly, my friend, because without you it's just all darkness.

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    July 18, 2023 Soul Dirt - #9527

    When you use our kitchen sink, you notice this little contraption attached to the faucet. It's one of those sophisticated water filters. Before the water arrives in your glass or container, it passes through that filter. Now, I don't know about you, but I hate surprises in my water. How about you? I mean, I was amazed the first time that we took that filter off to clean it. Oh, it needed lots of cleaning! It had screened out of our drinking water this layer of dirty stuff. I didn't even want to think about that going into my body. Let's hear it for the filter!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Soul Dirt."
    That's actually what a lot of people are doing - drinking dirt. Mentally, that is, just getting a lot of things that are spiritually and morally impure poured right into your soul - unfiltered input. And if you belong to Jesus Christ, the dirt is rushing into what the Bible describes as the "temple of the Holy Spirit." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) God literally lives in you through His Holy Spirit. That's Holy Spirit. Dirty stuff should never defile His temple.
    In fact, in our word for today from the Word of God, God clearly commands us to filter what's coming in. 2 Corinthians 7:1 says, "Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." A lot of times we don't have a spiritual filter for what we see and what we hear. Or we have a pretty wide screen on that filter - one porous enough to let in a lot that has no place in a heart or a mind that's owned by Jesus and inhabited by the Holy Spirit of God.
    Sometimes it takes a child to show us "sophisticated" adults how we should be living. The teacher was a five-year-old, our grandson, who was watching a new crop of kids' shows some years ago. Captain Kangaroo and Mister Rogers (some of you are going, "What?") are long gone, and yes, I think Big Bird might still be flying around Sesame Street. But then there was Dora the Explorer, Bob the Builder, a tomato named Bob. Our grandson, well, he had a few favorites he liked to watch. But then one day he walked over to the television and did something he did not do with this program that he liked a lot. He turned it off in the middle of the show. The story was starting to involve some ghost and witch stuff. When Daddy asked our grandson why he had turned off one of his favorites, he just said, "It was a bad one, Daddy."
    The radar of a five-year-old boy in whom Jesus lives. He knew that no matter how much he liked the show, no matter how many shows they have where there's nothing bad, when it is bad, it isn't for him. You know what? That's a model for a Jesus-follower of any age. But all too often, we watch portrayed, or we read about, or we listen to something that is part of the very sin that Jesus died for.
    The Bible says He carried our sins in His body on the tree, "that we might die to sins" (1 Peter 2:24). So what business do we have letting in things that portray premarital sex, or nudity, or adultery, or occult practices that the Bible calls an "abomination." You can't turn on the TV or radio or go to a website and then turn off being a temple of the Holy Spirit. We're most likely to let in the garbage when it's wrapped in a package that's funny, or entertaining, or has a great beat, or is clever, or popular. Satan's no dummy! He comes in under the radar, like a Stealth Bomber, when your guard's down.
    It's not to be taken lightly when God gives a command that says, "Above all else..." And He does that in Proverbs 4:23. "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Guard your heart as the spiritual reservoir from which you drink all day long. If it's a "bad one," you've got to turn it off if you're serious about really being His man or woman. If you don't want to let dirt into the Holy Spirit's house, filter what you let come in. You wouldn't knowingly let your mouth drink dirt. Well, then, don't let your soul do it!

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    July 17, 2023 A 21st Century Ark - #9526

    Every once in a while Hollywood will get your hopes up, and then... you know. Yeah, like a few years ago they were going to make a movie about Noah and Noah's Ark. Yeah, Noah's Ark Rides Again! They were hoping it would bring in a flood of money. Well, the word was that the telling of this iconic story started with the Bible account, and then it added a very heavy dose of Hollywood imagination with great special effects. Probably no match, though, for the original. Now, with Noah showing up in TV ads, it kind of made me go back to the non-fiction, original narrative - I mean Bible-style.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A 21st Century Ark"
    I found more than a story. I found insights as current as today's news. If old Noah showed up today, he'd be blown away by all that's changed. And all that hasn't. Like the five game-changers I found for any generation.
    1. God still has His Noahs.
    The original Story says, "Noah was a righteous man...and he walked in close fellowship with God." The moral heroes in any generation are the ones who stand for what's right when no one else is, even when they stand alone. They're rare, but they're like uncommon collectibles, they're really valuable. And "Noah (maybe like you if you're standing for the right thing), found favor in the eyes of the Lord."
    2. God still has boundaries.
    In the Bible's words, "The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth...that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence." He'd set boundaries. They didn't care. Sounds familiar. The culture doesn't decide what's right. Polls or politicians may tell us what's politically correct, but not what's wrong. That's up to the One who put us here. Like Noah's contemporaries, we can always find a way to justify our "I don't care what You say, God." But His boundaries don't move. He's God. And I'm pretty sure He reacts to our rebellion the same way He did in Noah's time. The Bible says, "It broke His heart."
    3. God still has penalties for going out of bounds.
    God promised Noah He wouldn't do the flood thing again. But there must be a Judgment Day. The Bible says, "It is appointed to man to die once, and after this the judgment." (Hebrews 9:27). I'll bet the Noah Gen folks told Noah, "We're getting away with it, old man." They were wrong.
    4. God still has an Ark.
    A safe place. Noah and his family, it says, "went on board the boat to escape the flood." Like countless people over 2,000 years, I ran to the haven that God has provided from His judgment. It's not a ship. It's a Savior. The Bible says in our word for today from the Word of God in Romans 8:1, "There is now no condemnation (that means I'm safe!) for those who are in Christ Jesus." How can God say that when I've rebelled against Him? I've done a lot of wrong things. I've broken His laws. I've defied His rulership of my life.
    There's a death penalty for that. How can He say there's no condemnation? Because Christ Jesus, His Son, paid the penalty that I deserve. And when you open up your life to Him and put your life in His hands, you are in essence entering the ark of safety where you will be eternally safe with Him forever. If you've never opened your heart to Him, do it today. I'd love to help you be sure you belong to Him. And we'll do that at our website. Just check it out. It's ANewStory.com.
    By the way, one other factor: 5. God still has a "rainbow."
    In the biblical account, God says, "The rainbow is a sign...Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life." That's a guaranteed future anchored to a promise. I know that feeling. The Bible says, "Anyone who believes in God's Son has eternal life" (John 3:36). It doesn't get any better than that. Check out that original story of Noah. It's a mirror to see our time - to see ourselves. And to see only hope is God's safe place.

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    July 14, 2023 The Myth of the Honorary Chairman - #9525

    You know, some people who financially support Christian ministry also like to play golf. I don't happen to be one of them. If you'd seen the one time I did play golf, when I hit my partner in the head with a club, you would understand why I've been banned from golf courses.
    But there are those who get together to play golf in a benefit tournament on behalf of the cause they support. In one major city they asked the local NFL quarterback, probably the best known guy in town, to be the chairman. Well, actually, they asked him to be the honorary chairman. They put his name on the invitation, on the letterhead, and that was pretty impressive. It made the event feel more important. But don't kid yourself. That quarterback had absolutely no say in how that day was organized. See, he was the honorary chairman. Translation: Big title - no authority.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Myth of the Honorary Chairman."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Luke 6, and I'll begin reading in verse 46. Jesus is describing here a relationship that seems to be alright with Him, but it has a major problem. He says, "Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to Me and hears My words and puts them into practice. He's like a man building a house who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. And when a flood came, a torrent struck that house but could not shake it because it was well built. But the one who hears My words and does not put them into practice, is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house (you guessed the outcome) it collapsed, and its destruction was complete."
    So, Jesus is describing in this passage a man headed for a collapse, someone who calls Jesus "Lord, Lord," but doesn't do what He says. In other words, Jesus has become that man's honorary chairman. See, that happens to us. Oh we still have Jesus' name on the letterhead, He's still got top billing, He's got the title. He's still got our official allegiance, but He doesn't have any real authority over the choices that really matter to us, that make up our days.
    It's easy for that to happen after you've followed Christ for a while. Oh, there was a time when you gave Him everything about you. You knew how much you needed Him. But see, there's a lot more in your life now. I mean, you've got business decisions, you've got a much larger life, relationships that weren't there before. You've got a reputation maybe you didn't have before, needs that weren't there when you gave Him all of you. Your family is different, your financial position is different.
    It could be that His lordship may not have grown with your life - maybe it hasn't expanded daily as each day's new experiences have emerged. It could be that you're depending on a commitment that was deep and meaningful at one time and it was difficult to make then, because you were giving it your all. But now what was once passion has sort of become professional - what was alive has become official. What was warm...it's gotten cold. It could be it's time to return to that altar where you totally surrendered. Oh, it will be harder this time because you've got more to give.
    But Jesus paid with His life, not to have the title of Lord, but to have the authority. Authority that is daily expanded through you giving Him new ground from that 24-hour period of your life. You make Him Lord of the stuff of that day and then again tomorrow He'd do it again.
    Why don't you light the fire again - the fire that's kindled not when Jesus is honorary chairman, but when He is the hands-on Lord of every choice you make.

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    July 13, 2023 God's Two Lists - #9524

    So, as you get close to the time of the wedding, you know, you've got to make the list of who you're going to invite and who you're not going to invite. So, almost every bride and groom with a lot of counsel from the parents, end up with two lists. Here's the people that make the cut and they're going to get invited, and these people...what they don't know won't hurt them probably. Then, oh, there of course were my friends at school. We had a missionary aviation course. It was very challenging. And for two years, the guys had to take all the base curriculum not knowing if they would make the cut to be able to go into the airport and then begin to really get the flight training. And many of my friends were standing there on the day they posted the list. Boy, I'll tell you what, that was a big day to find out which list you were on. I had a lot of friends that were crushed, and a lot of friends who were celebrating the rest of the day. It's amazing how many times life comes down to which list you're on.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "God's Two Lists."
    For some reason, the examples I just mentioned, take me back to a real disaster that riveted the world over a century ago. An unspeakable tragedy, out of the blue. It was a ship that disappeared. Yeah, you know. It was the Titanic with 2,200 people aboard. The scope of the loss defied anything anyone could conceive.
    And there, in Liverpool, families were waiting to learn the fate of someone they loved. As news filtered back from the disaster, White Star Lines notified the next of kin by posting the name of each identified passenger on a board outside their office with two lists: "Those known to be saved" and "Those known to be lost." Two groups. Only two. When they had set sail, they were first class, second class, third class and crew. Now they were saved or lost.
    As I've been exposed to God's heart as expressed in the Bible, I've realized that's how He views all of us. Whatever group we're in - ethnically, politically, religiously, socially - He sees each of us being in one of two groups: saved or lost.
    Here's how the Bible says it. It's in our word for today from the Word of God in 1 John 5:11-12. "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." Now, it's not in Christianity. It's not in any religion. It's in His Son, Jesus. It goes on to say, "And he who has the Son has life. He who does not have the Son of God does not have life."
    That's because His Son did what had to be done for a sinner like me to ever go to God's heaven. God's really clear about the penalty for my cosmic defiance of my Creator's rule of my life. It says, "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). That's not your heart stopping. No, that's eternal separation from the source of all life, all love, and everything good in the universe - eternal separation from God - lost forever.
    Except for the hope in that statement, "God has given us eternal life." And that's in the person of His Son, Jesus, who, again according to God's Book, "carried our sins in His own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24). So what was happening on that cross was the payment for your sin and mine - the only One God could ever accept. Why did He do that? Because it says, "He came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15) like me. Like you.
    I was once "known to be lost." But the greatest miracle of my life is that I'm now "known to be saved" because God sent a Rescuer, and I grabbed His outstretched hand. Which may be reaching out to where you are right now. Grab His hand and say, "Jesus, you're my only hope. I'm yours."
    If you want to know how to do that and make sure you belong to Him? Would you go to our website? That is what it's there for. It's ANewStory.com. Check it out. This could be your day to be rescued by the Savior who gave His life to save you so you would be known to be saved.

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    July 12, 2023 Staying Close To the Cross - #9523

    It was a spiritual, well, "golden moment." The closing night of our Warrior Leadership Summit. And it was our privilege, as it is every summer, to bring together Native American young people, representing scores of Indian nations across North America. I mean, we realize that only an estimated 4% of Native people know Christ after some 400 years of mission work, this conference is almost historic. The mission each year is to help Native young people choose Christ, follow Christ and be a warrior for Christ in some very difficult places. That moment, that golden moment, came when 20 young people, representing some 20 Indian nations, each stood to declare their commitment to go back to reach their people for Christ. Then they bowed at the foot of the old rugged cross at the front of the auditorium.
    Then, as hundreds of Native young people began to sing "Our God Is an Awesome God," those 20 young warriors lifted the cross above their heads. They reverently carried it through the audience and out the door to a world whose only hope is that cross. It was a powerful moment. A few minutes after the meeting ended, a leader came to me and said, "Ron, there's something beautiful going on out in front of the auditorium. Those young warriors? They don't want to leave the cross."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Staying Close To the Cross."
    I haven't been able to get those words out of my mind, "They don't want to leave the cross." What a powerful way to prioritize your life - staying close to the cross where Jesus gave His life to save yours. That cross should be the centerpiece of what matters to me, what I love, what I hate, what I spend on, what I do with my life. It's the centerpiece of the plan of God for this whole planet and for your life.
    The sacrifice of countless lambs to atone for the sins of God's people pointed to the one ultimate sin sacrifice - God's Lamb, on the cross. Jesus continually called His death on that cross "the hour for which I have come." And the constant song of heaven for all eternity is, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain." They're always celebrating the cross. Shouldn't we be doing the same thing on this side of heaven? Without that cross, we have no life; we have no hope.
    A few years ago, I was stunned when my name was announced at a conference as the winner of an alumni award. When they asked me to say something, and you're going to find this hard to believe, I was speechless. All I could finally say was a Bible verse, and it's our word for today from the Word of God in Galatians 6:14. In the New Living Translation it says, "May I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in the world has been crucified, and the world's interest in me has also died."
    Let the price that Jesus paid for you define your priorities. Live for the One who loves you the most, who gave His life for you. Let the cross inspire your humility, no matter how smart you are, how applauded and how appreciated you may be. Don't ever forget you're nothing except for that cross. Let the cross help you say no to sin. Jesus died for that sin! And let the cross be your message. Don't just talk generally about God or "your faith." Talk about that cross.
    Charles Spurgeon said that whenever he preached he made "a straight pathway to the cross." He called the cross "God's magnificent magnet." Whenever you have an opportunity to say something about your Lord, don't be ashamed of the cross. Show them how much Jesus loves them.
    The old hymn says it pretty well: "Jesus, keep me near the cross." Carry His cross to a world around you whose only hope is what Jesus did there. Begin your days remembering that cross. May it be said of you, "He/she doesn't want to leave that cross."

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    July 11, 2023 The Choice and the Child in You - #9522

    It's a pretty good guess that a woman wrote this famous line "The only difference between men and boys is the size of their toys." Actually, I think there is a little boy that does live inside of most men. By the way, I think there's a little girl who lives inside of most women.
    It doesn't come out too often, but it comes out at certain times like when it snows. There's just this urge to throw a snowball. Right? Or when you go to an amusement park with your kids. And Christmas. Oh Christmas! That brings out the child inside. I think that the more adult responsibilities we get, the more sophisticated we become, the harder it is for that little boy or that little girl to get out. But you need that kid!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Choice and the Child in You."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Matthew 18, beginning at verse 2. Jesus was conducting a very memorable object lesson, and it says this: "He called a little child and had him stand among them. And He said: (Now, He's talking to all these sophisticated adults.) 'I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'" Well look, obviously Jesus is saying here, "You've got to become childlike." Not childish. But you've got to become childlike again if you're going to get eternal life. Wow!
    What's He saying here? That you've got to be like a little child to get to heaven? Well, the Bible says "Without faith it is impossible to please God." And in John 1:12, the Bible says, "To all those who received Him, to as many as believed in His name, He gave the right to become the children of God." In other words, if you put all your trust in Jesus, you get into God's family. It's not religion, it's not giving, and it's not correct doctrine. You trust Jesus and what He did when He died for you.
    See, the older we get the harder that is. But how about with a child? Well, a child gets hurt, runs to the parent and trusts the parent's treatment. A little child has a question, they ask Mommy or Daddy. A little child is scared? Look to Mom and Dad. The older we get, the more we do for ourselves and the less we put our hope in our parents.
    That's okay in our families here on earth. But let's talk about God's family, because that's a sure way to miss God. Maybe you've gotten pretty far on your own and you pride yourself. You're self-reliant. You say, "Hey, I can handle it." Well, you can't handle the gap between you and God. Every culture in the world knows there's something between us and our Creator. And I believe your own heart tells you that.
    The Bible confirms that in Isaiah 59:2, "Your sin has separated you from your God." The Bible says in Romans 3:10, "There's no one righteous, no not one." Not compared to a perfect God. But Romans 5:6 says, "When we were totally powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." Now, maybe you're a believer and you've even told that to others. But you could have missed the one thing that will give you that relationship with God. You've never really surrendered yourself to Him and fallen on your knees at the cross where Jesus died for you and said, "Lord, I'm powerless." And like a little child, putting all their trust in the parent who can do it for them, what they can never do for themselves, you say, "I give myself to You. I put my total trust in You, Jesus, what You died to give me. You're all I've got. You're my only hope."
    Have you ever done that? Well, this might be the time. This could change everything: your life and your eternity. You say, "Ron, I don't know how to do that." Well, let me encourage you to go to our website as soon as you can today. We'll walk you through it. Go to ANewStory.com.
    Maybe you've tried to know God with a smart, sophisticated, self-trusting, adult reasoning. You can't get to heaven that way my friend. The kids sing it "Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so." It's time to say, "I'm not going to be able to walk to heaven on my own, Lord. Please carry me, Jesus."

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    July 10, 2023 Days Full of God-Sightings - #9521

    When we moved to New York City many years ago, one of the first landmarks I wanted to see was the Statue of Liberty. And when we went out there on our first weekend, the guide told us an amazing fact I never realized. He said, "From the day in the late 1800's when her light was first lit up right here on that island, to the moment we are looking at right now, the lamp of Liberty has never gone out." Wow!
    Now, everybody else's lights in New York go off and on, especially in the daytime. You turn them off, right? "Lady Liberty's," he said, "was always on." During World War II when they blacked out New York City because of the threat of bombings, they put a little 60-watt light bulb in her so she could continue to have the lamp of Liberty lit.
    And then during the great northeast blackout some years ago when everybody else's power was out, her light continued to shine because she was connected to electricity on the New Jersey shore. So, as wave after wave of our forefathers sailed into New York harbor as immigrants, they would strain for a first look at that statue, the symbol of the freedom they had risked everything to find. And whenever they arrived, they saw the Light of Liberty. It was always on, and by the way, you should be too.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Days Full of God-Sightings."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God comes from John 4. It's an account that includes those fascinating little details that reveal so much. I'll begin in verse 4: "Now Jesus had to go through Samaria. In Samaria he came to a town called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son, Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as He was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?'"
    Okay, now if you're familiar with this story, it starts a chain reaction that actually ends up in a revival in this whole Samaritan community. It happens as this woman, known for her immoral lifestyle, is changed by the Messiah at the well. Now, notice here Jesus was tired, He's resting, He's thirsty. Wouldn't you say He could be off duty for at least a little while? He's really fatigued, sort of like one of those buses with an Out of Service sign on it, "I'm not working right now."
    But then along comes a woman who needs Him, and He opens up her life to His claims. See, Jesus was "on" at a well, thirsty, tired, worn out, just as much as He was with a crowd on a sunny hillside. In fact, it is Jesus' fatigue that puts Him at the right place at the right time. See, God wants to use the everyday events of your life to position you to affect someone else, if you're willing to be stuck in the "on" position and never go off duty spiritually. Maybe tired, thirsty, hungry, not feeling good...still on duty.
    You never know how God will get you to be at the right place for someone who needs you. You need to be "on" for Him with your radar on when you go to lunch, when you go to Wal-Mart, when you go to the water fountain, when you're in a cab, when you're waiting in line. Don't put your service for Him into some little compartment: Okay, now I work for Him, now it's time for me, now it's time for ministry. Wait a minute! When isn't it time for ministry?
    Life really becomes an adventure when you open up your day to God's sovereign matching of you with people. You pray, "Lord, use my everyday activities to put me in the path of someone who needs me and who needs You.
    Just like that Lady in New York Harbor, you never know when you will hold the light that someone's looking for. Just be sure that your light's always "on."

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    July 7, 2023 How to Get God's Best - #9520

    Okay, babies don't always know what's good for them. That may be why some prehistoric parents invented the airplane idea. A baby should eat the food that he has in his bowl, but he doesn't want to. So, you put the food on the spoon, and you make like an airplane. "See the airplane (airplane sound)! Now your mouth is the hangar! Open the hangar so the airplane can go in!" I always hated it when the mouth opened, the plane approached, and suddenly the hangar door closed, leaving the airplane's cargo all over the baby's face. "Hey baby! I have what you need. But you won't open your mouth."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Get God's Best."
    Our word for today from the Word of God. We're in Psalm 81:10. Here's what God says: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways, how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes. But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you."
    God seems to be saying here to His people in olden times in the Old Testament, and to us today, "You are under-living. There's so much more I want to give you. There's much more I want to do for you." I think there's a voice inside a lot of us that might be saying, "There's got to be something more in this relationship with Christ, in this Christianity stuff." Well, this isn't necessarily to make you materially prosperous, but He does have a lot more power, a lot more peace, a lot more love to put into your life, a lot more significance to open up your life to really making a difference. The problem is you can't get your mouth open.
    Made me think about a baby being fed. God wants you to have His best for your life. That's opening your mouth. He wants you to expect the supernatural, to act as if the supernatural is coming. See, you've got this awesomely big God! Remember it says in the Bible, "In His own hometown, Nazareth, Jesus could do no mighty work because of their unbelief." He did miracles everywhere but there, and the people who knew the most about Jesus saw the least supernatural because they weren't expecting anything. They didn't open their mouths.
    Faith is acting as if God will keep His promise, as if He will do something God-sized. God says here, "I tried to and they wouldn't listen. They wouldn't follow my ways." Is there a part of your life where you've been doing your own thing and going your own way? Maybe it's at home, at work, at church. How about your finances, your relationships? You're missing God's best because you're going your own way.
    He says, "I've let them follow their own devices." Well, you're on your own in that part of your life. You're settling for crumbs when He wants to serve you a banquet. In fact Jesus said, "I have come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). There's so much Jesus wants to do for you.
    But maybe you have never opened up your life to this Savior, the One who gave His life on a cross for you. And everything He wants to bring into your life includes the love you were made for. He wants to bring eternal life that only He can bring, because only He conquered death.
    And above all, He wants to erase every sin of your life from God's book. And the only reason you will miss Him in all of this is because you didn't open up to Him. He says, "If you will open the door, I will come in" (Revelation 3:20). I hope you will say to Him, "Jesus, I'm Yours." I think we can help you know you belong to Him for sure. Would you go to our website? It's what it's there for. It's ANewStory.com.
    He's holding out His hand with the supernatural stuff that you need right now. Like He said, "Open your mouth" and let Him fill it.

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    July 6, 2023 Why the Easy Road is So Hard - #9519

    We know some folks who own one of those convenience stores. The ones you can go to any time of the night or day - the ones that are open on the days when you can't get into anybody else's store. We've all been there. Went and checked them out on those days. And there's a time you've needed them. Maybe time and again. And they work very long hours to make a living, but we do tease them. See, I know that will come as a surprise that I tease my friends. But yes, I have to confess, I occasionally do. I know it's hard to imagine, but we tease these guys about a lot of the prices in their store. Yeah, we kid them about this exorbitant half gallon of milk,or you know, the multi-dollar boxes of cookies, and the several dollar candy bars.
    Of course it's not really that bad, but you do pay noticeably more at their store. Well, that's what the profit factor is all about. They're open at times and on the days when other stores are closed. Now our friends, the store owners, they're kind of quick to defend their prices. They give me a very simple fact of life. They just look me in the eye and they say, "Ron, convenience costs more." They're right! They're very right.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Why the Easy Road is So Hard."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God, Matthew 7:13-14. This was before convenience stores, but I think it adds up the expense of convenience pretty well. Here we go, "Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate, broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it."
    Now, that's a pretty simple equation isn't it? There's an easy road that leads to destruction. There's a narrow road - a little tougher - that leads to life. Translation: convenience costs more. If you make your choices based on what will be the most convenient, what will take the least time, what will be the easiest, oh, it will cost you more. That's a life principle. That's one of the laws of the universe - convenience costs more.
    Now, if you goof off in school and say, "I'm not gonna do my homework." Fine! That will give you a good time today, but it's ultimately sure going to limit your future. And that's been true from school on. We want to do, no matter what age we are, whatever's easiest, and whatever's fastest.
    Now, right now, my guess is that you're facing some choices...oh, I don't know, maybe about a relationship, or about your future, even your marriage, maybe about a financial situation. And you've got a choice that would be easy and a choice that could be tough and hard.
    Maybe you're tempted to give up right now, because that would be the easy thing to do. Maybe there's a temptation in front of you - it's tugging and it would be real easy to go for it wouldn't it? Maybe you need money, and it would be easy to go for quick money or a dishonest means of getting it, or just sink into debt to get it. But convenience always costs. It's like a funnel. It's kind of easy up front at the wide end, but slowly it leads to this big, painful squeeze.
    Now, you could choose the road that will take longer, that requires more discipline. more sacrifice, and maybe it would cost you something in the short run. But it will open up like that funnel on the other end into something broad and it will give you more choices and it will give you long-range happiness, and it will not lead to destruction. It's the no regrets choice.
    The least-expensive choice is almost surely the one that will take longer, require more risks and more faith. Don't fall for the lure of what's easy right now. It's probably pulling real hard, but you can't afford the price tag. The narrow road leads to life. The destination is what counts.
    Remember, in all the things that really matter in life. Yep, convenience costs more.

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    July 5, 2023 The Prayer That Can Change an Eternity - #9518

    When our sons were playing high school football, their job was to run their body into other guys' bodies. Yeah, they were linemen - they blocked. Of course, one of their great rewards for all this body slamming was when they could stop or deflect an opposing lineman - thus opening up a hole through which their teammate could run with the ball. And the good ball carriers knew what they had to do: spot the opening and go through it as fast as they could!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Prayer That Can Change an Eternity."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Mark 2:2-4. There are four guys, and they're here with a friend who needed to get to Jesus. They looked for an opening to get this friend to Jesus, and they actually created an opening to do it.
    Here's what it says: "So many gathered (to hear Jesus) that there was no room left, not even outside the door. Some men came bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven." Well, later Jesus healed him and gave him the power to walk. These four 'find an opening' men not only got their friend to Jesus, but a lot more than they could have ever imagined.
    In your life, there is probably someone you would like to get to Jesus - someone who needs what only the Savior can do for them - someone you want to take to heaven with you. The stakes are a lot higher than any football game. We're talking eternity here, life or death. But like a player trying to get to the goal, you have to be determined to find an opening - to look for some natural opportunity to bring up Jesus. Most of us miss those openings because we're not consciously praying for them, looking for them, and hoping for them.
    Paul gives us what I call the three-open prayer. You can't be around me too long and not heat this. It's a prayer you should be praying daily about the people you want to bring to Jesus. It's in Colossians 4:3-4 - "Pray for us, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ...Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should." The three-open prayer, pray with the name of a lost person you care about, "Lord, please open a door." What's a door? Well, that's a natural opportunity to tell him or her about You, Jesus. Secondly, "Open their heart." In other words, "Lord make them ready to hear about You." And then the third open, "Open my mouth when You open the door." Good news here, you don't have to add to your prayer, "if it be Your will." It is.
    You won't find many openings to just dump your beliefs about Jesus on your friend. No. What you need to do is to be ready to share the difference Jesus makes in real life for you. That's what they want to know. Your "hope story." They don't necessarily want to know what all the beliefs are, what meetings you go to. They want to know, "What does Jesus change? What difference does having a Savior make for you in your lonely times, or your depressing times? How are you different as a parent or a husband or a wife? How about when there's not enough money? Or how does Jesus affect meeting the challenges of being single, or tragedy, or pain, in times of big decisions? What difference does He make at the funeral? Those kinds of things come up all the time. Are you ready to tell how Jesus has made the difference for you in times like these? And then to move from that into how the sin-wall comes down so you can have this kind of a life-changing relationship with Jesus.
    Is there someone you want to take to heaven with you? pray for an opening to bring up Jesus, look for an opening, or like those determined friends tearing up the roof - make an opening! "Lord, open a door. Lord, open their heart. Lord, open my mouth." Do you follow the blocking of the Holy Spirit of God? You go through that opening with the life-saving news of a personal relationship with the Son of God.

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    July 4, 2023 How Bitterness Backfires - #9517

    It was a cold November night. The weather wasn't the greatest in Colorado. But Dick Ebersol's pilot felt they were good to take off. As head of NBC Sports at the time, Dick Ebersol was known as one of the most powerful men in the sporting world. But that night, he was just a dad who lost his son. The plane crashed on takeoff. Dick's older son literally pulled him from the wreckage. But his 14-year-old son Teddy didn't make it out. A few days later, Dick's wife and Teddy's mom, retired actress Susan St. James, were interviewed on NBC's "Today" show. She spoke with amazing poise. At one point, she talked about trying to help the surviving kids know how to handle some of the feelings that might come up - including what she referred to as "resentment." Out of her pain, she made a statement filled with so much insight I hope I'll never forget it. She said, "I've always told my kids, having resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How Bitterness Backfires."
    Poison. It's a strong word to describe bitterness and resentment in your heart. But experience proves, as the Bible clearly confirms, that poison is the right word. And it's a poison that affects the person who's hurt you only a little, if at all. But for you, it's a poison in your soul that eats at you from the inside out most of the time.
    One of the Bible's warnings about bitterness begins with this sobering possibility: "See to it that no one misses the grace of God." Wow! That's in Hebrews 12:15, and that's our word for today from the Word of God. If you're wounded and if you're hurt, that's no time to be missing the grace of God - not when you need it the most. So how do you miss God's grace? Well, read on. "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." God's grace and our bitterness apparently cannot coexist in the same heart. Either God's grace will push out your bitterness, or your bitterness will push out God's grace.
    In reality, you don't hold a grudge - a grudge holds you. It's like you can't stop thinking about the very person you wish you could forget. But a grudge shackles you to that person emotionally. The poison in your soul isn't hurting them, but it's killing you inside. It's a huge, heavy backpack you carry with you everywhere you go.
    And hard or bitter feelings toward someone don't just hurt you. That negativity spills out on other people - people who don't deserve it. A darkness emanates from your personality, and it poisons other close relationships - sometimes ruining friendships, marriages, children, churches.
    There's only one antidote for the poison - forgiving. Ephesians 4 says "get rid of all bitterness...be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other..." Now comes the zinger. "...just as in Christ God forgave you." The person who hurt you may not deserve to be forgiven, but then we didn't deserve God's forgiveness. To forgive them is not to pretend there was nothing wrong with what they did, but it's releasing them completely to God for Him to deal with them. With God's strength, base your treatment of them, not on how they treated you, but on how Jesus treated you!
    And, by the way, if you've never been to the cross of Jesus in your heart, to have the sins of your life erased from God's book, that's why He died. And this may be your best opportunity in your life to go from dirty inside to clean. And from the death penalty that sin carries to the eternal life that Jesus gives. You tell Him, "Jesus, I know I've sinned. You died for that sin. You love me and I am pinning all my hopes on you today."
    You want to know more about this? Go to our website. It's ANewStory.com. And then you've been the forgivee - and you can become the forgiver. Or you store poison in your soul that will cripple or destroy. It's time for the antidote. It's time to be free. It's time to forgive.

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    July 3, 2023 Running Hard In the Wrong Direction - #9516

    I guess every athlete would like to do something immortal - you know, something that will be remembered for a long time. Well, Roy Riegels did it - in a way. He played center in the 1929 Rose Bowl game. I don't remember it, but it was in Pasadena, California. I was not there. But, the game was almost over, the score was really close, and both teams knew any score could well decide the game. And then on one play, Roy Riegels suddenly found himself with a ball in his hands. Now, centers only know what to do with the ball when they're snapping it to the quarterback. But Roy Riegels had it whether he liked it or not.
    So he started running as fast as he could, or at least as fast as a center can go, right for the goal line. He glanced back over his shoulder. There was something very strange going on . He was being frantically pursued by his own teammates. See, his instincts told him to just keep running, and he did till he was tackled just short of the goal by one of his own teammates. See, Roy Riegels was running toward the other team's goal! Yeah, and shortly the other team went on to score and win the game. And he did achieve athletic immortality. He went down in football history as Wrong Way Riegels.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Running Hard In the Wrong Direction."
    That was the center's mistake. He was running as hard as he could - it just didn't count. Someone listening right now might be making that same mistake. Our word for today from the Word of God is from Matthew 6:32-33. Jesus has just been talking about a lot of the concerns that occupy our everyday lives - having enough for our basic necessities, for our body, for our appearance, all the earth stuff. You know? And then He says, "The pagans run after all these things." Well, see, that's those who think that earth is all there is. Well, of course, they're chasing after all the earth stuff they can get. Right?
    But He goes on to say, "And your Heavenly Father knows that you need them." Message: You don't need to pursue those things. You need to trust your Heavenly Father for them, because He'll take care of them. Then Jesus goes on to say, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you as well."
    Message: Put your best energy into the things that matter to God and the things that will matter in eternity - the interests, the agenda of the work of God on earth, a lifestyle that majors on doing the right thing.
    Now, we're wired to be runners. We're wired to be people who run hard toward a goal, but it's supposed to be an eternal goal. The problem is some of us are running hard, but we're running in the wrong direction. After all our hard running is done, it will turn out to be for a goal that just didn't count.
    It may be you've been running so hard that you haven't thought about whether the goal was really worth it. Maybe the goal that gets the most of you is job advancement, or more money, or it could be that you're running very hard to please a certain group of people, or to have some security, or to get a boyfriend or get a girlfriend, get a husband or get a wife, or maybe to own something you really want. But after all is said and done, it's earth stuff isn't it - stuff the Lord wants to give you if and when it's best for you. But could it be that some earth stuff has become the central pursuit of your life? See, that's not what you were created to pursue.
    This might be a good gut-check time. You know? If, in fact, you're running for the things that will last. Right now Jesus is pursuing you. He's trying to intercept you maybe as you're running toward a goal that doesn't count. He's trying to get you turned around and running in the right direction to "seek first His kingdom."
    He doesn't want the epitaph that goes with your name to be those two hollow words - wrong way.

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    June 30, 2023 The Nearsightedness of Pain - #9515

    Okay, we're going to do a little experiment right now. If you're near something printed - and you're not driving - let's say a book, a newspaper, a magazine - would you just hold it in front of your eyes? Okay, now wait, if you're driving, remember you're excused from this.
    But otherwise, you got that in front of your eyes. Okay? Now, hold it a foot or so from your eyes. Now, depending on what kind of shape your eyesight is in, it should be fairly clear what it says. Now, would you hold that printed piece so it's touching the end of your nose? I know you're feeling really stupid now. Blame it on me. Now, hopefully that's not a foot from your eyes. Okay. You got it up there? Well, how's the print look now? Blurry? Sort of running together? Unfocused? Things always look that way when you're too close.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Nearsightedness of Pain."
    You're in a pressure situation right now, let's say, maybe a depressing situation, and you've been in it for a while. You think about it a lot, and maybe you spend a lot of time trying to analyze it, and you re-analyze it, and you think of possibilities, and you plan various responses. You remember that book against your nose thing? You can get so close that you can lose your perspective. In order to see that situation clearly, you need some distance. Well, now, how do you get some distance from a situation that you're totally immersed in?
    Our word for today from the Word of God, Genesis 40, it tells a story of Joseph being in prison. He's in a bad situation. He's there and comes upon two former servants of the king, who've had dreams. Joseph has the gift of interrupting dreams. And it says in verse 6, "When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So, he asked Pharaoh's officials who were in custody with them in his master's house, 'Why are your faces so sad today?"'
    Now, notice. Look, Joseph's life appears to be falling apart. Everything that looked like it was going his way have now collapsed. He's lost his job, he's in prison. But he's still unsinkable. How's he doing this? Well, he took responsibility and he's looking for people who need him. He says, "I see some people who are down today. 'Can I help you?' I see some people who need me here."
    I talked not too long ago to a man whose wife had left him quite a while ago. She refuses to divorce him; she refuses to reconcile. And he's thought about that day and night for four years. Well, I listened, and then I gave him some unexpected advice. I said, "Mark, you need to get a place where you can serve the Lord and help some people. This has so occupied you, and understandably so. You haven't had time to serve. Find some boys you can work with at church, or something you can do with the teenagers at church, or a Bible study you can lead, or volunteer for something. Because as you serve, you'll be able to see this situation better, and you'll know what God wants." Mark said, "You know you're right. I've not served the Lord for a while because I've been so involved in this. I need to get busy for others and get some distance."
    Well, that's what Joseph did. That's what you need to do. You see, pain tends to make us very self-focused and self-absorbed. Our eyes start to cross, and the situation starts to blur, and we start thinking in circles. Serving restores your perspective. Now, when you feel the least like doing it, is probably when you most need to do it, to get your perspective back.
    Maybe your problem is too close to the end of your nose, and it's getting blurrier all the time. Listen, take a step back, think about others. You'll see it better.

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    June 29, 2023 The "Not Ready" Nightmare - #9514

    I used to think I didn't dream much. But I guess that's scientifically inaccurate. I guess we all dream a lot, but some of us like me don't remember them. Now, my wife? Oh, she dreamed in these Technicolor epics! I mean, I'm lucky if I remember a black and white short subject. Once in a while, though, I do remember a bad dream I've had. Not usually about monsters or murderers. I think you're going to laugh when I tell you what a lot of my nightmares are about. Not being ready. Yeah, you know, stepping up to a microphone totally unprepared; having a huge audience waiting for me to speak in an auditorium. I'm being introduced. I have nothing to say. Some women have told me they've had nightmares about not being ready for a date. Others have told me about their nightmare about not being ready for a meeting, or a board of directors where they have to give an important report.
    You know what? If our dreams reflect our fears, then there must be this fear deep down inside of many of us that we won't be ready when an important moment comes.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The 'Not Ready' Nightmare."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from the Old Testament prophet Amos. It's pretty simple, straightforward. Amos 4:12 - "Prepare to meet your God." Wow! Now, if not being ready is nightmare stuff, then not being ready to meet God must be the ultimate nightmare. I mean, meeting Him is the surest date you have.
    Hebrews 9:27 in the Bible says, "It is appointed to man once to die, and after this the judgment." So, the moment you take your last breath, there's God. Earth appointments? They can be postponed. They can be canceled, but God has this one in indelible ink in His calendar. The One who gave you your life is the One you will meet at the end of your life. The question the Bible raises is, "Are you prepared?" You say, "Well, yeah, I'm a good person." Unfortunately, that doesn't answer the question.
    Romans 3:20 says this, no one will be justified by observing the law. "No one will be declared righteous in God's sight by observing the law." Not protestant good things, not Catholic good things, not Jewish good things. Unfortunately no one is ready to meet God as long as he or she is still carrying around their sin.
    You say, "Well, we've all got sin we're carrying around." Yes, that's what Romans 3:23 says in that same chapter. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." If sin were something you could repay, maybe you could work it off with a lifetime of good deeds. But it can't be repaid. It's got to be removed!
    The penalty for sin is a death penalty; separation from God eternally. And it cannot be paid in good deeds. Somebody's got to die for a death penalty, and I deserve to. But the same place where it says "all of us have fallen short of the glory of God" says, "And we are justified (that means made right) with God, freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Somebody did die for your sins and mine; the One who didn't deserve to. The only One who could - God's Son.
    Now, how do you prepare to meet your God? Romans 3:25 says, "He was a sacrifice of atonement (that is to pay for your sin; to cover our sin) through faith in His blood." Faith in Jesus' dying for us. See, you open your heart to the One who paid your bill with God. Like this, "Lord, I put all my hope in Jesus Christ's work on the cross." And once you've told God that, that you're totally trusting in what Christ did, your nightmare is over. With your sins erased, you're ready.
    If you say, "Well, I'm not sure I am. How do I get started with this relationship with Jesus? How can I have my sins forgiven?" You tell Jesus, "I'm yours" today. Would you go to our website? I'll do my best there to help you know you belong to Him. It's ANewStory.com.
    You've got an appointment with God. You ready? Going into eternity without Christ? That's the ultimate nightmare. If you're not sure, please don't risk another day without Jesus.

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    June 27, 2023 Your Irreplaceable Gift - #9512

    It's a big deal when a child can finally start buying gifts with his or her own money. I remember one of the first gifts I was able to buy for my mom. It was a corsage for Mother's Day. I was doing this all on my own. I was so proud. I saved up my allowances, and I rode my bike about six blocks to the florist. I picked out these two carnations. I still remember - one was pink, one was white. Then I got on my bike and I held the white box on my handlebars. I was so proud of this gift, and then I hit a bump. In one very depressing moment, that white box went flying off the handlebars in front of my bike and I ran over it. So there I was, this forlorn little guy, bike on the ground, looking very sadly at my gift with a tire mark right down the middle. Sniff...
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Your Irreplaceable Gift."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is from 1 Thessalonians 4. I'll begin reading at verse 3. It says, "It is God's will that you should be sanctified;..." That means kept special, reserved for special purposes. "It is God's will that you should be sanctified; that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable." Now notice the sequence here. Stay special. You do that by avoiding sexual immorality - sexual sin - and you do that by controlling your passions.
    See, God's given this unique gift to you to give to the person that you commit your love to for a lifetime - your husband or wife. And there's no greater joy than to present that gift to your permanent lifetime partner. Take it from the boy who ran over the gift that he wanted to be special. It really hurts when you ruin it.
    If you're in a position to influence young people about sexual purity, would you use the approach God uses - a positive morality. Not a negative, not a condemning one. It's all about the beauty of the gift of sex, not the dirtiness of it. It's too good to ruin. And you ruin it when you open it early or you run over it. The best of sex and the best of love are reserved for those who keep it special.
    And if you're single and you're facing the pressure to have sex outside of marriage, assume God had you tune in today. He's whispering two words in your heart to build your morality on, "No regrets." What might give you some short-term sense of relief or closeness or even love will give you a very long-term sense of guilt and loss. See, you can only give your purity for the first time - one time.
    You say, "Well, Ron, I've already run over the gift." Don't believe the lie that it doesn't matter what you do now. It does. Here's great news. First John 1:7, "The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, purifies us from all sin." In Joel 2:25 He says, "He will restore the years the locusts have eaten." Bring your sexuality; bring your sexual sin to the Lord, and let Him purify you and let Him begin to restore your spiritual and emotional virginity.
    See, when you understand what a priceless, irreplaceable gift God gave you in the gift of sex, you commit yourself to keep it special. And if you've never experienced the wonderful, spiritual shower of knowing you've been forgiven by God for every wrong thing, every dirty thing, every sinful thing you have ever done, the place that happens is at the cross where Jesus paid for what you wish you had not done; for every sin of your life.
    Today you say, "Jesus I'm Yours." And He comes into your life and erases every sin of your life from God's Book. Let it happen today, my friend. I think our website can help you get started with Him. It's ANewStory.com. Go there today.
    It hurts a lot to ruin a valuable gift, so hold it close. It will be worth the wait when you present that unspoiled gift to your lifetime love. But if you need to be forgiven for what you've already done, this is your day to meet Jesus, who says He will make you "a new creation in Christ" - a new beginning.

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    June 26, 2023 How to Have a Peaceful Relationship - #9511

    I love those old westerns! Things were so simple then. You know, the good guys were good, and the bad guys were bad. The hero only kissed his horse. And the most he did with a girl was probably sing some trail song to her. And there was always a predictable showdown with the head good guy and the head bad guy. One of the classic lines usually came as the Marshal stared down Bad Bart. And he said something like this, "I want you out of town by sundown." Great line. By the way, it's a great way to keep peace in town - or anywhere for that matter. I don't mean asking people to leave, but setting a deadline like that.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Have a Peaceful Relationship."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God is from Ephesians 4:26, one of my favorites. "In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." I've often thought, "Boy, that would be a great sign to put over every married couple's bed." Huh?
    It's talking here about how to have peace and keep peace in a relationship. It has to be anchored to this determination not to let any conflict last until tomorrow. "Get out of here by sundown!" Yep, that's the message! It takes work to keep peace in a marriage, or a family, or in a friendship, or a group of people who are working together, or in a ministry, or in a church.
    Earlier in this chapter, in chapter 4 verse 3, it says, "Make every effort..." Okay, that means work hard. "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." What kind of effort? Well, there are three efforts that keep peace in a relationship. Number one, deal with the conflict quickly. If you've ever been to Disney World, you may know it's a very clean amusement park in spite of the millions of people who go there. You get the feeling that if you drop something, they're going to pick it up before it hits the ground. They're going to catch it. And you know what happens? Clean breeds clean. They pick something up immediately. Their theory is, "Don't let a mess get started, and there won't be a big one."
    That's a pretty good idea for keeping relationships clean. Don't wait until it's built into a crisis. Deal with the first strain, the first miscommunication, or misunderstanding, or hurt. Deal with conflict quickly.
    The second effort to keep the peace is, "Tell how you feel." For example, I never knew I had been hurting my wife. I had inadvertently been interrupting and correcting her in public conversation some years ago. I didn't know until she told me. Well, don't just expect people will know. And you can say, "Well, they ought to know." Well, tell them how you feel. Express it as a feeling - not an accusation. Tell them how you feel!
    And the third effort to keep the peace is to admit being wrong. That might be the toughest one of all for some of us. Be willing to apologize. Powerful words, "I was wrong." Some of us are like Fonzi, we can't get those words out. "I was wro..wro..wrong." We just can't say it. But those are three of the most healing words in the English language.
    James 5:16, "Confess your faults to one another, that you may be healed." When we let conflict and hurt stay overnight in town - maybe many overnights - we destroy peace, we erode love, we create resentment. we erode trust.
    Unresolved anger is always a bad guy in town. And you know what to tell a bad guy, right? "I want you out of here by sundown."

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    June 23, 2023 Worth the Wait - #9510

    I think there's like this five-year-old kid that comes out in everybody when they get to Disney World. I'm going to have to confess that the little boy inside of me is still alive and even though it's been awhile since I've been like in Disney World, I mean, we did enjoy the times when our family visited the Magic Kingdom some years ago.
    It's a wild ride through this outer space environment, in total darkness. So, you look at the line, and you see it's one of the longest lines in the park. At least it was then. And you go, "How long is this wait?" They say, "About an hour." No! Are we going to wait an hour? We did, and we even went back other times. It was great! It was worth it! You've got to wait for the best that they have.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Worth the Wait."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk. There are only a few chapters, but there's a lot in it. He told God's children back in that day that he was actually struggling with God's calling. He wanted justice. He's going, "God, why don't you stop the sin in our nation? How come it's taking so long?" And God says, "I'm going to answer your prayer in My time." Then the dreaded word in chapter 2, verse 3, "For the revelation awaits an appointed time." There's that word!
    Well, Habakkuk learns a beautiful lesson, because He says near the end of the book in chapter 3, verse 16, "I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will rejoice in God my Savior."
    Habakkuk has learned a solid gold lesson about following the Lord. Doing God's best is a lot like riding the best ride in a place like Disney World. You have to wait to get the best. The Bible is full of instances where people couldn't wait for God's answer. Like Abraham. He goes with Hagar, his wife's handmaid. He cannot wait for the promised son to come through him and Sarah, and he causes a horrible situation. Ishmael comes along, and today the descendants of Isaac, who would later come as the son of Abraham and Sarah, and Ishmael the descendant of Abraham and Hagar are still today fighting it out in the Middle East because Abraham couldn't wait.
    Moses tried to deliver the Jews by killing an Egyptian. He had the right idea, "My people should go free." God agreed, but not that way. He had to wander in the wilderness for forty years because he acted too soon. He acted his way... tried it his way. Created a forty year mess. See, God's best always comes after a wait. Look, a baby takes nine months.
    Suppose you need an answer, but you can't wait for it. How different the result could be if you could get an instant answer. Wait! You don't want a premature answer. You want God's full term. Maybe you're tired of waiting, but God's answer is worth the wait; it's the best. You may have spent a whole life waiting for a love you couldn't lose. You've been waiting for a peace that would sustain you in every storm. You've been waiting for the assurance that when you die you will be in heaven.
    Well, today God is coming your way with the offer of Jesus, His Son, who died to make all that happen. Who walked out of His grace to prove He can. Maybe you've never had a day when you've made Jesus your Savior. Maybe you've never opened your heart to Him. If you want to and you need to know how, would you come to our website and find that out? It's ANewStory.com. It could all begin there.
    A lifetime of waiting for the love that will fill your heart could be over now and that love could begin today.

  • volume_up
    June 23, 2023 Worth the Weight - #9510

    I think there's like this five-year-old kid that comes out in everybody when they get to Disney World. I'm going to have to confess that the little boy inside of me is still alive and even though it's been awhile since I've been like in Disney World, I mean, we did enjoy the times when our family visited the Magic Kingdom some years ago.
    It's a wild ride through this outer space environment, in total darkness. So, you look at the line, and you see it's one of the longest lines in the park. At least it was then. And you go, "How long is this wait?" They say, "About an hour." No! Are we going to wait an hour? We did, and we even went back other times. It was great! It was worth it! You've got to wait for the best that they have.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Worth the Weight."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk. There are only a few chapters, but there's a lot in it. He told God's children back in that day that he was actually struggling with God's calling. He wanted justice. He's going, "God, why don't you stop the sin in our nation? How come it's taking so long?" And God says, "I'm going to answer your prayer in My time." Then the dreaded word in chapter 2, verse 3, "For the revelation awaits an appointed time." There's that word!
    Well, Habakkuk learns a beautiful lesson, because He says near the end of the book in chapter 3, verse 16, "I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will rejoice in God my Savior."
    Habakkuk has learned a solid gold lesson about following the Lord. Doing God's best is a lot like riding the best ride in a place like Disney World. You have to wait to get the best. The Bible is full of instances where people couldn't wait for God's answer. Like Abraham. He goes with Hagar, his wife's handmaid. He cannot wait for the promised son to come through him and Sarah, and he causes a horrible situation. Ishmael comes along, and today the descendants of Isaac, who would later come as the son of Abraham and Sarah, and Ishmael the descendant of Abraham and Hagar are still today fighting it out in the Middle East because Abraham couldn't wait.
    Moses tried to deliver the Jews by killing an Egyptian. He had the right idea, "My people should go free." God agreed, but not that way. He had to wander in the wilderness for forty years because he acted too soon. He acted his way... tried it his way. Created a forty year mess. See, God's best always comes after a wait. Look, a baby takes nine months.
    Suppose you need an answer, but you can't wait for it. How different the result could be if you could get an instant answer. Wait! You don't want a premature answer. You want God's full term. Maybe you're tired of waiting, but God's answer is worth the wait; it's the best. You may have spent a whole life waiting for a love you couldn't lose. You've been waiting for a peace that would sustain you in every storm. You've been waiting for the assurance that when you die you will be in heaven.
    Well, today God is coming your way with the offer of Jesus, His Son, who died to make all that happen. Who walked out of His grace to prove He can. Maybe you've never had a day when you've made Jesus your Savior. Maybe you've never opened your heart to Him. If you want to and you need to know how, would you come to our website and find that out? It's ANewStory.com. It could all begin there.
    A lifetime of waiting for the love that will fill your heart could be over now and that love could begin today.

  • volume_up
    June 23, 2023 Worth the Wait - #9510

    I think there's like this five-year-old kid that comes out in everybody when they get to Disney World. I'm going to have to confess that the little boy inside of me is still alive and even though it's been awhile since I've been like in Disney World, I mean, we did enjoy the times when our family visited the Magic Kingdom some years ago.
    It's a wild ride through this outer space environment, in total darkness. So, you look at the line, and you see it's one of the longest lines in the park. At least it was then. And you go, "How long is this wait?" They say, "About an hour." No! Are we going to wait an hour? We did, and we even went back other times. It was great! It was worth it! You've got to wait for the best that they have.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Worth the Wait."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk. There are only a few chapters, but there's a lot in it. He told God's children back in that day that he was actually struggling with God's calling. He wanted justice. He's going, "God, why don't you stop the sin in our nation? How come it's taking so long?" And God says, "I'm going to answer your prayer in My time." Then the dreaded word in chapter 2, verse 3, "For the revelation awaits an appointed time." There's that word!
    Well, Habakkuk learns a beautiful lesson, because He says near the end of the book in chapter 3, verse 16, "I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will rejoice in God my Savior."
    Habakkuk has learned a solid gold lesson about following the Lord. Doing God's best is a lot like riding the best ride in a place like Disney World. You have to wait to get the best. The Bible is full of instances where people couldn't wait for God's answer. Like Abraham. He goes with Hagar, his wife's handmaid. He cannot wait for the promised son to come through him and Sarah, and he causes a horrible situation. Ishmael comes along, and today the descendants of Isaac, who would later come as the son of Abraham and Sarah, and Ishmael the descendant of Abraham and Hagar are still today fighting it out in the Middle East because Abraham couldn't wait.
    Moses tried to deliver the Jews by killing an Egyptian. He had the right idea, "My people should go free." God agreed, but not that way. He had to wander in the wilderness for forty years because he acted too soon. He acted his way... tried it his way. Created a forty year mess. See, God's best always comes after a wait. Look, a baby takes nine months.
    Suppose you need an answer, but you can't wait for it. How different the result could be if you could get an instant answer. Wait! You don't want a premature answer. You want God's full term. Maybe you're tired of waiting, but God's answer is worth the wait; it's the best. You may have spent a whole life waiting for a love you couldn't lose. You've been waiting for a peace that would sustain you in every storm. You've been waiting for the assurance that when you die you will be in heaven.
    Well, today God is coming your way with the offer of Jesus, His Son, who died to make all that happen. Who walked out of His grace to prove He can. Maybe you've never had a day when you've made Jesus your Savior. Maybe you've never opened your heart to Him. If you want to and you need to know how, would you come to our website and find that out? It's ANewStory.com. It could all begin there.
    A lifetime of waiting for the love that will fill your heart could be over now and that love could begin today.

  • volume_up
    June 23, 2023 Worth the Wait - #9510

    I think there's like this five-year-old kid that comes out in everybody when they get to Disney World. I'm going to have to confess that the little boy inside of me is still alive and even though it's been awhile since I've been like in Disney World, I mean, we did enjoy the times when our family visited the Magic Kingdom some years ago.
    It's a wild ride through this outer space environment, in total darkness. So, you look at the line, and you see it's one of the longest lines in the park. At least it was then. And you go, "How long is this wait?" They say, "About an hour." No! Are we going to wait an hour? We did, and we even went back other times. It was great! It was worth it! You've got to wait for the best that they have.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Worth the Wait."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk. There are only a few chapters, but there's a lot in it. He told God's children back in that day that he was actually struggling with God's calling. He wanted justice. He's going, "God, why don't you stop the sin in our nation? How come it's taking so long?" And God says, "I'm going to answer your prayer in My time." Then the dreaded word in chapter 2, verse 3, "For the revelation awaits an appointed time." There's that word!
    Well, Habakkuk learns a beautiful lesson, because He says near the end of the book in chapter 3, verse 16, "I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will rejoice in God my Savior."
    Habakkuk has learned a solid gold lesson about following the Lord. Doing God's best is a lot like riding the best ride in a place like Disney World. You have to wait to get the best. The Bible is full of instances where people couldn't wait for God's answer. Like Abraham. He goes with Hagar, his wife's handmaid. He cannot wait for the promised son to come through him and Sarah, and he causes a horrible situation. Ishmael comes along, and today the descendants of Isaac, who would later come as the son of Abraham and Sarah, and Ishmael the descendant of Abraham and Hagar are still today fighting it out in the Middle East because Abraham couldn't wait.
    Moses tried to deliver the Jews by killing an Egyptian. He had the right idea, "My people should go free." God agreed, but not that way. He had to wander in the wilderness for forty years because he acted too soon. He acted his way... tried it his way. Created a forty year mess. See, God's best always comes after a wait. Look, a baby takes nine months.
    Suppose you need an answer, but you can't wait for it. How different the result could be if you could get an instant answer. Wait! You don't want a premature answer. You want God's full term. Maybe you're tired of waiting, but God's answer is worth the wait; it's the best. You may have spent a whole life waiting for a love you couldn't lose. You've been waiting for a peace that would sustain you in every storm. You've been waiting for the assurance that when you die you will be in heaven.
    Well, today God is coming your way with the offer of Jesus, His Son, who died to make all that happen. Who walked out of His grace to prove He can. Maybe you've never had a day when you've made Jesus your Savior. Maybe you've never opened your heart to Him. If you want to and you need to know how, would you come to our website and find that out? It's ANewStory.com. It could all begin there.
    A lifetime of waiting for the love that will fill your heart could be over now and that love could begin today.

  • volume_up
    June 23, 2023 Worth the Wait - #9510

    I think there's like this five-year-old kid that comes out in everybody when they get to Disney World. I'm going to have to confess that the little boy inside of me is still alive and even though it's been awhile since I've been like in Disney World, I mean, we did enjoy the times when our family visited the Magic Kingdom some years ago.
    It's a wild ride through this outer space environment, in total darkness. So, you look at the line, and you see it's one of the longest lines in the park. At least it was then. And you go, "How long is this wait?" They say, "About an hour." No! Are we going to wait an hour? We did, and we even went back other times. It was great! It was worth it! You've got to wait for the best that they have.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Worth the Wait."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk. There are only a few chapters, but there's a lot in it. He told God's children back in that day that he was actually struggling with God's calling. He wanted justice. He's going, "God, why don't you stop the sin in our nation? How come it's taking so long?" And God says, "I'm going to answer your prayer in My time." Then the dreaded word in chapter 2, verse 3, "For the revelation awaits an appointed time." There's that word!
    Well, Habakkuk learns a beautiful lesson, because He says near the end of the book in chapter 3, verse 16, "I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will rejoice in God my Savior."
    Habakkuk has learned a solid gold lesson about following the Lord. Doing God's best is a lot like riding the best ride in a place like Disney World. You have to wait to get the best. The Bible is full of instances where people couldn't wait for God's answer. Like Abraham. He goes with Hagar, his wife's handmaid. He cannot wait for the promised son to come through him and Sarah, and he causes a horrible situation. Ishmael comes along, and today the descendants of Isaac, who would later come as the son of Abraham and Sarah, and Ishmael the descendant of Abraham and Hagar are still today fighting it out in the Middle East because Abraham couldn't wait.
    Moses tried to deliver the Jews by killing an Egyptian. He had the right idea, "My people should go free." God agreed, but not that way. He had to wander in the wilderness for forty years because he acted too soon. He acted his way... tried it his way. Created a forty year mess. See, God's best always comes after a wait. Look, a baby takes nine months.
    Suppose you need an answer, but you can't wait for it. How different the result could be if you could get an instant answer. Wait! You don't want a premature answer. You want God's full term. Maybe you're tired of waiting, but God's answer is worth the wait; it's the best. You may have spent a whole life waiting for a love you couldn't lose. You've been waiting for a peace that would sustain you in every storm. You've been waiting for the assurance that when you die you will be in heaven.
    Well, today God is coming your way with the offer of Jesus, His Son, who died to make all that happen. Who walked out of His grace to prove He can. Maybe you've never had a day when you've made Jesus your Savior. Maybe you've never opened your heart to Him. If you want to and you need to know how, would you come to our website and find that out? It's ANewStory.com. It could all begin there.
    A lifetime of waiting for the love that will fill your heart could be over now and that love could begin today.

  • volume_up
    June 23, 2023 Worth the Wait - #9510

    I think there's like this five-year-old kid that comes out in everybody when they get to Disney World. I'm going to have to confess that the little boy inside of me is still alive and even though it's been awhile since I've been like in Disney World, I mean, we did enjoy the times when our family visited the Magic Kingdom some years ago.
    It's a wild ride through this outer space environment, in total darkness. So, you look at the line, and you see it's one of the longest lines in the park. At least it was then. And you go, "How long is this wait?" They say, "About an hour." No! Are we going to wait an hour? We did, and we even went back other times. It was great! It was worth it! You've got to wait for the best that they have.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Worth the Wait."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk. There are only a few chapters, but there's a lot in it. He told God's children back in that day that he was actually struggling with God's calling. He wanted justice. He's going, "God, why don't you stop the sin in our nation? How come it's taking so long?" And God says, "I'm going to answer your prayer in My time." Then the dreaded word in chapter 2, verse 3, "For the revelation awaits an appointed time." There's that word!
    Well, Habakkuk learns a beautiful lesson, because He says near the end of the book in chapter 3, verse 16, "I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will rejoice in God my Savior."
    Habakkuk has learned a solid gold lesson about following the Lord. Doing God's best is a lot like riding the best ride in a place like Disney World. You have to wait to get the best. The Bible is full of instances where people couldn't wait for God's answer. Like Abraham. He goes with Hagar, his wife's handmaid. He cannot wait for the promised son to come through him and Sarah, and he causes a horrible situation. Ishmael comes along, and today the descendants of Isaac, who would later come as the son of Abraham and Sarah, and Ishmael the descendant of Abraham and Hagar are still today fighting it out in the Middle East because Abraham couldn't wait.
    Moses tried to deliver the Jews by killing an Egyptian. He had the right idea, "My people should go free." God agreed, but not that way. He had to wander in the wilderness for forty years because he acted too soon. He acted his way... tried it his way. Created a forty year mess. See, God's best always comes after a wait. Look, a baby takes nine months.
    Suppose you need an answer, but you can't wait for it. How different the result could be if you could get an instant answer. Wait! You don't want a premature answer. You want God's full term. Maybe you're tired of waiting, but God's answer is worth the wait; it's the best. You may have spent a whole life waiting for a love you couldn't lose. You've been waiting for a peace that would sustain you in every storm. You've been waiting for the assurance that when you die you will be in heaven.
    Well, today God is coming your way with the offer of Jesus, His Son, who died to make all that happen. Who walked out of His grace to prove He can. Maybe you've never had a day when you've made Jesus your Savior. Maybe you've never opened your heart to Him. If you want to and you need to know how, would you come to our website and find that out? It's ANewStory.com. It could all begin there.
    A lifetime of waiting for the love that will fill your heart could be over now and that love could begin today.

  • volume_up
    June 23, 2023 Worth the Wait - #9510

    I think there's like this five-year-old kid that comes out in everybody when they get to Disney World. I'm going to have to confess that the little boy inside of me is still alive and even though it's been awhile since I've been like in Disney World, I mean, we did enjoy the times when our family visited the Magic Kingdom some years ago.
    It's a wild ride through this outer space environment, in total darkness. So, you look at the line, and you see it's one of the longest lines in the park. At least it was then. And you go, "How long is this wait?" They say, "About an hour." No! Are we going to wait an hour? We did, and we even went back other times. It was great! It was worth it! You've got to wait for the best that they have.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Worth the Wait."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk. There are only a few chapters, but there's a lot in it. He told God's children back in that day that he was actually struggling with God's calling. He wanted justice. He's going, "God, why don't you stop the sin in our nation? How come it's taking so long?" And God says, "I'm going to answer your prayer in My time." Then the dreaded word in chapter 2, verse 3, "For the revelation awaits an appointed time." There's that word!
    Well, Habakkuk learns a beautiful lesson, because He says near the end of the book in chapter 3, verse 16, "I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will rejoice in God my Savior."
    Habakkuk has learned a solid gold lesson about following the Lord. Doing God's best is a lot like riding the best ride in a place like Disney World. You have to wait to get the best. The Bible is full of instances where people couldn't wait for God's answer. Like Abraham. He goes with Hagar, his wife's handmaid. He cannot wait for the promised son to come through him and Sarah, and he causes a horrible situation. Ishmael comes along, and today the descendants of Isaac, who would later come as the son of Abraham and Sarah, and Ishmael the descendant of Abraham and Hagar are still today fighting it out in the Middle East because Abraham couldn't wait.
    Moses tried to deliver the Jews by killing an Egyptian. He had the right idea, "My people should go free." God agreed, but not that way. He had to wander in the wilderness for forty years because he acted too soon. He acted his way... tried it his way. Created a forty year mess. See, God's best always comes after a wait. Look, a baby takes nine months.
    Suppose you need an answer, but you can't wait for it. How different the result could be if you could get an instant answer. Wait! You don't want a premature answer. You want God's full term. Maybe you're tired of waiting, but God's answer is worth the wait; it's the best. You may have spent a whole life waiting for a love you couldn't lose. You've been waiting for a peace that would sustain you in every storm. You've been waiting for the assurance that when you die you will be in heaven.
    Well, today God is coming your way with the offer of Jesus, His Son, who died to make all that happen. Who walked out of His grace to prove He can. Maybe you've never had a day when you've made Jesus your Savior. Maybe you've never opened your heart to Him. If you want to and you need to know how, would you come to our website and find that out? It's ANewStory.com. It could all begin there.
    A lifetime of waiting for the love that will fill your heart could be over now and that love could begin today.

  • volume_up
    June 23, 2023 Worth the Wait - #9510

    I think there's like this five-year-old kid that comes out in everybody when they get to Disney World. I'm going to have to confess that the little boy inside of me is still alive and even though it's been awhile since I've been like in Disney World, I mean, we did enjoy the times when our family visited the Magic Kingdom some years ago.
    It's a wild ride through this outer space environment, in total darkness. So, you look at the line, and you see it's one of the longest lines in the park. At least it was then. And you go, "How long is this wait?" They say, "About an hour." No! Are we going to wait an hour? We did, and we even went back other times. It was great! It was worth it! You've got to wait for the best that they have.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Worth the Wait."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk. There are only a few chapters, but there's a lot in it. He told God's children back in that day that he was actually struggling with God's calling. He wanted justice. He's going, "God, why don't you stop the sin in our nation? How come it's taking so long?" And God says, "I'm going to answer your prayer in My time." Then the dreaded word in chapter 2, verse 3, "For the revelation awaits an appointed time." There's that word!
    Well, Habakkuk learns a beautiful lesson, because He says near the end of the book in chapter 3, verse 16, "I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will rejoice in God my Savior."
    Habakkuk has learned a solid gold lesson about following the Lord. Doing God's best is a lot like riding the best ride in a place like Disney World. You have to wait to get the best. The Bible is full of instances where people couldn't wait for God's answer. Like Abraham. He goes with Hagar, his wife's handmaid. He cannot wait for the promised son to come through him and Sarah, and he causes a horrible situation. Ishmael comes along, and today the descendants of Isaac, who would later come as the son of Abraham and Sarah, and Ishmael the descendant of Abraham and Hagar are still today fighting it out in the Middle East because Abraham couldn't wait.
    Moses tried to deliver the Jews by killing an Egyptian. He had the right idea, "My people should go free." God agreed, but not that way. He had to wander in the wilderness for forty years because he acted too soon. He acted his way... tried it his way. Created a forty year mess. See, God's best always comes after a wait. Look, a baby takes nine months.
    Suppose you need an answer, but you can't wait for it. How different the result could be if you could get an instant answer. Wait! You don't want a premature answer. You want God's full term. Maybe you're tired of waiting, but God's answer is worth the wait; it's the best. You may have spent a whole life waiting for a love you couldn't lose. You've been waiting for a peace that would sustain you in every storm. You've been waiting for the assurance that when you die you will be in heaven.
    Well, today God is coming your way with the offer of Jesus, His Son, who died to make all that happen. Who walked out of His grace to prove He can. Maybe you've never had a day when you've made Jesus your Savior. Maybe you've never opened your heart to Him. If you want to and you need to know how, would you come to our website and find that out? It's ANewStory.com. It could all begin there.
    A lifetime of waiting for the love that will fill your heart could be over now and that love could begin today.

  • volume_up
    June 23, 2023 Worth the Wait - #9510

    I think there's like this five-year-old kid that comes out in everybody when they get to Disney World. I'm going to have to confess that the little boy inside of me is still alive and even though it's been awhile since I've been like in Disney World, I mean, we did enjoy the times when our family visited the Magic Kingdom some years ago.
    It's a wild ride through this outer space environment, in total darkness. So, you look at the line, and you see it's one of the longest lines in the park. At least it was then. And you go, "How long is this wait?" They say, "About an hour." No! Are we going to wait an hour? We did, and we even went back other times. It was great! It was worth it! You've got to wait for the best that they have.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Worth the Wait."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk. There are only a few chapters, but there's a lot in it. He told God's children back in that day that he was actually struggling with God's calling. He wanted justice. He's going, "God, why don't you stop the sin in our nation? How come it's taking so long?" And God says, "I'm going to answer your prayer in My time." Then the dreaded word in chapter 2, verse 3, "For the revelation awaits an appointed time." There's that word!
    Well, Habakkuk learns a beautiful lesson, because He says near the end of the book in chapter 3, verse 16, "I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will rejoice in God my Savior."
    Habakkuk has learned a solid gold lesson about following the Lord. Doing God's best is a lot like riding the best ride in a place like Disney World. You have to wait to get the best. The Bible is full of instances where people couldn't wait for God's answer. Like Abraham. He goes with Hagar, his wife's handmaid. He cannot wait for the promised son to come through him and Sarah, and he causes a horrible situation. Ishmael comes along, and today the descendants of Isaac, who would later come as the son of Abraham and Sarah, and Ishmael the descendant of Abraham and Hagar are still today fighting it out in the Middle East because Abraham couldn't wait.
    Moses tried to deliver the Jews by killing an Egyptian. He had the right idea, "My people should go free." God agreed, but not that way. He had to wander in the wilderness for forty years because he acted too soon. He acted his way... tried it his way. Created a forty year mess. See, God's best always comes after a wait. Look, a baby takes nine months.
    Suppose you need an answer, but you can't wait for it. How different the result could be if you could get an instant answer. Wait! You don't want a premature answer. You want God's full term. Maybe you're tired of waiting, but God's answer is worth the wait; it's the best. You may have spent a whole life waiting for a love you couldn't lose. You've been waiting for a peace that would sustain you in every storm. You've been waiting for the assurance that when you die you will be in heaven.
    Well, today God is coming your way with the offer of Jesus, His Son, who died to make all that happen. Who walked out of His grace to prove He can. Maybe you've never had a day when you've made Jesus your Savior. Maybe you've never opened your heart to Him. If you want to and you need to know how, would you come to our website and find that out? It's ANewStory.com. It could all begin there.
    A lifetime of waiting for the love that will fill your heart could be over now and that love could begin today.

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    June 23, 2023 Worth the Wait - #9510

    I think there's like this five-year-old kid that comes out in everybody when they get to Disney World. I'm going to have to confess that the little boy inside of me is still alive and even though it's been awhile since I've been like in Disney World, I mean, we did enjoy the times when our family visited the Magic Kingdom some years ago.
    It's a wild ride through this outer space environment, in total darkness. So, you look at the line, and you see it's one of the longest lines in the park. At least it was then. And you go, "How long is this wait?" They say, "About an hour." No! Are we going to wait an hour? We did, and we even went back other times. It was great! It was worth it! You've got to wait for the best that they have.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Worth the Wait."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk. There are only a few chapters, but there's a lot in it. He told God's children back in that day that he was actually struggling with God's calling. He wanted justice. He's going, "God, why don't you stop the sin in our nation? How come it's taking so long?" And God says, "I'm going to answer your prayer in My time." Then the dreaded word in chapter 2, verse 3, "For the revelation awaits an appointed time." There's that word!
    Well, Habakkuk learns a beautiful lesson, because He says near the end of the book in chapter 3, verse 16, "I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will rejoice in God my Savior."
    Habakkuk has learned a solid gold lesson about following the Lord. Doing God's best is a lot like riding the best ride in a place like Disney World. You have to wait to get the best. The Bible is full of instances where people couldn't wait for God's answer. Like Abraham. He goes with Hagar, his wife's handmaid. He cannot wait for the promised son to come through him and Sarah, and he causes a horrible situation. Ishmael comes along, and today the descendants of Isaac, who would later come as the son of Abraham and Sarah, and Ishmael the descendant of Abraham and Hagar are still today fighting it out in the Middle East because Abraham couldn't wait.
    Moses tried to deliver the Jews by killing an Egyptian. He had the right idea, "My people should go free." God agreed, but not that way. He had to wander in the wilderness for forty years because he acted too soon. He acted his way... tried it his way. Created a forty year mess. See, God's best always comes after a wait. Look, a baby takes nine months.
    Suppose you need an answer, but you can't wait for it. How different the result could be if you could get an instant answer. Wait! You don't want a premature answer. You want God's full term. Maybe you're tired of waiting, but God's answer is worth the wait; it's the best. You may have spent a whole life waiting for a love you couldn't lose. You've been waiting for a peace that would sustain you in every storm. You've been waiting for the assurance that when you die you will be in heaven.
    Well, today God is coming your way with the offer of Jesus, His Son, who died to make all that happen. Who walked out of His grace to prove He can. Maybe you've never had a day when you've made Jesus your Savior. Maybe you've never opened your heart to Him. If you want to and you need to know how, would you come to our website and find that out? It's ANewStory.com. It could all begin there.
    A lifetime of waiting for the love that will fill your heart could be over now and that love could begin today.

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    June 22, 2023 Who's Feeding You? - #9509

    Well, first we had these Super 8 films of our kids when they were little. And then they became, of course, videos for modern times and then DVDs. And, you know, it's really kind of fun to flash back, especially to when they were babies and just like toddlers.
    For example, our oldest son, we have got an old movie of his first birthday. And we managed to keep this on film for better or worse. In this picture he is is seated in this highchair, he's dressed in brand new birthday clothes it looks like, and he's surrounded by relatives who are probably saying lots of dumb things to him. And Mom comes along and there she sets in front of him on his highchair a big, beautiful, fudgy, chocolatey birthday cake (you know where I'm going) with one candle in it.
    Well, he blew out the candle, of course. Now the movie continues. My son is simply staring at the cake, trying to figure out what you're supposed to do with it. By the end of the movie he is wearing the cake, because he did try to feed it to himself. It was pretty messy, but at least he was feeding himself.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Who's Feeding You?"
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Hebrews 5. I'll begin reading at verse 12. The writer says, "Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's Word all over again. You need milk, not solid food. Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."
    In essence, the writer here is saying, "You know, you've been around a while, guys. You should be into some serious spiritual issues. What are you doing still playing with entry level basics? You should be teaching others, but you still need someone to hold your hand." Now, we fed our son when he was first born, and that's pretty natural. But pretty soon he began to feed himself. In fact, we would have had cause to worry about him if he didn't feed himself.
    See, God has a lot of underdeveloped kids who are still depending on someone else to feed them. You see, maturity means you feed yourself. So, who's spiritually feeding you most of the time? Now, we have a lot of folks giving us food: you know, radio programs, church services, websites, Bible studies, youth leaders, TV shows, and that's great. But it's all supposed to be supplemental. It's easy to be lazy about feeding yourself. The foundation of a relationship with Jesus Christ comes down to you and Jesus, alone in a room. You with a Bible in your hands digging out your personal word for today from the Word of God.
    If that's not the center of your spiritual growth, you might be one of God's overgrown babies. It's what you discover first hand that really changes you inside. Isn't it time you set a regular time to feed yourself, to make that time with Jesus non-negotiable? Read it, and read it again to find something to do today because you read it. Write down what you're going to do and what you read. Get a journal going. And then, tell someone about what you got out of the Bible today. You say, "Well, I'm not really very good at feeding myself. I need professional feeders."
    Well, my son wasn't very good at it either at first. He made a mess! He missed his mouth, but he was trying. He was growing. He got better as he did it more, and so will you. The important thing is that you are daily allowing time with Jesus where you can learn to feed yourself.
    When you're doing that, well congratulations, you're beyond spiritual Pampers and you're on the road to really growing up!

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    June 21, 2023 Unforgettable You - #9508

    I'm so glad we have lots of things around our house that bloom when spring pushes out Old Man Winter. Now, if you have allergies, you probably don't look forward to Spring, but I hope you can at least enjoy some of its extravagant beauty. And it isn't just things to see.
    Every year, as I was rushing around the yard doing my chores, I would catch this beautiful scent every time I went past this one flowering bush. It's actually not far from our trash cans; not the most fragrant item in our yard. But, you know, I actually loved to catch the aroma of those flowers. I love it when the iris and the peonies start to bloom (I would have no idea what they were if my wife hadn't told me). They give off this inviting fragrance, like this fantastic yard perfume!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Unforgettable You."
    A dear friend of ours wore this distinctive perfume for all the years we knew her - it was her trademark scent really. You could close your eyes and you knew it was her. At her funeral, our pastor talked about that perfume and the fragrant trail she always left wherever she went with the life she lived. She touched ours and so many others with the fragrance of her life.
    That's how it's supposed to be for anyone who belongs to Jesus Christ; leaving a trail of fragrant blessing wherever you go, with whomever you meet. How are you doing on that? Like those flowers in our yard, there should be this compelling beauty about your life that brings beauty into theirs. Even if there's a lot of trash in their life right now. The fact is, we all give off some kind of fragrance with the way we treat people, and the way we handle stress, and whether we make people feel more or less important, whether we bring sunshine into a situation or clouds. This would be a good day for you to evaluate: what kind of trail, what kind of life-fragrance do I leave?
    One man who shows us the kind of trail we're supposed to leave is written about in our word for today from the Word of God. It's in Acts 4:36-37. At a time when the just-birthed Christian community had a lot of needs it says, "Joseph...whom the disciples called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles' feet." This man had left such a trail of encouragement the apostles actually changed his name to fit the impact he made. They called him "Mr. Encouragement." Listen, if people were to change your name to something that describes the effect you have on them, what would they call you?
    That name should reflect at least one of the qualities of what the Bible calls the "fruit of the Spirit"; that is, the kind of person the Holy Spirit makes you. According to Galatians 5:22-23, you should be giving off a fragrance of "Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." So how are you doing with that?
    Do people feel that you care about their need? Do you stop to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice? Are you calm in the midst of the frenzy or are you just another stress-carrier? Do people feel important when they're with you because you listen to them and focus on them? Do they feel lifted up or put down by being around you? People are so starved for praise, for appreciation. If you give it, you'll be a magnet.
    And all this is so they will want to know why you're so different from everybody else in their busy, self-centered, self-promoting universe. A life with a beautiful fragrance gives you the opportunity to point them to the One who makes you that way because of how He has treated you, and that of course is Jesus. In the words of Matthew 5:16, they will "See your good works" and ultimately then they will "praise your Father in heaven." Your fragrant life can help lead them to eternal life.
    When people pass your way, would you let them catch a whiff of Jesus so they, too, can experience His love.

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    June 20, 2023 Life's Most Expensive Regrets - #9507

    My friend was telling me about the investment he'd bailed out of just before it really took off. He said, "I have a habit of doing that." I said, "Why?" He said, "Well, it kind of runs in the family." And then he told me an unforgettable story. He said, "My dad was approached by the founders of ServiceMaster, which is, of course, this huge multi-million dollar corporation in America. And they were neighbors, and they came to him when they were just starting and they said, 'Hey, would you like to get in on the ground floor and help us get started?' He said, 'Well, guys, why don't you just go clean your carpets. No thanks.'"
    Well, that wasn't all. Another one of their neighbors was a man named Ray Croc. You might recognize that name; he was the founder of McDonald's! He came to this same man and said, "Would you be interested? We're opening our fourth little hamburger thing called McDonald's Golden Arches. Would you like to get in on the fourth store?" "No, I'm not into hamburgers." He came back to him another time and said, "Hey, it's going pretty well. You know we're opening our seventh one. Would you like to get in on it?" "No, I'm not interested."
    How many times do you think he asked, "What did I miss?" I guess you just add those to the list of life's "if only's," huh? Of course, you've got your own list. Maybe not opportunities to make a million, but a lot of missed opportunities.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Life's Most Expensive Regrets."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is from Ephesians 5, and I'm going to read verse 15. "Be very careful about how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil." I like those words, "making the most of every opportunity." Those turn out to be if you don't take them, life's "'if onlys' ... if only I had." It's interesting that this challenge to not miss opportunities is followed by a description of a spirit-filled family life: husbanding, wifeing, parenting, childing. And those are the "if only's" that you can't afford to miss.
    How many times have I had a parent say to me, "Ron, what can I do to get my rebellious son or daughter back?" Maybe they've been rushed to the hospital with a suicide attempt, they're actively rebelling; breaking their parent's heart. Well, for me to give them the really honest answer, I might have to say, "What I'm going to tell you is something that needed to be done years ago." Remember? There was a song year's ago, Cat's In the Cradle and the Silver Spoon. Dad was too busy, and then when he had time later, the son was too busy for his Dad?
    See, each day is filled with opportunities to listen, to hug, to debrief, to teach, and they'll never come again. It's true in marriage, too. Days without being close become weeks, and months, and years. And one day you wish you could have those days back. They're gone forever. The Bible says, "Make the most of every opportunity."
    Your son or daughter is feeling feelings now that really need your perspective. But this will pass and become a part of who they are, whether they get to share it or not. They're making choices, they're making friends, they're developing a sense of humor. They're trying to find out where God fits in everyday life. They need you there. There'll be many things more urgent but none more important. Everyone else will scream for your attention; they'll just whisper.
    My friend watched his father miss some golden opportunities with golden arches. But that was only to make money. We're talking here about the opportunity to mark lives. And it happens in the little golden moments that don't seem that important at the time. "If only I had taken the time."
    When it comes to your marriage partner, your children, your parents, those are life's most expensive "if onlys."

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    June 19, 2023 Hope in the Darkest Hour - #9506

    It was several years ago, and this particular Super Bowl Sunday there was kind of a dark cloud over it because there had come some news that had rocked Hollywood. It rocked Broadway, and then countless everyday folks who could not forget the compelling characters that this actor had created on the screen. Academy Award-winning actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman had been found dead in his apartment of a drug overdose at the age of 46.
    Hoffman was considered one of the most gifted, most admired actors in show business. The sadness was compounded by a lot of reminders that he was so talented, so young, and the circumstances of his death were so wrenchingly tragic.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Hope in the Darkest Hour."
    The autopsy revealed the exact cause of death. But there is no autopsy for a human soul to find out what went wrong there. Yes, this actor had admitted his addictions. Those close to him said he had beaten those problems in rehab. But on that Sunday, drugs allegedly killed him.
    Comedian and actor, Jim Carrey - who is no stranger to success - in his response to Seymore's death, he said, "Dear Philip, a beautiful, beautiful soul. For the most sensitive among us the noise can be too much." I guess you don't have to be a star to know what he's talking about. So many people live in quiet desperation, closer to the edge than anybody knows.
    Actor Val Kilmer suggested in his reaction that "addiction comes from trying to escape the pain of living. We all struggle with this" he said. The escapes are many: drugs or alcohol, or some have an affair, some have pornography, some are just running into a relentless schedule or a consuming workload.
    But that "pain of living" afflicts virtually all of us humans. Sadly, escape is never an answer. Escape always seems to ultimately run into a wall. And wherever you go, you take you with you. But there was insight in Philip Seymour Hoffman's own words. He told the New York Times: "I try to live my life in such a way that I don't have profound regrets. That's probably why I work too much. I don't want to feel like I missed something important."
    Look how many people slip away from this life, knowing they've missed something important and never knowing what it was. Like a source of untouchable peace that would sustain me when that "noise" becomes "too much." Or a source of strength that enables me to overcome "that pain of living." Rather than escaping into something that solves nothing, just creates more pain. Or a hope so strong that not even the darkest of days can erase it.
    Where can I find the power to conquer my inner darkness when there's no script writer who's going to write a happy ending? I'm not going to find it in me. It's not going to be in my greatest achievements. It's not going to be my personal strength; even my deepest relationships. Life's too hard, my resources are too finite to find ultimate answers by looking in myself. Or around the people close to me.
    Okay, now, our word for today from the Word of God, where the answer really is, where the hope is, Ephesians 2, beginning with verse 12 that describes people being "without hope and without God in the world." If I do not have a personal relationship with the God I was made by and made for, I'm without hope. But then it says, "In Christ Jesus, you who were once far away..." See, we've got a wall between us and God. "...you've been brought near through the blood of Christ." Jesus Christ died to tear down that wall.
    And then it says, "He Himself is our peace." Peace isn't a pill. Peace is not an escape. Peace is a person. His name is Jesus. And the question I ask you today, "In the midst of the storm in your life is, do you know Him? Do you belong to Him?" If there's never been a day when you've begun a relationship with Jesus, would you make this that day?
    You say, "Well, I need to know how." Go to our website and let me help you know how? It's ANewStory.com. The darkness has won long enough. It doesn't have to win any more. Not with this light that nothing can extinguish.

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    June 16, 2023 When Cranking Isn't Enough - #9505

    Okay, I don't remember a lot of content from my science classes in school, but I remember some of the experiments. Remember the one with the hand generator? They connect it to this light bulb, and the harder you crank, the brighter the light gets? If you're gonna try and run your stove, your lights, your air conditioner, your TV with a little hand crank generator, now you've got a power shortage.
    We have just outside our window on the street on this pole, this big transformer. And fortunately, that's the power we've plugged into to run all the things we need to run. I'm glad we've got that transformer voltage to depend on. Depending on the power that I could crank, it would never do the job.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When Cranking Isn't Enough."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God. We're in Acts 12 and I'll begin reading at verse 4. The scene is that King Herod has just arrested Peter, feeling that by arresting the key leader of the church in Jerusalem, he will break the back of the Christian movement. The scripture says, "After arresting Peter, Herod put him in prison; handed him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each." This is one guy, right? "Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So, Peter was kept in prison..." (Now, there's not a period there, there is a comma. Listen to this.) "...but, the church was earnestly praying to God for him."
    You probably remember that during the night an angel came and took care of the guards, took care of the soldiers, took care of the chains, took care of the locked gates, and delivered Peter much to his amazement and the amazement of the very people who were praying for him.
    I think this prison situation goes beyond just Peter's own incident here. It's one of those situations where an answer is totally beyond your reach. I mean, that's where Peter was. He was totally beyond the reach of the church. They could not in any way affect this situation. They had no power to reach where he was. But they had a prayer meeting.
    Maybe you're in one of those "beyond your reach" situations, and you're still cranking your little hand generator saying, "I've got to come up with more power! I've got to fix this. I've got to come up with an answer." The Bible says their response was to be earnestly praying. And earnest praying reached where no man could, did what no man could do, opened doors no man could open. God is still in the business of opening doors on prisons around people the same way.
    Now, when we have unmoving mountains, we tend to have all kinds of meetings. "We need to have a planning meeting." "We need to have a committee meeting." "We need to have a finance meeting." "We need to have an emergency meeting." The power is in the prayer meeting, folks, and usually that's the shortest meeting we have. We have a four-hour committee meeting. We're lucky if we have a half-hour prayer meeting. Guess which will do more.
    The great Christian leader of another generation, Dr. Bob Cook taught me this. He said, "Prayer is a method of getting things done. It's not something that helps your methods; it's the way to get it done." We usually open our meetings with prayer; close our meetings with prayer, right? But do we stake everything on prayer? And when we pray, do we pray expecting the supernatural?
    D. L. Moody said that when he was asked the secret of his power, he said, "For fifty years I have had access to the Throne of Grace." A person, a situation, a need. it's beyond your reach. Well, don't keep trying to crank out a man-powered answer. Plug into the awesome generator of God's power.
    Make the prayer meeting your first stop.

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    June 15, 2023 When Things Seem Out of Control - #9504

    Remember some years ago when the Olympics were in Russia? I liked that news a whole lot better than more recent news about Russia. Yeah, they had fireworks that ended the Russian Olympics. And now the fireworks are in Ukraine. And suddenly part of Ukraine was part of Russia. Hello? Russia flexing its expansionist muscles on the world's stage, I'm hearing those two words again that I haven't heard for a long time - Cold War.
    See, that standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine, well that could just be a beginning. It's starting to feel pretty familiar and potentially explosive. It doesn't help that a Russian anchorman (who reportedly is called President Putin's "favorite") was a while back on State-controlled TV with a mushroom cloud as his backdrop. He was announcing, literally, Russia is the only country capable of turning the U.S. into (his words) "radioactive ash." And we've heard a lot more saber rattling from them haven't we? That's not what you want to watch right before bedtime.
    I'm Ron Hutchraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When Things Seem Out of Control."
    Some of this feels like the opening act of a world that's growing even more unstable and more dangerous as time goes by. It's just a disturbing time in the world with almost every night's headline.You know, there's talk about a Cold War standoff with a resurgent Russia; fears of a growing and powerful China. Rekindled fears of terrorism. And then the growing prospect of weapons of mass destruction in some pretty scary hands. It just feels like one little spark sometimes could send things spinning out of control. Well, that's our control. I turn off the news and I reach for my Bible.
    Then I read where David, the revered Jewish king, asked this question, "What can we do when the foundations are being destroyed?" Well I'll tell you, with so many "foundations" shaking these days, that's a good question today.
    Here's our word for today from the Word of God. The answer in Psalm 11:3-4 - "The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord is on His heavenly throne." At first, that didn't sound like it answered the questions. But then I realized I was reading about the one unmoving anchor when everything else in the world is up for grabs.
    Things might be out of our control. and they are. But they're never out of God's control. Nations may fall. Evil men can plot and even succeed. The doctor may stun us with bad news. The finances may seem impossible. The funeral seems like the end. Our family may look hopeless. But God has not vacated the throne from which the universe is governed. Proverbs 19:21 says, "It is the Lord's purpose that prevails"
    You know, I was scared to death when I was on my first big roller coaster as a kid; pretty sure I was going to die at the age of nine. I was jerking every which-way. We were defying gravity. It seemed like we were out of control. But not out of control, because the whole time that car was flying all over, it was attached to the tracks and headed for a safe destination.
    I'm not at the mercy of a roller coaster world. I am loved by the God who rules the galaxies; whose plans can't be derailed. I'm not afraid. However wild the ride, things are still on track.
    The Bible says in the greatest insurance policy in the universe, "Who will ever separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Which causes me to ask you to consider today what unloseable source of security do you have that is divorce-proof, terror-proof, recession-proof, unemployment-proof, death-proof? The Bible says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." And this man who loved you enough to die for your sins was powerful enough to walk out of His grave. He's the one sure thing in a rapidly changing world.
    If you don't belong to Him...if you're not sure you do, get that settled today. Anchor your life! Go to our website and find out how to begin with Him. It's ANewStory.com. Because, like the song says, "He's got the whole world in His hands."

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    June 14, 2023 Turning Yesterday's Shame Into Something Beautiful - #9503

    Part of our ministry team has worked on a remote Native American reservation in the Southwest. In fact, our sons launched this ground-breaking outreach to Native young people many years ago there. The ministry at that reservation is part of our bigger initiative, "On Eagles' Wings."
    Several years ago, God helped them launch a low-power FM radio station on that reservation. I mean, this was a reservation pretty spiritually hard and geographically hard to reach. But for several years, the light of Christ was going out via the airwaves 24 hours a day across that reservation in a very original format, and it really made a difference.
    Part of the adventure was just getting the station on the air - including setting up the tower. That required some special climbing abilities. And one of the Native young men who God sent to help with the station just happened to have that experience - illegally, in the years before he was following Christ. He used to love to climb towers that the law actually forbade people to climb. Now, all of a sudden, those abilities - that he had practiced in a way that did not honor God - were suddenly being used by God to glorify Him. Don't you just love it!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Turning Yesterday's Shame Into Something Beautiful."
    This is one of the amazing ways of God - taking what we did against Jesus before we knew Jesus and turning it into something Jesus can use for His glory. That aspect of God's amazing grace may help shed some hope-giving light on some of the very things you're most sorry for; the things you're even most ashamed of in your past.
    In 1 Timothy 1:12-18, our word for today from the Word of God, Paul tells us how this miracle of spiritual recycling worked in his life: "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has given me strength, that He considered me faithful, appointing me to His service. Even though I was a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
    Then he says, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life." Basically Paul says, "The worst things I ever did have been transformed by God's grace into credentials to show people what He can do." Man! That's part of the grace miracle described in Romans 5:20, "Where sin increased, grace increased all the more." Wow! God always has more grace than we've got sin. Grace always triumphs over sin. Hallelujah!
    Never is that more dramatic than when God takes the sinning you've done or the sinning that was done against you, and makes it into a boomerang to hit the very devil who once used that stuff to bring you down. Now all that ugly becomes something beautiful in Jesus' hands, because it causes people to listen to you when you talk about Jesus. You're providing living proof of His power - and maybe even helping you climb a tower for His sake.
    That's why you need to bring all that sin, and all that shame, and all those awful memories, and all the things you wish you hadn't done to the foot of Jesus' cross. Accept the forgiveness He made possible by the shedding of His blood for that very garbage. And ask Him to redeem those regrets and those lost years by somehow using them for His glory and to help others come to know Him. There's a world of people out there who are where you were before you met Jesus and, under His leadership, you are uniquely equipped to work with Him in rescuing them. They'll listen to someone like you. You've been there.
    That's one of God's great grace miracles, and it's waiting for you. Yesterday's shame, touched by the Master, can become today's life-saving victory!

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    June 13, 2023 Coming Back From Falling - #9502

    Well, in the summer it's nice to think about winter Olympics. Well, you know what? I'm not like most people who watch the Olympics. You know, like the winter Olympics, the women's Olympic figure skating? Well, a lot of people just enjoy the grace of the "twizzles" and the "triple lutzes" (whatever those are). Not me. No, I love the stories. I'm a story guy. So I'm sitting there mulling the stories of those skaters. And thinking, "We've got something to learn from her."
    It happened. I remember one time, when Italy's finalist, Carolina Kostner skated her long program. It was in the Sochi Olympics. Before she began, they showed her disastrous skate in Vancouver four years ago. She left the ice with her face buried in her hands. It was sad. I mean, in her own words, "It was breaking my heart." And that was going to be the end of her skating career. She didn't want to go through this again. But she did. And on the ice in Sochi, she skated a nearly flawless program and captured Olympic bronze.
    Look, I don't ice skate. But I know what it is to fall and come back again.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Coming Back From Falling."
    I've set personal goals and I've blown it - losing weight, getting to a better place financially, conquering a personal weakness. And like all of us who have tried and failed, I know the temptation to forget it and just say, "I'm not going to get on the ice" again. But then I considered these Olympic lessons that can turn a sad chapter into a comeback victory. Number one, when you go down, don't stay down. The Bible says in Proverbs 24:16, "A righteous man falls seven times, and he rises again."
    I've watched three children and now our grandchildren learn to walk. They all have the same M.O. Try to walk? Fall down. The fallen baby, of course, has two choices. One, "That's it. I tried my best. I failed. I tried to walk. I can't do it. I give up." Well, that didn't happen! Every child got back up and started walking again.
    I've decided that the only people who haven't fallen are people who never tried to walk. I watched an Olympic skater whose falls were seen by millions. Who was devastated by the scope of her failure, but she came back with the greatest victory of her life because she didn't stay down.
    Oh, here's the other lesson: Do it for the joy, not for the result. That's actually what Carolina Kostner's mother told her after the debacle in Vancouver. That's good advice. Stop thinking about how you'll perform. In her words, "I had to skate for the passion and the pleasure." And that changed everything.
    Way back in the 2002 Olympics, U.S. skater Sarah Hughes surprised everyone - including herself. She went into the finals in fourth place; she didn't have much to lose. So, as the top three contenders competed, you could feel the tension. Every jump. Every landing. Each precision movement potentially could mean victory or defeat. Then Sarah skated. She was just fun to watch, because she was clearly having fun. Skating with reckless abandon. And that freedom liberated her to give the best performance of her life; a gold medal performance.
    You know, as we look back on our life and we think of the places where we blew it or we failed, especially those we love, I begin to turn to the pages of God's Word to find hope for our falls. And I find it in Micah 7:8 that says, "Do not gloat over me my enemy. Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light."
    You know how that could happen? Because it says later in the chapter, "Who is a God like you who pardons sins, forgives the transgressions?" And then it says, "You hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea." To know that every mistake, every fall, every wrong thing, every hurting thing I've ever done has been erased because God's Son died for it on a cross. That is the ultimate freedom for a new beginning.
    This might be your day for that new beginning. I'd love to help you get started with Jesus. That's why our website's there - ANewStory.com. Check it out.
    I saw one skater come back with Olympic redemption, because she knew that coming back was getting back up, no matter how ugly the fall. So in a way, you win when you just put your skates back on.

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    June 12, 2023 When You Feel Like Giving Up - #9501

    The man who first climbed Mt. Everest said his reason for risking it was simply "because it was there." That's how it was with that monster sand dune near a Bible conference where I was speaking. Now, it wasn't exactly Mt. Everest, but it was a pretty daunting mountain of sand. The reward for reaching the top? A scenic view of a nearby lake and the satisfaction that you did it. I convinced two of our team members to climb that dune with me. Climbing sand is kind of like, you know, "much effort, little progress," as your shoes start filling with sand and your legs start yelling "Stop this!" We were about halfway to the top when my younger colleagues said, "Is this far enough?" They were ready to quit. We stopped to catch our breath and I pointed to the bottom of the dune and I said, "Hey, look at how far we've already come! Let's not turn back now!" They rolled their eyes and grudgingly agreed to follow the old guy all the way to the top. We were really hot. We were really tired. But I'll tell you what, the view at the top and the joy of conquest made it worth it!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When You Feel Like Giving Up."
    We were halfway there and we were tempted to turn back. You might be at that point today. It's been an exhausting climb hasn't it? You don't have much left, and there are reasons to be discouraged. There are reasons to wonder if you'll ever make it the rest of the way. And God's showing up today to say, "Don't give up now!"
    His message to you might come from our word for today from the Word of God in Nehemiah 4. It's a story of one of the most amazing victories in the Bible. Against all odds, God's people, under Nehemiah's leadership, rebuild the devastated walls and gates of Jerusalem in just 52 days. Like you, they had plenty of reasons to quit when they "rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height." They were at that dangerous point of being halfway there; maybe kind of like you are.
    Their reasons for giving up are pretty familiar. Their responsibilities had exhausted them so much, the Bible says, "the strength of the laborers (was) giving out." Then there was all that rubble that discouraged them. Some were saying, "There is so much rubble here we cannot rebuild the wall."
    The other factor that can tempt you to turn back is resistance that unnerves you. They were surrounded by enemies who literally were ready to attack them to stop them. I can guarantee you that if you're doing something God wants you to do, the devil is throwing attacks at you to stop you.
    But Nehemiah 4 shows us the three energizers that will keep you in the game. First, Nehemiah "stationed...people...at the exposed places." So you fight back by fixing the leaks, and strengthening those gaps in your life or your work where Satan could get in. Secondly, you focus on the Lord. Nehemiah told the people, "Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome." You focus on the great Lord who brought you this far rather than the great load that's been weighing you down.
    The third energizer when you're staggering at that "halfway there" point is to fight for lives. Nehemiah reminded his workers of what was really at stake in their finishing, "Fight for your brothers," he said, "your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes." See, you've got to remember, in any work for the Lord, it's not about tasks to accomplish. It's about lives at stake!
    Fix the leaks that could sink you, focus on the Lord who brought you this far, and fight for the lives that need for you to finish what you've started. Jesus didn't bring you this far so you could quit. He's counting on you, not just to start this race, but to finish your race like He did for you.

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    June 9, 2023 The Winning Way to Handle Losing - #9500

    Okay, I guess I'm a typical American, because I like football, baseball, and basketball. Now, luge, bobsled, slopestyle, halfpipe - not as much. But, like millions of others, there's something about the winter Olympics that drew me in to watch sports that I know little about. It's because of the drama; the world's best on the world stage, with much of their life invested in what will be only minutes of their life, giving it all for the glory of winning or the agony of losing.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Winning Way to Handle Losing."
    That's part of what I saw, and I specifically remember it from the Games in Russia at Sochi; stinging setbacks, bitter disappointments. But there were examples of how to handle it.
    Number one, know the difference between what you do and who you are. No one was the face of Team USA in those Olympics more than snowboarder Shaun White. He had two gold medals in the halfpipe, a third win and he'd have made history. He didn't win anything. No gold, no silver, no bronze. But in the midst of what had to be a crushing disappointment, he did have some helpful perspective for all of us who'd watched the dream slip away. He said, "This is just one part of who I am - a big part - but I want to be more than just that."
    There's all the difference in the world between, "I failed" and "I'm a failure." Yes, you see, you may have fallen short athletically, academically, at work, or even more significantly, in a major life relationship. But "I've failed" doesn't mean "I'm a failure." You aren't what you do. You are your character, you are your God-given worth - which has nothing to do with your performance. No setback, no broken dream can rob you of you unless you let it.
    Here's another lesson. Look for the lesson and move on. Skier Bode Miller knew that glory - a five-time Olympic gold medalist. But in Sochi, he finished eighth in the men's downhill. In the midst of disappointment, one reporter said, "He painfully dissected what went wrong." Ecclesiastes 7:14 in the Bible says, "When times are good, be happy. But when things are bad, consider." Yeah, that's pretty good.
    I'll tell you, when I've messed up, there are always lessons to learn. Those lessons can, if I'll man up to the responsibility, keep me from messing up again. Learn the lesson. Don't dwell on failure. One woman's cross country star, who was expected to medal for the USA, said this after finishing as an also-ran: "So I'm just going to put today in a box and move on to the next one."
    Number three lesson, look where you're going and not where you've been. Erin Hamlin had just won the Olympic gold medal at Sochi in singles luge. She had been a favorite to do that in Vancouver before. She was out of medal contention after the first heat unfortunately. But after her most recent appearance in the Olympics she said, "I was really disappointed, and I knew that's not how I wanted to end my Olympic legacy. It was super-motivating." I like that. See, dwelling on the past can be futile. It can't be changed. But the future is yet to be written.
    And now our word for today from the Word of God that nails that down. Here's how God wants us to look at our life. "Forget the former things. Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up. Do you not perceive it?" (Isaiah 43:18-19). See, God's in the business of erasing the sins and failures and the mistakes of our past. He's the Lord of new beginnings.
    We know that, because in this same chapter He says, "I am He who blots out your transgressions and remembers your sins no more." Do you know how that miracle happens in a human life? It happens because Jesus Christ died for those very sins so that they could be forgiven. Then He walked out of his grave so He can walk into our lives today and change what only He can. He's there to begin a life-changing relationship with you today. We'll show you how if you'll go to our website. It's ANewStory.com.
    It's a big deal when a child or grandchild gets to the weight where they can turn their seat around in the car. They don't have to look where they've been. They can look where they're going. That's what Jesus does for a life. He'll be all eyes on where you're going, because He's forgiven that past. That's a great, great way to live!

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    June 8, 2023 No Discount Disciples - #9499

    I had 18 hours in the city of Rome. That's how long it was between my flight connections to Africa. I decided not to waste that time sleeping in the airport when I could be seeing one of the world's great cities. Right? And, my missionary friend, Dave, was kind enough to be my chauffeur and guide. With his help, I got a whirlwind tour that included the Coliseum, the Sistine Chapel, and some beautiful piazzas. But the highlight of my day in Rome was my visit to the Catacombs, those ancient caverns that wind beneath the streets of Rome. Dave's been there many times so he said he'd wait while I went in. Well, here were the caverns where some of the first Christians hid from the Roman soldiers who would take them to their execution for believing in Christ. And here's where they carved in the walls the ancient symbols of their faith - like the cross and the sign of the fish. Those symbols are still there as a silent testimony to their faithfulness. And here in the walls, they buried countless loved ones who'd been torn to pieces by lions in the Coliseum all because they would not renounce Christ for Caesar. As I emerged from those Catacombs, Dave said, "Well, what did you think?" All I could say was, "Our faith is very, very expensive."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "No Discount Disciples."
    The way of Jesus that we claim to walk today was, indeed, very expensive for those first Christians; for millions who have suffered or died for the name of Jesus in every generation as well, including our own. And it cost Jesus everything. So who am I - who are we - that we should get off so cheap?
    Jesus made it clear that there would be no discount disciples; those who could request a commitment to Him that didn't cost too much. What an insult to the man for whom it cost everything! Or to our brothers and sisters across the generations who've paid such a high price for following this same Savior. Jesus put the cost of following Him right up front in Luke 14:27, our word for today from the Word of God: "Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple." In Luke 9:23, He made clear that joining Jesus in carrying your cross was not a once-for-all decision, but one that has to be renewed every day. He said, "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me."
    Notice, He didn't say, "Take up your couch and follow Me." Somewhere we've gotten the twisted idea that following Jesus just means going to some of His meetings, believing His beliefs, throwing a little money His way, maybe taking on a couple of jobs for Him, and maybe even being called a couple of names because of Him. If the price tag gets much higher, we start to complain, to feel sorry for ourselves, to think about quitting. We are here today because of some real disciples who refused to quit, no matter what the cost. Because of a Savior who refused to quit, even when it meant the agony and humiliation of a cross.
    Those who have experienced Jesus most deeply, most sweetly, are those who walk the way of the cross with Him. Don't be afraid to make the choices for Him that may cost you something. That's what taking up a cross means - expensive choices. That's what taking up a cross meant for Jesus. He is worth any price you pay for following Him, because as much as it may cost to follow Him, it costs a whole lot more not to follow Him.
    After the Allied forces stormed ashore at Normandy on D-Day, charging into deadly German fire and land mines, General Eisenhower said, "There are no victories at discount prices." It was true at Normandy, and It's true in following Jesus. Beginning at the cross, it's always been expensive and victorious. The hymn writer nailed it when he said: "Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease, when others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?"

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    June 7, 2023 Why You Are Where You Are - #9498

    Jenny was a counselor with a student group we had taken to a youth organization conference at the New Jersey Shore. She was walking along the Boardwalk enjoying all the attractions, and suddenly she heard what she thought was a scream. It seemed to be coming from the ocean. Now, it was night and it was, of course, too dark to see out there. So Jenny ran down the steps, across the beach, and to the water's edge.
    This time it was clear that the screams were coming from somewhere out there in the water. Of course, Jenny paused for a moment, because she said, "There are few things more frightening than going into the ocean in pitch darkness." That's true. But Jenny's hesitation was only for a moment. She forgot about her own safety, she threw off her shoes, and she plunged in to save what turned out to be a drowning girl. Moments later, others jumped in to help too. Later, Jenny said, "I had to do it. Someone was dying out there!"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Why You Are Where You Are."
    A life was saved that night because of the courageous, selfless choice of a young woman who was in the position to make a difference. She was scared, she knew it was risky, but she was the one who was there. She was the one who could do something and she did. Someone's dying condition became more important to Jenny than her own comfort and safety.
    But then that's how it always is when there's a rescue. A drowning person; a person trapped in a burning building or the unstable rubble of an earthquake. There's no such thing as rescuing someone while staying in your comfortable spot. There's no rescue without risk. And that includes the most critical rescue of all: the rescue of someone who is dying spiritually because they don't know Jesus - the only One who can rescue a person from the eternal death penalty of their sin.
    Jesus knows there's no rescue without risk. Boy, does He know it! He said in Mark 10:45 that He came "to give His life as a ransom for many." Later He said to His followers, "As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you" (John 20:21). Jesus was sent to lay down His life so others could live. And now He's sending you and me, on the same rescue mission He died for, to do whatever it takes to try and bring some people we know to heaven with us. Jesus left His comfortable spot; I mean, the most comfortable spot in the universe to rescue you and me. He's asking you now to leave your comfort zone to rescue someone you care about.
    Your mission is graphically portrayed in our word for today from the Word of God in Proverbs 24:11, "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter." Telling people about your Savior? It's life-or-death business! Like Jenny on the beach that dark, dangerous night. You won't take the risks unless you realize that if you don't do it, that person may very well die without hope.
    God's Word says that the people you know are without Christ "will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord" (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Not because Jesus wants that. He died so they don't have to, but because they haven't reached for the rescuer. And maybe they don't know what He did for them. They need to hear about Him from someone who knew!
    It's time for you to do what you need to do to build a relationship with that lost person you know. Spend some time with them. Write a letter about Jesus to them. Pray for some natural opportunities to share life's most important relationship. Share your hope story with them. Win the right to be heard and then take them to the cross where God loved them enough to pour out His love by dying for them.
    Don't wait for a professional lifeguard to come along. Like that woman on the beach, you're the one who's there. You're the one that's in the position to be their rescuer. If you know it's life-or-death, and it is, you'll know what you have to do. You can't just stand on the beach and let them die.

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    June 6, 2023 Why Your Nest Doesn't Feel Right - #9497

    Recently, a friend of mine had a ringside seat on a family of birds. They actually decided to nest under the roof on the porch. The fun part was watching the birth and development of those baby birds. My friend actually got to see them hatching out and then settling down into their nest. They all fit in there so nicely - at first. See, Mama kept filling their open mouths with more and more food, and the little birdies didn't stay little! They grew and the nest seemed to shrink. As it got more and more crowded, each baby did more and more wiggling around to kind of keep his position in the nest. Then they feathered out and they forgot about all of them sitting in the nest ever again! Well, they began to perch on the edges of the nest until they were pushed off the edge by their siblings in a battle for whatever food Mama brought. One by one, as crowding pushed those little birds to the edge - and then over the edge - they were forced to fly or die. They decided to fly. The last nester stayed in the nest for actually another full week, being fed as an only child by Mama Bird. Finally, Mama must have gotten disgusted with her nest-addicted child. She quit feeding him. First, there was a lot of squawking and fussing, and then even he abandoned the nest to finally touch the sky.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Why Your Nest Doesn't Feel Right."
    We all know what those baby birds have to discover - that they weren't made to just hunker down in their comfortable nest. Neither are we. Those birds are destined to leave where it's safe so they can finally fly, and so are we.
    In fact, God uses an example just like this to describe His loving plan for our lives. It's in our word for today from the Word of God in Deuteronomy 32:10-11. It says of a child of God, "He shielded him and cared for him; He guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions." The mother eagle actually removes all the cushioning in her nest, and that leaves her eaglets living on just the rocks and the sticks underneath. Ultimately, the stirring of that nest leads to their willingness to leave the nest where they had been so comfortable and then they ultimately take to the sky.
    Maybe your nest isn't quite as comfy as it once was. Things are stirring - they're changing. In your environment and in your heart there's this gnawing restlessness that seems to say, "God's got more for you than this." He does, and He's making you restless for it because restlessness almost always precedes a great work of God. Your Lord's trying to move you into a new season of your life where you can make a far greater difference than you have ever made before.
    But you'll miss it if you insist on staying where it's safe; financially safe, geographically safe, occupationally safe, where it's methodologically safe, socially safe. Abraham would never have discovered God's amazing plans for his life unless he was first willing to leave the safety and prosperity of a familiar and secure place. The disciples would have always been just another bunch of fishermen unless they had been willing to abandon the security of their career for the call of Jesus. Peter could have never known what it was to walk on water if he hadn't gotten out of the boat. Neither will you.
    God has much more of Him that He wants you to experience, but it will only happen as you move beyond all your usual security blankets and you abandon yourself to total trust in Him. He has so much more He wants to do with your life, but it's beyond your comfort zone.
    Like those baby birds, you weren't created to just hunker down in your safe, secure little nest - a nest that's becoming increasingly unsatisfying isn't it? You see, that's because you're destined to fly!

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    June 5, 2023 Jesus - More Than You Ever Imagined - #9496

    All of a sudden The Son of God was in theaters all over the place. Actually, a movie by that name - Son of God. And based on its opening weekend, it was drawing a crowd. Of course that was not the first time something like that had happened. "The Passion of the Christ" turned out to be a blockbuster, too. Who would have guessed that?
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Jesus - More Than You Ever Imagined."
    When I was growing up, a movie about Jesus' life wouldn't have shown folks much they didn't know. People knew a lot about Jesus. Not now. Lots of people need an introduction.
    A lot of this movie was included in the highly successful TV mini-series called "The Bible." And when it portrayed the torture and the crucifixion of Jesus, the Twittersphere lit up with astonished comments. People were saying, in essence, "I had no idea Jesus went through all of this."
    I have a good friend who ministers among his Native American people. He says, "My people consider Jesus an enemy." But he did manage to get a few of them to go with him to see "The Passion of the Christ" which vividly, of course, portrays the unspeakable ordeal that Jesus went through. Afterwards, there was an interesting comment from those folks. They said, "Now we know why you follow Him." Wow! I can tell you this, it sure is why I follow Him.
    They didn't take His life. He's the Son of God. He'd have to give it. After all, He made the tree they nailed Him to. He made the men who nailed Him there. In His own words, "I lay down my life...no one takes it from Me" (John 10:17-18).
    And all the evidence says that He is, in fact, exactly who He claimed to be - the Son of God. Perfect life, incredible miracles, scores of centuries-old Messianic prophecies fulfilled by His life, and an empty tomb. No religious leader can come back from the grave. That's got to be God.
    So it really is the Son of God hanging on that cross. And if the Son of God is going to give His life, it's going to be for something really important. That's where it gets emotional for me, because one of the reasons He went through all that was me.
    Along with every other person who has done life their way instead of God's way, which, according to the Bible, is every one of us. The Bible says, "All have sinned and fall short of God's glory" (Romans 3:23). But sadly, even with the visual of a movie, it's still easy to miss the "personal-ness" of what Jesus came to do.
    You can look at Jesus and just see a historical figure - which He clearly is. Or you can see Him as a religious figure, starting a religion to follow, and beliefs to believe. But He's so much more. What happened on that cross was intensely personal for each of us. Again, in the Bible's words, "He loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20); my personal Rescuer from the penalty of my personal sin. And He insists on a verdict from each of us about His death for our sins as that being the only hope of being forgiven and of ever entering God's heaven.
    One day Jesus did a little "focus group" research with His disciples. He asked, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They gave Him the results of their latest poll. "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
    Nice answer, guys. But then Jesus drills down to what may be the most important question any of us could ever answer. It is our word for today from the Word of God in Matthew 16, verses 15 and 16, "'But what about you? Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'"
    My friend, the question has not changed. Jesus still moves in close and says- "What about you? Who do you say I am?" And He extends His nail-pierced hand and He waits for your answer, on which your eternity rests.
    When you feel the tug of Jesus in your heart, He's come close to offer you the life that only He can give you. It's wise to grab Him while He's close. This might be that time for you. Would you tell Him, "Jesus, I'm yours."
    I hope you'll visit our website soon and let me show you the rest of the way to begin your personal relationship with Him. It's ANewStory.com. It's time to get this settled.

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    June 2, 2023 When You Can't See the Way To Go - #9495

    Our local high school band worked hard to put on some great performances at our football games. I know. Our daughter was one of the trumpet players. I also remember going to band competitions at different schools. We have some precious memories of sitting on the top bleacher with a wind chill that would have made a polar bear go inside. My teeth were chattering loud enough to be in the percussion section! Our band also got to perform in several local parades. But, there's just a handful of high school bands that get invited to play in one of America's really big parades. You know, like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. You know, the Mountain Home, Arkansas, band - not too far from us - they had that thrill.
    Inside this exciting adventure for a small town band was a wonderful true story. The band had a tuba player that you might never expect to be in a marching band. He's blind. As you think about that, it raises a lot of questions, doesn't it - about how he could possibly participate in a marching band's maneuvers. The answer is a young woman who dedicated herself to being his guide. She doesn't play an instrument. But anytime that band makes a move, she slips her arm in David's arm and directs him wherever he needs to go. And on Thanksgiving Day, there they were, doing their band routine in the middle of Manhattan's Herald Square - the blind tuba player and the one who guided him there.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When You Can't See the Way To Go."
    Some might have thought there was no way that a blind tuba player could ever march with the band. But that would not take into account the one who made it possible - one person always there to guide him.
    You have a person like that for the many times when you can't see the way to go. The sightless band member was able to go places he could otherwise never go, and do things he otherwise could never do because of the one who directed him. That's your story, too. It's my story. Because, if you belong to Christ, God's promised that you will never be left in the dark, and never be left clueless.
    If you're at one of those anxious, confusing times when the road ahead isn't clear, have I got a promise for you! Oh yeah, it's one of my favorites. It's recorded in Isaiah 42:16. It's our word for today from the Word of God.
    It happens to be an anchor verse for me. Your Lord says: "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." Wow!
    See. this is your promise to claim! You have nothing to fear from the unknown because you belong to the One who can see it all. And how will He show you the way? First, He'll use personalized Scriptures; verses that He will, upon request, guide you to. Verses that will seem like they have your name on them, or in them, and that will be that "light for your path" that the Bible talks about (Psalm 119:105). Secondly, He'll guide you through what I call prayer-time peace. Trust what you feel most consistently in the times when you are alone with God, when other voices are not there to confuse you. God says to "let the peace of Christ rule in your heart" (Colossians 3:15). And thirdly, God will show you the way to go through confirming circumstances - open doors, recurring counsel from godly people, events that echo the Scriptures that He's been giving you.
    The "don't know" times are God's instrument to drive you deeper into Him, to surrender any self-reliance for a desperate dependency on your God. You may not know which way to go, but you don't have to stand there fearful, paralyzed or marching in circles. Your Lord, your Shepherd is placing His arm inside yours to lead you where you could never go without Him.

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    June 1, 2023 Hero on the Field, But Hero At Home? - #9494

    It was one of those years when my New York Giants decided they didn't want to show up for the playoffs that year. Oh, the Super Bowl was always in their stadium, but sadly no blue and white on the field. The odds makers had been predicting that Denver was going to win by one point. They lost 43-8.
    Denver Broncos defensive end Shaun Phillips managed to emerge from that blowout a winner still, where it really counts. See, Shaun texted his son Jaylen and said, "Sorry I let you down." His son's answer changed everything. "It's OK Daddy. You are still my hero." Wow! That's perspective. Playing in the Super Bowl - big accomplishment. Being a super dad - that's the biggest victory a man can win.
    And suddenly, Shaun was reminded of where putting points on the board matters most. He told his son, "Well, at least we get to hang out now." That little exchange on Super Bowl Sunday was a message for every one of us that someone calls "Dad."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Hero on the Field, But Hero At Home?"
    You can be a hero "on the field" - whatever your field is - and be a zero at home. But if you're a hero at home, you can weather the blowouts in all the other parts of your life.
    My son tells me, "Dad, it doesn't matter how crazy my workday has been, I'll walk in the door of my house and five minutes with my kids reminds me of what really matters." It's true! I smiled when he said that. He and his siblings did that for me more times than I can count.
    Of course, some dads come home to just another battlefield. But the man of the house has more effect on the climate of that house than anybody else. Beginning in the Garden of Eden, God has held the man ultimately responsible for what happens in his family. It's a classic case of "a man reaps what he sows."
    That's our word for today from the Word of God, Galatians 6:7, "A man reaps what he sows." So, if you sow unselfishness, you'll start to reap unselfishness. If you sow "I come first," you'll reap a family of people who are all about themselves. So much of that depends on the seed sown by dad. That's why the Bible warns fathers to "not embitter your children or they will become discouraged" (Colossians 3:21). And it says, "fathers do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).
    I came to realize that I was the thermostat in my family, setting the temperature; my wife was the thermometer, reflecting the temperature I set; and my children were the seismograph, registering every disturbance.
    Clearly, the central arena of a man's best efforts is to be in his home. And the weight of that life-shaping assignment - with so much potential for being life-scarring instead - has driven me to seek outside help from the God who told us to call Him "our Father."
    It was being a husband and being a dad that showed me that I am not enough. My family had needs I couldn't meet because I hadn't figured out how to meet those needs in me. That the things that troubled me in my kids mirrored my own weaknesses. My own baggage. My own sin. That's when the word "Savior" becomes intensely personal. I need a Rescuer from the dark side of me that God calls sin. A dark side that becomes a spreading infection when you have a wife and children.
    So I reached out to Jesus. I grabbed Him like a drowning man would grab a rescuer, because, as the Bible says, "the Lord Jesus Christ...gave Himself for our sins to rescue us" (Galatians 1:3). And there I found that this self-centered sinner of a dad could become what the Bible calls "a new creation in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:17). With God's power, anyone can win the game that matters more than any other - winning the hearts of the children that He gave you.
    If you've never begun your relationship with this life-changing Savior, for your sake, for your family's sake would you open your heart to Him today? Go to our website. I think I can help you get started in that relationship. Go to ANewStory.com. It could be the beginning of a new story for you and for those you love.

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    May 31, 2023 Spiritual Veterans, Danger Zone - #9493

    I remember speaking at a baseball chapel years ago, and our boys were actually blown away. I mean, it's a while back, but they got to go with me to the Yankees chapel. And they said, "Oh, there's Don Mattingly!" Yeah, we're talking Hall of Fame here. He was a hero around our house since our kids were little. He was a Yankees first baseman. His home runs and batting average and consistent fielding made him possibly one of baseball's all time greats.
    Interestingly enough, we were impressed at our house, not just by his baseball ability. But to this day, our guys talk about his attitude, which was a pretty refreshing one. See, he always, even though he was a well paid star, he didn't seem to fall prey to that well paid star attitude. He always seemed to be amazed and appreciative that he was where he was. You'd hear Don Mattingly being interviewed and he would say something like this, "I just love baseball. I still love it like when I was a kid. I feel so lucky to be wearing this uniform." He'd get to spring training early. He'd take extra batting practice. See, there's something really special about a seasoned veteran's ability that is coupled with kind of a positive rookie attitude, but it's hard to have both of those.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Spiritual Veterans, Danger Zone."
    Our word for today from the Word of God, John 9:16. It's about the man who was blind from birth. He's been healed by Jesus; the Pharisees are more interested though in analyzing the miracle. "Some of the Pharisees said, 'This man is not from God, for He does not keep the Sabbath.'" Jesus had healed on the Sabbath. Verse 24: "A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. 'Give glory to God,' they said. 'We know this man (speaking of Jesus) is a sinner.'"
    Well, the conversation continues and they say, "'We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don't even know where He comes from.'" The man answered, 'Now that is remarkable! You don't know where He comes from, yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does His will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.'"
    You know what you've got here? A clash between spiritual veterans - the Pharisees - and a spiritual rookie. The Pharisees are Bible experts - religious professionals. But they are confronted with an amazing supernatural intervention. Are they excited? Are they celebrating? Are they seeking the Lord who did it? No, they're analyzing, debating, they're trying to protect their position. See, that's the danger of being around Jesus for a while, being professional where you used to be passionate in your faith. It happens to athletes. After a while their youthful enthusiasm fades, and they become hard and cynical and calculating sometimes, all about themselves. And they lose the wonder of the rookie.
    The blind man here? He's a rookie. He's fresh from being touched by Jesus. He's excited, he's expectant. But the veterans...they just make it all complicated. It's simple for a rookie. "I was changed, and Jesus did it." Sometimes the rookie who has just experienced Christ knows more instinctively than the veterans who are analyzing Christ.
    And it could be that for all your years of being around Christian things you've missed Jesus. You've missed Christ, because it's all been a head trip. He's in your head, but He's not in your heart, because you've never moved Him from your head to your heart. Let this be the day He becomes your Savior from your sins.
    Now, here's a question: Have you gone from experiencing God's working to just analyzing it? Maybe what used to be the simplicity of a warm give-and-take love with Jesus has become the complexity of rules and organization and politics and theological hairsplitting. A veteran should be the most excited of all. They've had the most years to have it all happen to them. There's something very special about someone who's got that seasoned veteran ability and a positive rookie attitude. Listen, don't ever lose the wonder.

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    May 30, 2023 Replaying Your Falls - #9492

    There's reality TV. And then there's the real reality TV called the Olympics. And, you know, when you watch that, you see the real deal. I mean, you've got the triple axles on the ice, you've got amazing jumps on the ski slopes, you've got those gravity-defying flights of the snowboarders. Oh, yeah, and the falls and the crashes.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Replaying Your Falls."
    I'm fine with showing the good stuff again and again. It's the replays of what they did wrong that bother me. Probably because I've been working with young people and their families for so long. And, over and over, I've seen the damage that's done when parents keep replaying their children's mistakes. Sometimes too seldom replaying what their son or daughter did right.
    Consequently, there are a lot of young people who know very well what's wrong with them. But they have a hard time thinking what's right with them, so they don't feel like they're worth much. They act like they're not worth much. You can see it in the friends they choose, the music they listen to, the way they retreat into themselves. The things they'll do for attention. For just a few minutes of feeling better about themselves.
    Oh, there's a lot that goes into our feelings of value or worthlessness. But we moms and dads, we have life-shaping power like nobody else. Our son or daughter's perception of how much we think they're worth is a huge factor in how much they think they're worth.
    Too often, we use the replays of our kids' shortcomings to somehow get them to change, to do better just to vent our frustrations. And yet, how many of us still carry in our head those critical, negative words that our parents said over and over to us? They still hurt. They're still part of our adult struggle to feel right about ourselves. What was constantly replayed by our parents has shaped our life. And so it is with our children. It's part of the legacy we leave them, and it's one that it's never too late to change.
    That's why this one statement from the Bible went deep into my soul as a parent. It says in Ephesians 4:29, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths" - that would be words that tear them down - "but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs." So you've got construction and you've got demolition. My words to my children are one or the other.
    I don't need much help seeing where I've blown it. I'm painfully aware of how I've failed. What saves me, literally, is that my Father, my Heavenly Father, does not replay all the dark episodes of my life. Of all the people who could nail me for my many sins, God has that undisputed right. He gave me this life. So often, I've dissed the One who made me and I've done what I want to do. I've defied this sinless, totally holy God.
    I would run from Him, except for one thing. What the Bible tells me about Him. It'sI our word for today from the Word of God in Psalm 130:3, "If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness." What a word! Forgiveness. What an expensive word. Not for me, but for the God I've sinned against, because of what His Son did so I would never meet my sins on Judgment Day.
    The Bible says, "He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him" (Isaiah 53:5-6). My sins removed, never again to be replayed, by a God who loved me so much He would do whatever it took not to lose me. And it took His very best. It took His Son.
    This full pardon from an all-perfect God is within anyone's reach. It's within your reach if you'll take for yourself what Jesus died to give you. That's what our website's about. I would encourage you to go there. It's ANewStory.com. Today could be the day that all the falls, all the mistakes, all the regrets, all the sins are erased from God's Book forever. And you'll never meet your sins when you stand before God. Because Jesus paid it all for you on the cross.

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    May 29, 2023 How to Know Where You're Going When You Can't See a Thing

    Hooper Bay, Alaska! It's not the first remote place we went with the outreach teams of Native young people that we go with, but it's a tough one. Each Summer of Hope, it's our privilege to take these teams of Indian and Native Alaskan spiritual warriors to the reservations and the villages where America's most devastated young people live and die too young. The suicide rate among young Native Americans is something like three or four times that of the rest of America's young. And in some places in Alaska, it's twenty times greater. Hooper Bay, Alaska, is one of the hardest places in this country to grow up. We had to take our team there.
    But getting there the first time was a real adventure. My wife was on the first plane into this village 400 miles from the nearest road. Sitting in the co-pilot's seat, she should have had a great view as they approached over the Bering Sea. But there was no view. It was like zero visibility. But those missionary pilots - they are amazing! My wife watched him with his flight plan on his knee, constantly comparing it to the readings on his instruments. Looking out the window sure wasn't going to help find this flight, I'll tell you. That ain't going to help you find a landing strip. Ultimately, they were so close to the ocean their propellers were whipping up the ocean around them. A Native Alaskan in the back just kept praying over and over, "Oh, Jesus, Jesus, help us!" Suddenly, right below my wife's window, she saw the landing strip, and they landed right where they were supposed to land!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Know Where You're Going When You Can't See a Thing."
    Maybe that's how you feel right now, like, about the flight of your life; you're flying blind. There's no clear path ahead. Visibility is close to zero, and it's scary. It would be easy to make a big mistake right now and you can't afford one.
    I'm happy to report there is a flight plan, laid out by the God who says in the Bible, "I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11). You don't want to miss that. But your feelings are all over the map, your circumstances are up for grabs, and you could crash if you don't know where you're supposed to go. Take a lesson from the pilot in the fog over that Native Alaskan village. He knew he couldn't trust his feelings. He couldn't trust His surroundings. He could trust only one thing - what His instruments were saying. He kept checking his course by the unfailing accuracy of the one thing that was not affected by the environment - his instruments.
    For you, that's the Bible, the unchanging Word of God. Here's His promise in Psalm 119:105, our word for today from the Word of God, His Word is "a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." And that psalm says, "Your Word, O Lord...stands firm in the heavens." It won't change if the earth melts away. And you're going to make it if you risk everything, if you base everything on what God's Word, His unchanging, eternal Word says to you, each new day. No matter what your feelings are saying; no matter what your surroundings are saying to you.
    Through His forever trustworthy words, God will keep His promise for the days when you can't see where you're going. You can stake everything on this promise: Isaiah 42:16 - you're going to love this: "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."
    That, my brother, my sister, is all you need to know to land exactly where you're supposed to land!

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    May 26, 2023 Peace In the Chaos - #9490

    There's almost nothing more chaotic than moving. Some years ago we moved our office to something more suitable that God had wonderfully provided. The result was terrific! The process - horrendous.
    Unfortunately, the work didn't stop just because it was time to move. We had to press on and not let all the inconveniences stop our work. I had some real deadlines to meet. So as the files and the furniture were flying, I just retreated to my office. Pretty soon my office started to go. I moved my little computer to a small tray in the corner, and I just kept typing, like Schroeder on his piano. I had to! At one point, someone literally carried my desk away while I was typing away on my little tray. In the midst of this growing chaos, I actually managed to carve out my own little peaceful corner.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Peace In the Chaos."
    Our word for today from the Word of God, right from the lips of Jesus Christ, John 14:27 - "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." Boy, I've got to tell you, this was not spoken at some quiet, spiritual retreat in the mountains. The soldiers were on their way to arrest Jesus; His cross was coming.
    And yet in the middle of this chaos, Jesus is talking about peace. "I will give you peace; an island of sanity in an otherwise insane situation." But He's saying that this peace won't come from what's going on around you; that's the kind the world gives. This island of sanity will be in you; deeply anchored in your personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which nothing can touch.
    I was on a plane some years ago, and they announced that we were suddenly being re-routed; flying from Chicago to Newark. Suddenly we were headed to Detroit, because we had hydraulic problems. The guy two seats over went, "That's it! That's it! That's the landing gear." That really helped. "Thank you, sir." Next to me was this little grandma. She was terrified. I mean, this was really scary to her. And the flight attendants? They're running back and forth saying, "Seat belts. Seat belts. Seat belts."
    I just kept working, because I really didn't feel any particular panic. I kind of tried to calm down this grandma next to me. I said, "Hey, we're going to Detroit and they're not charging anything extra." She laughed. I kept trying to provide some calm for her. Well, it ended up we landed amid this fleet of emergency vehicles, but we were safe. After it was all over she said, "How can you stay so calm?" I said, "Well, I have to tell you, it's because of a personal relationship that I have with Jesus. See, when you have that - the peace doesn't come from what is going on around you, but the peace comes from what's going on inside you...actually who's going on inside you." When you have this all-knowing, all-powerful Savior you've got nothing to fear.
    The Bible says this of Jesus, "He Himself is our peace." I've tested that peace over and over: when we've been very concerned about a child, when the finances have been impossible, the day my wife was suddenly gone. Jesus has been that peaceful corner, like that chaotic moving day. He wants to be your island of sanity.
    If you're not sure you belong to this one the Bible calls the Prince of Peace, would you open your heart to Him today. The Bible says until we have our sin forgiven, there is "no peace." But when you put your total trust in this man who died for your sin, that wall between you and God comes down and you have what you've chased all these years - real peace.
    If you want to belong to Him, would you go to our website. It's all about how to begin a relationship with Him. Would you check it out? It's ANewStory.com. In our stressful world, it's like moving day every day. There's no peace except in a heart where Jesus has come to live at your invitation, because beyond the chaos, there will always be His peace.

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    May 25, 2023 Why Our Enemy Wins - #9489

    Several years ago, there was a blockbuster movie called "Independence Day." You can catch it occasionally on TV now. From what I heard, it wasn't about Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. No, it was about an alien invasion of Planet Earth. A unique concept. As this alien force moves across the world, the American military throws its most sophisticated weapons at it. They can't stop it. Even the White House gets destroyed and the President barely escapes with his life. Other countries try to resist with their military. No one's even close to a match for this invading force. Well, something very interesting happens. The world's leaders begin to wake up to the fact that suddenly they all have a common enemy and it isn't each other anymore. Allies and enemies begin to work together to defeat their enemy, and they win big! Yea!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Why Our Enemy Wins."
    If that movie had a moral, it had something to do with uniting to beat an enemy that threatened them all; an enemy that no one could have ever beaten alone.
    Now, our enemy - the enemy of every believer in Jesus, every Christian church, every Christian family - has his way all too often. Not so much because he's so strong, but because he exploits our tendency to fight each other and to forget the real enemy that threatens us all. Someone said, "Christians are the only soldiers who form their firing squads in a circle." Isn't it true! We shoot at each other so much; wasting our ammunition that should only be aimed one direction - at Satan and his forces.
    Okay, our word for today from the Word of God - Ephesians 6:11-12. It's a clarion call to fight the right enemy. "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood." Woah, let's stop there. I want you to think of someone in your family that maybe there's conflict with right now, or in your church or your ministry; someone who's driving you crazy. Put their name in that verse. "My struggle is not against ______." Fill in the blank with another Christian group or denomination you don't agree with. Your struggle is not ultimately against them!
    It says it's "against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." The one to shoot at is the devil.
    And the one who is trying to drive a wedge between you and that family member or that fellow believer is none other than the prince of darkness himself. But he wants you to think that they're the problem. He's the problem!
    We play right into his hands when we allow ourselves to focus on our differences, on our wounded feelings, on our turf, on our frustrations. We're doing what Paul calls two chapters earlier giving "the devil a foothold." My guess is that somewhere in your life right now, your enemy is trying to divide you from another believer or believers so he can divide and conquer. The question is, are you falling for it?
    In that movie, until the forces of earth realized they were up against a common enemy, they fought separately and they lost. God is calling us to wake up to our common enemy and to do whatever we have to do to remove the walls and fight together. To, as it says in Philippians 1, "stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the Gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed."
    We've battled the enemy separately long enough haven't we? It's time we come together to win what we could never win alone.

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    May 24, 2023 Your Part in the Rescue - #9488

    It was enough to make a girl stop talking for years to come. That is, about her relationship with Jesus. One day in high school, God laid it on my wife's heart, (of course she wasn't my wife yet), to share Christ with one of her fellow band members. Ricky was a drummer. In my experience, drummers are usually cut from a little different piece of cloth than everybody else, and Ricky was no exception. He was a wild and crazy guy with a mouth to match. But one day my wife got up the courage to rise above her shyness and tell him about her Savior. Ricky didn't exactly fall to his knees in the band room and repent. In fact, he said, "Well, if you're going to heaven, I want to go to the other place!" Ouch!
    Okay, fast forward. Years later, my wife and I were visiting a church where the pastor introduced us during the service. Afterwards, the man who had been sitting behind us said to my honey, "I've been hoping for years I'd get to see you and tell you what happened." It was Ricky and his wife. He said, "I know I blew you off that day you tried to tell me about Jesus. Later a couple of others did the same thing. I just wanted you to know I finally gave my heart to Christ." Wow! Ricky went on to tell about working on a Christian radio station and how he had even pastored a church. Ricky - the one who nuked the girl who tried to tell him about Jesus - ended up actually working on our team early on, helping us tell the world about Jesus. Wow!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Your Part in the Rescue."
    Ricky's story is the story of so many who have changed their eternal address from hell to heaven. They didn't find Christ through one exposure to Him, but through a string of faithful witnesses who sowed the seed of the Gospel in their heart. One day, the harvest came because of those who sowed the Gospel, those who watered the Gospel, and then someone who recognized that it was time to harvest the Gospel.
    God has placed you as His designated ambassador in the lives of the people in your personal world. Here's how the great rescue plan of God works, as revealed in 1 Corinthians 3, beginning with verse 5, which is our word for today from the Word of God. "What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe - as the Lord assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow...The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers..."
    Do you realize how important you are in the life-saving plan of God? He's invited you to work side by side with Him in His harvesting of lives for heaven! In one life, you may be the one who sows the first thoughts a person ever has about Jesus - as my wife did in Ricky's life. For another person, you might be the one who unknowingly builds on seed someone else sowed to bring them a step closer to Jesus. For someone else, you'll be the one God puts there when the other seed sown in their life is ready to be harvested and they're ready for Jesus.
    As you ask the Holy Spirit to show you what part He wants you to play and where that person is in the process of coming to Him, He'll give you the courage and the words if you ask Him to. You can never judge the final result of your witness by the immediate response. It is God who provides the seed, it's God who miraculously grows that seed into a heart that's ready for Jesus. But He's counting on you to sow His seed, water His seed, or harvest His seed.
    There's only one way you can fail in sharing Christ - you don't do it! Your mission is to leave each lost person God leads you to closer to Jesus than they were before; knowing more about Jesus and what He did for them than they knew before.
    God has an amazing plan for the spiritual rescue of every lost person you know and He's asking you to join Him in the rescue. Don't miss the most important thing you will ever do in your life!

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    May 23, 2023 Battle Plan for Big Temptation - #9487

    God has the most amazing ways of getting our attention. My friend, Brian, had been involved in evangelism for many years. Which of course, means he spends a lot of time on the road. Which, in his case, meant a lot of opportunities to mess up in an area where he has struggled for many years; a weakness for pornography. Now, Brian was determined to get the victory over that slave master, so he took some very bold defensive action. He actually stayed away from places where he might encounter pornography. He asked those who invited him to speak to put him in private homes rather than motels.
    But one college he was invited to insisted on lodging him in a motel. So, he's driving through Iowa on his way to this school, and he stops at a gas station in the middle of nowhere for a cold drink. When he walked in the store, there was a whole wall covered with pornographic magazines. After just a moment, the old Brian thought, "Nobody knows I'm a minister here. I could get a couple magazines and take them to my motel room." Right then, someone came running in the store and asked, "Does anyone here have a gray Firebird?" Brian knew that was his car. "It's sitting out in the middle of the highway." Brian raced outside to find his car had somehow, inexplicably, rolled into the highway in the flats of Iowa! Needless to say, he didn't go back inside that store. And he's been winning that battle for a long time now.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Battle Plan for Big Temptation."
    Isn't it great to know that God is in the temptation rescue business? I mean, I can't hear Brian's story without thinking of that classic request in the Lord's Prayer, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13). Even if you find your car in the middle of the highway. God knows our sinful tendencies. So, He knows. He knows the areas where we're most prone to mess up again, and He will go to great lengths to deliver you from that evil.
    But He expects you to take strong evasive action against your temptation. Our word for today from the word of God comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13. "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear." Okay, so God knows your limits, He says, "stop!" when it's a sinful opportunity you can't handle. There simply is no such thing as an irresistible temptation. If you can't walk away from it, God won't let it in your life.
    Here's how God very practically intervenes so you don't ever have to be that way again. "But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." There's the key to beating the temptation that's beaten you so many times - God's temptation exit, "The way out." The King James Version calls it "the way of escape." You know why I think God intervened so dramatically for my friend Brian when he was teetering on the edge of backsliding? Because Brian had been setting up his life to avoid that temptation in every possible way, and God honors that.
    He'll do that for you, too. Your job? Analyze the situations and relationships where you're most vulnerable to your entangling sins. Think about what your evasive action could be when the opportunity to do that sin again comes up. Where's your way of escape? There are people that you can't afford to be with. There are shows you can't afford to watch, there's music you can't afford to listen to, there are websites you can't afford to even get near, there are situations you can't afford to get into - not if you really want to change. Not if you want to be free, and I think you really do.
    For every sinful choice, there are other choices you can make, usually pre-make, that will take you out the exit that God's provided. If you'll do your part to seriously battle that sin, believe me, God will do His part to "deliver you from evil." Just ask that guy with his car in the middle of the road!

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    May 22, 2023 Loving Creation, Missing the Creator - #9486

    When I was growing up, it was just a picture on a T-shirt. Then one day I finally got to see Niagara Falls for real. Wow! It's one of this continent's great wonders. Many miles before you get to those roaring falls you start to see all these power lines. It's Niagara's generated electricity of course, and then as you get near the falls, you see this big, ground-level cloud rising up. It's this massive mist that's billowing up from the river below Niagara. It's impressive!
    Let me tell you what we didn't do. We didn't stop before we got to the falls and say, "Man, look at that mist! Quick, get the camera! What an incredible mist!" And then deeply impressed by that cloud of spray, turn around and head home, never going the rest of the way to see the falls that produced the mist.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Loving Creation, Missing the Creator."
    Our word for today from the Word of God, Isaiah 40:12. "Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?" What a tribute that is to God's power. "Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?"
    Verse 15 says, "Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust." Then it says, "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in." Finally, verse 26, "Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls forth each of them by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing."
    When you look at creation, it should lead you to the Creator. I mean, if you think what He made is awesome, wait till you meet the One who made it. But the Bible describes a tragic mistake that's made in many cultures, over many years, and increasingly made by people in our sophisticated culture.
    Romans 1:25...here's the mistake, "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised." Worshiping the creation rather than the Creator? Which brings us back to Niagara. It's okay to be impressed by the great Niagara mist, but the real marvel is the falls; the source that creates the mist. The mist is only a reflection of the source that creates it. Don't miss the source.
    Unfortunately a lot of people are doing just that. There's all kinds of talk today about Mother Earth and all the spiritual energy you can tap by getting in touch with the cosmos. People are on a very real spiritual search. But those who focus on the power of creation miss the real power - the Creator.
    Jesus Christ, God's Son, entered His creation to re-connect us human beings, His masterpieces back to Himself. The God who holds an endless ocean in the palm of His hand, weighs the Rocky Mountains on a little scale, stretches out the heavens like I would set up a tent. He loves you. He gave His Son for you to have a relationship with Him. Don't miss Him! Don't let anyone you care about miss Him by falling for the lie that creation is the end of our search for our Creator. Don't get hooked on the mist. Go to the source. You will be overwhelmed by the power of the One who created you and all you see.
    Have you ever experienced His love? Have you ever experienced His power for yourself? It's my prayer that this day you might say, "Jesus, you loved me enough to die for me. You were powerful enough to walk out of your grave. I ask you to walk into my life. I'm pinning all my hopes on You."
    I think our website would help you get there. Check it out, will you - ANewStory.com. Because today could be the beginning of your new story.

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    May 19, 2023 Disproportionate Power for Your Disproportionate Challenge

    It's been a fun assignment over the years to speak for some professional football chapels, especially my old hometown team, the New York Giants. Of course it's pretty funny seeing me in a room with them. "Here's the New York Giants with special guest, "the little guy." But on several occasions I have been able to go to the game that same day with the team chaplain. In one game he leaned over to me and he said, "Now I want you to see one of the most powerful men in this stadium." There were 70,000 people there and I knew how powerful some of the men on the field were. And I wondered maybe if it was an owner or an executive. Nope! The chaplain pointed to this little man with a big bright orange glove on one hand. "Him?" "Yeah." He said, "Just watch." And after a play, that man stepped out on the field, put his orange-gloved hand on his chest and the game totally stopped. Now that is power!
    Who is that man? He represents the TV producers who are broadcasting this game all over the country. And when it's time to stop everything for the next commercial, He just steps out and shows his magic glove. Nothing resumes until he puts down that glove and steps back off the field. One guy - power over lots of big people!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Disproportionate Power for Your Disproportionate Challenge."
    That's what you have to call this kind of match up, or the kind talked about in our word for today from the Word of God. Joshua 23:10 - exciting words: "One of you routs a thousand because the Lord your God fights for you" just as He promised.
    Let's say you're a battlefield reporter. On one side you have a force of 1,000 people. On the other side, one little guy. Who's going to win this? Well, if the Lord God is fighting for that one guy, you will see the thousand running for their lives. That is disproportionate power. A biblical principle that opens up otherwise unthinkable possibilities for you, your family, your ministry, your church. The numbers are only slightly less lopsided when God says in Leviticus 26:8, "Five of you will chase a hundred and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand and your enemies will fall by the sword before you."
    When we were launching much of this ministry that our team is involved with today, we looked at the incredible work God has given us and then the comparatively small size of our team and we said, "How?" Then God gave us this verse. To this day it's still like five of us chasing a hundred because of the difference that a mighty God can make when He's fully trusted. In the unforgettable words of the invincible Apostle Paul in Romans 8:31, "If God is for us, who can be against us."
    Right now you may be facing some overwhelming odds, or obstacles, or needs. They look very big and honestly you look very small beside them. But, that's where God's miracle math comes in. You plus God equals a majority, but if you try to anticipate the outcome based on earth math, you'll probably hold back, you'll probably miss the amazing thing God wants to do.
    His ancient people looked at the walls and the giants in the Promised Land and they said, "We feel like grasshoppers" (Numbers 13:33) so they gave up. But, two spies out of all those spies, Joshua and Caleb, looked at those same walls and giants and compared them to the size of their God rather than the size of themselves, and they were ready to go for it. But because earth math and earth odds prevailed, people who could have been living in the Promised Land ended up just surviving in the wilderness for forty years.
    Remember this disproportionate power and you'll be more likely to make God's will choices. Because the less there's going to be of you, and the more there's going to be of God, you know what that means. The greater the victory is going to be.

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    May 18, 2023 Racing Past the Glory - #9484

    Three days before our vacation, my wife and I had no idea where we were going to be able to go! We'd been too busy to think about it and too broke to pay for it. And then some friends supplied a beautiful spot in the Rocky Mountains. You know, God is really a great vacation planner.
    We had the joy of looking out a window each morning at the majesty of Buffalo Mountain, all 12,000 plus feet of her. One night the temperature dropped to some winter lows, even though it was just early fall. My wife had gotten up before sunrise that morning and she said, "Honey, get up! You've got to see this!" The mountain was covered with a beautiful blanket of new-fallen snow. And then just above the mountain was this crown of puffy, white clouds. Directly over all of that was a full moon that was softly lighting the whole thing. I mean, it was awesome!
    And then there were the two early risers in the parking lot. One guy came out on his way to work, saw that magical scene and just stood there frozen, gazing at it for the longest time. He was awed by it as we were. Then guy number two came running out on his way to work. He's got his lunch box in his hands, his eyes are looking straight ahead, he hustles right to his car, speeds away. What a contrast between the two men. One stood amazed and one was too busy to even notice.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Racing Past the Glory."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Hebrews 2:3. God asks an unsettling question here: "How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?" See, God's offering us a gift that cost Him a lot, and some people are running right past it. God's most glorious work is not a moonlit, snow-crest mountain or a sunset, or even the amazing universe out there. No, it's what happened on a Roman cross, and three days later at a garden tomb. It's wrapped up in these seven words, "if we ignore such a great salvation."
    Obviously salvation means someone's in trouble, right, and needs deliverance...needs a rescue. You and I are in big trouble with God according to the Bible. Romans 6:23 says, "The wages of our sin is death." And as good as we might be religious, we like to think we're okay. But the judge before whom we must stand says, "for all have sinned and all fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Spiritually, we're on death row. That's where this salvation comes in. God sent His one and only Son to die our death penalty because of His awesome love for us.
    Then three days later, Jesus wielded the knockout punch on death. He proved that He alone can deliver eternal life. He did it by rising from the dead. Who else did that? Jesus loves you enough to die in your place. He's powerful enough to blow the doors off of death. And all that to give you a way to belong to God. Such a great salvation! But you might be missing it, like that man who raced past the glory of the scene on that mountain, maybe you've been running right past the glory of what happened on a hill where Jesus died for you.
    You've been busy working, caring for your family, pursuing your pleasure, and running right past the one thing you cannot afford to miss. Isn't it time you stopped running and stood amazed at the cross of Jesus Christ? Isn't it time to say, "Lord, I've ignored the glory of what You did for me, but no more. I'm Yours."
    Don't you want to belong to Him? Are you ready to experience this love, this power that has changed lives for 2,000 years? This could be your day to begin with Him. Go to our website will you? It will take a very few minutes there for you to see how you can be sure you belong to Jesus. Go to ANewStory.com.
    Okay, a person is drowning, a rescuer throws him a rope. He ignores it and he dies. Not because there was no salvation, but because he ignored it. Jesus has thrown you a rope that's anchored to His cross. Please don't ignore it! Don't miss it!

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    May 17, 2023 Disturbing Headlines, A Message from God - #9483

    Are you sure you want to turn on the news tonight? Yeah, it will cheer you up. Right. We need a few laughs. That's unlikely. It has been pretty ugly. Things are happening environmentally that are difficult, the weather is kinda going crazy. You've got headlines about growing crime and financial turmoil, and gun violence. Boy, you know all those headlines.
    Yeah, there's a lot of grim stuff. But for us who belong to Jesus, you know what we should be hearing? We should be hearing our spiritual phone ringing. It's a wakeup call from God. And this is no time to let it go into voicemail, because God's calling us. And He's saying "If you're ever going to do something about the people who don't know Jesus, do it now!"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Disturbing Headlines, A Message from God."
    Number one, it's time to live for what others are dying for. You can go online and you will graphically see the price that our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world are paying for their allegiance to Jesus. Torture. Rape. Even crucifixion.
    We have a faith that is paid for in blood. First by Jesus. Then by countless Jesus-followers, from the first-century Coliseum to crosses today. So I should be intimidated into silence because of what talking about Jesus might cost me? "I might be called a name, marginalized, rejected, disrespected." If I won't pay that puny price, I should be ashamed.
    The old hymn asks - "Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb? And shall I fear to own His cause, or blush to speak His name? Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease? While others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?" Yeah, spiritual silence. Not an option any longer, because it can cost someone Jesus. It can cost someone heaven.
    The second message in the headlines: hearts are open because the world is crazy. Yeah. God calls us to make "the most of every opportunity because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16). This is opportunity time. Hearts that are usually looking inward are suddenly open to looking upward. So many things they have looked to are letting them down. With storm clouds coming in from every direction, people feel vulnerable, they feel unsafe. In the Bible's words, "like the tossing sea, which cannot rest... there is no peace" (Isaiah 57:20-21).
    These are Jesus-times. Not to be missed. He's the One who speaks to the storm in the human heart and says, "Peace, be still!" And "do not let your hearts be troubled."
    There's one other lesson in those headlines: We have the hope people are starving for. Peter calls it, "The reason for the hope you have" (1 Peter 3:15). That's what God says will interest people in my Jesus. Especially now. But only if I tell them about His unloseable love that He proved on a cross.
    And there's never been a better time to tell your "hope story" than now. Our word for today from the Word of God: Hebrews 6:19. What a verse for unraveling times like ours! Speaking of Jesus it says, "we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."
    My friend Dave used to keep his sailboat in Stamford Harbor in Connecticut. They've got a hurricane gate that they close in the face of this approaching storm. To protect every craft that makes it into the harbor. Actually my friend rode out a hurricane on his boat! He was blown around but he was safe. Well, Jesus is the harbor where I'm safe in a Category 5 world.
    How can I know where the peace is, where the anchor is, and not tell the people in my personal world? No more silence. No more letting fear win. No more wimping out on sharing my Jesus.
    My brother, my sister, it's too late for that.

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    May 16, 2023 Figuring Out the Meaning of It All - #9482

    Sometimes you find something spiritually thought provoking in the strangest places. Like in a rerun of an old episode of that hit sitcom, "Everybody Loves Raymond." Ray was trying to have that most dreaded conversation of all for many parents. You know, the one about where babies come from. Well, Ray is sitting on his daughter's bed, doing his best to get into the subject of s-e-x. At the foot of the bed he has four books open to the pages that he hopes will help. And then his daughter throws him a curve ball. She says, "Daddy, I don't care about how we got here." Ray looks surprised and very relieved. "I want to know why God put us here." Dad's expression is priceless. It's a combination of bewilderment and "let me out of here." She continues to press the question. Now, he's obviously wishing they could talk about the birds and the bees! He's stunned! He's stumped! Finally he fumbles his way into the only answer he can think of: "Well, honey, sometimes it gets... Well, really crowded in heaven, so God sends some down here." Well, his daughter's expression is a combination of bewilderment and "let me out of here."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Figuring Out the Meaning of It All."
    Raymond, the dad, mirrored a lot of us. We know a lot more about how we got here than why we were put here. "Why am I here?" That's the question that seems to dog us our whole life. We didn't know the answer when we were teenagers, and for all our experience, many of us still don't know the answer in life's home stretch. Just living more years doesn't answer the question of the meaning of your life. It just allows us to stay busy most of the time so we don't have to think about it. But it's still the fundamental question about our existence isn't it? It's the question that must be answered.
    Honestly, any ideas we have about our purpose on earth are not much more than guesses, because there's only one person who knows why we're here - the person who put us here. The Bible says that we are all "God's workmanship" and that we're created to "do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10). See, you're not random. God made you for a specific purpose. Our ultimate destiny is summed up in these words from God in Colossians 1:16, it's our word for today from the Word of God. Speaking of Jesus Christ, God says, "All things were created by Him and for Him." We can put your name in there. There's a blank. _________ is created by Christ and for Christ.
    The problem is we've left the orbit we were made for. That's called sin - our stubborn self-rule of a life God was supposed to run. Unless we can get back to the One we were made for, we will live our whole life without the answer to why I'm here, and we will die without hope. But the Bible gives us incredible hope with this announcement: "Christ suffered for our sins...to bring you safely home to God" (1 Peter 3:18). Wow! That means Jesus' death on a cross was a profoundly personal event for you and me. Because God's Son was paying the price for our sins. He wanted you to belong to Him, to be with Him forever. And so you could put your life in the hands of the One that can lead you into the destiny you were made for.
    But you have a choice. You can put your total trust in Jesus to forgive your sins and give you a personal love relationship with God. Or you can continue orbiting your life around yourself and miss the meaning of the only life you get. There's someone listening right now, I think, who's tired of living without that meaning; without the God who loves you beyond words.
    If you want to begin a personal relationship with Him, He's waiting for you now. Tell Him you want that relationship. Maybe it's just a simple heartfelt, "Jesus, I'm yours." He's the one who died to pay for your sins. He really is your only hope.
    Our website is set up to help you understand this relationship. Check it out please today will you? ANewStory.com is the website. Listen, haven't you lived long enough without knowing why you're here?

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    May 15, 2023 An Appetite For Garbage - #9481

    There's this little old camp song (maybe you've sung it), "Little cabin in the woods, little man by the window stood." I've sung it to my grandkids as they were growing up. Well, that was me sometimes. Yeah, some friends had given us this wonderful gift of vacationing in their mountain cabin, surrounded by woods. One morning we got a call from a neighbor notifying us of a visitor they had that morning - a mother bear and her cub. Since I was going out every day for a vigorous walk in the woods, I had mixed emotions, "I hope I get to see those bears. I hope I don't see those bears." I'd rather eat lunch than be lunch. You know, it's just a preference. I'm kind of funny that way. We never saw the bears. But it was interesting to see the pictures that our neighbor snapped of her furry visitors. There seems to be a special attraction for those bears - garbage. Yeah, when people have seen those bears, they're usually doing whatever it takes to get the lid off of a garbage can, including standing on top of the can, rocking back and forth on it, and trying with both paws to pry it open. They love garbage!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "An Appetite For Garbage."
    An appetite for garbage; I guess it's OK if you're a bear. It's not OK if you're a child of Almighty God. That's why God says in 2 Corinthians 7:1, our word for today from the Word of God, "Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." In other words, stay away from any garbage that can contaminate a son or daughter of the holy God they belong to.
    The promises God says He's basing this challenge on, tell us that we are "the temple of the living God" and "sons and daughters" of "the Lord Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:16-18). Sadly, too many of His sons and daughters have allowed themselves to develop an appetite for garbage. TV shows, movies - they either glorify or minimize behaviors that break God's law and break God's heart. Or music, videos, whatever that's about doing some of the very things that Jesus died to deliver us from. Plenty of it on social media. Plenty of it on the Internet.
    Maybe you've wandered where you never should have gone on the Internet, or in a magazine, or things you've been reading. Boy, it's attractive, but the wrapping paper doesn't change the fact that there's garbage inside. Often the trash that pollutes our soul and lowers our guard comes wrapped in something that's very entertaining, very magnetic, very popular, very funny. But garbage comes in other forms, too. Like negative talk, gossip, or backstabbing that you allow yourself to soak up. Some of us just can't walk away from something juicy about another person. That is verbal garbage.
    If you're wondering why you feel defeated so many times, why you don't feel as close to Jesus as you used to, or why your dark side keeps winning and bringing you down, have you considered your diet: what you're watching, what you're listening to, who you're spending time with, or the things you laugh at. God tells us in Ephesians 5:11 to "have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness." And He says in Philippians 4:8 to think instead about things that are "noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise." Fill your mind, fill your heart with things that will build your soul, not poison it, not tear it down.
    Honestly, have you allowed yourself to gradually develop an appetite for what God would consider garbage? It has no place in a life that's been bought and paid for with the precious blood of the Son of God. Walk away from that garbage can. There's nothing in there that belongs in you.

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    May 12, 2023 A Parent's Best Classroom - #9480

    There's nothing quite as boring as listening to information you've heard before, presented the same way you've heard it presented before. Since I used to fly quite a bit, I heard the flight attendant's announcements many, many times. To be honest, I got to the point where I didn't pay a lot of attention, because, you know, it was predictable...usually.
    But there was this one flight - we had a flight attendant who kept throwing in humorous surprises and fresh ways of saying things. Everyone was listening to him. Like he said, "Now, we're preparing for landing and you need to put your seats in the upright and most uncomfortable position." We all laughed. And then I liked the part where he said, "The captain has turned on the seat belt sign, which is an indication he has finally found the airport." I love it! It sounds unpredictable. You know? This man knew something about communication. If you have important information to communicate, don't be so predictable.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Parent's Best Classroom."
    God has given moms and dads some really important announcements for them to make to their children. He actually talks about them in Deuteronomy 6, and I'll begin reading at verse 5: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Then impress them on your children."
    Well, we try to do that. I mean, if you're a Christian parent, I'm sure you try to impress the ways of God; the teachings of God; the boundaries of God on your children. But sometimes our children respond with the same kind of, well, disinterest that I did to those predictable airline announcements. They know what you're going to say before you say it. So maybe it isn't enough that we teach our children about the Lord. We need to do it in ways and in places where it's not so predictable, so maybe we'll have their full attention.
    In the rest of Deuteronomy 6:7, Moses tells how to do that, "Talk about them (that's God's commandments) when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up." See, sometimes we get immune to hearing a Biblical truth the way it's always been presented; in a place we always hear it. We kind of have practiced responses to a sermon, or to family devotions. We know what to expect. We know how we're supposed to act. It's predictable.
    But there's something disarming about God-talk in the middle of everyday activity - the classroom of everyday life. See, the best place for your son, or daughter, or grandchild to see God at work might be on the baseball field. Or on the way to the store with you. Suddenly some question comes up that gives you a teachable moment. Grab that! Maybe it's debriefing their day over a Big Mac, or maybe it's in those mellow bedtime moments, or riding along with you at all the places you chauffeur them. That's the classroom of everyday life, the best place to learn about the God that I hope, as the Bible says, "you love with all your heart."
    Don't just depend on formal settings to get the job done; not when you want to introduce God to your child. They may shut down for the formal announcements. But look for God together in the ordinary, the relaxed, the everyday, "God sightings." As a parent, you have the blessed responsibility of passing on God's announcements to kids that He has trusted to you. "If anyone is in Christ, he's a new creation." Listen, if you're a parent and you're doing it without that relationship with God, and you know your kids have shown you. You see enough of you in them to know that you need a Savior for your needs.
    Well, this might be what exactly your starting point is today. Say, "Jesus, I am yours. You died for my self-centeredness, my sin. I need You. My family needs me to know You." Tell Him today, "I'm yours." Check out our website today, would you - ANewStory.com.
    Jesus comes into you. And when He does, He comes into your family, and things are never the same.

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    May 11, 2023 Living For Things You Cannot Lose - #9479

    I've stood on a lot of beaches in my lifetime. There's one beach I'll never forget. It wasn't at some exotic resort location believe me. It was in the middle of the jungle along the Curaray River in Ecuador. I'd been flown there by a missionary pilot to record an important radio program there - to tell a new generation perhaps the most amazing missionary story of the 20th Century. It's the story of the five gifted and successful young Americans on whose hearts God had laid a deep burden for an Indian tribe who lived in the jungles that I was now visiting. They were called the Aucas back then - today we know them by the name Waoranis. They were described as living like people might have lived in the Stone Age. Jim Elliott, pilot Nate Saint, and three other outstanding young men were determined that these people would have a chance to hear about Jesus for the very first time - even though the tribe was known as savage killers.
    After months of communication through gifts that they lowered by a cable from their plane, they finally landed on that beach to make that risky personal contact. With their American sense of humor, they called the desolate beach Palm Beach - although there was little about it that would make you think of a famous resort beach. Within days, all five of these brave ambassadors for Christ were dead with Auca lances in their bodies.
    The word of their deaths flashed around the world and reached even a boy like me. Poor Jim Elliott. Poor Jim Elliott and his friends. So much potential - and by most earth measures, they wasted their lives. Or did they? No, they invested their lives. Jim Elliott's widow and Nate Saint's sister went to those tribal people, lived among them, and gave them Jesus. Ten years later, Nate Saint, the pilot, his 16-year-old son wanted to be baptized - in the Curaray River where his Dad's body had been found. And he was baptized - by one of the men who had killed his father - a man who was now one of the pastors of the Waorani church. The killers came to Jesus. Much of the tribe came to Jesus.
    And as the example of those missionary martyrs reached a world of Christian young people, thousands surrendered their lives to the service of Jesus Christ. One was my wife. One was me. Today, their living legacy is telling about Jesus around the world. Which underscores in blazing color how Jim Elliott summed up his view of life. He said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.'
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Living For Things You Cannot Lose."
    Years ago, through the example of a yielded life, God called me to give what I could not keep, to gain what I could not lose. Today, He may be calling you. Listen to this word for today from the Word of God in 1 John 2, beginning with verse 15, "Do not love the world or anything in the world...The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." Could it be it's time in your life for an honest evaluation of what you're really living for; what's getting the best of your energy, your abilities, your time? Is it something you can't lose - or something you will never lose?
    God's been stirring your heart before you heard this, hasn't He? And it's because He wants you to make a far greater difference with the rest of your life than you've made until now. It will probably require releasing some of the earth-stuff and the earth-plans that have filled so much of your life. That's called, in the Bible's words, loving this world.
    But this world is the Titanic. It's going down. But the person who devotes their life to the eternal things they were created for, they'll see their years on this planet count for all eternity. It's not cheap, but it's worth it. Just ask Jim Elliott. Just ask Jesus. Some will think what you're doing is foolish. But then, he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.

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    May 10, 2023 Why You Are Where You Are - #9478

    A pastor I heard of was meeting one of the ladies from his large church one day, and he asked her, "What do you do?" Her answer was classic. She said, "Well, Pastor, I'm a disciple of Jesus Christ cleverly disguised as a machine operator!" I love that!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Why You Are Where You Are."
    Now that lady is a Christian who knows who she is and why she is where she is. She's there to be Jesus' personal representative to other machine operators! I mean, who is a lost machine operator most likely to listen to about a relationship with Jesus? Right, another machine operator! A lost mom is most likely to listen to another mom, a student, well they'll listen to a student, a computer programmer to another computer programmer, a cancer survivor to a cancer survivor, a guy at the gym to another guy at the gym. Everybody's got a tribe. People listen to somebody from their tribe.
    This strategy of sending someone who lives where the unreached people live is at least 2,000 years old. In our word for today from the Word of God in John 4, Jesus is on a mission to reach the people of Samaria. So, how does He go about it? They didn't really like Jewish guys there; a lot of walls there to tear down.
    Well, He reaches one of their own. He reaches a Samaritan woman at the well, who is notorious in her village, apparently, for her promiscuity. By the end of Jesus' visit, the Bible says, "Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him." Why? Ready for the answer? It says, "Because of the woman's testimony." (John 4:39). It doesn't say it was because of Jesus' sermon, but because of the testimony of a new disciple of Jesus Christ, cleverly disguised as their neighbor.
    It's one reason why Jesus came into your life one day; to send you back to your neighborhood, your workplace, your school, your tribe, to introduce people like you to Him. You're His chosen link between the people in your world and Him. So, how are you doing at bringing those folks together with Jesus?
    The best person to tell folks who do what you do, live where you live, and face what you face about Jesus is you. In a post-Christian culture like ours, most lost people don't ever plan to go to a religious meeting to hear a religious speaker talk on a religious subject in a religious place. They will probably only be rescued spiritually if someone takes the Good News about Jesus to where they are! And who is already where they are? You are.
    The woman Jesus sent back to her village could have said, as you may, "Oh, man! My past! I'm so messed up. I'm so far from perfect." Isn't it something that Jesus sends flawed ambassadors to be living examples of His great grace? This woman could have said, as you may, "Oh, but I'm not trained." Training is good. Our ministry is constantly in the business of equipping someone like you to represent Him. But your ultimate credentials are what Jesus has done in your life and your love for that lost person.
    Your message is the same as part of the Samaritan woman's. She simply said to her fellow villagers, "Come, see a Man!" (John 4:29). Not a religion - a man. Your message is a person; not your religion, not your church, not your beliefs, not your rules. It's all about Jesus! Aren't you glad? You're taking someone you know in one hand. You're taking Jesus in the other hand, and prayerfully you are bringing them together forever!
    What a place God has entrusted to you, divinely positioned so you can take someone to heaven with you. Where you live, what you do, well that's all just your clever disguise!

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    May 9, 2023 Life-Saving Pain - #9477

    It was such a neat surprise to see our longtime friends, Bob and Marcy, at a conference where I was speaking. We hadn't seen them for several years, and we didn't know they were coming. After one session, my wife was talking with them in the hall outside the auditorium, and my observant honey noticed Bob's color suddenly turned pale. And within moments, he was crumpling to the floor. My first thought was, "Is that what my speaking does to people?" When Bob finally came around, he sat in a chair wondering what had hit him. His wife wanted to drive him six hours to their home, but others were really urging him to get to a local hospital...preferable in an ambulance. Men usually resist ideas like that, but Bob was wise enough, and maybe just concerned enough, to agree. And that was a good thing. His heart stopped once on the way to the hospital, and again in the emergency room. Within two days, he had a pacemaker implanted, and he left that hospital feeling great. Had he not had that scary incident in the lobby, he might not have made it.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Life-Saving Pain."
    Things going wrong can be your friend if they show you a problem that could really hurt you and if it gets you to the help that you need. Now, that just might be what's happening in your life right now, and it may explain the real reason for what's going wrong. In short, God wants you back before some really damaging things happen because you're not where you're supposed to be with Him.
    You'll better understand how He pursues those He loves when you hear our word for today from the Word of God. It's in Hosea 2, beginning with verse 5. God likens His spiritual wanderer to a woman loved by her husband who's been unfaithful to him. She says, "I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water." Okay, so when we get away from God when we turn to other people and other things to meet our needs. But God says, "I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, 'I will go back to my husband as at first, for I was better off than now.'" Then God says, "She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold."
    See, your best days were the days when you were closest to Jesus. But you've "pursued other lovers." You've forgotten He was the only one who ever loved you enough to die for you, and that sense of peace and worth you had when you were close to Him is not there now. God loves you too much to let you go, so He's been as the Bible says here, "blocking your path with thornbushes" and "walling you in." He's been making your sin more painful, more expensive, more disappointing. If that hasn't happened, it will. More and more you'll keep chasing what you're after, and you won't catch it because only God has it.
    If someone you love is the one who's away from the Lord, you can pray in accordance with God's recovery plan here in Hosea 2. Pray for the thorn bushes and the walls and the frustrating pursuits that can cause someone you love to think about what they're doing and to remember the better days...the Jesus-days.
    If you're the one who's away from Jesus right now, the one whose love you were made for, the one who died for you, and things are only going to get worse because He loves you. Things are going wrong, not to hurt you, not to destroy you, but to help you wake up to something far more serious that's going on in your soul. You've got a deadly heart condition, and you need to get to the doctor before it does serious damage. You need to get to Dr. Jesus. It stinks away from Him. The porch light is on, the door is open, and Jesus is coming down the road to welcome you home. And home? Home is where you belong.

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    May 8, 2023 Which Way to Look When It's Overwhelming - #9476

    It was a time I had the opportunity to be in London. I got to see some things that we don't see much of in America: the palace, the double-decker buses; buildings that represent up to 1,000 years of history. And there's one thing that was very new there for an American, and It could be dangerous. Yeah, the direction of traffic.
    Cars drive on the left side, and it really messes up American drivers and in this case an American pedestrian. You step off a curb, looking to the left of course. We've been conditioned for a lifetime - look left. You do that in London, and you may not be using your return ticket. As in any city, there's busy traffic. But the British must know there will be confused Yanks there like me. So they paint these signs and arrows on the pavement that say "Look Right." They saved my life! It's very important. If you're not looking the right way, you can get run over.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Which Way to Look When It's Overwhelming"
    Our word for today from the Word of God, Luke 9, and we're in the middle of that feeding of the 5,000 where the disciples have seen the size of the crowd and said, "Boy, they've got to eat, Jesus, and we'd better send them away." And Jesus said, "You give them something to eat." The disciples aren't quite sure what to do with that command. They answered, "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish - unless we go and buy food for all this crowd. But He said to His disciples, 'Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.' Taking the five loaves and two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke them. Then He gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied."
    Okay, Jesus and the disciples are facing an overwhelming need. Maybe like you are right now. Maybe you're looking at a financial need, or a family need, and it's like a Mission Impossible. See, that's when miracles happen. It's kind of like crossing streets in London. The outcome depends on which way you're looking.
    There are three ways you can look when you're facing an overwhelming situation. First, you can look out at the need. That's what the disciples did. It's a huge crowd; a huge need. Secondly, you can look down at your resources. In John 6 that's what the disciples did. Andrew said, "Here's a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?" "Hey, our resources are no match for this need, Jesus!" Maybe that's how you feel right now. You just don't have the money, or the wisdom, the people, the strength, the help. Well, in both cases you're going to be paralyzed or you;re going to be panicky.
    There's a third way to look, and that's what Jesus did. It says, "And looking up to heaven He gave thanks for the loaves." Jesus chose to look in the Lord's direction, not out at the need, not down at the resources, but where the resources are unlimited. The Bible says in Philippians 4:19, "God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." So Jesus thanked God for what He did have, though it was nowhere near enough. And not enough was miraculously multiplied into more than enough.
    Do you know that's exactly what happens when somebody puts their life into Jesus' hands? Jesus said, "I've come that you may have life and have it to the full." And we do as much as we can do with our lives, until one day we say, "Jesus, You died on the cross to pay for my sin. You walked out of your grave under your own power. It's time I took this life that I have thwarted and put it in the hands of the One who was meant to be controlling it all along."
    That's your "Jesus day." It could be today. The One who loved you enough to die for you, You begin your relationship with Him. Say, "Jesus, I'm yours." You want to be sure you belong to Him, check out our website. It will help you. Go to ANewStory.com.
    You know, if we hadn't looked the right way in heavy traffic, we would have been run over. But God has written in this feeding of the 5,000, clear direction. Don't look out at the need. Don't look down at the resources. Look up to heaven where the riches in glory in Christ Jesus are.

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    May 5, 2023 When The Bible Comes Alive - #9475

    They call it the "terrible twos" (remember?) because of the new challenges a toddler presents when they hit that two-year mark and they issue their first declarations of independence. Now, I remember when our granddaughter was two years old and doing human "terribles." Maybe because there were a lot more "terrific twos." Now, one exciting thing was an incredible word explosion she had. Sometimes, she seemed to not only know the words, but even some pretty important meaning behind the words. She's been known to sit down right next to her daddy as he was reading his Bible with her Bible open. Now, she knew what the book was called. She would say "Bible." But more and more, when she picked up her Bible, she said two words that she knew went together, "Bible...Jesus."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When The Bible Comes Alive."
    Those two words are always supposed to go together. Because ultimately our Bible reading isn't supposed to be about a book. It's about a person. It's about Jesus. Much like when I used to read love letters from my wife-to-be. I read those same words over and over again. There was no new information the second time, but see, I wasn't just with a letter. When I read what she wrote to me, I was with her; the person who wrote it until I could be "with" with her in person.
    That's how it's supposed to be when we pick up God's love letter to us - the Bible. We're not with a book. We're with the person who wrote it to us, and that changes everything. Sometimes we get into the rut of thinking, "It's my Bible reading time again." And frankly, maybe we're not all excited about it. It's like our Christian duty. And all too many times, the Bible just sits there as we run through all the "really important" other things we have to do.
    When you read God's Word, it should be something like the picture God gives us in Luke 10, beginning with verse 39. It's our word for today from the Word of God. Martha has invited Jesus to have dinner with her and her sister, Mary. The Bible says, "Mary...sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made." Martha pipes up and criticizes Mary for not running around like she is. But Jesus says, "Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her." Jesus, of course, wasn't condoning laziness. He was applauding the priority of loving Him over serving Him...of spending time with Him over doing things for Him. Yes, our love will result in serving and doing things for Him, but it has to be anchored in spending time with Him.
    Your Bible reading time needs to be the time each day that you, like it says here, "sit at the Lord's feet, listening to what He says." David called God's Word "the law from your mouth" and he said it was precious to him (Psalm 119:72). You read the words of the Bible as if Jesus is sitting across from you saying those words to you, because those are His words to you.
    So when you go through a day without time in God's Word, it's not the Bible that you're reading there - it's Jesus. The Bible doesn't care if you show up. Jesus does. That's why you need to make your time with Him and with His Word, the highest priority of your personal schedule - the sun around which all the other planets of your day must revolve.
    Jesus wept over His people one day and He expressed His sadness about the number of times He wanted to have time with them but, in His words, "you were not willing" (Matthew 23:37). I wonder if He's been saying that about you and me? It's time to recover your time with Jesus from the margins of your life and put it back in the center. Put Him back in the center. And when you pick up His Book, remember (like the little girl said) "Bible...Jesus."

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    May 4, 2023 When Power is Abused - #9474

    We'll put up with a lot from our politicians, but not everything. See, we really don't like it when someone in power abuses that power for personal gain, to cover up wrongdoing, to exploit other people.
    I remember some years ago, there was a former governor allegedly using his position to feather his own financial nest. At least that's what he was accused of. And at the same time, there were accusations flying about another governor who some say had used his power to punish people and intimidate people. But accusations sometimes are all it takes to turn public opinion.
    Now on the other hand, the press can abuse its power, right? Slanting the news to serve their view of how the world, they think, should be.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When Power is Abused."
    My first brush with the abuse of power was Boomer. Yeah, he was our neighborhood bully. I'm not sure if his mother predestined him to be a bully by naming him Boomer or if he just earned it. He was the biggest kid on the block. So he intimidated and threatened and ripped off all of us little kids; got away with it just because he was big. We hated it. We still do...all of us.
    I find it very easy to see power being abused when it's someone else, but not so much when it's me doing it. Because, in one way or another, most of us have some kind of position that gives us some kind of power in people's lives. You know, being a husband. Well, then I would have the power to elevate my wife or push her down. As a parent, well it gives me all kinds of power to make my children feel very special or very small.
    As an employer, well that puts me in a driver's seat where I can dominate or develop people. There are men who use their power to use and abuse and diminish women. Thus exposing what small men they are. There are women who use their power to manipulate and control, and therefore forfeiting the tenderness and the selflessness that makes a woman really beautiful.
    There are parents who use the incalculable power they have to crush, to criticize, to belittle their children. Or to use a son or daughter to fulfill what they once were or what they never were and want to be and birthing a robot or a rebel in the process. There are leaders who feel their position entitles them to ignore the rules, be entitled, and treat people as things. Thus failing as humans no matter how high they rise. Power is a trust, not a weapon, not a platform for your personal agenda, not a license to live for yourself.
    In my lifetime, there have been people I had to follow just because they were in the power position. Then there have been those that I wanted to follow whether they had the position or not because of their character; leading, not using. Leaving you encouraged, not diminished. Making other people feel important instead of acting like they were important.
    That's power. Not being a control freak, which is often why we covet power; to be in control. Tragically, that puts us in the danger zone with the very God who has all the power there is. See, we'd like to be God for us. We've decided we'll take charge of a life that God created. It's called sin. We hijack it from Him.
    But defying God has a high price tag. In our word for today from the Word of God, Isaiah 59:2 it says, "Your sins have separated you from your God." Haven't you felt that wall between you and God? Living with that wall means never knowing the purpose and the love you were made for. Dying with it means it'll be there forever.
    Our power grab of our life would have cost us everything except for the amazing intervention of the very God we've rebelled against. The Bible says, "He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10). Picture that cross; Jesus dying there. And you could stand there and say, "For me, Jesus, this is for me." And once you have Him, you have the person who walked out of his grave under his own power, and He's bigger than any Boomer you'll ever face.
    Begin a relationship with Him. Go to our website and check out how to get that done. It's ANewStory.com. There's no reason to live one more day without the person who loves you the most.

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    May 3, 2023 The Most Important Mission You'll Ever Have - #9473

    Who would think you'd miss a fleet of big brown trucks? If they say UPS on the side, you'll miss them if you're off the streets for long! I mean, Americans found out a few years ago when the UPS drivers went on strike. Within hours in some cases, days in almost every case, thousands of UPS customers were in a crisis. At that time they said 80% of America's packages were carried by UPS! It's probably changed by now, but that's how it was then. Apparently, all the other guys were fighting it out for the other 20%.
    On the first day back after the strike, I'll bet some of those drivers were greeted with a standing ovation by some of their customers, "You're back! We're saved!" What a mess! I mean, businesses were almost on the ropes in a few days. They were manufacturing their product; the folks on the other end needed their product, but it wasn't happening. A sender and a receiver are not enough. Not if the person delivering it isn't doing their job!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Most Important Mission You'll Ever Have."
    There's an ongoing strike that's affecting many lives, in fact, it's cost many lives. Some of the people are not getting their delivery. Might be folks you know, folks you love.
    Our word for today from the Word of God - 2 Kings 7 - God's people, the Jews, are under siege in their capital city of Samaria. Their food supplies have been cut off by an invading enemy and no one's coming in,and no one's going out. The siege got so long and the starvation in the city so desperate, people were spending big money for even a morsel of food. There had even been incidents of cannibalism.
    Enter the four lepers. Because of their disease, they are forced to live outside the city walls. So they are really starving. In one last act of desperation, they decide to walk over to the enemy camp, surrender, and throw themselves on the mercy of those soldiers. They figure they're going to die either way. But they don't know that God's carrying out this miraculous deliverance that scatters the enemy army and leaves their camp totally untended, food and all.
    It's almost amusing to think of these four lepers just expecting an arrow at any moment. Then they wander around this empty camp, looking for someone to surrender to, and realizing they are now the new owners of enough food to feed an army! That's when it stops being amusing. They're gorging themselves. They're totally forgetting about the people who are dying in their city. The package was there loaded with food, the people who needed the food were there, desperate for food, but they went on dying. Why? Because the people who should have been delivering it were on strike.
    2 Kings 7:9, a word for those overstuffed lepers and for us overstuffed Christians, surrounded by people dying of spiritual starvation. The Bible says, "Then they said to each other, 'We're not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait, punishment will overtake us." Thankfully, the delivery guys finally woke up; they realized they couldn't wait any longer to bring life to the people who were dying without that food that they had so much of. You get the picture.
    Let me just say, it could be the place where you work, where you live, where you go to school, where you exercise. And at that place, there's no one delivering Jesus to them. God paid with the life of His only Son for the eternal life He really wants them to have. And the people you know are so in need of a Savior. Right? But none of that matters if the person assigned by God to be the one delivering Jesus to them is on strike. That could be you.
    This is a day of good news - we cannot keep this to ourselves. You are the precious link between your Savior and someone He died for. Please, be sure the delivery gets through, whatever it takes. Lives depend on it!

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    May 2, 2023 Power When You're Powerless - #9472

    I've always been fascinated by eagles. I didn't get to see many of them around New York City. I mean, except for the ones that came from Philadelphia to play the Giants occasionally. But it's always been an exciting event for me to see an eagle. There's something very inspiring about them. When one of my Navajo friends and I were together, I asked him about eagles. And he sees a lot of them where he's from. And he told me about some amazing observations that he's made about them.
    He's watched an eagle leave their cliff-top nest and then begin to drop immediately into that valley below. Now you would expect them to start flapping their wings madly. Right? No, they don't do that, not even to stop their fall. In fact, the eagle is virtually powerless to help himself. So if the eagle can't do it, how does he fly? Wind currents from the valley below literally lift that eagle. His job isn't to flap his wings; it's to wait for the wind.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Power When You're Powerless."
    As my Navajo friend told me about where the power comes from for the eagle's flight, I couldn't stop thinking about one of my favorite passages in the Bible; maybe you're thinking of it too. Our word for today from the Word of God, Isaiah 40, beginning at verse 28, "Do you know? Have you not heard the Lord is the everlasting God? He's the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youth grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint." Wow!
    Now, here's a mighty God who is never tired, never weary and powerless people. Maybe that's where you get into the picture right now. Maybe weary is a good word for you. Maybe you're physically depleted or you're emotionally spent, or mentally shot. This is great news for people who don't have much left. Maybe you're weak like it says here. Your resources are just no match for the challenge. Your wisdom is not enough to figure this one out. Right? You can contribute little or nothing to an answer. Sounds like the eagle! This says you can soar on wings like eagles.
    The eagle virtually has nothing to do with his ability to fly. He is lifted by a force outside of himself to do things he could never do on his own. And God says He wants to do that for you. This is great! God says, "Your flight in these powerless times has nothing to do with your strength. So when you're in a time of weakness, or weariness, you have every reason to be expectant, not depressed. This is a time when there's not much of you, but when there's going to be a whole lot of God.
    Do you know, it's at the moments of powerlessness that we finally recognize, even the place where our relationship with God starts. Because that's when we realize we need someone else to lift us, even to ever get to heaven when we die, to ever have our sins forgiven, we can't do it. To ever have the emptiness in our heart filled, to find that love that's eluded us in every lifetime relationship. And when we realize we have nothing to contribute, we cannot possibly fly our way out of this flapping our wings, that's when we finally say, "Jesus, what you did on the cross is my hope, dying for my sins. And beginning today I am yours."
    You are that one step of surrender away from experiencing the greatest love and the greatest power in the universe. I don't know if you've ever begun a relationship with Jesus. If you never have, and you want to get that settled, would you go to our website today. I've tried to spell that out there as simply as possible with statements from God's Word how that relationship with Him can begin for you today. Here's the website - ANewStory.com.
    So those who hope in Him, the Bible says, will renew their strength. You fly on your own, you're going to crash. Maybe you're in a weak or weary time. Don't start flapping your wings madly. God says you're an eagle. You'll eventually soar if you do what you're supposed to do; trust your Creator's strength and ride on His wind.

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    May 1, 2023 Stopping the Devil at the Door - #9471

    Well, there's an early part of my life where I didn't even know the word. Now everybody knows it - cholesterol. You'll see it in about ten commercials tonight. It's one of the most talked about words in our health and fitness vocabulary. Of course, my doctor gave me the alphabet soup...a seminar on LDL, HDL. You know. LDL is your bad cholesterol that clogs your arteries. You want to be low in that. But then there's your good cholesterol. Here we go - good guys and bad guys! Just like the old Westerns. Your good cholesterol is called your HDL; maybe that's happy. I don't know. And you want lots of that HDL. That's the good stuff. Now, my doctor says, "I'm not just concerned when a patient's bad cholesterol is high. I get concerned when you don't have enough good cholesterol."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Stopping the Devil at the Door."
    So, we've got our word for today from the Word of God, and it's ultimately a battle plan for stepping on Satan. Sound like something you'd like to do? Well, then you might be interested in the two-step battle plan outlined in Romans 16:19-20. It's all about getting rid of what's damaging to your spiritual health and loading up on what builds up your spiritual health. Here's what God says: "Be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." Stay away from the bad elements in your system. Be innocent about what's evil and get a lot of what's good. Just like your physical wellbeing, your health depends on your diet - your mental and spiritual diet in this case.
    So what are you filling up on? You do have to keep junk out of your heart or it's going to clog your heart. It will bring about spiritual heart trouble. The input you allow in creates the ideas you think about; and your ideas become your attitudes and your actions. So that means you've got to consciously and aggressively turn off the constant bombardment of impure ideas that are all around us. The videos, the movies, the Internet sites, the soap opera immorality, the music that makes you all too wise about what's evil. You've got to protect, you've got to restore your innocence. You can't afford even casual contact with the dark stuff.
    But just like cholesterol, you can't just be against the bad input. You need to be making a conscious, daily effort to load up on God's ideas and attitudes. Jesus said if you clean out one evil spirit and you just leave an empty space there, seven spirits worse will come back and fill that space. So, you have to fill the space in your thinking and your emotions that the dark stuff was occupying.
    For me, that means not just reading old news magazines but reading Christian magazines and books, making every effort to listen to Christian music and radio, and going to Christian websites. To make the last thing I read at night something about my Lord; to put the priority on reading things that have some eternal value. Be wise about what's good, and that means weaning yourself from a diet of mostly secular stuff to more things with spiritual value, with Christ at the center; using your wandering mind times to memorize or review some Scripture. As you start to load up on what's good, you start to become a more positive person, joyful, you become cleaner, you become lighter on the inside.
    Does that mean you never read or listen to anything that isn't Christian? No, but you give the priority, the majority of space in your mind to God's ideas and God's way of thinking. Crushing Satan under your feet; that's a war on two fronts. You have to be against what's bad getting into your system, but that isn't enough. You have to take daily opportunities to become smarter about what's innocent. Cut the damaging stuff out of your heart-diet and go heavy on the healthy stuff!

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    April 28, 2023 Why God Is Turning Up The Volume - #9470

    Some people seem to have a special gift for sleeping. So much so that waking them up is more like a resurrection. We had one of those gifted people staying at our house for a few weeks. Greg was a young intern helping out and training in our ministry. And he did a good job - once you got him out of bed. He stayed at our house - so I got the joy of figuring out how to get him up each morning in time to start his work day. I started with just an alarm clock. Forget about that - no alarm so much as phases this boy. I tried shaking him, and then I tried shaking him violently. I tried bells. I tried water. Yes. If he ever did wake up, he just went back to sleep until I landed on the Extreme Wakeup Option - the pan. I got the biggest metal pan we had. I got the biggest metal spoon we had and I marched into his room playing percussion. If standing at the door clanging that pan didn't do it, I just moved progressively closer until he was up and out of bed. Look, I was a desperate man. Look, I'm really sorry it had to go that far, but he had to wake up, and it wasn't easy.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Why God Is Turning Up The Volume."
    Could it be you're one of God's hard-to-wake children? I think we all take our turn being spiritually asleep, oblivious to something He's trying to say or do in our life. And that may explain some of the pain, some of the struggle, some of the frustration that's been building lately. It's God trying to get your attention. And like me with our deep-sleeping friend, if one kind of wakeup call doesn't work, He will escalate His methods. He will not just let you sleep.
    God's been having to turn up the pressure to wake His children for a long time. That's why He told His people about His Extreme Wakeup Options way back at the dedication of the magnificent temple that Solomon built. It's recorded in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, our word for today from the Word of God. You might recognize 2 Chronicles 7:14. "If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sins and will heal their land." So much they need done in their lives that only God coul do - just like us. But first they've got to wake up and deal with their pride, their self-reliance, their casual relationship with God, and the things that they're not doing God's way.
    So, what does God do to wake them up? His "banging pan" is spelled out in the previous verse: "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among My people, if My people who are called by My name," and so on. See, it's going to take serious pain to wake them up to what God wants them to do. Unfortunately, it's often that way with us, too.
    As you're searching for answers and reasons for some of the painful or difficult things going on lately, consider the possibility this is God's tool to wake you up for what He wants to do. Not because He doesn't love you, but because He does. Hebrews 12 tells us, "Do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you...Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness." So, if you're going to get the pain, get the point. And sooner rather than later.
    If God's been turning up the volume, don't just turn over and go back to sleep. The noise is only going to get louder. Because God loves you too much to stop trying to get your attention; to stop working on you to live the way He created you to live. The sooner you wake up, the sooner it will let up.

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    April 27, 2023 New Territory, No Map - #9469

    Yeah, I have a lot in common with a guy from the first century B.C. Actually he was a Roman officer, leading his men on a mission that took them into uncharted territory. Back then, mapmakers drew dragons beyond the line of what was known and explored.
    So, from "dragon land," the commander dispatched a courier back to headquarters with an urgent message. This is where I cross paths with this ancient warrior. He said, "We have just marched off the map. Please send new orders."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "New Territory, No Map."
    I get that! I mean, doesn't it sometimes feel like we've marched off the map. It's crazy politically. It's hard to guess where our country might be headed, where the world might be headed. The economy seems to be an unexplored territory. It's hard to know how to plan for the future. And there are countries in the world that are like ticking time bombs in the nuclear way.
    Nature's been doing her fair share of wild things, rewriting life stories in her wake. And medical care in the future; we've seen what viruses can do. Places we've always considered "safe zones" have, at times, become killing zones: malls, theaters, schools, offices, airports and lone wolf terrorists.
    Our weather forecasts a few months ago warned of a "polar weather" system, and you could barely move at our local Wal-Mart. People didn't want to be caught unprepared for what was coming. Now, look, the weather's a whole lot easier to forecast than the world. It's increasingly hard to know what's coming and how to prepare, because there's so much we can't control or predict. But not everything.
    Years ago, my wife and I read a book called Future Shock. It was a landmark book at the time by Alvin Toffler. Maybe this "new territory, no map" isn't so new after all. He talked about the "death of permanence" and the importance of creating "stability zones" in the middle of constant change. I like to call it "an island of sanity in an insane world."
    My wife and I actually set out to create that "island" for us and our children. An environment where each family member could come each day to a place that they knew they were safe, not another battleground. Where you knew you'd be heard. You knew you'd be hugged. You knew you could talk about things without fear of rejection or condemnation.
    Traditions help; predictable rhythms in a crazy world: dinnertime, family night, bedtime off-to-school rituals, family meetings to talk about family issues. It's a map to go by.
    And while there are lots of unknowns, maybe about the economy, about the world, about government, we can try to make our personal finances a "stability zone" by putting away or throwing away our credit cards; sacrificing to get out of debt. It's cutting cords that tie us to a system that puts outside forces in control of our life.
    Sanity factors: setting up boundaries so I won't be controlled by social media that intrudes or not over-committing. Leaving room for "Murphy." You know, knowing what can go wrong might go wrong. New orders for uncharted territory. Or maybe just rediscovering some old orders we've lost in the shuffle.
    Old orders like our word for today from the Word of God, the 23rd Psalm. "The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want." A Shepherd to follow in uncharted territory. Even "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death" it says, "I will fear no evil because You are with me" (Psalm 23:4).
    I remember how safe I felt when I heard that as a kid. And how much my dad wanted me to read it for him just before he went into the surgery he would never recover from. The Shepherd, Jesus, said, "I am the good shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep" (John 10:11). Jesus did that for you, because we've all got this sin issue that separates us from God and keeps us from heaven. But for Jesus, there's no uncharted territory. He's been to the grave and back. And He's ready to lead you the rest of your life if you'll put your trust in Him. I've never gone wrong by following the Shepherd who knows every corner of the future.
    If you don't have that anchor, would you tell Him today, "Jesus, I'm Yours from this day on." Go to our website to find out how to know you belong to Him. It's ANewStory.com. Jesus is the one who has the map for your uncharted territory.

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    April 26, 2023 Hope With Skin On - #9468

    Our ministry was being honored with a gracious award from a Christian foundation, and it was named in honor of a visionary pastor in a major American city. Before his death some years ago, he'd been a powerful spiritual force in that city. But he didn't start out as a pastor. First, he was known and loved as a news anchorman for a major network station. On the night that changed his life forever, he went to cover a gang shooting. He reported at the spot where the killing had taken place. The chalk outline of the victim on the street was still behind him. He interviewed a gang member from the neighborhood and he asked him, "Have you ever thought about living another way; getting out of this cycle of violence?" It was this young man's answer that rocked him: "How can you think about another way to live when you've never seen another way to live?" It was a question that ultimately caused that anchorman to change the whole direction of his life.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Hope With Skin On."
    I wonder how many people are living the way they are because they've never seen another way to live. Everyone they know is living the same way, so how could they think about another way?
    That's where you come in if you belong to Jesus Christ. He put you where you are to be a living alternative; a flesh-and-blood demonstration of another way to treat people, another way to handle stress, a way to be happy without having scars and regrets. Our word for today from the Word of God explains how important you are (or you could be) to people you work with, or play with, or live near. Philippians 2:15 - "Become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe, as you hold out the word of life."
    For centuries, men have charted their course through the darkness by the light of the stars. The stars have shown them the way to go. Well, you're God's guiding star for some people in your personal world. Our children all went to public school in an area where they were often the only Jesus-follower in their class. But we didn't send them to school every day playing defense, just trying to "survive." We wanted them to understand that God wanted them playing offense - aggressively showing others a different way to be.
    It started when our daughter came home from an early grade talking about all the bad things the kids at school said and did. That's when I began to give our kids two send-off words every day as they left for school, "Go mad!" Now hold on! That meant "Go Make a Difference!" I told our kids that in a class where everyone lies, you need to show them that not "everyone" does, because you always tell the truth. In a class where everyone talks dirty, show them not "everyone" does because you keep it clean. Show them someone who thinks sex is too special to ruin, that your body's too important to trash, and that other people are too important to cut down. In a world where it's "all about me," you live as if it's all about them. If you become like the people around you, the light goes out and then everyone really is living in total darkness.
    So don't let the darkness around you dim your light; don't let it extinguish your light. They may try to put it out sometimes or they may attack you because you're not like them, but believe me, they desperately need for you to be different. Because you're the only Jesus they can see; you're their only hope of another way to live.
    And either your life is a reason to come to Jesus or a reason to reject Him. Don't condemn them - love them. Show them the better life you can live with Jesus in your heart. Without you, they can't see any hope of a better way. But you are their hope with skin on!

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    April 25, 2023 The High Price of Spiritual Immunity - #9467

    It had been a rough year for the flu. Yeah, it was nasty, and it was dangerous. Early in the season, my doctor told me he was already concerned about how high the death toll was in our state. And then a friend texted me and said, "It's time for me to descend into the nightly coughing abyss." She had the flu. We've had some family members spend some time in that abyss - so we knew what they were talking about.
    One thing that was unusual that year was the number of younger people who were dying from the flu. One reason, they said, could be that only about 30% of those in the 25-50 age group got a flu shot. And I know that vaccinations can be controversial. But I can speak for me and the scientists as an example. Go with the illustration. But the theory of a flu shot - or vaccination is give you a small dose of the disease to immunize you against a big dose of it. I used to tell my kids, "the good soldiers will come out and fight the bad soldiers in your blood."
    But I got to thinking as I rolled up my sleeve for my shot. For me, immunizing, I guess, is a good thing when it comes to germs. But listen, when it comes to Jesus, it's a bad thing.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The High Price of Spiritual Immunity."
    There are some troubling verses in the Bible, because they suggest that a lot of church folks may be in serious danger of dying from spiritual immunity. They've been inoculated with a mild dose of the Gospel - just enough to immunize them against really knowing Jesus; just enough to sit there when the need to trust Jesus is being preached and to think, "Hey, I'm OK. I sure hope the folks who need this are listening." Could this be you?
    Our word for today from the Word of God, Matthew 7:21-22. Now, I personally find Jesus' words here to be some of the most disturbing things He ever said. Listen, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' (they've got the language) will enter the kingdom of heaven..." Really? Verse 22: "Many will say to Me on the day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'" Then these chilling words: "I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you.'" Wow! All that Christianity - and they missed Christ.
    It's just so easy to know the words and think you know the Lord; to have Jesus in your head but not in your heart; to mistake agreeing with Jesus for commitment to Jesus. You say, "What mades me married to my wife wasn't agreeing with her. It was that moment when I committed my life to her." Well, it's the same with Jesus.
    So like a ball player hitting a home run but failing to touch first base, you'd be out at Home. You played a good game, but you missed first base. You missed walking up to that cross where Jesus paid for your sins and saying, "For me, Jesus. This was for me!" And then consciously giving yourself to the One who gave His life for you.
    So the Bible solemnly warns us church folks in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to "examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you - unless, of course, you fail the test?" Apparently you can be into Jesus but not have Jesus in you. But the good news is He's still knocking. That's the tug you feel in your heart. You've not hardened your heart to the point yet that you can't hear the voice of the Holy Spirit saying, "This is for you church person, religious person; know the verses, give to all the right offerings, but you don't know Jesus."
    This is your day to move Him 18 inches; from your head to your heart. That 18 inches is the difference between heaven and hell. Tell Him today, "Jesus, I'm Yours. Finally, I'm going to get this settled. I'm Yours." I think a visit to our website might help you get this nailed down - It's ANewStory.com - and be sure you belong to Him.
    The Bible says, "Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart." Let this be the day that you will always know you've got it done. Get this settled today...once and for all.

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    April 24, 2023 The Reason You May Be Lost - #9466

    Driving in major urban areas of America can be a challenge - especially if you haven't done much of it. But my ministry team member was doing a good job of navigating the Chicago area, driving me to a number of locations where I was speaking. In one case, he was following our local host who was leading us to a place where we had never been. Honestly, we had no clue where we were going without him. I got to telling my driver one of my many stories, and he even seemed to be enjoying it. We were in the left lane, and suddenly a car came up behind us in the right lane, flashing his lights. Then he pulled up next to us, waving his arm out the window. It was our host. Apparently, we hadn't been following him for quite a while. So he led us in a daring - maybe scary is the word - U-turn to try to get us where we were supposed to be.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Reason You May Be Lost."
    I can tell you why we were lost. We were running ahead of the one we were supposed to be following. That may be why you're not ending up where you're supposed to go. You're running ahead of God - who you're supposed to be following. Obviously, you can't be following Him if you're getting ahead of Him. Right?
    By the way, we didn't even realize we were headed the wrong direction. We would have eventually, but we would have been farther off course and it would have been a lot harder to get back on track. You may not even realize that you've left your leader, that you're proceeding on your own right now - in the wrong direction. You will eventually, when it's even harder to get back to where you're supposed to be.
    Sadly, running ahead of God and ending up in a very wrong place is nothing new. The Bible gives us one revealing picture of it in Acts 7, beginning with verse 23. It's our word for today from the Word of God. The Bible says, "When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites." Now, Moses is a Jewish boy who was providentially raised in the home of the Egyptian Pharaoh as part of the royal family. The Bible continues, "He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not." Instead, this attempt to be a leader for his people actually costs Moses their respect and forces him to flee Egypt for forty years in the wilderness.
    Actually, Moses had the right idea - he was supposed to be the deliverer for his people. But not yet. It wasn't God's time; it wasn't God's way. Moses was running ahead of the One he should have been following - and the result - disastrous. That might be where you're heading because you have not waited for your leader. Abraham and Sarah couldn't wait for God to give them their promised son in old age, so they figured out their own plan and started so much heartache. Over and over, God's children try to make it happen, and instead they just make a mess.
    Could it be you haven't been keeping your eyes on the One that you're supposed to be following? Are you maybe running ahead of Jesus, trying to hurry things up - trying to make things happen? Maybe you didn't mean to run ahead of your Lord, but you have - and you're lost and you're getting "loster," whether you realize it or not. But right now, He's pulling up beside you. He's waving you away from the wrong away you're going; waving you back to going where He's going.
    Keep your eyes on your leader, not your goal. Stay close to Jesus. Be patient and go at His pace, in His time. It's actually the fastest way to get where your life is meant to be.

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    April 21, 2023 Love That Won't Let You Down - #9465

    On our list of holidays that we all celebrate each year, I have a sneaking suspicion there might be at least one of them that was invented by greeting card companies and florists. In America we call it Valentine's Day! Florists freak out and then they count their shekels the next day. And, of course, I even did my part by helping some struggling greeting card company. Yeah, I would do that. I had to of course. I wanted to get one for the woman I love.
    And I get to celebrate on that day a lifetime love that God had given me in my amazing wife. But occasionally Valentine's Day would give me a flashback of a not-so-happy romantic memory; back in the day when I was 13 and I knew I was in love. Right!
    Let's call this junior high heartthrob "Cindy." I remember combing the stores on our little town's main street for the perfect gift for Cindy - something to let her know I had feelings for her. Well, I bought the nicest necklace that a few weeks' allowance could afford. It was a heart-shaped necklace. I wrapped it in this mushy note I wrote, put it in an envelope and I left it on her desk in study hall.
    The next day she passed by my desk and, as my heart beat loud enough to dance to, she silently left an envelope on my desk. There was a brief moment of excited anticipation, followed by one massive letdown. It was the envelope I'd given her with my note and my necklace inside. Uh-huh, I was crushed. She had rejected the love gift I'd spent everything on.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Love That Won't Let You Down."
    You know, God knows how that feels, because He's spent everything on His love gift for you and me. In our word for today from the Word of God in Romans 8:32, it says, "He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all." And then in John 3:16 it says, "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life."
    You know, you can put your name in that verse. That's how deeply personal this love is. For example, for me it goes, "God so loved Ron (or put your name in there) that He gave His one and only Son that if (there's your name) will believe in Him, then (there's your name again) will not perish but have eternal life."
    God knows the feeling of pouring out His love for us and having us just hand it back to Him. "Thanks, God, but no thanks. I'm not interested or I'm not ready." It's not a necklace we're rejecting. It's what the Bible calls "the gift of God (which) is eternal life" (Romans 6:23). In short, we are rejecting heaven. Because there's no way to get there except to have every wrong thing we've ever done forgiven. And there's no one who could do that but the man who died to pay for our sins. Jesus did the dying for the sinning we've done. Look what He spent on this gift!
    Now, for too many, Valentine's Day and anniversaries are just reminders of how disappointing human love has been. Even a great love fails to fill that gaping hole in our heart. It's too big for any human to fill. The hole in our heart has Jesus' name on it. Here's what the Bible says, "we were created by Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16). And only He has the unloseable love that will anchor us and finally complete us.
    It must hurt God a lot to have spent so much and then have us care so little. But He's a stubborn lover. He's back again today. He's offering His love to someone who's listening right now. Won't you respond to His love? Accept the gift He died to give you. Open your heart. Tell Him right where you are today, "Dear Jesus, thank you for the price you paid for me; for my sin. Today I give me to You."
    Let me encourage you to go to our website if you're wanting to be sure you belong to Jesus. Because that's what that website's all about. That's ANewStory.com. This could be the day that you find the love that you've been looking for your whole life!

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    April 20, 2023 How to Raise Kids Who Stay In Bounds - #9464

    If you watch sports very much, you've no doubt seen some great plays that ended up not counting, because they made that great play out of bounds. Oh, I've seen many arguments over whether or not they actually were out of bounds at the time; many of them have been resolved by video replay. But you don't see arguments over where the boundaries are. No, everybody knows that when they go out on the field, right, or the court, and they know exactly what the penalties are going to be for breaking the rules.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Raise Kids Who Stay In Bounds."
    If you don't have clear boundaries and clear penalties, you can't have a game. If children don't have clear boundaries and clear penalties, they can't have a life! Everywhere you look these days, you see kids who are out of control, as if there's no such thing as out of bounds. Guess where they learned that? From parents who never taught or never consistently enforced boundaries.
    Disciplining your child? It's not an option; it's a Biblical mandate for moms and dads. Our word for today from the Word of God, Proverbs 29:17, says, "Discipline your son and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul." How to have a child who gives you peace and makes you happy: discipline them.
    Discipline is one of the highest forms of love for your child. It's a love that cares how far they get, and it does something to bring them back when they've gone too far. Proverbs 13:24 says, "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." This would be a good time to make the all-important distinction between discipline and punishment. When you discipline your child, you respond thoughtfully in the way from which they will learn the most. When you punish, you're just dumping your anger on them. All they learn from that is you're out of control.
    Here's how seriously Scripture takes our responsibility to help our children learn that "what you sow, you reap." It says, "Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be (this is strong) a willing party to his death" (Galatians 6:7). So how do we help our kids learn to stay in bounds and live under control? Well, it's just like sports: clear boundaries, clear penalties, consistently and quickly enforced.
    There need to be clear, unmoving boundaries in your home, stopping them before they go too far but allowing them enough room to make some choices. And there need to be clear penalties that define exactly what will happen if they do go out of bounds.
    Too many parents either decide the boundary or the penalty in the heat of a confrontation ("OK, you're grounded for a year!") or they just keep changing the boundaries or the penalties. Can you imagine the chaos that would cause in a sporting event? It causes that kind of confusion in the life of your child. The boundaries, the penalties, they need to be discussed in advance; not in the middle of some tense situation.
    As kids get older, they should even have some input; not the deciding vote, but input into the final decision. Family sanity is based on clear boundaries and clear penalties, decided and discussed in advance, and then quickly and consistently enforced. The refs don't blow the whistle when the player is running through the bleachers with the ball. Right? They blow the whistle the second his or her foot touches the line. Take the time to enforce the boundaries early, and ultimately, you'll reap a more peaceful home.
    One more thing: the refs need to agree on where the boundaries and penalties are and what calls that are made. Mom and Dad can disagree in private about disciplinary decisions, but please never in front of the kids. Not if you want your children to respect your authority.
    If you've been lax or inconsistent in helping your children understand the boundaries and penalties, actually ask them to forgive you. Let them know that, before God, you owe it to them to do a better job of "ref-ing" the game of their life. Clarity, consistency, mutual trust and walking your talk: those are building blocks in authority that a child can respect and build a life on.

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    April 19, 2023 The Cost of Not Changing - #9463

    Once you've tasted Vermont maple syrup, all the store brands taste like goo! So my ears picked up one night when NBC Nightly News started talking about the troubles that Vermont maple farmers were having that year. They focused on one farmer who lived on a farm where they've been mapling for eight generations! This farmer had known that the maple trees were ready to be tapped for their valuable sap during the first week of March. But recent weather changes had suddenly thrown that predictable harvest schedule into total confusion.
    The previous year, he and his son nearly lost a third of their normal maple sap because it was either too soon or too late to capture it. For all those eight generations, this family had used one time-honored method of tapping their maple trees; a spout on the tree and a bucket underneath. But there's this new technology, I guess, that enables a farmer to know when the sap is ready and to capture it in that brief window. But tubes and vacuums seemed pretty foreign to a man who'd known one way that worked all his life and for generations. But after all they lost that previous year, his son finally convinced him. His son's comment was, "It takes some coercion to get him to go along with new ideas, for sure." But the veteran farmer did it. The NBC News reporter identified why. He would do anything to keep the farm for his son. In the reporter's words, "Even if it means doing what he hates the most - changing his old ways."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Cost of Not Changing."
    When the method you know, and the method you're comfortable with is costing you the harvest, you change or you lose the harvest. How can that lesson be lost on those of us who have joined Jesus in what He came to earth to do - seeking and saving the lost? Jesus actually called the work of bringing people to Him harvest. And honestly, there's a harvest many believers and many ministries may be losing because we hate to change.
    While North American Christians have built this massive Christian subculture, we've been losing our culture. And the lost people around us have changed dramatically. They don't know God's rules; they don't know God's Book; they don't know the religious words we use; they don't ever plan to go to any of our religious meetings. But in many cases, we're deciding what we'll do to reach them based on what we're comfortable doing; what we're used to. But since when does a rescuer decide what he's going to do based on what's comfortable for him? He does whatever he has to do to save that dying person, and it's seldom comfortable!
    Listen to God's greatest harvester, the Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 9:22, our word for today from the Word of God. He says, "I have become all things to all men that by all possible means I might save some." Just before this, he's told us that when he's with the Jews, he comes in a Jewish package; when he's with the Gentiles, he's as Gentile as God will allow him to be; when he's with those who need an uncomplicated presentation of Christ, he becomes what they need. All the time making sure he is never "ashamed of the Gospel of Christ" (Romans 1:16) as he said.
    And Paul followed a Savior who constantly changed the package and the presentation to break through to changing audiences. But Paul and His Savior never changed the product! They never compromised their message! Like that Vermont farmer, we're harvesting the same product, but we've got to be willing to change the way we get it as much as the harvest requires.
    So are you willing to change so we can bring in the harvest of lost lives? Will you, for example, learn to tell them about Jesus in their words like a missionary does in a foreign culture, and not just speak our Christianese? Are you willing to use the kind of program, the kind of music, the kind of package that speaks the language of the person you're trying to reach? Are you willing to reach them in locations where they're comfortable and maybe you're not? Are you willing to introduce the Gospel by starting with needs they care about?
    We might be talking change here; it's what we hate to do the most. But the cost of not changing is much higher than the cost of changing. Because that might be souls lost forever, maybe because we wouldn't change.

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    April 18, 2023 Paved-Over Problems - #9462

    If you travel America's interstate highways much, you've seen lots of cars, lots of scenery, and lots of road kills. Yes, many animals still think they can beat the cars that are storming down the highway - and they're wrong. They end up as those carcasses we see by the edge of the road. It must be a full-time job just picking up all those road kills. At one spot on an interstate in Pennsylvania, they didn't pick up one of them. No, the news reported that a paving crew found a dead deer in their path and they didn't remove it. They just paved right over it! Great! No one could see it now, but they felt it!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Paved-Over Problems."
    It may seem unbelievable that people actually paved over an obstacle in the road. But don't be surprised, it happens all the time - in human relationships. Instead of dealing with a conflict or a problem, we just pave over it. But everyone's still going to keep hitting that bump in the road. And it's going to keep causing problems until you get it out in the open and get rid of it.
    God has never been a fan of paving over problems. Throughout the Bible, He consistently tells us to do quick repairs, to deal with things while they're small, to face issues rather than burying them. For example, in Ephesians 4, beginning with verse 26, our word for today from the Word of God, He says: "In your anger do not sin." Notice - God recognizes there will be times when we get angry, but there's a way to keep that from becoming a hurtful sin. "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry."
    Don't pave over the disagreement. Don't pave over the hurt. Deal with it right away while it's small, before you stuff it and give the devil something he can turn into bitterness and resentment. In fact, the very next verse says: "And do not give the devil a foothold." A few verses later, God commands us to deal aggressively with any "road kill" that we might be tempted to just pave over. He says, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
    I know of no way to get rid of hard feelings and hurts and conflicts without getting them out in the open where you can face them, where you can deal with them. Sometimes that means taking the risk of confronting; "speaking the truth in love," as the Bible says. Even here, we're told in Ephesians how to - and not to - do it: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up." So, you confront in a building up way; not a tearing down way. First, you gently explain how you feel, recognizing that your feelings might be wrong. Let them explain what they meant to say or do - often understanding eliminates the issue. Extend to that person who hurt you the same undeserved forgiveness that Jesus extended to you. Then work together on steps that can help you walk together in harmony from here.
    The things you've tried to bury are like ticking time bombs or toxic waste dumps. The longer you wait to deal with them, the bigger, the deeper they will grow. Peace at any price usually means just war postponed...and bigger than it would have been if you had dealt with it sooner.
    How many marriages could have been saved, how many family relationships could have been saved, how many friendships, how many ministries, churches could have been spared devastating hurts and divisions if only someone had refused to pave over what should have been confronted and removed. Allow me to suggest a good time to do that in your life - today!

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    April 17, 2023 What You'll Have to Show for the Life You Live - #9461

    The headlines that day were about a movie star dying. But Paul Walker had been a lot more. For those familiar with the "Fast and Furious" movies that he was famous for, his death was especially jarring. Because of the way he died - a high-speed accident, the exotic race car that he was in exploding in flames; eerily reminiscent of the movies that made him famous. But in the days that followed that initial shock, people were actually focusing on Paul Walker the man, not just the movie star.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "What You'll Have to Show for the Life You Live."
    Well, Paul was remembered as a humanitarian. I guess he used his wealth to start a charity that provided disaster relief around the world: in tornado-ravaged Alabama, in Indonesia after that great tsunami. He was on the ground personally right after the Haiti earthquake. When he died, he was returning from his charity's fundraiser to help victims of a Filipino typhoon. And since his then 15-year-old daughter came to live with him, he was learning to love what was becoming the best role of his life - Dad.
    I was reminded of what it says on my own dad's grave, actually, by this. To most, my dad was known for the leadership positions that he rose to in his life. But his headstone only has two words on it besides his name - "Husband," "Father." After all is said and done, that's what lasted. Other people could have held the positions he had, but no one else could have been my Dad, and he was a good one.
    Soon after Paul Walker's death, I watched a wife and three sons pay tribute to their husband and father who had just died in another high-speed crash. This time it was a speeding train in New York City. They said, "We just wanted everyone to know what a great husband and dad and person he was."
    It's all made me think again about what really matters. And it's underscored what may be the two greatest issues in our life. Which, strangely, we seldom think about: legacy and eternity. The Lakota Sioux have a proverb that's tattooed in my mind: "We will be known forever by the tracks we leave behind." For the most part, those tracks won't be accomplishments. It will be people.
    Like Paul Walker's daughter and those three sons of the man in the train wreck. The seeds we plant in the souls of our family will blossom long after we're gone; seeds of love and integrity and character, or seeds of selfishness, anger, and hardness too.
    As philosopher William James said, "The purpose of life is to live it for something that will outlast it." That's the lives we invest in, not the loot we accumulate or the lists of our achievements. And then there's that issue of eternity. See, often, death comes suddenly without time to prepare. And the Bible reveals what's on the other side. Hebrews 9:27, our word for today from the Word of God puts it this way, "People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment."
    Some of my worst nightmares have taken me into important situations where I was caught unprepared. A test, a speech, a major event; those were dreams. What's far more significant is the reality of being prepared for whatever's on the other side of my last heartbeat, because that's going to last forever.
    Legacy. Eternity. The things that will matter after we're gone should be what matters while we're here. How do we prepare for judgment on the other side of our last breath? Well, the Bible says that we all face the judgment; the death penalty we've earned for running our lives and hijacking our life and doing it our way instead of our Creator's way. But then, that's why Jesus came. Because the Bible says, "He carried our sins in His own body on the tree." He went there to die my death penalty; to take my hell so I could go to His heaven.
    The only way to be prepared for the final exam before God is to ask this Jesus to be your rescuer from your sin and to put all your trust in Him. If you've never done that, would you tell Him today, "Jesus, I'm yours." Please go to our website. It's ANewStory.com, and you'll see there how you can get this settled this very day.
    There is no greater peace than knowing that you are ready for eternity however it comes and whenever it comes.

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    April 14, 2023 The Tapestry of Your Life - #9460

    There are many kinds of artists. My friend, Martha, she made her masterpieces out of thread. She lived in a tiny, sparsely furnished house in a remote corner of the Navajo reservation. It hadn't been an easy life with 11 children and a husband who blew most of his meager income on alcohol. But she found a way to provide at least enough money for her family to eat. She wove Navajo rugs. Now, I've had the privilege actually of being there when she was working on one. She had a loom in her living room where she worked for hours on end, pulling thread from one side to the other. In some ways, it didn't look like it had much promise; no pattern could be seen anywhere. It was all in her mind. But there was something beautiful in her mind that only she could see as she patiently wove those threads back and forth. And when she was finished, she'd produced a masterpiece for which a tourist would pay thousands of dollars in a nearby store. She'd only get a fraction of that, but shame on anyone who ever questioned what she was doing on that loom.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Tapestry of Your Life."
    When I watched that Navajo woman weaving something beautiful from those seemingly random threads, I was looking at a picture of the ways of God, because He's the original Artist, and He only does masterpieces. He is, in a sense, the Master Weaver on the loom of your life. You can't see what He's making from the threads in front of you, but He can. And it's something beautiful. It's something valuable.
    His working is powerfully described in our word for today from the Word of God in Ephesians 1:11. As you listen, take this as a guarantee about your life. Speaking of those who belong to Jesus Christ, it says, "In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will."
    God's saying here that He has had a plan for your life since before there was a you. Like someone watching that Navajo mother weaving her rug, you can't see the plan. It's in the mind of the artist. But you can be sure that He is weaving the tapestry you were made for. He's weaving it today - and every day.
    The threads you can see right now? They may be dark. Some of the threads don't seem to fit. But God is still at the loom. He's still going somewhere. He's making something in your life.
    And no matter how random, even how senseless it all seems right now, you have this promise: "'I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" And He's bringing into your life those people, those experiences that will help accomplish His grand design for you - to be like His Son, Jesus. The Bible says He is working everything together for you who were "predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son" (Romans 8:29).
    Many times when I couldn't see the plan, and only what seemed to be tangled threads, I have found myself saying, "Father, I don't understand You, but I always trust You." After all, would someone who gave His Son to die for you ever do you wrong? The Bible says, "He spared not His own Son, but offered Him up for us all. Will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32)
    You can trust the weaver who's at that heavenly loom right now. He knows exactly what He's doing. Trust the plan, even though you can't see it. He is making your life into something very beautiful and very valuable.

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    April 13, 2023 No Place to Land With Your Pain - #9459

    I've lost count of how many times I have landed in an airplane. But who would care? For the most part - routine landings - except for the ones that were unusually soft or unusually hard. In fact I experienced one of those hard landings a while back. We hit the runway, well, let's say with authority.
    Now, my neighbor in the seat next to me commented very matter-of-factly, "Navy pilot." When I asked him what he meant by that, he said, "Well, I've observed this over the years. The guys who are former Air Force pilots glide in because they're used to landing on big runways at big airports. But the former Navy pilots, they land hard. They're used to landing on a small speck - the ship in the middle of the ocean."
    And that started me thinking, "Man, if all I had to land on was this little speck in a big ocean called a carrier, I'd land hard too." That's the smart thing to do when there's only one spot to land on.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "No Place to Land With Your Pain."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 2 Corinthians 1, and I'm going to be reading verses 8 and 9. As I read, would you see if any of these phrases might sound familiar in your life? Here's what Paul says, "We do not want you to be uninformed about the hardships we suffered in the Province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead."
    Any of those phrases sound like anything you've been going through, like hardships, under great pressure, beyond your ability to endure? He said, "In our hearts, man, we felt like we were dying this death sentence." A dark time! In a sense, Paul's saying he has no place to land with his pain but one place, and that's why God allowed all the pain so his options would be limited to one. With only one place to land, Paul landed hard in the arms of God and he traded in self-reliance for God-reliance.
    This talented, competent, successful, driven, well-educated man had to reach the end of himself to find out what God's power was like. And when he had only God to turn to, he said, "Man, that's when I learned who I was supposed to rely on." He traded in human strength for heaven's strength.
    You can learn a lot from studying the people who got a miracle in Jesus' day. The Bible says in Mark 1, "A man with leprosy came to Him and begged Him on his knees, 'If you are willing, you can make me clean.'" And Mark 5, one of the synagogue rulers came. "Seeing Jesus, he fell at His feet and pleaded earnestly with Him." Now, this guy was a "big shot"; he was an official. And yet you see him pleading earnestly and falling at Jesus' feet.
    And it says of the woman then who came to Jesus with a hemorrhaging problem that she'd had for 12 years, "When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd, because she thought, 'If I just touch His clothes I would be healed.'" You could just see her desperately pushing through the crowd.
    See, people who got a miracle landed hard at Jesus' feet; totally powerless, grabbing Him as if He was their only hope. And their desperate faith released the power of God to change their situation. This is faith that doesn't just pray, "Dear God..." No, it prays "Oh, Lord." And it lands hard.
    Well, maybe you're running out of fuel and you're running out of places to land. There's one place left. You could land hard at the feet of Jesus Christ. You know, that's how you even begin a relationship with God. That's how you get your sins forgiven. That's how you trade hell for heaven, as you realize there's nothing you can do to contribute to you getting to heaven; that would give you a relationship with God. And so, that's when you grab Jesus. You land hard in His arms and you say, "Jesus, you died for my sins. Rescue me."
    Maybe you've never done that. Maybe you'd like to. You want to know you belong to Him. That's exactly why our website is there. Would you go there today? It's ANewStory.com. Jesus is waiting for you to pin all your hopes on Him. And when you do, you'll be ready to fly again.

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    April 12, 2023 Your Stretch of the Beach - #9458

    Two words that will inevitably cause a lot of excitement to appear on any face in our family - Ocean City. That's the name of this charming town on the Jersey shore where our family has got a lot of memories over the years. There was this one trip where several of us rendezvoused there for a couple of days making a few more memories.
    I was riding my bike along the boardwalk there, and I passed some Herculean young men jogging the boards. Their shirts had four letters on them: OCBP. That's Ocean City Beach Patrol. Over a century ago, as Ocean City was becoming a tourist mecca, the number of drownings began to increase. So, the Beach Patrol was formed. As of the last time I was there, they had a record to be proud of. In 100 years, they had never lost anyone at a guarded beach. I remember a time some years ago when a young Amish woman drowned in the Atlantic Ocean, but that was on an unguarded beach.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Your Stretch of the Beach."
    I've seen those lifeguards in action. They concentrate on their stretch of the water and the people that are in it almost as if it's a life-or-death matter. Because it is! Just like the rescue responsibility God has entrusted to you.
    Our word for today from the Word of God; Proverbs 24:11-12. As you listen, would you try to picture some of the people on the stretch of beach God has given you to guard. He says, "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, 'But we knew nothing about this,' does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? Will He not repay each person according to what he has done?" God's saying here, "If you have a rescue responsibility, there is no excuse for you letting people die without your trying to do something about it."
    The awful tragedy is that so many Christless lives are being lost forever because one of God's spiritual lifeguards is leaving their beach unguarded. Your beach? It's that circle of influence God has given you - the people you work with, live near, go to school with or recreate with. But too many of us lifeguards, we stay in the lifeguard station, enjoying the fellowship of the other lifeguards, singing our lifeguard songs, planning our lifeguard meetings while people are dying in the surf.
    Maybe we leave our stretch of the beach unguarded because we forget that telling people about Jesus really is life-or-death. The people around you may not look or sound like they're dying spiritually, but listen to a few of the words God uses in the Bible to describe the lost people around you. They are called in the Bible, "Those being led away to death" (Proverbs 24:11). They're called "lost" in Luke 19:10. In Ephesians 2:12, they are "without God, without hope." In John 3:36, "Whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." Second Thessalonians 1:9 says those who don't know God "will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord." And in Revelation 20:15, God says, "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."
    These are people you know, or ought to know. And you carry in your heart the one message that can change all this; the message of a Savior who loved them enough to die so they don't have to. Your job isn't to persuade them to come to Jesus, but it is to present Jesus. If you haven't done that, then they don't know they're dying and they don't know who to grab to rescue them.
    You may think there's someone better to rescue the people around you, but it's you that God put in the middle of them. This is your stretch of the beach. The people there are your responsibility. Please don't leave your beach unguarded. Too many people are dying on unguarded beaches.

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    April 11, 2023 Getting the Cover Off Your Cage - #9457

    I would call home to my wife, and I'd get a serenade. No, not from her. From our canary. We had only had him about a couple of weeks, and man, I found out he could sing up a storm! The whole time I was talking to my wife, the yellow bird symphony was going on in the background. It was hard to hear that canary sing and stay gloomy very long let me tell you. Every night we would put this cloth over Cherokee's cage - that was his name. And all the singing stopped. The next morning I would go into the living room and there wasn't a sound coming from under that cloth. But as soon as I took the cover off, the canary started jumping all over the cage and singing his wakeup song.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Getting the Cover Off Your Cage."
    Each day with that canary was like life began when the cover came off that cage. In a way, that's like you and me. Your cage? That might be some painful memories, or a broken heart, or maybe a broken dream. Maybe you're caged in by some addiction or a habit, or anger that's eating you up inside. For some of us it's depression or even suicidal thoughts that have held us in. There's a cover on that cage, whatever it is. And as you listen today, it's dark in there isn't it? And maybe there's nothing to sing about.
    Well, good news for you in our word for today from the Word of God in Psalm 40. King David said, "The Lord turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth." King David's imagery is a little different, but in canary terms, the cover came off his dark cage and gave him a reason to sing.
    The same Lord that did that for King David wants to do that for you. In fact, that's why Jesus Christ came. He says in the Bible, "The Lord has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners." Did you notice that, "release from darkness?"
    Now, that little bird of ours was stuck in a dark world that he couldn't change until someone bigger and more powerful came along to remove that cover and release him from his darkness. The Savior, Jesus, came to do that for you and me. He came to die for our darkness, our sin, to remove the death sentence you and I have on our head because of our sins. And when you tell Jesus that you're trusting Him completely for a relationship with God, the cover finally comes off. All the guilt, all the shame, all of that stuff in the past is gone; it's forgiven.
    So many people have told me right after they've reached out and put their trust in Christ, and they've said, "I feel like 100 pounds has just been lifted off my shoulders." And the pain is suddenly lightened because God himself is picking it up for you. The dark feelings and the power that may have kept you in darkness? All of that is replaced by this unexplainable personal peace.
    Now, our canary? He had no choice when the cover came off his cage, but you do. Your release from darkness comes when you open your heart to Jesus Christ, and that could be today. You tired of the darkness? Well, you might be ready for Jesus to come in. And if you are, I want to encourage you to go to our website today. Because basically what it's there for is to explain how you can begin that relationship with Jesus. Just go there. Just spend a few minutes there. It's ANewStory.com. Got nothing for you to join. There's no religion to be a part of here. It's all about you reaching out and embracing the love of the man who died for you.
    There is light to replace your darkness. There's a song that can replace your sin the day you let Jesus lift the cover off of your life.

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    April 10, 2023 All The Good Stuff You're Missing - #9456

    Many years ago, one of the 20th Century's great Christian leaders, Peter Deyneka, was immigrating to America on a long Atlantic voyage with only a few coins in his pocket. When he got hungry, he reached into this little bag he'd brought with him to eat the same thing every meal - a few dry crusts of bread and some water. He was pretty hungry when his ship finally docked in New York; not to mention pretty sick of bread crusts. That's when he realized something that he'd wished he had understood at the beginning of the voyage - three full meals a day were included in his fare. They were all included in the price of his ticket!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "All The Good Stuff You're Missing."
    That young traveler had been living at a much lower level than he needed to live! He had no idea all the good things he'd gotten when he got his ticket. Well, when God looks at His children, sailing through life, He sees a lot of us living the same way - under-living. Not realizing how we could be living and all the good stuff we got when we opened our lives to Jesus Christ.
    Biblical passages like Ephesians 3, beginning with verse 12, our word for today from the Word of God, they spell out what's included in your ticket. Paul writes: "In Him (that's in Jesus) and through faith in Him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence...I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Holy Spirit in your inner being." Okay, so there's supernatural inner strength that comes when Jesus comes in. Let me go on. "I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power...to know this love that surpasses knowledge" - okay, so you got this indescribable love and security when you got Jesus. Then He goes on to say, "that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
    Imagine all the resources of God Himself downloadable by you - His wisdom for your questions, His power for your difficulties, His love for your lonely times, His peace for your troubled times. We don't have to live like these stressed out, strung out, weighed down people we often are! Dry bread crusts when we've got all the resources of God at our disposal! Wow!
    Those resources are accessed through serious prayer. And we under-live because we under-pray. We over-worry, we overwork and we get overwhelmed because we under-pray. I mean really pray. One model of prayer that moves heaven to your need is found in Acts 4, where the apostles have been threatened by the same Jewish leaders who engineered the death of Jesus. The apostle's response? They gather the believers together and they "raised their voices together in prayer to God. 'Sovereign Lord,' they said, 'You made the heaven and the earth and the sea."
    Then they go on to celebrate the fact that all that's happening is under God's sovereign power and will. Finally, after they focused only on the greatness of their God, they ask Him for boldness and supernatural power. The place where they prayed was shaken, the Holy Spirit showed up big-time, and then they told everybody about Jesus.
    Now, there's the pattern for aiming all of God's power at your situation; at your need. First, you focus on your big, big God, not your big, big problem. Then, you trust Him for the big, big things you need. But always put your praise before your please, your worship before your request.
    When you take a little time to celebrate the awesomeness of the God you belong to, the God you're trusting in, you start to access all those great resources that came with your ticket. You don't have to live the way you've been living! You've got so much to draw on since the day you let Jesus in! So, don't wait until you reach your heavenly destination to realize how you could have been living all along!

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    April 7, 2023 Lincoln's Good Friday Wish - #9455

    Abraham Lincoln was kind of a hero of my boyhood. No, not because I knew him personally, not because I was alive when he was alive. But I'll tell you what, I did study a lot about him. He died on Good Friday. Yeah, he did. And until recently, I didn't know his final wish. He actually whispered it to his wife just before the fatal shot at Ford's Theatre, and it's pretty moving.
    Abe Lincoln grew up with a God-loving mother and a religious father. But he was demanding and his dad was distant. Abe's mom died when he was a boy. And as Lincoln grew, he went from a spiritual skeptic to actually a Bible-bashing unbeliever. But somewhere along the way, he began to realize his deep need for God. I guess losing a son and carrying the weight of a bleeding nation can do that for a man.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Lincoln's Good Friday Wish."
    The Civil War ended five days before that fateful Good Friday. On what would be the Great Emancipator's last day on earth, he and his wife went for a carriage ride. And, with the war over, they kind of dreamed together about the months and the years ahead.
    Then at the theater that night - literally as the assassin crept into the President's box - Abraham Lincoln uttered his final wish to his wife, Mary. "We will visit the Holy Land and see those places hallowed by the footsteps of the Savior. There is no place I so much desire to see as Jerusalem." And then he was gone. In his last moments, he was thinking about Jesus. "The Savior," he called Him.
    The journey Abe Lincoln wished for is actually a journey I have made, because ultimately it's a journey of the heart: Walking with Jesus, through the cheering multitudes of that Palm Sunday, through the jeering crowd of Good Friday, and then following the trail of blood to that place of death called Skull Hill.
    The crown made of thorns jammed into the forehead of the King of Kings. The merciless mockers, blaspheming the One that angels worship. The spikes pounded into the hands that shaped the universe. The "God, why have You forsaken Me?" cry of God's one and only Son. My heart's screaming, "Why?"
    The Bible answers in our word for today from the Word of God in Galatians 2:20. "The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me." Did you get that? For me - that's what levels me. Jesus chose to go through that hell for me. And hell it was, because the Bible says, "He personally carried our sins in His own body on the cross" (1 Peter 2:24) - the pain, the guilt, the eternal separation from God for all the sinning of my life. Jesus took my hell so I could go to His heaven.
    Yes, my heart has been to His cross. I went there with my sin and I left forgiven. I went there dirty and I came away clean. I went there without Him in my life and I left there with the promise I'll never be without Him again. Because I got what He died for when those two words captured my heart. "For me." He did this for me.
    I embraced Him as the Savior for me, for my sin. And I flung open the door of my heart to this One who has loved me like no other. He said, "If you open the door, I will come in" (Revelation 3:20). He kept His promise. He's done that for everyone who's ever opened that door, and He will for you if you'll make your way to that cross in your heart and tell Him, "For me, Jesus. For me."
    If you've never told the man who died for you that you're pinning all your hopes on Him, would you do that today on this Good Friday? Go to our website. It's ANewStory.com, because I've laid out there for you how you can be sure you belong to Him, making this your personal "Jesus day." So He walked out of His grave that Easter morning so He could walk into your life today.

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    April 6, 2023 So Rich, So Needy - #9454

    A close friend of ours was in China on family business. In the process, he had a wonderful opportunity to worship with some Chinese believers in a Sunday church service. It was a not-to-be-forgotten experience. They pointed him to something he didn't know existed in China - a Christian bookstore. It was the only one in this large city, and it's hard to find. It's stuffed into this very small space on the fourth floor of a nondescript building - but it's a Christian bookstore in China. Our friend commented in an email about the small number of Christian books that were available there in Chinese. In addition to books, they also had a small selection of Christian bookmarks and refrigerator magnets with verses or inspirational thoughts on them. And there was one fridge magnet that our friend absolutely could not, and cannot, get out of his mind. Here in the midst of this great city in this great land where Christians have paid such a price to follow Jesus was a magnet that simply said, "Pray for America." The only comment our friend had was this: "How humbling." I guess.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "So Rich, So Needy."
    If you're an American Christian, you probably think of China as a place we need to pray for - and it is. But in China, apparently they think they need to pray for us, and indeed they do. Their faith is passionate there; ours is often so casual, so powerless. What for Chinese believers is a passion is for too many of us a profession, a bunch of religious activities or a religious business. We have so much, and yet in terms of spiritual power and passion, some think we seem to have so little. They have so little and yet, in many ways, they have so much. I'm glad and I'm humbled that they're praying for us.
    If you're an American Christian, I hope you're praying for us, too. It's hard to read the description of the Laodicean church in Revelation 3 and not see us American believers in these words: "You are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm...I am about to spit you out of My mouth," Jesus said. "You say, 'I am rich'...but you do not realize you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked."
    See, we live amid the greatest spiritual wealth in the history of the Christian church. We've got Christian everything. We've got Christian books, videos, conferences, websites, seminars, celebrities, and buildings. And yet with the largest Christian subculture in the history of the Church, we have lost our culture for Christ. And we are the "12:48 People" who live under the judgment of our Master's words in Luke 12:48, "To whom much is given, much is required."
    So, the call of 2 Chronicles 7:14, our word for today from the Word of God, must be a call to you and me. "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." The destiny of a nation depends on what God's people do. Not the politicians, not the secular humanists or the abortionists.
    As we go, so goes our nation. And we need to be going to our knees for ourselves, repenting of our proud self-reliance, of our apathy; abandoning the faith we have in programs and depending on prayer instead; seeking to know God - to touch His face - not just to know more about God; and to admit our compromises and our sin and abandon it.
    From there, we have to realize the responsibility we each have as a Christian from the strongest, richest, most resourced Church in our world. For God has always judged the true righteousness of His people by their love and commitment to three groups of people: the poor, the victims, and the lost. Is that what we're about? Is that what you're about?
    Somewhere in China today, they're praying for us. Let's be part of the answer to their prayers!

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    April 5, 2023 Hope for the Prodigal - #9453

    It's the mission with the famous birds. During our ministry trip to California, I had a chance to visit one of the most charming of the old Spanish missions, San Juan Capistrano. If you've heard of it, it's because of the birds - the swallows. The swallows like to hang out at that mission until about October 23rd every year. And then like a lot of northerners they fly south for the winter. Oh, but they will return. In fact, lots of local folk and tourists will be at the mission on the day the birds are expected to return. The time might vary a little, but one thing you could be sure of when you see them leave, they'll be back.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Hope for the Prodigal."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Luke 7 right out of the life of Jesus. Verse 12: "As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out - the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and He said, 'Don't cry.' Then He went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, 'Young man, I say to you, get up!' The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother."
    Here's a mother who was sure her son was gone until Jesus intervened. Then you have these tender words (I just love this!), "Jesus gave him back to his mother." He's still doing that with sons and daughters who look as if they're spiritually gone. Wandering from the Savior you love, the Savior you so want your child to love.
    Maybe you're listening right now with a heart that is literally aching for a son or daughter who is spiritually away. Their spiritual leaving has begun a season of winter in your heart, much like the winter that follows the departure of those San Juan Capistrano swallows. But don't give up on the spring of their return. Maybe it seems hopeless right now, but don't underestimate the power of your Savior to bring stray children home. Believe Jesus for the day when He will in a sense give you back the child you have prayed for so long.
    In the meantime, let the father and the prodigal son be your example. You know he didn't chase after that boy nagging him about why he shouldn't go. So many of us as parents make the mistake of expressing our deep concern by nagging and pushing our kids to be right with God, to stop making those unrighteous choices. But when you push on someone, don't they end up farther away from you? They need space to have the dignity to let this be a personal choice not a surrender to your viewpoint. And like the father of the prodigal, always let your son or daughter know you love them unconditionally. And when sin lets them down, and it will, they will return to the place where they know they have been loved through it all.
    We accomplish more by talking to God about our kids than talking to our kids about God. Don't give up. Please don't give up. Claim the promise of Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Your prayers focus all the power of Almighty God on that son or that daughter wherever they are no matter how far they are.
    And remember, Jesus is a shepherd; he persistently and skillfully goes after lost sheep, including that one you love and who He loves even more. In fact, at this very moment I believe the Good Shepherd is pursuing your wandering loved one. You may not know the way to soften their heart, but Jesus does.
    Trust that same God who brings those swallows back faithfully every year to one day bring back the one you love; to bring him or her back to Him, to you. And you know what? It will be spring again.

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    April 4, 2023 What You Gain From Your Loss - #9452

    Beep ball. Yep, I'd never heard of it until I received an email from a listener who told me she's blind. Beep ball sounds like fun, unless you're sighted like I am. Apparently, beep ball is a lot like softball except the bases beep. That helps the player know where the bases are or where the ball is coming from, if you have good ears; which, of course, blind people develop. The sighted people have to play blindfolded, and they just can't process the beeps like the blind players can. They're used to hearing more than a sound. They hear the direction of the sound. So the sighted people don't stand a chance playing beep ball!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "What You Gain From Your Loss."
    No one would question, obviously, that you miss an awful lot if you can't see. But you also gain some things that other people don't have�like an amazing sense of hearing and the sharpening of your other senses. Just ask those sighted people who keep losing to blind people in beep ball!
    See, God has a wonderful way of adding or deepening some precious qualities through our times of loss and limitation and pain. Some of the most unforgettable people I've ever met have been people who've suffered much more than I have, and they will tell you it was their struggle that made them strong. You may not like the process; probably don't. But you'll like the beautiful results that can come from the process, if you choose to let it make you better instead of making you bitter.
    There's a wonderful statement of how we gain from what we lose in our word for today from the Word of God. It sheds light on those suffering times when we're asking that perplexing question, "Why?" 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 tell us this: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."
    If you never go through a hurting time, you'll never experience that special compassion and comfort of Almighty God. If you've never experienced that compassion and comfort, you don't have much to give to hurting people around you. If you'll seek God in your suffering, He'll pour those caring qualities into you when you're feeling crushed, overwhelmed, agonizing. But they're not just to get you through. No, He fills you up with resources you never had before, resources to make you a well of compassion and comfort for a world of broken people, people in pain; resources that can only be developed through hard times...through hurting times.
    What senses does God want to deepen through your pain? Incredible qualities like radar for the deep needs behind people's deeds. A sense of compassion, which literally means the ability to "feel with" someone. God can use your pain to cultivate a wonderful tenderness in your heart and in your responses. People who have been through the valley with Jesus emerge with this amazing ability to care, to wait, and to trust God. And there's this sense of quiet confidence and deep peace in someone who has been kept afloat by the total sufficiency of Christ when there was nothing else to hang onto. They have this "nothing can sink me" poise of a person who's found out when Jesus was all they had that Jesus is all you need.
    Honestly, having those kind of hardship-sharpened senses gives you an edge in the game of life. God wants you to use what you're going through to give you the emotional equipment to make you a powerful "make a difference" person; one of God's wounded healers. This painful process that you're going through? It can give you a powerful tool kit from which to be one of God's wounded healers in a hurting world.

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    April 3, 2023 Easter and the Dumbest Order In History - #9451

    I've got to confess; sometimes the Bible actually makes me laugh out loud. I mean, I was reading the Easter Story, and it happened again. They're about to bury Jesus in a borrowed tomb. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, issues this command to his soldiers: "Make it as secure as you know how" (Matthew 27:65).
    This has to be - at least in retrospect - maybe the dumbest order in history. "Use a really big rock, guys. Put on a really strong seal, and post some really intimidating guards." Sure, Pilate was probably concerned about, you know, keeping thieves out and that kind of thing. Well, Governor, that's not your problem. Your problem is keeping Jesus in! That's Mission Impossible!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Easter and the Dumbest Order In History."
    No man, no plan, no empire can stand in the way of Jesus. The stone? Rolled away. The seal? Easily broken. The soldiers? Here's what the Bible says: "So afraid...that they shook and became like dead men" (Matthew 28:4).
    And Jesus? Well, our word for today from the Word of God is Luke 24:5. Here's what it says, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen!" (Luke 24:5). Our precious granddaughter said it this way as she was waking up, "It's Easter morning. And Jesus is alive again!"
    He's not "entombed" in some dusty old history book or in some religious institution or religious observance. No! He's the all-powerful, death-reversing, game-changing Savior who's proven there's nothing He can't beat. Unleashed that Easter morning, Jesus is this very day, healing families that nothing else can heal. He's crushing Satan. He's lifting up the oppressed. He's protecting the vulnerable. He's reshaping nations, steering history. This living Christ is shattering addictions, He's defying disease. He's making sinners like me into living proof that He's alive.
    And He's fighting for you if you belong to Him. Maybe you're not sure you do. Well, this living Savior is knocking on the door of your heart this very season. He's seeking to do for you what He has done for millions of people who've let Him in. He walked out of His grave so He could walk into your life. He died on a cross so you could be forgiven of the sin that will forever keep you out of heaven and condemn you to an unthinkable eternity. But he already died that death penalty. He died to pay for it. He's offering - yes, this season - to forgive every sin of your life, because He died for every sin of your life. He's standing ready to unleash that resurrection power on the things you can't fix, and the things you can't change, the things you can't control.
    You see, they found out two thousand years ago what we've been finding out ever since that. Nothing... nothing can stop this Jesus. And today He stands at the door of your life. He's ready to come in. He's ready to bring all that love and all that power into your life. If you have never begun a personal relationship with this living Savior named Jesus, couldn't be a better time of year than this to let Him come into the life that He paid for on that cross.
    You say, "Ron, how do I do that?" Listen, tell Him, "Jesus I'm yours." And let me invite you to join me at our website. It's ANewStory.com. And let me explain to you there how to be sure you belong to Him. And then for you this will be the Easter like no other.

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    March 31, 2023 The Deadly Cost of "Me First" - #9450

    Before videos and DVDs there was a primitive form of media known as Super 8 movies. And that was the medium on which we were able to capture many memories as our kids were growing up, which was a great improvement over what my parents had to record memories when I was growing up. They had a chisel and a stone tablet. Well, our three children all enjoyed being in the movies, but one of them enjoyed it a little too much. And, no, I'm not about to tell you which one. But this child loved the camera, so much that it didn't matter whose birthday we were filming or what activity, this same little face kept popping up right in front of the camera, effectively blocking out anyone else that might be in the picture.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Deadly Cost of 'Me First'"

    If it's Louie's birthday - that's not the name of anyone in our family, OK - then Max shouldn't be pushing himself in front and making himself the self-appointed star of a movie that's supposed to be about someone else. It's really not cute and it really messes up the picture. Just ask God. People have been doing that to Him for a long time.
    At least as long ago as the infamous Tower of Babel, where we find our word for today from the Word of God, it's in Genesis 11, beginning with verse 4 where "They said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves..." A name for ourselves - one of our favorite things to make, isn't it? The Bible goes on to say, "But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world."
    The tower might as well have been in the shape of a raised, clenched fist. They were saying, "We're going to be the stars here. We want to be important. So we're going to build something that will show everybody, even God, how really important we are." And God responded with serious judgment.
    There's a vivid picture here of a lesson we all need to remember - the deadly sin of self-importance. It was the beginning of the end for Saul, the Jewish king who started with such promise and a desire to put God out in front. The Bible puts it this way: "He has set up a monument in his own honor" (1 Samuel 15:12). That's a sin many of us could be guilty of. Honestly, could it be you've been spending a lot of energy promoting yourself? Pushing to be in front? Trying to make a name for yourself, and maybe even using the work of Christ to do it? Could it be that you've really been building your own kingdom more than His kingdom? That's pretty dangerous ground. Just ask the people at the Tower of Babel.
    The word "sin" and the word "pride" have that same middle letter, don't they - "I." Pride cost Lucifer his place in heaven. Pride is always expensive. and God won't tolerate it. He hates pride and self-promotion. There's only one name we should be drawing attention to. It is the name of Jesus. There's only one Star in God's constellation, and His name is Jesus. And there's only one kingdom to be building with our time and our money, and it is the kingdom of Jesus.
    It's natural to push ourselves to the front, but it's wrong. And maybe, without realizing it, that's what you've started to do. From Babel to your life and mine, self-importance and self-promotion are sins God just will not tolerate. John said, "He must increase; I must decrease" (John 3:30). If the wrong person's out in front, it's time to rearrange the picture. You and I are the background for an awesome Savior. He's the foreground! He is the only star!

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    March 30, 2023 How to Be Free From the Invisible Prison - #9449

    I've been to South Africa multiple times, and so when I heard about the death of Nelson Mandela, it caught my attention. He, of course, was the first black President in South Africa, where the 90% black majority had never had the right to vote. Or many other basic human rights for that matter.
    Four American Presidents, the head of the United Nations, the leaders of scores of nations; they all attended the memorial service to honor him.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Be Free From the Invisible Prison."
    Beyond all the tributes of those powerful people, Nelson Mandela actually had a message that I took personally, and it might be good for you to hear about how to be truly free. Because what changed his nation can help change ours. It can change our family. It could change a feud; a fractured relationship.
    I remember when Nelson Mandela was considered a terrorist by our government. But now, he's lauded as one of the great, and maybe the greatest leaders of our time. He was imprisoned when he finally resorted to violence to end apartheid; a policy that empowered 10% of the population to suppress the 90%. I visited South Africa during that time, and I'll tell you, it felt like a nation at war.
    And I was there after a worldwide outcry brought about Nelson Mandela's release after 27 years of crippling imprisonment. Within four years, the walls of apartheid came crashing down. And stunningly, Nelson Mandela had been elected the leader of his nation.
    But the Mandela that came out of prison wasn't the same one who went in. The younger Mandela was full of hate and bitterness for what had been done to his people. But something happened; something that changed him - and ultimately saved a nation. He forgave. He said, "As I walked out the door toward that gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison." Wow! That's powerful!
    See, unforgiveness means the very person who hurt us, in a sense, controls us with our permission. We continually replay what they did to us, and then we insure that it will poison our present and our future. But forgiving cuts the rope that ties us to the hurts and the hurters of the past. As President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela was suddenly in the power position. He had the power to get even and to punish. But instead, he reached out to those who had been his "enemies," speaking their language, including them in his government, embracing one of the most despised symbols of the white-dominated past - the national rugby team.
    And the nation that was poised to explode into a race war became a beacon of reconciliation. Nelson Mandela's journey to forgiveness was played out on a global stage. Mine isn't. But the stakes for me and my little personal world are just as high. Will I keep letting unforgiveness make me a prisoner of the pain of my past? Will I let the healing begin by trying to build a bridge where there's been a wall for a long time?
    Poet Maya Angelou said in an interview, "It is a gift to yourself to forgive and I would say that Nelson Mandela's gift to the world was his ability to forgive." That's a gift we need to reach out for, and we need to start giving it.
    One man's forgiving had saved a nation. It can help save a marriage, It can help save a relationship with a parent or child. Forgiving Is hard, but it sets people free. And I know the power of forgiveness, because I have been forgiven by someone I have sinned against over and over again. His name is Jesus. He paid a price for what I've done that went far beyond a prison sentence. He paid my death sentence.
    The Bible says "He was pierced...crushed...His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man" (Isaiah 53:5-6; 52:14). Beyond that what happened in His soul when He was cut off from God the Father so I would never have to be. And the Bible says, "everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name" (Acts 10:43).
    If you'd reach out and say, "Jesus, I claim you as my only possible rescuer from my sin. I need your forgiveness. Would you erase from God's book every wrong thing I've ever done?" See, that's the new beginning miracle Jesus does for anyone who takes for themselves what He did on the cross. And I'd love to help you meet the great Forgiver today. Join me at ANewStory.com and let your new story begin.

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    March 29, 2023 How to Obscure The Gospel - #9448

    It's an English-speaking church. The visiting pastor was Hispanic. He spoke in Spanish, using an interpreter to help his audience understand. I've spoken through an interpreter. So, you either have to say half as much or it takes twice as long. Well. the pastor chose the latter. Yeah. It took quite a while to get through his message. And to be honest, I know some minds started to wander at times. Well, at the end of his message, the pastor surprised everybody. He spoke to them completely in English. And he made a promise - the next time he would definitely speak in English. Of course, some folks were just a little frustrated. He could have spoken in the language of the people he was talking to; he just chose to speak in his own.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Obscure The Gospel."
    It doesn't matter how important your message is, how sincere it is if you deliver it in words the other person can't understand. And not all language problems are linguistic. Parents of teenagers know that. What their kids are saying may be some kind of "English," but who can understand what they mean?
    More importantly, when Christians tell about Jesus in church words, how many people without Christ can understand what they're saying? That's not just a casual question. It really matters, because the message of Jesus is life-or-death information - like the directions to get out of a burning building. Every missionary to another culture knows you can't just settle for the easy thing, which would be speaking in the language you're comfortable with. You don't just transmit the Gospel, you have to translate it. It's unacceptable that people might miss Jesus because I don't put it in words they can understand.
    American church folks speak a language I call Christianese. And sometimes I'm not sure we even understand what some of our words mean! But we tell people they need to be "born again," to "accept" or "receive Christ," to "become a Christian" or be "saved." And they have no idea what those words mean or they have the wrong idea. Those are Bible words, but they need to be explained in non-religious words. The same is true of important words like "sin" and "Savior" and "believe." We think we've told them about Jesus, but maybe they miss what we mean.
    Thus, our word for today from the Word of God. It's a great prayer request from the Apostle Paul himself in Colossians 4:3-4. He says, "Pray for us...that God may open a door for our message...Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should" Then he also asked people to pray that "whenever I speak, words may be given me" (Ephesians 6:19). The words you use matter. Proclaiming it clearly can make the difference.
    So ask the Lord to help you hear yourself using Christianese and to help you find non-religious words to explain what a person needs to know to come to Christ. For example, sin can be explained as "you running your life instead of God running it" or "hijacking your life from your Creator." In our time, a "Savior"? Well, that would be a rescuer; someone who rescues you from a deadly situation you can't get yourself out of. That's exactly what Jesus came to be for us.
    What does it mean to "believe" in Jesus? Most people would say they do, but not by the Bible's definition. The Bible's meaning is similar to what a drowning person would do when a lifeguard came; what a dying person would do when the rescuer comes. You hold onto Him as if He's your only hope. When did you do that with Jesus? That's what belief means. "Whoever believes in Him (grabs Him like He's their only hope) to have eternal life."
    The most urgent, the most important news in the world needs to be delivered in words that a lost person can understand - non-religious words! We can do it if we choose to do it. There's someone you know whose only hope is hearing about and understanding what Jesus did on that cross for them. Would you please put Jesus where they can reach Him.

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    March 28, 2023 The Day You Know How Loved You Are - #9447

    French beaches! You say that and most people might think about like a vacation that would be nice. Well, not when the Western world remembered a major anniversary that happened on French beaches on D-Day. I remember, for example, the 50th anniversary. For several days American media bombarded us, and we couldn't forget it. Something else happened on French beaches - the heroic battle to establish an allied beachhead in France and to push back the darkness of Hitler's madness.
    I mean there's a whole generation who knew next to nothing about what might be the most significant military victory in the 20th century. And they don't know about it until there's an anniversary celebration of that event. But when we see some of the films - and we did then - boys barely out of high school storming the shore in the face of deadly German fire and many who died before they even hit the beach. We saw some of the veterans who survived. We heard their stories of buddies who are buried there. We saw the tears in the eyes of some pretty tough, old guys. And those of us who watched? Well, I think we were touched ourselves.
    It was President Clinton - when the 50th anniversary took place - where he spoke that day. And he, of course, part of a generation who knew relatively little about D-Day but whose freedom was in a sense really paid for there. And on that day, the President seemed almost to choke up sometimes when he spoke; especially when he spoke in the American cemetery near Omaha Beach. He was speaking to a lot of veterans of that bloody battle, and one phrase of that speech still sticks out in my mind. Looking at those who risked everything on D-Day, those who gave everything, the President said these words, "We are the children of your sacrifice."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Day You Know How Loved You Are."
    When you realize the high price paid on D-Day it's hard to remain unmoved. Did you know something similar happened 2,000 years ago on the day God's Son died on the cross? It happened to a soldier, a man in charge of the execution of Jesus Christ. We're about to hear remarkable words considering that they are coming from a hardened executioner.
    In Mark 15:19, the man in charge of the execution - Listen to what he says, "And when the centurion who stood there in front of Jesus heard His cry and saw how He died, he said, 'Surely this man was the Son of God.'" This soldier was melted by the sacrifice of the Son of God. This was no ordinary man dying this criminal death. This was the only Son of God.
    This soldier had seen a lot of death, so what moved him? Crucifixion was nothing new to him. Let's stand for a moment and listen to what he heard Jesus saying at that cross. "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Well, he'd heard everything from a cross: curses, and screams, complaining, but he had never heard the word "forgive." And Jesus was forgiving those responsible for His death. That centurion must have been thinking, "He's forgiving me." He was forgiving you and me too, because it was our sin that put Jesus there.
    Then he heard Jesus say, "Today you will be with Me in paradise." And here he realized that this was a man who cares about the person who needs Him, even in His own darkest hour. And he said, "This Jesus must have the power to take people to heaven." He does, including you. And then he heard Jesus cry, "It is finished!" He didn't lose! He won as He died. Mission accomplished! The death penalty for our sin fully paid in that moment; the hell we deserve can be traded for the heaven we don't deserve if we put our trust in this One and only Savior. We're the children of His sacrifice.
    If you know Jesus personally, you should have one objective with the people around you who don't know Him. And that is to bring them to this cross. And if you're not sure you know Christ, God's bringing you to the foot of His Son's cross right now. Will you put all your trust in Him, or are you going to ignore this love and this sacrifice?
    Are you ready to begin a relationship with Him? That's what our website's all about. Would you please go there? It's ANewStory.com. How can you say "no" to the One who loves you so very much?

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    March 27, 2023 How to Make the World a Little Less Lonely - #9446

    If the firstborn in a family is a girl, the younger children often end up with a bonus feature; they get two mothers instead of one! Big sisters are often happy to be another mother for her younger siblings, whether they're happy about it or not! But the instinctive motherly concern of a big sister came out loud and clear. It was in our three-year-old granddaughter some years ago. She had gotten a brand new baby brother whose life was pretty much eating and sleeping; mostly sleeping...until he needed something. And some friends were visiting our son and daughter-in-law, and there was a lot of talking and laughing going on. Suddenly, our little granddaughter said, "Shhhh. Shhhh, hear my brother crying." He was. And she was the only one who heard it.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Make the World a Little Less Lonely."
    How our world needs people with their ears tuned to those who need help and attention! You and I who belong to Jesus Christ need to be that person in our personal world. The one who says, "I hear my brother crying." Unfortunately, so many of us are so busy and so preoccupied with our own agenda-so self-absorbed-we run right by many people who are crying, at least inside.
    The life of Jesus leaves us an unmistakable example of living with your "need-ometer" always on, looking for the needs around us. In Luke 18, beginning with verse 35, our word for today from the Word of God, the Bible says: "As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging (of course, he's used to being ignored, no doubt). When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, 'Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.' He called out, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!'" I love these next two words. "Jesus stopped." For the need that no one else had time for. For the man everyone else treated like a nuisance, but not Jesus. He hears a brother crying and He stops, and He heals that man.
    When He's surrounded by a crushing crowd, Jesus stops to meet the need of one woman who, in desperate faith, has touched the hem of His robe. With hundreds pushing on Him, He responds to one woman who needed Him. Even on the cross, when His own agony gave Him every reason to just be thinking about His own need, Jesus responds to the need of His mother, His friend John, and the thief on the cross next to Him.
    If you're going to follow Jesus, if you're going to be like Jesus, you can't be so busy that you can't stop for someone in need. That need might be physical, financial or emotional. It may surface through an email you get, or a letter, a text, a call, or just by the Holy Spirit laying someone on your heart that He knows needs you. Don't shrug that off. Don't just keep running your marathon. Do what your Savior did. Stop for that person who needs help or attention, who needs a hug, a prayer, some praise, some encouragement. While others are walking by or walking away, you be the one who walks in. Proverbs 17:17 says, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."
    Often the key to being the conduit for Jesus' love is what I call the second question. Everybody asks the first question, "How are you doing?" And we robotically answer, "Fine." But the second question asks, "Really?" You'll be amazed how that simple demonstration that you really care about how they're doing will often open up a heart-cry that's been buried just beneath the surface. And you get to experience the love of Jesus reaching into their life through you. And remember, the greatest gift you can give that person is to pray with them right there; asking God to show you how to pray for a need that He fully understands. It's nice to let them know you'll pray for them. It's powerful to pray with them.
    So in the midst of the clamor, in the midst of all the noise of all you have to do, keep your ears tuned to hear the needs around you at home, at work, at school, as you run your errands. So many people are crying, unheard and unhelped. Be the one who hears your brother or sister crying.

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    March 24, 2023 Beauty in Broken Shells - #9445

    My wife and I were enjoying a wonderful few days of rest on the Gulf Coast of Florida. And one of our favorite things to do is to walk the beach, even though we can't seem to agree on how fast to walk. See, I've always been Mr. Aerobics and she was always Mrs. Aesthetics. Yeah. Loved to walk slowly enough to appreciate the beautiful sea shells that the tide deposited on the beach. Well, she finally slowed me down long enough to enjoy some of the color and the design that God put into those shells. I'm glad she did.
    Of course we weren't the only ones collecting them. A lot of people were walking along looking for those shell treasures. And my wife made an interesting observation. She said, "You know, no one picks up the broken ones." Well she always did. She reached into her bag of treasures and produced this pink and white cone-shaped shell. Now the hard exterior had been broken away, but there was exposed the interior which you wouldn't usually see. And it was a beautiful, expressive pattern of twists and curls, and this intricate network of the inner chambers of a shell. I was seeing beauty I never could have seen if the shell wasn't broken.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Beauty in Broken Shells."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 2 Corinthians 12. Paul is telling about his thorn in the flesh, and it was so painful and so frustrating it had to break him. And though the breaking was ugly, the result was really something beautiful. Three times he'd asked for this to be removed; whatever this agony was for him. But he says, "The Lord has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, he says, 'I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ' power may rest on me. That is why for Christ's sake I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
    The brokenness of Paul's life exposed the beauty and the grace of God, the strength of God, the power of God. My wife said, "No one picks up the broken ones." Actually Jesus does. Maybe He's done that with you. He uses the pain first to create a beauty in you that you could not develop any other way. He might be trying to do that right now.
    When we're at the end of our answers and our resources, we finally throw ourselves on God in this total desperate dependency. And that humility gets us out of the way and allows us to experience God's power and God's love on a level we have never touched before. There's nothing left of us so it's all Him, and that produces a beautiful new spirit; one that could never be there if we hadn't been broken.
    God also uses our pain to give us a deep, new compassion; a new sensitivity for hurting people. And that compassion enables us to really make a difference for other people in a struggling world. After Christ creates that beauty inside of us, He displays it to a world that desperately needs to know the difference He can make. The pounding breaks open our hard shell and lets the world see Jesus working inside.
    If you're going through a hurting time, all eyes are upon you to see how you handle it. You have a unique opportunity to show them your Jesus through your brokenness in a way you could never have when you were whole. You know, Jesus was a broken person. At that first communion, He handed His disciples broken bread and said, "This is My body broken for you." He was broken so we could be healed.
    All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again. But I like to say, "The King can." He puts Humpty Dumpty people together again. I don't know if you've ever met this Jesus, but I would love to introduce you to Him. Would you go to our website? It's ANewStory.com. Let Jesus move into the broken places in you and heal what only He can.
    Brokenness is beautiful if the love and power of Jesus are exposed to people who might not see that beauty any other way.

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    March 23, 2023 How Your Weakness Makes You Strong - #9444

    Our son can usually tell when the weather's about to change. His knee is his own personal "weather channel." Now I know he seems like he might be young to have pain like that, but it actually goes back to one day on a football field in high school. When one hit tore his anterior cruciate ligament - that infamous "ACL" injury so many athletes dread. Since he was five, his dream had been to play football, and he did and he was good, but then the injury. I was with him in the office of a sports medicine specialist when the doctor said, "You will never play football again." That was the day his dream died. And, as he says now as part of his life testimony, it was the day his god died. His sports dream was dead. But that began a series of events that led to a time of tearful repentance, then the redirecting of his life goals, and ultimately to the incredible ways God has used him among Native American young people and in our whole ministry. And lest he forget who's in charge, he's got this alarm in his knee.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How Your Weakness Makes You Strong."
    So, God's given our son a lifelong reminder of his need to be surrendered completely to God, and the pain is part of that reminder. It's one of the strange but wonderful ways of God. And it may help explain some of what you're experiencing right now and some of what's gone on in your past.
    To get the view from the Bible, we'll go to our word for today from the Word of God in Genesis 32, beginning with verse 24. It's part of Jacob's life story, a man for whom God has plans but who had plans of his own. Jacob - the schemer, the man who always found a way to make it happen, to get his way no matter what. He's on his way to a climactic reunion with the brother that he has stepped on to get where he is. And he has this defining moment at the ford of a brook called the Jabbok.
    Here we go: "Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, 'Let me go, for it is daybreak.' But Jacob replied, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.' The man asked him, 'What is your name?' 'Jacob,' he answered. Then the man said, 'Your name will no longer be Jacob (which, by the way, suggests his devious ways), but Israel" (which means "prince with God"). Jacob's life was changed forever from that moment on. It was the day he finally realized that it's got to be God; that's it's all about surrendering to God's plans instead of pushing your own.
    But he left that encounter with a lifetime reminder of who's in charge. The Bible says, "So Jacob called that place Peniel (that means "face of God") because I saw God face to face...the sun rose above him...and he was limping because of his hip." He would limp for the rest of his life. God does that. He gives us a reminder of the battle we fought with Him and of the surrender that gives us His best. For you, that "life-changing limp" may be some lingering consequences from some past sin, a rebellious child maybe, a difficult marriage, some past failures, some lasting results of wrong choices in your past, or maybe even some physical pain like Jacob or our son.
    Our son says of that injury that broke his body and broke his heart, "The worst thing that ever happened to me was the best thing that ever happened to me." It was that pain that led to his surrender to God and a much bigger life than he could have ever dreamed. It's the ongoing pain that is God's reminder that it's always got to be God.
    If He's given you a painful reminder of the futility of self-reliance, of the price of sin, and the glory of His work in your life, then thank Him for it. Let the "limp" that God gave you when you wrestled with Him make you strong for the rest of your life!

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    March 22, 2023 Your Tribe, Your Mission - #9443

    An upscale restaurant in Manhattan's iconic Rockefeller Plaza, filled with Wall Street "movers and shakers." A dusty reservation basketball court, surrounded by impoverished, hope-starved Native American young people. I've ministered in both worlds, within weeks of one another. Worlds that - at first glance - seem to be really far apart. But when it comes to what God is doing, these divergent worlds share some striking - and instructive - similarities.
    The "natives" in both worlds are hard to reach with the Good News of Jesus. The success, the drive of those marketplace men and women spawn a confident, self-reliant fa�ade that doesn't open up easily. The young people on that reservation; they've been hardened by years of pain and a strong belief that "Jesus is the white man's God."
    But - amazingly - there's a great move of God in both of these hard-to-reach cultures. I've seen it! And many are choosing to follow Jesus. The secret of these breakthroughs reveals a simple, but powerful, strategy for helping people from any culture or subculture find our Jesus. People from a tribe are the key to reaching lost people in that tribe.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Your Tribe, Your Mission."
    In Manhattan, it's Wall Street men and women reaching Wall Street men and women; opening their heart to share the brokenness in their lives and relationships, and the Savior who was broken for them so they could be healed.
    On the reservation, it's Native American young people reaching Native American young people. Through our ministry's all-Native, On Eagles' Wings teams reservation young people are pouring out the desperation and despair of lives surrounded by abuse and addiction and then sharing how "a brown-skinned, tribal man named Jesus changed everything."
    I'm convinced that tribal rescue is the key to breaking through to countless lost people in every culture and every subculture. Moms listen to moms. Soccer players listen to soccer players. Hunters listen to hunters. Cancer survivors to cancer survivors. We're all in a tribe. You're in an occupational tribe, a recreational tribe, an educational tribe, a generational tribe, maybe an associational tribe like the PTA, the booster club, the country club.
    So whatever tribe you're in, you are the best possible Gospel messenger to people in your tribe. You face the same stresses, you talk the same language, you share the same experiences. All those are bridges you can cross to open their heart to Jesus.
    Do you understand you've been positioned by God to represent Christ in your tribe as no one else could. No evangelist, no pastor, no professional God salesman. It's you, because you're one of them. In fact the Bible puts it this way in our word for today from the Word of God, "We are Christ's ambassadors" (2 Corinthians 5:20).
    What's that mean? Well, an ambassador - a chosen representative assigned to a particular place. You've been assigned to your personal world to be the voice and the face of Jesus there. This is an outreach strategy that any church can employ. Identify what tribes you have represented in your congregation. Take that as God's clue as to where your church should be targeting an outreach strategy. And then mobilize and equip your "tribal ambassadors" to claim their tribe for Christ.
    This isn't new. When Jesus wanted to reach Samaritans, He didn't just go blazing into their village. He reached a Samaritan woman at a well. She told her tribe about Jesus and the Bible says, "and many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman's testimony" (John 4:39). People from a tribe listened to someone else from that tribe.
    So just think what could happen in our country if every believer claimed their tribe for Christ and stepped up to be the face and the voice of Jesus there. Praying for and looking for God-given opportunities to use their tribal credentials as a bridge to tell about the difference Jesus Christ makes for someone just like them.
    There's a world of "Samaritans" out there who would trust our Jesus if only they could hear about our Jesus from someone from their tribe. Like you!

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    March 21, 2023 How Good Soldiers Go Down - #9442

    They had the mightiest armies ever seen up until that time. And yet the seemingly invincible legions of the Roman Empire eventually fell to ransacking hordes who were once confined to Rome's far borders. What happened? Actually, many things happened that led to their defeat, but one of them was clearly spelled out by one Fourth Century Roman General. Here's what he said: "When, because of negligence and laziness, parade ground drills were abandoned, the customary armor began to feel heavy since the soldiers rarely, if ever, wore it. Therefore, they asked the emperor to set aside the breastplates and mail and then the helmets. So our soldiers fought the Goths without any protection for the heart and head, and they were often beaten by archers. Although there were many disasters, which led to the loss of great cities, no one tried to restore the armor to the infantry. They took the armor off, and when the armor came off - so, too, came their integrity."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How Good Soldiers Go Down."
    In Rome many years ago, and among God's spiritual soldiers today, when you neglect your armor you're going down. If you belong to Jesus Christ, and especially if you are or hope to be making any difference for Him, you can be sure you've shown up on hell's radar. And a lot of the battles you're encountering right now, at their core, are spiritual attacks conceived in hell.
    We know that from our word for today from the Word of God in Ephesians 6, beginning with verse 11. "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood" - you can insert there many of the earth-folks and earth-issues that seem to be what you're battling. "Your struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Paul goes on to repeat the order to put on your full spiritual armor so that "when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground."
    The word used four times here for "stand" means to "hold a critical position while you're under attack." The implication is that the Satanic strategy you're supposed to stand against is the devil's effort to take back ground that God has gained in your life. Your enemy is trying to pressure and attack and tempt you to retreat to the old you, to old ways of thinking and coping and responding and treating people...to get you to doubt during this dark time what God has told you in the light. And again and again, God says, "Do not give ground. Do not retreat. Defy this attack!"
    And the key is the armor, spelled out in the verses that follow. The belt of truth - which means each new day you declare, "Only the truth, no deceit." Since lies are the devil's main weapon, when you compromise the truth, you defect to his side. The armor includes the breastplate of righteousness - which means "only what's pure, nothing corrupt allowed in my heart." The shoes that anchor you to the ground are, as Ephesians 6 says, "the gospel of peace." Each new day you declare "only God's peace today, not my worry." Taking up the shield of faith means you declare, "Only faith today, not fear!" The helmet of salvation, well that's what guards the way you think - salvation is the cross, and you put on that helmet when you declare, "Only the cross and no other power to trust in." And then there's that sword of the Spirit - the Word of God. Picking up that sword each day means you declare, "Only what God says, and not my feelings."
    Those six declarations defy the very things Satan wants to use to get you to retreat - your deceit, unclean input, worry, fear, trusting in something other than the cross, and believing your feelings. Putting on your armor means consciously choosing the spiritual resources of Jesus as the ways you will respond to every attack. Don't concentrate on the attack that's coming your way - concentrate instead on the things that make you strong. The full armor of God that makes Satan retreat!

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    March 20, 2023 The Lonely World of "Selfies" - #9441

    Facebook and other social media have afforded us the wonderful privilege of knowing more about our friends than we ever really wanted to. "I just blew my nose. Thought you all should know." Best of all, we can share our "selfies"; pictures of me, taken by me. Because it's all about me, right? No! Well, at least it's not supposed to be.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I'd like to have A Word With You today about "The Lonely World of 'Selfies.'"
    One TV documentary said, "There is an epidemic of loneliness today." Well, that's true. Even in a world that, in one way, is more connected than ever. Superficially, but strangely lacking in the kind of deep human connection that satisfies our love-starved hearts. Life was never meant to be a "selfie" existence. Where it's all about how I look, what I'm doing, what I'm feeling, what I need. The problem is a world that's only as big as me is a world that's too small to live in.
    Years ago, a young man wrote to Mother Teresa with a pretty compelling question. This woman who had buried her life in the needs of the most broken in Calcutta's slums was clearly the one who would know the answer. He asked, "What can I do to have a significant life like you have?" Mother Teresa's postcard reply was only four words: "Find your own Calcutta." Or, "Find some people who need you and be there for them."
    You don't have to go to Calcutta to find them. They're in the local senior citizens' facility, or they may be kids struggling in school who could flourish if someone would take time to tutor them or mentor them. "Calcutta" may be those homeless people, or the unemployed, or the medically sidelined people down the block.
    In fact, you may not have to look any farther than the people you work with or play with or go to school with. On any given day, someone in your world needs a smile, or a hug, a compliment, a word of encouragement, a listening ear, or just to be noticed or included. It's a matter of recalibrating your radar to see the people for whom you could make a difference.
    But self-sacrifice is not without personal benefit. Because the fastest way to get out of your pit is to pull someone else out of theirs. And the best antidote for being lonely is to be there for someone else. So, turn your camera lens the other way to make your life a "youie" instead of a "selfie." where the other person is the picture; where your life mission is simple; make each person feel like they matter.
    In our word for today from the Word of God, in 2 Corinthians 5:15, God says, "Christ died for all that they should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and rose again." See, we're not supposed to live for ourselves anymore.
    Years ago, when I occasionally spoke for the New York Giants chapels, I had the privilege of meeting their defensive end, George Martin. A great football player, yes. In fact, he had a Super Bowl ring and all. But an even greater man, because he always made other people the big deal instead of himself. He spoke one year for our local high school football team. He had just been named the NFL's Man of the Year for his work with sick and dying children along with a bunch of charitable causes. It wasn't the only award he received for "finding his own Calcutta."
    He told our players, "You need to know the real reason I'm doing these things. I'm just copying my hero. My hero is Jesus Christ." He went on to explain how Jesus forgot about Himself to give us a chance to go to heaven someday and have a relationship with the God whose love we were made for.
    For that to happen, the wall between us and God had to come down. And it could only come down if the penalty for us running our own life was paid; a death penalty. The Bible says, "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Living forever instead of punishment forever; heaven instead of hell.
    The Bible says, "the Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). That's a love you need to experience for yourself. You can begin that relationship, a love relationship with Him, this very day. Just say, "Jesus, I'm yours."
    Go to our website. We can help you know how you can be sure you belong to Him. That website is ANewStory.com. Life is never the same once you've experienced for yourself the transforming love of Jesus Christ.

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    March 17, 2023 How To Hold Your Child - #9440

    It's an old Asian parable with a lot of "right now" wisdom. A little boy had been trying for many days to capture one of the little birds that snacked in the family fields. And he'd tried over and over again to hide in the bushes and surprise one of those birds enough to get his hands on it. Finally, after many failed attempts, he captured his prize. And he couldn't wait to show his mommy. He wrapped his hands around that little bird and he ran all the way to his house. As soon as the little guy saw his mother, he proudly extended his cupped hands and said, "Mommy, I got a bird! He's really cute!" But his joy didn't last long. As he slowly opened his hands for his mother to see, he noticed the bird wasn't moving - or breathing. It was one heartbroken boy who cried, "Mommy, I was afraid I'd lose him. But I held him so tight, I crushed him."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How To Hold Your Child."
    The story is just that - only a story. But the mistake the little boy made, well that's not just a story. It's a mistake made by many a mom or dad with a son or daughter they love very much. They held them so tightly that they lost them.
    We tend to forget that a child is a trust from God; a gift He's given us to help care for, provide for, and develop. But they belong to Him, not to us. So a mom or dad who parent by God's design understand the power of these simple words: love them deeply, but hold them loosely.
    God has even provided examples for us in His Book. Like Hannah, the mother of Samuel, God's man to be the greatest judge who ever governed His people. Hannah had been unable to conceive for ma