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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    March 5, 2021 Mess Prevention - #8910

    It was a pretty amusing billboard; a cartoon drawing of a wide-eyed, bewildered-looking squirrel, holding a broken cable in his paws. The sign just said, "Call before you dig" and he gave a toll-free phone number. The utility folks have this problem. I'm not sure if it's with squirrels; it certainly is with people. They start digging and they cut right into their lines and their cables. I mean, those could be gas lines, phone lines, or phone cables. And in the process, the happy diggers make a big mess for the utility company and their customers. A mess that could have easily been avoided.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Mess Prevention."
    It really is a good idea to check with the people in the know before you just start plowing ahead. It's our failure to check with the person who's really in the know that explains many of our costly mistakes, that causes some of the biggest messes in our life.
    Consider the example in Joshua 9:14-15. It's our word for today from the Word of God. Here's the story: The Jews have been winning one victory after another over the Canaanites as they take possession of the Promised Land that God was giving them. They are about to come upon Gibeon, one of the royal cities of Canaan. The Gibeonites have heard about the fall of the other cities that the Jews have gone against. They know they're going down next unless they can trick God's people somehow into making a peace treaty with them, which seems unlikely in light of the fact that God's orders are to remove every tribe from the land and not to coexist with them.
    But the Gibeonites are shrewd. They sent a delegation to see Joshua, with donkeys loaded with cracked wineskins and worn-out sacks. They wore patched sandals and old clothes, and they carried dry and moldy bread with them. The whole scam was to make it look like they were from far away and that they had come on a long journey.
    Here's how Joshua and his men decided what to do with these Gibeonites, "The men of Israel sampled their provisions (so they made sure the bread was really dry and moldy) but they did not inquire of the Lord. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live." Do you know, within days, the Jews learned that the Gibeonites were not from far away; they were from close by. But because they had been tricked into this treaty, they could not by honor, remove them as God had commanded.
    As a result, the hands of the Jews were tied for years to come, and the treaty actually sparked a major battle with other armies. How did this mess happen? They didn't call before they dug. They decided on the basis of what seemed right to them, but they made the fatal mistake so many of us have made so many times - they didn't check with heaven! And they blew it. So do we.
    So much unnecessary pain, so many unnecessary complications and difficulties and conflicts, all because of our failure to seek God's direction. We neglect to check with God for a lot of reasons. We're in too big of a hurry, we're feeling pressured by other people, we compromise for the sake of convenience, or we just plain know how we want it to be and we stubbornly blaze ahead with our own will.
    Sometimes, we might even be doing God's thing, but it's not God's time or it's not God's way. We "lean on our own understanding," as the Bible puts it, which can only see part of the picture. When you consult with the Lord, you're getting direction from the only One who can see the whole picture.
    In 2 Chronicles 18:4, King Jehoshaphat gave King Ahab this advice before he went running off into battle: "First, seek the counsel of the Lord." By the way, King Ahab didn't, and he died in that battle. You can avoid a lot of problems and a lot of pain if you'll instinctively check with heaven first or call before you dig.

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    March 4, 2021 Driving Hard On the Wrong Road - #8909

    So this guy was heading from northern Arizona to Phoenix, which is in southern Arizona. He called his wife from Flagstaff. That's a two-hour, 75-mile-an-hour drive. "See you in a couple of hours," he said. So he got on the Interstate and took full advantage of those Western speed limits. He had a lot on his mind that day - apparently not including where he was going. By the time he realized what road he was on, he was almost in California; nowhere near Phoenix! Nowhere near home! The guy? Yeah, that was me. I was lost. I didn't even know it!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Driving Hard On the Wrong Road."
    Poor guy! Poor me; driving hard on what I was sure was the right road, but there was no way it was going to get me home. It wasn't a fatal mistake, though. When you make that mistake with God, it costs you your eternity. The Bible reveals that a lot of people are driving on a road they think will get them to God and that will get them heaven, and there's no way. It's not going to get them home. However sincere they may be in believing they're on the right road, they are in God's eyes, totally lost.
    Our word for today from the Word of God is in Proverbs 14:12. It's what I'd call a wakeup call from God. It says in no uncertain terms, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." When it comes to God, "seems right" won't get you there. It's got to be right according to God; not according to us, or our feelings, or what our religion says. This is the one thing you cannot afford to be wrong about, because eternity is a very long time.
    Matthew 7 records that Jesus said many are on the road to destruction, thinking it's the right road (Matthew 7:13-14). A few verses later He describes one of those ways that seemed right to folks but led them to death. He said on Judgment Day, "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in Your name drive out demons or perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you'" (Matthew 7:22-23). On Judgment Day there will be people who knew lots of Christian things, did lots of Christian things, who didn't know Jesus. They had the religion, but they missed the relationship. They had Christianity, but they missed Christ.
    It doesn't matter how hard you're driving on the wrong road - how dedicated you might be to it - if it isn't God's road, you will be forever lost. And contrary to what so many think, being good is not the way to go to heaven. That's what God says. He says, for example, "No one will be declared righteous in His sight (or, fit for heaven) by observing the law." No one, no matter how good. Because goodness can't pay the death penalty that we deserve because of our sin.
    Then, in Romans 3, God spells out the road that will get us to Him. We "are justified (that means made right with God) through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:20, 24). And that came when Jesus hung on that cross and absorbed all the guilt and all the hell of all of my sin and all of yours.
    That's why God says this about Jesus in words that are hard to misunderstand: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
    God says it all comes down to what you do with Jesus. Trust Him and Him alone to get you to heaven or put your trust in something else and never get there. It's a choice every one of us has to make, and our eternity hangs in the balance.
    I truly believe God's speaking to someone who's listening right now and He's saying, "You're on the wrong road, man. But today is your day to get on the road that will bring you home. This is your day to give yourself to My Son who gave His life for you." And I pray you'll listen to that invitation in your heart. Everything depends on it. Tell Him, "Jesus, from this day on I'm Yours ." He doesn't point the way to heaven; He is the way.
    You want to get this settled once and for all? Let me encourage you to get to our website. There's a simple explanation there that will help you be sure you belong to Jesus. The website's ANewStory.com.
    God does not want to lose you. That's why He's coming to you today to show you how you can get home to Him. The right road will give you everything. The wrong road will cost you everything.

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    March 3, 2021 The Freedom Chain - #8908

    When she was in college, my daughter went on a trip to a part of the world that she brought home in her heart with her actually and brought into the hearts of our family. I was back when the Soviet Union was beginning to collapse, as it was known then the Communist Empire and the Iron Curtain was coming down. It was right at the beginning of that. She was on a Christian music team on a tour to Estonia and Latvia. They were actually pursuing some historic opportunities to present Christ in public settings. But what really impressed them was the Soviet believers. And that impressed them even more than the meetings that they were able to hold. And they saw in those people a hope of freedom.
    About two weeks after the teams returned, those hopes of freedom were channeled into a very powerful demonstration. Now, it's 370 miles from the northern point in the Baltic States to the southern point. That's from the northern border of Estonia by the Gulf of Finland to the southern border of Lithuania. OK, there's your geography lesson for today. Amazingly, one million people formed an unbroken line (try to imagine this) hand-in-hand from one end of that 370 miles to the other, and they just passed one word from the first person in Estonia by the Gulf of Finland to that last person on the southern border of Lithuania. Each person turned to the next and simply said, "Freedom." Wow! Did you know you're in a line like that?
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Freedom Chain."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 2 Timothy 1, beginning at verse 6, where Paul says to Timothy, "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord." And then he talks to him about the freedom chain. "And the things you've heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." Well, there's the chain.
    Paul says, "God sent me to touch your life, Timothy, with the claims of Christ. Now I want you to pass that on to reliable men. They in turn will pass it on to others."
    Thank the Lord that chain has made it across the centuries and it links you and me. It's really a freedom chain. Because of what Christ has done we can say to people, "You don't have to live as a slave to sin and selfishness. There's forgiveness that will release you from your guilt. There's love to release you from a lonely lifetime. There's a personal presence of God to release you from the darkness that's in you and all around you."
    Over 2,000 years one person has turned to another and said, "There's freedom in Jesus." And someone turned to you and said it. Now, who are you saying it to? There's a long, long line of people who did what it says in Timothy, "Do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord." They got the message to you. Whether it gets to your family, your friends, to your coworkers, to your personal world? I think that depends on you.
    Haven't you been quiet long enough, ashamed long enough? Let God lay on your heart at least one person He wants you to turn to. Ask Him to get them ready for your message and to change your silence to boldness. And then, join God's freedom chain.
    Someone grabbed your hand. Now, you grab someone else's and proclaim "Freedom!" because of what Jesus did.

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    March 2, 2021 How to Avoid a Major Mess - #8907

    Back in the 1950s, Walt Disney went to an amusement park he didn't like very much. It was a mess; there was litter all over the ground, dirty bathrooms. It just felt tacky. So he made up his mind that when he built the theme park he had dreamed of, it would never be a mess. If you've ever been to Disneyland or Disney World, you know he got what he wanted. Any time we've been there, it's been amazingly clean; I mean, considering the millions of people who go through there. I've been told that they have a simple strategy that makes Disney parks clean places. Take care of a mess right away. One day at Disney World I dropped my Coke cup and this guy with mouse ears made a flying leap and caught it before it hit the ground. OK, I'm exaggerating. But it almost feels like that. It really does stay clean there because they just won't let a mess get started.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Avoid a Major Mess."
    The plan for keeping a park clean is the plan for keeping a life clean - don't let a mess get started. When you mess up, clean it up fast. There's not one of us who doesn't have things we wish we hadn't done or things we wish we had done. We've got things that make us feel dirty, ashamed, guilty, maybe unworthy. It all comes under the heading of what God calls sin.
    The problem is that too often when we mess up, we give up, so we just keep giving in to more and more spiritual mistakes. So the darkness grows. The garbage starts piling up. But God has given us His spiritual recovery plan in clear, simple terms in our word for today from the Word of God. 1 John 1:8-9 tell us this, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
    This is talking about immediate and heartfelt confession. That's the way to keep a mess from accumulating. When I was a kid, I had this inflatable boxer. When I punched him, he fell all the way backwards, but he didn't stay down. He came right back up again. That's what God has made it possible for you to do so you can begin to break a cycle of defeat and discouragement.
    As soon as you've done what you know is wrong, don't run from God; run to God. Confess it to Him immediately. And what does it mean to confess your sin? It's much more than just feeling guilty or even feeling sorry for what you did. The original word in the Bible means to "say the same thing." In other words, you confess your sin when you say the same thing about it that God does. You see it for how ugly, how wrong it is; something so bad it took the death of God's Son to pay for it: immediate confession, immediate forgiveness and immediate cleansing. A spiritual shower as soon as you get dirty. As the Bible says, "His compassions never fail. They are new every morning" (Lamentations 3:23-24). Imagine a clean start each new day! Don't carry yesterday's garbage into today.
    But wait! How can a holy God forgive this junk that He hates? Soon after that "confess and be clean" verse, God says, "If anyone does sin, we have One who speaks to the Father in our defense - Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins." Being forgiven by God is a matter of taking what Jesus did on the cross and making it personal for you. It's standing at the cross and saying, "Jesus, You died for what I did. I have no other hope of being forgiven. I'm Yours."
    Maybe you've carried the guilt and the shame of things you've done for a long time. The good news is you can go to sleep tonight knowing you are clean from all of that for the first time in your life, if you'll just invite the Savior who died for it all to be your personal Savior from your personal sin.
    I've tried to put this whole thing in simple words at our website that I think could help you take this step. The website is ANewStory.com. Please go there.
    You don't have to carry the sin and the mistakes on your back one more day. You could lay it down at the cross of Jesus and leave it there, and walk away clean.

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    March 1, 2021 Looking at Something Better - #8906

    Some friends of ours were at Universal Studios, and they wanted to see behind the scenes of TV and movies. So they went on the tram that takes you on their backstage tour. They had their preschooler with them, and they weren't really too excited about him being terrorized by King Kong and the shark from "Jaws." So, when King Kong appeared on one side of the dark tunnel, they just turned their child's attention to the tunnel and said, "Ooo, look at this dark tunnel! What's this inside your hat?" It worked. He never saw King Kong. Never saw "Jaws." As the shark was jumping out of the water near his father's back, the little guy was studying the scenery on the other side. Whew! He never saw the shark.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Looking at Something Better."
    Now, we could discuss whether this couple should have taken their preschooler on that tour or not, but they did do something smart. When there was something their child shouldn't experience, they creatively turned his attention to something else. That's not a bad strategy for parents who are raising their children in a world that's increasingly filled with monsters that can hurt them and destructive things that they shouldn't experience.
    It's a strategy actually directed by God in our word for today from the Word of God in Deuteronomy 11, beginning with verse 16. Like us, these parents were trying to raise their children in a culture where sin was cool and temptation was everywhere. God says, "Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods. Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds, teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land."
    God is calling godly parents to play offense, not just defense, especially if you're in a spiritually hostile culture. Don't just try to keep your children from touching wrong things. No, help them look in the other direction and find better things to experience - God's things!
    You can't just say no to everything; you have to offer alternatives and positive reasons. For example, sex is something that is too beautiful to ruin by taking it out of the Creator's fence called marriage. Heavy dating can be morally dangerous, but why not be for guys and girls having some great times as friends in mixed groups? In fact, why don't you help set some of those things up? In fact, why not at your house?
    If you don't want your kids listening to destructive music, invest in music they can listen to. Invest in constructive interests and constructive friendships they have. Make your house a fun place, a welcoming place for their friends so they don't have to go to other homes where it's easier to get in trouble. Have great parties for your kids and for their friends.
    And maybe you can give them the two words I gave my kids as they left for school each day, "GO MAD!" Now before you think that's nuts, that has nothing to do with having insane children. That's another discussion. No, "GO MAD" means "Go Make A Difference!" I wanted them to see they didn't have to follow their friends down roads to nowhere; they could lead their friends to experiences that leave no scars and no regrets.
    We need to show our children that what we're against is because of what we're for: things like living without guilt, relationships without regrets, the specialness of sex, the value of life, a good reputation, protecting the worth that God gave you.
    We can't just be against the monsters and predators - the sharks and the gorillas - that are around our children. We've got to direct their attention to all of God's good stuff!

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    February 26, 2021 Discovering Your Global Positioning - #8905

    He's not the youngest motorcycle rider in the pack, but he's got to be one of the most devoted. Take that away from him and you'd be taking away one of the great joys of his life. Problem: he's been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. And as that condition progresses, he can expect to begin to experience some disorientation, among other things. That's not a good thing for a fellow running around on his motorcycle. So he has installed a global positioning system on his bike which will always show him where he is going and where home is. That way, if one day he's out on his bike and forgets his way home, he'll be able to find his way home no matter where he goes.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Discovering Your Global Positioning."
    Being able to get home is one of the strongest drives and deepest needs in every human heart. For most people, you can only be away from home for so long before your deep longing for home kicks in. Occasionally, we'll hear about a child or even an older person with failing mental faculties who has wandered away from home and can't find their way back. We've got a word for that: they're "lost."
    I find it interesting that "lost" is the word that God frequently uses in the Bible to describe us humans. For example, Jesus Christ announced His personal mission on earth this way: "The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:10). Spiritually, we're away from home and we don't know how to find home.
    "Lost"- some years ago that was the name of that hit TV show that told the stories of plane crash survivors stranded on a strange island with no way to get home. In a way, that was a picture of all of us. "Lost" could be the title of a series based on our lives.
    The exciting revelation in the Bible is we don't have to stay lost. We weren't put here to be lost, unable to find home. Home is a personal relationship with the God who made you. Having been made, in the Bible's words, "by Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16), God is clearly the reason for our existence. He's the meaning for our life. But we've thought we could run our lives ourselves. So we've ended up acting in so many ways that have separated us from God; that have left us away from home - unable to find our way back.
    Maybe you know this feeling of being lost on this planet, even if life is good. No real direction, no great purpose - wandering. Jesus has great news for you in our word for today from the Word of God. He wants us to be His sheep and He wants to be our Shepherd. In John 10, beginning with verse 3, He says, "He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out...He goes on ahead of them and His sheep follow Him...My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish." Talk about security - belonging to the God of the universe now and forever! And talk about meaning! Being led by the One who put you here!
    But it cost the Shepherd everything for you to find home. He had to leave home and come to this earth where He died on a cross to pay the penalty for all our sinning. Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep" (John 10:11). That is how precious you are to Him. That is how much He loves you. He died so you could live this life with Him in your heart and so you could be with Him forever in heaven.
    There's a plan. There's a destiny for your life; something so much bigger than just the scattered pieces of the puzzle of your life. God has the top of the box that shows you how to put the pieces together. And Jesus is the only way you can have the God of heaven be your God. And you will belong to Him from the moment you tell Him, "Lord, I'm lost because I've done my life my way instead of Your way. I want that to change. You could forgive my sins because you died for them. I want to belong to You. I'm pinning all my hopes on You today."
    There's more information about how to begin this awesome love relationship with God. It's at our website, ANewStory.com. I hope you'll check it out.
    You couldn't find home, but home has come looking for you. His name is Jesus. Because of Him, you don't have to be "lost" one more day.

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    February 25, 2021 Divine Delays - #8904

    You pay a lot more attention to a story on the news when it might involve someone you love. It was that way the night we saw a story about a major rockslide that closed a stretch of Interstate 70 in Colorado. Our son and daughter-in-law and little granddaughter were driving that very day through that part of Colorado. The rockslide had shattered the pavement, and it embedded boulders as deep as six feet into the highway and created craters in the road. Some of the boulders were said to be as big as a van. Obviously, it was going to take some time to get that stretch of the highway open again, which meant a 200-mile-plus detour around the closure. That was okay with our family. In fact, my son said they saw some spectacular scenery they wouldn't have seen any other way. Not long before the rockslide, a semi had jack-knifed just west of that area and the interstate was closed because of it. I've been in those miles-long traffic jams (maybe you have too), and you can really get frustrated, aggravated, and just ugly. But because of that frustrating delay, there was no traffic on the road when that avalanche of rocks came crashing down. You've got to figure that might have just saved lives.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Divine Delays."
    If you're like me, patience is one of those areas in which you are, to say it nicely, under construction. We don't like to wait. Our lives are busy, they're full, and we hate delays. Many times the delay is actually part of the plan to protect you from something that could hurt you if you stayed "on schedule"; on your schedule, that is.
    You can see God's protective delays at work in our word for today from the Word of God. While it's a chapter out of the lives of God's ancient people, it might shed light on why God seems to be taking you the long way around right now. The story is in Exodus 13:17-18. The Jews have just been miraculously delivered from slavery to Pharaoh in Egypt, and they're ready to be on the interstate to the Promised Land.
    Here's what happened and why. "When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, 'If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.' So God led the people around the desert road toward the Red Sea."
    So, God's people are purposely slowed down by God, and then that longer road leads to what appears to be a disaster. They're trapped at the Red Sea with the Egyptian Army bearing down on them. Now it might be that God is taking you the longer, slower way right now. You were, like those people on the interstate that was suddenly closed, speeding full speed ahead. Suddenly, all you can see is this ocean of red brake lights in front of you. You're waiting, and you don't know why.
    It's because God knows what's up ahead and you don't. And He's protecting you from a battle up there that you're not ready to fight, from danger that might hurt you, from a temptation or a test for which you're just not yet strong enough. Remember, He's promised not to let you face more than He knows you can bear. Maybe you've prayed these words many times, "Lord, 'Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'" And the reason you're waiting or taking what seems to be a detour is because your Father, who art in heaven, is answering that prayer!
    And if the delay and the detour bring you to a Red Sea, not to worry! He's leading you, not into a mess, but into a miracle you'll never forget! So learn to relax when God closes the road or suddenly slows you down. It's all about His love for you, a love that knows what's best for you, a love that knows what's going to happen if you keep going the same direction at the same speed. So don't sit there, pounding the steering wheel and fuming. You aren't late. In fact, you're right on time - God's time. And this isn't Plan B. This is what God's Plan A has been all the time.
    So trust the One who plans the trip; who protects those who belong to Him. If you could see what's up ahead, you would be so grateful that God has made you wait.

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    February 24, 2021 The Collapse Of a Two-Legged Bridge - #8903

    When a bridge collapses it's always inconvenient, and sometimes tragic. Some years ago, I remember a bridge on the New York throughway near Albany, collapsed. It collapsed actually, under the pressure of heavy floodwaters, and several vehicles literally plunged into that raging river and it took their occupants to their death. Now it isn't always that tragic, but whenever a bridge is out, and you've probably driven somewhere and suddenly you saw that sign "Bridge out." You go, "Oh great!" And whenever a bridge is out it just makes it that much more difficult to get from one point to another. In fact, sometimes that bridge is the only way to get there. Oh, and sometimes the bridge is a person.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Collapse Of a Two-Legged Bridge."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God is from 2 Corinthians 5. I'm going to read beginning at verse 19 - this is the words of the Apostle Paul. Here's what he says, "God has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God."
    Now when you hear these verses, I hope you get a mental picture. There's a great chasm, on one side is Jesus, on the other side I want you to picture someone who's close to you; someone who as far as you know probably doesn't know your Christ yet . Think about a lost person, maybe somebody who lives right near you, or you drive by all the time or walk past. It could be somebody who works near you, or at school. You see them almost every day. Someone you're on the phone with, or in a club with, you're on the Internet with a lot, could be a family member, could be someone in a carpool with you. But they're on the other side.
    Now the word here is reconciliation. We have the ministry, the responsibility, the trust of reconciliation. God has committed to us, it says, the message of and the ministry of reconciliation. What does that mean? It means that there needs to be a bridge from that person to Jesus across that chasm. Guess who the bridge is? Yep! The two-legged bridge is you. Now in that mental picture, is this person you know moving toward Jesus because of you or are they as far from Him as they've ever been, and maybe they've known you for years? Is it possible that person's bridge to Jesus has collapsed?
    Sometimes it means you're just so busy. "I've got so many things to do in my life, I never get around to talking to you about Jesus," but the days become weeks, and the weeks become months, and the months become years, and the years become never, and they become lost forever. Sometimes it's fear, but the greatest fear shouldn't be of being rejected by that person.
    Our greatest fear should be if that person I care about would be lost forever. Sometimes it's the pressure, the peer pressure that makes me start doing things that make them wonder if being a Christian is really anything that different. I'm confusing them. I'm keeping them from Jesus because I'm not a whole lot different from the people who don't know Him.
    I remember the morning I woke up and heard on my clock radio that a young girl I'd gone to high school with - I was a freshman in college at the time - she'd been murdered as a college freshman. I thought back over all those conversations we had about everything except Jesus. Oh, I was the bridge, but the bridge was out. I collapsed for her, and I can't help but wonder if somewhere in the quarters of eternity someone we knew on earth won't cry out to us, "Why didn't you tell me? You knew about this all the time. We talked about everything. Man, why didn't you tell me about Jesus?"
    The good news is there's still time. Jesus is standing on one side with outstretched arms; that person you care about is restless in their heart where they are on the other side. What they need is a bridge, and the bridge is you.

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    February 23, 2021 The Only Team to Play For - #8902

    They called it the "miracle on ice" - it was that stunning upset victory of the U.S. Hockey Team over the Soviet Hockey Team in the 1980 Olympics. The Soviets had dominated world hockey for 15 years, and few thought that the Americans had any chance of breaking that domination. The movie "Miracle" portrayed how an often hard-to-understand American coach named Herb Brooks molded a disconnected, self-serving group of individual college stars into the team that shocked the world by winning it all.
    At one point, after a lack-luster performance in a hockey game running up to the Olympics, Coach Brooks forbids his players from going into the locker room. Instead, he keeps them out on the ice for a merciless repetition of these practice drills. When the custodian finally turns out the lights on them, the coach makes them continue in the dark. They're ready to drop from exhaustion. They can't understand what their coach is trying to do to them. Then the coach stops and asks one of his stars a question that he's been asking his players repeatedly for months, "Who do you play for?" Every other time, each player has named the college team he came from. But this time, for the first time, a player offers a different answer to "Who do you play for?" He says, "I play for the United States of America!" At which point the coach responds, "Good night, gentlemen." They finally got it.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Only Team to Play For."
    I wonder what your honest answer would be if Jesus were to ask you, "Who do you play for?" In the things you do at church, in Christian service, who are you really doing it for? Honestly, a lot of us too often do what we do spiritually for ourselves to get approval, to get applause, to impress, to control, to get some recognition. If Jesus asked us who we play for, some of us would honestly have to say, "For myself. I play for Team Ego."
    Others of us are really doing what we do for the church, or for a Christian leader, or a Christian organization, or a denomination. We're really proud of the group we're a part of. Of course, none of the names of these organizations or denominations will probably make it past the gates of heaven. It matters so much here. It won't matter at all in heaven.
    The issue of who you're really playing for loomed large in Paul's writings to one of the early Christian churches, the church at Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 1, beginning with verse 10, our word for today from the Word of God, Paul says, "I appeal to you brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be perfectly united in mind and thought."
    Then he goes on to name the various Christian leaders around whom each faction was clustering, and then he asks pointedly, "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you?" Where people are playing for themselves, for their ego, or for some group they're a part of, almost inevitably it will lead to pride, conflict, tension, division, and a break in the body of Christ. If you'll stand back for a moment from a conflict or a division you might be around right now, you'll be able to see what happens when Christ's players are playing for the wrong reasons.
    The fact is: it's all about Jesus! The only right answer when Jesus asks, "Who do you play for?" is: "I play for Team Jesus!" Paul bottom-lines it in Colossians 3:24, "You serve the Lord Christ." He's the only one worth doing it for! Every other leader, every other group will eventually hurt you, or disappoint you, or not appreciate you, or let you down except for Jesus.
    As long as we're playing for ourselves, or some human organization, we're going to keep losing the battles that really matter to our Lord. But when we all lay down our egos, our control thing, our church and denominational loyalties, we can start beating an enemy who's been winning long enough. And you know why? Because you'll be playing only for Jesus!

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    February 22, 2021 Waiting For Your Father - #8901

    My grandson then was three years old and I'd promised to take him out to lunch, and apparently he was looking forward to it. Here's how I know that. He was ready a few minutes early, and I was a few minutes late. As I was about to leave, an email came through with a picture of him that had just been taken. Oh, boy, it broke my heart. It showed the back of our little guy as he sat on the floor in the doorway, looking down the stairs expectantly, propping the door open with one foot. I made record time driving to his house.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Waiting For Your Father."
    That picture is etched on my heart! As I looked at it later, I thought about how that is, in a way, the picture of the lives of a lot of people - maybe you. They're sitting at the door, waiting; not for a grandfather, but for a father. And they've been waiting a long time. No one has come to be the father-person in their heart that they've yearned for so long.
    Some have been so disappointed, either by the father they had or the father they didn't have, they've just let their hurt turn hard so that they don't get hurt anymore. Others have become desperate, trying all kinds of relationships and experiences to fill the hole that only a father can fill, and they've ended up with scars and regrets and still no father. See, there's that special kind of loneliness, of emptiness, of loss when you've been waiting a long time at the door for that father who's never come. The father you need most, though, has come, and He's coming your direction this very day.
    The God of the universe, who Jesus said we can call "Our Father in heaven," says in Psalm 68:5 He is "a father to the fatherless." He's also a father to those who have a father, because no human father can possibly meet all the deepest needs of our heart.
    In our word for today from the Word of God, He describes the kind of relationship He wants to have with you. We're at 2 Corinthians 6:18. "'I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty." Let those words sink into your soul, "I will be a Father to you." Not like the father you've had, but like the father you've always wished you had; that you needed to have. God is that Father, and He desires to have you as His son, His daughter, by spiritual birth into His family.
    The problem is that God is sinless and holy. He's totally perfect. And you and I, on the other hand, have a lifetime of sinning; of doing it our way instead of God's way. You can't get into His family unless something's done about your sin, and something has been done. In fact, God did it. That's how much He loves you and He does not want to lose you. He sent His Son, Jesus, to take your place, to take your punishment for your sin. He was doing your spiritual death penalty when He died on that cross, so you could be born into the family of the father you were made for, you've been looking for for so long.
    Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father except by Me" (John 14:6). You enter God's family the moment you give yourself completely to Jesus Christ, telling Him you don't want to do the things that God is against anymore. Telling Him, "I'm Yours, Jesus." At that moment, every barrier between you and God is gone, and the God of the universe becomes your Heavenly Father. There's nothing like this. This is life's most awesome, most important relationship.
    Our website is actually there to help you be sure that the wall between you and God is gone; that you belong to Jesus, that God is your Heavenly Daddy. I want to encourage you to go there as soon as you can today. The website's ANewStory.com.
    You've been looking and waiting for your father long enough. The ultimate Father has come to you, right where you are, to bring you into His family. Please don't miss Him.

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    February 19, 2021 Wilderness Power - #8900

    My friends who've been there wouldn't exactly say it was "fun." The wilderness, I mean. Several of them have been on this rigorous two-week outing with a company that promises an unforgettable wilderness adventure. Notice, they didn't say wilderness "fun." These guys were pushed to their limits; they were running and climbing and surviving off the land, making it all alone out there for a while. But I don't know one of them who regrets going there. In fact, they proudly wear these shirts that proclaim on the front, "I've been to the wilderness." And on the back, "I can handle anything."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Wilderness Power."
    Maybe it's your turn in the wilderness right now. Oh, you didn't sign up, but you're going through a season of dryness, difficulty - maybe you've even been pushed to your limits. I can't say anything that will suddenly lead you out of your wilderness, but there is something you need to know about the wilderness.
    It helps to follow Jesus into the wilderness. In our word for today from the Word of God from Luke 4 beginning at verse 1. He has just come from what must have been the most exciting spiritual experience of His life on earth - His baptism in the Jordan River. He had just heard His Father's voice in audible form saying, "You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased." He had just seen the Holy Spirit descending in visible form. For one golden moment, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were reunited.
    Then immediately after that, here's what the Bible says, "Jesus was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for 40 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 on bread alone.'" Jesus is then tempted twice more by Satan, and both times He answers the temptation with Scripture. Then the Bible says, "When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him. Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit."
    Now, it could well be that your wilderness has a lot in common with the wilderness that your Lord went through. Even though you've heard God speaking to you very clearly in the past, you don't seem to be hearing anything from Him in the desert, do you? And maybe, like Jesus, the only voice you can really hear is the voice of Satan. Even though you've seen the Holy Spirit do powerful things in the past, there's right now no visible sign of Him at work right here in this bleak wilderness. And you're vulnerable, you're weary, you're feeling pretty beat up, and you're wondering what's wrong.
    The answer might very well be, "Nothing's wrong." Notice it was the Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness, not the devil. For Jesus, for you and me, the wilderness is part of the plan just as much as the power time at your Jordan River. Your enemy didn't bother you much when you were hearing and seeing God; he's waited for this time when God seems silent to exploit your vulnerability.
    And why does God have you in the wilderness? So you can go to the next level spiritually where you trust Him and Him alone, not the miracles, not the answers to prayer, not the spiritual feelings, not the gifts that He sends - you've just got Him. In the wilderness there's just nothing to hang onto except His Word and His promises. It's in the wilderness that you learn that God and His Word are enough.
    But the wilderness doesn't last forever. Like Jesus, you'll leave the wilderness full of a new power, ready to explode into your world with supernatural benefits and ministry. And you'll be able to say, "I've been to the wilderness. I can handle anything in the power of God."
    Remember, the road to spiritual power leads through the wilderness.

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    February 18, 2021 Stepped On But Still Precious - #8899

    Okay, imagine I'm holding a $20 bill in my hand. I don't get to do that too often (at least it doesn't stay there), so this would be a really special moment for me. If you were sitting here with me and I offered that $20 to you, would you take it? I think you would. Now you're going to have to use your imagination to picture this, but let's say I'm now crumpling that nice $20 bill and I'm crushing it into a little wad. Can you picture that? You still want it? If you were right here, would you still take it? It's all wadded up. OK, now pretend I'm beating on this wadded up bill, and I am actually stomping on it with my foot. (I could get some exercise this way.) If I still offered to you this $20, would you still take it? It's been beat up, it's been crushed, it's been stomped on! Well, of course you would.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Stepped On But Still Precious."
    And that's the point, isn't it? No matter how abused and beat up that $20 is, it's still worth just as much, and so are you.
    I'm telling you, there's someone listening today who's been treated like I talked about treating that currency. You feel beat up, mishandled, treated badly, you've been crushed, and you've been trampled on. And when someone's been treated like that, they begin to believe a lie that they're not worth much. If they were, why would anyone treat them like that? When you think you're worthless, you start making choices based on that; you throw yourself away, you settle for junk, you do anything to get a little love. But the truth is, you're just like that beat-up $20 bill. No matter how you've been treated, you are still just as valuable. You're still precious because no one on earth gave you your worth - God did. So no one on earth can take it away.
    We've got to go to God's Book to get the real truth about your value. And when we do, we find three worth-givers that can't be taken from you. First, your worth is based on your being made in God's image. In Genesis 1:27, "God created man in His own image." God made you as a reflection of Himself, so don't tell me you're not worth much!
    Secondly, your worth is based on your being God's one-of-a-kind masterpiece. In Psalm 139:13, David says to God, "You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful." When you believe you're not worth much, you're insulting the One who designed you. From the moment that egg and sperm came together to start your life, you have been God's unique creation. If you don't believe it, look at your fingerprints. There's no one on earth like you.
    But most importantly, you are infinitely valuable because God paid for you with the life of His Son! Our word for today from the Word of God, Galatians 2:20 says, "I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." I want to invite you to walk with me right now up a hill near Jerusalem called Skull Hill. At the top, imagine there's a blood-stained cross. That's where God's one and only Son thought you were so precious that He poured out His life for every wrong thing you have ever done. Why? Because it's the only way you could ever be forgiven of your sins. It's the only way you could ever have the love relationship with Him you were made for. It's the only way you could be with Him in heaven forever.
    Those children are so right when they sing that little song "Jesus loves me, this I know." He really does! And you can never experience how much you're worth until you experience the One who gave you your worth. That's what Jesus has come to give you today. He's ready to enter your life upon your invitation to begin that love relationship. He gave His life to give that to you.
    Today, reach out to Him. He's reaching for you. Tell Him, "Jesus, I'm sorry for my sin. I believe you died for my sin. I'm yours." Go to our website today. You can see for yourself what God says about your worth and a relationship with Him. That's ANewStory.com.
    The life you were made for, the love you were made for, it begins when you let Jesus Christ into your life because nobody loves you like Jesus does.

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    February 17, 2021 Bad Break at the "Big Dance" - #8898

    The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is known for some strange reason as "The Big Dance" - March Madness. The Louisville Cardinals came out on top for the third time in their school's history that year. But the single event that defined that tournament did not happen in the championship game. No, it was two games earlier, in the elite eight game where Louisville got a very bad break - literally.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Bad Break at the 'Big Dance.'"
    I've never understood why theater folks tell a performer to "break a leg" just before they go on stage. It's supposed to be good luck. Well, breaking a leg at a college basketball tournament? That's really a bad idea. Their star guard, Kevin Ware, suddenly went down with a season-ending injury. Maybe you remember. He had a leg so badly broken every reporter I heard insisted on using the same word to describe it - "gruesome." The bone protruding some six inches. Networks deciding to quit showing it, it was so excruciating. Louisville's veteran coach - he's out there wiping tears from his eyes. Players were on the floor in tears next to their fallen teammate.
    In the middle of it all this drama was Kevin in what must have been agonizing pain. But that's not what he was talking about as his teammates gathered around him. No, he pulled them close and he just kept spitting out the same three words: "Win the game! Win the game!"
    When play resumed, Louisville went three minutes without scoring a point. Then they exploded. One player traded his jersey for one of Kevin's. The team and the crowd chanted together, "Ke-vin! Ke-vin!" And Kevin's team went on to an 85-63 blowout victory and a ticket to play in the "Final Four" and ultimately to win the national championship.
    The drama of all this inspired people far beyond college basketball fans, and it actually touched my heart and inspired me in a somewhat surprising way. No, not to try to be a basketball star. That's hopeless. But to hear another broken Man giving His game-changing challenge.
    Because I serve a Savior who was, in His words, "broken for me." For all of us. Broken body. Broken heart. Dying a death so unbearable that we actually get the word "excruciating" from it. Ex cruces - from the cross. And now Jesus pulls us close to tell us what to do with the sacrifice He made for us, "Win the game! Win the game!" He was broken so we could be healed. He took our sin so we could stop sinning. He gave His life so people with no hope of heaven could have a chance to live forever.
    And not long before He left the court, here's what happened and it's in our word for today from the Word of God in John 20:20-21. "He showed them His hands and side. And then Jesus said, 'As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.'" To do what? Mark 16:15 - to "go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere" to bring the hope of heaven to people everywhere. To the people, first, who are right within your reach, the ones you see every day. They're your responsibility before God. God has made you His ambassador for Christ to them. He's placed you in their lives to tell them that it was for them Jesus gave His life.
    Hear Him now, "Finish what I started. Do what I died for. Rescue those I shed my blood for." Or, in other words, "Win the game! Win the game!"
    We will, Jesus. In Your Name, we will.

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    February 16, 2021 Tired of Searching, Ready to Find - #8897

    My friend Jim was young, but already a veteran rock climber. He was going to college only a few miles from one of America's most majestic mountain peaks...and one of the most challenging and dangerous to climb. He was excited to climb another towering mountain with a longtime veteran of those slopes. The mountain is actually part of the highest peak, but it's known as Disappointment Peak. It got its name from climbers who used that approach to get to the top of that ultimate mountain top. It's a tough climb, but you're inspired by the sense you're getting closer and closer to your majestic goal. And then, after a long, hard climb, you suddenly come to this chasm; a chasm that is uncrossable and thousands of feet deep. You thought you were on your way to the goal you were shooting for. Sorry, it's Disappointment Peak.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Tired of Searching, Ready to Find."
    A lot of people are climbing Disappointment Peak; a long road to what they believe will be the mountaintop they're looking for. But as many who have climbed it will tell you, it really does lead to disappointment instead of fulfillment. Of course, we're all looking for different mountaintops: the relationship that will give us the real and lasting love we want so much, or the accomplishment that will give us the importance, the significance we're hoping for, the religion or spirituality that will finally give us peace in our soul.
    We're all looking for different things, but we're all looking for what will give life real meaning, love and fulfillment. Gail Sheehy became a best-selling author decades ago with her book, Passages. It described our life journeys in terms of passages from one search to another. Then later on she wrote about the generation that has shaped our culture and our values more than any other - the Baby Boomers. She said, "The search for meaning has become the universal occupation of the Second Adulthood." She said that this spiritual imperative grows stronger as we grow older. So our searching doesn't diminish; it just intensifies.
    But maybe you're tired of searching. You ready to find? You tired of Disappointment Peak? You're ready to find what your soul's been looking for so long. Actually, there's only one person who can tell us what we're here for. It's the One who put us here. Of course, that's God. And in the world's best-selling book, the Bible - the only book God ever wrote - He reveals the top of the mountain we were made for...the reason He put us here.
    In Colossians 1:16, our word for today from the Word of God, it simply says, speaking of Jesus Christ, that we were "created by Him and for Him." You were created by Jesus, you were created for Jesus, and you're going to have a hole in your heart until you have Jesus. He said, "He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty" (John 6:35).
    The Bible reveals that our heart is searching because we're away from the God we were made for. We were created for Him, but we've lived for ourselves, thus creating an uncrossable chasm between us and the God who made us. Uncrossable except for the cross - the cross where Jesus died to pay for our rebellion against God and make a way back to Him.
    In the sentences that follow the revelation that we were "created by Him and for Him," we read that Jesus "made peace (with God) through His blood, shed on the cross." It took that sacrifice to provide a way to the God who is the love, is the meaning we've been looking for. Across that chasm between God and us is now a bridge - the cross of Jesus.
    He's the end of your lifelong search. And the Savior will become your Savior the day you reach for Him and tell Him, "Jesus, you're the One I've been looking for. I've done my life my way, not Your way, and I resign. I was made by you and for you, and beginning today I'm yours."
    You tired of searching? You ready to find home? Check out our website today. I think you'll find the way home. It's ANewStory.com.
    You've wasted enough time on Disappointment Peak, but a climb up one more hill will take you where you want to be. It's that hill where Jesus died for you - that's where your search finally ends.

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    February 15, 2021 Needless Pain - #8896

    Our friends got a very unsettling phone call. Their 33-year-old son had some fairly severe mental disabilities - severe enough that years ago they made the painful decision that he required the kind of care that only a trained staff and a professional facility could provide. The call came that told them that their son just had a very serious fall, and the injuries could have been fatal. Thank God he recovered, but needless to say, the close call shook his parents who love him very much. His mom told me that from the time he was first walking as a young child, they have told him over and over again, "Slow down. Slow down, son!" She said if they had a nickel for every time they've said, "Slow down," they'd be wealthy. And the reason for his fall? You probably guessed it. He was going faster than he could safely walk. He didn't "slow down."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Needless Pain."
    This man's mom couldn't help thinking that if her son could just get the idea of obeying what he's been told so many times, he would have a lot less pain, he'd have fewer scars, and those around him would have a lot less stress. That's got to be how God looks at you and me sometimes. He's saying, "If only you would do what I've told you over and over, you'd have a lot less pain, fewer scars, and so would the people around you."
    The most needless pain in the world is the pain that comes from not obeying, especially not obeying God. In Deuteronomy 28, beginning with verse 1, our word for today from the Word of God, the Lord spells out the core issue that determines whether our life works right or doesn't work right.
    God says, "If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all His commands...all these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God." Then God goes on and lists many good outcomes His people will experience in their work, their family, their battles.
    A few verses later, God says, "However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all His commands...all these curses will come upon you and overtake you." What follows then is a list of bad outcomes in their work, their family, their battles. Same arenas, same people, same issues - opposite outcomes. The only difference: whether or not God's people are doing what He said to do in the way He said to do it.
    That is still true today. And it just might explain some of the struggle and the pain that you've been going through - needless pain. Because there's something or some things that you're just not doing God's way; with your money, with your family, in your relationships, your love life, what you're doing with your life. Maybe you're harboring resentment and disobeying your Lord's command to forgive. Or maybe you're just going down a sinful road, hanging onto some sinful choices, trying to justify them all the way. But bottom line, you're disobeying God. And things are not going to work until you turn from your way and surrender to doing it God's way.
    You know what's the right thing to do. And now Jesus is saying to you, as He said to His disciples in John 13:17, "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." So much pain, so much grief, so much stress just because you're not obeying your Lord who bought you with His blood. Relief isn't going to come when your circumstances change. No, relief will come when you change.

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    February 12, 2021 Looking For a Love You'll Never Find - #8895

    Our son had just finished his first day of high school and he thought he had found the "happy hunting ground." For girls, that is. He regaled his sister, then a junior in high school, with stories about all the incredible girls he'd seen that day. The more he talked, the more disgusted she became. Finally, she just blurted out, "You are so superficial!" To which he immediately replied, "Well, of course. I'm a freshman! We're into superficial!"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Looking For a Love You'll Never Find."
    Most of us aren't into superficial. We've experienced enough superficial in our relationships for a lifetime. Now we just want something real. But there's more superficial and less real than ever.
    A Newsweek writer said "The greatest challenge of this century is going to be to avoid becoming a faceless society." She went on to describe our modern online relationships with acquaintances or friends that we've never really met, or who may not be at all like the person they say they are. We're more connected to more people than ever before, but in many ways, we're more lonely than we've ever been.
    Anna Quindlen, the Newsweek columnist, tells about a memoir entitled "The Autobiography of a Face," in which the author describes her childhood after cancer left her with much of her lower jaw gone or distorted. The author said there was one night of the year when she felt the happiest and the most free: Halloween, when she could wear a mask. Quindlen says, "This is the age of the mask." Our superficial world has become a place where, in her words, so many are "looking for something more, someone who will see them across a field of restaurant tables, really see them...looking for that one face in the crowd. Maybe everyone is."
    Once there was a woman with an incurable medical problem who was desperate for someone who would care - someone who could cure her. With her money and her medical options all used up, she pushed her way through a crushing crowd to get to a man called Jesus. In faith, she touched the hem of His robe, sure that Jesus would never know in the middle of so many people pressing on Him. But He said, "I know power has gone out from Me." The Bible says she found out that "she could not go unnoticed" by Jesus (Luke 8:43-48). Neither can you. Jesus is the face in the crowd who offers you the authentic love you've been looking for your whole life.
    1 Samuel 16:7, our word for today from the Word of God tells us that "man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart." Jesus doesn't care about the superficial stuff that's so important to everyone else. He cares about your heart. And because He's God, He knows all the hurt, the darkness, the sin that's there. And He loves you. How can you know that? He's offered living proof - actually, dying proof. The Bible says, "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
    We didn't care about Him, but He died for us - for the sin that separates us from Him. That's how much He loves you. That's how much He desires to have a relationship with you. His love is the only one you can never lose, because it's not based on your performance. It's based on His promise, "I will never leave you." (Hebrews 13:5). The One who knows you best loves you most!
    He doesn't force His love on you. You have to choose it; respond to it. In the Bible's words, "We love Him because He loved us first" (1 John 4:19). Your relationship with Him begins as an act of total trust in the One who loved you enough to die for you. When you say, "Jesus, I'm done running my life. You run it from now on. You're my only hope of being forgiven. I'm yours beginning today."
    You want that? Let me encourage you to go to our website today. You'll see an explanation there how to be sure you belong to Him. That website is ANewStory.com.
    No one on earth has the love to fill that hole in your heart. It's a God-shaped hole, and only He's big enough to fill it. You don't have to do anything to impress Him or to get Him to love you. He already does. Jesus...He's the end of your search.

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    February 11, 2021 Uninterrupted Service - #8894

    Sure, I guess you could become way too dependent on cell phones. But when you travel a lot like I do, there are times when your cell phone is your only link and you really need to communicate. Unfortunately, many of those moments find me in the middle of one of those black holes where you're nowhere near a cell tower. Like trying to find a cell site in great stretches of the Western United States, or try it in the middle of a remote Indian reservation, for example. That's why I get such a chuckle out of a cell phone commercial they had for a while. Remember that guy in the woods talking on his cell phone and saying, "Can you hear me now?" Then he's in a swamp or something and he says, "Can you hear me now?" Finally, he's on top of some mountain, "Can you hear me now?" I wish I had a dollar for every time I've asked that question.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Uninterrupted Service."
    That question takes on a far deeper significance when you're in one of those times when you're feeling away from God, and it's God who you're asking, "Can you hear me now?" The valley might be pretty deep, "Lord, can You hear me now?" The wilderness could be lonely and very long, "Lord, can You hear me now?" The guilt and the shame maybe is haunting you constantly, "Lord, can you hear me now?"
    And He answers unequivocally in Psalm 139, beginning with verse 7, our word for today from the Word of God: "Where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, 'Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,' even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You."
    Well, there it is. No matter where you are, no matter how deep in, no matter how cold inside, no matter how far down, or how far away you feel, the answer to "Can You hear me now, Lord?" is always a resounding "Yes!" He's always there for you, in the depths of your depression, in the hardness of your rebellion, in the coldness of your feelings, in the roller coaster of your emotions He's there! If you feel far from God, remember, He hasn't moved! And if you're running from God, hoping somehow to escape Him, realize that's the ultimate Mission Impossible. He will always run faster than you can.
    And if it seems you're having a hard time getting through to God, consider one thing that creates a serious communication breakdown. Psalm 66:18 says, "If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear." That means there's a sin you're loving more than Him, a sin you are stubbornly hanging onto. That's serious trouble in the line. But He's still listening for you to say, "God, I'm so sorry for hurting You. I'm sorry for defying You. Forgive me. Change me." Maybe He's been waiting a long time to hear those words from you.
    If your feelings are telling you that your Lord can't be reached from where you are now, your feelings are lying to you. It is one of the greatest treasures of belonging to Jesus that you can never again be somewhere that God cannot hear you. And you know what? He loves to hear your voice. Call on Him today...like now.

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    February 10, 2021 Breaking Rules, Saving Lives - #8893

    Up to that point no living Marine has ever received the Congressional Medal of Honor from the war in Afghanistan...until Dakota Meyer, 23 years old. He has been awarded the nation's highest military honor for saving 36 lives during a vicious, six-hour firefight in the mountains of Afghanistan.
    It actually started with an enemy ambush that very quickly pinned down a lot of Meyer's unit. Amazingly, this Kentucky farm boy made a total of five trips into the kill zone to rescue his comrades. And you know what? He had to disobey orders to do it. His superiors told him he couldn't go in. He went in anyway, because people would die if he didn't.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Breaking Rules, Saving Lives."
    It hit me as I read this story, sometimes you really do have to kind of go "out-of-bounds" to save dying people; spiritually dying people that is - people without my Jesus. Our word for today from the Word of God is from Ephesians 2:12. It describes these people as "without hope" and "perishing" (1 Corinthians 1:18). Now with so many so far from the world of the church, so clueless about all this Christian stuff we take for granted, we will never rescue them unless, well, I guess you might say, "break some of the rules."
    I don't mean God's rules, of course. It's never right to do something displeasing to God in order to bring somebody to Him. But I'm talking about the unspoken "rules" of our Christian "cocoon." The fact is, our conventional means of reaching people for Jesus seem to be rescuing less and less. And if we keep on doing what we have been doing, we'll keep on reaching who we have been reaching, and countless souls will be lost forever and we'll be accountable.
    Coloring outside the lines, going outside the box - call it whatever you want. We'll have to go beyond those methodological boundaries that a lot of God's people have considered acceptable. We won't see the church as the primary place to rescue people, because most lost folks are, and plan to stay, outside those walls. We'll "seek and save the lost" (Luke 19:10). The new front-lines in spiritual rescue? It's places like our living rooms...the gym, the golf course, the locker room, the PTA, the restaurant, the carpool, maybe the hospital, school events, the funeral home. How about on our Facebook page, our smartphone, our personal notes, other social media?
    You know, lost people don't speak "Christianese," which is all those rich religious words that us church folks speak without thinking. We just can't afford for people to miss our Jesus because we won't leave our "safe" vocabulary and explain Jesus in everyday language, even though that might be a stretch for us. It's time to break out of the boundaries of Christianese to say it so they get it.
    If we hope to reach the dying folks through an event we're having, we may have to go out-of-bounds and make it a non-religious event; Christ-focused, but non-religious, in a non-religious place, with a non-religious program, addressing needs and issues that aren't just "religious."
    Paul got in trouble for "disobeying the rules" in order to help people go to heaven. A lot of the religious folks slammed him for becoming "all things to all men that by all possible means I might save some" (1 Corinthians 9:22). But saving the lost was his non-negotiable, not pleasing the found.
    And remember, they said, "Jesus, you're a friend of sinners." I imagine He said, "Why, thank you for the compliment." Indeed He was, and He had trouble with the religious folks too. They didn't like the fact He was going out-of-bounds because that's where the dying people were.
    Rescuing? It always means risking, including the misunderstanding; maybe the criticism of people who love those unspoken "rules" but aren't reaching the lost. Jesus knows about that. Remember? Yeah, He made the "rules people" pretty uncomfortable.
    So they crucified Him, and we were saved.

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    February 9, 2021 The Game Of the King - #8892

    My brief visit to Israel some years ago is one of the richest memories of my life. One of those memories took place in this dark, damp, cobblestone basement of a church on the Via Dolorosa. That area was part of the governor's headquarters in Jesus' day. It's called the Praetoriam or the "pavement" in the Bible. As I stood there, I realized I was standing on the very stones where my Savior was humiliated in front of a howling mob and by these brutal Roman soldiers. Our guide showed us some markings that were scratched in the stones by Roman soldiers at that time. The guide explained that those markings made a crude playing board for this cruel game the soldiers played. They called it "The Game of the King." They may have played it with Jesus. It's still being played today.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Game Of the King."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is in Matthew 27:27. "Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetoriam and gathered the whole company of soldiers around Him. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand and they knelt in front of Him and mocked Him. 'Hail, king of the Jews!' they said. They spit on Him and took the staff and they struck Him on the head again and again. After they had mocked Him, they took off the robe, put His own clothes on Him, and then they led Him away to to crucify Him."
    Our Jerusalem guide told us that the Roman soldier who won this game got to pick one of the prisoners to be "the king" who then they abused verbally and physically. In this case, it was the King of Kings - the One who made them! The proper symbols of royalty were there: there was a robe, a crown, a scepter. And their words were right: "King of the Jews." But it was all a mockery.
    Now your reaction is pretty much like mine, "Man, that's ugly. That is so perverted." And it is. But the worst part is that some of us may be playing an updated, more polite version of the "Game of the King" even today.
    Could it be that you say all the right words about Jesus, you're going to the right meetings, you're carrying all the right symbols. You've got the Bible, the Christian literature, the church involvement - but, in many ways, is it a mockery? Those soldiers called Jesus "king," but they had no intention of being His subjects, of doing what He said. Maybe, in some ways, like you.
    Look at your romantic life, for example. Your words may say, "Jesus is Lord," but who's really running your romantic relationships? Or what about your business? Is it run Jesus' way or your way? If we were to listen to a recording of how you talk at home, would they show that Jesus is King of your family relationships or are you? The words, the activities may say that Jesus is King, but who really controls how you use your money, what you decide to listen to, or to watch? What about your sexual fantasies? Does what comes out of your mouth much of the time sound like a subject of King Jesus? Look at who's really running things, in the things that really matter to you.
    It's not the words that decide it. If you're saying Christ is Lord but ignoring Him and his ways much of the time, you could be playing a religious version of the "Game of the King." And it is a shameful game. And everyone who plays the game loses.
    Listen to the King's sobering question from Luke 6:46. "Why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?'"

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    February 8, 2021 When You've Been Hurt By Friendly Fire - #8891

    Stonewall Jackson was one of the South's greatest generals in the Civil War, and he died on the battlefield - shot by mistake by his own men. He's possibly the most famous victim of one of war's greatest tragedies. They call it friendly fire. It's bad enough that a fellow soldier is killed by enemy fire, but the heartbreak is compounded when someone is shot by their own.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When You've Been Hurt By Friendly Fire."
    It happens in God's army; people who are deeply wounded, shot by their own. Hurt, betrayed, disappointed by church folks, by people who claim to be Christians. You might be one of those. You know the disillusionment that can cause, the cynicism about anything Christian, the desire to distance yourself from Christian things like you'd keep away from a dog that had bitten you. If you've been spiritually wounded by friendly fire, you're on my heart today. More importantly, you're on God's heart; whether He's on your heart or not.
    When you're physically wounded, you find medical help so you can recover. How do you recover from the spiritual and emotional wounds of friendly fire? Let me suggest four steps to spiritual recovery. I don't think you want to keep living with the negativity, and self-pity, and resentment, the withdrawal of those who've been wounded; that stuff that eats you up inside. I think you might be ready for some steps to recovery.
    They focus on seven little words in Hebrews 12:1-2, our word for today from the Word of God. These verses are about how to finish as a winner in the spiritual race that we run here during our time on earth. It calls us to "run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." I wish you could say these four words out loud a few times, "It's all about Jesus." Get your eyes off Christians. Get your eyes off churches. Remember who got you started spiritually and who will be at the finish line. It's Jesus.
    Recovery step number one is to realize it wasn't Jesus who hurt you. Maybe you've been withdrawing from Christians. Whatever you do, don't withdraw from Jesus. You've never needed Him more. Recovery step number 2: Defy Satan's strategy to isolate you so he can have you. The Bible says, "The devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him" (1 Peter 5:8-9).
    In Africa, lions try to catch a gazelle that's away from the herd. If they're alone, the lion can have them. If they're with the others, they're usually safe. God never designed for us to try to live for Christ alone. If you're holding back from getting close to some of your brothers and sisters in Christ, you're setting yourself up to be a lion lunch.
    So, the third recovery step is this: Realize that God's people are where home is. That's why the Bible warns us not to "give up meeting together" (Hebrews 10:25). There are many believers who don't shoot their own, who are imperfect but genuinely loving people. You've got to risk finding a church like that; you need them. They need you. One other recovery step: Let go of the resentment instead of letting it grow. Ask the God who has forgiven you so much to give you His grace to forgive those who've hurt you. The feelings you harbor aren't hurting them at all, but they're killing you!
    Above all, don't let Christians make you miss Jesus! Jesus never said, "Follow My followers" or "Follow My leaders." He said, "Follow Me." It's all about Jesus - the One who died for your sins so you don't have to. It's ultimately Christ you accept or reject, not Christians. It's the cross you have to decide about, not the church. And it's Jesus you'll meet when you've taken your last breath. All that's going to matter is what you've done with Jesus.
    If you've never given yourself fully to Him as your only hope, don't let anything or anyone keep you from Him one more day! Tell Him today, "Jesus, I am Yours." I'd be very grateful if we could help you know you really belong to Him. And that's what our website is there for. So I urge you to go there today. It's ANewStory.com.
    Jesus is waiting, as He has been for a long, long time, with arms wide open to love you.

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    February 5, 2021 The Power of Powerlessness - #8890

    I had just finished speaking. I was talking with two men, and the subject was manhood and what it really means. In the course of our solving many of the world's problems, I learned that one of the men had a black belt or its equivalent in three different forms of martial arts. I hired him as my bodyguard. Well, almost. The man has the ability to take control of most any hostile situation - except for one. He told me there is only one position in which a person is totally powerless, no matter how strong or how skilled they are: lying face down on the ground. You're absolutely powerless there.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Power of Powerlessness."
    When Mr. Black Belt told me about the total vulnerability of being face down on the ground, General Joshua flashed into my mind. That's Joshua as in the Book of Joshua in the Bible. In fact, there's a wonderful blueprint for winning life's unwinnable battles in the account of Joshua's most powerless moment. It's recorded in Joshua 5, beginning with verse 13, and it's our word for today from the Word of God.
    Joshua is leading the Jews into the Promised Land that God has said He would give to them. But immediately, they come upon this massive, seemingly impregnable city; the walls are looming toward the sky. It's the world's oldest city, Jericho. There's no way Joshua's going to breach those walls with anything he knows how to do. You know what? You may be facing one of those "Jerichos" in your life right now, where the size of the challenge is a lot greater than the resources you have.
    So, this one's for you. Joshua 5 says, "When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and he saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword. Joshua went up to him and asked, 'Are you for us or for our enemies?' 'Neither,' he replied, 'but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.' Then Joshua fell face down to the ground in reverence, and asked him, 'What message does my Lord have for His servant?'"
    Here's Joshua, the man who has never lost a battle, going face down on the ground in the most powerless position a man can be in. I don't think Joshua ever surrendered to anyone. But standing before the Commander of the Army of the Lord, he falls down in total surrender. Most Bible scholars believe this "Commander" is actually the Son of God making one of His pre-Bethlehem appearances in the Old Testament.
    Face down before Jesus. Could that be where He wants you right now? Maybe that's the only way you're ever going to conquer your Jericho; the only way you're ever going to have peace. When Joshua surrendered, God gave him the miracle plan that pulverized the walls of Jericho. The issue wasn't really the conquest of Jericho; it was the conquest of Joshua. The issue in your life really isn't the conquest of your impossible challenge; it's the conquest of you. It sometimes takes a "Jericho" to level some of us Joshuas.
    It could be that you've given Jesus everything: your talent, your time, your money, your service; everything but one thing. Control. It's still my way, my will, my agenda, my plans, my timing. There's someone or something that you're still holding tightly in your hands, and you're afraid or you're unwilling to surrender control. And, consequently, your Jerichos will remain standing.
    The most powerful position in the world is powerlessness. The secret of peace; the secret of the release of God's power into your situation is total surrender. At that point, He will commit all His forces to the battles in front of you. To finally surrender is to finally win.

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    February 4, 2021 How Good People Miss Heaven - #8889

    It wasn't part of the day that I had planned, but it was an invitation I couldn't refuse. A friend asked me on the spur of the moment if I'd go to lunch with him. He was paying. "Yep, can do!" What I didn't know was that my friend was taking me to a private club where he was a member. We're talking like upscale dining here. I was wearing a dress shirt and slacks which made me among the best-dressed at McDonald's. But apparently it left me sadly underdressed for this private club. The host gently informed me that a suit coat or sport jacket was required for entrance. As I was about to give my friend my takeout order, the host reached into a closet and produced a sport coat. He said, "Just wear this." I did. It was a great place. It was a great lunch. And did I mention he paid? Oh, yeah, right.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How Good People Miss Heaven."
    I didn't have what it took to get into that place. Thankfully, the man in charge provided what I needed to get in.
    Surveys tell us that a large majority of Americans say they're going to go to heaven when they die. The Bible, which is really God's roadmap to heaven, indicates that a lot of us may be facing the most tragic surprise imaginable after we take our last breath. A lot of people who think they have what it takes to get into heaven are going to be turned away. Unless they take what God has provided for sin-stained people like you and me to get into His sin-free heaven.
    In Matthew 22, our word for today from the Word of God, Jesus told a story to help us see how good people miss heaven. He told about a king who invited many guests to the wedding banquet for his son. In those days, when you got to the entrance to the wedding facility, they would give you a special wedding garment if you were an invited guest. It instantly identified who belonged there.
    In that story, Jesus said, "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot and throw him outside into the darkness.'"
    See, the man who had not received the king's provision for entering his celebration was not allowed to be there. That's the tragedy that Jesus came to avoid, because He loves you. He wants you in heaven with Him forever, but we can't possibly get in on our own merits. And honestly, that's a shocker to most of us nice religious folks. We're thinking that surely we'll get into heaven somehow based on our church or on the good we do. But Romans 3:20 makes it crystal clear that "no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law." No one's good enough to meet the holy standard of a perfect God. No one's going to heaven because they're good.
    But Romans 3 continues by telling that the owner of heaven has provided a goodness that will get us into heaven through Jesus Christ. It took the awful death of God's Son on a cross to pay the eternal death penalty that you and I deserve. Only the man who paid for our sin can forgive our sin and remove our sin. As the Bible says, "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." In other words, you tell Jesus, "Lord, I can't possibly get into heaven based on my church, my religion, my goodness. If I could, You wouldn't have died for me. So I'm pinning all my hopes for heaven on You, Jesus. I'm Yours."
    That's when God wraps you in the robe you have to have to be in heaven; the robe of Jesus' goodness. It's got to be all Jesus and nothing you or it will never be enough for God. It's possible you've been around Jesus a lot, but maybe you've never given yourself to Him, which puts you in the spiritual danger zone. I'm praying that today will be the day that you do the only thing you can do to belong to God and get into heaven, and that's put all your trust in Jesus and what He did on the cross.
    If you've never opened your heart to Him and begun your relationship with Him, our website is there for you. Go there today, will you? It's ANewStory.com.
    Because when your heart has beaten for the last time, there's only one thing that God will be looking for at the gates of eternity: Jesus, His Son, with His arm around you saying, "This one's with Me."

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    February 3, 2021 Leaders For Our Time - #8888

    Spring is a time for cardinals. Like we have cardinals dining every morning at our backyard birdhouse. Oh, and there's the baseball Cardinals. They gather in Florida for spring training, and the fans start counting down to Opening Day...we hope.
    And then the cardinals every few years migrate to Rome to elect a new pope, as they did several springs ago. Knowing that the pope would symbolize and shape the largest religious institution in the world. The cardinals, you could tell back then, clearly felt the weight of their decision in Rome, and some of them talked about it, expressing in advance the kind of man they thought the church needed.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Leaders For our Time."
    I was struck by what one Cardinal had to say about the times in which we live. I thought they were pretty perceptive. He was talking about what's needed in a 21st Century pope. But I thought he gave any of us who care about the cause of Christ in our generation something to think about. He said, "Great secularism is pervading the church and prevailing all around us, so it brings a sense of urgency that we need to be re-proposing the Gospel."
    Well, 20 centuries ago, Jesus described what the world will look like just before He returns. He said, "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most" - He's talking about His followers - "will grow cold...and this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:12, 14).
    Creeping carelessness about sin and coldness toward Jesus for most of His people, but not all. Some are going to be on fire, sensing the two-minute warning on God's clock. And they will abandon the apathy of the age and they're going to go for broke to give everyone on this planet a chance at Jesus. Let's call it the cold and the bold.
    That Cardinal contributed some additional insight on how relevant leadership will have to adapt. He said, "We will need to be able to reach out through all the means of communication today, especially social communications, to be present all over the world."
    Rewind 2,000 years and hear God's Ambassador, Paul, articulating a spiritual rescue strategy for all times. "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some" (1 Corinthians 9:22). By all possible means. In order to be what did he say? "Present all over the world." Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Google, Twitter, Amazon, smart phones, mobile apps, words that represent a worldwide revolution in communications - instant access to whatever. Things to buy, things to entertain, things that will corrode your soul, or if we Jesus-followers hear the wake-up call, things that could help reach a soul.
    There are 35 times the number of people here than there were when Jesus gave His final orders in our word for today from the Word of God, Mark 16:15, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere." Now there are nearly eight billion humans on earth and over 150,000 slip into eternity every day.
    We can't trap the life-saving Gospel of Jesus inside church walls or comfortable methodologies. In today's cynical and tribalized world, the primary messenger of Jesus' Good News is you - the everyday believer. And the most effective means of reaching the most hearts are outside the box.
    James Martin's description of what kind of leader the Roman Catholic Church needed I thought sums up the kind of leader I want to be for my Lord. As the editor-at-large for America Magazine, he said that the next pope needed to be someone who's "holy, who can effectively preach the gospel." And he said "Jesus used any and all media to communicate." So he called for preaching "with an understanding of how people hear."
    I want to have the courage to go beyond the comfy Christian cocoon. To embrace "all possible means" for getting the message of the cross to people in the places where they are, with the words they can understand.

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    February 2, 2021 Light for Life's Darkest Valley - #8887

    I'm glad I was raised in a part of the country that's a real "four seasons" place, because I love all four seasons! Where I grew up, one of them seemed a little longer than the others. It was called winter. But I think fall is my favorite season of all. I love the blooming beauty of the spring, but my favorite is the blazing colors of those fall leaves. It's not that the leaves have no color the rest of the year, but I've never known people to drive far away to see the beautiful green leaves. They will travel to see the leaves of fall. The ironic thing is that they are about to die at that point. But they are something to see!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Light for Life's Darkest Valley."
    Leaves are at their most beautiful just before they die. It can be that way for people, if they're ready to die. Recently, a dear friend's mother learned that she had an incurable cancer and probably just weeks to live. As her family tried, each in their own way, to absorb the shock of that news, Jeanne was doing fine. She told them, "This is what I've been practicing for all my life." She had lived most of her life with a deep love relationship with Jesus Christ, who she was now getting ready to see.
    It's that kind of life in the face of death that has echoed across the centuries in King David's immortal 23rd Psalm in the Bible. First, he describes a life in which "The Lord is my shepherd." He's been following the Lord for years and he found that, under His care, "I shall not be in want." He remembers how the Shepherd of his life has led him and loved him and restored him.
    Then, in Psalm 23:4, our word for today from the Word of God, he says, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me." The Lord who has walked with him through every season of his life will walk with him through the valley of the shadow of death and then to the place where he will, in the Bible's words, "dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
    Because of that unshakeable security, because of that unloseable love, our friend Jeanne - like so many I have known - was confident, radiant, and spreading hope until the day she died. In fact, some of her family saw more of that in her than they had even seen before she was facing death. It's like walking on the threshold of eternity brought out a beauty that blessed every life she touched. Jeanne was the first to tell you that it wasn't about her at all. What we were seeing was her Jesus reflected in her.
    For many of us, death is the enemy we don't want to think about, we don't want to talk about, we don't want to face. But we will. When it's our final season on earth, you'll either be walking through it with Jesus, who you belong to, or you'll be walking through it pretty much alone. He's really the only One who can walk with you through life's darkest valley. He's walked there Himself, when He died on the cross for the sin that disqualifies us from entering God's heaven. He loves you so much that He took all that sin and all that hell on Himself on the cross. Then, three days later, He blew the doors off death by walking out of His own grave; proving that He, and He alone, can give eternal life.
    Jesus has, in essence, turned death from the enemy that destroys everything we have into a friend who opens the gate to everything God has. But if you don't know Him when you die, it will be too late to change it. Now is what we have. Some of us won't have a warning like my friend did. The end of our life will be sudden. The most dangerous thing you can do in your life, the most deadly, is to ignore or postpone or reject Jesus Christ. The Bible describes the eternal life He died to give you as a gift, which means you've got to reach out and take it.
    If you've never done that, you want to get your eternity settled once and for all? The Bible says, "Now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2). Whenever you can get to a place where you can talk to God, tell Him, "Jesus, you died for my sins. I'm putting all my trust in you. I'm yours."
    I'd love to help you do that. That's why we've set up our website. Just go there. It's ANewStory.com.
    We're talking here about having life's greatest security. It's life's greatest hope to know that when it's your time to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are going there with Jesus.

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    February 1, 2021 It Stings - But It Disinfects - #8886

    Every little boy gets his share of "boo-boos." Right? That's what little boys' knees and elbows are made for! I could never convince my mother that all I needed for my wound was a kiss. No, she always went to the medicine cabinet, pulled out this little bottle of liquid. I dreaded it! It was iodine. And did that stuff ever sting! But my Mom knew what she was doing. Yes, it stings, but it also disinfects!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "It Stings - But It Disinfects."
    Words can sting, too. You've probably noticed that - especially critical words. But they may be a lot like iodine. Listen to our word for today from the Word of God in Proverbs 15:31. "He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise."
    Notice, a rebuke can actually be "life-giving." It doesn't usually feel life-giving. When someone points out something they don't like about us, it hurts. It stings. But God says if we heed that criticism or rebuke, we're showing how wise we are. In fact, according to Proverbs 27:6, "wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses."
    First, when someone who cares about us points out something they see in us, it does feel like a "wound." The Bible acknowledges that it hurts. But it also says that those comments can be "trusted" when they come from a friend. People who don't care about you may tell you whatever you want to hear, but those who care about you will tell you what you need to hear!
    When we love someone, we have a responsibility to be a mirror for them; to show them what we see when we look at them. Sometimes, that means we'll be affirming the things that they're doing right, praising them for strong points they have that they may not be able to see. But our love also means we need to hold up that mirror sometimes to show them how they're coming across, what they're doing wrong. We all hate to hear that we're accidentally unbuttoned or unzipped, but it's a good thing people let us know, isn't it? It can save us a lot of embarrassment!
    So when a friend or loved one points out something that isn't fun to hear, don't get angry with them or don't just disregard what they said or get all defensive. Consider what it is that maybe made them say that. What do they see that maybe you can't see about yourself? Maybe only a percentage of what they point out is accurate, but you need to prayerfully consider what part of it is true. It's hard for me to face this, but there's got to be something I'm doing or communicating that has made this person have this perception. The Bible says that those who listen openly and honestly to one of their "mirrors" will be "at home among the wise."
    In some ways, the closer a person is to us, the harder it is for us to receive critical feedback from them. Like from our spouse, for example. But those are the comments we should give the greatest weight to, because this is someone who really loves us and someone who knows us really well. And when we are giving someone constructive criticism, let's be sure that we assure them that we love them, we believe in them, and that's the reason we're giving them this hard-to-hear input.
    The "iodine" of someone's criticism? Yeah, it stings. But what stings can also kill infection!

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    January 29, 2021 The Ghosts of the Past - #8885

    I don't believe in ghosts - for the most part. There's one kind of ghosts that are all too real. They talked about those "ghosts" in the movie, "Amazing Grace." That movie told the story of the 18th Century British political leader, William Wilberforce. He's really more than any other man, responsible for the abolishing of slavery in the British Empire. And that was at a time when African slaves played a critical role in the British economy and slave-owning interests controlled a lot of members of Parliament. The battle took 20 years, but ultimately thousands of slaves went free. Wilberforce's spiritual mentor was actually the man who wrote America's most beloved hymn, "Amazing Grace." In his early years, John Newton had been a slave trader, capturing and carrying thousands of Africans to slavery in Britain and the islands. Conditions were so brutal that many didn't even survive the voyage. Then John Newton discovered how Jesus Christ could forgive and change a man. In the movie, John Newton is going blind but he's still pastoring his church in London. And he believed in "ghosts" you might say. As he dictates what he calls "My Confession" to a scribe, he says, "I have lived for years with the company of 20,000 ghosts - those I made into slaves. Their blood is on my hands."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Ghosts of the Past."
    We all understand the kind of ghosts John Newton was talking about. They're not departed spirits. They're the memories and the regrets of the things that we wish we had not done. The guilt and the shame we feel because of the people we've hurt, the damage we've done, the dark things we've done.
    But remember the words that old slave trader, John Newton, wrote in the hymn that's become one of the most recognizable songs in the world: "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I'm found; was blind but now I see." As John Newton dictates his confession in the movie, he reaches a conclusion that I found deeply moving: "Although my memory is fading, I remember two things clearly. I am a great sinner...and Christ is a great Savior."
    Well, that's my hope; that's your hope of being delivered from the ghosts of your past. Realizing we're great sinners, and realizing that Christ is a great Savior. There's awesome hope for all of us rebels against God. In Psalm 130:3-4, our word for today from the Word of God, it says, "If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness."
    Here is a holy, sinless God whose rule of our life we've defied by doing what we wanted time after time. We deserve the eternal death penalty the Bible says that sin carries. But God loves you so much He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to give His life in exchange for yours; to do the dying for all the sinning you've ever done. And the Bible says, "Everyone who believes in (Jesus) receives forgiveness of sins through His name."
    That's what He wants to do for you today. To erase every sin of your past from God's book forever. To become your personal Savior from the guilt and the penalty of your sin. To cancel the hell that you deserve for a heaven you could never deserve. All that becomes yours the day you open your heart to Jesus and tell Him you're turning from your sin and you're going to put all your trust in Him. He's your Rescuer. You're the dying person. When you grab Him, you're saved.
    This could be your day to experience God's amazing grace for yourself. It's more than a song. It's a life-saving miracle that banishes the ghosts of your past. If you want to make the "great Savior" your Savior, I invite you to visit our website. There's a simple explanation there of just how your relationship with Him can begin. That's ANewStory.com.
    Tonight, as you hit the pillow, you could have a new song: "I once was lost, but now I'm found. I was blind, but now I see."

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    January 28, 2021 What God Gives Bonuses For - #8884

    So your boss calls you in. It could be good news, it could be bad news. You've probably had some of each, right? But the best good news is probably words like these: "We're giving you a raise." You're trying to be cool. You try not to leap out of your chair yelling, YES!" But face it, it really is good news. They'll usually give you the reason you're getting a raise, or maybe a bonus: your performance, your longevity, your additional responsibilities, you're married to the boss's daughter.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "What God Gives Bonuses For."
    So what does the boss, I mean The Boss, base His rewards on? It's not performance, or longevity, or additional responsibilities, at least according to our word for today from the Word of God.
    After David's many ups and downs, his years of being a leader for the Lord, he sums up what he has learned about the one thing that impresses God. He recorded it for us in Psalm 18:20-24. "The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has rewarded me."
    David goes on to explain what "righteousness" and "cleanness" involve, "For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I have not done evil by turning away from my God. All His laws are before me; I have not turned away from His decrees ... I have kept myself from sin." And just in case we missed it the first time, he says again: "The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in His sight."
    Well, there it is. God blesses and rewards us for something that human authorities may care little about: whether or not we are keeping away from sin and whether or not we are keeping God's ways. God isn't impressed by how hard you're working, how skillful you are, the results you're getting, the number of people who think you're the best, how much experience you have, the numbers you've got to show. No, it's your cleanness that God's looking for.
    God gives His best to those who are passionate about being pure; who are aggressively cleaning out their remaining dirty closets, and not content with just status quo holiness. The Lord rewards you because you always do what you do by the book - His Book, the Bible - from how you handle the money, to how you handle your problems, to how you handle people. He's looking for stubborn integrity. He's looking for a zero tolerance for sin, a zero tolerance for compromise in your life; a desire to be, as one great preacher said, "as holy a person as a redeemed sinner can be."
    We can't earn our relationship with God. Heaven is based on us trusting completely in the work that Jesus did on the cross. But God's rewards in heaven, also here on earth, are based on how we live. And He's got His eye on you. He has some wonderful life-bonuses He wants to give you. But He's a holy God. He can only reward holiness.
    Make that the goal you strive for, to be totally His man, totally His woman. Because if God is impressed with you, you are unlocking heaven's blessing gate, which is bolted on our side, not His. He's looking for someone who's after His own holy heart. Or, in God's own words, "The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him" (2 Chronicles 16:9).

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    January 27, 2021 How Habits Inhibit - #8883

    For the first 16 years of my life you could pretty well guess what I would order in a restaurant. If it wasn't a hamburger, it was fried chicken. If it wasn't fried chicken, it was a hamburger. Now, people - especially my parents - tried to get me to try other foods, but eating out meant two things and only two. Did I mention it was hamburgers and fried chicken? Oh, yeah.
    Well, somewhere along the way, someone encouraged me to try a little pasta, and I don't know why I took the risk, but I liked it. After all those years I could have been eating it and I didn't know. Now you can't get me to stop eating it. Someone encouraged me to try certain vegetables prepared in creative ways. I had avoided those vegetables. I love them now. Even casseroles. Oh, I avoided casseroles like the measles. I thought casserole was a naughty word. I love casseroles. I used to hate it when my Mother made them; I never tried them. Spoiled brat! Today there are just too many foods I like: Chinese, Italian, Mexican, you name it. I can't believe what I was missing all those years because I was sure food meant hamburger or chicken. I can't believe what I missed because I was such a creature of habit.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How Habits Inhibit."
    In our word for today from the Word of God in Mark 2, Jesus is talking to religious folks - Pharisees, scribes, people who had ways in which they thought God would always work. They couldn't accept the fact there might be some new things God wanted to try. Now, Jesus came along and blew the walls off the narrow box they had God in. He wasn't working in any of the ways that they were used to, and they kept saying, "Well, I don't know, God never did it this way before. I'm not sure it's God." And Jesus had a whole new way of doing it.
    In chapter 2, verse 22 of Mark, Jesus said, "No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins and both the wine and the wine skins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wine skins." See, Jesus is talking to people who were hide-bound in their traditions; sure that God was going to work just like He always has. They've got God in a box, and maybe He's talking to the people of our day and saying, "I've got something new I want to do among you, but it can't happen if you insist on the same old ways of doing it.'"
    As a teenager I got in my eating rut. I stayed there and I missed all kinds of great experiences that were outside of my rut. We tend to be the same way with our Lord. There's a place in Northern Canada where the roads run out and I've heard there's a sign that says, "Choose your rut carefully; you will be in it for the next 50 miles." It probably doesn't say miles, it says kilometers, but let's go with it. We're sort of like that spiritually. We have a tendency to say, "This is how God did work, and He always will work." Could it be that it's time for some new wineskins in your life? The Lord is trying to open you up to some new worship or new ways of studying His Word, or new ways of praying, new avenues of service, new steps of faith. And you're saying, "Hamburgers or chicken! Hamburgers or chicken! That's the way it's always been."
    Churches and ministries often wither to ineffectiveness and irrelevance because they will not change. Methods and approaches that once were the new wineskins are now brittle, tired, irrelevant. I know you're restless for God's best, and often God's best is in a surprising new package. He won't stay in our box. We just get too tied to the formula and we miss the Lord.
    Don't let your religious habits inhibit the exciting new thing God wants to do. You'll never taste the gourmet menu if you limit God to the same old choices on His miracle menu.

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    January 26, 2021 Living Sheepishly - #8882

    There's this picture that hangs on the wall in our living room. It has meant a lot to me in recent years. Just like an identical picture did was I was four years old. That's when my baby brother died suddenly. My grieving dad, who was not a churchgoer, decided he should take his surviving son to church somewhere.
    Every Sunday he dropped me off at this one nearby church while he waited in the car, smoked and read his Sunday paper. That church is where I first heard the name Jesus. And it's where I first saw the picture. It was my first impression of Jesus. It shows Jesus as a shepherd, leading a flock of sheep beside a stream. In His arms, there's this little lamb, looking up at the shepherd who looks lovingly at him. And I said, "That's me! I'm the lamb in Jesus' arms!" Not just then. But on the darkest day of my life.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Living Sheepishly."
    Karen was the love of my life since I was 19. The only person I've done my whole adult life with. Then, on that May 16, she was suddenly gone. And I was suddenly lost. Oh, how I needed my Shepherd. And He was there. Again, I was the lamb in His arms. My one safe place. He wants to be that for you.
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from what many call "The Shepherd Psalm." It contains some of the most comforting, hope-filled words in the Bible. Psalm 23:1 and then verse 4 tell us: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want...though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil..." Now, wait! If the surroundings are that dark and dangerous, why will I "fear no evil? Well, He says, "because you are with me."
    Suddenly, on that heartbreaking day, I was in the valley of the shadow of death. And one day I'll be walking the valley of the shadow of my own death. And while that valley may be the darkest and the most devastating, there are other dark valleys that shake us to our core. That bad news from the doctor. The marriage that once was a dream, and now it's collapsing into a nightmare. The disaster that destroyed a lifetime of treasures. Financial disaster. A job lost - or a child, a breakup, betrayal. We all have lonely valleys to walk through.
    But here's some of the best news you'll ever hear. You don't have to walk that valley alone. Ever. "I will fear no evil; for You are with me." And the Bible says of Jesus: "He will stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord...and they will live securely (Micah 5:4).
    The vulnerable, frightened sheep is safe in the Shepherd's arms. And it just might be He's come looking for you today right where you are. Because the Bible says we're all lost sheep. It says, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way" (Isaiah 53:6). Put another way, each of us has sinned, hijacked our life from the One who gave it to us. We are away from the Shepherd we were made for. So we'll always be lost in this life, and when we die, we'll be away from Him forever.
    But the Shepherd loved you too much to leave you lost. So He came to die on a cross, to pay for the sin you and I deserve to pay for. Then He walked out of His grave three days later - and He's waiting to walk into your life today. If you'll tell Him, "Jesus, I'm Yours."
    I'd love to help you get started with this life-changing relationship. Just head for our website as soon as you can. It's where many people have found what they needed to begin a relationship with Jesus. Just go to ANewStory.com.
    Let this be the day when you make the Shepherd your shepherd, so you can say, "The Lord is my Shepherd." You'll discover what millions like me have discovered. However great the loss, Jesus is enough. And you are safe. The lamb in the loving Shepherd's arms.

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    January 25, 2021 The Power of Your Two-Way Trust - #8881

    Our kids gave it to my wife and me as a gift, and we had a great night together with dinner and a show. The show is in the same place as the dinner; there's this large, indoor arena with long tables that encircle the show floor down below. During and after dinner, we watched an impressive show of trick horse riding, dramatic spectacle, and rodeo style events. There's one part of the show I'm not going to forget. A rider actually stands atop two horses, one foot on each horse. They begin to gallop around the arena with the lights down, except for the torches in the middle and a giant ring of fire. Amazingly, the rider and his two horses leaped through that ring of fire together! I'll tell you, the emcee called it "a demonstration of three-way trust." Yeah, I guess!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Power of Your Two-Way Trust."
    We sure could discuss whether that man and those horses should be jumping through a ring of fire, but that's not my point. The issue is the trust that made it possible; horses trusting their rider not to do anything that would hurt them, and a rider trusting his horses not to do anything that would hurt him. They did something amazing because of their great trust in one another.
    If you belong to Jesus Christ, you have been called to a similar arrangement - doing things you'd never otherwise be able to do because of a powerful two-way trust; you trusting God and God trusting you. In a very real way, everything that matters in your life is riding on your Lord. The size of your life, the sanity of your life depends on how much you're willing to trust God for, to hold you up when nothing else can, to steer you right when the way is confusing, to provide for you when you can't see where it's going to come from, and to equip you to do what you feel very inadequate to do. It's supposed to be all about Him, not all about you. Right?
    But you may not realize this surprising fact: God has a lot riding on you, too! See, He's entrusted you with gifts, with influence in people's lives, with money, with the message of His Son, and with a part of His work on earth. God's even trusted you with His reputation. By becoming a part of your life, He knows that people's opinion of Him may, in part, be based on what they see in you. Yes, you're not kidding. God has called you to trust Him. But don't forget that God is trusting you as well.
    This two-way trust is wonderfully expressed in our word for today from the Word of God in 1 Peter 4:10-11, "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." God has given you capabilities, personality, opportunities, spiritual gifts, and experiences. All that is for you to use to hand out God's grace in people's lives.
    Now here's where your trust in Him comes in. The Bible says, "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength the Lord provides." The words you need, the strength you need, everything you need to jump through hoops that you never could make it through without Him!
    And this is all, according to this passage, "so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ." Exciting things happening is what it's talking about here, because you're trusting God and God's trusting you. Make sure you're using what He's given you for His glory, not for your own; for His goals, not your goals; for the good of others, not just for the good of yourself.
    When you've got it all riding on your Lord, using for His glory what He's got riding on you, you're going to do some amazing things together!

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    January 22, 2021 Your Backpack...Unpacked - #8880

    We were on a reservation basketball court. Our On Eagles' Wings team of young Native Americans were there to share the hope they had found with their generation. Teresa would be the main speaker that night. The one carrying the heavy backpack around all night. She set it down when she spoke. And started pulling out . . . rocks. She said, "You know, a lot of us spend our life carrying around an invisible load like this. A backpack full of rocks from our past - rocks we don't have to be carrying any more."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Your Backpack...Unpacked!"
    I know what a lot of those rocks might be labeled. "Regrets." The things we wish we hadn't done - maybe thought we'd never do. The things we wish we had done - and now it's too late.
    I'll tell you one time when the weight of those rocks of regret get a lot heavier. When someone you love dies. Regrets are part of the sting of grief. Because grief surfaces the way we failed - or we think we failed - the one we love.
    Two weeks after my Karen went to heaven, I wrote: "Lord, never far away are my regrets for the times I disappointed Karen. That I spoke harshly. That she just waited to talk with me when I work, work, worked." I know there were many times I put a smile on her face. It's the other times that add more weight to the grief. Regrets are heavy rocks.
    I've discovered there are three ways to deal with life's regrets. The first is to confess them. To God. I had to dump my whole ugly backpack at Jesus' feet. Because He promised this in Acts 3:19, our word for today from the Word of God: "Repent...and turn to God that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord."
    The liberating news from Jesus is that, when He was dying on that awful cross, He was paying for every sin, every shortcoming of my life and yours. Including those that live in our memory as guilty regrets. Something powerful happens, my friend, when you apply what Jesus did on that cross to all the things you should or should not have done. That freedom and forgiveness becomes available to you the day you put all your trust in Jesus to be your Savior from your sin. Then it's a matter of learning to forgive what a perfect God has now forgiven. And leaving your backpack at the cross.
    But there are two other keys to dealing with regrets. The first is to confess them. The second is to calculate them. Before you make a "feel good now" choice that you're going to regret for a long time later. That's why there's so much wisdom in the challenge Jesus gave us about how to make "no regrets" decisions. In Luke 14:28, He says, "First sit down and estimate the cost."
    Oh, it looks good right now. But what's it going to cost you in your reputation, your family, in people's trust, in relationships, in your self-esteem, in your closeness to God, your collateral damage? The bill will last longer than the thrill. The time to think about the rocks of regret is before they happen!
    Confess your regrets. Calculate the regrets. And confront the regrets.
    As a man who suddenly lost the love of his life in a single day, let me ask you this question. If this turned out to be the last day on earth for that loved one, that friend, what would your regrets be? What would you wish you had done? Or hadn't done? Well, thank God, they're still here. You can still make it right. Do it - while you can.
    And if you've never brought your lifetime backpack of guilt and regrets to Jesus - never invited Him to be your Savior from all those sins - do that today. There's a lot more on our website about that, that will help you confirm that relationship with Jesus Christ. The website's ANewStory.com. It could be the beginning of your new story.
    You've carried those sins long enough, those regrets. Jesus is waiting to take that backpack. See, He already carried what's in it to His cross.

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    January 21, 2021 The Sweet Celebration of the Loyal Fans - #8879

    I guess it was inevitable. With our boys growing up in northern New Jersey, it was predestined that they, and I for that matter, would become New York Giants football fans. Big Giants fans. Even in the season when they won only three games, and even when they had a string of bad seasons. Even when the airplane flew over a game with the banner that said, "Fifteen years of lousy football." What used to really annoy my boys was when friends who claimed to be Giants fans kept "jumping ship" when they kept losing. Then came the playoff Giants, and then the Giants that won the Super Bowl. Suddenly, there were gazillions of Giants fans everywhere, jumping up and down, celebrating the champions. But they could never know the joy of fans like my two sons who never lost hope, and who never stopped rooting for their team.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Sweet Celebration of the Loyal Fans."
    It's true in sports; it's true in life. Victory is sweetest for those who are loyal through it all. Like Mary Magdalene in our word for today from the Word of God, taken directly from the glorious Easter story. Mary had been there at the cross, when all but one of Jesus' disciples had disappeared like scared rabbits. She had gone to the tomb for his burial. And now, after having been, along with some friends, the first one at Jesus' tomb that early Sunday morning, she just can't leave. She has found the tomb empty and now she has sunk to even greater despair, believing that someone has now stolen her Master's body.
    John 20, beginning with verse 11, says, "Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been. They asked her, 'Woman, why are you crying?' 'They have taken my Lord away,' she said, 'and I don't know where they have put Him.' At this she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn't realize it was Jesus. 'Woman.' He said, 'why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?' Thinking He was the gardener, she said, 'Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him' ... Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned toward Him and cried out... 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher)."
    Then it says, "Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: 'I have seen the Lord.'" You bet she had, as no one had ever seen Him before. Who did Jesus choose as the first one to ever see Him alive again? The one who had been loyal to Him when every reason to be loyal seemed gone. Those are the people who see Jesus in ways that His fair-weather fans will never see Him.
    Maybe you're going through a time that could be a major test of your loyalty to Jesus. It's dark, plans have been shattered, it's tempting to desert because of that tragedy, that loss, that awful hurt. You don't understand why this is happening. Maybe a lot of others have deserted Him. God seems silent and things seem to be getting worse instead of better. Your hopes were just sealed in a tomb.
    Now is the moment of truth in your relationship with the man who gave His life for you. He did not abandon you when it meant the cross. Are you going to abandon Him? It's Mary Magdalene time: time to stand by Jesus, to stand firm in your commitment to Him, even when it feels like there's no reason to. The wisdom of many a veteran, of many a spiritual battle, still rings true today, "Never doubt in the darkness what God has told you in the light."
    Yes, it's like a Good Friday for you right now. But Easter is coming. And the one who stands by Jesus when everything seems to be falling apart is the one who's going to see Jesus in all His power and all His glory. Victory is sweetest for those who never leave Him.

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    January 20, 2021 God's in the Personnel Business - #8878

    When a member of our family would "shirk" a chore they had at our house, we had a familiar line that we used jokingly. Somebody would say, "Oh, it's so hard to get good help these days." Actually, I first heard that from a friend of mine who said that about trying to find a housekeeper. Now, that wasn't a real heavy issue for us, hiring a good housekeeper. We had a family!
    But the saying does have some truth in it. I mean, how do you find the best person for a job: want ads, call an agency, put out a sign, do an interview? Well, it's always a risk trying to match a person with a position. And often we're disappointed, as the worker turns out to be the wrong person for the job. That can happen all too often in God's work, but it doesn't have to if you and I will do our part.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "God's in the Personnel Business."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is from Matthew 9; I'll start reading at verse 36. "When Jesus saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, �The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest field.'"
    Okay, here's what Jesus saw then and what I believe He sees now as He looks at the world you and I live in. There's a desperate need. There's a leadership shortage, and there's a personnel plan. You know what it is? One four-letter word - pray.
    He gives here a prayer assignment for you and me. He says, "Ask the Lord of the harvest for the leaders of His choosing." Now, we often tend to pray for those who are already in His work. But often we don't pray for those who aren't in His work who should be. The words of Jesus indicate that God does not call and send these workers without our prayer. The active verb on our part is to pray. We pray - He will send.
    The greatest danger of Christian work is that workers go out who have not been sent by God. It was said of John the Baptist in John 1:6, "He was a man sent from God." See, if they've not been sent from God, the work they do is only the work of man no matter how talented they are. There are people in leadership who never should have been. There are people not in leadership who should be. And we are partly to blame. We need to fervently and specifically pray that God will send out His choices, sovereignly matching people with assignments, and that God will weed out those who should not lead His Kingdom.
    Maybe you see a leadership need right now in His Kingdom. Well, pray! Focus on that need until God sends His laborer. Maybe you see a leader who doesn't seem to be put there by God. Well, don't gossip. Don't complain! Don't backstab! Pray to the Lord of the harvest. Or maybe God will lay on your heart some man or woman that He wants in His service, and you can quietly pray them from the job they now have to the ministry they should have.
    Consider if possibly you're the answer to your prayer, and that the Lord of the harvest is calling you. As inadequate as you feel, He'll use you because you know you're inadequate. It's hard to think of a more important and more neglected prayer task. If the right person gets in the right place, there's almost no end to what they can do.
    Sure, it's hard to get good help these days. But prayer to the Lord of the harvest is how it gets done. After all, God is in the personnel business.

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    January 19, 2021 The High Price of Saving Your Life - #8877

    Just another day on the subways of New York. That's what Wesley Autrey thought it was going to be as he waited for the next train with his two young daughters. There it was - the light of the approaching subway. Suddenly, a young man near him stumbled off the platform and fell onto the tracks below. Later, that 19-year-old's family said it was because of a recurring medical problem he had. With the subway approaching, Wesley Autrey made his choice. He literally dove on top of the fallen man and rolled him into the drainage trough between the tracks. Then he threw his body on top of the young man, forcing him to stay down. It was too late for the subway to stop. The train ran right over the spot where one man was literally laying his life on the line for another man. The subway missed them by two inches.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The High Price of Saving Your Life."
    Every national newscast used the same word to describe Wesley Autrey that night: hero. He really was. The young man's parents believe he's alive today because of one man who put himself between their son and what would have killed him. Clearly, the rescuer was willing to give his life so someone else could live.
    I'm alive today because of a hero who did that for me; except it cost Him His life for me to live. That Rescuer is, of course, Jesus. In all the meetings and creeds and denominations and beliefs, it's easy to miss what Jesus is really all about.
    When the blockbuster movie The Passion of the Christ came out, it took millions of people back to before there was a Christianity - to where it was just Christ being beaten and butchered and crucified on a bloody cross. He could have called thousands of angels to rescue Him, but He refused to be rescued because He was rescuing me and you. He was rescuing a world of us who have broken God's laws, who deserve the hell that's the penalty for it.
    That's the Jesus that comes knocking on the door of your heart this very day. He's giving you an opportunity to open your life to the only One who can rescue you from the death penalty for your sin. He died so you don't have to. You need to hear what He Himself says about His love for you and the price He paid for you because He does.
    He talked about it in John 10, beginning with verse 11, our word for today from the Word of God. Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep...I lay down My life...No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord." Wait! Jesus wasn't a victim of religious leaders or Roman executioners. He created those people. He created the tree they nailed Him to. They didn't take His life; He gave His life.
    And here's the part you just don't miss. He gave it for you. He put Himself between you and the judgment of Almighty God, and He took it for you. The Bible sums it up in eight powerful words: "Jesus laid down His life for us." You might as well put your name in that verse. "Jesus Christ laid down His life for" (there's your name). Or, "Jesus Christ laid down His life for me."
    It doesn't make sense to ignore this Rescuer; to push Him away. On His behalf, I beg you, let Jesus rescue you! He did all He could do so you could live, but it's your move now. He didn't stay dead. He rose from the dead, so He's knocking on the door of your heart today. Tell Him, "Jesus, I have no hope but You. I can't just sit here when You gave Your life for me. I'm turning from my sin to embrace You as my Rescuer from my sin." Don't you want this?
    At this crossroads moment, this would be a great time for you to see what awaits you at our website. Because the information is there to help you know you have a relationship with Jesus Christ. That website is ANewStory.com.
    No one's ever loved you like Jesus has. This is the day you could have that love; the day that you finally belong to the One who loves you the most.

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    January 18, 2021 The Music That's Always There - #8876

    We were in our seats waiting for the curtain to open on this great, family-oriented stage show. I knew it must be show time, the lights went down, and unobtrusively the live band quietly filed into the orchestra pit. Most people were focused on the stage, but I was fascinated by something I saw going on with the band. One woman in the band had the arm of a fellow band member on her arm. She was obviously leading him to his position at the keyboard. Then I realized with amazement that the keyboardist was blind. He put on his big headphones and, as the curtain opened, he started playing with all his heart. It was awesome!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Music That's Always There."
    I'll tell you, it was really inspiring. That musician cannot see, but he can still hear the music! He can still play the music! I hope you can, too, no matter what limitations you're facing right now.
    Look at the model Paul and Silas gave us in our word for today from the Word of God in Acts 16, beginning with verse 25. The preceding verses tell us that these two missionaries have been attacked by a crowd, and they were incited by false accusers. The Bible uses these words to describe what Paul and Silas had to go through: they were "stripped," "beaten," "severely flogged," and "thrown into prison." Then the Bible says they were put "in the inner cell" and their feet were "fastened in the stocks." That's enough to beat the song out of anybody.
    But according to our word for today from the Word of God, "about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and other prisoners were listening to them." The Bible goes on to report that when an earthquake shook that prison, the jailer himself came running to Paul and Silas for help. He and his whole family came to Christ that night!
    There's something very compelling about someone who refuses to be taken down by the worst of circumstances, who can still hear God's "music," who can still play God's "music" no matter what. Now, that "music" is a positive attitude; that quality of "un-sinkability" that the Bible calls...right, JOY! The "music" is conversation that keeps finding things to thank and praise God for instead of things to complain about.
    Maybe you're in a season right now where you've been sidelined. You feel set aside, held back or restricted. You're in a situation or maybe you have a condition that's making you very aware that you're really limited. Not all prisons have physical walls do they? It's easy to get frustrated, self-pitying, negative, maybe bitter. But you can choose, as Paul did, to continue instead to enjoy your Lord; to still make His music for others. In fact, people will listen to what you have to say about Jesus because of what you're going through.
    Centuries ago, the poet Richard Lovelace wisely observed, "Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage." He went on to say, "If I have freedom in my love, and in my soul am free, angels alone, that soar above, enjoy such liberty." Your soul can be free, no matter how imprisoned the rest of you may be.
    Paul later said, "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Corinthians 4:8). Yes, he had a lot to handle, but that didn't stop him from hearing God's music - from playing God's music.
    No matter how blinding, how deafening, how paralyzing your situation, the music of God is always there for those who choose to hear it.

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    January 15, 2021 One Permanent In a World of Temporary - #8875

    I thought I was going to gag on the smell. I was a little guy, my mother used to drag me with her to the beauty parlor where she got her hair done. I'm not sure what chemicals they used back then, but I obviously must have done something horrendous for my mother to subject her precious little boy to nasal torture. And I wasn't sure what was going on when they put this hood-like machine on my mother's head. For all I knew, it was some kind of mechanical brain-sucker. I didn't know what was going on. Well, Mom used to come away with what they called a "permanent." Now, today, the chemicals don't reek like they did back then, and they've abbreviated the name of all that curly hair to "perm" - short for permanent, which they're not. They weren't when it stunk getting it done; they're not today when the process is much nicer. Let's get real here, perms should be called temps. They don't last.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "One Permanent in a World of Temporary."
    Actually, it's pretty hard to think of anything in our world that's truly permanent. Our wedding vows promise we'll be together "'til death do us part." But for more and more couples, that marriage doesn't last anywhere near that long. And if it does, it still isn't permanent. Because death "do us part." Death took my Mom, my Dad, my brother, many friends, coworkers, young people we've worked with, contemporaries of mine, and my wife. Even there, they were "temps" in my life, not "perms."
    We've all lived long enough to know that there are so many ways we can lose a love that we've cherished and that we were counting on, through death or divorce, a breakup or a conflict. Either we change or they change. We leave or they leave. And once again, another life-anchor is gone.
    But there's something deep inside us that tells us that we're made for something more than this - a relationship and a love that we can't lose. Many of us have lost a lot trying to find that love; we've given things we can't get back, we've made mistakes that have left scars, all for love.
    That voice inside you - that need inside you - that longs for one relationship you cannot lose doesn't have to keep looking, doesn't have to keep losing. There is a love you were made for. There's a person who can fill the hole in your heart. He's the one the Bible says "you were made by and made for" (Colossians 1:16). It's Jesus, God's one and only Son. Here's what the Bible says about the love that He offers you: "Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39). Well, there it is. That's the love you can't lose; the love that will never lose you.
    And it's in "Christ Jesus our Lord". Why? Because we're living away from that love. Not by God's choice, but ours. Actually, by thousands of choices in our life where we've chosen to do things our way instead of God's way. There's a name for that. It's called sin. And sin makes me "god" because it says, "I'm doing this, God, no matter what You say." According to the Bible, it's punishable by eternal separation from God - a horrific spiritual death penalty. Which Jesus paid for you when He absorbed all our sin and all our hell when He died on the cross. And then He came back from His grave to prove He could deliver eternal life.
    So it's Jesus. He is the love you've been looking for. He's the relationship you tried to find in so many relationships that turned out to not be the answer. And Romans 10:11, our word for today from the Word of God, promises that "anyone who believes in Him will not be disappointed." He will not let you down. Your relationship with Him begins when you surrender the steering wheel of your life to the One who should have been driving all along and say, "Jesus, you're my only hope. I'm yours."
    Look, you ready for that? Let me invite you to our website as soon as you can get there today. It's really there to help you get started with Jesus. It's ANewStory.com.
    This is a love you were made for, and this is the love where you'll finally be safe.

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    January 14, 2021 Filled With the Good Stuff - #8874

    Okay, so the glass says "Coke" on it. But the label would be wrong. See, the glass is filled with water; which of course, would be much healthier for me. Now there's no way I could put any Coke in that glass. No, you see, you can't put any other liquid in it because there's no room for anything but water because it's full. Aren't you glad you tuned in for that science lesson?
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Filled With the Good Stuff."
    Now, my glass filled with water? That would actually be a picture of one of the most powerful prayers you can pray for yourself or for someone you care about. In fact, it's such a good prayer that it's one of the relatively few that God thought should be in the Bible so we all could read it. The basic thrust in this prayer is repeated several times as Paul tells us what he prayed for when he prayed for the important people in his life.
    We get to actually eavesdrop on the prayer of one of the most powerful Christ-followers in history in our word for today from the Word of God. It's in Colossians 1:9 where Paul says, "Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to+ - okay, here it comes - "fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding."
    Then he goes on to say that if that happens, the folks he's praying for will live a life that pleases God in every way, they will bear fruit in their work, they will grow in knowing God, and they'll get really strong with supernatural power. But what births all that good stuff in one of your "prayees" is that they get filled with the knowledge of God's will. That's what starts this whole ball rolling.
    Which brings us to this glass I was talking about, filled with water, which would mean there's no room for anything else in it. This prayer asks that you - or someone you're praying for - will be taken over with the sense of exactly what God wants done in each situation, in each decision. So filled with His will, with what He wants, that it pushes out every other viewpoint, every other perspective, every other voice. What God wants done starts to dominate the heart and the mind and the emotions of a person who is "filled with the knowledge of his will."
    That's what is so powerful about this prayer. It's why it was a focal point of the great Apostle Paul's praying. Ultimately, this God's will fill up is an answer to prayer. But there are some things you can do to create the environment of clear, unmistakable direction from God. First, want it badly. Are you interested in God's viewpoint just to see if you want to do what He says? Or are you desperate to get God's leading on what you should do, and you will do it no matter what it is? Remember, "Commit your way to the Lord; trust also in Him and He will bring it to pass" (Psalm 37:5 KJV).
    Secondly, approach it neutrally. Don't pray to be filled with God's will if you're all full of your will. Give God a blank piece of paper, not a contract that you'd like Him to sign. One other step that prepares you for a God's will fill up - act responsively. When you get God's leading, do it before you change your mind. Obedience isn't just agreeing with what God wants - it's doing it. And until God fills you with the knowledge of His will on this matter, don't move. When He does fill your heart, don't wait. By the way, don't forget that the unfolding of God's will is usually just the next step, not the whole plan. It's like take a step, see a step. See, that keeps you close to Him day by day, waiting to see the next step.
    Well, get used to asking God for this for you, for someone you love, that they will be "filled with the knowledge of His will." That's a great way to pray!

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    January 13, 2021 Beautiful Brokenness - #8873

    For Christmas, I bought the ladies in the family these necklaces with a beautiful colored glass charm on them. And the Japanese word "nozomi." There's a story behind those necklaces.
    In 2011 a tsunami virtually leveled the Japanese coastal city of Ishinomaki. All that was left was fields of debris where homes and tearooms once stood. Sue Takamoto was helping to clear away some of the debris one day when she noticed all the colorful shards of broken pottery that were everywhere she stepped. It was all that remained of the tearooms and kitchens that had been swept out to sea.
    Sue and her friends collected and washed those shards, because they saw in those broken pieces a way to help some broken lives. They began the Nozomi Project - Japanese for "hope."
    The tsunami had left a lot of single mothers without a job or income. The Nozomi Project enables them to create rings and necklaces and earrings from the broken pieces. Then it's sold online - to people like me.
    Sue Takamoto said: "Many of these women lost their community and their neighbors are all gone. Their homes are washed away, and they're living in scattered places. But God can take broken pottery and broken women who think that life is over for them and do anything He wants. We are in the midst of seeing amazing things. In the rubble of our storm, we all have lots of broken pieces. We can leave them broken. Or, she said, with God's grace and help, make them into something beautiful. Something called hope."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Beautiful Brokenness."
    There's a lot of "broken" today. Broken hearts, broken dreams, broken families, broken health, broken relationships. For me, the tsunami was the sudden death of my Karen, the love of my life.
    Our word for today from the Word of God is a word of hope for all of us who have some broken in our life. It's in Isaiah 61:1-3 and it's about Jesus: "The Lord...has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to provide for those who grieve, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes." Beauty from ashes. Nozomi. Hope.
    A broken heart is an open heart. It's open in places that may have never been open before. And Jesus moves into those places with His transforming love and comfort and healing. For 2,000 years, He's been making beautiful things in people's lives from broken pieces.
    I know He's been keeping the "beauty from ashes" promise for me. Something's been happening to me that's hard to describe. My heart's more tender toward other people and toward God than ever before. It's like a new compassion.
    I value each day more than ever. I live with a re-fired sense of urgency. I'm thinking legacy more than ever, being intentional about passing on to my children and grandchildren and young leaders what God has taught me in a lifetime. And there's just something very special going on between me and God. He seems closer, seems more real to me than ever. Beautiful things from my broken pieces.
    My prayer for you is that you will bring all your broken pieces to Jesus, lay them at His feet and open your hands to receive what He wants to give you. He loved you enough to die for you. He was powerful enough to crush death and walk out of His grave. He can be trusted.
    You don't have to stay broken. Jesus stands ready to lead you into a new season where you'll make a greater difference than ever before. He knows broken. He was broken for you and me on a cross. And the Bible says, "By His wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).
    You could find out more about beginning your own personal relationship with Him at our website, which this would be a great day for you to go there - ANewStory.com.
    He's waiting to do for you the miracle described in a little Gospel song that says, "Something beautiful, something good. All my confusion, He understood. All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife, but He made something beautiful of my life."

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    January 12, 2021 Realizing You Were Made For More - #8872

    Our grandson was on a very limited diet - just mother's milk or baby formula for his first six months. But something then happened in weeks that followed. He suddenly became fascinated with what the rest of us were eating. Fascinated, as in staring at the food on our plate, the fork going down to get that food, the fork coming up to put that food in our mouth, and our mouth as it was chewing that food. Then repeat the exercise as the fork goes down for another bite. You could tell by the longing look in his eyes, he wasn't content with that milk or formula anymore. No, he wanted some of that good stuff. If he could have talked, I think he might have said, "Hey! I've been made for more than what I've been getting!"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Realizing You Were Made For More."
    Our grandson's growing dissatisfaction with his liquid diet was actually setting the stage for moving to something much better. In fact, many all grown-up people have some of those same feelings, "I've been made for more than what I've experienced so far." The good news is that, in many lives, restlessness like that has immediately preceded the greatest life upgrade those people have ever experienced.
    Many of us know the feeling of a life that's full but not fulfilling. For all the things we've done to get some love, there's never been enough. We're still lonely. For everything we've tried to give more meaning to our life, nothing has ever really satisfied our soul. We're still wondering what the point of it all is. For all we've thought would give us some lasting peace inside, the unrest in our soul just doesn't go away. Even if you seem to have everything going your way, your heart may still be saying, "I'm made for more than this."
    And your heart is right. It's just that the "something more" has always been elusive. It could be within your reach today, though, if you reach the right direction. Who could have more love, more meaning, more peace to give than the God who gave us our life in the first place? Here's what He says in Isaiah 55, beginning with verse 1. It's our word for today from the Word of God. "Come, all you who are thirsty (or let me say, "all you who are restless for more."), come to the waters...come buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen to Me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare...hear Me, so that your soul may live."
    God says, "Don't waste any more time or energy on things that can never satisfy your soul. I've got what you're looking for." And where can you find it? It's not in a church. It's not in a religion. It's in a person. Here's what the Bible says about God's Son, Jesus: "All things were created by Him and for Him" - that would include you - "in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form" (Colossians 1:16; 2:9). It goes on to say, "You are complete in Him" (Colossians 2:10, KJV). Wow! Complete, fulfilled, at peace, because you have found the One you were made by and made for.
    Sadly, we haven't lived our life for the One we were made for. We've made it all about me instead of all about Him. So we're away from the One who has the "something more" that we were made for. But in the greatest act of love in human history, Jesus paid the price to give us a chance to know God. This same book of the Bible says that He reconciled us to God "by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross" (Colossians 1:20). We can have life now; we can have life forever because He gave up His life for us. But, thank God, He didn't stay dead. He rose from the dead; so He's alive right now, and He's inviting you to turn to Him for what only He can give you.
    This life-changing relationship with Jesus begins the moment you say, "Lord, I give up running my life. It's Yours to run from now on. I'm putting myself completely in the hands of Jesus, who died and rose again for me." It's exciting to think that this could be the day your long search comes to an end. A lot of people have found help getting started with Him at our website, and I want to invite you to go there. It's ANewStory.com.
    Jesus is the "something more" you were made for, and He's within your reach today. I'm praying that you won't miss Him.

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    January 11, 2021 Teflon Love - #8871

    OK, I'm not much of a cook, but when my wife was really busy and under the weather, we got to eat my cooking for dinner. Which meant a very limited menu which invariably included the grilled cheese option. Now, when I would prepare that gourmet specialty, I would reach for my trusty skillet - the one that's coated with Teflon. You don't have to be a headliner on the Food Channel to know that life is a lot easier when you have a pan that things don't stick to; they just sort of slide right off.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Teflon Love."
    Most churches, most families, most workplaces could use some Teflon, don't you think? I mean I'm talking people who don't let things stick to them; they just let them slide right off. I hope you are one or that you want to become one!
    The Apostle Peter is talking about that kind of relationships in our word for today from the Word of God. It's in 1 Peter 4:8. He simply says, "Above all..." Whoa! Now, wait a minute! What follows you know is going to be the most important point. "Above all, love each other deeply." Why? He says, "Because love covers a multitude of sins." He was talking to people who were undergoing a lot of pressure, a lot of pain for their commitment to Jesus Christ. The last thing they needed was grief from each other! So he recommends sort of a Teflon approach to relationships: love people enough that your love will enable you to overlook their wrongdoings.
    Overlooking love - that's Teflon love! "Un-love" keeps score all the time; it marks down every time it gets offended or wounded, it harbors, and it never forgets an offense. If you're that kind of person in your relationships, then when someone crosses you, you don't let it go, you let it grow.
    But Jesus-style love has no scorecard. If you love as He's told us to, then you simply refuse to store the negatives from other people or about other people. You're Teflon, and the negatives don't stick to you. They slide off.
    Could it be that you've been allowing hard feelings toward someone you know to start growing in you? Is there some resentment, some anger, some bitterness that you've allowed to stick to your soul toward someone in your family; maybe even your mate or your child or your parent? Or maybe it's hard feelings toward someone at church, or where you work, in that ministry you're involved with. The Bible calls it a "root of bitterness" and says what will happen if you allow it to grow in you much longer. It says, "It will cause trouble and defile many" (Hebrews 12:15).
    If there's any unforgiveness in your heart, hear your Lord's word, "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another." You may say, "Yeah, but what about the way they treated me?" God shoots down all our "yeah buts" with His next sentence, "Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:13). Wow! You don't treat people as they've treated you. No, our example is to treat them as Jesus has treated you!
    So ask your Lord for a dose of His love that will cover rather than harbor the wrongs against you. Love enough to cover not just a few of them, but like it says, a multitude of sins.
    See, things don't stick to someone who has God's Teflon love. They slide off!

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    January 8, 2021 When the Rain Just Won't Stop - #8870

    Every once in a while the sun just decides to take a vacation for a few days. Not too long ago, we had one of those stretches of weather when we didn't see the old boy for the better part of a week. It was just like one rainy day after another. Everyone around here and everything around here was soaked. I was running into our headquarters one morning on a day like that, as one of my co-workers was, and we were both trying to avoid getting drenched in the process. I made some comment about the relentless rain, but he was looking at a little bigger picture than I was. Remembering last summer's withering drought, he said, "This is going to be good for us later on."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When the Rain Just Won't Stop."
    You might be going through one of those seasons in your life when the "rain" never seems to stop. It's been stress, bad news, struggle, disappointment, grief, confusion. We all take our turn facing those seasons when we keep waking up to another rainy day.
    Our word for today from the Word of God has been, for 2,000 years, a bright light for dark days. The well-worn words of Romans 8:28 have helped millions of believers see a bigger picture when it seemed as if it would never stop raining. As familiar as you might be with these words, they may literally have your name on them for this particular season of your life. So, listen to them with your heart; "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."
    One great saint described Romans 8:28 as "a soft pillow for a long night." I hope you will let it be that for you. Because it gives you God's ironclad assurance that there is meaning in what you're going through; there is a holy purpose for God either sending or allowing those things in your life. His purpose for our dark times is seldom explained, but it's always there. It doesn't say everything is good. No, it says everything is being worked together for good. For your good, if you're one of those "who love Him."
    So you can say, no matter how many days it's been raining, "This is going to be good for us later on." God simply wouldn't let this happen if it wasn't going to be good for you later on. Romans 8:29 tells us that the ultimate good God is going to bring out of this is to make you more like His Son. I believe God shapes and allows the circumstances to come into your life that will best develop some quality of Jesus in us. There's nothing greater God could do for you than to plant in you the way Jesus loves people, the way Jesus treats people, the way Jesus is patient with people, the way Jesus understands what a hurting person is going through, and this kind of bondedness is what Jesus had with His Father.
    And that may take a lot of rainy days for God to make you the man or woman He created you to be and redeemed you to be. He's toughening you, or maybe He's tenderizing you, purging you of old ways of doing things, squeezing you into new and better priorities, sensitizing you to people that maybe you've hurt or neglected, moving you to burn some old bridges or to treat some old wounds. What gets you through the rainy days is the calm assurance that "God is working all this together for my good to make a better me."
    Are you going to enjoy one rainy day after another? Not necessarily. But it sure helps to see them in the big picture perspective. God is using these days to prepare you for better days ahead. So if you got up this morning and found that it was raining again, lean hard on Romans 8:28 and say, with all the confidence of a blood-bought child of God, "This is going to be very good for us later on."

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    January 7, 2021 When the Lid Comes Off Your Life - #8869

    She was only days old when she was abandoned by her parents. The lady who found her took her to an orphanage where she spent the first year of her life. It was a caring place, but of necessity, it was unheated. So she was too bundled up most of the time to fully develop her motor skills, and she was one of some twenty infants in tiny cribs in a small room. She got to play sometimes in their playroom, but it was pretty small, too. Small is the word, I guess, that would really describe her whole world. Then one day a couple from America came and her caregiver placed her in their arms. That day, she had her first ever ride in a motorized vehicle and her first view of the world beyond the orphanage. Since then, there's not a day that goes by that she doesn't have some new experiences that just keep blowing the walls off her world. She's not an orphan anymore. She's home!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When the Lid Comes Off Your Life."
    This is not just the story of one little girl. Spiritually speaking, it's the story of millions of people across this world - including me. Something happened. Actually, someone happened that has blown the walls off our world. For someone listening right now whose world has felt pretty small and pretty empty, you might be minutes away from the step that will blow the lid off your life.
    For that little girl from the orphanage, her life could pretty well be divided up into "B.F." and "A.F." - before she had a family and after she got a family. For me, and for so many others, it's "B. C." and "A. D." - before Christ and after Christ; before we began a personal relationship with Jesus and after we did. In fact, once you belong to Him and see how life was supposed to be all along, you tend to see all the years without Him the way the famous British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge saw his fifty plus years without Christ. His autobiography is entitled, "Chronicles of Wasted Years."
    There are some folks who think that giving themselves to Jesus will actually limit their life. How wrong they are. Jesus made this awesome promise in our word for today from the Word of God in John 10:10, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." The opposite of full is empty. And that's how so many people feel inside, how they feel when they think about what their life really means. It just seems empty.
    Jesus said He came to make it full. And better yet, He came so that, as the Bible says, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life" (John 3:36), a full life on earth - eternal life in heaven. Because when you find Jesus, you find what and who you were made for. The Bible says about Jesus, we were "created by Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16). Without Him, it just doesn't work.
    To make this God-life available to you, it cost Jesus His life. The sin that separates you and me from God could only be removed by God's Son paying the death penalty for it - the penalty that we deserve. Then He walked out of His grave to prove that He really is the Life-Giver. When you get Jesus, you plug into the plan you were made for; you get heaven's direction for your decisions; you get inexhaustible, "unloseable" love; you get God's grace to help you weather every crisis; you have someone who's bigger than every challenge that's bigger than you are.
    In short, the lid comes off your life. But not until you place your life in His hands; hands that still bear the nail prints that prove how much He loves you. Maybe you're not sure you've ever done that. This could be your day to begin your personal relationship with Jesus by telling Him that you're ready to turn from the sin that He died for and put all your trust in Him.
    If that's what you're ready to do; if you're ready to begin life as it was meant to be, centered on the One who made you for Himself, then I would encourage you to go to our website today. There's a lot of helpful information there that has been a real encouragement to people at the same crossroads moment that you're at right now. Just go to ANewStory.com.
    Jesus came a long way. He paid a high price to hold you in His arms and make you one of His family. He's the home that your heart's been needing, and it's time to find your home.

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    January 6, 2021 Today's Storm, Tomorrow's Strength - #8868

    Besides all the other upheaval of 2020, it was like a record year for hurricanes. They went through the entire English alphabet of names, then started on the Greek alphabet! It's reminiscent of those two massive hurricanes that hit within days of each other. Remember? Harvey swamped Texas. Irma devastated Florida.
    First, they talked about rescue - saving lives. Then came the long slog they call recovery. Weeks. Months. Years. But the aftermath of Florida's previous monster hurricane, Hurricane Andrew, actually yielded some unforeseen good from the storm. Andrew's killer winds revealed these fatal weaknesses in a lot of their buildings and the need for much stronger building codes. As a result, Hurricane Irma, with all her punishing gusts, couldn't do the damage Andrew had done.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Today's Storm, Tomorrow's Strength"
    From that tale of two hurricanes, a tale of many storm-ravaged lives emerges. From the devastation of one storm came a new strength to withstand future storms. That's what's happened in many a life torn up by one of life's Category 5 storms. Heartbreaking losses. A life-altering medical hit. A shipwrecked relationship. A family crisis. Or, as in my life, the loss of the one you love deeply.
    For many, from the rubble of that storm came something stronger than ever before. And you know what that is? That's hope! A defiant hope! Yes, life-storms do damage. But they also expose where there are weak spots - in my character, in my relationship with God, in a family, in a marriage, in our parenting. Weak spots in because of past wounds that we've never dealt with.
    Often, a major life-storm means a major life-loss of some kind: your health, your income, your future plans, your marriage, your loved one. And that loss leaves a gaping hole. I'm not sure that hole ever goes away. But after the storm, you have a choice. Let your loss - and the hole it leaves - define your life from now on. Goodbye, hope. Or begin to rebuild your life around that hole. And to rebuild your life ON what you've learned from that loss. Now that's a blueprint for hope.
    That's the perspective in our word for today from the Word of God in Romans 5:3-5. It shows the constructive possibilities from a destructive event. "We can rejoice, too," it says, "when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment, for we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love."
    Great athletes have served their time in the weight room usually, pushing hard to increase their bench press. And lifting more than you've ever lifted before hurts. There's pain. But coaches want to see you in that weight room. Because the pain of lifting more than you've ever lifted before will make you stronger than you've ever been before. More powerful, more confident, more valuable, more useful to God than you've ever been before.
    No, you can't stop the storm or its effects. But you can choose to not retreat but to rebuild. Working with God on the vulnerabilities that the storm revealed. Rebuilding stronger than ever before. Ready for whatever storms may come.
    Or, in the Bible's words: "In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37).

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    January 5, 2021 Two Broken Men, One Big Difference - #8867

    Whenever we passed a park, I shifted into nagging mode to get my dad to stop, because I loved the swings. Didn't do that spinning carousel thing - never did enjoy throwing up. Then, the seesaw - now that was fun, too.
    Of course, when it was little Ronnie and big Daddy, it didn't work too well. Somehow I kept ending up with my end of the seesaw suspended in the air as my dad thought it was fun to just sit there with his end on the ground for a while. Now here's what was really not fun - having no one on the other end. You just sit there with your end of that thing on the ground - and nothing on the other side to lift you up. That's what happened to my dad the night of the greatest loss of his life.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Two Broken Men, One Big Difference."
    Whenever you lose someone or something important to you, it triggers one of the most intense, potentially most destructive emotions there is. Grief. I was overwhelmed with it on the day in May when that became the worst day of my life. That's the day my Karen, the love of my life since I was 19, was suddenly gone. How could I have known the night before when I told her I loved her as I left for a trip, that I'd never be able to tell her that again?
    For my dad, it was that night when I was four, when he and my mom left our little apartment in a panic to get my baby brother to the hospital. I never saw him again. The doctors couldn't do anything for little Steven. Six months old - he was gone.
    I saw my dad totally crushed and devastated. Unable to recover. Crying all the time. Today I'd say he was inconsolable.
    In my dad's unspeakable loss - and years later in mine - we were both broken men. Both with many tears. But as I compare my grief to what I saw in my dad, there is one massive difference. Hope. Because in my darkest hour, I had my relationship with Jesus. My dad had nowhere to turn.
    He was "on the ground" with nothing on the other side to lift him up. But, praise God, the day I lost the love of my life, Jesus was there with His unloseable love enveloping my wounded heart.
    That's the difference in knowing Jesus, spelled out in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, our word for today from the Word of God. Where Paul says to some grieving people who belong to Jesus: "You do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope." He goes on to say "for we believe that Jesus died and rose again."
    Eventually, in his grief, my dad started dropping me off to go to Sunday School at a nearby church. That's where I learned how much Jesus loved me. So much that He died on an awful cross to pay for every bad thing that I've ever done or that you've ever done. And then three days later He crushed death as He walked out of His grave! One Sunday I came running out to the car and I gushed, "Daddy, today I asked Jesus into my heart." I know he didn't understand. But a few months later he did - and he came with all his sin and his brokenness to the only One who could forgive and heal - Jesus.
    Here's the difference between someone who's listening right now who has begun a relationship with Jesus and someone who hasn't. With Jesus, yes, you grieve. But there's something on the other side of the scale - hope. Jesus. With His love, with His heaven, without Jesus, it's just the agony of grief with nothing on the other side to lift you up. Hurt with hope or hurt without hope.
    If you're doing life; if you're doing heartbreak and death without Jesus in your heart, I pray today will be the day you reach out to Him and say, "Jesus, I'm Yours." I'd love to help you get that settled, if you'll just go and check out the life-giving information on our website. That's ANewStory.com.
    So much loss. So much hurt. But, oh, there's hope. And hope has a name. His name is Jesus.

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    January 4, 2021 God's Gerbils - #8866

    Gerbils are pretty funny and they're extremely predictable. At least, the one our kids had. He sure was fun. He was a pet. When I checked on him in his little cage upstairs, he was almost always doing the same thing - the wheel. There he was, chugging away, running on his gerbil wheel. If you went back a few hours later�the wheel. If I had spoken "Gerbilese," I would have pointed out that even though he was expending a lot of energy, he wasn't going anywhere. But I think I know what his response would be. He would just run faster on the wheel that was going nowhere!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "God's Gerbils."
    These next few moments are dedicated to a special group of people - really busy Christians. Many of whom are, unknowingly, spiritual gerbils running faster and faster on a wheel, but often really not going anywhere because they're doing a lot of the right things for a lot of the wrong reasons.
    The right reason to be serving is plainly spelled out in our word for today from the Word of God, where Jesus asks what is probably the most important question He ever asked. After Peter's triple denial of his Lord and Jesus' resurrection from the dead, Jesus calls him aside for a man-to-man talk in John 21, beginning in verse 15. And there's the question.
    "Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon...do you truly love Me more than these?' 'Yes, Lord,' he said, 'you know that I love You.' Jesus said, 'Feed My lambs.'" Jesus goes on to ask His question a second time, and then again. "Jesus said, 'Simon...do you love Me?' Peter said, 'Lord...You know that I love You.' Jesus said, 'Feed My sheep.'"
    Notice, Jesus didn't ask, "Why did you fail Me?" or "Will you work for Me?" All He wanted to know was "Do you love Me?" That's all He wants to know from you - do you love Him? Notice that the assignment, "Feed My sheep," comes only after Jesus is sure, and Peter is sure, that he's doing it for love.
    Which leads to the inevitable question about your spiritual service. What are you doing it for? Basically, there are three reasons people do Christian things: duty, recognition, or love. And the first two don't count. Maybe you've been busy for God mostly out of a sense of duty. That's why you're easily frustrated, you're often depleted, you're way too stressed. It's a spiritual gerbil wheel, isn't it? You're Martha, fulfilling all your responsibilities, but you're neglecting your relationship with Jesus. And the relationship matters way more to Him than the responsibilities.
    Maybe you're doing it for recognition - Gerbil wheel. Not to mention glory-stealing - using only what God should be getting glory for to get glory for yourself. Doing the work of the Lord for duty or for recognition is inevitably going to feel hollow, unsatisfying, exhausting, and frustrating, because you're supposed to be doing it as an overflow of your love for Jesus.
    And chances are good it used to be, it was because you loved Him. But now what's supposed to be a joy has become a gerbil wheel because your reasons for doing it got mixed up. Maybe it's time to say, "Jesus, I repent of doing the right things for the wrong reasons. I just want to spend the time with You that I need to spend to fall in love with You again." When you do, then all your spiritual service becomes simply loving Jesus in front of people. It's all for Him! And then the results don't matter...the recognition doesn't matter, just as long as you know that Jesus is smiling.
    The longer you do it for yourself, the more miserable it grows. But the longer you do it for Jesus, the sweeter He grows.

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    January 1, 2021 Shields Up! - #8865

    There are few TV series that have become more a part of the culture than the one that portrays the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Right! You got it, Star Trek. The original show has spawned like two or three other series and some major movies. So a lot of people know about the transporter which beams your molecules up and then down to another location or the weapon that the Trekkies call a phaser. And maybe you remember the command that one of the captains gives whenever the Enterprise is coming under fire. It's the directive that activates this invisible protection around their ship, "Shields up!"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Shields Up!"
    If you are trying to make any kind of difference for Jesus Christ, you know what it is to come under enemy fire. After all, "your enemy the devil," the Bible says, "prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). And that warning is in a passage that is actually addressed to spiritual activists. It's followed by this command, "Resist him." Or "Shields up!"
    There's a time when we're particularly vulnerable to our enemy's attack; the time when we're most likely to have our shields down. Strangely enough, we are often most vulnerable immediately after God has done something powerful for us, through us, or think about Elijah. When was he suddenly so depressed he didn't even want to live anymore? Immediately after he challenged and defeated 450 false prophets in that fire-from-heaven showdown.
    How about Moses? He's just met Jehovah on the mountain. He's received the laws of God from God's own mouth. And he comes down from the mountain to his people and they're worshiping the golden calf. Or think about Jesus. When does Satan come in and blast Him with relentless temptations? Right after Jesus' greatest spiritual moment - His baptism when heaven came down on Him. The disciples came down from seeing heaven on a mountain with Jesus, only to be confronted with the devil at the bottom of the mountain in the form of a demon-possessed boy.
    One reason we are so vulnerable to Satan's attacks after a spiritual victory is this: we go into the battle with our shields up, spiritually alert, deeply dependent on God. We know we need it. But when the battle's over and we've won, we tend to lower our guard. We felt our need for the Lord going in; we forget how much we need Him coming out. So the devil is all over us after the victory. He knows we're too close to God during the battle itself, so he waits until the battle is over and we're spiritually relaxed.
    That's when he hits you with that temptation, that discouragement or depression, that problem at home, problem at work, that conflict, those doubts. Sound familiar? You might be in the middle of that kind of attack right now. If it was during the big battle, you would instinctively know it was Satan and you'd fight back with everything you've got. But because it comes after the battle, you don't use your spiritual weapons. You tend to fight it as "flesh and blood" instead of "the spiritual forces of evil" (Ephesians 6:12). And you lose a battle you should be winning.
    So, I love our word for today from the Word of God. It's in Isaiah 52:12 - "The Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard." See, God promises not only to look out for you as you're going into the battle, but He also says He'll be your "rear guard" after the battle.
    So when God has worked mightily, when God has used you significantly, don't get spiritually careless. That's the time to give yourself that all-important order, "Shields up!"

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    December 31, 2020 The Delete Button You Can't Reach - #8864

    So many times, the latest technology becomes a great blessing and a great curse. For example, are cell phones a blessing or a curse? Yes. It's great that I can reach anyone or they can reach me basically anytime or anywhere. And it's terrible that people can reach me anytime, anywhere. How about e-mail? Fast, efficient communication from wherever you are to wherever they are. But then there's "spam" - the email equivalent of junk mail. You can wake up to dozens of new emails, including a bunch I really don't want. But there's this button on your computer that really comes in handy. It just says "delete." If you don't like what you're getting, delete. If you don't want to keep something, delete. If you write something you decide you don't want to send, delete. One key stroke and what you don't want is gone.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Delete Button You Can't Reach."
    Here's the problem. Because we live in a world where it's so easy to delete, we may start thinking we can delete things that, in fact, are not going to go away. Like the consequences of our actions for example. The payback for the things we've done wrong. The judgment of Almighty God for making ourselves number one instead of Him. There are some things you just can't delete. Delay, maybe. Delete, never.
    That's guaranteed, actually, by God Himself in our word for today from the Word of God in Galatians 6:7. It's one of the laws in the universe, and no one is so smart or religious enough to escape it. God says, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." Sow corn, you'll get corn whether you want corn or not. Sow wheat, you'll get wheat. Sow sin, you'll get judgment; consequences here and eternal consequences forever.
    Any farmer can tell you that you don't reap the harvest as soon as you sow the seed. But make no mistake. The harvest is delayed but it's inevitable. In the case of our disobedience toward God, the Bible spells out the harvest in these chilling words: "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). That death is life here without the God who makes life work and life after death without God in a place called hell.
    There are short-term "undeletable" consequences for sin. Deceit today, discredited and un-trusted tomorrow. Indulging your lust today, scarred relationships and disgusting bondage tomorrow. Sex outside of marriage today, the real thing ruined tomorrow. Trash talk today, loss of respect and reputation tomorrow. But far worse than those consequences is the eternal death penalty that our sin carries with it. No religion on earth, and no amount of your goodness can possibly delete your sin from God's book. Only the One whose laws we've broken can delete your sin and cancel your hell. The delete button for human sin is beyond human reach.
    The Bible declares our only hope in these words: "Christ carried our sins in His body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24). When Jesus said "Father, forgive them" from His cross, He was including you. If you abandon all other hope of being forgiven, you pin all your hopes on Him. The Bible says He is "a God...who pardons sin" and who will "hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:18, 19). Imagine. Every sin, every wrong thing you've ever done, deleted by one stroke of God's hand because you reached out to Jesus, His Son, and you said, "Rescue me. You're my only hope, Jesus!"
    Don't you want that? Well, I'd love to help you take this step into this love relationship with Jesus. Let me invite you to go to our website to get this settled. The address is ANewStory.com. It could be yours begins there.
    The awful harvest for your sin was taken by Jesus on the cross, so you could make the greatest trade in the world - eternal death for eternal life.

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    December 30, 2020 Thick Ice - #8863

    Let me give you a little weather preference test (as if we get to vote). Why don't you rank these one, two, three from the best to the worst: rain, snow, ice. I just gave you my ranking. Rain is no problem. I grew up in the Midwest; and I lived in the Northeast so I can handle snow. Even when you have to walk or drive, there's at least something to dig into. But ice? Oh, man, ice storms can leave some very nice things behind. Every branch, limb, and home is glittering with this beautiful coating of ice. But it is a pain if you've got to go anywhere. Reminds me of an old song, "Freeze a Jolly Good Fellow."
    Well, anyway, we've had some major league ice storms where we live, and I went out one morning and I found my car entombed with this thick, hard armor of ice. I could have just tried to chip it away. In fact I started to do that. But I would have either damaged the car or damaged its' owner. So I decided to work smart. I let the car run for a while, and I warmed it up from the inside. You know what happened. A few minutes later that ice came off pretty easily.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Thick Ice."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Acts 16. It's kind of about ice around a heart. See, the ice around a car is hard to penetrate, but the ice around a person is even harder. Maybe you can think of a person you're concerned for right now who's pretty hard. Maybe some person who's got an affect on your future or your security, and there's ice around them.
    Well, almost everyone has at least one impossible person in their world; one person whose ice you just can't seem to get through. Let's look at God's way of getting through the ice. For example, in Acts 16:14, the missionary Paul comes upon a woman named Lydia, a prominent merchant in her town, and it says, "The Lord opened her heart to respond."
    Back in the Old Testament Saul didn't want to be the first king of Israel until it says in 1 Samuel 10:9, "The Lord changed his heart." Proverbs 21:21 says, "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord. He directs it like a water course wherever He pleases." You get it? God's in the heart changing business; the heart warming business.
    Think about the person in your world who's hard to reach. Maybe it's a defiant or a wandering child, an unresponsive mate. Maybe you've got a hard-to-talk-to boss, or employee, a coworker, or fellow student, or a person who will be making the decisions that could greatly affect your church or your ministry; maybe someone who seems as if he or she won't ever give Jesus a chance. Well, God's method of melting the ice is the same as mine for de-icing my car. Warm the person up from the inside, change their heart, soften their heart, turn their heart your direction.
    Malachi 4:6 says, "He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers." So often we try all kinds of things to convince people, and nag them, and politic with them, and lobby them. But recently I've been learning the power of a simple but powerful prayer, "Lord, change his heart; change her heart. Warm them on the inside. Turn their heart your direction, my direction. Move them to be open to what You want."
    Many of us have made getting through human ice a lot harder by under-praying in this area. Why don't you focus your praying on the hearts of key people? Ask God to remove the blinders, to give you favor, to neutralize prejudices, to create openness. We'd probably have a lot less conflict and a lot more success if we'd spend more time talking to God about a person than we do talking to the person or about the person.
    And remember, God's a heart warmer, a heart softener, a heart changer. Pray as if He is. It works with a frozen car or a frozen person. When they've been warmed on the inside it's a lot easier to get through that ice. And believe me, no one can thaw out a heart like God can.

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    December 29, 2020 When You've Fallen and You Can't Get Up - #8862

    So how many diets have you been on in your life? Lost count? Yeah, me too. I think I must have gone on my first diet when I was about six months old. If you're one of those over-blessed people who can eat anything you want and never gain weight, oh fine! Just keep it to yourself and have some sympathy for the rest of us. But if you've been on a diet, then you know what it's like to blow a diet probably. You've been eating just celery and tofu for the past couple of weeks, and you're getting lighter. Then somebody offers you a French fry and you succumb. Then you say, "Oh well, I might as well eat all the French fries!" Then you feel so bad about it, you say, "Oh, what's the use, I might as well wash it down with a milkshake while I'm at it!" An hour later, you're thinking, "If I've blown it this bad, I might as well order pizza too...with extra cheese and extra pepperoni, of course!"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When You've Fallen and You Can't Get Up."
    You're making progress, you slip, you feel bad about slipping-so you fall farther. You start thinking, "What's the use after what I've done?" You give up and you maybe even end up worse off than when you began. That's not just a blueprint for dieting disaster. It's a blueprint for spiritual disaster.
    I call it the Cycle of Shame. It's one of the devil's favorite tools for pulling a follower of Jesus down and then keeping them down. You could be trapped in that Cycle of Shame even now. Or you've been there and you don't want to go back there. You may have fallen, but you can get up! There's so much hope for you in our word for today from the Word of God in Micah 7:8-10. It's about someone who has fallen but who's defiantly turning the tables on the enemy who brought them down.
    Here's what defiant hope sounds like: "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. He will bring me out into the light. I will see His righteousness. Then my enemy will see it and will be covered with shame."
    Notice at the beginning, it's you who are covered by shame because of what you've done. At the end, it's your enemy who's covered with shame because you've shaken off his shackles of shame, and you've realized you can't change you but the Lord can. You have refused to stay down. You are defiantly determining to make the devil pay for what he deceived you into doing. You're going to do some serious damage to the kingdom of the one who had tried to do some serious damage to you.
    Satan succeeds in keeping you down with that "what's the use?" lie when you make a big mistake. You focus on you instead of the One who died so you could be free. The Bible doesn't say, "The righteous man never falls." It says in Proverbs 24:16, "Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again." You don't let one sin turn into 100 sins. You get up right away and you pick up where you left off growing in Christ.
    You bring your sin, you bring your failure to Jesus, you turn from it, and you apply the forgiveness Jesus paid for at the Cross to that sin. And you believe His promise about what you did, "I will remember their sins no more" (Hebrews 10:17). Satan keeps pointing to your past because, well, it can't be changed. Jesus keeps pointing to your future because it's yet to be written.
    Yes, you went down, but you don't have to stay down! Jesus stands ready this very minute to pick you up, dust you off, bandage your wounds, and help you start running for Him again; forgiven, restored, and stronger than you've ever been before.

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    December 28, 2020 Dynamite Praying - #8861

    Since Jim was a boy, it's always been a custom in his family to usher in the new year with fireworks. It's legal where they live. Recently, he told me about the New Year's Eve celebration he remembers more than any other. The church was having a traditional watch night service where everyone prayed in the new year. In fact, the pastor was praying right at the stroke of midnight. At the same time, not far from the church, Jim's dad was taking time out to bring in the new year a little differently. Not with fireworks - with dynamite! He had some dynamite left from a construction project. He thought it would be a great idea to set it off at the stroke of midnight - which he did! Suddenly, everybody in the church was startled by this thunderous explosion outside. The pastor never missed a beat in his prayer.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Dynamite Praying."
    A prayer meeting and an explosion; maybe those things should always go together. Consider the model prayer meeting in Acts 4, beginning with verse 24, our word for today from the Word of God. The powerful council that had arranged for Jesus' crucifixion has now ordered Jesus' disciples to shut up about Jesus or else. Peter and John reported this to the believers. I mean, it was a very volatile situation. Here was their response.
    "When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. 'Sovereign Lord,' they said, 'You made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through Your servant David: 'Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?' Indeed, Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against Your holy servant Jesus. They did what Your power and will had decided beforehand. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable Your servants to speak Your word with great boldness. Stretch out Your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs...'"
    Now, here's the result of their prayer: "After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke the Word of God boldly." Okay, well here you go: powerful prayer - explosive results. Let's pray like that, huh, if you want to get results like that. We can learn some of the secrets of dynamite prayer from how these early believers prayed under life-threatening pressure.
    First, you focus on the greatness of God rather than the greatness of the problem. This prayer is actually more about God than anything else. Great prayers always are.
    Secondly, pray God's words back to Him. The early believers actually prayed God's promises and God's words right back to Him. We should pray on His promises, too.
    Thirdly, pray specifically for your response to the situation. They prayed for boldness. The situation is not what will decide this. It will be how you choose to respond to the situation.
    Finally, pray for things only God could do - boldness when you feel like running - miracles to show people God's glory.
    Frankly, our prayers are often so small, so predictable, so unworthy of the great God with whom we're talking. When you pray to a very big God for very big things, beginning with big things to happen in you, prepare for something explosive to happen. That will be the sound of your God blowing the lid off things!

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    December 25, 2020 The Charlie Brown Christmas Miracle - #8860

    A lot of us have it just about memorized - but it's still a Christmas classic - the Charlie Brown Christmas special on TV. You maybe hear that familiar piano theme in your mind even now. Huh? Can you hear it? Charlie's efforts to find the meaning of Christmas are, of course, repeatedly frustrated by Lucy's big mouth and Snoopy's garishly decorated doghouse. But then there's Linus on stage, in the spotlight, reciting the story of the first Christmas from the Bible. And Charlie Brown's Christmas tree, of course! It is, of course, the last tree on the lot: it's bedraggled, it's broken, and it's pitiful. But Charlie insists on giving that miserable little tree his tender loving care. And by the end, that tree, fully decorated, has become the beautiful center of the whole gang's Christmas celebration.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You this very special day about "The Charlie Brown Christmas Miracle."
    It's amazing how a broken tree can become special with some tender, loving care; or more importantly, a broken person. With all the joy of the Christmas season, it could also be a time that reopens a lot of old wounds for you; a time that intensifies the loneliness and highlights the broken parts of your life.
    And yet there's hope in that simple birth announcement the angels made the night Jesus arrived on earth, "A Savior has been born to you." A savior! Well, that's a rescuer - like the emergency workers who rescued people from the rubble of the World Trade Center towers. Jesus has, in fact, been pulling people out of the rubble for 2,000 years, and He stands ready this Christmas day to do that for you.
    His invitation is recorded in Matthew 11:28, and it's our word for today from the Word of God. And it is hope for a hurting heart. Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." "Come to Me." Now, that's Jesus' gentle invitation to you this Christmas day. Come to Him for things that no one else has ever been able to do for you; things that no one on earth can do for you.
    Like beginning the healing of your broken heart. The Bible says of the Lord, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." His unconditional love for you, the value He gives you, the emotional safety He provides - they provide a healing harbor for your life. Jesus' "Come to Me" invitation is also an invitation to come to be forgiven.
    Ultimately, what's broken us is the sinning that's been done against us and the sinning that we've done against others - and, most of all, against God. That's why we need a Savior, a Rescuer. We've hijacked our life from our Creator. We've lived it the way we wanted to live it instead of the way He wanted us to. And that's put us in an orbit far from His love and far from His purpose. In a word, the Bible calls it "lost."
    But that's why that baby came to Bethlehem. That's why Jesus went to that horrific cross to die. He was paying the penalty for every wrong thing you and I have ever done. So He could forgive you and erase every sin from God's book, which means you could go to heaven when you die. He loves you so much He gave His life so you could be with Him forever. And then He came back from His grave to prove He's got the power to deliver on all His promises.
    Charlie Brown's love made something special out of a broken tree. Jesus' love for you led Him to be broken for you on the tree where He died so you could have a brand new beginning. This is a great time of year to finally give yourself to the One who gave Himself for you; to find the One you've been looking for your whole life.
    If you're ready to bring the sin and the broken pieces of a lifetime to Jesus and begin your personal relationship with Him, would you tell Him that? Tell Him today, "Jesus, you came for me. I'm Yours."
    I hope you'll go to our website if you're at that point - ANewStory.com. A lot of people have gone there, and it's helped them understand how to begin their relationship with this Jesus.
    This could be your first Christmas with Christ in your heart. It's time for you to experience for yourself this most awesome love in the universe. That tug you're feeling in your heart? That's Jesus extending His invitation to you, "Come to Me this Christmas day."

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    December 24, 2020 The Radical Christmas Victory Plan - #8859

    There's something really special about having a new baby in the family at Christmastime isn't there, since it's really all about a baby. I remember, you know, for example celebrating with a brand new granddaughter. Well, she didn't do much celebrating that Christmas. She really didn't do much of anything except lie there and look irresistible. Now, in my head, I know that babies are helpless, but being around one for a little while really brings that home. Our little darlin' couldn't eat unless Mommy fed her; she couldn't burp unless someone burped her (that's something that some of us grew up and learned to be quite good at); our baby couldn't move unless someone moved her; her little hands sort of flailed around - absolutely no ability to control what they did. Helpless.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Radical Christmas Victory Plan."
    Now try to get your mind around this: the helpless hands of that little Jewish baby Mary was holding in the manger were the hands that created the galaxies! The Son of God, the second person of the Godhead, the One of whom the Bible says, "Through Him all things were made." (John 1:3) He comes to our planet in this helpless little package that basically can do nothing for himself. Omnipotence becomes helpless to rescue a world full of dying people. As one song says, "What a strange way to save the world."
    Get used to it. It seems to be God's favorite modus operandi. And this radical victory plan - use the weak to do amazing things - can be both an encouragement to you and an explanation for some of your recent struggles. Let's go to our word for today from the Word of God to see the story of that first Christmas from heaven's viewpoint. Philippians 2, beginning with verse 5, tells us that our attitude "should be the same as that of Christ Jesus."
    God goes on to explain that, though Jesus was "in very nature God," He "made Himself nothing (now picture that helpless, little infant in a cattle stall), taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness...He humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!"
    The great plan of God to redeem our world starts with Jesus as a helpless baby in a cattle stall and culminates with Him nailed to a criminal's cross. But Colossians 2:l5 announces the crushing triumph won by that "weakness." It says Jesus disarmed the princes of hell and "made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross!" As musician Michael Card says, "His most awesome work was done through the frailty of His Son!"
    God loves to win through weakness. Then it's a whole lot of God, and hardly any of us. That's why He chooses unlikely candidates and does mighty things through them - which means your inadequacy, your ordinariness may be exactly the qualities that can make you a spiritual hero. According to Jesus, who is it that will "inherit the earth?" The mighty? No - the meek (Matthew 5:3).
    And about the struggles you've been going through recently. God will do whatever it takes to help us realize our weakness - to break our death grip on the steering wheel and finally let Him drive - to break that stubborn pride of ours, the self-reliance, our need to control.
    The events of this year, if anything, have ripped from our hands any ability to control what's going on, the illusion of control. And all so we can finally surrender and let His strength come flooding in. Maybe the battles you've been going through have been to take you beyond yourself and beyond things you can fix, you can solve, you can figure out - so you'll get out of the way and let God do what only He can do.
    A baby wrapped in rags - a bloodied man, hanging on a cross. Vivid pictures of God's radical plan for victory - winning through weakness so everyone will know that the Lord is God!

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    December 23, 2020 The Gift He Didn't Want - #8858

    When my friend Rich was about seven years old, his parents really splurged on his Christmas gift. They got him a big boy bike! What a moment that Christmas morning. Can you imagine? They'd been holding on to this, waiting to surprise him. They wheel it into the living room, and Rich says, "Thanks, but I don't want it." That's the truth. It really is. Can you imagine? That boy rejected the best gift his parents could give him. He's not alone.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Gift He Didn't Want."
    Man, I can only imagine how his father felt about that bike that he had spent a good deal on, and his boy didn't want it. More importantly, can you imagine how God feels when we do that to Him? Because Christmas...that's when He gave the most expensive gift He could possibly give. In the words of the Bible, "He spared not His Son but delivered Him up for us all" (Romans 8:32). Jesus came that Christmas to end up dying alone on a cross to pay for every sin we've ever done; to take our hell so we could go to His heaven. That's the ultimate gift!
    But see, that tells us how bad our sin is. We can't excuse sin as just like a few immoral failures. It's rebellion against God that could only be paid for by a death penalty. It's spiritual hijacking. And we've said, "God, you made the universe. You run the universe. I'll run me, thank you." How dare I defy the God of a hundred billion galaxies, who decides if I take my next breath. Yeah, that's how bad our sin is. If you don't know how bad it is, go to that cross and look at what it took to pay for it. There's only one way to pay for your sin. Either we pay the death penalty forever in a place away from God, or we accept the payment Jesus made. That's the gift He died to pay for.
    Now, in our word for today from the Word of God, Romans 6:23, it says, "The gift of God is eternal life." Before that it says, "The wages of sin is death." That's what we deserve, the wages. But "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
    Now, I'll tell you why it's a gift. It's because there's nothing you can do to earn heaven. You don't pay God for it. You don't begin to somehow acquire it by doing good works. When someone gives you a gift on Christmas, you don't do anything for it. Your only way of making it yours is to receive it and to take it for yourself. There's a really big lie out there. You see it across the world among religious people that, "I can be good enough somehow to make it to heaven." But if we could have been good enough, would God have sent His Son to pay this awful price if there was any other way? Obviously it had to be bought with the blood of the only perfect One there was - God's Son.
    And that gift? That gift is being wheeled out in front of you this Christmas. The biggest mistake of your life would be to say "Thanks, God, but I don't want it." This Christmas, you've got to decide what you're going to do with the greatest gift of all. To reject that gift is to reject God's great sacrifice for you. It's to spurn this ultimate act of love from the God who made you, and to turn your back on the heaven you want to go to when you die.
    Listen, do you want to take that gift for yourself? Would you tell Him that now? "Jesus, I'm Yours. I cannot any longer ignore, or postpone, or marginalize or reject this gift. I want the gift of eternal life You died to give me. Jesus, come into my life."
    This Christmas season, what a wonderful time to receive God's greatest gift. You can go to our website and you can walk right through there how to begin this relationship with Jesus. I hope you will. I hope it will help. It's ANewStory.com.
    It is so important that you take this gift, because I can tell you, the God who sent His Son here will never forget what you do with His Son.

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    December 22, 2020 Christmas Far From Home - #8857

    On the TV news shows during the Christmas season, it's so heartwarming to see those men and women in their combat fatigues sending Christmas greetings home from wherever they've deployed in the world this season. It's one of the hard things about Christmas really, and it's been true every Christmas for a long time; soldiers who won't be able to be home this Christmas, men and women for whom "I'll Be Home for Christmas" is just a song.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Christmas Far From Home."
    You know, at Christmas, many people are on a mission that has taken them far from home. Ironically, the Christ of Christmas knows that feeling all too well. The baby born that first Christmas was really far from home. Listen to our word for today from the Word of God. It's from the first chapter of John, and several verses beginning with verse 1.
    "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God." That's referring to the Son of God, Jesus. It goes on to say, "Through Him all things were made, without Him nothing was made that has been made." And then as you go on later in the chapter, it says, "He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:1, 3, 10, 12).
    Now the angels who brought His first birth announcement didn't want us to miss who was in that stable. They said, "A Savior...He is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11). The "Savior" is God's Rescuer, sent to save you and me. "Christ" - that's the Messiah God promised. Then it says He's "The Lord" - the word means the Controller, the One who runs everything. And what we just read from John makes it clear that He literally created everything that is, and then came to this little speck of dust called earth in the middle of all these galaxies He created.
    But this Son of God had to leave heaven and come to a world in rebellion against Him; a long way from home. He came on the most important mission in history - to give the people He had created a chance to get right with the God that we hijacked our lives from. Like a person trapped in the rubble of a violent earthquake or in a burning building, we're going to die unless a rescuer comes. We can't dig ourselves out. If any religion, if any good thing that we do could pay our sin-bill with God, believe me, Jesus would never have left home. He'd never have carried His rescue mission all the way to that brutal death on a cross.
    His mission is described in 25 of the most important words in the Bible, in John 3:16. You may have heard these words a thousand times. You may have never heard them. Would you listen to them this time as if your life depends on them? Because it does.
    "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). It's a verse you need to put your name in, and put it in the blanks I'll leave there. Listen... "God so loved _________ (there's your name) that He gave His one and only Son, that if _________ will believe in Him, then __________ shall not perish but have eternal life." You're the reason He left home. You're the reason He went all the way to a cross. He loves you. You were His mission.
    He was far from home in that manger that first Christmas. He was even farther from home on Good Friday. The Bible says He actually "carried our sins in His body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24). He was actually cut off from God His Father so you would never have to be; so you could have heaven. Our sin is why our heart has been searching for home all these years, because home is the love relationship with God that only Jesus can give us.
    You know that stirring you're feeling in your heart? That's the man who died for you, drawing you to Him. You can't come to Jesus when you feel like it. You come when God's drawing you or you don't come. And this season when we celebrate His coming to earth for us, He's working in your heart to open your life to Him.
    This Christmas season could be the celebration, not only of Jesus' coming to earth, but of Him coming into your life today. Just tell Him, "Jesus, I'm Yours." You want to begin this incredible love relationship with Him? Go to our website and get the information that will help you get there - ANewStory.com.
    Wherever you are this Christmas, your heart can finally be home, because you finally belong to Jesus. See, He left home so you could find home.

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    December 21, 2020 Home for Christmas. For Real. - #8856

    Our granddaughter couldn't have been more than three that Christmas. Suddenly she appeared in the living room, carrying a long, empty wrapping paper tube. "What's that for, angel?" "I'm a shepherd," she announced emphatically. Silly me. Of course she was a shepherd. I should have known from the "shepherd's staff" in her hand. "Well, Miss Shepherd - what are you doing today?" Her answer went right to my heart. "I'm looking for my lost sheep." I thought to myself, "Man, that's what this Christmas thing is really all about!"
    My little angel/shepherd was, without knowing it, echoing the words of Jesus himself when He announced the reason for the manger. For leaving the glories of heaven for this little speck in the universe. And ultimately the reason for that cross where He allowed men He had created to nail Him to a tree He had created.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Home for Christmas. For Real."
    So Jesus declared that His rescue mission was "to seek and to save what was lost." Lost - like I was. Without knowing it, my little granddaughter with the wrapping paper tube was a living picture of who Jesus said He was. "I am the Good Shepherd."
    I grew up on the south side of Chicago. We didn't have many sheep there. But since the Bible repeatedly says we're like sheep, I've learned a lot about them. My Navajo daughter-in-law grew up shepherding them. I even own a couple now. And a couple of things are pretty predictable about these sweaters with legs. First, they wander away from the shepherd. And the Bible says about us two-legged "sheep" - "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6).
    Second, a sheep away from the shepherd is "lost." I have to admit, that word is all too descriptive of how many of us feel. Lost, as in "I don't know why I'm here. I don't really know where I'm going - now or after I die. I'm looking for something that's never been anywhere I've looked."
    Lost is dangerous. On a reservation, I met 80-year-old Elizabeth who had been shepherding sheep since she was a little girl. Her face was deeply wrinkled, deeply bronzed from all those years with the flock. I asked her, "What happens to a sheep when it gets away from the shepherd?" Her eyes narrowed as she immediately replied with one word - "Coyotes." And so it has been with us human "sheep." In our wandering and searching, we've been hurt and used, diminished, devalued.
    One other lesson I've learned about sheep. They don't find the shepherd. Their only hope of getting home is if the shepherd comes looking for them. Enter Christmas. That baby in the hay. That's God come looking for us. For me. For you.
    That sinless man on the cross is Him paying the price to get us back - by absorbing all the dying, all the pain, all the hell of our sin against Him. Or, as the Bible says, "Christ died once for all us guilty sinners...that He might bring us safely home to God" (1 Peter 3:18). This is the love that has captured my heart. It's the one love I'll never lose. This will be my fourth Christmas without my precious Karen. I miss her even more this time of year. But this love I found in Jesus - that's my anchor love. Unloseable love.
    I want to invite you to begin experiencing that love for yourself by beginning your relationship with Jesus. I think we can help you get there. Just go to our website - ANewStory.com.
    I know we'll be hearing the familiar strains of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" again this season. But for someone tired of "lost," that's more than a lyric from a song. They'll finally really be "home" for Christmas. In the love and the relationship they've been looking for their whole life. With the God who is home for the human heart.
    The Shepherd is still "looking for His lost sheep." That's why He's come to you today. I think He looks for them, especially at Christmas.

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    December 18, 2020 When the Lights Go On - #8855

    It's one of those magical Christmas moments - not just for New York City, where it happens, but for millions across the country who watch it on TV. Different this year, I know. But, you know, every other year Rockefeller Center puts up a massive Christmas tree. And for a while, it just stands there in total darkness. And then, in that special Christmas moment, the lights suddenly go on, the tree comes to life, and the celebrating begins.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When the Lights Go On."
    I have seen that happen; I mean the amazing illumination that can happen to lives. It's the illumination that happened to my life, and to many people I know. Inside, where no one can see, there was this darkness, this loneliness, confusion about what life is really all for. And then the lights went on and everything changed.
    The difference was Jesus. It has been for millions of people all over the world for 2,000 years. And he wants to be that for you. Listen to our word for today from the Word of God. It's in Matthew 4:16 - spells out the promise of His coming this way: "The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned." Light that is greater than the darkness of our sin is what it's talking about. Greater than the darkness of, our depression, our shame, our loneliness.
    And light that is greater than the darkest darkness we all face - the darkness of death. Even there, this light triumphs. I've seen it at the bedside of loved ones who are dying with Jesus there. I've seen it at the funerals where grieving loved ones radiate this hope that is just humanly unexplainable. A friend of mine said once, "If people who don't know Christ want to understand what our Jesus is all about, let them come to our funerals." The light Jesus brings is strong enough to light the way from our last dark moments on earth into the glorious light of His heaven.
    Because Jesus loved you enough to pay for your sins on the cross, He can now lift the heavy burdens of your past. He can erase every sin from God's book and declare you forever forgiven. He can give you the security of knowing you'll spend eternity in heaven, because the only thing that could keep you out would be gone - your sin. When you open up your life to Jesus, the wall between you and God comes down and you begin to understand the reason He put you here. He lights up a road that has been so dark before. What seemed so meaningless is suddenly illuminated with His eternal purpose. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)
    I'll tell you, the miracle of the lights going on in your life, it begins when you give yourself to Jesus - who gave everything He had for you. If you're ready to move out of the darkness, if you're ready for this great new beginning, you need to tell Jesus that. You can tell Him, "Jesus, I've done it my way long enough. It's time I started doing it Your way. You could tell Him this right now. The way I was made to live. My only hope is You, Jesus, and what You did on the cross for me. Today, I'm giving myself to You to do with my life what I could never do."
    You know, I would love to have the opportunity to encourage you right now as you reach out to Jesus this Christmas season. What better time could there be than this. You reach out to him to begin a personal relationship with Him, the one that He promised He'd give you.
    That's why I want to invite you to our website. You can read or listen to a simple explanation of how to be sure you really belong to this Jesus. Here's the address: ANewStory.com.
    This Christmas you could have the gift of a new story. It's been dark long enough, hasn't it? It's Christmas! It's time to let the lights go on.

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    December 17, 2020 God's Christmas Go-fer - #8854

    So, what do you think of when I say the word "Go-fer"? Well, if you live in the country, you probably think of a little animal that keeps disappearing into holes. If you work in an office and I say, "Go-fer," you're thinking of the person who keeps getting stuck running all the menial errands, maybe you - that's the go-fer spelled a little differently. That's "go-fer," like "go fer this" and "go fer that." Right? Now, usually a human go-fer is someone who has the least authority and the least seniority. Can you imagine having, say the president or the boss of the company, also be the company go-fer?
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "God's Christmas Go-fer."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Luke 2 - very familiar words. "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world, and everyone went to his town to register. So Joseph, also, went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea to Bethlehem, the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born."
    You can't fully understand the cosmic events that are taking place here as Joseph goes from Nazareth to Bethlehem unless you understand the prophecy God made about the birth of His Son. It was about five hundred years before, recorded in Micah 5:2, where God says, "But you, Bethlehem, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for Me the one who will be ruler over Israel whose origins are from old from ancient times." Simply, the Messiah was going to be born in Bethlehem. That was God's plan.
    Excuse me. We have a problem here! The mother and father are in Nazareth. It's about 90 miles away. It's nearing the time for the baby to be born. There's no conceivable way you're going to get Joseph to take Mary 90 miles on a rugged road to Bethlehem. But God's plan says it's going to be Bethlehem. How are we going to do this?
    Enter now the most powerful man in the world. History knows him to have been a butcher. Caesar Augustus - he took orders from no one. He murdered members of his own family. But God needs to get Joseph to Bethlehem, so get this - he moves the world's most pagan, most powerful man to decree new taxes. Joseph is forced to go to Bethlehem. He doesn't want to leave Mary alone, so he takes her. And Caesar becomes God's Christmas go-fer, just doing His errands to make His promises happen. That's great isn't it? So what?
    Well, a couple of encouragements for you about the Christmas gifts from the Christmas Story. Number one, God can use anybody to accomplish His plans for His kids. Maybe right now there's a person who seems to be an obstacle or opponent. Wouldn't it be something? See, they could become God's instrument to move you where you need to be. Oh, that person, well, they think they're in charge. So did Caesar Augustus. God's in charge.
    Secondly, God will move whatever He has to, to keep His promises to you. If He has to move an entire empire to make a promise come true. He will do it. and He did! And surely He can move what needs to be dealt with in your life. If God can use the Emperor of Rome as His personal go-fer, there is nothing that's going to stop His plans for you.

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    December 16, 2020 Pushed to the Edge by Christmas - #8853

    I had never heard of centrifugal force when as a boy I went to an amusement park. In fact, I don't know if I could pronounce it. But I did experience it! They had this ride called The Rotor, and you get inside this round chamber and you stand against the wall. This chamber starts to spin faster and faster. Pretty soon it plastered me against that wall. Before long I had no choice where I was going to stand! There was this powerful, invisible force that was pushing me to the outside of that chamber. Well, guess what? That's the centrifugal force that my science teacher told me about years later - the kind that pushes things to the edge.
    Now, the ride was kind of exciting, because after you were pushed to the edge the floor dropped out from beneath you and there was no problem. I didn't have to be afraid of falling; I wasn't going anywhere, because uh-huh, centrifugal force forced me to the outside. It literally has tremendous power to push things to the outer edges. You know, Christmas is like that.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Pushed to the Edge by Christmas."
    Well, our word for today from the Word of God comes right out of the familiar words of the Christmas Story, Luke 2 - I'll begin reading in verse 6. "While they were there" (that's in Bethlehem) "the time came for the baby to be born. And she gave birth to her first-born, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn."
    Now, you notice it doesn't say here there was no interest in this baby that was going to be born. It doesn't say there was no concern about the baby being born. It just says there was no room. Jesus wasn't told to go to the manger; he was just sort of pushed there by an already full house. Guess what? That is still happening to our Savior. See, the more complicated life becomes, the more He gets relegated to the leftovers of our schedule. "If I have time, Lord, I'll be with you." It's like centrifugal force: the faster your life is spinning, the more Jesus gets pushed to the edge.
    And then on top of that, here comes the Christmas push! You've heard of the Grinch that stole Christmas. How about the crunch that stole Christmas? And maybe you're in the middle of that right now, and the very Savior we should be honoring this season is getting squeezed out by the spin of shopping, and baking, and all our preparations for Christmas, and all the complexities and inconveniences that go with this particular year's Christmas?
    Oh, if I had a whistle right now I'd blow it like a coach, "Time out!" Stop the spin long enough to see where we've put our Jesus. In the stable...and that's wrong. It was wrong before the Christmas season; it's more wrong now. His time has got to be non-negotiable in our lives; not to be canceled or compromised by anything. All the other pressures of your life will pass; all those deadlines, all those things that are pushing on you, they're going to pass.
    If you got sick today, somehow you know what, they'd get it done by somebody else or decide it wasn't that important to do. But only your relationship with Jesus Christ will last forever. It may take some courage, some discipline, some sacrifice, some hard choices, but Jesus Christ must once again be crowned the King of your schedule. And your time with Him? The non-negotiable of your personal schedule. He's saying, "I want My time with you."
    Well, whatever you do, don't push Him to the edge. Don't tell Him, "Oh, I'd love to, but there's no room." That's the King at your door!

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    December 15, 2020 The Cannons of Fear and the Courage of Faith - #8852

    We were with our precious then two-year-old granddaughter at a theme park, and we took her to a part of the park that's usually a children's favorite; they called it "Happy Harbor." Water cannons that shoot out into this pond and water squirting up randomly from these holes in the sidewalk. One whole section had these cannons that propel Styrofoam balls all over the place. It was usually raining Styrofoam in there. Well, our granddaughter's three- and six-year-old cousins were already in there having a ball. Actually, having a good time. But our little princess, well, she didn't like those loud noises very much. She'd be frightened even by the loud train whistle in the park all day long.
    I watched a very interesting little drama play out as she battled with two conflicting impulses. She was frightened by the sounds of those air cannons going off. She covered her ears and she refused to uncover them. But she was very intrigued with all those Styrofoam balls and she wanted to go in and play with them and with her cousins. It was a hard decision. Finally, she looked up at me as if to say, "Go with me." And together we ventured into that loud but exciting place. She still covered her ears, but she went in. Within minutes, ears uncovered, playing with her cousins, throwing little balls everywhere, oblivious to the noise that had almost kept her out.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Cannons of Fear and the Courage of Faith."
    I saw myself that day, in my little granddaughter. Afraid to go where I know I ought to be - letting the cannons of fear decide what I do. That's the very kind of thinking that cost an entire generation of God's people the Promised Land. They saw all those scary people and walled cities in Canaan, and they let that make them decide not to go in and take the land that God said He would give them. Fear trumped faith, and they got 40 years of wilderness instead of 40 years of wonderful.
    You ever made any decisions like that? I have. Most of us have. We need to hear the words God spoke to Israel's new leader in Joshua 1:9. It's our word for today from the Word of God. Now, it's forty years later, and they're facing all the same "cannons" that scared them away before. But God says to Joshua: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." And this time, they went.
    Like our granddaughter that day, their fear was still strong, but they didn't let it be decisive. Why? For the same reasons our granddaughter ventured into that scary place. First, she went with someone she trusted who was bigger than she was. That's what God was saying to Joshua and what He's trying to say to you. Whatever is bigger than you are, I'm bigger than it is! As an old hymn says, "Anywhere He leads me I can safely go."
    The second reason you go into the unknown and the unnerving is that there's something very good there! Seldom will you find the will of God in your comfort zone. All our "Promised Lands" require us to cross a flooded Jordan River and face daunting obstacles, but we do it because our eyes are on the Lord who is also our God!
    Fear often keeps us from God's best - parenting out of fear, leading (or failing to lead) because of fear, resisting God's call or God's assignment because of fear, missing God's best because of fear of failure, leaving someone we know spiritually lost because of fear of sharing Jesus with them. Faith, on the other hand, focuses on the greatness of your Lord and reaches for His hand, and says, "I'll go if You're going with me."
    I saw what happened when a little girl disregarded the cannons of fear and let the courage of faith decide. She experienced a joy and excitement in a way she had not experienced before, and so will you.

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    December 14, 2020 Getting Rid of the Guilt of a Lifetime - #8851

    If you've ever tried to find a parking space at a mall a few days before Christmas, you've probably eyed some of those handicapped parking places with a little envy. They're right up close, and there's usually one available. Maybe you've even been tempted to park in one of those spots, even though you're not handicapped and you don't have one of those tags to hang on your mirror. Don't try it. Just ask Connie. Because of some serious health issues, her doctor gave her one of those tags. So Connie can use those spaces legally, if she displays her tag - which she unfortunately forgot to do during a two-night stay at a hotel. She returned to her car only to find two tickets with a fine of $250.00 each and a demand that she appear in court, no matter how she pleaded. And Connie lives a thousand miles from the town where she got the ticket!
    Well, she filled out a court affidavit and pleaded guilty to what the clerk described as a "not minor violation." The affidavit was mailed to the municipal judge along with a photocopy of Connie's handicapped tag. And then she received the judge's response regarding her scheduled court appearance. The note simply said, "Upon review, the judge has declared you not guilty." Suddenly, her heavy load was gone!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Getting Rid of the Guilt of a Lifetime."
    Connie was guilty as charged, by her own confession. She had a high price to pay. But to her amazement, the judge declared the guilty offender not guilty. I know a little bit about that kind of good news. It was that kind of transaction that literally changed my life and changed my eternal address. It could happen to you.
    There's a lot of creative thinking today about what God is like and where we stand with Him. But the only one who can tell us the truth about that is God Himself, of course, and He did in His book - the Bible. Listen to what God says in Romans 3, beginning with verse 23. It's our word for today from the Word of God. I'm reading from the New Living Translation. It starts with some very bad news. "Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard."
    Well, all right, there's no way to God without pleading "guilty as charged" according to that. Guilty of violating the holy law of God every time we covet what someone else has, every time we tell something less than the truth, every time we think or act immorally, every time we let someone or something be more important to us than God is. Every one of us is a rebel against Almighty God. The more religious you are, the harder it is for you to plead guilty to running your own life, to being the sinner God says you are. Until you agree with God about your guilt, though, there's no hope. And sin carries a heavy penalty - eternal separation from a holy God. The Bible has a name for that - it's hell.
    But here comes the amazing good news. "Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood." Those are God's words.
    So, there it is! The Judge's declaration you are not guilty - even though you are - because He offered His only Son to lay down His life to pay for what you've done, so you could be free from the guilt of every wrong thing you've ever done and have the hell you deserve cancelled for the heaven you could never deserve.
    But you have to tell your Judge that you're depending completely on His Son's death for you as your only hope. And at that moment, the One who would have been your Judge becomes your Savior. It could happen for you today, if you'll reach out to Jesus and give yourself to Him, because He gave Himself for you.
    Just tell Him where you are, "Jesus, beginning today I'm not running things. I'm Yours." Go to our website the first chance you have, because there, I think, you're going to find what you need to know that you belong to Jesus. The website's ANewStory.com.
    See, this could be the day that you're declared "not guilty" by the God of the universe, and that lifetime load will be gone. And you will be free!

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    December 11, 2020 Getting in on What God is Doing - #8850

    Our son-in-law's piano recital was like his final exam. He was a music major in college, and his recital was an important part of his finishing well. I taught him all I knew about playing the piano, of course, which was how to find "middle C." Actually, he had become an accomplished musician - something that was evident to everybody who attended that senior recital - Including us. At the end, there was quite a line of people congratulating him on his great performance. But strangely, there was no one complimenting the piano, "Wonderful concert, Mr. Steinway. You are awesome." No, it was only the one who played the music that deserved the praise.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Getting in on What God is Doing."
    Yes, the piano played an important part in the recital, but it was only an instrument. So am I. So are you. Just listen to our word for today from the Word of God in Philippians 2:13 "For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." Key words: "It is God"! Any good work we do is really God doing it through us, not us doing it for God. You and I? We're just instruments.
    The prophet Isaiah put it this way: "All that we have accomplished You have done for us." The first-century believers in Corinth were choosing up sides based on whether they liked Paul or Apollos best. Paul said to them: "What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe, as the Lord has assigned to each his task" (1 Corinthians 3:5). See, all praise goes to the artist, not to the instrument.
    It is God. We speak the words He gives us, we serve in the power He provides, and we go through doors He has opened. What does that mean in practical terms? There's no room for conceit, there's no room for boasting, there's no room for retreat. At the point where you're starting to get a little inflated, slightly impressed with yourself, remember the words of one of God's greatest instruments, Paul. "What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" (1 Corinthians 4:7)
    The test of your ability to be trusted by God with exploits for Him is who they're thinking about when you're done. Are they saying, "He/she is a great speaker, a great worker, a great leader, a great musician." Or are they saying, "He has/she has a great Savior." You're only the piano. You have no business stealing glory from the artist who just played His music through you. There's no excuse for conceit.
    But there's also no excuse for retreat, as in saying, "I'm inadequate to do what I've been asked to do for the Lord. I'm not up to it." That's retreating from an assignment your Lord is calling you to take. But since when is it about you anyway? It's about what He can do, not what you can do! Paul said, "Not that we are competent in ourselves ... but our competence comes from God. He made us competent..." (2 Corinthians 3:5-6). You can dare to step up to that challenge that's too big for you because you are only an instrument.
    The one thing you can do is to make sure you're tuned up so He can play His music through you. Paul said a person who cleanses himself will "be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work" (2 Timothy 2:21). Okay, so here's your job description: stay pure and show up! You're the glove. You're not the hand. You're the instrument, not the artist.
    But with God playing through you, your life can touch countless others with His music. Conceit - pride - will disqualify you; retreat will let fear keep you from the thrill of God working through you. Surrender to your Lord to be His instrument for His purposes and watch what He does with your life!

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    December 10, 2020 So Many Promises - #8849

    Politicians - promises. They're almost synonyms. And, man, we've been through the election campaigns. And, of course, you know, we're probably on promise overload! You get it from the time they declare their candidacy. "He broke his promise!" "He can't keep that promise!" "If I'm elected, I promise..."
    Elections raise hopes. Reality often crushes them, doesn't it? The promises often seem to get swept away and trashed with the victory celebration confetti. Fact is, no politician keeps all their promises. Sometimes, well, because they never meant to, sometimes because of unforeseen circumstances, and often just because he/she simply doesn't have the power to deliver what they promised.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "So Many Promises."
    Now, it's not just politicians. Look, we parents make a lot of promises - too many of which we either forget, neglect or just fail to keep. The promis-er may forget. The promis-ee never does. Most of us can still remember, like years later, the parents' promises that never happened.
    We make promises at work, at church, to friends. Raising expectations, and then dashing them by never following through. We lose what takes years to gain and just a day to lose - trust. We shake our heads in disgust at the politicians' words that seem so hollow in light of their broken promises. Forgetting the "trail of tears" that we ourselves have left with the things we said but never did.
    I stood before an altar years ago and made some of the biggest promises of my life. I told the woman I loved - and, more importantly, I told God - that I would love and care for her and be committed to her "'til death do us part." She staked her life on my promise, and the Lord, in the Bible's words, was "acting as the witness" of my "marriage covenant." That's what the book of Malachi says (Malachi 2:14). I found myself listening again and then again to those promises I made that day to try to be sure I was keeping them.
    I learned the hard way, that in every relationship, you think before you promise. And do whatever it takes to deliver when you do promise. Now, our word for today from the Word of God, Ecclesiastes 5 beginning in verse 5 says this: "It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin." King David described the man God will honor as one who "keeps his oath even when it hurts" (Psalm 15:4).
    After so many soaring speeches in political campaigns, I wrote these words in my personal journal: "A political season shows that humans promise what they ultimately lack the power to deliver, and hopes are dashed. But my hope is based on a Savior who, by beating death, has shown me He can do anything and everything He has promised!" Man, that's awesome!
    Well, He promised, "My God will supply all your needs" (Philippians 4:19). And in a thousand amazing ways, He always has. He said, "Your strength will equal your days" (Deuteronomy 33:25), and there's never been a day He didn't deliver. He promised "they who honor Me I will honor" (1 Samuel 2:30), and He's come through every time I've risked to do the right thing. He told me, "I am the Lord your God who directs you in the way you should go" (Isaiah 48:17), and He's done it at every crossroads.
    I'm sure, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that He will keep the promise on which my eternity rests, "God has given us eternal life, this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life...you who believe in the name of the Son of God...know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:11-13).
    I have no fear of death. I have no doubt about heaven, because I've put my trust in the only One who can forgive my sins - the One who died for them. I trust in the only One who can give me eternal life - the One who walked out of His grave. And He waits to do that for you. In a world of littered promises, this Jesus will deliver the life and eternity He promised if you'll grab Him today with all your trust like a drowning person grabs a lifeguard.
    Our website is there to help you do that. I hope you'll go there today. It's ANewStory.com. You can plant both your feet on His promises and you'll know He'll deliver. He has no unforeseen circumstances. He cannot lie. And nothing is too hard for the Lord.

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    December 9, 2020 The Ultimate Magnet - #8848

    When my oldest son was younger, he collected baseball cards just for fun. Well, then that changed! Somehow it went from something just to spend your allowance on, to a hobby, to a serious collection, to where it became like a business. It actually helped him get through college! He kept figuring out which ones were going to be valuable, and then he would trade, and buy and sell. I can see why he worked on them a lot. And you know what? He spent many, many hours analyzing and categorizing, and strategizing his collection.
    He told me, "You know, Dad, I used to do this just for fun. But now it's serious. I've got too much tied up in it. Well, you know, that's really true isn't it? The more you spend on something, the higher it ranks on your list of priorities?
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Ultimate Magnet."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is in Matthew 6, and I'm going to begin reading the words of Jesus in verse 19. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal..."
    Now, notice these words, "...for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." A pretty enlightening instruction on values. Your heart will be, Jesus says, where your money is. Maybe you thought it was the other way around; your money will go where your heart is. No, it says that your heart will go where your money is. Money is a powerful magnet. Whatever you've got your resources tied up in will occupy a central place in your heart. That's why my son had a lot of involvement with the baseball card collection. He had a lot tied up in it he said.
    Now, because you've got a lot invested in something, you'll plan based on it, you'll talk a lot about it, you'll be known for it in the minds of others, you'll spend a lot of time on it. That's one reason parents push their children so much; they've got a lot invested in them.
    Now, your official number one in your life might very well be Christ and His Kingdom. But where's your money going? No matter how much you want to put Christ first, the money magnet will pull you in its direction. You'll almost be forced to make it a top priority because of what you've got tied up in it. Even a teenage card collector knew that.
    It doesn't matter how much money you have. The question is, "Where are you putting the money that you have any choice about? Into what you live in, or some special recreation, or a car, a business? See, God's best was invested in a lost world; that's where His heart is. Would you put your resources into the cause for which God gave His Son?
    By faith, would you start increasing how much you invest in reaching lost people by buying gifts for lost friends in your neighborhood for special occasions, having a dinner for them, giving them a book or a Bible, giving to Christian ministries that really reach lost people, helping to pay for outreach ministries in your church?
    Remember, your heart's going to follow your money. So, put your money into getting the Gospel to people who don't know our Jesus; whose eternity depends on that message getting to them. And, as you do that, your burden will grow and your heart is going to be right where God's heart is.

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    December 8, 2020 The "Darth Vader" of Christmas - #8847

    There's a Nativity in every room of our house. That was my wife's #1 order for Christmas decorating. Decorations are fine. Lights are nice. Nativities are mandatory! So we have all kinds. Big mangers. Small mangers. Native American Nativities. A cowboy creche. An Eskimo "Bethlehem." The cast is pretty predictable. Mary, Joseph and the baby. So are the shepherds and those Wise Men. Sometimes a cow. A donkey. A sheep.
    But there's one prominent character in the Christmas story who's never at the manger. What bothers me is that in some ways, I'm him. We all are. The king, Herod. No way you're going to find him where Baby Jesus is. That's not an oversight. That's history.
    King Herod is like the "Darth Vader" of the Christmas story. I nominate Mr. Vader as "The Villain of This Generation." He's heartless, he's merciless, and he talks scary. Even after his death in an earlier "Star Wars" episode, his evil legacy carries on through his better-breathing grandson, Kylo Ren.
    When it comes to the historical events that are contained in the Christmas story, King Herod is clearly the "dark side."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The 'Darth Vader' of Christmas."
    It's the quest of those "Wise Men," aka, "Magi" that brings Herod into the story. The Wise Men believed that the amazing star they had seen was a celestial sign leading them to the long-prophesied "King of the Jews." Needless to say, Herod was not happy to hear a question like, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose, and have come to worship him."
    When Herod's prophecy experts cited the Old Testament prediction that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, Herod asked these guys to bring back actionable intel on where the new "king" was. He claimed he wanted to worship the newborn Messiah. What he wanted was to kill him. Thankfully, God warned them away from that bad idea.
    But Herod proceeded to send his "hit men" to slaughter the babies under two years old, in and around Bethlehem.
    Now why would I say that I am, in any way, like this monster? Certainly not in his heinous homicides. But something deeper. Herod's heart. At his core, three words captured the bottom line that drove his life. No. Other. King. The heart of Herod was that no one would replace him on the throne. Even God's Messiah. That's what troubles me. Because, according to the Bible, that's the choice we've all made. "God, You run the universe. I'll run me, thank You."
    In the Bible's words, though we were "created by Him and for Him," "we have left God's paths to follow our own...all have turned away...everyone has sinned" and we all "fall short of God's glorious standard" (Colossians 1:16; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:12, 23).
    I want to be king of me. I want to do what I want to do. I will not yield the throne. Even to the One the Bible says is the "King of kings." Oh, we've got lots of so-called reasons for refusing to bow to Jesus. We'll give God all kinds of things. We'll give money. Time. Belief. Everything except one thing. Control. Whoever or whatever is in control, that's our real God.
    But the results of our "self-rule" testify we were never meant to run our life. We've got broken relationships. Wounded loved ones. Addictions. A deep loneliness and emptiness that no accomplishment or achievement's been able to fill. And still no answer to life's #1 question, "Why am I here?"
    But all this brokenness is the very reason for the Manger! And the Cross. And Jesus' empty tomb. "Jesus" means "the Lord rescues." And rescue is what I need! Not a religion. A rescue!
    All these frustrating, unfulfilling, searching years have been a battle over the throne in our heart. A throne reserved for only one King. The One who created us. Who loves us more than words can tell. Who died to remove the death penalty for me trying to be my own king. Who alone has conquered death.
    Listen, it's time for you to begin your relationship and let the real King be the king of your life. You want to do that, go to our website. I think we can help. It's ANewStory.com.
    I will not stand with Herod, resisting the Rightful King. I will kneel with the Wise Men this Christmas. The ones who "bowed down and worshiped Him" (Matthew 2:11).
    My lifelong search ends where theirs did. At the feet of Jesus. So will yours.

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    December 7, 2020 Changing Hands - #8846

    Our good friends were visiting us with their precious three-year-old daughter. Captivating dark eyes, a winsome smile, a high-energy personality, and a mind of her own. Her Dad said they were crossing a very busy street - he and his daughter - and he said, "Now hold Daddy's hand." She apparently didn't like that idea. She looked up at him with those big eyes and said, "That's OK, Daddy. I'll hold my own hand." Not a good idea.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Changing Hands."
    Our Heavenly Father looks at the road ahead and He knows exactly where we should go and when we should go. He reaches our direction and He says, "Hold Daddy's hand." Maybe you've got a mind of your own, and you've kind of got that independent spirit. And you say, "That's OK Daddy. I'll hold my hand." Not a good idea.
    Tucked away in the drama of the first Christmas is a better idea. Our word for today from the Word of God, Luke 1:26, "In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph. The virgin's name was Mary... The angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus.'"
    So, God comes to Mary and says, in essence, "Take My hand - I'm leading you into something amazing." Now, if Mary had insisted on holding her own hand, she never would have gone. He's leading her into a situation where she will suddenly be mysteriously pregnant. And who's going to believe that God is doing it? She's got a lot to lose if she takes God's hand and goes where He wants to take her. She'll probably lose her reputation as a "nice girl of Nazareth." She stands to lose the man she loves when he hears she's expecting and he knows he's not the father. The wedding she has dreamed of? Probably will never happen. And since, in the Jewish culture of that day, they stoned women for sexual sin, obedience could even cost Mary her life.
    But listen to her response to God's plan. "I am the Lord's servant." Those five words change everything. If Mary's identity is "I'm Joseph's girl," there's no way she's going to do what God wants. If her image as a "nice girl of Nazareth" is her identity, she won't do this. But Mary bases her identity on one thing and one thing alone. With open hands, open arms, face looking up, she declares, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as You have said." And because of that surrendered spirit and surrendered future, Mary carries God's only Son in her body, nurses the Son of God, teaches the Son of God.
    See, God's most special assignments are for those who will let go of their own hand; who will grab God's hand and say, "Lord, I'll go where You want me to go." In fact, there's a hymn that says, "Lord, I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord' O'er mountain or plain or sea. I'll say what You want me to say, dear Lord. I'll be what You want me to be."
    As we approach this Christmas, look at what God gave because He loves you so much. He sacrificed His only Son to pay the death penalty for the sinning you did. That should remove any doubt of whether you can trust Him with the things that matter most to you. Anyone who loved you enough to die for you will never do you wrong.
    It's a good day to ask yourself, though you may know all about Jesus, though you may go to His meetings, though you may agree with Him, do you belong to Him? You might believe in Him but not belong to Him because you've never really reached out to Him and made yours what He died to give you - this greatest gift in the world - eternal life and forgiveness and heaven, and a relationship with your Creator made possible only one way; by Him taking your place, dying for your sin. Why don't you let this be the day you say what you've missed before, "Jesus, I'm Yours."
    You want to begin that relationship? I'd love to help you if you'll just go to our website. It's ANewStory.com. This Christmas season, say those five words that open you up to God's best, "I am the Lord's servant."

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    December 4, 2020 The Silent Killer - #8845

    Some of the most important real estate in the world is an island - an island you may have heard of. It's called Manhattan. A lot of folks need to get in and out of that island each day to run the business of this country. And since it's an island, needless to say, New York City is a city of bridges.
    Remember that old song "London Bridge is Falling Down"? You know what? Some years ago, another New York bridge was falling down. For quite some time a lot of bridges in New York had been showing their age. And a while back, they had to close the Williamsburg Bridge completely, cutting off a major access route to Manhattan.
    The reason? Well, inspectors had found serious weakness in certain supports. And the sad part was, it didn't have to be that way. In fact, one engineer was quoted as saying, "If only this bridge had been regularly maintained, we'd be celebrating a bridge's centennial instead of holding its' funeral." And you know what the cause was? Neglect.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Silent Killer."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Hebrews 2. I'll be reading verse 1 and then we'll drop down to verse 3. "We must pay more careful attention to what we have heard so that we do not drift away. How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?" See, this passage refers to something that is so insidious and so invisible, but so common and easy to fall into. It talks about drifting spiritually; that slow but steady getting away from our first love.
    You go from being passionately Christian and following Jesus when you begin, to without even realizing it, becoming professionally Christian; from what was once love to now is duty; from warm to cold. And maybe if you were to take your spiritual temperature, it could be you're drifting. You're not doing anything terribly wrong; you've just drifted from your first passionate love for Him.
    Well, ultimately, there's going to be a collapse. Not from rejecting your Lord, but rather from neglecting your Lord. This doesn't say, "How shall we escape if we reject such a great salvation?" It says neglect. Now, that bridge in New York didn't suddenly become unstable. Nobody bombed it, or ran into it, or tried to take it apart. Nobody did anything bad to weaken it. It's what they didn't do. See, bridges give way because of neglect. It's a silent killer of spiritual commitments. You can't stand as a follower of Christ without daily maintenance.
    That means a daily checkup as God's Word is allowed to turn its light on your life. I used to think it was a book I was neglecting if I missed my quiet time. It's not a book; it's a person. Remember there was a booklet called "My Heart - Christ's Home"? In it the man is admitting Christ into the various rooms of his life and he'll meet the Lord every morning in the study. Finally, he gets a little busy; forgets one day; comes back after a month of days to grab his briefcase. And as he runs into his study, he sees Jesus and he says, "Lord, what are you doing here?" The Lord says, "Oh, I've been here every day waiting for you."
    Have you been neglecting your time with Jesus? You can't see it, but you're being steadily weakened and eroded by what you're not doing. You can't afford another day away. There have been too many already. The alternative is that one day you'll be closed; you'll cave in.
    By the way, neglect can have eternal consequences. The verse talked about "neglecting such a great salvation (a great rescue)." It's possible for you to have been around the message of Jesus dying on a cross for your sins and coming back out of His grave. You've heard of this great salvation, this great rescue act on the cross, but somehow you've never acted on it. You've never made personal what He did for you. You've neglected Him, which means hell, not heaven, not because you rejected Him, but you just walked on by. You lost Him through neglect.
    Don't let that happen today. Today is the accepted time. "Today," the Bible says, "is the day of salvation," maybe yours. Reach out and grab the Savior you've passed up so many times. Go to our website. I think we can help you get this settled once and for all. That website is ANewStory.com.
    Neglect: It's a silent killer of what you can't afford to lose.

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    December 3, 2020 The Can't Chant - #8844

    Our oldest grandson was just two years old and really excited about the new book I just bought him. We kept it at our house for his granddad to read to him. It's one of the all-time kids' bestsellers - you know - "The Little Engine That Could"? If so, then you remember the four words that carried that engine up and over the mountain no one thought he could climb. Remember? If you know them, say them with me, "I think I can." That's right. That part where the engine says those words over and over is my favorite part to read always to grandchildren, and obviously, it was their favorite part, too, including his. When I showed Jordan the cover of the book, he started his breathless, two-year-old version of the little engine's classic chant, "I think I can...I think I can...I think I can...I think I can." You know what? I was hoping he'd be saying that for a long time.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Can't Chant."
    Sadly, a lot of us grew up with a slightly different voice inside, "I think I can't...I think I can't." I call it the "can't chant." Maybe you've been cut down in the past, put down, beaten down. And the way you were treated convinced you that you were inadequate, incompetent and you've never really had much confidence.
    So when it comes to you making a difference with your life, you think you can't. When it comes to living for Jesus or doing something for God or being what your family needs, the old "can't chant" echoes in your heart. Coming to Christ gave you hope that you don't have to be what you've always been, that you don't have to fall down where you've always fallen down, and that you can hang on instead of giving up. But then the "can't chant" starts in again, doesn't it. And in spite of the promises of God and the power of Christ in your life, you often end up defeated and discouraged, saying, "I think I can't."
    Here's the truth - it's in Philippians 4:13, our familiar word for today from the Word of God. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Now if you put a period after "everything," this statement is wrong - "I can do everything." You can't. If it's up to your resources, your strength, your ability, then the "can't chant" is probably right. But what blows the lid off your limitations is the rest of the verse - "through Christ who gives me strength." Paul amplifies this in 2 Corinthians 3:5 when he says, "Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God."
    So what the Bible is calling you to is not some belief, or some "inner strength" of yours that's going to do it. It's confidence in Christ's strength in you...which knows not the word "can't."
    One of the most dramatic moments of the 2000 Olympic Games was Laura Wilkinson's incredible gold-medal win in the ten-meter platform diving event. Six months before, she had broken three bones in her right foot, so she missed months of training. She was a long shot to medal beside the usually dominant Chinese divers. With only three dives to go, she was back in fifth place. But her next dives were literally perfect, and she became the first American to win the gold in that event in 36 years.
    Here's what she said on TV for all the world to hear: "The whole time I knew it was virtually impossible for me to win. But I remembered that 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.' That's always been a favorite verse of mine, but this time it really meant something." She said, "It became real. I really was trying to do something that I can't do, but God was with me."
    So as you're facing something right now that you "can't do," would you say that until you believe it - "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." It's not about what you can do. It's about what Christ can do!

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    December 2, 2020 A Big Platform For a Big Performance - #8843

    It was the largest cooperative effort ever among the churches of this county where we were about to do a community-wide outreach. It's something that we did call the full-scale mobilization of God's people, a Make a Difference Week in an area to reach lost people with what we call "non-religious" evangelism. One of the outreaches, the youth event, was especially targeted to reach lost young people. One main attraction was going to be a concert by one of America's best-known contemporary bands. And the committee for that youth event was a little overwhelmed when they saw the size of the stage this group was going to need. But they went to work like beavers, and they busily rose to the challenge of constructing a very big stage for a very big event. When you walked into the gym the afternoon of the outreach, you might well ask, "What's all this for?" Answer: a big platform for a big event, which turned out to be the biggest youth event anyone could ever remember in that county! An event where, praise God, hundreds of young people began a relationship with Jesus Christ!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Big Platform For a Big Performance."
    God might be building a big platform in your life right now. Oh, it doesn't look like a platform. It looks like a big problem, a big threat, a big pain! But actually it's a big platform on which God is about to give a great big performance!
    There's a great example of how that works in our word for today from the Word of God in 1 Kings 18:36-37. Elijah is up against something huge; he is confronting 450 prophets of the god Baal who much of his culture worships. It's a showdown with the odds being 450 to 1. A sacrifice has been laid on the altar on Mt. Carmel and Elijah lays down a challenge to see whose God, Jehovah or Baal, will consume that sacrifice with fire from heaven. Then Elijah builds a bigger platform for God by drenching the sacrifice, the altar, and the whole area with water.
    Then the Bible says, "At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: 'O Lord, let it be known today that you are God in Israel. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You are turning their hearts back again.' Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and it also licked up the water in the trench."
    Whew! I love that! There was something here so big only God could do it. And this huge challenge provided a huge platform for God to show up with a huge performance of His power. That huge challenge may be facing you right now - God didn't bring it or allow it to hurt you. It's there to provide a stage on which He can show up for you in a way that you and those you know will never forget.
    Elijah here shows us a powerful way to pray: that God will answer in whatever way will let everyone know that He is God. If you're facing a need so great that only God could meet it - a problem so impossible only God could solve it; something so big only God could do it - well, get ready for God to show up big-time! And pray as Elijah did - not just for the situation, but for God to do this in the way that will give Him the greatest glory and you and the people around you the biggest view of His greatness and His love. I love the prayer of Moses when he said, "Show us Your glory."
    The bigger the challenge becomes, the bigger the platform for your God to do His amazing thing - maybe something bigger than you've ever seen Him do before!

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    December 1, 2020 Reasons To Quit; Finishing the Race - #8842

    The Los Angeles Marathon had been over about a week, but there was still one participant left - Bob Wieland. He finally crossed the finish line even though he has no legs. He lost his legs in Vietnam. But that didn't stop him from entering and finishing the Los Angeles Marathon, making every step with his arms and his hands. He's finished other marathons before this one. And Bob Wieland even crossed America on his hands. It took him three years to do it!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Reasons To Quit; Finishing the Race."
    That's Bob Wieland, with so many reasons to quit, he finishes his race. Which is what God is asking you and me to do. Your "race" is any track that God has set you on in your life. And you may have started well, but it's gotten really hard now . There are more and more reasons to quit. But in the words of Galatians 6:9, God says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
    There's an enlightening picture of our race in Genesis 12, beginning with verse 1. It's our word for today from the Word of God. This story of Abram is the story of a man who started well, faltered, and got back on track. It might be a story you find yourself in. The race starts - yours and Abram's - with what I call the faith obedience. In the Bible's words: "The Lord had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.' So Abram left, as the Lord had told him."
    God directed Abram to leave his comfort zone, his "knowns" for the great unknown of a "land I will show you." The greatness of what Abram's life will become begins with a faith obedience; doing what God's directing him to do, not because he can see where it's going, but because he trusts the One who is leading him. Every great work of God begins that way. It may well be that you've had a time like that. You started on a race for your Lord with a risky obedience; which, by the way, is an oxymoron. There's really no such thing as a risky obedience when it's Jesus you're obeying. There's only a risky disobedience.
    Abram left behind him a trail of altars. When the Lord appeared to him at Shechem, it says, "he built an altar there to the Lord." You've had those altar times when God was closest and His will was the clearest. Think about it. But unfortunately, the faith obedience was followed by the famine detour. Genesis 12 says, "there was a famine...and Abram went down to Egypt." A hard time hit and Abram's faith literally went south. Maybe yours has, too. In Egypt, Abram made compromises that were disgusting and unthinkable. Maybe some kind of "famine" has hit your life and your search for answers, for relief, or for security has taken you right out of the will of God.
    But the race isn't over. Abram finishes with the full circle recovery. He returns from his detour and goes "where he had first built an altar. There he called on the name of the Lord." He went back to the point of his original surrender. That's how you get back on track, back in the race you've wandered from. In your heart, you go back to the time when God seemed so close and His will seemed so clear. And at that original altar, you surrender to Him again. Stop doubting in the darkness what God so clearly told you in the light.
    When that paraplegic marathon participant crossed the finish line in a race he had every reason to quit, he explained it this way: "This was not natural; this was supernatural. It was only done by the grace of God." You know what? That's how you'll finish the race you started!

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    November 30, 2020 Waiting For the Sunrise - #8841

    One vacation morning, my wife and I woke up real early for some reason - so we decided to make the most of that pre-dawn time. We went out to the porch of the mountain cabin we were in and we just sat there to watch the sunrise. It was awesome! We watched the eastern sky slowly brighten over the mountains, and it turned the sky these beautiful shades of pink and yellow. It took a while for the old sun to rise. I mean, we were waiting for almost an hour as the sky gradually got brighter. At last, there was this brighter spot over one particular peak, and then suddenly there it was - the sun crested the mountain. And even though we had to wait a while for the sun to come up, wow! Man, when it did, it totally cleared the mountain and it began ascending the sky in less than two minutes! Literally, as it rose, everything seemed to come to life across the valley. It's incredible to watch how God begins a day!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Waiting For the Sunrise."
    You know, we can learn a lot about the ways of God in our lives by just watching how He starts each new day. That's especially important if it's been dark in your life for a while. It's been a long night, huh? You've been waiting a long time for light to break through. But remember how God operates - a long wait, maybe a few signs of a little brightening, and then a sudden, dramatic breakthrough.
    The divine modus operandi is vividly illustrated in our word for today from the Word of God in Exodus 12:11. God's ancient people have been waiting for God to come through with their promised deliverance from their slavery in Egypt. But before it gets better, it gets worse. The request to Pharaoh only leads to them being oppressed even more. Then there's a series of ten plagues, nine of which do not change their lives. It's been a long, long night. Like you maybe, they've been waiting for the sunrise for a long time.
    Then comes the night of the first Passover, the night God will change Pharaoh's heart with the last plague. Here are the Lord's instructions to His people about the Passover: "This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. Eat in haste." After all this waiting, God says, "Hey, be ready to go at a moment's notice."
    Here's what happened: "During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, 'Up! Leave My people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you requested. Take your flocks and herds...and go.' The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country." Pharaoh and his people are literally urging their labor force, the Jews, to leave their country! And the Egyptians even give the Jews silver and gold and clothes - they finance the exodus! It was a long wait, and then a sudden and blazing sunrise, and a dramatic difference.
    God may have you right in the middle of that kind of impending miracle at this moment. Except right now it looks like it's going to be dark forever. Don't let the length of the wait make you give up on the sunrise. Don't ever assume there's not enough time left for the answer to come.
    Have you ever seen a sunrise? You're going to see one in your life - when God has everything ready. And when it comes, it may very well come very fast. And that sunrise will illuminate everything. It will change everything! And, believe me, that sunrise? It's worth waiting for.

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    November 27, 2020 The Cost of Putting Off the Repairs - #8840

    A storm that roared through our area got so intense that a tree as big around as a car came crashing down on a house in our community. It went all the way through the roof and the house. We're talking major, major damage here. It didn't take long for the insurance adjuster to come by and give the owner a check to get the damage repaired. She called a contractor to come over for an estimate, and when he asked if she wanted him to do the work, she told him she wanted another estimate first. He warned her that there was more rain in the forecast, but she was determined. She had a similar conversation with a second contractor. Then the big rain came - and, of course, it poured into her house. That's when she called a third and fourth contractor; both of whom gave her much higher estimates than the first two. Finally, she called in that first contractor who gave her a new estimate as high as the others. He said, "Ma'am, you waited so long that the rain came and did a lot more damage. So getting things fixed is going to cost a lot more."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Cost of Putting Off the Repairs."
    It's amazing how we have a tendency to do that - to put off repairs that need to be made in our marriage, with our child, with our parents, in a broken relationship, or in dealing with a problem that we don't want to confront. We keep thinking about how much it's going to cost to try to fix things. And we put it off - just a little bit longer.
    Problem: the longer you wait to repair what's broken, the more expensive it's going to be. This is the easiest and cheapest it's ever going to be to make it right. One day it's going to get so bad it's unlivable that way. But the price of repairs may be more expensive than you ever dreamed.
    In the Bible, God is constantly urging us to get things fixed now. He says about our anger, for example, "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry" (Ephesians 4:27). Translation: fix it now. Putting it off will only make it more expensive to fix.
    Jesus told the story of the son who insisted on getting his inheritance while his father was still alive. Then he went to another country and squandered it all on partying. Did he face the damage and start repairs at that point? Oh, no! Postpone the repairs; too hard to go home and admit you're wrong. Did he give in when his friends all abandoned him? No. When the only job he could find was feeding some farmer's pigs? He still postponed the repairs. But finally, as he was reduced to eating in that pig slop, he said, "I will go to my father." And that's when he finally got a real relationship with his father - when he least deserved love and forgiveness, his father gave it to him.
    We all need to go home to God that same way, because the most broken thing in our life is our relationship with God. The Bible says we're "far away" from God because our sin has cut us off from the one person we can't afford to live without - or die without. Our word for today from the Word of God is in Isaiah 55:6. It warns us to "...seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near." Well, the implication, one day you won't be able to find Him. If you feel His moving in your heart today, you can still find Him...for today, that is.
    Postponing the Christ who died for your sin gets more and more expensive; more and more days wasted without the love and the meaning you were made for. Until one day the days run out, and you will have to pay, forever, the bill for your sin that Jesus already paid for you on the cross because you put it off one time too many. Which is why I urge you, which is why I pray that you will not postpone repairing your relationship with God one more day.
    Talk to Him. Tell Him, "Jesus, I'm Yours. You died for me. You've got me today." Getting this settled brings the greatest peace in the world. I want to help you with that. That's why our website is there. Go there today and get the information that will help you get this settled. It's ANewStory.com. Just go to ANewStory.com.
    If Jesus is working in your heart, don't tell Him "later" again. The price you are risking is a price you don't want to pay.

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    November 26, 2020 How to Burn Off Your Personal Fog - #8839

    Well, the world sure looks different on a foggy morning. In our neighborhood the neighbor's houses suddenly aren't there. There's a hill I can usually see out the back door. On a foggy morning - no hill. And on the highway, forget it! I mean, it's suddenly hard to find out where you turn or to plan much beyond the car immediately in front of you.
    I remember this 40-car pile-up on a foggy morning on one of the major highways near us. The pile-up happened because people couldn't see what the car in front of them was doing. Now, on those foggy mornings it looks as if the world's going to be gray all day doesn't it? It's kind of depressing, you know? That's no way to start the day, but that fog seldom lasts past 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning. Why? Well, the fog developed over night when there was no sun out to warm the air and evaporate all that moisture. Sometimes when the fog gets thick, well let's face it, we just lose sight of the sun.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How To Burn Off Your Personal Fog."
    There are three facets of Jesus that His followers should be known for, and they're all mentioned in our word for today from the Word of God in Colossians 3:15-17 - "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."
    Now, notice here it talks about the fact that you and I should be known by the peace of Christ in our relationships, by the word of Christ in our attempts to minister to people, and by the name of Christ in everything we do. So, we're to be characterized by Jesus' peace, Jesus' words, and Jesus' uniform everywhere we are. That peace especially appeals to me - the peace of Christ.
    Did you notice that each involve the same ingredient? They all involve saying, "Thank you" and not just on Thanksgiving. With the peace of Christ, the word of Christ, and the name of Christ, there's a thank you emphasis. I wonder if we were to play back recordings of you or me in recent weeks, would they sound a little more negative? Maybe there's a pessimistic tone there; a tone of criticism or complaining, negativity. Hey, the fog's rolling in and everything is looking gray to you.
    I can describe it because I've felt it. Maybe the fog is winning right now. What you need, of course, is the sun, and the sun that burns off the fog of pessimism and negativism is called (ready?) giving thanks. That means you make a decision to focus today on what is rather than what isn't; what you have rather than what you don't have. To focus on what God has been doing in your life; to concentrate on answered prayer rather than on the not yet answered prayer. To go through your day on a God-hunt, looking for where He is, where He's working in your life. If you look for Him, you'll see Him all over the place.
    Paul and Silas could sing at midnight in a prison because they were praising and giving thanks. You can sing at midnight. You can give thanks in the fog.
    When I stop living gratefully, a dark gray attitude starts to blanket my soul - the spiritual blahs. But the fog doesn't ever have to last long. A thank you mindset is the sun that burns off your personal fog.

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    November 25, 2020 A Personal Thanksgiving - #8838

    Well, this is one of the busiest travel days in the year; people packing into airports and airplanes. Maybe not as much this year, but maybe you're still heading out for whoever they like to be with over Thanksgiving. But you know what? A lot of air travelers are having to make that choice again: Do I want the scanner, or do I want the pat down? Yeah! Hum...
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Personal Thanksgiving."
    So, I have sat and listened at times to all the opinions you hear on the news about Thanksgiving travelers' privacy, and something in the Bible popped into my mind.
    It's our word for today from the Word of God, Hebrews 4:13. "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight; everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." Wow! God sees what we don't want anybody else to see. The previous verse tells us that God sees and judges "the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).
    We're talking all the dark stuff. The dirty thoughts, the adulterous desires, the seething jealousy, that volcanic anger, the endless lies, the backstabbing words, that hateful prejudice, the hurtful selfishness. He sees the egocentric pride we've got, and He knows about that long-harbored bitterness. "Everything is uncovered and laid bare" the Bible says.
    Oh, we could try to rationalize it or minimize it or call it by a nice name, but it is what it is. It's sin against God; sin against another person. Rotting trash is rotting trash, no matter how pretty the paper you wrap it in. And with God, it's all unwrapped. No secrets. We think, "Hey, well, no one's caught me." If God knows, you're caught. And He knows.
    Our secrets are not only exposed to God, but they become the basis for us to be judged by God. Hear what God says again: "God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ" (Romans 2:16). King David said in one of his psalms, "O Lord, You have searched me and You know me...You are familiar with all my ways" (Psalm 139:1, 3).
    My first reaction: "Uh-oh." Second reaction: "Good. One person I don't need to hide anything from...I can't hide anything from." In fact, the first step to being free from the darkness inside is to say what the Prodigal Son said when he came home to his father: "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against You" (Luke 15:18). there's just something liberating about being brutally honest about your sin as you bring it into God's pure light. Jesus said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).
    And then comes the release that we desperately need but we don't deserve. In God's words, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins" (1 John 1:9). God stands ready to give us a spiritual shower called "forgiven" - and there's no better feeling than knowing that you are finally clean.
    That forgiveness is no cheap thing though. Revelation 1:5 says, "He loves us and freed us from our sins by His blood." It took the shedding of the blood of God's only Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for all my junk. A cross He did not deserve; an excruciating death. God's Son being cut off from God the Father because Jesus was carrying my sin, going through my hell so I could go to His heaven.
    But our bill was paid. All we have to do is take for ourselves what He died for, turning from the sin-darkness that has poisoned our life. So, as I see recurring pictures this season of body scanners and hand searches, I'm thinking God doesn't need any of that. He sees it all. He knew that what was hidden in the dark places would blow up my life and my eternity. So He acted to defuse it with the most extreme act of sacrificial love in history. He absorbed the "blast" Himself so I could board the flight to His heaven and be with Him forever.
    Do you want to get started with Him? You want to experience this? Tell Him that today. Go to our website and find out there how to be sure you belong to Him. That's ANewStory.com.
    It is wonderful to live without fear of discovery, with a clean heart, and with nothing to hide.

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    November 24, 2020 The Illusion of Winning - #8837

    I met a fellow, and he said, "Ron, my name is Bill." I guess it was the mood I was in. I said, "Oh no! I already have enough bills in my life." What's wrong with me? Well, maybe you've felt that way. I mean, what I said was probably true for both of us.
    Did you ever find out that you had more bills than you thought? You know, you've written all the bills you thought you had, and yet you still have a little left in your checkbook. You say, "Hey, I think I'm finally winning this financial battle" and suddenly discover some unopened envelope with, of course, bills, or a stack in a drawer that you forgot to pull out; or maybe just a financial surprise in today's mail or in your bank account. You know, whether you do it by writing checks or you do it digitally.
    Suddenly you don't feel as comfortable - as well off - as you did. You thought you were paid up, but your obligations were greater than you realized. Well, you had no business feeling well off, not with how much you still owed. You know, you and I have other obligations, more important obligations, and we might be feeling a whole lot better off than we really are.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Illusion of Winning."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from the book of Amos, which you were probably just discussing over breakfast today. Right? But in those Minor Prophets in the Old Testament are some very challenging words.
    Amos 6:1 - "Woe to you who are complacent in Zion." Okay, first of all, what's this Zion business? Well, let's get that settled. Zion is God's mountain in the Old Testament. It's that mountain upon which the temple was built. And if you were on Mt. Zion, you would have felt very spiritually safe, surrounded by priests who were passing you on every side, a lot of sacred music you could hear, sacred places to visit, lots of believers all around you. And right on Zion it's easy to feel like the whole world is going with God. But He reminds them in the book of Amos that they're surrounded by enemies.
    Now, today's Zion is the Christian world that you and I are so involved in: Christian TV, and websites, and seminars, and music, and concerts, and conferences. We've got our own music, we've got a lot of heroes of our own, we're in the headlines, we sit in our church and we feel like we're winning. You know, I sometimes attend the National Religious Broadcaster's Convention, and there are thousands there sometimes. Man, there you feel like you're winning the world. But we're not.
    The Wall Street Journal once pointed out that if you're in the evangelical subculture you know all its heroes, all its radio programs, you read its books. If you're not in the evangelical world, you don't even know that it exists. Could it be we're complacent in Zion? That we're talking mostly to ourselves? The lost people around us are I guess you could say "loster" and farther from Christ and the church than they've ever been. And there are more of them than there have ever been. It is the illusion of winning because we feel so strong when we're in our Zion places.
    We've got a massive job to do; an obligation - a bill unpaid to the world for which Christ gave His life. Paul said it in Romans 1, he was, "obligated to the lost; to not be ashamed of the Gospel - to get it to them." This is not a time for feeling well off. This is a time for us to take risks, to launch out in new ways to reach our neighbors, to evaluate our church and our ministry in terms of its impact on the lost people for whom Jesus died and for whom He weeps. We shouldn't be looking at our crowds or how many of ourselves we're talking to, but how many lost people we're talking to. What percentage are they? Not how many found people we're talking to.
    And it's a personal issue. Am I, as one follower of Christ, sitting back and enjoying all of Zion's goodies and feeling like I'm doing something? Or am I daily entering into the battle for the lives of the people around me?
    Listen, we'll celebrate when we get to heaven. That will be plenty of time. Right now it's time to reach the lost through every possible means while there's still time.

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    November 23, 2020 The Loneliest "Lonely" of All - #8836

    Like many children her age, our little granddaughter had 101 tricks to delay going to bed at night: a drink of water, another story, monsters in the closet, whatever! Once she did, she was usually gone for the night. But every once in a while, her parents would be in the living room, suddenly hear this sound, distraught crying. Their little darling just woke up in the dark. She found herself all alone, and it's scary.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Loneliest 'Lonely' of All."
    Even big people like us know that feeling. There are times in our life when we feel like we're all alone in the dark, and it is scary. Maybe you know about those times. Maybe you're in one of those dark, lonely stretches right now.
    It would be cheap for me to say, "I know how you feel." Honestly, probably I don't. But I know someone who does - who really does. That would be Jesus. In fact, no one on earth has ever experienced the depth of loneliness He went through. And that's one of the reasons you can trust Him in a way that you can trust nobody else in your life.
    Let me take you for a minute back to the darkest day in human history; the day the Son of God was nailed to a Roman cross. The Bible says He was "crushed" and "pierced" and beaten beyond recognition (Isaiah 53:5; 52:14). His back had been ripped open by merciless whippings, His head was ripped open by a crown made out of thorns, and a spear was driven into His side as He hung on that cross, suspended by three nails. But as horrific as that pain must have been, that's not what made Him cry out on the cross. It was a far greater pain that ripped apart His soul.
    It's recorded in our word for today from the Word of God. "About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:51) He could take the thorns, He could take the nails, He could take the spear, but He couldn't stand being cut off from God. God the Father and God the Son had never had a moment apart through all eternity until that day. In Jesus' darkest moment, He could not see His Father's face. His Father had turned away from Him. Why?
    The Bible says of God, "Your eyes are too pure to look on evil" (Habakkuk 1:13). An all-holy God cannot look at sin, and that's what was all over His Son that day. The Bible tells us that "He bore our sins in His (own) body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24). Whose sins made God turn away from His one and only Son? Your sins. My sins. Jesus was all alone - more alone than any man has ever been - and it was horribly dark.
    Look at what it took to pay for your sin. Look at what it took to forgive your sin. How can we think there's anything we could ever do that would pay for our sin or get us into heaven? Only the One who died for your sin can remove your sin. That was your hell, your separation from God He was taking on that cross. Now He's offering to you what He died for you to have. Either you reach out to Him in total trust as your only hope of being rescued spiritually, or you walk away from Him.
    I believe there's someone who's listening right now, and you are feeling in your soul the tug of Jesus. He shows you your sin, He shows you how He loved you enough to die for your sin, and He stirs your heart to give yourself to Him. If you've never done that, you can do it right now; you can do it where you are. Just tell Him, "Jesus, You're my only hope, and beginning right here and right now, I'm Yours." At that moment, God will erase every sin from His book and give you eternal life in heaven. Don't you want this?
    Well, tell Him you want to belong to Him beginning today. And go to our website where we tell you how that all happens. That's ANewStory.com. Just don't walk away from this without responding to Jesus' invitation.
    The biggest mistake you could ever make would be to turn your back on Him.

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    November 20, 2020 Waiting 'til the Roof Caves In - #8835

    Many years ago, our state was America's Wild West. Out of that grew a pretty colorful state history, which I never knew much about before. But after a recent visit to the state capital, I came back with some interesting stories out of our past. I loved the story of the sagging roof on the original State House. The legislators had often been reminded that the roof needed to be replaced before something ugly happened. Well, they never got around to passing a bill to authorize that replacement. (Can you imagine?) And then one day, with the Legislature in full session...you want to guess? The roof finally collapsed on the legislators. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured. And the next day, for some reason, (Guess what?) they passed a bill for a new roof; the day after the old one fell on their heads!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Waiting 'til the Roof Caves In."
    I had to laugh at this great example of what it takes sometimes to get things moving. I stopped laughing when I realized that it's sometimes me that waits until the roof caves in before I do the right thing. Maybe you've made that mistake, too.
    In an incredible dialog between King Solomon and the Lord, Solomon anticipates some of the critical issues that may arise in his nation's future. It's in our word for today from the Word of God in 2 Chronicles 6, beginning in verse 24. Solomon tells the Lord, "When Your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy (that's the roof falling in) because they have sinned against You (that's why it fell in) and when they turn back and confess Your name...then hear from heaven, forgive the sin of Your people...and bring them back."
    He then addresses another roof collapse, "when the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because Your people have sinned..." Then he goes on to talk about their dealing with their sin and then God sending the rain they're desperate for. Solomon uses other examples of the roof falling in on God's people - famine, plague, locusts, enemies besieging them, disaster, disease - and he asks God to redeem them when they again deal with their sin.
    The culmination of this insightful spiritual analysis comes in the great revival verse, 2 Chronicles 7:14, preceded, of course, by 2 Chronicles 7:13. The Lord says, "When I shut up the heavens so 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, will humble themselves and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven. I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." Wow! Well, timely stuff.
    The trick is to deal with things before the roof caves in, before the Lord has to lower the boom to get your attention. He escalates the pressure and the pain as we ignore His softer promptings to face what needs to be faced. Right now, maybe God's working in your heart, or your circumstances to get you to deal with some sin that you've refused to repent of, to face some important issues in your marriage, or in the life of your family, or in the way you do business, to deal with the lies, or the hurting words, or the destructive attitude, or your bitterness. There may be problems you keep sweeping under the rug, issues you will not confront, sins you will not repent of.
    That may be why things have not been working, why there's been so much frustration, so much pain. You've been blaming your environment, your circumstances, you've been blaming other people, when God's been trying to get you to look in the mirror and let Him fix the person you see there.
    He's been turning up the heat. He's trying to get your attention! Don't wait until the roof caves in.

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    November 19, 2020 The Difference Between Bitter and Sweet - #8834

    I've eaten a few plums in my life, but I never found it particularly inspiring or educational. But one of our team members ate a plum recently and got an insight that I found enlightening. When she bit into that plum, it tasted very sweet. It didn't stay that way. The closer my friend got to the center, the more bitter the plum tasted. She explained to me her simple, but probably accurate, theory about this bittersweet taste experience. She said what the sun has touched is sweet; what the sun hasn't touched is bitter. And I said, "Hum?"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Difference Between Bitter and Sweet."
    I guess, in a way, I'm that plum. You're that plum. We've got parts of our personality, our ways of treating people, our ways of responding to stress that are actually pretty sweet and then there are those parts that are bitter for us and certainly bitter for the people close to us. Once you open your life to Jesus Christ, you have divine power available to help change those harsh, distasteful parts of you into something beautiful. It's part of that miracle 2 Corinthians 5:17 calls becoming "a new creation in Christ."
    I can tell you from my own life, the parts of me that are becoming sweeter are the parts of me I have opened up to the "sunlight" of Jesus Christ. And those things about me that I don't like, the people around me don't like, God doesn't like are the areas where I need to more fully open up to Jesus' control.
    The people we love, the people around us, the people who are affected by us most would probably be able to provide a pretty good list of the "bitter" parts of our personality and the ways we respond. That's the list that needs to become top priority for surrendering to Jesus Christ. It's a matter of calling the ugly parts of us what they are - no more defending, no more excusing, no more rationalizing, no more blaming. You just say, "Jesus, here it is. Come into this stubborn, sinful, dark part of who I am and shine Your light on it. I can't change it, but I don't want to be this way anymore. Please make me new."
    In our word for today from the Word of God, He helps us see some specific attitudes and actions and approaches that are bitter stuff, and then what we can be like if we'll remove the walls around those areas of our life. Colossians 3, beginning with verse 8, says, "Rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator ... Therefore, as God's chosen people ... clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."
    The powerful reality about belonging to Jesus is that you don't have to keep on being what you've always been; maybe even what generations before you have been. Jesus changes people in ways they could never change themselves. But there may be a reason that your bitter has stayed bitter. Instead of repenting, instead of surrendering it to Jesus, you just keep looking for someone to blame for the way you are. You keep replaying the past, complaining, recruiting sympathy, or retaliating for what others have done. But you're not letting the Son - the Son of God - shine on it. Isn't it time to open up your ugly, dark side to Jesus and to release it completely to Him so He can make you like Him?
    There's a Gospel song that says, "The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows." Let's add a verse. "The longer you serve Him, the sweeter you grow."

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    November 18, 2020 Give the Medicine Some Time - #8833

    You know, all those headache remedies promise fast relief, of course, but they all actually take time - even the best of them, whatever one that is. I mean, can you imagine someone with a headache and they take two aspirin, and immediately they say, "Nothing happened! My head still hurts. This stuff is bogus!" So they pop three more. In five minutes this person says, "I've still got a headache!" They pop several more.
    Now, pretty soon this person is going to be in trouble, actually in the emergency room. You want to step in there and say, "Stop! You're going to hurt yourself if you keep this up!" And they say, "Yes, but I took the aspirin and nothing happened." Well, of course, you're going to come back and say, "Well, you have to wait for the result. You've got to give the medicine some time!"
    Or imagine if you're taking penicillin. You take the dose that the doctor prescribed and you wait five minutes. You still have a fever, you still have a sore throat, you're still sick. So, you say, "Oh, nuts! I'm going to take the whole bottle!" No, no, no! This is not advisable! I'd hate to even think what would happen. You see, we've learned to wait for a healing effect before we use any more medicine. If we don't, we're going to cause an even greater problem. That's especially true when you're treating someone you really love.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Give the Medicine Some Time."
    As we look into Mark 4, beginning in verse 26, our word for today from the Word of God, I want you to think about someone you are personally concerned about right now: a child, maybe a parent of yours, a brother or sister, or a close friend. And you've told them your concerns about them, and you've told them, and told them, and told them. And they still haven't changed. They're proceeding down a road that you're afraid will not lead to a headache, but to a heartache.
    It could be that you're missing a vital step in the process of confronting people with the truth, and here's where we go to Mark 4:26. It's an agricultural passage really. "Jesus said, 'This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain - first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. And as soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.'"
    Now, Jesus is saying here that the farmer has the job of scattering seed. Then he re-enters the process when the seed is bearing fruit. But in between, look what the farmer does. He backs off. He gives the seed time to germinate. Now, if he goes over, digs it up, keeps looking at it, tampers with it, "Hey, I wonder if this thing's growing? I don't see anything happening," he's going to kill the growth. Jesus is telling us, "Give truth time to work, and quit panicking because it doesn't seem to be growing right away." It's like that medicine. Give the people you love a dose of God's truth, and then settle back and let it take effect. And in the meantime, you pray like crazy for that seed to germinate.
    When we're concerned about someone we love, we tend to push them too much. We actually may delay their ever coming to grips with the truth. We push them right away. They don't seem to be listening, so we say it too loud, too long, and too often. The more doses we try to force on them, we make them spit out the medicine that might change their life.
    Truth requires time to germinate. It looks like nothing's happening, but don't try to force another dose. Don't interfere with the growth of the seed. They need a little space. Faith in the Lord sometimes means shutting up and letting God use the truth that you already spoke in love. Have patience while He works.
    Don't try to make that loved one take a whole bottle of spiritual medicine all at once. Lovingly give a dose of truth, and then back off and let God grow it. Give the medicine some time.

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    November 17, 2020 Which List Is Your Name On? - #8832

    It was an amazing exhibit - the Titanic exhibit. At that time it had been in a lot of museums in the United States. Actually, what they did was they re-created the Titanic's grand staircase, they got a simulation of one of the ship's cabins, they had artifacts that were retrieved right from the watery grave around the Titanic. And as you enter the exhibit, they would give you this ticket with the name of one of the ship's passengers or crewmen on it. I was one of the crewmen. At the end of the tour there was this large wall. They had two lists of names; a long list and a relatively short list. Next to each name was one of four designations: first class, second class, third class, and crew. But no matter what your class, your name ultimately appeared on one of those two lists, which were under one of two headings: "Saved"..."Lost."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Which List Is Your Name On?"
    Tragically, that short list is the one that says "saved." The long list was the "lost." As you read the Bible, you begin to realize that all of humanity is divided into those same two lists: "saved" and "lost." There's no third list. You're on one or the other.
    Our word for today from the Word of God is one of those passages that helps us determine which list we're on. John 3:36 says, "Whoever believes in the Son (that's Jesus Christ, God's Son) has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." That's saved or lost. Earlier in the same chapter, God says, "Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son" (John 3:18).
    One thing is very clear. Which list your name is on depends on your personal response to Jesus Christ. That's because He's the One that God sent to rescue us from the death penalty of all the things we've done wrong. Nobody else died in our place, so nobody else can save us. We tend to divide people up by what class they're in, what race they're in, what religion they're from. But God only sees two kinds of people: saved and lost.
    And today could be your day to move from one list to the other. What sentences us to being "lost" forever is that we simply, in the words of the Bible, "do not believe in Jesus." You don't have to openly reject Him, you can just passively miss Him. And "believing" in the Bible doesn't mean just agreeing with Jesus or giving mental assent. It's grabbing Him to pull you into the lifeboat and holding onto Him like He's your only hope. He is. And it may be you've never really put yourself completely into His hands to be your Rescuer from your sin.
    This could be your day to do that. You just tell Jesus that you're putting all your trust in Him to save you from a spiritual death penalty that you could never save yourself from. You're doing that based on what He did on the cross for you; taking your place...being your substitute...carrying your penalty. And then conquering death by walking out of His grave under His own power so He could walk into your life today.
    Just say, "Lord, I'm ready to turn from the sin that nailed you to that cross and let you drive from now on. At the moment you put your total trust in Him, you've become someone who is guaranteed eternal life; who can say from this day on, "I know when I die, I am going to heaven because the sin that would keep me out has been erased by Jesus Christ." Don't you want this?
    If you're ready to begin this relationship with Him, to secure a place in heaven forever, there's information that will help you make that choice and nail it down today at our website. And that website is ANewStory.com.
    At that moment you open your heart to Jesus, you have literally in the Bible's words, "crossed over from death to life" (John 5:24). Forever. That's ANewStory.com. God will move your name from "lost" to "saved."

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    November 16, 2020 Doing it With Your Daddy - #8831

    A basketful of eggs and a four-year-old girl. Got any ideas how this might turn out? The little girl was my wife. This little scene played out on the basement stairs of the church her family attended. Her Dad said, "Honey, you should hold Daddy's hand." He wasn't too sure about either his daughter or the eggs she was carrying. As she grabbed onto the stair railing with one hand and gripped the handle of the basket with the other hand, she said, "I'm okay, Daddy." (These are first-borns. Yeah, I know about this.) In an instant, she was tumbling down the steps, head over heels. She had some minor "boo-boos." The eggs - prematurely scrambled.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Doing it With Your Daddy."
    We smile at a little child's stubborn self-sufficiency, and we miss how much like us that really is. At least from the vantage point of our Heavenly Father. That's why our Father gives us clear instructions on the way to make it and the way to mess it up; the way to get safely where we need to go and the way to break all the eggs.
    It's summed up in two of the most quoted verses in the Bible from Proverbs 3:5-6. It could be your life verse and it still might not be the way you live! Our word for today from the Word of God: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
    Trust in Him and not in yourself. Lean on what He shows you and not on what you can figure out by yourself. It could be that you're running full-steam right now, chasing your goal, managing your situation, fixing your problem. But the still, small voice of your Heavenly Father is whispering in your heart, "My child, you should hold My hand."
    But you're Mr. or Miss Self-Sufficient, right? You're smart, you're skilled, you're experienced, you're strong, and from God's perspective, you're a control freak. Sure, you want Jesus with you, but you don't really want Him running things. "I can do this, Daddy. I can fix this. I can handle this." Followed soon by the crash, the breakage, and the "boo-boos."
    Sure, you're officially, theologically trusting God, but in reality, are you trusting what you can do? In reality, while Jesus is your "Chairman" on the letterhead, in the stuff that really matters, are you really in charge and is Jesus' role really honorary? Let's put it this way: you're driving down the road and you see this hitchhiker by the side of the road. You go against your usual instincts and you pull over to pick him up. As you open the passenger door, you're stunned to see Jesus Himself standing there. You say, "Jesus, this is such an honor. Would you please get in and ride with me?" And He'll say, "No." You'll probably ask, "Why not?" That's when Jesus will say, "Because I don't ride. I drive. You let me know when you're ready for Me to drive."
    See, you were never meant to drive. You were never meant to carry all this. That's why there are so many stumbles, so many falls, and so many breaks. Right now your Lord, who won the right to run your life when He gave His life for you on the cross, your Lord is saying it one more time, "Take My hand. Lean on Me. Let Me lead." Don't tell Him, "No, I'm okay, Daddy. I can do it myself." That's only going to lead to a fall.
    Don't make another step without grabbing your Father's hand and letting Him lead.

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    November 13, 2020 The Wave and the Warning - #8830

    When disaster as massive as the December 2004 tsunami hits our planet, you know there are going to be dramatic stories coming from it for years to come; the stories of people who survived, and those who didn't. There was this Austrian man who was enjoying a day at the beach in Thailand when he saw the water suddenly being sucked out to sea, virtually emptying the shore right in front of him. He recently had seen a show on the Discovery Channel about tsunamis, and as a result, he knew what was coming next. As he ran up the beach, he yelled as loud as he could, "Run for your life!" knowing full well that in seconds the full fury of a tsunami would hit anyone who was on that beach. He said he remembers one German lady in her beach chair who said, "I think I'll just sit here and watch." He said to the reporter interviewing him, "She didn't move." Then as he hung his head, he choked and he said, "She's dead."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Wave and the Warning."
    Among the tens of thousands who died that day, many died because they went unwarned. But there were those like that woman on the beach. She was warned and she refused to respond. When we reach the end of our lives, when the tsunami of death that carries so many into eternity each day comes our way, many of us will find out that we have made that same deadly mistake. We were warned about God's judgment and the only way to escape it, but we didn't make a move.
    In a way, the entire Bible is a warning from God about the consequences of our rebellious running of our own lives. And it's an invitation to come to the only high ground where we can escape His judgment. And in a sense, we're all in that scene on the beach the day the tsunami hit. Either we're the one who's giving the warning - or we should be - or we're the one who needs the warning to save our life...I mean our life forever.
    Both of those people are in our word for today from the Word of God in Ezekiel 3:16-18. God begins by addressing those of us who have been rescued from the penalty of our sin. He says, "I have made you a watchman...so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked man..." By the way, when the Bible talks about a wicked person, it's referring to all of us who have broken God's laws - all of us who run our own lives - and that's all of us. God says, "When I say to him, 'You will surely die, and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.'"
    That is sobering stuff. If you know about the sin-rescue that Jesus made possible when He died on the cross, you can't just sit idly by and let people you know live and die without knowing that. And if you've never gotten right with God, it's time to run to the only safe place there is.
    The people who survived the tsunami were the people who ran to the higher ground where the waves couldn't come. The only way you can be safe and beyond the reach of God's judgment is to go to the high ground of a place called Skull Hill where God's judgment for your sin already fell on His Son. The judgment of God cannot reach you there; but only there. No other ground is high enough.
    And if you've never gone to the cross of Jesus to let go of your sin and let Jesus forgive your sin, realize this is not a religious issue. This is a matter of life or death - forever. When you realize how awful the penalty for your sin is, when you realize the unexplainable love that drove Jesus to bear it for you, you'll run to Him. And you'll thank Him that He gave you one more chance to come to Him, and that chance might be today. It might be right now. If you've never given yourself to Him, would you tell Him today, "Jesus, I'm Yours."
    Listen, you want more information about how to begin this relationship, please go to our website as soon as you can today. ANewStory.com. See, Jesus has come your way today, warning you to the high ground of His cross. Waiting? Waiting could cost you everything.

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    November 12, 2020 Your All-Access Pass - #8829

    It was a major youth event I was speaking at, and they had several very popular contemporary Christian bands there. And teenagers love to get close to their heroes, even to find a way to get backstage or to their ready room. Let me assure you, speakers have no such problem. It's the bands they want to meet. Anyway, the organizers had to think through security - like who would be allowed to go into which area. Well, because I was a speaker, I wore one of those coveted trophies at any stage event. I had the all-access pass. Security people would glance at those door-opening words "all access" and they'd wave me right through. You can go anywhere and everywhere with one of those things!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Your All-Access Pass."
    You may never have worn an all-access pass in your life, but if you belong to Jesus Christ, you possess the most valuable all-access pass in the universe. God has hung a pass around your neck that allows you to walk into the Throne Room from which the universe is governed...any time. In fact, you have priority clearance.
    The door to God, the door to His Throne Room, is called prayer. And when Jesus tore down the wall between God and us when He died on the cross, He opened the way for total access to all the resources of heaven! But often our prayers sound as if we've forgotten the awesome position we're in. We pray these lame, predictable, earth-sized prayers that sound like we only have access to some little spiritual closet!
    Hebrews 4:16 says we can "come boldly to God's throne of grace." And our word for today from the Word of God, 2 Corinthians 9:8, describes the incredible resources that gives us access to. It says, "God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." Talk about comprehensive coverage! Access to all of God's grace so you can have everything you need in every situation to do what's right. Are you praying like that? Or are you worrying, scheming, hesitating, even disobeying instead of using your all-access pass?
    What does that give you access to? Listen to Philippians 4:19, "My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." You have a pass to the unlimited resources of the Jesus Fund in heaven, which has all the resources your situation requires financially, emotionally, relationally, physically. How about James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all..." For every phone call, every email, every text, every parental challenge, every decision, every response, your all-access pass opens up the very wisdom of God Himself to guide you to the right thing. Or Hebrews 4:16, the "come boldly" verse, that promises "grace to help you in your time of need." All you need, man, to make it through your storm.
    Yes, Jesus has given you an all-access pass to the resources of heaven. (Isn't it awesome?) But we live in such unnecessary poverty because we underutilize what He's made available. Isn't it time to quit praying in the same old box, coming to God like a beggar instead of a son or daughter?
    When you pray, remember who you are, remember the awesome God you're with, and dare to trust Him for what the Bible calls "great and mighty things you do not know" (Jeremiah 33:3).

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    November 11, 2020 The Effect Your Name Has - #8828

    If you really want to impress somebody, remember their name after you meet them. It's important, you know, to concentrate on somebody's name and then try to repeat it several times in the conversation, "Yes, George. It's nice to meet you, George, and say hi to your family, George." Because, see, there's nothing someone would rather hear than their own name. And they'll just think you're something really special if you can remember that name, because names are really important to people.
    In fact, names are so important in our society they are protected by slander and libel laws. If someone publicly damages your name, and it's something that isn't true and that they can't really defend, that could be worth millions of dollars in a lawsuit. Your name is really important!
    Now, here's something to think about: What kind of reaction does your name bring when it's brought up in a group of people? Maybe a group of people who know who you are, maybe a little, maybe a lot, but you're not in the room when your name comes up. What's the reaction? See, I'm sure that it makes people feel some way!
    Maybe there's laughter when they think of your name, or maybe there's respect. Maybe there's like a shrug of the shoulders, "I don't know." Maybe it creates suspicion when they hear you're involved, or maybe there's tension, or maybe there's peace, confidence. Your name gets a reaction.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Effect Your Name Has."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is about your name. Proverbs 22:1 - "A good name is more desirable than great riches. To be esteemed is better than silver or gold." When the Bible talks about your name, it's really talking about your reputation. What kind of reaction does your name or your reputation bring?
    Interesting thing about reputation, a good one takes a long time to get and a very short time to lose. And as you know, a bad reputation is very easy to get, and then later on it can be very hard to lose. In fact, I've known people with a wonderful reputation - years that it took to build - and in a night, or a day, in one incident a reputation is lost. (Maybe you know people you can think of like that.) It's worth much sacrifice; it's worth a lot of self-denial; a lot of self-discipline to protect your good name. It's the most valuable thing you have. That's why our society protects it with laws.
    I think a good name, like the Bible talks about here, belongs to people that you can always expect certain things from. See how you measure up with this checklist. First of all, you can always expect excellence in what they do. You don't have to wonder if it's going to be shoddy work or if they're going to give it a half-hearted effort. Excellence - they're committed to doing it in the big things and the little things. That's a good name.
    Secondly, people with a good name cause people to expect consistency from them; they're faithful, they deliver. You know they'll be there, they'll have the same kind of quality, the same kind of commitment whether things are going bad, or whether they're going well, or whether things are hard or easy, or whether there's money or not; there's going to be consistency. That's a good name.
    Thirdly, they're known for their judgment. They don't just jump into things; they're not impulsive, they're not glandular people, they ponder, they consider, they get the facts and they make responsible decisions that stand the test of time, not just look good for a day, a week, or a month. And then a good name, well, I think it belongs to people who are known for the truth, for integrity. You can always believe, you can always trust what they're saying; you don't have to divide it by two or try to get the truth or wonder if it's really the facts. You can trust their word.
    Your good name? Man, it's worth everything. Don't compromise it. Don't risk it. Don't put a mark on anyone else's name either, because according to the Bible, if you've got a good name, you're a moral millionaire.

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    November 10, 2020 Speeding Past the Right Road - #8827

    Okay, I wish I had all the time in the world to get to places I need to go. Usually, that's just not possible. I'm moving pretty fast - sometimes too fast. Recently, I was on the verge of being late, and I was driving in a very unfamiliar place. You probably know the feeling of trying to follow directions to a new place, you're looking for your turn, and suddenly you're driving a long way without seeing your turn. This was one of those days for me. And the reason I was driving so far was because I had missed the place I was supposed to turn. And I missed it because I was going too fast. So, of course, it actually took me longer to get where I was supposed to be.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Speeding Past the Right Road."
    Because I've missed too many roads in my life because I was going too fast to see them, I was arrested the other day - not by a police officer, but by a Bible verse. It's our word for today from the Word of God. Proverbs 19:2 says, "It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty (Listen now.) and miss the way." How many times have you and I missed the way because we were being too hasty?
    I remember in high school when they were teaching us to type, we weren't just graded on how many words per minute we could type. All that counted was the number of correct words per minute. You know speed isn't all that matters in life. Getting it right matters more! And speed often diminishes accuracy...especially in making wise choices. You may, in fact, be reaping right now the unpleasant harvest of some hasty decisions you made in the past. You were going so fast that you sped right past the right road. Let's learn from those mistakes, slow down and get it right!
    Moving fast works against some key factors in making decisions that we won't regret later on; like time to pray, for example. In our haste to get things out of the way, we often forget to check with heaven. King Jehoshaphat gave this wise counsel to King Ahab on the eve of a battle he should have never been involved in. He said, "First, seek the counsel of the Lord" (1 Kings 22:5). We all ought to have that hanging in some prominent place in front of us all day long! "First, seek the counsel of the Lord." By the way, Ahab died in that battle that day. We're moving way too fast when we're in too much of a hurry to slow down and listen to the Lord.
    Speeding also means we tend to neglect getting all the facts. Next to this "don't be hasty and miss the way" verse in my Bible, I've written these words, "Do your homework!" Now, often, slowing down to assess all the available information - including the future ramifications of your options - can save us a lot of grief. Another factor we speed by is taking time to seek godly advice. Proverbs 20:18 counsels us to "make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance." Talk to others who've been there; get the objectivity of someone who follows the Lord and who isn't as close to your situation as you are.
    All these wise steps, though, take some time. And if you're moving too fast, you're going to miss the steps that make for wise choices and happy endings. By the way, there's another danger in going too fast. You have a tendency to run right over people. And you may have left some hit-and-run victims in your wake; you ran over them on your way to your wonderful goal.
    Take it from a man who has too often missed the way that he should have gone. When you're moving too fast...well, you tend to make a lot of mistakes. And you often end up going very fast in the wrong direction!

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    November 9, 2020 Why It Doesn't Have To Be the Way It's Always Been - #8826

    Everyone in our family knows if Dad gets in a checkout line at a store, be sure you pick another line. My line always seems to be the wrong one, the long one, no matter how good a choice it seemed at the time I picked it. The cash register blows up or the one lady who was in line in front of me goes into labor or something. You know? But there's one blissfully happy moment for me when I'm in a slow checkout line - when they open a new checkout line near me. You can be sure I will do my best to start that line.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Why It Doesn't Have To Be the Way It's Always Been."
    When you're in a long line that seems to be going nowhere fast, it is a great feeling to be able to be the first person in a new line. That's God's dream for you, that you be the first one in the new line for your family. By making a choice today that can literally change the future, not only for you, not only for those you love, but for people who will come after you that you will never see.
    All of us are carrying some negative baggage from the way we were raised even if we had great parents. Every family has some hurtful ways of doing things. And our natural tendency is to reproduce those weaknesses in our generation, even though we've seen the damage they do; even though we've said we never would. And as surely as physical family resemblances get passed from one generation to another, so do family flaws, family sins, family baggage. Except for the miracle that makes it possible for one person to say, "It stops here. I am not going to be another one in that same old line. I'm going to be the first one in a brand new line in our family!"
    The only One who can make that kind of transformation possible is Jesus Christ because He died to pay for all our wrong ways of living; because He died and rose again to break that power over us. The Bible can make this awesome promise because of all of that.
    In our word for today from the Word of God (I love these verses!) in 1 Peter 1:18-19: "You were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers...with the precious blood of Christ." Because of what Jesus did, things don't always have to be the way they've always been. When you open your life to Jesus, God's Rescuer from our sin, you receive His supernatural power to beat the darkness inside you.
    My friend, Craig Smith, with whom we've worked in a lot of outreach to the Native people of North America, has a powerful story to tell from his own family. His Ojibwe grandfather was, like generations before him, an alcoholic and a very angry and violent man. Craig's grandmother was one of the first of her tribe to give her heart to Christ. Her husband was so amazed by the change in his wife that he wanted her Jesus, and from that day on, he never touched alcohol again. He was what the Bible calls a "new creation in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
    Craig's children, all Christ-loving college graduates, are the fourth generation who have lived totally different lives because one man chose Christ. And the farther each generation gets from the garbage of the past, the more it loses its hold. We have seen that miracle happen over and over again in the lives of countless Native American young people who were on the same road to destruction so many around them had taken, until they met the Liberator, Jesus Christ.
    He's waiting to do that miracle for you. You want that new beginning that only Jesus can give? Tell Him that today. A lot of people have gone to our website and found a lot of help there beginning this personal relationship with Christ. That's why it's there. And I'd like you to go there today. I think you'll find the information that will help you get this settled. It's ANewStory.com.
    There have been enough people in that line that ends up going nowhere, haven't there, and hurting the people who followed? This very day, Jesus can begin to make you the first person in a whole new line that will change the future for generations to come!

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    November 6, 2020 God's Bomb Squad - #8825

    I was zipping down the Interstate one day, and I came up behind this big, black truck with bright red letters on it. And then I noticed what it said: County Bomb Squad. Woah! Needless to say, I did not stay real close to that truck! I didn't want to be behind these guys, but I'm actually glad they're around.
    I mean, they're in most areas of the country; these men, brave men who go into places where a bomb has been planted. They find it, they carry it away in that big truck (which, by the way, I was speeding to get past as fast as I could), and then they defuse it. Now, actually, God has got a bomb squad. You might be on it, and you might need it.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "God's Bomb Squad."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God is from Exodus 18, and it's the story of a two-legged time bomb. His name was Moses. He was a man in spiritual leadership about to blow. I know many people in spiritual leadership today who are just as explosive. Maybe you're one; maybe you're near one.
    Here's the story: "The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, 'What is this you're doing for the people? Why do you sit alone as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?' Moses answered him, 'Because the people come to me to seek God's will. Whenever they have a dispute it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God's decrees and laws.' Moses' father-in-law replied, 'What you're doing is not good. (Leave it to a father-in-law, huh?) You and these people who have come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you. You cannot handle it alone.'" "Boom!" (That's not in the Bible, that part.)
    And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, becomes history's first management consultant, and then recommends to him that he appoint many judges that will share in the load so that there will be lots of people doing the work with him.
    Now, here's the picture: the leader is burning out. And the people are about to get burned out, because their needs just aren't being met. And his strength to meet those needs is being destroyed.
    Now, there are a lot of people who are carrying out God's assignments who are in the same position as Moses - the work's too heavy for them. I know that feeling. Well, remember this: an over-burdened leader is a ticking time bomb. He's going to burn out; the people are going to get burned up and disillusioned.
    Now, you may be one of the bombs, or maybe you're one of the bomb squad sent to diffuse it. If you know a leader who is stretched to the max, do what Jethro did here. Tell him what you see. Help him see that he isn't God's only channel. Show him ways that he could give away some of what he's doing. Start by offering to pick up a piece of it yourself.
    And if you're a leader with a heavy load, why not listen to the advice that kept Moses able to minister for many years. Give some of your ministry away. Use some time to select and train others. Ask yourself as you look at your life and your leadership, "What could I give away?" Don't be like a television that would only have one channel everything has to come through.
    People who think that God can only come through one channel - them, well pretty soon there will be no channel because their screen will go dark. I remember hearing from a pastor friend. He said, "I was liberated by five words somebody shared with me that were spoken by John the Baptist, "I am not the Messiah."
    God may have just intercepted you today on this broadcast to just say, "Stop! Get some help, man! Give some of your ministry away. Or He may want you to help diffuse a ticking time bomb; a spiritual leader who's got an overload, by showing them the impossibility of what they're doing, and showing him people who can help, by being one of the people who can help. You could save a ministry by being the one who delicately diffuses an over-burdened Christian leader.
    God needs people who will be His bomb squad.

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    November 5, 2020 Orphan No More - #8824

    "China's Lost Girls" - that's what they called the National Geographic special that described China's "one child per family" law that had led, at the time, the abandonment of countless baby girls. But the special went on to describe the growing number of American families who wanted one of those little girls, who otherwise would spend her whole life in an orphanage. That came to life some years ago when some close friends started down that year-long process of bringing together an abandoned little girl with an American family. Finally, that long wait was over, and they were on a plane to China. When they got to their hotel room, there was an empty crib. It wasn't empty the next night. No, they were taken to the adoption center where this precious little girl they were adopting was placed in their arms, and that night she fell asleep in her new father's arms. As the family welcomed them at the airport back home, this girl, who only days before had belonged nowhere, was - and always would be - enveloped in love.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Orphan No More."
    I couldn't help but see myself in what has happened with that little orphan. I had two loving parents, so I was blessed not to be an orphan physically. But I have been a spiritual orphan without the love that my soul was made for; without the love of the God the Bible calls our "Heavenly Father." We are, in the Bible's words, "created by Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16). But, again in God's words in His book, "Your iniquities (that's every wrong thing you have ever done) have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you" (Isaiah 59:2).
    Because we're missing the Father we were created for, we really are spiritual orphans. And we've been feeling it all our lives, whether we know the reason or not. Maybe one of these words would describe some of your emotional autobiography: abandoned, rejected, excluded, betrayed, abused, lonely.
    Maybe a true sense of belonging has eluded you all these years even though you've done a lot of things in hopes that you would belong. We make a lot of mistakes for love, don't we? And no matter how close our family or friends may be, there's still that unexplainable loneliness deep down inside. It's cosmic loneliness. We're lonely for God. Maybe we're even pretty religious but we're still missing the only love relationship that can satisfy the heart of a spiritual orphan.
    My friends went a long way to bring a little girl into their family. God went a long way to bring you into His - all the way from His heaven to hell on a cross. That's where God's Son absorbed all the guilt and all the punishment for every wrong thing you've ever done, so it would never have to keep you from your Heavenly Father again. So, in John 14:18, our word for today from the Word of God, Jesus makes this awesome promise: "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." And He has today - where you are right now.
    Whatever you're in the middle of, Jesus has come to you today to bring you into His family. But He won't force His love on you. You need to choose it, which means actually recognizing you really are in trouble with God because of your sin, and reaching out to Jesus as the only One who can rescue you from that trouble. Because He's the only One who died for your sin, and then He came back three days later to prove He can give you life that never ends.
    This could be your day to finally belong to the very God who made you and who made you for a relationship with Him. It starts when you tell Jesus with all your heart, "I'm Yours." You want that? Well, if you'd like to get more information about beginning this relationship with Him, being sure you belong to Him, please visit our website where many other people have. I think you'll find some real help there in being sure you are ready to experience Jesus for yourself. That website is ANewStory.com.
    The Father's arms are open. They're waiting for you. He loves you. He wants you. Come to Him. You'll be an orphan no more.

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    November 4, 2020 Garbage Picker Vision - #8823

    You never knew when my wife was going to have one of her attacks. No, it wasn't a medical condition; it used to happen as we were driving through our neighborhood on garbage night. Suddenly she'd go, "Stop! Wait!" And I'd say, "What's the matter?" And she'd say, "Look at that chair." Actually it was the remains of a chair, broken, pretty gross I thought. And then she'd say, "Hey, let's take it." I think there's a name for that. Garbage picking, right? Yeah.
    Well, of course, my sons were in the back seat. They'd just roll their eyes and go, "Oh, no, Mom. Please, please don't do this to us." Well, the only compromise we ever worked out is that she would allow us to come back after it was dark when no one could see us. That was merciful. Do this by cover of night.
    Now, a couple of weeks later, and this happened many times, I'd come in the house and say, "Hey, that's a beautiful chair! Where'd you get that? Where'd you get the money for it?" And she'd say, "There wasn't any money. Remember that chair we got out of the garbage?" Well, yeah, my wife was a garbage picker, but she could look at some old piece of furniture and she could see something the rest of us just don't see.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Garbage Picker Vision."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from John 1, and I'm going to begin reading at verse 40 early in the ministry of the Lord Jesus. "Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two men who had heard what John the Baptist had said and who had followed Jesus. Now, the first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, 'We have found the Messiah (that is, the Christ).' And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, 'You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas (which, when translated, is Peter).'"
    Now, maybe you know that that's the word for rock. Honestly, I don't think that's what other people saw when they saw Peter. They saw Simon, they saw kind of a flaky, erratic kind of guy. You know, they'd go through the neighborhood and say, "Well, Peter's a... you know, he's kind of unpredictable, you never know what he's going to say. He puts his foot in his mouth." But when Jesus looked at him, He saw a rock.
    I was privileged to be married to someone who could see past what was broken and ugly. That's why we stopped for things other people had thrown away. She would see what it could be and she made it into something beautiful and useful. See, that was the wonderful vision Jesus saw through His eyes when He looked at people. Some people saw John, the son of thunder, but Jesus said, "I'm going to make him the apostle of love." Some people saw Mary Magdalene, a demon possessed perhaps prostitute, but Jesus said, "I see a loyal, devoted follower of Christ here."
    See, a lot of people saw in Zacchaeus garbage, greed, and dishonesty, but Jesus saw the potential of a man who could be a "somebody" by giving instead of taking. And He looks at you like that. Maybe others can only see what's broken in you, ugly in you, but He sees what you can be. He sees what you're created to be. He wants us to develop that "garbage picker" vision like He has too.
    To be a parent who can look past the garbage that your child might be giving out and see what he could be. Tell them about their potential, not just their problems. To see in a friend or a leader or a helper someone who could be more than they are. Don't just say, "You're a mess." Say, "Do you know what? You're better than this, man. I see in you a treasure that God created. I see under that mask a sensitive person, an insightful person, I see a leader, I see a listener, I see a potential fighter for what's right. Whatever potential God gives you to see in them, tell them.
    Somewhere near you is an assignment with a name; someone waiting for another person to see the Peter, the rock, in them. Stop for someone that others might be walking past or even throwing away or trashing. Pick them up and patiently build them into all they were meant to be.

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    November 3, 2020 The Deepest Cry of the Human Heart - #8822

    In 1963, the United States Supreme Court outlawed prayer in America's public schools. One of the plaintiffs in that case was America's best-known and most visible atheist at the time, Madalyn Murray O'Hair. Over the years, she was a vocal proponent of atheism and an aggressive campaigner against religion in public life. Then one day she vanished, leaving her sports car in an airport parking lot and $500,000 missing from the American Atheists Association bank account. The Internal Revenue Service seized Mrs. O'Hair's home to pay her creditors and some back taxes, and one of the items at auction was her diaries. And one entry said, "The whole idiotic hopelessness of human relations descends upon me. Tonight, I cried and cried, but even then feeling nothing." Then I was really struck by four words that Madalyn Murray O'Hair reportedly wrote at least half a dozen times over the years, "Somebody, somewhere, love me."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Deepest Cry of the Human Heart."
    I don't know about you, but that cry for love in Mrs. O'Hair's diary touches something inside me. In a way, her cry is the cry of every human heart, "Somebody, somewhere, love me." And for many who do believe in God, there is still that awful vacuum. It's possible to believe in God, to do God's things, and still miss the deep experience of His love. And without that love, the emptiness and loneliness in our heart is never satisfied, no matter how many human loves we experience.
    Well, you're probably nowhere near an atheist. It could be that you've invested a lot in good things that could easily become other gods: your career, your children, your projects, maybe your friends, your charity work, even your spiritual pursuits. But the deep, aching sense of aloneness doesn't go away. Every earth-love has ultimately either failed you or failed to satisfy you. So, after all these years, your heart is still whispering, maybe even shouting, "Somebody, somewhere, love me."
    Our word for today from the Word of God describes the only love that can ever truly satisfy this deepest cry of the human heart. It's found in Romans 8:38-39. "Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither 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." There it is...unloseable love, unconditional love, unmeasurable love.
    God wants you to experience that love more than you can imagine, so much that He sacrificed the One He loves the most for you. That's His one and only Son, Jesus. The reason we're missing that love is because we've pushed God out of our lives with our sin. We've lived "my way" instead of God's way, over and over again. And that's left us separated from God and from His love with a death penalty on our heads. But God just lavished His love on you by sending Jesus to actually die in your place.
    But you're still missing this love that your heart wants so much until you respond to it by placing all your trust in Jesus Christ to remove that sin-barrier and give you eternal life that only He can give. You're that close to finally making ultimate love your own. Because He's alive today. He walked out of His grave under His own power.
    If you want to begin this personal love relationship with Jesus, the most important thing is that you tell Him that right now in words maybe something like this. "Jesus, I was made by You and for You. I've lived for me. I know that's sin. I know I deserve the penalty for it. You didn't deserve the penalty, but You took it. You loved me so much You died for me in my place. And today I'm loving You back. I'm giving myself to You."
    If you're feeling that you want this, go to our website. It's called ANewStory.com. There you'll find all the information that will help you be sure that you've got this settled.
    See, Jesus is the "Somebody, somewhere" that your heart's been lonely for. And you don't have to live one more day without His love.

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    November 2, 2020 Steering Your Children Where They Need to Be - #8821

    Well after years of being City Boy, living in the country. Yeah, and boy, I learned a lot from the Country Girl I married. One day I was sitting on the front porch, just peacefully reading my Bible, and I noticed that a calf from across the road had decided the grass was greener on the our side of the road. Somehow, he had picked his way across the bars of the cattle guard, wandered down the road and was slowly munching his way toward our yard. Now, we agreed we really didn't want him in our yard all day while we were at the office. He'd probably eat the flowers. He'd probably fertilize our lawn in a way we didn't want it fertilized. My wife stuck her head out the door and said, "Just yell at him; scare him back across the cattle guard and into his pasture." OK, I yelled at the calf. He didn't move. My wife said, "You'll probably have to chase him, too." Oh, she saved that for later! Oh great! Here goes City Boy running down the road (you want to try to picture this?), waving his arms and yelling at a cow. Hey, it worked! The calf went running back down the road, across the cattle guard, and back where he was supposed to be. I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact what I said to him, "Burgers to go, boy!"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Steering Your Children Where They Need to Be."
    By the way, if you're wondering if there was any pun intended in that word "steering" - don't be silly. Now, I've got to tell you this. I saw something enlightening in what that youngster responded to (I mean that young cow), and what he didn't respond to. Something that might help you get a child of yours where they're supposed to be.
    First, our word for today from the Word of God. It's those familiar and powerful words in Proverbs 22:6 - "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Wow! Let's put that together with a verse that follows in Proverbs 23:13, "Do not withhold discipline from a child."
    Okay, back to Mr. Wandering Calf for a minute. I tried words on him; they didn't work. I had to follow through with actions that supported my words. And I had to be consistent until he got back to where he was supposed to be. Now children aren't calves, but some of the principles of directing their behavior have some things in common. When God tells you to "train" your child, to "discipline" your child, He's talking about much more than just saying the words. You can tell, you can yell, you can nag, but words alone don't direct a child to the right choices. You have to follow through with actions!
    And I don't mean some uncontrolled anger or some unfair or brutal punishment that is in no way proportionate to the crime. That just diminishes your authority in their eyes and actually puts them in the position of controlling you. No, your child needs to experience fair and logical consequences for going where they shouldn't go, or doing what they shouldn't do, or saying what they shouldn't say. Set the boundaries and set the penalties in advance, not in the middle of the crisis. Explain the why for the boundaries. That's the "words" part of training them.

    But then you need to consistently and lovingly enforce those consequences. You need to respond as soon as they wander outside the fence before it's a crisis; before it's a showdown, and every time they wander outside the fence. It 's hard to stop and follow through early and follow through every time, but if you do it consistently for a while, eventually you'll have a child who knows that boundary is real and it's not smart to go beyond it. Your boundary will become their boundary. Consistent discipline is a short-term sacrifice to reap some long-term peace and you have to model what you're teaching with your life.
    For wandering calves, for wandering children, it takes more than words to steer them back where they're supposed to be. You have to follow through with actions and pursue it until they go the right way.

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    October 30, 2020 The Wreckage of a Runaway Mouth - #8820

    "Made you look!" That's a classic line from when we were kids. As we're driving through some of this continent's steep mountain ranges, we've seen a sign that's guaranteed to make me look. You usually see it on a long drive down a steep mountain. The sign says, "Runaway truck ramp ahead." Of course I immediately look in my rear view mirror for some reason. If some big old semi with failed brakes is barreling down the mountain, about to run me over, I would like to be the first to know! I'm not sure what I'd do about it, but at least I'd like a moment for my whole life to flash before me. Those ramps are long emergency ramps, usually covered with something like sand that will help a truck grind to a halt. Now, if you've ever smelled the hot rubber of overworked brakes on a mountain, and you probably have (I have), you know that providing a way to stop runaway trucks is really a good idea. And they must be needed. I hate to say this, but I often see fresh truck tracks in that sand!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Wreckage of a Runaway Mouth."
    Highway engineers know that you have to find a way to stop a runaway truck. A truck with no brakes can do a lot of damage. So can a mouth with no brakes - something's that's a lot more common than runaway trucks. Now, many of us know all too personally the damage that can be inflicted by a runaway mouth. We still carry the memories, the scars, the negative effects of the names we've been called, the verbal cruelty, intended or unintended. Sadly, though, we're not just the victims of someone else's runaway mouth. No, we're also the victimizers. We've done the hurting, too.
    The Bible is brutally frank about what we do with our words. It says: "Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark." "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell...It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:6-8). Wow! Man! Raging fire - deadly poison!
    When we know so painfully how reckless and angry words have hurt us, why do we keep on spewing them ourselves, often hurting the people we love the most? There is incredible wisdom in David's cry to God in Psalm 141:3: "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips."
    Jesus said our words aren't really the problem actually; they're the symptom of a much deeper problem. In Matthew 12:34, our word for today from the Word of God, Jesus says: "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." He went on to say that "men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." Our runaway mouths are serious business. And Jesus said the heart of the problem is our heart. Our words are symptoms of our deadly heart disease. The disease, well it's sin - the hijacking of our life from the God who gave it to us. We're out of control because we're away from God.
    Thankfully, there's hope. God's provided a place where a life hurtling toward the cliffs of eternity can stop its deadly downward race. It's not a ramp. It's a cross. The cross where Jesus died to absorb all that our sin could do to us: its shame, its guilt, its power, its eternal punishment. All so He could do this miracle described in His Word: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you...I will put My Spirit in you...I will save you from all your uncleanness" (Ezekiel 36:26-28). A new heart - a heart with the desire and power to do it God's way. When your heart's full of God's love, it starts to change what comes out of your mouth.
    Jesus has done this new heart miracle for countless people over 2,000 years. He's waiting to do it for you when you say, "Jesus, I am Yours starting today." I'd love to help you do that. That's exactly why our website is there and how it can help. It's ANewStory.com. Your new story could start there today.
    The day you give yourself to this awesome Savior, a new you is born. Let it begin today.

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    October 29, 2020 Banged Up But Running Well - #8819

    We had two weeks in our area that I call "The Ice Age." And a car actually slid into our vehicle in a parking lot. So the right side looked pretty ugly. Interestingly enough, that damage didn't affect the performance of our car at all. Like so many older cars we've had over the years, the outside was banged up but the engine was running fine.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Banged Up But Running Well."
    It's possible for you and me to run that way, too. Did you know that? Hit hard and dented on the outside, but still running strong on the inside. A hit to the chassis doesn't have to mean a hit to the engine, and that's what keeps you going.
    This "banged up but running well" phenomenon is explained in our word for today from the Word of God. In 2 Corinthians 4, beginning in verse 16, Paul says, "We do not lose heart." Now, that's pretty significant in light of the fact that earlier in the chapter he tells us about their being "hard pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted, struck down." But in spite of all those hits, they are not "crushed," he says, or "in despair" or "abandoned" or "destroyed." If you've taken some hits lately, you might be interested in how Paul keeps his engine running so smoothly.
    2 Corinthians 4:16 - "Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
    Just because you're battered on the outside doesn't mean you have to be battered on the inside. Just because you're running down on the outside doesn't mean you have to run down on the inside. Just because your body is sick doesn't mean your spirit has to be sick. You can lose your job, you could lose your health, you can lose your loved one, you can lose your stuff, but you don't have to lose heart! That's a choice you make!
    Paul has come to know his Lord as the Renewer; the One who refuels and refreshes his spirit each new day. Remember, God has promised that those who are weary and weak but wait on Him will "renew their strength" and "soar on wings like eagles" (Isaiah 40:31). How does that happen? Well, first of all, you get God's perspective. That perspective recognizes the difference between what about this situation is "temporary" and what about this situation is "eternal." We can say of any earth-burden what my wife and I used to say when our kids were going through the roller coaster junior high years, "TTSP" - "This too shall pass." That perspective makes burdens bearable. They're heavy, they hurt, but they're only hurt for a little while.
    Secondly, you have to focus on God's payoff. Paul refuses to get mired in the present troubles; they're temporary. He focuses instead on the "eternal glory" that's going to be his for being victorious through these troubles. He tells us to "fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen...what is eternal." At that point, your troubles seem relatively "light and momentary," as Paul says.
    A car can be hit hard and it can be all banged up, but that doesn't have to affect its performance. It's the condition of the engine that counts. You can be hit hard and all banged up, but it doesn't have to affect your performance. It's the condition of your spirit that counts. And God stands ready to jump start your spirit each new day if you'll focus on your Lord and not on your load.

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    October 28, 2020 Winning At Home - #8818

    Whenever you look at a sports schedule for the season you'll see one of two letters next to each game - an H or an A. Now those H's are the ones the players look forward to the most - that's the home games. And, of course, the A is the away games. Now, if you're an athlete, you know that your best chance of winning is usually in your home setting. In sports, it's generally easier to win at home; it's tougher to win on the road, which is actually the opposite of how it is in our personal lives.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Winning At Home."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from the fourth chapter of the book of Luke. I'm going to begin reading at verse 16. Here's a little background: Jesus is getting ready to launch His public ministry. He will only have three years to do what He must do to preach His message and save the world. It's interesting that He spends 40 days alone in the wilderness before He begins His public ministry. And I'm sure part of that time must have been to decide His game plan for reaching the world. I mean what an assignment!
    Look where He starts when we get into Luke 4. He's left the wilderness, the game plan is now in action, and here's what it says. "He went to Nazareth where He had been brought up, and on the Sabbath Day He went into the Synagogue, as was His custom. And He stood up to read. The scroll of the Prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. Unrolling it, He found the place where it is written: 'The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.'"
    So, look where Jesus started His ministry - at home. Yeah, His hometown of Nazareth. Now, unlike sports, I think we find it easier to win on the road and tougher to win at home. But that's where your Christ-life has to work for you or you have nothing credible to give to the rest of the world. So I have to ask, "How is your faith working among the people who know you best; who know the real you?"
    Your parents - I wonder if your parents, when you became a follower of Christ, did they get a better son? Did they get a better daughter out of the deal? Or did the family members around you get a better husband because you came to Christ, a better wife, a better parent? Is your Christianity transforming the kind of person you are in the most intimate exposed areas of your life? You know where that is. It's at home; it's in your family.
    See, if you've got something real, the presence of Christ in you should be bringing the presence of Christ into your home. You walk in; He should walk in. Maybe you're a winner on the road. You're a hero to people at church, in the community, that ministry you're involved in. You're a hero at work. Maybe you're a hero in the Christian world. But spiritually are you a hero to your family? They should get your spiritual best, not your leftovers.
    Maybe it's time to take a step back and commit yourself to first of all represent Christ, to be His ambassador in your family. Be like Jesus in your family. Whatever others get, you know what it's going to be? It's going to be the overflow of what you are living in front of your family. Jesus started at home. So should you.

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    October 27, 2020 The Secret Of Staying Healthy - #8817

    It was one of those times when there had been a wave of nasty infections going through our area and, therefore, through our team. Thank the Lord, I had not been one who got knocked out for a week or more by this bug. And I was very grateful for all the people who pray for me at times like that. It's got to be one of the big reasons why I'm still going strong is all those prayer warriors. Of course, I try to do what I can do to stay healthy. I've concluded that one of the biggest things you can do to keep from getting sick is just to wash your hands frequently. (Boy, have we heard that recently? I sound like your Mother don't I? "Wash your hands!") But wherever I travel, I take my trusty towelettes and my liquid disinfectant. Because we're picking up germs that could infect us all day long! Look, whether it's a virus or anything, It's still a good idea to wash your hands pretty regularly.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Secret Of Staying Healthy."
    The fact is, we live in a world where we're surrounded by plenty of spiritual germs. And the secret of spiritual health is the same as physical health - frequent washing. Not hand-washing, but heart-washing!
    Here's our word for today from the Word of God. It explains the importance of our staying spiritually uncontaminated. And it might be a reminder to some of us that we've become dangerously careless about staying clean. In 2 Corinthians 6, beginning in verse 16, Paul reminds us that "we are the temple of the living God. As God has said, 'I will be their God, and they will be My people'...'Therefore, come out from them and be separate,' says the Lord. 'Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty."
    What an awesome position you have, then, if you belong to Jesus Christ! God lives in you. You are "His people"; you're a prince or a princess, a son or daughter of the King! So live like it! And then 2 Corinthians 7:1 tells you how you do that. Next verse, different chapter, but it follows right up: "Since we have these promises, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." Keep washing your heart, keep washing your mind, from anything that could contaminate you. You're His temple, remember?
    So we need to stop regularly and wash away any contaminating attitude or conversation or thought or action that we've picked up. If you tell anything less than the truth, correct it immediately, and before it becomes an entrenched infection. If you speak a harsh word, make it right immediately; don't let it fester in your heart or in their heart.
    If you allow a lustful thought to take over the stage of your mind, don't dwell on it; confess it and replace it right away with thoughts about Jesus. If you find yourself thinking proudly about something you've done, get rid of it quickly and give all the glory to the God who gave you everything you have and everything you are. If you're watching or listening to something that's displeasing to God, turn it off right away.
    The alternative is spiritual infection. It's carelessness about staying clean that can cost you your physical health and, yes, your spiritual health. And we get careless when we forget who we are - God's temple, God's people, God's son or daughter. He says, "Don't touch any unclean thing." Remember who you are.
    Life is so much more enjoyable when you're healthy. And you're likely to stay spiritually healthy a lot more if you practice frequent heart-washing. Or, as the Bible says, "purifying yourself from everything that contaminates."

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    October 26, 2020 The Highest Bid You've Ever Had - #8816

    When you live and work on a remote Indian reservation, as our sons did for a number of years, you get good at shopping without going anywhere. Because anywhere is so far away! Our sons got to be very skilled Internet shoppers. They found gifts there I didn't even know existed. They found bargains I was jealous of. Sometimes, I would watch over their shoulder, and I've gotten kind of good at it these days. But I'd see them bid on an item that was being auctioned on the Internet. They're pretty good at knowing what it's going to take to own what was being auctioned. For all the little tricks of the trade, there seemed to be one decisive bottom line. Everyone knows that it belongs to the one who bids the most. Right?
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Highest Bid You've Ever Had."
    Many years ago, Bob Dylan had a hit single with a simple message. He said, "You gotta serve somebody. It may be the devil, it may be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody." Consciously or unconsciously, we all make choices about what or who we're going to give ourselves to. We pour ourselves into a relationship, a family, a business, a church, a hobby. We pour ourselves into making money, or into pleasing our friends. It's almost as if they're all bidding for your time, your energy, your commitment.
    But really you should belong to the highest bidder - the one who paid the most for you. That would be Jesus. He announced His personal mission in our word for today from the Word of God in Mark 10:45. Referring to Himself with the title "Son of Man," Jesus said: "The Son of Man came...to give His life as a ransom for many." Okay, what's a ransom? Well, it's the price you pay to get someone back. Jesus spells out here the price He paid to get you back - it was His life.
    In another place, the Bible says: "You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price" (1 Corinthians 6:20). Yeah, a very high price - the life of His one and only Son. Which raises a question. Why did Jesus go through the torture and humiliation and brutal death by crucifixion? Honestly, my sin is so bad, that's what it took to pay for it. All of us have repeatedly said, in essence, "No, God, I won't do it Your way. I'll do what I want." We have openly and repeatedly defied the God who made us. And that spiritual hijacking of our life carries a death penalty: eternal separation from the God who is the source of everything good.
    But the Bible makes this stunning little statement: "Christ died for our sins" (Romans 5:8). I did the sinning. Jesus did the dying for it. Then He rose again from the dead in order to offer you and me what we could never deserve - an eternity in His heaven.
    But the price for you was so high. Jesus was beaten until His back was ripped apart. He carried a cross on that bloody back, a crown of thorns was jammed on his head, spikes were driven into His hands and feet. And worst of all, His Father turned His back on Him because He was carrying your sin so God would never have to turn His back on you. The Bible says Jesus was "so disfigured one would scarcely know He was a person" (Isaiah 52:14). All that was for you...to pay for you.
    Is it any wonder, then, that God bases your entire eternity on what you do with His Son? It's possible that you've believed about Jesus for a long time, but you don't belong to Jesus, because there's never been a time when you've totally given yourself to Him as your only hope of being forgiven for your sin - your only hope of going to heaven.
    Has there ever been a time when you did that? If you're not sure you belong to Him, I encourage you to make sure today. The greatest tragedy of your life would be that Jesus went through hell to save you and you never grabbed your Rescuer. You could do that today. Right where you are, just talk to Him. Tell Him you're ready to turn from your sin and to hold onto Him like He's your only hope.
    We'd love to help you. Just go to our website. You'll see there how to begin this relationship. That website is ANewStory.com.
    Everything Jesus did on that cross He did for one reason: He loves you. Isn't it time you started to live for the One who loves you the most?

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    October 23, 2020 Standing Against The Storm - #8815

    Each summer it's been our privilege to travel with a team of young Native Americans to take the hope of Jesus to America's reservation young people, and God has really shown up powerfully for these young spiritual warriors. Like the night one summer in a very remote corner of New Mexico when our last outreach was about to be rained out. The previous night the thunderstorms had hit the basketball court just as we were about to present the Gospel. So, this was now our last opportunity to invite young people to come to Christ in an area where the spiritual darkness was very deeply entrenched.
    Well, once again, just before invitation time, wouldn't you know it; a wall of ominous storm clouds was moving toward the school. I asked six of our team members to pray in the face of that approaching storm, and as I said, "Stand against that storm in Jesus' name." They got in a huddle and they prayed really fervently and minutes later they came running to tell me what had happened. They said, "Ron, the storm suddenly divided in two and went around the school!" That night one out of five people in that village made a public commitment to Jesus Christ!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Standing Against The Storm."
    That might be exactly what God is wanting you to do right now - to stand in prayer against the storm that is threatening your children, or your marriage, or your ministry, or something or someone that you care deeply about.
    In Isaiah 36, beginning with verse 18, our word for today from the Word of God, a deadly military storm is bearing down on King Hezekiah and the Jews. The seemingly invincible Assyrian army has gobbled up every kingdom in its path and now they're moving against Jerusalem. The Assyrian king sent this letter to Hezekiah, "Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, 'Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.' Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely." The storm has engulfed everything in its path, and this guy's saying Jerusalem is next.
    Notice Hezekiah's response: "He went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord, 'O Lord Almighty, enthroned between the cherubim, You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth...Now O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, O Lord, are God.'" God tells Hezekiah He is going to intervene because "you have prayed to Me." Outcome? Listen: "The angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and 85,000 men in the Assyrian camp...So Sennacherib, king of Assyria, broke camp and withdrew."
    Now about that storm that's bearing down on you or someone you love. You have the same God King Hezekiah did, and He is Lord over this seemingly unstoppable storm. It's time for you to do what those Native American young people did that summer; get on your knees and you stand against that storm in Jesus' name. Do a Hezekiah - spread the threat out before your Lord. When you pray, don't focus on the threat, but like King Hezekiah, focus on the greatness and the total sovereignty of the God in whom you are trusting and trust Him to unleash His authority on that storm!
    What looks like something that's going to bring destruction may actually be a unique opportunity for you, and all those around you, to see what God can do! This is about His glory being seen! So "come boldly to the throne of grace," the Bible says in Hebrews 4:16, lay out the threat before the Lord, stand against that storm, and expect something that only God can do!

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    October 22, 2020 The Home Keys That Make Life Make Sense - #8814

    Most of us had some classes in high school where we sat there and grumbled, "When am I ever going to use this stuff?" Right? In some cases, we really have ended up using what Miss Pringle taught us. In other cases, we were right about never using it. There's one class I've benefited from almost every day of my life, including even today. Yeah, I had a typing class. Oh yeah, it was "old school." I started out with what they called a Selectric typewriter. Younger listeners are asking, "Selectric? What's that?" It's a typewriter. Never mind. I'll take you for a tour of the museum. But, you know, today it's a computer keyboard. And when I have a lot of writing to do, which I usually do, it's a good thing I learned to type those many years ago. And, you know what? My wife told me that I was one of the fastest typists that she knew. With the amount of work I have to get done in a day, do I have a choice?
    Of course, it isn't just speed that counts. No, there's that accuracy thing. Going fast doesn't always mean you're getting it right. Every once in a while I'll look up at the screen only to see a string of words that don't exist, "gozornanplatz fufti." I look down. I'm like, "What?" My fingers aren't where they're supposed to be on that keyboard. I learned it my first day in typing class; they're called the home keys. You make sure your typing fingers are on the home keys, then you reach out to all the other keys from there, unless you want to produce something that makes absolutely no sense!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Home Keys That Make Life Make Sense."
    The home keys. They're the only starting point on the keyboard from which you can compose things that make sense. Start any other place and you're going to have a mess.
    Life has some home keys; a starting point from which we should run our life. Unfortunately, too many of us stand back and look at where our life is going, and what's showing up on the screen. It isn't making much sense. Things aren't working the way they're supposed to. Too many things we had hoped would fulfill us have left us empty. Too many relationships we thought would be what we needed have left us disappointed. And so many pursuits we thought would give our life some meaning have turned out to be so hollow.
    Life doesn't work until you land on the home keys. And thankfully, the God who put us here has made clear just where home base is. It's spelled out in Matthew 6:33, our word for today from the Word of God, where He says: "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need" (NLT).
    There's home base. Putting what God wants first, which we haven't. We've put what we want first. Maybe that's why the middle letter of sin is "I." And we're created, it says, to "live righteously." Too often, we don't. Instead we do the selfish thing, the angry thing, the dirty thing, the hurting thing. We've tried to run our life from the wrong starting point. It's called "my way."
    But God didn't leave us there, even though He had every right to. No, instead, He sent the most precious thing He has, His Son, to help us find home. Here's how God poured out His love for you. The Bible says: "Christ suffered for our sins...to bring you safely home to God" (1 Peter 3:18). Home is where God is, and only Jesus can bring you there, because it took more than a religion to span that Grand Canyon between us and God. It took the cross; it took the life of the only Son God has.
    Your restlessness, loneliness, and dissatisfaction with life, they've all been pointing you to find the only starting point that makes life make sense - in a personal love relationship with Jesus Christ.
    Look, if that's what you want, you need to tell Him, "Jesus, I'm done running life my way. I know that doesn't work. I'm Yours, Jesus!" That's how you'll find home, and I'd love to help you get there. That's why our website is set up, to help you do that. It's ANewStory.com. Go to ANewStory.com.
    You've tried it with your heart away from the only One who can make it all make sense. You could find home base today and from there start building a life that really works.

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    October 21, 2020 Calling Off the Pity Party - #8813

    One of my favorite cartoon characters is Pigpen. You know, from Peanuts. Maybe you're a Charlie Brown fan like I am, but Pigpen is that little fellow you always know when he's coming. Yeah, he never has to make a lot of noise, because there's this cloud of dust that precedes him wherever he goes and also follows him wherever he goes. Actually, I know some real people like Pigpen. Now wait, wait! I don't mean people who haven't showered for a month, but the dirt they circulate - it's emotional dirt. It's called self-pity. Every time they talk it seems like they're preoccupied with themselves, their needs, their latest problems, the unfair treatment they've gotten, their aches and pains. Listen, we all slip into the pit of self-pity once in a while, but some people live there. There's a great alternative to living in that Pigpen cloud of dust called self-pity.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Calling Off the Pity Party."
    I'll tell you, you talk about having an excuse for a pity party, this man had everything going wrong. His name is Joseph. You remember the story in the Bible. Of all 12 sons, Joseph's Dad treated him with preferential treatment. So his brothers turned against him, left him for dead in a pit. Slave traders came and took him away to Egypt.
    But Joseph got a great job there from a powerful man. And the man's wife tried to make moves on him after that, and he refused to do it. Well, she accused him of having done it, and in her anger she gets him thrown into prison. So, his family is against him, he lost his job for doing the right thing. Now he's in prison. He doesn't know for how long he's going to be there. But here's what the Bible says about Joseph. It tells us that he knew the secret of how to be in a pit without being in "the pits"; how to be in a pit without having a pity party. And here's the secret of why Joseph was so unsinkable when everything went wrong and had everything to complain about.
    Genesis 40:2-7 - "Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men - the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt - had a dream that same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh's officials, 'Why are your faces so sad today?'"
    Okay, get this: Joseph was walking around this prison, not feeling sorry for himself, which I think justifiably he could have. No, he's looking for who needs him. He learned to live daily, I think, asking a question like this, even in his prison, "Who needs me here?" There was no time to just focus on how bad his situation was. No, he wanted to help these guys in their situation. And eventually, one of these men that Joseph cared about got him out of that prison.
    The very best way to get out of your prison of depression and self-pity is to live each day looking for someone who needs you, not for what you need. Maybe it's the new kid at school, that friend who's struggling right now, an excluded person who needs somebody to include them - bring him in, put an arm around them, or that friend who's out of work, or maybe a lonely older person you know. You might not have to look any farther than your own family to find that someone who needs you today.
    But Jesus told us we would find our life; not by looking for it, not by hanging onto it, but by giving it away. Not because you feel like it, you probably don't. But because Jesus lived like that, and because you know that's where to find light at the end of your own personal tunnel.
    Remember, even when you get home tonight, ask yourself this question, "So, who needs me here right now?"

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    October 20, 2020 Expensive Peace - #8812

    It's an amazing true story from the history of the Cree Indians of western Canada. Through many courageous exploits, a young man named Maskepetoon became known as the bravest warrior in the tribe. One day a man came to Maskepetoon's camp talking about peace - something his tribe had never known because of that relentless bloodshed between his Cree tribe and their longtime enemies, the Blackfoot. But this man with a black book called the Bible introduced this warrior to the Creator of all. The missionary told him of how the Creator God's Son defeated the Evil Manitou, the Enemy of all. He climbed to the top of a hill and gave His life on a cross as a peace offering. That meant peace could be restored between the Creator of all and the people He had made.
    Maskepetoon knew that the ancient symbol of peace among the Plains Cree had always been two crossed sticks. And it was two crossed sticks that the Creator God's Son had died on. Maskepetoon decided he wanted to be like Jesus, the bravest warrior of all.
    In the past, when one tribe had wanted to make peace with another, they would send their bravest warrior to meet the enemy with a special offering tied onto two crossed sticks. But that seemed impossible now when there was killing every time a Blackfoot warrior saw a Cree warrior. But in spite of the danger, Maskepetoon went into Blackfoot country on just such a mission. The camp they came to first happened to be the camp of Many Swans, a violent chief who was seeking revenge for the sons he'd lost to Cree warriors.
    Maskepetoon climbed to the top of a nearby hill, raised a flag and waited for the Blackfoot band to see them. With them, they brought a beautiful pair of beaded moccasins, tied onto two crossed sticks and a Bible that told of the peace the Creator had made with all men. Pretending to want peace, Many Swans tricked the Cree peacemakers into laying down their weapons, after which he and his warriors killed them all. But the chief's wife was furious with her husband. She was tired of all the killing. Ultimately, the Blackfoot people agreed. But none of them was brave enough to risk going to talk peace with the Cree, especially after what they had done to Maskepetoon.
    So the chief's wife went, carrying with her the ancient symbol of peace - a frame of crossed sticks with a specially beaded pair of moccasins tied to its center. The Cree chief, who had himself made peace with the Creator through Jesus' death, welcomed her Under his leadership, the Cree met together with the Blackfoot on a high hill, where a peace treaty was signed. And their long war was finally over.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Expensive Peace."
    In so many ways, this is my story. This is your story. It's the story of peace made possible by the death of the greatest Warrior of them all - on two crossed beams - for you. Because of our sin, the Bible says we are "alienated from God"; we are "enemies" (Colossians 1:21). We are hopelessly cut off from the God who made us; the God we will meet on Judgment Day. And, in the Bible's words, "there is no peace" (Isaiah 57:21) when you're away from God. The turmoil in your soul is living proof of that.
    But here comes the hope. It's in Colossians 1:20, our word for today from the Word of God. God says His Son came to reconcile our broken relationship with Him "by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross." He climbed to the top of a hill called Skull Hill and died as the sacrifice for your sin. The Bible puts it this way: "The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him" (Isaiah 53:5).
    And that blood-bought peace can be yours today. Finally, peace with God. Finally, peace in your heart. If you will lay down all the other things you've counted on to make it with God and put your total trust in Jesus, who died for you, who rose again for you. That's a step I would love to help you take this very day.
    There's a lot of great information about getting started with Jesus on our website. That website is ANewStory.com. Your new story can begin there today. The war can end. Peace can begin. Peace that costs you nothing. Peace that cost the Great Warrior, Jesus, everything.

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    October 19, 2020 The Reason For the Heat - #8811

    Our friend is incredibly creative - including creating jewelry. You know, she told us about how she made a beautiful gold ring. Actually the ring is designed in wax. When she has the ring design that she wants carved in the wax, she pours plaster-of-Paris around that molded wax ring. Then she puts it in an oven. Well, of course, the intense heat melts the wax away until there's no wax left, just a vacuum, which is shaped like the ring she wants. Then she puts this in a centrifuge, and that spins gold into the vacuum where the wax used to be. Gold rushes in where it used to be just wax. And out comes something very beautiful and a whole lot more valuable.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Reason For the Heat."
    I have a feeling someone's listening right now, and well, it's like you're in the oven. The heat around you is rising, and sometimes it seems almost unbearable. There's stress and there's conflict, maybe grief or pain or heavy pressure. And it's hard not to ask, "Why, God? Why are You making me feel this heat that's so intense and why is it lasting so long?"
    It could be that part of the answer is in our word for today from the Word of God in Malachi 3:2-3. "He will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." The fire you're feeling might be the Refiner's fire. It's not designed to burn you or hurt you. It's designed to melt away the impurities and make you more valuable than you've ever been.
    And notice, the Refiner only puts things that are valuable in the fire like gold and silver. So the heat you're feeling may not be because something's wrong, but because God thinks you're worth refining! He puts you in the fire because He believes in you, He loves you, He sees what you could be if you could just lose some of that "wax."
    When the heat is on, God has our attention as He does at no other time. We really know Him when we really need Him, and we really need Him when it's hot. God may be using the fire right now to get you to examine some corners of your heart or of your life that you've never really surrendered fully to His Lordship. He may use the oven to show you junk you've accumulated that has got to go before He can take you to the next level. He wants to enlarge your view of Him. He wants to prepare you for greater things.
    After a recent "A Word With You" broadcast, I got this email: "Our home burned on December 25. I was very thankful God was with us during the fire and we all made it out, but I was still very depressed over the loss we suffered of our home." She goes on to tell about driving down the road and hearing a message that day where we talked about purifying fire.
    She says, "That was the beginning of our blessings from God concerning the fire. Although we are a spiritual family, we had not truly connected with God in a while. He has brought us a long way since December 25. Just as that day symbolized the birth of Jesus, it will also serve as the rebirth of us spiritually." She said, "Although we did lose everything we owned materially, we gained something much more precious that night, something that will be with us no matter what may come - a heart filled with love for our Savior."
    Well, that's why you're in the fire, to burn away all the wax, so God can pour His gold where once there was only wax. He is making something very, very beautiful.

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    October 16, 2020 Wasting What's Worth So Much - #8810

    Some of us are a little "old school." We still pay our bills with an envelope and a stamp and mail it in. At least we pay our bills. I know what it is to need a stamp; you've got something that has to be mailed - could be an urgent bill. You've got spoiled by having electricity in your house, and you really don't want to see what it's like without it. Your electric bill is due, the check is written, the envelope is addressed, and you can't find a stamp. But something that happened during a recent election has to be the ultimate postage desperation. An absentee ballot arrived with an unusual stamp on the envelope; a picture of an inverted World War I airplane. The news report said that stamp may very well have been a rare collector's item worth $200,000! Postage rates might continue to go up, but this is like out of control!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Wasting What's Worth So Much."
    The sad thing is that somebody pretty much wasted what was worth so much. But that was just a stamp, and maybe money that got wasted. What's tragic is when a person makes that mistake with their life. And, sadly, many people have no idea what they're worth. They live like it with choices that cause them so much hurt, so much disappointment and so many scars. If you don't know what you're worth, you go through life just settling...settling for whatever love, whatever pleasure, whatever acceptance you can get. Usually at a high price tag to the very worth you're trying to find.
    Cindy was like that. She'd never had many dates or a lot of male attention. She called me one night because a guy she'd dated two or three times wanted her to have sex with him. She valued her virginity, but she didn't want to lose the one guy who made her feel wanted. I gave her what she called for - I gave her reasons to save her virginity. Frankly, it didn't do much good. When he threatened to leave, she agreed to have sex with him. She called back a couple of weeks later. The guy had gotten what he wanted, and he dumped her, leaving her feeling more worthless even than she had before.
    One sad example of the kinds of compromises and bad choices you make when you don't know what you're worth and you're trying to find it. There's only one person who can really change that, and that's the One who gave you your worth in the first place. The Bible says you are "God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10).
    See, it breaks your Creator's heart when you trash the masterpiece He made when He made you. That's what our sinning does - all those countless times we've said or done things that defy God's laws. The selfishness, the angry things, the hurting things, the dirty things, the things that are more important to us than God. All those choices have cut us off from the One who gave us our worth. And only He can get us back to Him. You discover your worth when you open up to God's amazing love.
    Love described in our word for today from the Word of God in Revelation 5:9. It says of Jesus, "With your blood You purchased men for God." That's how much you are worth to Jesus - the shedding of His blood to get you back. It was the only way the death penalty for your sin and mine could be paid; someone who had no sin, taking our punishment for us. That's what Jesus did for you on the cross, and that is how much He loves you.
    And that's why what you do with Jesus is so important. Without Him, you'll never experience the love you were made for. The forgiveness He paid for. The heaven you hope you'll get to. But He's come to you today, where you are, to offer you an opportunity to begin a personal love relationship with Him, if you'll turn from the sin that He had to die for and pin all your hopes on Him. He is, after all, the only One you can totally, totally trust.
    I'm praying you'll reach out to Him this very day. And I'm going to just continue to pray that you'll go to our website. Because that's where you will find the information that will help you through what God's Word says, to be sure you belong to Jesus. That website is ANewStory.com.
    Jesus loved you enough to die for you. Why not live for the One who loves you the most, and discover how valuable you really are.

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    October 15, 2020 Downsizing For Success - #8809

    Every time the economy or corporate profits take another dip in their roller coaster ride, you start hearing corporations say that word again - downsizing. Many companies have done that and probably will come to the conclusion that one way to increase their profitability is to decrease the number of employees. So they downsize to be more successful.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Downsizing For Success."
    Actually, God believes in downsizing, too, as His strange means of bringing about something bigger. In fact, that might be what He's doing in your life right now.
    He sure did it to Gideon in our word for today from the Word of God in Judges 7, beginning with verse 2. Here's the situation: the Midianites have invaded Israel year after year during harvest time to plunder their harvests, and nobody has been able to stop them. God calls Gideon to do it even though Gideon argues that he may be the least qualified guy around. Of course, that happens a lot in the Bible and today.
    Gideon is able to muster an army of 32,000 men to go against a Midianite army of 132,000 men! And the Bible says, "the Lord said to Gideon, 'You have too many men'" - don't you love it? - "'for Me to deliver Midian into their hands.'" I'm sure Gideon didn't laugh, but I can't help it. Outnumbered four to one, and he's got too many men?
    God tells him to let go anyone who is afraid, and suddenly Gideon has 22,000 men. Now he's outnumbered six to one. After God has him downsize again, Gideon has 300 men left. He's outnumbered more than 40 to 1 now! But miraculously, that force wins the battle, and the Midianites aren't seen again!
    Now why does God follow this strange plan for winning: reducing, taking away, cutting back, making smaller? God gave His reason to Gideon, "in order that Israel may not boast against Me that her own strength has saved her." It's a pattern throughout the Bible - God loves to win major victories with inadequate resources. He arranges mismatches and impossible situations so that we will see how big He is and He will get all the glory!
    God knows we all have pride issues, we tend to be controlling people, and we tend to rely on the methods that have always seemed to get it done for us. But God puts us in situations where, like Gideon, we're left saying, "If there's a victory here, it's going to have absolutely nothing to do with me." So if you find yourself out-manned, out-gunned, and under-resourced right now - if it seems like God has been cutting you back and putting limitations on you - realize this may very well be the prelude to an amazing victory!
    God's working on that wonderful addition and subtraction thing He does. John puts it this way: "He must become greater; I must become less." As God reduces the amount of you there is, He is increasing the amount of Him there is in the situation. He's been downsizing you so there can be more of Him, so He can show you a victory bigger than you ever thought you could be a part of.
    God isn't downsizing so you'll lose, He's downsizing you for a victory so big that only He can get the glory for it.

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    October 14, 2020 It's Past Halftime! - #8808

    So after that Super Bowl everybody wanted to talk about the commercials. Great! I wanted to talk about the New York Giants. Yeah, my team that year won the Super Bowl! Who cares about the commercials? Answer: the news, the blogosphere, social networks, gazillions of people at the water cooler! Of course, what did it cost - $4-$5 million a pop for a 30-second ad. Advertisers were hoping we would talk about their commercial and buying what they were selling.
    I didn't see all the commercials, but one of them that year blew the others away. It wasn't funny, it wasn't suggestive, it was just compelling. A still photo from, what is in fact, the first thing I saw on the front page of a USA Today.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "It's Past Halftime!"
    It actually aired as halftime was beginning, and it featured the iconic actor, Clint Eastwood (you might remember it), walking in the shadows of a big-city alley (very different from all the other commercials), and intoning, "It's halftime in America." Now, in reality, the commercial was sponsored by a major automobile company trumpeting their recovery and the comeback of the city of Detroit. But the message transcended its sponsor. And while it might be subject to political interpretation or manipulation, there was a reason it was all the buzz.
    It had scenes capturing America's economic and political "downturn," and Eastwood's hoarsely commanding commentary talking about how Detroit had rallied around what was right; they came together and turned things around. And he called on Americans to do the same as a country. Then, with the camera focusing on the actor's leathery face, he said, "It's halftime, America, and the second half is about to begin." Now, I remember that one.
    Now, I'm looking at a little different game clock. This one is ticking down to a time the Bible talks about over and over again; it's called "the last days." Those days that will culminate with the personal return of Jesus Christ to this planet. Jesus said He would die on the cross for our sins, and He did. He predicted He would rise from the dead three days after He died, and He did. As He returned to heaven, He promised "If I go...I will come back" (John 14:3). And He will.
    He also told us how to tell time - His time. He said to look for signs that would precede His return: Natural disasters increasing in frequency and intensity, dangerous days in the Middle East, terror, people yearning for a messianic leader, a climate of uncertainty and fear. Our word for today from the Word of God is in John 9:4. Jesus said, "...as long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work."
    Now, comparing headlines to the Bible, there's a lot of folks who are concluding that God's game clock might be running down; that it's way past halftime in our world. In fact, it could be that our world and our generation are hearing God's two-minute warning.
    When football players hear that warning, they throw caution to the wind, they make every second count, they do whatever it takes to get points on the board. It seems to me that Team Jesus - all of us who claim to follow Him - should be doing no less. Don't you think we should be moving beyond maintenance mode to taking new ground?
    We should be giving like there may not be a lot more tomorrows. Forget turf, forget territory! Let's wage a united battle for the lost souls in our town! Let's refuse to let our fear keep us any longer from telling that lost friend about our Jesus. Abandon the tentativeness that's bred by uncertain times like these, and trade it in for the boldness that times like these demand.
    This is no time to settle for being on the sidelines or in the stands, or hiding out in some holy huddle. This is no time to be heading for the locker room or sitting on the ball. This game is too big to forfeit, and it's too costly to lose.

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    October 13, 2020 A Makeover for the Woman You Love - #8807

    I just think all the emphasis on body image is so sick. But there's plenty of it. It's no wonder so many American women are unhappy with their looks. They're comparing themselves to these magazine pictures of these flawless models. Of course, that woman doesn't really exist. She's the creation of hair stylists, makeup artists, wardrobe specialists, special lighting and hundreds of continuous-frame photos, from which one good one is selected and then airbrushed to remove all the imperfections. Nobody looks good compared to that mythical icon - including the real girl in the picture! But with our obsession with a certain kind of beauty, the word "makeover" has become more and more popular. In the past, there have been TV shows where they were totally devoted to transforming a woman thought of as "average" into someone much more stylish. Then they'll take them backstage, and the hair, makeup, and wardrobe magicians work on them. And then with the split screen showing her "before," out steps this glamorous "new woman" with her makeover!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Makeover for the Woman You Love."
    There are husbands who, according to the Bible, have been doing makeovers for a long time, because they have, by the way they have loved sacrificially, helped a woman become more beautiful from the inside out. Let me say this before we get started, we guys have more work to do than I think the girls do. We'll do other programs where we talk about how desperately a man needs what only a woman can do to help him become what he needs to become. Boy, I can say that was true of my wife.
    But we're not talking about changing makeup and hairstyle and clothing. That's the easy kind of makeover; it's totally superficial. But the Bible makes it clear that a husband can contribute to an internal makeover in the woman he loves; a makeover that actually God wants to do in his life, but maybe use this guy to help it happen. The true beautifying of a woman doesn't come through makeup or wardrobe. It comes through the love of God, and it can be expressed through the self-sacrificing love of a husband.
    That's the makeover miracle God describes in our word for today from the Word of God in Ephesians 5, beginning with verse 25. He says, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Instinctively, a guy wants to be the center of everything. But with Christ in his life, it's supposed to be different. He has the potential to be something so much better - to love like Jesus loved. Jesus set aside all self-interest, all self-protection, and all self-seeking for us. He forgot about Himself, thought only of us, and sacrificed everything in the love that took Him to the cross. Guys, that's what God expects of us.
    The high calling of a husband is to let the woman he loves taste that kind of love through his love as, several times a day, he sets aside what he needs for what she needs, what matters to him for what matters to her. Love, Jesus-style, is not a four-letter word. It's a nine-letter word: sacrifice.
    Listen to the result of Christ loving us that way and ultimately of a man loving a woman that way. "Christ gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies."
    The selfless love of a husband can, over time, help a woman feel safe enough to work on her weaknesses, to pour out her soul, and in so doing, to cleanse her soul. God's love through a loving husband can set her free from fears and scars of the past that she's carried for so long. His praise can restore a sense of worth that was stolen from her. His listening can offload what weighs her down.
    His attentiveness can free her to trust him with her needs and to respond to him without reservation. It's a beautiful thing. You can tell a woman who's being loved selflessly like this. She glows. She's radiant. She's being loved as God intended, and by just being what God intended for him to be, a husband has contributed to her glowing beauty. And it starts with the man.
    Our wife, in so many ways, is a mirror of the way we love her and we don't love her. God has always planned marriage to be a powerful makeover tool for both. Not because you're trying to change the person you love, but because you love them so much that something beautiful just happens.

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    October 12, 2020 Hope Within Your Reach - #8806

    They were nearly 300 feet below ground. Nine coal miners, drilling into an abandoned mine shaft. Suddenly, the area they were in began to flood with millions of gallons of water. There was no way out. They managed to find an air pocket where they huddled together in a space that was only three feet high and 12 feet wide. Oxygen was running out; hypothermia could not be far away. Even if they were able to stay alive, there was no way for them to get back to the surface. Meanwhile, overhead, the authorities devised a daring rescue plan; to drill a 36-inch wide hole through the earth and through the bedrock that separated the miners from the surface. It took four days of around-the-clock effort and some frustrating setbacks, but ultimately the breakthrough came. They made it to the trapped men, who all were still alive. One by one, they were lifted up that narrow shaft in a metal cage. It was just one of those miracle moments when they reached the surface to the hugs and cheers of loved ones who feared they'd never come out alive.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Hope Within Your Reach."
    Nine miners: their only hope - a rescue from above. In a way, their story is my story and your story. They were trapped in a deadly situation with no way they could get themselves out. So was I, and so are you. So is every person on this planet. I only know that because the God who made everyone on this planet has told us.
    In Romans 3:25, our word for today from the Word of God, our rescue is explained: "For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins...we are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed His blood, sacrificing His life for us."
    To put it bluntly, we've all taken our life a different direction than God created it to go, and we are in big trouble with the God who was there when we started and who will be there when we die. We may not be in a mine, but the Bible pictures us as being in a pretty deep spiritual hole. Away from the God we were made by, facing the penalty God has placed on sin since the Garden of Eden.
    From the beginning of time, God has said if we do life our way instead of His way, in His words "You will surely die" (Genesis 2:17). He wasn't just talking about our heart stopping. He was talking about sin separating us from Him forever. That's spiritual death.
    That is the deadly situation we're in. And like those nine miners, we're in too deep to get ourselves out. We hope that religion might offer us a ladder to climb out, but no ladder of human goodness can get anywhere near a perfect God. No, our only hope of meaning in this life and heaven later was a daring rescue plan from above. That plan has a name. His name is Jesus.
    Church folks refer to Jesus as the Savior. That means rescuer. He's come down the shaft personally to bring you to God. But he had to give His life for you to ever have life. But He did not stay dead. He walked out of His grave and conquered death forever. And now He's come for you.
    When that metal cage came down the shaft, every miner had a choice. Get on and live or stay where you are and die. That's exactly the choice that faces every one of us when it comes to God's Rescuer, Jesus. This very day, He's come to where you are to bring you out. You can grab His hand and live forever, or you can stay where you are and reject your only hope of heaven.
    This could be nothing short of a miracle day for you; the day you experience the spiritual rescue made possible by Jesus Christ if you'll put your total trust in Him to bring you out. Only the man who died for you can save you. And He's offering His hand to you now. Will you grab it?
    I know a lot of people have found help at this point in their life of being on the edge of beginning this relationship or having their sins forgiven; their eternity changed. And they've gone to our website and it's helped bring them home. That is ANewStory.com. I encourage you to go there today.
    Your only hope is within your reach right now.

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    October 9, 2020 Back In the Ring For Another Round - #8805

    If you've ever watched a boxing match, or ever been around a "Rocky" movie, then you know the scene. Boxer-Man has been punched and pounded and bruised for several rounds. The bell rings, he staggers to his corner, his attendants immediately start working on him. They give him something to drink, they help him get a quick breather, and they give him a big pep talk. I don't know what they tell Boxer-Man, but I'm sure it's good stuff. What I do know is whatever they tell him seems to work. Even though he's banged up, he gets back into the ring for another round!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Back In the Ring For Another Round."
    We live in a world where everybody is taking their blows. People you know often feel beat up, punched around, and even ready to go down for the count. What may keep them from giving up is someone in their corner who's giving them what they need to go for another round. I hope that someone's you.
    We've got a stellar example of that in our word for today from the Word of God. In Acts 4:36, we're introduced to "Joseph...whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement)". Something about this man made the early Christian leaders think "encouragement." I wonder if that's what people think when they see you coming. "Here comes encouragement."
    All through his appearances in the Book of Acts, Barnabas shows us what an encourager looks like. In Acts 9, for example, when none of the disciples wanted anything to do with Saul of Tarsus after he met Christ (I mean, they were afraid he was still hunting Christians), Barnabas was the one who brought him to them and vouched for him. A Barnabas believes in a person when no one else will. I hope that's you.
    In Acts 11, when God started working among the despised Gentiles, it says the church leaders in Jerusalem "sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them to all remain true to the Lord" (Acts 11:23-24). Here's another face of the encourager. He looks for what God is doing in someone's life and he fans the flame.
    Now lest you think this mission of encouragement is just for a gifted elite like Barnabas, don't forget what God says to all of us, "Encourage one another daily" (Hebrews 3:13). So how are you doing? Do you look for the things that a person is doing right? Do you thank them for it? Do you make a person feel important when they're with you, or like they're keeping you from something more important? Do you listen for their heart, not just their words? Do you look for what God seems to be doing in their life and then you affirm it to them? Do you look for their strong points and then tell them what you see?
    By the way, this ministry of encouragement is one anyone can have and it may be just what you need to get out of your own pit of self-focus and self-pity. And your ministry of encouragement begins first with your family. They need it the most, and you are in the unique position to give it to them.
    I love that word "encourage." When you do it, you literally put "courage in" that person. Someone who may be more battered than you know, closer to going down or giving up than you could imagine. You never know when your encouragement might literally be the difference in that person's life.
    When you're bruised and when you're hurting, the difference very well may be the person in your corner who gets you back in the ring for another round.

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    October 8, 2020 Homeless In Your Heart - #8804

    "Amnesia Al." That's all the officials in Denver knew to call him. They found him on the street, living as a homeless man, with no clue as to who he was or where he came from. The police figured out that there must be someone out there who would recognize him. So they actually put him on national television with a police detective. Happened to be watching that time, and he explained Amnesia Al's predicament. And he gave this heartfelt plea that still rings in my ears: "I feel totally lost," he said. "If only someone could just tell me who I am and who I belong to." Thankfully, someone did. His fianc�e in another state recognized him and she answered the questions.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Homeless In Your Heart."
    "I feel totally lost. If only someone could tell me who I am and who I belong to." As you hear those words, maybe you can say, "I know that feeling." A lot of people do. All the years of living and loving and looking may have left you still wondering who you really are, who you really belong to, and why you're really here. The word "Amnesia Al" used is all too descriptive of how so many people feel..."lost."
    But that man didn't stay lost, and you don't have to either. His hope was a person who knew who he was and came to his rescue. And that is your hope, too, because the one person who knows everything about you, who knows everything about why you're here, is the person who created you in the first place. And He's come looking for you this very day.
    In Jesus' own words, recorded in Luke 19:10, which is our word for today from the Word of God, He says, "The Son of Man (that's Jesus) came to seek and to save those who are lost" (NLT). Why? Because He's the One you're supposed to belong to! It's His love you were made for. It's only His love that can fill the hole in your heart.
    But like that lost homeless man, we're not able to get to the One we're supposed to belong to. Our only hope is if He comes looking for us, and He did, all the way from being worshipped by angels to being nailed to a cross. In the words of the Bible, "He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross...by His wounds you are healed. Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd" (1 Peter 2:24, 25 - NLT). Wow!
    See, every one of us has "wandered away," the Bible says, from the only One who can make sense of our life. Those "sins" that Jesus carried to the cross with Him are the thousands of times you and I have thought, or said or done things our way instead of God's way. In the process, we have repeatedly violated the laws of Almighty God. And sin is punishable by death. It can only be forgiven by that death penalty being paid. But Jesus stepped in and absorbed all that punishment, all the hell of all my sin and your sin. That's what it took to save you - His blood - His life.
    And today, that stirring you might feel in your heart - that's Jesus come looking for you. But He won't force you to go with Him. You choose between life your way and life His way; between a futile, lifetime search or having the hole in your heart finally filled. Ultimately, it is choosing between heaven and hell.
    Now, if you're tired of searching, and you're ready to find, if you want to belong to the One who loves you more than anyone has ever loved you, would you tell Him that right now. You can reach out to Him where you are and tell Him, "Jesus, You're the one I've been looking for all this time. And today, I surrender my life to You because You died for me; because You really are my only hope."
    You ready for a relationship with Jesus? Then I want to invite you to visit our website as soon as you can today. You're going to find a lot of information there in plain talk that will help you be sure you belong to Him. That's ANewStory.com. That's the website.
    Look, you've been lost long enough. It's time to finally be home where you belong.

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    October 7, 2020 Within My Reach - #8803

    We lived on the East Coast for so long, we've had the chance to frequently visit the beaches there. Oh, man we still love them! One visit, it wasn't just another day with the family at the beach. Nope! See, the lifeguards at Ocean City, NJ suddenly made everyone get out of the water--fast! And you know what I'm thinking. I'm thinking "Jaws"! So I was very cooperative. I got out real fast! Compliant boy, yeah. Instead, it was all about these two children, and those lifeguards had to plunge in and rescue them because they were in trouble out by a jetty there.
    And then there are those times when you just can't wait for the big guys to get there. That's what happened with 12-year old Nicole who was boogie boarding one day (this was in the news.) on Oregon's Long Beach. And suddenly she heard somebody screaming near her, "Help!" It turned out it was another 12-year-old. It was a 7th grader, Dale. He was there that day with his youth group, and suddenly he was in deadly trouble in the surf.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Within My Reach."
    Nicole actually was able to maneuver over to the drowning boy; she pulled him onto her board and started paddling toward shore. Then this huge wave came along, threw them both off the board and carried the board away. Somehow, Nicole managed to resurface, but there was no trace of Dale. It took the surf rescue team about ten minutes to get to the scene and a few more minutes to find Dale and bring him to shore. Honestly, the rescuers didn't think he'd make it. I remember seeing them bringing him ashore just as limp as a dishrag. But miraculously, he was revived and began recovering.
    I'll tell you, I am grateful for courageous guys like those trained rescuers at Ocean City or the guys who were there at Long Beach that day. But it's young Nicole who I thought was really the hero in this story. The professionals were doing what it's their job to do. Nicole didn't have to risk her life to save someone else's, but she did. And they believe now that she kept him out of the water just long enough to have made the difference between life-and-death .
    She took the risk for one simple reason. That person who was in danger was within her reach. Now, if she had said, "Oh, I'm not a rescuer...I'll just wait for the guys who do this for a living," Dale would almost surely have been lost. Which is causing me to ask myself, "Who is there within my reach who may die if I don't do something?" That's "die" as in the words of the Bible, a person who "will be taken away because of his sin"...who "will die for his sin."
    Here's our word for today from the Word of God. It's in Ezekiel 33:8, "I will hold you accountable for his blood." These are sobering words! Why will I be held accountable? Because I knew that as the Bible says, "whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
    When you let Jesus help you see the people in your personal world through His eyes, you'll see them as more than just coworkers or neighbors or teammates, or fellow students or customers. You'll see that person as an eternity person, a future inhabitant of eternity in either heaven or hell; someone whose eternity can be changed, if only maybe you reach out and tell them what you know about Jesus.
    Each of us who knows Christ has someone within our reach who doesn't. And we can't just wait for that "professional rescuer" or someone who has "the gift of evangelism" to attempt the rescue. The rescue responsibility rests with the believer who is there. There's nothing random about where you work or where you live or recreate or go to school. You've been divinely positioned to be God's designated "lifeguard" for your stretch of beach.
    And why don't we reach out? Why don't we try to rescue? Fear: fear of being rejected, fear of messing it up. Fears that have one thing in common: they're all about me. Young Nicole was scared that day. She said, "I actually said out loud, 'I'm going to die.'" But her fear didn't decide what she did. Her bottom line in her own words, "No matter who it is, if they need help, I will risk my life. I will do it."
    Well, that's just like Jesus. And I hope just like you.

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    October 6, 2020 Your Stabilizer When You're Crashing - #8802

    There have been a lot of airplane crashes over the years. And there's a few that you just don't forget. I'll tell you, one was the crash of United Flight 232 many years ago. Captain Al Haynes and his crew were desperately trying to control a plane that was almost out of control because of an equipment failure. They were diverted from Chicago to Sioux City, Iowa. Man, I still remember this. There was no way they were able to maneuver that plane to the airport. Their best hope of saving at least some lives was to try to bring it down in a nearby cornfield. Captain Haynes became literally a national hero when somehow he managed to do just that. Tragically, there were lives lost in the crash landing and the subsequent fire, but there were many survivors from a crash that could have easily killed all aboard. Captain Haynes said he had a hero that day himself. His crew had checked every procedure book to see what to do in an emergency like they were facing. There was no procedure. So Captain Haynes' hero was the flight controller that talked him through that terrifying crisis. Here's how the captain put it: "There's nothing like a calm, soothing voice talking to you, telling you everything you need to know."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Your Stabilizer When You're Crashing."
    That's part of what saved lives that day of the crash - one voice, one person who was outside the situation, who had the big picture, who gave them guidance no one else could give them. The "calm, soothing voice, telling you everything you need to know" - the flight controller.
    Every one of us needs a flight controller to help us know what to do when all the usual procedures aren't enough for what we're facing. To give us guidance in a world that has more unpredictables and more uncertainties than ever. Actually, much like a jetliner, we were designed for a flight controller. We were designed by a flight controller; by the Flight Controller of a hundred billion galaxies. He runs the universe. God's supposed to be the One who's running us. He's not. In the Bible's words, "We all...have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6).
    So we're confused about our direction, we're unsure of the flight plan that will give our life some meaning, and we're missing the One who can help us avoid our crashes or survive life's crashes. So many people have discovered, in Jesus Christ, the flight plan they were made for and the Flight Controller who made the rest of their life secure.
    It just doesn't get any more secure than this promise from Jesus, recorded in Hebrews 13:5 and 8. It's our word for today from the Word of God. Jesus says: "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Others could make that promise; but only the Son of God can keep that promise. So you never need to face another life situation, another storm without the personal love and power of Jesus Christ Himself. He is, the Bible continues, "the same yesterday and today and forever" - your one fixed point in a world that is constantly changing. He'll never leave you because He loves you beyond words. And He loves you so much that He died for you to pay for the sin that would otherwise keep you from Him and from heaven forever.
    Jesus has been the Flight Controller for my life, for all her years for my wife and through our most painful times. When we lost a baby, Jesus was the difference. When the finances were caving in, Jesus was the difference. When the accident was nearly fatal, when the loss of a loved one was very sudden and very painful, when they said my wife might not make it, when the doctor's news was awful; always, Jesus was the difference. And when she suddenly went to heaven four years ago, on that day (the worst day of my life), Jesus was the difference.
    He wants to be that for you. Acknowledge Him as your only hope of having a personal relationship with God, having your sins forgiven, and tell Him, "Jesus, I'm yours." We'd love to help you do that. Just go to our website. It's ANewStory.com.
    I know you will find Jesus to be what so many have found Him to be, including me, that calm, soothing voice in your soul, talking to you and telling you everything you need to know.

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    October 5, 2020 Boomeranging Satan - #8801

    When I came home from my first trip to Australia, my kids were eager to see what souvenirs I brought back for them. I couldn't fit the kangaroo in my suitcase, but there was one very Australian item I did bring back - a boomerang. Those things are amazing. You know, if you throw it right, that boomerang will go out, make a U-turn, and come right back to you. It's probably a good idea, then, to pay attention after you throw your boomerang. I can just see a klutz like me throwing it, turning my back, and getting boomed with my own boomerang!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Boomeranging Satan."
    If you're trying to live for Jesus Christ, I can guarantee you Satan is throwing things at you, trying his best to bring you down. Maybe you're dodging some of those missiles from hell right now, and you're feeling the pressure. Here's the good news. When the devil throws his boomerang to take you down, you can duck and you can send it right back to hit him in the head; thus making him wish he had never thrown it. Would you like to do that with the stuff he's been throwing at you?
    Then you might be interested in our word for today from the Word of God. In Luke 4 beginning in verse 1, the Bible tells us that "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, 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 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 on bread alone.'"
    Actually, there were three boomerangs from Satan that were thrown at Jesus that day. Each time Jesus makes His choice by stubbornly standing on what the Bible says instead of falling for what Satan says. Notice the outcome a few verses later: "When the devil had finished this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time. Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and the news about Him spread throughout the whole countryside." This is awesome! The temptations that were intended to bring Jesus down only made Him stronger and more powerful in the Holy Spirit. And Satan skulks away muttering, "I blew it!" He was hit by his own boomerang! I love it!
    That's exactly what can happen to you as the devil throws his temptations at you. Probably he does to you what he did to your Lord - he waits 'till you're in a "desert," a "wilderness," until you're vulnerable. Then He pushes the buttons that appeal to some deep need you have: to be loved, to be noticed, to be accepted, to be successful, to stop hurting, or to get some relief.
    Your enemy, of course, is expecting you to fall for what he's throwing at you. He can use this to get you discouraged, or maybe to get you to compromise, to make you focus on yourself again, to mess with your priorities, to get you to lash out, or turn back, or just give up.
    But God says if you "resist the devil," he will "flee from you" (James 4:7). First, you have to recognize who these feelings and who this pressure is coming from. Then, you have to make a conscious choice that says, "I know who this is. I'm not falling for this! I am taking my stand against the devil's schemes!" (Ephesians 6:10)
    Finally, you stand stubbornly on what God says and you make your choice based on God's Word, whether you feel like it or not, not on Satan's lies. What will Satan do? Is he going to fight you? Well, the Bible says He's going to flee from you if you resist him. Every time you pass the test like this, you become stronger and you become more confident in Christ.
    The thing that was supposed to bring you down just ended up making you more powerful spiritually than you were before because you've tasted victory in Christ! And Satan? I suspect he's going to wish he never threw his boomerang your direction. It misses you and hits him!

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    October 2, 2020 Trapped Where You Don't Want To Be - #8800

    It seemed harmless enough when I entered. I was just a kid at an amusement park in Chicago, and the ride was just this big cylinder that made you feel like you were walking into a washing machine. They called it The Rotor. I stood against the edge and I waited for it to do its thing. Then it started to do what something called The Rotor might be expected to do - it rotated. As it began to spin faster and faster, the floor started to disappear in front of my feet. I was plastered against the side of that cylinder, looking down into this yawning black hole. I hated it. I wanted off. Too bad!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Trapped Where You Don't Want To Be."
    It's one thing to be stuck on a ride you really don't want to be on. It's something else to be stuck in a life you really don't want to be in. And a lot of people are; sometimes, people that might surprise you.
    I read a few years ago in this national magazine a candid interview with a guy that they called at that time "TV's hottest action hero." He was starring in one of the most successful, talked about shows on American television, but he seemed to be on a ride he really didn't want to be on. Too often, his feelings of being as he said "trapped" and "caged," cause it actually caused him to revert to alcohol for some relief. Here's how he felt about it in his own words. "I should be able to wake up in the morning without going, 'Oh, no! Where's my boot?' Or, 'Where am I?' Or 'One of my friends didn't happen to bring my car home, did they?' It's not a very clever way to live, and I don't want to live like that." This admirably successful star went on to say: "I have a few drinks and I'm not so worried about tomorrow and I'm not thinking about yesterday. Then the next day, I go, 'Oh, don't let me do that again.' So why do I do it again, and again, and again?"
    His battle echoes the battle raging in a lot of hearts; the feeling of being trapped in a cycle that's going nowhere and leaving us disappointed or even disgusted. It's not a new struggle. One of the writers of the Bible, Paul, wrote these words in Romans 7, beginning in verse 15. It's our word for today from the Word of God. "I do not understand what I do...I have the desire to do good, but I cannot 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...Who will rescue me?"
    There's a me I want to be, and then there's the me I am. In between is this darkness that I can't overcome. I think we all know that feeling. That darkness has got a name. The Bible calls it sin. We're trapped in a cycle of doing things we know we shouldn't do, treating people ways we later regret--especially people we love, and of handling life in ways that hurt us and hurt other people.
    And, as the Bible writer suggests, our only hope is spiritual rescue. We can't get ourselves out of our sin. We can't get ourselves out of the hell that is the eternal death penalty for our sin. We need a rescuer. Paul goes on to answer his "who will rescue me?" question, with these words, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
    Sin's power could only be broken by a sacrifice that was even more powerful--the death of Jesus Christ, God's Son, on the cross. He gave His life there to pay for my sin and to break its hold on me and on you. Three days later, He demonstrated His supreme power by walking out of His grave. Death couldn't hold Him, and now He stands ready to walk into your life with all that love and all that power so you can be forgiven for every sin and be rescued from sin's cycle of defeat and despair.
    But you do have to grab the Rescuer and let Him rescue you. He's waiting to do just that this very day. It's a matter of you talking to Him and saying, "Jesus, I'm tired of my sin. I'm ready to turn from my sin and turn to You as my only hope. You died to rescue me. And here I am." That's how your new beginning happens.
    Listen, if you want to begin this incredibly life-changing relationship with Him, would you go to our website? I think it will give you information you need to get this settled. It's ANewStory.com.
    Things don't have to be the way they've always been. Jesus died so you could be free, and He's waiting to do for you what only He can do.

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    October 1, 2020 Manageable Mandates - #8799

    A friend of mine who's served on his local school board for many years. And, of course, this year there are unique challenges. But over the years, they've had challenges too. The more demands that have been placed on schools in recent years, the more complicated the work becomes and they've got more things to figure out. One of the days that he was most frustrated that kind of surfaced in a conversation we had. And he said, "You know, our state keeps passing mandates to us for things our school system has to do, but lots of times they give us the mandate without the money. They decide what we have to do, and we get to figure out how to pay for it."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Manageable Mandates."
    Mandates without resources--that's got to be frustrating. Thankfully, God never gives us a mandate without providing the resources to carry it out! That's important for you to know right now, especially if you sense that He's leading you to do something where you have no clue where the resources are going to come from.
    Over and over in our many years of serving Him, we made 1 Thessalonians 5:24 our bottom line. Short verse, but boy is it packed. We've never been disappointed. It's our word for today from the Word of God. It simply makes this promise, maybe one that's got your name on it today. "The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it." To put it simply, God will never abandon you in the middle of something He's told you to do.
    Right now your Lord may be leading you toward some uncharted territory. There's plenty of that these days. You're being asked to shoulder a responsibility, a burden, or a challenge that you're not sure you can handle. Good. That sounds like one of those exciting times when it will be just a little bit of you and a whole lot of God. Your promise is that if He is calling you to do something, He will actually do it through you. Your job is to stay pure and show up!
    God's plan is not going to take you where His grace won't keep you. Maybe you can't see where the money would possibly come from to carry out what God is mandating, but God's Word teaches us that what God orders, God pays for! Or as one missionary pioneer said, "If it's God's will, it's God's bill!"
    Or you may just feel personally inadequate for what God is leading you to do. Good. That gets you out of the way and it insures that God's going to get all the glory. The great Apostle Paul put it this way: "Not that we are competent in ourselves...but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent" (2 Corinthians 3:5).
    God is glorified when people who don't have what it takes are the ones He uses to get it done. We're talking like a divine takeover of you, filling you with His strength, His ideas, His words, His wisdom, His love.
    He will provide the emotional resources you need, the human resources, and the financial resources. Remember, God's promise in Philippians 4:19 is "My God will meet all your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Not according to your measly resources, but according to His unlimited resources!
    So really, isn't that all you need to know as you're facing that challenge that's bigger than you are, or maybe you're even considering giving up on a calling that God has given to you. What you need to know is that your Lord will never abandon you in the middle of what He's told you to do. What God mandates, God provides for!

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    September 30, 2020 How Satan Sets You Up - #8798

    When you've done youth ministry as long as I have, you've seen a lot of volleyball. Yep! Some of the dramatic moments in a volleyball game, of course, come when one player slams that ball over the net and right into the ground before any opponent can touch it. He or she just spikes it in. But often there's an important move that precedes spiking it in; that's when another teammate lofts that ball up and into perfect position for someone else to spike it in. That's how to score points: first, you set it up, then you spike it in.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How Satan Sets You Up."
    Satan scores his points in much the same way a volleyball team does. First the setup, which then makes it easy to spike it in. And he may be setting you up right now for a defeat you would never dream you could fall for. But if you allow him to continue to set you up, it's only a matter of time before he spikes it in and you lose. There are so many people who can testify to that pattern that led to a terrible defeat.
    There's an example of one of Satan's favorite setups in our word for today from the Word of God in Luke 3, beginning with verse 7. As crowds gathered to hear John the Baptist, the Bible says, "John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, 'You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.'" John's calling people to turn from their sinful ways and commit themselves to a major life change.
    But there was a group of people who thought they were above that; people who didn't think they needed to repent or to change. John addressed them directly: "And do not begin to say, 'We have Abraham as our father. For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham...every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."
    Some of the people who heard John's call to repentance said to themselves, "Hey, we're God's chosen people...we're in a privileged position. The same rules don't apply to us. We don't have to repent!" John said that attitude put a person in a position to be one of the trees God would cut down.
    Entitlement: That's the attitude that Satan uses as his setup shot to spike a life-shattering sin right into your life. You feel "entitled" to some relief, to some pleasure, to some affection, to some sin. You feel entitled to get even or to be bitter. I know a friend who's abandoned his marriage, abandoned his ministry, believing that he's "entitled" to some love from someone else. He says, "Why are so many other people entitled to get a divorce and I'm not?" He's bought the entitlement lie, and Satan is using that to leave behind an awful trail of scarred and bleeding lives.
    Be careful! This setup shot of feeling "entitled" is subtle. It's expressed in feelings like, "I deserve it after all I've done; after all I've been through." Or "I need it. I'm entitled to look after my needs for awhile." Or "You know others are. Why can't I?" If you're entertaining feelings like those, listen to the alarms going off today. You're being set up for something you never thought you would do or become.
    Satan uses the entitlement lie to give people an excuse for adultery, for involvement with pornography, for getting a divorce, sexual involvement, and harboring bitterness; all things that God hates. All things that Jesus died to rescue you from.
    Don't buy the entitlement lie; it is Satan's setup shot to spike something devastating into your life.

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    September 29, 2020 Churches, Christians and Other Hang-ups - #8797

    Don't you love it with today's technology we can record a TV program and fast-forward past the commercials to get to the program. With the sorry state of a lot of shows today, it might be smarter to fast forward past the program and maybe watch the commercials. A lot of them are more entertaining than the show they're part of! There's one I saw years ago that was a little strange, but I obviously still remember it. It was advertising a particular pain reliever. They started their fairly annoying advertisement for the product, and then they suddenly interrupted it for this one aggravated person looking in the camera. They had this great line, addressed to the company whose product was being advertised: "I hate your commercials, but I love your product!"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Churches, Christians and Other Hang-ups."
    I have to be brutally honest with you about this Christian thing. A lot of people really don't like our commercials. The advertisements for Jesus are the people who claim to follow Him - like me; the churches and organizations that claim to operate in His name. And maybe your experiences with Christians and Christianity have caused you to say, "I hate your commercials." There are many bright and attractive representatives of Jesus, to be sure, but there are also a lot who don't represent Him very well.
    My appeal to you is this: Don't miss the product just because you don't like the "commercials." The issue is, in the Bible's words, "Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). Jesus and the cross where He died for you.
    There's a great story in the Bible about Jesus that makes the point very well. Let me just let the story speak for itself. It's in Mark 2, beginning with verse 1, and it's our word for today from the Word of God. "When Jesus entered Capernaum, the people heard that He had come home. So many gathered there was no room left, even outside the door, and He preached the word to them. 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 lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven'...He said to the paralytic then...'Get up, take up your mat and go home.' He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all."
    Here's a man whose only hope was Jesus, but there were all these people and obstacles between him and Jesus. They could have turned away, and this man would have never experienced the healing and forgiving touch of Jesus. But they didn't let the hindrances stop them. He got to Jesus, no matter what it took, and he was healed.
    That can be you, if you'll look past the disappointing commercials - beyond Christians, and beyond church - and just look at Christ. He said, "Follow Me," so it's all about Jesus. He didn't say follow My followers or follow My religion or my leaders. He said, "Follow Me." So don't let bad commercials make you miss the product. He's the only man who loved you enough to die for every sin you've ever committed, the only man who was willing and able to go through our hell so we could have His heaven, the only man in history powerful enough to beat death by walking out of His grave under His own power. There's nothing not to love about this man. And this man is who you have to decide about. The hypocrites, the poor examples, the mistakes Christians make; none of those have a thing to do with where you will spend eternity. It is all about Jesus...now and forever.
    And today this Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart, giving you an opportunity to find what you've been looking for your whole life. His "product" is eternal life. And only He can provide it, because He's the only One who could pay for it with His life, and He did.
    This could be your Jesus-day by reaching out to Him in your heart and just saying, "Jesus, I've missed You all these years, but I'm wanting You now. I need You. You're my only hope of knowing God and having my sins forgiven, and going to heaven. Jesus, I'm Yours."
    Man, I'd love to help you get this settled. That's really what our website is all about. It's called ANewStory.com. I hope you will check it out. Take that step - ANewStory.com.
    There will be one question on God's final exam for you one day: "What did you do with Jesus?"

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    September 28, 2020 Avoiding a Fall On Slippery Ground - #8796

    I don't think our area had ever seen anything like it. It was a thick, almost unbreakable sheet of ice that covered much of our state. And it wasn't just here for days. It was here for weeks. Two consecutive storms actually created a double and triple freeze situation that made walking as treacherous as anything I have ever experienced. We had a couple of horses that needed hay and grain and unfrozen water. It didn't matter how dangerous it was to get to them. I tried to reason with them, but they just wouldn't listen. So here was a city boy carrying two heavy buckets of water at a time when no one should have been trying to walk on this ice. I have never walked so carefully. I have never prayed so continuously in my life! And while local emergency rooms were jammed with people with broken limbs, I didn't fall!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Avoiding a Fall On Slippery Ground."
    I learned some valuable lessons during our Ice Age�lessons about how to walk and not fall, even if the ground is treacherous. It's lessons we all need at one time or another to avoid a spiritual fall. Because if you've ever tried to live for Christ, then you know we all walk on ground where it's all too easy to fall.
    Ephesians 5:15, our word for today from the Word of God, sums up how to avoid falling. "Be careful how you walk, not as unwise but as wise." The King James Version uses a word here that we don't hear much anymore, "Walk circumspectly." That means walk with your eyes wide open, looking around, paying attention - walking carefully.
    I think that has new meaning to me since I had to walk as carefully as I've ever walked in my life on that ice. And no matter how many times you may have fallen in certain areas of your walk with Christ, there are some "careful walking" tips that can help you walk without falling.
    I learned first to plan your steps. When I was navigating that ice, I had to think about exactly where I could step and where I couldn't; I had to decide in advance where I was going to walk. So many times when we fall spiritually or morally, it's because we don't think about where we're going. As you meet with your Lord in the morning, which you must do, you need to anticipate your day and the temptations, knowing you, that you might expect. Then pre-plan your walk. Anticipate where you're going to be walking and plan how you're going to resist or even avoid the temptation to be the same old you. Pre-choose where you're going to walk and where you're not going to walk.
    Which leads to a second tip for avoiding falls: don't get in a position where you're likely to fall. If I got my feet too far apart or took big steps or didn't keep my feet straight, I could feel myself starting to slip. You will, too, if you allow yourself to get in a position where you could fall�like being with people who bring you down, watching or listening to input that brings you down, getting in situations where you're tempted, or letting yourself believe lies about yourself or about God. Those things set you up for a fall. Concentrating on actions or attitudes that have always brought you down; that's going to do it too. See, those kinds of things get you in a position to fall.
    One other thing that kept me from falling on slippery ground: praying continuously. I literally found myself praying as I walked, "Lord, hold me up. Please don't let me fall." And He answered that prayer. He will for you, too, as you walk carefully on the slippery ground that you have to cover.
    Remember, many spiritual falls have one simple cause - carelessness. You have to pay attention where you're stepping. And in Jude 24 you also have an awesome promise of God to claim wherever you are. "He is able to keep you from falling."

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    September 24, 2020 Satan-Proofing - #8794

    Whenever we had a young grandchild come over to our house, it was almost all good news. The reason I say almost is because of the preparations we have to fly into to get ready for the arrival of like a two-year-old. Yes, I said two-year-old. That's as in "super inquisitive." (Yeah, you know.) See, our little grandchildren...they had a way of exploring and experimenting with every object within their reach. There are two kinds of things that need to quickly disappear before a young grandchild starts his little adventure at Grandma and Granddad's house. Things that can damage either the child or that he could damage. So as we would joyfully anticipate a little one being with us, we would also fly into a frenzied little exercise called baby-proofing our house.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Satan-Proofing."
    It's a good idea to remove anything that our grandson could make a mess with. It's a whole lot better than cleaning up the mess or repairing the damage.
    There's someone who pays regular visits to your life and mine who is not an angel like our grandkids. It's your enemy, the devil himself. He can do a lot of damage unless you anticipate his coming, look around your life, and remove the things that he could use to mess things up. It's called Satan-proofing your life.
    In our word for today from the Word of God, Paul talks about playing defense against our enemy's attempts to bring us down. In 2 Corinthians 2:11, he says we take precautions "in order that Satan might not outwit us, for we are not unaware of his schemes." Okay, eyes wide open, looking around our lives for what our enemy might use to sink us, and getting it out of the way - Satan-proofing your day.
    In the instance Paul is talking about here in this verse, there's an issue of a man who did a lot of damage in the church; a man Paul said they need to be sure they had forgiven. Why? Because a grudge, unforgiveness toward someone is something the devil will grab at his first opportunity and use it to poison you and everyone around you. But Paul identifies the area that needs to be dealt with in order "that Satan might not outwit us."
    Here's a sentence for you to complete. It will help you defend yourself against the tactics that Satan's used over and over to bring you down. Finish this: "The devil brings me down whenever I ___________." What goes in that blank? That's what needs to go. In a sense, you're analyzing your past defeats so you can remove what your enemy has used to beat you in the past.
    So, Satan-proofing your life today might mean praying for someone you've had hard feelings toward, asking God to remove your bitterness and replace it with His love. It might mean staying away from negative people who've made you negative, from friends who lead you where you should never go, or staying away from the music, or the Internet trash, or the TV shows or the movies that wear you down morally, or turning your fears or your worries totally over to God so the devil can't use them again to discourage you or depress you.
    When a baby's coming, you baby-proof to avoid damage. When Satan's coming, and he will, you Satan-proof to avoid the damage he wants to do to your life. There have been enough times, haven't there, that you've left out the very things he's used over and over again, and you left them there and he used them to bring you down. You're not "unaware of his schemes."
    So start fighting back so that when the devil comes prowling around your life today, he will find what he usually uses to make a mess you have put way out of his reach, because you have given it to Jesus.

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    September 23, 2020 The Most Powerful Place on Earth - #8793

    I told a friend that if I were to die today, I'd have no complaints because I have lived what I think is like a whole lifetime a long time ago - maybe several of them. The Lord's been very, very good to me in terms of opportunities.
    I was thinking about, for example, the opportunity I've had to visit some very powerful places over the years. Some of the leaders of a youth ministry I was involved with were given a really privileged tour some years back. We were able to go inside of Cheyenne Mountain where NORAD - the North American Aerospace Defense Command is located - literally the nuclear nerve center in the United States. What a place to visit! I thought, "Man, think of the power that goes with this place!"
    And then I was able to go representing this same youth ministry to a briefing at the White House with the President of the United States. I thought, "Whoa! Think of the power in this building! I'm in the White House, man!" Well, I must tell you that I recently visited a place that makes NORAD and the White House look very unimpressive. And you can go there too...right now.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Most Powerful Place on Earth."
    Our word for today from the Word of God? We're in Genesis 18; I'll begin reading in verse 20 and to the end of the chapter. Before I do, let me give you some of the background to remind you of who Abraham is and how he tends to function with God's plans. Sometimes he exercises great faith, but it seems like so often Abraham is the man who's trying to help God do it. It's either God isn't doing it fast enough, or God isn't doing it the way Abraham thinks, and so for example, he goes and sleeps with his wife's servant Hagar at his wife's suggestion so that the son that has been promised will come through her, because he's been delayed in being sent. Now, God was going to send Isaac, but Abraham couldn't wait. No, he had to go and do it his own way.
    Well, when we get to chapter 18 of Genesis, we find there's a turning point in his life. God has confided to him that Sodom is going to be destroyed, and his nephew Lot and his family are there, and he loves them. So here's what he does. Instead of running to Sodom, which would normally be Abraham's way of handling things, "I'll take care of this, God." Here's what he does. "When the Lord said the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin is so grievous, then the men turned away and went toward Sodom." Those men? Those are the angels who were coming in human form on their way to destroy it. "But Abraham remained (it says) standing before the Lord." In verse 33, after he has pleaded for Lot's life, he says, "When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left." And Abraham, amazingly, returned home. He left it there even though he cares very deeply about this.
    And then in chapter 19, verse 27: "Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord." Though Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed and he could see the destruction, he knew that God had answered his prayer. You know where the most powerful place on earth is? It's the place where you stand before the Lord, between the Lord and someone you love, and you intercede for them. "Abraham stood before the Lord." It is the most powerful place on earth.
    And in order to do that, you have to first see that situation through God's eyes. Abraham saw Sodom as God saw it. And when you see them God's way, you learn how to pray with new possibilities. Then you fight for those you love. That's what Abraham did in his prayer. He said, "Dear Lord, I'm contending for the lives of the people I care about." And then don't let go. He remained standing before the Lord. Depend on your prayers. He prayed for them and then he went home and went to bed.
    Listen! With those you're concerned about, focus the great lasers of heaven on someone or something you care about and then let it go. Relax and trust the One to whom you've committed them.
    Learn to be the man or woman who stands in the middle between God and the people you love. And you will experience this incredible peace that there is when you are standing in the most powerful place on earth.

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    September 22, 2020 When the Captain Is Not On the Bridge - #8792

    The Greek ferry boat was loaded with more than 500 passengers, and a lot were visitors from other countries. Suddenly, that ship plowed into a rocky outcropping, and in minutes the ferry went down two miles from shore, claiming the lives of 66 people. But you know what? It was a tragedy that never had to happen. Those rock outcroppings are clearly marked on navigational charts, and the ferry had passed by them countless times, and there's even a light atop them that's visible for seven miles. But the captain and three key crew members were not at their posts that night; they were reportedly down below watching a soccer match on television. A Greek newspaper headline proclaimed, "A blind course on autopilot." So as the ship was on a collision course, the captain was not on the bridge.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When the Captain Is Not On the Bridge."
    Families can go aground the same way that Greek ferry did. Children can crash for the same reason that ship did. The people who should be at the helm are not where they should be.
    If you're a Mom or Dad, it's important to look in the mirror and take inventory every once in a while. God's given you the most important command of all. You have got in your care, lives created in His image, each one a divinely designed original. And He's trusting you to give them the love, the attention, the discipline, and the spiritual direction that they need to make them all God created them to be.
    But there are a lot of people and pressures that are pulling on us parents. Some of them are screaming for our attention while our children are just whispering for it. Could it be that you've become preoccupied with less important things? Actually, almost everything is a less important thing than this priceless trust from God.
    The stewardship God has given us when He gave us our children is expressed in some beautiful words in our word for today from the Word of God. When you apply them to your son or daughter, they're a wonderful expression of this holy stewardship. Isaiah 8:18 simply says, "Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me." Now, there is the highest and holiest assignment a man or woman can be given!
    Tragically, some of us may have left the bridge. We're preoccupied with other priorities. We may be abandoning the leadership our child needs on a daily basis - the life lessons that we explain from that day's events: the loving reinforcement of consistent boundaries, the godly discipline for going out of bounds, the daily listening we need to do just to keep up with this constantly growing and changing little person, the praying they need us to do with them in situation after situation. Are you there for all of that?
    Remember, the captain of the ship that went down? He didn't commit any overt crime; his deadly mistake was one of neglect. It's what he didn't do. That's what did so much damage, and that could be what's happening in your home, with your family.
    It could be that with all the pressures and all the demands on you, the priorities of your life have gotten somewhat inverted recently. It's time for you, if you're a Mom or Dad, to recommit yourself to the central, non-negotiable priority of steering your family away from the rocks and in the right direction.
    Listen, you don't have to leave the bridge for very long for someone you love to crash.

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    September 21, 2020 The Most Tragic Choice - #8791

    Four boys in a house on fire; that's what happened to my friend's nephews. Thankfully, the Fire Department got the call early and they were there in minutes. It was clear there was no way they could go into that blaze to bring the boys out. But all four of them were huddled around a second floor window, which meant they could be saved. So, the firefighters quickly prepared to catch the boys. They yelled to them to jump into the waiting net below. The oldest boy jumped; he was safe. A second boy, then a third brother jumped to their rescue below. Their ten-year-old brother was the last one left at the upstairs window. He hesitated. Again and again the firefighters were begging him to jump. Every time, he refused..every time. Sadly, it cost him his life.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Most Tragic Choice."
    That is a heartbreaking story. It's a tragedy when someone dies because there was no one there to rescue them. It's an even greater tragedy when someone dies because they refused the rescuer who could have saved them.
    That's a tragedy that has been repeated countless times to people who Jesus came to rescue from an eternity without Him. People who had a chance (maybe many chances) to jump into the saving arms of Jesus, but they never did. Actually, God bringing us together today is another opportunity for you to choose life. When will it be too late to do that? Only God knows.
    In some ways, the more religious you are, the more times you've heard about what Jesus did on the cross, the greater danger you're in. Because you may not even realize that you're in a burning house. Good people, religious people tend to live in the false security that they're okay because they know a lot about Jesus. They're trying to do things that Jesus likes. But that ignores what it is that keeps a person out of heaven - their sin - all the wrong things you've ever done in your life. They are, in God's courtroom, a capital crime, punishable by eternal death. No one with sin can possibly live in the presence of a sinless God, and sin must be paid for to be forgiven.
    And that fire of God's judgment on our self-willed, self-run life burns closer and closer every day we live. But God loves us so much that He acted dramatically to save us from the very punishment we deserve. He sent His only Son to bear that punishment in our place. When Jesus was butchered and cut off from God on that awful cross, it was all the sins of my life He was paying for, and all of yours. Your only hope of rescue is to jump into the strong, waiting arms of Jesus and pinning all your hopes on Him. When have you done that? If you don't know you did, you probably didn't.
    So God asks this sobering question in Hebrews 2:3, our word for today from the Word of God, "How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?" That's how most people miss heaven. They don't out-and-out reject what Jesus did. They just ignore His rescue; either not caring or mistakenly thinking that they'll make it out somehow. They won't. Only Jesus can save you.
    And He's calling to you today right now in your heart. He's saying, "When I went to that cross, I did all that for you to rescue you from your sin. While there's time, jump into my arms." He's never dropped anyone who's ever trusted Him. He's never lost anyone who trusted Him to save them. But you have to make your move; He made his on a cross.
    I'm just grateful that a lot of people have found our website a place where they can make sure that they are in Jesus' arms and belong to Him. I'd love to help you do that. Just go to ANewStory.com today. I want you to know today that you are safe in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
    Jesus, your Rescuer, He's waiting right now with open arms. He's not only your best hope. He's your only hope. Let Him save you while there's time.

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    September 18, 2020 How to Never Get Lost - #8790

    A dear friend of this ministry donated the car he was about to trade in. It was a whole lot more car than I was used to driving, and it was a wonderful gift. It was pretty much fully loaded. One of its nice features was a compass that was mounted on the rear view mirror. At any given moment, it was showing an "N" for north, or an "S" for south...you get the idea. Now, why is that such a big deal? You don't know my sense of direction. Did I say "sense"? That compass is a real boon. I have no excuse now for not knowing where I'm going. Just consult the compass, right?
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Never Get Lost."
    If you belong to Jesus Christ, I have great news for you. You don't ever have to be lost when it comes to knowing the right direction. God is in the business of providing a compass for all His children so they can know on a daily basis the right way to go.
    There's a pretty dramatic example of that in our word for today from the Word of God in Numbers 9:15. It says, "On the day the tabernacle...was set up, the cloud covered it...and at night it looked like fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. At the Lord's command the Israelites set out, and at His command they encamped...whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out."
    That's a great picture, and here it is. Two important guidelines for God's children today from this example of how He led His children yesterday. First, God guides us in ways that we won't miss Him. We can miss Him if we're not following closely, but we can always know the direction He wants us to go. In this case, there was this massive cloud that His children couldn't miss. When it's dark, you can't see a cloud very well, so God lit it up with fire at night; again, so they could not miss if He was moving or where He was moving. By the way, notice that the darker it is, the brighter God's direction is.
    Now how does God lead us today? How can we see the pillar of cloud? Where's His compass? Let me suggest three factors that God uses to give clear direction to those who are really seeking it. First, He'll use a timely verse. As you pray for direction, God just will light up a verse or verses in His Word that seem as if they were written just for you, just for this situation. You know what the Bible says,"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." The lantern of God's Word doesn't show you the whole picture, usually just the next step. I've learned, "You take a step, then you see a step. Then you take a step, then you see a step." Secondly, God directs us through defining circumstances as He did Paul in Acts 16. It says God's Spirit closed the door to one mission field and opened the door to another.
    Thirdly, the "pillar" comes in the form of an inner compulsion - the kind Paul talked about in Acts 20:20, "I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing..." He didn't know what awaited Him, but the magnet of God was pulling Him to Jerusalem. God's Spirit often leads us with this strong inner pull that seems to say, "I can't not do this!"
    So God guides us in ways we won't miss Him. There's a Part 2 to this equation. Our job is to move only and always as He does. Just like those Old Testament believers. No matter how long the cloud stood still, they did not let their impatience with the status quo make them run ahead of God. Conversely, no matter how quickly or how often the cloud moved, they didn't get so settled into the status quo that they refused to move when God was moving.
    This very day, God's wanting to show you the way to go with His pillar of cloud. Your Holy Spirit compass can keep you from ever getting lost. Listen to God's promise, "I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go" (Isaiah 48:17).

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    September 17, 2020 Fatal Refusal - #8789

    It might happen to a community once in a lifetime, or maybe even just once in a century. But sometimes there are those disasters that define and redefine a town for years to come. The Johnstown, PA, flood would be one of the most famous historic examples. You've probably never heard of the flood that swept into my wife's hometown years ago, but it was a major defining event for that town. She was a teenager when, with just a brief warning from upstream, the local creek burst out of its banks into this massive flash flood. While there was major damage done to the community, thankfully, only a few lives were lost. They actually were some older folks who lived on the south side of town. Rescuers actually came by their creek-side house before that wall of water hit. They offered them a place in the lifeboat. They refused to get in. They said, "Hey, we've lived here a long time, we've seen a lot. We've been fine this far. We'll be fine this time." They weren't. They died in that flood.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Fatal Refusal."
    It is a deadly mistake to refuse to get in a lifeboat - especially when it comes to being rescued from an eternity that none of us wants. Tragically, a whole lot of people are saying to Jesus, "No thanks, Jesus. I don't think I'm going to need You. After all, I've gotten this far without You. I've been fine up to here. I'll take my chances without You." Strong people, self-reliant people, doing things for yourself, proudly refusing to put your trust in Jesus, and according to the Bible, doomed. Because this one you can't do for yourself.
    I have no right to say this unless God says it, because He is the final word on heaven and hell. And He couldn't make Himself clearer than He does in 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9, our word for today from the Word of God. It's about the flood, it's about the lifeboat called Jesus, and it's about the choice that determines your destiny. The Bible says, "The Lord Jesus will punish those who do not know God and who 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 from the majesty of His power."
    When that flood hit my wife's hometown, those folks who died didn't have to die. Provision had been made for them to live, to escape what was coming. But they wouldn't get in the lifeboat. On a cross, with nails driven through His hands and feet and a spear wound in His side, God's only Son, Jesus, died to pay for every wrong thing you and I have ever done. And we've lived long enough to have a long list of times we've done things our way instead of God's way. But Jesus paid for every one of them. So the only people who will pay for their own sin are those who refused to trust the One who already paid for their sin.
    So, God doesn't send anyone to hell. We send ourselves by refusing to get in the lifeboat that He provided at the cost of His own life. It's a mistake I beg you not to make. You may have accomplished a lot in your life. You may be religious and respected. You may have done just about everything by yourself, but there's no way you can get your sins forgiven by yourself. No way you can remove what will keep you out of heaven. Only Jesus can do that. And His lifeboat is making one more pass by you right now, and He's asking you to get in. Some time will be the last time.
    If you've never given yourself to the man who gave His life for you, please abandon the pride and the excuses that have kept you from Him. Tell Him, "Jesus, the battle's over. I'm Yours."
    If you want to be sure you belong to Jesus as your Rescuer from your sin, let me invite you to spend a few minutes at our website today. I've tried to put it there in a way that you can either read and watch, or whatever - listen to a simple explanation of how to be sure you've begun your relationship with Him and that your sins are forgiven. That website is ANewStory.com.
    Look, one more time, the lifeboat's within your reach. God's judgment is coming. Please, please get in while there's time.

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    September 16, 2020 The Need to Need What You Know - #8788

    Every time I hear anyone mention the first Gulf War, it brings back to my memory an interview with a soldier who was there as they were about to go to war from Kuwait and into Iraq. She said, "You know, we've gotten training when we were in boot camp about chemical warfare. We kind of dozed off, you know, and didn't take notes, It was boring, threw paper wads, whatever. It was just boring stuff." She said, "Now they're covering chemical warfare again, because we're about to go into Iraq where they have them." She said, "We're taking notes, we're asking questions this time, we're staying late after class." I thought, "Wow! What a big difference; same material, same information." What was different? All of a sudden soldiers knew that their life could depend on what they were learning, and they were going to need it, not just know it.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Need to Need What You Know."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Matthew 28:18. Jesus is just about to ascend into heaven and leave His disciples. "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.'" Wow! What a great statement! And Jesus has saved it until this moment. You can almost hear His disciples say, "Oh, that's a good one. Remember that one. That's a great statement. 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.' I like that. That's powerful. Huh, John? Huh, Peter?"
    Do you know why He waited until now to give it to them? Listen to what He says next, "Therefore..." What's the "therefore"? Well, because all authority was given to Me, "Therefore on that basis," go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."
    Here's eleven guys standing on a mountain, and Jesus says, "I want you guys to go and take care of the whole world." It's a good thing He said, "All authority has been given to Me." All of a sudden that's not just a nice wall plaque. That is not just a great quotation to write down. There are lives, there are ministries that are going to depend on what Jesus said there. He is giving them a mission that is so much bigger than they are. They're going to need that power as they've never needed it before.
    See, you don't know God's power until you really need God's power. You have the need to need what you know. I've watched a lot of yawning youth group kids suddenly grabbing their Bible, learning to pray, asking questions. You know why? Because they were on a mission trip, they're away from home, they're pushed to the limits physically and emotionally. And suddenly they need for the first time what they'd be hearing for years.
    Like those soldiers in that class. They weren't interested in the material until they knew they'd need it to stay alive. Now, what's that all mean to you? Well, you need to be out on a limb for the Lord, because you're going to really experience His power there. And people who never get out of the boat, never know what it is to walk on water. Safe Christianity is boring Christianity. You need to get busy doing something for the Lord; not just knowing things about Him, learning about Him. You've got to do something.
    So, take the plunge. Take that Sunday School class. Yeah, go ahead and take it. Or working with that youth group. Get involved in that outreach program. Go on that mission trip. Get involved with some group of people who need you or some community outreach. Become committed to actively sharing Christ with the people around you so they have a chance to be in heaven. Or say "yes" to that invitation to get involved in some part of the Lord's work as a volunteer.
    Get out on a limb where you're taking some risks for your Lord serving Him so you get beyond yourself. Because that's where you will meet Him in a way you can't meet Him anywhere else because now, you need to need what you know.

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    September 15, 2020 The Surprising End of a Long Search - #8787

    When you go to a church potluck dinner, you never know what kind of luck you're going to have in your pot. Friends of ours were at one of those dinners with their granddaughter, and someone there had baked what they called a Jesus cake. That raises the obvious question, "What is a Jesus cake?" They were told that someone had actually baked a very small plastic baby toy into the cake, and they called it Baby Jesus. (Okay, do not try this at home.) I'm just telling you what happened. If anyone found the baby in their piece of cake, they would win a prize. Well, crazy, but our friends' granddaughter became obsessed with finding the baby - to the point of downing five pieces of cake - the ultimate "sugar high." She was desperately trying to find what she thought was baby Jesus, and she did. And when she found the baby, the little girl said, "Finding Baby Jesus changes everything."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Surprising End of a Long Search."
    When my friends told me about their granddaughter's discovery, my first thought was, "Crazy story...cute story." Then I realized that what happened to that little girl was also a picture of what's happened in the lives of so many people I've met - a long search for the prize. Then the end of the search that changes everything - finding Jesus.
    Our lives are so much more than just the sum of all our daily activities. Those aren't enough to satisfy the thirst in your soul. We're seekers. Beginning in our teenage years, we're searching for what goes in that hole that's deep in our heart. We want significance. One of the best-selling books a few years ago was entitled "The Purpose-Driven Life." That's a good description of what we're looking for; some great purpose that will drive our life and give it significance...give it meaning. We're looking for the answer to the question, "What's the point of all this?"
    We're also on a search for love. We invest pretty heavily in one relationship after another, hoping that this one will pay off in giving us the one love that we'll never lose. But that's the problem with every human love - they either desert you, they disappoint you, they divorce you, or they die on you. So our search for that anchor love goes on. Well, we're looking for security, too; something we know will be there to hang onto when everything else in our life is up for grabs.
    So we just keep grabbing another piece of the cake, hoping that what we're looking for is in that slice, and it isn't. Listen to what Jesus says about the end of our lifetime search in John 6:35. It's our word for today from the Word of God. He says, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty." Wow! Hunger satisfied. Thirst quenched. Search over when you come to Jesus.
    Why? Because the God who puts us here is what we've been looking for. We were made for a love relationship with Him. But, according to the Bible, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). We were created for God, but we've lived for ourselves. And we've lost Him, and thus the hole in our heart. That restlessness - that lack of peace and fulfillment - that's an echo of another world; the constant reminder that God is missing. Until, in the words of that little girl, "Jesus changes everything."
    That's because His death on the cross was the payment that can cancel the sin that stands between us and our God - between you and your God. His resurrection from the dead is the proof that He can deliver on the eternal life that He promises. And this very day, He is, in His words, knocking on the door of your heart. In reality, you don't find Jesus. He finds and comes to you, offering you the opportunity to grab Him like a drowning person would grab their rescuer. At the moment you do that, everything between you and God is erased forever.
    Today could be that day for you when your long search finally ends. If you want that, I encourage you to visit our website. There's a brief explanation there exactly how to get started with Jesus this very day. ANewStory.com - that's the address.
    You could be very close to the end of your search. You're very close to Jesus. When you find Him, you have found everything your soul has ever longed for.

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    September 14, 2020 Happy Delays - #8786

    p>I was at the end of seven weeks of ministry travel and, believe me, I was really anxious to be home. Delays, of course, are just a part of air travel and I'm used to them, and I'm usually patient with them. But when they announced that the very last leg of my journey home was going to be significantly delayed, that was a test of my patience. Every half hour, they would tell us that they would get another update in another half hour. I knew the plane was there, the crew was there, all those passengers were sure there, but the flight just kept getting postponed. My homing instinct was going crazy.
    When we were finally boarded and about to take off, the pilot explained what had been taking so long. He said, "Just before we were going to board you, our mechanics found a problem with two of our tires in a routine maintenance check. We had to replace both tires." Hmm...well, I have actually been on a plane that blew a tire on takeoff one time - a potentially life-threatening situation. So all of a sudden I was surprisingly grateful for the delay that had been so frustrating.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Happy Delays."
    Now, there was a very good reason for that particular airline delay. I have to tell you, the airlines don't always have a good reason for their delays, but God always does.
    The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk had been waiting a long time, by his reckoning anyway, for God to come through with an answer to his impassioned prayers. Our word for today from the Word of God is the word that God gave to his prophet in that situation and maybe to you right now. In Habakkuk 2:3, the Lord says, "The revelation awaits an appointed time...Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay."
    Habakkuk, like us, thought God was already delaying his answer. But God was saying, "It's not time until it's My time, Habakkuk. That's the right time. And it won't be a minute late when it's time. So cooleth your jets even if your flight is delayed considerably longer. It will certainly come, and it will come right on time."
    That day when our flight was delayed due to replacing some faulty tires, I couldn't help but reflect on the ways of God over and over in my life. How often has He seemed to be taking forever, delaying the answer I'd been praying for. But in every situation, without exception, there was always a good reason for what seemed like a delay. And, like those mechanics whose work delayed my flight, God isn't always taking time to make it better for us. He's getting a perfect answer ready for you...He's getting you ready for the answer...He's doing it in the time and the way that will most amaze you and those around you. He's doing it in the way it will give Him the greatest glory and you the greatest good. And in the time and the way that will best help you become more like His Son, Jesus.
    I told the staff member who was traveling with me on the day of the tire delays, "Do you know what we were just experiencing? That is the answer to all those prayers for our safety that people pray for us every day." (By the way, if you happen to be one of those, thank you, thank you, thank you!) They were praying, and God responded to their prayers by getting bad tires changed on our plane. That's pretty cool!
    I can't begin to see all the incredible purposes of God, the unexplainable ways of God, but I can begin to settle down and trust that any delay - that every delay is for my good and for His glory. And when I finally do see some of His reasons for the delay, I will be so grateful that He took His time!

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    September 11, 2020 When Only Blood Could Do It - #8785

    He's a noted surgeon who wants to make a difference in the world. So once a year, he dedicates a month to going to Central America to do volunteer medical work. Well, I heard on the news he was in an emergency medical clinic one year performing urgent surgery on a young boy in a really remote location. The boy started losing blood faster than expected, and he clearly needed blood. The problem was he had a rare blood type that only 2% of the population carries. And this village clinic certainly didn't have anything that rare. In that critical moment, the doctor suddenly put down his scalpel and went to another room - where he gave blood. He, too, had that rare blood. The boy got the blood he needed, the surgeon returned to finish the operation, and that boy came through just fine.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When Only Blood Could Do It."
    A boy's life hanging in the balance; his only hope - blood given by the only one who had what it took to save him. Boy, do I understand that. Mine was once a life hanging in the balance, and my only hope was the gift of someone's blood - the only One who had the blood that could meet my need.
    Some have called Him the Great Physician. Many call Him Savior. We all call Him Jesus. And my only hope of escaping the spiritual death penalty for the sins of my life was blood - His blood; the blood of the only Man who had no sin of His own to pay for - God's one and only Son. No matter what religion you are, no matter how religious or spiritual you are, His blood is your only hope, too.
    All of our theories, all our systems for getting to God and getting to heaven are, at best, guesswork. Only God can tell us what it takes to get to Him; to be forgiven of the sin that makes it impossible for Him to have a relationship with us. And God does tell us in Hebrews 9:22, "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." Sin carries this eternal death penalty of being separated from our God now and forever. And a death penalty can't be paid by doing nice things. Someone has to die; and someone did. Hebrews 9:26, our word for today from the Word of God, says of Christ: "Now He has appeared once for all...to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself." Incredibly, Jesus said to God the Father, "Let Me die so Ron doesn't have to." You could put your name there. "Father, let Me die so (your name) doesn't have to."
    If you get to the end of your life and you find out that you have missed heaven, that your eternal destination turned out to be hell, don't blame God. He gave His only Son to die for you so you would not have to go there. If a rescuer extends his hand and you don't grab his hand, don't blame the rescuer. In this case, the Rescuer is God's Son, reaching for you. He didn't just donate blood so you could be saved. He poured out His life-blood, dying for you. It's the blood of Jesus that could cover every sin of your life. It is because of that blood shed for you that God is willing to say to you today, "You are forgiven. You are clean. You are Mine forever." You can see why what you do with Jesus is the decisive choice of your life. God will never forget what you do with His Son, because He gave His Son for you.
    This is a spiritual rescue we're talking about. And your only hope is to grab the hand of God's rescuer, Jesus, with all the faith you've got. That step will trigger a cleansing miracle of God. In the Bible's words, "The blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). Every sin you've ever committed, erased from God's book forever today, if you will tell Jesus you are His from this day on - that His blood, shed for you, is your only hope.
    Our website has a brief explanation of just how to begin this life-giving relationship with Jesus. Please go there soon today. It's ANewStory.com.
    There's an old hymn that says it pretty powerfully: "Just as I am, without one plea, but that Your blood was shed for me. And that You bid me come to Thee. O Lamb of God, I come."

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    September 10, 2020 Your Total Upgrade - #8784

    Okay, it's no secret. I am technically challenged. When it comes to computers, I know just the basics, you know, just enough to get by. Even I know enough to appreciate some things God provided for our ministry, like new computers that worked much faster than our old ones. We were able to upgrade some of our software. And the new software had capabilities that made a lot of things possible that weren't possible before. When it comes to the computers that make such a difference in our lives, a software upgrade can take you to a whole new level.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Your Total Upgrade."
    Long before computers and software and hardware, God's been in the business of upgrading the central processing system of people's lives. It's called your mind. He talks about it in our word for today from the Word of God in the familiar and defining words of Romans 12:1-2. "Therefore, 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."
    God calls us here to surrender ourselves completely to the One who gave Himself completely for us. That commitment is going to mean marching to the beat of a different drummer from the one we've marched to all our lives. Without surrendering to Jesus, we follow "the pattern of this world." We base our choices and our values on what our culture says, what our family says, what our environment says, or what our feelings tell us. But God wants to "transform" us, to liberate us from being puppets of our culture, or our surroundings, or our background.
    We're not just talking about keeping a few rules or some superficial transformation on the outside. No, God doesn't just shave caterpillars, He transforms them into butterflies - substantial transformation, not just superficial change. God literally wants to upgrade your whole outlook on life by a process He calls "the renewing of your mind."
    In a way, it's like upgrading your computer or your software. Now that Christ is in your life, He wants to install some new attitudes about who you are, who you can be because you belong to Jesus. He wants to enable you to see your family through His eyes as He sees them, the problem people in your life as He sees them, and the events of your life as He sees them. This is the exciting process that takes you from the old you to being what the Bible calls "a new creation in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:17). If you'll work with Him on this "computer upgrade" in your mind, you'll find yourself instinctively choosing His will each day, which puts you right in the middle of the plans for which you were created.
    Pretty exciting stuff, huh? How does it happen? By immersing yourself in God's way of thinking. It's called the Bible! If you want your mind renewed, you need to be in His Word every opportunity you get. That's where you develop, if I can put it this way, "God-think"; thinking like God does about something. You need to make opportunities to be in His Word! And make your time with Him in His book the non-negotiable of your daily schedule. Each new day is a new challenge to live His way and to think His way. So each new day, you need to begin by installing His software, by bathing your mind with His thoughts - with His perspective.
    Commit yourself to the aggressive study of God's words in the Bible. Examine every situation, examine every relationship, and every decision in light of what God says. Day-by-day, you will experience that awesome miracle that God describes as "the renewing of your mind."

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    September 9, 2020 How to Break a Log Jam - #8783

    Up in Maine, where the roads run out, it's logging country. Now, the loggers will tell you that once you get a tree down, the next challenge is getting that big, old log where it's supposed to go to the mill. The answer? Well, you're not going to carry it there probably. So, you use natural power. They float those logs right down the river, until of course; well, sometimes too many logs decide to have a meeting in one place. You know what they call that. Right! We call it that in many parts of our life. They call it a log jam. Suddenly nothing's moving. The answer? Explosive power. Dynamite breaks that jam, gets things moving again. Of course, that's kind of how real life log jams are, too. It takes something explosive to get them going.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Break a Log Jam."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 Samuel 9. I'll be reading from verse 21. Now, in order to get the context of this, understand that we are approaching the time when Israel is about to get it's first ever king. Saul has been God's choice for that. And Samuel is God's representative to let Saul know that. Unfortunately, even though Saul's got the ability, and he's been selected by God, he doesn't seem to have the heart for the challenge. That's the one obstacle. When he's given the news that he's God's choice, Saul answers, "But am I not a Benjamite from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?" He said, "Man, look, I come from a dinky tribe. Nobody's ever heard of us. They don't respect us. I think you've got the wrong man for the job."
    Then comes the message from God, and then the change that takes place in 1 Samuel 10:9. The log jam is broken. "As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul's heart." I love those words. "And all these signs were fulfilled that day." Did you get that? There's the dynamite that breaks the human log jam. God changed Saul's heart. Samuel didn't change his heart. Circumstances didn't change his heart. The signs that God put in front of him didn't change his heart. But God changed his heart. Sometimes the only way a situation will move is if someone's heart changes. And maybe you can think of that someone right now.
    Sounds like a situation you're in maybe. And you can't change a heart. A changed heart is an act of God. I'll bet there's a changed heart needed in someone you know, maybe it's your boss. Maybe it's your folks, your son, your daughter. It could be your husband or your wife. Maybe there's someone who's attacking you unjustly. Or someone who desperately needs Christ, and seems so close to Him. Maybe there's just a log jam right now, and there can't be any more progress until something changes - actually, until someone changes. You've done all you could do. You have planned, you've worked, you've tried to persuade, you've done your homework.
    But the real issue is someone's heart. Well, you have a powerful weapon to break the log jam - fervent, passionate, consistent prayer that God will do what only God can do - change that person's heart like He did Saul's and like He has millions of hearts throughout the years. That weapon right now is within your reach...prayer is within your reach right now. It's the one we so often fail to use though. We try everything else to change the situation.
    You want to get things moving? Then reach for the dynamite. Light the fuse called prayer. Then stand back and watch the awesome power of God, who is the changer of people's hearts.

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    September 8, 2020 Released, Not Restricted - #8782

    A friend had been doing a lot of remodeling in his house, including some in his four-year-old son's room. They were building a little room inside his room that would have its own window and desk, and it would sort of be Troy's own little space. Of course at that point, it was just a frame with no walls. So Dad took Troy in there one day to see the work that he'd been doing. The little guy went into the frame of what would soon be his personal space. He came out with his lower lip out so far he almost tripped over it. Dad couldn't figure out why this nice thing they were doing for him would make him so sad. He quickly found out why. Troy said, "Dad, is this going to be my cage for my timeouts when I'm bad?"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Released, Not Restricted."
    Poor little guy. He thought his father had built a cage to punish him when his Dad was really building something special for him. You could smile at a four-year-old's misread of what his father was doing for him, but all too often we make that same mistake with our Heavenly Father!
    Maybe you have a tendency to think that God is usually mad at you - punishing you. But, you know, our feelings about God are based way too much on our experiences with our parents, with people who've hurt us, and on our immediate circumstances. So we end up missing the love that our Heavenly Father is trying to show us. We expect the worst like little Troy was thinking he was getting a cage for times when he was bad.
    Actually the plan God is unfolding in your life right now is designed ultimately to release you, not to restrict you. God's intentions for you are expressed in some words He originally spoke to His Old Testament people. But if you know Christ, you are one of those God calls "my people" in our word for today from the Word of God.
    Leviticus 26:12-13 - "I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt" (now, that's whatever has been a place of bondage or despair for you) "so that you would no longer be slaves. I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high." Your Lord is committed to releasing you from those old habits, the old mental programming, the old ways of thinking and reacting that have caged you for too long. And He's committing to taking you through experiences with Him, some of which will be painful, to purge some of the ugly stuff, to change your view of Him, to change your view of yourself, and to outfit you to really make a difference in other people's lives.
    Maybe the reason God had to remind His ancient people that He was about releasing them and not restricting them, was that their journey included plagues and wilderness. In order for them to be free, they had to go through all those plagues in Egypt and a very difficult time through the wilderness. Maybe you've been having your own share of plagues, your own share of wilderness. But that's not because God doesn't love you; it's because He does! Enough to take you through the processes that will set you free and ultimately lead you to the better life He has for you.
    So, don't be confused by the pain - by the wilderness. Your Heavenly Father has some awesome plans for you, and He's not building a cage to contain your life. He's making something very special for you. After all, you are His child purchased with the blood of His Son! Is there any question how He feels about you?

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    September 7, 2020 Deadly Deafness - #8781

    Jim was spending his first night as a college student. As he began to fall asleep in his dorm room, he was suddenly awakened by a frightening sound. A train whistle blew, and the train was coming right through his room. Well, at least that's how it sounded to this particular college student. It turned out that the railroad tracks were right next to his dorm. That's probably why they put freshmen there, right? Well, Jim found it pretty challenging to slip into la-la land for the night when it sounded like a train was roaring through his room. I said, "But I'll bet you eventually got used to it, didn't you?" He said, "Well, after a while, I didn't even notice the train anymore!"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Deadly Deafness."
    Amazing, isn't it? What used to seem so loud to you becomes something you can eventually ignore totally. That's good if it's the sound of a train roaring by your room at night. It's bad if it's the voice of God you don't hear anymore. And the more you've been around the Word of God, the greater the danger that you may be developing the most deadly form of deafness in the world - deafness to the God you cannot afford to miss.
    Our word for today from the Word of God is a sobering warning about this deadly deafness. Hebrews 3:7 says, "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts."
    Every time you hear about what Jesus did for you on the cross and you do nothing about it, your heart gets a little harder. We wouldn't know that if God didn't tell us that in the Bible. This hardening of your heart is gradual - almost imperceptible - but it's very, very real and very, very dangerous. Proverbs 29:1 tells us that the one who continually ignores many warnings from God "will suddenly be destroyed - without remedy."
    The Bible gives us a disturbing example of this danger in the story of Pharaoh. Moses continued to deliver a message from God to Egypt's king and he continued to disregard it. The Book of Exodus tells us that "Pharaoh hardened his heart" (Exodus 8:14; 8:32). After all the times Pharaoh heard and rejected God's message, the Bible tells us that "the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart" (Exodus 9:12). He reached the point where he could not respond to God because of all the times he would not respond to God. Ultimately, Moses says, speaking on God's behalf, "I will never appear before you again" (Exodus 10:29).
    Right now I'm talking to someone who has heard about Jesus many times. You've heard what He did on the cross for you. You've heard it was to pay for the sins that have cut you off from God. You've heard that He's alive. You've heard that He's inviting you to put your trust in Him. And you agree with Jesus. You like Jesus, but you've never given yourself to Jesus. Without knowing it, without meaning to, you've been hardening your heart. You're so familiar with Jesus that you're becoming immune to Jesus.
    If you sense any stirring in your heart toward Him right now, there's still time. You can still believe, because God has come to draw you to His Son at least one more time; at least this time. When will it be too late to choose Jesus? Only God knows. What we do know is that today is your only guaranteed opportunity to make Jesus your own Savior from your own sin; to change your eternal destination from hell to heaven.
    It starts when you tell Jesus, "I'm Yours, Lord. I believe when you were dying on that cross it was for me for my sin. I believe you're alive, and I want to begin my relationship with you. You're my only hope. I have no hope but You and what You did on the cross for me."
    I'll tell you, it would be my great privilege to help you make sure that you belong to Him. That's what we do at our website. It's ANewStory.com. It could be that your new story could begin there today! I hope you'll check it out.
    Remember what God says. Today if you hear His voice, grab Him while you still can. There's so much to gain when you grab Jesus. There's so much to lose if you don't.

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    September 4, 2020 "Becoming" Eyes - #8780

    I'll never forget the day that our daughter volunteered to clean the house. Oh, it was a mess! No, no, it wasn't our house. It was the house her boyfriend and some other guys were getting ready to move into. Now the word "mess" might be an understatement. Four college guys had lived there before and they were guys who did a lot of partying and very little cleaning. So there were layers of dirt, there was trash everywhere, and there were holes in the walls. Officials from Washington were actually considering having it declared an official disaster area. Well, I saw our daughter at the end of the long day she had put in trying to clean this pigpen for the man she loved and ultimately married. She was beat, she was all sweaty, but she was satisfied. I said, "What kept you going all those hours, Honey?" She said, "Dad, it was really depressing to look at. But I guess I kept seeing what it could be."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "'Becoming' Eyes."
    I know someone who looks at people like that. He looks at you like that. Jesus has this amazing ability to look beyond whatever mess we may be right now and see what we could become with some work on His part.
    Our word for today from the Word of God in John 1:42 shows us how Jesus has what I call "becoming" eyes; eyes to see what a person can become. He has just met Simon and it says, "Jesus looked at him and said, �You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas (which, when translated, is Peter).'" And Peter, by the way, means "the rock."
    Now when other people looked at Simon they just saw John's son - "There goes John's son," or just another fisherman, or a man who was unstable, brazen, and impulsive. Others looked at Simon and they didn't see a rock, they saw a flake, but Jesus looked at Simon and saw Peter the rock. That's because Jesus has "becoming" eyes. He looks at you and He sees, not so much what you are, but what you could become. That's why He knew that John, a man whose temper made people call him a "son of thunder," would one day be the great apostle of love. When people looked at Jacob, they saw only the cheat that he was, but God saw the prince that he could be and started calling him that.
    Aren't you glad that when Jesus looks at you right now, He looks at you through His "becoming" eyes? Maybe you've lived most of your life not feeling very valued by people. They've picked on your handicaps, they've emphasized your failures, or they've attacked your weaknesses. So you tend to think a lot more about what you aren't than what you are. Well, I want to invite you to look at yourself through Jesus' eyes for a moment.
    He's like my daughter walking into that dirty house; He sees what could be. So you say, "I don't amount to much." But Jesus says, "You shall be a person who makes a difference in the lives of others who feel like nobodies." Or maybe you look in the mirror and you see only an impatient person, while Jesus is saying, "Yes, you are impatient, but you shall be a patient person!" You may be a self-centered person, but Jesus says, "You shall be someone who puts others first." Maybe you see yourself as a victim. Jesus says, "No! You shall be a victor!"
    If you belong to Jesus, you are being rebuilt. You are being remodeled by the Master Carpenter. He's done it in millions of lives for 2,000 years. You don't have to be what you've always been! Maybe this catches you on a day when you're feeling discouraged, or defeated, or small, but Jesus is still changing you! Sure, He sees the mess, but He sees beyond the mess and He wants you to.
    If you've never begun a relationship with Him to make this change in you that only He can make, go to our website. You'll find out there exactly how to begin a relationship with Jesus today. Go to ANewStory.com. I hope you'll check it out.
    Jesus sees the rock you can become, no matter what anyone else sees! It could be, like the song says, "all you have to offer Him is brokenness and strife, but He'll make something beautiful of your life"!

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    September 3, 2020 No Such Thing As a Secret - #8779

    A friend of mine was commenting on what was then some recent news stories, and there was something very shocking and very violent and seemingly unexplainable that had happened within a family. It was an ugly story really. He concluded with a comment that was based on an old country song he knew, "No one knows what goes on behind closed doors." Actually, that's not true.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "No Such Thing As a Secret."
    It's a fact that there are plenty of secrets behind closed doors. No one on earth probably knows the real you like the people you live with. They see you unmasked and unedited. There's some ugly stuff behind some of our closed doors. Then there are the things we do when no one seems to be watching or hearing; our secrets. I'm reminded of old commercials that advertised a resort city that said, "What you do here stays here."
    Well, I've got some bad news for anyone who thinks their secrets are safe behind closed doors. Actually, I'll let the Bible give you the news. It's recorded in Romans 2:16. It's our word for today from the Word of God. The Bible talks about "...the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ." Guess what? Someone has been watching; someone has been listening. Someone knows everything that happens behind your closed doors. What you do there won't stay there. You'll meet it on Judgment Day - standing before the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He will, the Bible says, "bring to light what is hidden in darkness" (1 Corinthians 4:5).
    Maybe you feel relieved that you haven't been caught. Wrong. If God knows, you're caught, and He does know. The Bible says, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is...laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." All the dark secrets of our life will be "outed" and we will face the penalty for them. The Bible makes that penalty clear: "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). That's death as in eternal separation from God and from His love.
    Without a way to remove all the sins of my life from God's records, I have no hope of ever knowing God, of avoiding hell, and of ever living in His heaven. The Bible makes it clear there's no religion, no human goodness that can erase our sins. Amazingly, it was the very God we rebelled against who reached out to give us a way to belong to Him. A way that cost Him the most precious thing He had - His one and only Son. In God's own words, "He loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10). In other words, Jesus had all the guilt and all the hell of our sin and shame dumped on Him when He died on the cross; including the darkest secrets of your life and mine.
    When He hung on that cross, He said, "Father, forgive them." I think He was thinking of us. God says, "Everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sin through His name" (Acts 10:43). That could be you today if you'll acknowledge your sin - even the hidden sin - and grab Jesus like He's the only One who can rescue you spiritually.
    Boy, I'll tell you, if you do that, imagine going to bed tonight knowing that you are clean and forgiven, knowing every sin has been erased from God's book forever. Knowing you're right with God. Knowing you're ready to meet Him whenever that time comes. You want this? You want to begin your relationship with Jesus that changes everything? Tell Him that. This is a faith transaction between you and the man who literally died for your sin.
    I think our website might help you at a point like this, because we've loaded it up with the information you need in order to be sure you belong to Jesus Christ. A lot of people have found some help and encouragement there. I think you could too. Here's the address: ANewStory.com. Just go there today. I hope you check it out.
    You're on the edge of something that you may have thought could never happen - a clean slate and a brand new beginning.

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    September 2, 2020 Heroes On the Beach - #8778

    My children always braced themselves when we were on a vacation and I'd say, "Hey, it's time for one of Dad's adventures!" See, my adventures don't have a great history. I remember one morning I promised them a great adventure. We were going up to Cadillac Mountain in Maine to see the first place, supposedly, where you can see the sun rise on the East Coast. So, I woke them in our campground about 3:00 a.m. We drove up to the top of Cadillac Mountain to watch the clouds rise. Yeah...no sun!
    Then there was the time we were climbing the sand dunes at Cape Cod, and I said, "You know, we're gonna go up this sand dune and then we'll be able to see the ocean." So we climbed to the top of the sand dune, and there it was - another sand dune. And we went on through the afternoon to another sand dune, etc.
    Well, there's one adventure we did have together that we all enjoyed! It was a demonstration of the United States Life-Saving Service. That's what it was actually called before it became the United States Coast Guard, and what they used to do was rescue people from ships that were in trouble. We were actually on the outer banks of North Carolina; that little barrier reef where the shoals stick out eight miles into the ocean, and where the ships used to hug the shoreline to stay close to the lighthouses, and where it is called "the graveyard of the Atlantic." Ten thousand ships have gone down off the outer banks.
    That's where the Life-Saving Service operated, and that's where we saw a demonstration in full uniform of how they used to work. Here was a life-saving station set well back so it wouldn't be hurt by the storm. But, when there was a ship that had gone aground and was breaking up, the life-saving unit of eight men would run out to the beach, fire a line from a cannon to the sinking ship. Then they built a pulley system on the beach, they'd anchor it in the sand, and bring people from the ship. Sometimes that wouldn't work, so they had to run right into the surf. One of those heroes brought back ten people, one at a time, out of a pounding storm, carrying them on his back. The United States Life-Saving Service was a spawning ground for heroes. And as I watched them, I knew we still need heroes like that.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Heroes On the Beach."
    Our word for today from the Word of God, Philippians 2:5, beginning there. "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!"
    If I may put together that scripture with my experience with the U.S. Life-Saving Service, Jesus left the safety of the station in heaven and ran into the surf to rescue us. Now, He says, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Him."
    Today we have some pretty impressive Life-Saving Stations, churches that are full of programs, good teaching, inspiring music, and they're really caring for the needs of the life-saving crew. And that's you and me. But you have to leave the station to save lives. They don't come to the door of a Life-Saving Station, knock on the door and say, "Hello! I'm drowning. Can you help me?" You have to go where they are and take the risks to do it. The Life-Saving Station is a great place to get rescuers ready. It's a great place to bring them after they've been rescued. But you've got to save them in the middle of the storm. Too many of our churches have forgotten that they're not just there for the rescuers; they're there to go out after the dying.
    Maybe all your friends are Christian friends. Maybe all your free time is spent in Christian places, and yet you're surrounded by people whose lives are breaking apart like those ships did long ago, and who will die without Christ; who will spend eternity without Christ unless there is a Rescuer. And they won't come to the Life-Saving Station probably. You have to go where they are and bring them back like Jesus did.
    God needs heroes on the beach today, running into the storm, taking risks like He did to rescue the perishing. My brother, my sister, It's time to get out of the station and run into the surf for the rescue.

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    September 1, 2020 Getting Out of the Valley - #8777

    My friend Andy used to pastor in West Virginia. The little town they lived in was situated in this long, narrow valley - actually a pretty dark valley, according to Andy. The sun didn't rise high enough to shine on that town until like mid-morning, so it was actually dark for quite a while each day. My friend said that the town itself was kind of a (well, in his words) a dingy, dirty place. It's the kind of a place where you often battle feeling down emotionally. But Andy used to love to go up on the mountain, he said, because it overlooked the valley, and from up there, he said the view was beautiful. Even the town looked really nice from up there!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Getting Out of the Valley."
    When you can get above the valley, that panoramic view makes everything look different. If you're spending some time in your own valley right now, that might be something you need to remember. And there's a simple six-letter word that represents that view from the mountain that changes how everything looks.
    It's found in our word for today from the Word of God in Psalm 8 beginning in verse 1. "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care about them?"
    Did you catch the word that changes the view? Praise; focusing on the size of your God instead of the size of your problems. Reminding yourself of the great things God is to you and the great things He has done for you, and celebrating who is really in charge in what's going on in your life right now. Praise actually has the power to "silence the foe and the avenger." If that refers to Satan, you need to know that Satan can't stand to be around you when you're praising your Lord. And praise takes away the negative attitudes and the discouragement that our enemy loves to exploit.
    Discouragement and depression, they themselves are "foes" and "avengers" in our lives. And the darkness of the valley often causes us to succumb to our dark side, to emotional paralysis, or to giving up, until we make the choice to climb up on that mountain that takes us above all that - Praise Mountain. You may not feel like praising God, you probably don't. That's when you need to praise God the most. It's a conscious choice - not an emotion. It's a choice to begin saying and singing God's praises instead of your complaints.
    Start celebrating the many ways God has worked over the months and the years. Look at the progress you've made - at how far you've come, not just how far you still have to go. Thank God for the things that didn't happen that could have happened. Praise Him for places you can see Him working in just the last 24 hours in spite of your difficulties. Start talking up the qualities that you love about your Lord, the qualities that you're counting on right now to get you through.
    The problem is that we become focused on the sad situation right in front of us as if that's our whole life. It's only a small dot on a big canvas. Stand back and look at that big canvas and see the glorious things God has done in your life, many of which we can miss when we're all focused on the one thing we're battling right now. Every day look for God-sightings! They're everywhere if you look for them.
    When you're in the valley and you're looking only at what's right in front of you, you're just going to get overwhelmed and discouraged. But as you start to look at your valley from the mountain of praising God, everything is going to look different. And you can have that awesome view anytime you choose to go there.

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    August 31, 2020 Fingers and Fists - #8776

    It's one of those classic "Peanuts" cartoons. Charlie Brown is sitting there, peacefully watching TV. Lucy comes up and tells him to change channels. Charlie Brown says, "What gives you the right to just order me to change channels?" Lucy holds up her hand with her fingers spread apart and answers, "These five little things: one, two, three, four, five. Alone they're not much" - and then as she pulls her fingers together in a fist - "but together, they are something terrible to behold." Then Lucy asks, "So what channel are you going to watch?" Poor ol' Charlie Brown looks down at his fingers and asks pitifully, "Why can't you guys get organized like that?"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Fingers and Fists."
    I wonder if Jesus ever looks at us, His followers, and asks that same question, "Why can't you guys get organized like that?" He knows that when we function like separate fingers, we're not much. But when we put our separate fingers together and make a fist, we're "something terrible to behold" - especially to the forces of darkness and the enemies of Jesus.
    That's why Jesus prayed for us to get together in our word for today from the Word of God - it's in John 17:23. As Jesus pours out His heart to the Father on behalf of His followers, our Lord prays, "May they be brought together to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me." Jesus knows that if His followers can work together instead of separately, it will be living proof to a broken world of the power and the authenticity of Jesus. I guess we can assume the opposite is true as well. If we can't get our act together as the people of Jesus, the world has every reason to question the reality of what we believe. And believe me, they do.
    When the Apostle Paul calls on Philippian Christians to "conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ," he defines it: "standing in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the Gospel." You see, anything else is unworthy of Jesus. Then he says this oneness between God's people will be "a sign (to those who oppose you) that they will be destroyed" (Philippians 1:27-28). The enemy knows he is no match for the people of Christ fighting him as one powerful fist.
    So, obviously, the Devil loves to keep us apart. And we're going right along with this devilish strategy to dilute the impact of the forces of God. There are racial walls between us. Often Christians of one color don't even know the name of one Christian of another color, even though we might just be a short physical distance apart. We've let denominational walls develop, insisting on emphasizing the 10% that divides us rather than the 90% that unites us. We are so determined to stress our distinctives - the things that make us "us" - that we let them separate us from people we will share heaven with forever.
    We let worship styles come between us, music styles, religious competition, the competition for finances, spiritual pride, critical spirits. And too many Christian families have let walls develop - again, by emphasizing the things that divide them rather than the things that unite them.
    If you're living in a divided situation, would you be a part of the answer to your Savior's impassioned prayer that we work together? Be the one who brings people together - at least to pray together. Walls start to come down in prayer meetings. Help people raise their eyes to the common mission we all have, to rescue the dying people all around us. That goal is so big it makes the army forget its differences and to come together to accomplish our life-or-death mission on this planet!
    We've been separate fingers long enough! Let's pull those fingers together and make a fist in Satan's face!

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    August 28, 2020 Smoother Air Higher Up - #8775

    It was one of those rock-and-roll airplane flights. And we're not talking music here. No, those are exciting, especially if you're a flight attendant. Especially if you're in the aisle trying to serve passengers something; which they don't much of any more. And that's where we were when our flight hit a stretch of serious turbulence. The captain made sure all of us passengers had our seat belts securely fastened, and he wanted to make sure that we all knew where the "motion discomfort" bag was (I'm only kidding). It looked like dinner was about to be called off as the flight attendants rock-and-rolled in the aisle. Then the captain came on with a hopeful announcement, "I'm trying to go to a higher altitude, folks, and see if we can find some smoother air up there." (I thought that was a great idea.) Well, it worked! In a couple of minutes we were cruising along so smoothly and we were eating our dinner instead of wearing our dinner! That was good.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Smoother Air Higher Up."
    Turbulence. Maybe that word describes what's happening on your flight right now. You need to hear your Pilot's announcement about how to handle it. It's in our word for today from the Word of God, Philippians 4:6-7.
    "Do not be anxious about anything" it says. That would be the turbulent times; times when you're anxious, you're worried, you're stressed. And your circumstances and your feelings are giving you a very bumpy ride. Here's the way to respond. "But in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Get out of the altitude where you've been living and take all that trouble you've got to a higher altitude - take it to the "God Zone."
    The result? The same as when our pilot took us higher - smoother air. It says, "And the peace of God, which transcends human understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." What a trade - anxiety for peace, turbulence for smooth air.
    When you try to deal with your problems and your pressures at your altitude, you get knocked around. From where you are, this thing looks huge. But that's because you're comparing the size of the problem to the size of what you can do about it. Peace begins when you decide to compare the size of your problem to the size of your God. You have no control over whether you get hit with that turbulence, but you decide what altitude you're going to fly at.
    When you "present your requests to God"; that's what the verse says, when you release the situation from your hands and totally entrust it to God's hands, you've gone above the problem to the higher altitude of the God Zone; to that calm place where you realize that your God is totally in control. In the words of the Bible, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe" (Proverbs 18:10).
    Those two words "with thanksgiving" are important. It's consciously reflecting on a list of real things you can thank God for. That's what elevates you higher and to smoother air. Thanking God, praising God - before you ask for anything. See, that takes you out of the turbulence of the Worry Zone into the peace of the God Zone.
    I was reading about Oswald Chambers, the author of that classic devotional book, "My Utmost for His Highest." Those who were around him a lot said he had a favorite sentence that they heard often. He said, "I refuse to worry." That's a great life discipline. Worry paralyzes you emotionally, it solves nothing, and it insults the God who is pledged to take care of you. So when the turbulence hits, refuse to worry.
    Instead, let your Pilot lift you out of the bumpy ride of dealing with it from your level. He'll take you right to where He is, where you can ride above the turbulence. Here's the good news; there's smoother air higher up!

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    August 27, 2020 The Futility of Running Away - #8774

    The party had been going just fine until a doctor who was there got very offended by something another guest said. He was in a rage! He stormed out and slammed the door behind him. Someone said, "At last he's gone." The host corrected him. "No, he's not gone. That's a closet."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Futility of Running Away."
    There's something inside us humans that wants to avoid facing the God who made us. Maybe it's because we know that He knows everything about us. Maybe we don't want to face our darkness. We know that facing God means surrendering the wheel of our life. Whatever the reason, we walk away, we run away, and in some cases we even storm away from God, only to find that we've only walked into a closet.
    We get very good at avoiding God. You can hide behind all those religious hypocrites you've seen. Or you can hide out in those doubts and questions you keep raising to protect you from really facing your Creator's demands on your life. You can stay very busy, running so hard, sedating yourself so much, that you don't have to think about why you're here and where you're going. You can even hide out in your religion, faithfully, maybe fervently, going through all the spiritual motions. That way you can feel like you're spiritually OK without having to really face God Himself.
    Guess who invented running from God? The first man and woman God ever created! It's like avoiding God is in our spiritual DNA! In Genesis 3:8-9, Adam and Eve realized that they had disobeyed the one command given to them by the God who had given them so much. Then, in our word for today from the Word of God, it says, "The man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, 'Where are you?' He answered, 'I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid...so I hid.'"
    From the very first fugitive from God down to maybe someone who's listening today, here's the reality of God's love. The God you're trying to avoid is pursuing you wherever you go. Why? Because He loves you too much to lose you. In fact, Jesus said He's like a shepherd who cannot be content with the sheep He already has in the fold while even one is lost. He said He would "go after the lost sheep" until He finds him or her (Luke 15:1-7).
    His pursuit of you and me took Him all the way to the cross where He died a brutal death. The Bible says His death was "...a sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10). He died in your place to pay for the sins that you would otherwise have to pay for eternally.
    And now He's pursued you to wherever you are today. You can walk away. You can run away again, but He'll keep pursuing you to rescue you until the day you run out of time. Someday will be your last day to get ready for God before you meet God. But for now, His arms are open, He's inviting you to come home to the One you were made for. When you walk away from Him, you walk away from the only possible hope of a life with meaning and an eternity in heaven. Be glad that He's loved you enough to pursue you all the way to a cross.
    My prayer is that this might be the day when you run to God and let the battle finally be over. Your personal love relationship with God begins when you say, "Jesus, I'm Yours." You've got nothing to fear from coming to Jesus. He loved you enough to die for you. He will never do you wrong.
    It's time to open up your life to the One who gave His life for you. And that's what our website is for. It is a place where you can get the information that will help you secure your relationship with God through Jesus. That website is ANewStory.com, and your new story could start there today!
    Once you experience His love for yourself, you'll only have one regret. You'll just wish that you'd come sooner.

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    August 26, 2020 Undelivered Messages - #8773

    When all our family was at home, I'd walk in the door to our house, and I'd be greeted by a lot of phone messages. And sometimes I didn't get the messages. Frustrating! Depended on who takes the message, how busy they were when they got the message, what there is to write with, what there is to write on, and of course you can also depend on where it gets set down, and also what gets set down on top of it. Well, I'm glad for cell phones; a new day dawned. But, boy, in those days, whew! II used to shudder when someone called me and said, "You know, I tried to reach you a couple of times." And I'd say, "Uh, I didn't get the message." "Well, I left one." And then they'd say, "No problem. It's too late now." Oh great! That usually led to a, shall we say, warm conversation with somebody in my family. I mean, after all, you expect messages to be delivered.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Undelivered Messages."
    God's trying to send us a message. He's been calling and somehow it's not getting delivered. And we are the ones who are misplacing it somewhere. The message? Oh, our word for today from the Word of God, John 16:8 - "When the comforter" - by the way, that's the Holy Spirit - "comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment." Now, right here we're told the three messages God wants the world to get. When the Holy Spirit comes, these are the messages He'll be leaving, just like those phone messages for me.
    One is the seriousness of our sin. The second one is the priority of righteous living, and the third is the reality of judgment. God's three messages: sin, righteous living, and judgment. Now, if you have heard a lot of messages about these subjects, well, you might be in the minority, because we don't talk too much about that part of the Christian message. Oh, we like messages about God's love, and how He'll always forgive us, and help us with our problems, and He'll accept us no matter what, and our self-worth. And that's all part of the Christian message.
    But it isn't all warm, fuzzy and cozy. There are some life-saving messages that someone is not delivering. And if we don't do it, no one else will. We are the only ones with the truth. The Holy Spirit's messages about sin; are we delivering it? Sin isn't just mistakes, or "I have a weakness," or personal preferences, or poor judgment. Sin is a direct violation of the laws of a Holy God.
    Teenagers aren't sexually active; they're sinning the sin of fornication - immorality. They're defiling God's beautiful gift. Men and women aren't having "affairs." They're committing adultery. Lying is lying. Gossip is gossip. We don't help people when we pull punches on the ugliness of rebelling against God.
    Secondly, the message is righteousness - not a cool buttoned-down Christianity, but passion and purity. Not just the privileges of the Gospel, but the demands of it. We need to measure how we're doing by the character of Jesus, not by comparing ourselves with the world around us or even the folks at church.
    And the third message the Holy Spirit is delivering to the world is judgment. The bill does come. There's a place called hell where people are separated from God because they sinned and they did not receive the One who died for their sins - our Jesus. If Christians are silent, no one's going to ever know these things. We are charged to deliver this message to our children, to our friends, and all the people we minister to.
    God has called and He's left us a destiny message. Now it's in your care. Please, be sure it gets delivered.

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    August 25, 2020 Washing in Water That Cannot Make You Clean - #8772

    It was one very hot day, and my granddaughter and I were watching some horses. One-by-one they made their way to the little pond to take in some more water. Now, this big old grey horse decided drinking wasn't enough. He didn't just get a little of the pond in him, he got into the pond and lay down in the water. He splashed around a little, stayed there for a while and finally pulled his big old body out of the water. Relating what she saw to her world, my granddaughter said, "He's taking a bath!" If that was his intention, I had bad news for that horse. He got out of that murky water with his light gray coat covered with dirt! So much for getting clean!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Washing in Water That Cannot Make You Clean."
    No matter where you go in the world, no matter how primitive or advanced the culture, we humans have this sense in our soul that we have a problem with the Creator who put us here. In a sense, that's the reason most people practice whatever their religion is; to somehow do something to put us on God's good side to avoid whatever punishment we might deserve for the wrong things we know we've done. All of us have things that we wish we hadn't done and things we know we should have done. We feel the guilt; we feel the shame of things that we thought we would never do; of things that we've done that hurt other people - often people we love.
    You might say we know we're dirty inside and that we'd better do something to get clean before we meet the Creator who decides our forever. The Bible tells the story actually of a military leader named Naaman who came down with terminal leprosy: corrosive spots all over his body. He was directed to God's prophet for a cure. He wanted to buy a cure. No way. He wanted to do something noble to be cured. "No way," the prophet said. He told him to wash seven times in the muddy waters of the Jordan River.
    Naaman was enraged. There were nicer rivers back home that he wanted to wash in. But there was only one way to get cured and get clean...wash where God said to wash. In the Bible's words, he did "as the man of God told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy" (2 Kings 5:1-16).
    We're all Naaman. We want to get right with God the way we want to get right with God: through doing good, through practicing our religion, through personal spirituality. But it's all water that can't make us clean. Here's why recorded in our word for today from the Word of God in Hebrews 9:22, "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." Sin is punishable by spiritual death. That's eternal separation from a sinless God. So only a death can pay for it. That's why all the religious water in the world will leave you unforgiven and unable to enter God's heaven.
    A few verses later, God explains where our only hope really is. He says Jesus died "...to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:26). Only Jesus, the only sinless man that ever lived, could die in our place. And He loves you so much that He did - on an awful cross.
    So, we have to come to God through the only way He's provided - His Son. Jesus alone can make you clean inside and right before a holy God. Jesus alone can get you into heaven. Not Christianity, not church, but Jesus. No other "water" can make you clean, however sincere your efforts to get clean. If you could have gotten clean any other way, believe me, God would have never put His Son through that brutal crucifixion.
    You've got a decision to make: the ultimate life-or-death decision. Will you put your total trust in Jesus, in what He did to pay for your sins on the cross? Or will you put your hope in something else? The outcomes of that decision are heaven or hell, and God leaves it to you to choose. If you're ready to abandon all other hopes and hold onto Jesus like a drowning person would embrace a rescuer, would you tell Him that right now, right where you are? At that moment every wrong thing you've ever done will be forgiven by God and erased from His book. And your name will be entered in His "Book of Life" - the people who are going to be in heaven.
    I would love to have you visit our website today, because there I think you'll get a brief explanation of how to be sure you belong to Jesus from this day on. The website is ANewStory.com.
    Sin cannot be repaid. It has to be removed. And Jesus stands ready to do that for you this very day, and you will be clean.

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    August 24, 2020 Checking the Contents - #8771

    I guess I'm sort of an Energizer driver. I mean on a trip, if I have to, I can just keep going, and going and going. Of course, I need some help staying alert every once in a while: music, air, food, especially food. I must confess, though, that carrots and celery are not my idea of an exciting snack to keep you going. Now, you know, when we've stopped for gas over the years, one mile from empty of course, I've gone into the little food store and picked up a pack of those donuts or cupcakes or fruit pies. Nourishing stuff - health food, you know. I'm speaking in the past tense now. I have joined the "think about what you're putting into your body" movement that a lot of folks are in these days. Food manufacturers have to put this little label on their products now that tells you what's in those tempting little snacks. Now I check that before I buy it. I cannot believe the fat grams, the calories, the sodium and the cholesterol. Hello artery clog, hello high blood pressure, hello cholesterol, triple bypass surgery. A lot of food companies have figured out that trend, and that's why you see more and more products that are low-fat, no-fat, low-cholesterol, no taste. Actually, that contents list is a great thing for all of us. A lot of us aren't making our food decisions based on just how good it tastes or our appetite. We care about what's in the things that are about to be in us!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Checking the Contents."
    It's good to pay attention to the contents before you put something in your mouth, or in your mind. When God tells us what it means to make Jesus Lord of our thoughts, of our mind He puts it this way. It's in our word for today from the Word of God in Philippians 4:8, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."
    That's God's diet plan for your heart. And notice the deciding factor in whether you should watch or listen to or read something. It's the content! Not if it's funny, not if it's clever, not if it's entertaining, not if you like the tune, not if it's something "everyone" is seeing or listening to or not if you like the style. I can't afford to pick what I eat just based on whether I like the taste. I could have an early date with a heart specialist or an undertaker that way. No, I have to decide based on whether or not the contents of this taste treat are unhealthy.
    That's how your Savior wants you to decide what you read or watch or listen to. Look at the contents. Think about some of your favorite TV programs, your favorite music, websites, magazines, books you read, movies you go to, the humor you listen to. Does it pass God's test for what gets into your heart? Is it something to be admired? Is it pure? Is it something Jesus would feel comfortable with? Is it something He would laugh at, that He would recommend? Does it portray God's ways or sinful ways? Is it clean or is it suggestive? Is it positive or negative?
    God cares about what you're "eating" mentally. He makes it very clear. And He says this in Proverbs 4:23, "Above all else, guard your heart because it is the wellspring of life." If an animal happens to fall in a well and dies, it will pollute the drinks that come out of that well. It's the same with your mind. If you allow something polluted or dead in there, it will continue to contaminate the well for a long time. That's why we have such a hard time forgetting a dirty joke or a movie scene for so long. Sin-stained stuff makes a deeper impression than we could ever imagine. So long after the song is off the charts or the show is over, the pollution planted by them will live in your heart and continue to poison your thoughts and your desires.
    God has called us to become new people by, He says, the "renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:1). It's hard to make your sin-polluted mind new and clean when you keep pumping in more garbage. If you want to be all you were meant to be in Christ, then pay attention to what you're putting in your mind. The package may be very attractive, the taste may be exciting, but the contents may be deadly. And for a disciple of Jesus, the contents settle whether it's going in you or not.

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    August 21, 2020 The List Your Name Is On - #8770

    I'm kind of a strange tourist. When I was in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I asked to be taken to a graveyard that overlooks the ocean. There, I walked through rows of these grave markers that have no name but the same date - April 15, 1912. That's the night the Titanic sank, and those are some of its unidentified victims. Not too long ago, the Titanic showed up again on the evening news. Lillian Asplund, the last American survivor of the sinking of the Titanic, died at age 99. It's believed that there might have been just two survivors left at that point, both in England. Those names and the name of every passenger are listed on a big wall at the end of an exhibit I attended called the Titanic Artifacts Exhibit. I got to experience that exhibit as it toured America's great museums years ago. The list indicated whether the person was a first, second, or third class passenger, or a crewman. But no matter what their class, every one of those 2,200 people appeared on one of two lists.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The List Your Name Is On."
    Every person on the Titanic ended up listed one of two ways: saved or lost. Nothing else mattered. Every person on earth, every person listening, is on one of two lists in God's records. As the last survivors of Titanic have slipped into eternity, they will be "saved" or "lost" forever and so will every one of us.
    Our word for today from the Word of God makes the two lists very clear, along with what it is that makes a person either "saved" or "lost." In 1 John 5:11-12, the Bible says: "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life (that's saved); he who does not have the Son of God does not have life (that's lost)." Our eternal destination is all contingent on one thing - whether or not we have the Son of God. Not whether or not we have religion or Christianity, but whether we have Jesus.
    So how do you get Jesus? God's pretty clear about that. He says, for example, in John 3:36, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life (saved), but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him (lost)." God's wrath is because of what we've done with the life He gave us. In essence, we've made ourselves God by doing what we wanted to do with our life. Oh yeah, we may have mixed in some religion to try to offset our taking over of our life, but religion in no way can pay the penalty for the hijacking of our life from the Creator of the universe. Sin is a capital crime, punishable by spiritual death; separation from God now and forever.
    The Bible says that believing in God's Son, Jesus, can literally change which list we're on. When the Bible says "believe," the word is about total trust, complete reliance. And only total trust in Jesus can rescue us from our spiritual death penalty, because only Jesus could and only Jesus did die in our place. He said, "Father, I will take their hell so they can go to our heaven." He did that for you. That's how much He loves you.
    So what's happening right now is so much bigger than you just listening to some guy on the radio. This is a holy opportunity to remove your name forever from the list that says "lost" and put it on the list that says "saved." Your name will be entered in what the Bible calls God's Book of Life the moment you reach for Jesus in total trust as your only hope of going to heaven. That could be today. With eternity in the balance, I can't think of a good reason to risk one more day on the list that says "lost."
    We'd consider it such a privilege to do for you what someone did for us one day. They explained to us how to begin this relationship with Jesus. Well, that's what our website does. So I want to ask you to go there. It's ANewStory.com.
    I'll leave you with just how the Bible describes what could happen to you this very day. It says that the man or woman who opens their life to Jesus "...has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life!" (John 5:24). This could be that day for you!

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    August 20, 2020 Loose Lips - #8769

    Of course, I'm too young to remember World War II, right? But there was this restaurant back in New Jersey I could go to. It was a theme restaurant to get a little of the feel. Yeah, it actually was designed to create a feeling of WWII. It even had the tail of a plane sticking out of its roof! The walls were covered with WWII newspapers, posters, and buttons. There was this one poster that always stuck in my mind. There is this desperate GI in the ocean, just about to go under for the last time. And four words that don't mean a lot to us now but meant life-or-death for our troops back then, "Loose lips sink ships." Translation? When American GIs were in port, preparing to board a ship for their next mission, they were constantly reminded to talk to no one about where they were headed. Why? There were enemy spies in every port, trying to find out those destinations. If they did, the information was given to the enemy who used it to target that American ship for sinking. If a soldier talked too much, it could literally cost him his life and the lives of his comrades, because loose lips sink ships.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Loose Lips."
    The war's over but loose lips still sink ships. Well, actually they sink relationships, and reputations, they sink people's trust, people's sense of worth, closeness.
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Proverbs 18:21 - some sobering words, "The tongue has the power of life and death." Things we say can literally bring emotional life to people or emotional death. You've experienced both, haven't you? People's words that made you feel more alive; people's words that made you feel like you were dying inside. That's the kind of power your words have. And if we let some wrong words spill out, like a GI carelessly spilling his destination, we can do some terrible...sometimes irreparable damage.
    Proverbs, this great book of down-home, real-life wisdom from God, identifies some of the kinds of loose lips that sink ships. Listen with an open heart for a moment would you? It might be that one of these has been coming out of your mouth lately, and God wants to stop it before it does any more damage.
    Here's one: "A gossip separates close friends" (Proverbs 16:28). A relationship that was a good one gets tragically poisoned and alienated by a gossiping tongue - talking about a person behind their back, spreading bad things about someone. It's cheap, it's careless, it's malicious maybe unintentionally, but it's still malicious. It sinks closeness. It sinks trust between people. I need to know that my name is safe when I'm out of the room if you're in that room.
    Proverbs 17:9 says, "He who covers an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." There's that separation thing again. You've got two choices when someone hurts you or offends you. Overlook it and move on. That promotes love. Or tell someone else about what happened, which promotes alienation and distance between people.
    Reckless words - they also do a lot of damage. The Bible says, "Reckless words pierce like a sword" (Proverbs 12:18). The unthinking words that spill out on someone when we're angry or we're not getting our way or we just feel hurt. The thrust of the verbal sword takes only an instant. But as all of us know, the wound it leaves could last for years.
    So, have your lips been too loose lately? It's time for the prayer of David in Psalm 141:3, "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips." Maybe it's time to ask God's forgiveness for those damaging words. Maybe you need to ask for forgiveness from someone you've hurt with your words and then regularly go to God for the self-control to keep those damaging words to yourself.
    Remember, your loose lips can literally sink someone that God loves very much.

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    August 19, 2020 The Witness Protection Program - #8768

    You know, it's kind of a dangerous thing being in organized crime. (Not that I know personally.) But they have this federal government's witness program, it's called the Witness Protection Program. It used to be very hard to get people to testify in organized crime cases for a very good reason. They knew it could cost them their lives. Today they know that the government will, through the Witness Protection Program, set them up for a whole new identity, in a whole new location, and they can live out the rest of their lives safely if they play by the rules.
    Recently I was with a man who was deeply involved in leadership in this program. I said, "Did you ever lose one?" He said, "Well, we have never lost one person who stayed within the rules of the Witness Protection Program." They give them certain rules regarding family contacts, financial dealings, and how to handle all those things. I said, "Well, what about some who didn't stay within the rules?" He said, "Some of them are dead." Well, no witness ever needs to get hurt, I guess if they just stay within the rules.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Witness Protection Program."
    Let me take you now to the day Jesus prayed for you in the Garden of Gethsemane. He's prayed for you many times since then, but in the Garden of Gethsemane, John 17, it's called his Great High Priestly prayer. You're going to see how He prayed for all of us. He's praying for His disciples, and then He says, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message." Well, that's you and me.
    Here's what He says, "My prayer is not that You take them out of the world, but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them" - by the way, that means to set them apart or make them holy - "by the truth. Your Word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world."
    Now, if you're a believer in Christ, here are the two dangers. First danger - they won't go into the world. They'll just settle back and be safe, sing choruses, and set up a little premature paradise where they don't have to really get intimately involved with non-Christian people, and abandon a lost world except maybe from a distance. That's the opposite of what our Lord did. He came and got totally involved - all in - with lost people.
    The other danger is that they will let the world get into them. That's why He talks about us being sanctified - set apart, kept special, treating ourselves as if we know we're special to Him, not because of something special in us. Being meaningfully engaged with lost people, but not letting the pollution get inside you. Jesus is saying, "I want you to be My witnesses. Get close to sinners, but don't get close to sin." That's His witness protection program. Witness for Me, but make sure you stay within the rules.
    Now, Jesus hopes you're involved with the people Christ died for; going into their world. Not letting their world infect you though. It's okay if the ship is in the water; it's not okay if the water is in the ship. The way to keep from being infected by the world is to be with your Lord every day before you go into that world. Be alert to the small compromises in your life. Take a spiritual shower where you wash off anything that's accumulated during the day that shouldn't be there. Fight the growing tendency to get used to it; to get hardened to sin because you see so much of it. Stay special.
    You need to go out there and be a witness for Christ. You are their hope humanly speaking. The more you're with lost people and the more you're in lost places, the more tightly you need to hold on to Jesus. Stay within the rules. Never flirt with sin so you can continue to be His faithful witness. Flirting with sin's a trap. God's Witness Protection Program says, "Go witness, but always stay safely inside of God's rules."
    Go into the world. They need you so much, but keep the world out of you.

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    August 18, 2020 Looking Backward - #8767

    The youth broadcast I did for many years, we decided to take it out of the studio one day and use an amusement park as our backdrop for the program. The park people suggested a super rollercoaster called Thunder Road as one of the venues. Now, roller coaster and I have never gotten along real well since my dad sort of made me go on one when I was little. And this one - well, it had two lines for you to choose from. One said, "Forward," and the other said, "Backward." You could ride Thunder Road in the conventional way, looking forward with at least a little chance to prepare yourself for what was coming. But the backward bunch - they rode backwards! Which means, of course, they had no idea what was about to happen to their body. What? They call this a choice?
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Looking Backward."
    In a way, we all have to choose which way we are going to ride through life. There are two lines: one says forward - looking ahead to what's going to happen, to the future. And the other says backward: looking back at the past. Those who choose to keep looking backward are going to have a much rougher road.
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Isaiah 43:18-19. God says, "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? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." Maybe that's a personal word for you right now. God's saying "I want to do a new thing; I want to start a great new chapter in your life."
    But notice what has to happen before you can get God's new thing. You have to close the old chapter. "Forget the past; do not dwell on the former things." Could it be you're missing a new beginning from God, a better chapter because you keep looking back? Back at your pain, your hurt, your failures, back at your mistreatment, your betrayal, your old life? That's why your ride is so rough.
    Paul gives us a formula for winning in Philippians 3:13, "Forgetting the things that are behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press toward the mark to win the prize to which God called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Those who keep looking back, who keep reliving the past, rehearsing the past, revenging the past - those people are too preoccupied to pursue the new thing God has for them.
    The Bible describes the rough ride some of us have because we're looking the wrong direction in Hebrews 12:15, "See to it that no one misses the grace of God. Do not let any bitter root grow up among you or it will cause trouble and defile many." See, bitterness is a seat in the car that looks backward - and so is anger, unforgiveness, resentment. Someone has hurt you, but the unforgiveness in your heart isn't hurting them much at all. It's killing you.
    God may want to do a new thing in your marriage, or between you and your parents, or one of your children, maybe in your church, or in some key relationships, or in your work. But He cannot fill your heart with His grace as long as it is full of your bitterness.
    But today could be the day that you go to the Great Forgiver, that's Jesus, and say, "Lord, help me to treat them, not as they treated me, but as You treated me." As Colossians 3:13 says, "Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Let it go. Decide now not to base the future on the past. Declare today a new beginning. And with Jesus' help and grace, you can finally be free!
    The best view is for those who get in the car that looks forward. It may not always be a smooth ride, but it isn't nearly as rough as the ride for someone who keeps looking at what has already happened. You can choose that other line today, the one that forgets the former things and does not dwell on the past.

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    August 17, 2020 Dying of Stubbornness - #8766

    Gary was a summer lifeguard on a beach in Southern California, which is kind of a nice job. During his training, he heard some information that seemed so bizarre to him he just didn't believe it. The trainers told him that most people they tried to rescue would resent and even resist their assistance. Clearly, that just didn't make sense. Anyone who was in trouble - like life-or-death trouble - would surely welcome help, right? No. Then we got to Gary's first rescue. The man who was in trouble cursed at the man who was trying to save him. He kicked, he clawed, and he did everything in his power to fight off his rescuer.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Dying of Stubbornness."
    We humans are pretty proud folks, right? Sometimes even when our pride could cost us our life! Jesus understands that all too well. He's been trying to rescue people from the clutches of their sin for a long time, only to find many people trying to resist Him at the expense of their own eternity.
    The Bible paints Jesus' coming to earth as an urgent rescue mission. He saw that our sinful choices, our commandeering of our life from God, had left us hopelessly cut off from the God we were made for. That separation makes this life pointless and our life after death unbearable: a little hell now - all of hell later. So like a lifeguard jumping in the water to save a drowning person at the risk of his own life, Jesus jumped into our world to give us a chance to live instead of die. It wasn't just at the risk of his life, it was at the cost of His life on a cross - separated from God, paying our bill, taking our place.
    He doesn't want to lose you. So now He comes to people like you and me, reaching out to rescue us. But sadly, heaven's Rescuer is often greeted with our proud resistance. "Look, I'm a good person - a religious person. I can give you a list of people who can tell you how I've helped them. I think I can get to heaven on my own, thank you." No, you can't. Or Jesus would never have gone through what He did on the cross. The Bible could not be clearer on this: "He saved us," the Bible says, "not because of the righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy" (Titus 3:5). Jesus has done all He can to rescue you, but it could be you've done all you can to resist Him.
    It's important to see the danger that puts you in. In our word for today from the Word of God, we watch what happened to one man who consistently refused to respond to God's messages. Pharaoh, who was the King of Egypt, continually hears God's messages from Moses. But Exodus 8:15 says, "He hardened his heart." That could be what you're doing without realizing it-letting your heart get harder to Jesus every time you ignore Him, you bypass his offer. Again, the Bible says "Pharaoh hardened his heart" (Exodus 8:32). Then comes these sobering words, "The Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart" (Exodus 9:12).
    If you turn your back on the Lord enough times, eventually the Lord will "permanentize" the hardening of your heart. Now you'll never respond; you'll never be rescued. Ultimately, Moses, speaking for God Himself, says to Pharaoh, "I will never appear before you again" (Exodus 10:29). For Pharaoh, from that day on, it is over - forever. For you, thank God that day has not come. Or Jesus wouldn't be coming to you again today, saying, "I died for you. Here's My hand to save you." What none of us knows is when He will "never appear before us" again.
    So this really is a holy moment - a precious opportunity for you to put your trust in this Rescuer who is your only hope - Jesus. This time, grab His hand. You can do that by telling Him, "Jesus, I'm sorry for my sin, for resisting Your love. I resign from running my own life. I am Yours." At that moment, the Bible says you are what's called "saved" - rescued forever.
    Our website's all about how to get started in this eternity-changing relationship. Let me urge you to go visit there today. It's ANewStory.com.
    Whatever's held you back just isn't worth it. There is nothing worth missing Jesus for - worth missing heaven for.

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    August 14, 2020 Giving it to Your Guard - #8765

    I was doing a little reading about the unusual man that was President when my mom was a little girl, Calvin Coolidge. Now he was a classic Vermonter, but not a classic politician. He was a man of very few words, great common sense, and very strong character. Even after his presidency he remained very popular with the American people. Now, Calvin Coolidge was remarkably cool under pressure, even that day when a letter was handed to him in Los Angeles that warned him of a plot to assassinate him. Coolidge blandly handed the note to his guard with just five simple words, "Guess this belongs to you."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Giving it to Your Guard."
    Our word for today from the word of God comes from 1 Peter 2:21 where God says, "Christ suffered for you leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps." Now before we read on, that word "example" means in the Greek language the alphabet that was at the top of a school child's slate. It's like, you know, you copy this if you want to do it right. It was called a copyhead.
    Now, for us, that pattern is Jesus. Copy this if you want to do it right. Alright what's that? Well, this is what we're supposed to copy. "He committed no sin and no deceit was found in His mouth. When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when he suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted himself to Him who judges justly."
    Now here's Jesus under the greatest pressure that any man has ever endured. He's carrying the redemption of the world on His shoulders, He's being insulted and spat on, beaten; humiliated by the men He created. He's suffering gross injustice, terrible indignity, agonizing pain. Now this is what we're supposed to copy. He did not retaliate, He made no threats, He committed no sin, no defending Himself against the accusations, no retaliation for the hurts. How could He possibly do that?
    Well, it says what He did was He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. When the threats came, Jesus turned to His Father and said, "This belongs to You, Father. You take care of it." When He was treated unfairly, He handed it over to the Father and said, "This belongs to You. You take care of it." That's what we're supposed to copy.
    Look at Jesus during His arrest, His trial, His torture, and His execution. The people supposedly in charge of this thing, they were the ones who were out of control. And the one who is supposed to be the victim is the strongest person in the room. He's under control because He's committed His case and His cause to the God of the universe.
    Maybe you're under attack in some way right now. You're feeling that pressure, maybe you're being treated unfairly, maybe you're being accused, or you have been really wounded. As perhaps no other time in your life, you have a chance to experience and demonstrate the difference Jesus Christ makes - the One who judges justly. You don't have to waste a lot of time defending yourself. Psalm 37:6 promises that "The justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun."
    Ask God for the Jesus grace to not retaliate when the harshness is just being hurled at you. Don't answer it. Don't stoop to their level and become like them. The Bible says a soft answer turns away anger. You see you win by not having the final hurting word or by offering the great self defense, but by being the peace person in a sea of hostility; the gentle person in a sea of harshness.
    That is possible only by believing that someone better than you is defending your cause, and He is. It is the living God! So when the hit comes, turn to your all-powerful Father and protector and say, "Lord, I guess this belongs to You."

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    August 13, 2020 The Best Thing God Ever Did For You - #8764

    He first showed up in the 1930s. And I do not remember that firsthand! Then they made movies about him in the 21st Century. One of America's most enduring superheroes. Here's a clue from the '50s TV show about him, "Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...Superman!" The Superman story begins with the meltdown of the planet Krypton and the decision by one of its leaders to save his son by launching him in this small rocket he has built. Destination: Earth. In one of the movies about the guy in the red cape and the blue suit with the big letter "S," his father sees that the people of earth need some help, and he says these words: "I'm sending them my only son."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Best Thing God Ever Did For You."
    Superman is just a story of course. There is, however, a Father who sent His only son to do for us what we could never do for ourselves, and that is not a story. It's history. What God did actually has the power to change your personal destiny. Because God looked down and saw your need and my need, and He said, "I'm sending them My only Son."
    In the words of Romans 8:32, which is our word for today from the Word of God, "He...did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all." God gave up His Son for us...for you. I remember as our son-in-law held our first grandchild in his arms for the first time. He said, "This is my son; my only son." The thought of giving up that boy was unthinkable. Why would God bid goodbye to His only Son and send Him from the glories of heaven to die with spikes in His hands and feet, suspended on a cross?
    The Bible answers that question. It says, "He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10). God gave up His Son because He loves you; He loves you that much. He sent Him to be the only sacrifice that could pay for all the things we've done against God; every dishonest thing, every dirty thing, every hurting thing, every angry thing, every selfish thing.
    We have kept the God we were made by on the margins of our life and we have hijacked from Him the life that He gave us. That is punishable by separation from God, forever. But God said, "They can only be saved if their eternal death penalty is paid. And someone has to die for that." And so, His one and only Son poured out His life in exchange for yours and mine.
    That's why what you do with Jesus is so critical. It literally decides where you'll spend forever. Some years ago, a noted photographer spent months taking pictures of people as they came and went from the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington. And one morning, before anyone else was there, he noticed a new remembrance at the wall. There was a picture of a soldier, a medal, a picture of Jesus, and a simple, three-word inscription. As he was focusing his lens on the scene, this elderly man came up behind him and put a hand on his shoulder and said, "Excuse me, but do you like it?" The photographer told him how impressed he was with it. The man replied, "I'm glad. I put it there." Suddenly, that little three-word inscription came to life for that photographer. It simply said, "Only one son."
    God brings you to a cross where His "only one Son" gave His life for you, and He's asking you, "What do you think?" Jesus' death for you is your only hope. He's the rescuer you either grab and hold onto with total trust, or the rescuer that you ignore or push away.
    You may have known about Jesus' death on the cross for a long time. You may have commemorated His death at church many times, but you've never made what He did on the cross personal for you. Has there ever been a time you said, "Jesus, I'm Yours...I'm totally Yours." If not, then you're living under the death penalty for your sins. That penalty has already been paid for you.
    Maybe today you're ready to make God's one and only Son your one and only hope. Well, let me encourage you to tell Him that right now wherever you are. And then visit our website, because it's loaded with information that will help you be sure you belong to Him. That website is ANewStory.com.
    When your little time on earth ends, there's really only one thing that will really matter. What did you do with God's Son?

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    August 12, 2020 Your Share of the Load - #8763

    When our family got ready to leave for a trip, I usually had some pretty good help loading the car, because everybody was eager to leave. Now, when we pulled into the driveway at the end of the trip, it was a little different. All of a sudden I noticed I was carrying a lot of things and I didn't have much company. Five members in our family, but invariably when it was time to unload, I ran in the house and found... let's see, there's one on the phone, one in the bathroom, one opening the mail, one in their room, and one carrying the load. That was me. I'd be in the kitchen yelling, "Help!" as I staggered in with things hanging from both shoulders - doing my impersonation of a mule, things in my arms, my hands, my mouth, my teeth. Listen, it is frustrating to have a load to carry and nobody is there to help.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Your Share of the Load."
    Now that you're tired of my whining, why don't we go to our word for today from the Word of God. It's in Nehemiah 1. Nehemiah is the cupbearer to the King of Persia. Many miles from the city of Jerusalem, which is torn down and has been largely leveled - it's God's Holy City. And the report comes back and here's what it says: "They said to me, 'Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.' Nehemiah said, 'When I heard these things I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.'"
    Now, Nehemiah, with the king's permission, ends up going back to lead the rebuilding of that wall, which was actually an engineering miracle. He says in chapter 2, verse 12, "I had not told anyone yet what God had put in my heart to do." Nehemiah is basically saying here, "I heard about a need and something happened in my heart." Okay, now, let me just tell you, that's what I'm praying will happen to you today.
    Nehemiah heard about a need - he took ownership of it. He started to grapple with it. He wrestled in prayer over it. And he said, "This one breaks my heart." And after he prayed, he got involved in planning to do something about it and then even in the leadership. Okay, now God is carrying a load in His heart. God's burden is for lost people. Some are in the United States, some are in Mexico, some are in Africa, some are in Europe, but they're all headed for an unspeakable eternity without His Son.
    Some of the people He's burdened for are children, some are teenagers, some are homeless, hungry, senior citizens, some are in prison. Some of those lost people live in mansions, some in drug-infested urban neighborhoods, some are in garbage dumps around the world; garbage dumps that smolder forever. I couldn't begin to list the load that God's carrying on His heart, but I do know He's asking you to live some of your life for some of the people He gave His life for. He has a part of His heart that He wants to plant in your heart.
    Look at Nehemiah! Nehemiah allowed this need to break his heart, and then he got involved in intensive, focused prayer for that need. God wants to put a hot spot, a passionate spot in your heart; a focused burden for some mission field or some people group, or some urgent need. He doesn't want to bear this burden alone. When we have a heavy load to carry, we expect every family member to carry part of it.
    Well, God has a part of His load for you to carry. No child of God is exempt. "To whom much is given, much is required." So begin on your knees, "Lord, go ahead and break my heart for something that breaks yours." Take some ownership for one of those needs. And what will God do with your willing heart? I don't know, but He'll make your life bigger as you get beyond caring about what just concerns you. And you will have a bond with Jesus from His heart to yours. That is incredible!
    Let Him share with you something that concerns Him, and you'll be in a position to really make a difference. Because God has planted passion in your heart for something that is in His heart and for people He died for.

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    August 11, 2020 No Such Thing As Getting Away With It - #8762

    She's one of those ladies with an infectious laugh and a lot of mischief in her eyes. Recently, she painted a word picture of an incident from her childhood that left us all really laughing. She was three, her brother was four; the youngest of eleven children. One day the two youngsters were watching ice skaters on TV, and that inspired her brother to suggest that they try to ice skate in the kitchen by spreading butter across the entire kitchen floor. What a great idea! And that's what they did - laughing all the way. They were having a ball, sliding across that floor like future Olympians, until Mom walked in. They "skated" over to the corner farthest from the door as their mother headed toward them with fire in her eyes. Can you picture this? "Ain't Momma happy, ain't nobody happy!" Right? She didn't have her skates on. She fell to the floor. The kids laughed, and Mom couldn't get to them to punish them! Wrong. She went out and got a bucket of hot water and started cleaning the butter off the kitchen floor. She began at the kitchen door and steadily worked her way to the corner where two children cowered; their entire short lives were flashing before them. There was no escape.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "No Such Thing As Getting Away With It."
    Two little kids believing they would get away with what they had done. Sure they would escape the consequences. Wrong on both counts. That is a mistaken calculation that a lot of us grown-up kids have made. We've done some things that go against how God told us to live, and it seems like we're getting away with it. We haven't been caught.
    But make no mistake about it: you are heading for a serious day of reckoning. Judgment delayed is not judgment cancelled. And the longer you "get away with it," the worse the consequences are going to be. The reality about sin's consequence is laid out starkly in Galatians 6:7, our word for today from the Word of God. "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." The painful harvest of your sin may not come immediately, but it will come. There's no such thing as getting away with sin. God puts it this way, "Be sure that your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23).
    There's really no such thing as "secret sin." If God knows, it's no secret. God knows, and you're caught. You can be sure He knows, and He loves you too much to let you ultimately get away with rebellion against Him; to get away with the things that eat away your soul that slowly destroy you. And the best time to turn around is right now, because the bill is getting higher every day. In God's words, "because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath" (Romans 2:5).
    You don't want to die with your sin unforgiven. The Bible says, "Nothing impure will ever enter" God's heaven... "but only those," the Bible says, "whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:27). Your name is actually entered in that book of life the moment you bring all the sin of your life to the man who died for that sin, and that's Jesus. He died on the cross to take all the punishment you deserve for that sin, so you would never have to.
    When you keep your inevitable appointment with a holy God, all that's going to matter is if your sins have been forgiven. And they can only be forgiven if you've put your total trust in Jesus as your personal Savior from your personal sin. You need your name in that book of life, and only Jesus can write it there.
    With eternity just one heartbeat away, Jesus is extending His nail-scarred hand to you today. You need to grab His hand. You can do that by telling Him with all your heart, "Jesus, I acknowledge my sin. I want to turn from my sin. My only hope is Your death for my sin. I'm all Yours, beginning today."
    And you can do that because He's alive, since He walked out of his grave on Resurrection Day. You go to our website today and you will find a simple explanation of how to be sure you belong to Jesus. That website - ANewStory.com.
    The day that He died, Jesus said, "Father, forgive them." Today He stands ready to say that for you. And your sins at that moment will be gone from God's book forever.

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    August 10, 2020 Taking Care of the Consequences - #8761

    Our grandson was really concerned about me. Grandma was at his house, taking care of him while Mom and Dad were gone, and I wasn't able to be there. Grandma was lying in bed with our little guy, trying to help him get to sleep. But he had some questions first. "Are you going to stay at our house all night?" Well, Grandma assured him she was. "But who's at home with Granddad?" Grandma assured him I was there alone, but that I could handle it. "But isn't Granddad going to be lonely?" Again, Grandma told our grandson that I would be okay. And finally he thought of some childlike theology that allowed him to go to sleep that night. He said, "I know. Jesus will take care of him." And I can assure you He did!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Taking Care of the Consequences."
    I think a lot of us could get to sleep a little more easily if we could rest our worries right where our grandson rested his, "Jesus will take care of it." That might be a childlike theology, but it's the secret to some grownup peace of mind.
    I love the simplicity and the depth of a Bible verse that has only eight words in it, but those eight words say volumes. It's one of my anchor verses. It's Psalm 4:5, our word for today from the Word of God. It simply says, "Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord." In other words, do what you believe God wants you to do, whatever it may cost and then trust Him for whatever consequences may come from your obeying Him.
    So many people hesitate to do what God is telling them to do because they're worried about all the "mights," and the "coulds" and the "what ifs" that may happen as a result. It's like we answer God's leading with our list of what I call "yeah buts." "Yeah, but this might happen; yeah, but what if I don't get a good response; yeah, but what if the money doesn't come through; yeah, but what if there's a bad fallout from me doing what You want?" Do you know how many people have missed God's plan for their life because of the "yeah buts," their fears about the backlash, the risks, the bad reaction?
    In fact, it could be you're holding back on doing something God wants you to do right now because of your fear of the consequences. Well, here is the liberating truth of the Word of God: the consequences of obeying God are God's responsibility! You offer right sacrifices, then you trust God for whatever happens after that. God's ancient people stood on the threshold of a glorious Promised Land that God was ready to give them, but they refused to go there because they feared all the bad things that might happen. So for 40 long years, they got wilderness instead of Promised Land!
    Peter got it right when he was wondering if he should step out of that storm-tossed boat and walk on the water with Jesus. He simply said, "Lord, if it's You, I will." That's really the only thing you need to worry about, "Lord, if it's You..." If it's Jesus asking you to do this, go for it. The consequences, the unanswered questions, the resources that you have no idea where you're going to find, that's all up to Him. It's your job to obey.
    That's why the old hymn bottom-lines it this way, "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey." My grandson knew the answer: when you're worried about things, "Jesus will take care of it."

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    August 7, 2020 Why Going to Heaven Is So Easy - And So Hard - #8760

    Children can be so refreshing. They tell it like it is, and they often see it like it is better than we grownups do. Our little granddaughter was asking questions about Jesus for several months. One thing her parents had repeatedly explained to her was how Jesus cleans our hearts from the sins that we've done. Because she was young, Mom and Dad didn't push her; they just responded to her natural questions. Well, eventually, she told her daddy that she was, in her words, "afraid of sin." That's not a bad thing to be afraid of. The next day she said, "Daddy, I want to ask Jesus in my heart." And in her simple, childlike way, that's exactly what she did. Not long afterwards, she joyfully told my wife, "Grandma, I have Jesus in my heart." Grandma told her that was a happy thing. Then Grandma began to talk about how Mommy has Jesus in her heart, and Daddy has Jesus in his heart, her Grandma and Granddad, and her aunt and uncle. Suddenly she began to shake her head. She said, "No, no, no! Only children have Jesus!"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Why Going to Heaven Is So Easy - And So Hard."
    I'm grateful that Jesus made it clear that He's for everyone, old and young and everyone in between. But there's something Jesus did say about belonging to Him that actually validates some of the spirit of our little granddaughter's insight. His words, recorded in Matthew 18:2-3, our word for today from the Word of God, give to us so-smart grownups something to think about.
    The Bible says, "He called a little child and made him stand among them. And He said, 'I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'" Wow! Now when Jesus makes something a requirement for going to heaven when we die, you need to pay attention. We need to try to understand what He's saying.
    Instead of children having to be grownup to begin a relationship with Jesus, we grownups have to become like little children. What does that mean? A little child instinctively knows he needs someone bigger. A child looks for the hand of someone bigger, the help of someone bigger, the direction of someone bigger. And a child operates on the basis of simply trusting that someone bigger who loves them. They'll trustingly go wherever that person takes them, trustingly believe whatever that person tells them. And it is that kind of total trust and total dependency on Jesus Christ that gets you into "the kingdom of heaven."
    John 3:16, one of the foundation verses of the Bible, says "whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." And that means abandoning any other hope of having your sins forgiven because only Jesus died to pay for them. But that's a problem for us grownup people. Our pride keeps us from admitting that all our goodness is useless as currency to get us into heaven. If your goodness was enough, Jesus would have never gone through the agony of that cross. And over the years we learn "un-trust," because of how humans are. So we'll agree with Jesus, but we won't throw ourselves on Jesus as our only hope. The reason it's so easy to go to heaven is also the reason it's so hard...you just put all your trust in Jesus.
    Often, in His love, God will send or allow a situation that's totally beyond our control. He'll allow us to hit a wall so we will realize what children realize so instinctively. We desperately need someone bigger. We need heaven's Prince who died in our place. The question is not, "Do you agree with Jesus?" or "Do you like Jesus?" Have you ever grabbed Jesus with both your hands as your only hope of getting right with God? That's the question. If not, in Jesus' words, "you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
    Today, you can change that, and in so doing change where you will spend eternity. It's a matter of reaching up for Jesus' hands with the simple trust of a little child reaching for the hand of his Daddy. I'd love to help you take that step if that's what you want to do. And there's a simple explanation of how to begin with Jesus at our website. It's ANewStory.com. Please get there today.
    Isn't it time to look at Jesus and say, "I can't, You can, and I'm Yours?" When you do, you are finally safe all the way from here to heaven.

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    August 6, 2020 Seductive Sewage - #8759

    I was on an Indian reservation in the Southwest and I was staying with friends there. When I woke up in the morning, I looked out and saw some beautiful scenery. It was sort of beckoning me to go for a walk and see it. I hadn't gone far when I saw this beautiful pond up ahead on the right. Now this is almost desert, so a body of water, hey, that's something special! The early morning sun was just gleaming on the water, and it looked so inviting. I was headed down to play around that pond, and then I noticed a sign identifying what tribal department was in charge of this. Want to guess? All I remember is one word "sewage." I couldn't get out of there fast enough.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Seductive Sewage."
    That pond looked so inviting. It turned out to be sewage. Just like some of the material you can find on the Internet these days, in magazines, in movies and videos. The sewage is called pornography.
    Just like that pond I saw, it can feel like there's a magnet pulling you toward sexually oriented materials. It can look exciting; it could look inviting. But we're talking sewage here that will foul your mind, your soul, and your relationships. It's more than a pond - it's quicksand. It's easy to get into. It is hard to get out of.
    Satan is smart enough to know that you're not going to go for something ugly or boring. The Bible describes your enemy's traps this way in James 1:14-15. "Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived" - by the way, notice it starts just as a "want to") - "that desire gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death." When you feed a wrong desire, it grows into active sin, and sin always kills something that matters to you. First, sin fascinates you; then it assassinates you.
    Our word for today from the Word of God is for someone listening today; someone who is curious about, or flirting with, or even trapped in the sewage of pornography. 2 Corinthians 7:1 says, "Since we have these promises, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit." Now, what promises are they talking about here that should motivate us to take a spiritual shower and wash off the contaminants?
    In the verses right before, God says you are "the temple of the living God." "Touch no unclean thing...I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." If you belong to Jesus, then the Most Holy God lives in you, and you are a son or daughter of the Most High. So how can you pollute God's temple? How can you pollute God's blood-bought child with what you've been looking at?
    Porno-sewage stirs up desires that torment you, it makes you disrespect yourself from shame, it distorts your marriage relationship with twisted images of sex, it sows dissatisfaction with your mate, and will probably ultimately break our heart. It sets you up for an awful fall, and it robs you of God's blessing and God's power in your life.
    When I realized that inviting pond was sewage, I knew what to do: get out as fast as I could. That's what you need to do. Repent. Pour out your heart and soul to Jesus at the foot of his cross, find someone who will hold you accountable on a day-to-day basis.
    Turn off or cut off whatever access you have for that junk, like burning a bridge. And fill up your heart with God's Word and God's praises. Run from that stuff! It is sewage that will sink you!

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    August 5, 2020 A Rescue Mission - #8758

    You know, for many years there's been a crusade going on in America. It was driven by mothers. There's actually a television movie some years ago that portrayed how one woman started an organization called MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) because her own daughter was killed. Now, drunken driving was just a theoretical issue to her until, well when her own daughter was killed. That began the crusade that has actually begun to really make a change sometimes in people's driving habits and across the country. I guess in every area of our life a lot of us, well, we don't join a battle until someone we love is wounded in it. And you might be in that position. There's a spiritual battle that has all of a sudden become very real to you because someone you love is a casualty.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Rescue Mission."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is found in Genesis 14. I'll begin reading at verse 11. It comes from the life of Abraham, and it concerns an incident with his nephew, Lot. Now, he actually raised Lot pretty much as his own son. Here's what it says: "The four kings of Sodom seized all the goods and all their food, and then they went away. They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom. One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, all of whom were allied with Abram. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan."
    Okay, you see what's happening here? Abram's living in a nice comfortable spot. In fact I have visited Israel and I've seen those trees in Mamre, and what a nice shaded spot in the middle of the sunshine and surrounded by the hills there. It's a great spot. Abram's got a wonderful position, but now he's heard that someone he loves is in trouble, so he calls out all the 318 men at his disposal and mobilizes them for rescue.
    Now, the fact is, and the principle of this passage of scripture is that when someone you love is in trouble, you drop everything. Just like that mother who started Mothers Against Drunk Driving. When it hit her home, she dropped everything and she got in the fight. I wonder if in a sense, just like Abram here, you have a loved one who's been carried off. Not by a king somewhere, but perhaps by sin, maybe they've been tempted, they've been lured away, maybe they're on a prodigal path. Maybe they're wandering in some form or another. Can I urge you today; do what Abram did when someone he loved was carried off. Use all the resources at your disposal to fight for them.
    That, of course, means most of all, prayer. "Lord, bless the missionaries." No, not that kind of prayer. I mean intensive, combat prayer where you gather perhaps some loved ones together and you pray by name regularly, and passionately, and fervently on behalf of that person and for their spiritual rescue. And then give them some extra time. Maybe they're withdrawing from you, but still do all you can.
    Set aside whatever you have to in your schedule to be with them. Change your datebook for them. If it takes money, if it takes going for counseling to work on your end of it, whether they'll go or not, you go and find out what you can change to help them.
    Maybe it's an apology that's needed. Maybe you need to admit you've been wrong. Whatever you can do, make sure that he or she knows they are loved. Write a letter, if nothing else, to tell them how much you love them, and always have and always will. Maybe you share even a prayer for them, the things you're sorry for, and how you wish things could be in the future so the rest of your years might be the best of your years.
    God often uses the wandering of loved ones to actually make us re-examine our lives. And the good news, if you're willing to mobilize all your resources, listen to what happened here. It says, "Abram recovered all the goods and brought back his relative." Fight for that loved one of yours with everything you've got, and then trust God to bring them home.

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    August 4, 2020 I Think I Can't - #8757

    One of the first books I remember hearing my parents read to me, and actually one of the first books my kids remember us reading to them, is that famous little classic, "The Little Engine That Could." You probably remember the story of that load of toys that no train was able to pull up the mountain to get those poor little children their toys on the other side. Well, no train that is, until this unlikely little engine volunteered to give it a try. And against all odds, he made it, puffing out those four inspiring words - listen, if you remember them, say them with me now: "I think I can! I think I can!" (Yeah, you got it!) And he inspired us to believe that we could do anything if we had that same confidence. Unfortunately, I have a scandalous secret to tell you. The little engine lied to us!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "I Think I Can't."
    In a strange way, "I think I can't" turns out to be much more powerful than "I think I can." I know, the book had a good point. But what I'm saying is this: You start to understand that as you bring your life under the leadership of the Lord, Jesus Christ, you begin to understand the powerful things that can happen when you're finally ready to say to God, "I think I can't, and only You can!"
    Listen to one of the most highly trained, highly skilled, highly motivated men in all of the Bible, the great Apostle Paul. He's speaking in our word for today from the Word of God in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, and he starts with God's answer to his prayer for deliverance from his "thorn in the flesh" - some frustrating, incurable condition he could not get rid of. He says, "But the Lord said to me, �My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.'" Then he reports this startling discovery he made when he faced something he couldn't fix and he couldn't control, "When I am weak, then I am strong."
    Paul said that when he reached the point of "I can't." God's power flooded in, in a way that made him stronger than he had ever been when he was strong. In Paul's strength that is. Some of us are inveterate "little engines that could." We always have a plan, we can always make a way, and we can always solve it. (Sounds like somebody I know who has a radio program.)
    And while we'll ask God to help us, we still hang onto control. Until it reaches the point of being seemingly hopeless, the point where we're ready to totally take our hands off of it, wave the white flag and say, "God, it's all Yours. I release it completely. Only You can do this!" And God says, "I've been waiting so long for you to say that. Now fasten your seat belt."
    Of course, you don't have to wait until you're at the end. You could realize that reality that you can't long before you're forced to conclude that. When you don't know what to do, you claim God's promise that "if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously" (James 1:5). Sometimes, I sit at my desk and I literally say out loud, "God, I lack wisdom here. I have no idea what to do." And soon I've got insight I never had before. Remember that Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit (that means totally dependent, the ones who admit they're �broke'), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3).
    When you're out of strength, Isaiah 40:29 says, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." But you have to admit that's you. You've got to amidt you're the weary, you're the weak. I learned it when I was a little kid, that song "Jesus Loves Me." And I learned the words to that when I was about six years old, but it took me decades to finally live them. These words, "they are weak, but He is strong." When you're at the end of you, you're at the beginning of the awesome power of God.
    When you know Christ, you are never more powerful than when you're powerless.

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    August 3, 2020 The Only Way to Heal Your Heart - #8756

    It was the kind of news that no expectant parents want to get from their obstetrician. The doctor told them that a recent sonogram revealed that their baby had a 1-in-10,000 heart condition. Their unborn son had a potentially devastating hole in his heart. They had to deliver the baby early, so He was pretty small, but they went ahead and they performed open-heart surgery on his heart that was only the size of a nickel. He made it, and I was privileged to be there in infant intensive care the first time that his father got to hold him - tubes and all. There, in the middle of his tiny chest, there was this 2 & 1/2-inch wound, covered by a bandage. On the one hand, it was a pretty hard thing for a daddy to see his little son, actually his only son, with that big wound. But that wound was the only way his heart could be healed.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Only Way to Heal Your Heart."
    As I watched that father holding his wounded son, I couldn't help but think, God has a wounded son - His only Son. And without His wounds, there's no way my heart could have ever been healed or that your heart can be healed.
    That man hanging on that rugged cross - spikes in His hands and feet, a crown of thorns jammed on His head, a deep spear wound in His side - that man is Jesus, God's one and only Son. In fact, as I watched a dad holding his only son, his wounded son, some of the most precious words in the Bible popped into my mind. I found myself actually saying it out loud: "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" (John 3:16). That really comes to life when you put your name in it. I'll do it with my name. "God so loved Ron that He gave His one and only Son so that if Ron (now put your name in there) would believe in Him, then (there you go) will not perish but have eternal life."
    Jesus' death was no accident. He wasn't a victim. God sent Him here to die in our place. He describes it vividly in Isaiah 53:4-5. It's our word for today from the Word of God. "He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities (that covers every law of God you've ever broken, I've ever broken, every wrong thing we've ever done); the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed."
    Healed from what? From the deadly sin-cancer inside each of us; the spiritual cancer that's always terminal unless it's cured. And there's only one way that could happen - the wounding and the dying of God's only Son. Because only He was qualified to take your place and mine, absorbing all the punishment that we deserve for our sin. Without His wounds, there's no way you or I could ever have our hearts healed of what will otherwise cost us eternal life.
    The greatest tragedy I can imagine is that you would miss what Jesus spent so much to give you, by depending on your religion or your goodness to get your sins forgiven. If there was any other way for you to have your sin forgiven, believe me, Jesus would not have paid the price He paid. You could miss it all by ignoring Him or just continually putting Him off, or by knowing a lot about Him but not knowing Him.
    Today, Jesus is extending His nail-scarred hand to you. He didn't stay dead. He rose from the dead to be a living Savior for you. But you have to grab His hand, as your only hope of being rescued from the penalty of your sin. You can do that by telling Him you're ready to turn from the sin that separates you from Him and then you're ready to pin all your hopes on Him and what He did for you on the cross.
    Today could be your day to experience this love, this forgiveness for yourself. If you want that, I'd love to be able to encourage you in that direction. That is what our website's for. I've provided a brief explanation there how you can begin your personal relationship with Jesus. You go there today - I would just urge you to do that. It's ANewStory.com. That's the website. Your new story could begin there today!
    Because of all that God's Son has done for you, God will never forget what you do with His Son.

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    July 31, 2020 Seeing What Isn't Working - #8755

    One Christmas our youngest grandson was visiting at our son's house, and he was fascinated with the extensive Christmas lights that his uncle had strung around the outside of his house. I should tell you that one of our grandson's first words was "light," and lights were one of the first thing he would point out in any room. He was almost obsessed with them! As night fell and our son's Christmas lights came on, our grandson surprisingly wasn't very happy. We thought he'd be amazed by all those lights, but instead he just kept pointing out this one short stretch of lights that wasn't working and repeating, "Lights off. Lights off." Forget the hundreds of lights that were on!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Seeing What Isn't Working."
    Our grandson basically ignored the lights that were working. All he could see were the ones that weren't. Sadly, there are grownup people who live most of their lives that way. They look right past the things that are working and they choose to focus on the things that aren't. So they're often frustrated, discontent, mean spirited, unhappy, edgy, critical, negative; all those good things. When we're like that, I guess we become what I would call "negatologists" - people who major on the negative, which robs us of what the Bible identifies as a major source of strength for everyday living.
    Nehemiah actually announced it in Nehemiah 8:10, our word for today from the Word of God. He simply said, "The joy of the Lord is your strength." That joy is a stubborn positiveness about life, and it's rooted in the Lord you belong to, not the circumstances you're experiencing.
    Earlier in the Book of Nehemiah, we see a somewhat inverted example of how he must have lived this out in everyday life. Nehemiah is a Jewish captive who works as a trusted servant of the King of Persia. For some time now, Nehemiah has been grieving over the reports of the condition of his people and of his city back in Israel.
    One morning he comes in to serve the king, and the king asks, "Why is your face so sad today when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart." Nehemiah uses this as an opportunity to share the burden of his heart. And God uses that as an opportunity to enlist the king in the rebuilding of Jerusalem, His Holy City.
    Notice this little detail. It was a big deal that Nehemiah looked sad at work. For some of us, it would be a big deal if we looked happy at work! "Why are you so happy?" For this "joy of the Lord" man, being down seemed to be a major exception to the way he was most of the time. Nehemiah must have been a man with heaven's perspective, who could see what lights were on any given day, rather than the lights that weren't working.
    How about you? Could it be that you've allowed yourself to start dwelling most of the time on what's wrong: what's wrong with your situation, what's wrong with your church, what's wrong with the people around you, what's wrong with your family members? Without realizing it, you've actually allowed yourself to become what the world already has more than enough of - a negatologist - a role really that is just totally unfitting for a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    When you belong to Him, there are always so many more lights on than off. But it all has to do with what you choose to dwell on. You can't choose your circumstances, but you can choose what you dwell on. Don't let the things that aren't working make you miss the beauty of the lights that are on all around you.

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    July 30, 2020 Disappointing Investments - #8754

    It's late at night and I finally made it to my motel room. It's been a long day. I want a midnight snack or at least a can of soda. As I step outside my room, I hear the "whirr" of vending machines just down the hall. I stand in front of that thing, pondering my hardest decision of the day. Then I put my money in and I push the button. Usually, I get what I just paid for, but not always. Sometimes nothing comes. I push the button again, and again, and again. Not only do I not get my selection, but the coin return isn't working either. Those most frustrating times of all, when you're desperate enough to try again, and maybe again, putting in your money - and still nothing in return.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Disappointing Investments."
    That vending machine turns out to be an investment with no return. You may have had financial investments like that, where you put a lot in, but you got very little back. Or you may have invested very heavily in a relationship, or several relationships, only to be disappointed with the return.
    There are people who have invested heavily in a marriage and they've basically ended up with little to show for what they gave. You may be one of them. We invest so much of our life in our children, sometimes even there to be disappointed with the return in their lives. All we gave to be successful, all we poured into what we thought would give us security or approval, so many times we keep putting more and more into it, hoping it will finally pay off. But for many, it's loneliness that comes back, or stress, or hurt, or regrets over all that we've paid to get so little.
    Our word for today from the Word of God is for all of us who have made some disappointing life investments. In Isaiah 55:1-2, God says, "Come, all you who are thirsty and come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk, without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare."
    God's offer is simple, "Come to Me and I will give you what all your searching and all your spending has never delivered, and I will give it to you without cost." The reason none of our earth-investments have been able to satisfy the thirst in our heart is because we've been trying to get from them what we were supposed to get from a personal relationship with our Creator - which we have totally missed.
    In Isaiah, that same book of the Bible, God says, "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 sin) of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). No one but the God who made you can fill the hole in your heart. Your sin has cut you off from Him, but God did something amazing to get you back. He invested His greatest treasure: His one and only Son.
    The Bible tells us that in heaven, they're saying to Jesus: "With Your blood You purchased men for God" (Revelation 5:9). That's what Jesus invested in you: His blood; His life when He took on Himself all the shame and all the hell of all your sin when He died on the cross. That's why you accept God's invitation "without cost" because all your goodness and all your religion can't do a thing to remove your sin or get you into heaven. Only Jesus can and He paid the price. Only He could!
    And today, you have the opportunity to receive what you could never buy - eternal life and a love relationship with Almighty God himself. It begins when you tell Him, "Lord, I want what You died to give me. I have no hope but You and Your death on the cross for me. The door is open. Come on in, Jesus."
    It would be my great honor just to help you be sure that you have crossed over "from death to life" the Bible says, and into this unloseable relationship with Jesus. That's what our website's for. And I hope you go there and there find the information that has helped so many secure their relationship with Jesus. That website is ANewStory.com.
    I will tell you this, the One who loved you enough to die for you, is powerful enough to walk out of His grave, you will find in him the one person who will never disappoint you.

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    July 29, 2020 Who Stole the Cross? - #8753

    Somebody stole the cross! Go figure.
    Well, that was a news story that got my attention some years ago. The missing cross was a six-foot tall metal structure that was embedded in rock and concrete, and it was perched high up on Sunrise Rock in the Mojave Desert. Veterans actually placed it there to honor those who've died fighting for their country. And wow! It was there for 75 years - no problem; suddenly - problem. People who didn't want it there argued against it all the way to the Supreme Court. And for the time being, the Justices said that it could stay. But then somebody just went up there and stole the cross. It's crazy.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You about "Who Stole the Cross."
    As soon as I heard the story, something much more troubling hit me. The cross has gone missing a lot of places these days; places that matter a lot more to God than a mountainside in the desert. I've listened to lots of sermons and Christian radio programs, and sometimes I've heard little or nothing about Jesus' cross. I've heard lots of Christian talk about how to have a great marriage, or how to raise your kids, how to manage your money, how to have a good self-image, but somehow they never got to the cross.
    I've heard some great Bible teaching that was deep and powerful, but the cross was on the margins or not even on the page. We'll talk a lot about important things like justice for the oppressed, compassion for the poor, and help for families, and God cares about all of that. But we never get to God's game-changer for a sin-broken planet, and that's the cross of Christ.
    Sadly, I think of lost people I've known for a long time and talked to about a lot of things, but somehow I've never told them about the cross where Jesus died for them. I suspect I'm not alone. Too often, Christians talk a lot about their church or their faith, but not much about their Savior. Oh, yeah, somebody stole the cross...from our conversations, from our ministries, maybe even from the center of our hearts.
    Oh, I know who took it. The one Jesus called "...the thief who comes only to steal, kill and destroy" (John 10:10). The devil hates the cross because as the Bible says, "having disarmed the powers and authorities, (Jesus) made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross" (Colossians 2:15).
    You know, Satan's death warrant is signed in the blood of Jesus. He knows the power of that cross. The oft-quoted Charles Spurgeon called the cross God's "magnificent magnet." And in our word for today from the Word of God in John 12:32, Jesus said this about His cross: "When I am lifted up...I will draw all men to Myself." No wonder Satan says, "Hey, go ahead. Talk about everything you want. Just don't mention that cross." Talk about your church. Talk about your faith. Talk about your family values. Don't mention the cross! The enemy of our souls knows its power and he does whatever it takes to erase the cross from our view.
    Now, these veterans were outraged that the cross was stolen from that hill. We should be outraged! We've allowed Jesus' cross to be stolen from the center of our hearts, from our ministries, from our conversations. "The message of the cross," 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, "is the power of God." I need to be as passionate about elevating that cross as the world and the devil are about eliminating it.
    I have the unspeakable privilege of taking a lost friend by the hand and walking with them up a hill the Bible calls Skull Hill, and standing there at the foot of an old rugged cross, and sharing with them the greatest love in the universe. "What He did there, my friend, was for you." Without that cross, there is no hope...there is no heaven.

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    July 28, 2020 Security In Your Violent Storm - #8752

    Weather-wise, it was one of those wild, late-winter days. We'd been running around in short sleeves with a 75-degree temperature at 3:00 in the afternoon. Spring is here! Four hours later, we were wearing heavy coats and gloves; the temperature had dropped 40 degrees! Boo! Winter's back! And needless to say, the dramatic change did not come without our weather alert radio going off and every TV and radio station in the area sounding the warning. Severe thunderstorm warning! Tornado watch! We never got a tornado, but we did get attacked by a deluge of rain, lightning, and merciless hail. Our house just happens to have a room with all concrete block and with no windows. It's good to have that room. It's good to have a safe place to go when, as the song says, "The weather outside is frightful."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Security In Your Violent Storm."
    It doesn't matter where you live, severe storms are part of the weather of your life. Not the kind that show up on Doppler radar. We're talking the kinds of storms that show up in your family, or at work, at your doctor's office, in an important relationship, an unexpected tragedy. In nature, it's often a sudden change that causes dangerous conditions. You know what? It's that way in our personal lives, too.
    And it may be that you're being hit by the full force of a major life-storm right now. It's these turbulent times, when everything is suddenly out of your control, that you need the "safe room" to run to; a place where the storm can't come. There is such a place. The Bible describes it in our word for today from the Word of God in Proverbs 18:10. It says, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and they are safe."
    The Lord it talks about here - well, He's the ultimate Controller of everything that goes on in the universe that He made. When you are in a close, love relationship with this awesome God, you can call on Him in the darkest, most desperate times of your life. And you're "safe."
    I remember hearing one of the young women on our Native American team tell her personal Hope Story for the first time. Tearfully, she told this gym full of Native young people about being a sexual abuse victim at a very early age, and then repeatedly through her teenage years, and then the destructive choices she made as a result. And then she told of how she had discovered a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I'll never forget her final words, "When I gave myself to Jesus, for the first time in my life I felt safe."
    Millions have had that same experience with Jesus, including me. Probably including people you know, but maybe not including you. This could be the day you finally find the safety that can only be found in the "strong tower" of Jesus and his unloseable love for you. The Bible says, "Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:13). That means "rescued." Jesus' name literally means "Jehovah God rescues." When you call on Jesus to be your personal Rescuer from all the sin of your life, He erases your sins from God's book, He cancels your hell, and He guarantees you heaven. All because He died in your place on the cross and then rose from the dead.
    That's not just history, it's intensely personal. He's ready to be for you what the Bible promises He will be, "an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19). You've been through enough storms; you've lost enough that you were counting on. You know how much you need that anchor. Someone who loved you enough to die for you? He will never do you wrong. Someone who's powerful enough to walk out of His grave under His own power is bigger than any storm that could destroy you.
    But you do have to "call" on Him to save, or to rescue you from your separation from God because of your sin. It goes something like this: "Jesus, I can't do this life without You. I have no chance after this life without You. You died for me so I could belong to You, and I want to from this day on."
    If that's what you want, I think you will find some encouragement and some vital information at our website to help you make sure you've crossed that line. Our website is ANewStory.com.
    Run to Jesus! He's God's "strong tower." And for the first time in your life - actually, for the rest of your life - you will be safe!

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    July 27, 2020 Settling for So Little - #8751

    We were visiting some of my wife's cousins, and we got to talking about the incredible fishing results that Cousin Marty gets. It doesn't seem to matter when he fishes or where he fishes, he brings back a stringer of big ones. He wouldn't understand at all about a fisherman I heard about recently. It was one of those days when it wasn't just the bugs who were biting; the big fish really were. And this particular angler kept reeling in fish that were at least a foot long, and then he kept throwing them back. A fisherman in a nearby boat kept watching this with a mixture of amazement and disgust. Finally, he couldn't resist. He called over to the fisherman after he had just thrown back another fish that was over a foot long. He said, "Hey! Why are you throwing back all the big ones?" The answer was more disturbing than his not keeping them. He replied, "Hey! I've only got an eight-inch pan!" What?
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Settling for So Little."
    So this fisherman is settling for little stuff because he's only prepared for little stuff. Dumb. But then, I wonder if that isn't how some of us pray. We pray for what humans could do, not what an Almighty God could do. We go to God with an "eight-inch pan" when He wants to give us something much, much bigger. When you consider the size and the power of the God to whom we pray, a lot of our prayers are - well, end up pretty pathetic.
    Let's go to our word for today from the Word of God and see if we can pick up a much bigger "pan" for answers to our prayers. We begin in Jeremiah 32:17. "Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm." Think about that when you come to Him with a need, a problem, a challenge. John Newton put it pretty well, "You are coming to a King; great petitions with thee bring, for His love and power are such, none can ever ask too much."
    Jeremiah goes on to celebrate the one to whom we pray with these words: "O great and powerful God, whose name is the Lord Almighty, great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds." Later in this chapter, God responds to Jeremiah, "I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?"
    You may have an issue in your life that's totally beyond your control, or your ability to fix, or beyond your ability to change or even understand. But is anything too hard for "the Lord Almighty," the one who "made the heavens and the earth?" Does the number of zeroes on the amount of money you need make it harder for God? Do the medical odds affect God's power to take care of it? Does the number of people you're up against mean God's going to have a harder time pulling this one out? The size of your need is absolutely inconsequential to a God for whom nothing is too hard!
    So we shouldn't be surprised that a few verses later, in Jeremiah 33:3, this all-mighty Lord extends this invitation, "Call to me and I will show you great and mighty things..." We get man-sized answers because we expect man-sized answers. We believe God for what we can conceive, but your God is the God of the inconceivable. We've settled for so much less than what He could do because we continually overestimate the situation and underestimate God.
    How often has God been ready to give us a bigger answer than we've ever seen, and we miss it because we've only got this "eight-inch pan"? It's time to blow the lid off your prayers by trusting your God, within the parameters of His perfect will, for something only God could do!

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    July 24, 2020 When You're Tired of Love With Strings - #8750

    Fashion models...they're considered the "beautiful people." Right? But all too often, they're also the unhappy people. That's what our friend Lindsey explained to us after she had left an enviable position as a model with one of the most prestigious agencies in the world. For example, Lindsey told about the eating disorders that plague young women for whom a small weight gain can actually cost them a well-paying job. Lindsey explained how she and others were carefully and critically weighed before every shoot. The gain of a pound or two meant they didn't qualify anymore. You paid a price to be admired.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When You're Tired of Love With Strings."
    The professional football players that I've known over the years would never be mistaken for a fashion model. But they know the feeling of being accepted and appreciated based on how well they perform. You're as good as your last game, man! A salesman's as good as this week's sales; a student is as good as their latest grades. For some, you'll be loved as long as you're loveable, or beautiful, or successful.
    In many ways, we live in a world where we're loved on the basis of "I love you if..." Maybe you know the feeling of having to perform to feel loved or accepted. You have to meet the expectations; you have to do what they like. And maybe you know what it's like to be set aside, betrayed, discarded, and overlooked all because there were strings on their love.
    Deep down in the human heart is this voice that says, "Is there anyone who will love me, no matter what?" Love with strings, love that's conditional, is love you can lose...because things change, and people change. You tired of performance love? Would you be ready for someone that will give you a love you will not lose? Boy, have I got a story for you! It's a story Jesus told about a young man who literally did everything that would break his father's heart; that would make most any man stop loving him. It's in Luke 15, where we find our word for today from the Word of God - the famous story of the Prodigal Son.
    This young man asks his father for his share of the estate; he can't wait until his father's dead. He then "...set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. He spent everything." He ends up working on a pig farm, an unthinkably defiling job for a Jew. But when at the end of his rope, he returns to his father, having blown everything his father ever gave him. The Bible says, "His father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."
    According to the Bible, I am that prodigal son and so are you. We've taken the life and the gifts that our Heavenly Father has given us and we've used them for ourselves. We've ignored the purpose He created us for. The Bible calls it sin, with the middle letter saying it all - s-I-n!
    There's no human reason that a totally holy God would want us in His family. But in spite of all we've done that has broken God's laws and God's heart, He loves us. He loves you. In God's own words, "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
    We couldn't make it home to a sinless God with a lifetime of sin. The only way your sin and mine could be forgiven was for someone to pay the penalty for it, and someone did. God's Son did. Only He could. Picture in your mind that awful scene of Jesus on that cross, suspended by three nails, bleeding and dying in anguish. Then say these two words, "For me. He's dying there for every lie I've ever told, every hurt I've ever inflicted, every dirty or selfish thing I've ever done." That's love with no conditions and no strings. We gave Him every reason not to love us. But He's running your direction this very day. He's waiting to throw His arms around you and welcome you into His family.
    But you've got to decide to come home to God through His Son. This could be your day to say, "Jesus, this is not my life anymore. I'm Yours." That's when you experience the love you'll never lose.
    I'd love to help you do that. That's what our website is for. I'd ask you to go there as soon as you can today - ANewStory.com. Because I'll tell you this, arms wide open He's waiting for you right now.

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    June 29, 2020 Crunch Time Promises - #8731

    Somehow, children become very effective psychologists without ever taking a day of Psychology Class. They learn to push Mom and Dad's buttons really well. They learn to play Mom and Dad against each other to guilt trip their parents. (I wonder where they learn that, by the way?) They learn to pout - all kinds of methods of getting their way. Fortunately, most of us parents gradually develop some immunity to being manipulated by our kids. But I've got to tell you, there's one thing my kids would say to me that grabbed my heart and wouldn't let go and almost always worked. It was those times they just said, "But, Dad, you promised!" Man, those were convicting words. If I had promised, I just had to do everything within my power to keep my promise.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Crunch Time Promises."
    Far more significant than any promises we might make to one another, even to our children, are the promises we've made to God. This very day, God is trying to get the attention of one of His children who's listening right now, and He's saying gently but firmly, "You promised." But you've either forgotten what you promised or you've been running from what you promised.
    Today would be a good day to remember what you promised God, and to recommit yourself to what you promised maybe a long time ago. Listen to these stirring words from Psalm 66:13-14, our word for today from the Word of God. "I shall come in your house with burnt offerings; I shall pay You my vows which my lips uttered and my mouth spoke when I was in distress."
    That's often when we make our promises to God, isn't it, when we're "in distress." Maybe you were in financial distress when you made God those promises, or you were facing a medical crisis or a family crisis. Maybe you promised God if He would spare your life, give you a mate or a child - meet a need only God could meet. God had your attention then, and you realized there were things that needed to be different in your life - a life, by the way, that His Son died to save.
    And you made promises then: promises about your giving to His work, promises about a change in your priorities, or maybe about some sin you were going to abandon (remember?), promises about serving Him with your life, or about changing the way you were living. It was a crunch time promise, but it was a promise you meant, and it was a promise you needed to make wasn't it? But something happened. You've forgotten what you promised, but God didn't. You got past the pain and you disregarded your promise. God didn't.
    And today, your Lord is coming to you with a very important reminder, and it is straight from heaven. Listen to Him: "My child, you promised." Frankly, until you give God what you said you'd give Him - what you should give Him - your life just isn't going to work as it should. The end of a lot of guilt, the end of a lot of frustration, the end of a lot of wasted years will come when you say to your Lord with the psalmist of old, "I shall pay You my vows which my mouth spoke when I was in distress." The Bible actually says, "It is better not to promise than to promise and not pay."
    The return to the promise you've made but maybe not kept is the beginning of fulfilling God's destiny for your life and experiencing His peace and His joy and His pleasure. Because remember, you promised. And it was God you promised, and what you promised was right.
    It's time to keep your promise to the One who has kept every one of His promises to you.

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    June 26, 2020 The Incredible Power of a Woman - #8730

    I don't think women have any idea of the power they have over a man. Listen, I've seen a 250-pound he-man reduced to quivering jelly by a little 95-pound blonde. Most guys can relate to the trauma of trying to work up the courage just to call a girl for a simple date. I can remember looking at the phone for 45 minutes, rehearsing all these impressive lines and the macho tone I was going to use. But it didn't matter how long I thought about it, when I finally heard that little voice on the other end of the phone say, "Hello," my reply would come back with this pitiful, "Hello-oo-ooh."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Incredible Power of a Woman."
    OK, the secret's out - if it ever was a secret. A woman has incredible power to make a man feel very big inside - or very small. And her own happiness may depend on how she uses that tremendous God-given power.
    In our word for today from the Word of God, He addresses this power of a woman to work either the construction crew or the demolitions crew. In Proverbs 14:1, God says, "The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands." In that treasured Proverbs 31 description of the woman God is impressed with, it says, "the heart of her husband trusts in her...she does him good and not evil all the days of her life...her husband is known in the gates...her children rise up and bless her...her husband also, and he praises her."
    Now, this is a woman who clearly builds up her man, and the implication is that he is highly regarded in the community largely because of the kind of woman she is. I get that. I've often told people that heaven will show that most of whatever contribution I've been able to make is because of the wonderful woman He allowed me to be married to. And it tells us in Proverbs 31, that this woman receives back the highest praise and respect from her husband, her children, the people who know them, and from God Himself.
    Sadly, Proverbs also talks about a woman who tears down her house with her own hands. I don't think any woman means to do that, but in her frustration, she focuses on what the man in her life is doing wrong much more than what he's doing right. Maybe she doesn't understand how her criticism and her attacks wither his confidence and emotionally emasculate him. And in trying to nag and push him to take the leadership he should be taking, she may actually be causing him to doubt himself more and to actually retreat from leading.
    And the more dominating and controlling and nagging and critical she becomes, the less the chances he will ever have the confidence to be the leader he ought to be and that she needs for him to be; the family needs for him to be.
    Now, often in this program, let me tell you, I spend a lot of time talking about a man's responsibilities to a woman. In case you're only listening today, you need to know that's a frequent theme. But today we're looking at what the Bible says about that awesome power that a woman has to build up or tear down the man she loves.
    The secret is that, well, inside most of us men is a pretty insecure little boy who can blossom or wither, depending in part on the godly wisdom of a woman who loves him. That woman, in the life of any man, has incredible power to make him or to break him.

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    June 25, 2020 You Can't Make It Go Away - #8729

    Why is it so hard to get us guys to go to the doctor? Or especially to the dentist? Oh, wait! "I think I want to make an appointment to see my dentist. How soon can I go see him again?" No, that doesn't happen. If you're a dentist listening, this is my problem; it is not your problem. You're doing a very valuable service, and I've paid a price for putting off those appointments. But it's amazing how we tend to avoid appointments that may be unpleasant. We'll put them off as long as we can. Right? And in most cases you can do what I do. You can put it off, you can cancel, even meetings you don't want to have. That is in most cases.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "You Can't Make It Go Away."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God is from Hebrews 9:27. It's about an appointment. "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment..." When you hear that word destiny, you know it's a sure thing. And the Bible is saying here that we have, that you have an appointment with God. Now, we do everything we can to try to run from that reality. "No, I don't want to think about an appointment with God."
    For example, there's one idea out there today. It's actually a re-packaging of an old idea. We hear a lot, for example, about reincarnation. Some people believe in that, and there are some very big celebrities have written about it and TV specials about it. That's not new. The business of when you die you quickly get reborn into another life and keep going around on earth; nothing about that that's new. It's just another way to escape the day of reckoning through an endless cycle of starting over and over again; never any judgment there.
    But the Bible flies right in the face of that and says, "We die once, and after that the judgment." God's the only one who knows what's on the other side. Everybody else is guessing, and if we're smart, we'll take what God says. And so, you and I will have to account for a life that was lived outside of His plans - a life He gave us. In fact, in Romans 3, we know in advance what the verdict will be because verses 19 and 20 tell us, "No one will be declared righteous by observing the law at all. Every mouth will be silenced and the whole world accountable to God." Wow!
    See, if you're hoping to pay off sin with some good things you do, and you think that that will work at your appointment with God, it's not going to work. The payment has already been made. The only question God will ask you is not, "What did you do with church?" But, "What did you do with My Son who died for you?"
    When a prairie fire would come the way of some of the Native Americans in the early west, they would burn the area around their village to protect their village. You say, "Well, that's strange." No. See, they believed that the fire cannot go where the fire has already been. The fire of God's judgment for you and me was already poured out on His Son.
    You trust His Son, and you are ready for your appointment with God. Don't try to deny it; don't try to postpone it; don't try to cancel it. You can't run from it. You and I will stand before God at His appointed time, and all that will matter is what we did with Jesus. Be ready. Someone today - this very day - will keep their appointment. And of course no one thinks it's going to be them.
    That's why the Bible says, "Prepare to meet your God." We prepare for everything else in life, and we're so totally not ready to meet God. The only way to be ready is to know that every sin you've ever done has been forgiven. And the only way to have every sin forgiven is to give your life to the One who gave His life to forgive them. It took pain and it took an eternal death penalty so you could have every sin wiped out from your record in heaven.
    It could happen for you today. God could take His eraser and erase it all if you'd give yourself to His Son and say, "Jesus, I'm Yours." You want to know more about how to do that; how to get this settled, go to our website today - ANewStory.com.
    I hope you're ready for your appointment, because you know you've settled your relationship with your Savior. You've got to be ready for it because you can't make it go away.

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    June 24, 2020 Radiation Rescuers - #8728

    It wasn't just another news story. It was loaded with so many layers of tragedy. It was one of the worst I'd ever seen. Maybe you remember several years ago when Japan had a massage earthquake and then a massive tsunami, and then the nuclear emergency. Now, those kinds of things tend to disappear from the front page. But, I'll tell you what, this particular situation, well, it's had lasting effects for a long, long time.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Radiation Rescuers."
    You know, that shames me when I think of the times I've "chickened out" on my life-saving assignment because I was afraid of something bad that might happen to me. My life-saving assignment is to go in and tell other people about the Jesus who is their only hope for eternity. "Oh, but you know, I'm afraid they might not like me as much." "I might goof it up." "Maybe they'd write me off as a Jesus-freak." No. No. No, there's no danger of me losing my life, but I might lose a little personal ground. You know?"
    I'm thinking about a visit I had to the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial a few years ago. I was privileged to go there with a police officer who had been one of the first responders on that awful day where so many people died as that building was detonated early that morning. My friend told me about how he was one of the rescuers that ran into that building. And when they did, they knew that they were the only hope for some trapped survivors.
    But I've got to tell you, they weren't without fear. As they looked at the structure above them, as my friend did, he could hear it creaking and he started thinking, "Man, this thing could come down on top of us at any moment." And so he said to his chief, "I think we're going to die here." And his chief replied, "Then it's a good day to die, and a good way to die."
    You know, I drove away that day with a new sense of what it means to be a rescuer of lives that are in the balance. In one word - self-abandonment. Like some quiet heroes who were willing to go into that nuclear plant that was broken, and abandon themselves so other people could live. Or like the September 11 rescuers at Ground Zero, charging into the rubble of those fallen towers, knowing they might never come out alive. And, above all, like the only Son of God, abandoning all the glory of heaven for the blood and the brutality of a cross for me so I could live.
    And here am I - and so are many of my fellow Jesus-followers - too often wimping out on delivering the only message that can save people we care about from an unthinkable eternity.
    Now, our word for today from the word of God. It's in Proverbs 24:11. It commands us to "rescue those being led away to death." Jude 23 from the New Testament says, "snatch others from the fire". Boy, that's a rescue verse. "Snatch others from the fire and save them." You see what those have in common? Those are life-or-death images, which give all those who belong to the Rescuer (which would be you and me, fellow believer) a life-saving responsibility. Not just to witness, not just to tell them our beliefs; this is rescue. This is life or death.
    There's something to be more afraid of all right. But something to be more afraid of than what will happen to us if we tell lost people about Jesus. What we are to be afraid of is what will happen to them if we don't.

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    June 23, 2020 Tim Tebow's Really Bad Day - #8727

    Tim Tebow's been a rather fascinating young man on the American sports scene. I remember some years ago he was playing football, and it was the Broncos/Patriots playoff game. And it actually hurt to watch that. There were no last-quarter or last-minute miracles. Tim was quarterbacking and his team lost and they lost bad. Final score...45-10! They weren't just beaten, they were crushed.
    Well, so much for anybody who thought Jesus is a ticket to the Super Bowl, because Tim's relationship with Jesus was well known and publicized. You know what? They didn't even get a league championship! But without preaching - just by living it. You know, Tim got us thinking of Jesus when we think of him. And the media for a long time was all over the Tim Tebow story. But every time Tim was in the media and in the spotlight, seems he wanted to redirect the attention to Jesus.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Tim Tebow's Really Bad Day."
    Yeah, I really wanted to see Tim and his Broncos pull out another stunning, odds-defying victory. They'd done it before, but for those who've tended to think that Jesus was somehow validated by winning, I'd suggest the losing did it even more. And it's shown us why belonging to Jesus is a faith that wins even when you lose. Especially when you lose.
    I was anxious to see how this media-bombarded quarterback at the time would react after losing what was arguably the most important game of his career so far. Plus, it was after being the object of derisive chanting from the Patriots fans.
    He talked about his opponents. He said, "They played well...you've got to give them a lot of credit." He talked about his teammates: "I just want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and thank my teammates for the effort they put forth." And he talked about the season he had, "A very special opportunity for me; something I'm very thankful for and very thankful for the opportunity to build so many great relationships with teammates and coaches."
    Oh yeah, then there was losing. He said, "Any time you're getting beaten like that, you just continue to fight. Every time I step on the field, I'm going to give my whole heart regardless of the score...I need to work and improve."
    I'll tell you, Zack McLeod will never forget that game. Before each game, Tim Tebow would spend some time with a child or young person who was living with a serious disability. This week it was Zack, who used to play football, but had a massive brain injury. Tim said, "It was a good day because I got to spend time with Zack McLeod and make him smile...I got to make a kid's day...and that's more important than winning a game."
    Wow! Grace, encouragement, big picture perspective, humility, taking responsibility, inner peace: That's what we heard from this Jesus-follower in the wake of a crushing defeat.
    There's a reason for that - one that compels every one of us to think about Jesus being, as Tebow says, "my Lord and Savior." See, when you have Jesus, you're complete. The Bible literally says in our word for today from the Word of God in Colossians 2:10, "we are complete in Him." So, with Jesus, we've got an "unloseable" identity. Whether you win or lose. Whether they're cheering or booing. When somebody loves you and when somebody drops you. When you've got a job; when you lose your job, there's money in the bank or you're broke.
    Let's face it, about any belief works when you're winning. The test is when you lose. And we all do in one way or another. But when life is the worst, Jesus is at His best. The Bible says "nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39 - NLT).
    I can be totally sure of Jesus in the moments when there's nothing else I can be sure of. The Bible says, "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19). Listen, I'm telling you all that because it would be so good for you to be safe in His love because of how far His love reached for you; to die on a cross to pay for your sin, to walk out of His grave under His own power.
    You can belong today to the One who loved you enough to die for you, was powerful enough to walk out of His grave. Just tell Him, "Jesus, I'm Yours." Go to our website. There's a lot more there - ANewStory.com.
    See, with Jesus you can lose it all and you will still have what matters most or Who matters most.

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    June 22, 2020 The Coach Who Knows What He's Doing - #8726

    Our sons had always dreamed of playing high school football. When they finally got to realize that dream, they got to play for one of the winningest coaches in our area. He turned what was once a team known for losing into a team that was usually in a championship series. And because I worked with the team for several years as sort of a spiritual coach, I had an opportunity to observe one of the great secrets of his success. He was a genius at knowing what position each player could play best. A lot of times they disagreed with the coach; they saw themselves as being a star at some position they really wanted. But he could size up their capabilities like no coach I'd ever seen. And invariably, the guys who thought he was wrong about the position he gave them, well, they'd end up being all-conference and all-county in that spot.

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    June 19, 2020 Finding Your Father - #8725

    Our friend - we'll call her Diane - shocked her family years ago when she announced at the age of 17 that she was pregnant. Even with some folks urging her to have an abortion, she made the choice to have that child - a son. When her son was seven, Diane met a guy we'll call Gary, and she knew they were falling in love. So, with some fear and trembling, she told him about her son. Gary said, "Let's go meet him." And Diane's boy took to Gary immediately. Diane and Gary got married, and the boy grew up with a wonderful relationship with Gary. But something happened when he turned 17 - this unexplainable rebellion that ultimately made him decide to go live with his biological father. A few months later, he returned to the home he'd grown up in. He'd made a powerful discovery in those intervening months. He said to Gary, "You're the one I walk like, you're the one I talk like, and I do things the way you taught me. You are my father!"

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    June 18, 2020 The Boss Is Never Away - #8724

    The saying is about as old as dirt, "While the cat's away, the mice will play." To the extent that's true, the mice don't usually announce that they're planning to exploit the cat's absence, but not so with one business in our town. Where we were living back then, I drove by there. I saw a new display on the big sign that was in front of the business. The sign said, "The boss is away, so we will play." Let's hope the boss didn't come back early. Or maybe we should hope he did.

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    June 17, 2020 An Eye For Opportunity - #8723

    It was always pretty exciting traveling with my wife. Well, but my wife with her camera was really exciting, because she could see things that I didn't see. Oh, yeah, I'd have to stop the car for what appeared to be no reason because she'd go, "Stop! Quick!" And, you know, when I'd see the picture, then I'd realize why we had to stop back then.

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    June 16, 2020 The Father Who Catches You - #8722

    For most of us it's rare to see an eagle, and so an event when you do see one of those majestic birds soaring overhead it goes something like this: "Look! An eagle!" If you're driving when you hear that, your passengers might be in serious danger. Of course, an eagle isn't born knowing how to fly. Just like us learning to walk, they need to learn to fly and it's actually I imagine a pretty traumatic experience. Mama Eagle takes you high for a ride on her back and then she dumps you. Suddenly, you are hurtling through the sky with the ground below racing toward you. All the while, Papa Eagle is circling overhead, just watching. In a panic, the little eagle remembers watching Mom and Dad use these feathery things at their sides, so he clumsily extends his wings and starts flapping them frantically. That's a good start, but it's not enough to save him from this rapidly approaching disaster below. At that moment, Papa Eagle suddenly swoops downward at eye-blurring speed, flying straight for his falling child. And in a perfectly timed rescue, the father swoops in under his baby, catches him on his back, and takes him back to the sky.

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    June 15, 2020 The God Who Knows Your Name - #8721

    I was getting pretty bored with our family fishing vacation in Minnesota. So my dad decided to take little nine-year-old Ronnie to see Paul Bunyan, the legendary giant lumberjack. Actually, it's this huge Paul Bunyan, sitting on a chair with his big ax and Babe the Blue Ox nearby. And there was this little log cabin at his feet. My dad went over to the ticket booth and came back with my ticket, which I eagerly gave to the ticket taker so I could go in and see big old Paul. As I walked in, I almost became the youngest heart attack victim in Minnesota history. Paul Bunyan's big old voice boomed out across the grounds and said, "Hello, Ronnie." I was blown away! How could I know that this was all a conspiracy? The ticket booth guy gets the kid's name, relays it to the little man with a microphone in Paul's log cabin, who then uses that information to welcome some unsuspecting little guy like me. All I knew was that that big guy knew my name!

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    June 12, 2020 The "God Is For Girls" Myth - #8720

    Jeff was the quarterback of our high school football team back when we lived in New Jersey. He always attended this little Bible study we had pre-game, but he never made a commitment to Christ. Well, I saw him on one of his breaks from college. He said, "You know, Ron, I have made a commitment to Christ now, but it was hard to do it in high school, especially because we were guys.

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    June 11, 2020 The Happy Kind of Mad - #8719

    Our daughter was gone for the morning and a friend had come to babysit our two grandsons. That was a brave lady! Actually, she had a relatively problem-free, crisis-free morning, except for one time when she just had to reprimand our three-year-old angel. Being a firstborn, he was very sensitive to being corrected. His later comment indicated that he had clearly recorded what was a very gentle reprimand - the kind you do with a smile on your face, not a snarl. When Mom returned and asked our little guy how his morning was with "Miss Wilma," he invented a new phrase to describe her correction. He said, "Miss Wilma got mad at me; she got happy mad."

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    June 10, 2020 More Of Us Than Ever - #8718

    Okay, do the math! At one point in time, we had one grandchild. I couldn't believe my wife was old enough to be a grandmother! Can you believe that? Well, you know what? Within a matter of years, that one became nine grandchildren!

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    June 9, 2020 Turning Hopeless to Hope - #8717

    You might look at these 50 Native American and First Nations young people from 30 different tribes and you may not see anything miraculous until you hear their stories. Like the young man who buried 14 friends and loved ones and got lost in a haze of drugs and suicidal thinking. The young woman raped by a trusted loved one and sexually abused by others. The young woman who felt reduced to nothing by a father who said, "You're a worthless mistake." She was crushed by her mother's suicide, and her father offered her a rope and said, "Why don't you just go out and do what your mother did."

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    June 8, 2020 Human Kindling - #8716

    Okay, if you had been my next door neighbor, you could have pointed over to the yard and said, "Look at that grown man gathering sticks." Excuse me; I don't have the kind of a boring life where I just go around gathering sticks all the time. It's for a purpose. We put all those sticks into this kindling box in the garage, and then we happen to like having a fire in our fireplace. And I learned that the basic old Boy Scout law that you've got to have kindling to get a fire going. It's true!

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    June 5, 2020 Mayor in the Flames - #8715

    If you're a mayor, you're used to taking the heat, of course, but not the flames. Several years ago there was a story that was pretty amazing. It came from Newark, N. J. where Cory Booker was Mayor, and what he did to save his next door neighbor.

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    June 4, 2020 Removing a Mountain, Making a Road - #8714

    The Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and Missouri are known for their rocks. They make for some hard farming, some beautiful views, and some challenging road building. Like this one stretch of highway from Branson, Missouri, to Springfield, Missouri, that they widened. As you slowed down through those construction zones, there were some pretty impressive changes that were taking place. Some places were nothing but solid-rock mountain, but somehow they managed to blast away at those mountains and they literally made a road where a mountain used to be!

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    June 3, 2020 Big Wings - #8713

    I've never been able to get this little four-year-old girl out of my mind. I never met her, but I'll tell you what, I saw her story and it really affected me.

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    June 2, 2020 Three Healing Words - #8712

    He was only supposed to be a minor character in what was then a new television series. It's called "Happy Days." It was a hit series about 1950s teenagers. And as it grew in popularity, so did the popularity of a character known as Arthur Fonzarelli, a.k.a., Fonzie or "The Fonz." With his motorcycle and his greased-back hair and his ability to have a girlfriend literally with the snap of his fingers, Fonzie became one of the best known sitcom characters ever. Fonzie was like the epitome of "cool," well, most of the time. He wasn't cool when he tried to say three little words. No, not "I love you." A strange paralysis seemed to take over his tongue whenever he tried to say, "I was wrong." Maybe you remember. It always came out something like, "I was wr-wr-wr-wr-wro-wro..." He never seemed to be able to get those words out.

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    June 1, 2020 Stopped at the Gate - #8711

    Wow! Talk about so near and yet so far. Poor Desmond Bishop. He missed what could have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to the White House and meet the President of the United States! Actually it was a few years ago.

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    May 29, 2020 Fresh Daily - #8710

    Sometimes when our son comes to visit, he comes with a box of doughnuts under his arm. Just what we need! Now these are not just any doughnuts. They're from a doughnut chain that has become very popular in America. I don't do ads, so you'll have to figure it out. But we were driving with our son through a tourist community a while back, and he suddenly exclaimed, "The hot light is on!" I thought my car was overheating. Nope! It was good news. He meant that the light in the window of this doughnut store was on, which is their signal that a hot batch of their delicious doughnuts has just come out of the oven. And I have to tell you, when you get them fresh like that, oh, can you say "irresistible"? Did I just make you hungry?

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    May 28, 2020 How Nice People Miss Heaven - #8709

    When people ask me why I'm not going on some roller coaster that goes upside down and around and around at something like 200 miles per hour, I don't want to just tell them I'm chicken. So, I tell them I'm not tall enough. You know that picture they have of a little person? They have them at the entrance to rides that are a little more challenging. You're supposed to stand next to it, and if you're not as big as that person that they've drawn, you're not allowed on that ride. I've got grandsons, on the other hand, who would love to get on some of those rides. They don't have the wisdom of my years. They don't have the well-developed survival instincts that I have, but for a long time they weren't allowed on the ride. They just didn't measure up.

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    May 27, 2020 Watching Him Drown - #8708

    It was a 911 call that alerted the first responders. A man was slowly wading out into San Francisco Bay, inching his way to ending his life there. Pretty soon a group of firefighters, and a crowd of about 75 people, were watching as this desperate man went a little deeper and a little deeper, and sadly occasionally glancing back at the shore. They stood there watching for an hour...and they watched him die, without anyone making a move to help him.

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    May 26, 2020 The Price to Go Free - #8707

    I guess you could call it a "tale of two cities." It was during the Civil War. The Confederate Army had again invaded the North. The Confederate General came to Hagerstown, Maryland, and he threatened to burn the town unless they came up with a $20,000 ransom. A local businessman rallied the townspeople and he collected the ransom. Hagerstown was spared. Then the Confederate forces moved up to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and they made the same demand. Those folks didn't come up with the ransom. Chambersburg was burned to the ground.

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    May 25, 2020 How Your Fire Can Produce New Life - #8706

    It was one of those milestone wedding anniversaries for my wife and me. I got congratulations cards. She got sympathy cards. But we had a wonderful couple of days in a romantic location, even doing some romantic things. Like a horse-drawn carriage ride through some beautiful countryside. Along the way, our driver pointed out a forest of tamarack trees which the Indians reportedly called "twice-burning wood." Our driver explained that tamarack trees need a fire in order to reproduce. Their bark is petroleum-based rather than glucose-based like most trees, so it takes a fire to burn off the bark to expose the seeds that produce new life. Interesting!

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    May 22, 2020 The Illusion of Being Covered - #8705

    Hans Christian Andersen wrote this little fable, The Emperor's New Clothes. And when he did, he was displaying some keen insight into human nature. The Emperor in the story was a vain man, whose main focus in life was to dress in these elegant clothes and show them off to his people. Two scoundrels exploited that vanity by offering to make for the Emperor an extraordinary garment made from cloth so light and so fine that it looked invisible - invisible, that was, to anyone too stupid or incompetent to appreciate its quality. Which none of his officials wanted to be, for fear of losing their position. So they simply expressed admiration for the garment that didn't really exist. Even the Emperor had to fake his response to the garment lest he appear stupid and incompetent, right? So at that point, the scoundrels convinced the Emperor to appear before his subjects, wearing only his magnificent new clothes. And, of course, the crowd cheered for the clothes that weren't there. Who wants to be stupid, right? Until a little child did what little children do: tell it like it really is. He just went up to the royal carriage and blurted, "The Emperor is naked."

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    May 21, 2020 When it Looks Like You Should Turn Back - #8704

    When you drive into Texas, these signs say, "Don't mess with Texas." One reason might be the weather in Texas! And, you know, if you just watch the national weather on any given day from spring into the fall and you're likely to see the color red. That's for severe thunderstorms or possible tornadoes. Our son and daughter-in-law and granddaughter were driving across the Texas panhandle one spring day, and sure enough, they drove into one of those really nasty weather fronts. Amarillo, Texas, was behind them. New Mexico was ahead of them. The sky was featuring that special shade of tornadic green. The rain was torrential and the clouds were growing those little fingers, you know, that sometimes turn into tornadoes. Our son decided it was time to call his brother and see what the Internet was saying about this weather. His question: "Shall I keep going or turn back to Amarillo?" The answer: "Just keep going, man. Twenty more miles and you'll be in bright sunshine!"

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    May 20, 2020 Covering First Base - #8703

    p>If you're a baseball fan, it seems like winter is going to last forever. Then you hear those wonderful words: "Opening Day!" Snowballs turn to fast balls, and you're happy again. You know, over the last years, one of the great stars in baseball has been Albert Pujols, who for many years made records on St. Louis Cardinals. And he has had some great seasons, acknowledged by many to be one of baseball's all-time greats.

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    May 19, 2020 Renewing Fire - #8702

    Sadly it seems to be in every summer's headlines - fires raging in the West. Millions of acres destroyed by fires that can range for weeks on end; fires that bring a lot of bad news. But, you know, fires like these aren't all bad news. Now, there's no doubt they cause tremendous damage, but over the long haul, they also can produce a lot of new life. Somehow, nature renews itself with fire - a lot of old and dead stuff is burned away, new vegetation begins to grow, and new life actually begins to spring up.

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    May 18, 2020 The Greatest Miracle Known to Man - #8701

    It was an incredible moment when our second grandchild was born. My wife and I actually got to be in the birthing room only minutes after his arrival. There was that fragile, precious little handful of baby boy, and then across the room was that amazing life-support system they call the placenta. I couldn't help but flash back to the birth of our youngest child. His delivery was the first one I was allowed by the hospital to be there for. (That was in the very old days, you know.) And I'll never forget our obstetrician's comment immediately after the baby and the placenta had come. He looked at me and he said, after having had this experience hundreds of times, "This is the greatest miracle known to man."

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    May 15, 2020 Night Vision - #8700

    Throughout the history of warfare, there always have been those weapons or tools that gave an army an edge. When I was a boy, it was the iron chariot or the catapult. Later, it was the crossbow, and then the latest rifle. While it's not exactly a weapon, there is a new military tool that can give military folks an edge. It's called night goggles, and they help soldiers live up to their reputation for "owning the night." Night goggles literally allow the wearer to see an illuminated view of what's going on in the darkness; things that would otherwise be invisible. If you can see through the night, you can see what others can't see and you can operate when others can't move.

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    May 14, 2020 The Difference is Inches - #8699

    They call them the chain gang. They wear stripes, but they're not prison inmates. They're football officials, and they carry this chain that measures whether or not a team has made a first down. Now not everyone is a football fan, so let me explain this. A team has four tries to move the ball ten yards. If they succeed, they get a "first down" and they get four more plays. If they fail, they have to turn the ball over to the other team at that point on the field. Many times it's impossible to tell with the naked eye if the ball has made it those ten yards, because it's very close. So they call out the chain gang. They come trotting out, they extend the chain to its full length, and then they set it down. If it extends beyond the ball, the team falls short. If it falls short, the team has succeeded. And as many who have played or watched football know, winning or losing a game can, like in moments like these, literally be a matter of inches no matter how far you've brought the ball.

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    May 13, 2020 How Not to Be a Scary Giant - #8698

    Over the years, I've learned a few lessons about how to meet a little child for the first time and how not to. I used to stand there all big and adult and come on real enthusiastic, "Hey, how you doing, Billy?" Well, at that point the child promptly turned his head and disappeared somewhere in his mother's leg.

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    May 12, 2020 Someone Else's Ticket - #8697

    Okay, you book your airline flights in advance to get the best possible fare. The only problem is occasionally something will change and I can't use that ticket. They'll let me use it later, but sometimes I wish I could give it to one of our staff or a family member to use toward a trip they're taking. No can do. No, see, that ticket has my name on it. The person using it has to prove with photo I. D. that they are me because that's the rules. Only I can go on my ticket.

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    May 11, 2020 The High Ground - #8696

    My wife and I had the chance to visit this Civil War battlefield at Vicksburg, Mississippi. I asked her if she had any firsthand memories of the war that she wanted to share with me, which almost started another battle at Vicksburg. President Lincoln had called Vicksburg the "key" to the Confederacy and he told his generals, "We do not yet have the key in our pocket." Standing on high cliffs overlooking the Mississippi, it was a daunting challenge for the Union Army. For more than a year there were bombardments from the river and the many hills. There were numerous clashes on land. And at the end, it was a siege that actually drove Vicksburg's residents to live in caves. Everywhere we drove, there were markers indicating Union and Confederate regiments that had battled it out for the hills all around the city. Some of the bloodiest fighting took place as Northern forces mounted bold attacks on the Southern strongholds which were atop the highest points. As in so many battles, the fight for the high ground helped determine the outcome of the battle.

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    May 8, 2020 COVID Testing - Pass or Fail - #8695

    Our high school grandson came up with "Hmmm" kind of gems. "Life's different from school. In school you have the lessons then the test. In life, you have the test, then the lessons." Like I said, "Hmmm." Now, we hear a lot about the need for more testing in this pandemic to know what's going on inside of people if we're going to contain and trace this virus. Yeah, we need to be testing for coronavirus, but the fact is the coronavirus has been testing us with fear and financial stress, disruption and distance and loss of control and connection. There's something about a crisis like this that exposes what's inside.

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    May 7, 2020 Leftovers - #8694

    When teenage boys come in the door from school, they have one thing on their mind, "What's for dinner?" Of course, they've been building up to this moment since shortly after lunch that day. Certain answers will, of course, make them happier than others. For one, I dreaded hearing my mother say, "We're having a casserole." I'm not sure why, but casseroles just didn't do it for me. But for our boys, and for many boys and girls of all ages, all over the world, there is an answer that no one wants to hear when they ask, "What's for dinner?" Answer: "Leftovers."