A Word With You with Ron Hutchcraft on MOR Music Podcasts
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


  • volume_up
    January 14, 2022 The Captain and The Crash - #9135

    "So are you planning to go on a cruise sometime soon?" It was the guy checking me out at the drugstore, and he was pointing to the newspaper I was buying and sort of asked that with a wry smile. Because on the front page was this haunting picture of that capsized Italian cruise ship that went aground a few years ago now.
    Here's a ship larger than Titanic eerily leaning into the sea and costing the lives of some of the passengers. And, of course, thousands of passengers are telling their stories of panic, and mayhem, and harrowing, uncoordinated escapes. And the captain? Well, he was under arrest, charged with the responsibility for that tragedy. Courts of law, of course, had to sort that out, but ultimately there were some troubling accusations: that he caused the collision by negligent, even criminal navigational decisions; that he abandoned his sinking ship and his desperate passengers. There are recordings of him openly defying official's commands to return to the ship and reports that he had a history of disobeying orders.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Captain and the Crash."
    A maritime trial lawyer said, "The captain is the master of the vessel. Every crew member looks to the captain for guidance and leadership. He has to take care of life and property in that order. A lot was lost because of a captain who made some terrible choices and ultimately steered his ship into the rocks.
    Here's what troubles me. I see myself in that captain, because like all my fellow humans, I've wanted to be at the helm of my life, taking it where I wanted it to go. But Captain Ron was never meant to captain this ship. It's not even my ship. I'm God's creation. I'm made for His purposes, not mine. But I've hijacked the wheel; I've taken this ship where it was never meant to go. We all have. Isaiah 53:6, our word for today from the Word of God says this: "We have left God's path to follow our own."
    Inevitably people end up hurt and we end up in trouble. Oh, it was one thing when my sinful choices were largely just taking me down. But then I brought a wife on board, and children, and friends and co-workers. So now, it was at the point when my "me-first" choices caused hurt and brokenness, and I was taking my passengers with me. All the selfishness, the anger, the dirty stuff, the pride, the wounding words, the stubborn self-will...too often they hurt most the people we love most. And when we run the ship into a rock, they go down with us.
    According to the Bible, we're all dangerously off course. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), the Bible says. And the destination is unavoidable: "Sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death" (James 1:15). Our being at the wheel has left us spiritually and relationally shipwrecked. Marriages hit the rocks because the wrong captain's at the helm. Children break our hearts because, in many cases, they're copying us - wrong captain. Friendships are broken, promises are broken, hearts are broken, lives are broken, because someone incapable of being in command has taken over the ship.
    But once again, as in so many tragedies, the story of a sinking cruise ship has a hope word in it - "Rescuers." Yeah. Those passengers are alive today from that ship because some rescuer risked himself to save them. And not only am I a captain who wrecks what he tries to run, but I'm also a man who's alive today because of a Rescuer. His name is Jesus. And Paul said he "kept doing the things he didn't want to do." But he said, "I found the answer was in Jesus Christ, our Lord." (Romans 7:19, 24-25 - NLT)
    He wrote that 20 centuries ago, but the same man who rescued me from the wreckage that caused sin in my life is that man, Jesus. He didn't risk His life to save me; He gave it for you too. And the day you surrender the wheel to Captain Jesus, that's the day you start heading in the direction you were made for. Let it be today. Say, "Jesus, I'm yours beginning today."
    Go to our website - find out how to begin that relationship - ANewStory.com. Because you'll find in Jesus the captain who knows exactly where He's going, who makes no mistakes, and who will never never abandon you.

  • volume_up
    January 13, 2022 Vinegar and Oil Relationships - #9134

    For many years I lived in New Jersey where we were blessed with a heavy dose of Italy. There were so many Italians in our area, it should come as no surprise that we had so many Italian restaurants. And what's their favorite dressing on a dinner salad? Of course, Italian dressing. Actually, I didn't know what Italian dressing was for much of my life. I always heard it called by the ingredients that make it up - vinegar and oil. And frankly, I'm sure glad they put them together. Can you imagine a salad with just vinegar dressing? You'd bite into your salad and your salad would bite you back! But then I couldn't get very excited about a salad that just had oil dressing on it either. That slimy covering...that's not going to be very appetizing. Vinegar without oil, oil without vinegar - not very appealing. But put them together, hey, you've got a pretty tasty combination there!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Vinegar and Oil Relationships."
    Now, let's think about the most important relationships in your life for a couple of minutes; especially the ones that are a little strained or distant, superficial right now. Consider the possibility that some of your relationships have a little too much vinegar and not enough oil, or a little too much oil and not enough vinegar.
    By now you have every reason to be asking, "What in the world is this man talking about?" Well, here's our word for today from the Word of God - a plain-spoken blueprint for healthy relationships. In fact, in five simple words, God gives us the two ingredients that make a marriage strong, a parent-child relationship, a friendship, a romance, a church, a ministry.
    Ephesians 4:15-16 - "Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the head, that is, Christ. From Him, the whole body joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love." Now there are some key words here; words we'd all like to have describe our important relationships I think: growing up, joined together, held together, building up in love. And how can you get along with people like this? A five-word secret of good relationships, "Speaking the truth in love."
    There it is - the vinegar and oil of a healthy relationship. "The truth" - let's call that the vinegar. The oil - that's the love. See, together, they're a life-building, life-changing combination. But one without the other can create serious problems. If you're like most people, you're probably stronger in one of those than the other. Maybe you're a person who's straightforward, you're outspoken. People know where you stand. But your truth without the oil of love may have such bite that people may sometimes spit out the very truth you want them to hear.
    Now, if your communication is too much vinegar, would you ask our gentle Savior to wrap your truth in more tenderness? To help you affirm and praise people at least as much as you confront them? To let people know you love them at the same time you're confronting them with the truth?
    Now you may be saying, "Well, I don't give people that biting feeling. I'm smooth and gentle like oil." Your strength is more on the love side, but many people who are loving and encouraging can sometimes do it at the expense of the truth. You won't confront, you postpone dealing with hard issues which only postpones the inevitable and sometimes causes an eventual explosion. Will you ask your Savior, who is the Truth, to help you deal with hard issues, to speak up for the truth, to confront tensions and problems when they're small?
    So often, the "truth champions" don't say it with love. And the "love champions" don't say the truth. But God calls us to both! If there are problems in a relationship right now, it may very well be that there's been too much truth and not enough love, or so much love without dealing with truth. It takes both the vinegar of the truth and the oil of love to keep a relationship healthy. Vinegar alone? Uh-uh. Oil alone? No way. It's the vinegar and oil together that makes a wonderful combination.

  • volume_up
    January 12, 2022 Salt Storage - #9133

    It was the early winter of 1994. It was when the Sanitation Department of New York City would not forget for a while. Much of the East Coast got hit big time with this parade of snow storms and ice storms. And at one point, they were coming about every other day. You take a hard freeze and frequent storms. It just created layers of frozen precipitation on the ground. Kind of like geological strata except slippery. Olympic skaters could have practiced on Broadway or Fifth Avenue.
    Needless to say, the sand and the salt trucks were working around the clock, and drivers worked such long hours they had to wear name tags when they got home because it was so late and it had been so long when they got there! But, ultimately, the slippery stuff wasn't the biggest problem. No, the real crisis was a salt shortage. Now, snow and ice are bad. But no salt on the ice and snow? Well, that's terrible. People were saying, "Hey, they ran out of salt!" Actually, one city official explained that was not the problem. He said, "There's plenty of salt. The problem is we can't get the salt from where it is to where it's needed."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Salt Storage."
    Our word for today from the Word of God (you might guess this) comes from Matthew 5, beginning at verse 13. "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men." God goes on to describe us, then, as "the light of the world, like a city set on a hill." And then He says, "Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
    If you're a follower of Jesus, there are two things you need to know that your Savior says you are. You are salt and you are light. Now, it doesn't take a lot of salt to change the environment. I mean, you don't need a pound of salt for a pound of meat, right? You don't have to have as much salt as there is ice. But in order for salt to do any good, it's got to be in contact with the thing it needs to change; on the street or on the meat. It doesn't do anything in a salt shaker or piled in a salt mountain somewhere in a big storage yard.
    God's problem with getting Jesus to lost and dying people is the same as that winter emergency in New York; the salt wasn't getting where it was needed. We - who know Christ - often are not in enough meaningful contact with the people who need us most. It's as if there are these great mountains of spiritual salt in a very cold and frozen world. We salt people spend so much time in meetings with each other, doing programs for each other, having concerts with each other, serving on committees for each other, and doing books and music for each other, we're disconnected from the people who are dying without our Jesus.
    Isn't it time for the salt to get out where it's needed? We need to leave the comfort of Salt Mountain and dare to risk getting involved in places where lost people are; to look at the unbelieving people around us and start building some bridges into their lives; building intentional rescue relationships. More than picketers, protestors, politickers, or promoters, God needs some of His people to just move close to some people who are not His people.
    Would you dare to ask God today to lay some lost person on your heart? Maybe He already has. Then ask Him, "God, go ahead and break my heart for the people within my reach who don't have You." And then invest yourself in what Jesus did. He came (it says) "to seek and to save those who are lost."
    Too many people are slipping away, they're crashing because there's no salt making a difference where they are. Please, if you know Jesus, be where you're needed the most.

  • volume_up
    January 11, 2022 The Problem With "Just Looking" - #9132

    Maybe I'm just too sensitive, but I always feel a little sheepish when I walk into a store, knowing I'm not going to buy anything. I'll just be browsing and, you know, some bored salesperson stands up and starts moving my direction. Maybe what makes me feel bad is her look of hope, of expectancy, of "at last I can justify my existence" - "at last I can accomplish what I'm here to do." So the salesperson pleasantly asks, "May I help you?" To which I answer with the two most hated words in the life of a salesperson, "Just looking." I am such a disappointment.
    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Problem With 'Just Looking.'"
    It's not just sales people who are bothered by folks who are "just looking." Jesus is troubled by people - often people like you and me - who aren't interested in buying spiritually. They're "just looking." Like the people in our word for today from the Word of God in John 9:13.
    Now, this follows Jesus' amazing miracle of healing a man who had been blind from birth. It should have been amazing to the religious leaders, the Pharisees. But all they could see was that Jesus had healed the man on the Sabbath - which they considered a violation of their laws.
    The Bible says, "They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been born blind. Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man's eyes was a Sabbath. Therefore, the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. 'He put mud on my eyes,' the man replied, 'and I washed, and now I see." Awesome, huh? Not to the Pharisees. No. Their reaction? "Some of the Pharisees said, 'This man is not from God, for He does not keep the Sabbath.'"
    Obviously men - very religious men - have no intention of buying into what Jesus is doing here. They're just looking. Actually, everywhere Jesus did miracles there seemed to be two groups - the expecters - who are looking for Jesus to do something, and the disecters - who are just looking at what Jesus is doing. What bothers me is that the disecters were the religious folks, the spiritual veterans. Like me - maybe you. They were always so busy analyzing what Jesus was doing they missed what Jesus was doing. That could be happening to you and me.
    As you get more settled into Christian things, as you know more Christian ideas, as you do more Christian activity, this subtle numbness starts to creep in. You go to church, not so much to have God speak to you but to watch God speak to others. You make spiritual events happen but you seldom let them happen to you. You start to become a discusser of God's working rather than an experiencer of God at work. You start to become critical of other leaders and other methods.
    Can you feel maybe a creeping sleep in your soul? Somewhere you stepped out of the middle of God's life-changing work and you moved to the edges to watch, to analyze, to categorize, to criticize, or to help it happen. And it's cold out there, isn't it? You show up at Jesus' store, you look around, but you don't buy into the wonder of it all. The great revivalist Gipsy Smith started preaching when he was 17 and he quit when he was 82 - because he died. When people used to ask him why he was as excited and passionate in his preaching as he was as a young man, he simply said, "I have never lost the wonder."
    Maybe you have. It's time to get back into the mainstream where the miracles are...where the powerful works of God are. Drop your analyzer's detachment. Get back to your original love, your original excitement about Jesus. Let God happen to you again! When Jesus is offering such supernatural merchandise, it would be a shame if you're just on the edges "just looking."

  • volume_up
    January 10, 2022 Feeling Invisible - #9131

    Our grandson used to love to play "hide and seek." I didn't tell him I was pretty much onto his favorite places to hide in our house. But he figured out the best places to become totally invisible when I'm looking for him.
    But being invisible isn't always fun, you know. There are people, including someone who told me just this week, who have basically felt invisible their whole lives. Oh, yeah, you can feel invisible in your family, at school, where you work, even in your marriage. It's awful feeling like no one seems to know or care that you're there.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Feeling Invisible."
    I read something from the life of Jesus a few days ago that carries real hope for people who feel marginalized, or ignored, passed over. Our word for today from the Word of God - you'll like this - it's Luke 8. This woman, who's been battling an incurable condition for 12 years, has run out of hope. There are no doctors left to see, there are no dollars left to pay one anyway. She's desperate, she pushes her way through the masses that are thronging around Jesus, believing she'll be healed if she could touch His robe...which she does, and she gets her miracle.
    Jesus, who, of course, mobbed by people, says, "Somebody touched Me." Then comes this wonderful footnote to the story: "Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed...fell at His feet" (Luke 8:47). Obviously, this woman was used to no one noticing her. I'm thinking, "Who is there around me like that? And shouldn't I be looking for those very people and trying to make them feel important?"
    This desperate woman discovered that day what millions have discovered since then. Nobody goes unnoticed by Jesus! For Jesus, there are no invisible people. How could there be? The Bible says that each and every one of us was "created by Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16). Put your name in there. Yeah, "(here's your name) was created by Him and for Him." You're not just some random protoplasm, wandering across this planet. You were created by Jesus as a divine, one-of-a-kind original, created for a love relationship with the God who made a hundred billion galaxies. He knows you. He loves you. He has a plan for you.
    All those people who've overlooked you, made you feel so small, they don't know who you are! In the words of the Bible, you are "God's workmanship" (Ephesians 2:10). But that's only the beginning. Jesus thinks you're so valuable that you were worth dying for. He was nailed to a cross, to pay for every wrong thing you've ever done. Why? Because He does not want to lose you! So He died to make it possible for the sins of a lifetime to be erased from God's book, because He wants you with Him forever.
    Listen to God's Word, "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever (and here you can put your name!) believes in Him will not perish but will have eternal life" (John 3:16). He became the ultimate victim so you'd never have to live like a victim again. Because no matter how you're treated, you know you're loved and cared for by the God who runs it all. When you open up to His love, you can spend the rest of your life handing out His love to a world of "invisible" people.
    I hope today could be for you the beginning of your love relationship with Jesus Christ. If there's never been a day like that, let this be that day. Why live another day without this love? It changes everything. Just tell Him, "Jesus, thank You for loving me enough to die for my sin. Thanks for being powerful enough to walk out of Your grave. Come into my life today."
    You know, if you check out our website, you'll find out there how you can be sure you belong to Jesus. That website is ANewStory.com.
    You're not unnoticed, you're not invisible! Jesus never stops thinking of you. Especially when He looks at those nail prints in His hands.

  • volume_up
    January 7, 2022 Clear Direction in a Thick Fog - #9130

    I had to make a 6:30 A.M. flight. My dear wife was the lucky one who got to drive me to the airport. As I staggered to the car about 5:00 in the morning, I said, "Where's the sun?" Obviously, the sun was on a later flight that morning. But what made the drive really challenging was not the absence of sun, it was the presence of fog. I'm talking thick fog all the way to the airport. Our visibility was really limited. The traffic reporter on our news station said that it would be difficult even driving roads you knew like the back of your hand. And believe me, the road to the airport is one we knew all too well. As we traveled toward the turnpike exit that leads to the airport, the fog got really thick and disorienting. We were in the right lane with almost no sense of exactly where we were, when suddenly we saw the sign - "Turnpike." That was our turn, but we were practically right on it when we realized where we were. So, my wife turned just in time, and I even made my plane. As we got on that ramp, she said, "It's a good thing I didn't trust my instincts. It just didn't feel like we were at the point we were." She only had a second to decide whether to trust her instincts or the sign. I'm glad she trusted the sign.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Clear Direction in a Thick Fog."
    Our word for today from the Word of God - Isaiah 50:10-11. "Let him who walks in the dark (or drives in the fog), who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God." See, when you can't see where you're going, trust the Lord; go the way He's been pointing you to go, proceed on what God has said to you.
    But some people unfortunately respond to the fog by trying to figure out their own way to go. Well, the next verse covers that: "But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and the torches you have set ablaze." Then God says, "If you want to follow your feelings, you want to follow your instincts instead of the direction I'm pointing you in," well here's the result of doing it your way. He says, "This is what you shall receive from My hand. You will lie down in torment." Ouch!
    You may be going through a time right now where the fog is thick, it's dark, it's disorienting, it's confusing. In times like these, it's tempting to suddenly grab the steering wheel of your life to try to make some things happen - to get control of things. And it's in those times that we tend to make some of the biggest mistakes of our life. We can't wait for the Lord, we can't trust what His Word has told us, and we start figuring it out our own way. Which, like our instincts on that foggy morning, will take us the wrong way and maybe cost us the destination we were aiming for.
    But on that foggy morning, there was a sign, and it was pointing us in the right direction. It didn't feel right. It went against our instincts, but it was right and our feelings were wrong. Because we trusted the sign, we made it. That's what God is trying to get you to do during this dark, this uncertain time. Trust Him! Trust the direction He's already pointed you in.
    He's made promises that you've got to hang onto now, even when because of the fog you can't see them working. So claim the promises He gave you when it was light. Refuse the compromises, the shortcuts that seem so tempting right now. Don't trust your roller coaster emotions which have lied to you again and again, led you into mistakes so many times before.
    In the words of a great old saint, "Don't doubt in the darkness what God has told you in the light." His Word, His calling, His promise have not changed even though it's gotten dark, my friend. God's great plan is still at work, He's still right on time. Don't panic and don't take a detour from His best.
    In that heavy fog, we got where we needed to go by trusting the sign, not our feelings. That's how you're going to come out of the fog at the place you need to be, by distrusting what your feelings are saying and trusting the clear direction of what your God says.

  • volume_up
    January 6, 2022 A Hurricane Named Peace - #9129

    Several years ago I thought they were talking about my grandmother storming up the East Coast. Actually, it was a hurricane with her name - Irene. Oh, and I know what that name means. It means peace. How ironic.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Hurricane Named Peace."
    Of course, it was in the face of a monster life-hurricane that Jesus gave His disciples one of the greatest promises of peace ever made. Within hours, the Man for whom they left everything was going to be arrested, tortured and crucified like a criminal.
    So, our word for today from the Word of God, John 14 beginning in verse 27, tells us that as this Category 5 "hurricane" was on the verge of ripping apart their world, Jesus said: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27).
    Excuse me, but how can a devastating life-storm go hand-in-hand with peace?
    I got a hint of how that happens on the day that they thought the plane I was on might crash. The hydraulic system had failed and we were being diverted to the nearest airport. The flight attendants were barely concealing their own anxiety. It was all over them, and they were drilling us as fast as they could in how to prepare for a crash landing (Of course, they never mentioned that "c" word, but you could tell what it was all about.). Needless to say, it was really tense, very quiet on our flight.
    There was a grandma next to me, and she was I guess pretty much a nervous wreck. She talked about seeing her grandchildren in New Jersey, and I listened and I did my best to be of some comfort to her, and then it was time to land on a runway that was flanked with emergency vehicles; lights flashing everywhere. And thankfully, we landed safely, just a little bumpy.
    We were packing up to leave, and the grandma said to me, "How could you be so calm when everybody else was so uptight?" And I said, "Well, honestly I had total peace the whole time, because see, well my peace isn't based on what's going on around me. It's based on Who's going on inside me. See, one day I asked Jesus to come into my life and take over, and He did, and nothing can take Him from me."
    That's the secret of hurricane peace. Your response to the tempest is defined by your anchor relationship with Jesus Christ, not the screaming winds of the storm. Or as the Bible says, "You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You" (Isaiah 26:3). The wind and the water won't determine what happens to me. Jesus will. And whatever may get washed away, I cannot lose the One who is my reason to live, my defining love, my unloseable security.
    Of course, the peace that Jesus promised to His followers that dark night would come at an unthinkable price; His horrific death on a cross, because there is no peace for someone who's away from the God who made them. And, according to the Bible, that's all of us. Having the unshakeable peace of God depends on being at peace with God, and that couldn't happen without my sin being paid for. So the road to peace is paved with the blood of Jesus. Or as the Bible says, "He was crushed for our iniquities (or our wrongdoings); the punishment" - get this - "that brought us peace was upon Him" (Isaiah 53:5).
    So, for you, peace will begin at the foot of Jesus' cross; the peace place where Jesus died to pay the price to make peace between you and God. And that peace becomes yours, that gift of eternal life becomes yours when you reach out and make it your own; when you personalize it by saying, "Jesus, I give myself to You because You died for me, and You're alive because You walked out of your grave. I want You to walk into my life." You could let that peace begin today! Let it happen today. Say, "Jesus, I'm Yours."
    Go visit our website. It's called ANewStory.com. It's there to help you understand how to begin your relationship with Him.
    Hurricane-proof peace is actually a person, and He'll be there when the storm is howling, and He'll be there when the storm has passed.

  • volume_up
    January 5, 2022 Getting Through - #9128

    Our daughter and son-in-law inherited our big red van. Let me describe it to you. There were two seats in the front, there's a bench seat in the back, and in-between nothing but open floor - carpeted open floor. It was always challenging to talk in there. In fact, it was almost impossible when the windows were open.
    One hot day we were all zipping along the Interstate and the wind was roaring around us, and we were trying to communicate from back to front and front to back. My wife happened to be driving and giving me a break, and I could see her lips moving. I had no idea what she was saying. I'd try to talk to her; same thing. She knew I was saying something, but she had no idea what I was saying. See, in that van it didn't matter how loud you talked, how sincere you were, how important your words were, you could not be heard.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Getting Through."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Matthew 13. Jesus is giving the parable of what it's like when His Word goes into people's lives and hearts. And the first thing He says is, "A farmer went out to sow his seed, and as he was scattering the seed some fell along the path and the birds came and ate it up." See, it never stood a chance. Then he explains that a little later in verse 19. He says, "When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart."
    This is hard ground when the gospel is heard. There's no response. I used to think this was someone who wasn't interested in the Good News about Jesus. But this doesn't say they didn't want the gospel. It doesn't say they rejected the gospel. It says they didn't understand it.
    There have never been as many Christians who have as much Christianity as we do. I mean we've got Christian everything. But we're surrounded by post-Christian neighbors, friends, coworkers, fellow students, and teammates who don't know there's a right or wrong; they don't know there's a gospel. And they don't ever plan to go to a religious meeting to hear a religious speaker talk on a religious subject. Why is there such a Grand Canyon between the people with Jesus and the people who don't know Him?
    You say, "Oh, they're rejecting the Lord." Well, are they all rejecting the Lord? Or are they rejecting our Christian language maybe. They don't know what our words mean. It's like a mission field where the missionary is speaking in their own language instead of the language of the natives. They don't understand that word sin any more, or believe, or born again, or accept Christ, or personal Savior - a lot of our great words.
    So, it doesn't matter how loud we present the gospel or how sincere we are, how life-or-death the information is. They can't figure out what we're trying to say. Since we do have a life-or-death message, and since we have a life-or-death responsibility to get it out, we've got to translate that message, not just transmit it. That means putting it into their words, going the extra mile to find ways to say what Jesus did for them in words they'll understand.
    I think we've got three challenges. Number one, we need to love that lost person in their language and to be in the places that matter to them, and find needs that they have in their life and meet those needs to make them know that we love them in Christ. They probably aren't going to come where we are. We'll have to go where they are. Remember it says, "the farmer went out to sow his seed." You can't stay in the farm house and sow your seed in the living room.
    Secondly, you live for Christ in their language. Be a better employee because you're a Christian. Be a better employer. Be a better neighbor, or son, or daughter, or mom, or dad, or whatever. Do the things that will show them the difference Christ makes in a way that will matter to them.
    Thirdly, speak the gospel in their language. Since relationships are so important, I think we ought to talk about the gospel as life's most important relationship. A relationship you're supposed to have, you don't have because of your sin, you can have because of Jesus, and that you must choose.
    We're shouting the gospel! But many who need Jesus are at the other end, unable to understand. It's too important for us to not get through. So listen, move across that gap!

  • volume_up
    January 4, 2022 The Man With "What's Next?" - #9127

    The image of a burning candle on an iPad. That's actually the way that many people paid tribute and honored Steve Jobs' death and life. How appropriate. I mean, he was that inventive genius; the innovative marketer who brought the communications revolution from the "geekosphere" to something you could actually hold in your hand.
    Bill Gates described Steve Jobs' impact as "profound." News anchors, after his death, were quick to say he "changed the world." And yes, he did. He was always a newsmaker when he walked on that Apple stage to introduce technology's "what's next?"
    But then after his passing, Well, people were asking "what's next?" on a much deeper level. What's next on the other side of our last heartbeat, when the obituaries and the tributes are for us?
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Man With 'What's Next?'"
    Speaking at a Stanford University commencement, Steve Jobs said, "Death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it." He's so right. A personal expiration date that God alone knows. And God's Book reveals in our word for today from the Word of God in Hebrews 9:27 that "man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment." So it's not only death that's inescapable. It's that personal appointment with the God who made us.
    And at that point, as Jesus said, "What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36). Not even all the religion in the world will be enough because, well, being right with God is according to the Bible, "not by works of righteousness which we have done" (Titus 3:5).
    So there's a certain sadness. Not just because a famous man died somewhere, but because of so many lives that are more wired than ever, but more weary of life than they've ever been. No technology, no amount of Facebook "friends," no exciting new experience or relationship can ever satisfy that relentless thirst in our empty heart, and there's a reason. The Bible says, "God has set eternity in the hearts of men" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We are forever searching for something that's "ever lasting" in a world where it's all so "never lasting."
    When Jesus was talking at a well to a woman whose life was littered with disappointing relationships, He used the well as an example to tell us how to fill that "eternity" hole in our hearts. He said, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again (and, sure enough, we are). But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:13).
    See, Jesus can promise life that's "eternal" because, well, He's proved He's got it to give. Because His obituary quickly became old news when He walked out of His grave and conquered what no one could conquer - He conquered death. But it was His death that made our "what's next?" nothing to fear. The Bible says, "Christ died for our sins" (Romans 5:8). And when He did that, He tore down the wall that would otherwise keep us out of God's heaven. If that wall is there when you die, then the last heartbeat you have is not the gateway to an awesome eternity, but to an awful eternity.
    And that's why Jesus died, to take all of that punishment for us. He stepped out of heaven and onto the stage of earth to introduce what only He could and that's eternal life. He offers this amazing peace and fulfillment of knowing you're ready to live and ready to die, whenever and however it comes. So what we do with Him - whether we give ourselves to Him or stubbornly insist on being our god for our life - is immeasurably decisive. It's eternally decisive.
    So, I urge you, if you're not sure you've begun a relationship with Him, make this the day you get that done and tell Him, "Jesus, I'm Yours." I think we can help you. Go to our website. It's ANewStory.com.
    I accepted Jesus' invitation to "believe in Him" and as it says, "have eternal life" (John 3:16). So my obituary will not be the end. No, it's just the beginning.

  • volume_up
    January 3, 2022 The Freedom No One Can Take - #9126

    Some of the ugliest scenes from the 20th Century, of course, come from the Nazi Holocaust during World War II. And some pretty inspiring scenes, actually, come from it as well. One of the most famous accounts of those awful years was written by a Jewish psychiatrist named Victor Frankl - a survivor of the concentration camps. Frankl told of how the Jews there had almost every freedom stripped from them: they were imprisoned, they were awakened any hour of the day or night, they were treated like slave labor, humiliated, always facing the specter of death. But he lived to tell us about the one freedom they learned no one could take away from them - the freedom he saw in many of those who survived the horror. And it's the one freedom that could make you a survivor.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Freedom No One Can Take."
    Twenty centuries ago another Jewish man wrote about his suffering, from a Roman prison and the attitude that sustained him through it all. It's that one freedom that nothing can take away from you: no tragedy, no treatment by others, no divorce, no disease, no loss. It's the freedom to choose your attitude. Dr. Frankl said that that was the freedom he and others exercised in that concentration camp; a freedom beyond the reach of their Nazi guards. It was a freedom that the Apostle Paul found in Jesus Christ.
    He had lost all his other freedoms. He was a prisoner chained to a guard 24 hours a day. But the prison didn't choose his attitude. Your prison, your pain doesn't have to choose yours either. Paul chose joy, and you can, too.
    What's the secret of choosing joy when everything else is falling apart? From his prison, Paul gives us our word for today from the Word of God, Philippians 1:3-4 - "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for you, I always pray with joy." Secret number one of choosing joy�focusing on others instead of yourself. Paul would have sunk to despair if he concentrated on his misery. Instead, he concentrated on the people he loved, praying for them, and thinking about them, and reaching out to them. It's one way that you can choose joy, too.
    And then in Philippians he says, "I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel" (Philippians 2:12). Because Paul was out of commission, many others had gone out preaching the Good News. So he goes on to say, "The important thing is that...Christ is preached" (verse 18). Secret number two of choosing joy: you focus on the good that's coming out of your bad situation. Would you ask God for that kind of insight, to look beyond the obvious losses in your situation to the ways He's using, or can use, this situation to bring about something good.
    One other way Paul shows us to choose joy in a depressing situation: focus on your Savior who's your anchor. In Philippians 3:10, he says, "I want to know Christ." Almost everything else has been taken from him, but nothing can stop Paul from pursuing his lifelong passion for knowing Jesus a little bit better every day. The fact is that when a lot of other things are taken from you, you actually may be able to pursue your Savior as never before, if you make that choice. So many people have discovered in hurting times that you never know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you've got.
    You might be in a hurting time right now and you didn't get to choose your situation. But, like the man in the concentration camp and the apostle in the prison cell, you can choose your attitude. You don't ever have to say, "Well, I'm doing pretty well 'under the circumstances.'" What are you doing under them?
    Being on top of your circumstances is a choice! To focus on the people you love, on the good that's coming from this situation, and on the Savior you want to know better. That's why the prisoner Paul calls you in his joyful prison letter to "rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again, rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4).

  • volume_up
    December 31, 2021 Moving Toward That Door - #9125

    I'd rather not have to use one of those carts to carry my groceries out to the parking lot. If you take it out there, you should be nice and return it to where it goes. Right? No, I'd rather use the mule approach, carrying every possible bag I can in my arms, my hands, hanging from my shoulders. So here I am, moving precariously toward the door of the store, with every appendage committed. Problem: how am I going to open that door that goes to the parking lot? If I start walking toward it, it remains closed, threatening my bodily welfare and my new treasures when I walk into the door. But if I just stand there, it won't open either. Well, thankfully, you know. Stores have automatic doors. The door remains closed, though, if I stand still, and it remains closed if I only walk part of the way toward it. But as I walk steadily toward it until I'm close to it - voila! - the door opens just before I need to go through it! What a world!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Moving Toward That Door."
    Funniest thing - God opens doors the same way. To help us understand how His path opens up for us, He gave us that revealing story in our word for today from the Word of God. Joshua and the Israelites are camped on the east side of the Jordan River, looking across at Canaan, the rich land that God has promised to give them. But there's a major obstacle between them and what God wants to give them - the Jordan River at flood stage. There's no way they can get what God has for them without crossing that river, and apparently there's no way to do that.
    Then, as recorded in Joshua 3, beginning with verse 8, God tells Joshua, "'Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: 'When you reach the edge of Jordan's waters, go and stand in the river.'" Joshua then tells the people: "As soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord - the Lord of all the earth - set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap."
    The Bible goes on to show the amazing result of this step of total faith: "Now the Jordan is at flood stage during the harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing...so the people crossed over...the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on the dry ground in the middle of the Jordan." Wow!
    There's an amazing scene here, but a dialog that has been, in essence, often repeated over the centuries as a child of God stands at their own Jordan River, facing a closed door or an impossible obstacle between them and what they knew God wanted them to do. And it might be one of those times in your life right now. Like the Jews of old, you're being told by God, "It's time to move out." He's leading you out of your comfort zone. He's leading you into something bigger, better, and yes, more challenging. You're standing at the river's edge, and you've gone as far as you can go safely; as far as you can go with what you can do.
    If I were one of those priests with the ark, marching toward a river overflowing its banks, I think I'd say, "Lord, how about this? As soon as you part the water, I'll walk into it. How's that?" And He might be saying to you right now, "No, as soon as you walk into the water, I'll make a way."
    Maybe you've been waiting for God to move before you do. But He's waiting for you to move in the direction He's leading, and then He'll part the waters, He'll open the door, He'll make a way for you. You move steadfastly in the direction of the impossible for one reason - God is going there and He's asking you to follow Him. And that's all you need to know.
    That door isn't going to open until you start walking toward it. Don't just stand there any more. Get moving toward your miracle!

  • volume_up
    December 30, 2021 Beautiful Brokenness - #9124

    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 these colorful shards of broken pottery that were everywhere. They 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 all those 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 has taken broken pottery and broken women who think that life is over for them and do what 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 (she said), or 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." Did you get that, "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 it's ever been 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 when I just had broken pieces.
    My prayer for you is that you'll 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, and I would encourage you to go there. This would be a great day for you to do it - 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."

  • volume_up
    December 29, 2021 The Cleanup Imperative - #9123

    If you don't like to wash your hands, don't ever become a doctor or a nurse. You have to wash your hands a lot! Scrubbing up is a routine procedure for people in the medical profession. I don't think any of us wants to be opened up by some doc who hasn't washed his hands all day! Right? Actually, a loved one of ours had a major heart surgery a few years ago, which she made it through. What she didn't make it through was the staph infection that she picked up in the hospital. It's avoiding that kind of thing that's at the heart of a hospital's insistence that healers and caregivers get really clean before they touch you. If they carry infection, they can do a lot of damage.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Cleanup Imperative."
    It isn't just doctors and nurses that have to be clean for what they do. It's a requirement that God makes of everyone He's going to use to do His work on earth, from teaching a class to working in ministry, to raising a family in His ways.
    Listen to His uncompromising words, for example, in Isaiah 52:11, our word for today from the Word of God. "Depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing! Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the vessels of the Lord." Listen, when you're doing anything for God, you're touching the holy, whether you realize it or not. And you'd better not be handling the holy with dirty hands, with a dirty mind, a dirty motive, or a dirty attitude. God says, "Get rid of that infectious junk! You're carrying the 'vessels' of Almighty God!"
    No one who is serving the holy, holy, holy God should dare to do it without "scrubbing up" on a regular basis, knowing that we get polluted some each day. When you're dealing with holy things day after day, frankly it's easy but deadly to become casual about it; and about sin that you're allowing to just creep into your life. You're just slowly drifting. But the judgment is greater for those who know what you know. Who bring infection into the spiritual "hospital" where He's trying to heal lives.
    In 2 Timothy 2:20-21 - Paul makes very clear what God is looking for when He decides who He's going to use for great things. He describes a house with gold and silver vessels, which are used for special things, and with wood and clay vessels, which are used for dirty and gross things. He concludes, "If a man cleanses himself...he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master, and prepared to do any good work."
    God's not impressed with our abilities, or our great r�sum�, our connections, our education, our credentials. He doesn't care about your cash. He doesn't care about your charisma. All He cares about is your character! He's looking for clean; getting rid of the dirt, staying clean. That's how you qualify to be an instrument in the hands of Almighty God.
    Maybe you've let your hands, your mind, your spirit get dirty. You've gotten careless about sin that killed your Savior. Don't defile the work of a holy, holy God. Bow before Him. Let Him forgive you. Let Him cleanse you. Let Him purify you again. He has great work for you to do, many lives for you to touch with His healing love. But only if you're clean!

  • volume_up
    December 28, 2021 Two Broken Men, One Big Difference - #9122

    Whenever we passed a park, when I was a kid, I shifted into nagging mode to get my dad to stop, because I loved the swings. Didn't do that spinning carousel thing. No, never did enjoy throwing up. Then, the seesaw. That was fun. Yeah.
    Of course, there was little Ronnie and big Daddy, it didn't work too well. I kept ending up somehow with my end of the seesaw suspended in the air as my dad thought it was funny just to sit there with his end on the ground for a while. Yeah, he thought that was fun. 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 end 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's 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. It's 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 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 in 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's 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 would love to help you get that settled. Just go and check out our website with this life-giving information there. Go to ANewStory.com.
    So much loss. So much hurt. But, oh, there's hope. And hope has a name. His name is Jesus.

  • volume_up
    December 27, 2021 A Very Expensive House - #9121

    It was one of those great night-night conversations that a father can have when he's with his son or daughter at bedtime. Our son-in-law tried to prepare our four-year-old grandson for sleeping by saying, "You know you don't have to worry at night because Jesus is with you." Our grandson, ever the thinker, said, "How do I know that Jesus can see me?" Dad told him, "Well, Jesus is up in heaven, watching everything we do. And He also lives inside each of us and He can see everything." Oh, ponder time! And then, "So that means I'm Jesus' house!" (We knew that he had asked Jesus into his heart.) Dad affirmed him, "Actually, that's exactly how the Bible describes it!" Then came our grandson's application questions, "Is Mommy Jesus' house?" "Yes." And you're Jesus' house?" "Yes." "And my little brother is Jesus' house?" (Well, his little brother then was too young to give his heart to Jesus yet.) Daddy said, "Well, not yet." Good. Sounds like Daddy passed the theology test.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Very Expensive House."
    It's amazing how little kids figure out what we big kids tend to forget or don't ever get. Our grandson; he got it there. If you've asked Jesus to come into your life and be your personal Savior, you are "Jesus' house." Which is going to guide, or should guide, a lot of the choices you make.
    One of the Bible's most radical truths is spelled out today in our word for today from the Word of God in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. In a world filled with massive temples to many different gods, Paul says, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."
    Wow! If you know Jesus, that body of yours - whatever you or other people may think of it, it's a temple where God Himself lives! I saw a teenager once with a shirt that simply said, "Property of God." That's the truth! Imagine how it might change things if every believer had that indelibly stamped on their forehead "property of God." Some couples wouldn't be messing around with each other the way they are if they remembered they were messing around with God's property. We'd think twice about some of the garbage we put in our body; some of the junk we allow ourselves to watch or listen to if we realized that we're dragging trash into the "property of God."
    The pagans of old? Oh, they knew that you dared not pollute, or abuse, or dishonor the place where they believed their god lived. But the one true God really does live in you and me if we belong to Jesus. And He comes in in the form of the Holy Spirit. Notice, that's Holy Spirit. Who must be saying to some of us, "What are you doing bringing that stuff into the temple of Almighty God?!"
    In a sense, you drag God into everything you do with your body. It's not your body to do what you please with, to drink what you want, eat what you want, watch what you want, listen to what you want. You don't eat what you want, do what feels good with it, put poison into it, and use it for things God hates. It's God's temple!
    This house of yours was bought at a very expensive price; in fact, the highest price ever paid - the life of the sinless Son of God. And now you've invited Him to move into this house that He paid for with His life. Treat your body like what it really is. Like the shirt said, like the Bible says, it's the property of God!

  • volume_up
    December 24, 2021 Homeless No More - #9120

    Over the years, we've always tried to keep the real mission and meaning of Christmas in front of our children. Taking food and clothes into New York City, for example, to give to homeless people there. It put a whole new face on Christmas. Only a few miles from our home we were face-to-face with the tragedy of people without any place to call home. I remember the time when I went into the city to talk with some homeless people for my youth broadcast - to try to open my listeners eyes and hearts to a needy world. One man was living on the street, near a major bus terminal. His house was a large, tattered cardboard box. He actually allowed me to crawl inside that box with him, and it was heartbreaking that a box was home. At Christmastime - well, at any time. Wow! It's just a tragic thing to be without a home.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Homeless No More."
    You know it's possible to be living in a mansion this Christmas, and still be homeless in your heart. You see, in our hearts, there's this homing instinct that keeps us looking for a love that will fill the hole in our heart, a relationship that will give us one safe and secure place in this lonely, and often disappointing world. But our lives are littered with the temporary "boxes" that we hoped would give our heart a home but never did.
    But Christmas is so very much about finally finding home. It's only possible because the Son of God, in the words of the Bible, "became flesh and lived among us." (John 1:14). When He came, there was "no room" for Him to be born. In a sense, Jesus entered the little "box" we live in - for one incredible reason. He left His home to bring us home. First, to the relationship we were made for, that we've been looking for all these years. As the Bible says, you were "created by Him and for Him." We're homeless because He's our home and we're away from Him.
    In reality, we're spiritually homeless by our own choice. We've chosen to live our lives our own way instead of His way. Maybe you've tried to find shelter where you could, but every other "home" has let you down - whether it's a relationship, an experience, an accomplishment - even a religion. It took the greatest act of love and sacrifice in history to make it possible for you and me to find home - including our eternal home in heaven when we die.
    It's described in 1 Peter 3:18. That's our word for today from the Word of God: "Christ died for sins...the righteous (that's Jesus) for the unrighteous (that's you and me), to bring you to God." Home at last, because Jesus died to pay for every sin of our life, the sins that have cut us off from home and left us homeless in our heart. But, oh, what it cost Him. He loves you too much to lose you. He wants you to be with Him forever. So He gave everything He had to bring you home to God.
    Jesus didn't leave His home just to relate to you or me, or even to reach us. He came here to rescue you. To save us all from a spiritually homeless life and a spiritually hopeless eternity. And this Christmas season, you can finally be home if you'll respond to what Jesus did to rescue you by putting all your trust in Him to be your personal Savior from your personal sin. He died for you. Isn't it time you gave Him what He died for? Isn't it time you stopped looking for home and finally found home; the home that your heart is starved for?
    Reach out to Jesus. Tell Him, "Jesus, it's Your way, not my way, from now on. I'm grabbing You as my rescuer from my sin with all the faith I've got." You want that? Well, then check out our website as soon as you can today. You'll find a description of how you can be sure you belong to Jesus Christ. That website is ANewStory.com, where your new story could begin.
    Now, you may have been very far from Jesus all these years - or you may have been very close, full of Christianity, but missing Christ. But at Christmastime - the time He left home to bring you home - you could finally experience the love you were made for. And finally, you'll be homeless no more.
    I hope this will be for you not just a Merry Christmas, but your first Christmas with Christ in your heart.

  • volume_up
    December 23, 2021 Already Yours - #9119

    Our boys used to approach Christmas as methodically as like a military campaign. They painstakingly made their Christmas lists sometimes like October? You know, you must get the jump on anybody who wants to buy you underwear or socks. Right? So, they listed what they wanted in priority order, with what they called "the big one" right on top, circled and surrounded with big stars around it. One year, our oldest son had the year's hottest toy on top. I knew I would have to break my pattern and do this particular shopping early. So right around Thanksgiving, I bought it before it became virtually "ungettable." But my son must have reminded me about that like twenty times between then and the day he got it - that very happy Christmas Day. Of course, I just smiled.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Already Yours."
    Somewhere along the way, I realized I was looking at a picture of me and God as I looked at what was going on between me and my son. And I learned a powerful lesson about how prayer really works. As you're in the middle of praying for some things that you really need God to do right now, maybe the same lesson will be an encouragement to you.
    Jesus laid out some of prayer's exciting dynamics in our word for today from the Word of God recorded in Mark 11:24. He said, "I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Now notice the tense of those verbs. "Believe that you have received it" - past tense - "and it will be yours" - future tense. You don't have it yet, but you proceed in faith as if it's done. That's a secret Jesus gave us as to how to get your prayers answered.
    My son gave me his request. I responded almost immediately and I secured what he asked for. It was, in essence, already his. But he didn't have it yet. If I had given it to him right away, it would have ruined it; it would have spoiled Christmas. I had answered his request, but it wasn't the right time for me to give it to him.
    So many times, that's what I believe might be going on when you and I pray to God for some things that really matter to us. In fact, you may have a recurring request that's at the top of your list, it's "the big one" all circled and starred. But you don't have an answer yet.
    Based on what Jesus said, it could very well be that your Heavenly Father has already answered your prayer, but He hasn't given you your answer yet. It's not the right time. If you got it now, it would ruin it. And this waiting time is meant to be a trusting time, where you learn to trust your Heavenly Father in ways you've never trusted Him before. You're in "faith school," and you've still got a little more to learn. Then He's going to give you what He's already secured for you.
    Your mission is to proceed in faith in the direction of what you've asked God for and believed God for, under the Holy Spirit's leading. You keep putting logs on the fire, acting as if there's going to be a fire; knowing that only God can ignite it. Live in faith as if you "have received it" and "it will be yours."
    Like any loving father, God loves to give us what we ask for, unless it's something He knows will hurt us. And if He knows what you've asked for is good, He's already got it for you. You have to keep walking in that direction by faith for now, continuing to remind Him that you're trusting Him for it. You're waiting right now, even wondering why you don't have an answer yet.
    But hang on! If it's in line with God's will, there's an exciting day coming when you're going to get the gift your Father has had for you since you started asking. Oh, and it will be right on time!

  • volume_up
    December 22, 2021 What I Found Hiding in the Christmas Story - #9118

    Christmas is always kind of a love fest with our family. And they're all so good at paying attention to what people want and need, and getting the great gifts. You know? So I expect good things, and I hope what I'm giving fits the description as well this Christmas. And you know what? Sometimes, occasionally I will find a little gift that I forgot to give. No, I don't save it for next Christmas. It might be "Happy New Year" or something like that.
    You know what? Before this Christmas I found a gold nugget. Yeah. Well, actually it was a gift in the Bible. It was in the Luke 2 account of Jesus' birth. That's a passage of Scripture I've traveled many a time. But there was a nugget I didn't ever find there before.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "What I Found Hiding in the Christmas Story."
    Here's what hit me during the Christmas celebration. In those warm but familiar words, the angel said, "Behold, I bring you good news (you know) of great joy which shall be for all people." Okay, whoa, stop right there. From the first moments of Jesus' arrival on earth, heaven made clear that the good news about Jesus wasn't just for a few people in the club. It was for "all people." "Good news for all people!"
    Thirty-three years later, Jesus would give His final orders before returning to heaven that He came from that first Christmas. Our word for today from the Word of God - Mark 16:15, tells us this: "Go and tell the Good News to everybody, everywhere!" It was there when He came. It was there when He left. A mandate to get the Good News about Him to "all people." The shepherds got it. The Bible says that as soon as they saw Him, "they spread the word."
    Now, fast forward 2,000 years. When a church becomes a club, made for its members, focusing on the clubhouse, collecting dues from the members, it has gone deaf to Jesus' orders. When believers don't tell the people they know about the Savior they have, the Good News dies with their silence. And the lost folks they know will die without hope.
    So, the whole message that came that first Christmas, the whole command of Jesus before He left, was to be aware of the people who don't have Jesus yet. How can we continue to just focus on ourselves and have meetings and activities that are just for us, sometimes in words only we understand?
    How can we be content to be the people who are in essence "in a lifeboat" that have been rescued and surrounded by people who are dying without hope? How can we be content to be the people in the lifeboat who've been rescued, surrounded by people now who are dying without hope and not turn our lifeboat around and rescue them? We can't just be the folks in the lifeboat who are singing our lifeboat songs, and going to our lifeboat committee meetings, and building a bigger and better more comfortable lifeboat for the people who are already in it. We're surrounded by dying people.
    Jesus said this isn't just for the people who are already in the boat. It's for the people who are dying right now who need to be saved. And people die because the people who are already saved do nothing about the people who are dying.
    And so, as we look at Christmas now, let's look at the prospect also of a brand new year. Let's commit ourselves to the commission for which Jesus came. Which wasn't to start the Jesus Club, but to start a rescue mission that would spread across the planet. As we prepare for Christmas, and think about the news that was for all people, let's put our influence, our time, our prayer, our church budgets, our church meetings, our lives, our money into that for which Jesus came - the rescuing of the dying whatever it takes.
    The Great Commission of Jesus came with His birth. It was His final word before He left. Whatever the years before have been, let's make this next year, as never before, the "Year of our Lord." The year each of us fulfills our destiny, fulfills our Lord's orders to make sure the News about Jesus gets to "all the people."

  • volume_up
    December 21, 2021 Living Sheepishly - #9117

    "It's time to get the old bathrobes out, boys. Yeah, for the church Christmas pageant." You've got to have some boys be shepherds. You know, when I think of shepherds, though, it's more than Christmas to me. It's potentially life changing. There's this picture that hangs on the wall in our living room. It's meant a lot to me in recent years. Just like an identical picture did when 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.
    So every Sunday he dropped me off at this one nearby church while he waited in the car, and 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..." 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 most devastating, there are other dark valleys that shake us to our core. There's that bad news from the doctor. The marriage that was once 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, a 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. 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 would love to help you get started with this life-changing relationship. Just head for our website as soon as you can. It's where a lot of people have found what they needed to begin their relationship with Jesus. It's ANewStory.com. That's the website.
    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.

  • volume_up
    December 20, 2021 The Unstoppable Plans of God - #9116

    Our ministry summer outreaches in Native America are some of our daughter's most cherished weeks of the year. But the year her first child was due in late summer, there was no way she could get the doctor's green light to travel - especially when the destination was the villages of Native Alaska. Now that's one of the amazing aspects of the first Christmas - that Mary would travel by donkey from Nazareth to Bethlehem in her ninth month of pregnancy. I've traveled the road from Nazareth to Bethlehem by car, not by donkey or foot as Joseph and Mary did. It's a tortuous journey through hills and mountains. It's about 90 long miles. There's no way you're going to get a loving husband to go with his very pregnant wife on a trip like that on the eve of their baby's birth, right? Wrong.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Unstoppable Plans of God."
    For almost 500 years, the prophecies of God had said that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Little problem: Joseph and Mary are living 90 miles away in Nazareth. There's apparently no way you'll ever get Mary to Bethlehem when the Messiah in her womb is full term. But the plan of God says Bethlehem. What God does is absolutely amazing, and a very special encouragement for you and me this Christmas.
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from these familiar verses, Luke 2:1-4. "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."
    Now the man seemingly making all this happen is the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus. History tells us that he murdered members of his own family, he actually was a mass murderer, and he instituted emperor worship. He was, in many ways, a monster. And here is little Joseph caught up in the great whirlpool of history. But it is Caesar Augustus who turns out to be the big player in this divine drama, and yet just a footnote to history. He thinks he's flexing his muscle with this universal census, but this most powerful man on earth is but an unsuspecting instrument in the hands of a sovereign God.
    God will get His destiny couple to His destiny place, even if He has to move an empire to do it! The Christmas story is God's powerful statement that God's plans are unstoppable! Including His plans for you. Plans that He says in Jeremiah 29:11 are "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
    Now it may be that right now there appears to be no way things can turn out right. The money isn't there, your health isn't there, the relationship looks impossible, the job frustrations are mounting, the mountain isn't moving, and the answer isn't coming. It looks like there's no way for things to work out, not enough time for an answer to come.
    But you belong to the God who, with the stroke of an evil man's pen, moved an empire to place His kids, Joseph and Mary, right where they were supposed to be. Yes, there was a difficult process, but God delivered them exactly where they were supposed to be. And believe me, God will get His plans for you accomplished if He has to move an empire to do it, or use even a godless instrument to do it.
    Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Just getting Him there was a miracle! So would you relax in the strong arms of the God of Bethlehem. He will move whatever He has to move to finish what He has started in your life!

  • volume_up
    December 17, 2021 The Closer They Get, The Better You Look - #9115

    It takes a real romantic klutz to ruin himself with four girls at one time. (It was me.) Oh, I did a pretty good job of that when I was in high school. See, it was Christmastime, and I decided I wanted to write kind of a romantic masterpiece on the back of the Christmas card to a girl named Wendy. The problem was that I actually was interested in three other girls too.
    And after I finished writing that masterpiece, I said, "You know, this is so good, I think I'll put it on a card that's for all of the other girls too." Well, only I did change the name on them. It was okay as long as they didn't get together and compare notes. And they're all over the city. That ain't going to happen. Right?
    Well, who could have guessed that those girls would decide to get together for a slumber party the day after Christmas, and bring their Christmas cards and compare them! Hello, Roasted Romeo!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Closer They Get, The Better You Look."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 Samuel 12. In my Bible heading it says Samuel's Farewell Speech. This great leader for God is now about to turn over the leadership of Israel as their last judge to their first king, King Saul. And he says this very daring statement in his farewell speech, standing in front of these people who have known him for years. He says, "Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and His anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right."
    Well, they replied, "'You have not cheated or oppressed us. You have not taken anything from anyone's hand.' And Samuel said to them, 'The Lord is witness against you, and also His anointed is witness to this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.' And they said, 'He is witness.'" This is an incredible exchange, and the issue here was integrity. Samuel says, "Now, you've watched my life. You've watched my ministry. I want you now to testify against me and tell me any inconsistencies that you have seen." Wow!
    Samuel didn't get up and say he had integrity. He lived in such a way that he could ask those who knew him to actually testify against him, and they couldn't. If all the people around him compared notes, they couldn't find any inconsistencies or deceit or question marks. No, I didn't fare so well that day those girls compared notes. You know, that day after Christmas? But we should live in such a way that we have no fear of being found out, no fear of discovery, no fear of investigation or scrutiny.
    There's such tremendous freedom in living by three words: Nothing to hide. What does your family think of your integrity - the people who know you best? Do you talk one set of values and live another at home? Those you work with, those you serve with at church, those who see you make decisions or handle money or treat people? Do they see a consistency between the public you and the private you? What if you said to them, "Go ahead; testify against me." Would they say, "We have found nothing"? Wow!
    Live your life in such a way that you have no fear of scrutiny, discovery, people comparing stories. If you tell the truth and do all the things as Jesus would do them, the light will only show your authenticity like it did Samuel's. It can be said of those who live without secrets and without deception, "The closer people get, the better you look."

  • volume_up
    December 16, 2021 Today's Storm, Tomorrow's Strengths - #9114

    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 they 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 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 Strengths"
    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 that's torn up by one of life's Category 5 storms. Heartbreaking losses. A life-altering medical hit. A shipwrecked relationship. Maybe 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? It's called hope! A defiant hope! Yes, life-storms do damage. But they also expose where there are weak spots - in my character, my relationship with God, in my family, my marriage, in our parenting. Weak spots that are there because of past wounds maybe 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 that it leaves, define your life from now on. Well, 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 they've ever lifted before? Well, it 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 because you've been in God's weight room.
    No, you can't stop the storm, you can't stop 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).

  • volume_up
    December 15, 2021 Beyond the Backyard - #9113

    Pierre lived in a pretty small world most of the time. But that's okay, he was our parrot. We had him in this cage in the kitchen so he would be around people a lot. By day his cage was uncovered. By night it was covered, just like the bird people said to do. Since I was usually the first one up in the morning, I was the one who lifted the blanket that covered him at night.
    For a while, I just opened the side that allowed him to see what was going on in the kitchen, and then it dawned on me that I was leaving the back side of his cage covered. That was the side that faced outside the house, and it gave Pierre a view of the neighborhood beyond our kitchen. So once I lifted that side of the cover, there was no way he was going to be stuck just looking in the kitchen. No, he immediately turned around! He looked out the window at that strange world out there.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Beyond the Backyard."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Matthew 24:14. It's a peek at the exciting plans of God before Jesus Christ returns. It says this: "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." God's people are going to be involved in the great gospel explosion; the miracle spread of the good news about Jesus to millions and probably billions who have never heard, and it very well could be happening in our day or beginning to.
    The problem is Jesus said that many of His potential warriors would be asleep in the middle of it. In verse 12, just before this, He says, "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love" - and He's talking about His followers - "the love of most will grow cold." Oh, great! They're going to be all tied up in their small world - their cage; missing the big world that God wants to show them at the most decisive time in human history.
    Think about the times you and I have been chosen to live in. Lost people have never been more ready for Jesus. Oh, they may not know much about Him; they may be living pretty lost lives. But the things that have made them lost have made them ready: the uncertainty, the stress, the relationship failures. They've made people realize that they need something outside themselves, but they don't know what it is. And then God's people, I don't think they've ever been more restless. There's this feeling, maybe you know what it is. I have it. That there's got to be something more, more powerful, more significant in our lives, that we could make a greater difference than we've made until now .
    And then the reaching of the world has never been more possible, and the return of Christ has never been closer. Man, it's time to make a difference! What a time! It could be that like our parrot, we've been looking inward most of the time: my needs, my family, my job, my church, my little world. A lot of churches are mired in their own backyard with petty issues, committee meetings, building campaigns.
    We're at an incredible moment of opportunity, but the missionary force from the United States has dropped dramatically in just a short period of time. Hundreds of missionaries are stranded in the United States because it's taking them years to raise their support. Partly because we're spending our money on ourselves instead of on this world that Jesus died for.
    Right now I believe Jesus is lifting the cover off the cage of those of us who have been mired in our own little world. He's saying, "Hey, would you look outside this little window? There's a world of billions of people I died for; most of whom have no one to tell them." And did you know that every day 150,000 people go into eternity ready or not? Probably not. And today they will, and tomorrow they will, and the day after that they will. Jesus said, "The fields are ready for harvest; look at the fields."
    Isn't it time you begin to invest the best of your energy, the best of your money, your gifts, your influence in the cause for which your Savior sacrificed everything? These are days we need to be working together.
    There's a whole world out there. Don't keep staring at the little world just around you. Remember what the Bible says, "God so loved the world." He wants you to love it too.

  • volume_up
    December 14, 2021 Sunsets in the Puddles - #9112

    Some of the worst stories of human brutality in history, of course, came out of Hitler's concentration camps in World War II. But out of those camps also came some incredible examples of human triumph and heroism. Victor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust in the infamous Auschwitz death camp, told some of those stories in his book. He testified that some of those in Auschwitz were surviving better after a year than some of them did after only a few days. He said that those who didn't sink were those who drew their outlook from what he described as a second dimension experience.
    All the prisoners in the camp shared the same first dimension experience - the terrible horrors they were subjected to every day. But the second dimension that some drew upon had, according to Victor Frankl, four elements - seeing meaning, seeing beauty, maintaining humor, and thinking future. One example that stands out in my mind was the man who ran into the barracks one day, gathered all his fellow prisoners together to go outside and see something special. He was actually celebrating the beauty of a blazing sunset reflected in the puddles from last night's rain.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Sunsets in the Puddles."
    Few, if any of us, have endured something so inhuman, so unjust, so brutal as those who suffered through the Holocaust, of course. But they can teach us something: that while you often cannot choose your circumstances, you can choose your attitude in the midst of those circumstances. Your environment, however harsh and hurting, does not have to be decisive in the kind of person you are and the kind of response you choose.
    When Paul wrote our word for today from the Word of God, his circumstances were miserable. He was in prison on trumped up charges, his surroundings were horrendous, his dreams were on hold, and people outside were actually taking advantage of his circumstances to diminish him and advance themselves. He's got so many reasons to be complaining, questioning, spewing, attacking, or giving up. Doesn't happen, because he's drawing on his in-vironment, not his environment - on Christ's resources inside him where not even Caesar can interfere with it.
    In Philippians 4, beginning with verse 4, Paul says from his prison cell, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Then he reveals his secret of winning amid life's worst, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely (like a sunset in a puddle maybe), whatever is admirable, think about such things." Then, after testifying that he has "learned to be content whatever the circumstances," he gives the ultimate secret of being on top, no matter what season you're in, "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."
    So how you handle what you don't like is the difference between peace and frustration, between contentment and anger, and between joy and discouragement. It's all about what you dwell on, not what you're going through. If you dwell on what's beautiful, if you dwell on what God is doing, or how you can lift up other people, you could be unsinkable no matter how many icebergs there are.
    For as one man said, "To those who look for providences, there will always be a providences to see." Choose joy!

  • volume_up
    December 13, 2021 Destiny In the Drudgery - #9111

    If you want to have some fun at a gathering where there are married couples, just ask a simple question. "How did you two meet?" You'll get some run-of-the-mill, maybe average type stories like, "We knew each other since we were six days old." But you may also get a few of them who start laughing out loud before they tell you why. They start rolling their eyes, they look at each other, and one or the other of them will say, "Do you really want to know?"
    Occasionally, you'll get an answer that's about some random way of meeting - like in a laundromat, or an elevator, or some unexpected public place. Of course, you know, computer online. It's amazing how you can go out not looking, just doing something mundane, and in the middle of some everyday activity, "Poof!" There's what turns out to be your life partner. You know, sometimes that everyday stuff, whoa, turns out not to be so every day.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Destiny In the Drudgery."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God comes right out of the Christmas Story; those wonderful, familiar words about destiny in the drudgery. Luke 2:4 says, "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, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son." Well, and the rest, I think we would say, is really history.
    Now, Joseph needed to be in Bethlehem. Mary needed to be in Bethlehem, because all the prophecies of the Old Testament have said that the Son of God will come and be born in Bethlehem. Problem: Joseph and Mary are 90 miles away; they're up in Nazareth. Now, how are we going to get them to be in the destiny place for their lives? Ah-ha! Taxes! That's right! It was taxes that got Joseph to the town where Jesus was destined to be born. He had to go there and register. What a drudge!
    Here he is, tromping over the hills, going there with his wife - mundane chores. And in the middle of the mundane is the birth of the Son of God. Now, that's very appropriate that it would happen that way, because God often buries a great gift in everyday stuff. Often the good things of your life that you're looking for come when you're not looking for them. God makes destiny out of drudgery...like a woman going to a well to draw water and she meets her Messiah in the middle of her daily chores. Or a fisherman cleaning his nets; he's cleaning up for the day, getting ready to go home and he leaves that day as a disciple of Jesus Christ - it's Simon Peter. Or how about a farmer's son, looking for his Dad's lost donkeys - Saul - and it's in that maneuver that he runs into Samuel and becomes the first King of Israel.
    You know, I remember back some years ago, I had been looking - I think for about five years - for an experienced leader to take a vital leadership role in our organization, and God brought me together with someone perfectly gifted, perfectly prepared. You know how? He picked me up in an airport one day. That's how we met. Big deal! But his destiny and mine were in the drudgery of a trip to and from an airport. You say, "Well, so what?" Well, there's no such thing as waking up and saying, "Ho-hum, another day." Uh-uh. God is making something with this day. This is the day the Lord is making! Has made! "I will rejoice and be glad in it." He's weaving a tapestry. Oh, you just see the threads, but God's looking at the tapestry.
    So, it's wise to commit yourself to a daily God hunt. Look for Him - God sightings, as He reveals himself somewhere in today's everyday stuff. So go with your eyes wide open into each new day - there's destiny in that drudgery. When Christ is your Lord, everyday stuff isn't everyday stuff.

  • volume_up
    December 10, 2021 You Didn't Know When You Were Born? - #9110

    Birthdays have changed for me over the years. When I was little, my parents always made it a big deal with a party, and friends, and hats, and cake with candles and all the rest. Today my birthday just isn't a big "hoopla" like it used to be. Many times we have a quiet kind with cards, a couple of gifts, nice family dinner together. Actually, it was getting to the point where my wife was hesitant to put candles on my cake. Yeah, she said there were so many she was afraid it was going to like set off the smoke detectors in our house. Come on! But it is getting tougher. The observance varies from year to year, but one thing is for sure. I always know when it's my birthday. You say, "Well, congratulations! Most people do." In fact, I have to write it on a lot of forms many times a year. And then I know when I was married, too. Did you know that? Aren't you proud of me? Yeah, I can even remember that. And I'd better remember the anniversary, you know, it was always important to remember that. Yeah. See, those are important beginnings. You know when they were (or you should).
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "You Didn't Know When You Were Born?"
    Now, when you go flying; that is in an airplane, you don't try to talk your way on board. I do a lot of flying. You don't say, "Listen, don't you think I'm good looking? Don't you think I'm a nice guy? Would you let me on board?" They'd say, "No, sir. Where is your ticket?"
    Did you know it's the same thing when it comes to getting into God's heaven? One day you and I are going to stand before God and hope that we'll spend forever in that wonderful place. You got your ticket? Well, where's your ticket?
    John 3:3 - basically Jesus says, "Here's the ticket." He says, "I tell you the truth. No one can see the Kingdom of God..." Whoa! That's serious. "...unless he is born again." Wait! How do you do that? If that's the only ticket to get into God's heaven, you want to make sure that you are born again. So how does that happen? When does it happen?
    Our word for today from the Word of God, John 1:12 says this, "To all who received Christ, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become the children of God." In other words, to get born into His family. Now, my first birthday, I was born into the Hutchcraft family. I know when that happened. On your second birth, you get born into God's family when you place your total trust in Christ and tell him you want him to enter the control room of your life.
    There's no way to do that without knowing you did it. Now, do you know when you were born into God's family? Look, you may not remember a date; a lot of people don't. But you've got to remember that you did it to know that you did. If not, you might not be in God's family.
    You say, "Well, I've been around Him for years. I must have picked Him up somewhere." Well, you don't get Jesus by osmosis. "Well, I believe it all." Well, see, agreement is not commitment. "Well, I can't remember not knowing about Him." Well, that doesn't mean you've given yourself to Him any more than knowing and even loving a person for fifty years means you married them.
    Like birth, there's a day when no life becomes life. Choosing Christ is a conscious choice. You know you did it. You may have Christian beliefs, a Christian pedigree, a Christian reputation, even a Christian position and not have Christ. When were you born? If you don't know, if you're not sure that there was a day you began to be in God's family, well, maybe you're not in it.
    But you know what? You could consciously today receive Him and get this settled for sure. Just don't be so proud that you won't make sure. Religious pride is going to cost a lot of people heaven. If you're not sure you belong to Him, why not have a day when you make sure? Why not let this be the day? The Bible says, "Today is the day of your salvation." Reach out and say, "Jesus, beginning today, consciously I give myself to you. I am yours."
    Look, this would be a good time to check out our website. A lot of people go there. You can find there how to be sure you belong to Him. It's ANewStory.com. You let Christ in today, and your Heavenly Father will be the first to wish you "Happy Birthday!"

  • volume_up
    December 9, 2021 Spiritual Snowmen - #9109

    My theory is that inside every man there's a little boy. And when the boy dies, the man might as well. Then the kid comes out at Christmas, you know, at certain amusement parks, and when it snows. Inside most of us is this kid who looks out the window at new-fallen snow and hopes like crazy this will be one of those most glorious of winter days - a snow day! If it is, and you've got kids or grandkids, it can mean an opportunity for one of life's great creative moments - building a snowman! Or snow person, excuse me, as the case may be. Now, when you're done, there stands your personal or team masterpiece - fat, friendly, probably with a hat, a button nose, two eyes (made out of coal?). The problem is that they don't stay those handsome creatures you formed so laboriously. As the temperature rises, Snow Guy or Girl slowly becomes Soft Guy or Girl, slowly losing its shape and identity until it's more like Mush Guy and Mush Girl.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Spiritual Snowmen."
    Sadly, what happens to snowmen seems to be happening to more and more of God's people. They're slowly going soft, melted by the heat of a culture that applies heavy pressure to compromise both Christian convictions and Christian lifestyles. And some of us are becoming so melted you can hardly tell the difference between us and the lost people around us. We watch what they watch, we wear what they wear, we talk like they talk, we do business like they do business, we bail out of marriages like they do - actually more than they do sometimes, and slowly melt away morally the Jesus-difference that is meant to draw people to a life-changing - not life-conforming - Savior.
    Increasingly, we seem to be practicing our culture rather than practicing our faith; more of an echo of our culture than a choice. A culture that casually accepts the unacceptable has caused us to grow soft about what we'll watch and listen to and what we'll allow our children to let into their hearts and minds. Things we never would have considered allowing into our lives or our minds maybe only a few years ago.
    We've gotten soft on something God says in the Book of Malachi that He hates. It says He hates divorce (Malachi 2:10). It doesn't say He hates divorced people. But in relatively few years, a trickle of Christians at one time ending their lifetime marriage commitment has grown to a flood. It looks increasingly as if Jesus makes little or no difference in life's most intimate, most committed relationship.
    The heat has made us more and more soft on issues like the sanctity of life, whether it's standing without compromise for the life of an unborn child, or the life of a born child who's living in awful need, or the life of the elders who gave us our life. Again, where's the Jesus-difference? We can't turn soft just because the issue all of a sudden has the face of someone we know. God hasn't changed His mind.
    Premarital sex - living together before you're married, business ethics - so many compromises. So much melting! Now it's time for our word for today from the Word of God in Ephesians 6:13, "Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then..." There it is. We can't change our minds on the things God never changes His mind on.
    When we let the heat of an out-of-control, spiritually uncaring world keep melting us down, making us soft, pretty soon there's nothing left but spiritual mush. If you belong to Jesus, your life is supposed to offer a loving choice, not an echo for a lost and dying world. We have to stand our ground. Or lose the very things that make a Jesus-follower the light of their world.

  • volume_up
    December 8, 2021 When Differences Don't Matter - #9108

    Before September 11, before the World Trade Center, there was Oklahoma City! It's hard for me to even hear those words without thinking of the devastation that occurred there on that April 19, 1995; the day that a terrorist's bomb destroyed the Federal Building and 168 people who were in it. That day the very worst and the very best in people were displayed in Oklahoma City. It was an awful moment, but it united the community in a way like never before. There were so many people who just threw themselves into the rescue effort. There were doctors, nurses, police, firefighters, and everyday heroes, counselors, ministers, and food suppliers. That would be repeated some years later at the World Trade Center. Someone wisely pointed out that suddenly white didn't matter, black didn't matter, Methodist didn't matter, Baptist didn't matter, old, young. There was one compelling need that had incredible power to erase all the categories.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When Differences Don't Matter."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Philippians 1:27-28. Do you know what will suddenly pull together people who usually stay separate? Well, look at this Oklahoma City example. It's the realization that lives are at stake; that people will die if we don't work together. Turf doesn't matter when people are dying. Labels don't matter. The eternal tragedy of people dying spiritually isn't as easy to see as the devastation of a bomb blast, but it's every bit as real and far more eternal. And the way to rescue spiritually dying people who surround us is obvious.
    Here we go, Philippians 1:27, "Stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel, without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved, and that by God." "I want you to fight the gospel battle," God is saying here, "as one man and in one spirit."
    See, if we begin to see the people around us as Jesus sees them, we'll know that they're dying without a Savior. Now they're dying inside, and then they will spend eternity without God unless we get to them in time. And then suddenly all those differences between us Christians? They don't seem so important. All that matters is getting to the dying people.
    There's only one explanation for the competition and the categories between churches and organizations in your area. We must not really believe that getting to people for Jesus is life-or-death. The situation of lost people is too desperate for us to be worrying about denomination, or trivial issues, or who gets the credit, different views of the 10% that Christians disagree on. If "lostness" is not an eternal emergency, then maybe we could afford to stay clustered in our little individual rescue units.
    But a lost world just doesn't understand why we can't get together. I hear it all the time. And if we don't, we'll never get to enough people in time. So, let's start praying for the lost in groups that cross all the lines that have divided us. Let's plan together strategies to reach them out of a common broken heart for those who break the heart of Jesus.
    Try an experiment. Hit yourself in the face with your five separate fingers and see how it feels. Now, pull those five fingers together in a fist. Now hit yourself in the face this time. I doubt you're going to do it. Tell me which is more powerful, separate fingers working separately or pulled together in a fist. God's people have been carrying out the work of God way too long as separate fingers. Isn't it time we pulled together and made a fist in Satan's face?
    That awful day in Oklahoma City I can't imagine the rescuers focusing most of their attention on the people who were already safe and already well. Of course not! They focused everything on the dying people. I can't imagine them arguing over turf either. See, when lives are at stake - in this case for heaven and hell - the differences don't matter. Saving lives together, that's all that matters.

  • volume_up
    December 7, 2021 The Pregnant Pause - #9107

    It was a perfect winter scene: father and son sledding down a hill, on a beautiful new snowfall, together on one sled. My son was laughing as we reached the bottom. We'd had a great run down the hill, and suddenly I shook up that happy little feeling. I just suddenly shouted, "Jump!" and he did. He rolled right off the sled. I did too. He didn't ask why, he just jumped.
    When he looked back, he saw why I had told him to jump. I had seen that sled bearing down on us, right behind us, full of kids, out of control, and it plowed right into our sled. Had I left my son where he was, those sled runners might well have sliced right into him at high speed. Oh, he didn't understand my command, but he did it before he understood. You know, that's a good idea for all us kids.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Pregnant Pause."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Matthew 1 - I'll begin at verse 18, as we look a little bit into the Christmas Story. "This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph, her husband, was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream."
    That's a familiar story and here's what's happening. God starts something in Joseph's life, but He explains it later. Did you notice that? He starts this whole process of letting Joseph be the one who will raise God's Son on earth. But it starts with a seeming disaster! Joseph's fiancé is mysteriously pregnant. Joseph's heart's got to be broken. His world's caving in and God hasn't explained it. He started it, but He explained it later.
    In between, God watches to see if Joseph will obey before he understands, and he does. You see, it was within Joseph's rights to divorce Mary and say, "I had nothing to do with this" and to publicly disgrace her, and in so doing he'd be protecting his own reputation. But instead, he chooses to act unselfishly, to act responsibly even though he's hurting.
    See, God is up to a greater good. Now, Joseph's good would be, "I just want to get married to my Jewish girlfriend. Why does all this have to happen?" God initiates this much greater good, but He remains silent and then He later interprets it. And Joseph faces (pardon the expression) a pregnant pause in God's work.
    Now, right now what would you consider good? Well, maybe it's up for grabs...that relationship. You say, "Why can't I have it?" Your health, the money, the job, why don't your plans work, why aren't your prayers getting answered? Remember, God is the God of the greater good, and God often has to shake your world like He did Joseph's in order to bring about His greater good. You'll see that someday, but can you quote Romans 8:28 in the present tense before you see where it's going? "All things are working together for good." Will you work before you can see the good? Will you do it before you can see the good?
    See, God has started His greater good, but right now it's just shaking up your world. Oh, He'll explain it. He'll fulfill it in the future. But now, in between, obey before you understand - like a boy jumping off a sled before his Dad told him why. Joseph discovered that the apparent disaster is actually clearing the way for a mighty work of God. You've just got to obey in the meantime.
    So, remember, you're in the loving hands of the God of the greater good, which is often preceded by that pregnant pause.

  • volume_up
    December 6, 2021 Your Work and Your Worth - #9106

    It starts when you're very little. People lean over to you and they say, "What are you going to be when you grow up?" Now, have you ever heard a little child say, "Well, I'm going to be generous, healthy, helpful, and Godly"? No, the answer is always an occupation. You go to school to get ready for that occupation; you talk about your grades when somebody asks how you're doing. Who are you? You go to college and you get your job. Then you retire, and now who am I? I'm not working any more. What are you going to be when you grow up?
    I had a young woman who has an excellent legal career tell me, "Ron, I drive home in my beautiful car with my nice fat paycheck and I say, "What's it all for?" You know, there's a devastating lie that cripples millions of us, and that leaves us disillusioned, burned out, and terribly deceived. Maybe you've bought into it.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Your Work and Your Worth."
    Well, our word for today from the Word of God is about our work and it's in Ecclesiastes 2. I'll begin reading with verse 10. Solomon is reflecting on his working life and he said, "I denied myself nothing my eyes desired. I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor." Okay, he says, "I got some good things; I was able to do some nice things because of what I earned from working. Yet he says this, "When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had totally achieved, everything was meaningless...a chasing after the wind. Nothing was gained."
    Like that young woman said, "What's it all for?" Then in verse 21 he says, "A man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless. What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief, even at night his mind does not rest. This, too, is meaningless."
    Solomon had achieved all his career objectives, but he discovered this startling truth: A person's work is not his worth. Now, our society lies to us about that. We believe we are what we do. Executives are sent on retreats sometimes for self-discovery. And I'm told that in their small groups the first night they're asked to answer this question, "Who am I?" without mentioning their company, their career, or their position. They don't know what to say! Take away what I do and I don't know who I am.
    There are people who are neglecting God, family, health, and other people because they think their worth is their work. Well, in God's economy, unemployed people are just as valuable as employed people. No job can give you real worth. You are a created masterpiece. Actually, work and the sweat of our brow is part of the curse of the fall.
    Your worth is in your identity in Jesus Christ. Listen to these great words from Colossians 2:10, "You are complete in Him." You got Jesus; you've got all you were ever meant to be. Once you're free from the bondage of having to prove your worth, guess what? You get better in your work.
    It's time to dig down deep into where our identity was supposed to be; being God's workmanship, the Bible says; paid for by the blood of God's Son, who thought you were worth dying for. Maybe your whole life's been running on a gerbil wheel, trying to be somebody, trying to be accepted, trying to get some sense of being worth something. And you find the One you were made by, made for, and who died for you, you know you are somebody.
    Maybe this is your time to discover where your worth really comes from - Who it comes from. Open up your heart to Jesus and say, "Jesus, you died for me. I'm Yours." We'd love to help you know how to begin that relationship and end this endless search for worth that ends in His arms. Go to our website. It's ANewStory.com.
    And realize when you've got Jesus, you are complete in Him.

  • volume_up
    December 3, 2021 The Sweet and Sour Strategy - #9105

    When you visit Amish country in Pennsylvania, you pass these buffet restaurants that advertise fare with "seven sweets and seven sours." I'm glad it's not all one or the other. I mean, the mix is good, as it... In fact it's one of my favorite salad dressings - sweet and sour dressing - another specialty in Amish country. Once again, I like that dressing because it's both. I don't want to think about a salad with just vinegar all over my lettuce and tomatoes. Right? But then, a salad with just lots of sugar spread all over it? That doesn't do much for me either. But sweet and sour together, now that's an appealing combination!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Sweet and Sour Strategy."
    When it comes to eating, sweet and sour can be great together. When it comes to the business of leading and shaping peoples' lives, it's that combination that can lead to some very positive results. It takes some sweet and it takes some sour to change people.
    There is, in fact, sort of a sweet and sour strategy for shaping people in our word for today from the Word of God. And there's definitely some of each in this guidance from 2 Timothy 4:2. It says, "Correct, rebuke" - I guess those could be described as "sours," especially from the perspective of the person being corrected or being rebuked. Then it goes on to say, "and encourage (oh, there's the sweet!) with great patience and careful instruction."
    God has placed a lot of us in a position where we're a leader in someone's life. You're a parent, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, you're a supervisor, or a friend, maybe a counselor or spiritual leader. Well, we have a responsibility before God to not leave people where we found them, but to challenge them and inspire them and equip them to become more of what God made them to be.
    In this passage, He's given us three main tools in our people-leading, people-changing tool kit. First, you have to correct. The original Greek word here is about bringing things to light; showing people things that they may not be able to see without someone showing them. We all have blind spots. As a parent, a leader, you have a God-given responsibility to show someone that they're swerving or drifting off the road, not just to let them go because you're afraid of confrontation.
    Your second life-changing tool is to rebuke. This is more of a hammer actually that seriously warns people of the consequences of their wrong choices. Rebuking doesn't beat around the bush. I mean, it spells it all out plainly and strongly. It may feel like a "sour" to the person, but it's every bit as loving as a hug - maybe more so. You love them enough to take the risk of telling them the truth.
    But you have to mix correcting and rebuking with the "sweet" of encouraging - telling them the great things you see in them, leading with positive things before you present the negative, assuring them of your support and your unconditional love and your belief in them. And you do all this, it says, with "careful instruction." In other words, you explain things to them, you give reasons, you train them in how to do the right thing; you give a "how" with the "should." And you do it with, it says, great patience, bearing with them, giving them chances to change, and being willing to wait a while for the seed that you planted to grow.
    So which part of this is going to mean growing and changing for you? Maybe you're naturally good at dropping the truth-bomb - the part that feels sour to the recipient. Or maybe you're good at the encouraging part - the sweet part. But one without the other is only half the story, and it leaves people either confronted but destroyed, or comforted but unchanged.
    Maybe you need the Lord to help you add some sweet to your sour...or some of the tough side to your sweet, because He is both. He can make you both, so you can help the people you know become more than they have ever been before.

  • volume_up
    December 2, 2021 First, Breathe It Yourself - #9104

    If the flight attendant were ever to become incapacitated on a flight, well, I could give those safety instructions I think. I'd be able to step right up and take over! I know the routine by heart, I've heard it so many times over the years.
    Of course those flight instructions are more interesting because they supply video now. I like the part where the little yellow oxygen mask drops down and they show you what to do if the cabin pressure suddenly goes down. I've noticed in the dramatization that the people are wonderfully calm. Have you ever noticed that? No one is screaming, no one's yelling, "We're going to crash!"
    But no problem; they're calm as they quietly put on their masks. But that's good. And the video shows a mother putting the mask on herself first, and then reaching over and giving it to her little girl and affixing it to her mouth. Well, the instructions go like this, "If the cabin pressure drops, put the oxygen on your face first, and then even though you might want to take care of your child first, take care of yourself so you're strong enough to help them." To give a child breath, you first have to take a breath of your own.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "First, Breathe It Yourself."
    I hear from a lot of parents something like this, "My son or daughter is having a serious problem, Ron. Could you help my child?" In essence they're saying, "Could you help me get the mask on them? They need some oxygen; they need some help, and I need to get that mask on them." You know, many times the child's weakness or problem turns out to be a mirror of the parents' weakness or problem.
    Our word for today from the Word of God talks about family sins that are these ugly hand-me-downs that grandfathers have, then the father learns to have it, and then his son learns to act that way. Hey, but there's hope! Listen, 1 Peter 1:18, "You were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you by your forefathers with the precious blood of Christ."
    Empty ways of life have been passed from generation to generation. Every family has them, and those family sins continue from generation to generation. Maybe you see a harsh, critical tongue or spirit developing in them, and you hate it because you look in the mirror and you say, "That's kind of like me." Maybe they've got an addictive personality or they've got a tendency to cheat on the truth, and it's the problem that frustrates you in yourself. And now it's mirroring in them.
    The good news in this verse is the words, "You were redeemed." You can break that cycle; it doesn't have to be that way it's always been. But you've got to take the oxygen for yourself first. You've got to be redeemed from that empty way of life. You can't help your child with that problem until you have breathed the oxygen.
    You need to turn to Jesus Christ; to turn Him loose on that besetting sin - that family sin. Begin to win some daily victories. And if you lose one day, just let it be one day. Make a daily rebound. And try acknowledging your struggle with that weakness to your family; ask for their prayers; let them know you know you shouldn't be this way. Ask for their help. And then you can say, "You know, I think you may be struggling and having a hard time breathing in the same area I am, and it's probably because you learned it from me. Here, breathe what I'm breathing - the redeeming power of Jesus Christ."
    Have you ever unleashed that power in your life? Jesus has the power to break the hold of every sin you've ever struggled with. Because He took it to His cross, and He broke its power there. And when He died on the cross, He paid the penalty for your sin, He broke the power of that sin, He can forgive that sin. And those who've experienced what the blood of Christ was shed to do, know what it is to experience this truth from Jesus: "If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed." That's the Son of God.
    And then, you can pass that freedom on to your son or daughter. Just tell Him today, "Jesus, from today on, I'm yours." Check out our website. There's a lot of help there in making sure you've begun your relationship with Jesus. It's ANewStory.com.
    The biggest single answer for your child's weakness is to let Christ transform that weakness in you. He has redeeming grace for your son, for your daughter. But first, breathe it yourself.

  • volume_up
    December 1, 2021 They Aren't Where They Used To Be - #9103

    Sometimes we tell people, "You really need to get out more." For my wife, that was especially true some years ago. Our ministry had been growing so fast she almost felt like a prisoner at the office. She hadn't been able to get out, shop, even in our own town.
    Well, she finally broke down. She "escaped," if you will, because she had so much needed shopping to do. That night she came home and she said, "You know, it's kind of sad. I had my route all planned out, what I was going to buy, where I was going to buy it, how to avoid backtracking. But there was one small problem. The stores aren't there anymore."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "They Aren't Where They Used To Be."
    Our word for today from the Word of God actually comes from John 4. We find Jesus in a place where most Jews would never go. It was an area called Samaria. Jews weren't very well liked there. And it says, "He had to go through Samaria." Now, this chapter tells us that He has a life-transforming encounter there with a Samaritan woman, who finds out that the love of Christ is the love she's been looking for her whole life.
    And then finally, when we get down to verses 39 and 41 it says, "Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Jesus because of the woman's testimony. And because of His words, many more became believers." Now, why did Jesus have to go through Samaria? Because that's where Samaritans are! The Samaritans would never have come to Him. He went where the lost people were. He connected with them on their turf where they were comfortable.
    Now let's fast-forward to the present. On our watch, America has become a post-Christian nation. We're surrounded by people every day who don't know our language, they don't know our morality, they don't know anything about our meetings or want to go to them, they don't know our heroes, they don't know our book. They don't know anything about our Savior.
    There's plenty of activity going on in the name of evangelism, but it seems like we're missing most of our neighbors. We're not making a difference, and the chasm between the world of the church and the world of the lost seems wider than ever. What's the problem here? Could it be the same problem that my wife found after being cloistered in her office for too long? She went where the action had been, but it wasn't there anymore.
    So many of the ways we try to reach lost people were developed many decades ago, and we're still trying to reach people with the same kind of programs, same vocabulary, same kind of presentations, music and literature. See, we're going to where they used to be, and they moved. They're not there anymore.
    When it comes to communicating with lost people, the price of failure is eternally high. It's an unthinkable eternity for those who are lost! We can't leave the people around us lost and just wait for them to come to us, to our meeting, to our place. Jesus didn't do that. He went to their turf. He went to their place. He talked about the things they cared about. He explained the gospel in words and with examples that they could understand; not religious talk.
    The ancient Indian proverb says, "We need to walk a mile in the other man's moccasins." In other words, think post-Christian for a minute. Think lost! How would a lost person think in these times? How would they respond to our program? How would they respond to how we're saying it? Be the person you're trying to reach. Would you come to those meetings? Would you understand those religious words? What would interest you there? What would keep you from coming back?
    Would they come to our website? Would they listen to what we're doing? What's going on in the life of a 21st Century lost person that would make them interested in Jesus? What are the differences in a Christian you know that would mean something to you if you're a lost person? You say, "Man, I want what they've got." Well, what would that be? You want to find someone who's lost, you go where they are.
    Maybe we've been in our little Christian cocoon too long. We need to realize that the people who have to know about our Jesus don't live where they used to live, they don't understand what they used to understand. Like Jesus, we need to "seek and save those who are lost." Please, go to where the lost people are.

  • volume_up
    November 30, 2021 Surrounded by Precious - #9102

    Why are refrigerator doors important? You probably say, "To keep the cold inside," or "to keep that little light inside from burning out." OK, that's true. But you might be forgetting one of the most valuable functions of a refrigerator door. Yep, it's a great place to display the artwork of your children or your grandchildren! Uh-huh! Oh, ours covered for years. Throughout our house and our offices, you could find pictures drawn by our grandchildren, crafts made by them. You may not think they're masterpieces. You may not think they're great works of art, but they're precious to us.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Surrounded by Precious."

  • volume_up
    November 29, 2021 The Bills Keep Coming - #9101

    Plastic money. Yep, a credit card - great convenience. But it could also be a great trap, right? I mean, just ask any of the millions of Americans who have credit card bills that are chasing them every month. Now, some people decide to take radical action to bring this spending part of their lives under control. They've actually cut up their credit cards! And for many people, that has represented a genuine turning point in their personal finances. They've finally declared their independence from this slave master called Credit. Yes, they've changed, but unfortunately, there's still one problem.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Bills Keep Coming."
    It's great to move beyond the years of deeper and deeper debt. The good news is, you've changed and it's not going to be the same again. The bad news is, you still have to deal with the bills that accumulated before you changed.
    That's something a lot of people don't calculate about the sinful choices we make. It's the sobering truth of our word for today from the Word of God in Galatians 6:7, and a familiar principle. It says, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; but the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." You know, it's one of those laws of the universe - the law of sowing and reaping. Sometimes the harvest continues even after you've stopped sowing the seed.
    You could be on one of two sides of this issue. Maybe you're still sowing sinful seed or maybe you've repented, you've accepted Christ's forgiveness, and you're trying to live new. Well, if you're in the Sin Zone right now, you may be counting on what I call "grace abuse." Grace abuse sounds like this: "Well, I know what I'm doing is wrong, but hey, God will always forgive me, right?" And you've gone for that forgiveness a lot of times, knowing in the back of your mind that you'd probably go back and sin again, knowing you could always come back for some more forgiveness, right?
    Here's what you might be forgetting. You can get forgiven, but the consequences of your sin will keep scarring your life long after you've been forgiven by God. The credit cards of sin may be gone, but the bills just keep coming. Whether it's a pattern of lying, sexual sins, pornography, maybe it's angry outbursts, or selfishness, backstabbing. Sin will always take you farther than you ever planned to go, it will keep you longer than you ever planned to stay, and it will cost you more than you ever dreamed you'd pay. Sin pursues you with ongoing consequences, reputation consequences, health consequences, legal consequences, or the long battle to rebuild your reputation, or the long battle to rebuild broken trust.
    But you may have been to the cross of Jesus with all that sin, and you really are becoming what the Bible describes as "a new creation in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:17). But you're still paying some of those "bills" from the old you. And Satan is trying to use those to discourage you and divert you. Don't fall for his lies. God's promise to you is in indelible ink, "I will remember their sins no more" (Hebrews 8:12). Your sins are forever forgiven; forever gone!
    If you're still experiencing some of the consequences of sin that's gone, don't fall for Satan's discouragement trap. You're a new person and the old bills don't change that. Let those consequences strengthen your commitment to never go back there again and to keep everyone else possible from ever going there.
    The bill that really matters, the eternal death penalty for the sins of your past, that bill was ripped up by Jesus the moment you met Him at the foot of His cross. Maybe you still have that death penalty hanging over you because your sins have never been erased from God's book by the man who died for them. Let this be the day you say, "Jesus, would you erase all my sins from God's book? I'm prepared to change the leadership of my life to You. I am yours."
    You want to begin this relationship with Jesus today? Well, then, it's a day to be clean once and for all. I think we can help with that. Go to our website. It's ANewStory.com. Please go there today.
    If you've never had your sins forgiven by Him at that cross, take care of that today and let the new story of your life begin.

  • volume_up
    November 26, 2021 Blindness that Makes You Crash - #9100

    When you've driven as much as I have over the years, you know when it's time to stop. I've been driving along at night, and suddenly I'm enveloped in this thick fog; usually in the mountains. Semis are pulled over to the side of the road, and they're professional drivers. They know well enough not to go on. It's definitely time to stop before I hit something. Same thing when I suddenly find myself in one of those driving rainstorms, or I've been in a snow storm. You know, "whiteout" they call it. Those times when you literally can't see a car length in front of you. It's like you're temporarily blind, and you'd better not keep pushing ahead.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Blindness that Makes You Crash."
    Fog can make you like temporarily blind. So can rain or snow. And so can your hormones. Yeah, it's happened even to King David, who God called "a man after God's own heart." David's hormonal blindness, which led to so many devastating crashes, is described in one of the saddest chapters in the Bible. In 2 Samuel 11, beginning with verse 2, our word for today from the Word of God, the Bible says, "One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her." Right about here you feel like screaming at the Bible, "David, don't do it, man!"
    But he did do it. "The man said, 'Isn't this Bathsheba...the wife of Uriah the Hittite?'" Uriah, by the way, was one of David's most trusted, most loyal soldiers. The Bible goes on: "Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her." Here's David - God's man, God's king, but his sexual desires started pumping, and he followed them all the way to disaster. From these few moments of sexual pleasure will come a baby who dies, David's murder of his loyal associate to cover up his sin, rape and incest and even an attempt to overthrow him among his own children, and an agony of soul that David could never have imagined that night.
    That's what's so dangerous about lust, sexual fantasies, about pornography, about flirting with sexual sin - your hormones blind you, just like they did David. You let your lust keep pulling you toward a crash, and it makes you blind to so many things you can't afford to forget: the consequences, what you stand to lose, who you're going to hurt, the agony of a broken relationship with God. But you don't care much about all that; you just care about satisfying your sexual desires, following your passions, meeting your needs.
    But God has sent you this way today to send you a wakeup call. Please, consider where your passions and your desires are taking you. Count the cost. Think about all you have to lose if you keep driving down this road. Think about the price that you will pay in your soul - maybe the price you're already paying. Think about the hurt this will cause. And don't make the deadly mistake that millions of people have made, underestimating the power of sin and overestimating your power to control it.
    Sexual desire is blinding. It can blind you like a thick fog. Please, don't keep going this way. Pull over now and stop before you crash!

  • volume_up
    November 25, 2021 Pardoning Turkeys - #9099

    Well, the President of the United States - let's see, he's got wars to manage, a wild economy to handle. You know what? Every Thanksgiving he steps up to one of the most decisive responsibilities of his office. He pardons a turkey; well, actually, two turkeys. This is really serious business. Actually they even have a backup turkey (this is the truth) just in case Turkey #1 isn't able to serve as, well, what one writer called the ungobbled gobbler.
    Of course, these lucky birds have names. One year "Biscuit" and "Gravy"; yeah, they escaped the ax. And then there was "Marshmallow" and "Yam" another year. (I'm not making these up.) And then there was "May" and "Flower," and then another year, "Apple" and "Cider." Come on.
    Well, after this Summit meeting with the President, the turkeys are sent to Disneyland, and they didn't even win the Super Bowl. Turkey #1 gets to ride with The Mouse as the Honorary Grand Marshal of Disneyland's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I'm thinkin' - only in America.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Pardoning Turkeys."
    Now, I've been thinking about that word "pardon" because, well actually, it's become a deeply personal word for me. "May" and "Flower" got pardoned by the highest authority in the land. My pardon comes from the highest authority in the universe. And as for it being a turkey who got pardoned, well, I'm not going there.
    What I can tell you is there's no way I deserved the pardon I received. Not this stubborn rebel who's pushed God to the margins of my life so many times...who's time and again said, in essence, "God, You run the universe, and I will run me, thank you." Now, I've never killed anybody, never committed a major crime against society. But I'm guilty of infinite counts of doing the selfish thing, the angry thing, the proud thing.
    Now, our word today from the Word of God, Romans 3:23 says that I am a sinner, and everybody listening is. "All have sinned (the Bible says) and fall short of the glory of God." Not only is the verdict in, so is the penalty. "The wages of sin (the Bible says) is death" (Romans 6:23). That's "death" as in forever separation from God. I stand on the spiritual equivalent of Death Row, but for the pardon. Which the dictionary says is to "exempt the guilty party from punishment."
    The Bible says, "Who is a God like You, who pardons sin and forgives the transgressions?" He is the God who is willing to "hurl all your iniquities into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:18-19). Buried. Erased from my record - my eternal death penalty. Well, it wasn't cancelled. It was paid by someone else - by the very Son of God Himself. "Christ died for our sins," the Bible says, "the righteous (that's Him) for the unrighteous (that's you and me), to bring you to God" (1 Peter 3:18). An unspeakable sacrifice for me, for all of us condemned sinners.
    But, you know, there's something strange about a pardon. You have to take it. And who wouldn't? Well, George Wilson didn't. Condemned to hang for a crime that he committed, he was pardoned at the last minute by the then President Andrew Johnson. But as unbelievable as it sounds, he wouldn't take the pardon. As the government tried to force the pardon on Wilson, the case went all the way to the Supreme Court. The Attorney General said, "The Court cannot give the prisoner the benefit of the pardon unless he claims the benefit of it." And the Chief Justice concluded, "A pardon is an act of grace...from the power entrusted with the execution of the laws...Delivery is not complete without acceptance." Wow!
    Do you know, you have to accept the pardon Jesus died to give you. You can ignore it. You can choose to keep running your own life. You can try to depend on your religion or your goodness. But then, like George Wilson, you'll pay a death penalty you don't have to pay. Jesus already paid it.
    I pray that this day you would reach out and accept the blood-bought pardon of Jesus Christ. We've set up our website to help you know exactly how to begin that relationship with Him - ANewStory.com.
    This is the day you can accept your pardon that came at an incredibly high price. What a Thanksgiving!

  • volume_up
    November 24, 2021 A Thanksgiving Kind of Hero - #9098

    There almost was no first Thanksgiving. There were almost no Pilgrims. Those Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock got hit very hard their first winter. Many of them died, and many more could have died from starvation if it hadn't been for one man - an Indian brave called Squanto. As a young man, he'd been kidnapped and carried off to England to be a servant. While Squanto was there, he learned English and he learned about Christ. Because of the kindness of some of the people he met, he eventually made it back across the Atlantic to his people; except his people weren't there anymore.
    While he was gone, there'd been an epidemic that wiped out his entire village. Squanto was the only one left. This is a man who knew a lot of tragedy and a lot of hurt, but still he reached out to those early Plymouth settlers, struggling to survive. He taught them what his people knew about how to grow crops in that environment. He helped to build bridges between them and the Native Americans who surrounded them. He understood their language, he understood their faith, and he saved their lives.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Thanksgiving Kind of Hero."
    If you belong to Jesus Christ, Squanto is more than just an interesting character in the story of the First Thanksgiving. He's a picture of your life, your destiny assignment from God. Because Squanto was Native American, he knew how to live in the new land of the pilgrims. Because he'd been wrongfully hijacked to another country, he understood the people who were struggling to survive in his land. Everything in his life seemed to prepare him for a vital mission - to help save the lives of people who otherwise would have died.
    That's you - divinely positioned by God to help some people in your personal world meet His Son, Jesus; their only hope of having any meaning in this life; their only hope of heaven when this life is over. And you're divinely prepared by God. The experiences, the interests, the personality, even the pain - they're all gifts He's given to you to connect with people who will listen to someone like you.
    2 Kings 7:9, our word for today from the Word of God, another picture of the life-or-death mission that God has entrusted to all of us. It's the story of four lepers who eked out a life outside the walls of their city; they weren't allowed in the city because of their leprosy. But when an enemy army besieged their city, nearly starving them into surrender, well there was no food to keep the lepers alive. Each morning, they could hear the anguished cries of a mother in the city whose child had starved to death during the night. In desperation, they just decided to walk into the enemy camp and try to surrender. And to their amazement, they found the enemy camp deserted. God had miraculously frightened that army into retreat. So the lepers went from tent to tent, gorging themselves with food.
    Finally, they woke up to the mission they had - because of what they had found. The Bible says, "They said to each other, 'We are not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves...Let's go at once and report this...'" They did, and they saved many lives.
    You have Jesus. You have the good news that lives around you depend on. Are you keeping it to yourself? Whatever you're afraid of, whatever is keeping you from telling the people you know about your Jesus, can it possibly be as bad as letting them live and die without knowing their only hope? God has divinely prepared you to be the kind of person they'll listen to. Your biography? That's your credentials, and God has divinely positioned you to help the people you know be in heaven with you. Freely you have received, freely give. Tell them your Hope Story so they can have one too.
    Talk about "Thanksgiving" - just imagine a day in heaven when you meet the people that you've told about Jesus. They'll be giving thanks to Jesus forever for what He did for them on the cross, and to you for telling them about Him.

  • volume_up
    November 23, 2021 Twister Love - #9097

    It had been an awful spring for tornadoes - record-setting in many ways. Again and again, our news coverage then was filled with those all-too-familiar images of a city or a neighborhood leveled and the death toll rising. One of them hit pretty close to where we are. It hit in Joplin, Missouri.
    The image that they kept showing over and over came from a cell phone video that was shot in a convenience store that literally as the tornado was tearing that store apart. Now, miraculously, everyone survived. But they sure didn't think they would.
    As you look at this video, most of it's like pitch blackness. You see an occasional flash of something flying by. But it's the audio that's haunting. Because as the tornado rips that place apart, you hear the screams, you hear the outcries, the terror, and a lady's voice repeatedly saying, "Jesus. Jesus!" And then another voice going, "I love you."
    That's the part that stuck out to me. Somewhere in the middle of that mayhem, in the middle of that brush with death, here's a man's voice calling out, "I love you." That got to me.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Twister Love."
    It's a reminder that today is the only day that we're sure we have to say those words. Our word for today from the Word of God, Proverbs 27:1, and it warns us, "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth." Boy, is that the truth! How many times have we found that we thought we knew what was going to happen in a day, and something life-changing, game-changing hit us? You just can't count on tomorrow. There's that call from the scene of an accident, an embolism, a knock at the door, a sudden storm. The call I got that said my wife was gone. Well, I know about this. Now, this isn't morbid, it's motivating to remember that every person we love is just one heartbeat away from eternity. That's not to live in fear, it's so we can live without regrets.
    The Bible says, "Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12). Smart people make every day count. If you appreciate someone, say it now. If you love someone, tell them now. If things are broken, fix them now. If there have been harsh words, apologize now. If there's anger in your heart, get rid of it now.
    Write that letter. Make that call. Go see that person. Give that gift. Say that thank you. Grab that time together. Show them you love them NOW.
    In those desperate, tornado-surrounded voices, there was a reminder, too, that we need to call out to Jesus while there's still time, because God has promised that "whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:13). And that means saved from the penalty; the eternal penalty for hijacking our lives from Him. Jesus was doing something incredible in that most awesome act of love in all of human history when He bled and died, and allowed Himself - offered Himself - to be butchered on a cross; to be the One to be separated from God so you and I don't have to be. So we can be ready to live, and ready to die, and guaranteed of an eternity in heaven. And the Bible says this about the rescue that Jesus makes possible, "Now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).
    This is all we know we've got. And if you've known about Jesus, but you've never given yourself to Jesus, you're not sure there's been a time when you've said, "Jesus, I'm grabbing you like you're my only hope" like a drowning person would grab a rescuer, do it now. Get it done! You don't know if you'll have another chance. Here's the Bible, "Seek the Lord while He may be found" (Isaiah 55:6). Let this be the day you know you are ready for eternity.
    Go to our website. You'll find exactly how to begin your personal relationship with Christ. It's ANewStory.com. Go there today.
    I remember one man said after a deadly tornado in Oklahoma. He said, "It made us remember that we all have an expiration date, and we don't know when it is." Uh-huh. And now is all we know that we've got for sure.

  • volume_up
    November 22, 2021 Where the Spotlight Belongs - #9096

    When you speak in public settings as much as I do, you learn there are two people in that auditorium you really want on your side. One is the man in charge of the sound. Without him, no one can hear you. The other is the man in charge of the spotlight, because without him, no one can see you.
    After all, I'm not that big you know, and I disappear pretty easily in a crowd or a large event. The spotlight man is really one of the unsung heroes. I mean, you don't think about him; he's invisible for the most part, but he sure makes a difference in the program...unless he forgets where the spotlight goes. Imagine the announcer says, "And now here's our host, Guy Smiley." And as the M.C. appears on stage, the spotlight man suddenly swings that light around until it's shining right on him! You can't see the man you're supposed to be looking at because the guy with the spotlight has you looking at him!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Where the Spotlight Belongs."
    The problem of the misplaced spotlight has happened over and over again, with the spotlight that's supposed to be shining on God and God alone. Now you may not have a union card, but if you're a Jesus-follower, you're a spotlight operator. The question is, who's the spotlight on?
    King David must have struggled with that sometimes. He says in our word for today from the Word of God in Psalm 115:1, "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name be the glory." Isn't it interesting He says "not to us" twice? Almost as if he needs to hear himself say it again. "The glory is not supposed to go to us - not to us." See, God should always get all the credit, all the credit.
    Jeremiah asks this probing question - one which I need to listen to and maybe you do, too. He says in Jeremiah 45:5, "Should you then seek great things for yourself?" Then this sober warning, "Seek them not." God Himself soberly warns us, "I am the Lord. That is My name. And My glory I will not give to another." But listen, it's tempting to grab a little of the glory, isn't it? After you've made a good impression or done a good job, just to think, "Hey, aren't I something?" Then God weighs in with His reality check. 1 Corinthians 4:7 - "What do you have that you did not receive?" Or as 2 Corinthians 4:7 says in the Living Bible, "Our only power and success comes from God."
    Could it be you've been turning the light that's supposed to be illuminating Jesus on yourself? Pride has subtly started to creep in, you're making sure that folks hear about what you did, you're pushing, you're promoting yourself a little more, you're getting slightly addicted to the attention, to the applause. Without realizing it, you have reversed John's equation, "He must increase; I must decrease." Now it's like, "You must increase."
    Throughout Scripture, throughout history, pride has been the subtle destroyer of people God wanted to use. As soon as He started to use them, they forgot it was Him, not them, that any success is a gift from God, not an achievement by us. It's all about Jesus; it's nothing about you. And even though men can't usually see the pride in your heart like they can see more outward sins, God can see it and He will not tolerate it.
    All the good things God has given you, all the good things God has done for you and see. through you, you are to use all that as a spotlight to shine on the only star there really is in this show - the Lord God himself.
    If you've been turning that spotlight on yourself lately, it's time to put it back where it belongs. "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your Name be the glory."

  • volume_up
    November 19, 2021 Cleanup or Cover-Up - #9095

    Nobody ever said college guys are going to win the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Right? I mean, entering many of their dorm rooms is only for the very brave, and those with a strong stomach. Where is Mom when you really need her?
    When our son was in college, I encountered a new low in dorm housekeeping. When I complained that I thought intermediate life forms were growing in our son's bathroom, he said, "Oh, Dad, you should see the guys down the hall." And when he described their bathroom to me, I actually had no desire to visually confirm his report. It was early spring, and these men had managed to avoid cleaning the bathroom floor since the very first day of the school year.
    As the floor became more and more disgusting, it became obvious there was only one logical remedy. Yep! No, no, not cleaning it. They got 2x4 boards and covered it! Now, if you stop listening right here, I don't blame you. But don't.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Cleanup or Cover-up."
    Okay, covering your mess instead of cleaning your mess. That's not a new idea. People have been doing that with their sin for a very long time. Rather than facing that we've sinned against God and against others, we'd rather just conceal it.
    There are lots of ways to put off reckoning with your sin. We can rationalize it, finding some skillful but hollow way to excuse what we're doing. We can try to minimize our sin or blame it on someone else. We can fool ourselves into thinking that if we can successfully cover it up, we're in the clear. But as our word for today from the Word of God says in Proverbs 28:13, "He who conceals his sins does not prosper."
    And then there's this reality check from Proverbs: "A man's ways are in full view of the Lord, and He examines all his paths. The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly" (Proverbs 5:21-23). Man, that reads like a commentary on the headlines that we may have seen about political, or financial, or athletic stars who thought they could cover it up rather than clean it up.
    When the confession is ultimately forced by public discovery, you tend to hear words like "my inappropriate behavior" or "indiscretions" or "mistakes." You don't hear "sin." But there's no real healing, no real resolution, no real freedom, until we're willing to own our actions for what they are - the trampling of the moral law of a holy God and the people we selfishly wound in the process.
    King David was powerful enough to temporarily conceal his blatant adultery with the wife of a trusted friend. But he couldn't hide it from his own conscience or his God. He wrote: "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand (talking about God) was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer." Sinful secrets just eat away at us like a metastasizing cancer.
    But David found the cure. He said, "Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.'" Then he declares the liberating result of finally coming clean: "And You forgave the guilt of my sin...blessed is he whose sins are forgiven...blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him" (Psalm 32:1-5). See, that's what's so transforming about bringing your sin to the cross where Jesus died to pay for it. That's where Jesus says, "I will remember your sins no more" (Hebrews 8:12). It's God's spiritual shower. We can finally experience the awesome feeling you haven't had for a long time if ever - clean!
    If you've never been to Jesus to have a lifetime of sin forgiven, knowing how He died to pay for it, do it today. Tell Him, "Jesus, I'm Yours. What You did on the cross is my only hope." Go to our website. There's a lot there that will help you get this settled - ANewStory.com.
    Coming clean with your sin is doing the hard thing. But covering it is so much harder and so much more expensive.

  • volume_up
    November 18, 2021 Storming Home - #9094

    It was the only kind of day they have at O'Hare Airport - busy. It was August, and I was one of the thousands of passengers there who had plans and schedules, things we had to do, places we had to be. But, as far as I know, none of us made it. No, Chicago had a record-breaking storm that day - over nine inches of rain. There was massive flooding, in fact so much that the airport was literally flooded closed. That created an interesting dynamic with no one able to come in or go out. It was sort of like Camp O'Hare all of a sudden. Many of us spent the day trying to find either a way out, or a phone to call out, or a place to spend the night. It was before cell phones, and it was a few years ago and that's why we didn't have all the technology to contact somebody. Virtually no one did what he or she had planned to do that day. Oh no! Our plans didn't go through all because of one storm! The rich, the poor, the powerful, the famous, the unknown, the young, the old - didn't matter. Suddenly your destiny was out of your control. You know what? Storms will do that to you.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Storming Home."
    It's not uncommon for life's hard times to be portrayed in Scripture as storms. And that's appropriate because storms are often situations where you have no control over your outcome. Like all of us up-ended passengers that day at O' Hare Airport. Maybe like the situation you're in right now: medically, financially, maybe it's your family, your business, your ministry. It's "out-of-control" time. It's storm time.
    Our Word for today from the Word of God comes from the Old Testament book of Nahum 1:3. It's this wonderful anchor verse buried in one of those often-neglected Minor Prophet books in the Old Testament. "The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and the storm." Out of control? Yours, yes. His, no.
    Paul experienced that in a dramatic incident that's recorded in Acts 27. He was being transported from Israel to Rome, by ship and under Roman guard. But their ship was hit by a hurricane-like storm that battered them for two weeks! They had to throw their valuable cargo overboard, much of their equipment, and they didn't see the sun, moon or stars for two weeks! They had no way to navigate, no way to know where they were headed. Paul describes them as just being "carried along." That sense of having no control of where you're going; does that sound painfully familiar?
    Here's the exciting part. When they were finally driven aground, they ended up on the island of Malta. You know where that is? It's just south of Rome. All the time that they had apparently been out-of-control, they were essentially right on course. So are you.
    That's what the prophet meant when he said, "The Lord has His way in the storm." Your situation - out-of-control, but it's in God's control. In fact, God uses these stormy times in powerful ways to show you how much you need Him, how much you can rely on Him, to draw you closer to anchor people in your life, to help you see sin that you otherwise would never face, to ask questions you otherwise would never ask, to make changes you'd otherwise would never consider. And that's how He brings you safely then to your destination.
    Maybe the winds in your life are intensifying right now. You can't find the things that you've always navigated by and the flood of your frustration, your fear rising. Listen, everything is under control. If you relax, if you let go and let God; you let God navigate, you're in for a wonderful surprise when the storm passes. That storm that blew you around so violently was actually blowing you home.

  • volume_up
    November 17, 2021 Losing Over Turf - #9093

    Every once in a while another turf fight breaks out in places like New York City, and it's not between rival youth gangs. Let's say, the police department and the fire department. There's kind of a competitiveness there. They'll clash over whose job is whose.
    A while back there was a commuter helicopter that crashed in the East River. I've never forgotten this incident, it was haunting. The passengers were trapped in that helicopter underwater. And here's what the news reported, "Some police divers arrived on the scene first, and they went right to work. Minutes later, nine divers arrived from the fire department all suited up ready to go, and the police supervisor said, 'We got it covered. It's our territory; don't worry about it.'" You know what? Fve passengers were rescued that day, but one man died. He was strapped under water for an hour and a half while nine possible rescuers stood on the dock and watched, apparently because of a battle over turf.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Losing Over Turf."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 Corinthians 1. The Apostle Paul says, "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that all of you agree with one another, so that there may be no division among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, 'I follow Paul.' Another, 'I follow Apollos.' Another, 'I follow Cephas.' Still another, 'I follow Christ.'"
    Sound like turf? The church was divided into turf and well, I'm afraid nothing has changed. Today our turf is denomination, or our organization, or my church versus your church. "We're charismatic." "We're not. We're against that." Or even a personal empire that someone is building in Jesus' name. Or, "Who will get the credit?" "Is my name next to that in the bulletin?" "Are you going to announce who did this?"
    Paul brings them back to the real issue in verses 17 and 18, "Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel. Not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. But to those who are being saved, it is the power of God." Paul says, "Guys, people are dying because they don't understand what happened on the cross. How can you waste time arguing with yourselves?"
    A man died there in New York on the East River that day while the rescuers argued over territory. But don't we do that? We're so concerned about losing our members, or our contributions, or our credit. And all that really matters is that we're losing the people around us to a Christ-less eternity. Two factors that really matter: number one, the lostness of our neighbors, and number two, the message of the cross. Those two essentials are bigger than any of our differences, any of our labels, any of our empires, or any of our egos.
    Maybe you and I have cared too much about our group and our glory. And while we're building our little kingdoms and our walls, people are dying spiritually. We need to get together if we're going to make a greater difference. Are we standing on the dock arguing? Or are we all in the river together, rescuing every person we can find? Time's running out!
    Turf is for now; lost is forever. Dear Lord, may we never let the people around us be lost over turf.

  • volume_up
    November 16, 2021 Nuisance Or Need? - #9092

    Life has a lot of disrupting sounds, huh? And you can learn to tune a lot of them out: sirens screaming, telephones ringing, TVs blaring, trains rumbling. But there's one sound almost impossible to ignore - a baby's crying. If there's a baby in your house and he starts crying, what should you do? Just yell, "Nuisance!" and shut the door? Turn up the music? Yell back? Not unless you're a hopeless rookie at handling babies. No, you know the crying isn't the problem. It's what's causing the crying. Pointing at the baby and saying, "Stop that!" probably isn't going to make a lot of difference. See, the crying isn't going to stop until their little tummy is filled ... or until he gets the relief that only a good burp can give ... or until you get the baby out of that mess. Yep, the crying is a nuisance, but the need behind the crying - that's the real issue.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Nuisance Or Need?"
    Our Word for today comes from the Word of God from Luke 18:35. "As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting at the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, 'Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.' He called out, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!' Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, 'Son of David, have mercy on me!'"
    "Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to Him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 'What do you want Me to do for you?' 'Lord, I want to see,' he replied." The Bible goes on to tell us that he received his sight and he followed Jesus. And all the people who had been trying to get this nuisance to shut up, started praising God for what He had done.
    When the people of Jericho saw this blind man, they saw a nuisance, and they told him, "Stop crying, man!" You and I are surrounded by people who are crying, not with the howls of a baby, but they cry with their actions, with their attitude. Frankly, some of the people in our world, even in our family, seem like a nuisance sometimes, don't they?
    But where others see a nuisance, Jesus sees a need! He goes to the need behind the blind man's crying. Now, in your life there are obnoxious people, right? There are mean people, folks who demand a lot of your time and attention; complainers; problem people. Honestly, there are people, who for one reason or another, well, you'd just like to close the door on like almost everyone else has.
    And you will unless you see them through the eyes of Jesus. Then you'll see the need behind the deeds, like a mother who looks past a baby's crying to find out where it hurts. Usually, a person is a nuisance because he or she has needs no one has ever stopped to meet. Would you do what Jesus did for this annoying blind man? Would you stop for that person?
    They may need someone who takes time to listen to them, someone who makes them feel safe, who praises the good in them, someone to notice them and treat them like they matter. They're crying out for someone who will reach inside and find out what's making them bleed, who will include them. That crying person is a hurting person - a wounded person, but you can be part of God's healing in that person's life.
    God's put us here to do what Jesus would do if He were in that situation. He's assigned you to a place where there are some hurting people, people who are crying because they need someone to get at the need that's been making them cry maybe for a long time. Would you be their Jesus-person? When others see a nuisance, you look for the need and you stop to heal them like your Jesus.

  • volume_up
    November 15, 2021 Loving Me Ugly - #9091

    Some couples' wedding vows get tested sooner; some get tested later. My friends had theirs tested right away. When they went to Mexico for their honeymoon, they promptly picked up some Spanish speaking bug down there, and they got very, very sick in the middle of what was supposed to be their very romantic honeymoon. I think it was commonly called Montezuma's Revenge or something like that.
    Well, in the middle of all of that, the power failed in the town they were honeymooning in, so they were left without lights and without plumbing. And you thought you had problems! Well the good news is they loved each other through it all and they even finally found the grace to laugh through the mess they were in...even though neither of them looked very romantic or felt very romantic at all. And you'll be glad I'm sparing you the details.
    Oh, they did ok. They passed one of the most important tests of love. Remember those vows "in sickness and in health"? You know what? All of us are sick and ugly at some time, right? Unlovable. And we're pretty sure no one could love us this ugly.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Loving Me Ugly."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is found in Luke 15. I'm going to begin reading at verse 17. It's a familiar story. It's called the story of the prodigal son by most people. He's left his Dad, and now as you may remember, he's doing something that a good Jewish boy probably wouldn't want to do. He's feeding pigs. Not kosher. He's living with the pigs. Less kosher. Not a kosher occupation at all.
    And now it says, "When he came to his senses he said, 'How many of my Father's hired men have food to spare, and here I'm starving to death. I will set out, go back to my Father and say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired men."' So he got up and went to his Father. But while he was still a long way off, his Father saw him and was filled with compassion for him. He ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."
    So, this son comes home and he tests whether his Dad's love is the kind of love that will love him in sickness and in health. He feels very unworthy of coming back. He has no successes to report, no fortune to show. He left with riches, and he came home poor; he left home smelling like a fine aftershave and came home stinking like pigs. He's an embarrassment to his Father's name. He expects to be rejected, but his Father runs to him. Someone has said this is the only place in the Bible where God runs. That's God as the father running.
    Sort of like my honeymoon friends, this young man was experiencing unconditional love: love when he was sick, love when he was down, love when he was ugly. Let's look at it again. God's the Father, and you're the child away from home. You never thought you'd end up doing what you've done, considering what you're considering, feeling like you're feeling. You feel like you've failed God; you're unworthy - He wouldn't want you back. How could He love me like this; how could He take me back after what I've done?
    We've been raised to believe that we'll only be loved if we perform and please people, and meet their expectations. But God's committed to you in your sickness and in your health, for richer, for poorer, and death will not part you. If He was ever going to turn His back on you, it would have been at the cross, and He didn't.
    Why are you living away from home, from His "take you as you are" kind of love? Maybe you're not in the pigpen yet. Well, don't wait until you hit the wall at the end of a dead-end street. And even if you have, come on home.
    And you'll find a Father running to meet you who will clean you up and hug you. If you've never begun a relationship with Jesus at His cross where He died for you and taken personally what He died to give you, His forgiveness, His eternal life, today tell Him, "Jesus, I'm Yours." Go to our website. There's so much there to help you on your way to Him. That website's ANewStory.com.
    You can be sure if you start toward God, He'll run to you. Never in your life have you been loved like He will love you.

  • volume_up
    November 12, 2021 Rescue Insurance - #9090

    We had heard so much about the Stealth bomber, and it comes under the radar at night, you know, virtually invisible to ground defenses. So, some years ago, we were shocked when we heard that one of those had been downed during NATO's bombing of Serbia. We saw the burning plane wreckage on Serb TV, but there was no mention of the pilot. Well, my wife and I stopped as soon as we heard the news and we prayed for the safety of that pilot wherever he was. And as it turned out, our military launched an all-out search for him as soon as they learned his plane was down. In fact, their rescue tactics are so sophisticated no one really told the whole story of how they went about it. But I was impressed, not to mention all the other pilots who were risking their lives every day over Serbia...at how they were committed to the rescue, whatever it took. Boy, you know, the pilot knew it. And they brought him out!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Rescue Insurance."
    The good news is you have someone committed to your rescue - whatever it takes. Human rescuers will do all they can to attempt a rescue. We see it on the news again and again. Your Rescuer? Well, He always accomplishes His rescues. Just ask David.
    As he writes our word for today from the Word of God, he's hiding in a cave, knowing the king and his army are scouring the area looking for him. When they find him, they will kill him. Hiding in a cave, David - desperately needing a rescue - writes these powerful words in Psalm 34 beginning at verse 4. "I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears." Okay. Now, an emotional rescue while the situation is still very dangerous there, God rescues him from his fear...from his anxiety. He's pretty amazing!
    Verse 7: "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them." Verse 9: "Those who fear Him lack nothing...those who seek the Lord lack no good thing." Now, that's the promise that God will rescue us from the need that may seem un-meetable. Now here's verse 18: "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." So, this Heavenly Rescuer shows up in the middle of our brokenness.
    Then there's Psalm 34:19, David sort of summarizes and says, "A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all." Notice, he doesn't say the righteous man doesn't have troubles - he does. But he also has an all-powerful Deliverer! You can dare to fly your mission, you can dare to risk, you can find the strength to fight back, and you can find the strength to go on. Why? Because you know you have a Rescuer who will do whatever it takes to bring you out!
    No, not always in the time frame you want. Not always in the way you think He should. Sometimes He'll deliver you from the situation. Other times He'll deliver you from being defeated and controlled by the situation. Either way, you've got a miracle.
    If you're down in enemy territory, there is no rescue beyond the power of your Savior, whether the rescue you need is emotional, or medical, or financial, reputational, relational, or even a rescue from your own mistakes. In one way or another, your Savior will pull you out. He promised. There's no need to run, there's no need to panic, there's no need to surrender, there's no need to be depressed. You have a Savior who is committed to rescuing those He loves.
    Maybe all you can see right now is a very dark night, enemy troops nearby, and no way out. But hang on! Your Rescuer from heaven is on His way!

  • volume_up
    November 11, 2021 The Knife and The Nail - #9089

    Tony was one of the best-liked teachers in our local school - at least he had our kid's vote. As he and I were working together on a project at our house, I was really surprised to learn about his background. I never would have guessed it. See, he grew up in a very tough neighborhood in our area. It was sharply divided into these ethnic pockets. Well, actually, into ethnic gangs. And Tony, by his own admission, was a fighter. Most of the guys in his neighborhood were. And then, five of his good friends died violently in two months time - five friends in two months; one of them his very best friend. Two of his friends are now serving prison terms - two of the survivors that is.
    I said, "Tony, what happened to you? How did you ever make it out so well? How did you ever get out of all that? You've grown up to be a very positive adult. How did it happen?" His answer left a stunned silence in the room. And in a sense, his answer is like an answer of mine.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Knife and The Nails."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from the book of 1 Peter 2, and I'm going to read verse 24. Then I'll tell you what Tony said. Speaking of Jesus Christ it says, "He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness." Okay, I'll tell you about my teacher friend, Tony. I said, "Tony, after all that gang violence you grew up around, what made the difference?" He said, "Ron, it was another gang fight. My best friend was stabbed to death that night." And then I saw something I had never seen. His eyes filled with tears. He said, "Ron, the knife that got my best friend was intended for me. My friend took my knife and that changed the whole course of my life."
    At that point, my eyes filled with tears. And I said, "Tony, maybe you can understand why I try to live my life for Jesus Christ. It's for the same reason. He took my knife; except He's the Son of God." That's what 1 Peter 2:24 said, "He bore my sins in His body on the tree." That death that Jesus died on the cross wasn't His; it was mine, it was yours, it was our bill to pay for our sins. He didn't have any to pay for. The penalty for all the sin and all of my self-centered days of my life is death - being cut off from God. But Jesus said, "Punish Me instead." He took more than my knife and your knife. He took all our hell.
    You probably didn't have to turn on the radio today or read something to know that Jesus died, or that He died on the cross. You probably knew that. You may even know that Jesus died on the cross for people's sins. But you may have never gone to the cross in your heart and spoken the two words that make all the difference between heaven and hell and life and death. The two words: "for me." "It's my knife, it's my punishment, it's my sins. You're doing this for me, aren't you Jesus?" And the day you do that, the wall between you and God is gone forever, and you have peace at last. And you want to give up the sin that killed Him. You want to live for what He loves. And you know that He can do these things. He can change your life, because He didn't stay dead. He blew the doors off His grave and walked out of His grave under His own power. And He stands ready to walk into your life today at your invitation.
    If you tell Him today, "Jesus, I'm Yours," you'll belong to Him forever. All because you realized today that what happened on that cross was a divine transaction offered by God and His love for you to erase your sin from His book forever. This could be your day today for that to all happen. I've tried to lay out as simply as I could on our website how to be sure you have this relationship. Just take a little time and go visit ANewStory.com.
    In a very deep, eternal sense, God's Son took your knife. How can you say no to Him? Go to that cross and say the two words that make all the difference forever, "For me." "For me."

  • volume_up
    November 10, 2021 Church Island - #9088

    My wife and I were in Colorado, and she said, "I want to go to a ghost town." I did too, because I was pretty sure there wouldn't be any antique stores there. So we drove many miles down this rutted road into this deserted little village called Winfield. Now it wasn't like this 100 years ago. No, then the gold and silver fever was in the air, and Winfield was alive with the boom that was going on in that area. There were fortune hunters, fortune spenders, and fortune losers.
    Today, however, there are just a few buildings, stand silent; almost an outdoor museum. There were several hotels back in the boom days, saloons and one church. The church is still standing, and it should be. Though it stood there overlooking that bustling town, no services were ever held in that church. Oh, the town had a church, but the church had absolutely no effect on the people there in their frantic pursuit of wealth and pleasure.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Church Island."
    As I looked at that ghost town, I honestly couldn't help but ask, "Is that us as Christians in our town, in our world today?" We have services, but are we really making any difference? Are we connecting with our community, with the lost people all around us? Or are they just racing after their pleasure and their money, largely oblivious to what's going on inside our steepled buildings? Are we Christians living on Church Island while most of the people Christ died for are on the mainland over there, totally disconnected from Jesus and from His people? It wasn't meant to be that way.
    Our word for today from the Word of God, it's in Matthew 5, beginning in verse 13. "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
    Salt can only change the flavor of the meat if it's in contact with it, right?. It does nothing at all huddled together in the salt shaker. Light can only transform the darkness in a room if it's in the room in direct contact with the darkness. Your town doesn't need all the light bulbs huddling together in a light convention. The light has to be out where the people are. Who would build a house with all the lights in one room, leaving the rest of the house dark?
    We're in the first American Christian generation to be asked to represent Christ in a post-Christian country where the majority of people don't know our book, they don't know our vocabulary, and they don't know our subculture. They don't know about what our Savior could do for them. We can't do what we've always done and reach the lost people in this culture. They've got to have a chance at our Jesus though!
    So, how do we break out of being Church Island surrounded by a sea of lost people? First, how about addressing their needs. If they don't care about Christ, we have to find ways to help them with things they do care about; their children, their marriage, their stress, their addiction, their emotional pain, their recovery. They'll only want to be with us if we find a need they have and try to meet it.
    Secondly, we need to speak their language. We've got to move out of our Christianese vocabulary. They just don't understand it. And stretch ourselves to tell Jesus' story in words they speak. We need to love them in their language; in ways that they can feel and will mean something to them. And ultimately, we've just got to go to their world and not expect them to come to ours.
    It's a sad feeling to stand in a church that had no effect on the dying people around them like the one in that ghost town. And how sad it must be for Jesus to stand in His church today and sometimes see that same thing happening. We can't be content to hunker down on Church Island, when just beyond our reach are people whose eternities are at stake.

  • volume_up
    November 9, 2021 When Life Is Just "More Of The Same" - #9087

    Like most countries, America has some holidays that are pretty meaningful. We've got the Fourth of July to celebrate our independence. We've got Veterans' Day and Memorial Day, and those are great times to remember all those who've fought for our freedom. We celebrate the birthdays of some great Americans like Lincoln and Washington and Martin Luther King. And then there's one oddball day on your calendar though - Groundhog Day.
    Only in America, right? It's a day named for the chubby cousin of a rat. A town whose main event is a groundhog playing peek-a-boo. As Russian comedian Yakov Smirnoff says, "I love this country!"
    We even have a movie called "Groundhog Day." It's actually set in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the home of the king groundhog. But it was hearing about the premise of the movie, not the location that intrigues me.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When Life Is Just 'More of the Same.'"
    Basically, Bill Murray plays a TV newscaster who keeps reliving the same day over and over again. It happens to be Groundhog Day in the town that's the epicenter of that celebration. In the movie, the idea of repeating the same day again and again is played for laughs. Unfortunately, for too many people, that's their real life. And there's nothing funny about it.
    "Same old, same old" - that's how life feels for a lot of people. Just a disconnected, seemingly meaningless series of events that start to feel pretty much the same. We start wondering about "why am I here?" somewhere in our turbulent teenage years I think. Unfortunately, a lot of us do our whole life and we still don't know the answer. We've got this pile of puzzle pieces on the floor in front of us, and we can't find the top of the puzzle box. We can't figure out what it all makes.
    For me, for countless millions over 2,000 years, that's where Jesus comes in. Not the religion called Christianity, but Jesus. People have written volumes on the purpose of life. God does it in six words in the Bible. He's talking about Jesus here. It's in our word for today from the Word of God in Colossians 1:16. He says we are "created by Him and for Him." Wow! I'm created by Jesus. I'm created for Jesus. And life will not add up until I have Jesus. Or maybe more accurately, Jesus has me.
    The only One who really knows the purpose of your life is the One who gave you your life. And He says you were made for a relationship with Jesus, His Son. A relationship that honestly, our sin has spoiled. We've decided we'd do life our way instead of God's way. And it's a relationship that His death for our sin has made possible. And then three days after he died, He walked out of His grave under His own power so He could walk into your life today. You know, the earth's life depends on it revolving around the sun. If the earth goes off on an orbit away from the sun, all life will cease. In the same way, our life depends on our revolving around the Son. That's S-O-N, the Son of God.
    Maybe you've never begun a personal relationship with Jesus. Maybe you don't yet belong to the One that you were made by and made for. This could be the end of a lifetime search today. Because it begins when you say, "Jesus, I get it now. I was made by You, I was made for You, but instead I've lived for me, and I'm in trouble with God. But Jesus, I believe that some of those sins You were dying on that cross for; some of those sins were mine. Because You're alive, I can tell You today, 'Jesus, I'm Yours.'"
    I want to invite you to our website today and ask you to spend a couple of minutes there checking it out. Because there we've tried to kind of build a Bible bridge there that will take you right into the beginning of a relationship with Jesus. The website's ANewStory.com. Remember that and check it out, will you?
    I'm thanking God today that life doesn't have to be a meaningless parade of days that replay the same old questions and the same old emptiness. On the day we step into the relationship we were made for, we step into the "more" that God put us here for, and you know what? The search is over.

  • volume_up
    November 8, 2021 Fourth Quarter - It's Ours! - #9086

    I watched the new high school football coach at our local high school back then work an amazing transformation. Before he took over, playing our team meant an almost automatic win for the other team. After the new coach came and made his mark, our team almost always went to the state championship. Our sons can tell you one reason why - they played for him. He used to run some very grueling practices, but he told them he was building a "fourth quarter team" - a team that had the endurance to finish strong when their opponents were fading. And you could count on our team dominating the final quarter of the game. They knew how decisive it would be, and they were prepared to give it all. In fact, at the end of the third quarter, the players would pump each other up with this familiar war cry, "Fourth quarter! It's ours!"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Fourth Quarter - It's Ours!"
    Champions are strong fourth quarter players in sports, and in life, too. We're talking about responsibilities and challenges that require a lot of perseverance; where victory requires giving more than you feel like giving up. And maybe you're in one of those "fourth quarter" situations right now and God's calling you to finish strong.
    Like the Apostle Paul did, as recorded in 2 Timothy 4, beginning with verse 5, which happens to be our word for today from the Word of God. He's had every reason to quit. He's had persecution, imprisonment, multiple beatings, and now he's writing what will be his final words before his execution by Caesar. He's calling Timothy to a championship finish like he's doing.
    He says to him and to us, "Be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry, for I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith." A statement like that makes us ask, "Am I a finisher or just a starter? Have I left behind in my life a lot of things I started but I didn't finish?"
    Paul then looks ahead to what's at the finish line for all who complete the course that God has given them. "In the future," he says, "there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord...will award to me on that day." Sadly, those who quit before the game was over will never know the rewards that only finishers enjoy.
    So now, maybe at a time when you have a lot of reasons to slack off, to quit, when you've already played hard for a long time, listen to God saying, "Do not be weary in well doing, for in due time you will reap if you do not give up" (Galatians 6:9). Be a fourth quarter husband, a fourth quarter wife, be a fourth quarter mom or dad, a fourth quarter friend, worker, leader. Be a follower of Jesus who refuses to slack off, or back off, refuses to slow down, to head for the showers, to give up. That's how your Savior was for you all the way to the end.
    After how long the game has been and maybe how hard it's been, maybe your strength is giving out, but God's strength belongs to the weak and the weary He said. And His strength can carry you all the way to the finish line. His promise is this: "He gives His strength to the weary and He increases the power of the weak." Claim it! Shout with all of God's champions, "It's the fourth quarter! It's ours!"

  • volume_up
    November 5, 2021 Life-Giving Love - #9085

    First we hear the stories of the disasters. Then we hear the stories of the people affected by those disasters. Especially the heroes. Some years ago, there were these horrific floods that swept through Queensland, Australia, carrying away loved ones, and houses, cars, and communities. But there's one story from that tragedy that I'm not going to forget. It's about a 13-year-old boy named Jordan - from a town called Toowoomba.
    His mom was driving with him and his brother when the water on the street began to rise. Their car stalled. And when mom made a desperate emergency call, the operator said just to stay put. But they were forced to climb onto the car roof after the floodwaters started rising rapidly around them. Now there were people watching, but no bystanders tried to help. Until one man yelled out for some rope, which he wrapped around himself and jumped in.
    Well, young Jordan couldn't swim and was terrified of water. But when the man came to rescue him, he said, "Save my brother first." So he did save his ten-year-old brother. But then the man took that rope and he tied it around Jordan and his mother, but the rope broke. They were swept downstream. They were carried away by those raging waters. A Facebook page was set up to honor that young hero. More than 150,000 supporters joined the tribute.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Life-Giving Love."
    "Save my brother first." Love willing to die, so that someone he loved could live.
    It's that kind of love that captured my heart forever. The One who died so I could live was no one less than the only Son of God. In the words of the Bible, "He loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). I deserved this eternal death penalty for denying God's right to my life, after all, He gave me my life. But the Bible says that every one of us, even the most religious of us, has done life our way instead of God's way. Sin, the Bible calls this cosmic rebellion. And it tells us that "the soul who sins will die" (Ezekiel 18:4).
    And that would be my unthinkable eternal future - but for Jesus. God says, "He carried our sins in His body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24). I did the sinning, but Jesus did the dying. He clearly did not have to die. He made the tree He was nailed on. There's only one way they could have tortured Him as they did. He let them. There's only one way they could have driven those spikes into His hands and feet. He let them. Why? "He loved me and gave Himself for me." And for you.
    He said, "Save him. Save her instead of Me." He could have saved Himself in an instant. He could have, as one old song says, "called ten thousand angels to destroy the world and set Him free. But He died alone for you and me."
    I'm inviting you today to consider this Jesus for yourself. Not Christianity, the religion. Not Christians. Not some belief system or religious ritual. Jesus. Because long before there was the religion or the churches, there was Jesus, hanging on a cross, dying for you. He's the only One who did what it took to rescue you. And now He's come to you today, offering you this opportunity to grab His hand to be saved.
    If you're not sure there's ever been a time when you did that, would you consider getting this settled today? The risk of waiting is too great. And we would just love to help you do that. Our website is there to help you cross the bridge into a relationship with Jesus. The website is ANewStory.com. Remember that until you can get to it. I hope you will today.
    I'm so glad that Jesus didn't stay dead. He walked out of his grave and under his own power three days later he came back to life. So he's alive to walk into your life this day. It really matters to God what you do with His Son. I mean, after the sacrifice His Son made for you. Please don't miss this chance to belong to him.

  • volume_up
    November 4, 2021 Flying Into the Fog - #9084

    It was a sad ending to the TV movie and the man the movie was about. The last scene showed his plane disappearing into the fog with the famous pilot struggling to get his bearings. That pilot was the man that the movie called the "American Prince," John F. Kennedy, Jr. And for most Americans it struck a poignant chord when we heard that the one we once knew as "Little John-John" had died with his wife and sister-in-law in a tragic plane crash; a crash made even more tragic by the fact that it apparently didn't have to happen. Investigators indicated that JFK, Jr. had wanted to reach his destination so much that he seemed to ignore the fact that he was flying into conditions he wasn't prepared for. If only he had waited until conditions were right.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Flying Into the Fog."
    Tragedy often occurs when pilots insist on flying ahead when they really should be waiting, or when any of us insist on forcing our way to get to our destination when conditions just aren't right. Many of us can look back on crashes that never had to happen, and we say, "If only I had waited. If only I hadn't been in such a hurry."
    In Isaiah 50:10-11, God spells out two different ways we can approach our future - one which takes us to His best, one which ends in a crash. In our word for today from the Word of God, He says, "Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light" (that's all those times we aren't sure which way to go). "Let him...trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God." That's one way to approach getting where you need to go. That's the right way. But it goes on to say, "But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment."
    Bottom line: His way, His time works. My bright idea, my time doesn't work, and it happens for one major reason. We just can't wait any longer for God to do it. So we take off into the fog, sure we can get there on our own. Maybe you're there right now. And you are, or you soon will be, realizing how disoriented you are, how unsure, how very lost. You're missing the blessed confidence of knowing that you are flying with your way-making, Red Sea-parting God. You're on your own in the fog instead.
    Perhaps more than anything else, it's impatience that costs us God's best. And maybe right now you're in danger of running ahead of God and right out of the will of God because you want this thing. You can't wait for this thing. Maybe it's a relationship you're determined you're going to make work, or a business venture, a ministry venture you just know must go on, getting married no matter what, or getting something or someone you want no matter what. God's trying to say, "Stop!" and you're trying to go no matter what. You'll make your own way. You're going to make this happen.
    But today, Heaven's Flight Controller is calling you gently, and warning you not to go flying off into the fog. There will come a time when conditions are right, when you will have God's flight plan, and when you'll have a beautiful flight to the destination you were made for. But it's not time yet. And if you go now, there's going to be a crash.

  • volume_up
    November 3, 2021 One Roof - #9083

    Norway is 35 times smaller than Russia, but they went head-to-head with Russia for the most medals won way back in the 1994 Winter Olympics. One of Norway's speed skaters won the gold medal in Lillehammer. A Norwegian skier stole America's spot at mogul skiing. And one after another, Norway dominated cross-country events. Little Norway was a big winner in those Olympics.
    Of course it wasn't always like that. In the late 1980s Norway finally decided they were going to set out to build a team of champions. There were several reasons they succeeded. One had to be that top sports center in Oslo, Norway. It is a huge sports center where athletes from many sports train together in a single location. They can trade tips, they can encourage one another, and they can learn from each other's strengths. Apparently Norway was an Olympic winner because they did it together.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "One Roof."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Philippians 1. We're at verse 27. "Stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the Gospel." By the way, this word contending is an athletic word. And then he says, "Without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you." This talks about how the Gospel can get to the lost people who desperately need to hear it. And it talks about how believers can shed their inferiority complex and start acting like winners. The secret just happens to be something like that of Norway's Olympians that year; work together under one roof, well at least spiritually speaking.
    You know what? We usually don't. We have our little denominational organizations, our spiritual silos, our methodological cliques, and we're fighting each other over the distinctives of each group. This is no way to win folks! And we aren't. Jesus suggested why the enemy is so strong in our world. When He was accused of casting out demons in Satan's power, He said, "Come on! A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand." He was implying that Satan's kingdom of evil is united.
    Christ, on the other hand, allows us to choose, and so we fragment over like maybe this 10% that we don't agree on instead of coming together on the 90% that we do agree on and this urgent mission every believer has to rescue the dying whatever it takes. Instead, Christians end up building a hundred little kingdoms instead of Jesus' one big kingdom.
    We end up shooting at each other instead of at our real enemy. We could learn something from those Norwegian champions. Let's work under one spiritual roof! Let's learn from each other's strengths. Let's find a cause larger than our own performance, our own events; things that will pull us together. That cause is defined in this verse, "contending for the faith of the Gospel." That's reaching the lost with the good news about Jesus.
    I think there are two things that most of the believers in your community would agree on. There might not be a whole lot, but these are two you can get them to agree on. Number one, the people in your community are lost. Number two, Jesus Christ is their only hope. Isn't that enough to start an agenda to bring us together to do something about those lost people? We could only be divided if we've lost sight of the lost people that surround us, because there are so many more of them. Our only hope is to go into the rescue together. Does it matter � do we care � who gets the credit, who gets the glory as long as they're in heaven with us?
    In the 1994 Winter Olympics the world got to see the secret of winning; coming together under one roof to prepare to fight for a cause greater than any one participant. We have a town to win; a community to reach. We have dying people to rescue. It's time we begin to pray together and plan together under one roof for the cause of the Gospel of Christ; the greatest cause on the planet. You know what it says on the roof? The Kingdom of God.

  • volume_up
    November 2, 2021 Something Beautiful From Something Ugly - #9082

    We went on this guided tour of this large cave near us. You walk through these winding and really narrow passageways and you admire the wonders that God has created from stalagmites, stalactites, and underground rivers. We entered this one large chamber, and the guide turned on the light and directed our eyes to this high vaulted like cathedral ceiling. You can probably guess what animals we saw hanging up there - bats, lots of bats. The guide told us that the early explorers of this cave had found large quantities of what she called bat guano. If you don't know what that is, never mind. It's gross, that's what it is. But they made lots of money selling that stuff. Really? Who would buy it? I mean, "What good could bat dung possibly be?" Surprise! She said they make gunpowder out of it! And even more surprisingly, they said they can turn that gross stuff into makeup like mascara and lipstick!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Something Beautiful From Something Ugly."
    It's amazing how people can turn something seemingly useless and ugly into something useful and even beautiful. What's more amazing is how God does that with our lives! In fact, He's wanting to do that for you - to make something beautiful and useful out of the ugliest things that have happened in your life. And only He can.
    One way He does that is described in our word for today from the Word of God in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. "The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort ... comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." I don't know what kind of "troubles" you've been through; it could be anything from sickness, to abuse, to addiction, to grief. But whatever the trouble, I know that it's made you need the Lord more than ever before. And so if you've reached out to Him, you experienced His compassion, His comfort, His strength, and His support in some deeply personal ways.
    Now, in a sense, God wants you to be for other hurting people what He has been for you. That's how He takes the worst things that ever happened to you and makes them into something beautiful. Scott was listening to my youth broadcast one night when he was desperately lonely; desperate enough to be considering suicide. Instead, that night he gave his life to Christ. Later, he told me that he decided to have a ministry to people like himself for the rest of his life. He knew how to help lonely people because he had been the lonely people.
    Jane was sexually abused by two different family members. When she brought that awful garbage to Jesus, He began to give her a ministry to abused girls and she has helped a lot of them. Her history of abuse became her strange credentials for caring for abuse victims. My friend Don has had a tremendous ministry to young people that others might call rejects. He's so tender and he's so compassionate toward them. You know why? He says it's because he remembers the hurt he experienced as a child born outside of marriage in a terribly dysfunctional home. God has recycled his wounds into life-changing compassion.
    See, that's the kind of thing God wants to do for you if you'll bring Him all that pain, all those wounds, all those memories. He wants to take all that ugly stuff - stuff that looks like it's useless, and He wants to turn it into something very beautiful - a tender, compassionate, helping heart in you. Because of what Christ can do with the waste of our lives, the ones who have been hurt the most, they turn out to be some of the greatest healers in the world.

  • volume_up
    November 1, 2021 Dirty Dead, Clean Dead, Dead Dead - #9081

    Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and honestly, this is a true story. Friends of ours have a big dog. And their neighbor threatened them about that dog. She had this white fluffy rabbit and a rabbit hutch in her backyard. And she said, "I'll tell you, if that dog ever hurts that rabbit of mine, I'll sue you for everything you're worth."
    Well, the friends of the friends had to leave a young man in charge of their house for one week, and the first couple of nights he came home from work and everything was fine. The third night he came home from work, and he saw the dog in the backyard playing with a dead animal. Yeah. He went over and he found uh-huh, the bloody, dirty, muddy remains of that rabbit.
    He panicked. He ran into the house, he put it in the kitchen sink, he started to scrub it up, hoping somehow he could cover up what he felt the dog had done. So, he literally washed off all the mud, all the blood, he blew it dry so it would be all fluffy again. Can you imagine a blow dryer on a dead rabbit? Come on.
    Well, he sneaked out in the middle of the night, put it back in the rabbit hutch and went back to the house. The next morning he heard a scream next door; he heard the woman screaming. He ran over there. He said, "What happened?" She's jumping up and down; she said, "Look! He's back! He's back! My rabbit died two days ago, and I buried him and he's back! It's a miracle!" No ma'am, this is not a miracle. Actually, there are lots of people trying to make that kind of miracle in their own lives, and it won't work.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Dirty Dead, Clean Dead, Dead Dead."
    Our word for today from the Word of God - Ephesians 2. I'll be reading in verse 1. "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins. Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved. For it is by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not by works so that no one can boast."
    Now, it's interesting that this passage says that the condition that we're in before we open our lives to Christ is we're dead. That means we don't need a bath; we need a resurrection like that rabbit. So, what does dead mean? Well, dead here spiritually means that you're separated from God by your sins. The "me first" way that I've lived my whole life; it's called sin. So instead of God being first, I've been first. The result is that the God you were made by and the God you were made for, well, you shut Him out and you're dead inside.
    That house sitter had something dead to deal with. He did all he could. He washed it, fluffed it, put it in a nice setting, but it was still dead. See, dirty dead, clean dead, it's all dead dead. Oh, we laugh at his efforts, but it's possible you've been depending on the same approach to get to God to deal with your sin, to get to heaven when you die. Oh, you were a religious person; you've cleaned up the outside: maybe been baptized, or christened, confirmed, you joined a church, you read the Bible, you pray, you help people. It's all good, but it only cleans the outside.
    Ephesians 2:8-9 says it's not about anything you can do to get to God. It's trusting in what Christ has done when He died on the cross for you. If there was some way, something you could do to get to God, He would never have allowed His Son to go through the agony and brutality of that cross. It took that to forgive you and to bring you back to life.
    Oh, you could make a dirty person clean, but only God can make a dead person live. We try every way to make it on our own spiritually, but we can't. That's why Christ gave His life. If you die without Christ, you'll be separated from God forever. But He's in your reach right now. You feel that knocking on the inside? Let Him in. Tell Him, "Jesus, you're my only hope of being forgiven. your death on the cross. I am yours beginning today."
    We'd love to help you begin this relationship with Him. It's what our website's all about. We can connect if you'll get to ANewStory.com.
    Jesus won't just make a dead person clean; He'll make a dead person alive who can then live forever.

  • volume_up
    October 29, 2021 Slowly, But Surely, Submerged - #9080

    There's this one restaurant in our area that offers more than food - it offers some unique live entertainment - at this one table. See, it's pretty much in the center of the restaurant where everyone can see. Several unsuspecting diners are sitting at this round table, just minding their own business, eating their meal - as the table starts to rise very, very slowly. So slowly that no one seems to even notice that their food is getting closer to their mouth and that their fork is making a shorter and shorter trip each time. The last time we were there, the diners were chattering and eating away as the table rose nearly to eye level. And then, and only then, did someone begin to realize that they were having to lower their fork to get the food to their mouth!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Slowly, But Surely, Submerged."
    It's amazing but true - when a change is gradual, you hardly even notice. Until it's up to your eyes! Satan, who is God's enemy and your enemy; he's counting on that being true in your life. He knows you won't fall for a blatant temptation to do something obviously sinful. That's OK with him. For now, he'll settle with just a small, seemingly harmless, step in that direction. Because he knows that step will lead to another, and another - and ultimately to spiritual disaster you can't even imagine now. He'll destroy you not by explosion, but by erosion.
    I love the way the Bible includes real-life stories that help us picture a concept we might otherwise miss. When it comes to the slow but sure takeover of sin and its consequences, the story of Samson just about says it all. Here is a man specially called and gifted by God with personal magnetism, supernatural strength, and spiritual leadership. This man, feared by the Jews' bitter enemies, the Philistines, ends up as their blind and helpless slave, pushing a grinding wheel in prison. Did this happen suddenly? Oh, of course not. Samson wouldn't have fallen for that. It happened one little compromise at a time. Just like the devil is planning to have it happen to you.
    According to the Book of Judges, Samson's weakness was women. So, he sees a pagan Philistine woman who looks good to him and he proceeds to marry her - out of God's bounds. When the Philistines want information from Samson, they convince his wife to coax him into telling. The Bible says, "She threw herself on him, sobbing" and he "finally told her."
    Well, Samson's next woman is a prostitute, and he's almost trapped by the Philistines while he's with her. Then along comes another woman working with the Philistines named Delilah. They bribe her to find out what the secret of Samson's strength is, which is his hair. Three attempts fail, but the Bible says, "With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death" (Judges 16:16). He tells her his secret, he loses his source of strength, and the Philistines have him.
    Now our word for today from the Word of God in James 1:15: "After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." Sin always kills, so stop it when it's small. Maybe you've been falling for Satan's slow but sure seduction. "Just a little"... "just this once"... "everybody else is"... "it's not that bad"... "you deserve it"... "you need it"... "no one will know." One little compromise - to start taking you where you think you will never end up.
    You've got to stop that killer strategy with the first look, the first date, the first lie, the first flirtation, the first thoughts of divorce, the first detour from God's Word. This is going to take you where you don't want to go - unless you stop it now. Before today's compromise gives birth to tomorrow's tragedy, run from it.

  • volume_up
    October 28, 2021 Escaping the Flood, Or Not - #9079

    I think I still remember one line of poetry from high school, "Water, water everywhere." Well, you know what? For lots of folks during the spring, that isn't poetry. It's their town, their neighborhood, their house. Rivers overflowing, backing up into every creek and stream. It can be a mess.
    When my wife hears the word "flood," she actually feels something inside. Because the defining event for the town she grew up in was the flood that turned a quiet creek into a raging torrent - actually a deadly torrent. Those who lived it, like she did, will never forget it.
    The saddest part of the story is the people who died, because well, they didn't have to. As those flash floods cascaded down from the mountains toward their town, rescuers came by a house in a boat to warn the people there and take them to safety. But they chose to ignore the warning. You know what they said? "Aw, we've been OK here for years. We're not leaving now." Their bodies were found days later, and miles away.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Escaping the Flood, Or Not."
    You know, God grieves over people like that. Actually, I do, too. People who've been warned that there's danger, even death coming. People who have a rescuer at their door and think they can make it on their own and they die, when they could have lived...forever.
    Our word today from the Word of God is in Deuteronomy 30:19. God pleads with us, "I have set before you life and death...choose life." Now, that "life" is a person - His Son. Here's the Bible again, "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son" (1 John 5:11). The judgment of God for us hijacking our life from Him is racing our direction. The Bible says, "God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing" (Ecclesiastes 12:14). But there's a rescuer at the door. It's Jesus.
    He says, "I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in" (Revelation 3:20). He can take us to safety because He did all the dying for all our sinning when He hung on that cross.
    Now, maybe you've never realized that that is what Jesus did for you. Maybe you've never realized that what Jesus did was for you. Maybe you've never made your way in your heart to that cross and said those two eternity-changing words, "For me. Lord Jesus, what you were doing there was for me." Maybe you've been around this a lot and you've heard His knocking more times than you can count. You've just never opened the door. You've continued to put it off.
    See, either way, whether you've never known this before or you've heard it all your life, it's important. It's eternally important that you answer the door and let Jesus save you. The Bible cries out, "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart" (Hebrews 4:7).
    It could be that there's a tug in your heart today. You're hearing the voice of Jesus. You're hearing the knock of the Rescuer at your door saying, "Judgment is coming. The flood is coming, but you don't have to be taken by it. I took your punishment for you." He took all the flood of all of God's judgment on Himself at that cross. And I'd say to you as you hear this that the more times you have heard His voice and done nothing, the harder your heart becomes. And that is the edge of an abyss that no one should risk.
    If you're hearing His voice today, listen to what God said. Obey His command, "Do not harden your heart." Open your heart to hear Jesus today, to the Savior who died for you. What a tragedy if you would go on and pay for all eternity for what He already paid for on the cross.
    Right now you could say to Him, "Jesus, I'm Yours." And if that's where your heart is, I'd encourage you to get to our website. I've done everything I could there to explain in plain words, with God's Word out of the Bible, how you can begin your relationship with Jesus and know you have. That website is ANewStory.com.
    If you've never gotten into the boat with Jesus, God's Rescuer, I beg you to do that today. The flood is coming, and you won't make it without Him.

  • volume_up
    October 27, 2021 The Problem with Bible Clubs - #9078

    A Bible is pretty versatile. It can be a file. Did you ever notice how much people stick in their Bible? I look at mine sometimes, and I find a number of things in there I don't want to lose. Unfortunately it does hurt the binding a little bit. Sometimes the Bible can be a record book. You see these Bibles where people put important dates, their family tree, weddings, deaths, and the autographs of people whose ministry they want to remember.
    A Bible can be an antique. You can go into an antique store and drop quite a few bucks getting one of those old Bibles. And a Bible is a great gift. I've gotten several as a gift. A Bible can be your identification. I used to carry mine to school. My kids carried theirs to school; it sort of identifies you as a follower of Christ. And at some times in my life the Bible's been a textbook. Oh yeah, there are a lot of ways you can use your Bible. There's one I hope you never use.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Problem with Bible Clubs."
    Our word for today from the Word of God, 2 Timothy 4:2 - "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction." This is a call, I think, to Bible balance. First of all, Paul is saying, "Use God's Word to help people know what's right; that's correct. To warn them about what they're doing wrong; that's rebuke. And to encourage them in what they're doing right. Use this book boldly to change people's lives. That's certainly part of it.
    Here's the other part: Do it gently, do it patiently, do it carefully. Don't use the Bible as a club! You can use it for a lot of things, but not as a club to win an argument, or to beat a person down, or shame them, or corner them. I know it's good to have some Bible clubs where kids meet to study the Bible around the school. I did that in high school. But don't use the Bible as a club. Too many people use the words of the Bible but they lose the spirit of the Bible while they're doing it.
    Ephesians 4:15 is the perfect balance, "Speaking the truth in love." The problem is that often the truth bearers leave out the love, and the lovers leave out the truth. It's important to be sure that you measure everything you believe and behave by God's Word. There is no room for, "Well, in my opinion..." Or, "I don't feel like it..." Or, "It doesn't seem right to me." Or, "I just read this great Christian book and it says..." No, show me what the Bible says. God has spoken - the final word.
    It's important to remind each other of what the Bible says about how we're living. But it's important to be gentle, non-condemning and patient like God has been with you. We want to make sure that when we're communicating the truth, we're also communicating, "I care about you. That's why I'm doing this. That's why I'm giving you what the Bible says, to correct, or to rebuke or encourage. I want God's best in your life. You're made for more. You're better than this." Not, "I'm sitting in judgment, and here are my verses."
    Hebrews 4:12 says, "The Bible penetrates between soul and spirit." It's a sword that does that; it judges. We don't judge, God's Word judges. So let God's Word do the judging. Share it and then let it do the penetrating work God has promised.
    Use God's Word to love people with the truth. Don't use it as a club.

  • volume_up
    October 26, 2021 How a Girl Becomes a Princess - #9077

    You know, there's something about a princess. I know our granddaughters growing up, boy they sure thought so. They got princess everything, the dolls, the sheets, the tiaras. We probably got most of them for them. You get the picture. But, you know, our granddaughters weren't that unusual. So many little girls, from lots of generations, have grown up with dreams of being a princess. And look! What's at the center of Disney World's Fantasyland when you go there? Well, of course, Cinderella's Castle.
    You know, in past years, much of the world was enthralled when a "commoner" became a royal princess. In that sea of people that were in London for that royal wedding, the camera spotted one lady with a sign that simply said, "It should have been me." I smiled and then I thought, "How many girls, even the ones who are all grown up, wish the princess thing was more than a fantasy?"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How a Girl Becomes A Princess."
    You know, sadly, so many women have been treated like anything but a princess. They've been betrayed, used, abused, excluded, diminished. In a word, undervalued. Maybe you know some of those feelings. Princess dreams go down in flames when the men around you are less than men. Or when those air-brushed images of beauty in our world make you feel like anything but special. And yet, there are many women who may never wear a crown, but who have discovered how a woman becomes a true princess.
    When the Royal Wedding was about to take place, I was on a live radio call-in show, talking about it. One lady called in to express her fascination with what was then the wedding of Prince William and Kate (of course now, more properly, Katherine). What was different, though, was the reason for her fascination. She said, "I love this because I know I'm a princess because of Jesus."
    Woah! She's right! Our word for today from the word of God, 2 Corinthians 6:18, the Bible says, "I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." Now look! If you're a daughter of the "Lord Almighty," you are a princess, because what makes a girl a princess is her relationship with the King.
    And the King of all kings has made it clear how a person becomes part of His Royal Family. Speaking of Jesus, the Bible says, "To all who received Him, to those who believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). I find that amazing, because God is sinless, God's holy. We're sinners. We're all guilty of dishonoring Him and disobeying Him in so many ways. We've disqualified ourselves from being His child.
    But Jesus changed all that. God loved us so much that He didn't want to lose us. The Bible says, "This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world...as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10). And the Bible goes on to say, "and they crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Corinthians 2:8). God's Son, the Lord of glory, died for me and for you. There's no greater love story on this planet.
    And God says when we open up our life to Jesus as our only hope, we get born into His family. This birthday could be today for you; the day you are born into God's family. There ought to be a time you can know for sure that you've begun a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That you have personally appropriated what He died on the cross to give you; when He walked out of His grave to prove that He can give it to you.
    Right now He's ready to walk into your life at your invitation and begin the greatest love relationship of your life and of all eternity. You just tell Him, "Jesus, I'm Yours. I'm done running my life. I believe You died for me. I believe You're alive and I want You to come into my life and be the center of it beginning today."
    We've got a website that's all about helping you get there. You can go there today. It's ANewStory.com. I hope you get there today.
    You can become a son of the King, a daughter of the King, because of your personal relationship, beginning today, with the King of the universe.

  • volume_up
    October 25, 2021 Never Forgetting What It Cost - #9076

    It was the worst day of this dear woman's life. Her 13-year-old daughter was killed at the hands of a drunk driver. To make it worse, just two days earlier the offender had been released on bail for a hit-and-run drunk driving crash. And he already had two drunk driving convictions with a third that was plea-bargained to "reckless accident." Well, the grief in this Mom turned from grief into righteous anger. She and some friends got together at a steakhouse in California and discussed with them her plan to do something about what had killed her daughter. They formed a group called MADD - Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. And they have been a powerful force for helping to save lives since then.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Never Forgetting What It Cost."
    Clearly, this mother has made a difference because she never forgot the death of the one she loved. I hate to say it, but too many of us tend to forget the death of the one who loved us the most, and that's why we aren't making much of a difference.
    The vivid portrayal of the death and suffering of Jesus in the movie several years ago, "The Passion of the Christ," was one reminder of what we cannot afford to forget. Christianity Today magazine reported the telling comment of one woman after she saw His suffering portrayed in the movie. She said, "I'm sorry. I forgot." Jesus never meant for us to, but He knew we would.
    That's one of the main reasons He did what He did at the Last Supper. Our word for today from the Word of God, Luke 22:19-20 says: "He took bread and gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' In the same way, after the supper, He took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you.'" And later, the Apostle Paul said of communion, the visual reminder of Jesus' sacrifice for us: "Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26).
    It's obvious Jesus did not want us to ever forget the total humiliation, the ripping of His flesh, the crown of thorns jammed into his forehead, the mangling of the body of the Son of God, the total abandonment. And above all, the agony of your eternal hell that He went through on the cross so you would never have to. We should not forget, but we tend to. The words "Jesus died for your sins" tend to become sterile and glib and just safely "theological." And that's when we start downhill.
    When you forget the enormity of the price paid for you, you tend to become careless about your sin. You forget how horrific that sin is as displayed on that cross. And your love for Jesus starts to cool, and living His way deteriorates from being what you do because you love Him into just a spiritual performance.
    Forget the cross, and you start feeling like trash again; forgetting how much Jesus thinks you're worth. Forget the cross, and you'll start settling for junk instead of holding out for the best that He died to give you. And if you forget the cross, you'll probably be ashamed of Him, ashamed to let people know you belong to Him and how they can belong to Him. But when I envision the shame He went through for me...when I remember that He was not ashamed of me, even when it meant hanging on that cross, how can I be ashamed of Him?"
    Each new day, make your way in your heart up that skull-shaped hill again and picture yourself at the foot of that old rugged cross. Let His blood cover the sin that you brought with you. Let His love poured out there capture your heart again. And let His sacrifice there give you the courage to live for Him, whatever it takes, and whatever it costs.

  • volume_up
    October 22, 2021 Not In Charge After All - #9075

    Our kids always loved that amusement park ride where they get to drive those little race cars around the track. I guess I should put the word "drive" in quotes. Oh yeah, kids grab that steering wheel and they do their NASCAR thing as the car speeds around that track at this eye-blurring 3 or 4 MPH speed or something. I could hardly blink! But driving, well that's kind of an overstatement. See, that car is attached to a little rail, and it's going to go where it's going to go, no matter what little Miss or Mr. NASCAR does at the wheel. We won't tell them this, but they're not really in control at all.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Not In Charge After All."
    We're so much like those kids in that little race. We think we're in control of things, until something comes along that shows us big-time that we're not in charge at all.
    Look at the, oh, you know, there was a tsunami tragedy in Japan several years ago. From technology to transportation to trade, I mean, Japan has demonstrated amazing resourcefulness and industry. But none of that could keep the ground from erupting violently...or a tsunami from erasing part of a nation...and even as they struggled to put the genie back in the broken nuclear bottle. Hey, and think of the pandemic we've been through. And, boy, didn't that say you're not in control?
    Maybe this is part of what's making us a little queasy. I mean, we have seen lots of forces that man cannot control. I probably will see some more. See, no matter how powerful a country is or a person is, you can't insulate you from the life altering waves that are beyond your control.
    And that makes, or it ought to make us, think about questions that we normally ignore when we're on our daily gerbil wheel. Questions about what really matters, about how we should live the rest of our lives, about what needs changing, about what God is trying to tell us.
    We're self-reliant, often self-absorbed people until God sends or allows crises in our lives that rock our world. History's iconic suffering man, Job, said: "So that all men He has made may know His work, He stops every man from his labor" (Job 37:7).
    In Deuteronomy 8:11, our word for today from the Word of God, the Lord says to His chosen people, the ancient Israelites: "When you have eaten and are satisfied...be careful that you do not forget the Lord." But we do. He goes on to say, "You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.' But remember the Lord your God..." (Deuteronomy 8:18). You know, actually sometimes we don't remember until in the Bible's words, "the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down" (Deuteronomy 28:52).
    I know when God arrests my relentless forward momentum, gets my attention and gets the steering wheel back. It's when there's suddenly something I can't fix, or I can't control, or I can't change: a child, a marriage melting down, a financial or interpersonal tsunami, news from the doctor that rocks our world. Those are the kinds of things that get our attention. And it's in those kinds of times that I seek Him. That's when I realize how very much I need Him.
    I'm convinced that God uses our out-of-control times to get our attention, to show us that any control we think we have in our life is the illusion of control. We live as He gives us breath and we die on His timetable. As the Bible says, "In Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).
    The destiny of every human is defined in six words in the Bible, "all things were created by Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16). But we marginalize Him, we drift from Him, we're away from Him until things spin way out of our control. That's when people and even nations open their hearts to the only real source of hope and healing and answers - the God who knows all too well about our suffering, our pain. He watched His Son die a brutal death on a cross so we could run to Him instead of from Him; so He could envelop us in His love, which He would love to do for you today .
    If you've never given yourself to Him, would you tell Him today, "Jesus, I'm Yours." Go to our website ANewStory.com. Times like these are wakeup calls, and we ought to pick up the phone. It might be God on the other end reminding us that He's God and we're not.

  • volume_up
    October 21, 2021 No Retreat, No Defeat - #9074

    Stonewall Jackson, the famous Confederate general. His mommy didn't name him that by the way. He was actually Thomas Jackson. He earned the name we know him by in the first major land battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Bull Run. The Confederate forces were overwhelmed. They were retreating that day - except for a group of Virginia soldiers commanded by General Jackson. They refused to give ground, with their general, mounted on his horse in the thick of the battle, inspiring them to take a stand. Well, another Confederate officer yelled, "Look! There's Jackson standing like a stone wall!" Well, Confederate forces rallied that day behind Jackson and his Virginians, and they ended up routing the Union forces that day. And from that day on, Tom Jackson was Stonewall Jackson.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "No Retreat, No Defeat."
    One person, standing firm when the battle is intense, can literally turn the tide. On the battlefield where God has assigned you, He's counting on you to be that person. And today He's giving you a great picture of how you can be a warrior that your General can count on - one through whom He can win some great victories. The picture is in 2 Samuel 23, beginning with verse 8. It's our word for today from the Word of God.
    It's a description of David's most trusted warriors - three soldiers called "David's mighty men" - Josheb-Basshebeth, Eleazar, and Shammah. (You don't have to memorize those. Right? Or pronounce them right?) The Bible describes how Josheb-Basshebeth "raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter." Then it says, "Next to him was Eleazar...As one of the three mighty men, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammin for battle. Then the men of Israel retreated (Sounds like Stonewall's big day, right?), but he stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought a great victory that day."
    Mighty warriors emerge at times when everyone's tired and suffering from combat fatigue - times when most people would feel like quitting. They emerge at times when the odds are overwhelming - like that one, eight hundred against one guy, and at times when most are retreating from the battle. For you, the battle might be your family, or it might be for your church, or for the right thing, for a stand that God has ordered you to take. So what is it that makes you one of God's mighty warriors and a soldier He can count on?
    First, you defy the enemy as David's men "taunted the Philistines." Knowing that the devil is our real enemy, you dare to say, "I'm not going to let you win this one. Jesus, take authority over this loser and make him retreat." Secondly, you cling to your sword. For us, the "sword of the Spirit" is "the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). You keep fighting, holding onto what God says as tightly as Eleazar held onto the sword that became bonded to his hand.
    The third step that makes you God's conqueror is you stand shoulder to shoulder with your brothers and sisters. You know, each time God introduces the next mighty man here, He starts with "next to him." Don't fight alone. Don't let anything come between you and your praying fellow-soldiers.
    And, finally, you remember who determines the outcome of the battle. It says of the weary, outnumbered mighty men, "The Lord brought them a great victory." They sure couldn't have brought a great victory against those odds. But mighty spiritual warriors know that the outcome of the battle will not be decided by them. It will not be decided by their enemy. It will be decided by the King of kings, the Lord of lords.
    So no matter how intense the battle, no matter how weary the warrior, no matter how overwhelming the odds - do not retreat! With the Word of God in your hand, with your brothers and sisters by your side, with the Lord your God fighting for you, it won't be you who retreats, because your enemy is going down!

  • volume_up
    October 20, 2021 Hands to Hold a Torch - #9073

    I think barbers ought to get, like you know, honorary degrees in psychology. They end up listening to everyone's problems and oftentimes they end up giving counsel. Every once in a while I get to hear some of a barber's feelings, and that's when you kind of get the psychology degree. You see, we sort of turn the tables, or the chair as the case may be in the barber shop.
    One day my barber was sounding his very frequent lament. He was telling me that no one wants to learn barbering any more. The hours are too long, the pay isn't enough, you've got to be on your feet all day, and it requires a skill that takes time to learn. He said, "When this generation of hair cutters dies off, there won't be many young barbers to take their place." Well, if that happens, we'll probably figure out something to do with our hair - I mean what's left of it - and some of us will solve the problem by losing it so we don't need a barber any more. Well, the barber was worried about not having the next generation of hair cutters. Well, let me tell you, there's a much greater concern that's life-or-death.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Hands to Hold the Torch."
    Our word for today from the Word of God, Ezekiel 22:30. "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before Me in the gap on behalf of the land, so I would not have to destroy it." And then these sad words, "But I found none."
    A century ago, D. L. Moody would say, "God is looking for gap men." And I would say the same thing today. God says, "I'm looking for men and women who will stand in My gap on behalf of the lost." I hope He doesn't have to say, "I found none."
    It was 1956, and five American missionaries landed by the Curaray River in Ecuador in their missionary plane. Nate Saint was their pilot. Their objective was to take Christ to the unreached Auca or now we know Waodani Indians, known for their murderous ways. No one had ever really survived being with them. And those missionaries never came back. They were murdered by the very people they were trying to reach; martyred by them; their bodies left in the river. The news flashed around the world.
    The quotation of Jim Elliott, who was one of those martyred missionaries, has now come down to our day, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." That story was told and retold again and again, and hundreds of young people like myself gave ourselves to Christian service. And that generation has reached who knows how many people for Christ across the years. And perhaps the greatest miracle of all is that all of the men who murdered those missionaries came to know Christ as their Savior, and one of them even baptized one of those missionaries' sons. Virtually their whole tribe was reached.
    The sister of one of those martyrs, Nate Saint, was Rachel Saint. She continued her brother's work with the Waodani. She passed away in 1994 at the age of 80 and one of the things she was most concerned about and was very emotional about was, "Who will carry on the work?" You know, that's the cry from aging missionaries around the world. They're dying or retiring, and there just aren't enough to take their place. The torch is about to be dropped in places where some have given their lives to establish a beachhead for Christ.
    Other religions in certain parts of the world grow much faster than Christianity. And we can feel Christ's return in the air sometimes. Could it be that God is calling you to be a gap person, to pick up the torch; maybe your child or maybe your grandchild? Don't stand in their way.
    Charles Spurgeon said, "If God has called you to be a missionary, don't stoop to be a king." There's a gap. I even know Christian parents who are discouraging their children from going into God's service today. But God is asking, "Who will carry on My work in these days before My Son returns?"
    Maybe it's time for your heart to say, "Well, send me, Lord. If you want me, you've got me."

  • volume_up
    October 19, 2021 The Secrets of Supersized Prayer - #9072

    Someone finally started looking at us Americans and realizing that a bunch of us are a whole lot bigger than we ought to be. I don't mean we're too tall! No. Well, look, I know what the weight battle is all about and I know it's hard, and I know your weight has nothing to do with your worth. But it can have something to do with your health. I guess all the talk about our weight and our health has even affected some of the fast-food restaurants - who might conceivably have something to do with the "widening of America." Oh, they're changing. They're trying to have healthier offerings and reducing fat and sodium. And then, not too long ago, they got rid of something they had started. Remember the "supersizing" thing? We'd go in and they would ask you after you'd placed your order, "Would you like to supersize that?" They might as well have asked, "Would you like to supersize you" in many places? Well, guess what? Now there's no more supersizing.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Secrets of Supersized Prayer."
    I'm happy to report that God is still in the supersizing business. Except He's asking, "Would you like for Me to supersize your life?" He does it through supersized praying - believing God for things only He can do. Maybe you're in one of those "got to be God" times right now - it's got to be God or it's not going to be! Then you're ready for the secrets of miracle-making prayer. They're actually found in 1 Samuel 1, beginning with verse 10. It's our word for today from the Word of God.
    Hannah is childless. She desperately wants a child. Her prayer, which results ultimately in the birth of Samuel, one of Israel's great leaders, contains those secrets of supersized prayer. The Bible says, "In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. And she made a vow saying, 'Lord Almighty, if You will look upon your servant's misery...and give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life...And she kept on praying to the Lord."
    All right, let's stop for some of those secrets of supersized praying. First, problems turned into prayer. You can turn a problem into many things. You can turn a problem into worry, or resentment, or self-pity, or negativity, or panic, or heartfelt prayer. That's the mountain-moving choice. That's what Hannah did with her problem. The psalmist said, "I pour out my complaint before Him; before Him I tell my trouble" (Psalm 142:2). Admit your bankruptcy in the situation, and He'll open up His bounty. The second secret Hannah shows us is pursuing our all-powerful Lord. She calls God "Lord Almighty" - that's mightier than the mightiest possibility. When you come to Him, come to Him as the one who's got the whole world in His hands.
    Then there's a third secret in this prayer, too - pre-surrendered results. As much as Hannah wants a son, she says, "Lord, if You give him to me, I won't hang onto him. He's Yours." And she kept that promise. God will trust you with what you want so much when you give it back to Him in advance. Otherwise, when you get it, you may make an idol of it or let it come between you and your Lord Almighty. It has to be pre-surrendered. Notice, too, another secret Hannah shows us - persistence in the Throne Room. She "kept on" praying it says. Faith grows, your spiritual muscles grow, as you wait on the Lord and keep coming to Him trusting Him for your answer.
    One final secret of supersized prayer - Hannah said of her prayer, "I was pouring out my soul to the Lord" (1 Samuel 1:15). God loves it when we come to Him, not with our usual script and our religious self, but all hanging out with real, true emotions. The deep contents of your soul become the substance of your prayer. Passion in your praying is one of those powerful prayer secrets.
    The end of the story? God gives Hannah Samuel, she takes him to the temple and gives him to the Lord's service, and God gives this woman who couldn't have children three more sons, and two daughters! And that name she gave her little answer to prayer, Samuel, you know what it means? "Heard by God." Everywhere Samuel went, he was a walking testimony to a prayer-answering God, and so are you.

  • volume_up
    October 18, 2021 Destination Sickness - #9071

    I once met a man with a painful illness, and actually we were in a very beautiful place. He owns a charming inn and it's furnished in every room with this great antique collection. It's quite a place to stay. Let's call him Art. Now, his inn is probably one of the most highly praised inns in the country, and it's not just another place to stay. I mean it gets rave reviews in every tourist book you read.
    One night when my wife and I were privileged to stay there, he wandered in and talked to us about some of the success he'd had on Wall Street in a previous career. But he said, "You know, after I achieved everything I wanted to on Wall Street, I was looking for something. And I thought, 'Yeah, I know. I want an inn, in a real charming place.'"
    And he got the best. He restored it to its early 19th Century charm; he worked real hard on it. And you know what else he told us that night? He said, "Now I'm looking for something else. I want to turn this over to my son." Seems like he was always looking for something else, and maybe you are too. You might have the same illness that Art has.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Destination Sickness."
    Our word for today from the Word of God, we're in Ecclesiastes 3:11 written by King Solomon. Now, here's a man who, like our friend who owned the quaint inn, pursued one dream after another. And every time he came up saying, "I'm still looking for something." He called everything he had accomplished, whether it was the monuments he built, the palace he built, the women he had experienced, the riches that he had, the intelligence he had, he called it all one thing--"chasing the wind." And in the same book where he says that, his personal diary - Ecclesiastes, he says in verse 11, our word for today from the Word of God, an explanation for why man is incurably dissatisfied. Here it is: "God has set eternity in the hearts of men." Wow!
    See, there's this infinite vacuum inside of you and me that cannot be filled by anything finite. A business won't do it; a lifetime dream of what you wanted to own won't do it. There's this incurable need for a life center that never ends. We have eternity in our hearts; we've got to have something eternal there. And we have destination sickness. It's that feeling you get of restlessness whenever you get where you wanted to go, but don't get what you wanted to find.
    After a career in tennis and then a divorce that followed, the famous tennis star Chris Evert said in an interview years ago, "My husband and I would often sit down at breakfast with everything we had and say, 'There must be something more.'" Well, there is. Jesus said, "I have come so you may have far more life than you've ever had before." Maybe like that restless inn keeper, you always end up looking for something. Well, I want to tell you today, the something is someone. You've tried to find peace in a successful career, or the right house, or car, or clothes, or family, or relationships, or pleasure, but you just can't fill that hole.
    Well, let me invite you to the only place where your search will end - where millions of people, including me, have come to the end of their search - the cross where Jesus Christ died for you. See, He died to remove the sin-wall between you and the God who was made to live in that vacuum in your heart. Jesus dealt with the cause of God being missing in all our lives. It's our sin. It's our self-will. It's our breaking His laws. It's our running our life instead of Him running them. And then He walked out of His grave under His own power, so He's alive to walk into our lives and change them, and fill that hole in your heart. It doesn't have to be there any longer. Why would you waste any more years or days looking where there are no answers and there's no ultimate fulfillment?
    Tell Jesus today, "You are the end of my search. You died for me; You're alive today. I am sorry for my sin. Forgive me. Jesus, I'm Yours." So many people have gone to our website to find help in knowing how to make sure they belong to this Jesus. I would invite you to do that today. It's ANewStory.com.
    Look, you can try some other destinations that won't fill that hole, or you can come home today; home to the One who made you for Himself.

  • volume_up
    October 15, 2021 You Never Know Who's Watching - #9070

    When I consider today's young people and even my own kids when they were teenagers, I realize that their generations are about to lose some of civilization's greatest wisdom. Some of those old clich�s that we were told, well, maybe they've never heard. How about this? "Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." Well, we have to make sure they get that wisdom. Or probably not, huh?
    Or there's one that really stuck with me. I think it was from my grandmother. It goes like this: "When you kiss at the garden gate, remember love is blind but the neighbors ain't." Okay, it doesn't rhyme very well, but it's true. I always imagined when I heard that old Mrs. Murphy was across the street with her binoculars and a notepad. Actually, though, there is a life lesson in that old clich� that covers a lot more than a good night kiss. In fact, it was probably working invisibly in your life today.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "You Never Know Who's Watching."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is found in Genesis 24. It's one of the great love stories in the history of the world. Eliezer is Abraham's ageing servant, and he has been sent to find the woman God has destined for son Isaac - Abraham's child of promise. In a sense, Isaac is the prince and it turns out that Rebekah is going to be the princess. But Eliezer doesn't know that at this point, so he prays.
    He gets to the location where he's been told to go, back in Abraham's home turf where there are some believers to choose from. And in essence, Eliezer prays and says, "Lord, here I am at the well where all the women come to draw water. I want you to show me the woman of your choosing through her unselfish care for me and my animals. She won't know why I'm here, but I just want to pray that she'll come and offer me water and then go water my camels. And I'll know then how unselfish she is."
    It's interesting that this little intrigue takes place. "Before he had finished praying" it says, "Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder." Then the story goes on to say, "The girl was very beautiful...a virgin. She went down to the spring and filled her water and came up again." Okay, so we've got a girl that might be the one. But listen. "As she goes and takes care of water for him and for the camels without knowing anything about what he's prayed, it says, "Without saying a word, the man watched her closely." Okay, now Rebekah's being watched by Eliezer.
    She was simply going about her work. Little did she know she was being closely watched. But then, do you know so are you? You're building a reputation without even knowing it. You're advertising about Jesus without even realizing it. You say, "Well, I don't think I'm being watched." You are. "Well, I don't want to be watched." Too bad, you are.
    People are noticing how you control your temper or how you don't, how you compete, how you win, how you lose. They're noticing how you respond to people's needs; to their need for attention, to their need for somebody to listen to them. They're noticing how you act when you're tired, when you're under pressure, how you handle failure, how you're handling your responsibilities, how you keep your promises. They're watching how you treat those who treat you badly, and how you react when you're threatened.
    And it makes me think twice about how Christlike I really am. Just imagine you're being watched by your children, your grandchildren, your parents, by people who are making a choice about Jesus based on what they see in you; by your friends, by your teachers, your supervisors. You just can't go off duty as a Jesus follower; you're always His ambassador. So, would you pray through your day?
    Someone might be basing their verdict about Jesus on the way you handle your circumstances, your emotions, your situations. Really, you never know who's watching.

  • volume_up
    October 14, 2021 Very Away and Very Alone - #9069

    I used to think that the more I got on planes and went places the easier it would get. Wrong! It always got tougher to be away from home.
    I remember one major trip I took to South Africa. I knew I'd be gone for like two and a half weeks, and as the family took me to the airport, we said a quick goodbye. We figure quick goodbyes are the easiest. And I remember as I walked through the door and left them behind and I got out of their sight, I was choking back tears. And I said, "Boy, I'm not like this very often." But honestly it hurt to leave them.
    Now, I was really busy in South Africa. I was very blessed while I was there, but I was really lonely away from them. Frankly, it's really hard to be away from someone you love, right? But there is a kind of away that I have never experienced, and I never will. You might, but you don't have to.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Very Away and Very Alone."
    We're going to turn for our word for today from the Word of God to Matthew 27:45-46. It will take us on a visit through the winding streets of Old Jerusalem, outside the city gate to a hill that's a garbage dump. It's also a place of execution. It's a place to be avoided by anyone who lives inside the law. And there we will find on a cross, the carpenter from Nazareth - Jesus. He's God's only Son. Remember that as I read this to you.
    God's only Son - He has for all of eternity had an unbroken, uninterrupted relationship with God, the Father. But listen to His cry in Matthew 27. "From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" And in this moment, that eternally unbroken relationship between God the Father and God the Son is ripped apart and broken by my sin.
    I said that's a kind of away I've never been. Oh, I've missed the people I love when I've been away, but what an away this is - God the Father turning His back on His only Son. God the Son is totally cut off in this moment. This is the moment Jesus tried to avoid in the Garden of Gethsemane when He said, "Father, take this away from Me if it is possible." But on that cross He is very away from God. He is very alone. Why?
    The Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk, told us that God is of purer eyes than to look on sin. You say, "But Jesus didn't commit any." No, He didn't; but I have, and you have. And voluntarily Jesus Christ is suffering the penalty you and I should pay. He is being cut off from God so you don't ever have to be. See, that's what hell would be. Everything good, pure, loving, and beautiful on earth is because of God. And hell is total "away-ness" from God with no party, no friends, no music, no money to drown out that awful emptiness. Jesus was suffering that hell for you and me on the cross.
    You can't pay your own bill to God or Jesus would never have gone through all that. If you know Him, live for Him with a new appreciation for what He paid for you. And if you're not sure you know Him, if you're not sure there's been a time you began a relationship with Him, get to that cross. Give Him what He paid for; who He paid for. God turned His back on His own Son so He wouldn't have to turn His back on you.
    And now, maybe for our visit together, He's come. He's stirring your heart, and that tug in your heart is Jesus saying, "Let Me in." And maybe for all your religion, there's never been a moment you've done that. Would you do that today where you are? And say, "Jesus, I'm Yours. You died for me, You came out of Your grave - You're alive! I'm not running things any more; I am Yours."
    Our website has been a big help to people who have wanted to be sure that they have begun this relationship with Jesus. I want to invite you to check it out as soon as you can today. I hope you meet us at that website. It's ANewStory.com.
    See, Jesus was on that cross very away and very alone so you don't ever have to be again.

  • volume_up
    October 12, 2021 Sunsets Should Be Beautiful - #9067

    Ah, sunset! It must be one of the favorite times of the day for photographers and for couples going on a romantic walk. Actually, for just about all of us. I've had the privilege to see the sun sinking beautifully into the horizon of the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, over many of America's majestic mountain ranges, the flaming desert sunsets, and even from many parts of this world. It just doesn't matter where you are on this planet, sunset is just plain beautiful.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Sunsets Should Be Beautiful."
    I've had the great joy of being there when the sun rose on the lives of each of our children, and now on the lives of grandchildren who lead our next generation. Beautiful sunrises! But sooner than any of us can comprehend, life's sun has moved across the sky to the West, and it starts to set.
    Sunsets should be beautiful, right? Sadly, for many people who are beginning to see the sun of their life move slowly but surely toward sunset, their sunset isn't very beautiful. In the years when you have so much to give, when every day should count more than ever, too many of us actually become uglier as we get older.
    Oh, we've all seen it - the older person who is often complaining, self-pitying, demanding. Honestly, it's not very pretty. The older some of us get, the more we can - if we let ourselves - become people who are bitter, picky, mean-spirited. That's the word that describes some folks as they move toward their sunset. And self-absorption? That's ugly at any age!
    Yes, our later years can have their share of physical pain, disappointed dreams (that's true), financial strain, grievous losses, frustrating limitation, and even hurtful neglect. We can't choose our circumstances, but we can, whatever our age, choose our attitude. We can choose what kind of climate we're going to bring with us wherever we go: selfish or unselfish, gentle or harsh, praising or griping, critical or encouraging.
    Our word for today from the Word of God in Psalm 71, beginning with verse 17, is an exciting perspective as the sun of your life drifts toward the western sky. It's how later life can be when you focus on the faithful God who has been your anchor through it all. "Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, and your might to all who are to come."
    This is life with a mission - to be a display window for the grace of God, especially to the next generations. And I can focus my life on showing the love and the greatness of God whether I'm healthy or hurting, living by myself or in a senior housing facility, I can be in a neighborhood, a nursing home, even a hospital bed. A man or woman on a mission to show Jesus, however I am, wherever I am.
    See, if you belong to Jesus, you discover that He's the one who makes our sunset beautiful. And you have this promise from the one who began your life and who will decide when your work is done. It's from Isaiah 46:3-4. He says, "I have upheld you since you were conceived, and have carried you since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you."
    You know, as you begin to see the sun starting to set, it's so important to be sure that you're ready for what's beyond for eternity. Jesus came to take down the wall between us and God to pay on the cross for the sin that would make it impossible for us to go to heaven. And then to walk out of His grave so He could walk into our life upon our invitation. Make sure that you belong to Him. You know what? You'll never walk another day alone.
    How to do that? Would you visit our website? It will really help with that. It's ANewStory.com.
    When you can say no to the darkness of the sunset years, that's when your sunset can be what a sunset ought to be. Remember? Unforgettably beautiful!

  • volume_up
    October 11, 2021 Brighter Skies Ahead - #9066

    It was April in the mountains of the West, which means you can experience any or all of the four seasons in just one trip. We'd recently started our journey in warm temperatures, but by the time we hit that mountain pass, it started to snow - I mean the thick, big flakes kind of snow. You know what? Actually all of us started singing Christmas carols - even though it was just a few days before Easter. We were racing a deadline, so the snow was a mixed blessing. It was incredibly beautiful, but it was almost blinding at times, and it made our trip slower; it made it more treacherous. And then we saw it - this thin line of sunshine between the bottom of the snow clouds and the tops of the mountains ahead. We were excited because that was our future.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Brighter Skies Ahead."
    It was tough driving, and the journey was getting more difficult and more dangerous. But we were okay with that because we knew there were brighter skies ahead. And soon we were actually basking in sunshine everywhere.
    It could be that you're driving a stretch in your life-journey right now that's pretty rough. You're getting tired of how hard it is to keep moving. You're anxious about what could happen and you're wondering how long it's going to be like this. You need to see some sunshine. And there is some. I love this simple reassurance of Psalm 30:5. It's our word for today from the Word of God, where He says, "Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." That's some sunshine, huh? The Bible never denies that we will have seasons of hurt then weeping, but God wants us to see the sun beneath the clouds ahead. It won't always be this way. He promises that. He says that after tears in the night, there will be joy in the morning.
    My wife was driving when we hit that heavy snow in the mountains. But when she saw that line of sunlight ahead, she said, "If I knew I had to drive like this all night, it would be tough. But I know there's better road ahead." Well, that's God's guarantee for every child of His. Whenever I think I've got a heavy burden, it helps me to think about the load the Apostle Paul carried - shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonments, rejection, and death threats. I mean, major storms. That was one perilous journey.
    But he said, "We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs them all." Paul calls all those painful times (did you notice?) "light and momentary" even though he's in the middle of some of that pain. He's comparing it to the sunshine ahead, knowing that compared to how good and how long the good times are going to be, this junk is light and momentary. So, he says, "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." Temporary. This too shall pass. And the day on the other side of this night is going to be awesome!
    The difference is what you choose to fix your eyes on. If you focus on the storm you're in, you'll lose hope. You'll give up. But if you keep your eyes on the sun on the horizon - the rewards for your faithfulness, the deepening of your relationship with your Lord, the better thing God will give you in place of what you have lost - then there will be joy in the journey. So, keep on driving. Drive carefully. Look down the road at the beauty that's ahead. For just like us on that snowy, stormy day, you'll soon be celebrating a break in the clouds and a day that is flooded with glorious sunlight. No matter how dark it looks now, there are brighter skies ahead!

  • volume_up
    October 8, 2021 How to Prove You're a Man - #9065

    I don't think this is a surprise to anybody, but high school athletes are pretty impressed with their own bodies. You know, they lift, they work out, they admire their new build, and they compare how much weight they can bench press, and how fast and how far they can run. And that's fine. But the problem is you begin to think that manhood is that physical strength. Well, listen, manhood goes way beyond that. But men of all ages, not just high school athletes, seem to believe that conquest is what shows you're a man: the conquest of a woman, of a goal, of a competitor. Actually there are some very little boys in some very big bodies, and there are some people we might call wimps who are really in the winner's circle. See, we might be missing what manhood really is.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Prove You're a Man."
    Well, our word for today from the Word of God is about how to prove you're a man, and it's in Titus 2:6. Actually, Titus is a young pastor, and he's being instructed as to what to teach each of the age groups in the church. And here now are the young men. So he turns to the young men - the people who are just forming their concept of manhood, and interestingly enough he wraps up his description of manhood in one word. "Similarly" he says here, "encourage the young men to be self-controlled." That's it...God's message to men in one compound word - self-controlled!
    Proverbs 16:32 is one of my favorite verses about manhood. It says that "the man who controls his spirit is stronger than the man who conquers a city." Okay, look. he can control himself, and God says that's more impressive. That's biblical manhood. The Bible is saying it's more impressive to do that than to make a big conquest. So, the question about manhood really is this: "How well are you managing conquering yourself?"
    Now, what does it mean to have self-control? What do you have to control? Well, for example, how well do you control your temper? Strangely enough, some people think that the opposite of controlling your temper is manly; that you can show how mad you are. No, the inventor of manhood says it's the ability to control your temper that makes you a man.
    How about controlling your passions? See, a biblical man is not one who turns to a woman and says, "How far can we go?" No, he's the one who sets a high standard and takes the moral cat-and-mouse game out of a relationship and says, "We're going to be pure." He's able to control his passions. He's able to control his mouth and tame his tongue - the profanity and the put-downs. He controls his time; he uses his time carefully, not carelessly. He's not an impatient person; he's able to control his impatience. That's manhood! He can control his selfishness. You can tell because he puts others first.
    See, sometimes biblical manhood is the opposite of the superficial, self-serving myths that we've been fed about manhood, guys. I trust the manufacturer of manhood. I mean, He knows best. God knows what it is, and He tells us where we get self-control. He says, "The fruit of the spirit is self-control."
    Many of us have tried in our own efforts to become the man that all the people around us needed us to be. But, you know, we can't change ourselves. The Bible says, "If anyone is in Christ he's a new creation. The old is gone; a new life has begun. There were 12 very manly men in Jesus' day who found the one place, the one person, the one cause for which they could give everything. And that was following Jesus.
    And maybe today you need to heed that same invitation that He gave men 2,000 years ago and He's been giving men for 2,000 years since - "Follow Me." What's that like? How do you get started in that relationship? Go to our website ANewStory.com.
    If you're a woman today, would you encourage this kind of self-control in the men you know? And if you're a man, understand one of the most important muscles you have to develop - the spiritual muscles that give you control over your temper, your passions, your mouth, and your impatience. Self-control - that's how you prove you're a man.

  • volume_up
    October 7, 2021 Where to Go When It's Impossible - #9064

    Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen! Recognize that? Well, maybe not. They were reporters of The Daily Planet newspaper in a city called Metropolis. At least according to the story of the "man of steel" called Superman. He was, according to the old Superman TV show, "faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound." (I've got to calm down here.) He had been sent here as a baby from the planet Krypton by parents on a dying planet. And he came to earth with, as the announcer used to say, "powers far beyond those of mortal man." So when Lois and Jimmy faced a situation that no normal person could possibly resolve, they would invariably say those words that always precede an amazing solution, "This is a job for Superman!" (I'm okay now.)
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Where to Go When It's Impossible."
    I hope this doesn't come as a shock to you. I don't want to ruin your day, but there is no Superman. Oh there is one the Bible calls, though, Sovereign Lord and the Most High God. And if you're facing a situation or a need that's going to require "powers far beyond those of mortal man," you have this awesome God to turn to. And that's when you get a ringside seat to see the greatness of the Most High God.
    There's a thrilling picture of going to God for your "mission impossible" in our word for today from the Word of God in Daniel 2, beginning with verse 17. King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, where Daniel had been taken as a captive and elevated to being a royal advisor, has had a very troubling prophetic dream. He calls in all of his astrologers and spiritual advisors, and asks them to not only figure out what his dream meant, but what his dream was or they would die. See, he doesn't want any magician scamming him with some made-up interpretation. If a man can tell him the dream, then he can trust his interpretation of the dream.
    Of course, no one can tell him what he dreamed. Then Daniel, God's man of the court, is called in as the king's last resort. Even for Daniel, it's "mission impossible." What Daniel did is a pattern for us when we're facing our "mission impossible." It says, "Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends; he urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven. During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: 'Praise be to the name of God forever and ever; wisdom and power are His.'" What follows is a powerful prayer of extravagant praise. When Daniel reveals the mystery to the king, he says, "No wise man can explain the mystery" - this is the king speaking - "but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries."
    There's the plan for your "mission impossible." First, you recruit prayer partners to intercede for you and for this situation. This battle is going to be pre-won in prayer. Step two: focus on the power of your God rather than the impossibilities of the situation. Then, as Daniel did, download resources that only God has. Daniel said, "You have given me wisdom and power. You have made known to us the dream of the king."
    God has resources that no one on earth could ever give you. And the last step in this plan for winning your "mission impossible" is to give God all the glory for the breakthrough. Folks may express amazement or admiration for you. But you let them know that it all belongs to the mighty Lord you serve. You don't have the answers - He does. And He chose to send those particular answers, this particular solution, through you.
    Well, are you kind of like Daniel, facing something that's far beyond what earth could do? Then do a Daniel; "This is a job for the God of heaven...the Lord who is my God!"

  • volume_up
    October 6, 2021 The Ultimate Outrage - #9063

    Our dog, Missy, was easily entertained. We just threw her a plastic bottle. That was accidentally discovered one day when a two-liter soda bottle fell on the floor in the kitchen. She pounced on it, grabbed the bottle in her mouth, and shook it viciously. You could tell from three rooms away she was fighting with one of those bottles, because she'd throw it in the air and then she'd try to catch it with her nose. And then it ended up bouncing all over the kitchen. Are you imagining this? You should have seen her ten minutes later. She's sprawled lifelessly on the floor - a blob of fur, totally exhausted from that fight with a plastic bottle. It's amazing how much energy she put into a battle that didn't matter.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Ultimate Outrage."
    Our word for today from the Word of God, it's from 2 Timothy 2:4. God says, "No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs. He wants to please his commanding officer." Actually that word in the Greek language that the Bible was written in? It's pr�gmatas, or the pragmatics. You don't get all tied up or involved in the pragmatics of life; the little mechanics. No plastic bottle wars, no little battles for a soldier in Jesus' army.
    In fact, here's the mission. Two verses earlier in verse 2 it says, "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." In other words, your mission is passing on the gospel that was passed on to you. The number one battle is the battle for people's eternal souls. A Jesus soldier is supposed to focus on that battle like your Jesus did.
    Now, Christians today get excited over many bottles... excuse me, I mean battles. For example, there are a lot of talk show hosts whose books and programs are always really hot, and people get intrigued with those. Or, you know, people's social media posts. Some are amusing, some are articulate. Their views on moral and political issues are right up the alley of a lot of believers. So I hear a lot of Christians talking excitedly about. you know, what their latest social media or radio or TV hero had had to say. And they have great power to get their viewers and listeners all up-in-arms over things that are happening like politically. In fact, after decades of being politically passive, (and I've lived through that period) Christians are putting a lot of energy into fighting political battles, and public policy battles, and lifestyle battles. And not that those are bad; some of those are very important.
    We spend a lot of time, sometime, trying to get certain candidates elected. We want to get certain trends stopped, and some certainly should be. We want to get prayer back in schools. You know, they're worthy causes. And while those are noble battles, they're not the ultimate battle, because they do not address the ultimate outrage.
    Ezekiel 33:8 - "When I say to the wicked, 'Oh wicked man, you will surely die,' and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin and I will hold you accountable for his blood." God thinks the ultimate outrage is when a person who is created in His image ends up spending eternity without Him - lost; eternity in hell because maybe one of us did not warn him. That outweighs any other issue.
    The early believers got that. I mean, it was the time of Nero, and slavery, and aborted babies, and violence, and murder as a public sport. But they're not spending much time or energy demonstrating about those social issues. That wasn't what they fought for. The early Christians believed that the gospel of Christ was the most powerful force for social change in the world; more than politicians, or marchers, or laws.
    Listen, it's right to take a Christlike stand on the moral issues of our day. But we dare not just lose sight of the one cause that has forever consequences. We need to be sure that the best of our time, the best of our energy, our money, our enthusiasm is marshaled against the ultimate outrage. That the reaching of the lost with the love of Christ be the one cause that consumes us most.
    Look, if we're going to get exhausted in battle, let's do it for the battles that matter the most, that matter forever.

  • volume_up
    October 5, 2021 The Prize and the Prison - #9062

    Actually the TV news report was a little amusing. These individuals came into the store, waving a piece of paper indicating they had just won a free DVD player, and they were coming to claim it. What they didn't know was that notice had been mailed by the police to their last known address. See, these people were wanted, but they had disappeared. But when they checked their mail, they had news of having won that DVD player. The amusing part came when the police arrested them on the spot as some of them were actually laughing at what they thought was a joke or some kind of a TV stunt. It was no joke. They were going to jail.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Prize and the Prison."
    That's what the police call a "sting operation" I believe. And it really worked - offer something good just to capture people. And the police use that strategy to accomplish good things. Satan, however, has been using that strategy for a long time to accomplish his destructive purposes in people's lives. He might be using his "sting operation" to capture you right now.
    The Bible describes his devious tactics in 2 Timothy 2:26, our word for today from the Word of God. Paul talks about people for whom it is his desire "that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." I don't know anybody who wants to end up doing the will of the devil; whose desire is to be Satan's captive. But they fall into his clever trap, which is invariably baited with something good. Something that looks like will come from just a little compromise.
    That lure might be the promise of sexual pleasure, or sexual conquest, or just a chance to feel loved. The lure could be a chance to get ahead or get out of a jam, just by a little lie or a little compromise of your integrity. Maybe the devil is tempting you with what looks like the advantages of leaving your marriage vows, the thrill or the relief from checking out a little pornography, the satisfaction of getting even, or the relief you'll get from abandoning a commitment.
    The devil's basic strategy is pretty simple: get you obsessed with the prize you might get so you're blind to the trap you're walking into. He'll convince you that "it's just this once," "just a little," "it won't hurt." Lies. All lies. Jesus exposed the devil when he said he is "the father of lies" and "there is no truth in him" (John 8:44). He is, as Jesus said, the "thief" who comes "only to steal, kill and destroy." You'll not ultimately get what he seems to be offering - the satisfaction, the love, the excitement, the relief. It's just Satan's bait to take you captive and ruin everything he can in your life. But he'll promise you anything to get you to walk into his trap.
    Now, while you can, run from that temptation that you've been flirting with, surrender yourself to Jesus. And in the Bible's words, "be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power...take your stand" the Bible says, "against the devil's schemes" (Ephesians 6:10-11).
    If you're being lured into a "sting operation" from hell, you just can't afford to go for the prize that you'll actually never really get. But, of course, you won't know that until the handcuffs are on you and the cell door slams shut behind you. Please don't go there!

  • volume_up
    October 4, 2021 The Greatest Miracle - #9061

    Ten pounds, ten ounces! Our grandson was born and weighed in at that weight. Man that's a lot of boy! Just ask his mama! And even though he wasn't our first grandchild, there was still something breathtaking and amazing about the arrival of a new person in this world, isn't there? I couldn't help but think of when his daddy was born. I was there in the delivery room when he arrived, and I'll never forget what the doctor said. Now keep in mind, this is a doctor who's, well, seen thousands of deliveries over a long career. As I held my newborn son, the doctor said, "You know, this is the greatest miracle known to man." He got no argument from me.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Greatest Miracle."
    Out of all the ways Jesus could have explained how we can go to heaven someday, I'm glad that He chose to describe it as birth. Because that's one experience we all understand - we all have that in common. And having been close to the arrival of several family members, I'm impressed again with the parallel Jesus drew to what our doctor called "the greatest miracle known to man."
    The birth route to heaven is described by Him in John 3, beginning with verse 1 - it's our word for today from the Word of God. "A man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus; a member of the Jewish council, came to Jesus at night." Now, he came with spiritual questions and he was stunned when Jesus said, "No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. You must be born again."
    Now, no modern preacher or religious leader came up with that idea of being "born again." It was Jesus Himself. And whatever being "born again" means, there's obviously no way you can go to heaven without it.
    The first time you were born, what do you get? You know, 70 years of life maybe. The second time you're born, this time, spiritually - you get life forever. You've got no life on earth of course, unless and until you're born. You've got no life in heaven unless and until you're born...again.
    There's no doubt about our grandson's arrival. In fact, he'll be celebrating that day for the rest of his life. Being born again means that a person's relationship with God has a definite beginning. That beginning is described a couple of chapters earlier in the Bible. It says, "To all who received Him (that's Jesus), to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). So the definite beginning of belonging to God is when a person "receives" Jesus, when they "believe" in Jesus.
    That's because of what keeps each of us from having a relationship with God. In the blunt words of the Bible, "Your sins have separated you from your God" (Isaiah 59:2). That's every time we've done something our way instead of God's way, and those are like countless. It's the way we've basically said, "God, You run the universe; I'll run me thank you." The eternal penalty for that is being separated from a holy God, now and forever. There's only one way that sin wall could be removed - in Jesus' words in the "born again" account, "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son." Jesus came to die for the sinning you and I have done.
    So the day you reach out and take for yourself what Jesus died to give you, you are born...again. And this was originally said to one of the most religious men of Jesus' day. So, it's obvious that there's no one so good that they don't need to be born again. Because we all have the cancer of sin. And we're going to die without the cure.
    Which leads to the very personal question of whether or not there's been a time when you were born...again. If you don't know you were, you probably weren't. And you desperately need to be. This day could be your re-birthday - if you'll just open your heart to Jesus right where you are. Tell Him, "Jesus, I've run my own life, and I resign. I believe You died to pay for every wrong thing I've ever done. And beginning today, I'm Yours."
    If you just prayed a prayer like that, and you want to be sure you belong to Christ, and maybe you're considering that, I really want to encourage you to spend a few minutes at our website. That's what it's there for - ANewStory.com.
    Let today be the day when you personally experience what truly is "the greatest miracle known to man."

  • volume_up
    October 1, 2021 The Store Is Yours! - #9060

    A visit to a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Shop - that's one of life's simple pleasures. We used to have one near our house, and the kids always enjoyed going there as a treat. And we'd look at all those unusual flavors and then we'd have to make that stressful choice: which one shall I get? Well, several years ago I was in a city to speak, and the committee member who picked me up stopped by his store with me on the way back from the airport - his Baskin-Robbins store. It was closed, so he took me in, pointed to all the cases of ice cream with all those great flavors and said those mind-blowing words, "Take whatever you want!" Oh boy! Not just a single little scoop of one little flavor; it's all available to you, boy! Go for it!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Store Is Yours!"
    It's pretty exciting when the person who owns it all throws open his store to you. That's exactly what God has in mind for us when we pray to Him. The One who owns it all opens up His resources and says, "They're yours for what you're facing right now." But so often we either neglect to go to the owner, or we go in asking for a single dip, and He wants to give us so much more.
    God throws open the door in our word for today from the Word of God in Jeremiah 33:2-3. "This is what the Lord says, He who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it - the Lord is His name." OK, there's no doubt about it, the One who was about to make this promise is the one who owns it all, made it all, controls it all. And He says to you and me, "Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you do not know."
    So, when you're saying, "I don't know." God is saying, "Then, pray big." Your mission impossible, your staggering need, your emotional weakness, your physical weakness - those are the canvasses on which "He who made the earth" paints some of His most magnificent works. That's why Paul got to the place where he said he would "delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties." Why? He said, "For when I am weak, then I am strong." In other words, when you're the most desperate, when you're the most powerless, clueless, God shows up with His amazing powerful interventions.
    When we forget the size of God we're praying to, we under-pray, and then we under-live. Right now there are some God-sized things you need to be trusting Him for; things so big only God can do them. You're in what I call the "God Alone Zone" - God alone can do this one! Prayer is God's access code to the unlimited resources of heaven - all the grace you need for what's going on, all the comfort you need, all the physical and emotional strength, and all the wisdom to know how to figure it out. So pray like it! Let prayer, not planning or politicking or scheming, let prayer be your primary method of getting things done!
    At a conference I was at, the praise band led us in a chorus that repeated these words, "Touching heaven, changing earth, touching heaven, changing earth." God has thrown open His storehouse to His children. He's unlocked His infinite resources and He's promised that our prayer of faith would unleash those resources and aim them at the need we have, the situation we face, or the person we love. When you're praying, don't ever forget you really are touching heaven and changing earth.

  • volume_up
    September 30, 2021 Familiar Faces In The Rescue - #9059

    I've got a lot of friends in law enforcement, and usually they don't show a lot of emotion. But the Cleveland police chief said, "Yes, law enforcement people do cry." I think some of them did when three women, missing for a decade, were suddenly found alive several years ago. They'd been imprisoned. You might remember it, a nondescript house by a man who kidnapped them years before and endured living horrors that we may never fully know.
    A neighbor heard screams coming from that house and went to investigate. A woman locked inside cried, "I've been kidnapped! I want to leave right now." It took kicking in the door, but he got her out. Later, the police brought out the other two kidnapped captives. The frantic 911 call from Amanda was riveting. "Help me! I'm Amanda!" (She gave her last name.) "I've been missing for ten years and I'm out here. I'm free now." No wonder police officers cried.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Familiar Faces In The Rescue."
    I watched this powerful story unfold on TV. It reminded me of some things I can't afford to forget through people who are at the heart of this story. Like people who refused to give up on the loved ones they've lost. Like Amanda's mom, who refused to believe it was hopeless. She just kept her daughter's picture and her story in front of people; she prayed relentlessly. Amanda's mom did not live to see her prayers answered, but we all did.
    A lot of us have an "Amanda" - someone who, for one reason or another, seems hopelessly gone; emotionally, spiritually, even physically. But the celebration in Cleveland at that time seems to shout to us, "Never stop fighting for the person you love." Reach out to them. Love them when they give you no reason to. Pray for God to do what only He can do. Keep the porch light on.
    I love that story where Jesus comes upon the funeral procession of a young man. The Bible says He saw the grieving mother and it says, "His heart went out to her." Then He did what only He could do. He brought her son back to life. And here's the best part. It says, "Jesus gave him back to his mother" (Luke 7:15). He's still doing things like that; restoring lost loved ones to the people who care for them. That's the hope that keeps us fighting for them. And as long as there's breath, there's hope.
    Of course, a key player in freeing the Cleveland captives was that neighbor, who disregarding the risks, jumped in to help someone in trouble. Somewhere on our "street" we all know someone like that. Behind a fa�ade that looks fine, they may be living a nightmare, desperately seeking someone who will care about them, who will listen; who will be the voice and the face of Jesus for them.
    And then there's that prisoner who's desperate to be free, whose only hope is a rescuer. That was me and a lot of folks like me, in a very dark place, unable to get out by myself until somebody heard the cry of my heart. Then I didn't have to stay there one day longer.
    Jesus came all the way from heaven to rescue a world of people held captive by the darkness inside them. "Sin" the Bible calls it. It's our deadly addiction to defying God and doing life "my way" instead of His way. And we can't seem to stop. The Bible says, "Everyone who sins is a slave to sin" (John 8:34), and I can't argue with that. The selfishness, and anger, and dark desires, the wounding words, the endless lies - nobody wants to be that way, but we are. We're prisoners in a dark place, until the Rescuer shows up at our door.
    And finally, here's our word for today from the Word of God, in Galatians 1:3. It says of Jesus, "He gave Himself for our sins to rescue us." Wow! And it says, "If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36). He didn't just come to the door. He died on a cross.
    So here's my story: "I've been missing. I'm free now, and I'm home!" I want that for you.
    You can read about how to begin that relationship with Jesus right now. Go to our website ANewStory.com. The personal Rescuer has come to your "dark place" to rescue you. You can be free and you can be home!

  • volume_up
    September 29, 2021 Stuffed But Sitting On It - #9058

    Somewhere in the Fathers Handbook, I think it says the father gets to carve the turkey, or the ham, or the roast. And I don't mind; I feel very fatherly when I get to do that, very manly sitting at the head of the table with my super carving knife. But I have observed this phenomenon. Often I end up with an empty plate. See, sometimes at a large dinner gathering, you've got someone who loads up their own plate, starts chowing down and shortstops all the food where they are. Ever notice that it all seems to pile up sometimes in a corner and it doesn't get moved past there? I mean, they're satisfied, so some of us end up with nothing in our corner. Some lucky guy has it all in his corner. Now, what's fair is that you take what you need and then you pass it on to others who don't have any yet. That's how this system works. When you've got plenty. it's just real easy to forget those who haven't been served yet.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Stuffed But Sitting On It."
    Our word for today from the Word of God, Matthew 10. Jesus is speaking to His disciples, who have in a sense been sitting at the dinner table and being very well fed. They have sat in many meetings with Jesus, they've heard and seen a lot, and now He calls them together in Matthew 10:8 and says, "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons." He's sending them out now. And then these beautiful words, and I remember a chorus to this effect, "Freely you have received; freely give." In other words, Jesus is saying, "Look, I passed it to you. Not just so you could be full. Now you're supposed to pass it to others."
    There's a story in the Old Testament in the book of 2 Kings. It tells about four lepers who lived outside a city that was being starved to death by an enemy siege. Finally they decided just to surrender to the enemy thinking, "Well, you know what? We're probably going to be killed anyway, or we're going to die of starvation. So, maybe they'll take us and feed us, or we'll just die like we're going to die here anyway." What happened was they found out that God had performed a miracle and driven the enemy out. The camp was empty. And they ended up with all this food that had been left behind! They're sitting there eating and chowing down all night long while people are starving to death in the city they just came from.
    Finally, by the morning light, one of them says, "What we're doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves." What a picture of many of us North American Christians. We're the spiritually wealthiest Christians in history: seminars, and workshops, and radio and TV programs, and websites, and conferences, and magazines, and books. It's just so easy to get caught up in a comfortable cycle of listening and just saying, "Well, you know, that was a nice sermon, wasn't it?" Going to Bible study, attending a fellowship we enjoy, going to concerts; feeling real spiritual a lot of the time.
    And we are to be growing. We are to be filling up with spiritual resources - loading up on the Lord, loading up on His truth - but not just to enjoy it ourselves. "Freely you have received; freely give." Jesus said, "To whom much is given, much is required." Shouldn't you be giving as much as you're getting? Responsibility goes with all that we're hearing, and seeing, and learning. It goes with those riches. There are lost people who need at least a little of what you have a lot of.
    Every believer should be actively involved in reaching out to lost people; rescuing the dying somehow...including you, in an outreach to people that you are uniquely close to. Or by starting or supporting outreach programs through your church, or by giving your time or talent to a Christian ministry that is actively rescuing lost people. Maybe even by changing your life plans. But don't just keep piling it up on your plate, because there are people all around you who are dying of starvation.

  • volume_up
    September 28, 2021 Your Permanent in a World of Temporary - #9057

    October is really beautiful in a lot of parts of the U.S. It's fall; it's the time, as I told my kids, that the angels come out at night and paint the leaves red and yellow and orange. Pray for my kids. Forget the angel part. The trees really do put on a fantastic show of color in the fall, and spring isn't bad either. I love that fresh green of spring's new life. But in between fall and spring, there's this long stretch where the trees are just basically colored "dead." Well, not all the trees. There's life all year long; there's green all year long. They don't lose their color, however dead and barren the rest of the world around them may be. Hello! They're EVERgreens!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Your Permanent in a World of Temporary."
    It's not just trees that turn color in our lives - it happens to relationships, too. A relationship that was once blooming beautifully, giving color to our life, starts to turn, to lose its color, to wither, even to die. Sooner or later, every "I love you" seems to include a "goodbye" to some people. Some relationships die with a whimper; some with a bang; some slowly, some suddenly; some, not by choice, but by death.
    My first realization of that was the night my parents left me alone in our Chicago apartment to go to a funeral. They were gone longer than they had predicted, and that's when I heard the wail of sirens nearby. Well, I have to tell you, a young boy's fears kicked in at that point and I thought, "My parents are late. There's a siren. Maybe they were killed in an accident." Well, they weren't, but that was when I first realized that what you love you can lose. And ultimately, I have buried my mom, my dad, and the love of my life. And a lot of other people (some old, some very young) who would never have chosen to leave. Often what hurts even more are the loves that do choose to leave us. Like winter's leaves; they wither and blow away.
    What we need is an evergreen relationship - one that can't be touched by desertion, by divorce, by distance, even by death. There is such a relationship, but only one. In order to be our evergreen, it's going to have to be a love that will never turn on us and never die on us. That love is celebrated in our word for today from the Word of God in Romans 8:38-39. These words literally have the power to lead you to the one anchor relationship your heart has always yearned for.
    Here's what it says. "Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present or 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, my friend, evergreen love. It's God's love, found in His Son, Jesus Christ.
    Here's why God's love is the love you can't lose. Even though we were made for that love, we're missing it because we've chosen to take our life into our own hands instead of putting it in God's hands. We've chosen "my way" over God's way in thousands of situations throughout our life. And the Bible says, "Your sins have separated you from your God" (Isaiah 59:2). That separation could only be bridged one way; a way that seems unthinkable. That God's Son, the only One without any sin, will come to earth and do what only He could do - do the dying for our sin against Him. Pay the penalty so the sin could be erased so we could experience the love that our sin has cost us.
    And today, the man who loved you enough to die for you has come looking for you to offer you a life, an eternity, filled with His evergreen love. But it can't be a one-way love affair. You've got to respond to His love by placing your life in His hands and turning your back on the sin that cost Him His life. And your love response might be just three words, "Jesus, I'm Yours." If you want to pursue that love relationship with Him, then I'd invite you to check out our website today. That's ANewStory.com.
    God Himself has said that once you open up to His love - hear it again: "nothing in all creation will be able to separate" you.

  • volume_up
    September 27, 2021 Tick Bites - #9056

    One of our team members got pretty sick. Linda first developed a high fever, then muscular pain, and then these excruciating headaches. It actually took several tests to uncover what had caused her debilitating symptoms, but the doctor finally concluded she'd contracted Lyme Disease, which of course is carried by little deer ticks. And as Linda thought back, she remembered noticing a big red bite on her body a couple of months before. It occurred to her that it might have been a tick, but you know, she didn't think much about it...until now.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Tick Bites."

    Linda recovered from her extreme systems, but I think she'd be feeling the effects of what that tick did for months, maybe years to come. One stupid little tick - all these problems. You have to check for those little things that can hurt you for a long time, and you need to get rid of them quickly.
    Actually, you need to do that spiritually, too. Because there are "little ticks" that we get bitten with that can, if they're not removed quickly, cause us more pain and more problems than we could ever imagine. Small invasion - major damage. There's an enlightening example of that in Hebrews 12:15, our word for today from the Word of God. In this case, the "bite" is something that makes us have some hard feelings toward another person - something we all go through. And Scripture warns us, "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."
    Bitterness and resentment always begin with, well, this little root. But bitterness never stays a little root. It keeps growing into a poisonous plant that ends up hurting us and hurting others. A root of bitterness has destroyed marriages, churches, friendships, and ministries because it wasn't pulled up when it was small. Because the tick wasn't removed immediately after it entered someone's system.
    The principle of dealing with sinful urges while they're small applies to so many things in our life. Like a sexual fantasy or fascination. You have to, as the Bible says, "Flee youthful lusts" (2 Timothy 2:22), which by the way, aren't just a problem for youths! If you dwell on that wrong thought, that lustful attraction, it will quickly lead you where you never meant to go. You've got to yank it off the stage in your mind the second it shows up there, or it will embed itself in your mind like a tick and do damage you never imagined.
    You have to get out of a wrong relationship sooner rather than later. You're going to be less likely to do the right thing the more time passes. It will never be easier to do it than now. When you start feeling the pull of an old weakness, respond immediately by running, not walking, the other direction. That urge to hurt back, to get even, to brood over a wound; those are all "ticks" that, if you let them get under your skin, they'll cause problems bigger than you ever thought for much longer than you ever imagined.
    When the urge to respond sinfully bites you, you can't just let it go. You have to quickly and aggressively get rid of a spiritual "tick." It may seem like "no big deal" right now. But if you don't deal with it now, it will do damage that will hurt you for a long, long time.

  • volume_up
    September 24, 2021 The Bottom Line Question - #9055

    Well, it happened three times at the Hutchcraft house. Yep, a teenager learning to drive. With all of the angst that goes with that. Not for them, but us! And three times we'd come around to that question happening again and again, "Dad, can I have the car?" I have to tell you, I had real mixed emotions about that, and I had a lot of questions about "How far are you going to go?" "How long will you be gone?" "Where are you driving?" "Who are you going with?" I was apprehensive about turning over that ton of deadly metal to a teenage son. And there's probably some reasons, right?
    Now, my wife would often ask for my car, and when she did, I gave her the keys - no questions asked. Oh, I had no fear of my wife driving my car. Oh yeah, I'd seen her drive. She did real well; at least as well as I did. Probably better.
    Of course, turning over the keys comes down to one bottom line issue: Can I trust you with something this big? Maybe for you right now that's the most decisive choice you have.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Bottom Line Question."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God comes from Romans 8:32. Paul comes up with this equation, "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all - how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?" Paul's logic is petty simply here. God's already given the most expensive thing He could give. He gave His Son for you and me. Now, if He would give His Son, you can have confidence to come to Him with any need, because you could trust Him with anything.
    That statement actually answers the bottom line question about being a follower of Jesus Christ. After all the smoke clears away, you can sum up your choices in the Christian life in four words - can Jesus be trusted? That's what it all comes down to. That's really the bottom line question for you if you've never given yourself to Jesus, "Can He be trusted?"
    It may well be that right now your hand's pretty tightly clenched around one very important part of your life that you've not been able to release to His lordship and His leadership. You know you need to, you just can't. Within the last couple of days I remember when I had a young woman say, "Ron, I love the Lord with all my heart. I'd go anywhere He asks me to go, but I cannot give Him Don." This guy was that important to her.
    What's your Don right now? Oh, you've opened up many areas to His control, but this one, this last one, this bottom line one is particularly scary. This relationship, or maybe your career, your location, your dream. And the issue is, "Who's going to get the keys?" See, if you can't let it go, then it's become an idol.
    Remember the question, "Can Jesus be trusted even with this?" One guy answered that for himself in a conference I was at a while back. He said, "Ron, I can give the Lord everything but one thing - basketball. It's my identity, it's my future." At the end of the week he came back and said, "Ron, I've given Him everything. I've given Him basketball." I said, "Whoa! How did you decide to do that?" He said, "I just settled it. If He loved me enough to die for me, He would never do me wrong." Well, in the Bible's words, if "He delivered up His Son for all of us," won't He give us all the other things? Yes, He can be trusted with it.
    Here's the scene: Your hand is tightly closed. His hand is open saying, "Trust Me with it." Aren't you tired of this battle? Trade in the struggle of resisting Christ for the peace of trusting Christ. Your hands are too shaky to hold something that important.
    And maybe for all your religion and Christianity you've had; all the Christian things you've been involved in, maybe you have never actually put your life, your soul, your eternity, and your sin in the hands of Jesus. And today He says, "Come to Me and I will give you rest." He died for you. You can trust Him. It's time to give you to Him. Say, "Jesus, I'm Yours."
    Get to our website today and see there the information I think will help this be your "Jesus day." That site is ANewStory.com. Because you can put whatever matters most to you in the hands of Jesus. In fact, His hands are the only hands that can be trusted.

  • volume_up
    September 23, 2021 In Touch With the Tower - #9054

    I was meeting with an FAA official in preparation to speak at a meeting of private pilots. Actually, the only pilot I know much about is Pontius Pilot, but I had been asked to speak on the subject of peace and stress. Mr. FAA happened to mention to me that there were 10,000 private pilots in the New York area. That's when I became especially grateful for a special group of people called flight controllers. When you're up there in an airplane, and you think about all the other airplanes that are up there with you, it's nice to know that the pilot isn't just trying to figure out by himself where to fly. All across the country, he's got the help of that man or woman in the tower who can see the whole picture of what's going on in the sky or even on the ground. And that pilot doesn't check in, oh just every once in a while. No, he or she makes sure that they stay in touch with the tower!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "In Touch With the Tower."

    A pilot needs to stay in constant contact with the person who guides him through his entire flight. And as we try to pilot the life that God has given to us through all the "dangers, toils, and snares," we really need to stay in touch with our Flight Controller in heaven; the God who can see what we could never see, who can guide us on a path that we could never figure out on our own.
    I've been tremendously challenged recently and inspired by a man in the Bible who understood that prayer isn't just some spiritual compartment in your life - it's an all-day lifestyle. Nehemiah ultimately learned that he was God's man to lead the seeming "Mission Impossible" of rebuilding God's city walls and gates against tremendous odds and opposition. He worked for the most powerful man in the world, the king of Persia. When the king discovers his servant's deep burden for the plight of Jerusalem, he suddenly asks Nehemiah a loaded question, "What is it you want?"
    In Nehemiah 2:4-5, our word for today from the Word of God, he says, "Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king." I like that. Pray, then answer. He probably didn't kneel down right there in the throne room, bow his head, close his eyes, and fold his hands. But in his heart, he knew that he had to get instructions from the tower before he flew into answering this all-important question. The result, by the way, was the king's full support of the project and resourcing the project that God had laid on Nehemiah's heart.
    When Nehemiah had first gotten a report on the devastation of God's city, the Bible says, "When I heard these things...for some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven." (Nehemiah 1:4). Praying before you answer someone. Praying when you get bad news. When enemies threatened an attack, it says, "We prayed to our God and posted a guard" (Nehemiah 4:9). All right, that's praying about obstacles and dangers. When he was wearing out, Nehemiah says, "I prayed, 'Now strengthen my hands.'" (Nehemiah 6:9).
    You see it? It's a powerful secret of spiritual greatness to pray your way through your day, not just when it's your "prayer time." Pray before you make that call, pray before you write that letter or that text, or that email. Pray before you turn on your computer or the television, pray before a date, pray before a deal, before a purchase, pray before you decide, pray before you start your day, pray before you go to sleep at night.
    Stay in touch with heaven. As the Bible says, "Pray continually" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). That's how you'll avoid a crash. That's how you'll avoid a course that will cost you. That's how you'll arrive safely at your destination. Throughout your flight, my friend, stay in constant touch with the Tower!

  • volume_up
    September 22, 2021 Royal Treatment - #9053

    p>"When I was young..." Kids hate those words. If you're a parent, I'll bet your kids; they probably do. But here I go. I'm going to do it anyway. When I was young, there was this woman named Emily Post, and she was the expert on etiquette. And so, we would often ask, "Well, what does Emily Post say we're supposed to do in this situation?"
    From Emily we learned that we, men, were supposed to open doors for women. We're supposed to walk on the outside when you're walking with a woman in sort of this protective role. You should be saying "please" and "thank you" regularly. Now, today, Emily Post is right next to the dinosaurs in the National History Museum. Maybe she's been confined there. Then along came a replacement named Miss Manners. Unfortunately, Miss Manners would have an uphill struggle in our culture today, because we live in a world of fast food, fast track, and me first. Who's got time for courtesy any more? The King's kids do.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Royal Treatment."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 Corinthians 10. Before we take a look at it, let's take a look at the generation we're living in. You know, we live in a world where courtesy seems to be kind of burdensome and trivial, and not happening, even unknown to a lot of people. People think that's a lot of unnecessary, picky little rules. And you say, "Well, who says I'm supposed to do this at dinner? Who says I'm supposed to treat a girl this way? Who says I'm supposed to say that?"
    Well, let's take a look at the lifestyle of a King's kid; someone who knows the King of kings personally through Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24. "Everything is permissible..." Paul says, "...but not everything is beneficial." In other words, he comments here on the attitude that says, "Hey, listen! I can do what I feel like. Who needs rules? Who needs boundaries?" He says, "Everything is permissible, but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good but the good of others."
    Verse 33: "Even as I try to please everybody in every way..." He's saying, "I want to be a pleasing person. I'm not seeking my own good, but the good of many so they may be saved." Verse 31, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God." Now, he's not talking here about some little rules you have to follow because some Emily Post or Miss Manners or rule book say you have to. It's just having an attitude of doing the things that like put the other person first, that's considerate, that's sensitive to how they're going to respond, how it's going to make them feel. That's what courtesy is...even reaching to how I eat and drink. It's like I care about your feelings.
    But see, I have a higher reason to learn courtesy than satisfying some etiquette book. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I want you to feel comfortable. I want you to feel safe. I want to make you feel special, relaxed. I want to make you feel like royalty. We're living in a world where people are treated roughly and shabbily. They're treated cheaply. They feel cheap, and they act cheap.
    But as a follower of Jesus, I above all others ought to let the other guy go ahead of me. I should be the one who treats a woman like a queen, even if it's just the lady checking out my groceries at the store. If I'm going to put other people first, I'm going to say "thank you." I'm going to write a note that says "thank you" to them and not just act like I'm entitled to what they gave me. I'll say, "excuse me." I'll eat with grace, so that some of them may even be saved because they've been treated and put first.
    You're going to be a standout if you are a courteous person. You will have, honestly, a refreshing edge on a lot of other people. You don't have to fall into the barnyard manners of our "selfie" society. Because, say, you're a King's kid! So give people royal treatment.

  • volume_up
    September 21, 2021 Milestones and Manure - #9052

    Okay, as a city boy, I have a lot to learn about the country. I remember the time when I was a teenager and our youth group played this hide-and-seek game on a farm. This one other kid and I crawled under this piece of machinery, where we had to stay for about a half an hour. I didn't know what it was. After we were stuck there, my nose and I wanted to know what we were hiding under. My friend said, "Oh, this is a manure spreader." Hmmm. Well, in recent times, I've helped out a friend who has some horses, and part of taking care of equine pets is what they call "mucking out" their stables. Now if you've been a farmer your whole life, please don't laugh at me. Be kind. But I was dealing with manure more in those months more than I had in all my life up until then. And, frankly, I wasn't fond of it.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Milestones and Manure."
    There's a passage of scripture that I've been familiar with most of my life that has taken on a graphic new meaning to me, because in a very real way, it's about manure. I know it's a strange subject for a Christian discussion, but tell that to the Apostle Paul. He's the one who used the analogy.
    It's in Philippians 3, beginning with verse 7. Paul's just listed many of the great accomplishments of his life as a religious leader. It's an amazing list, demonstrating why he was one of the most respected, most successful Jewish religious leaders of his generation. Then he met Jesus. He follows his list of life achievements with this statement, "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings."
    Now that word that's translated "rubbish" in this translation is translated "dung" in the King James Version. Folks, that's manure. I've looked it up in the Greek. That's one of the meanings. That's basically what the original Greek word means. Paul says that compared to what he has found, and knowing and serving Christ, every other milestone and title and achievement in his life... Well, he said it's about as valuable as manure.
    And that is values clarification; that right now you may be wondering how your life could be so full and yet it's not fulfilling. How could you be enjoying such success and yet feel like your life isn't all that significant. There's a reason. You're created, the Bible says, with "eternity in your heart" (Ecclesiastes 3:11), and no earth-stuff can possibly give you the meaning and fulfillment you need. Only what you do with Jesus and for Jesus can do that. It's not that your career, or your accomplishments, or your acquisitions, or positions are necessarily bad - they're just not enough.
    You want to make the greatest possible difference with however much life you have left? Then spend as much of what you have, what you are, and what you've got in loving and serving King Jesus. Paul said really knowing Jesus made everything else seem worthless. It's not the championships, the scholarships, the memberships, the friendships that will captivate your heart and thrill your soul. It's making Jesus your central passion; the magnificent obsession of your life.
    I haven't heard that little poem since I was a young man, but it's as true now as it ever was, "Only one life...t'will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last."

  • volume_up
    September 20, 2021 The Last Lonely Man - #9051

    "Go to your room!" No, I'm not telling you that personally. I'm just saying those four words are some of the most dreaded words in a family. What it does, is it takes the family law breaker and consigns that person to that awful punishment - being alone. Now, on a more serious level, that same punishment is used when someone has been a severe offender in prison. What's the worst thing they can do to them to punish them? They put them in solitary confinement. "Go to your room, and stay there alone." More sadistic people have used aloneness as a form of torture to help break a person's resistance. In fact, there's not one of us who doesn't know from personal experience the awful feeling of aloneness - one of the darkest feelings there is. You've felt it. Maybe you are right now. And there isn't one of us who doesn't need the antidote.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Last Lonely Man."
    Some years ago, an actress named Inger Stevens was one of the top actresses in Hollywood. She was a beautiful blond, on a lot of successful TV series, in movies. She was one of the most dateable and the most dated women in Hollywood. And then suddenly everyone was stunned. She took her own life! I still remember what she wrote in a suicide note. She said, "I have felt so alone." Man, here she is; she's got guys who want to be with her, she's got so many friends, this beautiful, popular, successful woman. You couldn't tell it, but she felt so alone.
    You know, in a world of stressed out families, superficial relationships, loneliness can be more epidemic than ever, and you just can't tell by looking who the lonely person is. That's why we need to meet the last lonely man.
    Our word for today from the Word of God, Matthew 27:46, Jesus Christ is dying on that cross. "About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' - which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Now, here's Jesus, God's only Son, experiencing total aloneness. You know why? So you would never have to. Totally alone so you don't have to be. Cut off from everyone. Most of all, cut off from God, the Father.
    See, inside us...inside you there's this gnawing sense that we're missing a relationship. Well, it's the ultimate relationship. We sort of hope every friendship, or romance, or maybe a family member will be that relationship. And no matter how much they love you, they may be feeling alone sometimes. Just like there's this voice inside that says, "Someone's missing."
    Well, someone is missing. It's the One who made you. It's the One you're going to. And you know why He's missing? Isaiah 59:2 tells us, "Your iniquities (that's your sins) have separated you from your God." You and I are separated from the one relationship we can't live without. We're cut off from that relationship we were made for. Jesus took your place on that cross. He was cut off from God; paying for your sin...for my sin so we don't have to be cut off from Him.
    And when you ask Jesus into your life, the wall between you and God comes down and the promise of Jesus is for you. He said, "I will never leave you or forsake you." A religion can't alleviate your loneliness. Beliefs can't do it. Only a person can do that; a person who will never leave you, never forsake you, no strings attached. And Christianity isn't really a religion; it's the person Jesus Christ. He allowed Himself to be cut off from the ultimate relationship so you never have to be. He was in that sense the last lonely man...or the last person who ever has to be totally alone again.
    If you've never had that time in your life when you said, "Jesus, I'm Yours. I want to take what You did on that cross as being for my sin. I want to belong to You." Let that be today. Tell Him, "Jesus, I'm yours."
    Our website, I think, can help. A lot of people have found information there to help them begin their relationship with Jesus. The website's ANewStory.com. I hope you'll go there. If you'll give your life to Jesus today, you've just spent your last day alone.

  • volume_up
    September 17, 2021 Stuffed With Junk - #9050

    The other day one of our team members shared a discovery she made during the remodeling of her kitchen. The counter top had been removed, and as she looked into this little 6"x8" drawer by the sink, she saw that it was completely stuffed - with like "stuff!" She realized that for 24 years she had been sticking things into that drawer: twist ties, rubber bands...you know, everything. There were some useful things in the back, but they were inaccessible because of all the "stuff." It had been a long time since the drawer had been opened very much; our friend just crammed things into it and occasionally pulled it open an inch or two to use something out of it. (I can relate to this.) But looking down on it all from above, she was surprised to see what was in there. Almost everything in that drawer could be thrown away, but it had been accumulating for years. And that drawer was much more useful now that it was emptied out.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Stuffed With Junk."
    You've got to wonder what God sees when He looks down on the contents of our life. The "top" is always off as far as His view of us is concerned. He sees directly into our heart, our motives, our every thought. And all too often, our life and our heart are cluttered with "stuff"...things we've filled our life with that are simply unnecessary to Him, useless to Him; always limiting our usefulness to Him.
    Some of us won't realize how useless a lot of our life has been until it's too late to do anything about it; we'll wait until the Judgment Seat of Christ. Paul talks about it in 1 Corinthians 3, beginning with verse 11. It's our word for today from the Word of God. He says, "No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones..." Wait a minute. That's filling our life with things that are going to last, that have eternal significance. He goes on to say, "wood, hay, or straw" - wait a minute. Those are things that are just "stuff." "...his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light...the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames."
    You get one life. You can fill it with things that really matter or things that really don't. With things that will last forever, and often what this world stresses as being important is really just "stuff." And what Jesus says is important, our world thinks isn't much.
    So when the Lord looks down inside your life, is it crammed with a lot of "stuff" that just doesn't mean much? A lot of time in front of a TV or computer screen, hours on the Internet, listening to music, talking on the phone, following sports, pouring yourself into causes and diversions that aren't going to matter much in eternity at all? It's not that these things are necessarily bad. The problem is when "stuff" that should be peripheral become central in your life. That's when it's time to reevaluate your priorities. It's time to see your life through God's eyes, and clean out what's not useful - the trivial pursuits.
    When you do, you become so much more useful to your Lord. And the more you fall in love with Him, the less you're going to be stuffing your hours, your days, your mind and your heart with "stuff." You'll be about what Jesus is about. You'll be as He said, "seeking first the Kingdom of God" (Matthew 6:33).

  • volume_up
    September 16, 2021 The Doomsday Buzz - #9049

    I had been watching the news and they were talking about doomsday, and it made me sad. Oh, not because I'm nervous about Jesus fulfilling all His prophecies about earth's final chapter. But because millions were laughing about something that they desperately needed to take seriously.
    This has happened a number of times, but a Christian radio pastor at that time had widely announced that May 21 would be the beginning of the end of time, with a cataclysmic event that would ultimately usher in the coming of Jesus. Now listen, there's nothing I look forward to more than the moment when Jesus will break through the clouds, come in power and great glory and erase every doubt that He's the King of kings.
    I just don't believe we know when that's going to be, because Jesus said, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven..." (Matthew 24:36). No matter how you parse His words, they say that the time of His coming cannot be predicted.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Doomsday Buzz."
    You know as a junior high boy nosing around in the church library, I read these old World War II books written about end times prophecy. And they had it all figured out - who was the antichrist, who was the restored Roman Empire, the talk about Israel having a nation. And I smiled. Reading it years later, it was obvious they had it wrong, and Jesus didn't come back on their timetable.
    Unfortunately, naming a date inadvertently gives people a reason not to take the clear-cut prophecies of Scripture seriously. The Bible has told us that "in the last days, scoffers will come...They will say, 'Where is this coming He promised?'" (2 Peter 3:3-4). It hurts to think that our date-naming and other teaching that reaches beyond what the Bible reveals will give these scoffers any more attention or ammunition. You know, a major news anchor asked, during the time of those predictions, after reporting on that doomsday story, "Who believes this stuff?"
    Well, she and everyone needs to believe that Jesus is, in fact, coming back; that every person will see Him. That there will come a day when the mightiest of earth will call as the Bible says, "to the mountains and the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne...'" (Revelation 6:15-16). It will be a day where there will be no more choosing Jesus. Only "every knee bowing at His Name" (Philippians 2:9-10), many realizing it's forever too late to know Him.
    I heard that the Center for Disease Control had been trying to make the most of all that doomsday talk. This was several years ago. They were using it to encourage people to have a disaster plan for emergencies - to be ready. That's exactly Jesus' warning in His prophecies for what He called the "last days" world. Prophecies that do paint a picture that, well, increasingly seem a lot like our world today. He said, "You must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him" (Matthew 24:44). He said He would rise from the dead after three days. That's exactly what He did. He said He would return to this earth as its' Judge and its' King, and that's exactly what He will do.
    You can only be ready if your sins have been erased from God's book. And only the man who died for those sins can do that. That's why the Bible says, "Now is the accepted time. Now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2). Now is the day to make the King of kings your king.
    If you never have, would you tell him, "Jesus, I want to belong to You. I know You can come for me and bring my life to a close at any time. You can come back to this earth any time. I want to be ready. And I can only be ready with my sins forgiven, and only You can do that, Jesus, because only you died for them. I'm Yours."
    I think you can find help and encouragement in getting started with Jesus if you check out our website today. Many people have. ANewStory.com - I really urge you to go there.
    A friend of ours was desperately cleaning her totaled room; she was getting ready for the anticipated arrival of her guy that next day. She heard a knock at the door; it was her guy a day earlier than expected. And there she stood amid the piles, dressed in her grubbies, her hair matted with sweat. All she could do was exclaim, "I wasn't expecting you now!" She waited too long to get cleaned up. Time was up.
    That's a mistake you do not want to make with Jesus.

  • volume_up
    September 15, 2021 People Aren't Polaroids - #9048

    If you made a list of the million dollar ideas of the twentieth century, you'd probably have to include something called the Polaroid camera. Now, you might be too young to remember that. I could take you to the museum, but it was a great invention in its time. What was the worst part of taking pictures then? It was waiting for them to be developed. The Polaroid concept introduced the revolutionary idea of developing your photo right on the spot, and then you would know whether you got what you shot. That was way before cell phone technology of course. So with the Polaroid, if you cut off everybody's heads when you took their picture, you can take it again and they could have heads in the next picture. We're naturally impatient to see what the result of our effort is with our pictures, right? And with people.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "People Aren't Polaroids."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Galatians 6, and I'm reading verse 9. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." This verse talks about doing good in people's lives. And as you know, that doing of good often shows no visible result at least for a while. But if you will keep sowing good seed, the Bible says, when it looks like it's having no effect - the person couldn't care less - suddenly you will ultimately reap a satisfying harvest.
    Now, it could be that you need to hear that right now because you've been living Christ, and you've been sharing Christ in the life of someone who just doesn't seem to get it. They don't care, they don't seem to be responding, seems like they don't even want to hear it right now and it's like you're talking to a brick wall. Right? It could very well be it's even a member of your own family. Remember, Jesus said the farmer's job is to scatter seed, not to make it grow; you just get it out there.
    Even if you're not seeing any result in the life of someone or the lives of some people, keep on sowing this verse says. That doesn't mean pestering, or pushing, or pressuring. Just like patiently loving, gently sprinkling biblical values when you have a natural, spontaneous opening to do it.
    I remember when Becky got a call at the age of thirty from a woman who said, "Are you the Becky that I knew in high school?" She said, "Yeah, I am." It turns out they'd been friends in junior high but then they'd gone two different ways. Becky had gone on to really follow Christ, and this girl went into the party scene. But now she's calling out of nowhere. She said, "Becky, I've looked all over. I finally got your married name. I finally tracked you down because my life is falling apart. My husband has left me, but I've got to ask you a question before I tell you any more. Becky, are you like still close to God?" Wow! Thirteen years had passed. She didn't go to the party people; she went to the person she could remember - the God person who had faithfully sown Bible seed in her life.
    We forget that people aren't a suddenly developed Polaroid picture. They don't usually develop right away. You have to wait to see what impression you have made. And while you're waiting it's easy to give up, because you don't see any impression. Well, seed that is sown yields nothing visible for quite a while. Ask any farmer.
    But God has guaranteed you a harvest in the life of that child, in your marriage, in those Sunday School class kids, the Bible study people, the people in your church, the youth group, the friends you have, those coworkers. He's guaranteed you a harvest if you won't quit. "At the proper time," it says, "we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
    Someone you care about will eventually get the picture if you'll be patient while they develop.

  • volume_up
    September 14, 2021 Scary Times - #9047

    Yeah, I'm just not used to news reporters referencing the Book of Revelation. But, you know, in recent times I've heard some of them doing it. These aren't ordinary times. They've been referring to statements in the Bible about things like earthquakes and disasters, and references to what the Bible calls "the last days." They keep using the word apocalyptic. You know, you think about what's been going on in our world, and nature, and in governments, and between people, and you can understand why people are starting to think Bible a little bit. The Bible talks about these last days - the last days of human history - the days before the personal return of Jesus Christ who will change things forever.
    Well, for example, a few years ago, there was a massive earthquake in Japan, Chile and New Zealand. They had on TV a map of the Pacific "Ring of Fire," which is that part of the world where most major quakes erupt. It showed Japan on the northwest corner, New Zealand on the southwest corner, Chile on the southeast corner. And then if you went up the West Coast of the United States, the final corner in the northeast. You could guess what the headline was, "Is California next?"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Scary Times."
    Now, of course, there's an additional concern in the aftermath of a natural disaster. A few years ago we saw in Japan the specter of possible nuclear meltdowns, and that had people imagining some "apocalyptic" scenarios. The former Speaker of the House even called it "beyond biblical" what we were seeing. And then there's all the revolutions that have popped up in our news and seems like the whole world sometimes is shaking .
    And then throw in a pandemic.
    In our word for today from the Word of God, Jesus said a lot of this would happen. In Luke 21:11, He said "there will be great earthquakes...in various places and fearful events." Of course there have been earthquakes for thousands of years, but apparently they're going to get bigger and more frequent before Jesus comes.
    Jesus also said there would be "wars and revolutions" (Luke 21:8) and "nation (and that original word actually means ethnic groups) will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom...on the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity" (Luke 21:25). I couldn't help but think as I watch, you know, long-entrenched governments around the world quaking with tidal waves of disease and protests and revolution.
    Then the Lord of the future, Jesus, went on to say that "men will...be apprehensive about what is coming in the world" (Luke 21:26). There'll be upheaval in nations, there'll be unrest in our souls." And then the drum roll! Here we go! "At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luke 21:27).
    So, as a tsunami was racing across the Pacific, I saw this cable news banner: "People are urged to take urgent action to protect lives." Our potentially "apocalyptic" world seems to be calling us to one of two spiritual responses, or "urgent action." If you belong to Jesus, act urgently to tell people you love about Him - no more excuses, no more stalling. And if you don't have a personal relationship with Jesus, act urgently to give yourself to Him. That's how you'll be safe forever, no matter what shakes, no matter what swamps all of us.
    He is, after all, the Rescuer who died for your sins. He's the Conqueror who beat death on Easter Morning; He's alive. He can come into your life. And He's the King who will write the final chapter not only of human history, but of your history.
    If you don't belong to Him, never been a time you've given yourself to Him, let this be the day. These are times to make sure you're anchored to the Lord of the future. Just say, "Jesus, I'm done running my life. I believe You died for my sin. I believe You're alive today and I'm Yours starting today."
    You want more information about this? You want to be sure you belong to Him? That's happened for a lot of people when they went to our website. I want to invite you to do that today. It's ANewStory.com.
    Here's the promise from the Bible: "Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging...the Lord Almighty is with us" (Psalm 46:2-3, 7). It's the same in those earthquake drills, "Hold onto something heavy." Well, that's Jesus.

  • volume_up
    September 13, 2021 A Recipe for Heroes - #9046

    It was probably one of the greatest adventures in American history - the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The size of the United States doubled overnight and President Thomas Jefferson picked his aide, Meriwether Lewis, to lead a group of about forty men to explore a route from St. Louis to the Pacific. The journey took more than two years, covered thousands of miles, meeting with some fifty Indian tribes, and charting a vast area, largely unexplored by anyone other than Native Americans.
    One of Meriwether Lewis' first steps in his preparation was to seek out his former commanding officer, William Clark, to share the command of this historic journey into the unknown. In his letter to Clark, he asked him to "participate with me in the expedition's fatigues, its dangers, and its honors." It took a long time for the letters to make it back and forth, but William Clark's reply was worth the wait. He said: "I will cheerfully join you and partake of the dangers, difficulties, and fatigues, and I anticipate the honor and rewards." That's a pretty good answer. It made him a hero.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Recipe for Heroes."
    When I read Captain Lewis' invitation to Captain Clark, I can't help but think how much it reminds me of the much greater invitation that Jesus Christ gives to you and me. It's not an invitation to a party or a vacation; it's an invitation to join Him in a bold adventure, filled with "dangers, difficulties, and fatigues." Oh yes, and "honor and the rewards."
    Our Western idea of faith that is a cushioned pews and convenient sacrifice flies right in the face of what Jesus called us to. It's in Luke 9:23-24, our word for today from the Word of God. "Then He said to them all, 'If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me." To which you can almost hear someone saying, "In that case, I'd rather run my own life. It sounds like there's too much to lose following Jesus." Well, you need to listen to Jesus' startling equation, "For whoever wants to save his life (or hang onto it) will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it." So, hang onto your life, you lose it. Give it away and you find it.
    Maybe you've tried this discount Christianity. It's really popular. Of course, it's only a pale shadow of the disciple Christianity Jesus calls us to. You go to the meetings, you believe the beliefs, you give in the offerings, you sometimes read your Bible, and you pray. But it's a surface commitment, a limited commitment, a commitment that still leaves you in control. My guess is that discount Christianity has left you unfulfilled and unsatisfied. It can't satisfy you. You were made to be abandoned to Jesus, taking up a cross, making choices that might cost you, building His kingdom instead of yours, and accepting assignments from Him that go way beyond your comfort zone.
    And as for "the honor and the rewards"? Jesus said that no one who sacrificed for His great adventure "will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age...and in the age to come, eternal life" (Mark 10:29-30). You just can't outgive Jesus. True Christianity is expensive, but it's ultimately fulfilling and ultimately oh so rewarding.
    Jesus is asking you to take your commitment to Him to a whole new level. And you can be sure the cost of not following Him is far greater than the cost of following Him. He's waiting for your answer to His invitation. By God's grace, your answer will be, "Jesus, I will cheerfully join You and I will partake of the dangers, difficulties, and fatigues, and I anticipate the honor and the rewards."

  • volume_up
    September 10, 2021 The Love That Can't Stand to Lose You - #9045

    Rick Rescorla was a decorated Vietnam War hero. But his greatest acts of heroism happened years later, on the job at the World Trade Center. As head of security for Morgan Stanley, one of the largest employers in the Twin Towers, he began to take special measures after the Trade Center bombing that happened back in 1993. Suggesting that there might be another attack, possibly coming from the air, he became known as the man who predicted September 11. He began regular drills for Stanley's 2,700 employees in emergency evacuation procedures. Morgan Stanley had offices from the 44th to the 74th floors of Tower Two. When Tower One was hit on that awful September 11, there seemed to be no reason to get out of Tower Two, except for Rick Rescorla's training.
    Sixteen minutes after Tower One was hit, a plane crashed into Tower Two. The explosion knocked Rick to the floor. Even there, he grabbed a bullhorn. He yelled for people to stay calm and to head for the stairwells. Then he began to go from floor to floor, looking for people he could save. With both towers now burning out of control, Rick stayed in the building, talking the last of his colleagues down the stairwells. One of the last ones out was a Morgan Stanley executive who said, "Rick, you have to get out of here, too, man." His answer: "I will, John, as soon as we get everyone out." Rick Rescorla died that day at Ground Zero, but only after he had saved the lives of nearly 2,700 people.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Love That Can't Stand to Lose You."
    It was Jesus Christ who said, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). The sacrifice of one man to save many on September 11, has given those people the opportunity to live possibly many more years on earth - 30, 40, 50 more years. The sacrifice of one man on a cross on Skull Hill has given every man and woman on this planet the opportunity to live forever; including you and me. And that man was no less than God's one and only Son. In the words of Scripture, "they crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Corinthians 2:8).
    Jesus summed up the unspeakable sacrifice He was about to make in these words from John 10:11, our word for today from the Word of God: "I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." Jesus didn't come just to teach us a wonderful way to live or provide us a great example or start a religion. He came to give His life. And you are one of the reasons God's only Son allowed Himself to be nailed to a criminal's cross. I'm one of those reasons. He loves you so much He doesn't want to lose you.
    And why this sacrifice? There was no other way to rescue you and me from the death penalty for the sins of our life. A death penalty can only be paid one way - somebody's got to die. I know who deserves to die for my sins. I do. But in the greatest act of love in human history, Jesus did the dying for every God-defying thing I've ever done and that you've done.
    And now He keeps going back to rescue one more from the awful judgment that's coming. Today, even now, He's come to offer you an opportunity to be saved. But it's a rescue you've got to choose by grabbing the Rescuer like He's your only hope. He is. And while you may appreciate Jesus and agree with Jesus, that's not enough to have your sins forgiven. You've got to pin all your hopes on Jesus, like one of those people that was stranded on their roof after Hurricane Katrina a few years ago; wrapping themselves around that rescuer who came from above.
    The price Jesus paid for your rescue couldn't have been higher. That's what makes what you do with Jesus so serious in terms of whether eternity means heaven or hell. Your decision about Jesus is your decision about where you're going to be forever.
    My prayer is you won't wait another day before you tell Him, "I'm Yours." We've set up our website to help you experience God's love for yourself. Would you visit us there today? It's ANewStory.com.
    After the price God paid to rescue you, is it any wonder there's one thing upon which He will base your eternity, "What did you do with My Son?"

  • volume_up
    September 9, 2021 Uncontrolled Fire - #9044

    It seems as if every summer there are raging fires in the American West that destroy hundreds of thousands of acres of timberland, and sometimes homes, businesses, and sadly, even lives. When a major fire broke out near an Indian reservation that our Native team had ministered on only a few months ago, I paid pretty special attention. Sadly, that fire spread to parts of the reservation, consuming the very timber that's a major part of their already impoverished economy; along with homes and property outside the reservation. I knew it was going to take a long time to recover. You know what the cause of that very costly fire was that made the whole thing even sadder? It was started by a government firefighter who was hoping there would be a small fire that would give him some work.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Uncontrolled Fire."
    A man let a fire start to help meet a personal need he had. It raged out of control; it did more damage than he could have imagined in his worst nightmares. You know, that's a mistake that many a man has made-and even some women-with a deadly fire the Bible calls lust.
    In a passage that warns against the costly mistakes we can make when we follow our sexual passions, God vividly describes what lust is really like. It's in Proverbs 6:25-28. It's our word for today from the Word of God. Here's what He says about misguided passion, "Do not desire her beauty in your heart...Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Or can a man walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched.?" Lust is fire...it's hot coals. In the previous chapter, God described the way sexual passion was created to be. He says, "Rejoice with the wife of your youth...be ravished with her love" (Proverbs 5:18, 19). In other words, "Save it for your wife, buddy!"
    It could be, though, that you are playing with the fire of sexual lust; maybe thinking, like that firefighter, that you can keep it under control. For a little while, maybe. But lust is a fire that's suddenly going to take you over and it's going to engulf you, and things and people that you care about as well. Maybe you're just trying to meet a personal need, but you have no idea what a blazing inferno this could become and the damage it will do.
    You may be playing with fire on the Internet, in magazines you look at or movies you watch, or just in the way you look at the opposite sex, or the way you push all the boundaries in what you're doing physically with someone. If you'll be honest with yourself, you'll see increasing evidence that you're not controlling your passions. They're beginning to control you. The fire is spreading.
    The first thing they do to stop a fire is burn the ground ahead of it so it will run out of fuel. You've been feeding the fire of lust. Well, while there's time, you've got to start to starve that fire. No more fuel. Get rid of it all! And get some help to put out the fire. Confide in a spiritually mature person you trust; tell them you want to beat this and meet them regularly as an accountability partner. And every new day, give this battle to your all-holy, all-powerful Lord to help you win it one day at a time. You have His promise in Romans 6:14, "Sin" - that sin...name it whatever it is - "shall no longer be your master!"
    Before the fire spreads, before it does any more damage, please turn and fight it with everything you've got. The landscape is scorched and scarred with the desolation of those who didn't.

  • volume_up
    September 8, 2021 Strange Credentials - #9043

    We were scheduled to fly to a national staff conference for a youth ministry I was with, when one of the women on our staff came to me and said, "Ron, I'm afraid to fly." Well, the conference was so far away we didn't have much choice. She said, "I want to talk to somebody on the staff about flying, and I decided I would talk to you." And I said, "Well, how did I become the lucky winner here?" She said, "Well, you go up and come down so many times in those things, I figured you'd understand." She was seeking out someone who'd done it a lot. Well, I mean, we had 23 people on the staff she could have talked to, but she said, "I'm going to go to the person who's done this a lot. I want to hear from someone who's been there."
    You know what? I've found that's especially true of people who are, let's say, trying to lose weight. You try to talk to people who've been there, done that. Have you noticed the weight loss products or programs that are sold on television about every ten minutes? They don't always have a doctor come on and some very thin person. Now, maybe a thin person who had benefited from their product. They usually have someone who has lost weight using their product, who traded in their larger size clothes for a smaller size, and they're the ones who come and pitch it. Advertisers know that the best salesmen for a product is someone who's been there.
    Listen, I've been overweight - take it from me, it's not fun. But a lot of people want to know how you lost it if you used to be there. And even though it wasn't fun, it gives you credentials with people who are struggling with it now. We're like that with a lot of things. It's interesting: yesterday's misery can become today's credentials.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Strange Credentials."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from John 9, beginning at verse 24. Jesus healed a man who had been blind from his birth. The Jewish leaders didn't understand what Jesus had done and when He had done it, so they're really interrogating this guy. It says, "The second time they summoned the man who had been blind. 'Give glory to God,' they said. 'We know this Man,'" speaking of Jesus, "is a sinner.' He replied, 'Whether He's a sinner or not I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!'"
    Blindness had been his lifelong burden; it had been his personal tragedy. And then Jesus came, and suddenly all those years of being blind became this man's credentials for speaking to other people. God loves to do things like that, taking the garbage of the past, no matter how ugly and how awful it's been and then He recycles it into ministry to other people; people who are where you were. Paul's crimes of the past became his credentials to speak about how Christ could change a life, even a life like his. He said in 2 Corinthians 1, "We comfort others with the comfort we have received." The tragedies of our life become credentials to minister to other people in their tragedies.
    Sin's an ugly thing. Sin is destructive. It's so destructive it took Christ's death to pay for it. But God's so majestic that He can take the things you did against Him, forgive you, restore you, change you, and then use those very sins to sensitize you to others who are still trapped. Today's frustration, today's agony, today's illness, today's hurt takes on meaning when you bring it to the Lord and say, "Lord, sanctify this experience. Teach me new sensitivities. Teach me new things about You. I want this tragedy to count, to help other people." It's the same with sins that have been sinned against you; the abuse, the mistreatment, the criticism. You know how it feels, and it's not a waste. It becomes equipment for ministry to other wounded people.
    God somehow uses the apparent junk of our lives to build radar in you for ministry to others like you. You talk about amazing grace? How God can recycle that garbage into something He can use to change lives - that's amazing! In God's hands, the misery of today can become tomorrow's strange credentials.

  • volume_up
    September 7, 2021 A Man's Lasting Legacy - #9042

    My dad was a great man, and I still miss him, even though he's been gone for a lot of years. I'll often think about his laugh, his favorite sayings, his great personality, his fun sense of humor, and his unconditional love and support for me. Because he's buried in a place where I don't often get to go, it's been quite a while since I've been able to visit his grave. But I did not too long ago. And I was impressed with the simplicity of what, besides the dates of his birth and death, is engraved on his gravestone. It just says, "John Hutchcraft, husband and father."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Man's Lasting Legacy."
    I guess standing at my father's grave after all these years was sort of a values clarification reminder for me, and maybe for you. My dad held many titles in his life; he was chairman of our church board, chairman of the board of a youth ministry, foreman and plant manager. But other people held those titles before him and after him. He's the only husband my Mom ever had. He's the only father I ever had. His tombstone honors him accurately; it's what he did as a husband and a father that's the most lasting legacy of his life. That's something for any man to consider.
    God seems to put a pretty high priority on those life-roles. You can see it even in His list of requirements for those who aspire to positions of spiritual leadership. In 1 Timothy 3, beginning with verse 2, our word for today from the Word of God, He says, "An overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife...He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity, (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)." God seems to be saying here, "If he isn't being the right kind of husband and father, please don't spread the infection to the church!" But this isn't just about leadership credentials. It's obviously a statement about what God values in a man.
    Tragically, too many of us men have fallen for lies about what will give our lives significance. We go after comparatively trivial pursuits: a promotion at work, the next rung on the ladder, an award, a higher income, the acclaim of our organization, our church, or some important person, or just that bigger title. But there's no bigger title than husband or dad.
    I have friends that I respect because they've been offered some great promotions in their company, but they've turned them down because they realized it would hurt their family and it would make them less of a husband and less of a father. To be a hero at work or a hero at church and a zero at home is a price too high to pay. Sadly, even many women in our day have now fallen for the lies about significance that have literally been killing their men. They have been chasing the same pursuits and finding the same lack of fulfillment we did there. God says there's nothing more significant, there's nothing more lasting, there's nothing more profitable you can do than the mark you make at home.
    Those lives that you mark at home; whether it's by your involvement positively or neglect negatively, that's the lasting legacy of your life. There is no greater legacy you can leave them than to introduce them to the Father, the God who gave up His one and only Son so we could be His sons and daughters. Give your best to the legacy that will truly define the impact of your life.

  • volume_up
    September 3, 2021 Fresh Each Day - #9040

    OK, I'll confess. I can drive by the candy store. I can drive by the ice cream shop. I can pass up the pizza place, but it's very hard for me not to stop at the bakery. Yeah, bakeries are my weakness, and it's a good thing I don't work in one - I'd weigh 500 pounds I think. Now most bakeries have this discount stuff, you know, in a corner; it's like the day old baked goods. Oh it's cheaper, but there's a reason. There's a big difference between day-old and fresh baked. That line at the bakery early in the morning; no, that's not for yesterday's goodies, let me tell you. Those folks are there to get the doughnuts or the bread that just came out of the oven. And I might just be at the head of the line.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Fresh Each Day."

    Getting it fresh-that's not only a good idea at the bakery, but also when it comes to picking up your provisions from heaven, too. God's got new resources for you each new day; mercies that are according to the Bible, "new every morning" (Lamentations 3:23). The reason so many of us are spiritually up and down, lacking the power we need, the strength we need, constantly being overwhelmed by the day's events? The reason is that we aren't stopping at God's "bakery" each morning to pick up that day's "bread."
    God gives us an enlightening picture of how to stay spiritually strong in our word for today from the Word of God. It's in Exodus 16, beginning in verse 4, and it records God's delivery system for feeding His people as they wandered in the desert. Here's our word for today from the Word of God: "'I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day' ... So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites ... 'In the morning you will see the glory of the Lord.'"
    Through Moses, the Lord went on to command His people not to store any of His manna overnight. "However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning" - it's a very bad idea! - "but it was full of maggots and began to smell" (let me tell you, that's day-old at its worst!). But God's plan worked. The Bible says, "Each morning everyone gathered as much as he needed."
    That's been God's plan ever since; that each of His children would gather each morning all the spiritual resources he or she needs for that day. Speaking of Himself, Jesus said, "The bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world" (John 6:33). Each day, we're to get a fresh helping of Jesus: His thinking, His perspective, His strength, His outlook. And that means consistent time with Him, through His love letter, the Bible, each new day.
    You can't store up the resources to live the Christ-life anymore than the ancient Jews could store up manna. You can't let your personal Jesus-time be something you do occasionally or when you feel like it or when you can fit Him into your busy schedule. Make your daily time with Jesus Christ non-negotiable. Everything else is going to have to revolve around your time with Him instead of what usually happens, your time with Him, you know, having to revolve around everything else.
    If you'll anchor your day to a personal time with Jesus Christ, you'll start to experience a realness, a closeness, a consistency, a victory in your relationship with Him that you've always wanted but maybe never had. You need to hear from heaven each day if you're going to live for heaven while you're on earth. And day-old or week-old stuff just won't cut it for this new day. You need what Jesus has prepared for you fresh each day!

  • volume_up
    September 2, 2021 Lottery Fever and Other Contagious Diseases - #9039

    So I went into the gas station to prepay for a fill up and suddenly found myself in Crazyville. There was a long line in this little store, all talking about what they'd do if they won. Yeah, I had inadvertently walked into Lottery Fever.
    Well, all over the news, folks had been talking that day about their dreams for how they were going to spend this record-breaking $600 million-plus jackpot, even though the odds of winning were 1 in 176 million! I didn't buy a ticket. No, when I saw how much it cost, though, to fill up my vehicle, I thought maybe I'd have to win the lottery to buy the gas.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Lottery Fever and Other Contagious Diseases."
    So, some lucky people won the jackpot, and I wish them well. But sadly, so many people who "struck it rich" struck out afterwards. There's story after story online of how winners' dreams turned to nightmares: divorce, bankruptcy, deep depression, conflict, and relentless "gold diggers" who want a piece of it.
    You have more money to lose, to argue over, to keep you from fixing what's wrong inside. Money can improve your environment, but it can't do a thing about your in-vironment.
    The Bible warns in 1 Timothy 6, our word for today from the Word of God, "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."
    Okay, now, it's human nature to attach our dreams to getting "more." And the cash lottery? It's not the only one we bet on. Some of us bet on the love lottery, thinking that finding the right someone to love will make our dreams come true. But, as so many have discovered, winning at love doesn't guarantee happiness. And too often, that dream turns out to be a nightmare.
    Life's got a lot of lotteries you can spend on, hoping your dreams will come true: the success lottery, or the perfection lottery - perfect home, perfect kids, perfect image, the "affair" lottery. Buy lots of tickets; dream your "better life" dream. If you lose, you think that's why you're unhappy. If you win, you're more baffled than ever about why you're not happy.
    We had a puppy once and she loved to chase bubbles. I'd wave that little wand of bubble solution, the bubbles would start descending toward the kitchen floor, and our dog would dance and jump and tried biting as many bubbles as she could. But as soon as she got what she was after, [pop] it turned out to be nothing.
    King Solomon had chased and caught a lot of bubbles in his day; lots of women, fame, historic projects, a buffet of pleasures, incalculable wealth. His return on investment? He said, "I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind" (Ecclesiastes 1:14). Ultimately, this man who had won all the lotteries says: "Here is the conclusion of the matter; fear God and keep His commandments...remember your Creator in the days of your youth" (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 1).
    Turns out we were "created by Him and for Him" the Bible says (Colossians 1:16). And we're going to keep coming up empty until we experience the God-relationship we were made for. See, the One who made us is the only one big enough to fill that God-shaped hole in our heart. But since we've pretty much ignored Him and lived for ourselves, that relationship comes at a high price; paying the penalty for a lifetime of sinning.
    And no matter how deep we dig, we'll never come up with enough to win forgiveness, or peace, or heaven. But the price has been paid on Good Friday, by Jesus on a cross. That's where the Bible says, "Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that by His poverty He could make you rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).
    My spiritual bankruptcy traded for His eternal treasure, because He gave it all. That was an offer I couldn't resist. And for so many, including me, our lifetime search ended when we met Jesus. It will for you, too.
    You want to begin a relationship with Him? Our website will show you how. It's ANewStory.com. He's been waiting for you for a long time to give you the peace, the purpose and the love that you've spent a whole life looking for.

  • volume_up
    September 1, 2021 The Sweetener - #9038

    A friend of mine and his son love to take off backpacking along the beautiful river they've got near their house. And they've learned some interesting "tricks of the trade," I guess, to make sure they have clean water to drink without the weight of having to carry water with them all the time. They take iodine pills with them on their hikes. Apparently, they can collect some water from the river, dissolve iodine in it, and the water comes out clean. But then who would want to drink it? Iodine-flavored water? I don't know. It's not exactly the taste sensation that's sweeping the nation, right? But that's where the Kool-Aid comes in! Yeah, they put in some Kool-Aid and It actually makes that bitter water sweet. Or so they tell me!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Sweetener."
    When God's people were navigating the wilderness in the Old Testament, well, of course, Kool-Aid hadn't been invented yet. But they did have a bitter water situation and a miracle that changed everything. The story is in Exodus 15, beginning with verse 22. And as you might guess, it's our word for today from the Word of God.
    Here's what it says: "For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter...So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, 'What are we to drink?' Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood He threw into the water, and the water became sweet." That's pretty amazing! God miraculously changes what was bitter into something sweet. You know, He's still doing that miracle today - with bitter people, with bitter feelings, with bitter situations.
    And that might be exactly what you need to be praying for right now. Actually, "crying out to the Lord for," as it says Moses did. That's not just a casual, trite little prayer. That's a desperate cry to God for something so hard only He can do it. Right now, maybe you're thinking of someone in your personal world who's bitter. There's resentment, and there's sarcasm, and cynicism, there's anger, maybe unforgiveness. The good news is that God is the world's leading Heart Surgeon; He can change a heart in ways that no human could ever dream. But you need to be faithfully, and fervently, praying for God to do whatever it takes to change the heart of that bitter person. Especially if that bitter person is you.
    The Bible makes it clear that you "miss the grace of God" when you let a "bitter root" grow in you. And your bitterness will, according to God, "cause trouble and defile many" (Hebrews 12:15). But maybe your bitter pond isn't a person; it's a situation you're in right now. You know, God has the power to sweeten a bitter situation too, not just a bitter person.
    But God may have a "piece of wood" that He wants you to throw into the bitter waters. Maybe it's that apology you need to give, a letter you need to write, that email you need to send, or some forgiving you need to do, a healing step that you know you need to take. As you pray about the bitter, ask God if there's a step He wants you to take in bringing about a sweetening miracle.
    Don't underestimate the power of Almighty God to sweeten what you thought would always be bitter. If you'll trust and you'll obey; trust God to change things and obey His orders to make it happen. With a God as powerful and as loving as ours, no bitter pond can stay bitter. Not when God does His miracle of making bitter things sweet.

  • volume_up
    August 31, 2021 Hugging the Wrong Thing - #9037

    Little Cindy had been a bad girl. She'd been sent from the dinner table to her room. After a little while, Mom and Dad thought the point had been made. They knew that children, of course, need to be assured of our love when we've disciplined them. So, Daddy went upstairs, opened the door to Cindy's room. Found her in bed, under her covers, snuggling with her arm wrapped tightly around her favorite dolly. Her father sat on the bed and he just gently said, "Cindy, I love you." Then he held out his arms to hug her. For a moment, the little girl just looked straight ahead and she hugged her dolly closer. But that couldn't last. Very soon, Cindy dropped her dolly and grabbed her Daddy in a big hug. Because a dolly is no substitute for a daddy!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Hugging the Wrong Thing."
    When little Cindy felt as if she couldn't have her Daddy's hugs, she resorted to something that couldn't be as good as a Daddy. Sadly, many grownups make that same kind of mistake - married grownups. We feel like we're not getting the love we need from the person that's our husband or wife, so we start hugging something else.
    It's a strange, but all too common phenomenon. When we don't feel our mate is loving us in our language of love, they're not meeting our needs, we subconsciously start pouring ourself into something or someone else to fill that gap. And that's where the most important of all human relationships starts to drift, divide, and deteriorate. Pretty soon, two people who pledged that they would be one until death did them part are living in the same house but living in two different worlds.
    We set ourselves up for that heartache when we start getting away from the Designer's blueprint for marriage, spelled out for the first husband and wife in history. It's in our word for today from the Word of God in Genesis 2, beginning with verse 18. "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.' ... the Lord God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man, and He brought her to the man ... a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." That's the total merging of two lives, and that's the Master Plan. He is for her, she is for him, and together they walk with God and rule what He has given them.
    Tragically, sin entered the garden and entered their relationship and drove a wedge between them. Sin is still doing that, and we help it happen with our own neglect. If a woman feels she's not the center of her husband's priorities and his affections, she turns to her children or other relationships or other arenas to meet her need. If a man is not feeling secure in his wife's love, he'll look for affirmation and identity somewhere else, by "marrying" his work, marrying his hobby, or even with the attention of another woman.
    If you sense that happening, now is the time to take your heart back to that altar where you pledged to make him or her your number one. Let your needs be known, gently not accusingly. And if necessary, seek out counseling together to get back to your first love. Or better yet, an even greater love.
    Face the responsibility you have for the distance that's been developing. Put aside whatever "dolly" you've been hugging for security and wrap both arms around the person you pledged your life to. Yes, you have to work at this oneness that God created marriage to bring. But it is so worth the work; so worth the sacrifices. If you're married, God intended you to find in one another the harbor for which our hearts truly long.

  • volume_up
    August 30, 2021 Removing the Toxic Waste - #9036

    There's usually a political battle when the government wants to establish a toxic waste dump somewhere. Not too many people have been excited about having radioactive or otherwise toxic kind of material buried near them. The American government established what they called a "Super Fund" to pay for the cleanup of some of those areas, because they can be hazardous to people's health. I'll tell you what. I'd sure want it cleaned up if there was a toxic waste dump near where I live.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Removing the Toxic Waste."
    People can accumulate toxic stuff, too, like toxic attitudes, reactions that give off kind of a spiritual radiation that pollutes the environment and it's hazardous to the spiritual health of other people.
    In our word for today from the Word of God, He orders a cleanup of the toxic waste dump that we sometimes carry around right inside of us. In Colossians 3:8, God says this: "Rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips." So God's calling for zero tolerance of these hurtful ways of talking...these hurtful ways of treating people.
    Later, He describes what we're like when we've started to clean up the toxic waste that we've been communicating. He says, "Clothe yourselves with compassion" - I'm liking this list better already - "kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:12-13). In short, let it go instead of letting it grow.
    When we're being one of those "anger, malice, rage and slander" people, it's usually because we've become very good at being a "wrongologist." That's someone who's an expert on what's wrong with our friends, what's wrong with our church, what's wrong with our coworkers, our spouse, our family. When you regularly focus on the things that are wrong - and there are some in every person and every situation - you make yourself miserable a lot of the time, and it doesn't stop there. You radiate those toxins to the people around you and you bring them down, too!
    "Wrongologists" tend to rewrite that old spiritual that says, "It's not my brother, not my sister, but it's me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer." See, their song says, "It's my brother, it's my sister, it's not me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer." That's the opposite of the kind of things a new person in Christ is to be known for. Remember, "compassion (that means you give the other people the benefit of the doubt), kindness, humility (that means you're committed to serving other people, not judging them), and then gentleness (instead of harshness), and patience."
    You know, Jesus didn't die to make you more religious. He died to make you like Him; to take on His characteristics. To treat people as He treated them, to lift people up, not tear them down. To bring joy and love and healing into the lives you touch, not negativity, not criticism.
    Maybe you've allowed too much toxic waste to get buried in your heart. Would you talk to Jesus about that right now? Let Him help you remove all that toxic garbage that contaminates you and frankly everyone around you. Then, instead of polluting your environment, you can be a breath of fresh air!

  • volume_up
    August 27, 2021 Smoke in the Cockpit, Souls in the Cabin - #9035

    Sometimes if you're a commercial flyer, maybe it's best if you don't watch the news. Because there could be, you know, some plane incidents that are kind of disconcerting. I remember one where there was a hole in the roof, and then they found cracks in other planes like it after that. Then there was the plane with the bullet hole in it.
    And then there was the flight where the cockpit began to fill with smoke, followed by a shutdown of the plane's electrical systems; systems that power the critical systems of the plane. That's an Uh-oh! On the news they played the cockpit recording of a pilot radioing the emergency to the tower, and he sounded amazingly calm and unafraid. And you know what? He brought everyone in safely. I couldn't help but notice his description of the people he was carrying. He told the flight controller, "we have 106 souls on board." Not passengers - souls.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Smoke in the Cockpit, Souls in the Cabin."
    I first heard that perspective when our family was flying across Alaska with a missionary pilot. As we sat on the runway, waiting to be cleared for takeoff, he said, "Six souls aboard." We weren't passengers, we were souls.
    You know, after all is said and done, a "soul" is what we are. It's wrapped in this "earth suit" that we need for our relatively brief journey on this planet. Remember the astronauts saying that they had a "moon suit"? They didn't need it all the time; they needed it for a short time to survive in an environment that required it, but it was temporary. The real person? The real person's inside our "earth suit." Even after you take off that suit, the real you is still there.
    We spend so much time buffing, and beautifying, and gratifying our earth suit. And, too often, we neglect the real person inside - our soul. The Bible's Creation account actually says, "The Lord God formed the man...and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul" (Genesis 1:7). And Jesus revealed how much one soul is worth when He asked that haunting question in our word for today from the word of God, from Mark 8:36, "What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?" You can cruise for a little while and be lost for all eternity, because you neglect the one part of you that will be around forever and that is your soul.
    I'm looking through God's glasses when I look at the people around me and I see souls. Not just neighbors, or coworkers, or teammates, or family members, or customers, or friends. I want to look past the superficial "packaging" and see who they really are. They are ever-living, never-dying souls; people who are future inhabitants of eternity in a place God calls heaven or a place God calls hell.
    And we have nothing more important to do with these few earth-years than to prepare for eternity; to make sure our soul is right with God. In fact, it's not. The Bible delivers the bad news that "the soul who sins is the one who will die" (Ezekiel 18:5). That's "die" as in being separated from God forever. And the problem is again as the Bible says, "all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory" (Romans 3:23). Even us religious folks, our soul is headed for an unthinkable future.
    But God gave us good news that's "gooder" than the bad news. Speaking of Jesus, He says, "Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name" (Acts 10:43). Jesus did the dying for my sinning. So at the moment I, or you, put all our trust in Him, our soul is, in God's words, "saved." The alternative? That's what Jesus said, "losing my soul."
    Tell Him today, "Jesus, I'm Yours." And I hope you'll go to our website. You'll find so much helpful information there about getting started in a relationship with Him. The website is ANewStory.com.
    See, when you've turned the controls of your life over to Jesus, you're flying with the Pilot who will always bring you in safely. When Jesus counts the souls on board, oh I hope you'll be with Him.

  • volume_up
    August 26, 2021 The Mirror That Loves You - #9034

    We were eating with friends at a restaurant, and my wife unobtrusively gave me "the sign." She brushed her upper lip with her fingers. I know what that means - it's not romantic. No, some crumb of my dinner has managed to escape going in my mouth, and it's on my mouth instead. If we're alone when that happens, I usually tell her, "Oh, I'm saving it for later." I don't know why she didn't just let me embarrass myself. That's called love, isn't it? I mean, I have no way of knowing I'm carrying something that's going to embarrass me or make me look bad because I can't see myself. But she could, and she loved me enough to tell me.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Mirror That Loves You."
    There are things we can't see about ourselves - things that aren't particularly flattering. That's why we have mirrors. And some of the most revealing mirrors in your life aren't glass reflectors hanging on a wall. Nope! They're people who love you enough to show you things about yourself that you might not otherwise see.
    In fact, mirroring, I think, is an important part of loving a person; holding up a mirror and helping them see things about themselves - beautiful things and things that are not-so-beautiful. Proverbs 27:17, our word for today from the Word of God, talks about this loving responsibility we have for one another. God says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Iron striking iron, of course, can create some friction,right? But it also helps create a sharper edge, a greater usefulness.
    God has placed you in people's lives to be a mirror for them, and He's placed people in your life to be a mirror for you. That's what husbands and wives are supposed to do for each other, what parents should be doing for their child, and even children for their parents, with proper respect, of course. Friends, fellow believers, associates, supervisors, employees - they can all be voices from God, letting you know things about yourself that you might otherwise miss.
    The question is, "How are you responding to the mirrors in your life?" You just getting mad at the mirror or are you walking away refusing to change? Proverbs says, "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses" (Proverbs 27:6). In other words, the people who really care about you will love you enough to tell you the truth about you. And then God tells us, "He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise" (Proverbs 15:31).
    Yes, mirroring lets the person we love know how they're coming across. It lets them know the damage they may be doing; it lets them know what they might be doing that's displeasing to God. And it also shows that person the good things about them that they may not realize. See, as a mirror for somebody you love, you need to praise their strengths and their insight, their good ideas, their progress and their growth in an area of weakness...even if it's only a little growth. Our constructive criticism needs to come in the context of a lot of affirmation, not lots of condemnation - or they won't know that we're saying it because of how much we love them. It's not going to feel like we love them.
    Loving someone means mirroring them - showing them the things they can't see. And it means receiving what they show us as love that cares enough to tell us the truth. Pay attention to what your mirror shows you - you can save yourself a lot of embarrassment and a lot of regret!

  • volume_up
    August 25, 2021 The Golden Street's Matchmakers - #9033

    I meet a lot of single people in their twenties and thirties, and of course, a lot of them would like to be married. Either they haven't found the right person yet, or they found someone with like commitment phobia who hears wedding bells and runs the other way. Our mate selection process, as you may know very personally, is a little uncertain and sometimes messed up, actually.
    Maybe we should consider the Yenta idea. Yenta is the Hebrew matchmaker. She brings people together. It works! I mean, it was popularized in Fiddler on the Roof in that song, "Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match" which I will not sing for you. That old Hebrew culture left nothing to chance when it came to getting people together. Yenta got in the middle and made sure it happened. Well, have I got a Yenta job for you!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Golden Street's Matchmakers."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 2 Corinthians 5. I'm reading verses 19 and 20. We're told, "God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ...not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." Well, what's reconciliation? It's bringing two people together, right? "We are therefore," it says, "Christ's ambassadors as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God." I describe this as the golden street's matchmakers; making sure that you get the message out so that someone you know can go to heaven with you.
    I had the privilege at a major national youth convention to ask young people to stand to their feet; young people who were willing to claim one friend for Christ. Not the whole world, just to say, "This one friend, I will do whatever it takes to reach that person and to stand and pray aloud by name for that person right now." And across that auditorium in our nation's capitol, thousands of kids stood with the name that God had laid on their heart.
    If I asked you to do that - to say, "I will live my life to take this one person to heaven with me" who would yours be? There's no way that person can get to heaven unless he or she gets to Jesus, and there's probably no way he or she can get to Jesus unless they have a matchmaker.
    And God says that's you and me; someone who holds Jesus in one hand and that person you care about in the other and brings them together. This is not some laid back, "Well, I hope it works" process. No, notice the words in this passage as though God were asking you to. I'm going to ask you on God's behalf, He couldn't be here, so I'm going to ask you intensely, "I implore you, I beg you be reconciled to God." There's nothing passive about this.
    Not long ago we were jolted in our community by three sudden deaths; a couple of them teenagers. Someone called it a wakeup call, and it was. That kind of thing reminds you that time is short; heaven and hell are very eternal. And nothing, nothing is more important than letting the people you know hear about your Jesus. It's more than just living your life in front of them. It's more than even loving them. You've got to tell them, pray daily for them, make a commitment to live your life to redeem theirs. So, who do you want to have in heaven with you that you need to tell about how to get there?
    Will you step up to being God's matchmaker - His ambassador? A matchmaker makes sure that people get together, and God is asking you to do whatever it takes, whatever it costs, to bring two people together forever - a person you care about and the Christ who died for them.

  • volume_up
    August 24, 2021 The Truth Alarm - #9032

    You see them in motel rooms, most public buildings, and you should see them on the ceilings in your house - smoke detectors. Those little plastic monitoring devices that sound an obnoxious alarm when there's smoke in the room. Just ask me; I proved it the day I left my English muffin in the toaster oven too long. The smoke detector did its job; a job that can actually save lives. You want an alarm to go off when there's smoke in your house, especially if it's warning you about something that could do major damage.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Truth Alarm."
    Years ago, I asked God to install a spiritual smoke detector in my heart - one that would actually go off inside me whenever I was saying something that was less than the truth. I think we all need an inner alarm like that, because lies do so much damage if you don't put them out right away.
    We tend to think of lying maybe as a "lesser" sin. God doesn't. No, listen to what He says in Proverbs 6, beginning with verse 16. It's our word for today from the Word of God. "There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him." What follows is God's hate list. Only one sin is mentioned twice in His hate list: "a lying tongue" and "a false witness that pours out lies." See, that lie you tell? That's serious business. You're messing with something God detests.
    When you lie, you violate the Ninth Commandment of God's sacred law. When you lie, you become an ally of the devil because Jesus told us the devil is "the father of lies" (John 8:44). When you lie, you start a series of events that usually means more lies to cover up the lie and it ultimately means damage to relationships, reputations, respect, and most certainly, your relationship with the God who hates lying.
    We even tend to lie to ourselves about the fact that we are lying! We're just "exaggerating" or it's only a "white lie," whatever that is. But in God's book, you're lying whenever you're intending to deceive someone or mislead them. That's why we need to ask God for that inner alarm that reminds us that we're saying something, or we're about to say something, that is less than what God knows to be true.
    Lying is so common that we can do it with little guilt or remorse. We lie to get ahead, we lie to get our way, we lie to get even, we lie to get out of a jam. The reason doesn't matter. God hates it. And He clearly commands: "Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor" (Ephesians 4:25).
    Deceiving, lying, distorting the truth - it starts a spiritual fire that can do so much damage and actually end up consuming you. But inside you lives the Holy Spirit of Almighty God who Jesus called "the Spirit of truth" (John 15:26), and He is your inner alarm system to let you know when you've crossed from what's real into what's false. Ask Him to ring it loud when you're about to let something less than the truth cross your lips. We've become desensitized to lying. We need God Himself to awaken our calloused conscience and defy our rationalizations, and not let us get away with anything less than the truth.
    Telling the truth may hurt. But it can never do as much damage as not telling the truth, because our God hates lying.

  • volume_up
    August 23, 2021 A Precarious Planet - #9031

    There have been a lot of changes in the space program over the years, but I'll tell you, I like thinking back to those original pioneering flights to the moon. Those are pretty heroic deals - the Apollo missions. It was mind-blowing to think that we had reached the point where men like us could actually walk on that moon that had just been that distant light in the night for millennia. It really was a big deal!
    But Buzz Aldrin, one of the astronauts to first walk on the moon, put things in perspective when their spacecraft was about halfway to the moon. He said he looked out the window at our earth and then he put his thumb up in his line of vision. He said, "Suddenly, no earth." WOW! This planet that's like our everything could be covered by a man's thumb. But not only is it a small planet in the cosmic scheme of things, but well, as events will often remind us, it's a vulnerable little place, too.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Precarious Planet."
    A while back, when Japan was rocked by a 9.0 earthquake and then inundated by that monster tsunami and they even fought fears of a nuclear meltdown, I think, you know, the whole world felt the tremors. I couldn't help but think about what a precarious planet we live on. Some tectonic plates move a relatively few feet and a chunk of our world convulses for a few seconds. A nation moves, the earth's axis shifts and the landscape changes forever. And in those little brief convulsions that can spawn a monstrous wall of water that erases towns and sweeps away everything in its path. And destructive tsunami waves race 5,000 miles across the Pacific and they're felt in California and Oregon. All because of some sliding rock beneath the ocean.
    You know, on a normal day we just breeze through our life, acting like we'll be here forever. And then comes the wakeup call of some trauma or tragedy that briefly snaps us out of our complacency. Life really is fragile. Eternity really is close. And I could be there in a moment.
    Occasionally I'll see one of those road signs with a five-word warning. It happens to be our word for today from the Word of God. It's in Amos 4:12 - "Prepare to meet your God."
    You know, in the days of the tragedy like a great tsunami, the difference between life and death is the warning and whether or not you get to high ground before the tsunami hits.
    Every day on this planet, a "tsunami" called death sweeps 150,000 people into eternity ready or not. Since it happens with, you know, one heart attack here and one traffic accident there, we don't see it on the news like we do an attack of a killer wave. But it's real, it's relentless, and it's coming my way. God clearly tells us what to expect: "Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). "Judgment!" I mean, that's facing the penalty for a lifetime of marginalizing God and hijacking the running of my life from Him.
    The tsunami warning of God has sounded. The warning is clear. The Bible says, "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). But the high ground is within reach. It says, "but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord' (Romans 6:23). He took on Himself the full fury of the tsunami of God's judgment for my sins when He died on the cross. The Bible says, "He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross" (1 Peter 2:24). He did what no religion on earth could do. He paid the death penalty for our sins so we could be forgiven, and clean, and ready for eternity whenever it comes, however it comes.
    The high ground is on a hill with a cross on it. Millions of people have fled to that cross and found safety. I have. And Jesus stands there today, extending His invitation to you. If you've never come to Him, if you've never given yourself to Him, put your life (your fragile life) in His hands, tell Him today, "Jesus, I'm Yours."
    This is a turning-point time in your life. I want to encourage you to go to our website, because you're going to find some very encouraging information there about securing this relationship with God. The website is ANewStory.com.
    It's a precarious planet. It's a fragile life we have. Yes, we have an appointment with God and there's a way to be ready. This is a good day to run to Him.

  • volume_up
    August 20, 2021 The King Thing - #9030

    I'm not sure who "Simon" was, but I know a lot of kids - including me - have had to play his little game. You know, "Simon says." Just in case you were lucky enough to escape Simon, it goes like this. One person, often a grownup or another student, stands up in front and gives you commands. "Simon says stand up. Simon says sit down. Simon says hop on one foot. Simon says wave at all the girls in the class." The trick is that in the middle of all these commands, the leader slips in one command without a "Simon says." If you obey that command, you're out. You're only supposed to do what Simon says.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The King Thing."
    So that's the game: do something just because someone else says it. We're all grown up now, but some of us are still playing that game. Some of us have a tendency to let someone else do our thinking for us, and we just unthinkingly, uncritically go along with what they say. Especially if it's a Christian leader we really like and respect. Anything he or she says must be right. Not always.
    We tend to have what I call this "king thing." It goes back at least as far as God's ancient people in our word for today from the Word of God. In 1 Samuel 8, beginning in verse 6, the Jews say, "Give us a king to lead us." Up to that point, they had been governed by God's direct leading through His appointed judge, Samuel. Samuel didn't like this king idea, but "the Lord told him: 'Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected Me as their king. Warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.'"
    So, Samuel told them about how a king would take some of their money to build his kingdom, how he would take their children to run his kingdom and fight his battles. But the Bible says, "The people refused to listen to Samuel. 'No!' they said. 'We want a king over us...to lead us and go out before us and fight our battles.'" They got their king, along with the burdens of having one.
    As God's people, we still have this king thing today. We want a human to follow, to fight our battles, to do our thinking. So we tend to elevate a human leader higher than any human should be elevated. Our "king" may be a powerful Christian speaker, a Christian radio personality, a charismatic Christian leader, a compelling Christian writer, or even a great church. Now the Bible clearly teaches that we should honor and respect those who teach us God's truth, who are in positions of spiritual leadership.
    But no one's right about everything. No one's right all the time. Every teacher, every leader has their flaws; they have imbalances in what they teach. That's why, in the Book of Acts, the Bereans were described as being "of more noble character...for they received the message (this is from the Apostle Paul) with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." They even checked out what Paul said. God has given us teachers to teach His truth to us, but that doesn't mean we just put away our Bible and stop thinking for ourselves. That's how cults and theological detours get started.
    See, your primary source of truth must always be the Word of God, which you personally, one-on-one with God, examine every day to see what is true; trusting His Holy Spirit to lead you into truth. Jesus promised He would do that. The "Simon says" approach of doing it or believing it just because someone up in front says it, that's for children. Spiritual maturity recognizes that only one King is worthy of our total reverence and trust, and that's the King of Kings.

  • volume_up
    August 19, 2021 Holding On Tight - #9029

    Sometimes something happens in the news that just leaves images you just can't forget. For me, one of those is that massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan. That was one of those. Those images of that inescapable wall of water consuming everything in its path! I mean, those are moments that are more than impressive. They're moving! Sometimes even the usually dispassionate reporters get caught up in a story like that.
    I heard this one reporter telling, with some real emotion, about a scene she had witnessed in a survivors' shelter. It was a dad holding his three-year-old daughter. When the tsunami hit, he grabbed her in his arms. Those raging waters nearly pulled her out of his arms. He had to hold onto her, literally for dear life, and he saved her. And now, even though they had been safe in the shelter for two days, he was still clinging tightly to his little girl. He refused to let her go.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Holding On Tight."
    That man loves that girl. He fought for her. He saved her, and he will not let her go.
    Now, I'm a father, but I actually see myself in that little child with a Heavenly Father who has saved me from what would otherwise have carried me into an unthinkable eternity. In the words of the Bible, "He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness" (Colossians 1:13). Here's how the Bible describes the unshakeable relationship God wants to have with all those who belong to Him; that He wants to have with you. It says, "The Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs" (Zephaniah 3:17 - NLB).
    See, God offers you a security that transcends even life's most devastating losses. There's the disturbing question to ask about everything and everyone that we depend on, "Is it something or someone I can lose?" If it is, then you can never have any real security, or any lasting peace. You never know when you'll lose what you've been hanging onto. But when you belong to Jesus, you're forever safe because He's hanging onto you! And He will not let you go.
    In John 10:28, our word for today from the Word of God, Jesus says, "I give them eternal life and they shall never perish...No one can snatch them out of My Father's hand." See, God fought for your life. He gave everything to save you. From what? From the spiritual death penalty that we all deserve for taking the life that God gave us and doing our life our way instead of His way in thousands of choices we make over a lifetime. We have, in essence, said we believe in God but then we take over the running of our life, and that's called sin. And the Bible says, "The soul who sins will die" (Ezekiel 18:4). The tsunami of God's judgment was headed for me. Until the very God I have defied stepped in to save me by sending His one and only Son to die on a cross to pay the price for my sin. He did that for you too.
    From the moment you tell Jesus you're giving yourself to Him as your Rescuer from your sin, God becomes your Father and you become His child. And He will never let go of you. He gave His Son to rescue you. He's not about to lose you now. The question is, are you sure there's been a time when you told Jesus, "You're my only hope. I'm Yours." If you're not sure; you want to be, make this the day you turn to Him. Talk to Him. You say, "Jesus, I'm Yours. You died for me. You walked out of Your grave so You could walk into my life, and I'm giving myself to You."
    Then this is a good time for you to go to our website. It's kind of a crossroads website. Many people there have come away knowing they belong to Jesus. I want you to go there today. It's ANewStory.com. That's the website.
    God has promised He'll hold on tight to the one He has saved. And I'll tell you, in the cascading waters of these uncertain times we're living in, it's really good to know that He's holding onto you.

  • volume_up
    August 18, 2021 The Single Difference That Makes a Hero - #9028

    Tyler's story really touched me and showed me what makes someone a hero. In this case - an eight-year-old hero. Since he didn't have school on Martin Luther King Day, Tyler went to stay at his grandpa's trailer for the night. He wasn't the only one. Nine people slept that night in that little trailer.
    Tyler woke up with a fire next to him. The blanket covering his four-year-old cousin was in flames. Tyler worked fast to get his loved ones out of that trailer. He and six of his relatives made it outside, but his grandfather and uncle didn't. And his disabled grandpa needed a wheelchair to get around. With Tyler's sister trying unsuccessfully to grab his hand, the little guy ran back into the house now engulfed in flames. He was not going to let his loved ones die in those flames.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Single Difference That Makes a Hero."
    Tyler's body was found next to his grandfather's and his uncle's in the next room. The boy's mom said through her tears (I saw this on the news), "It looked like he had his arms around his grandpa, trying to find a way to carry him."
    The superintendent of the district where Tyler was a 4th-grader summed it up pretty well. "According to emergency personnel, Tyler was the person who discovered the fire and tried to wake eight other people in the residence at the time. In bravely and selflessly giving his own life, he was able to save the lives of six others and he is truly a hero."
    At sporting events it's very common in our country. We hear the word "hero" bandied around a lot. But little Tyler truly shows us what the word really means - self-abandonment. From Tyler's trailer fire to the collapsing Twin Towers of September 11 and virtually every rescue we've ever heard of, that's the difference that makes a person a life-saving hero - caring so much about not letting people die that you forget about yourself. It's not about me; it's about the people in danger.
    Not just people in a burning building but people we know. Who are today one day closer to an unthinkable eternity because they're one heartbeat away from having to pay the eternal death penalty for their sin. Which Jesus already paid! The Bible says, "The Lord Jesus gave Himself for our sins to rescue us" (Galatians 1:4). Hanging on a cross, He paid for our sin so we can trade the hell we deserve for the heaven we could never deserve.
    But somebody has to tell them they're in need of rescue, and that's God's only Son. And that God's only Son loves them enough to die for them, that Jesus is reaching out His hand for them, that they only have to grab Him as their only hope.
    In our word for today from the Word of God in Jude 23, God summons us this way: "snatch others from the fire and save them."
    But sometimes we're with doomed people we know for years and we never tell them about our Jesus. They stay lost because we don't tell them the way home. And they'll be lost forever if we remain silent. It's because we're afraid; afraid they won't like us anymore, afraid of what they'll think, afraid we'll mess it up, afraid they might laugh at us or reject us. Did you notice all the fears that keep us from going in for the rescue have one thing in common? They're all about "me"; what might happen to me if I try to rescue them.
    And that's where the hero difference can be the difference between heaven and hell for someone we care about. Self-abandonment; caring so much about not letting them die that you forget about yourself. Because you're more concerned about what will happen to them than what it might cost you.
    I've stood by the casket of someone I never told. It's one of the most awful feelings in the world. I can't have that back. But there are people around me who still have a chance. They just need to know what Jesus did for them.
    Our orders from God are so clear. "Rescue those being led away to death" (Proverbs 24:11). The consequences of holding back are awful: "He will die for his sin, and (God says) I will hold you accountable for his blood" (Ezekiel 3:18).
    But there's still time now, if I'll just forget about myself like my Savior did.

  • volume_up
    August 17, 2021 Taking the Sting Out of Goodbye - #9027

    It was my first overseas trip, and I mean trip. Ten thousand miles to Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and there we were at Kennedy Airport. Me, my wife, our three young children facing three weeks of Daddy being gone. We'd never had that before. That's a long time when you're a little kid. Actually, it's a long time when you're the Daddy of some little kids. Well, I headed down the jet way, and I smiled and waved goodbye. Rounded the bend to the plane and then I wasn't smiling.
    But Mommy was able to take some of the sting out of our goodbyes. She reminded the kids of one important fact. This separation wasn't permanent. It wasn't the end! It was only an interruption of our being together.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Taking the Sting Out of Goodbye."
    Not long ago I stood in the cold cemetery by the grave of the man who had been my last living cousin. For all of us it was, of course, a sad goodbye, but not nearly as sad as it could have been because my cousin had placed his life and his eternity in the hands of Jesus. Now, there will be a separation, but because of Jesus, because of what He did on that first Easter, the goodbye isn't forever. But then it really hit home, standing next to the grave of the love of my life and being able to say, "See you soon, Baby. See you soon."
    All of us who belong to Jesus will soon be together again. There's nothing more important in human history than what happened in a graveyard early on that morning that we call the first Easter. Because Jesus Christ walked out of His grave and death got demoted.
    Listen to our word for today from the Word of God in 1 Corinthians 15:54-56. "Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
    Death couldn't hold Jesus. And He has said to all who belong to Him, "Because I live, you will also live." So death can't be the end for anyone who has pinned their hopes on Jesus. He's not a dead prophet. He's a living Savior!
    The Bible tells us that Jesus came to "...free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death" (Hebrews 2:15). Because of Jesus, death doesn't have to be the end. It doesn't have to be something to fear. It's only an interruption! It's the beginning of life beyond our imagination in God's heaven.
    And you can't get into God's heaven with your sin. In some of the closing words of the Bible it says, "Nothing impure will ever enter it" speaking of God's heaven. But that's why Jesus died on that awful cross. He was paying for every wrong thing you've ever done. And now, He can erase every sin of your life from God's Book. You'll go to heaven, not because you were good, but because you were forgiven by the only One who can forgive your sin; the One who paid for it! Only Jesus did that.
    You're not going to be asked what religion you were or how good you were. God's just going to want to know, "What did you do with My Son who died for you?" You have to reach out to Jesus. You have to grab Him like He's your only hope, and you could do that this very day. This could be your eternity-changing Jesus day. If you would say to Him, "Jesus, I have run my own life. I know that's wrong. I know it took your dying to pay for it, and I believe some of those sins You paid for were mine. Today I want to give myself to You, because you're a living Savior. Beginning today, Jesus, I'm Yours."
    You're at a crossroads right now that everything depends on. I encourage you to go to our website. I can talk to you there by way of video, and you'll be able to see the road to being sure you belong to Jesus. That website is ANewStory.com.
    The Bible says, "I have written these things to those of you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know you have eternal life." There's no greater peace, no greater security than knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that you're going to heaven when you die. And you can know that today!

  • volume_up
    August 16, 2021 Bumpy Landings - #9026

    I was on one of those early-morning airplane flights that's packed with business people. And as we landed that morning, we had one of those "two for the price of one" landings. We bumped and jumped along the runway as we landed. A lot of fun! And suddenly that commanded the attention of all us passengers who are usually numb from frequent travel. I thought, "I wonder what the flight attendant's going to say? I mean, this wasn't in any way a routine landing." Well, the attendant simply got on the sound system and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, now that I have your attention, I'd like to make a few announcements..." Man, did they have our attention!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Bumpy Landings."
    Now, maybe you've been experiencing some bumpy landings lately. Maybe God's saying, "Now that I've got your attention, I'd like to make a few announcements." Often, life's bumpy landings are God's way of getting our attention to tell us things and show us things that we otherwise would never see.
    My experience has been that God has three tools that He seems to use over and over again to show His glory and to shape our lives. One example is in our word for today from the Word of God in Psalm 135:5-7. God's wakeup tool here is the weather. He says, "I know that the Lord is great...The Lord does whatever pleases Him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from the storehouses."
    OK, well now there's nothing random about the weather. God uses it; God designs it to accomplish His purposes, to show His greatness. We can have the most elaborate plans, but believe me, one storm can change everybody's plans. The weather is beyond our control. So, God uses it to get our attention, to change our plans sometimes, and to accomplish His plans.
    Another tool God loves to use when He's trying to get our attention is our health. Again, it's something we have little control over. It's amazing how one visit to a doctor's office can change your life. But sickness and disease? They're not random either. Like the weather, they're ultimately subject to the sovereignty of Almighty God. And God accomplishes His perfect will through our health and He does some amazingly beautiful things through painful times.
    One other tool God uses is our finances. Here again, our financial situation is often at the mercy of a lot of things we can't control, but God can and God does. And our financial needs become a powerful tool in God's hands to draw us a lot closer to Him, to make us evaluate our priorities, maybe to get us to put His Kingdom first.
    The weather, the money, your health: three power tools that God uses to show His Lordship and His power, and yes, to get our attention, to restore or maybe even deepen our dependence on Him, and then to surgically remove the spiritual cancers in our life.
    Our God reigns! That's what the Bible says. And He is using the things we can't control to get us to give Him greater control of our lives. Things aren't out of control just because you're experiencing some bumpy landings. God is actually using your bumpy landings to get your attention and then to give you some important messages from Him.

  • volume_up
    August 13, 2021 Singing in the Rubble - #9025

    It was several years ago now, but that last earthquake in Haiti; I think the images of that quake will be with us for a long time. For a while there they were looking for any hope they could get, because it was just all about so much death and disaster. You remember that when it seemed that no one else could still be alive in all those collapsed buildings, a boy thought he heard a voice from the rubble of a bank building. The husband of a woman who worked there had been frantically trying to find his wife. When the boy told that man about what he had heard, that husband went for a nearby rescue team from California.
    And they found her! Buried deep in there, and they found her singing. Over a week after that quake leveled much of Port-au-Prince, a woman was still alive. And when she wasn't singing, they said she was praying, "Jesus, help me! Jesus, help me!" And when they brought out this miracle lady, yep, she just kept singing. Actually loudly, the rescuers said.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Singing in the Rubble."
    Again, that defiant quakeproof faith was on display for all the world to see. That's a faith rooted in a man named Jesus, who has sustained His children through life and through death across the centuries.
    I know this Jesus, too. My prayer is that I, too, can hold Him so tightly in my personal quakes that I also can sing in the rubble, because nothing validates the reality of a living Savior more than having His peace when your world's come down around you. Because that's when all eyes are on you.
    Our word for today from the word of God is about God's first century ambassadors, Paul and Silas, and it's found in Acts 16:25. (By the way, there's an earthquake here.) They had been brutally beaten, unjustly imprisoned and locked up in stocks. But it says, "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them." That was right before a violent earthquake that actually helped liberate Paul and Silas and drove their jailer to ask them how to know the Jesus who gave them songs at midnight.
    This is the peace that Jesus promised to His friends the night He was going to be arrested; the night their world would collapse. He said, "Peace I leave with you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." "I have told you these things so that in Me you might have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 14:27; 16:33).
    If you have this Jesus, you can have this peace, even when there seems to be no reason. In the Bible's words, "The peace of God...transcends all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). One Haitian rescued from a collapsed school was asked what he was saying to himself in those long hours when he didn't know if he would live or die. He said, "As a Christian, I'm saying, 'Jesus, my life is in Your hands.'"
    I wonder if you could say that, that you've placed your life in the hands of Jesus? There comes a time when we realize that all the places we've looked for answers haven't answered our questions, and all the places we've looked for love and satisfaction have left us empty and disappointed. It's at a point like that that we find our way to the cross where Jesus died to bring us together with God by paying for our sin that keeps us from God.
    I still remember the moment when I said, "Jesus, I'm Yours." Do you have a moment like that? If you haven't, let this day be that one for you. Let this be the day you say, "Jesus, I want to pin all my hopes on You" so that you can begin to have the peace that withstands every quake you ever face.
    You want to know more about how to begin this relationship with Him? Please go to our website. It's why it's there. It's ANewStory.com.
    Our kids used to go to sleep singing a little chorus that says, "Safe am I, safe am I, in the hollow of His hands." You know living or dying, working or out of work, healthy or deathly sick, loved or all alone, if you belong to Jesus, you really are safe.
    I pray that God will give you and me the grace to sing in the rubble.

  • volume_up
    August 12, 2021 Inflated Obstacles - #9024

    When my friend Larry isn't running his business, he can often be found riding his bicycle. We're talking serious biking here, not just the little leisurely around-the-block stuff. He and his friends have covered a lot of America on their bicycles, conquering all kinds of challenges. Like big hills, you know. Now, any of us who has ever ridden a bike, we know it's the hills that bite your leg muscles. As you're riding, you see this mountain looming in front of you. OK, it's a hill, but your mind is thinking "mountain." At least mine is. My friend told me a fundamental "big hill" principle that he's discovered and that he passes on to other bikers. He said, "The longer you look, the bigger it gets!" That's true.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Inflated Obstacles."
    You might be facing one of life's big hills right now financially, medically, in your family, maybe in your ministry or your work. And right now you've stopped pedaling, you're looking at how big that hill is, and the longer you look, the bigger it's getting. And the weaker and more paralyzed you're feeling.
    That had to be how God's ancient people felt when they looked at the challenges of the land that God had promised them: walled cities, barbarian armies, intimidating giants, and a big piece of occupied ground. God knows how we feel when we're staring at those big hills. In our word for today from the Word of God, Deuteronomy 7, beginning in verse 17, God says: "You may say to yourselves, 'These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?' Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little."
    OK, first, you have to remember who's going to conquer that hill. It's not going to be you, so your limitations are not an issue here. It's going to be "the Lord your God." I love that phrase. "The Lord," the One who created and controls like two trillion galaxies! Then, "your God." Yep! The Lord who rules the galaxies is my God. He is so big and He's so close!
    Secondly, as you're staring at that hill you've got in front of you, remember how God is going to help you conquer that challenge... "little by little." He's not going to do it all at once. He's asking you to take it in bite-size chunks. My bicycling friend says that rather than looking at the top of the hill, he looks at the short distances in front of him. He said that's how you conquer your hill. Jesus asks us to take up our cross, not all at once, but "daily" (Luke 9:23). Your job is to do today faithfully and positively.
    The size of life's hills often keeps us from facing what we need to be dealing with: issues in our family, issues in our marriage, our spending, the care of our body, that habit, or even something Jesus has been asking you to do for Him. And the longer you look at the hill, the bigger it gets. But the longer you look at the God you belong to, the bigger He gets. You've been looking at the wrong thing, fixated on the problem, or the challenge, or the people, and you're missing the awesome size of your God!
    Let today be day one of you tackling that hill. Just look at the short distance immediately in front of you - this one day. And open yourself up to the strength of God that we only experience when we know we can't do it. Look at the size of your Lord, not the size of your hill! Today's looming challenge is going to be tomorrow's amazing conquest!

  • volume_up
    August 11, 2021 A Grandfather's Three Big Ideas for the Road You're On #9023

    Well I love that my grandchildren love to hear my stories and sometimes my ideas. There's something about being a grandfather or grandmother. Because you've got a little distance. You're not the one making all the rules all the time and enforcing them at home. And I even see sometimes and I know of some young people who are choosing roads that are kind of scary. I know they are probably going to lead to a sad outcome. And I think to myself...as a grandfather, what would I tell them if I had the chance? What would I write them as I would say to one of my own grandchildren. And that brought me to a place where I kind of wrote down what I would call "Three Big Ideas From a Grandfather's Heart."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Grandfather's Three Big Ideas for the Road You're On."
    The first one is this: You're choosing a road, not just something to do.
    One time I was driving from northern Arizona, straight south to Phoenix to see my little grandson in the hospital. When I got to Flagstaff, I picked a ramp. Two hours later, I should have been in Phoenix; I wasn't seeing Phoenix, I was seeing signs for California! Little did I know when I got on that ramp I was choosing a road that would take me where I did not want to go.
    Life has a lot of "ramps" like that: deciding to hook up with someone, picking friends to hang out with, partying like you want because, 'Hey, I'm young, I want to have some fun! What's wrong with that? Trying stuff that helps you feel good or forget feeling bad.'
    What we don't realize until it's too late, like "why am I in California?" is that we're choosing a road we'll be on for a long time, not just something to do right now. And if it's the wrong road, we're going to end up where we never meant to go; maybe in a courtroom, maybe in a destructive relationship, or just looking in a mirror and saying, "What happened me?" I don't want that to happen to you.
    Jesus actually said these words, and it would be our word for today from the Word of God. It's in Matthew 7:13-14. "Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the road." Hey, that's a good one; an easy one to be on. Well he said, "that leads to destruction." Oh!, "and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it." It's the destination that matters isn't it?
    Here's Big Idea #2 - The calculator's always running. Temptation says, "Hey, forget the consequences." Reality says, "The bill is gonna come, man." Or, as the Bible says in Galatians 6:7, "Whatever you sow, you will reap." The harvest may not come immediately, but it's gonna come. We may not see it. We may not feel it. But that calculator is always running, and it's adding up the bill that's going to come for our choices.
    Big Idea #3 - You're made for more. You can begin to get the idea that you're the "sun" and everyone else is the "planets" who revolve around you. That's not how we were created to live. Maybe you've discovered already that a world that's only as big as you are is a world that's too small to live in. "Me" living leaves you lonely, empty and hurting. "Laughing on the outside, crying on the inside."
    No, you're made for more. You've been blessed with a lot. Whatever road you're on, other people follow you there. If it's a road to a "make a difference" life, you're going to lead other people there. If it's a road that goes over a cliff, they're going down with you.
    If you want a hint of the "more" you were made for, listen to this. The Bible says, "All things were created by Him and for Him." It says that of Jesus. You were made to revolve around Him, not to have everybody revolve around you. And He died for you, and He rose from the grave to prove that He can conquer everything in your life.
    It's time to aim your life in the direction it was created for. You want His love? You want His power? You want His forgiveness for the mistakes you've made? Tell Him, "Jesus, I'm Yours." Get to our website, we've got information, there, for how you can really have a new start. The website is ANewStory.com.
    The poet said, "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I took the road less traveled. And that has made all the difference." I pray you'll choose that road. You know why? Because I like happy endings.

  • volume_up
    August 10, 2021 Getting All the Cancer - #9022

    It's got to be one of the most dreaded words in the English language - "Cancer." I mean, it's the word we all hope we will never hear from a doctor. It's a word too many friends of mine have heard over the years. Thankfully, there are more forms of treatment and successful cancer surgeries than there have ever been before. But once the surgeon has operated to remove the cancer, there's that question that everyone wants the answer to, "Did they get it all?"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Getting All the Cancer."
    A little cancer that's missed in the human body can actually end up destroying a lot. That's why it's the surgeon's goal to do his best to remove all the cancer. That's every bit as important when it's spiritual cancer. It's important to do your best to get rid of all of it.
    That's what God seems to be saying to His ancient people in our word for today from the Word of God in Numbers 33:55. God has commanded the Jews to drive out all of the pagan tribes in the Promised Land - the land that God had promised to His people centuries before. Knowing that they would be tempted to obey that command only partially, God said, "If you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live."
    Guess what. That's exactly what happened. The Israelites removed some of the cancer of idolatrous and immoral cultures, but not all of it. And those they didn't remove kept coming back to attack them for generations to come. Worse than that, the ancient Jews began to be attracted to some of the culture they were supposed to get rid of: their women, their music, their customs, their gods. The compromises that came from not getting all the cancer ended up bringing down the judgment of God on them, and it ultimately even cost them their land.
    What God calls for in His children today - men and women who have been purchased by the blood of the Son of God - is a radical, well let's call it a "sin-ectomy." Zero tolerance for actions and attitudes that cost His Son His life. The sins we hang onto, the sins we only partially deal with are going to be "barbs" and "thorns" that will give us trouble for the rest of our lives. Incomplete repentance is like partial cancer surgery, leaving behind just enough to kill you later.
    Could it be that there is a corner in your life that is, if you're honest, a stubborn holdout to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Maybe it's that bitterness, that problem with telling the truth. It could be an out-of-control tongue, or your self-centeredness, maybe your self-reliance, or just that negative or critical spirit.
    It may be a sin that has plagued you for years. You've tolerated it, you've excused it, you've blamed others for it, you've justified it, even repented of it...a little. But you've never burned all your bridges to that sin, you've never set up your life as if you'll never do it again, you've never made yourself accountable to someone. You've never let Jesus break your heart over what you've been doing to Him when you do that. You've left just enough of that sin, that cancer, to make you sick and suck the life out of you.
    The cancer of our sin demands radical surgery; the kind that says, "Lord, I want to get it all this time! I'm holding nothing back. Do what You died to do, and set me free from this!" Here's what the bible says that could be applied to that sin that has infected your life for so long, "Sin shall not be your master" (Romans 6:14).

  • volume_up
    August 9, 2021 The Way Home - #9021

    When I was in the jungles of Ecuador, I was more than happy to have a guide who knew his way. Even though the jungle was pretty jungle-y, at least we had a little path to follow. That wasn't the case for a pioneer missionary I heard about. He had a long journey through some very thick jungle ahead of him. When he came to the village on the edge of that jungle, he was happy to find a man who was willing to guide him for the rest of the trip.
    He'd been following this guy now for a couple of hours. The guide was literally hacking his way through that dense growth with his machete, and the missionary asked him, "Can't we find a path somewhere?" The guide gave him a pretty simple answer, "Sir, I am the path."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Way Home."
    Two thousand years ago, one of Jesus' main guys asked a spiritual question that has haunted the human race for centuries: "How can we know the way?" Now, that's an important question. How can we know the way to God in the midst of so many competing religions and spiritualities? How can we get the issue of our eternity settled? Look, maybe we've got 70 years on this earth, maybe more and we've got forever in eternity, so how can we know the way to heaven?
    Well, Jesus didn't answer with a set of rules to follow, or a religion to join. His answer was simple and straightforward. It's our word for today from the Word of God, John 14:6, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Now notice, He didn't say He'd come to show the way to God. He came to be the way. Jesus absolutely up-ends one of the most widespread misconceptions on this planet, that getting to God is about a religion. It's not about a religion; it's all about a Person. It's all about Jesus! It's not all about Christianity; it's all about Christ!
    Now how could Jesus say He is the way? In short, because only Jesus did the dying for all our sin. In the Bible's words, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Because, as the Bible says, "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). Sin can only be paid for by someone dying, and someone did. But only one someone - Jesus. Again, the Bible: "Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous (that's Jesus) for the unrighteous (that's you and me) to bring you to God" (1 Peter 3:18).
    He literally took our hell so we could have His heaven. Then, three days after He died, Jesus walked out of His grave and blew away death!
    Only the Man who paid for your sins can forgive your sins. And only those whose sins have been forgiven - erased from God's book - can enter the perfect home of a perfect God.
    So this never has been and never will be about which religion is the right one. It's about the Rescuer, Jesus. Years ago, remember those Chilean miners were trapped deep underground, there was no way they could dig their way out. That's us, in a deep hole because of hijacking our life from the One who gave us our life. It took a massive effort to drill a hole and launch the rescue of those miners. No one complained that there was only one way out of that mine. They were celebrating that there was one way! Yes, there is only one way to God, through Jesus His Son. But, thank God, there's a way!
    So your eternity all comes down to what you do with Jesus; whether or not you've made the Savior your Savior. You could get that done this very day. It happens when you talk to Jesus and say, "I admit that I have run my own life. I deserve the penalty for that. But I believe You paid it, because you love me, when you died on that cross. I believe You're alive, and I'm pinning all my hopes on You today."
    Our website was set up just to help you at a moment like this. Know that you have crossed over, the Bible says, "from death to life." That website is ANewStory.com. I pray you'll go there today.
    No religion, no right living is going to get you to heaven. If they could, Jesus wouldn't have died on that cross. He's your hope, and His hand is reaching your direction. Grab Him.

  • volume_up
    August 6, 2021 Deep Holes, Beautiful Discoveries - #9020

    Not long after we moved to this area, we had a chance to explore a beautiful cave that really has some breathtaking views. Most of the caves you tour in America were discovered some time in the 1800s. Not this one. It was just discovered in 1969. Actually it was discovered because of a giant sinkhole that opened up. Some adventurous young men decided to crawl down into that sinkhole and see where it led. The cave guide showed us the little hole in the rocks that they crawled through and then out into this huge room, decorated with spectacular rock formations. I don't suppose the big lights and sidewalks and the railings were there when they first looked in, but they must have been amazed at what they saw, and what millions have been able to discover because they did. And it was all because of a sinkhole.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Deep Holes, Beautiful Discoveries."
    I'll bet a lot of folks weren't very happy about that big hole in the ground opening up. It was probably a pain for some people; potentially dangerous for others. But the "problem" of that sinkhole turned out to be the access route to beauty like those folks had never seen before.
    That's happened to a lot of us when a big hole opened up in our life - when things collapsed. And it may be that God is wanting you to look beyond that big hole to see the undiscovered beauty that's underneath it.
    In our word for today from the Word of God, He talks about folks who had some major sinkholes open up in their lives. In Isaiah 61:1: "The Lord has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners...to comfort all who mourn, and provide for all those who grieve in Zion." Then He goes on to show what beauty He hopes we will discover in our grief, "To bestow on them a crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." Beauty in the middle of ashes, gladness in the middle of mourning, and praise in the middle of despair.
    When things collapse in our life, we are keenly aware of what we've lost. Unless we go deeper, unless we go looking, we will miss what He's wanting us to gain from this loss; the things He wants us to see that we would never see without that collapse.
    It's in our hurting times that we can see in the person we married some beautiful strengths that maybe we forgot or never noticed. If you let the cave-in drive you closer to your children or your parents, you may see in them a beauty that you've missed before. If you look in the right direction, a time of loss can actually be a time of finally seeing the everyday blessings in your life that you've been taking for granted. The hole that's opened up may provide an opportunity for people to really show you how much they love you, for you to appreciate your Christian friends in a new way, for you to tell people that you've prayed about, about your Jesus. And they'll listen to you now because of what you've been through.
    Most of all, when things collapse you can see the faithfulness and love and power of your Lord in ways that we can only see when we're desperate and when we're beyond what we can fix, what we can handle, what we can control. This season that you're in maybe, when things are caving in, can be a season, also, of life-changing discovery. You can't make the hole in your life go away, but you can go through it to discover beauty that you might never see any other way.

  • volume_up
    August 5, 2021 Answers in the Graveyard - #9019

    Now, if you like putting puzzles together, oh you'd love trying to piece together your family genealogy. My wife and I spent quite a bit of time and energy on that. As you start climbing your family tree, you find all kinds of holes in your information, dates and places that sometimes seem contradictory, illogical.
    And one place you go to solve some of the mysteries happens to be some old graveyards. I've been to a few in recent years. And sometimes the information on a tombstone or in cemetery records provides an important missing piece of the puzzle. And all along, you're hoping you'll find a king or a president...you know, someone important; hopefully, not a famous outlaw or scalawag! But you actually can find missing answers in a graveyard.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I'd like to have A Word With You today about "Answers in the Graveyard."
    You know, actually, people have been finding answers in a graveyard for 2,000 years! Answers to the big questions - not about some ancestor, but about you! Like, why am I here? What's the point of it all? How can I have a life that matters? What happens when I die?
    Now here's the wild thing: the grave where our answers begin is empty! It's Jesus' grave, and He blew the doors off His grave and off death when He walked out of that grave under His own power. That "explosion in the graveyard" on that first Easter is the single most significant event in the history of this planet, because no event has the power of this one to change eternities!
    The Bible records these bottom line words from Jesus in our word for today from the Word of God: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades" (Revelation 1:18).
    Every other religious leader, prophet, teacher is in their grave today. But if you visit Jesus' grave, don't bother bringing flowers. He's gone! Death couldn't hold him. As the Bible says, "Christ Jesus...has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel" (2 Timothy 1:10). Any discussion of where ultimate truth is found should end at the empty tomb of Jesus.
    We're not talking about Christianity the religion here. The answers to our ultimate questions aren't in a religion - they're in a man; the Man who died to remove the penalty for our sin - that wall that separates us from the God who put us here. He went to that cross to restore us to the God who gives life its meaning. That's why Jesus said "I have come that they may have life and have it to the full" (John 10:10).
    And this is the Man who said, "Because I live, you also will live" (John 14:19). He promises eternal life to all those who belong to Him. But you can't give what you don't have, and only the Man who conquered death can deliver eternal life.
    So if you're pinning your hopes on anything or anyone else, it's false hope. With every other belief system or spirituality on earth, you can't know if you were right until you die. But when you belong to Jesus, you're pinning your hopes on a Savior whose resurrection is not just some religious idea but a provable historic fact.
    Jesus walked out of His grave so He can walk into your life today. He gave this timeless invitation: "Come to Me...and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). He's done it for millions of us across the centuries, and He is waiting to do it for you right now. Right where you are, you could say, "Jesus, I admit that I have been a sinner; I have run my own life; I deserve the penalty for that. But I believe You paid that penalty, and I am willing to stop driving my life. You drive. I am giving me to You, because You're the only One who died to pay for my sin. You're alive and I'm Yours."
    Let me encourage you to go to our website. I think it will help you know you belong to Jesus before this day is over. That's ANewStory.com.
    The biggest question of all - where will you spend eternity? - can be answered this very day at the feet of Jesus, who is alive; who's waiting to love you. Your search of a lifetime, my friend, is almost over.

  • volume_up
    August 4, 2021 Saving Lives With the Newspaper - #9018

    Okay so I'm a newspaper guy, sort of a news junkie. Yeah I get it on TV, I read it on the internet but I like to read my newspapers too. It's kind of one of life's simple pleasures. But I've found out that a newspaper isn't finished though when you finish reading it. Oh, no, no! It's more than informative, it's useful! What's in the news is useful for wrapping fragile items, or storing them or shipping them. We did that just the other day. It's useful for killing flies sometimes when I can't find the swatter. A newspaper is useful for lining pet cages and building a fire. What's in the news or in the newspaper is useful for saving lives.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Saving Lives With the Newspaper."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Luke 13, and I'll begin reading at verse 4. Jesus is speaking to a crowd, and He says, "Those eighteen who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them � do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."
    Now, Jesus here is referring to what was probably the headline of that day - the collapse of this tower in Siloam. Today that tower disaster might be equivalent to, let's say, an earthquake where a number of people died, or a plane crash with a lot of fatalities. Jesus uses this headline to get people thinking about their lives and thinking about Him. He says, "Remember that disaster we just all heard about? Well, you know, those people are no different from you. It pays to be ready. What if that had happened to you? Have you repented? Are you right with God?"
    You know what Jesus is doing here? He is modeling an approach to reaching people that is just as relevant today. You might call it "headline" evangelism; using the news to open a door to talk about Jesus. Now, if you're a follower of Christ, there are probably some people that you are spiritually burdened for. I hope so. People you want to have in heaven with you someday. Some days you find yourself saying, "There's got to be a way to open a conversation." And you wonder if some day they are going to say to you, "You know, we talked about everything, but why did you never tell me about this Jesus you know." You want to, but you don't know how to get started. Well, here's one way. Ask God to show you attention-getters in what's happening in the world, what's reported in the news, things that could help open a door to a spiritual conversation.
    Larry and Pat were a couple we were very burdened for, and one day we were talking about the dramatic world changes that had been taking place. I said, "You know, it's amazing how much of that is predicted in the Bible." They said, "What do you mean? Like what?" Well, that led us into a discussion of prophecy, which led to a discussion that Jesus is Lord, that's why He knows what's going to happen, which led to a discussion of who Jesus can be to us.
    Sometimes it might be a story of a sudden death that's in the headlines, a crash, an accident. And I find myself saying, "You know, it's good to know for sure where you're going to go when you die. It's so good that it's possible to know you're going to heaven." And somebody goes, "Really? How can you be sure you're going to heaven?"
    See, that's when you can bring up the good news about Jesus. The point is to keep your eyes open for everyday opportunities that can open a door and open a heart and open a conversation that could change an eternity. Might be some of the struggles some successful public figure is going through, or struggles that show that success doesn't fill the hole inside of us.
    Often the world's bad news gives you the opportunity to share God's good news. Today's headlines, consecrated to God, might just help point someone to Jesus. You could actually be saving lives with the newspaper.

  • volume_up
    August 3, 2021 A Whiplash World - #9017

    For some reason, this drunk driver decided that he liked my side of the road better than his. He suddenly crossed the center line and plowed headlong into our car. I had the whole family with me, and our car was totaled those years ago. But thankfully, none of us was totaled. Our injuries were miraculously minor actually, in light of what happened to our car. Now, a friend offered to drive me to the youth retreat where I was speaking that weekend. Well, that night of the accident, the doctor put me in a neck brace for a few days, so I got a lot of sympathy at that retreat! I almost decided to wear it permanently! But I did have a little whiplash, actually, from the force of the hit that we took. That's the damage to your neck when you get whipped around violently and suddenly.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Whiplash World."
    Now, these days, you can get whiplash just watching the evening news. Events just explode across the country, around the world. There are upheavals in all kinds of parts of the world and our politics and reflected in social media. A lot of it happens without warning; there are uprisings in places we thought we'd never see them.
    We might as well fasten our seatbelts for a crazy ride ahead (the pandemic taught us that, didn't it?) because I don't think this is going to change. A while back America's financial world was rocked to its core. We've had radical swings of the political pendulum, back and forth. Well-armed nations that seem beyond any restraint from the rest of the world are getting weapons that really could frighten us - dangerous wild cards in our world.
    But I'm OK, no matter what bombshell flashes on the "breaking news" today or any day. Here's the big picture behind whatever disturbing news - whether it's personal or world news - that explodes today. Here's what the Bible says, "The nations are in chaos...and their kingdoms crumble! God's voice thunders, and the earth melts! The Lord of Heaven's Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress" That's actually our word for today from the Word of God, Psalm 46:6-7.
    You know, for thousands of years, the prophecies of the Bible have predicted a world like ours. Just before the King of all kings returns to take charge. Here's the words of Jesus: "There will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now and never to be equaled again" (Matthew 24:21). "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom...Nations will be in anguish and perplexity...Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming in the world..." (Luke 21:10, 25-26).
    Now, that's the bad news. You ready for the good news? Well, it's great news! Listen, here's what Jesus said right after that, "At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luke 21:27). Jesus said when you see a whiplash world and everything is going crazy, it's into that kind of world, He said, I am going to return. I will come back; I will take charge; I will keep My promises.
    I'll tell you, any time's a good time to belong to Jesus. But this time is a really good time to belong to Him. Because behind all the uncertainty and the exploding events of our time, there is a plan. There is a God; there is a Savior; there is a King. There is a divinely orchestrated, humanly untouchable countdown to the coming of King Jesus.
    I guess the question is has there ever been a day when He's come into your life and into your heart, because that's where the anchor is for times like ours. If you never have, this might be the day for you to say, "Jesus, I want to be sure I belong to You; that I'm anchored to You. I believe that some of those sins You died for on that cross were sins I have done. And today I accept the forgiveness that You bought on the cross for me. Beginning today I'm Yours." You can talk to him like that because He walked out of His grave. He's alive, ready to walk into your life. If you're not sure you belong to him, that's what our website's for. And it might be for you today. I urge you to go there, it's ANewStory.com.
    Here's the bottom line, according to the Bible: "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and they are safe" (Proverbs 18:10). I'm there, and I pray you are.

  • volume_up
    August 2, 2021 The Good Thing About Bad Storms - #9016

    Well every once in a while, that remote in my hand will take me to an educational place on television. I remember one night that I saw something with a very curious title. It was about "good things hurricanes do." Yeah. Now, we've seen plenty of the bad things hurricanes do, I was intrigued to hear about the good ones. This feature told about these Australian pine trees that somehow had taken root in a place in Florida. It hosted attractive plants which attracted a lot of beautiful birds and small animals. And the pines grew and got tall (which is something I don't know much about personally!), but they created this canopy over the plants they got so tall, and that blocked out the sun. And what had been this thriving gorgeous plant and animal life area became a stretch of sterile underbrush...until the hurricane hit. The storm literally snapped those trees in two. And the sun is back. The area is now a beautiful park with pools, greenery, flowers, herons, and lots of interesting wildlife. But it took a hurricane.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Good Thing About Bad Storms."
    The storm blew in and removed what didn't belong there. I understand that. God has sent or allowed storms to come roaring into my life over the years, and they've often had that same effect. It's true in nature, it's true in our lives - what devastates can also be God's tool to cleanse, improve and beautify!
    There's a picture of that in Acts 27, beginning with verse 14. It's our word for today from the Word of God. The Apostle Paul is being transported to Rome for trial on this large cargo ship that's carrying 276 passengers. They suddenly get hit by this massive storm system that batters them and threatens to destroy them, and that's going on for two weeks.
    The Bible says, "A wind of hurricane force...swept down from the island. The ship was caught up by the storm...we were driven along...We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands."
    Eventually, Paul is visited by an angelic messenger. Here's how Paul reported that visit to his fellow passengers: "Keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar, and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.'"
    Storms clarify the things that really matter and the things that really don't. In this case, they threw overboard cargo that they thought they needed but they didn't really need. Maybe that's what God is trying to get you to do as the storm's battering you; set some new priorities, get rid of some cargo you've accumulated - even some sin you've taken on - your stuff that just needs to go. Just as God clarified for Paul what really mattered - his life mission and the people on the ship - it could be that God wants to use your personal hurricane to get you to focus on the things that really, really matter. The ship may not make it, but it's the people who matter anyway! Maybe people you've been neglecting because you've been all about the ship and you've been all about the cargo, you've been all about the voyage. And your life's mission is what matters - the things God has given you to do that also may have been marginalized recently. That, too - your mission - will survive the storm.
    The hurricanes of God seem devastating sometimes and they hurt. But He also sends them to accomplish things that might not happen any other way...the cleansing that your life needs. The new priorities that your life needs. He's removing what's been blocking the sun. You know why? So something beautiful can grow there.

  • volume_up
    July 30, 2021 The Final Exam - #9015

    There are two words that send a shudder through almost everyone who is either in school or was ever in school, because you remember the fear that goes with these words. And if you're currently a student, you don't have to remember them at all; you're living with them. The words - final exam!
    Now, different students have learned different ways of dealing with final exam time. Occasionally you'll hear of an incident where students will actually get a copy of the exam, take a peek at the questions so they can be prepared. Well, I don't recommend that as a good way to get through finals, but I want to tell you this: whatever your situation as far as being a student is concerned, there is a final exam scheduled for you... Yep. In fact, it's scheduled for all of us.
    Now, our final exam will come at different times. I don't know when mine is and I don't know when yours will be. But you know what? I have taken a peek at the question on the exam, and you can be ready for this one.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Final Exam."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is a peek at that final exam. It says in Hebrews 2:3, "How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?" Now see, this is looking ahead to the time when we're going to stand before God and have to answer that final exam question related to what we did with this wonderful thing He describes as "such great salvation."
    Now, here's what He's referring to - it's what happened on that middle cross outside of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, when the only son God has, took my rap - took your rap - paid our payment for our sins so we could get back into the orbit we were built to live in; an orbit around God.
    You notice here it says that we neglect salvation. Now, that's the way that most good things end up being wasted. I mean, you don't say, "Oh, I think I'm going to grow some weeds in my garden this year. Yeah, let's just see what kind of weed crop I could have?"
    No, no no! The way weeds grow is by neglect. You don't intend to grow them. How about your weight? I'm sorry to bring that up, but I know a lot about this. A lot of times the old pounds just start piling up again. You don't say, "I want to gain ten pounds this month." It's just done through neglect; it just kind of creeps up. We didn't mean to; we didn't do anything, it just happened. We just didn't exercise! We didn't control our eating.
    How about our car? All of a sudden our car grinds to a halt and starts smoking. Why? You neglected the maintenance, that's all. You didn't do anything bad; you just didn't do what you could have done. The same thing holds true for marriages - they can die from neglect.
    Okay now, about neglecting such a great salvation. Do you know that most people don't reject Christ; they just neglect Him. They've got other things to think about until they neglect themselves right into eternity. Maybe you're in danger of that right now. You're not against Jesus; you've just neglected making your peace with Him.
    Do you want to know the question on your final exam when you keep your appointment with God? I think He's going to ask you something like this, "What did you do with My Son?" Not what did you do with your church, or your religion, or that guy on the radio. "What did you do with My Son?" That's the issue that will settle your eternal address, because what God cares about most is what His Son did for you.
    See, His death on the cross is your only hope of getting into heaven, because you can't get into heaven with your sin. It can only be forgiven by the One who paid for it. That's Jesus! And you've got to grab Him and take that gift of eternal life. And maybe you've been sitting around church for years, and you've been through all kinds of opportunities to do something with Jesus. But you've just kind of passed them by. Today's your day! The day to change your eternal address from hell to heaven, and to go from dirty inside to clean. Say, "Jesus, this is my day. Today I'm making "the Savior" my savior."
    And our website will help you cross that line, it's helped many. ANewStory.com - Go there!
    You've had opportunities to reach out to Christ before and you didn't. Isn't it time now that you say, "On this day, Lord, I give my life to You." He made His move on the cross. It's your move now.

  • volume_up
    July 29, 2021 Stopping the Fire - #9014

    We were driving across the state of Kansas, and I was reminded again of what a panoramic view you have there no matter which way you look. Those plains just seem to stretch as far as the eye can see, and your eye can see just about everything - not many hills or mountains to hide in. If you know that terrain, you can understand how quickly an unobstructed wind can carry a fire across that prairie, destroying everything in its path. A Kansas farmer told us that at the first sight of smoke, every farmer and rancher who can see it leaps into action; some in pickup trucks that are loaded with tanks of water, others with tractors and farm equipment. They're all determined to stop that fire before it really gets started.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Stopping the Fire."
    When you're dealing with fire that could do a lot of damage, it's smart to attack that fire while it's small, before it blazes out of control. That's not just a good strategy for prairie farmers. It's a way for all of us to keep from getting burned, along with people we love and things we care about.
    God provides a clear example of what I'm talking about in Ephesians 4:26-27, our word for today from the Word of God. He says, "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." In short, stop the fire of your anger before it spreads and consumes any more ground. Don't ever let your anger, your resentment, or your hard feelings last longer than a day. When you bury them and when you harbor them, they grow and you might as well fling open the front door on that relationship and say, "Devil, come on in and burn up whatever you want."
    But this "fight the fire when it's small" principle applies to a lot of potentially combustible areas of your life. Like potentially divisive feelings or attitudes that might be coming up among people you know or live with, or work with, or worship with. Just don't wait for that smoke to become a fire before you jump into action as a peacemaker. Bitterness, misunderstandings, miscommunications, wounds, they can't just be left there to smolder. You may not like confronting them. I don't! Very few of us do, but you're really not going to like what happens if you don't confront them.
    You need to quickly go after moral fires, too. Satan is more likely to bring you down through small compromises than major collapses. They'll become a major collapse. That's why all of us have to be alert for the little cracks in our convictions, the little cracks in our integrity - the smoke of that first flirtation, that first wandering thought, that first experimentation, that first lie. By the time you've made a few more compromises, well, that fire could well be out of control and hurting things that you do not want hurt.
    Those prairie farmers actually have a lot to teach us about containing all those kinds of fires in our lives. See, fires just seldom burn out on their own; you have to attack them. And you can't wait to fight fires until they're raging out of control. It's too late then. You have to mobilize immediately to fight the fire with everything you've got, and you have to do it at the first signs of smoke. The alternative, well, you're going to see a lot you care about go up in smoke.

  • volume_up
    July 28, 2021 Squeezed To Obey - #9013

    You might say parenting is not a precise science. You don't just mix certain ingredients and get a certain reaction. In fact, it's largely (I hate to say it) experimental. But after a while you learn more creative ways to do what is right. You can yell, you can overpower, you can threaten them until they're bigger than you are. Or you can work through the method I came to call 'The Squeeze'. It's a method that steers a child to the right choice. It's also known as "The Lousy Choice" approach.
    Here's how it worked for us: You give your child two choices, the one is so bad you know they'll choose the other one. Now, maybe you should have your child cover their ears in case they're listening. We wouldn't want them to know this secret. Example: I might say to my son, "Uh, look, you can do your yard work and I'll help you if you get it done before noon today or you can do it all by yourself sometime before Friday." Okay, now obviously he's gonna want to do it when he's got some help. "Okay, you can set your own study hours or I'll set them." And usually he would end up choosing where he ought to be. It works even with a grownup child like you and me.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Squeezed To Obey."
    Now our word for today from the Word of God, here we go, Acts 1:8 - familiar words - Jesus says to His disciples, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem," (that's where they were, in Jerusalem). And then He says, "and in all Judea and Samaria," (well, they had no plans to go there) "and to the ends of the earth." I'm pretty sure they didn't have any plans to go there.
    Now listen to Acts 8:1 - that was Acts 1:8 - now listen to 8:1; it tells you how it happened. "On that day a great persecution broke out against the Church of Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria." Now, that's an interesting way God got it to happen isn't it?
    The Christians in Jerusalem maybe would have never gotten out of Jerusalem unless they were pushed. They were supposed to be out beyond the borders of Jerusalem, but they had to be squeezed to go and do what they should do. It's kind of like the squeeze approach with our children. I'll give you two choices, you can stay where you are in this painful situation and God says, or "You can go where I have been trying to send you."
    Now you and I are much like those first Christians; we get settled into a comfortable place - one way of doing things. We hunker down in a situation, not necessarily because it's best or even what God wants, but because it's familiar, safe, secure, it's comfy, and then God starts squeezing. You may be wondering why God has turned up the heat right now; why is the pressure growing? Maybe He wants to make a change in your life, and you won't move unless He squeezes you to do it. Oh you can stubbornly choose the pain of staying put if you want or you can obediently choose what He knows is best for you in His kingdom. Now if you're feeling the pressure right now, it isn't so much that God is mad at you - He's just got something better for you, something bigger for you, and He wants you to choose it. But you're probably going to have to be uncomfortable before you will.
    Two thousand years ago the Gospel spread around the world by first breaking out of Jerusalem because some people were pushed and squeezed to do it, and right now maybe He's doing the same thing with you. If you're like my children or you're like those first century Jerusalem Christians...maybe if you're like me, you have to be squeezed to obey.

  • volume_up
    July 27, 2021 The Bait and the Catch - #9012

    I used to work with someone on our team who was a fanatical fisherman! He actually told me about a boy who was starting very young down that same road, or stream as the case may be. At that point, James was only three years old, but his dad had already taught him to fish! The first time they went fishing together Dad gave him a cricket to use as bait. Well, beginner's luck - James caught himself a little sunfish with that cricket. And then, just for fun, Dad decided to let his boy try some serious bait - what fishermen call stink bait. It's got something like pieces of liver in it. Wouldn't you know it! Little James reeled in a seven pound catfish! When Dad tried to get him to go back to the cricket bait - no way, Dad! He had discovered what kind of bait attracts the big ones!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Bait and the Catch."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Proverbs 31:30-31. This whole chapter is actually God's description of a woman who is, in the words of the chapter, "Worth far more than rubies." Who has, as it says, "noble character," who ends up with a husband who "has full confidence in her," and who, "takes his seat among the elders of the land." Boy, she caught a good one! Well, here's her idea of attractive: "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." And then it says, "Give her the reward she has earned." The woman God praises and the woman a quality man praises is a woman who focuses on having a heart that's right.
    Physical appearance, or some kind of social manipulating - that's an increasingly radical blueprint for being a woman when we live in a world that glorifies the physical, the sensual, the sexy. But, many women don't seem to understand what little James already knows - the kind of bait you offer determines the kind of catch you get!
    Sometimes you'll hear a woman making the all too accurate complaint that "all men care about is the physical." Well that's another program to talk through that one. But most women I'm acquainted with are not interested in being a sex object to men, or a thing rather than a person, or body parts rather than a whole person. They are made in the image of God and they are infinitely valuable. They want a relationship with men, not a sexual game where they're a conquest. And that's in line with what God wants. In 1 Timothy 5:2, He commands the young men to "treat the younger women as sisters with absolute purity." But apparently there's some women that don't understand that it's harder for men to think pure Because a woman is more stimulated by touch than by sight, it is said, she might not understand the message that she's sending; the trigger that she's activating by what she wears, how she moves, how she flirts. Now that can never excuse a guy from his lust and his sexual wrongs, and blame the woman.
    But in many cases a woman wants a man who thinks pure. The lie is that women have to dress a certain way to get male attention. Well I think the bait determines the catch. And thus, the tragedy of our superficial, mostly physical, usually sinful, mostly doomed relationships.
    I like 1 Peter 3, God describes the package that a truly beautiful woman offers. He says, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty." Those who carry the radiance and the innocence of an inner Jesus glow offer a beauty that Hollywood could never match.
    So, don't go for the lies about the bait that draws the little fish. Even a little boy knows if you want the best, you need to offer what attracts a quality catch.

  • volume_up
    July 26, 2021 Throwing Away Your Identity Crutches - #9011

    In our town, Dr. Jennings was one of the most feared teachers in the school system. She taught music, and she began a new year in elementary school one year with a tirade that dumped all over one poor little boy who happened to raise his hand and say, "Mrs. Jennings..." At which she totally exploded and said, "Dr. Jennings, and don't you forget it!" And I want to tell you, that was only the beginning of what she said. You'd better call her Doctor. You get the distinct impression she really needs that title for her identity. But then, have you ever watched high school football players? I've worked with them a lot, and it's kind of fun to watch them, because in a sense, they're seldom seen in public without their letter jacket. You've got to have your jacket to kind of have your identity. Right? Who am I without my letter jacket?
    And then what about top executives? I heard not long ago about some executive retreats where they got them in small groups and they said to them, "We want you to just answer this question tonight here in this relaxed setting. Who are you? Just tell us who you are, but you can't mention your company, your title, your position, or anything about your work. On your mark, get set, go!" You want to guess? I heard it was very quiet in the room, because not very many people could answer who they were without referring to their work or their position. You know, a lot of us are severely handicapped because we're basing our identity on something that...well, it just can't support us.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Throwing Away Your Identity Crutches."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is from Galatians 3:26 and following. Paul says, "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who are baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There's neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Now, that is a great statement of who you are.
    Whatever titles you may have, your identity is or ought to be rooted in who the Bible says you are. Paul in this passage confronts some of those identity crutches. Some identities that literally wouldn't hold people together back in Bible times. He talks about Jew, Greek, slave, free, etc. You're not your racial group; you're not your religious group. Your identity isn't what social class you're from.
    Now today I think there are three identity crutches. See if any of these have tripped you up. First one is, you are what you do. See, my identity, my sense of worth, my confidence, my fulfillment is based on what kind of grades I get, how I do in sports, how I'm doing in my business. So, when we fail, or we lose our job, or we retire, suddenly we're nobody.
    Here's the second identity crutch. You are what you own. We're identified by the house we live in, the neighborhood, the clothes I wear, the car I drive. But that's never enough. A third identity crutch. You are who you're with. I'm an extension of my peer group, and that could be in any stage of life...not just in high school. Sometimes, though, we compromise so much to be there, we lose ourselves instead of finding ourselves. They turn away from you, and suddenly you're nobody again.
    Now the real thing is this. You are who God says you are, Sons of God in Christ Jesus. If you've been to Jesus' cross to have your sins forgiven, you've been born into God's family, you can't beat that. You belong to Christ. That's one identity you cannot lose. You can lose your job, you can lose your income, your possessions. You can lose your friends or your health, your ability to perform, but you can't lose one ounce of who you are if you know Christ. You are and you always will be God's kid, with His unconditional love. And no one can add to your identity or take it away.
    Not sure you belong to Jesus? You could settle that today by telling Him you want to. Our website will help you get there - ANewStory.com. I hope you'll go there.
    Who needs identity crutches? You can walk tall in Christ because you know who you are, and you know whose you are.

  • volume_up
    July 23, 2021 The Largest Single Living Thing - #9010

    It was one of those rare mornings off for our Native American outreach team and someone had arranged for us to take a brief raft trip down the beautiful Snake River in Wyoming. Our guide pointed out these incredible sights along the way including a stand of tall Aspen trees along the bank. He told us that Aspens actually have a single root system. In other words, that stand of trees all came from the same root, just branching out a lot of different directions. That's amazing! And then our guide who I hope wasn't just putting on some dumb tourists said that the largest living thing in the world is in Colorado, a giant stand of Aspen trees. All the product of a single root. Many, many trees, one root. . .
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Largest Single Living Thing."
    Now in a sense, you and I may be a part of what is the largest single living thing in the world. Ephesians 4:4-5 talks about the family of Jesus Christ on earth - His church. Here's what it says, "There is one body and one Spirit - just as you were called to one hope when you were called - one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all." Realize what these verses have just told us. There are many people who have been to that same cross that you went to for forgiveness - one cross, same empty tomb - all for the same eternal life. They belong to the same Savior, and as different and even as difficult as some of them may be, every believer comes from that single root - Jesus Christ; same cross, same Savior, same Father, same indwelling Holy Spirit, going to the same heaven.
    Now, our word for today, Ephesians 4:3, we've got to act like we are one. It says this, "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Notice it says keep the unity of the Spirit. Apparently unity is the natural state of people in whom Christ lives. Christians working together, staying together is not something to be achieved, that's the way Jesus set it up. It's something to be preserved. And you'd better believe the enemy of Jesus is doing everything he can to put walls and hard feelings and categories and egos between us. Why? Well, first because it breaks the heart of our Savior when those He loves don't love each other. Secondly, because Satan knows the power of Christians standing together as opposed to standing separately. Philippians 1:27, "Stand firm in one spirit contending as one man for the faith of the Gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed." Now, does that verse describe the way Christians are working in your community, in one spirit, as one man, even in your own church? By the way, how many Christian churches are there in your town? If you ask Jesus, He'd probably say one - His church, meeting in different locations.
    Keeping us one is hard work. It says, "Make every effort." You put a lot of energy into it because our egos tear us apart, our differences, our labels, our categories, our jealousies, and the enemy is always trying to get a wedge in. Where is he succeeding in your relationships, your church, your community? Well, don't let it stay that way! If there is any brother or sister you have a problem with, who has a problem with you, make every effort to bridge the gap. If there is any division in your church or your ministry, offer yourself to God as the peacemaker. If the churches in your area are operating as if they have separate roots, begin to pull people together to pray and work together. Maybe this reconciliation needs to start right in your own family? Put a lot of effort into keeping the unity that God expects from His children.
    I'm not sure about that Aspen stand being the largest single living thing in the world. The church of Jesus Christ isn't a thing, but it should be the largest single living organism in the world with all our roots going back to an old rugged cross, an empty tomb, and a single Savior.

  • volume_up
    July 22, 2021 The Game of The King - #9009

    I think my brief visit to Israel has to be one of the richest memories of my life. I'm not selling Holy Land tours; I'm not going to have a Ron Hutchcraft Holy Land Tour that I'm promoting. I'm just remembering with you in my company, some especially golden moments. One of those was in this dark, damp, cobblestone basement of what is now a church on the Via Dolorosa. Two thousand years ago it wasn't that church; it was part of the palace of Pontius Pilate, the Governor. And I realized that I was standing on stones where Jesus was humiliated in front of a howling mob by some hardened Roman soldiers. And I can't forget the feelings of that. The guide showed us some markings that were scratched into the stones there; probably by some Roman soldiers. He said, "This was a board for a crude game. They called it The Game of The King, and the soldiers loved to play it. In fact, they may have played it with Jesus on those very stones. And you know what, that game is 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 comes from Matthew 27. I'll begin in verse 27. It's a familiar and really heart-rending passage about the suffering that Jesus went through even before His crucifixion.
    "Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around Him, stripped Him, put a scarlet robe on Him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and put a staff in His right hand and knelt in front of Him and mocked Him. 'Hail, King of the Jews!'...They spit on Him, took the staff and struck Him on the head again and again. After they had mocked Him, they took off the robe and put His own clothes on Him and then they led Him away to crucify Him."
    Now, they told us as we stood in that place that had been the place of trial in Pilot's palace that the game of the king was something that the Roman soldiers often played. And the winner in this game shot dice on this board that they scratched out on the stones. And that winner got to pick a prisoner, who they would get to "honor" as king for the week, and they would bring Him out and they would subject Him to all kinds of humiliation. That was their prize. In this case, it was the King of Kings. He created those soldiers! All the proper symbols were there. There was a robe, a crown, a scepter. The words were right - The King of the Jews. But it was all mockery.
    Oh, you probably say with me, "Man, that's ugly. That is perverted." Well, it is. But some of us may be playing an updated version of The Game of The King today. Could it be that you're saying all the right words about Jesus, "He's the King! He's the Lord!" You go to the right meetings; you carry all the right symbols: a Bible, Christian literature, church involvement. But it's kind of a mockery. Those soldiers had no intention of actually doing what Jesus said.
    Look at your life; your romantic life. Your words may say, "Jesus is Lord," but who's really running it? How about your business? Who's running it - Him or you? Listen to the recordings of what you sound like at home. Who's the king of your family relationships, your money, your music, your mouth? Who's really running things? It's not the words that count.
    If you're saying Christ is Lord, but you're really ignoring Him much of the time, you may be playing your own Game of the King. The most dangerous version of The Game of the King is to say all the right words about Jesus, go to all the right meetings, have all the right symbols, and have everybody think you're a Christian, but you've never given your heart to Him - your attendance, your money, maybe even your belief, but you've never given you to Him.
    You can't play games with the King of Kings. You can't play games at His cross. He died for you, and maybe this is your day. Maybe He's come to you today through our little visit to say, "Come to Me today and make it real for you." Do you want to do that? Tell Him, "Jesus, I'm yours." Maybe visit our website. There's a lot of help there for you - ANewStory.com.
    Remember, those who play games with the King always lose.

  • volume_up
    July 21, 2021 Jesus Where You Live - #9008

    That statue in that church yard had been a beautiful statue. It was Jesus with his arms extended, arms wide open. Great statue! Then the vandals came along and broke off the hands. Strangely, the church decided not to repair the hands. They left it broken like that - the arms extended, but no hands. They put a sign that explained why. It simply said: "He has no hands but our hands."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Jesus Where You Live."
    It's an amazing perspective to have on what we do every day, "I am the hands of Jesus in this place, doing what He would do." At work - the hands of Jesus. At home, I'm the hands of Jesus. In your neighborhood, your class, your organization - the hands of Jesus. That's a purpose-driven life!
    In our word for today from the Word of God, there's a wonderful picture of our part in the work that Jesus wants to do in people's lives. It's in Mark 6, beginning with verse 37 - the story of the feeding of the 5,000. That's obviously something only Jesus could have done with five loaves of bread and two fish. But it's amazing how much He uses the hands of His disciples to deliver what He's making. When the disciples suggested that Jesus send the multitudes away because they had no way to feed them, Jesus shocked them by saying, "You give them something to eat." As a result, they found the boy with the loaves and fish.
    The Bible goes on to say, "Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups." Then, after Jesus gave thanks for the loaves and fish, "He gave them to His disciples to set before the people." It must have looked like the miracle was coming from the disciples! Finally, "the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish."
    Now, what we see in this miracle is the modus operandi of Jesus. He does things only He can do for people, but He delivers those things through His disciples. He doesn't need us but he chooses to use us as part of the process. That's you and me. And the people you see each day often need something from Jesus, whether they realize it or not. They need to feel His love, so Jesus prompts you to show them His love in some act of kindness, or caring, or rescue. He sends His encouragement through you to someone who's discouraged. He may send His financial provision through what He's given you to give. Every day, He wants you to leave (I'm going to come up with a word now) with your "needometer" on. And it should be finely tuned - going through your day, not just to survive or to get your "to do" list done, but to look for needs and to deliver gifts from Him. That's part of the daily adventure life can be when you belong to Christ and when you set out to represent Him each new day.
    Ultimately, you are the hands of Jesus to deliver His greatest gift of all - the Good News of the rescue He made possible through His cross. When Paul reveals that we are "Christ's ambassadors" in our personal world, he said it was "as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you, on Christ's behalf: 'Be reconciled to God.'" (2 Corinthians 5:20). It's almost as if we approach each life-situation with this mindset: "Jesus couldn't be here today, so He's sent me to say what He would say and to do what He would do."
    When you're all wrapped up in yourself and your needs, your hands will always be full of your stuff. But when you step up to serve Jesus each day, then your hands will be giving away what He has to give because what He started, He's left with us to carry on. In so many lives you know, Christ has no hands but your hands.

  • volume_up
    July 20, 2021 The Hand That Won't Let Go - #9007

    The events of September 11, 2001, changed a lot of things, including our definition of the word "hero." Because we saw what real heroes look like - those police and firefighters we'll never forget. The ones who went into those burning towers, knowing they might not come out alive. But there were people to rescue. Immediately, professional football and baseball players began to speak out, telling the world they aren't the heroes. The people who risk their lives to save others are. By that definition, the rescue swimmers of the United States Coast Guard more than qualify. We saw them in action after Hurricane Katrina submerged much of New Orleans. They were the men dangling from helicopters, scooping desperate people off rooftops. That was easy compared to some of their rescues, like plunging from a hovering chopper into an angry sea to save a life. There was a movie not too long ago that told the story of these heroes and portrayed how they lived out their motto, "So others may live." The seasoned veteran who is training a class of rookies shows them the depth of a rescuer's life-saving commitment. It's all about grabbing the hand of that person who's about to die and making a promise: "I won't let go." And they don't.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Hand That Won't Let Go."
    Those four words touch a nerve in my heart and maybe yours. "I won't let go." That's what we want. We want someone that will really never let us go, no matter what. But our lives are littered with so many who shouldn't have let go, but they did. Maybe your parents didn't hold on like you needed them to. Friends we thought would always be there aren't anymore, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, your family. It seems as if no one is really able to always be there to hold on when we're going down, even a great husband or wife. People change. People leave. People are human. People die.
    Years ago, there was a movie with a title that stuck with me: "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter." Our hearts are hunting for an anchor person; that one person who will grab our hand and never, never let go. No matter what changes, no matter how we look or act or change, and especially when the storm is about to do us in.
    Over centuries, millions of people have grabbed the one hand that will never let go, and He never has. He's the One who made the promise recorded in Hebrews 13:5-6, which is our word for today from the Word of God, "'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' So we may say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'" That promise is from Jesus Christ - the One who loved you enough to actually die in your place to pay for the sins that have always put God out of your reach.
    A lot of people may have failed to hang on. Jesus will never fail you. He says of those who come to Him, "I will never reject them" (John 6:37). If He was ever going to turn His back on you, it would have been when He was going through your hell on the cross. But He stayed there so you could live with Him forever. He will not abandon the one He paid for with His blood. When He died for you, He proved He's got the love that won't let you go. When He walked out of His grave on that first Easter morning, He proved He's got the power to hold onto you through everything life and death can throw at you.
    But you have to grab the Rescuer's hand. Has there ever been a time when you reached out to Jesus and grabbed Him as your only hope of being rescued from your sin? You could have been religious your whole life and yet never grabbed His hand for yourself. He's reaching for you today. I don't know how much longer you're going to have to take His hand. I know you have today.
    If you want to experience His love for yourself, if you want to belong to Him, tell Him that, right where you are. Go to our website so you can better understand just how to begin your relationship with Him. That's ANewStory.com.
    If you could hear Him talking to you right now, you'd hear Jesus saying those words that can change everything, "I won't let go."

  • volume_up
    July 19, 2021 The Rat Race and The Relationship - #9006

    When we were raising our kids, a lot of the time their mother and I weren't quite sure of how we were doing. Were we giving them enough love in the ways they needed it? Were we giving them enough discipline? Were we giving them the right kind of discipline? Were we spending enough time with them? What do you do? Well, you pray! You do your best and you try to live by your priorities and then you wait to see what crop comes up years later. Now one of my particular challenges was to try to balance the extreme demands and busyness of my ministry with the kids' need for a dad, who wasn't a stranger or a visitor in their life. At one point our oldest son was reminiscing about some of his growing up, and by the way, he has a way of doing this. He really "bottom lined" it in a couple of sentences. Here's what he said: "I have two impressions of my childhood. First, my dad was busy a lot." I've got to tell you, my heart sank at that point, because I knew that was all too true. Then he said something that made me want to yell, "Thank You, Lord!" He said, "My dad was busy a lot, but secondly, my dad was with me a lot!"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Rat Race and the Relationship."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Luke 5:15-16. Two little verses that define the amazing life and the unbending priorities of Jesus, "Yet the news about Him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear Him and he healed all of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." Now here are crowds of people pursuing Him; He's surrounded by people pulling on Him about their needs. You're not Jesus, but maybe you know that feeling as a parent, or a worker, or someone in ministry or a caregiver. Jesus' days were wall-to-wall busy - again, something you might be able to identify with. But it says, "He often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." Jesus simply would not allow himself to get so busy that He neglected His time alone with His Father. Yes, there was unfinished work to do, there were people to respond to, there were needs to be met, but He refused to sacrifice the relationship for the responsibilities.
    Now, if your life is busy, then you know how hard it is to keep your time with God. I do. Frankly, for some of us, a full life has often left our Savior squeezed right out of the day's schedule, hasn't it? The result, you well know, is a growing hollowness in your soul. It's like an unexplainable sense of aloneness, and a growing sense of distance and coldness between you and the One who loves you more than anyone else in the world. Question: Don't you miss Him? He misses you. He's been showing up every day only to find that once again you didn't have time. You see, the responsibilities have squeezed out the relationship, and that relationship with Jesus is what your faith and life are really all about. Neglect the relationship and everything starts to unravel. It's the "well" from which all of life's resources are drawn. You neglect the well and you're going to be thirsty most of the time.
    Hasn't the work crowded out the worship long enough? Make a new beginning today. If Jesus, who had more to accomplish in less time than you will ever have, insisted on His time with God, how can you do any less? Tell Him you're sorry for all those days that He's been crowded out, and covenant with Jesus that beginning today your time with Him will be the highest priority of your personal schedule, the non-negotiable of your schedule. If everything but one thing has to be canceled today, your time with Him will still be there. Jesus is the only thing you absolutely have to do, not because of duty but because of love. My son brought me great joy when he told me what our life together had been like. He said, "You were busy a lot but you were with me a lot!" I hope Jesus will be able to say that about me and about you.

  • volume_up
    July 16, 2021 A Father You Can Count On - #9005

    They called it the "perfect storm." The remains of a hurricane combined with some storm fronts over New England to create a weather monster. The movie, The Perfect Storm, tells the story of one fishing crew's heroic but unsuccessful battle to survive that storm. Author Peter Hiett tells of another battle for survival that took place to the south, just off the New Jersey shore. John had taken his six-year-old daughter sailing that same day, but he didn't check the weather report. Six miles out, he found himself suddenly in trouble as a major storm seemed to come from nowhere. It wasn't long before their boat capsized, and John and his daughter were in the water and their life preservers were swept out to sea with their boat.
    Now, John knew he couldn't possibly swim the six miles to shore and hold on to his little girl. Back home, in the family swimming pool, little Mary had learned to float on her back, and that's what her dad told her to do until he could get back. He said, "Mary, you float on your back and I'll swim to shore. And I'll be back for you." Three hours later, the Coast Guard found John, and they started looking with him for his little girl, amid twenty-to thirty-foot swells. Miraculously, their spotlight found her. She'd been floating for nearly five hours. Later, the rescuers asked her, "How did you do that, Mary?" And her answer was amazing. She said, "My daddy said I could float on my back as long as I wanted to, and that he would come back for me. My daddy always does what he says."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Father You Can Count On."
    For one little girl, faith in her father helped her to survive one of the storms of the century. See, that's what you and I need, too, to make it through the storms that could sink us. We need a "daddy" who always does what he says. For someone listening today, the word "father" just carries a lot of hurt and disappointment. And no earthly father, no matter how good he is, can always do what he says.
    Every dad dies someday - except one. He's the God who made you; the God who has asked us to call Him our "Heavenly Father." He's not the father you had here on earth; He's the Father we all wished we had and so much more. He's the Father your heart has been looking for your whole life.
    And here's what the Bible says about this God who wants to bring you into His family so He can be your Father. It's our word for today from the Word of God in Hebrews 6, beginning with verse 18. It says, "It is impossible for God to lie...We who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." This anchor hope is actually a personal relationship with the God of the universe through what His Son did on the cross for us. Jesus poured out His life as your substitute, to pay your death penalty for every wrong thing you've ever done. So your sins could be forgiven and so you could belong to God forever.
    And He's the Father who always does what He says. Here's what He promised to those who accept the gift His Son died to give us: "'I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:18). You need Him. You were made for Him. And He wants you so much that He sacrificed His one and only Son to remove what stood between you and Him.
    It's your move now, to reach out to God in faith and say, "God, I've been running my own life, and that's wrong. I'm ready to live Your way now, and I believe Jesus is my only hope of having my sins forgiven because He died for me. So, Lord, I'm Yours."
    That's how you begin your personal relationship with the Father that you were made by and made for. We're here to help you do that if you'll take a few moments and just check out our website - ANewStory.com.
    There's a father who will not abandon you, and who will never, never stop loving you.

  • volume_up
    July 15, 2021 Everything On a Promise - #9004

    It's pretty amusing to look back at your wedding pictures. At least it is for me. I can't believe my wife married that kid in the tuxedo, but I'm sure glad she did! That hour in that church began what has been a lot of years of wonderful love and partnership. I remember standing up at the front of that church feeling like a penguin in my tuxedo. The bridesmaids marched down the aisle and they looked so beautiful, but I didn't want to spend my life with any of them. Nope! The organ trumpeted the beginning of the bridal march and there stood my queen! A few minutes later, at the altar, that wonderful woman made some very special promises to me about her love, her commitment, her loyalty, and the permanence of our relationship. And I did the same to her. I had no idea what the future would hold, but I made a life-changing choice that day. I decided to base everything on a promise.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Everything On a Promise."
    Many years that I never could have imagined - the valleys and the mountaintops following that wedding. But I have never regretted basing everything on my wife's promise to me that day. Now there is such a promise in God's Book and you have to decide whether or not you will live your life believing that He will keep this promise. Your decision about this promise will literally affect hundreds of decisions you're going to make for the rest of your life.
    It's our word for today from the Word of God in 1 Samuel 2:30, "Those who honor Me, I will honor." In other words, you will never ultimately lose if you choose to do it "God's" way. It could be that right now you're facing choices that aren't easy. There seems to be a lot to gain, just, if you would compromise a little. Just step outside the way your lord has taught you to handle it. Maybe it's a relationship you really want, that you really need or you feel you could benefit from, but it's with someone who doesn't care about Jesus. It's what the Bible calls an unequal yoking. Maybe the temptation is a compromise in your integrity that might help you get the job, or keep the job, or advance in the job, or a situation where it seems justifiable to sue a brother, which the Bible forbids. Could it be that you're facing a choice that looks profitable but it would hurt your family, or maybe a very enticing sexual situation, or maybe it's a chance to get even!
    Whatever the tempting choice, it seems to offer something very appealing: money, love, recognition, personal satisfaction, advancement - but it will not honor God. You know it's "out of bounds" for someone, like you, who's been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, someone who belongs to Him. So it all comes down to the promise doesn't it? "If you honor God, He will honor you" in ways you could never dream. Maybe not immediately, but it will be worth the wait.
    No one who has ever "risked it all" in honoring God, has ever been a loser for it, so settle this thing right now. Will you today, will you every day, base everything on a promise made by your all-loving, all-powerful God? On my wedding day, I chose to build my life on a promise and it has led to so much treasure! The promise that matters ultimately rests on the character of a God who has never broken a promise (no matter how many people may have broken their promises to you) and His promise is literally worth basing everything on! Read it again, "They that honor Me, I will honor."

  • volume_up
    July 14, 2021 When the Quarterback's A Referee! - #9003

    For me to think about it, it's just unbelievable the cultural phenomenon the Super Bowl has become in America and other parts of the world. It's like the whole country stops for this extravaganza surrounding the professional football championship game. More avocados are consumed on that day than any other day of the year, for example, in a guacamole dip at Super Bowl parties. Commercial time sells for millions of dollars for just 30 seconds. Big city water departments have reported major drops in water pressure, citywide, during commercials - as Americans take a simultaneous bathroom break. Even a lot of churches that have Sunday night services have decided they can't compete with the Super Bowl. A lot of them have chosen to have outreaches in the form of Super Bowl parties at their church. Our local TV news covered one church where they were doing that. Looking at the crowd, it was hard to distinguish which one was the pastor. Oh no wait, he was the one dressed in a black and white striped shirt - the pastor was the referee! How appropriate.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When The Quarterback's A Referee!"
    It's okay for a spiritual leader to be a referee for a day. It's not okay for it to take up most of his life. But sadly, many people in spiritual leadership spend as much time refereeing the complaints and conflicts of their people as they do preparing to teach the Word of God and leading the work of God. Something's wrong in this picture.
    That's what the Apostle Paul is trying to tell the believers in Corinth in our word for today from the Word of God in 1 Corinthians 1, beginning with verse 10. As I read these words, see if they describe in any way any group of believers you're a part of. "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no division among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you...One of you says, 'I follow Paul'; another, 'I follow Apollos'; another, 'I follow Cephas;' another, 'I follow Christ.' Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?"
    These people had gotten their eyes off Jesus and they were focusing on issues and personalities. When God's people do that, the Body of Christ, which has already been broken enough, is broken again. For in our world today, we are His Body. Someone has wisely said that Christians are the only soldiers who form their firing squads in a circle! Can you imagine any army turning their guns on each other, rather than focusing them on their common enemy? We do it all the time! And pastors and other spiritual leaders have to abandon quarterbacking God's team and waste precious time being a referee instead!
    Personal egos, personal agendas, control freaks, soapbox issues, turf fights - these are tools of our enemy to divide us and to make the work of God into the pitiful and powerless facsimile that is a work of man. As a result, there are tons of discouraged pastors and leaders who are being dragged into battles that don't really matter much and away from the battles that really do. Paul's call in Philippians 1:27 is that we conduct ourselves "in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ." As long as a group of believers is focused on the Lord and on the lost, they're going to be playing as a winning team. When we forget that we're surrounded by spiritually dying people and that we have a life-or-death mission to rescue them, we take our eye off the ball and we start bickering over trivial pursuits. Rescue unites people around a mission where turf and trivia just don't matter!
    No spiritual leader should spend his time as a referee. There's too much ground to gain, and he's God's quarterback. And no team that wears Jesus' colors should waste their time in struggles with each other. We have a Savior to follow together and a sea of dying people around us to rescue. Let's fight for them and not with each other!

  • volume_up
    July 13, 2021 How to Start a Fire - #9002

    One sure way to get our whole family together in one room at one time was to turn down the heat a little on a cold night and then build a fire in the fireplace. Slowly but surely, the kids' rooms upstairs would empty out as they made their way downstairs and said, "Man, it's cold up there, Dad! You've got a fire in here?" Always worked. We all loved those fires. Building a good one involved several key steps, of course. First, you roll some newspapers into logs and put them into the fireplace. Then those little sticks that burn easily; they're the kindling, of course. Then the logs stacked alternately on the kindling, leaving plenty of room, of course, for air to circulate around the wood. It looked nice, but it wasn't a fire yet. There was a missing ingredient. It took that match to make it a fire. But a match all alone did not a fire make.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Start a Fire."
    Before the match lit up the fireplace, I always had to do all the things needed to get the fire ready. That's what it takes for a spiritual fire to start,as well. The kind of fire that may be what your church, your ministry, or your life desperately needs right now.
    We can learn a lot about our part in bringing down fire from God in our word for today from the Word of God. It's in 1 Kings 18, beginning with verse 32. God's prophet Elijah has challenged 450 leaders of Baal worship to a spiritual duel on Mt. Carmel. Whose God could answer from heaven and consume by fire a sacrifice on the altar? That true God would be the one Israel would worship.
    In spite of every spiritual contortion the Baal Gang could go through, their sacrifice sat untouched on the altar. The Bible says Elijah took the following steps: "He built an altar in the name of the Lord. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed. Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, 'The Lord - he is God! The Lord - he is God!'" Elijah got things ready for a fire that only God could send; trusting God to do what only He could do.
    That is so often God's modus operandi in sending us the miracle that is our only hope. Abraham has to move from his home in order to found a new people in a new land. Noah has to build a boat before there's any need for that boat. Moses has to take the step of faith by choosing to go with a nation of slaves instead of staying with a nation of masters in order to see the miracles of the Exodus. You get things ready by steps of faith and obedience that God calls you to do. Then He sends the fire. Our approach is like this: "Do something, God, and I'll get moving." God's approach: "No. You start moving, and I'll do something."
    Billy Graham has often told the story of a visit to Yosemite National Park where visitors gathered in the valley beneath Inspiration Point, and this fire blazed at the top of the mountain. The U.S. Park Service put on this amazing demonstration years ago. The voice boomed across the valley, "Let the fire fall!" And it did! A ball of fire, Billy described, cascading down the mountain in this blazing Niagara!
    Often in recent days, I'm praying, "Lord, let the fire fall" on our ministry, on those I love, on spiritually important meetings or conversations. I want the fire of heaven to come down and do the life-giving, amazing things that only God can do. But He's got something He's wanting me to do, and you, to get ready for the fire.

  • volume_up
    July 12, 2021 The Only Way To Get Where You Want To Go - #9001

    It was a big youth event. And, one of the top contemporary Christian bands was performing that night in a major arena, and I was part of the program, too. I offered to be a backup singer, but apparently they had that covered. I'm actually a good backup singer. I mean, when I sing, people back up! Actually, I was there to speak that night, and not to do comedy, obviously, and it's a good thing. And I had some Native young people from our summer team there with me. One of them was accompanying me as we tried to connect with some of the team at another entrance. We went through the tunnels that connect the backstage part of the arena, and everywhere we went, we met those big, beefy security guys. They'd look at my all-access security pass and they'd wave me on. But they weren't quite as friendly to the young team member who was with me. They stopped her and asked her if she had a pass. She didn't. None of the team members did because they weren't on the program. And that's where the magic words came in. They worked for the girl who was with me; they worked every time for the young people who joined me. I would just say, "She's with me. He's with me."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Only Way To Get Where You Want To Go."
    One day you and I will reach the end of our journey here on earth and we'll keep our long-scheduled appointment with God Himself. It's an appointment we can't cancel; we can't postpone. The Bible says, "Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). If you're like most people, you're hoping God will welcome you into His heaven. The Bible gives only one other alternative and it's an unthinkable way to spend eternity.
    A lot of people aren't going to make it. Jesus said, "only a few find the road that leads to eternal life" (Matthew 7:14). How can you be sure you're going to heaven when you die? We can learn a lot from listening in on a conversation that Jesus had in His last moments before He died on the cross, with a thief who was being crucified on the cross next to Him. It's recorded in Luke 23:42-43, our word for today from the Word of God. The thief speaks first: "'Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.' Jesus answered him, 'Today you will be with Me in paradise.'" This man was guaranteed by Jesus Himself that he would be in heaven that day because of two words, "With Me." When he stood before God, Jesus would say, "He's with Me."
    Will He say that when it's your turn to stand before God? See it all depends on what you're depending on to get you to heaven. You can't get into heaven with the sin of your life, it's recorded in God's book, and there's only one way for your sin to be erased. The eternal death penalty for your sins has to be paid. On that awful cross, God's Son was actually absorbing that penalty so you would never have to pay it. He did your hell so you could have heaven because He loves you beyond words. The Bible says, "Everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through His name" (Acts 10:43). If you're pinning your hopes for heaven on anything other than Jesus; your religion, your goodness, your Christian family, your Christian beliefs, you're holding onto a ticket that God isn't going to accept.
    Jesus described some people with lots of Christianity who will stand before Him on Judgment Day and He will say these four chilling words to them, "I never knew you" (Matthew 7:24). Because they never got past knowing about Him to knowing Him. Don't let that be you. If you've never really pinned all your hopes on Jesus as your only Rescuer from your sin, this could be a very good day to do that; the only day you can be sure of.
    I'd love to be able to help you make sure you belong to Him, and that's why I want to encourage you to get to our website. It's ANewStory.com. I think you can come away from there knowing you belong to Jesus.
    Turn to Him today. Say, "Remember me, Lord." And when you stand at the gates of heaven, you're going in because Jesus will look at you and say those words that decide everything, "He's with Me. She's with Me."

  • volume_up
    July 9, 2021 The View Through a Dirty Window - #9000

    We were zipping along Interstate 80 one afternoon, heading home through Pennsylvania on this beautiful day. I was really enjoying the view as I drove, until that semi pulled out onto the highway in front of us. The truck was belching this heavy black smoke out of its smokestack. Immediately the car in front of us swung into the left lane to pass him. As he was passing, he suddenly turned on his windshield wipers, and we noticed that they immediately began smearing this oily film across his windshield.
    He had to pull over as soon as possible because he just couldn't see out anymore. As we passed Smokey the Truck, my wife said, "Don't turn on your wipers!" Our windshield was suddenly getting spattered with lots of little black stuff. It made it a little hard to see, but we managed to get to the next exit where the gas station attendant confirmed that those specks were what we thought - they were oil! He gave us some oil and tar remover, and it came right off. But for us - and especially for the man who had gone ahead of us - that junk on the windshield sure did ruin the view!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The View Through a Dirty Window."
    Right now, the view from your life may not be the greatest. Circumstances look pretty discouraging, life looks depressing, people seem annoying or against you, the future is looking fearful, maybe even hopeless, some people in your world aren't looking very good to you right now either. In fact, to be honest, maybe your attitude is really going downhill, you're more negative, you're more critical, you're more sensitive, you're more afraid, you're more short-tempered, or you're more discouraged.
    Consider this: maybe it's not the road or the environment or the other drivers. Maybe you're looking through a dirty window and everything and everyone looks dirty as a result. The problem may be the junk on your window, not the junk that's happening outside. Everything looks dirty when you're looking out a dirty window.
    In a sense, God is encouraging us to clean the junk off our window in our word for today from the Word of God. In Ephesians 4:31, he addresses some of the feelings in us that make the world and the people around us look pretty dark to us. God says, "Get rid of all bitterness (Got any of that in your heart right now?), rage and anger (Got anyone you're angry with right now?), brawling and slander, along with every form of malice." Notice, "get rid of those attitudes, get rid of those outlooks!" That stuff is like oil on your windshield. And so you are not able to see people clearly, you're not able to see the circumstances clearly, and you're not able to see clearly how you ought to respond.
    When you get a dirty window, everything looks bad. You interpret even positive things through your negative filter, nothing people do looks right to you through your dirty window - everything's bad, you keep connecting any present hurt to all the hurts of your past, you pick up all the negatives and you screen out any positives, you're sure it's hopeless so you don't even accept any signs of hope. If you don't get rid of those distorting perspectives, it's going to affect your driving. You can't keep going with your windshield all smudged like this. But remember, a chunk of the problem is your window, not what you're looking at.
    How do you clean off the junk that's ruining your view? You ask your Lord for the grace to forgive, for the courage to confront, for the wisdom to leave yesterday's pain out of today's choices. You're stressed, you're swerving, you're blind to what's beautiful around you and it's been that way long enough. It's time to clean that dirty window.

  • volume_up
    July 8, 2021 So Dirty, So Clean! - #8999

    p>It might be the dirtiest car I've ever driven. Someone asked me if I wanted to take a picture of our filthy chariot, and I said, "No, I don't want to remember him this way." We had spent weeks on drought-dry back roads. It was never a secret we were coming. You could see the dust long before you could see our car. It was, in the Bible's words, our own "pillar of cloud." Anywhere you rubbed against this car you picked up dirt from it. I wish more people had rubbed against it! Our car had been driven by several drivers during our summer outreach to reservations, and somewhere along the way, the rubber gasket around our trunk lid had been ripped out. One day I opened my trunk to get something, and I was greeted with a lovely blanket of chalky, white dust over everything. By the time we got to a city with a car wash, the automatic windows wouldn't even open. We wondered if their mechanism could be choked with dust. By the way, I don't usually open my windows at car washes. But anyway, we managed to find a car wash that used these words to advertise their services - high-powered, and they weren't lying. No, the water from their hoses could be used in building demolition I think or riot control! They had this soapy spray that seemed to penetrate every filthy crevice of my "dirt mobile." When we drove out, there was no trace anywhere of the dirt that had covered everything only moments before. Oh, P.S. - the windows were working, too!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "So Dirty, So Clean!"
    Our car was dirty on the outside where it was obvious to everyone, and it was dirty on the inside where no one could see - but where it kept things from not working anyway. In many ways, my car was like me with dirt inside and outside that can only be removed by some high-powered cleaning.
    The people close to us know the dirt on the outside all too well; the angry outbursts that leave many scars, the mean streak, the selfishness about getting our own way, the dirty talk, the way we treat people sometimes, the backstabbing, the gossiping, the lies, and the deceptions. They don't like it. I don't like it. God sure doesn't like it.
    Then there's the dirt on the inside that few, if any, can see. The bitterness we harbor in our heart, the desire for revenge, the dirty fantasies, the self-destructive thoughts, the dark desires and dark feelings that we hope no one ever knows about. While other people may not be able to see the dirt inside, it's still affecting our lives negatively. Things just don't work right when we've got so much dirt inside.
    King David talked about his "groaning all day long," his strength being "sapped," and the weight of God's heavy hand on him until he says, "I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord - and You forgave the guilt of my sin" (Psalm 32:3-5). Life just doesn't work right as long as we're carrying the dirt of our sin. Inside, we carry feelings of guilt and shame and regret, and sometimes anxiety about God. Because our sin means we are nowhere near ready to meet our Creator.
    It takes some high-powered cleaning to remove human sin. And, thank God, He has provided it at no cost to you; at a very high price to Him. In 1 John 1:7, our word for today from the Word of God, it says, "The blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin." That's what we need so desperately. What no religion on earth can do; total cleaning from the guilt and the penalty of our sin, outside and inside.
    And it took Jesus shedding His blood for that to happen. That was the only thing that could pay off the death penalty you and I deserve for hijacking our life from the One who gave it to us. And today, He comes to you offering His high-powered cleaning. Wouldn't it be awesome to go to sleep tonight clean; knowing that you've been forgiven by God for every wrong thing you've ever thought, said or done?
    It's within your reach if you'll reach out and say, "Jesus, I'm all Yours." Our website is about beginning this relationship. Check it out - ANewStory.com.
    Look, you know what it feels like to be dirty. Now, it's time to know what it feels like to be clean.

  • volume_up
    July 7, 2021 Bogged Down With Baggage - #8998

    Mount Luggage - that's what I remember about the day that our whole family was trapped at O'Hare Airport. We had taken our daughter to Chicago to get her to college. There was record rainfall that day. It was like nine and a half inches in a few hours, and O'Hare Airport literally had become an island. It was cut off from the rest of the world. It was like Camp O'Hare! And the overpass that people had to go through to get in was flooded with four feet of water. Well, needless to say, all the people were stranded there; everyone was running trying to get to a phone. This was pre cell phones. Every phone was taken; everybody was trying to find options, "How do I get out of here?" "How can I arrange for a ride if it ever does open up?" "Where can we stay tonight?"
    And, of course, I was a Dad with three kids and a wife there, and I'm trying to find a room, a ride. The problem was in order to take advantage of any break I could find, we had to move fast. I mean, it was just a zoo! Well, that's what we could not do (move fast) because we were bringing our daughter to college, and she was bringing her whole world to college with her. And since we had to fly, we all brought luggage, and she brought big trunks. And I think we had something like 12 pieces of luggage, and my daughter was sitting on that pile of baggage in the baggage claim area. And when we needed to move, we were too tied down to do it.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Bogged Down With Baggage."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Luke 9, and I'm going to begin reading at verse 2, where Jesus has called His twelve disciples together. And it says, "He sent them out to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them, 'Take nothing for the journey. No staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.'"
    In essence, Jesus is saying, "I've got kingdom work for you to do. I want you to travel light. Don't get bogged down with a lot of extra gear. Limit yourself to the basics you really need and be ready to move any time when there's a job to do. I don't want you to have to say, 'Whoa! Hold it! We can't take all this weight with us. I've got to go get more. How am I going to carry...'" He wants His servants to be highly mobile; ready to move at His command.
    Now, there's a phrase that might describe many of us Western Christians. We're slaves to our stuff. We've got so much stuff! If God were to ask us to make a move for Him or to start a work for Him, or to suddenly give a very large percentage of what we've got to His work, to change our lifestyle to serve Him, we couldn't. We're like our family at O'Hare Airport. We've got so much material baggage we can't move it when He tells us to. We limit God's ways of using us by our accumulation of stuff. We don't own it, it owns us.
    Many of us think we don't have much at all. We'll say, "Well, a lot of people have more than I do." But if we look at our Lord, who traveled very light in this world, we've got a lot. God never meant for us to keep enlarging our standard of living to the point where we can't afford to leave all and follow Him. We've got so much debt, so much we own, so much stuff. And instead of continuing to give it away, we build a little kingdom. He may or may not ask you to leave all and follow Him; He did ask a lot of people to do that and He still is. But we need to live so we're always ready to move for Him.
    We have a heritage in our faith of leaders and followers of Christ who travel light. Let's not let the accumulation of earth stuff trap us into God's second best. You have to always be ready to leave it all and you've got to be able to leave it all. When God asks you to move or change, you just don't want to be trapped by a mountain of baggage.

  • volume_up
    July 6, 2021 Saying Goodbye to What's Been Holding You Back - #8997

    Our daughter might still be sucking on her binky if we hadn't negotiated a deal. She was very attached to that pacifier, long after she really didn't need it anymore. Then my wife struck that bargain - the doll that our girl really wanted in exchange for her binky. From that day on, the binky was no more. I kept it in a drawer for my tough days. Not long ago, our son and daughter-in-law had a similar crossroads moment with our granddaughter. She could not imagine life without her binky, until Mommy and Daddy announced her Bye-Bye Binky Party. Did you ever go to one of those? On that day, she would surrender her binky and there would be a party in her honor with cake, decorations and even little presents. And suddenly, she didn't need her binky anymore!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Saying Goodbye to What's Been Holding You Back."
    A child with their pacifier; Linus with his blanket - things they've depended on that they don't really need anymore. Even we grownup kids have things we depend on that are actually holding us back from what our life could be. But we hold on to it as stubbornly as a child does to her binky or Linus to his blanket until someone comes along and shows us something better.
    For me, for millions of people, that someone is Jesus Christ. He liberated people from what they needed so long when He was here on earth, and He's still doing it today. He wants to do it for you.
    One example of how it works is recorded in Luke 5, beginning with verse 15. It's our word for today from the Word of God. "Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus." Then the Bible describes some extraordinary measures they had to employ to accomplish their mission, but they did get their paralyzed friend to Jesus. The story continues: "He said to the paralyzed man, 'I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.'" Can you imagine this? That mat has supported this man his whole life. Suddenly, Jesus is telling him to get up and carry what's been carrying him all these years!
    It says, "Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God." I could just imagine this man shouting, "I've needed this thing my whole life, but I don't need it anymore!" That is the kind of freedom Jesus wants to bring to you; freedom from always needing a man or a woman to make you feel valuable and secure. Think of how they've let you down. He wants to give you freedom from being an approval junkie, from seeing yourself as a victim all the time, from trying to find your worth in your work or your performance, freedom from the bottle, the drug, the sex, or the applause that you thought you needed to complete you. They never have; they never will.
    Then along comes Jesus, the Man who loves you enough to die to pay for the sin that keeps you from God; who's powerful enough to walk out of His grave. The Bible says of Him, "You are complete in Him" (Colossians 2:10) and only in Him, because the Bible says you were "created by Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16). Every other thing you've leaned on for love and significance and completeness is an unfulfilling substitute for the real thing - for Jesus.
    And today, He's come to you and He's saying, "Get up. You don't need what you've used to support you for so long. I'm what you've needed all along." What a day this could be if you could make it your Jesus-day - the day you open your heart to Him to come in and forgive all the sin of your life and free you from the dependencies that have been holding you back. Just talk to Him where you are. Tell Him you're done driving your own life, that your only hope is Him and what He did on the cross for you, and tell him from this day on, you're His.
    If that's what you want, I hope you'll check out our website. We've set it up just so you can be sure you belong to Jesus. It's ANewStory.com.
    This day can be your declaration of independence. The day you say, "The thing I've been depending on for so long - I don't need it anymore, I've got Jesus now! I'm His, I'm complete, I'm free!"

  • volume_up
    July 5, 2021 Knowing How It's Going To End - #8996

    Some years ago, my wife and I were at this couples' party at church, and they played a game that is sort of like that old TV show, "Let's Make a Deal." Everybody brought some "white elephant" gifts - they didn't bring white elephants but that's something you really wanted to get rid of. Of course, all these castaway gifts were nicely wrapped so no one knew what was inside. Then one person (maybe you've done this) has to go to the gift pile, pick one, and they open it. From that point on, each person has a choice when they go to the middle: take one of those unopened treasures, or give one of those unopened gifts in exchange for something that's already been opened that looks good to you - something that you know you want. Now, at this particular party, there was one particular object - this hand-carved lamp stand - that everybody wanted. It was one of the few things of value really. And it didn't matter what lengths a person went to in order to conceal that lamp stand, the next trader inevitably would remember where it was and they'd go for it. Actually, the dealing got pretty animated, in fact, I'd say almost dangerous at times. Everybody was up for grabs, except for one person - the woman who had opened the first gift. See, she remembered the rules of the game - that since the first person didn't get to make a trade, they get to make the last trade of the game. Through all the turmoil, she knew who was going home with that lamp stand all along!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Knowing How It's Going To End."
    That lady who opened the first gift was sitting there peacefully through all the hassling, probably saying to herself, "I know how this is going to end!" Well, that kind of confidence can give you great peace when everybody else is losing it.
    Our word for today from the Word of God is especially for someone who is carrying a very heavy burden right now; maybe a disappointment, a painful loss, or a deep hurt. Hear the word of the Lord in Psalm 30:5, "Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." First of all, God doesn't try to deny or ignore the pain we have, or the tears, or the grief. They are very, very real. But God says, they need to be compared to the joy that is coming, and comparatively, this season of weeping will be brief. The Bible says that God has seen your tears, felt your tears, and actually stored up your tears in a bottle. But He has also planned the celebration.
    Right now, it may feel as if it's always going to be like this. Listen, "but rejoicing comes in the morning." God guarantees it. You can make it through a long, cold, dark winter if you know Spring is coming. And in this case, Spring lasts forever.
    When the Duke of Wellington was engaged in one of history's most decisive battles, all London was waiting for word of the outcome. And the first message that came through simply said, "Wellington defeated." And people started to mourn the loss. Until the rest of the message finally got through, "Wellington defeated the enemy." What looks like defeat right now - what looks like the end - is not the end! Your feelings are sending you only half the news...the tears part. But there is victory coming!
    It looked as if it was over when Lazarus died; Jesus hadn't arrived in time to heal him. But Jesus was planning something much better than a healing - how about a resurrection! It wasn't over! What you're facing right now may seem to be the end, but that which seems to have won right now will be defeated. It isn't over unless you despair and walk away from the God who will finish this battle victoriously.
    Dig deep into your Heavenly Father's love and into His strength. Until the rest of the message comes clear. In the middle of the turmoil, even when everybody else is going crazy, you can stay peaceful; you can stay poised. You know that joy and victory are coming. You can sit back calmly, smile, and say, "I know how this is going to end."

  • volume_up
    July 2, 2021 Bad Stuff In Your Tank - #8995

    Sometimes being a Christian comes with a pretty high price tag, especially if you're a believer on some of America's Native American reservations. My friend, who I'll call John, lives on a reservation where there are very few Jesus-followers and where some of the tribe is bitterly opposed to anything Christian. They were especially unhappy when John began a youth ministry there. He literally had telephoned death threats; he had slashed tires, dirty tricks, even attacks on his property. One day, he was making the five-hour drive from his reservation to a Native American conference where I was speaking. He got there a little late. His car engine started sputtering and missing - he lost power. Thankfully, it started as he approached the only gas station in the middle of a very long stretch. After a few minutes, the mechanic diagnosed the problem - someone had put sugar in his gas tank. Again, thankfully, they were able to correct the situation. And nothing has been able to stop John's ministry among his people, but impurities in his tank almost stopped his car that day!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Bad Stuff In Your Tank."
    Now when there are impurities in your tank, you're going to lose power, especially when it comes to spiritual power. In fact, you may be wondering why things have been sputtering lately. It's been frustrating. It's been confusing. And you just don't seem to have the power you used to have or the power you need.
    It isn't that you haven't tried to fix things. You've worked harder, you've adjusted your approach, you've tried to place blame, you've even prayed about it. But things still aren't running right. Could it be it's because there's dirt in your tank? The problem isn't the vehicle or the miles or those traveling with you. It's those impurities in your tank, and that's what's costing you your power.
    God's prescription for a full-power recovery is in Acts 3:19, our word for today from the Word of God. Here's what He says, "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." The key to recovery - repentance. And repentance is all about dealing with the bottom line issue - dealing with the sin that is holding back God's blessing.
    Actually, we'll try everything but repentance to get the power back. We'll tinker with every part of the engine before we face the fact that the problem is the bad stuff in our tank. But there's no counselor, there's no seminar, there's no Christian activity that can get the dirt out of your tank. Only repenting can do that.
    Would you consider the possibility that the solution is as simple and as difficult as getting rid of the sin that is choking your power supply? Maybe God's power can't get through that bitterness you're harboring, that selfish motive, that prideful motive that is your real reason for doing what you do. Or is there a broken relationship - a broken vow - an area of stubborn rebellion against what you know God wants.
    It's getting harder and harder to go, isn't it, with that stalling. And you're running out of gas. Today, would you finally turn and face Jesus; finally face how your sin has been hurting your Savior. Come to the foot of His cross and abandon that sin at the place where He died for it, and pick up His overcoming power to beat what has beaten you for so long.
    And you know what, maybe you've never been to that cross to begin a relationship with Jesus; to have Him erase from God's Book every wrong thing you have ever done, so you can be clean, and free, and you can experience Him to be a personal Savior for you from your personal sin and go to His heaven some day. Listen, if you've never begun that relationship, right now where you are would you just say, "Jesus, I'm tired of this junk, I'm tired of the guilt, I'm tired of the shame. You died to pay for it. You rose again to change my life, I'm yours." Do you want that? Our website is there to make it all clear for you. Just go there today - ANewStory.com.
    If you'll repent, God's told you what He will do. He'll wipe your sins away and here comes His times of refreshing.

  • volume_up
    July 1, 2021 Respecting The Slope - #8994

    We think we know what mountains are out East, all 1,500 to 3,000 feet of them! Of course, those Western folks, oh, they have a superiority complex about their mountains - just because they're like 8,000-12,000 feet high! Now, I do love the majesty of those Western peaks, like the Tetons. I've been there a couple of times and they're impressive to look at, but they're apparently pretty tempting to climb too. Some local guides told me that folks from out East take an intensive two weeks summer mountaineering course, and of course, they are now expert mountain climbers! Well, they're not. The most demanding peak in the Tetons is the Grand Teton, and of course that's the one all these cocky rookies want to climb. One local guide told me very matter-of-factly, "We have to go up several times each summer to pick up the remains of some of those climbers." You see, the mountain beats the climber when the climber is over confident. One veteran local climber told me he's never even tried to climb the Grand! He said "I've got too much respect for it."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Respecting The Slope."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 Corinthians 10:12. It says, "So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" In other words, those who underestimate the slopes of sin are destined to fall, just like those rookie climbers. It really isn't the mountain that kills them, it's miscalculation. First, they underestimate the peak, then they overestimate their ability to handle it.
    It's that same equation that's caused many a moral and spiritual fall. It may be that you're flirting with one right now and you don't even know it. Maybe you're operating on the "I can handle it" lie? You're not over the edge yet, but you're close. It may be some "innocent" flirtation with someone of the opposite sex; someone other than your husband or wife. Or maybe it's just time alone with that person, maybe under the heading of counseling them, or helping them. But that scenario has sent many a married person and many a marriage right over the cliff. Or you're single and you're very interested in someone. You're not having sex but you're pushing the limits. "Hey I can handle it!" Those are some of the last words of many people just before they gave away something that they could never get back. The temptation may have to do with money, and you're playing on the ragged edge of honesty and integrity; thinking you can stay in bounds, but you're playing with fire! Or temptation right now, for you, might have to do with getting even, leaving a commitment, or compromising the truth.
    Temptation comes in many flavors, but you're very close to falling - much closer than you know. You're overestimating yourself; you're underestimating sin and the power of Satan to push you right over the edge! And because God loves you so much, He's sending you this warning today, "Get back from the edge! Verse 13 says, "God is faithful...He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it." Now, he doesn't say fight temptation, he says flee it! Escape it! Choose the road that takes you nowhere close to the opportunity to sin!
    Remember, it isn't the mountain that kills those climbers, it's their own risk-taking carelessness and their arrogance. It won't be that temptation that causes you to fall, it will be your moral carelessness - the kind that flirts with falling by staying on a slope that you should have never even gone near.
    The deadly slope of sin and temptation - respect it. It has destroyed stronger people than you! Come down before you fall.

  • volume_up
    June 30, 2021 A Long Journey and A Happy Ending - #8993

    Every wedding has its special challenges. Our friend Candace's was no exception, like getting the people in the wedding to the wedding. The groom's family, including the best man, had to come from Sweden. And it just so happened that the week of the wedding was part of the longest stretch of winter cold and a deadly covering of ice in 100 years. Literally, our whole region was glazed over with three layers of freeze, and it made even taking a step treacherous, let alone driving a vehicle. And there wasn't a trace of thawing. Well, it was a battle. I mean, storms closed the major airports around us. But after many hours of travel and waiting, the groom's family finally got a flight to an airport about four hours away from us. Then came a long and treacherous drive for the groom, to and from the airport. Oh, and the fun was only beginning when they arrived in town, because then just walking to or from your car was risking life and limb. But Friday night, right on schedule, with the entire starting cast, according to plan, the wedding happened.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Long Journey and A Happy Ending."
    For the bride and groom, for two families, the journey was a lot harder than they thought it would be. The process took a lot longer than they thought, but the goal came together right on schedule! Which may be exactly what's going on in your life right now related to God's great plans for you and something you've been trusting Him for over a long time.
    There's so much security and reassurance in our word for today from the Word of God as He describes His activity in our lives. Ephesians 1:11-12 steps back with God's telephoto lens to give us the really big picture: "In Christ, we were also chosen, having been predestined, according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will." In other words, God's plan for you is going to work out, right on schedule, with all the right cast, according to plans He made for you before there was a you!
    Now I may not feel like that right now. Given what's going on right now - or what's not going on right now - it may be hard to imagine a happy ending. If you look at the human possibilities, there's not much hope of things coming together. But since when is a child of Almighty God supposed to just look at human possibilities. The harder it is, the longer it takes, the more everyone is going to know it had to be God.
    That's how it was when those two families watched their carefully laid plans unravel, and then God pull together what only He could pull together. It provided a powerful witness to family members who weren't believers, and even supporting each other on the ice bonded two families that had never even met before. God often takes a while to accomplish His purposes, because He's doing so much more than we could ever plan or anticipate.
    So your Plan A may have gone up in smoke; maybe your Plan B, and C, and D are on the scrap heap, too. But God's Plan A is right on schedule, it's right on track. And that's the one you were made for, the one that was made for you. And He's not just working out a plan that will be good for a little while. He's carrying out plans that will be good forever! He's working out "everything in conformity with the purpose of His will" for you. That's what the Bible says. I love Proverbs 19:21. It says, "Many of the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."
    So it may be harder than you thought it was going to be, it may be taking longer than you thought it would take. But it's going to happen! And everyone is going to be amazed!

  • volume_up
    June 29, 2021 Sending Ammo to the Enemy - #8992

    My first time in Hawaii, I was there for just one day in between legs of my trip. And since I only had a short time, there was one place I definitely wanted to make it a point to see - Pearl Harbor. I've got to tell you, that's one emotional place to visit, especially the Battleship Arizona Memorial where hundreds of American sailors are still entombed at the bottom of the harbor. One of the many intriguing facts about that Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was a transaction that took place well before that "day of infamy" - one that no one could have ever imagined would contribute to the awful losses of December 7, 1941. The United States made a deal to ship millions of tons of scrap metal to Japan - metal which was reportedly used to build some of the very airplanes that bombed Pearl Harbor!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Sending Ammo to the Enemy."
    It's just not a good idea to give your enemy things that he can eventually use to sink you. That's a mistake we make all the time with the enemy of our soul, the devil. Here's our word for today from the Word of God. It reveals three ways we can actually hand our enemy the raw material with which he can later bomb us.
    1 Peter 5:8 is that important warning to "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him..." Around that warning, Peter talks about three aspects of our life that potentially give our enemy the weapons with which to ruin us.
    In verses 5 and 6, Peter says, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand that He may lift you up in due time." Okay, pride - that's the first kind of ammunition you can send to your enemy. When you're starting to be all about you, when you're allowing your ego to get bigger and bigger, you are handing Satan the gun to shoot you with. Proud people eventually end up making arrogant mistakes, hurting people they care about, and poisoning their relationship with God.
    If you are more and more getting life revolving around you, if you're becoming more and more self-seeking, self-promoting, self-centered, the devil has you exactly where he wants you. It's exactly where he was just before he was expelled from heaven. Now, before you fall, "humble yourself under God's mighty hand." It has never been all about you. It's all about Him!
    The second way you can help Satan sink you is to disobey 1 Peter 5:7 - "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." Anxiety or worry - that allows Satan to come between you and your Lord. He can use your anxiety to get you to panic, to live in fear instead of faith. Your defense? Release what you're worrying about to the One who has taught us that "the battle is the Lord's."
    And then 1 Peter 5:9 tells us to "stand firm in the faith" when you're going through a time of suffering. If you let your pain turn you away from God rather than to God, Satan can exploit your wilderness to bring you down. Notice, all three of these satanic windows: pride, anxiety, and suffering have one strategy in common - to get you focusing on something other than Jesus, focus on yourself, focus on your worries, focus on your pain. He can beat you. He can't beat Jesus.
    So which one is the devil's best weapon to sink you with right now? Is it pride? Is it anxiety? Is it suffering? Well, it's time to surrender that to Jesus, and refuse to send ammunition to your enemy!

  • volume_up
    June 28, 2021 The Noise of Neglect - #8991

    Okay, let's face it, I'm mechanically challenged. Now we've got that over with. I mean, I can take care of the basics on a car, but if it's beyond "A, B, C," I need outside help, I'm sorry. Sometimes your car starts talking to you, making those strange sounds, and doing strange things. I've noticed those things don't go away by themselves. Over time, those noises get louder; those strange things that it does come more often. Sometimes, it's just natural - just like us. You know, cars get old, parts start wearing out. But sometimes that noise and trouble can be avoided.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Noise of Neglect."
    When you fail to maintain your car, you're neglecting that buggy, it's going to start making some strange noises. It's going to start doing some strange things. So do people; especially if the people is a woman who has committed her life to a man she married. If she starts making strange noises and doing some strange things, the cause may well be that silent destroyer called neglect.
    Maybe there's a guy listening today who's been wondering, "What's the deal with my wife? She's becoming more stressed, more shrill, more negative, more hostile, more of a nag. Something's obviously wrong with the girl." Or maybe not. Maybe she's showing the signs of the neglect of a husband who promised his life for her but has little or no time for her, to really hear her heart - to find out where she's hurting inside, anxious inside, to find out what she really needs.
    There are few things more heartbreaking and more hurtful to a woman than an inattentive husband. And even though I assume you love her, that inattentive, distracted husband might be you. And the malfunctions and strange sounds are really the result of your neglect.
    God makes very clear the kind of treatment and priority He expects a man to give to the woman he married. In 1 Peter 3:7, our word for today from the Word of God, He says: "Husbands...be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." The New Living Translation says, "Give honor to your wives. Treat them with understanding as you live together."
    Look at the action words: consider her - take her needs and her feelings into consideration. Treat her with respect. That means listening to her; regarding her as someone important. She's supposed to be the most important voice on earth to you. And some other voices might be drowning hers out. And treat her like a fellow-heir in God's family. We're talking royal treatment here. How much does this matter to God? He says if you don't treat her like this, don't expect Him to answer your prayers!
    Could it be this woman you committed to cherish and honor is feeling ignored, marginalized and unheard? Maybe you've been trying to avoid conflict by not communicating with her on difficult subjects. All that does is postpone and intensify the conflict and leave her feeling frozen out. And it's getting harder for her to trust you.
    It's in your power to change it, to put your wife back where you once had her, in the center of your affections, in the center of your attention. It begins by making it a commitment to give her all of you - your undivided attention - at least once a day. Don't let others push her out so she just gets your leftovers. She deserves your best. You promised.
    The woman you married is a flower that can flourish with your care or wither with your neglect. She needs you. She was wired by God to need you. And you need her. Tell her that. Tell her you're sorry for so often running past her instead of running to her. And tell her, "Honey, I'm home," because you've been away too long.

  • volume_up
    June 25, 2021 The Only Identities That Really Matter - #8990

    Much of my life I've been interested in following politics. But even I'm sick of politics right now! And you know what? Maybe you've OD'd on it. You know, all those pundits on the news. You know, they start to sound like indistinct blather when adults speak out on a Charlie Brown special. You know?
    Oh, and the signs during an election! I never could wait til they come down and I can see my neighbor's house again. Oh, and the joy to think, "I can turn on my TV and there will not be one political commercial, showing your opponent as Frankenstein or Bride of Frankenstein."
    But sadly, America's a very fractured nation politically. You know, after an election some people are all excited because their candidate won, and some are saying, "Boy, the end of everything must be close because my candidate lost. The other guy won."
    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Only Identities That Really Matter."
    You know, after waking up and hearing election results in America, sometimes I think of all the views that I'd heard on TV describing how they see America. And you know what? That's the time I ask God to help me see my town, my country, my world through His eyes. "What do You see, Lord?"
    And He said, "Ron, there are only two categories that really matter. When you look at people, see them as being on one of two lists." And it wasn't Republican or Democrat or Independent. No, I remembered something I read about the days after the Titanic sank. White Star Lines, the owners of the Titanic, set up a room in Liverpool, England, where people could wait to learn the fate of a passenger that they loved. Occasionally, a company official would come in and add a name to one of two lists, posted on a large board. The lists simply read: "Known to be saved" ... "Known to be lost."
    Everyone you love - everyone in your personal world - everyone hearing or reading this is on one of two lists. They're described in our word for today from the Word of God in 1 John 5:11-12. It says, "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that has the Son has life; He that does not have the Son of God does not have life." Known to be saved...Known to be lost.
    It shouldn't be what political list or religious list a person's on that defines my relationship with them - it should be which of God's lists they're on. When we get to heaven, there won't be any "Republicans," or "Democrats," or "progressives," or "conservatives." No "Baptists," no "Methodists," or "Roman Catholics." God sees people in terms of their eternal destination, and it defines His relationship with us.
    We were all in one doomed category - sinners; people who have marginalized our Creator rather than enthroning Him. Who have defied His ways and done what we wanted to do, and cut off from Him because He's sinless and we're full of sin.
    But in spite of our disregard and disrespect of the God who put us here, He refused to leave us lost. He sent His precious Son, Jesus, to do what only He could do - pay for our sin by paying our death penalty on the Cross. So heaven or hell all comes down to what I do with Jesus. Whether I leave Him outside my life or put all my trust in Him as my only hope for rescue. "You have the Son, you have life," the Bible said. "You don't have the Son, you don't have life" (1 John 5:12).
    Today if you could see God's lists, you'd be on the "Known to be lost" list, huh? But today you could change lists. Because Jesus stands ready to erase the sin of your life from God's book, forgive every one of those sins, and give you eternal life that you could never deserve, because He gave His life for you.
    Let today be the day you say, "Jesus, I'm Yours." Check out our website. It will show you how to get started with Him. ANewStory.com - that's the site.
    You know, we've heard a lot of people being defined by their label. I want to see what God sees, don't you? Saved - Lost. I want to love those people like He does, because it breaks His heart. It breaks His heart for you to be lost. That's why He sent His Son. It's time you belong to Him.

  • volume_up
    June 24, 2021 Everything You Need - #8989

    Nobody thought Gladys Aylward was good enough. During the 1920s, she had heard about the great spiritual need of China, and she sensed God's strong call on her life to go there. But she was only a chambermaid. When she applied to China Inland Mission in London, they rejected her because she wasn't educated enough and she was probably too old to learn the language they said. But Gladys Aylward made it to China and she made such a difference there that a number of books have been written about her life. Hollywood even based a movie on her life, "The Inn of the Sixth Happiness" got an Academy Award winning actress in it too.
    In her later years, as she told her story to audiences in many places, they were surprised to hear the commanding speech coming from this very tiny lady who had to stand on a box to even be seen over the pulpit. She said to them: "As I was growing up, I had two great sorrows. First, as my friends kept getting taller, I stopped growing. Secondly, as my friends grew beautiful blonde curly hair, mine was straight black. Then I went to China. And as I looked over the people to whom Jehovah God had sent me, I said to myself, 'These people have hair as black and straight as mine...and they stopped growing when I did.' I bowed my head and I said, 'Lord God, you know what you are doing!'" Yes, He does.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Everything You Need."
    Much to her surprise, and much to everyone's surprise, little Gladys Aylward had been equipped with God for everything she needed to carry out His plan for her life. And so have you. I know that because He says so in Ephesians 2:10, our word for today from the Word of God: "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
    That's the message I've given to each of my grandchildren on the day they were born. It's the message I hope will grip your heart and help shape the rest of your life. God has created you for a destiny, and whether or not anyone else can see it, whether or not you've seen it, you are God's workmanship. And don't tell me that God makes things with parts missing or mistakes in them. There are some things God put you on this planet to do for Him. He's had them planned since before there was a you, and He's wired you with everything you need to get it done - everything.
    Maybe you're thinking of all the things you're not, all the things you don't have that others have. Stop it! Everything you need for carrying out God's mission for you, you have. And what you don't have, you don't need! Moses argued with God that he wasn't qualified to go to Pharaoh and rescue God's people. But what kind of person did God need? Well, let's see. Someone who knew Egypt, who knew the Jews, and who knew the wilderness. Well, that's three different guys right there. Wrong! Moses was a Jew who had been raised by the Egyptians and who had spent many years in the wilderness. Moses was perfectly equipped to make a difference for the Lord, and so are you. When Moses continued to plead his inadequacy, he asked, "Who am I that I should go?" God's answer was: "I will be with you...go; I will help you" (Exodus 3:11-12; 4:12).
    When you ask, "Who am I, Lord?" He answers, "Wrong question. Who am I?" It's not about who you are. It's about who He is. And all your abilities, your experiences, your battles, your weaknesses, and your strengths - they're all a divine tapestry to make you everything you need to be to do everything He put you here to do. Maybe you've been under-living!
    You're His workmanship; you're His masterpiece. This day, open yourself up to Moses' God, to Gladys Aylward's God - the One who loves to use ordinary people to do extraordinary things for Him. Make this the day that you surrender to everything He wants you to be, everything He wants you to do. And let the adventure begin!

  • volume_up
    June 23, 2021 Night Lights That Know When to Shine - #8988

    I guess we got in the habit when our kids were little. Like night lights. Yeah, we put one in their room. Actually I heard it keeps the monsters in the closet. I hope that's true. Well, we always had one in the bathroom so you wouldn't fall in if you had to go there in the middle of the night. Actually, we always had a night light in the bathroom years later. The new and improved kind. It only went on when the lights went out. But, of course, that's when you need it, right, when it's dark.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Night Lights That Know When to Shine."
    It's nice to have a light that turns on when it gets dark - especially if that light is a person. Because when you're going through a dark time, you really need someone who brings some light into your life; sort of a human night light. Which I hope you are; which someone you know probably needs right now.
    It's the kind of friend described in our word for today from the Word of God in Proverbs 17:17. God says, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." In other words, a real friend, a real brother is one who's walking in when everybody else is walking out! And that takes the kind of love Jesus has, the kind of love Jesus can give you to give someone else. It's called unconditional love - the kind that has absolutely nothing to do with how the other person is acting, how the other person is treating you, or what the other person can do for you.
    But I'm guessing there's someone you know who really needs you to be their night light right now. But you might be holding back. Maybe they've experienced a big hurt, and frankly, you don't know what to say. So, you're avoiding them. They just need your presence, not your words; they need your hug, not your talk; they need your help with some of the everyday stuff that's become too much for them in their dark time.
    Or maybe the person who needs you isn't acting very loveable right now. They're angry, they're negative, they're lashing out, they're withdrawn, they're sending off "leave me alone" signals that don't exactly make people feel like trying to reach out to them. But often when people are the least loveable, they need our love the most.
    It may, in fact, be a child of yours, another family member, who is acting pretty ugly right now. You can almost bet that it's because they've been wounded somehow, and they're bleeding all over the people close to them. Someone has to disregard all those negative vibes and reach out to them with some love, some tenderness. I'm suspecting that God's "someone" who is supposed to love them might be you.
    It's possible there's a fellow believer who has made some serious mistakes, and they've been pretty much written off by other Christians. Maybe God's calling on you to extend the hand of Jesus to them in spite of what they've done. Not to condone it, not to bless what God can't bless, but to let them know there's someone they're safe with.
    There are lots of reasons not to be that friend who, according to the Bible, "loves at all times," not to be that brother or sister who is "born for adversity." But here's the real bottom line. It's the nature of Jesus to pursue the most unlovable, the most hurting, and often even the most undeserving. And it's supposed to be the nature of those of us who carry His name.
    It's time for that phone call, that text, that email, that letter. It's time for that listening ear. It's time to extend a helping hand. It's time for that visit. It's time for someone to bring the healing love of Jesus into their darkness. Because when it's dark, when the lights have gone out, you need a night light. It's time for you to shine.

  • volume_up
    June 22, 2021 Your "No Vacancy" Sign - #8987

    You always have to hold your breath when your little children are with other adults, because you never know what they might reveal about life at home. It pays to live with nothing to hide. Right? A friend was babysitting his three-year-old grandson not long ago, and this little guy kept the conversation active with a stream of consciousness, a series of comments on a lot of subjects. Suddenly the three-year-old brought up things he wanted to do when he was an adult. One of them was potentially a little revealing. He said, "I'm going to have an office in my house, and I'm going to tell my children not to bother me." Oooo! His daddy has an office in the house. I wonder if this little guy learned that script at home?
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Your 'No Vacancy' Sign."
    Over the years, you've probably driven to some motel all tired and very ready to stop, only to be greeted by that discouraging sign, "No Vacancy." Unfortunately, we sometimes do that to our children and our spouse. We hang out a "no vacancy" sign that says, "I don't have any room for you right now." If it happens pretty often, you could have one very sad, very frustrated, and maybe a very explosive family.
    Honestly, there are those times when we do need to close the door and focus. But it can't help any child to be associated with the word "bother." You can explain why you need to work without interruption, as long as they know that you're available if they really need you, and as long as you let them know when you will be available. But in too many homes, this business of being unavailable to the people who need us most is not the exception. It's like a way of life. And without meaning to, we may be telling someone we love very much that whatever always takes you away is more important to you than they are. After all, you keep leaving them and excluding them to do it. Right?
    There's a wonderful blueprint for human relationships in Ephesians, chapters 4 and 5. In chapter 5, beginning with verse 1, our word for today from the Word of God, we get a fundamental equation of what it means to love someone. It says, "Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a...sacrifice to God." The equation is simple but challenging: "love equals sacrifice." And sacrifice means giving something you really value for the person you love.
    In your busy life, there might be nothing you have less of than time. And your time, your availability, is what your children and your spouse need most. To love them is to give them time you think you don't have because no one else on earth can be daddy or mommy to them; no one else can be husband or wife. It's really the only role in your life where you're irreplaceable and indispensable.
    In a later verse, this passage tells us to "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." That submit word means to put someone ahead of you. Then it proceeds to talk about husbands, wives, children, and parents - all of whom, as God's kind of person, will put the other ahead of themselves.
    Your family needs your availability to them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It's best if you actually offer your availability to them right away, then they don't have to burn down the house or raise the roof to get your attention. You gave it willingly. Make it a goal to take time with each one to make them feel like the only person in the world at that moment. Think about each one's emotional ledger. Every time you're unavailable or gone, there's a debit in their life. So you need to consciously and as soon as possible, balance that account with the credit of some focused time with them.
    Don't make your child, your husband, your wife feel shut out of your life by an invisible but very real "no vacancy" sign. Just always have room for them even if it means sacrifice. People who know they're loved and important and listened to don't have to start looking somewhere else for what you didn't give them - somewhere that could scar their life and break your heart.

  • volume_up
    June 21, 2021 Spending It All On the One He Loves - #8986

    My oldest son had saved up for this baseball card show for months. He was about nine at the time, and he was already good at knowing which cards to buy; he was really a sharp investor. One of his biggest frustrations was that all of my '50s vintage baseball cards had been thrown out when we moved during my childhood, so he never quite forgave his grandmother for that. But imagine what they could have been worth by now! But I shared with him that when I was a kid I liked to turn in Coke bottles and get deposit money, and I'd get baseball cards with that myself.
    I was trying to get the cards of all the players from the favorite team of my boyhood, the Chicago White Sox. I really wanted the whole team! Now, my hero was a star second baseman named Nellie Fox, who's in the Hall of Fame now. And wouldn't you know, I would get six or eight copies of other players, and I could never get a pack that had Nellie Fox in it. I had the entire White Sox team except for Nellie Fox.
    Well, we got to this baseball card show. I looked around with my youngest son for a while. We even stopped at a table that had some Nellie Fox cards that were from my era. I turned my son loose for a little while to spend the money that he had carefully saved over all those months. And a few minutes later I felt a tug on my pant leg, and there was my oldest son, who was reaching up to me with something in his hand and tears in his eyes. He said, "Daddy, I know you always wanted Nellie Fox. I bought you some. I love you." I was overwhelmed! He had loved me enough to spend on me everything he had.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Spending It All On the One He Loves."
    If there are three words that I had the power to tattoo on your soul for the rest of your life, it would be these words, God Loves You. I don't know what the word "love" has meant in your life. Maybe you've loved and lost. Maybe there's never been enough love.
    Maybe love has meant disappointment and hurt, rejection or abandonment. Maybe for all the love you've had, it's still never filled that hole in your heart. Well, that's because there's a love so big that only God can give it...that can alone fill the hole in your heart.
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God tells us how we know He loves us. Romans 8:32 says, "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He also with Him not freely give us all things?" Delivered up His Son for us! There was nothing more valuable God had than His Son. So how do you know how much He loves you? He spent the best He had. He spent His Son to get you back.
    Why was that necessary? Well, because you and I have made the same choice about our life. We've decided we would run it instead of the God who gave us our life. He's a holy God. He governs the entire universe. We're rebels. We've set out to do it my way instead of God's way. We're fine if He runs the universe. We won't let Him run us.
    The Bible says there's a death penalty for that; an eternal, awful, unthinkable death penalty for running our own lives, being spiritual hijackers. But instead of us paying that price, God gave His only Son. In the words of the Bible, "God loved the world so much" - you could put your name there - "God loved (yeah, you) so much that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish (not have that death penalty) but have eternal life."
    Today God sent me with that message to wherever you are so you could for the first time in your life experience the love you were made for. You want that? You want to begin this love relationship with your Creator? Would you say, "Jesus, I believe when You died, you were dying for my sin. And when you walked out of that grave under your own power, it meant you could walk into my life today. I'm yours from today on."
    This would be a good time for you to check out our website, because what you're going to find there is the information that will help you be sure you have begun life's greatest love relationship. The website's ANewStory.com.
    Nobody loves you like God does. No one was willing to pay the price for you that God paid.

  • volume_up
    June 18, 2021 Trying to Carry Your Father's Load - #8985

    I saw this precious sight at the airport. There were a hundred bleary-eyed travelers waiting for luggage at the carousel. Maybe you've been one of those. That wasn't the precious sight I saw; nothing precious about that. But I heard this little exclamation behind me. It was a little boy barely old enough to be walking, and he was standing next to his Daddy. Now, his Dad had apparently just returned from a business trip, and next to him on the floor was his big old briefcase. Well, the little guy, using all his strength, fully extending his body is trying to push his Dad's big briefcase. The briefcase was just about bigger than the little boy was. There was no way he could pick it up, but he was trying; pushing and pulling with everything he had. It was something I'm sure his father could handle easily, but the little guy? He was just too weak to push it.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Trying to Carry Your Father's Load."
    As David writes to us in our word for today from the Word of God in Psalm 55, he's pushing or trying to carry a very heavy load. Verse 2: "My thoughts trouble me." Now, you may be able to relate to some of what he says about his load. He says, "I've really got a lot of inner turmoil right now." Now verse 11, "There are destructive forces at work in the city." Hey, you may have some of those destructive forces in your life right now. Then in that same verse he says, "Threats and lies never leave its streets." Maybe you've got a little of that going on in your life.
    And in verse 18 of Psalm 55 he talks about "the battle being waged against me. Many oppose me." Has that come up on any of your load yet? Then in verse 20 he says, "My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant." Maybe you can share in that part of the load where someone that you've trusted and loved has turned on you and hurt you, even violated a covenant.
    That's a lot to push. That's a lot to carry. You might be doubled over right now with your load. I want you to hear David's bottom line in the midst of all this weighty problem he has. Verse 22: "Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you. He will never let the righteous fall." Man! Isn't that awesome! What a promise!
    What are you doing pushing that load of yours; trying to carry it yourself? "Give it to Me" God says. "Cast your burden on Me." Maybe you're missing the peace that comes from release. And it's said so many times through the Old Testament, like when David was up against Goliath, David said, "The battle is David's." No, he did not. "The battle is the Lord's." You need to remember that in your battle. This isn't your battle. Send your Father to fight it. Let your Father carry it. This is a load you were never meant to carry.
    David struggled to keep it released. He says in Psalm 55:17, "Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress and He hears my voice." All day long you've got to have this repeated releasing of that load; the one you've tried to carry yourself. And your Father is looking at you like that father was looking at his little boy at the airport. Kind of saying, "Why do you insist on collapsing under a burden that I could carry so easily?"
    There we are, the little guy trying to lift the load of responsibility that we are just too weak to carry. You can burn out trying to carry it by yourself. Here's the great news. Your Father stands ready to carry it for you.

  • volume_up
    June 17, 2021 Gods That Die - #8984

    I fell in love with a girl from Arkansas, and she informed me that the largest religion in the state was football; especially the University of Arkansas kind of football - the Razorbacks. So, guess who the most important man in the state would be? Not the governor. No, he'd be maybe number two. Probably the most important man is the football coach of the University of Arkansas. Now, years ago back in the '80s it was a man named Ken Hatfield; in this particular case, a follower of Jesus Christ.
    He actually gave his testimony at Billy Graham's Little Rock Crusade some years ago, and I happened to be there that night. Everyone really listened because of who he was. He told us about the turning point in his life. It was 1964. He was playing for the University of Arkansas, and his dream came true. They had just defeated Nebraska for the national championship in college football - #1. He told us that he read those headlines the next morning how Arkansas was number one, and he realized he'd experienced his greatest achievement and it left him totally depressed. He summed it all up in four words that I haven't forgotten. He simply said, "My god had died." You know, they have a way of doing that.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Gods That Die."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Jonah 2. This is actually a prayer, and it's probably the only prayer we know ever prayed inside a fish. That's where Jonah is for his disobedience to God. He's reflecting on his detour from God's best. Here's what he says in his prayer. Verse 7, "When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you to your holy temple. 'Those who cling to worthless idols, forfeit the grace that could be theirs.' But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to You. What I have vowed, I will make good."
    Notice, he's inside the great fish. He's talking about clinging to worthless idols. You have to wonder if he's not meaning here that there was something in his life too important to let go of when God said, "Go to Nineveh." Something he could not let go of.
    Now, what would that be for you? Well, you may know Christ, but maybe there's a god you can't surrender to the control of your Savior. It could be your child, or a dream you have for your child, or it could be someone you love very much, or a dream you've cherished for yourself, or a position, a ministry, your home, an activity, your career.
    In fact, we sometimes will release one god at one point in our life, and then unintentionally pick up another god at another point. It may be a different one at this point in your life. But every little "g" god has the same fate. "My god died" like the coach said. Maybe one of yours has died. You know, that's actually okay. Because that's what brings you back to the vows you made to the Lord. "What I have vowed, I make good now" is what Jonah said; to get back to the main road and get off of this detour.
    It took a violent storm and near death for Jonah to wake up and let his false god die - whatever it was. See, when you cling to that false god, it says you forfeit the grace that could be yours. You're missing the best of God's gifts as long as you hang on to another god, a god that will die. Often when you're in a storm, you understand that what you've been basing your life on - what's been number one in your life - is not enough. And maybe those are the moments when your heart turns and says, "I believe I'm made for more." And that more, my friend, is Jesus Christ, who died for you and rose from his grave.
    Go to our website, because a relationship with Him is what it's all about. And your storm may have been to blow you into the arms of Jesus. The website's ANewStory.com.
    When His own follower, Peter, was in a violent storm and ready to drown, He reached out and all he could get out was, "Lord, save me!" You say that to Jesus today, and He'll do that for you. He's the God you were born to serve.
    Don't wait until you're totally submerged to say to God, "I'm letting go." Say it now, and with Jonah, "What I vowed, Lord, I'll make good."

  • volume_up
    June 16, 2021 Good Morning, Soldier - #8983

    When I was a little guy in Sunday School, we used to sing a little song that says, "I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery." (Okay, it's a Sunday School song...come on, give me a break.) "I may never fly o'er the enemy, but I'm in the Lord's army." And you had to sing it like that. "I'm in the Lord's army!"
    Actually, that song turned out to be somewhat prophetic in my life, because God called me into the ministry, and the government classified me as 4D in terms of draft status in college. That didn't mean I flunked; it just meant I wasn't drafted because of a ministerial deferment. Now, you may or may not have marched in the infantry, ridden in the cavalry, shot the artillery, or flown over the enemy, but you are military.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Good Morning, Soldier."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 2 Timothy 2:1. And it says this: "You, then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." Okay, our call to strength. Verse 3 gives us a call to endurance, "Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Jesus Christ." And verse 4 is a call to combat. Listen to this, "No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs. He wants to please his commanding officer."
    Now, God has no deferments. If you know Christ, you are in His army. It helps you remember why you're here. If you can imagine that you're waking up each day and Jesus is standing right there at the door of the bathroom, or right by your bed, and He's saying, "Good morning, soldier!" If you understand that a soldier is what you really are, it will simplify life's choices in three very clear-cut areas.
    First of all, you know what your mission is. General McArthur said that a soldier has a special calling, and that is "he exists to win his nation's wars." Well, you and I are called to win our Savior's wars. That's what your major mission is for today, to fight for lives that Jesus is fighting for, to stand against sin and compromise that He stands against, to guard your purity, to attack those sinful strongholds in your life. Soldiers in war time have many different tasks, from cooking, to repairing, to supplying, to fighting. But each soldier knows that his task is part of winning a war. You getting up every morning to win your Savior's wars? Well, you should. You know what your mission is.
    Secondly, if you're a soldier, you don't have to be trapped by trivia. That's what this verse says. You don't get tangled up in the little affairs of life. A soldier doesn't have to worry about what he's going to wear. That's taken care of. Where he's going to live, what his schedule will be. That's taken care of. His or her needs are met. He or she concentrates on the battle. You let your commander know your needs; your commander, Jesus, will meet them and you fight His battles.
    Thirdly, you know who you report to. This says he wants to please his commanding officer. You don't have many people to please, you've got one. "How am I doing, Lord?" See, that's the only approval you need. So, would you wear His uniform proudly? These are exciting days. The battle lines are forming for what could be some of the final spiritual battles on this planet, and you've been commissioned to help win your Savior's wars before He returns.
    You may not wake up to Reveille, but your captain is saying, "Good morning, soldier."

  • volume_up
    June 15, 2021 Cameras Everywhere - #8982

    Sometimes you've got to wonder whoever thought up cell phone cameras? Oh, they're nice. You know, if something suddenly pops up that you want to capture. But how many times have I been looking goofy or just plain ol' ugly and some smart aleck quietly "permanent-tizes" that moment with his cute little camera? Is there somewhere where we are safe from the lens that never forgets?
    Apparently not! Just ask the politicians, the celebrities, even the royals who suddenly have been unpleasantly and even angrily surprised by photos they never even knew existed.
    Recently a former paparazzi was in the news showing just how far the prying eye can reach. He set up his monster-lens camera across the river from where the reporter in this segment was standing in New York City. And he got amazing pictures of her - from half a mile away! The reporter's only comment: "Good thing I was dressed modestly." No kidding! Well, Mr. Ex-Paparazzi made this suggestion: "Always assume there's a camera."
    I've been thinking about that "assume there's a camera" thing. It's actually pretty good advice, because God doesn't miss a thing.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Cameras Everywhere."
    Now, the Bible makes sure that we're not surprised by that. Our word for today from the Word of God, Proverbs 5:21 says, "A man's ways are in full view of the Lord." Oh, and the Bible says, "nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight." And in Hebrews 4:13 it says, "Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."
    Wow! Those last words are the disturbing part. "We must give account." There really will be a day when we will answer for our lives - including our darkest secrets. Romans 2 says, "God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ." Martin Luther said he had only two days on his calendar: today and Judgment Day. Not bad.
    And it's not just our actions. No, God knows every word I speak, every thought I think. And the Bible says He will even "expose the motives of men's hearts" (1 Corinthians 4:5). First thought: do I - does anybody - stand a chance when God holds me accountable for everything I've ever said or thought or done? What about when all the closets are opened, all the secrets exposed, all the sin laid bare before His holy eyes?
    I wouldn't stand a chance if Jesus hadn't died on a cross to erase it all. He absorbed all the guilt, all the punishment of all the sins of my life. The Bible says, "He carried our sins in His own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24). He chose to. Not because I, in any way, deserve that sacrifice. He simply loves me that much; He simply loves you that much.
    And as the Bible says, "perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:18) - including my very well-founded fear of facing a holy God some day with all my sin laid bare before Him. Jesus has taken away that fear because of the Judgment Day that Jesus had in my place when He took my judgment all alone on a cross. And He did that for you. He does what no one else in the universe can do. He hits the delete button that erases a lifetime of sin. It's pretty awesome to know that every sin of your life is erased forever from God's book; to know you're finally clean, and you're safe.
    You want to experience that wonderful forgiving miracle, that clean inside miracle that only Jesus can do? I encourage you to check out our website and find out there exactly how to begin your personal relationship with this amazing, sin-forgiving Savior. Go to ANewStory.com and find out how this cleansing miracle can happen to you.
    Today can be the beginning of your new story.

  • volume_up
    June 14, 2021 Pretty Poison - #8981

    While I was with one of my grandchildren, I saw a frog. She loved it! Then I picked up that little bug-eyed green fellow and held him close so she could get a better look at him. It was one of Kermit's cousins, you know. I didn't have any second thoughts about picking up a frog. No, they're harmless! Well, most of the time - unless it's what they call a poisonous dart frog. I don't think we have those, but they're about one and one-half inches long, and they live in tropical rainforests in Central and South America. And they are the good-lookers of the frog kingdom. They're not some boring ole' green. The dart frog is really very brightly colored. He looks very interesting, but he can be carrying enough poison to kill 20,000 mice. Or more important to you and me - ten people!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Pretty Poison."
    Here's a creature who looks so good and kills so dead. Just like sin; maybe the sin that's been looking pretty good to you lately. So many people have reached out and touched what they never should have touched, and they paid a painful price that they could never imagined. Sin may be pretty, but it's pretty poison!
    Listen to this eye-opening revelation from our word for today from the Word of God 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, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death." That's a sledgehammer verse. It traces a moral disaster from the first desire for something that's wrong to the sinful choice to get what looks so good, to its final result. When that "baby" called sin finally is born, what you get is death because sin always kills. It kills families, it kills marriages, it kills reputations, and it kills ministries. Sin kills your self-respect, kills people's trust in you and even your closeness to the God you can't live without.
    The story of this attractive killer goes all the way back to the very first humans God ever created, Adam and Eve. With all the beauty of the Garden of Eden available for his enjoyment, God gave Adam this one prohibition: "You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
    Satan came to Eve and told her the exact opposite: "You will not surely die." And "when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it" (Genesis 2:17; 3:4, 6). And they learned the hard way that no matter how much you think you have to gain from going outside God's boundaries, you have so much more to lose. They lost Eden, they lost paradise, they lost walking with God, they gained so much pain and they died.
    It may be that the same devil is lying to you right now about the sin that looks so good to you. "It won't hurt," "Everybody's doing it," "Hey, you deserve it," "You need this," "Only a little," "Oh, just this once." Anything to get you to bite. Anything to get you to take the deadly poison of sin. But it looks like you have so much to gain if you just lie a little, cheat a little, flirt a little, try a little, or take just one look. But you have so much to lose. You won't know that until it's too late unless you listen to what God says.
    See, first sin fascinates you, and then it assassinates you. And God, in His love, has come to you today to wave you away from a choice that will take you where you never wanted to go, it will keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay, and it will cost you more than you ever wanted to pay. Don't walk away from that sin - run away from it. Sin looks so good and it kills so dead.

  • volume_up
    June 11, 2021 Don't Count On An Extension - #8980

    Teenagers are chronic procrastinators. It really shows up when you're trying to get them to register for a camp or a retreat, which I've done plenty of. Oh, they're planning to go, but you wouldn't know it by their registration. They'll wait until they hear the bus to start signing up. That happened at a retreat we had. There was this deadline, but many of the kids we most wanted to go, particularly for spiritual reasons, missed the deadline. Oh, we still had room. So did we take their registrations late? You bet we did. But you know, deadlines are often flexible, and it seems like you can usually get an extension. But don't count on that extension when it really, really counts.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Don't Count On An Extension."
    Our word for today from the Word of God, Proverbs 27:1. Basically it says, "Don't count on an extension." God's words go like this: "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth." Now, I think that counsel from the Scriptures is most urgent when it comes to that tug in your heart that seems to be pulling you in the direction of Jesus. Maybe you've felt that. Well, that's the Holy Spirit of God making it possible for you to surrender yourself to your Savior. According to the Scripture, if He stops calling you, you'll never know Christ. You'll never see heaven.
    Now, in a world of flexible deadlines, we feel like there'll always be, "Hey, one more chance to sign up." Right? Well, when it comes to choosing Christ, that's deadly logic. In the book of Genesis God says, "My Spirit will not always strive with man." In the book of Isaiah He says, "Call upon the Lord while He is near; while He may be found." See, if He's ready, and you know He's ready because you feel a pull toward Jesus, you'd better receive Him now. And of course death, well that's a non-negotiable deadline. Someone your age, however old or young you are, died unexpectedly today. That's a fact. And for them, there are no more chances. Someday that will be you.
    Dr. Erwin Lutzer, who was Pastor of Moody Church, told the story that is frequently told, he said, in the Middle East. A wealthy merchant sent his servant to Baghdad on some errands, and while the servant was there he met Lady Death. He was frightened, he ran back, told his master he wanted to run as far and as fast as he could, because he didn't want to run into Lady Death again. So he asked for his master's fastest horse. He said, "I'm going to ride all day. I'm not going to stop until I reach Samara tonight." Well, that night, according to the story, the merchant himself met Lady Death, and he asked her, "Why did you startle my servant?" Lady Death said, "Well, actually, he startled me. He confused me when I met him in Baghdad. See, I have an appointment with him tonight in Samara."
    The Bible says, "It is appointed to man once to die, and after this the judgment." Hell is populated with people for whom Christ died, who didn't ever have to go there, but people who were maybe counting on one more chance to put their faith in Him. And they had passed by unknowingly their last chance because the Spirit moved on or their life suddenly ended.
    So, perhaps for you, this is a chance provided by God, His Holy Spirit, for you to finally know you belong to Jesus; to get this done; to get it settled. There's eternity at stake here. This is urgent; it's life or death! If there's never been a moment when you've said, "Jesus, I am putting all my trust in You and Your death on the cross for my sins. I'm Yours." Make it today.
    Listen, get to our website. There you'll find a way to be sure you've begun your relationship with Him. That's ANewStory.com. Don't count on an extension.
    The Bible says, "Now is the acceptable time! Today is your day of salvation."

  • volume_up
    June 10, 2021 Obsessed With Grades - #8979

    I was a little psycho about grades in school. Maybe it's a firstborn thing. I don't know. But from early grade school, I always wanted to get really good grades. I worked hard, made sure I was on good terms with the teacher, and I usually made the honor roll. When my wife and I were going to college together, I used to drive her nuts with my concern over getting a "B." I'm sorry, I know you hate me. But, you know, I told you I was psycho. It's a problem. Now, you probably hated guys like me, but just consider it a condition and cut me some slack, OK? I'm probably not the only person in the world who has this "gotta get a good grade" thing!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Obsessed With Grades."
    It can be a good thing to be really focused on grades when it comes to school. It's definitely not a good thing when it comes to being a follower of Jesus Christ. But a lot of us like what I call measurable righteousness - a rigid standard by which I can grade myself as a Jesus-follower. And maybe more importantly, I can grade you. I can grade others as a Jesus-follower.
    Don't get me wrong. God has clear boundaries for our lives and they are non-negotiable. The issue is whether or not we have a right to grade ourselves on how we're doing with Him; or whether or not we have a right to grade other people. When we do, we usually give ourselves a better grade based on some criteria by which we can come out looking good. Jesus knew some folks like that. They had a name - Pharisees. Jesus didn't have very nice things to say about them.
    Our word for today from the Word of God, Galatians 5, beginning with verse 1, is actually a Declaration of Independence, not from the desire to please God, but from the obsession with grading our righteousness or the righteousness of others, which almost always ends in spiritual pride for us and judgment of other people.
    God says, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." That slavery back then had been a legalistic bondage to a list of spiritual rules. John 1:17 says, "The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." That grace removes the word "deserve" from all our dealings with God. Hell is all we can deserve. Our relationship is based on God's grace, not our goodness. It is "not by works so no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:9) the Bible says. Which is exactly what legalistic righteousness, spiritual grades can cause. It causes boasting.
    In Galatians, Paul says, "You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? You...were called to be free" (Galatians 5:7, 13). Earlier he asked, "Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law or by believing...? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" (Galatians 3:2-3).
    God doesn't want us grading our righteousness or the righteousness of others, as ego-satisfying as that might be. We should never have a sense of having arrived spiritually. That's why, after 30 years of an awesome Christian life, the Apostle Paul was still "pressing on to win the prize." The spirit of Jesus isn't one of proudly measuring our righteousness. It's a spirit of humility, of always feeling in desperate need of His grace, of always being amazed that He loved me.
    I'm always wanting to please my Jesus, but I'm not ever thinking I'm there. I'm never in a position to judge how someone else is doing, except to help a struggling brother or sister by restoring them, or confronting them, or exhorting them under the Spirit's prodding, but always with a sense of mercy and humility - never with a sense of condescension or pride.
    One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 66:2. It defines the kind of person that impresses God, that He wants to use. Here's what it says: "To this man I will look: to him who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word." No grades - just grace.

  • volume_up
    June 9, 2021 Running to the Rescue - #8978

    I never saw the movie Jaws, but I know it's about this shark that keeps snacking on people who are in the ocean. And that's why the lifeguard at Ocean City, New Jersey got my attention that summer day when he ordered all of us out of the water. Oh, I cooperated. I didn't even ask any questions. In moments, there were hundreds of people out of the water and lined up on the beach. But the shark was just in my imagination. The real problem was three children had gone out too far in high tide, and they were too close to the jetty in spite of a lifeguard's warning. So now they were in very serious trouble; they're going down.
    I looked down toward the beaches to my left and my right, and the swimmers had been cleared from the water as far as I could see. All the lifeguards from all over were running from those beaches to our beach, and pretty soon every lifeguard in the neighborhood was there. Some were swimming out to the children; others were launching the rowboat and rowing right into high tide. Thankfully they rescued all three children relatively unharmed, but boy, was it dramatic! Those lifeguards, of course, usually stay in their own areas, but not this time. When it was life-or-death, they all worked together.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Running to the Rescue."
    Our word for today from the Word of God highlights some verses from Acts 1 and 2. Jesus is actually briefing the 11 men who would launch His eternal rescue mission around the world. He says in Acts 1:8, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria and to the ends of the earth." What a massive challenge for 11 guys! Take this life-saving news across the city, across the area, and across the world! We're talking overwhelming!
    So here's what they did. Verse 14: "They all joined together constantly in prayer." Good idea. Chapter 2, verse 1: "When the Day of Pentecost came they were all together in one place." Notice that word "together" again. Then in verse 41, "Those who accepted His message were baptized and about 3,000 were added to their number that day."
    Okay, they're having an impact. Verse 44: "All the believers were together and had everything in common." Verse 47: "And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
    They were surrounded by dying people without Christ. And they responded the same way the Ocean City Beach Patrol did that day. They realized they had to work together if they were going to rise to the rescue of those people. Now, the believers in your area, no matter what their distinctives are, their denominations and what differences they have; they are God's life-saving team in your community. More often than not, the tragedy in most places is that God's lifeguards are each working their own beach, often widely separated from each other.
    That might be okay except for one thing. Lost people are going down while they're all huddled in their little corner of the beach. The fact is, in our lifetime America has become a post-Christian nation. The people we live around and work around know very little about the Bible or about our Savior. We're losing the battle to rescue people folks! How can we continue to work separately? Is it we've forgotten the price Jesus paid for these people? Have we forgotten the eternal hell when you miss the Savior?
    Maybe it's time all of us admit what seems so obvious. We're all failing to truly make an impact; to make much of a difference in rescuing the perishing. And maybe you could be the one, like the lifeguard on our beach, to call to the rescuers from other groups and say, "Hey, people are dying here! Come on, we've got to work together!"
    There's nothing like a burden for lost people to pull God's people together. It's time we begin to reach across the lines between us and form prayer groups on behalf of the lost that none of us are reaching. It's time your church leaves that bickering over trivia and come together to fight for the lost in your community. It's time we forget turf. Turf doesn't matter when people are dying. It's time we begin to plan how we can do what the first century Christians did, work together to impact a city for Christ.
    I can still picture those lifeguards running full speed to get together, because the cries of dying people brought them together. My brother, my sister, this is life or death. We have to go get them together.

  • volume_up
    June 8, 2021 Making a Little a Lot - #8977

    I really think my wife could have been a missionary about anywhere in the world. So resourceful! And that's what missionaries need to be. I mean, we were together missionaries in the United States over many years of ministry to teenagers and then to Native Americans for many years. And our ministry budget - like most ministry budgets - has always been somewhat limited over the years. That's where my wife's resourcefulness came into play.
    I remember the time we had a hundred teenagers show up for a gathering and we weren't really expecting that many. She only had enough ground beef to put into these Sloppy Joe sandwiches for about 40 people. Now, you're gonna need a whip and a chair if you have some teenagers you can't feed! You don't really want to have those wild animals on the loose and unfed. So, she quickly found some dried bread crumbs, pulled out a recipe she had gotten from a home economist, and mixed all of that in with the ground beef. Well, not the recipe, but the rest. And it made that ground beef go a lot farther. In fact, we fed a hundred hungry teenagers with only enough for 40! We had some left over. Listen, sometimes you need someone who can make a little a lot.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Making a Little a Lot."
    Our word for today from the Word of God (and you might have guessed this) comes from that familiar story in Mark 6. I'm going to begin reading at verse 37, after the disciples have concluded that this group of 5,000 people is not going to be fed. They're getting hungry. Jesus has been teaching quite a while, and here's their suggestion: "Send them away; the meeting's over." But Jesus answered, "You give them something to eat." It's not in here, but you can almost hear them saying, "What? How in the world are we going to feed them? What do you think; we got a catering service here? How are we going to do this?"
    "Well they said to Him, 'That would take eight months of a man's wages. Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?' 'How many loaves do you have?' He asked. Go and see.' When they found out, they said, 'Five and two fish.' Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven..." It says this: "He gave thanks and broke the loaves, gave them to His disciples to set before the people. He divided the fish among them. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish." What do you know - leftovers!
    That's kind of like our sloppy joe barbeque sandwich situation we had there when we were trying to feed all those teenagers. It wasn't enough. We had a whole lot more need than we had resource. The disciples' solution to a "not enough" situation was to give up. But Jesus said, "Instead, I want you to round up all the 'not enough' you can find. It won't be enough; it won't cover it. But I want you to gather all that you can and I'll make it more than enough."
    Which brings us to your situation. What's your "not enough" right now? You say, "Well, I can't see where the money's going to come from. I can't see I'm going to have enough strength to face what I've got right now. I don't know where I'm going to find the time to get all this done. I don't know how I'm going to have the resources to make this relationship work anymore." Do you hear the Lord saying, "Bring Me your 'not enough.' Find all you can."
    So, what you do is number one, you give all your resources - not enough - but all your resources to Jesus. Number two, you act as if there will be enough. Jesus had them sit down. He said, "Get ready to eat lunch" even though there was no lunch to eat. So you start to act as if it's going to be there. By faith in your Lord you do that, and then be grateful for the "not enough" that you already have. That's the hard part to say, "Lord, I know this isn't enough, but I'm grateful for what I've got." The Bible says, "Godliness with contentment is great gain."
    I had the privilege to be married to a woman who could take a little and make it a lot. Better than that, my Lord - your Lord - can do that a thousand times over with your "not enough."

  • volume_up
    June 7, 2021 No Name Like This Name - #8976

    These days when parents are expecting a baby, they put some care usually into picking a name. And one of the places they go is to these books where you find hundreds and hundreds of names and what is the meaning of that child's name. Now, my parents, I don't know if they didn't have books like that or they didn't care. But, well, when they were on the way to the hospital, I guess they had a name picked out for a girl. They didn't think about a boy, but I was. So, as they're going, they go, "What if we have a boy? What should we name him?" And they passed - now, listen, I hate to tell you this, because you're going to use it against me someday. I know you are - here we go, Ronnie's Used Car Lot. Okay, go ahead, laugh. Get that over with. So they named me after a used car salesman (don't say it!). And some of you who listen all the time go, "The way you talk, I believe it. I understand it was predestination that you should be named after a used car salesman." Well, listen. Picking a name? Put some thought into it please. I'll tell you this, there was one name that God came up with, and it just so happens it became the most powerful word in the world.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "No Name Like This Name."
    You may remember that when Jesus was born, actually before He was born, God appeared to Joseph and He said, "You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." And that name becomes, now, the most powerful word in the world.
    Our word for today from the Word of God, Acts 4:12 says this: "There is salvation in no other name, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby you must be saved."
    Paul said, "I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power." Paul says, "When I come to you I'm going to talk about Jesus."
    Now, the issue has always been, and continues to be today, the name of Jesus. All through the book of Acts the apostles insist on saying, "You need to come in the name of Jesus. That's where salvation is. There's no other name." And what did the religious leaders say? "You can talk all you want, just don't talk about the name of Jesus." See the Devil doesn't care if we talk about church, or religion, or God, or love. He hates the name of Jesus. Don't say Jesus! Why? Because it's the name by which people are saved. It's the name at which according to Philippians 2 every knee shall bow one day, including every demon.
    But did you ever notice how hard it is to talk about Jesus? Oh yeah, God's okay, but Jesus seems to be the threshold where we have a hard time crossing. We don't want to say, "It's Jesus who changed my life." We choke on the name of Jesus. But see, for 2,000 years the order from hell has been, "Edit out Jesus." And He's trying to tell us to do that.
    Now, the challenge is, will those who love the name of Jesus be as bold to speak that name as those who defile that name? See, they'll talk about Him openly, boldly. Unbelievers are bold; they'll talk about Jesus all day irreverently. Isn't it time we quit choking on that name? Jesus is a stranger in our world because we don't talk about Him; His love, His life, His personality, His death, His explosion in the graveyard when He blasted out of His grave. This is a time for boldness!
    And I've got to tell you this: I am so glad that it's all about Jesus. Jesus said, "Follow Me." Paul said, "Nothing but Jesus and His cross." Maybe you've gotten confused along the way and you've rejected Jesus because you've gotten Him confused with Christians, or Christianity, or church. He's none of those. You've got a problem with Christians and with Christianity, with the church?
    Okay, fine. Do you have a problem with Jesus? Because He's the One who died for you; He's the One you'll meet as soon as you die. He's the One God says, "What did you do with My Son?"
    Maybe today you need to get things settled with Him, because there's no other name. Go to our website. It's ANewStory.com. Find out how to get started with Him. And if your hope for eternity is in anything other than Jesus, in anyone else, this is the day to pin your hopes on the only name that can get you to heaven.

  • volume_up
    June 4, 2021 Sharp Edges - #8975

    With the population of our family increasing with the arrival of each new grandchild, our ability to accommodate everybody was shrinking. So we added a couple of rooms that really have served us well in some memorable family get-togethers. But we had to correct one thing. As we looked at the staircase that a lot of little legs (like mine) would be climbing, we didn't like the sharp edges we saw on one of the boards that was along and at the top of the staircase. We had to take care of those before someone got hurt on them.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Sharp Edges."
    Needless to say, we rounded off those sharp edges because people we love could get hurt on them. The problem is that too many of us have sharp edges we never deal with; edges that continue to hurt people we care about. It's those sharp edges in our personality, in the way we react to people, in the way we treat people sometimes, in the way we act when we're tired or stressed. And you can't just let those sharp edges stay there. They've already done enough damage, haven't they?
    Maybe you get sharp and hurtful when you're tired, or when you're interrupted, or when something or someone messes up the way you had it planned. It could be you become cutting and harsh when you're really stressed, or frustrated, or when you don't get your way. I know where my buttons are that bring out my worst. I suspect you know where yours are, too. But for the sake of those we love, isn't it time we really finally did something about the sharp edges that keep cutting them?
    Our word for today from the Word of God calls us to be known for a trait that was so there in our Lord Jesus. Philippians 4:5 says, "Let your gentleness be evident to all." Well, is it? Would folks who know you best call you gentle? Or are they getting verbally roughed up by you all too often? Colossians 3 describes the new you that's supposed to be the result of you knowing Jesus personally. It says, "As God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." That's the personality wardrobe that folks should always see you in, because you look good in it.
    Sometimes you may not realize the power of your words; power to heal, power to wound, to build up, to tear down, to make a person feel valuable or worthless. In fact, Proverbs 18:21 says, "the tongue has the power of life and death." With the words you say, you can make someone either feel dead or alive inside. And listen to what God says our sharp edges can do: "Reckless words pierce like a sword" (Proverbs 12:18). We know that's true. We've been pierced with that sword many times ourselves haven't we? Then why must we continually wound, alienate and wither the people we care about with our sharp edges?
    Gentle treatment of people - especially when we're feeling tired, or tense, or frustrated - doesn't necessarily come naturally. God describes it as a "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:23). It's a characteristic Jesus has that He can produce in you through His Holy Spirit who lives in you. But you have to reach the point where, first of all, you're willing to see those sharp edges that you have and repent of them as part of the sinful old you that's all dark and ugly. And tell the Lord you're powerless to change your dark side by yourself.
    Surrender that harsh side of you to God's Holy Spirit to replace it with the loving gentleness of your Lord, Jesus. Go back to those you've hurt and tell them you're sorry. Ask them to pray for you as you try to change. And when you're in one of those times when the sharp edges are coming out, stop for a moment and exchange your feelings and your instincts and your history for His empowering, overlooking love.
    There are too many wounds, too many tears from the damage our sharp edges have inflicted already. But because of Jesus, you just don't have to be that way anymore!

  • volume_up
    June 3, 2021 The Replacement Ref Ruckus - #8974

    Now, I've been to a few professional football games in my life. You know, people get angry at those things. It's usually aimed at the other team or their own players who messed up. But, you know, there was a time when the words that made us blush were reserved for the referees; the replacement referees, that is.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Replacement Ref Ruckus."
    Well, the regular National Football League officials were locked out by the owners over a salary dispute. So the guys making the calls were like rookies in the NFL universe. And the accusations were flying that they were missing all kinds of penalties and making bad calls on key plays.
    And it reached a boiling point because of a highly disputed call at the end of a nationally televised game. In essence, their judgment on a last-minute touchdown play decided the outcome, and most people believe that it gave the game to the wrong team. Well, boy, the cries started getting louder and louder, "Fire those guys! Bring back the real refs!" That's the only stuff I can quote.
    Look, I guess you can't expect substitute officials to run the game as well as the people who are supposed to be in charge, which is something that's important for parents to remember. See, there's a tendency in our culture to delegate an awful lot of "officiating" in our kids' lives to other people. When, from the beginning, God's expecting parents to be the ones supervising the game of life for our children.
    But, hey, we've got teachers, and coaches, and pastors, and youth workers, and counselors. Hey, we can let them do a lot of life for our children, right? Well, they can help, but God doesn't think they're the ones out front.
    In our word for today from the Word of God, Deuteronomy 6:4-7 and 11:21, He says this to parents, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Why? The Bible says, "So the days of your children may be many in the land."
    Now, where's a child supposed to learn the ways of his Creator? Where's he or she supposed to learn about love and decision-making, the meaning of sex, how to handle money? The answer is at home. Anything other coaches or refs can do is a bonus and potentially helpful, but it's supplemental in developing a child's life - not fundamental.
    See, they're just not the Heavenly Father's game plan for shaping a young life. Children are supposed to learn how to do life from the people who gave them life. Oh, I'm grateful for the people who back that up and help fill in some of the empty spaces. But primarily it's up to Mom and Dad.
    And thankfully, in a world where it's so dangerous to be a kid and so challenging to be a parent, God says, "You're not in this alone." My wife and I often embraced this promise from Isaiah 40:11: "He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms" - listen, you could insert the names of your "lambs" there - "and He carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young" (you can put your name there).
    See, we have found in Jesus - the One the Bible calls the "Good Shepherd" - a Savior who forgives our failures and supplies the power to change our dark side. I'll tell you, there's nothing like having a life to shape to make you realize how much you need Him.
    So, being the Mom or Dad they need isn't Mission Impossible. There simply is no athletic coach, no school, no church, no community program that can replace or do the job of a Mom or Dad. Yes, it's tempting to hand off a child to other "life-refs" when our own lives are so overheated. But ultimately, we're not going to like how the game turns out. The high-stakes game of life-building is no place for replacement refs.
    Jesus has proven, for so many, to be the life-changing, family-saving Savior that a Mom or Dad needs. So, if you'd like Him in your life and your home, you'll find a lot more about a relationship with Him at ANewStory.com, because it's with Jesus that a new story begins.

  • volume_up
    June 2, 2021 Walls Come Down When You Stop Caring - #8973

    Jens Reich was an East German biologist, and a very unlikely revolutionary. He was a leader in that amazing, almost mind-boggling change that happened in Germany decades ago, just as all of the communist empire seemed to be falling apart. His story was told to Newsweek Magazine. He was quoted as saying, "I was always sympathizing with people, and watching, and going to church to talk with others. But I wasn't speaking out."
    Now, Dr. Reich was not a party member; he did not even join the communist party. And because of that authorities wouldn't allow him any promotions, even though he deserved them. But finally, on September 17, 1989, he and 30 other intellectuals founded a group called New Forum, and they helped organize these mass demonstrations in East Germany. Pretty daring thing. In less than two months, the Berlin Wall was coming down. But here's what he said, "You don't need courage to speak out against a r�gime. You just need to not care any more; not to care about being punished or beaten." And he said, "We finally reached the point where enough people just didn't care any more what would happen if they spoke up."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Walls Come Down When You Stop Caring."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is John 19:38. It's right after the death of Jesus on the cross for us, and Joseph of Arimathea goes to the Roman Governor, Pilate. Here's what it says: "Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now, Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission he came and took the body away." Okay, well we know from that point on he's going to be forever publicly identified with Jesus Christ.
    See, I believe what happened was this: he saw what Jesus did on the cross, and it made him come out of hiding. Now he goes public for Christ, and everyone's going to always know that Jesus was buried in the tomb of a man who once was his secret disciple. This is a man who stopped caring about what people thought. Why is it there are so many Christians right now making like so little difference? Could it be we're intimidated by what others will think of us if we clearly, openly, publicly stand for Christ?
    And that fear keeps us from giving people the key to everything they're looking for. There's a wall between God and us called sin. Jesus died to remove it, and it comes down when you pin all your hopes on Him. The one who walked out of his grave on resurrection morning. All His peace, all His love and all his power become yours at that point. But we're afraid to tell them that. It's like Scripture says in Proverbs 29:25, "The fear of man brings a snare." We're literally tangled up in this fear of what might happen to us if we give them the message their eternity depends on.
    Dr. Reich in East Germany said, "We finally reached the point where we just didn't care any more what would happen if we spoke out." Are you getting tired of your own cowardice? Of your silence? Ask the Lord to give you courage to jump over that obstacle once and for all, "Lord, make me care about them, and stop caring about what they'll think about me." Someone wisely has said, "Courage is not the absence of fear. It's the disregard of it." Yeah, I'm scared, but I'm going in anyway.
    Christ hung exposed on a cross for you. I guess that's what melted Joseph's fear. If he can do that, surely I can pay much less of a price for Him and at least go public. Seeing Jesus on the cross set Joseph free to be Jesus' follower no matter who knew or what they thought of him. Is that where you are? "Lord, I'm tired of holding back. I don't care any more what would happen if I spoke out." I care about what will happen to them if I don't.
    If you can get to that point, that's powerful stuff...powerful enough to make walls come down.

  • volume_up
    June 1, 2021 Something Worse Than Lonely - #8972

    When there's a primetime news special on TV, you expect it to be about some major breaking world event, or a disaster, or some sensational social issue. A while back I was surprised to see a CBS news special that was just on the subject of loneliness. It was called "On Lonely Street." They were quoted there as saying, "Social scientists are seeing an epidemic of loneliness.
    In fact, they interviewed the founder of the biggest dating service in the world. Here's what he said, "People today have all the material things; they don't have someone to hold onto; someone to have a long history with." Wow! Well, someone was well quoted as saying, "The most lonely place in the world is the human heart." You know, if loneliness is an epidemic, could it be you've got a case of that?
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Something Worse Than Lonely."
    Our word for today from the Word of God - 2 Timothy 4. Paul is writing this. It's actually his last chapter he will ever write in Scripture; his last known letter written to Timothy. He is pretty much abandoned in a prison cell. You talk about Lonely Street! In fact, here's what he says in verse 16, "At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength."
    You know, there is something worse than being lonely? Somebody put it this way, "What's worse than being lonely is being lonely alone." I used to hear a Christian song when I was growing up. They would sing, "You'll never be lonely again." And they meant that you wouldn't be lonely if you knew Christ. But I'm not sure that's accurate.
    You do get lonely. You lose people you love, you're abandoned, misunderstood, you're rejected sometimes by people who are around you and would like to help. They just don't know how. You feel alone, you feel lonely. You can't eliminate loneliness, but you can eliminate alone. Maybe they ought to rewrite that song, "You'll never be alone again."
    See, Paul said, "I was lonely. I was abandoned. I had nobody there, and nobody could even get to me in that prison. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength." Maybe that's where you are right now. However lonely you are, picture Jesus there. He's at your side. At least you don't ever have to be alone again because Jesus was alone on the cross, separated from God so no one would ever have to be without God again.
    He paid the price for the sin that you and I have done that keeps us away from God. That's why Jesus cried as He was carrying every wrong thing I've ever done and you've ever done, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?" He carried all your sins. He was cut off from His Father so you would never have to be. He was the last man who ever had to be alone.
    And when you pin your hopes on Christ, you receive in Him a friend who feels every feeling, who can't be kept away by prison bars, and who will not ever turn away from you. If He was ever going to do that, He would have done it when He was dying on that cross. Oh, you can know Him and feel alone, but you're not. You might feel alone because you need to draw close to Him by pouring out your deepest, most honest feelings to Him. Let Him hear all of it.
    Read what He's written to you in the Bible. Go reach out to someone in His name. But it might be you've never made the Savior your personal Savior. You've never said, "Jesus, I'm Yours. Nobody loves me like you do. I'm giving myself to You." Make it today you do that.
    If this is your day to begin with Jesus or you want to know more about it, go to our website. It's there for you. It's ANewStory.com.
    I know it's a lonely world. Are you going to walk on Lonely Street again? Yes, you will. But the day you come to Jesus Christ is your last day alone.

  • volume_up
    May 31, 2021 The Altar - Whatever it Takes - #8971

    One of our ministry team had just gotten married, and most of our team was there. We had a lot of fun together, and in spite of the fact that I'm really very serious all the time. But, anticipating the bride would do the customary thing of, you know, throwing the bouquet at the reception, I had a special warning for Pam, one of the single young women on our staff. I told her that I had designated two big guys to tie her to her chair when it was time for the bouquet tossing. In case you've missed this little custom, the story is that whoever catches the bride's bouquet will be the next one married. Well, the big guys never materialized and Pam made sure she was front and center for the big moment. The other girls never stood a chance. She played defense with flying elbows; she lunged to make the big catch. It's the first time I've ever known of first-aid being administered at a bouquet toss. All right, I'm exaggerating just a little... but just a little. Pam was not to be denied having the next wedding! By the way, who thought up this custom anyway?
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Altar - Whatever it Takes."
    "I'm getting married soon, whatever it takes!" Well, the grabbing of the bridal bouquet is sort of a fun pursuit of that goal. For many, there's nothing fun about it. It's the most serious pursuit in their life.
    Maybe it's you or someone you know, just living to be married. When you want it badly and it just isn't happening, it's easy to become more and more frustrated, and honestly more and more desperate. Which can, in turn, cause you to make some lifetime mistakes that will cost you the very happiness you want so much; a mistake like settling for the wrong person.
    One longtime single man I know said it this way: "I'd far rather live wanting what I don't have than having what I don't want." Some who belong to Jesus will settle for marrying someone who doesn't even share that most important of all relationships. That's why the Bible commands, not suggests, commands, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Corinthians 6:14). You violate God's boundary and you get a marriage without God's blessing, and no love is worth that.
    Genesis 24:14 suggests a powerful prayer for every single person, "Let her (or him, as the case may be) be the one the Lord has chosen." I've talked to so many people who have made a lifetime marriage mistake because of loneliness, desperation, and they all agree: there's something lonelier than not being married. That's being married to the wrong person. That's the loneliest lonely of all.
    Our word for today from the Word of God is an awesome promise for anyone wondering if they will ever have the love they crave. Philippians 4:19 says, "My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." No one knows you better than the God who made you, including all of your deepest needs. It's not going to be a man or woman who will ultimately meet those needs. It will be the God behind that promise. He's promised to give you what you need - what your Creator knows you need, not necessarily what you think you need. And He always meets our needs in His perfect time. Those who try to rush it, ruin it.
    Maybe you've almost put your life on hold until you find that man or woman to marry. Don't waste a precious day of your life waiting for what you don't have. Live this day - single or married - with all your heart! And don't let your waiting start to turn you hard and cynical, bitter, negative. Those kinds of responses insult the God who said He will meet your needs, and by the way, they repel love rather than attract it.
    Don't miss what God is doing in your life because all you can focus on is what you wish He was doing. Celebrate this day, knowing "this is the day the Lord has made" (Psalm 118:24) and that "the Lord is your shepherd and you shall not want" (Psalm 23:1).

  • volume_up
    May 28, 2021 Intimate Messages - #8970

    It's always kind of exciting to go to the mailbox. It's depressing however, when most of it is addressed to Occupant, Resident, or it comes with some computer label that calls me Don Hutchcraft. Or it butchers my last name, which is a very "butcherable" name, by the way.
    But I pay more attention to the labels that at least have my name right on them, and you probably do too. When the envelope says, Open First, I open eagerly. Of course, they're personally addressed. They have my name on them. Well, if you like things with your name on them, you came to the right place today!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Intimate Messages."
    Okay, our word for today from the Word of God, John 10. I'll begin with verse 4. "The man who enters in by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he has brought all his sheep out, he goes on ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice."
    You know, the shepherds of Jesus' day would name their sheep, and they'd call them by name as they called them out of the sheepfold in the morning. "Hey, there's Curly! Hey, Bumpy! Come here Woolly! Come on, let's go!" They're all individual sheep to him.
    Maybe you just feel like you're just part of God's big flock. You say, "Well, I'm just one of a million Christians; I'm another person in my church." No! One of the most heartwarming revelations in Scripture is that God deals intimately, and personally, and uniquely with each individual. He calls His sheep - He calls you by name. Can you hear Him now whispering your name? He called to Moses from a burning bush, "Moses!" Called him by name to give him his life assignment.
    He called Samuel by his name, "Samuel! Samuel!" when he was asleep in the temple. He called him by name to let him know His plans for him. When He saw Zacchaeus in a tree, He said, "Zacchaeus, you come down." Called him by name so He could love him and change his life. When Jesus rose from the dead, He called Mary by her name, "Mary." When Saul was on the Damascus road, He said, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?" All through the Bible called by name. In Saul's case, to convict him of sin - to bring him to Christ.
    Jesus calls you by name. He's got a customized plan for you and He knows the kind of love you need. He wants to pour out His love on you in a unique way, customized for you. See, prayer is listening for God to call your name. You read the Bible, you go to church, you listen for Him to speak your name with a message that's got your name on it. You're not just some piece of wood carried along in this massive current of life. You're not just someone in the Christian category. He knows you; He wants to relate to you as just you. He knows what's in your bank account, what's in your heart, what's in your closet, what's in your future, what's in your deepest feelings.
    He wants to speak to you. He wants to love you. He wants to lead you in a way that He will do for no one else on earth. Nobody else has got the plan that He has for you. This is how much Jesus loves you. And even if you don't know Him; even if you're away from Him, He's calling your name. Maybe through this radio broadcast right now. Don't ever believe the lie that you're lost in the crowd - that you don't matter. You're Jesus' sheep; He knows you by name.
    I think it dawned on the Apostle Paul when he said these words, "I live my life now by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Let me ask you, has there ever been a moment in your life when you've been to the cross where Jesus died for our sins and said, "Jesus, for me. I'm taking You for me. You died on that cross for me. I want you to be my Savior." First person, singular; just for you.
    If you've never done that, get it settled today. I think maybe going to our website might even help that happen. It has a lot of people. Would you go there today? ANewStory.com.
    That song we learned as kids didn't say, "Jesus loves us" though that's true. It's so right because it says, "Jesus loves me. This I know."

  • volume_up
    May 27, 2021 Navigating Without Going Aground - #8969

    It was a dark night off the Atlantic Coast, and the captain saw a disaster just ahead - a light that was on a collision course with his ship. There wasn't much time to get the other vessel to change course. So he urgently radioed this message: "Move ten degrees north immediately." The answer came back, "Move ten degrees south." This was no time to be playing navigational games! With some growing aggravation, the captain answered back, "I'm a captain! You adjust your course ten degrees north." The reply came back: "I'm a seaman second class! Adjust ten degrees south." Well, at that point, the captain thundered his final word: "I'm a destroyer - adjust your course now!" And the answer came back: "I'm a lighthouse! Adjust your course!"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Navigating Without Going Aground."
    Don't try to move the lighthouse. Navigate with the lighthouse as your fixed point, unless you want to go aground. For those who belong to Jesus Christ, there is one lighthouse that is supposed to always govern what course we set. But over and over again, we set the course we want; often the course that is easiest and most convenient, ignoring the beam from the lighthouse that keeps us from ending up on the rocks. Just in case you think I'm talking about someone else, stay tuned.
    In Joshua 1:7-8, our word for today from the Word of God, God reveals the secret of living a successful life; something that's very good to know. He says, "Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law...do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Look, there's no gray here, just black and white. God has revealed the truth about life in His book, the Bible, and He gives this simple formula for success. Do everything by My book - no detours.
    If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus, you almost surely think of yourself as a Bible person. Right? I'm sure you profess belief in God's Word and you would say it's the compass for your life. That's beliefs. Now let's look at reality. Many of us Bible people actually make our life choices based more on what we want to do, what we want to be true, on what our culture says is the thing to do. Whether it's the youth culture, the pop culture, the church culture, the business culture, the political culture, the military culture, the educational culture - whatever our niche is.
    Some people follow whatever their favorite spiritual leader says, or their favorite author or teacher or personality. Paul commended the Christians at Berea as being "of more noble character" because "they examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11).
    If even the great Apostle Paul said it was true, they still checked it out with the Word of God. That's the only way to avoid beliefs and choices that cause shipwrecks. See what God says about it and do it, no matter how costly, how unpopular that might be.
    Shall we let our kids, or ourselves, watch, read or listen to something because the culture says it's a good thing? Check with God. Turn the lighthouse light on it! Shall we base our view of divorce or sexual standards or entertainment on what "everybody" thinks? No, we'll believe what God says. His one vote decides it, even if millions are going the other way. Shall we compromise just because suddenly the issue involves us or someone close to us? Not unless we want a shipwreck.
    It takes a real man, a real woman, a moral hero to say about an issue, "God hasn't changed His mind, and He's calling the shots. The lighthouse isn't moving, and I am navigating - not by my feelings, not by your feelings - but by the unchanging light from heaven called the Bible. Any other course means that sooner or later, we're going down!"

  • volume_up
    May 26, 2021 Strategic Investing - #8968

    It started a few years ago with a few pieces of colored cardboard. Our oldest son was about five years old, and I bought him a few baseball cards. Once he hit college, that baseball card collection paid for a lot of things in his life. In fact, other guys saw he knew how to invest in a card that would appreciate quickly and give them a profit. So they asked him if they could give him money to invest for them. Now that boy has become a man and the love for his hobby has been passed down to his son. But here's the thing. My son never had very much money to work with, but he knew how to take a limited amount of it and invest it in what would pay off.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Strategic Investing."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God, Luke 16. We're going to read one of the most curious parables I think Jesus ever told. He told His disciples there was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. This man's called on the carpet for doing that. And in verse 4 it says of this steward, "I know what I'll do. When I lose my job here, I want to make sure people will welcome me into their houses." So he goes on to call on all the people who owe his master money and he discounts their debt. Well, they say "Hey, what a great guy, huh!" Then he loses his job, but boy has he got friends.
    Verse 8: "The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people in this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings." What's going on here? What's the point?
    Obviously Jesus is not commending the manager's morals. It's his shrewdness - strategic investing. He's handed what he has, he's handled what he had in such a way that he insured he would have friends later on. That's why Jesus says, "Use your wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so you'll be welcomed into eternal dwellings." But He's talking here about forever friends, people who will be your friends in heaven.
    The question is, "How can you use what resources you have on earth in essence to buy yourself friends in heaven?" Well, you use your resources to reach lost people for Jesus Christ. In Philippians 4:17 Paul asks for a financial gift from the people in Philippi, and he says, "I want you to give a gift, not because I need it, but so my fruit will be credited to your account."
    See, when you invest in the work of a missionary, every person that missionary or that ministry brings to Christ, in essence you bring to Christ. That's true of any ministry you give to. In 1 Samuel 30:24 it says this: "The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle." Now, your faithful prayer for someone on the frontlines buys you a spiritual share in every person they reach.
    Isn't that incredible? Your behind the scenes volunteer help, the gifts of your time. That makes you a partner in the eternal results. It's no wonder the Bible talks about cheerful givers. When you give to the work of God, you are doing strategic investing with a tremendous ROI - a tremendous payoff and return on investment. Like a certain baseball card collector I know, you're taking what you have and you're investing as much of it as possible in things that will pay off later.
    And remember, long after the mansions and the millions of earth are just dust, you can have friends in heaven - maybe from around the world, friends who will forever say to you, "Thank you for sacrificing what you had on earth so I could hear about Jesus and so I could be in heaven forever."

  • volume_up
    May 25, 2021 The Ultimate Battlefield Tragedy - #8967

    Every time a soldier dies in battle it's a tragedy. It doesn't matter how just or unjust we might think the war is or which side he's on. It's still a tragedy. But if there are degrees of tragic, then there's one kind of battlefield death that seems the most heartbreaking of all. You know what it is. It's called 'friendly fire' - when you accidentally shoot or bomb your own fellow soldiers. There's a famous intimance of that in the Civil War, General Stonewall Jackson was killed accidentally by his own men - "friendly fire." In Vietnam, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, probably in every modern war, it's always been an awful tragedy when one of your own is brought down by a weapon you fired.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Ultimate Battlefield Tragedy."
    God's a Father who's had all too many of His children brought down by "friendly fire," and you know He's got to grieve over it. In churches, in ministries, in families, in youth groups, in relationships there are way too many bullets fired at one of our own instead of at the real enemy from hell who seeks to destroy us. Listen, would you open your heart to this possibility? Could it be that you've been taking shots at a fellow soldier in God's army; a brother or sister in Christ? Someone Jesus gave His life to save.
    It happened to two women who had served on the spiritual front lines with the Apostle Paul. They had the unusual names of Euodia and Syntyche. Don't blame me. Blame their parents. I remember one Bible teacher who used to refer to them as Euodious and Stinky. But I don't think that's really in the original Greek or anything else. We won't go there.
    Let's go to our word for today from the Word of God in Philippians 4:2-3. Paul says, "I plead with Euodia and Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the Gospel...whose names are in the Book of Life."
    Man, great apostle is almost on his knees begging here for these two women, who used to fight together for the lives of lost people, to stop fighting with each other. Somewhere along the way, something came up that made these two warriors take their eye off the ball. And they started shooting at each other, acting as if she's the enemy instead of the prince of darkness. Satan loves nothing more than to see Christians doing his work for him...wounding a child of God, discouraging a child of God, damaging the reputation of another child of God, distracting, derailing someone who could be making a difference in the battle.
    In combat, a soldier is crushed when he realizes that he has wounded one of his own. But often among believers, we feel like we've done a good thing by bringing down that brother or sister, a righteous thing - they deserve it, after all. But none of us has the right to shoot at someone who has been purchased with the same blood of Christ that we have. Believers shooting at each other - few things are more damaging to the cause of Christ, more discouraging to our young people, more disillusioning to unbelievers, and more heartbreaking to Jesus.
    Hudson Taylor's successor in the leadership of China Inland Mission knew how mission critical it is to fight the right battle and the right enemy. He said, "I will not send a person to the mission field unless he has learned to wrestle with the evil one. If he has not learned to wrestle with the evil one, he will wrestle with his fellow missionaries." Wow!
    Your brother, your sister - they're not the real enemy. And wrestling with them isn't the real battle. Don't waste any more bullets on one of your own. In the army of God, "friendly fire" is not only the ultimate tragedy, it's an enemy victory.

  • volume_up
    May 24, 2021 Catching Up With a Great Vocabulary - #8966

    Scotty had just come strolling in my office. He didn't have an appointment, didn't check with my assistant. He really didn't need an appointment. See, he was about 18 months old. Yeah, he just kind of pushed the door open and there he was, and he came in talking and almost never stopped. His mother was visiting our office, and she said, "He's got a great vocabulary." And she was right! He was at that fascinating stage where his vocabulary was exploding!
    In fact, even as I was talking to his mom, he was copying many of the words that I was saying and...he was getting it right. They said he'd been doing that a lot lately. One of his mother's friends had returned recently from a trip to the islands, and she had a picture of something called a flamboyant tree. Yeah, believe it or not, Scotty over in the corner says, "Flamboyant." This kid...he sounded like he was ready for, you know, S.A.T. tests or something like that already. The only problem was this: He was saying a lot more words than he understood. Of course, he's not alone in that.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Catching Up With a Great Vocabulary."
    Now, our word for today from the Word of God is from Mark 7:6. Jesus is speaking of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law when He says these words, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites. As it is written, 'The people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.'"
    The Pharisees - well, they had a very impressive spiritual vocabulary, but their hearts were cold. They didn't understand; they didn't apply all the great God words they knew. What always disturbs me about the Pharisees is that they were the Bible people of that day, but they missed the reality of Jesus right in front of them.
    Well, you and I are the Bible people of today. And like little Scotty, we have a great vocabulary. It doesn't take long to learn all the God talk: dedicate, consecrate, devotions, prayer, victorious Christian living, do God's will, "the Lord led me," witness, glorify God. But I wonder if we're like Scottie in another way? Do we understand all the words we keep using?
    We talk about witnessing, but do you know how to do it, or is that just God talk for you? We talk about dedicating our life to Christ, but are we actually daily doing that - giving something new and specific to Him? Or is it just a phrase we've picked up, "I've dedicated my life to Christ." Well that's good, but do we even understand that and how it works? We talk about devotions. Great word, but have you ever asked anyone how to make it work, or is it just God talk?
    Victorious living; that's a great phrase, but are we making daily progress in conquering that specific sin? Or did we just find a phrase we can use in a testimony or a prayer meeting?
    I'm afraid sometimes we become a believer; we learn the words and then we settle back and hide behind answers we really don't understand and we certainly don't know how to live. Even leaders - we just get more sophisticated in our rhetoric, but oftentimes the reality doesn't match the words. It's as if, "Well, we're okay if we know the words, right?"
    We wouldn't accept that for a little guy like Scotty. We'd say, "Well, he knows the words, but he needs to understand them before he's all grown up. He needs to understand and use what he's parroting, and so do we.
    I think there are people who are in church every week and they know all the words, They think they know the Lord. But you can know all the words, and the Bible says some people who knew all the words and did all the right things. Well, He will say to them on judgment day, "I never knew you." That's the Bible.
    I don't want you to hear those words, because somewhere you learned the vocabulary, the lifestyle, but you've missed giving yourself to Jesus. Maybe He asked me to say that today because He wants you to come home to Him today and know Him for real. Tell Him, "Jesus, I'm Yours. It's more than words; it's more than a head trip. I want You in my heart. I want to belong to You beginning today."
    Listen, get to our website today. You'll find there a road to get this settled once and for all. It's ANewStory.com.
    Because following Christ isn't just a new vocabulary, it's a new you.

  • volume_up
    May 21, 2021 The Seeds You're Planting - #8965

    With my wife growing up in the South, she looked forward to a spring that was getting underway by early or mid-March. With me growing up in the North, I got used to spring beginning a little later than that. And in some places in the North, if you miss the Fourth of July weekend, you might miss summer. But let's stick with spring right now. Some people look for, let's say, the first robin to mark the end of winter. For my wife, it was the daffodils. Those bright yellow flowers were the harbingers of spring for her - as well as a way to mark her early spring birthday. Living in the North, I had to do some really creative florist work to try to get her some birthday daffodils. Of course, it was cheaper than paying for counseling for her, right? But this particular year, she got to pick the first daffodils at Grandma and Grandad's old farmstead. Yeah, back where she grew up. Grandma's been gone for quite a while now, but the flowers that Grandma planted a long time ago? They're still blooming!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Seeds You're Planting."
    You may never have worked in a garden in your life. But you're planting seeds, whether you realize it or not. In fact, some of what's happening in your life today - for better and for worse - is the harvest of some seeds you planted years ago. And, as the Bible makes crystal clear, "A man reaps what he sows" (Galatians 6:7).
    One of the Bible's great planting promises is in Psalm 126:6, our word for today from the Word of God. The Lord says, "He who goes out with weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him." There are things you really hope and pray will happen in the lives of people that you love, in your life's work, or in your personal world. Your job isn't the harvest - God does that part. Your job is to keep faithfully sowing the kind of seed that can bring about the results you so passionately want. And, like Grandma's daffodils, the legacy of your life will go on blooming and beautifying people's lives long after you're gone.
    And you have to keep that long view to keep from becoming discouraged with the short-term results. Seed planted in the ground appears to be doing absolutely nothing for a while. Seed planted in people's lives is often the same way. The danger is we'll keep digging up the seed to see if anything's happening - and, in so doing, we will doom the very harvest we're hoping for. That "digging up the seed" is called nagging, panicking, giving up, turning hard, turning bitter.
    So many have given up on the garden they've planted just before it was about to bloom. That's what God is trying to head off when He says in Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
    Maybe you've lost the long view recently. You're seeing tasks you have to do instead of lives at stake. You've been settling for making a living when you're here to make a difference! Maybe you've been neglecting your spiritual garden - the sowing you need to be doing in the life of your husband or wife, your children, your coworkers, your grandchildren, your students, people God has given to you to influence.
    It's time to remove the zoom lens that's focused on just what's happening today and replace it with God's wide-angle lens that shows you the big picture...the legacy of your life when you live it righteously. That's the big picture. Don't sow seeds of bitterness, cynicism, criticism, negativity. Life's too short for that.
    Sow the seeds of God's unconditional love, of God's dependable promises - Jesus-seed. The harvest will come - some while you're here, some after you're gone. But think legacy, so the seed sown by your life will still be blooming and beautifying long after you're gone!

  • volume_up
    May 20, 2021 Hard Rescues - #8964

    I have a ton of respect for lifeguards at the ocean. I mean, first of all, I wish I could swim like they do; they make what I do look like dog paddling for sure. But I have seen them in action. I remember being at the New Jersey shore and watching five lifeguards go to work on a rescue to bring in three children. And I think I have a new appreciation for these guys and girls having talked to my friend, Jim, because he used to be one on the other side of the country; he was a Pacific Ocean lifeguard. He described to me the different kinds of rescues that there are.
    For example, what do you do when there's someone who is panicky, hanging onto you for dear life and almost going to take you down? Well, lifeguards are trained a certain way to handle that. My friend told me, "There's one they call 'the hard rescue'" and for good reason. But you don't have to be in the ocean to be a candidate for some strong treatment from The Life Saver.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Hard Rescues."
    Okay, our word for today from the Word of God is about a hard rescue, and it's in Genesis 19; I'm going to begin reading at verse 14. It comes out of the story of the life of Abraham's nephew, Lot. Maybe you remember that Lot had gotten stuck in Sodom, that sinful city that God was about to destroy, and not only had he moved into Sodom, but well, Sodom had moved into him. And the angels of the Lord had come and said, "Lot, you need to get out of here and get everybody you love, because Abraham has prayed to get you out of here."
    Well, here's where we pick up the story: "So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law who had pledged to marry his daughters. He said, 'Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city.' But his sons-in-law thought he was joking." What? Now, isn't it interesting that when you get compromised as a believer, your credibility is shot when you try to warn anybody?
    "With the coming of dawn," it said, "the angels urged Lot saying, 'Hurry, take your wife and your two daughters who are here or you will be swept away when the city is punished." And he hesitated! So the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters and led them out of the city."
    Lot literally had to be pulled out of the city of Sodom, where if he had stayed he would have been destroyed. Lot was about to die, but he was hesitant to go with the Lord. Sounds a little bit like the hard rescues that my lifeguard buddy, Jim, described to me. He said, "When you have a man who thinks he can handle it; he doesn't even think he's drowning, he won't admit he's drowning, he keeps fighting and he's going down for the third time. He's going to die if you don't rescue him." And Jim said those lifeguards were trained to literally punch him and knock him out; not because they wanted to be violent, but to save his life. Knock him out to save him.
    Has it ever occurred to you that, well, maybe you, like Lot, might be a hard rescue? You're on a destructive road right now, but you refuse to admit that you're going down for the third time. You say, "Hey! Hey, I can handle it." But you can't! You're not supposed to handle it. The Lord's been trying to bring you to the cross where Christ died for you, or maybe you've been there and you're a Christian who's rebelling; you're living outside of His best. It's not the church you're rebelling against, it's not your parents, it's not some other Christians who hurt you or disillusioned you.
    It's Jesus Himself, and the most loving thing God can do is to bring you home like a lifeguard. He's called to you, He's brought people into your life to bring you back, He's allowed you to be frustrated in your lifestyle, He's reminded you and you've said, "God, leave me alone!" Well, if God doesn't do something drastic, you may be lost forever.
    And so perhaps He has brought things into your life that have been there to get your attention, to give you a little pain now so you can be rescued from the pain of a Christless eternity. Would you let the lifeguard save you? He died to do it! Grab Him with everything you've got. Let down your guard. Let Him bring you home safely.
    You want to know how to do that? You want to know more about this relationship with Him? Do what many have done. Go to our website. It's ANewStory.com.
    Maybe today is going to be God's loving knock-out. Don't force Him to escalate His rescue efforts. There's no peace, there's no rest, there's no fulfillment until you collapse into His arms. Please, let Him carry you safely home. Don't be a hard rescue!

  • volume_up
    May 19, 2021 Listening for My Language - #8963

    My wife and I had the opportunity to be in Geneva, Switzerland. Or as they say, "Genève." (I'm not sure about my French.) But it's a beautiful, French-speaking city in Switzerland. And since we were with our host most of the time, my wife and I got along just fine. But one day they left us on our own to do a little shopping, and we don't speak French. The first time I knew I was going to have a problem is when we went into this pharmacy, which, of course, was identified in French on the outside. I looked around, I had a couple of questions, and the pharmacist looked at me with a blank stare. Our English wasn't getting through.
    Later on, our friend said to us, "Here in this place, if you don't speak their language, tough!" I said, "You mean even if that means money for them? We were trying to buy something." They said, "Hey, those people don't listen until you communicate in their language."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Listening for My Language."
    Our word for today from the Word of God - Acts 2, begin reading at verse 4. It's the powerful Day of Pentecost where 3,000 people come to Christ in one day. But before that happened, listen. "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment because each one heard them speaking in his own language."
    Now, these early Christians had the most powerful message in the world; the one who had been crucified in that city only weeks before was now alive and available to be their Savior. But the apostles could have talked all day, like me in that store in Geneva, and never have gotten through - unless they communicated the message in the language of the listener.
    And it wasn't a language that was easy for the one who was doing the speaking. Every foreign missionary knows that you've got to do language study before you do anything else. You don't go to Peru and say to somebody there, "Now, as soon as you learn to speak English I have some great news about God for you." Of course not! If you want to communicate Christ to the lost people around you, you've got to say it in their language. That's true in our culture today. We will have to use words that the lost people around us understand; not our "Christianese" that we talk all the time at church.
    There's a lot of people, I think, who aren't rejecting our Savior so much as they're rejecting our vocabulary. They don't understand all this Christian talk. It's time we begin to practice the Gospel in everyday language; telling people there's a relationship you're supposed to have and that you don't have because of running your own life - that's sin. But you can have because Jesus paid the death penalty for that, and it's a relationship you must choose. We've got to find some non-religious way to tell them.
    Let's think about this; we should be using music they understand if we're going to use music at all, because music is the language of a generation. If we insist that they hear about Christ in the traditional music we're used to, that we like, we'll probably forfeit them. We have to think of music as missionary languages, not just let it be a battleground over styles.
    We're going to have to reach people in settings where they're comfortable, not where we're comfortable. We're talking about evangelism in a living room, or a park, or a Bible study at work or at school. If we wait for them to come to our religious turf, we'll probably leave them lost. It's time for God's people to break out of the walls of the church and reach people in places where they already are; addressing subjects they already care about.
    We need to meet people where they are with a testimony out of our life that relates to their lives. Thousands came to Christ on this Day of Pentecost - the day that each one heard them speaking in his own language. Would you ask God to show you today how to speak the language of the people around you; to reach them with the words, the music, the issues, and the testimony that they'll understand?
    And remember, you've got life or death information to deliver to the people within your reach. Their eternity depends on that information, and they're listening for their language.

  • volume_up
    May 18, 2021 Leave the Choice To the Owner - #8962

    It's the issue that can decide who's the senator or congressman in many states. It can decide who the governor is in some states. The battle lines are drawn around the issue of abortion.
    Yeah, it's not taxes, or defense spending, or civil rights, or homelessness. It seems like sometimes the most emotional issue oftentimes in our country revolves around that new life that some woman carries inside of her right now. Oh, there's been demonstrating, banners, chants, and slogans. But underneath it all there are actually two logics that war with each other. Pro-life says that a human life is there from conception and no one has the right to destroy that life. And then the pro-choice people say that the person whose body it is should decide what is done with that body. Well, actually, in a sense they're both right. Keep listening.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Leave the Choice To the Owner."
    Our word for today from the Word of God, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. "Flee from sexual immorality," God says, "all other sins that man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you; whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body."
    Okay, this passage settles once and for all the issue of whose body you're walking around in. That's not your body; "you are not your own" the Bible says. You've been made by God, so you're His by creation. You've been paid for by God with the purchase price of His own Son on the cross, so you've been purchased by Him.
    Now, the pro-choice advocates use this logic: the person whose body it is should decide what is done with it. I agree with that! Because, see, if that happened, we wouldn't have many abortions to decide about, because God says sexual love; it is reserved for married people committed to each other for a lifetime. And if God is the owner, and we let the owner of the body decide what we do with that body, well then there won't be babies conceived outside of marriage. There will be very few unwanted babies.
    Psalm 139 and other passages in the Bible make it very clear that from the very beginning God initiates a new life at conception, and He reserves the right to end any life that He starts, but only the one who starts the life has that right - the creator, the purchaser. And His choice for your body is that it remains pure. It's not yours to mess around with.
    His choice for that body that is His really, is that sex be kept special; that you don't flirt with sexual sin by seeing how far you can go; first base, second base, third base as teenagers used to say. And then quickly try to throw the transmission into reverse just as you get to the edge so you can remain a technical virgin.
    No, you don't do that with God's body. When we use sex outside the boundaries of marriage, we start a chain reaction of guilt, loss of respect, loss of intimacy, future relationships - ugly choices.
    Our body - our life - belongs to Jesus Christ. The Bible says, "You were created by Him and for Him." He made us; He paid for us with His life. We leave the choices about our body, about our future to Him. But see, we haven't lived that way. And someone might be listening right now and saying, "Ron, if I had it to do over again, I would do it very differently."
    We all bear the guilt and the shame of the places that we have done it other than God's way. And the good news is that while God hates the sin that we do, He loves us, the sinners. The Bible says, "Christ died for us while we were yet sinners." He died for you.
    This could be the day that everything you've ever wished you could ever get rid of, you could leave at His cross - a new beginning. You might have started listening dirty, but by the end of this day you'll be clean inside, forgiven by the One who died so you could be. You tell Him today, "Jesus, I am yours." And that miracle happens.
    Our website's all about it - ANewStory.com. Would you go there today? Let this be the day that whatever you've done before today, you'll be clean from now on.

  • volume_up
    May 17, 2021 It Really is "How You Play the Game" - #8961

    When you're five years old, you have a number of those milestone experiences - a lot of "firsts." Like your first soccer game. Yeah, our five-year-old grandson had that. I reminded our daughter that she had joined that much-talked about tribe called "soccer moms." Yeah, our grandson had never played soccer before, and he didn't have an older brother or sister to learn from. So his first game was, shall we say, a great learning experience. And he did a good job. But not good enough for the kind of performance most firstborns expect of themselves. Though he got the ball several times for his team and moved it down the field, he didn't score any goals, and he was bothered that he missed one. Right after the game, he gave his mom his two-word summary of how he thought he did. He just said, "I tried."
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "It Really is 'How You Play the Game.'"
    Well, at least on God's team. That's why Jesus' finish line commendation for His players will be, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21), not "Well done, good and successful servant." What God cares about - what God rewards - is an all-out effort. The results are in His hands. The effort - that's you.
    What impresses God about His players is clear in our word for today from the Word of God, when He says in Colossians 3:23-24: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." So you're not playing for the applause of the crowd or even the approval of your teammates. As far as you're concerned, there's one person in that stadium - your Coach, Jesus. If you've got His smile, you're winning; not if you're winning, you've got His smile. He wants you to be able to honestly say, "Coach, I really tried."
    If you're playing your position with all your heart, you are pleasing Jesus. Your wholehearted effort may mean you get A's or it may mean you get C's, that you're the best one they've got or just average. Maybe you'll get amazing results or you'll seldom see results. You can't give any more than all your heart. And though we live in a world that cares only if you score, only if you look good, only if you win, you could be free inside knowing you're playing for the One who gives the biggest rewards. And Jesus rewards relentless faithfulness. That means you're still in there fighting when everybody else has dropped out.
    Maybe God's assigned you to play a position on His team that's behind the scenes, doing things for Him that few people ever notice or value. And even you feel like what you do doesn't matter much - even to God maybe. Surely it doesn't matter as much as the big, public things some of your brothers and sisters are doing for God. But remember who gets the Super Bowl ring - every member of the team, not just the guys who scored the points. That's how God looks at all of us. Your part, your reward, matters just as much to Him as that of some great pastor or evangelist. In fact, the less glory you get on earth, I think the more He'll give you in heaven for your all-out effort for Him.
    So hold your head high, no matter what position you play. Don't let that discouragement wear you down any more - not if you're giving it all you've got. If you are, then in God's eyes, and the only opinion that is that really matters, you are a champion.
    Earth may not have many rewards for you. But one day, God's gold medal will hang around your neck!

  • volume_up
    May 14, 2021 More Than Shamrocks - #8960

    When St. Patrick's Day rolled around, I realized I'd lost my shamrock tie. Yeah, I was bummed. Of course, everybody else was thrilled. Oh, yeah, yeah I always used to love wearing it for St. Patrick's Day every year to celebrate that part of me that's Irish. In spite of the fact that people insensitively described the color of it as "barf green." It just doesn't seem that anyone is missing it but me.
    I'm not sure what old St. Pat would have made of the holiday named for him anyway. I mean, pouring green dye into the Chicago River and parades full of green-dressed celebrants. I do know that Patrick, who's pretty much obscured by the festivities, was quite a guy.
    His first trip to Ireland wasn't his choice. He was 14 and he got kidnapped and carried off to Ireland where he became a sheep-tendin', pig-sloppin' slave. But while he was there, he finally realized that Jesus died to forgive his sins, and he put his trust in Him to do just that. Well, Patrick finally escaped and got back home to Britain where he presumably swore he'd never wear anything green!
    But his second trip was his choice; a choice that should give a lot of us something to think about.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "More Than Shamrocks."
    You know, as Patrick told it, he was asleep one night when he saw Victor, his former Irish captor, in a vision. He said, "He appeared to have come from Ireland with an unlimited number of letters." And Patrick said that the letters seemed to shout with one voice: "We ask you, holy boy, come and walk once more among us." He said he "was cut to the heart and could read no more."
    Patrick did walk among them, spreading the Good News about Jesus that had changed his life. He introduced thousands of Irishmen to Jesus. Patrick reflected on the legacy of his life this way: "I am greatly a debtor to God who hath vouchsafed me such great grace that many people by my means should be born again to God."
    That's people in heaven. That's St. Patrick's ultimate legacy. It's like the Apostle Paul said about some folks he had introduced to Jesus in our word for today from the Word of God in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20. "What is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of the Lord Jesus when He comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy." Which raises the question all of us Jesus-followers should be asking: "Who will be in heaven because of me?"
    God let Patrick know He was counting on him to bring Jesus to people that he had "walked among." Which raises another question: "Who are my 'walk among them' people?" They're the folks who are part of the daily network of your life, the experiences of your life. We've all got them - the ones who God is counting on us to rescue. He says if "you do not speak out...I will hold you accountable for his blood" (Ezekiel 33:8). Why? Because I knew what that person needed to know to get to heaven and I never told them. We don't need a vision. We've got orders. Jesus said, "You will be my witnesses, telling people about Me" (Acts 1:8).
    See, Patrick was biographically credentialed to tell the Irish about Jesus. But that's not just true of the "shamrock saint." Because every Jesus-follower has been biographically credentialed to share Jesus with folks. Including you, because of what you've experienced. Your personal story is your point of entry to ultimately tell them how His story changed your story forever and can change theirs. So you may be able to celebrate (in Patrick's words) "that many people by my means were 'born again to God.'"
    Patrick was in a very hard place when he made the greatest discovery of his life - a personal relationship with Jesus. By giving his life to Jesus, he stepped into a greatness he could never have imagined any other way.
    Maybe that hard place you're in right now is where you'll finally find what you've spent your whole life looking for - that love relationship with Jesus Christ, who loved you enough to die for you and was powerful enough to walk out of His grave.
    He's ready to walk into your life today. You want to get started with Him? Go to our website, we'll help you with that - ANewStory.com.
    Open up to Jesus and step into God's great plan for your life.

  • volume_up
    May 13, 2021 Shrinking Your God - #8959

    One of the great names for Jesus in the Bible is the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah." When noted author, C. S. Lewis, created a character to be his Christ-figure in his "Chronicles of Narnia" fantasies, he introduced us to Aslan, the lion-king of Narnia. In Lewis' enchanting books, Narnia is a land where the animals speak, where the forces of evil are strong, and where Aslan, though only seen on rare occasions, is the dominant figure. Lucy is one of the children whose transported to Narnia. In one of the later books in the Chronicles, Lucy is finally reunited with the lion-king, Aslan. I'll let C. S. Lewis take it from here: "'Welcome child,' he said. Lucy said, 'Aslan, you're bigger.' And he answered, 'That is because you are older, little one.' 'Oh, not because you are?' Lucy said. 'Oh, I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.'"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Shrinking Your God."
    That's your King's plans for you - that every year you grow, you'll find Him bigger. That's the kind of God you have if you belong to Jesus Christ. You can never reach His limits. He has none. He is all those "omni's" the Bible scholars talk about: omniscient - there's nothing He doesn't know; omnipresent - there's no place where He isn't there; omnipotent - there's nothing He cannot do. The problem is this strange tendency we have in the more challenging times in our life: that the bigger the issue is, the smaller our God seems to be to us. The problem looks unsolvable, the need looks unmeetable, the mountain is unmovable, and we end up handling the hard times as if our God is too small to handle this one.
    For all of us God-shrinkers, there's our word for today from the Word of God in Jeremiah 32, beginning with verse 17. It's a wonderful prayer. It's a powerful prayer from the prophet Jeremiah, and perhaps, the very prayer you need to be praying right now in the face of something overwhelming.
    Here we go, "Ah, Sovereign Lord, You made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. O great and powerful God, whose name is the Lord Almighty, great are Your purposes and mighty are Your deeds." Now listen to God's response: "Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 'I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for the Lord?'"
    Think about it: when your problem suddenly gets bigger than it's ever been, does it get harder for God? When the financial need is greater than you've ever seen, does it suddenly get harder for God to supply it? When your medical condition gets worse, does it get beyond what God can handle? If the person you've been praying for so long seems to be getting farther from God than they've ever been, did God's rescue challenge suddenly get a lot bigger? When the issues with your child or your spouse or your parent take a turn for the worse, is it suddenly harder for God to pull this thing out? For every question like that, watch my lips for the answer: No! "Nothing is too hard for the Lord" including your thing. It gets bigger and harder for us, but there's no such word as "hard" in the vocabulary of God.
    When the ancient Jews saw the size of the people and the defenses in the Promised Land, they obsessed on how big their problem was, they totally forgot how much bigger their God was. And they ended up in the wilderness for a long time, and so do we. You may be stressing, sinking and even sinning right now because you're underestimating your God; you're under-trusting Him.
    Faith is the key that unlocks all the great things God has for you. And He isn't about to let your faith stay the same size. He's in the faith-enlargement business. He's let something come into your life that defies human solution, that overwhelms human answers, so you can experience how big your King really is. When the bad news gets "badder," your God does not get smaller. He is still the Sovereign Lord. He is still the great and powerful God.
    So, let yourself be overwhelmed by the God you have, and you'll find that nothing but Him is truly overwhelming!

  • volume_up
    May 12, 2021 You Drive Better When You're Being Watched - #8958

    I was teaching my son to drive, I think. There were some pretty thrill-packed moments as he learned to drive. And there was a strange byproduct taking place as he learned to drive. My driving improved! Yes, and it needed it! See, we were living in the New York area. And when you're there, traffic tends to make you a little more careless about the right way to drive; the way you learn how to drive; the way the book says you ought to drive might be two different things when your survival is at stake, which it almost is constantly there.
    Now, where I lived, driving was a challenge in itself. But nevertheless, I was always conscious of this pair of eyes watching me from the back seat, and I began to notice what I was doing when I was behind the wheel. This impressionable teenage boy wanted to know how his Dad was handling the wheel. He watched how I kept the speed limit, how I changed lanes, and how I approached cars from the rear, if I was tailgating. I was making an impression on my son, and frankly, I drove more carefully; the way I should drive all along.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "You Drive Better When You're Being Watched."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is that simple familiar statement in 2 Corinthians 5:20. Maybe someone needs to be reminded of it today. It says, "We are Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us." Now, it doesn't say we should be Christ's ambassadors, it says we are. You may say, "I don't want to be an ambassador." Well you are; it's just a fact.
    In many countries the ambassador is the only thing people know about our country. They assume that America is like that ambassador who is an American, right? They may think America is a great place, and they may think America is a selfish place depending on what they think of the ambassador.
    The sobering reality of your everyday life as a Christian is that people are sizing you up. They're seeing whether Jesus Christ is living through you; if this is a Jesus they would want. You say, "Well, I don't like that responsibility." You've got it! You can't get out of it. You hold the reputation of Jesus Christ in the way you live. Just like I was being watched as a driver by my son, you're always being watched in the way you drive your life.
    You know what? My son watching me made me a better driver. You and I need to know how important our daily actions are, because someone needs to see the person of Jesus Christ in you. Sometimes we feel like, "Well, it doesn't matter if I do this." Oh, it does. It matters that you go out of your way to tell the truth. It matters that you reach out to that person who's down. It matters that you do try to keep your temper, that you keep your language clean.
    You know, most people who ever come to Christ do it because of a Christian they know. Most people who never come to Christ - it's because of a Christian they know. It might be time to focus on one person that you want to take to heaven with you. When you do that, you realize that that person's eyes are on you and they have been on you.
    But now you begin to base your actions on being Christ's ambassador; the face, the hands, the voice of Jesus in their life. Suddenly someone's depending on you, whether they know it or not. Their eternity may depend on how faithfully you follow Christ. And suddenly you see your faith as never before. You need God's Word now for daily strength to keep your life right; to keep your life an accurate, worthy representation of what Jesus is like.
    What an incentive to know that you are Christ's ambassador, to give Him a good reputation in everything you say and everything you do. You base your whole life on Him now. If you're going to live out-of-bounds, remember you're Christ's ambassador.
    His reputation is tied into everything you do, and you always drive better when you're being watched. You know what? You are.

  • volume_up
    May 11, 2021 How to Go From the Basement to the Penthouse - #8957

    There's just enough of a kid in me, I really like those glass elevators they have in some hotels. You know, you get in on the main floor and then you ascend to the top floor, all the time you're watching the big things in the lobby become small things in the lobby. And the limited view you had down there, oh, suddenly turns panoramic. Or if you've been in one of the world's great skyscrapers, you may have tried some of those elevators. We're talking lobby to observation deck in like seconds; rising scores of floors in less time than it takes to place some phone calls. So, at 10:02, you're down in the lobby or even the basement and at 10:03 you're looking out over the entire city - all because of an elevator.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Go From the Basement to the Penthouse."
    Let's face it, we all have some days when we feel like we're stuck in the basement, right? The view isn't very inspiring and neither is the situation we're in. Well, the good news is there is no basement so deep or so gloomy that you have to stay there because there's an elevator.
    It's the spiritual elevator many of God's leaders in the Bible knew about - like Daniel, for example. He's a top advisor to the most powerful man in the world, King Nebuchadnezzar. All of the king's pagan advisors have been unable to meet his demand, and they tell him they don't know what his disturbing dream meant. Of course, he'd also asked them to tell him what the dream was. Nobody could do that. So he sentences them to death - a sentence that applies even to Daniel, even though he wasn't there. So Daniel is literally staring at being executed. That's a dark basement!
    Wisely, he recruits his spiritual brothers to "plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery" (Daniel 2:17). Then he steps into the spiritual elevator that takes him from the basement of his circumstances to the penthouse of his awesome God. That elevator is called "praising God."
    In Daniel 2, beginning with verse 19, our word for today from the Word of God (Daniel's words): "Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: "Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His. He changes the times and seasons and sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise...He reveals deep and hidden things...and light dwells with Him..." See, Daniel is rising from the basement of his dangerous, impossible situation to the penthouse view from the Throne Room of the Most High God. And everything looks different from there!
    Now, one of the secrets of peace in the midst of great stress, of poise when everything is up for grabs, one of the secrets of perspective when you could be freaking out, the secret is to start celebrating the kind of God you have. Remember, you enter His gates with thanksgiving, the Bible says, and His courts with praise, not just with prayer requests.
    The great prayers of the Bible are like two-thirds about the greatness of God and maybe one-third about the need. When you start telling God the things about Him that you love, the things He's done that you're grateful for, that anxiety in your heart starts to ebb and the peace in your heart starts to grow. You realize that the size of the situation and the size of the need don't change the size of your God at all.
    Everyone in your situation, everything in your situation looks different from God's penthouse. You'll see the people differently. You'll see possibilities you haven't seen before. You'll have ideas you didn't have before. You'll have the peace that you couldn't have otherwise.
    That's the power of praise - the elevator that takes you from the "basement" of earth-stuff to the "penthouse" of your awesome God!

  • volume_up
    May 10, 2021 Long Wait for a New Heart - #8956

    The folks at the hospital asked my father-in-law if he'd like to donate his organs. He smiled and said, "Depends on how soon you want them." That's a great answer.
    Someone somewhere decided to donate their heart if something happened to them. And that heart ultimately was beating in the former Vice President of the United States. Some years ago, Dick Cheney had a major heart issue, and doctors had done everything else science could do to save and extend his life. Since his first heart attack at the age of 37, they'd had the stents, and the bypasses, an implanted defibrillator. And now, at age 71, his life probably depended on the ultimate solution. Not a heart repair. He needed a totally new heart.
    Right now, there are thousands of Americans whose lives depend on getting a new heart. Their average wait for one was somewhere between six months and a year. Dick Cheney had to wait 20 months for his.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about a "Long Wait for a New Heart."
    Every day - somewhere in the world - people are getting a new heart. Made possible by a donor who died and the miracle-working skill of a master heart surgeon. I know Him. He performed that miracle on me and on a lot of the people I love.
    The Surgeon is God Himself. The donor? That would be Jesus. It took His dying for me to have the spiritual heart transplant that changed everything.
    In our word for today from the Word of God, Ezekiel 36 beginning in verse 25, God made a promise to all of us who know all too well the darkness that lives in our heart. He said, "I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols." That's all those things that push God to the edge. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh...you will be My people, and I will be your God."
    A while back, a lady told me how her heart toward her husband had turned hard over the years of a difficult marriage. But then her face just lit up as she told me how Jesus had given her a "heart transplant" with a new love for her man and a new marriage. Only the Master Heart Surgeon can do that.
    One of God's prophets provided a revealing "spiritual EKG" of the heart behind all of our actions. He said "The heart is the most deceitful of all things and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT). Out of our spiritually diseased hearts come words that scar people for life, betrayal of the person we committed our life to, unthinking selfishness, cancerous anger, bitterness and all kinds of darkness that poisons our relationships, our reputation and our future.
    Oh, we try a lot of things to get better, just like they did with Dick Cheney's heart. But all of our resolutions and religion are temporary and unsuccessful fixes. Because we need Dr. Jesus. But He had to die to make possible the new heart that's our only hope of living right and dying right. God tells us that "the blood of Jesus His Son purifies us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). And that happens, not through being reformed, but by being transformed from the inside out.
    That's the miracle that takes place when you recognize that Jesus - the Man who died for your sin and then birthed eternal life by walking out of His grave - is your only hope. And you tell Him that. When you put yourself in the hands of Dr. Jesus, He in essence, implants a new spiritual heart. With a love you never had before. A power to be the kind of person you've always wanted to be and those you love need you to be. You give them the ability to forgive, to break bondages that heal broken relationships. All this waits for you, including changing your destiny from hell to heaven.
    Right now, this is your day to say, "Jesus, come into my life. I put all my hopes in You now because of what you did for me on that cross." Our website will help you make that commitment. It will help you get the rest of the way. It's ANewStory.com. It could be the beginning of your new story.
    Let the new heart miracle begin for you today.

  • volume_up
    May 7, 2021 A Parent You Can Be Proud Of - #8955

    I guess parental pride comes with your baby's birth certificate. I mean, you brag about their first word, their first steps. We show off pictures of our babies, and then if they're ever selected for a solo or a starting position later in life, or they get a part in something or an award, we will be there to take pictures, get video, whatever. A parent has a special glow when his son or daughter makes him proud. Of course, it's supposed to work the other way, too.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Parent You Can Be Proud Of."
    Our word for today from the Word of God: we're in Proverbs 17:6. Listen to this: "Children's children are a crown to the aged...and parents are the pride of their children." Now, it doesn't talk about children being the pride of their parents here. This is the other way around. Parents are supposed to make their kids proud according to God's Word.
    Not so much that the kids are running around showing off pictures of Mom or Dad, or taking lots of photos at some public event where Mom and Dad are on the platform. No, see, parents tend to be proud of their children's achievements; kids tend to be proud of their parent's character. It's not so much what Mom or Dad do that makes a young person proud, it's what they are.
    See, our kids know the realities behind the image that everybody else sees, and they're proud of us if the reality - I mean the real person that they know on a day-to-day basis when nobody's looking - if that person is a person of quality, consistency, compassion, selflessness and character. Now, what kind of a parent fulfills this Proverbs profile and makes their son or daughter proud?
    First of all, I think it's one who treats their friends with respect. You may or may not like all the choices of friends that your child makes, but you make them proud when as their friends come and go, their friends are treated specially, they're given good treatment; they're given royal treatment. They get a sense of how valuable they are to God. By the way, if you want to have influence over your child's friends, you win the right to comment on their friends as you treat them special when those friends are with you.
    I think another way to be a parent they can be proud of is to treat them with respect in public. Discipline them, correct them in private; praise, brag about them, build them up when you're in public. Thirdly, I think you can be a parent to be proud of when you treat their views with respect. Hear them out; don't respond like you know what they're going to say or that you don't care what they're going to say. Hear the whole paragraph, the whole page, not just a sentence. The Bible says, "He who answers before listening, that is his folly. That is his shame." Respect their privacy. I think a parent to be proud of has a positive attitude, you're not a complainer, you're not a whiner, you're not a critic. And you respect other views, but you take a stand for your own.
    When my daughter was in college, she was homesick one time, and somebody said, "Why?" She said, "Because I miss talking to my best friend." They said, "Oh yeah, who's that?" She said, "Oh, that's my Mom." See, it may not be cool to advertise that your best friend is your Mother. But our daughter has in her Mother a parent to be proud of. I can only hope the same is true for my sons with their Father.
    God intends that your character, your attitude of respect and love, that that will be a source of pride to your son and daughter. So, I'm just hoping that your child has a parent to be proud of.

  • volume_up
    May 6, 2021 In the Path of the Storm - #8954

    Well, I went to get an additional weather alert radio for our home. They were out. I probably shouldn't have been surprised. Not in light of the tornadoes we've been having, what they've done to lives and property across eleven states. And we weren't far from one of those ourselves.
    I think it's heart-wrenching to watch every spring. With all the shock and loss, everybody was saying, "It could have been so much worse." USA Today had an article, and it talked about "killer tornadoes aftermath" and the article declared, "Amid tragedy, 'thank God.'"
    One man in Indiana lost his house and his horses, but he was thanking God his family was okay, and they were quoting him. His comment was that "he had enough warning of the storms' approach to leave for safer ground." And so he said, "Thank God."
    You know, that seemed to be the common denominator of every survival story I've seen. They had a warning. They heeded the warning; responding to the warning and taking shelter where it's safe. That's literally the difference between life and death for now and forever.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "In the Path of the Storm."
    Years ago, I heard God's warning about the storm that's coming, and His invitation to go to the one place where I could be safe, and it changed everything.
    In our word for today from the Word of God, Jesus issues a sobering eternity warning in John 8:24. He said, "If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins." See, to die unforgiven is to stand in the path of the storm, because sin, which is the aborting of the Creator's plan for me, rejecting Him being God so I could be god of my life, well, that carries with it intrinsic judgment.
    A sinless God can't allow me and my sin in His presence. So, as the Bible says, "Your sins have separated you from your God" (Isaiah 59:2). Living without Him is hard. Dying without Him is hell. With God's warning also comes God's way to escape the storm. See, the same God I've turned my back on - whose judgment for my sin comes closer every day - acted with this radical, incalculable love to provide a safe place for my soul and yours. Again, the Bible, "God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us" (Romans 5:8). That's God's Son dying an excruciating death on a cross for us, in our place, absorbing the storm of God's judgment on my sin so I would never have to. To this day, that love that held nothing back overwhelms me beyond words.
    I remember hearing how Native Americans saved their villages from raging prairie fires years ago. They actually set a fire to stop a fire. They burned the ground around the village to deprive the fire of the fuel it needed. And they said, "The fire cannot come where the fire has already been."
    Well, that's what happened at Jesus' cross. The fire of God's judgment on our sin fell on God's Son instead. So, as the Bible says, "whoever believes in Him is not condemned" (John 3:18). When I embrace Jesus and His sacrifice as the payment for my sin, the forgiveness He purchased on the cross becomes mine, and every sin is erased from God's book forever.
    When a storm warning is issued, you can stand totally exposed to the killer storm. Or you can go where you're safe from the storm. That's the choice God gives us about the Son He sent to save us. "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life" (John 3:36).
    The warning's been sounded. We're all in the path of the storm, but there is one safe place. The cross where Jesus died for you. And then that empty tomb where He walked out of His grave so He could walk into your life today and erase your sin.
    I want you to go to our website. Because there is all the information you'll need to get this settled. It's ANewStory.com. Because God's question when we enter eternity is going to be this: "What did you do with My Son?" Because of what His Son did for you.

  • volume_up
    May 5, 2021 Your Surprising Platform - #8953

    Do you want me to speak from the floor or up on a platform? See, sometimes I'm asked to make that choice before I speak somewhere. Now, I would rather be on the floor, given that choice, because I just like to be closer to the people I'm speaking to. The problem is, if I do that, I will disappear. I know on the radio you think I'm like six foot six. Well, in person I can only seem to muster, you know, about five feet six inches or something like that. But if I'm standing down on the floor kind of on everybody else's level, then you might as well be listening to a recording, because you can't see the expression on my face. So I need to be above the crowd at least a little in order to best communicate my message. See, I need a platform. So do you.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Your Surprising Platform."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Philippians 1. I'm going to begin reading at verse 12. Paul is in one of the most confining and probably most discouraging situations of his life. But listen to what he says as he writes from prison, "Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly."
    Paul is telling us here that the gospel that he wanted to carry to Rome is now penetrating Caesar's household through the Praetorian Guard, because those guards have been chained to him in prison and they've heard the gospel. And it says that many other people have gone out to preach the gospel because Paul is out of commission. His mission is being accomplished because of his imprisonment. In other words he's saying that the worst thing that ever happened to me, this imprisonment, has given me the best platform for my message.
    Maybe there's someone's life that you've been wanting to get into with the gospel so they could be in heaven with you someday. You have no platform from which they would listen to you. And then comes maybe one of the worst things that can ever happen to you in your lifetime; one of those really bad things in life. For example, I think about the worst thing that ever happened to one young man I know, at least up to that point in his life. He blew out his knee playing high school football. At least up to that point that certainly was the worst thing. His greatest dream; the most important thing in his life was to play football. Boom! His knee changed everything.
    He'd been praying for a fellow player and for his family; a young man who had been really hooked on drug addiction. The young man told me that he had a chance to share Christ for 35 minutes with this addicted player's mom. I said, "How in the world did that happen, she's listening to a teenage guy share Christ for 35 minutes?" He said, "Well, she wanted to know how I could handle this disappointment." I thought, "Man, what an opening!" And he told her it was because of Christ. He said the worst thing that ever happened to him became the best platform he ever had to deliver that message.
    That could be you, too. Any time's a good time to share what Christ can do. Our life isn't always filled with good times. That's the difference Christ makes when you lose someone you love, when you're betrayed, when you're a victim of injustice, or when your whole world caves in. Sometimes it is those ugly, painful events that give you the right, that give you the credentials to speak about your Lord.
    Joni Erickson Tada - she said the worst thing that ever happened in her life was the day she dove into a bay and as a teenage girl was paralyzed from that day on. And yet, that has given her a worldwide platform to share her Christ. And people listen because of that wheelchair.
    What you think is disaster today might be making you a place from which you can share Jesus with someone, and they'll listen because of what you've been through. That could be your surprising platform to change someone else's eternal address.

  • volume_up
    May 4, 2021 Every Scar Has a Story - #8952

    I've got to tell you, I was really moved by Lincoln's story. He actually is a respected African-American pastor that I've had the privilege to get to know. One day he told me a little of his personal history, and it's like the histories of so many African-Americans. His father was a sharecropper, his grandfather was a slave.
    And at the age of 11, Lincoln's grandfather had been taken from his mother and sold on the auction block, never to see his mother again. Amazingly, his grandfather seemed to carry no bitterness, no anger as he told his grandson about his childhood as a slave. But he did show his grandson his scars; the ones inflicted on him by his slave master. And my friend has never forgotten what Grandpa told him about those scars, "Every scar," he said, "has a story." I'm sure it did.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Every Scar Has a Story."
    When God's Son left heaven and came here to earth, He was beaten, too. He had scars from his beatings, and every scar tells a story, and you and I are that story. It's about how very, very much He loves you.
    God talks about it actually in our word for today from the Word of God in Isaiah 53:3. It's a description of what Jesus Christ went through for you and me. It says, "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering...He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows. He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him." Now, listen, remember who this is. This is the sinless Son of Almighty God, the one the Bible calls the "Prince of glory" (1 Corinthians 2:8). And He's pierced, punished, and crushed. Not for anything He did, but for all for things you and I did. Because He had come to absorb the punishment for every wrong thing we've ever done.
    There's only one thing Jesus took back to heaven from earth - the scars. The nail prints in His hands and feet; the ones that are there because of how very much He loves me and you. Every scar has a story. The wounds of Jesus tell us, "Your sins require an awful death penalty, and I've paid that price so you can be forgiven. I don't want to lose you."
    I guess you can see why God will never forget what you do with His Son, and why it is fatal to depend on anything other than Jesus to get right with God, to go to heaven. Maybe you've been counting on your Christian knowledge, or your Christian background, or your Christian connections, or your Christian religion, or some Christian ritual. Maybe you're hoping to make it because of how religious you are or how good you've been.
    But if any of those things could have gotten you to heaven, there is no way Jesus would have gone through what He did for you on the cross. His death is your only hope of heaven, your only hope of being forgiven.
    And He's been waiting for you to respond to His love for a long time, by giving yourself to the One who gave Himself completely for you. You know you could do that right where you are today. Just tell Him, "Jesus, thank You for what You went through to pay for all the wrong things that I've ever done. I'm turning the wheel of my life over to You. You're my only hope, and beginning right now, Jesus, I'm Yours."
    Finally, you can belong to Jesus, not just believe things about Him. If you want to make sure that you have begun a personal relationship with Him, let me invite you to go to our website and check it out. That's why it's there. Right there simply you can see briefly how you can be sure you have that relationship with Jesus. It's ANewStory.com.
    See, the scars of Jesus tell the story of how very much He loves you. There's an old hymn that says it pretty well, "I shall know Him, as redeemed by His side I shall stand. I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side by the print of the nails in His hands."

  • volume_up
    May 3, 2021 How to Carry the People You Need to Carry - #8951

    When our kids were growing up, we made a lot of memories hiking up mountains and through some really great forests. And then, of course, grandsons. They started making those same kinds of memories with their daddy. In fact, they were on one of those forest hikes with Dad, and the older brother had an idea. One that he had, no doubt, gotten from watching his father and what he had done with him. Little brother's legs started to tire out, and big brother said he wanted to carry little brother on his back. Well, there actually is now a photo showing big brother with little brother on his shoulders. Is he Super Boy? No. There's a third person in the picture. It's Daddy standing behind, supporting little brother on big brother's shoulders.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Carry the People You Need to Carry."
    So oldest grandson learned something that day in the woods: "I can carry my brother - with help from above." So can you. It may be that at this time in your life you've been assigned by God to carry someone who can't make it on their own. Or maybe you've got more than one person to carry - even a bunch of people.
    You're living our word for today from the Word of God. It's in Galatians 6:2. Your Lord's command is: "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." See, when you pick up the burdens of someone God leads you to help, you're living out the life of your Savior and you're making Him proud.
    That doesn't mean the load doesn't get pretty heavy sometimes, honestly even overwhelming and nearly unbearable. There's only one way you can do this. The only way our grandson could have his little brother on his shoulders. You have to depend on help from above. And since carrying someone else is a divine mission, you can release the weight to a Heavenly Father who is so much stronger. In fact, in Psalm 55:22, He gives you this invitation: "Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall." That means casting the cares of those you're carrying on Him, too.
    Long-haul carriers learn the strange secret of what I call compassionate distance; offering yourself lovingly and wholeheartedly to that hurting person you're with, but leaving them completely in God's hands then, and especially when you're not with them. You're not supposed to carry them all the time. And they'll never learn to walk on their own if you get a "messiah complex" and act as if you're their Savior. That's called codependency, not burden-bearing.
    Just as God enlarges the capacity of a single kidney, you know, to do the work of two kidneys when one is removed, well God will enlarge your capacity to carry a load you never thought you could handle. If you go to Him consistently for His sustaining grace, you're going to feel that miracle.
    Daily, you need to download His promise in Isaiah 46:3-4 - anchor verses of mine. "I have upheld you since you were conceived and have carried you since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." WOW! That is a promise of heaven's support that has no loopholes, it's without interruption, it's without limit. After all is said and done, you can carry someone else because someone stronger is carrying you.
    Or as a great old Gospel song says, "When we have exhausted our store of endurance, when our strength has failed ere the day is half done; when we've reached the end of our hoarded resources, our Father's full giving has only begun. His love has no limit, His grace has no measure, His power has no boundary known unto men; for out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again."
    Lyrics from "He Giveth More Grace."

  • volume_up
    April 30, 2021 Another Eternity Moment - #8950

    Jonesboro. Paducah. Columbine. The list goes on. Another school shooting after another school shooting. One was in Chardon, Ohio. And, you know, having spent so much of my life on high school campuses, my heart sinks every time. I see these all-too-familiar scenes; students running, crying, parents desperately seeking information, SWAT teams moving in, law enforcement briefings, shooter profiles, ambulances converging, and then those heartbreaking candlelight vigils.
    And, you know, when those happen, once again for a very brief window in time, there's an eternity moment. After the Chardon shootings, one national reporter said, "These students are talking way beyond their years today." See, suddenly checking Facebook, and sweating the test, and talking about everyone's social "drama" seems so unimportant. Because, well, there's been a brush with eternity that changes everything. At least for a little while.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Another Eternity Moment."
    You know, for those traumatized teenagers in a shocked and grieving town where there had been a school shooting, the eternity moment came with gunshots in the cafeteria. But we all have those moments. I mean, that narrow miss, like in traffic, or in a natural disaster when we know how close we were to no tomorrow. The sudden death of someone we didn't expect to lose, then the unwelcome, insistent reminder of our own mortality.
    It's hard. It's slightly unnatural to imagine ourselves as being the name and the picture on that funeral home memorial card. But then comes that brush with eternity when we realize, "It could have been me."
    It's not something to dwell on, but it's something to be ready for. After all, we go to a lot of effort to be ready for a job interview, a date, a financial future, our own retirement. None of which holds a candle to eternity; that vast forever that's just beyond our final breath.
    The circumstances that bring our mortality close are often painful. They're even tragic like the wrenching events of the school shooting. But those brushes with eternity can also serve to help save our soul.
    A Biblical prophet once warned us to "...prepare to meet your God" in our word today from the Word of God. That's Amos 4:12, because that's what's on the other side of our last heartbeat - our unpostponable appointment with God. The Bible says, "Man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). Bank accounts and "to do'' lists and earth stuff? In an instant, they're going to matter no more. All that will matter is whether we're right with God. In a moment, we're suddenly facing destination time; where I'm going to spend my forever.
    Surveys show that most Americans think they'll go to heaven when they die. But Jesus talked about "the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" (Matthew 7:14). That's not His fault. He did everything He could to clear away the curse that disqualifies all of us from God's heaven - our sin. Our arrogant control of a life that God gave us and He was supposed to run. All those lying things, and hurting things, and selfish things, and dirty things, the God-ignoring things we've done. The verdict is clear: "Nothing impure will ever enter" God's heaven (Revelation 21:27), the Bible says.
    No religion can get us in, because my sin carries an eternal death penalty, "the soul who sins will die" (Ezekiel 18:4) the Bible says. And no religion can die for me. A perfect God can't welcome me into His perfect heaven with my sin.
    And a death penalty can't be paid by being a good boy. Somebody has to die, and somebody did. Jesus did. God's one and only Son. The Bible calls Him, "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Listen, when you give your heart to Jesus, every sin you've ever committed is erased from God's book forever. And what would keep you out of heaven is removed.
    It's awesome to know that because of Jesus, you're ready for eternity whenever and however it comes. You're not sure you are? Get it settled today. Tell Jesus, "You died for me. I'm yours." Listen, go to our website. It will help you get all the way home. It's ANewStory.com.
    The Bible describes "eternal life" as a gift that becomes yours at the point you take it for yourself. My friend, this could be your day!

  • volume_up
    April 29, 2021 Fighting the Right Enemy - #8949

    We've always been big Winnie-the-Pooh fans at our house. Our kids always enjoyed having that read to them, and now they read it to their kids. There's one scene from Winnie-the-Pooh I really remember.
    You know, I'm really big into classical literature like this, and I remember when Winnie-the-Pooh was trying to pursue an animal he called the "Heffalump." He saw his tracks in the snow, and so he started to pursue the "Heffalump." He went around this tree, and then around this bush, and came back around again, and he said, "Oh, look at these tracks. I think this is where he is." And he went, well, several times he made a circle around that tree and that bush, continually hoping he would find the "Heffalump," and taking quite a while to realize he was actually following himself and there was no "Heffalump" to follow.
    I remember a classic from the comic strip Pogo some years ago where one of the characters says, "We have found the enemy and they is us!" You know, I actually believe that the single greatest tool the devil tries to use against God's work is often following that very same line of thinking, "We have found the enemy, and they is us." Wouldn't it be something to realize that we are actually helping the enemy use his greatest weapon against God's work?
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Fighting the Right Enemy."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is from Genesis 13. I'm going to begin at verse 7. We're taking an incident out of the life of Abram; his name before it was changed to Abraham, and his experience with his nephew, Lot. Both Abram and Lot have developed fairly large flocks and holdings, and they had a lot of herdsmen working for them. And there was this dispute about who would have what land. Of course, grazing land was a very important issue in that kind of a culture.
    Here's what it says, "Quarreling arose between Abram's herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. Now the Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time. So, Abram said to Lot, "Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company, and if you go to the left, I'll go to the right. If you go to the right, I'll go to the left."
    Now, here's what it seems Abram realized here, that when you're surrounded by Canaanites, you don't waste time shooting at each other; you have no ammunition to spare. He looked around and he said, "Look, we've got people who don't like us being here. They think we're aliens. We have people who don't believe in our God, Lot. Let's you and me keep our act together, because we can't afford to waste any ammunition on each other."
    You know, the devil has always operated with his favorite strategy I think - divide and conquer. He would never divide his kingdom, but he tries to divide the Lord's kingdom and weaken it. It's interesting that when they were in famine in Egypt that Abram and Lot never had any quarreling. See, when you're in hard times you usually don't. It's like banding together like the Christians in China. They actually got rid of all the denominations. They got rid of all the labels. You know, just knowing Christ brings you together. It seems like sometimes it's only in comfortable times, in easy places like America that we can afford the luxury of quarreling with each other.
    I wonder, is there a brother that maybe you've been shooting at, maybe somebody at church, or another Christian, somebody in your own family? But they're a brother or sister in Christ, and you've been wasting ammunition on them. Somebody said, "Christians are the only army on earth that form their firing squads in a circle." Maybe the devil has succeeded in getting you to start criticizing and wasting ammunition on another church, another denomination, another Christian movement, an organization, or on a brother or sister in Christ.
    Listen, save your ammunition for the real enemy and fight side-by-side with your brother.

  • volume_up
    April 28, 2021 Turn Off Your Cruise Control - #8948

    Over our long trips, my wife and I would take turns at the wheel, and we'd have two different approaches to observing the speed limit. In her case, she would like to set it on cruise control, and that's a great invention. You can set your speed, and stay at that speed indefinitely. Not so much for me. See, I'd rather be able to really accelerate for a hill and keep up with the traffic sometimes as they say; to vary my speed. I know I can just break and reset the cruise control, but I would rather not bother with it. In a sense, not so much about driving, but I just want to discourage you from setting your personal cruise control.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Turn Off Your Cruise Control."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Ephesians 3, and let me begin reading at verse 16. It's really a magnificent passage that almost exhausts all of Paul's great vocabulary. "I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations."
    What a passage! He's saying here there's strength you haven't touched yet, there's love you haven't felt yet, there's power you haven't released yet, and there are riches you haven't appropriated yet. And he sums them all up in these words "immeasurably more." See, a healthy Christian is one who's restless for that more. The problem is, too many of us are on spiritual cruise control. "I'm at kind of at a nice speed right now, I think I'll just kind of stay there till I get to heaven."
    Don is a fellow who's been around the church a long time, much of it in leadership roles. He told me after I spoke at his church, "Ron, I was on cruise control; just feeling like, 'Man, I've been president of this and chairman of that, until I heard messages on revival and repentance.' And I wanted that more. I knew there was more." He came forward and he said, "You know, we don't do that a lot in my church as Christians."
    Then he was having lunch with Marty. He regularly had lunch with Marty. They worked together in business and Marty said to Don, "Hey, Don, there's something different about you, man. You usually come in and talk about business. All you've talked about today is the Lord." Marty said that though he was raised as a Christian he hadn't had a Bible of his own for twenty years. Don gave him one. Then after that, they were involved in an early morning prayer meeting together. And Marty, because he's been renewed, drove to his daughter's college campus and apologized to her for not raising her in a more spiritual atmosphere. Do you know what that's a taste of? That's contagious revival. It started with one spiritual veteran who said, "There must be more."
    Don't you feel that holy restlessness? Don't you want the immeasurably more? Maybe your life, your conversation has gradually filled up with some other things - with earth stuff. How about being so full of your Lord that your Christian friends are going to say, "Hey, man, there's something different about you. You're all about the Lord all of a sudden."
    Jesus has so much more. But you'll never experience it if you've set your spiritual speed and you just plan to keep rolling on at that same speed. Isn't it time to get your life with Christ out of cruise control and into high gear?

  • volume_up
    April 27, 2021 Paper Trunks and Permanent Wardrobe - #8947

    I think it had to be one of the most like insecure afternoons of my life. Our committee had been meeting for two days at this hotel. Two days straight! We had a slave-driving chairman, and finally he said, "All right, guys, how about a couple of hours in the pool?" "All right! The pool! The sauna! We deserve a break today."
    There was this one problem. My best friend and me? We had come totally unprepared; we had no swimwear whatsoever. And we really didn't want to pass up the pool and the sun and all that good stuff. So I went down to the gift shop and I said, "Do you have any swim trucks here?" And the lady said, "Well, I have some paper trunks." She said, "Yeah, they're reinforced and they're paper trunks. It's only $2." Yeah. Well, it was my only choice, so I went for it. I mean, I guess I could spend $2 on it.
    I want to tell you, it was an insecure afternoon sitting there in those paper trunks in the sauna. Now, I'm happy to report there was... well, no modesty crisis... no wardrobe malfunction, but I did not keep them to wear for other occasions. No, I used them, and believe me, I threw them away. Because I know there's a difference between what you wear for a little while and what you're going to be wearing for a long time. Paper trunks may be worth $2, probably not much more.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Paper Trunks and Permanent Wardrobe."
    Now, there are a lot of things you can base your identity on, but most of those roles, I would call them "paper trunks" you wear a little while and then you throw them away. There is one identity that is your permanent wardrobe; only one identity that you will always be, that is if you've ever made a commitment of your life to Jesus Christ. Paul talks about it in Ephesians 1, where we find our word for today from the Word of God. I'll begin at verse 11.
    Notice the two words that are repeated four times in this passage. "In Christ we were chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be for the praise of His glory and you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth - the gospel of your salvation. Having believed you were marked in Christ with the seal - the promised Holy Spirit."
    Okay, unless you dozed off, you probably know where your identity is supposed to be from those repeated two words, "In Christ." Yeah, that's your location. Where are you? You're in Christ. There are a lot of identities where you might say, "I'm in something or other." You're in high school, or "I'm in college." You could say, "Man, is there life after high school?" You're in college at one period in your life. I know guys who are in professional football and they'll say, "Is there life after football?" Is there life after whatever company or organization you work for, after retirement, after you lose your mate or your parents?
    See, life is a series of new starts. What happens after the children are gone? Those new starts last from starting kindergarten, to college, to marriage, the empty nest, job changes, retirement, the funeral. And we wear those identities for a period of time. But if you're ever going to find personal security, you need a transcendent identity - someone you can be forever. And Paul gave it to us, "In Christ." You will always belong to Jesus Christ after high school, when college is a memory, when you're single, when you're married, when you're widowed, when you're raising kids, after the kids leave.
    But here's the problem: We tend to pay a very high price for our temporary identities; our paper trunks. You'll never see most of your high school friends again, but we compromise. We hide our eternal relationship with Christ because we're scared of them. We play by whatever rules we have to play to be accepted in school, in the dorm, in our job, and we sacrifice our loyalty to Christ in the process.
    Look, you'll belong to Christ forever. Why not really be what you'll always be? Don't waste a lot of your life on paper trunks. Put your best into the permanent wardrobe that you will never risk losing - who you will be for all eternity - "In Christ."

  • volume_up
    April 26, 2021 The Dark Crossroads - #8946

    After Whitney Houston's sudden death some years ago, the world was fixated on replaying her iconic and now more poignant performances of her signature songs. And what stuck in my mind was a video they showed of one of her first performances and the video of one of her last.
    The early video actually showed her as a young girl, singing in her Newark, New Jersey church, belting out "just a little talk with Jesus makes it right." The other video was called "Whitney's last public performance." It appeared to be an impromptu duet. The song "Yes, Jesus Loves Me." I thought, "Man, bookends of her life."
    Clearly, Jesus was part of the life of this legendary performer whose singular way with a song brought people to call her simply "The Voice." But the effusive tributes and the flashbacks of Whitney's unforgettable musical mountaintops were punctuated with the disturbing images of her personal life spinning tragically out of control. Her "turbulent marriage" they said, her battles with admitted drug addiction, and then the troubling pictures of a beautiful woman in disarray and decline.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Dark Crossroads."
    Now, according to Whitney's own public statements and numerous reports from the news and personal friends, things went very wrong in a life that lit up stages around the world. And none of us knows what went on in the heart and soul of this tormented diva. But what we can know is what's going on in our own, in light of the lessons that we've learned as we look at someone like Whitney Houston. The big question that comes to me as I sort through this sadness is, "Where do you turn when you hit the dark crossroads?"
    We all get there. It's that point of desperation where the hurt is so great and the answers so few, and you've got to decide where to turn. Many roads lead to that crossroads: a marriage that promised happiness but it's just delivering hurt, a soul-ripping tragedy, bad news from the doctor, from the boss, the betrayal, the breakup, the broken heart.
    At the dark crossroads, you've got to choose which way you're going to go - toward the darkness or toward the light. You choose the darkness when you go to the drugs or the drinking, a sexual affair or sexual fantasies for relief, a "solution" that isn't one. It only creates more problems. It's darkness when you descend into the pit of harbored bitterness, or anger, or self-pity. Emotional cancer, that's what it is. It doesn't do anything to the person who hurt you, but it slowly destroys you.
    I've found there's one choice that you make at the dark crossroads that's the difference between hope and despair, between a healed heart and a hard heart, between being free or being shackled, between character-growing choices or life-scarring mistakes. It's what you do with Jesus at the dark crossroads.
    Some people find Jesus when everything else has failed them. But sadly, some people walk away from Him, thus abandoning the only hope of finding meaning and strength in their trouble. No one stays in the same place with Jesus when the tsunami hits. You end up either closer to Him or farther from Him. You choose.
    See, God's posted a sign at the dark crossroads. It's our word for today from the Word of God in Deuteronomy 30:19-20. It says, "I have set before you life and death...Now choose life, so that you and your children may live...the Lord is your life." Jesus illuminated the two directions when He contrasted the devil's plans for you with His plans, "The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that they might have life and have it to the full" (John 10:10).
    The song is so right, "Jesus loves me." The one Whitney sang as a girl, "Just a little talk with Jesus makes it right." Especially if that talk is to say, "Jesus, I need Your love; that love You showed me when You poured out Your life for my sin on the cross. So Jesus, I'm all Yours." You can have a Jesus-upbringing, Jesus-beliefs, Jesus-words and still not know Him. But today is your day at the crossroads to give yourself to Him.
    I invite you today, maybe at your dark crossroads, to grab the One who said, "I will be for you the light of your life." Because it's often at the dark crossroads where the Light finally comes in.

  • volume_up
    April 23, 2021 Facing the Flame - #8945

    Because we have so many Native American friends in the Southwest, I was carefully watching a ravenous wildfire in eastern Arizona. When you're told to evacuate, honestly you never know if you'll have a home to come back to.
    And that was the situation for some First Nations - that's the Native people of Canada - some First Nations young people who attended a Native youth conference that I spoke for in western Canada. Their homes had been in the path of these fast-spreading fires in what's called the Slave Lake area of Alberta. Because no one had been allowed back to that fire zone yet, some of the young people who attended didn't even know if they'd have a home to go back to.
    Well, out of the Slave Lake disaster came this front page story that was actually more about hope than tragedy. A lady who watched as the fires moved closer and closer to her home knew that an evacuation order was coming pretty soon. And that led to a soul-searching question, "What will I take with me when I go?" She made a choice that displayed some amazing priorities. She decided she would pack her vehicle with people, not possessions.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Facing the Flames."
    So when this woman who was trying to decide what she would take with her fled town hours later, she did just that. She took a number of people who did not have vehicles of their own - including women with children - and she left her stuff behind.
    Well later she spoke at a special church service for the victims, and she spoke with pretty deep emotion. She said, "You know, I actually had joy in my heart...that there were people able to come with us, because people are what matter."
    Yes, they are. But in the push and shove of our fast-moving lives, it's easy to forget that isn't it? So many demands and deadlines, so much stuff. But nothing matters as much as the people in our lives: stopping for them, listening to them, letting Jesus love them through us. They're the only thing in our life that's made in the personal image of God Himself and the only thing that will last forever and ever. So that lady's question is one we all need to be asking. I know I do. "What will I take with me when I go?" Or, more accurately, "Who will I take with me?"
    Now, in our word for today from the Word of God, Paul, God's ambassador, knew the answer. In 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, Paul writes to those that he had introduced to Jesus, and he says this: "What is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when He comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy."
    That's what we'll have ultimately to show for the years God gave us on this earth, the one time we get to go around, and it's the people who will be in heaven because we cared. And they'll be there because Jesus died for them ultimately. But they'll be there because somebody like you or me told them that He died for them.
    Could it be we've gotten so busy and even so involved in accumulating blessing at church, at conferences, Bible studies that you're walked right by the people who are facing the flames? You know, we're all called to rescue them.
    Jude 23 puts it this way, "Snatch others from the fire and save them." Because, you see, everything else is eventually going to burn.

  • volume_up
    April 22, 2021 A Poker Chip and a Super Bowl - #8944

    I know you shouldn't yell, especially on a Sunday, but I did that Sunday. You know, it was during the Super Bowl some years ago.
    But my New York Giants were playing for the championship. And they needed my help. You know, my encouragement and my suggestions of course. How could they hear me if I don't yell? It's okay, just earth stuff I know, but it was fun to watch them win; especially since I have a special attachment to the Giants that goes back to our years in the New York area, when I used to speak for some of their pre-game chapels.
    What most people don't know is that some of the Giants' dramatic late-season turnaround that year is traceable, in part, to a chapel they had the previous November. The speaker was actually challenging the attendees to be "all in" as husbands and fathers, as spiritual leaders and as followers of Jesus. Then he gave them something I don't ever expect to get from my pastor - a poker chip.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Poker Chip and a Super Bowl."
    The speaker asked them to write on that chip a part of their life where they needed to be "all in." Now I'm not a card player, but I know that "all in" is a poker term. It refers to a player's decision to throw in all his chips - nothing left, everything is on the line.
    It didn't take long for "all in" to spread among a Giants team whose record at that time had them on the brink of missing the playoffs altogether. And they went on to play like champions after that from then on, all the way to winning the Super Bowl.
    Laying it all on the line isn't just for football players. It's for all of us who claim to be playing for Jesus. Our word for today from the Word of God Colossians 3:17 explains "all in" faith: "Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus." Look, this is no compartmentalized Christianity where Jesus is just a slice of the pie of your life. No, this is all Jesus. It's His business, not yours. It's His house, His car, His body, His money, His relationship, His problem, His children.
    There's only one way to live the Jesus-way - with intensity and with focus in everything you do. Or in the words of the Bible, "Whatever you do" - here we go again with those all-encompassing words, whatever you do - "work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men" (Colossians 3:23). When you pray, pray with all your heart. When you work, work with all your heart. When you study, when you listen, when you play, when you worship, when you goof off do it with all your heart.
    It's just all too easy to slowly, unintentionally move Jesus from the center to the margins. You miss one day being with Him in His Word. Pretty soon you've gone weeks, maybe months with little exclusive Jesus-time. What John Calvin called the "idol-making machine" in our hearts makes something or someone else - even something good - the "sun" around which our life now revolves. It becomes the idol that replaces Jesus as the governing passion of your life. What once was warm is cold; what once was a passion becomes a profession. What used to be love is now just "crankin' it out."
    The words of an old hymn just popped into my head as I was thinking about this: "But we never can prove the delights of His love until all on the altar we lay..." That's true. The best of Jesus is for those who are "all in." All control surrendered. Nothing I'm hanging onto. Abandoned to Jesus, because anyone who loved me enough to die for me would never do me wrong.
    You know, for 2,000 years, folks have found in Jesus the cause, the passion, the purpose that's worth everything you've got. Because He gave everything He had for you on a cross. Maybe you've never begun a relationship with Him, and you're interested in exploring that. Come visit us today at ANewStory.com.
    You know what? Today you will find in Jesus the One who is totally worthy of you being "all in" for.

  • volume_up
    April 21, 2021 It All Depends On the Delivery Person - #8943

    I'm a newspaper man! Not a career journalist. I'm a guy who likes his newspaper. But, I have to admit I get frustrated occasionally when it's not there; which means the delivery guy either goofed up or goofed off. See, there are many reporters all around the world who worked to collect that news, and then there's this expensive process of getting it all laid out, and edited, and printed. And the products of all that expense and all that effort ends up on the doorstep of one delivery person; some man or woman who's going to deliver it. You know what? If they don't deliver it, all that expensive effort doesn't get to me...it never reaches me. You know something? We're all in the delivery business.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "It All Depends On the Delivery Person."
    All right, let's climb in the time machine and go back through 20 centuries of people who have accepted Christ; millions and millions of followers of Christ, and go back to the very, very first one. At least it looks like he might be the first one. Where did it all begin?
    We go back to John 1 for our word for today from the Word of God, and I'll read some excerpts to you. "The next day John" (that's John the Baptist) "was there again with two of His disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, 'Look, the Lamb of God.' Well, when the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, 'What do you want?' They said, 'Rabbi, where are you staying?' He replied, 'Come and you will see.'"
    Okay, this is how Andrew gets to Christ. And then verse 41 tells us that the first thing Andrew did - the first thing - was to go find his brother. His name was Simon, and he told him. "The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, He said to him, 'Follow Me.'" He was a neighbor of Andrew and Peter. Then verse 45 says, "Philip found Nathaniel. And he said, 'We have found the one the prophets wrote about.' Nathaniel said, 'How can any good thing come from Nazareth?' And Philip said, 'Come and see.'"
    You see what's going on here? The good news about Jesus is spreading as each of His followers becomes a delivery boy or a delivery girl as the case may be. So, Andrew goes and gets Simon, and apparently they have some contact with Philip. Philip goes and gets Nathaniel, and then his faith is born. That's how we got to be millions of followers of Christ. It started through a chain of each one reaching one; that "come and see" chain, that "check out Jesus" chain. Come on and check Him out! They're not trying to change people's religion or their bad habits. But if you say, "Would you just take a look at Jesus; just consider what He's like." Make it about Jesus.
    Now, you are somewhere in the middle of that chain. Someone delivered the news to you, thank God, and changed your eternity. And now you're the deliverer for someone around you. Are you having the good news put on your doorstep but then undelivered? We tend to hope that they'll be reached without us maybe having to do it. Very few are. Even the research on the great ministry of someone as powerful as the late Billy Graham showed that over 80% of the people that were there, were there because of a friend they knew who was a Christian.
    God's plan is that each of us steps up to our part in the "check out Jesus" chain. You're the link in the chain to someone, and you are the best hope of being in heaven, humanly speaking, is you. There's someone in your life that you're closer to than any other Christian on this planet. You're their link. The good news was very expensive; it cost God's Son His life. Through the centuries it reached you because of people who risked to pass it on, saving a life, and now it sits on your doorstep ready to be delivered.
    Don't miss this chance. God has done His part, now it's all in the hands of the delivery person. That's you!

  • volume_up
    April 20, 2021 How to Be Safe In Dangerous Times - #8942

    Over the years, we found a little tool that was smart to have if you were going to be spending time next to the ocean. They call it a tide table. It tells you what time high tide and low tide will be each day. That's good to know, especially if you're going to really set up shop for a while on the beach - which many people do. I've watched people bring their own little civilization to the beach with them: tarps and coolers and toys and appliances. You'd think they were planning to live on the beach. What's kind of fun to watch is the people with all that stuff who fall asleep somewhere between low tide and high tide. (You know where this is going don't you.) Slowly but surely, the waves start creeping up from the edge toward their civilization. You really should wake them up, but that wouldn't be any fun. Eventually, as the tide tickles their toes, they wake up only to find some of their civilization about to float away. It's panic city, man! But it didn't have to be that way. There's this little tool called a tide table that tells you when the tide...well, you get the idea.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Be Safe In Dangerous Times."
    High tide doesn't have to surprise you; it doesn't have to swamp you if you consult the tide table.
    You might say God has a tide table; information that can actually help you avoid getting swamped by high tide. Because, according to the Bible, high tide is coming. The Bible refers to it as "the last days." That's "last" as in the turbulent days that count down to the finale of human history; the personal return of Jesus Christ. And He's going to write the final chapter. Interestingly enough, surveys show that over half of Americans expect the return of Christ to happen. The Bible leaves no doubt about it, and It also describes the times leading up to it.
    God uses one word to describe those times in our word for today from the Word of God in 2 Timothy 3:1. It says: "Mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days." Other translations of this verse call it "dangerous times." This section of the Bible goes on to describe what will make the world so dangerous before Jesus comes back. It might not be what you think. People will be totally lovers of themselves, the Bible says, lovers of money, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, and much more.
    The Bible describes what kind of world Jesus will come back to. A world with massive natural disasters, weapons of mass destruction and raging nations. You know, there's a group of scientists who have what they call the "Doomsday Clock." Recently they've set it closer and closer to midnight. They've been doing this since 1945, registering their sense of how close we are to the "midnight" of a global cataclysm. They've been looking at the unsecured nukes in the world, nuclear possibilities with states that we should really be concerned about having them, and they reset the clock to very close to midnight. Dangerous times. Terrible times.
    Jesus told us what to do when we saw high tide coming like this. His words: "You must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him" (Matthew 24:44). In the words of a Biblical prophet: "Prepare to meet your God" (Amos 4:12). There's only one way to be ready, and that's to be sure your life is in the hands of the One who will write the final chapter; the final chapter for this planet, and the final chapter for your life, and that's Jesus Christ. Here's the question, "Do you belong to Him?"
    Jesus died to get you ready to meet God. It took His death on the cross to pay for the sin that keeps you from God and will keep you out of heaven forever. Then He walked out of His grave to prove there's nothing that can take Him down. If there's never been a time when you've said, "Jesus, I resign running my life, I'm Yours," boy, would this be a good time to get that settled. I think our website would be a help to you doing that. It's helped a lot of others. It's ANewStory.com.
    The coming of Jesus is scheduled, it's sure and it's "unpostponable." Whether it's the moment He comes back to earth or the moment He comes for you. Don't risk not being ready.

  • volume_up
    April 19, 2021 Big Men, Big Mistakes - #8941

    Wait! Wait! Wait! I thought Humpty Dumpty was just a nursery rhyme. You know, the big egg who sat on a wall, but had a great fall. Turns out he's got a lot of company these days - sitting on a high wall, smashed by a big fall.
    Take one of the world's powerful financial figures, for example, a few years ago. He was in a $3,000-a-night Manhattan hotel suite one night, and then the next night, he was in a tough New York jail. He stood accused of serious sexual violation of a hotel maid. Now, those accusations had to be proven in court, but they did resonate with a reputation for mixing power with sexual aggression.
    But then the story isn't what we want to focus on. That was just one example of many high-profile stories of a powerful man who has taken a precipitous Dumpty crash. You can think about athletes, politicians, financial high-rollers, uh-huh, and even prominent men in ministry.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Big Men, Big Mistakes."
    Now, at the root is a time-bomb mindset identified by a man who knows this scenario all too well - Tiger Woods. After, years ago, his darkest secrets spilled out of the closets for all the world to see, here's what he said: "I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply. I felt I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me." Now, listen to this key word: "I felt I was entitled."
    Entitlement: that's the gateway to moral disaster. "My position means the rules don't apply to me. I have a right to go out of bounds." You know, in 2 Chronicles 26:16, our word for today from the Word of God, The Jewish king Uzziah had led his nation to a new pinnacle of greatness, all the while, he was deeply reliant on God until it says, "He became successful" and "pride became his downfall." He walked into the temple and began to take privileges that God had clearly given only to His priests. And like Icarus flying too close to the sun, Uzziah came crashing down.
    Even the great King David must have felt that he'd won so many victories and done so much good that, you know what? He was entitled to sex with the wife of a trusted friend, and his life was never the same.
    It's just all too easy to succumb to that feeling of entitlement. Some feel entitled because of the position they've achieved, or some because of the pressures they face. "If you only knew what I'm going through." Some because of the pain they're going through. It could be a high-flying leader, a lonely wife, a much-loved pastor, or a very busy, very tired man. Entitled to some relief, some attention, some affection, some stolen pleasure, some reward, a spiritual "day off." And it is those detours at Entitlement Junction where lives and families and reputations and ministries are ripped apart.
    God really is "no respecter of persons." And, as Warren Wiersbe said, "A lifetime of obedience will not buy you one hour of disobedience." Just think King David.
    God's made it clear "your sin will find you out." He loves you too much to let you keep getting away with what is going to ultimately destroy you. We have to build our walls high around those places where we know we're vulnerable. And we need to fall to our knees in repentance where we've strayed out of bounds before any more damage is done.
    Sins of entitlement are not just some harmless "three-hour tour." They're a surging tide that will carry you and those you love right onto the rocks.

  • volume_up
    April 16, 2021 The Deadliest Day in the World - #8940

    It's only a story, but the point it makes is a reality not to be ignored. As the story goes, there was a day when the devil called an emergency meeting in hell. All his senior demons were there. The agenda: how to increase the number of people who were going to hell instead of heaven. The first demon to speak said, "Let me launch an all-out attack on people's belief in the Bible and Jesus as the Son of God. Before I'm finished, they won't trust either one, and hell will be full." The devil was impressed and he released that first demon to launch his doubt offensive on the future inhabitants of eternity. After an appropriate time, Satan reconvened his council of senior demons. He wasn't pleased, especially with demon number one. He said, "The number of people coming to hell is up only slightly since you tried your little strategy of creating doubt. This isn't working! We need a better idea."
    That was when demon number two stepped up with a plan he believed to be foolproof. "I will launch an all-out campaign to convince people they will have to give up too much to follow Jesus. It costs too much! It's too hard! That's what I'll tell them." Satan was fascinated with that proposal and he wished demon number two great success. It didn't happen. The traffic coming into hell did increase some, but not nearly enough to satisfy the enemy of every human soul. No, he wanted many more.
    All the other demons were afraid to offer another plan for fear of failure and the devil's displeasure. All the other demons except one, that is. Demon number three asked Satan for permission to launch a top secret strategy - one which he would only reveal after the results were in. The devil was skeptical. But since nothing else was working, he let demon number three put his secret plan into action.
    Within weeks, the floodgates opened. More people were ending up in hell than any of the demons had ever seen. Satan again convened his demon council to find out what was this strategy that was bringing so many people to hell. When the third demon explained it, everyone was amazed. And that strategy for keeping people from heaven is the sober reality we all need to consider.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Deadliest Day in the World."
    The third demon explained: "I actually tell people they do need Jesus and that they should give Him their life." Satan was ready to explode! The room was quiet as a tomb when the third demon said: "I tell them to come to Jesus...tomorrow."
    And that's the word that has sent so many people to hell - tomorrow. "I know I should open my heart to Jesus. I'll get right with Him - tomorrow." Listen to God's urgent call in 2 Corinthians 6:2. It's our word for today from the Word of God. "I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." That word salvation, it's a rescue word, because rescue is why Jesus came.
    Our sins have earned us the eternal death penalty that the Bible calls hell. A hell which could be cancelled only one way. It took the Son of God Himself taking your hell and mine; taking your punishment for you. You did the sinning; Jesus did the dying. When a rescuer extends his hand to you in a burning or collapsed building, you don't wait to grab it. Your chance to live is now.
    And Jesus is extending His rescuing hand to you today, even as I'm speaking these words. He's the tug you feel in your heart. None of your reasons for waiting are worth risking an unthinkable eternity. Now is the day of salvation. God said it. Don't risk it. The rescue happens when you grab Jesus your Rescuer with both hands and say, "Jesus, You're my only hope. I'm Yours from today on." Because today is the only day you can be sure of.
    Our website is there to help you get this settled once and for all. I hope you'll go there today. It's ANewStory.com. Please visit us today at ANewStory.com.
    If they could, so many people on the other side of eternity would say to you, "Don't wait for tomorrow." Because for them, tomorrow never came.

  • volume_up
    April 15, 2021 The Shark Syndrome - #8939

    In the past, there was a series of movies that kind of made one four-letter word come to strike terror in the human heart. Just think how you feel when I say this word - Jaws.
    It's not the kind that involves an orthodontist, no. If you've been around, listen, you've known, probably from the movies, it's the jaws of that terrorist of the sea - the shark! Now, I hate to be critical, but these are pretty nasty fellows. And consider what attracts a shark - blood. Isn't that nice? When someone's wounded, they move in for the kill. Where there's bleeding, there are sharks. And they're not all in the ocean.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Shark Syndrome."
    Today we're talking about wounds; about people who hurt you; about tense relationships and some healing wisdom from the Scriptures. Proverbs 17:9, our Word for today from the Word of God, has some really down-home wisdom. Listen to this: "He who covers an offense promotes love. But whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." You say, "Whoa, whoa! Where was that? I didn't know it was going to be that good." Yeah, it's Proverbs 17:9 and it talks about two approaches when there's a wound.
    One is to repeat the matter. The other is to cover the offense. Now, in shark talk, you can pounce on the offense, or you can swim on by. Depending on which one you do, there are two outcomes. If you pounce on that hurt, you pounce on that wound, that problem, that hurt that's been inflicted on you, well then; it says there's going to be separated friends. If you choose to overlook it, it talks about love being promoted. And it all depends on whether you want to be an overlooker or a score keeper.
    See, if you love someone, you can swim by all kinds of hurts and problems. You say, "Well, yeah, I love him. I can forget it." If you don't love someone, you don't forget anything that they do wrong. You're a list keeper, you're a score keeper. You've got a black list, and it's in indelible ink. You'll remember. You'll replay every infraction. And you know what? That's how marriages discentegrate, that's how parents and children come apart, that's how friendships are ruined, that's how working relationships end up being enemies. That's how churches split.
    Christ's love is not just some sticky, sweet emotional syrupy thing. It's really practical. Without it, we become selective recorders, recording the data that proves that a person is as bad as we thought - recording the wounds. But real love? Well, it lets all kinds of hurts go. And if you let it go, it won't grow. If you don't let it go, it will grow, and it will grow into that root of bitterness the Bible says that "will defile many and cause trouble" (Hebrews 12:15).
    There might be a relationship of yours right now that is suffering from your uh... shall we say overly efficient memory. You've been remembering, storing it up, adding up offenses, keeping score, attacking where there's a wound. 1 Corinthians 13 says that "Love God's style keeps no record of offenses."
    Here's a good prayer for today, "Dear Lord, help me and teach me to be an overlooker." Don't add up the hurts and the wounds and pounce on them. Let it go! Who needs any more sharks anyway? Swim on by.

  • volume_up
    April 14, 2021 Intimidated Into Silence - #8938

    I think I attended what they would have called a racially-troubled elementary school when I was in kindergarten and first grade. The only thing is the kids didn't know it; somebody forgot to tell us it was racially troubled. It was a changing neighborhood and I guess the adults were real tense about what was going on between the black and white kids. We just didn't know there was any difference between us.
    I was out on the playground one day and we were playing dive bomber. It was winter and we all had hats and coats on. The idea was you're supposed to come in with your arm real low and knock off the other guy's hat. Well, in the process (clumsy me), I connected with the head of one of my black kids in our class. I'm a klutz; I missed. Up comes this big, sixth grade patrol boy on a power trip. We called them patrol boys, crossing guards, whatever...they looked huge to a little first grader. This patrol boy said, "Did you try to knock his hat off?" I said, "Yeah, I was trying to knock his hat off!" I was so confused I didn't know what to answer him.
    He said, "Wait a minute! Did you say you were trying to knock his head off!?" Oh that isn't what I said. I said I was trying to knock his hat off. Did you know I was so intimidated by that crazy patrol boy I couldn't tell him what really happened. Then he said, "Then I'm taking you to the principal's office." That did it! You can't imagine how big that sixth grader looked to me, and then he's got the power of the principal behind him. I had something important to say, but he seemed just too big to say it to.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Intimidated Into Silence."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Proverbs 29:25. It says, "The fear of man will prove to be a snare. But whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." I have a friend who has a very powerful, wealthy father who has shown a lot of Christian leaders generosity over the years. And, therefore, he's been approached by many of those people for contributions. They've spent hours on end developing his friendship. His re-born daughter said something that really made me sad. She said, "Ron, as far as I know, not one of them has ever shared the Gospel with my Dad." Oh, they went to him for financial support for the Lord's work, and I can understand they probably didn't want to offend him, but because this man is rich and powerful, people don't tell him about Jesus.
    Is that what Proverbs is saying, "The fear of man trips you up," "It's a trap," "It's a snare." Let's bring it down to where we live. There's probably someone in your world who's powerful, maybe a supervisor, a strong relative, maybe someone whose favor you need for some reason. Have you ever tried to tell that person about Jesus or have you been intimidated into silence? No one should miss a chance at heaven because they're in a powerful position and they scare people away. I mean, I'm a child of the King of the universe. I don't need to fear or be intimidated by anyone. I know who I am. I'll be that forever; no one can take that away from me. That's my identity you can't touch.
    Why don't you begin to pray that the Lord will help you see that intimidating person through God's eyes? What does God see? He sees someone lost, lonely, hurting, fighting their battles without a Savior, a sinner needing the cross. Then pray for a natural opportunity given to you by God - an easy way to get into a conversation. Our three-open prayer, "Lord, open a door. Lord, open their heart. Lord, open my mouth." Pray for the courage to take that opportunity, and pray for an approach that can begin with something they care about, with their need. And base it on your personal hope story.
    I once looked at a powerful patrol boy, and I had nothing to say to him. And I should have said something to him; I had something important to say. It looks dumb to me today. Now, today someone looks almost too big to you to tell the most important news of all. Don't look back one day and say, "Why didn't I tell them?" Because when it comes to the message of salvation, silence is not golden, it's fatal.

  • volume_up
    April 13, 2021 Wait Til You See Your Senior Picture - #8937

    My daughter's college French class finished early one day, so she pulled out all her pictures for some strange reason. And there was her senior picture. Well, as her Father, my opinion was, "She's beautiful, she's radiant." But then a lot of other people said that about her too.
    And then there was her 7th grade picture, with her hair parted down the middle and pulled back, big glasses, braces. Apparently the guy next to her was pretty outspoken. He said, "Man! How ugly!" (Guys are great aren't they?) She said, "Well, that's okay. I don't mind, as long as it's not that way now."
    And he said, "Oh, no way! Are you kidding?" And then they took the pictures up to their French teacher to see. And she looked at the 7th grade picture and said, "Hum..." Then the 8th grade picture and said, "Well, I see some progress." And then she compared 7th grade to my daughter's senior picture. And in French she said, "What a miracle!" Well, caterpillars do grow up to be butterflies. And, it's always a miracle.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Wait Til You See Your Senior Picture."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is found in Philippians 1, and I'm reading verse 6. Before we do, let's get something straight. We're talking about your development and caterpillars becoming butterflies, but we're not talking so much physical here, though you may need to be patient until you get through that caterpillar stage. But you may feel like you're in one of those stages right now.
    Let's take a look at the big picture of who you're becoming as a total person. Here's the verse: "Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." In other words, God's started something in you, and you're going to love the finished product. But on the way to our, shall we say, senior picture, where we're going to look beautiful, there might be some braces, some awkward stages, some blemishes, some ugly moments. Maybe you feel like you're in there right now, wondering if it's always going to be like this.
    Well, Philippians 1:6 says, "No, it won't!" God has started something. There's an active, dynamic process going on, and you won't always be in 7th grade. You won't always act like this. You won't always be like this, because He isn't finished with you yet. We certainly wouldn't judge Leonardo da Vinci on a half-finished Mona Lisa would we? You say, "Well, that doesn't look too good." Wait till He's done.
    Right now maybe you're discouraged by the stage you're in. You're very aware of what you aren't, of your faults, failures, your fears, your inadequacies. And maybe you're not getting a lot of affirmation and appreciation right now, maybe not getting much attention. It's a tough time, but you won't be like this forever. This is a stage on your way to being a beautiful total person. He's promised He will carry His process on to completion. It's like 7th grade in my daughter's life. It's a station, not a destination.
    You're in a station right now, but God's taking you on to something more beautiful. Don't give up, don't quit trying, don't start withdrawing because you don't like the way it looks now. Focus on your Creator, because He only does masterpieces.
    Oh, and while you're at it, focus on other people. There are some people around you who need your encouragement, need your smile, need you to care. If your eyes are on what you are, you'll be discouraged. If your eyes are on what you're becoming, you'll have hope with anticipation. When you and all the people you know see God's finished product, God's senior picture of you, you will testify together, "What a miracle!"

  • volume_up
    April 12, 2021 What You Can't See Really Can Hurt You - #8936

    Busy highway - heavy traffic - including those crazies who suddenly cross three lanes at once. You need your wits about you at all times. You need to be looking at what's going on all around you, you're looking ahead, you're looking out the rear window, you're checking your mirrors on the left and the right, trying to locate all the cars around you and even anticipate what some of them might do next. But even with all that, you're not seeing everything. Because there's one spot you can't see out the front window, the rear window, the mirrors. It's that dangerous spot somewhere on the back right side of your car. You know what they call it - your what? Yeah, blind spot. And seeing what's there could be the difference between getting home safely and not getting home at all!
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "What You Can't See Really Can Hurt You."
    That's not just true about driving down the highway. It's true about your entire journey on this planet! There's something a lot of folks can't see - that someone's actually trying to keep them from seeing - that can keep them from ever getting home to the God who made them, to the purpose He made them for, to the heaven they hope to go to when they die.
    In 2 Corinthians 4:4, our word for today from the Word of God, He lets us look into the spiritual blind spot that can cost us so much. Referring to Satan, God says, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ." Now, listen. There are some very wonderful, very bright people who have been blinded to the greatest need in their life; their need for Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross for them.
    The light we're blinded to, it says, is the "gospel of the glory of Christ." The Bible actually defines what this Gospel - this Good News - is: "By this Gospel," it says, "you are saved...Christ died for our sins...was buried...and was raised on the third day" (1 Corinthians 15:2, 4). The reason for the horrific death of God's Son on a Roman cross was that He was dying to pay for your sins and mine so we would never have to, because no one else could have or even claimed to give His life to pay for your sins. He's your only hope of having your sins erased from God's book; He's your only hope of getting into God's heaven. Because Jesus didn't stay dead. He blew the doors off His grave on Easter morning! Only the One with eternal life can give you eternal life.
    But the devil doesn't want you to see that. He wants you in hell with him. So he's blinded you. He blinds us with pride. We're too proud to admit we need a Savior instead of making it on our own. Satan blinds us with religion, so we think a religion about Jesus will get us to heaven. It won't - it can't. Sometimes the devil blinds us with other Christians who have represented Jesus poorly. But Jesus is the issue, not Christians. Satan is saying, "Anything but Jesus. Focus on anything you want except Jesus." His goal is to keep you blinded to Jesus until the day you die, and then his mission is accomplished forever.
    But today, the Holy Spirit of God is working in your heart to show you what Satan has tried to keep you from seeing. That tug you feel in your heart? That's the pull of God. He's drawing you to His Son. Forget all the other stuff - religion, rituals, Christians, theories, earth-stuff - and just walk up to that cross and say, "Jesus, I'm not blind anymore. I see it now. I see You now. You died here for me, and I'm coming home to You right now. I'm Yours from this moment on." He promised that at that moment He would forgive every wrong thing you have ever done, and He would write your name in His book of life; your guarantee that you're going to heaven someday.
    I've tried my best to simply explain this awesome Good News about Jesus at our website. I want to invite you to go there and check it out. It's ANewStory.com.
    I don't know if you'll ever be this close to Him again; if you'll be able to see Him like this again. As the Bible says, "Call on Him while He is near" (Isaiah 55:7). You've got so much to gain with Jesus. You've got so much to lose without Him.

  • volume_up
    April 9, 2021 Prove it Before You Promote it - #8935

    You know, after a whole lot of airplane flights in my life, it was refreshing one day to have a pilot who really took seriously that little phrase "friendly skies." He was a friendly pilot! He was kind enough to keep pointing out what we were seeing below. Most pilots are friendly, but they don't take all the time to, you know, be kind of a tour guide and say, like, "On the left side..." "On the right side of the plane..."
    Seems like I'm always on the wrong side of the plane to see anything, but this time I happened to be where I should have been. And he pointed out that we were over what looked like a large, winding raceway track. He pointed out we were looking at a new car proving ground used by one of the big three automakers to test their prototype automobiles. He said that the cars are driven for long hours on end and thousands of miles on that track to detect any weaknesses. And then, and only then, do they put them on the road. You know, that's a good idea to test a vehicle before you trust it.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Prove it Before You Promote it."
    You know, God talks about His vehicles in our word for today from the Word of God in 1 Timothy 3:1. And by His vehicles I mean the people He can use to carry out His leadership assignments. He says, "If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer (or spiritual leader) he desires a noble task." All right, it's okay to want to be a leader for Him. But listen to verses 6 and 7, "He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap."
    Short version: Don't rush into leadership. Like a new car, you have to spend a lot of time on the proving ground before you're put on the road to be a spiritual leader. Now, since we live in a microwave world where everything happens fast, and "I want it now!" we want to get in a position quickly. Or we want to promote people too soon from rookie to starting team. I've got a hunch some of the falls that we have seen in our spiritual leaders maybe if you went way back in their beginnings maybe someone promoted them before they proved them.
    See, it takes time to get your ego where it needs to be. Verse 6 talks about not becoming conceited. Well, it takes time to get to the place where you want to promote His kingdom and not yours. It takes time to build a reputation like it talks about here; a reputation for being real, for being authentic.
    It talks about other qualifications in this passage. It takes time to get your family under control, your temper, your appetites, your money - all of which, by the way, are qualifications for spiritual leadership.
    When you cut short the time to grow, the time to develop humility, the time to get your life lined up with your message, you're creating a potential crash. So, let's not be in too big a hurry to push one of God's vehicles out onto the Interstate. We all need to be tested first on God's proving ground. Rushing to leadership...that's man's way of doing it - it's not God's.
    Like a responsible auto manufacturer, God has a simple rule for His human vehicles: Prove it before you promote it.

  • volume_up
    April 8, 2021 The Ultimate Royal Spectacle - #8934

    It was April 2011 - turn on the news, it was "The Prince William and Kate Show"! You bet! Man, forget about world crises and cash-burning gas. Who cares about disasters and deficits? The handsome prince and the classy commoner were getting married! Actually, you know a lot of ways you could remember that if you wanted to.
    Maybe you got a William and Kate saucer, or stamp. Or did you get the jelly or the coins? Or, you know, maybe you got some "Sweet William Soaps." Now, I'm not making these things up, man. How about the "No More Waity, Katie Nail Polish"? Couldn't find that at Wal-Mart. And, oh yeah, the "William and Kate Dress-Up Dolly Book." (I didn't get that one either.) But you know what? Actually, there have been so many horrendous headlines, at that point it was kind of like a dose of Prozac in the middle of that depressing stuff.
    Actually, it was estimated that as much as maybe one-fourth of the world's population was watching The Wedding! And to think, I was nervous at my wedding.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Ultimate Royal Spectacle."
    Now, the wedding of England's future king...well, that did increase my anticipation. Not for the royal spectacle that happened that day at the wedding. No, no. for the Royal Spectacle that's going to happen on, well, actually, I don't know when it's going to happen. Nobody does. But when it does, it will be seen by every person on the planet!
    We're talking the return of the King - The King of all kings! See, Jesus promised He'd rise from the dead three days after He was crucified, and He did. He promised that one day then, "they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:30), and they will. Our word for today from the word of God is in Revelation 1:7. It says, "He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him."
    Listen, the world is not done with Jesus Christ. Oh, the first time He came, only a handful knew He had come. The second time, the whole world will know. The first time, He came as servant and Savior. The second time He will come as King and Judge. The first time people had a choice. The second time the Bible says that, "at the name of Jesus every knee will bow" (Philippians 2:10), and I can't wait to see Him.
    I'm gonna be in that awestruck bunch the Bible talks about this way: "on the day He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marveled at among all those who believed" (2 Thessalonians 1:10). Look, I'm already in awe of Jesus! I can't even imagine what it will be like on the day that He comes back to take back His world.
    And this ultimate Royal Spectacle? It's gonna be the biggest news the world has ever known! Good news for those who have trusted the coming King as their personal Savior. But bad news for those who've never taken the gift of life that He bought with His blood on the cross when He died for their sins. The Bible describes what will happen with them in these stark words, they will be "shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power" (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
    I don't want that to happen to anyone I know. And that's why I've got to find a way to tell the people I know about my Jesus. No excuses, no more waiting, there's too much at stake. The clock is ticking.
    And honestly, that's why I'm urging you to ask yourself the question, "Have I ever given myself to this Jesus? Have I ever put my total trust in You, Jesus, to be my Savior from the sinning that I've done?"
    If you're not sure you've done that, there's just really no good reason to wait any longer. Would you reach out to Him today in your heart, and say "Jesus, I'm Yours beginning today." You say, "Well, Ron, how do I do that?"
    I'd love to help you with that, and that's the reason I want to invite you to come to our website right away today. It's ANewStory.com. You'll find some information there, some scripture that will help you be sure you belong to the King.
    He's coming back to His world. He's coming unannounced, He's coming uninvited. But today the King wants to come into any heart that will welcome Him and enthrone Him. See, today the question is, "What will I do with Jesus?" Then the question will be, "What will Jesus do with me?"

  • volume_up
    April 7, 2021 How Not to Break What You're Trying to Fix - #8933

    "Dad, can you fix this?" I used to hear that every once in a while. And with my mechanical abilities being what they were, my best answer was usually, "It's doubtful." But I would pull out my trusty tool chest and give it a shot.
    One thing even I know though, it's important to use the right tool. For example, let's say a wheel needs to come off a bike and be taken to the bike shop to be repaired. Now because I was usually in a hurry, my first choice would be to reach for a hammer. You know, hammers get jobs done quickly, right? Well, it would also be the worse choice. I mean, I might be able to knock that tire off the bike, but the damage isn't going to be worth it. It's quick, but I wouldn't call it efficient. Some jobs require a wrench, and of course you have to find the right sized wrench. Some require a screwdriver and you've got to find the, you know, Phillips, standard, whatever. You've got to get the right kind; the right size. Some jobs require pliers, and they almost all require patience. You know, fixing people is a lot like that.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How Not to Break What You're Trying to Fix."
    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Paul's last letter in 2 Timothy 4; I'm reading verse 2. Here's what he says: "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season, correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction." Okay, do you know Paul just gave us three tools in the tool box? Three tools you and I can use in fixing people.
    Now I'm sure there's someone in your life who could use some work right now, right? Yeah, you're thinking of them. Okay, maybe you're married to them, or maybe it's your parent, or a child, or a friend, or somebody in your church. How do you most effectively get that person to change? Well, you have to pick the right tool. And Paul suggests three here: rebuke, correct, encourage.
    Okay, rebuke? That means to confront someone with what they're doing wrong. Once one of our youth staff decided that she had to confront - or rebuke as it were - a young girl who was professing Christ but who was living very promiscuously and had that kind of reputation with guys. And she said to the young girl, "I care enough to tell you what people are saying about you." The girl was shocked at what her reputation was. That was rebuke.
    Then there's correct. You don't just tell a person what not to do. You've got to suggest a better way to live. You've got to give a "how" with every "should." And then there's another tool called encourage; noticing the good in a person, praising what they're doing right, building up their confidence, showing trust in them. And it's important to reach for the right tool. Don't encourage someone you should be rebuking. Don't rebuke someone who really needs encouragement.
    But notice how you use all three tools: "with great patience and careful instruction." See, we want quick results; we grab the hammer. We drop bombs on people. We push them, we nag them, and they rebel. They go the other way. They don't change. We use the hammer because it will get quick results, but it smashes everything. We break what we're trying to fix. Have you been patient in your rebuking, patient in your correcting? Or are you too demanding, condemning? Do you expect immediate response or are you just going to escalate the rhetoric?
    Help a person see himself or herself as God sees them and then back off. Allow time for the truth to sink in. Give them some space to change without having to crawl. Use these people-fixing tools with great patience, and I'd say gentle love, and then you won't break what you're trying to fix.

  • volume_up
    April 6, 2021 The Unquenchable Thirst for Freedom - #8932

    There it was again, displayed for all the world to see; hundreds of thousands of people, willing to risk everything for one thing - freedom. Oh, it was a few years ago, but over the weeks in that square, we watched a powerful, real-life struggle for freedom played out in a place called Liberation ("Tahrir") Square in Egypt. Once again, as we've seen in other countries, there was this unquenchable passion to be free. And it changed the nation at that time.
    Oh, it's not the first time. It's what happened in 1989 in that Old World Square in Romania where I walked a couple of years ago. On those cobblestones, 200,000 people dared to stand up to brutal oppression, and they toppled a dictator in a matter of days. The freedom flame is what drove thousands of oppressed people to "tear down that wall" in Berlin. And that yearning for freedom? It's what inspired a ragtag gaggle of farmers to grab their muskets 200 years ago to fight the British Army, the mightiest army in the world. And America was born.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Unquenchable Thirst For Freedom."
    Few passions run deeper in the human heart than this desire to be free. There's something in the human soul that just knows that being in bondage is not how we were created to be. But it turns out that this yearning goes much deeper than we imagined; much deeper than any political or social freedom could ever satisfy.
    So Jesus came, as the ultimate Liberator. No, not from a political system or a human despot. He came as the Liberator from the ultimate bondage. A personal bondage that no demonstration and no war can ever shatter.
    He said of His mission, "If the Son" - that's Him, the Son of God - "shall make you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36). From the dark despot that keeps every human soul in bondage. Just before He talked about "free indeed," He said, "Anyone who commits sin is a slave of sin" (John 8:34).
    Now, at first thought, "sin" may not seem like that big a deal; certainly not our "slave master." Especially if we think sin is just breaking some religion's rules. But it is so much more. And it is at the heart of our broken families, our broken relationships, our broken hearts, our broken world.
    Sin is every selfish, dirty, dishonest thing we have ever done. Every word, every reaction that's hurt someone, most often someone we love. It's that disease of "me" that, multiplied by almost eight billion "me's" on this planet, exacts a horrific price. And for all our attempts at self-improvement, we just keep doing the things that we hate...that those who love us hate...that God hates. It is, in fact, the hijacking of our life from the very One who gave us our life.
    In the words of one of the writers of the Bible, "I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out...no, the evil I do not want to do, this I keep on doing" (Romans 7:19). Who doesn't know that struggle? No matter how good we manage to look on the outside, we all have this dark side that just keeps winning; a dark side known all too well by the people closest to us. We are, as Jesus said, slaves to the sin that we can't stop doing.
    Well, the same Bible writer ended up with this impassioned cry to be free: "Who will rescue me?" A cry for rescue? Well, that's an admission that I can't liberate myself. Then this man, who's desperate for change, comes to the answer: "Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 7:24).
    You know, as we've seen in all the upheaval in all the countries recently, freedom often comes with a price of blood, and mine did. But not my blood; the blood of God's only Son. There was no way to break the enslaving power of sin than to pay its unspeakable death penalty. That's what Jesus was doing when He died on the cross. As the Bible says, "He loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood" (Revelation 1:5).
    This is the day you could go free inside; set free by the Liberator who died for your freedom. You've just got to tell Him you want to be His. I think we could help you do that; help you cross that line. Just go to our website today will you? ANewStory.com.
    The day I told Jesus, "I'm Yours," was the day that this sin-slave went free. Because there's no feeling like the day you know you're finally free. For me, for millions, that was the day we welcomed the Liberator, who paid the price so we would never have to.

  • volume_up
    April 5, 2021 Relief From Fit-In Pressure - #8931

    One day I caught a snatch of a TV talk show which I otherwise would never have seen. But the host was interviewing a former FBI agent. He's a man who successfully infiltrated the mafia for several years, and he'd been responsible for bringing evidence in some major indictments against mob leadership. Now, one factor in his underground life was a major source of criminal income. OK, here he was, a pretty straight person, surrounded by cocaine. Well, the host asked the FBI man an interesting question. He said, "Did you ever have to use cocaine?" That's a pretty good question, I thought. After all, his life depended on his fitting in, right? Well, he said, "No, I never did." And the host said, "Well, how did you avoid it?" I liked his answer. It might even help you when you're feeling the pressure to fit in.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Relief From Fit-In Pressure."
    Now, how does a mafia infiltrator deal with the pressure to use cocaine? Here's what he said, "Well, the first time I ever got offered any, I hit the guy." Now, wait a minute. I'm not suggesting when somebody pressures you to do something wrong you hit him. That's a wrong thing too. Don't blame me for that if you do. That's your temper, not me. I like the next thing he said, "If you let them know from the start where you stand" - This is a good part - "they'll leave you alone."
    Our word for today from the Word of God is from the book of Daniel. He was not in the mafia, but he did very much the same thing to relieve the pressure around him. He had the opportunity, it says in chapter 1, verse 5, to become a leader in the king's court. I'm quoting now, "The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. And they (including Daniel) were trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service." OK, look. He's got a great career path ahead of him. The only thing is he had to eat food that he considered to be by his biblical standards defiled.
    Here's what it says, "Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine." Now, this is a test. A few days of testing to eat just what would be legal and righteous for him. "At the end of ten days," it says, "they looked healthier and better than all the rest." And they ended up being leaders in the kingdom.
    Now, Daniel could easily have waited to take his stand. He could draw the line maybe later when there was a major compromise. But he let them know from the start where he stood and they left him alone. I think that could work for you too.
    My daughter began as a freshman to say, "I'm going to take my stand against what a Christian ought to stand against." And I watched as she got very pressured. But she was consistent. And then it kind of turned to respect. Eventually her friends started defending her, and they'd say, "Hey, don't even bother her. She's not that kind of person."
    See, as long as people are trying to live like Jesus in a dirty world, they're going to be pressured to fit in. You've been. You probably feel it where you are...little compromises of the truth, of your purity, or you know, maybe you don't want to be clearly identified with Jesus. Every time you compromise just a little bit to fit in, you increase the pressure. Once you take a firm stand and pass a couple of tests, people will let you be what you said you'd be.
    My son summed it up one day. He said, "Dad, life is so much simpler when you've decided to be totally for Christ." He's right. Starting now, why don't you verbally, clearly let it be known where you stand? And pretty soon they'll back off, and they'll expect you to be what you said you'd be.
    That's actually the very best relief you can buy from the pressure to fit in.

  • volume_up
    April 2, 2021 The Beacon From the Graveyard - #8930

    J. R. R. Tolkien, one of England's literary greats from a generation ago, wrote about this fantasy world called Middle-Earth, and that world has captured the imagination of millions of people in this generation. His trilogy of books known as "The Lord of the Rings" has really been popularized through three blockbuster movies that were based on them.
    In one drama-packed moment, one of the main characters climbs to the top of this daunting mountain, where there's a massive pile of wood waiting to be ignited. And then he takes a torch, lights the signal fire, and a waiting sentinel sees that fire and lights the fire on his mountain. And that summons-by-fire spreads across the kingdom, from mountaintop to mountaintop, and the sentinels shout this triumphant news "The beacons are lit!"
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Beacon From the Graveyard."
    Two thousand years ago, it appeared that the forces of darkness had won their ultimate victory. The Son of God was dead, buried in a tomb. Those who followed Him - total despair. That was Friday, but Sunday was coming. And when it did, Jesus blew the doors off His grave, walked out under His own power, leaving death - man's ultimate enemy - vanquished and powerless.
    And that Easter morning, the beacons were lit. From the mountaintop of that generation, the message that Jesus is alive and death has lost has ignited a fire on the mountain of the next generation. And today, 20 centuries later, we are the ones left here by Jesus to light the beacon for our generation.
    Listen to what the resurrection of Jesus has done, as recorded in 1 Corinthians 15, beginning with verse 54. "Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Now, I love what one of my friends often says: "If non-Christians want to know what belonging to Jesus is really all about, let them come to our funerals."
    Well, it's there - the beacon from Easter morning shines the brightest there where everything from earth has no answers. It is there, at the moments of our greatest loss, that we win because Jesus wins.
    In Revelation 1:17-18, our word for today from the Word of God, the living Christ appears to the Apostle John in all His glory and He says: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades." WOW! The blazing beacon of Jesus' victory over death means there is nothing in your life that is bigger than He is, and if you belong to Him, nothing can defeat His plans for you.
    You know, today He's counting on you to light the fire for the people in your world. They can't see Jesus, but they can see you. Tell them that He died for them. Tell them He's alive for them. Don't let the fire die in your hands. Don't let them die without a chance at Jesus.
    And speaking of a chance at Jesus, if you've never given your life to the rightful King; if you've never committed yourself to the King who died and rose again from the dead for you - then let this be your day to trade your guilt for His forgiveness and your death penalty for His eternal life.
    You just say, "Jesus, I've been running my life. I'm done. I believe when you died on that cross it was for sinning I've done. And beginning today, I'm yours." I invite you to go to our website, ANewStory.com, because I think there you will find the biblical information you need to be sure you belong to Jesus this Easter.
    You don't have to live in the darkness anymore. From the empty tomb of the Son of God, the beacons are lit!

  • volume_up
    April 1, 2021 Easter Eggs - #8929

    It's actually a true story, courtesy of Ida Mae Kempel. The names have been changed. Jeremy was 12 years old and he was only in the second grade, but he was seemingly unable to learn. His body was kind of distorted, and he had learning disabilities. That was evident. And his teacher, Doris Miller? She often became exasperated with him because he was squirming sometimes and, you know, making funny noises. But at other times he spoke really clearly and distinctly. It was like a spot of light had penetrated the darkness in his brain. No one could have guessed that Jeremy would end up teaching his entire class and his teacher.

  • volume_up
    March 31, 2021 Letting Go of Your Little Ones - #8928

    It's common to most every religious tradition, some ceremony or service where you dedicate or commit your new child to God. In some Christian traditions, it takes the form of baptism. Others have a brief baby dedication. The last baby we dedicated was our youngest child and that was more than a few years ago. I held the little guy in my hands. I don't do that anymore. Times have changed. I don't pick him up anymore. I would hurt myself badly. He picks me up literally. I mean, he'd greet me at the airport and pick me off the ground and spin me around. That's my baby. A lot of things have changed. One thing never has.
    I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Letting Go of Your Little Ones."
    Well, all three of our children grew up. But the transaction that took place that day we dedicated each of them to God is one thing that's still being repeated today. No, we can't hold them physically in our hands anymore. But we can, we must, keep giving them over to the One who gave them to us. The problem is that all too often, we actually try to keep them in our hands, don't we?
    There is no more beautiful "release your child" model in all the Bible than Hannah, the woman who prayed fervently for years that God would bless her infertility with a child. God answered that prayer by giving her a boy named Samuel, who was destined to become one of the great leaders of Israel. In obedience to God, Hannah brought her young son to the temple to be trained for spiritual leadership. In part of her prayer in 1 Samuel 1:27 and 28 we find our word for today from the Word of God. She says of this child for whom she had waited so long, "So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life, he will be given over to the Lord."
    Do you know how often we moms and dads need to tell God that? Every day for the rest of your life, no matter how old or young your children are. No matter how close to God or far from God they are. But be careful, we're talking here about releasing our son or daughter to God, which means helping them become the person God created them to be, not trying to shape them into the person we want them to be. It means talking to God far more about your child than talking to your child about God, as important as that is.
    For some of us who tend to be like control freaks, we have to make sure we're not trying to "play God" ourselves in our child's life. Parents who truly place their son or daughter in God's hands can lay off the nagging, the manipulating, the meddling, the constant criticizing. What we try to control we often end up crushing.
    Our job is to say to God each new day, "You gave me this child, Lord. Again, for this new day, I'm giving her, I'm giving him, back to you. I'm available for anything you want me to do to join you in what you're doing in their life, whether you ask me to speak up, or remain silent. Whether you ask me to apologize, to forgive, to sacrifice, or even to change."
    A surrendered parent is a parent at peace - a parent who knows that this treasure God has entrusted to them has this day been placed again in God's all-powerful hands. A God who knows the plans He has for that boy, for that girl, plans for good and not for evil, to give them a future. To give them a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
    No matter how big your little ones get, remember whose they really are.