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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.

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc.

    • May 22, 2023 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekdays NEW EPISODES
    • 177 EPISODES

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    Latest episodes from A Word With You

    Loving Creation, Missing the Creator - #9486

    Play Episode Listen Later May 22, 2023

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

    Disproportionate Power for Your Disproportionate Challenge

    Play Episode Listen Later May 19, 2023

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

    Racing Past the Glory - #9484

    Play Episode Listen Later May 18, 2023

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

    Disturbing Headlines, A Message from God - #9483

    Play Episode Listen Later May 17, 2023

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

    Figuring Out the Meaning of It All - #9482

    Play Episode Listen Later May 16, 2023

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

    An Appetite For Garbage - #9481

    Play Episode Listen Later May 15, 2023

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

    A Parent's Best Classroom - #9480

    Play Episode Listen Later May 12, 2023

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

    Living For Things You Cannot Lose - #9479

    Play Episode Listen Later May 11, 2023

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

    Why You Are Where You Are - #9478

    Play Episode Listen Later May 10, 2023

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

    Life-Saving Pain - #9477

    Play Episode Listen Later May 9, 2023

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

    Which Way to Look When It's Overwhelming - #9476

    Play Episode Listen Later May 8, 2023

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

    When The Bible Comes Alive - #9475

    Play Episode Listen Later May 5, 2023

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

    When Power is Abused - #9474

    Play Episode Listen Later May 4, 2023

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

    The Most Important Mission You'll Ever Have - #9473

    Play Episode Listen Later May 3, 2023

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

    Power When You're Powerless - #9472

    Play Episode Listen Later May 2, 2023

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

    Stopping the Devil at the Door - #9471

    Play Episode Listen Later May 1, 2023

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

    Why God Is Turning Up The Volume - #9470

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 28, 2023

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

    New Territory, No Map - #9469

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 27, 2023

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

    Hope With Skin On - #9468

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 26, 2023

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

    The High Price of Spiritual Immunity - #9467

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 25, 2023

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

    The Reason You May Be Lost - #9466

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 24, 2023

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

    Love That Won't Let You Down - #9465

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 21, 2023

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

    How to Raise Kids Who Stay In Bounds - #9464

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 20, 2023

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

    The Cost of Not Changing - #9463

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 19, 2023

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

    Paved-Over Problems - #9462

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 18, 2023

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

    What You'll Have to Show for the Life You Live - #9461

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 17, 2023

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

    The Tapestry of Your Life - #9460

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 14, 2023

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

    No Place to Land With Your Pain - #9459

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 13, 2023

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

    The Deadly Cost of "Me First" - #9450

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 31, 2023

    Before videos and DVDs there was a primitive form of media known as Super 8 movies. And that was the medium on which we were able to capture many memories as our kids were growing up, which was a great improvement over what my parents had to record memories when I was growing up. They had a chisel and a stone tablet. Well, our three children all enjoyed being in the movies, but one of them enjoyed it a little too much. And, no, I'm not about to tell you which one. But this child loved the camera, so much that it didn't matter whose birthday we were filming or what activity, this same little face kept popping up right in front of the camera, effectively blocking out anyone else that might be in the picture. I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Deadly Cost of 'Me First'" If it's Louie's birthday - that's not the name of anyone in our family, OK - then Max shouldn't be pushing himself in front and making himself the self-appointed star of a movie that's supposed to be about someone else. It's really not cute and it really messes up the picture. Just ask God. People have been doing that to Him for a long time. At least as long ago as the infamous Tower of Babel, where we find our word for today from the Word of God, it's in Genesis 11, beginning with verse 4 where "They said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves..." A name for ourselves - one of our favorite things to make, isn't it? The Bible goes on to say, "But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world." The tower might as well have been in the shape of a raised, clenched fist. They were saying, "We're going to be the stars here. We want to be important. So we're going to build something that will show everybody, even God, how really important we are." And God responded with serious judgment. There's a vivid picture here of a lesson we all need to remember - the deadly sin of self-importance. It was the beginning of the end for Saul, the Jewish king who started with such promise and a desire to put God out in front. The Bible puts it this way: "He has set up a monument in his own honor" (1 Samuel 15:12). That's a sin many of us could be guilty of. Honestly, could it be you've been spending a lot of energy promoting yourself? Pushing to be in front? Trying to make a name for yourself, and maybe even using the work of Christ to do it? Could it be that you've really been building your own kingdom more than His kingdom? That's pretty dangerous ground. Just ask the people at the Tower of Babel. The word "sin" and the word "pride" have that same middle letter, don't they - "I." Pride cost Lucifer his place in heaven. Pride is always expensive. and God won't tolerate it. He hates pride and self-promotion. There's only one name we should be drawing attention to. It is the name of Jesus. There's only one Star in God's constellation, and His name is Jesus. And there's only one kingdom to be building with our time and our money, and it is the kingdom of Jesus. It's natural to push ourselves to the front, but it's wrong. And maybe, without realizing it, that's what you've started to do. From Babel to your life and mine, self-importance and self-promotion are sins God just will not tolerate. John said, "He must increase; I must decrease" (John 3:30). If the wrong person's out in front, it's time to rearrange the picture. You and I are the background for an awesome Savior. He's the foreground! He is the only star!

    How to Be Free From the Invisible Prison - #9449

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 30, 2023

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

    How to Obscure The Gospel - #9448

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 29, 2023

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

    The Day You Know How Loved You Are - #9447

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 28, 2023

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

    How to Make the World a Little Less Lonely - #9446

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 27, 2023

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

    Beauty in Broken Shells - #9445

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 24, 2023

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

    How Your Weakness Makes You Strong - #9444

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 23, 2023

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

    Your Tribe, Your Mission - #9443

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 22, 2023

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

    How Good Soldiers Go Down - #9442

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 21, 2023

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

    The Lonely World of "Selfies" - #9441

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 20, 2023

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

    How To Hold Your Child - #9440

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 17, 2023

    It's an old Asian parable with a lot of "right now" wisdom. A little boy had been trying for many days to capture one of the little birds that snacked in the family fields. And he'd tried over and over again to hide in the bushes and surprise one of those birds enough to get his hands on it. Finally, after many failed attempts, he captured his prize. And he couldn't wait to show his mommy. He wrapped his hands around that little bird and he ran all the way to his house. As soon as the little guy saw his mother, he proudly extended his cupped hands and said, "Mommy, I got a bird! He's really cute!" But his joy didn't last long. As he slowly opened his hands for his mother to see, he noticed the bird wasn't moving - or breathing. It was one heartbroken boy who cried, "Mommy, I was afraid I'd lose him. But I held him so tight, I crushed him." I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How To Hold Your Child." The story is just that - only a story. But the mistake the little boy made, well that's not just a story. It's a mistake made by many a mom or dad with a son or daughter they love very much. They held them so tightly that they lost them. We tend to forget that a child is a trust from God; a gift He's given us to help care for, provide for, and develop. But they belong to Him, not to us. So a mom or dad who parent by God's design understand the power of these simple words: love them deeply, but hold them loosely. God has even provided examples for us in His Book. Like Hannah, the mother of Samuel, God's man to be the greatest judge who ever governed His people. Hannah had been unable to conceive for many years. But the Bible says, "she kept on praying to the Lord." Ultimately, God wonderfully gave her that much-prayed-for boy, and she named him Samuel, which means "heard of God." In Hannah's eyes, the sun must have risen and set on that boy. But she understood that while you love your child deeply, you hold him loosely. Listen to her prayer in 1 Samuel 1:27-28, our word for today from the Word of God: "I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord." What a prayer for you to pray each new day as a mom, as a dad, no matter how young or how old your child is. "For his whole life or her whole life, he/she will be given over to the Lord." Each day, you give that child back to the One who gave that child to you. When you do that, you can avoid that unhealthy kind of love that crushes a child and often loses a child. A controlling parent, a manipulating parent, a guilt-tripping parent, a shaming parent, a dominating parent - those are parents who may ultimately produce the very results they fear by holding too tight. You may get some immediate compliance, but you're either going to cripple or drive away that child. Nagging and criticizing and pressuring; they only end up pushing them away from the very choices you so desperately were trying to get them to make. You've got to ask yourself, "Whose needs am I really working on here - my child's or mine?" So many times, we're trying to fill some hole in our life through our child. So we try to hold them tightly, to make them what we want - or what we need them to be. And in the process, we may crush the life right out of them. You just keep sowing good seed in their life, knowing you don't reap that the day you sow. You keep offering them the safety of your unconditional love. You keep showing them how to make good decisions, but not making all the decisions for them. You keep reminding them of the awesome person God made when He made them. You keep setting reasonable boundaries with reasonable penalties, and you be consistent with them. You keep listening to their heart. And you keep giving them back to God, and stop trying to be "God" in their life. Only He can be that. Love them deeply - hold them loosely so they can learn to fly as God made them to.

    How to Access All You Need - #9439

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 16, 2023

    I've got this card in my wallet that has bailed me out on several occasions. It has the simple word "Treasurer" on it. No, it has nothing to do with any offices that I hold; it's my bank card. Okay, so I go to the money machine at my bank, the ATM. You can just stick your card in it and you get the money you need, provided there are some resources in your account to cover it. I guess the faster paced our lives get the more we need these quick fixes. I mean, we need instant access to the resources we need. I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Access All You Need." Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Hebrews 4, and I'm going to read a verse that might be familiar to you in verse 16. "Let us, then, approach the Throne of Grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." There you go. You just heard about God's treasury account, and this is His instant access plan. You come to His Throne with confidence it says; that's the invitation. Now, the word confidence, if you look it up in the original Greek that the New Testament was written in, literally means "outspokenness" or "plainness of speech." And it's often used to describe seriousness in the presence of someone of high rank. So the first invitation, the way that you access God's grace for your particular need - the card you stick in - is to come to the Throne of Grace talking straight, reverently but honestly. So when you come to pray, don't come with all your religious rhetoric. You come with straight talk just like you really are. You go to the treasury machine in our neighborhood and you don't pretend you're rolling in money. I go there and I know I'm broke. Well, I'm honest about that. It's my broke that brought me to the machine; that's why I'm there. This giving isn't automatic. You do have to go to the machine. You do have to approach the Throne of Grace with confidence. And you come, talking plainly and honestly about your need, about your sin, about your feelings, your doubts, you're honest. When you do that, you find grace. The word found there means to discover or come upon. Surprise! I didn't expect to find this much grace! When you come and honestly unload your need on the Lord at His Throne of Grace He gives surprising grace. You say, "I didn't know there was grace available like this before." And it says when that happens it will help us in our time of need. And in our time of need, that phrase in the Greek language, was one word meaning "well timed." God's grace will come to you in a personal, customized way at just the right time. The word "help" there is used only one other time in the Bible, in Acts 27, when they had to pull ropes underneath a ship to keep it from coming apart during a storm. And the word rope is that word help. It's what holds you together during your storm - God's grace. So let's put it all together. God invites you to come confidently, talking straight. And we come to His Throne so that we can find surprising grace to hold us together during our storm. Wow! Now, I wonder if you have ever experienced the grace of God for yourself. You know it begins - your first approach to the Throne of God - when you come to Him with the sin of a lifetime and say, "Jesus' death on the cross is my only hope of having my sins erased." You don't come to God because you deserve it, because of what you've got in your moral bank. You come bankrupt and He says, "I will pour out My grace." It is amazing grace! If you have never experienced that, I hope you will today. Say, today, "God, I want today...I want my record to be clean. I want to go to heaven. I want to be with You forever." If I can help you begin that relationship with Him, then would you go to our website at ANewStory.com. I hope you will. See, at the Throne of Grace, you'll find powerful grace. But you've got to go for the grace this moment requires. And you'll find there a bottomless account supplied by the resources of Almighty God. You don't ever have to be emotionally or spiritually broke again.

    A President and Your Purpose - #9438

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 15, 2023

    Nancy Reagan called it "the long goodbye." Her beloved husband's slow slide into the black hole of Alzheimer's Disease. America said goodbye to Nancy Reagan too, and we remember her as a great First Lady and a wife forever in love with her "Ronnie." Her boundless devotion to him became almost legendary. And at her funeral service, more people talked about that than anything else. See, when he was the famous Hollywood star and when he was a transformative leader of the Western World, Nancy stood by his side, but especially through his long, ten-year goodbye. As Ronald Reagan's memory began to fade through the ravages of Alzheimer's, his Nancy wanted to make sure that he could still maintain the dignity of going to his office at Century City. Several times a week he'd get all dressed up, he'd go to the office. And even though as time went by there wasn't a whole lot he could do there. This is where the story comes in that has affected me profoundly ever since I read it years ago. Actually, I read it in a national news magazine's special commemorative edition of Reagan's life. It reported how visitors would come to visit Mr. Reagan. And, of course, they'd ask him about when he was governor of California, when he was a movie star, and when he was President. But slowly, the conversations about the past became more frustrating, because as Alzheimer's began to erase various memories, his years as a movie star vanished from his memory bank. And then you might as well not talk about being Governor of California. He didn't remember anything. And finally, he couldn't even remember even the great accomplishments as President of the United States. Amazingly, though, there was one memory that remained almost to the end. I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A President and Your Purpose." The memory actually explained a picture on his wall. People would go, "Now, what's the picture of that river over there, Mr. Reagan?" groping for some conversation that could have some traction. And he'd smile and he would say, "Oh, wait! That's the Rock River in Illinois. That's where I was a lifeguard." Then came the recollection that brought me up short. He said, "That's where I saved 77 lives!" Wow! Long after the traces of all his massive achievements were gone; Hollywood, Governor, the White House, there was one legacy of his life that remained; the lives he had saved. And so it will be for me. And so it will be for all of us who follow Jesus. When every other achievement of our life has faded to dust, one will remain - the lives we have saved. In our word for today from the Word of God, Proverbs 24:11, God says, "Rescue those who are being led away to death and hold back those who are staggering toward slaughter." Jude 23 says, "Snatch others from the fire and save them." See, the Bible says we're "Christ's ambassadors" (2 Corinthians 5:20). You're His face, you're His hands, you're His voice to the people around you. Like any ambassador, we carry a message from the One who assigned us. Here's the message in 2 Corinthians 5, "We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God..." I have nothing - nothing - more important to do than to get to that plea; to get the good news of Christ's death for them to people I know and care about. That's the only way their eternity can be changed. It's the only way they can be rescued. This is life-or-death information, and He's trusted you and He's trusted me to deliver it. So after all is said and done, this is what we will have to show for this life that God gave us to live. It's the lives we've reached out to. It's the lives that God used us to save.

    The Anger Monster - #9437

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 14, 2023

    As an airline passenger, those video images from the Los Angeles airport that day were just plain disturbing: a human stampede, terrified passengers, fleeing from a gunman on the loose in the terminal. I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Anger Monster." These explosions of violence have happened in a theater, a mall, a school, an office, a church. The bullets may start flying any place, leaving behind lost and shattered lives. And you can be pretty sure the person pulling the trigger is an angry man. Whose anger - often hidden from those who know him, one day erupts like a volcano, destroying whatever is in its path. My sense is that there are a lot of angry people around us these days, seething inside, sinking into a darker and more dangerous place each day. You see it surface as road rage, angry parents at their kids' games, frustrated shoppers, bullies at school and on the Internet creating anger in their victims. Usually, behind anger is pain. Angry people feel wounded, wronged, unheard, victimized, and taking it out on whoever inadvertently pushes their buttons. Many times there are, in fact, things in their past that have left them broken inside, but never with an excuse to wound or do violence to someone else because of it. I suppose, at one time or another, each of us is the angry person. Not on a rampage to end lives, but angry enough to inflict some serious damage on people around us. Most often the people we love the most. Mount St. Helens in Washington used to be considerably higher until she literally blew her top in an eruption one day. The eruption didn't last long. The damage? That's there forever. Underlying a lot of our explosive moments is this full glass thing. If I pour water into a half-empty glass, it will take quite a bit to make it spill, right? But if I'm going through life with a glass that's already full, it only takes a drop to make it spill. And there are plenty of "drops" in a day's time; aggravations, conflict, and difficulties. And with the spill comes the lashing out. Usually the violence is the verbal kind. The world's best-selling book, the Bible, describes it as "reckless words (that) pierce like a sword." See, long after the wounder has forgotten, the wounded carries the scars of that anger. Part of the problem is that some of us were raised to stuff our emotions. We don't deal with them. That's what fills up the glass. The time bomb's going to keep ticking until we make room in that glass, which means taking a bold healing step; facing that pain that we've stuffed in our closet. It's the match that keeps lighting the fuse of the anger and leaving a trail of burn victims in our wake. It may mean walking through the pain with a counselor. Or digging deep into spiritual resources for the most liberating step a wounded person can take - forgiving. Even seeking forgiveness from those who've been the victim of my anger. Maybe the kids are right. There actually is a monster in the closet, a wounded monster, who needs to be dragged out into the light so the healing can begin. Ironically, it is often the "monsters" that we can't control that drive us to a greater power; someone who has repeatedly proven He can subdue the dark forces that control us. The dark side is what drives me to Jesus Christ. When He was on earth, He encountered a man in the grip of forces so dark no one could control him. And it says, "He tore the chains apart... No one was strong enough to subdue him." No one except Jesus. He expelled the "evil spirit." And the man ended up "sitting at Jesus' feet... in his right mind" (Luke 8). Jesus is still doing miracles like that, fixing what's broken inside us, transforming the evil inside us. That victory over our darkness cost Him his life at the cross. Our word for today from the Word of God, Revelation 1:5 says, "He loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood." Today He wants to bring peace into the angry storm in your life if you'll open the door of your heart to Him. How to do that? Go to our website. You'll find it there - ANewStory.com - and let Him begin the transforming relationship that tames the monster inside.

    Reading the Bible, Missing the Point - #9436

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 13, 2023

    I was on the road again so it had to be a fast food lunch. You know, I keep the nutrition guides from several of those fast food places, even if "fast food nutrition guide" sounds like an oxymoron. I try to think calories before I order because my food too often goes from a moment on the lips to forever on the hips. Interesting thing about the food we eat, the same meal can turn into fat or turn into energy. It depends on what you do after you eat it! I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Reading the Bible, Missing the Point." If you exercise, what you consume turns into energy, right? If you don't exercise, it turns into you know. Well, actually, that's how it works with spiritual food, too. Many of us are consuming a lot of Bible input. We're full of sermons, recordings, CDs, websites, radio programs, and Bible studies. But we're just accumulating information. And God has a lot of spiritually overweight children because we don't do anything with what we're learning. But when you read what God says about His Word to us, it's clear that the purpose of reading it is to change things in your life, not just to know things in your head. Joshua 1:8, our word for today from the Word of God is a good example. Speaking of His Word, God says, "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." Notice, when you read something from God, it's supposed to show up in three places. First, in your mind. "Meditate on it." The Hebrew verb here suggests a cow chewing its cud; going over it until you've chewed the meaning out of it. Now, this isn't just gulping down a couple of verses like spiritual vitamins. And it isn't about how much you read. It's about how much you let God's words read you. Sometimes it's better just to read a few verses two or three times, ask yourself questions about what it means and how it should affect something you're doing. Then, God's Word is supposed to be in your mouth. What helps you make it real is putting it into words to someone else, and saying to them what God said to you in His Word today. Each day, you try to share with someone what God communicated to you through His Word that day. Ultimately, God's Word is supposed to be, not only in your mind and in your mouth, but in your life. We meditate so we may be, in Joshua's words, "careful to do everything written in it." You're not supposed to just factualize what God says, you're supposed to actualize what God says by consciously putting it into practice in some part of your life today. You are reading to change! So, as you read, ask yourself two questions: "What is God saying here?" And then, "What am I going to do differently today because He said it?" God's Holy Spirit knows all about God's Word and all about your life. Each day ask God to show you how to bring those two together. Each night, before you go to sleep, you should be able to measure a specific difference in your day because of how you put into practice something God told you through His Word. Here's something that will help you do that: keep a Jesus-journal. That's just a notebook where you put into words what God said to you and what you're going to do differently because He did. I've been keeping one of those for years - it's been one of the greatest boosters to my spiritual life I've ever had. See, what you're doing is you're turning spiritual nutrition into energy and growth instead of just spiritual fat. This is the road to something better than that roller coaster faith that you get from basing your relationship with Christ on Christian events and spiritual highs. This is the road to following Jesus consistently, each new day. I know that's what your heart's been hungry for. It's about getting a life, not just getting a high, because you've graduated from just reading the Bible for information to reading it for transformation.

    What Your Storm Reveals - #9435

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 10, 2023

    It was November, and we were thinking turkey, not tornadoes. Right before Thanksgiving there were some 68 tornadoes that didn't consult the calendar. From EF-2s to EF-4s, they left a swath of erased homes and devastated communities across the middle of America. Washington, Illinois was clearly one of the epicenters of the violence in the skies. And the pictures from there are all too familiar; splintered neighborhoods, and residents trying to figure out which pile of rubble used to be their home, and what one reporter called "the good stuff." Like Steve Bucher, who had no home address as of the night the tornado hit. He told CNN that his attitude was "in the next minute and a half, we're either gonna be in heaven or we're going to be in the hospital, or we're going to walk out of here." Thankfully, they walked out safe, but minus pretty much everything else they had. His next comment caused an anchorman to say, "Now that's character. That's strength." Bucher said his wallet - with about 100 dollars in it - had been upstairs when the twister hit. He knew it was gone. Later, a man came by and saw Bucher sifting through the rubble. When he asked if there was something he could help look for, he said, "Yeah, look for my wallet." Which the neighbor managed to find! Bucher said when he opened it, he knew "God has a sense of humor." There was one dollar left in his wallet! He said, "The Lord left me one dollar!" I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "What Your Storm Reveals." Believe it or not, he saw a message in that missing money: that the material stuff isn't what's important. It's the people; it's the lives and the faith that sustains them. There's something about a storm, whether it's meteorological or medical, or marital, or money that revalues everything. When the drunk driver totaled our car and almost our family, when a sudden medical emergency almost took a loved one, when there was no money, I realized again that life is ultimately two lists: the things that really matter and the things that really don't. There can be "good stuff" in the bad stuff if the loss of some "earth stuff" that ultimately doesn't really matter can cause us to "re-treasure" the lives that really do matter. Because our lists get mixed up, with the less important migrating to that "important" column and pushing out what really lasts. Of course, sometimes the storm takes one of our human treasures. A deep grief that a few were feeling in those tornado tracks that day - and so many were feeling in the wake of a... well, for example, there was a Philippines typhoon about the same time. And I've seen it by the side of those who've said goodbye to someone they love. In fact, I've been the one saying goodbye. But even there, you can recommit your heart and your time to those you have left. Having lost, you realize anew the "preciousness" of the ones you still have. Having grieved, you can offer yourself to be a channel of comfort to others who grieve. Having stood at the edge of this life, you can choose to live for what will matter beyond this life. People giving thanks in the rubble. "Now that's character," the reporter said. "That's strength." It's obvious from that survivor's comments where a lot of that strength comes from. With an EF-4 monster bearing down on his house, he knew that if he died he said he was "gonna be in heaven." I suppose that could be seen as wishful thinking or spiritually arrogant. But I'm familiar with that kind of confidence about my life after death. Not fingers-crossed. Certainly nothing based on being good enough for a perfect God. But I'm only ready to face death's storm for one reason, and in a word, it's Jesus, because He died to remove what would keep me from God's heaven. The Bible says, "Nothing impure will ever enter" heaven (Revelation 21:27). That's me. That's all of us. I can't get into heaven with my sin. And "no one," the Bible says, "will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law." (Romans 3:20). Nothing I can do to get rid of my sin. But there was something Jesus could do, and He did it. He died on the cross to pay for it to be able to erase our sins from His book. They'll not be there on Judgment Day. And then, He walked out of His grave to prove He has eternal life. He's ready to walk into your life today on your invitation. Get to our website. It will tell you how. It's ANewStory.com. With Jesus, you can be ready for eternity whenever it comes.

    Why You Have a Heavy Load - #9434

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 9, 2023

    When our sons were playing football, the varsity guys let them know an important factor in impressing the coach. He'll be looking for you in the weight room, not just at practice. Coaches know serious athletes serve their time in the weight room, concentrating on becoming stronger. They're not there because it's fun, it's not. But because it's important to winning the battle. One measure of your growing strength is what the lifters call your bench press. That's not lifting a bench of course, but it's how much you can lift over your head as you lie on a weight bench. I've worked with a lot of football players and weight lifters, but I've seldom met one who's content to keep that amount that they can lift where it is. No, they're always adding a little more weight to that bar. So, if your bench press is 170 pounds, you want to go to 180, 190. If you've been lifting 200, you want to work to get it to 210, 220. You know, you're always pressing more. I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Why You Have a Heavy Load." Now, it's a principle of physical strength - and it's a principle in God's gym as well. If you want to get stronger, you constantly have to be lifting something heavier than you've lifted before. God, of course, isn't just building biceps and triceps, he's building the one kind of strength in us that opens up all He has for us. He is building faith muscles - the ability to trust Him more than you've ever trusted Him. Because "without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Hebrews 11:6). Now, if you're just proceeding on the basis of what you can see, what you can figure out, what you can pull off, then God isn't very happy with you. God's will requires moving by faith, which is by God's definition, "being certain of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1). So how does God help you build more faith muscles so you can win greater victories than ever before? Well, by giving you something to lift that is heavier than you've had to lift before. Since God continually uses Abraham as an example of a life of faith, let's check out how Abraham performed in God's gym. In Romans 4, beginning with verse 19, our word for today from the Word of God, we see how he handled this very heavy situation. The promise of God that He would defy all reproductive biology and give them a son through their aging bodies and then the long wait that ensued between the promise and the fulfillment. The Bible says, "Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead - since he was about 100 years old and that Sarah's womb was also dead." Now notice, faith does not deny that there are daunting realities in the situation. Maybe even the apparent impossibility of an answer. But it says, "Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded God had the power to do what He had promised." So, Abraham lifts by faith what he had never lifted before and he is "strengthened in his faith." That's how it works. Greater weight to develop greater faith to experience greater things. You may have been wondering why God's allowed such a heavy burden into your life right now. It may very well be, not that He's unhappy with you, but that He loves you enough to help you become stronger than you've ever been before. He's building your faith muscles. If He only trusted you with what you've lifted before, you'd only have as much faith as you've had before. And He's growing you for greater things, for future battles, for more miraculous victories. But you have to serve your time in the weight room - not because it's fun, but because it's the only way to get strong enough to play spiritual varsity. God's your spotter. He will not allow you to have more weight than you can handle right now. He's promised that. But He will give you something heavier than you lifted before, so you can become more powerful in Him than you've ever been before.

    god bible hebrews coaches ministries in romans heavy load ron hutchcraft him hebrews
    A Bigger Purpose Than You Ever Dreamed - #9433

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 8, 2023

    Ashley Smith was just getting her life back together. A 26-year-old single mom, she had had a pretty rough journey. A Christian upbringing but a youthful rebellion - brushes with the law, some drug issues, jobs found and lost - and finally marriage and a little girl. Four years earlier, her husband had died in her arms from stab wounds in a violent attack. On that night in March of 2005, she was just getting settled in the apartment she had moved into two days earlier. When she returned from her 2:00 A.M. run to the store, accused killer, Brian Nichols, forced his way into her apartment at gunpoint. Nichols was the object of the largest manhunt in Georgia history up to that time. He had had a deadly escape from a downtown courtroom where he left the judge and three others shot to death. Later, he shot another man. Initially, he bound and gagged Ashley. Eventually, he began to trust her enough to give her some freedom. For seven hours, she began to talk to the killer in her living room. She talked about the battles of her life, about the little daughter she was supposed to pick up the next morning, and about her newly reborn faith. With his permission, she read to him from the book she was reading, "The Purpose-Driven Life." Ultimately, unbelievably, he allowed Ashley to leave - after she seemingly had persuaded him to consider ending the killing and to give up peacefully. After she called law enforcement - as he almost surely knew she would - they swarmed around that apartment only to see him come out and quietly surrender. Later, Ashley Smith recalled some extraordinary things that Brian Nichols had said to her. He told her he thought she was an angel sent from God, that he was lost and that God had led him right to her so she could tell him, from the well of her own hurt, how the people he had hurt were feeling. She told him he was a child of God and she wanted him to do God's will. Then she said, "I guess he began to want to." For days, the national media talked over and over again about those extraordinary seven hours and the incredible young woman who had helped end a bloodbath. She said it wasn't her at all. It was the God who was leading her now "purpose-driven life." I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Bigger Purpose Than You Ever Dreamed." Ashley Smith, unlikely hero for God, was on assignment from God that night. So are you. With her life on the line, she did not miss the divine opportunity in front of her to save a life and maybe even a soul. Make sure you don't miss yours. Because every one of us is like Esther in Bible days, who was chosen Queen of Persia so she would ultimately be in a position to save her people from the king's decree to destroy them. The challenge from the man who raised her is recorded in Esther 4:14, our word for today from the Word of God: "Who knows but that you have come into your royal position for such a time as this?" Just like Esther, just like Ashley Smith, you have been divinely positioned to save the lives of people you live close to, you work with, and you go to school with. God does these life-saving divine match-ups as He did that amazing night in Ashley Smith's apartment. Who would have guessed? He puts you with people who can be reached by someone like you, however unqualified you may feel. But God knows that your background, your battles, your interests, even your failures, your abilities uniquely qualify you to rescue a particular lost person that He brings into your life. Life suddenly becomes amazingly exciting when you live it assuming God is setting up divine match-ups - and using those match-ups so you can tell about your Jesus. Rescuing people that God has assigned to you becomes the eternal purpose that drives your life. Wherever God puts you - whoever God puts you with - remember that purpose. And help the people He brings your way be in heaven with you someday!

    When the Goal Is Beyond Your Reach - #9432

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 7, 2023

    It's hard to believe there was a time when you had to be carried by someone in order to get anywhere, right? You know, there was a time when it was a major, major breakthrough for you to finally figure out how to move yourself places. Well, years ago, I had a chance to see our six-month-old granddaughter in that milestone struggle to figure out how to crawl. We stopped the presses when she had learned how to sit up by herself. Now, that's a good start. I mean, I'd been sitting on the living room carpet with her. (In fact, I recently learned to sit up by myself too!) Well, I lay down a few feet from her, I held a favorite toy on the rug in front of me, and I started drumming my fingers rhythmically on the carpet. She was definitely intrigued. And you could tell she really wanted to get to my fingers and to that toy. She finally figured out there was no easy way to get what she wanted. She managed to fall forward from her sitting position, get up on all fours, and then rock back and forth in neutral. She reached my direction with one hand. She was risking her delicate balance. Didn't quite make it. But I knew she would soo, because I knew she would eventually do whatever she had to do to get where she wanted to be. I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When the Goal Is Beyond Your Reach." Sometimes you have to do things you've never done to reach what you've never had before, if you're a baby...or if you're a child of God. If you always do what you've always done, you'll always have what you've always had. And that's all. And much of what you need in your life, much of what you're restless for, and much of what God wants to give you is beyond your reach. As long as you stay in your comfort zone, it always will be. Peter learned a lot about the life-stretching ways of Jesus one day on the lake called the Sea of Galilee. It's in Luke 5, beginning with verse 5, and it's our word for today from the Word of God. Peter, the veteran fisherman, had nothing to show for a whole night of fishing. Then, in the middle of the day (when fish are hard to find), Jesus tells him to put out into the deep water and let down the nets that Peter has just finished cleaning. Well, the Bible says, "Simon answered, 'Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because You say so, I will let down the nets.'" They caught so many fish it almost sank their boats! Jesus was beckoning Peter to do something he had never done so he could experience something he had never experienced, just like I was doing with my little granddaughter. And that day Peter decided to take an even riskier step. He left the only life he knew as a fisherman, and chose to follow Jesus wherever He took him. Which was to give to his life a spiritual significance he could never have imagined. But he had to move beyond what was safe, and so do you. God's been trying to get you to make that move. Maybe that's why that door closed, that chapter ended, why those plans changed, or why you've "worked hard all night and caught nothing." He's not trying to frustrate you. He's trying to move you to something bigger...something better. Jesus wants to take you to another level. But you'll never get there if you just keep sitting where it's safe, settling only for what you can be sure of. Remember what faith is: "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." You'll never grow, you'll never see what you could be if you stay where you've always been. Your Father's beckoning to you. He's inviting you to make a move in the direction of something greater. Don't just sit there!

    Don't Miss the One You've Been Looking For - #9431

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 6, 2023

    A college student was supposed to pick me up at this small town airport, and I was going to go to his college to speak. He had my press photo in his hand; just one of those typical head shots...you know, you have to send out to newspapers sometimes. I didn't, of course, have a photo of him. So who would you expect to find who in that airport? It wasn't exactly LaGuardia or Kennedy or Newark Airport. There were only two gates. My flight came in and I kept waiting for someone to come up and identify themselves. But pretty soon, everybody cleared out and there were only two people left. There was me and there was this college student walking back and forth looking at a photo in his hand, looking at me, looking at the photo, looking at me.. Well, I knew his name was Jeff. I had talked to him on the phone. I said, "Is that you, Jeff?" He looked at the picture again and said, "Is that you, Ron?" I said, "It sure is!" He said, "Oh, in the picture you look tall." What? I have a tall head? I guess I just got the wrong body. Well now, anyone who wants a picture in advance, they ought to recognize the man when He comes. Right? I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Don't Miss the One You've Been Looking For." Our word for today from the Word of God actually comes from Matthew 1:21. It's part of the Christmas Story, but it's good all year. And the angel is speaking to Joseph. "'She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.' All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said to the prophet; 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, (That's actually a quote from the book of Isaiah.) and they will call him Immanuel, which means God with us.'" God says here "When My Son comes He'll be the fulfillment of a prophecy." He will, in fact, be the fulfillment of scores of prophecies. For two thousand years God had been sending ahead a picture of what His Son would look like when He came to earth. It's sort of like an inverted pyramid. It starts out very broad and comes down to a very narrowly focused picture in advance of what the Messiah will look like. In Genesis 3:15, way back in the Garden of Eden, God says the answer to sin would be a descendent of Eve. In other words, a man would come. Then in Genesis 12:15, He says what nation He'll come from. Of all the nations on earth, it says that the Messiah's blessings will come through the Nation of Israel. Then in Genesis 49, God narrows it down a little more; gives us a little more focused photograph. He says what tribe He will come from out of the twelve tribes of Israel...look for Him to come from the tribe of Judah. Now in Isaiah 11:1 He narrows it down to the family. He says He'll come out of the family of David. Isaiah 7, the method - a virgin birth. How could you miss it? Micah 5:2 - He says, "Now, here's the place. He'll be born in a little village called Bethlehem." Isaiah 53 describes His death. The book of Zachariah even tells the number of pieces of silver He'll be betrayed for. They had the picture in their hands back then and they didn't recognize Him. John 1:11, "He came to His own and His own did not receive Him." You say, "How could they miss Him?" Well how can we? We don't just have prophecies, we've got history. We know He walked out of His grave under His own power. He's identified himself to you as the one you've been looking for. Could it be you're still withholding your allegiance? Could it be you're circling Him like that fellow did at the airport with me; checking out who He is? Well, sometime you've got to do something with Jesus. John 1:12 says, "As many as received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become the children of God." Maybe sometime for you is today. You don't need evidence now, you need faith. Don't circle Jesus any more. Come to Him and say, "Lord, you're the one I've spent a lifetime searching for." I would invite you to join me at our website. It's called ANewStory.com. It could be the beginning of your new story. If you'll tell Jesus, "I'm Yours," you will finally be home in a relationship you were created for.

    Preparing For the Worst - #9430

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 3, 2023

    During the high school football season, our Campus Life Club used to have a crowd breaker that provided a lot of entertainment for all of us. We had four cheerleaders up front with a box of football equipment, minus the more personal stuff, of course. They raced to see who was the first to get fully dressed in shoulder pads, hip pads, knee pads, helmets, the rest, you know. Well, they each had a football player providing verbal coaching, but the results were still hilarious. Those cheerleaders had no idea what gear went where. But that's okay. They didn't need to know. You can be sure the players knew. Every day, whether it was for a practice or a game, they got that equipment on. They didn't need it all day in school, of course, because they weren't generally being chased, or run into at high speeds, or thrown to the ground. But when it came time to play, the coaches made sure they had the equipment they needed. The coach wasn't about to send them into the battle without what they would need to protect them. I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Preparing For the Worst." Our missionary son called us one day and, in an uncharacteristically sober tone of voice, he opened with these words: "Mom, Dad, get your grace helmets on." He was preparing us for some bad news. They were in their sixth month of pregnancy with our grandson, and the doctor had just spotted some rare and serious medical problems. Our son knew what he, his wife, and our whole family were going to need for the trying months ahead. We were going to need God's grace; the equipment that God provides to give us that extra strength and protection we will need for the battle we're headed into. Right now, you may be in one of those seasons where all your human resources are just totally inadequate to keep you going. Here's God's open invitation, recorded in Hebrews 4:16, our word for today from the Word of God. "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." See, grace is God's enabling power that sustains us when we're running on empty. It's sort of like a reserve fuel tank that kicks in when our emotional and physical fuel tank has run out. And it's not just generic grace, you know; not like "one size fits all." No, it's customized grace, specially designed for the kind of situation you need it for. So, God provides parenting grace when that's needed; forgiving grace when forgiving is what you need to do. He'll give you cancer grace, suffering grace, persecution grace, funeral grace. For our family, facing the deep questions, the deep feelings, and the critical decisions about that little baby, God's grace came in like a Daddy's arms picking us up and carrying us when we couldn't walk any farther. That little guy has had his battles, and he's not a little guy any more, and he's doing okay. But even if we have some more, you know what? His story is already one miracle after another. Not the least of which is the strength and the grace that has protected us like body armor on a soldier, or gear on an athlete. And, as God promised Paul in the pain and limitations of his thorn in the flesh, "My grace is sufficient." (2 Corinthians 12:9) Or, as the original Greek says, "Enough for you - My grace." His grace really is enough for you, no matter how desperate the situation. Because He's said "your strength will equal your days." (Deuteronomy 33:25) Whatever the burden, He will match it with His grace. More than match it, if you'll go to His throne of grace to get it. You have to go for the grace that this moment requires. No matter what hits you, God is no less in charge; His plan is no less on target. Things may be out of your control. They are never out of His control. If you trust Him, He will give you just the equipment you need for the battle you're facing right now, because God's plan will not lead you where His grace cannot keep you.

    Never Alone - #9429

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 2, 2023

    It really bothers me when I go into the next room for something and I can't remember why I went in there. You ever had that experience? So, as long as I keep having birthdays - and I hope I do - this memory thing is going to be getting worse and worse I guess. At least that's what they say. Now, my wife's grandfather? He lived to be 93 years old, and frankly there wasn't much that he remembered near the end. She called him one day and she told him who it was, and he didn't say much. And then she said, "Granddad, this is your granddaughter." And then she said, "I love you." Well, it seemed like he was almost embarrassed. He said, "I...I don't know you." He's thinking, "Who is this strange woman calling this old man and telling him she loves him?" That was pretty tough for my wife, because she was very close to her grandfather. Well, she bounced back, though, and she gave her granddad one more reminder. Then we found out the one memory that the years had not erased. I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Never Alone." My wife told her Granddad the day that he couldn't remember who she was, "Well, Granddad, let me just say one last thing to you, 'Jesus loves you.'" All of a sudden Granddad's whole tone of voice changed, and with conviction he said, "Now Him I know!" Well this One who had walked with Granddad through most of his 93 years was still real to him when he couldn't remember anybody else. King David would have understood that. Our word for today from the Word of God comes from that familiar passage, the 23rd Psalm beginning at verse 1. "The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. And even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." The Lord, basically David is saying here, is Davod's one 'always' person. Our daughter got very sick when she was a little girl. We were in this little mountain town an hour from the hospital. She had to go to that hospital, but my wife and I were both so sick we couldn't take her. So a friend took her to this strange hospital. They admitted this little girl. She's got no Mommy or Daddy with her. It was pretty sad. When I was finally able to get there she said, "Daddy, I was really lonely and scared in this hospital room. But I put my Bible on the stand next to the bed and I knew even when your Mommy and Daddy can't be with you, Jesus is with you." That's right. Or when your husband or wife can't be with you, or your family, your spiritual leaders. When you can't even remember the people you love, Jesus is with you. I have to ask you, are you sure you belong to this Jesus; the One who said, "I will never leave you or forsake you"? He's the only one who can make that promise and keep it forever. And you've lived long enough to know that other people can disappoint you. They'll leave you, they turn on you, they move away, they die on you. We need an "always" person, and there's only one. You say, "Well, how can I be sure I belong to Him?" Well, listen to John 1:12 in the Bible. "To as many as believed in Him, to those who received Him, He gave the right to become the children of God." You do it by invitation. You don't know Jesus automatically just because you're religious or you went through the right rituals or you know a lot about Him or you hang out in Christian places. You've got to believe in Him. And that's total trust like a drowning person grabbing a lifeguard, and you're trusting Him to remove that sin-wall between you and God; the death penalty you and I deserve for running our own lives. Coming to that cross where He died and beginning a God relationship. Telling Jesus, "I'm pinning all my hopes on You." If you're not sure you've done that, and you want to be sure you belong to Jesus - that "always" person - would you go to our website? It's ANewStory.com. You'll find out there how to be sure you belong to Him. My wife's grandfather had the personal closeness of Jesus every season of his life right to the end, right through the valley of the shadow of death. Don't wait any longer to begin this forever relationship. The earlier you start, the better you're going to know he One who is your one "always" person.

    Faith Launching - #9428

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 1, 2023

    The Blob! Yeah, that's what they call this huge inflated pillow-like thing they have at this camp we use in our ministry. The Blob's in the water at the camp beach, just sitting there, daring someone to jump off the platform above and onto its bouncy launch pad. Shall we say, it's kind of a leap of faith. Yeah. See, one person jumps onto the Blob and then they clumsily scoot out to the end that extends into the lake. Then a second person makes the jump. And when they hit the Blob, you know, the force of their landing will literally launch the person on the end into the air and ultimately into the lake with a nice loud splash. For the launch to work, there can't be more than thirty pounds difference in the weights of the two Blobbers. Well, since our son is a pretty big hunk of a guy, he went most of the week without getting Blob-launched...until the campers convinced Frank, our other generous-sized leader, to try it with our son. Every person in the camp was at the beach at two o'clock to see this one, and we went out to support him. Our son made the jump and crawled to the end of the Blob. Then his counterweight friend made the jump. The camp erupted into cheers and gales of laughter as the force of Frank's landing sent our son into the air like a Cape Canaveral rocket! It was awesome! I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Faith Launching." You see, Frank took a leap of faith and it launched someone else. You know, that shouldn't be unusual with brothers and sisters in Christ. If you belong to Jesus, there are people around you who could use some faith right now for what they're facing, but they may need the "jumper cable" of your faith to inspire them to trust God in a big way. In our word for today from the Word of God, Romans 1:11-12, Paul told the believers at Rome, "I long to see you that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong - that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith." There it is right there - contagious faith, stirring up greater faith in the person that you infect. There's a great example of that in the Book of Joshua as the Jews are standing at the edge of flooded Jordan River, facing the giants, facing the walled cities of Canaan on the other side. God launched General Joshua's faith when He says, "Be strong and courageous because you will lead these people to inherit the land" (Joshua 1:6). Then Joshua launches the faith of his officers by telling them to get the people ready because they are going to cross the Jordan and take possession of the land God is giving them. Before long, the people are telling Joshua, "be strong and courageous!" (Joshua 1:18). Mutually encouraging each other to believe God for something only God could do. I wonder what your effect is on the people in your personal world. I mean, do you inspire them to trust God for big things, or do you tend to spread anxiety, or apathy, or pessimism, or negativity? Or do you leave behind your trail of faith! Use critical moments to show your family how to totally trust God rather than worry. Pray boldly with people who share a need with you. Verbalize what you're trusting God for as a declaration of your faith. Challenge people you serve with to get out of the box of doing what's always been done, taking no risks, and seeing no miracles. Faith isn't just taught - it's caught. And you should be modeling and encouraging bold trust in an all-powerful God. This isn't about your great faith. It's about your great God; a God who deserves nothing less than faith for "great and mighty things we don't know" (Jeremiah 33:3). As John Newton said, "Thou art coming to a King, great petitions with thee bring; for His grace and power are such, none can ever ask too much." When people are around you and your faith, they should be launched higher than they've ever gone before!

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