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updated  5/11/12

Turning Hopeless to Hope

You might look at these 60 Native American and First Nations young people from 35 different tribes and you might not see anything miraculous until you hear their stories. The young man who buried 14 friends and loved ones and got lost in a haze of drugs and suicide thinking. The young woman raped by a trusted loved one and sexually abused by others. The young woman who felt reduced to nothing by a father who said, "You're a worthless mistake." She was crushed by her mother's suicide, and her father offered her a rope and said, "Why don't you go out and do what your mother did."

But it's a bus full of these very kinds of young people who I've seen God use to do what virtually no one has been able to do; to bring hundreds of Native young people to choose Jesus Christ. And over years I've seen them lead thousands to Christ and make missions history. When they pour out their stories, virtually everybody listens. And these are young people, who for the most part, listen to no one.

Now, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Turning Hopeless to Hope."

See, these weren't hopeless stories. We call them Hope Stories! Because of a Savior named Jesus, who has done what He promised He would do for broken people. It's in our word for today from the Word of God in Isaiah 61:1-3 , and it may have your name on it today. He tells us, "(I will) bind up the brokenhearted, comfort all those who mourn, provide for those who grieve, bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor."

So, that "worthless" girl, who was told by a hateful father, "you need a man to take care of you." Well, I've heard her proclaim, "My Dad was right. I do need a man to take care of me, and I found one. His name is Jesus Christ, and He loved me enough to die for me." And it is her pain that gives her the credentials - or the "crud-entials," to be an unarguable proof of the power of a living Jesus.

But that's not unique to devastated but rescued Native young people. Why, it's the experience of any broken person who brings the whole stinking mess of their life; all the pieces, the sinning they've done, all the sinning done against them and lays it at the feet of Jesus.

Because the Bible says that "He was a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering, pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities" (Isaiah 53:3 , 5). Oh, He knows grief! He knows pain! He knows the price of sin on a level that no human has ever experienced. And because of that, He has for 2,000 years invited hurting, broken sinners like me, and maybe like you, to find in Him the healing and the forgiveness and the love, and the heaven that only He can give.

And often it is our brokenness and it is our pain that makes us realize that no one on earth can fix us. And it causes us for the first time in our life, to reach out for a nail-pierced hand that belongs to Jesus, His arms open wide to receive you into His love this very day.

I would encourage you where you are now to bring all the pieces, all the sin, all the brokenness. Lay it at His feet and grab Him with both hands and say, "Jesus, I'm Yours, because nobody loves me like You do." I would love to help you know for sure that you've begun your relationship with Him, and I've tried to do that at our website, and I would encourage you to check it out today. It's I hope you'll go there right away.

See, it's Jesus and Jesus alone who can make the worst things that ever happened to you a door to hope for a lot of other broken people. I know. I've seen it with my own eyes.



Every Sister Needs a Brother

I never had a sister, but my sons have one, which means I have a daughter. Now, our oldest son is two years younger than our daughter, who is the oldest, but it was interesting to see as I watched their relationship what I had missed growing up. Oh, there was a lot of kidding around; the kids called it "busting." They had some exciting disagreements growing up because, well, they're two very different people.

There were some hugs, there was some advice, there was sometimes some conflict, but one thing was really clear in that relationship - no one had ever better do my son's sister wrong. Even though he's two years younger, he was her personal - I'm going to make up a word here - "look-out-forer." I'm looking out for her! In fact, when any guy wanted to date her, he first had to pass my son's very high requirements. Oh, he's younger, but he was his sister's protector. Now, if you're a sister, it's nice to have a brother like that.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Every Sister Needs a Brother."

Now, our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 Timothy 5, and I'm going to be reading verse 2. It's a road map for relationships between, well, men and women in general, but particularly between young men and young women. He is addressing Timothy, who is a young man, and Paul says, "Treat the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers," and then get this part, "and treat the younger women as sisters with absolute purity."

Now, if you grow up in our culture today, that's not the message you're getting. Oh, no, our culture says, "Hey, if you're a young man, treat the younger woman as a conquest; as a lover." But that's not God's design. He says, "Treat the younger women as sisters." Now, what does that mean? Does that mean you tease them all the time? Does that mean you argue with them, which brothers and sisters are known to do? No. Do you know what I think it's referring to?

See, the love of a brother for a sister is, after all is said and done, protective love. It's like my son and daughter, "I'm not going to let anything happen to you that could hurt you, Sis." That's how young men are supposed to view young women. Not as targets, not as conquests, not as things to use.

That's why it says, "Treat them with absolute purity" so you won't hurt them. You're supposed to guard your sister. That means you look at the women around you and say, "I will not use you. I will not push you for physical involvement. I won't even think about taking your greatest gift from you - your virginity. I won't let my mind wander into scenes where I reduce you to being a thing. I will guard your reputation, sister. I will guard your purity. I will guard your character." Now, that's manhood! And you know what? Ask a lot of young women today, and they'll tell you there is a critical shortage of that kind of man.

See, what happens is you begin to say, "I'm going to develop some sisters here." So, you begin to develop friendships, and not just romances. And that becomes more important than just a passionate romance. You open the door to some real legitimate closeness, and really getting to know somebody. And you do that by finally throwing your sexual agenda out the window.

Now, if you're a woman, by the way you dress, the way you act, the way you talk, the way you move, encourage this kind of relationship. Remember the kind of bait you offer determines the kind of catch you get. Act like you want brothers. Act like you want guys who will be friends, not users; not conquerors. And men, cultivate sisters; a level of sharing and caring that the sexual conquerors will never even get close to. Treat her like family. She's your sister, man! And every sister needs a brother.


Enemy Tricks-

During two visits to South Africa, I grew to love the people of that troubled country and its history too. It used to be British turf, except for the tribal lands of the great Zulu Warriors. And in 1879 the British army moved in under Lord Chelmsford, invaded Zulu land to claim it as a property for The Crown.

Well, the campaign was expected to be over in about a month or so, but among the Zulu's many military talents was a use of deception. One trick they used was to take what they called an "impy", which was the equivalent of a division, and they condensed it into formations so the enemy could not count how many there were in their regiments. And another technique they used was to have a small diversionary group of soldiers drive herds of cattle around the countryside. Well, that raised a lot of dust and it made the enemy think that that's where the main Zulu force was. See what I mean?

Well, they used those tactics; they misled Lord Chelmsford into splitting his army. He took half of it on a wild goose chase after a herd of cattle, and then the main Zulu force of 20,000 attacked the rest of the English force and massacred them. The surprise was complete. Now, the Zulu's were simply applying a timeless principle of warfare--deception. By the way, that's a major tactic in the war against you.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Enemy Tricks."

What's the word struggle mean to you right now? When I say that, what do you think of? Who do you think of? What's the battle for you right now? What would you say is the enemy you're struggling against? Is it discouragement, or depression, or family problems, some impossible people, maybe finances? Well, see, the real enemy disguises his forces; he makes them look like human problems so you'll fight them with human weapons--weapons that he can demolish.

Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Ephesians 6:11-13. Here's the real story: "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes."

Now, remember, deception is a time-honored practice in warfare. God says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God." Now, the devil is the expert in that old tactic of warfare called deception. He's the father of lies Jesus said.

Now, Christians tend to forget what's really going on around their school, their family, where they work, their church. We ought to put up a big sign that says three words: This is war! You are I are in the middle of a supernatural battle, and you know there are supernatural weapons available to beat the enemy. Now, the devil's greatest fear is that you'll realize you're in the middle of that kind of battle and that you will use those weapons.

When you realize this struggle is spiritual war, you pray militantly. You stop depending on your plans, and your schemes, and money, and meetings. You turn the power of Jesus on the enemy. You start using scripture more powerfully. You purify yourself.

I once spoke at a conference for young people, and I said, "If we could only see this place through God's glasses, we would see spiritual forces from both sides massed for battle to get these kids." Well, you know what? That's true wherever God is at work. So, don't fall for the enemy's diversion. He wants you to run off fighting what looks like the problem so you won't fight him.

That darkness you're experiencing now, oh that's more than earth darkness. It is from an enemy who cannot stand resistance, but who is rendered powerless by the blood of Jesus Christ.

So, make sure that you're fighting the right enemy and you're using the right weapons.



Your Aroma is There Longer Than You Are

My daughter and I hugged a lot when she was little. And when she was a big college student, and even now that she has a family of her own, I'm happy to report we still have what we call "hug alerts." We have always had a demonstrative relationship; have with all the kids actually.

Now, sometimes when I've hugged her, she would suddenly say, "You smell like Daddy." Well, I hope so. I don't want to smell like anybody else. I've never figured out whether that's good or bad that I smell like me, but I do smell like me. And she hugs a couple of other men in her life, too; her husband, her father-in-law, a couple of brothers that she hugs; even three children. And she tells me that they smell like themselves too. I guess the fact is that people do have a distinctive aroma. It could be pleasant or unpleasant, and we do remember the smell they leave behind.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Your Aroma is There Longer Than You Are."

Well, our word for today from the Word of God comes from 2 Corinthians 2:14 - sort of a perfume verse. "But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ." Now, I don't know what you're going through right now, but that's got to be a great verse for whatever it is. "Always leads us in triumphant procession in Christ." And He says, "And through us spreads everywhere the fragrance (there we go) of the knowledge of Him."

I'm pretty sure you know someone who is sort of preceded by the aroma of their cologne or their perfume. You kind of know they're coming before you see them; you smell them. And even after they're gone, the aroma lingers.

The impact of your life here is described as a fragrance. The knowledge of Christ is what you're supposed to leave behind. That means that people are thinking about Jesus after you pass by. You create a Jesus atmosphere around you. Now, modern Christianity measures our influence by our actions - the words we speak, the groups we lead, the good deeds we do, the people we helped, the activities we support. But our greatest influence doesn't come through the actions you do. Your greatest influence comes through the atmosphere you create.

And everywhere you are you're creating some kind of atmosphere; some kind of aroma. What kind? When you walk into your home, do you bring stress with you, or gentleness, affection? You bring coldness or warmth? You bring an atmosphere.

What kind of atmosphere accompanies you at work; at school? I guess after all is said and done, people won't remember much that you said or even a lot of what you did. But they'll remember the atmosphere. They'll remember how they felt when you were around.

Maybe your actions - your good actions - are canceled out by the atmosphere of stress, or criticism, or negativity, or insensitivity that you create while you're doing all of those good things. But it's the atmosphere that really makes the difference.

Your aroma? Yeah, it's there longer than you are, and the aroma that you should be leaving is the finest of fragrances. You should leave behind you a trail of joy, and peace, and blessing, making people feel important and listened to, cared about. Actually, what you should leave behind is the essence of Jesus.


"You Never Know Who's Watching"

When I consider today's young people and even my own kids when they were teenagers, I realize that their generations are about to lose some of civilization's greatest wisdom. Some of those old clichés that we were told that maybe they've never heard. You know, like "Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." We have to make sure they get this wisdom.

Or there's one that really stuck with me. I think it was from my grandmother. It goes like this: "When you kiss at the garden gate, remember love is blind but the neighbors ain't." OK, it doesn't rhyme too well, but it's true. I always imagined when I heard that, that old Mrs. Murphy was across the street with her binoculars and a note pad, you know? Actually, though, there is a life lesson in that old cliché that covers a lot more than a good night kiss. In fact, it was probably working invisibly in your life today.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "You Never Know Who's Watching."

Our word for today from the Word of God is found in Genesis chapter 24. It's one of the great love stories in the history of the world. Eliezer is Abraham's aging servant, and he has been sent to find the woman God has destined for Isaac - Abraham's child of promise. In a sense, Isaac is the prince and it turns out that Rebekah is going to be the princess. But Eliezer doesn't know it at this point, so he prays.

He gets to the location where he's been told to go, back in Abraham's home turf where there are some believers to choose from. And in essence, Eliezer prays and says, "Lord, here I am at the well where all the women come to draw water. I want you to show me the woman of your choosing through her unselfish care for me and my animals. She won't know why I'm here, but I just want to pray that she'll come and offer me water and then go water my camels. And I'll know how unselfish she is."

It's interesting that this little intrigue takes place. "Before he had finished praying" it says, "Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder." Then the story goes on to say, "The girl was very beautiful...a virgin. She went down to the spring and filled her water and came up again." All right, we've got a girl that might be the one. But listen. "As she goes and takes care of water for him and for the camels without knowing anything about what he's prayed," it says, "Without saying a word, the man watched her closely." OK, now Rebekah's being watched by Eliezer.

She was simply going about her work. Little did she know that she was being closely watched. But then, did you know so are you? You are building a reputation without even knowing it. You are advertising about Jesus without even realizing it. You say, "Well, I don't think I'm being watched." You are. "Well, I don't want to be watched." Too bad, you are.

People are noticing how you control your temper or how you don't, how you compete, how you win, how you lose. They're noticing how you respond to people's needs; to their need for attention, to their need for a listener. They're noticing how you act when you're tired, when you're under pressure, how you handle failure, how you're handling your responsibilities, how you keep your promises. They're watching how you treat those who treat you badly, and how you react when you're threatened.

And it makes me think twice about how Christ-like I really am. Just imagine you're being watched by your children, watched by your parents, by people who are making a choice about Christ based on what they see in you; by your friends, by your teachers, by your supervisors. You just can't go off duty as a Christian; you're always His ambassador. So, pray through your day. Someone may be basing their verdict about Jesus on the way you handle your circumstances, your emotions, your situations. You never know who's watching.



Answers in the Graveyard

Now, if you like putting puzzles together, oh you'll love trying to piece together your family genealogy. My wife knows; she's been working on ours lately. As you start climbing your family tree, you find all kinds of holes in your information, dates and places that sometimes seem contradictory, illogical.

And one place you go to solve some of the mysteries happens to be some old graveyards. I've been in a few in recent years. And sometimes the information on a tombstone or in cemetery records provides an important missing piece of the puzzle. And all along, you're hoping you'll find a king or a know, someone important; hopefully, not a famous outlaw or scalawag! But you actually can find some missing answers in a graveyard.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I'd like to have A Word With You Today about "Answers in the Graveyard."

You know, actually, people have been finding answers in a graveyard for 2,000 years! Answers to the big questions - not about some ancestor, but about you! Like, why am I here? What's the point of it all? How can I have a life that matters? What happens when I die?

Now here's the wild thing: the grave where our answers begin is empty! It's Jesus' grave, and He blew the doors off His grave and off death when He walked out of that grave under His own power. That "explosion in the graveyard" on that first Easter is the single most significant event in the history of this planet, because no event has changed more lives. No event has the power of this one to change eternities!

The Bible records these bottom line words from Jesus in our word for today from the Word of God: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades" (Revelation 1:18 ).

Every other religious leader, prophet, teacher is in their grave today. But if you visit Jesus' grave, don't bother bringing flowers. He' gone! Death couldn't hold him. As the Bible says, "Christ Jesus...has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel" (2 Timothy 1:10 ). Any discussion of where ultimate truth is found ends at the empty tomb of Jesus.

But it's not about Christianity the religion. The answers to our ultimate questions aren't in a religion - they're in a man; the Man who died to remove the penalty for our sin - that wall that separates us from the God who put us here. He went to that cross to restore us to the God who gives life its meaning. That's why Jesus said "I have come that they may have life and have it to the full" (John 10:10 ).

And this is the Man who said, "Because I live, you also will live (John 14:19 ). He promises eternal life to all those who belong to Him. But you can't give what you don't have, and only the Man who conquered death can deliver eternal life.

So if you're pinning your hopes on anything or anyone else, it's false hope. With every other belief system or spirituality on earth, you can't know if you were right until you die. But when you belong to Jesus, you're pinning your hopes on a Savior whose resurrection is not just some religious ideas but a provable historic fact.

Jesus walked out of His grave so He can walk into your life today. His timeless invitation: "Come to Me...and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28 ). He's done it for millions of us across the centuries, and He is waiting to do it for you right now. Right where you are, you could say, "Jesus, I admit that I have been a sinner; I have run my own life; I deserve the penalty for that. But I believe You paid the penalty for that, and I am willing to stop driving my life. You drive. I am giving me to You, because You're the only One who died to pay for my sin. You're alive and I'm Yours."

Check out our website. A lot of people have found a lot of help in beginning their relationship with God there. I think you might too. The biggest question of all - where you'll spend eternity - can be answered this very day at the feet of Jesus, who is alive; who's waiting to love you. Your search of a lifetime is almost over.



"Throwing Away Your Identity Crutches."

In our town, Dr. Jennings was one of the most feared teachers in the school system. She taught music, and she began a new year in elementary school one year with a tirade that dumped all over one poor little boy who happened to raise his hand and say, "Mrs. Jennings..." At which she totally exploded and said, "Dr. Jennings, and don't you forget it!" And I want to tell you, that was only the beginning of what she said. You'd better call her Doctor. You get the distinct impression she really needs that title for her identity. But then, have you ever watched high school football players? I've worked with them a lot, and it's kind of fun to watch them, because in a sense, they're seldom seen in public without their letter jacket. Oh, yeah, all summer long wearing my letter jacket. You've got to have your jacket to kind of have your identity. Who am I without my letter jacket? Huh?

And then what about top executives? I heard not too long ago about some executive retreats where they got them in small groups and they said to them, "We want you to just answer this question tonight here in this relaxed setting. Who are you? Just tell us who you are, but you can't mention your company, your title, your position, or anything about your work. On your mark, get set, go!" I heard it was very quiet in the room, because not very many people could answer who they were without referring to their work or their position. You know, a lot of us are severely handicapped because we're basing our identity on something that...well, it just can't support us.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Throwing Away Your Identity Crutches."

Our word for today from the Word of God is from Galatians 3:26 and following. Paul says, "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who are baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There's neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Now, that is a great statement of who you are.

Whatever titles you may have, your identity is or ought to be rooted in who the Bible says you are. Paul in this passage confronts some of those identity crutches. Some identities that really wouldn't hold people together back in Bible times. He talks about Jew, Greek, slave, free, etc. You're not your racial group; you're not your religious group. Your identity isn't what social class you're from.

Now today I think there are three identity crutches. See if any of these have tripped you up. First one is, you are what you do. See, my identity, my sense of worth, my confidence, my fulfillment is based on what kind of grades I get, how I do in sports, how I'm doing in my business. For many a working woman today, she's gone out to find identity in a working world only to end up with the same ulcers and frustrations and heart conditions as men did when they were trying to find their identity there. So, when we fail, or we lose our job, or we retire, suddenly we're nobody.

Here's the second identity crutch. You are what you own. We're identified by the house we live in, the neighborhood, the clothes I wear, the car I drive. But that's never enough. A third identity crutch. You are who you're with. I'm an extension of my peer group, and that could be in any stage of life...not just in high school. Sometimes, though, we compromise so much to be there, we lose ourselves instead of finding ourselves. They turn away from you, and suddenly you're nobody again.

Now the real thing is this. You are who God says you are, Sons of God in Christ Jesus. If you've been to Jesus' cross to have your sins forgiven, you've been born into God's family, you can't beat that. You belong to Christ. That's one identity you cannot lose. You can lose your job, you can lose your income, your possessions. You can lose your friends or your health, your ability to perform, but you can't lose one ounce of who you are if you know Christ. You are and you always will be God's kid, under His unconditional love. And no one can add your identity or take it away.

Look, if you're not sure you belong to Jesus and you have this unloseable security and worth, I hope you'll go to our website and find there how to begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ - Check us out there.

Who needs identity crutches? You can walk tall in Christ because you know who you are, and you know whose you are.


"Intimate Bonding" The language of love that God calls sex.

Now, you probably wouldn't expect the subject of intimacy to come up in a discussion of wallpaper, but it did. Of course, you've never been in a discussion with me, so maybe that's not a surprise to you. I have a friend who is a painter and a wallpaperer for a living, and he was helping in our office. He actually volunteered to help us out by scraping the old wallpaper off a wall that really needed some work. And before we were in our building, someone had put wallpaper on the sheet rock years ago. Well, when I walked in, he was very frustrated because what happened was, well apparently, when they had applied that wallpaper to the sheet rock they hadn't put any preparation layer on it. So, you can probably guess what happened. The wallpaper and the top layer of the sheet rock had sort of become one. And when he scraped off the wallpaper, yeah, you got it. The top layer of the sheet rock came with it. He was pretty frustrated, and he held them up to me and he said, "I can't separate them!" Then he said, "You know what we call this, Ron?" We being wallpaperers I guess. He said, "We call this an intimate bond." Well, those intimate bonds are hard to separate.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Intimate Bonding."

Now, our word for today from the Word of God comes from the lips of Jesus in Mark 10, beginning at verse 7. "For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife. And the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate." Sounds strangely like a conversation I had with the wallpaperer doesn't it? Separated...bonded in a way that you really cannot separate them.

Well, if you go over the 1 Corinthians 6:16, you find out what powerful glue sexual involvement is between two people. Here's what it says, "Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said that two will become one flesh." Now, there's no more meaningless sex than with a prostitute. But even that creates a lasting intimate bond. Our society has devalued this wonderful bonding that God has given us, but it hasn't weakened its power. And maybe you're devaluing this great gift of sexual closeness and intimacy without even knowing it. Let me suggest some ways that happens.

One is sex without commitment. It could be that you've experimented with sex and played around with it without a lifetime commitment to a partner, and that leaves permanent scars. You're playing with something that will make that person always a part of you, and that's scary. And if you do it often enough, you will lose your bondability; like tape that gets stuck too often. You won't be able to stick to another person in that bonded way the Bible talks about.

Secondly, you can devalue it by using sex as a weapon. That's why in 1 Corinthians 7, the Bible says, "Don't deprive each other in marriage of a sexual relationship." Don't use sex as a weapon. It's too special to abuse by using it to get your own way. It's not a weapon!

Thirdly, we can devalue this bonding by sex without meaning, where you are married but you really aren't one. You had an argument; you're in disagreement, but you're going through the motions. Get your oneness together again emotionally, so you can express it physically.

And finally, you can devaluate it with sex outside the boundaries. That could be an adulterous relationship or somehow you introduce another person into this intimate, unbreakable bond. And you create an emotional schizophrenia for everyone involved.

Look, have you played with God's bonding gift? Well, confess that to Him. Let Him cleanse you as 1 John 1:9 promises He will, that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us all our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Make it right. Reserve it for one relationship, and then use it unselfishly. I can still see that wallpaper and that sheet rock merged into one, when it's right, it is so beautiful. When bonding is wrong, it's so destructive.

The language of love that God calls sex - it truly is an intimate bond.


A Voice From the Grave

They've tried a lot of things to discourage people from smoking; especially now that we know the great

hazards of it. In fact, recently, maybe you've seen that they're trying to put some disturbing pictures on the packages themselves of people dying of lung cancer. They already do that it in some other countries. But I think one of the most impacting things I've ever seen along those lines was a commercial that was done on TV years ago. There was a great award winning actor named Yul Brynner. You may remember him; he had a very distinctive accent and shaved head. He was in a lot of great movies. He was the star of The King and I, and he died of lung cancer. His lung cancer was caused by a lifetime of smoking, and they filmed this public service announcement shortly before his death. He knew he was dying, and basically in it he says, "Take it from me, it's not worth it. It's too late for me, but you still have time to change." Man that hit hard. In a sense, he was a voice from the grave with a very sobering warning. Well, there's another one that's even more sobering.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Voice From the Grave."

I hear a lot of people theorizing about what happens after we die. Some people say, "Well, I believe there's a heaven, but not a hell." Other people say, "Well, I think there might be a hell, but not a heaven." Somebody says, "I don't think there's a heaven or a hell." Somebody else says, "Well, in my opinion, I think we go around again and again and again and keep coming back." See, this is one thing you don't want to be wrong about. You don't want to be wrong about what happens when you die and what it takes to get ready for it. If you're wrong, you're eternally wrong.

See, everybody's guessing. How can we know? Well, how about a voice from the grave? Luke 16, our word for today from the Word of God, beginning at verse 23, Jesus is telling about a rich man who has gone to hell, and Lazarus, a poor man who has gone to heaven. And the rich man in hell is addressing Abraham. The Bible says, "In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. So he called to Him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things while Lazarus received bad? He is comforted while you are in agony, and besides all this between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross from over there to us.' He answered, 'I beg you, Father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them.'"

Here's a man who died with his sins unforgiven. He was not in a state of mind; he was not reincarnated. He was not in heaven. He was separated from God by a great gulf; alone and suffering without relief. And here, like Yul Brynner in that old commercial, he comes back from the grave to warn others of what he knows is there.

What I'm about to say is not my theory; it is from God's Word. Your decision about Jesus Christ is life or death. It is a heaven or hell choice. See, God never meant for anyone to be in hell. It was prepared for the devil and his angels. But we rebelled against God, and you can't enter heaven with sin. It's only if the penalty has been paid, and Jesus paid that penalty when He died on the cross. He took your hell so you could go to His heaven.

But now you have to take Jesus into your life to be forgiven. God doesn't send anyone to hell; we send ourselves by rejecting His provision in Jesus Christ. Do not procrastinate. There is eternity at stake. Right now you can tell Him, "Jesus, beginning this day, I am yours." A lot of people at this point, this crossroads moment, have gone to our website and found a lot of help there. I hope you'll go there. And whether you want to get the information by video there or in text, go to, and you'll see there how you can be sure you belong to Jesus Christ.

A man speaks to us from beyond death. He says, "It's too late for me, but you still have time to change." Listen to this man who died without Christ. He knows.


The Tapestry of Your Life-

There are many kinds of artists. My friend, Martha, makes her masterpieces out of thread. She lives in a tiny, sparsely-furnished house in a remote corner of the Navajo reservation. It hasn't been an easy life with eleven 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. We've had the privilege 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 doesn't look like it has much promise; there's no pattern anywhere to be seen. It was all in her mind. But there's 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. Martha will 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 - 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 is telling you 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 this very day - and every day.

The threads you can see right now may be dark. Some of the threads don't seem to fit. But God is still at the loom, and all this is going somewhere. He's making something in your life.

And no matter how random, even how senseless it all seems, 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 and 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 tangled threads, I have found myself saying, "Father, I often 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. ill He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32) You can trust the weaver who's at that heavenly loom. 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.

Poison in Your Soul -

The weather wasn't the greatest on that cold November night in Colorado. But Dick Ebersol's pilot felt they were good to take off. As head of NBC Sports, and the man who took the worldwide coverage of the Olympics to a new level, Dick Ebersol is known as one of the most powerful men in the sporting world. But that night, he was just a dad who lost his son. The plane crashed on takeoff. Dick's older son literally pulled him from the wreckage. But his 14-year-old son Teddy didn't make it out. A few days later, Dick's wife and Teddy's mom, retired actress Susan St. James, was interviewed on NBC's "Today" show. She spoke with amazing poise. At one point, she talked about trying to help the surviving kids know how to handle some of the feelings that might come up - including what she referred to as "resentment." Out of her pain, she made a statement filled with so much insight that I hope I'll never forget it. She said, "I've always told my kids, having resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Poison in Your Soul."

Poison. It's a strong word to describe bitterness and resentment in your heart. But experience proves, and the Bible clearly confirms, that poison is the right word. And it's a poison that affects the person who's hurt you only a little, if at all. But for you, it's a poison in your soul that eats at you from the inside out most of the time.

One of the Bible's warnings about bitterness begins with this sobering possibility: "See to it that no one misses the grace of God." That's in Hebrews 12:15, our word for today from the Word of God. If you're wounded and hurt, that's no time to be missing the grace of God - not when you need it the most. So how do you miss God's grace? Read on. "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." God's grace and our bitterness apparently cannot coexist in the same heart. Either God's grace will push out your bitterness, or your bitterness will push out God's grace.

In reality, you don't hold a grudge - a grudge holds you. It's like you can't stop thinking about the very person you wish you could forget. But a grudge shackles you to that person emotionally. The poison in your soul isn't hurting them, but it's killing you inside. It's a huge, heavy backpack you carry with you everywhere you go.

And hard or bitter feelings toward someone don't just hurt you. They end up "causing trouble" and "defiling many." That negativity spills out on other people; people who don't deserve it. A darkness emanates from your personality, poisoning your other close relationships; sometimes ruining friendships, marriages, children, and churches.

There's only one antidote for the poison - forgiving. Ephesians 4 says "get rid of all kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other..." Now comes the zinger. "...just as in Christ God forgave you." The person who hurt you may not deserve to be forgiven, but then you didn't deserve God's forgiveness. To forgive them is not to pretend there was nothing wrong with what they did - it's releasing them completely to God for Him to deal with them. It's drawing a line and making a decision that from this day on you will, with God's strength, base your treatment of them, not on how they treated you, but on how Jesus treated you! You'll copy Him.

You've been the forgive - now you become the forgiver. Or you store poison in your soul; poison that will cripple or destroy so much that could have been. It's time for the antidote. It's time to be free. It's time to forgive.


Wasting What's Worth So Much

Now, I know what it is to need a stamp. You've got something that has to be mailed - like an urgent bill, for example. You've gotten spoiled by having electricity in your house, and you really don't want to see what it's like without it. Your electric bill is due, the check is written, the envelope is addressed, but you can't find a stamp. But something that happened during a recent election has to be ultimate postage desperation. An absentee ballot arrived with an unusual stamp on the envelope; a picture of an inverted World War I airplane. The news report said that stamp may well have been a rare collector's item worth $200,000! I know postage rates are going up, but this is out of control!

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Wasting What's Worth So Much."

The sad thing is that somebody pretty much wasted what was worth so much. But that was just a stamp, and maybe money, that got wasted. What's tragic is when a person makes that mistake with their life. And, sadly, many people have no idea what they're worth. And they live like it with choices that cause so much hurt, so much disappointment and so many scars. If you don't know what you're worth, you go through life just settling...settling for whatever love, whatever pleasure, whatever acceptance you can get. Usually at a high price tag to the very worth you're trying to find.

Cindy was like that. She'd never had many dates or much male attention. She called me one night because a guy she'd dated two or three times wanted her to have sex with him. She valued her virginity, but she didn't want to lose the one guy who had made her feel wanted. I gave her what she called for - I gave her reasons to save her virginity. Frankly, it didn't do much good. When he threatened to leave, she agreed to have sex with him. She called me a couple of weeks later. The guy had gotten what he wanted, and he dumped her; leaving her feeling more worthless, even than she had before.

One example of the kinds of compromises and bad choices you make when you don't know what you're worth. There's only one Person who can really change that - the One who gave you your worth in the first place. The Bible says you are "God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10).

See, it breaks your Creator's heart when you trash the masterpiece He made when He made you. That's what our sinning does - all those countless times we've said or done things that defy God's laws. The selfishness, the angry things, the hurting things, the dirty things, the things that are more important to us than God. All those choices have cut us off from the One who gave us our worth. And only He can get us back to Him. You discover you're worth when you open up to His amazing love.

Love described in our word for today from the Word of God in Revelation 5:9. It says of Jesus, "With your blood You purchased men for God." That is how much you're worth to Jesus - the shedding of His blood to get you back. It was the only way the death penalty for your sin and mine could be paid; someone who had no sin, taking our punishment for us. That's what Jesus did for you on the cross, and that's how much He loves you.

And that's why what you do with Jesus is so important. Without Him, you'll never experience the love you were made for. The forgiveness He paid for. The heaven you hope you'll get to. But He's come to you today, where you are, to offer you an opportunity to begin a personal love relationship with Him. If you'll turn from the sin that He had to die for and pin all your hopes on Him. He is, after all, the only One that you can totally, totally trust.

I'm praying that you'll reach out to Him this very day. We'd love to help you make the connection. I've actually laid out on our web site a brief explanation on just how you can get started with Jesus. I urge you to check it out for yourself as soon as you can today. Go to That's Or, if you'd like, I'll send you the booklet about this called "Yours For Life." Just call for it, toll-free. The number is 877-741-1200.

Jesus loves you enough to die for you. Why not live for the One who loves you most? And discover how valuable you really are.



Escape Artists -

God has the most amazing ways of getting our attention. My friend, Brian, has been involved in evangelism for many years. Which of course, means he spends a lot of time on the road. Which, in his case, meant a lot of opportunities to mess up in an area where he has struggled for many years; a weakness for pornography. Now, Brian was determined to get the victory over this slave master, so he took some very bold defensive action. He stayed away from places where he might encounter pornography. He even asked those who invited him to speak to put him up in private homes rather than motels. But one college he was invited to insisted on lodging him in a motel. Well, he's driving through Iowa on his way to this school, and he stops at a gas station in the middle of nowhere for a cold drink. When he walked in the store, there was a whole wall covered with pornographic magazines. After just a moment, the old Brian thought, "Nobody knows I'm a minister here. I could get a couple magazines and take them to my motel room." Right then, someone came running in the store and asked, "Does anyone here have a gray Firebird?" Brian knew that was his car. "It's sitting out in the middle of the highway." Brian raced outside to find that his car had somehow, inexplicably, rolled into the highway in the flats of Iowa! Needless to say, he didn't go back inside that store. And he's been winning his battle for a long time.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Escape Artists."

Isn't it great to know that God is in the temptation rescue business? I can't hear Brian's story without thinking of that classic request in the Lord's Prayer, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13). God knows our sinful tendencies very well. He knows the areas where you're most prone to mess up again, and He will go to great lengths to deliver you from that evil.

But He expects you to take strong evasive action against your temptations. Our word for today from the word of God comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13 - "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear."Because God knows your limits, He says, "stop!" when it's a sinful opportunity you can't handle. There simply is no such thing as an irresistible temptation. If you can't walk away from it, God won't let it in your life.

Here's how God very practically intervenes so you don't ever have to be that way again. "But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." There's the key to beating the temptation that has beaten you so many times - God's temptation exit, "The way out." The King James Version calls it "the way of escape." You know why I think God intervened so dramatically for my friend Brian when he was teetering on the edge of backsliding? Because Brian had been setting up his life to avoid that temptation in every possible way, and God honors that.

He'll do that for you, too. Your job is to analyze those situations and relationships in which you are most vulnerable to your entangling sins. To think about what evasive action you will take when the opportunity to do it again comes up. There are people that you can't afford to be with, conversations you can't afford to be in, shows that you can't afford to watch, music you can't afford to listen to, places you can't afford to go, and situations you just can't afford to get into - not if you really want to change. Not if you want to be free, and I think you really do.

For every sinful choice, there are other choices you can make, usually pre-make, that will take you out the exit that God has provided. If you will do your part to seriously battle that sin, believe me, God will do His part to "deliver you from evil." Just ask that guy with his car in the middle of the road!



The Danger of a Drifting Light

I knew about lighthouses. I never knew about lightships though, until I visited Nantucket, that charming old island that's about 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod. In the harbor there, you can tour the now retired Lightship Nantucket. But before the development of modern navigational technology, the work of that ship actually saved many lives. There are deadly shoals that extend south of Nantucket, and the main shipping lanes to New York City run right along the outer edge in what's called the Ambrose Channel. Now, for many decades, the Lightship Nantucket was stationed at the eastern approach to the channel - at what was called the "Times Square of the Atlantic." Well, she dared not leave her position there - because all ship navigation was fixed on that lightship. If the lightship moved, every ship would follow her - possibly to disaster.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Danger of a Drifting Light."

Now, to put you and me in this picture, and believe me we're in it, we have to go to our word for today from the Word of God. In Matthew 5:16-18, Jesus tells us: "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Now, you don't have to be a great theologian to get this message. If you belong to Jesus, you are a light for the people around you. Maybe it's really dark where you're the light. Well, that's okay. The darker the darkness gets, the more the light shows up. And it only takes a little light to make a big difference in a dark room. Now, here's the problem: if the light starts drifting, all the people who are watching your light will drift with you - possibly to disaster.

See, whether or not you realize it, there are people watching your light. Oh, maybe it's your child, your coworkers, a Christian brother or sister. It might be some family members, folks you minister with. And for any person in your world who does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you are the lighthouse or the lightship that may be their only hope of finding their way to heaven. If the light fails, if the light drifts, they will sail right into an eternity you don't even want to think about.

For the sake of the people who are watching your light, you can't afford to drift into negativity, or criticism, or cynicism, or some rebellious attitude. They'll follow you there. If you drift into selfishness, or carelessness about what you look at or listen to. If you drift into gossip, discouragement, compromise, it won't be just you going there. You're affecting other people's course every day. Don't lead them toward the rocks. You've got to hold your position. You're the light!

Maybe you've been covering up your light where you are. You never tell anyone there what you know about Jesus Christ. Or maybe you've turned off your light by doing things that actually discredit your Jesus to those who are basing their opinion of Him on you. Paul said to one group, "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles (that's the unbelievers) because of you." (Romans 2:24) Don't let that be you. Don't be a reason that someone doesn't come to Jesus because of the contradictions in your life.

A drifting light can cost lives. If you go off on a little detour or take a timeout, you'll drag others along with you. You are the light! Stay anchored in Jesus, and never stop pointing people to Him!


So Dirty, So Clean!

It might be the dirtiest car I've ever driven. Someone asked me if I wanted to take a picture of our filthy chariot, and I said, "No, I don't want to remember him this way." We had spent weeks on drought-dry back roads. It was never a secret we were coming. You could see the dust long before you could see our car. It was, in the Bible's words, our own "pillar of cloud." Anywhere you rubbed against this car you picked up dirt from it. I wish more people had rubbed against it! Our car had been driven by several drivers during our summer outreach to reservations, and somewhere along the way, the rubber gasket around our trunk lid had been ripped out. One day I opened my trunk to get something, and I was greeted with a lovely blanket of chalky, white dust over everything. By the time we got to a city with a car wash, the automatic windows wouldn't even open. We wondered if their mechanism could be choked with dust. We managed to find a car wash that used these words to advertise their services - high-powered, and they weren't lying. No, the water from their hoses could be used in building demolition I think or riot control! Their soapy spray seemed to penetrate every filthy crevice of my "dirtmobile." When we drove out, there was no trace anywhere of the dirt that had covered everything only moments before. Oh, P.S. - the windows were working, too!

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "So Dirty, So Clean!"

Our car was dirty on the outside where it was obvious to everyone, and it was dirty on the inside where no one could see - but where it kept things from not working anyway. In many ways, my car was like me with dirt inside and outside that can only be removed by some high-powered cleaning.

The people close to us know the dirt on the outside all too well; the angry outbursts that leave so many scars, the mean streak, the selfishness about getting our own way, the dirty talk, the way we treat people sometimes, the backstabbing, the gossip, the lies, and the deceptions. They don't like it. I don't like it. God sure doesn't like it.

Then there's the dirt on the inside that few, if any, can see. The bitterness we harbor in our heart, the desire for revenge, the dirty fantasies, the self-destructive thoughts, the dark desires and feelings that we hope no one ever knows about. While other people may not be able to see the dirt inside, it's still affecting our lives negatively. Things just don't work right when we've got so much dirt inside.

King David talked about his "groaning all day long," his strength being "sapped," and the weight of God's heavy hand on him until he says, "I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord - and You forgave the guilt of my sin" (Psalm 32:3-5). Life just doesn't work right as long as we're carrying the dirt of our sin. Inside, we carry feelings of guilt and shame and regret, and sometimes anxiety about God. Because our sin means we are nowhere near ready to meet our Creator.

It takes some high-powered cleaning to remove human sin. And, thank God, He has provided it at no cost to you; at a very high price to Him. In 1 John 1:7, our word for today from the Word of God, it says, "The blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin." That's what we need so desperately. What no religion on earth can do; total cleaning from the guilt and the penalty of our sin, outside and inside.

And it took Jesus shedding His blood for that to happen. That was the only thing that could pay off the death penalty you and I deserve for hijacking our life from the One who gave it to us. And today, Jesus is coming to you where you are to offer His high-powered cleaning to you. Wouldn't it be awesome to go to sleep tonight clean; knowing that you've been forgiven by God for every wrong thing you've ever thought, said or done?

It's within you reach if you'll reach out and claim Jesus as your own Savior from every sin of your life. He's waiting for you to say, "Jesus, I'm Yours." Our web site's designed to actually help you get started with Him. A great next step would be to check that out. It's

Look, you know what it feels like to be dirty. Now, it's time to know what it is to be clean.




Churches, Christians and Other Hang-ups  by ron hutchcraft

With today's technology, we can tape a TV program and fast-forward past the commercials to get to the program. With the sorry state of a lot of shows today, it might be smarter to fast forward past the program and just watch the commercials. A lot of them are more entertaining than the show they're part of! There's one I've seen recently that's a little strange, but I sure do remember it. It's advertising a particular pain reliever. They start their fairly annoying advertisement for the product and then suddenly interrupt it for this one aggravated person looking at the camera. They've got this great line, addressed to the company whose product is being advertised: "I hate your commercials...but I love your product!"

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Churches, Christians and Other Hang-ups."

I have to be brutally honest with you about this Christian thing. A lot of people really don't like our commercials. The advertisements for Jesus are the people who claim to follow Him - like me; the churches and organizations that claim to operate in His name. And it may be that your experiences with Christians and Christianity have caused you to say, "I hate your commercials." There are many bright and attractive representatives of Jesus, but there are also a lot who don't represent Him very well.

My appeal to you is this: Don't miss the product just because you don't like the "commercials." The issue is, in the Bible's words, "Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). Jesus and the cross where He died for you.

There's a great story in the Bible about Jesus that makes the point pretty well. Let me just let the story speak for itself. It's in Mark 2, beginning with verse 1, and it's our word for today from the Word of God. "When Jesus entered Capernaum, the people heard that He had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, even outside the door, and He preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven'...He said to the paralytic...'Get up, take your mat and go home.' He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all."

Here was a man whose only hope was Jesus, but there were all these people and obstacles between him and Jesus. They could have turned away, and this man would have never experienced the healing and the forgiving touch of Jesus. But they didn't let the hindrances stop them. He got to Jesus, no matter what it took, and he was healed.

That can be you, if you'll look past the disappointing commercials - beyond Christians - and just look at Christ. He said, "Follow Me," so it's all about Jesus. He didn't say follow My followers or follow My religion. He said, "Follow Me." Don't let bad commercials make you miss the product - the only man who loved you enough to die for every sin you've ever committed. The only man who was willing and able to go through our hell so we could have heaven. The only man in history powerful enough to beat death by walking out of His grave under His own power. There's nothing not to love about this man. And this man is who you have to decide about. The hypocrites, the poor examples, the mistakes Christians make; none of those have a thing to do with where you'll spend eternity. It's all about and forever.

And today this Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart, giving you an opportunity to find what you've been looking for your whole life. His "product" is eternal life. And only He can provide it, because He's the only One who could pay for it with His life. You could make this your Jesus-day by reaching out to Him in your heart and saying, "Jesus, I've missed you all these years, but I want You. I need You. You're my only hope of knowing God, of having my sins forgiven, of going to heaven when I die. Jesus, I'm Yours."



Everybody's Got a Story -
We met Gal on an Indian reservation. She wasn't very easy to get to know. Gal was a cute black and white dog owned by a missionary couple that our On Eagles' Wings Team was working with on a remote reservation. Most dogs run up to you when you come to the door, even if you're a stranger, and they're usually all over you. Not Gal. She ran the other way and cowered in the corner, no matter how gentle, how friendly you were to her. She just didn't want to come out of her corner for anybody. "Strange dog," I thought. Until her owners explained that Gal had been terribly abused by her first owners. When she saw people, she saw pain.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Everybody's Got a Story."

You couldn't understand the way that dog acted until you knew her story. People are like that, too. You watch how they act, how they treat people, you see that attitude they have, and you say, "Forget you, buddy" or you respond with the same garbage they just dished out to you. But the "make a difference" people in this world, the healers, are the ones who never forget this critical issue in dealing with people: you can't understand the way they act until you know their story. And everybody's got a story.

I remember discovering how wrong I had been about some people in our class in college after many of them poured out their hearts at our senior retreat. Late into the night, people you thought you knew revealed the pain in their background. And suddenly the lights went on and you said, "So that's what I've been seeing all these years!" And you felt badly that you had been responding to them based on their deeds, and never considering the needs behind those deeds.

That's the kind of radical love God is calling you and me to in our word for today from the Word of God in Ephesians 4, beginning with verse 29. He says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs." In other words, don't say things that will tear a person down, only things that will build that person up. Why? Because you're focusing on their needs, not just their deeds. You may hate their deeds, but God's asking you to develop His compassion to respond to the needs that drive their deeds. Whether that person is your child, your spouse, your parent, your friend, your coworker, someone at church.

If you knew their story, you'd understand that they've been made to feel worthless much of their life. So they make choices based on the fact that they're trash. Or maybe they treat other people that same way. Maybe their story includes some awful hurt that has turned them hard so they won't get hurt anymore. Maybe there's some morally dark chapters in their past that can make them critical and legalistic today because they hate what they used to be. They may wound because they've been wounded. Somewhere behind the way they act is a story of a perfectionist parent, trust lost because of abuse, the absence of a father's love, abandonment, failure, tragedy.

So, the Bible says, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger." That's our response to their deeds. "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other..." That's how we'll respond if we operate, trying to understand there are needs beneath those deeds; there's a history behind those hang-ups. One thing I can tell you from a lot of years of learning what's really inside people - when a person is hardest to love, they need your love the most! And that's when you ask Jesus to release His love through you because your love just isn't enough. React to their bad attitude or their bad treatment, and you can be just another person who just wounds an already wounded person more. Respond with the mercy and the grace and the compassion you got from Jesus and you can be part of healing that wounded person. Because everybody's got a story, and you can help write a new chapter.



When Only Blood Could Do it

He's a noted surgeon who wants to make a difference in the world. So once a year, he dedicates a month to going to Central America to do volunteer medical work. Not long ago, he was in an emergency medical clinic performing urgent surgery on a young boy. It was in a very remote location. The boy started losing blood faster than expected, and he clearly needed blood. The problem was that he had a rare blood type that only two percent of the population carries. And this village clinic certainly didn't have anything that rare. In that critical moment, the doctor suddenly put down his scalpel and went to another room - where he gave blood. He, too, had that rare blood. The boy got the blood he needed, the surgeon returned to finish the operation, and the boy came through just fine.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When Only Blood Could Do it."

A boy's life hanging in the balance; his only hope - blood given by the only one who had what it took to save him. Boy, I understand that. Mine was once a life hanging in the balance, and my only hope was the gift of someone's blood - the only One who had the blood that could meet my need.

Some have called Him the Great Physician. Many call Him Savior. We all call Him Jesus. And my only hope of escaping the spiritual death penalty for the sins of my life was blood - His blood; the blood of the only Man who had no sin of His own to pay for - God's one and only Son. No matter what religion you are, no matter how religious or spiritual you are, His blood is your only hope, too.

All of our theories, all of our systems for getting to God and getting to heaven are, at best, guesswork. Only God can tell us what it takes to get to Him; to be forgiven of that sin that makes it impossible for Him to have a relationship with us. And God does tell us in Hebrews 9:22, "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." Sin carries the eternal death penalty of being separated from our God now and forever. And a death penalty cannot be paid by doing nice things. Someone has to die; and Someone did. Hebrews 9:26, our word for today from the Word of God, says of Christ: "Now He has appeared once for do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself." Incredibly, Jesus said to God the Father, "Let Me die so Ron doesn't have to." You could put your name there. "Father, let Me die so (your name) doesn't have to."

If you get to the end of your life and you find out that you have missed heaven, that your eternal destination turned out to be hell, don't blame God. He gave His only Son to die so you would not have to go there. If a rescuer extends his hand and you don't grab his hand, don't blame the rescuer. In this case, the Rescuer is God's Son, reaching for you. He didn't just donate blood so you could be saved. He poured out His life-blood, dying for you. It's the blood of Jesus that could cover every sin of your life. It is because of that blood shed for you that God is willing to say to you today, "You are forgiven. You are clean. You are Mine forever." You can see why what you do with Jesus is the decisive choice of your life. God will never forget what you do with His Son, because He gave His Son for you.

This is a spiritual rescue we're talking about. And your only hope is to grab the hand of Jesus, God's rescuer, with all the faith you've got. That step will trigger a cleansing miracle of God. In the Bible's words, "The blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). Every sin you've ever committed, erased from God's book forever today, if you will tell Jesus that you are His from this day on - that His blood, shed for you, is your only hope.

At our website, I've got a brief explanation of just how to begin this life-giving relationship with Jesus. If God is stirring in your heart at all, would you check out the website

There's an old hymn that says it pretty powerfully: "Just as I am, without one plea, but that Your blood was shed for me. And that You bid me come to Thee. O Lamb of God, I come."


Spiritual Snowmen

My theory is that inside every man there's a little boy. And when the boy dies, the man might as well. Then the kid comes out at Christmas, at certain amusement parks, and also when it snows. Inside most of us is this kid who looks out the window at new-fallen snow and hopes like crazy this will be one of those most glorious of winter days - a snow day! If it is, and if you've got kids or grandkids, it can mean an opportunity for one of life's great creative moments - building a snowman! Or snow person, as the case may be. Now, when you're done, there stands your personal or team masterpiece - fat, friendly, probably with a hat, a button nose, two eyes (made out of coal?). The problem is that they don't stay those handsome creatures you formed so laboriously. As the temperature rises, Snow Guy or Snow Girl slowly becomes Soft Guy or Girl, slowly losing its shape and identity until it's more like Mush Guy or Mush Girl.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Spiritual Snowmen."

Sadly, what happens to snowmen seems to be happening to more and more of God's people. They're slowly going soft, melted by the heat of a culture that applies heavy pressure to compromise both Christian convictions and Christian lifestyles. And some of us are becoming so melted you can hardly tell the difference between us and the lost people around us. We watch what they watch, we wear what they wear, we talk like they talk, we do business like they do business, we bail out of marriages like they do - actually more than they do - and slowly melt away morally the Jesus-difference that is meant to draw people to a life-changing - not life-conforming - Savior.

Increasingly, we seem to be practicing our culture rather than practicing our faith; a culture that casually accepts the unacceptable has caused us to grow soft about what we will watch and listen to and what we'll allow our children to let into their hearts and minds. Things we never would have considered allowing into our lives or into our minds maybe only a few years ago.

We've gotten soft on something God says in the Book of Malachi that He hates - divorce (Malachi 2:10). In a relatively few years, a trickle of Christians ending their lifetime marriage commitment has grown to a flood. It looks increasingly as if Jesus makes little or no difference in life's most intimate, most committed relationship. The heat has made us more and more soft on issues like the sanctity of life, whether it's standing without compromise for the life of an unborn child, or the life of a born child who's living in awful need - or the life of the elders who gave us our life. Again, where's the Jesus-difference? We can't turn soft just because the issue all of a sudden has the face of someone we know. God hasn't changed His mind.

Premarital sex - living together before you're married, business ethics - so many compromises. So much melting! Now it's time for our word for today from the Word of God in Ephesians 6:13, "Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then..." There it is. We can't change our minds on the things God never changes His mind on.

When we let the heat of an out-of-control, spiritually uncaring world keep melting us down, making us soft, pretty soon there's nothing left but spiritual mush. If you belong to Jesus, your life is supposed to offer a choice, not an echo for a lost and dying world. We have to stand our ground. Or lose the very things that make a Jesus-follower the light of their world.



The Futility of Running Away

The party had been going just fine until a doctor who was there got very offended by something another guest said. He was in a rage! He stormed out and slammed the door behind him. Someone said, "At last he's gone." The host corrected him. "No, he's not gone. That's a closet."

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Futility of Running Away."

There's something inside us humans that wants to avoid facing the God who made us. Maybe it's because we know that He knows everything about us. Maybe we don't want to face our darkness. We know that facing God means surrendering the wheel of our life. Whatever the reason, we walk away, or run away, or in some cases we even storm away from God, only to find that we've only walked into a closet.

We get very good at avoiding God. You can hide behind all those religious hypocrites you've seen. Or you can hide out in those doubts and questions you keep raising to protect you from really facing your Creator's demands on your life. You can stay very busy, running so hard, sedating yourself so much, that you don't have to think about why you're here and where you're going. You can even hide out in your religion, faithfully, maybe fervently, going through all the spiritual motions. That way you can feel like you're spiritually OK without having to really face God Himself.

Guess who invented running from God? The first man and woman God ever created! It's like avoiding God is in our spiritual DNA! In Genesis 3:8-9, Adam and Eve realized that they have disobeyed the one command given to them by the God who had given them so much. Then, in our word for today from the Word of God, it says, "The man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, 'Where are you?' He answered, 'I heard you in the garden, and I was I hid.'"

From the first fugitive from God down to maybe someone who's listening today, here's the reality of God's love. The God you're trying to avoid is pursuing you wherever you go. Why? Because He loves you too much to lose you. In fact, Jesus said He's like a shepherd who cannot be content with the sheep He already has in the fold while even one is lost. He said He would "go after the lost sheep" until He finds him or her (Luke 15:1-7).

His pursuit of you and me took Him all the way to the cross where He died a brutal death. The Bible says His death was "...a sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10). He died in your place to pay for the sins that you would otherwise have to pay for eternally.

And now He's pursued you to wherever you are today. You can walk away or run away again, I suppose, but He'll keep pursuing you to rescue you until the day you run out of time. Someday will be your last day to get ready for God before you meet God. But for now, His arms are open, inviting you to come home to the One you were made for. When you walk away from Him, you walk away from the only possible hope of a life with meaning and an eternity in heaven. Be glad that He's loved you enough to pursue you all the way to a cross.

My prayer is that this might be the day when you run to God and let the battle finally be over. Your personal love relationship with God begins when you say, "Jesus, I'm Yours." You have nothing to fear from coming to Jesus. He loved you enough to die for you. He will never do you wrong.

If you want to open up your life to the One who gave His life for you, I've got some information on our website that I think will help. I hope you'll go there as soon as you can today. Read about how to know you belong to Jesus. Just go to Or if you'd like me to send you my little booklet about it called Yours For Life, you can just call and ask for that. It's a toll free call: 877-741-1200.

Once you experience His love for yourself, you'll have only one regret. You'll just wish that you'd come sooner.


The Marriage Altar - Whatever it Takes

One of our ministry team had just gotten married, and most of our team was there. We have a lot of fun together, in spite of the fact that I'm really very serious all the time. But, anticipating the bride would do the customary throwing of the bouquet at the reception, I had a special warning for Pam, one of the single young women on our staff. I told her that I had designated two big guys to tie her to her chair when it was time for the bouquet tossing. In case you've missed this little custom, the story is that whoever catches the bride's bouquet will be the next one married. Well, the big guys never materialized and Pam made sure she was front and center for the big moment. The other girls...they never stood a chance. She played defense with her flying elbows; she lunged to make the big catch. It's the first time I've ever known of first-aid being administered at a bouquet toss. All right, I'm exaggerating a little...but just a little. Pam was not to be denied having the next wedding! By the way, who thought up this custom anyway?

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Altar - Whatever it Takes."

"I'm getting married soon, whatever it takes!" Well, the grabbing of the bridal bouquet is sort of a fun pursuit of that goal. For many, there's nothing fun about it. It's the most serious pursuit in their life.

It may be that you, or someone you know, are really living to be married. When you want it badly and it just isn't happening, it's easy to become more and more frustrated, and honestly more and more desperate. Which can, in turn, cause you to make some lifetime mistakes that will cost you the very happiness you want so much; a mistake like settling for the wrong person. One longtime single man I know says it this way: "I'd far rather live wanting what I don't have than having what I don't want." Some who belong to Jesus will settle for marrying someone who doesn't even share that most important of all relationships. That's why the Bible commands, not suggests, commands, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Corinthians 6:14). You violate God's boundary and you get a marriage without God's blessing, and no love is worth that.

Genesis 24:14 suggests a powerful prayer for every single person, "Let her (or him, as the case may be) be the one the Lord has chosen." I have talked to so many people who have made a lifetime marriage mistake because of loneliness and desperation, and they all agree: there is something lonelier than not being married, and that's being married to the wrong person. That's the loneliest lonely of all.

Our word for today from the Word of God is an awesome promise for anyone wondering if they will ever have the love they crave. Philippians 4:19 says, "My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." No one knows you better than the God who made you, including all your deepest needs. It won't be a man or woman who will ultimately meet those needs. It will be the God behind that promise. He's promised to give you what you need - what your Creator knows you need, not necessarily what you think you need. And He always meets our needs in His perfect time. Those who try to rush it, ruin it.

Maybe you've almost put your life on hold until you find that man or woman to marry. Don't waste a precious day of your life waiting for what you don't have. Live this day - single or married - with all your heart! And don't let your waiting start to turn you hard and cynical and bitter or negative. Those kinds of responses insult the God who said He will meet your needs, and by the way, they repel love rather than attract it.

Don't miss what God is doing in your life because all you can focus on is what you wish He was doing. Celebrate this day, knowing "this is the day the Lord has made" (Psalm 118:24) and that "the Lord is your shepherd and you shall not want" (Psalm 23:1).


  When You're Tired of Love With Strings -

Fashion models...they're considered the "beautiful people." Right? But all too often, they're also the unhappy people. That's what our friend Lindsey explained to us after she had left an enviable position as a model with one of the most prestigious agencies in the world. For example, Lindsey told about the eating disorders that plague young women for whom a small weight gain can actually cost them a well-paying job. Lindsey explained how she and others were carefully and critically weighed before every shoot. The gain of a pound or two meant that they didn't qualify anymore. You paid a price to be admired.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When You're Tired of Love With Strings."

The professional football players I've known over the years would never be mistaken for a fashion model. But they know the feeling of being accepted and appreciated based on how well they perform. You're as good as your last game, man! A salesman's as good as this week's sales; a student as good as their latest grades. For some, you'll be loved as long as you're loveable, or beautiful, or successful.

In many ways, we live in a world where we're loved on the basis of "I love you if..." Maybe you know the feeling of having to perform to feel loved or accepted. You have to meet the expectations; you have to do what they like. And maybe you know what it's like to be set aside, betrayed, discarded, and overlooked all because there were strings on their love.

Deep down in the human heart there is this voice that says, "Is there anyone who will love me, no matter what?" Love with strings, love that's conditional, is love you can lose...because things change, and people change. If you're tired of performance love, if you are ready for one love that you will not lose, have I got a story for you! It's a story Jesus told about a young man who literally did everything that would break his father's heart; that would make most any man stop loving him. It's in Luke 15, where we find our word for today from the Word of God - the famous story of the Prodigal Son.

This young man asks his father for his share of his estate; he can't wait until his father's dead. He then "...set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. He spent everything." He ends up working on a pig farm, an unthinkably defiling job for a Jew. But when, at the end of his rope he returns to his father, having blown everything his father ever gave him, the Bible says, "His father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."

According to the Bible, I am that prodigal son, and so are you. We've taken the life and the gifts that our Heavenly Father has given us and we have used them for ourselves, ignoring the purpose He created us for. The Bible calls it sin, with the middle letter saying it all - s-I-n!

There's no human reason that a totally holy God would want us in His family. But in spite of all we've done that has broken God's laws and God's heart, He loves us. He loves you. In God's own words, "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). We couldn't make it home to a sinless God with a lifetime of sin. The only way your sin and mine could be forgiven was for someone to pay the penalty for it, and someone did. God's Son did. Only He could. Picture in your mind that awful scene of Jesus on that cross, suspended by three nails, bleeding and dying in anguish. Then say these two words, "For me. He's dying there for every lie I've ever told, every hurt I've ever inflicted, every dirty or selfish thing I've ever done." That is love with no conditions and no strings. We gave Him every reason not to love us. But He's running your direction this very day, waiting to throw His arms around you and welcome you into His family.

But you've got to decide to come home to God through His Son. This could be your day to say, 'Jesus, this is not my life anymore. I'm Yours." You will then experience the one love that you will never lose.

I want to help you experience that love for yourself. That's why I want to invite you to our website. It's Would you check it out today? He's waiting for you right now.


Shrinking Your God -

One of the great names for Jesus in the Bible is the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah." When noted author C. S. Lewis created a character to be his Christ-figure in his "Chronicles of Narnia" fantasies, he introduced us to Aslan, the lion-king of Narnia. In Lewis' enchanting books, Narnia is a land where the animals speak, where the forces of evil are strong, and where Aslan, though only seen on rare occasions, is the dominant figure. Lucy is one of the children who's transported to Narnia. In one of the later books in the Chronicles, Lucy is finally reunited with the lion-king, Aslan. I'll let C. S. Lewis take it from here: "'Welcome child,' he said. Lucy said, 'Aslan, you're bigger.' And he answered, 'That is because you are older, little one.' 'Oh, not because you are?' Lucy said. 'Oh, I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.'"

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Shrinking Your God."

That is your King's plans for you - that every year you grow, you'll find Him bigger. That's the kind of God you have if you belong to Jesus Christ. You can never reach His limits. He has none. He is all those "omni's" the Bible scholars talk about: omniscient - there's nothing He doesn't know; omnipresent - there's no place where He isn't there; omnipotent - there's nothing He cannot do. The problem is this strange tendency we have in the more challenging times in our life: that the bigger the issue is, the smaller our God seems to be to us. The problem looks unsolvable, the need looks un-meetable, the mountain is unmovable, and we end up handling the hard times as if our God is too small to handle this one.

For all of us God-shrinkers, there's our word for today from the Word of God in Jeremiah 32 , beginning with verse 17. It's a wonderful prayer, a powerful prayer from the prophet Jeremiah, and perhaps, the very prayer you need to be praying right now in the face of something overwhelming. "Ah, Sovereign Lord, You made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. O great and powerful God, whose name is the Lord Almighty, great are Your purposes and mighty are Your deeds." Now listen to God's response: "Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 'I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for the Lord?'"

Think about it: when your problem suddenly gets bigger than it's ever been, does it get harder for God? When the financial need is greater than you've ever seen, does it suddenly get harder for God to supply it? When your medical condition gets worse, does it get beyond what God can handle? If the person you've been praying for so long seems to be getting farther from God than they've ever been, did God's rescue challenge suddenly get a lot bigger? When the issues with your child or your spouse or your parent take a turn for the worse, is it suddenly harder for God to pull this out? For every question like that, watch my lips for the answer: No! "Nothing is too hard for the Lord" including your thing. It gets bigger and harder for us, but there's no such word as "hard" in the vocabulary of God.

When the ancient Jews saw the size of the people and the defenses in the Promised Land, they obsessed on how big their problem was. They totally forgot how much bigger their God was. And they ended up in the wilderness for a long time, and so do we. You may be stressing and sinking and even sinning right now because you're underestimating your God; you're under-trusting Him.

Faith is the key that unlocks all the great things God has for you. And He isn't about to let your faith stay the same size. He's in the faith-enlargement business. He's let something come into your life that defies human solution, that overwhelms human answers, so you can experience how big your King really is. When the bad news gets "badder," your God does not get smaller. He is still the Sovereign Lord, the great and powerful God. So, let yourself be overwhelmed by the God you have, and you'll find that nothing but Him is truly overwhelming!



No Life Without the Source -  
For my wife, it was sort of a symbol of the day she was born - daffodils. Growing up in the South, she was always able to have some fresh-picked daffodils for her birthday. But then we got married and then we found ourselves living pretty much in the North, where daffodils don't grow that early in the year. So every year, as my honey's birthday approached, I had fun trying to find some florist that somehow had some daffodils for sale, and I did. And once again, my gal had daffodils for her birthday. But even though they were very beautiful, the sad secret is they didn't last long...just like most of the flowers in the florist shop. They started to die as soon as they got cut from their stem
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "No Life Without the Source."

Someone has said that you and I are living in a "cut-flower civilization." We look like we're alive, but we're really cut off from the source of our life. That would be the God who designed us, who wired us - who planned us. He is, as the Bible says, "The author of life" (Acts 3:15 ). As spiritual "cut flowers," it's not that we don't try to generate life on our own. But no matter who or what we try, that strange loneliness and emptiness keep creeping back into our soul. What we don't realize is that our loneliness is cosmic loneliness. Our emptiness is cosmic emptiness. We are missing the God who made us.

The Bible describes our true spiritual condition in eight sobering words. They're found in our word for today from the Word of God in Isaiah 59:2 , "Your iniquities (that means sins or wrongdoings) have separated you from your God." Separated from God - in this life that means never finding the purpose of your life; never finding the love that could satisfy your heart. At the end of this life, "separated from God" means an unspeakable eternity. In the single word the Bible uses, it means hell. God didn't put up the wall that keeps us from Him - we did. Those "iniquities" are made up of every time you and I have done things the way we wanted to do it instead of God's way. Over a lifetime, it's impossible to add all those up. But each sin, each "me first" choice, has put another brick in the wall.

So, separated from the One our life came from, we're slowly dying inside. And every day is one day closer to the ultimate separation of an eternity away from God, or of paying sin's horrific death penalty ourselves. But in spite of the way you and I have marginalized and ignored our Creator, He wasn't willing to let us be cut off from Him forever. To reconnect us to Him required the greatest act of love in the history of the human race. In the Bible's words, "This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him" (1 John 4:9 ). So Jesus came, and Jesus died, to remove the sin-wall that keeps us cut off from God. In fact, when He was dying on that cross, He was cut off from God so you would never have to be.

That's why your decision about what you do with Jesus is the ultimate life-or-death decision, because as the Bible makes very clear, "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:11-12 ). Either you have the Son of God in your heart and you have life forever, or you don't have the Son of God in your heart and you will miss eternal life.

You "have the Son of God" when you open your heart to Him, trusting Him as your only hope of having your sins forgiven, of having that wall between you and God come down, of going to heaven when you die. It's all about Jesus and whether you say yes or no to Him. And you can say that "yes" to Him today where you are. You need to tell Him you want to be His as soon as you can this very day. Just say to Him, "Jesus, I've run my life. That's wrong. I'm sorry for that. You died for my sin. I am Yours beginning today."

That life you were made for, the God you were made for, they're within your reach right now. I want to encourage to go to our website and check out what I've put there as a brief explanation of just how you can be sure you've begun this relationship with Him. Go to

Please, do not risk another day without Him.


How Good People Miss Heaven -

It wasn't part of the day that I had planned, but it was an invitation I couldn't refuse. A friend asked me on the spur of the moment if I'd go to lunch with him. He was paying. Not a hard decision. What I didn't know was that my friend was taking me to a private club where he was a member. We're talking like upscale dining here. I was wearing a dress shirt and slacks which made me among the best-dressed at McDonald's. But apparently it left me sadly underdressed for this private club. The host gently informed me that a suit coat or sport jacket was required for entrance. As I was about to give my friend my takeout order, the host reached into a closet and produced a sport coat. He said, "Just wear this." I did. It was a great place and a great lunch. And did I mention he paid? Oh yeah.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How Good People Miss Heaven."

I didn't have what it took to get into that place. Thankfully, the man in charge provided what I needed to get in.

Surveys tell us that a large majority of Americans expect to go to heaven when they die. The Bible, which is really God's roadmap to heaven, indicates that a lot us may be facing the most tragic surprise imaginable after we take our last breath. A lot of people who think they have what it takes to get into heaven are going to be turned away. Unless they take what God has provided for sin-stained people like you and me to get into His sin-free heaven.

In Matthew 22 , our word for today from the Word of God, Jesus told a story to help us see how good people will miss heaven. He told about a king who invited many guests to the wedding banquet for his son. In those days, when you got to the entrance to the wedding facility, they would give you a special wedding garment if you were an invited guest. It instantly identified who belonged there.

In that story, Jesus said, "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot and throw him outside into the darkness."

The man who had not received the king's provision for entering his celebration was not allowed to be there. That's the tragedy that Jesus came to avoid, because He loves you. He wants you in heaven with Him forever, and because we can't possibly get in on our own merits. And honestly, that's a shocker to most of us nice religious folks. We're thinking that surely we'll get into heaven somehow based on our church or on the good we do. But Romans 3:20 makes it crystal clear that "no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law." No one's good enough to meet the holy standard of a perfect God. No one's going to heaven because they're good.

But Romans 3 continues by telling that the owner of heaven has provided a goodness that will get us into heaven through Jesus Christ. It took the awful death of God's Son on a cross to pay the eternal death penalty that you and I deserve. Only the man who paid for our sin can forgive our sin and remove our sin. As the Bible says, "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." In other words, you tell Jesus, "Lord, I can't possibly get into heaven based on my church, my religion, my goodness. If I could, You wouldn't have died for me. So I'm pinning all my hopes for heaven on You, Jesus. I'm Yours."

That's when God wraps you in the robe you have to have to be in heaven; the robe of Jesus' goodness. It's got to be all Jesus and nothing of you or it will never be enough for God. It's possible you've been around Jesus a lot, but maybe you've never given yourself to Him, which puts you in the spiritual danger zone. I'm praying that today will be the day that you do the only thing you can do to belong to God and get into His heaven, and that's put all your trust in what Jesus has done on the cross.

At our website, I've got a brief explanation there of just how to begin this personal, life-saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Just go to Or I'll send you a printed copy of my booklet Yours For Life if you'll just call this toll-free number - 877-741-1200.

When your heart has beaten for the last time, there's only one thing that God will be looking for at the gates of eternity: Jesus, His Son, with His arm around you saying, "This one's with Me."


Lost in Our Language -  

I was teaching at a national seminar on how to communicate an unchanging Christ in our rapidly changing culture. Well, at the end of a session, a pastor from Kentucky came up to tell me a story that he thought really illustrated some of what I had been saying. He said, "When I was a young man, we used to have some big tent revivals in my community. Each night an invitation was given for folks to come forward if they wanted to be, well as this country preacher said, 'borned again.'" The pastor went on to describe how some of the deacons would actually go out into the audience and go row-to-row to, shall we say, to "encourage" folks to make that choice. Near the back, one of the deacons came to a young man who gave him an honest and memorable response. The deacon said, "Son, do you want to be borned again?" To which the boy said, "No." The deacon pressed the point, "Why don't you want to be borned again?" The young man answered in all seriousness, "Cause I'm afraid this time I'd come out as a girl!"

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Lost in Our Language."

Okay, first we can laugh at what that boy said. Then, when we're done laughing, let's think about what we can learn from a response like that. The preacher used words that the preacher understood, but apparently not everyone who was listening understood. It's a classic example of the problem with a language called "Christianese." It's the language church folks speak without even thinking, and a language that folks who desperately need our message don't begin to understand.

Many of our "Christianese" words are good Bible words, but words that many lost people around us just don't know. For just a moment, would you try to "think lost." Think what a person without the context of a Christian environment hears when we say words such as "accept" or "receive Christ as your personal Savior." We receive packages today, not people, and when we accept someone, we treat them right. When you try to hear what a lost person hears, words like "salvation" and "saved" and "become a Christian" are either not understood or misunderstood. Oh yeah, and "born again."

In a world without absolutes, the word "sin" has become a word without meaning to many people, as has the word "believe." Most people would probably say "yes" if you asked if they believe in Jesus. And you'll know that they don't mean what the Bible means when it says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." Even the word "Savior" is not one people use much today. These are great words, but the people who need Jesus the most have no idea what they mean. That's what makes our word for today from the Word of God such a mission critical prayer for any of us who know people that we want to take to heaven with us. In Colossians 4:3-4 , Paul says, "Pray for us that God may open a door for our message...Pray that I may proclaim it clearly as I should."

It's not enough to just transmit the Good News about Jesus. Like good missionaries, we need to ask God to help us translate it into non-religious words that lost people can understand. If a man came running into the room you're in, shouting in Swahili, "The room is on fire! Evacuate immediately!" you'd probably think he was sincere; that he had something important to say. But you'd have no idea what he was saying, because it wasn't in words you could understand. It's not in your language, and you might die as a result. No matter how important the message. No matter how sincere the messenger.

The spiritually dying people around us hear us Christians announcing our all-important message, often in words they don't understand. We have life-or-death information that their eternity depends on. We can't afford for them to get lost in our language, or they may be lost forever.



"When You've Been Hurt By Friendly Fire"  

Stonewall Jackson was one of the South's greatest generals in the Civil War, and he died on the battlefield - shot by mistake by his own men. He's possibly the most famous victim of one of war's greatest tragedies. You know, "friendly fire," they call it. It's bad enough that a fellow soldier is killed by enemy fire, but the heartbreak is compounded when someone is shot by their own.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When You've Been Hurt By Friendly Fire."

It happens in God's army; people who are deeply wounded, shot by their own. Hurt, betrayed, disappointed by church folks, by people who claim to be Christians. You may be one of those. You know the disillusionment that can cause, the cynicism about anything Christian, the desire to distance yourself from Christian things like you'd keep away from a dog that had bitten you. If you've been spiritually wounded by friendly fire, you're on my heart today. More importantly, you're on God's heart; whether He's on your heart or not.

When you're physically wounded, you find medical help so you can recover. How do you recover from the spiritual and emotional wounds of friendly fire? Let me suggest four steps to spiritual recovery. I don't think you want to keep living with the negativity, and self-pity, and resentment, and withdrawal of those who've been wounded; that stuff just eats you up inside. I think you might be ready for some steps to recovery.

They focus on seven little words in Hebrews 12:1-2 , our word for today from the Word of God. These verses are about how to finish as a winner in the spiritual race we run here during our time on earth. It calls us to " with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." I wish you could say these four words out loud a few times, "It's all about Jesus." Get your eyes off Christians and churches, and remember who got you started spiritually and who will be at the finish line. It's Jesus.

Recovery step number one is realize it wasn't Jesus who hurt you. Maybe you've been withdrawing from Christians. Whatever you do, don't withdraw from Jesus. You've never needed Him more. Recovery step number 2: Defy Satan's strategy to isolate you so he can have you. The Bible says, "The devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him..." (1 Peter 5:8-9 ). In Africa, lions try to catch a gazelle that's away from the herd. If they're alone, well, the lion can have them. If they're with the others, they're usually safe. God never designed for us to try to live for Christ alone. If you're holding back from getting close to some of your brothers and sisters in Christ, you're setting yourself up to be a lion lunch.

So, the third recovery step is this: Realize that God's people are where home is. That's why the Bible warns us not to "give up meeting together" (Hebrews 10:25 ). There are many believers who don't shoot their own, who are imperfect but genuinely loving people. You've got to risk finding a church like that; you need them and they need you. One other recovery step: Let go of the resentment instead of letting it grow. Ask the God who has forgiven you so much to give you His grace to forgive those who've hurt you. The feelings you harbor aren't hurting them at all, but they're killing you!

Above all, don't let Christians make you miss Jesus! Jesus never said, "Follow My followers" or "Follow My leaders." He said, "Follow Me." It's all about Jesus - the One who died for your sins so you wouldn't have to. It's ultimately Christ you accept or reject, not Christians. It's the cross you have to decide about, not the church. And it's Jesus you'll meet when you've taken your last breath. All that's going to matter then - all that really matters now - is what have you done with Jesus? If you've never given yourself fully to Him as your only hope, don't let anything or anyone keep you from Him one more day! Tell Him today, "Jesus, I am Yours."


Punching Holes in the Darkness-

Treasure Island, A Child's Garden of Verses - those are just some of the literary classics written by Robert Louis Stevenson. He must have had a way with words from the time he was a boy. Anne Graham Lotz tells of a night in his boyhood when his nanny just couldn't get him to bed. Young Robert just kept staring out the window, oblivious to her talking to him. Finally, she said, "Robert, what in the world are you looking at out there?" As she pulled back the curtain, she realized he was watching the lamplighter making his way down the street, lighting one street lamp after another. Young Robert Louis Stevenson saw something more. He said, "Look at that man! He's punching holes in the darkness!"

I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Punching Holes in the Darkness."

What an awesome description of the reason God has placed you where you are! You're not there to shake your head and bemoan how dark it is where you work or go to school or whatever your environment. You're there to punch holes in the darkness! So, how are you doing so far?

Just listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16 , our word for today from the Word of God. If you belong to Jesus, He's including you in this. "You are the light of the world." Think of your personal world and the people in your world. Jesus says you are their light. "A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp or put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its' stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Yes, we may live in a pretty dark world. But it is not a world without light unless the Christian in a situation fails to punch holes in the darkness by living like Jesus would live there, treating people like Jesus would treat people, and handling situations and temptations as Jesus would handle them. So many of Jesus' followers don't realize who they are - His personal representative in their personal world.

You punch another hole in the darkness every time you show up with joy instead of gloom on your face, with good things to say instead of griping, every time you stop for someone who's struggling, when you consciously put someone else ahead of you, when you insist on taking the high road when it's tempting to cut corners, every time you weep with someone who's weeping, rejoice with someone who's rejoicing, and reach out to someone who's being acting pretty unloveable.

The lost folks around you probably won't be all that impressed with your don'ts or all the religious meetings you go to. They need to see meaningful differences in you because Christ is in you.

But it isn't enough that they just see that you're different. They need to know why, or they'll never be able to get out of the darkness themselves. They need Jesus. And He put you in their life so they could find out what Jesus did for them on the cross; so they could find out from someone who's living proof that Jesus is alive and how they, too, can have a life-changing relationship with Him. Have you told them about your Jesus yet? Humanly speaking, you may very well be their best chance at heaven - or maybe their only chance.

Every morning, before your Lord, tell Him and tell yourself, "I am the light of my world." And go out there, showing a harsh and lonely and self-serving world that there's another way to be. Defy the darkness wherever you go. Punch holes in the darkness with the brilliant light of Jesus Christ!


Mighty Rivers, Mini Beginnings  -  Traveling with our On Eagles' Wings team of young Native Americans, we had an opportunity to make an interesting scenic stop at the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River; except the Mississippi isn't very mighty at that point. Now I've crossed the Mississippi many times - you know, over long bridges that span the "Father of Waters" at places like St. Louis and Memphis and it's impressive. But not where it begins. After walking this little trail through the woods, you come to this very unimpressive little stream. Actually, "stream" is probably a compliment. It's sort of an overgrown puddle at that point. I mean, you can easily wade through the shallow water. You can walk through the Mississippi without even getting very wet there. At the headwaters, it takes less than a minute to walk across, or through, the Mississippi. But as it flows down its 2,500-mile course to the south, something amazing happens to this humble little puddle. But who would ever guess that just standing there looking at where it comes from?

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Mighty Rivers, Mini Beginnings."

The Mississippi River is actually a living example of how God loves to work. Something very big comes from something very small. Something very impressive comes from something very unimpressive. It's how He makes mighty rivers...and mighty lives.

Paul expressed these strange ways of God in 1 Corinthians 1, beginning with verse 26. It's our word for today from the Word of God. He says, "Think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the that no one may boast before Him." No kidding. God loves to make something great out of something, or someone, that seems small and unimpressive, because it's obvious to everyone, then, that God has to get all the glory.

The Old Testament spells out this same principle in Ecclesiastes 9:11. It says, "The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong..." See, we have a God who delights in surprising the world with who and what He will use for great things. Maybe you feel pretty inadequate like you don't have much to give. Maybe you feel that you're terminally average or terminally un-cool - an unlikely candidate for God to use mightily. Hey, you're His type! He loves to start big things from little churches, for example. Revelation describes seven churches, some of which are big and rich - none of which God will use. But He says to the church that has, in His words, 'little strength', "I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut."

See, God loves to use small, unseen acts of kindness we do to start great things. He loves to take a little seed that we sow quietly in someone's life and do a miracle through it one day. He looks for people who aren't full of themselves, who know their only real asset is their God, to be in the middle of awesome things that He wants to do. And all these years, He's been feeding into your life like tributaries increasing the strength of the Mississippi. You've been growing in spiritual strength and power, maybe without realizing it. And now He's ready to enlarge your territory, to lead you into something real important for Him, to use you beyond your wildest dreams. Unless you just settle for being a puddle when He wants to make you a mighty river for many lives.

The world may look at you and see an unimpressive little pond or a little puddle. But God has great plans for you if you'll let Him take you where He wants you to go. As you go with His flow, He will take you from your humble beginning to being a mighty river for Him.



Time is Slipping Away - There's a novelty company that's made a lot of money on people having birthdays that they may not be real excited about. You know, like those milestone birthdays: 40, 50, 60. Of course, if you're sad about how many birthdays this is, consider the alternative. That means you've stopped having birthdays, and that's not good. This company actually produces a whole line of birthday products called "Over the Hill." You've seen them maybe. There are black balloons with these words on them, black banners, cards; all kinds of dark little reminders that tap into the very things you don't want this birthday to mean. A friend of mine who is facing the classic Baby Boomer crossroads of turning 60 was talking about it to an older man he knows. And that man said something I've laughed about several times since then. He said, "Hey, how can I be over the hill when I've never even made it to the top yet?"

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Time is Slipping Away."

After I stopped laughing, I realized that's how a lot of folks really feel about their life. Where did it go? How can it be flying by so fast? Especially when there's so much I thought I would have or do by now and I haven't. Job said it this way, "My days are swifter than a runner" (Job 9:25).

I remember telling the quarterback of our high school's freshman football team, "Chris, you're going to blink your eyes and suddenly you'll be a senior playing your last games." He smiled like, "Yeah, whatever." One day in the senior locker room, he reminded me of what I had told him when he was just starting high school. He said, "Where did it all go so fast? Wasn't I a freshman just yesterday?"

Our word for today from the Word of God, James 4:13-14 puts our little journey on this planet into perspective. The Bible says, "Now listen you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this city or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." And at that point, it's all about eternity. A friend of mine was at a class reunion where he was talking with a classmate who had become a very successful physician. As the conversation turned somehow to talking about God, the doctor said very candidly, "Frankly, I'm nervous about eternity."

We should be, if we're not ready for the God we're going to meet on the other side. Actually, the Bible tells us that we couldn't be more "unready" to meet God. Isaiah 59:2 says, "Your sins have separated you from your God." The Bible makes it clear that we're all in deep trouble with God because "all have sinned (it says) and fallen short of God's glory" (Romans 3:23). We've been so busy pursuing the elusive goal of happiness and success that we have forgotten eternity.

And waiting to get ready for it is just foolhardy. As the Bible says, "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth" (Proverbs 27:1). How many funerals have we been to of people who thought they had more time; maybe lots more time, and suddenly it was over?

We're not ready for eternity unless every sin of our life has been erased from God's book. And there's only one person who can do that: the person who died to pay for that sin, and that's Jesus. In the words of the Bible, He made "peace (with God) through His blood, shed on the cross" (Colossians 1:20). The choice is simple. Either we put our trust in Jesus and His death for our sins, or we pay that death penalty ourselves - forever. Jesus came to give us heaven. Once you come to His cross and put your total trust in what He did there for you, death is no longer the end, it's just the beginning! All death can do, then, is take you to heaven if you belong to Jesus Christ.

If you don't belong to Him, if you're not sure you belong to Him, don't risk one more day without Him. The Bible says, "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart" (Hebrews 4:7). I urge you to find a place where you can talk to Him and just tell Him, "Jesus, you died for my sins so I don't have to. You're my only hope, and I am Yours." The Bible says at that moment, you'll be taking from Jesus the gift of eternal life.

Our website is there with a brief explanation that I've put there of how to be sure you belong to Jesus. You can read it or you can listen to it. I just would invite you to visit there while you're thinking about these things. It's

The days, the years really do fly faster than we ever dreamed; each day bringing us closer to our last day. There's such wonderful peace in knowing that you're ready for eternity whenever it comes.


"Something Beautiful From Something Ugly"
II Corinthians 1:3-4

    Not long ago, we went on a guided tour of this large cave near us.   You walk through these winding and really narrow passageways, admiring the
wonders that God has created from stalagmites, stalactites, and underground rivers.   Now  we entered this one large chamber, the guide turned on the
light and directed our eyes to this high vaulted ceiling.  You can probably guess what animals we saw hanging out up there - bats, lots of bats.  The
guide told us that the early explorers of this cave had found large quantities of what she called "bat guano."  If you don't know what that is,
never mind.  It's gross, that's what it is.  But they made lots of money selling that stuff.  I thought, "What good could bat dung possibly
be?"  Surprise - they make gunpowder out of it!  And even more surprisingly, they can turn that gross stuff into makeup, they said - like
mascara and lipstick!  Makes me think twice about kissing my wife.
    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Something Beautiful From Something Ugly."

    It's amazing how people can turn something seemingly useless and ugly into something useful and even beautiful.  It's much more amazing how God does
that with our lives!  In fact, He's wanting to do that for you - to make something beautiful and useful of the ugliest things that have happened in
  your life.  And only He can.                                                                                                                                                                                                             
    One way He does that is described in our word for today from the Word of God in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.  "The Father of compassion and the God of all
comfort . . . comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."  I
don't know what kind of "troubles" you've been through - it could be anything from sickness, to abuse, to addiction, to grief - but whatever the
trouble, I know it's made you need the Lord more than ever before.  And so you experienced His compassion, His comfort, His strength, and His support
in deeply personal ways.

    Now, in a sense, God wants you to be for other hurting people what He has been for you.  That's how He takes the worst things that ever happened to
you and makes them into something beautiful.  Scott was listening to my youth broadcast one night when he was desperately lonely - desperate enough
to be considering suicide.  Instead, he gave his life to Christ that night.   Later, he told me that he decided to have a ministry to people like
himself for the rest of his life - he knew how to help lonely people because he had been lonely.

    Jane was sexually abused by two different family members.  When she brought that awful garbage to Jesus, He began to give her a ministry to
abused girls and she has helped a lot of them. Her history of abuse became her strange credentials for caring for abuse victims.  My friend Don has
had a tremendous ministry to young people that others would call rejects.  He's so tender and compassionate toward them.  You know why?  He
says it because he remembers the hurt he experienced as an illegitimate child in a terribly dysfunctional home.  God has recycled his wounds into a
life-changing compassion.

    God wants to do that for you - if you'll bring Him all that pain, all those wounds, all those memories.  He wants to take all that ugly stuff -
stuff that looks like its useless - and He wants to turn into something very beautiful - a tender, compassionate, helping heart in you.  Because of
what Christ can do with the waste of our lives, the ones who have been hurt the most turn out to be some of the greatest healers in the world.


"Shields Up!"

 you know this is a fave of mine, the Star Trek fan that I am!!!

There are few TV series that have become more a part of the culture than the one that portrays the voyage of the Starship Enterprise - yep, Star
Trek.  The original show has spawned two or three other series and several major movies.  So, many people know about the transporter which beams your
molecules up and down to another location or the weapon the Trekkies call a phaser.  And maybe you remember the command the captain gives whenever the
Enterprise is coming under fire ... it's the directive that activates the invisible protection around their ship - "Shields up!"

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Shields Up!"

    If you are trying to make any kind of difference for Jesus Christ, you know what it is to come under enemy fire.  After all, "your enemy the devil
prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour." (I Peter 5:8)  And that warning is in a passage addressed to spiritual
activists.  It's followed by this command - "Resist him."  Shields up!

    There's a time when we are particularly vulnerable to our enemy's attack - the time when we are most likely to have our shields down.  Strangely
enough, we are often most vulnerable immediately after God has done something powerful for us or through us.  Think about Elijah - when was he
suddenly so depressed he didn't even want to live anymore?  Immediately after he challenged and defeated 450 false prophets in that
fire-from-heaven showdown.

    How about Moses?  He's just met Jehovah on the mountain, and he's received the laws of God from God's own mouth.  And he comes down from the mountain
to his people and they're worshipping the golden calf.  Or think about Jesus.  When does Satan come in and blast Him with relentless temptations -
right after Jesus' greatest spiritual moment, His baptism when Heaven came down on Him.  The disciples came down from seeing Heaven on a mountain with
Jesus, only to be confronted with the devil at the bottom of the mountain - in the form of a demon-possessed boy.

    One reason we're so vulnerable to Satan's attacks after a spiritual victory is this: We go into the battle with our shields up, spiritually
alert, deeply dependent on God.  But when the battle's over and we've won, we tend to lower our guard.  We felt our need for the Lord going in - we
forget how much we need Him coming out.  So the devil is all over us after the victory.  He knows we're too close to God during the battle itself - so
he waits until the battle is over and we're spiritually relaxed.

    That's when he hits you with that temptation ... that discouragement ... that depression ... that problem at home or at work ... that conflict ...
those doubts.  Sound familiar?  You may be in the middle of that kind of attack right now.  If it was during the big battle, you would instinctively
know it was Satan and you'd fight back with everything you've got.  But because it comes after the battle, you don't use your spiritual
weapons.  You tend to fight it as "flesh and blood" instead of "the spiritual forces of evil."  (Ephesians 6:12)  And you lose a battle you
should be winning.

    So, I love our word for today from the Word of God in Isaiah 52:12 - "The Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard."  God
promises not only to look out for you as you're going into the battle, but also to be your "rear guard" after the battle.  So when God has worked
mightily, when God has used you significantly, don't get spiritually careless. That's the time to give yourself that all-important order -
"Shields up!"

"Grabbing What's Quick, Missing What's Better."

    If anybody ever tells you that travel is glamorous, would you have them talk to me, or anybody who flies a lot?  The other day I had one of those
glamorous days, chasing through airports to make connections because of delayed flights.   And since you don't see many meals on airplanes these
days, you have to grab what you can.  In this particular airport, I had a few extra minutes for a meal, but, not knowing if there would be any other
options between where I was and my gate, I grabbed the first thing in sight.  Which happened to be the gourmet treat known as a hot dog.  It
wasn't even that great of a hot dog.  But what was especially aggravating was what I saw after I wolfed that hot dog - within two minutes I walked by
two or three places where I could have had a real meal!  But no - I couldn't wait.

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Grabbing What's Quick, Missing What's Better."

    My mistake that day at the airport was very simple - and very easily avoided.   I went for what I could have at the moment and I missed
something a lot better.  But that's a pretty common mistake.  Especially when it comes to love.  And especially when it comes to sex.

    In our word for today from the Word of God, a man named Esau makes that tragic mistake of trading what he can have now for something much better he
could have had later.  The issue was something the Jews called the birthright - the legal privileges of the firstborn son for a double
inheritance and other great benefits.  Jacob, the younger brother, wants the birthright that belongs to Esau.

    In Genesis 25:29, Esau comes in from a hunting trip with a powerful appetite.  Jacob is cooking a pot of stew - which Esau asks to share.  The
story picks up as "Jacob replied, 'First sell me your birthright.'  'Look, I am about to die,' Esau said (which was probably a huge exaggeration).
What good is the birthright to me?' . . . So he swore an oath to Jacob, selling him his birthright.'"  A tragic mistake.  The New Testament
comments on his choice this way:  "Esau, for a single meal, sold his inheritance . . . afterward . . . when he wanted to inherit this blessing,
he was rejected"  (Hebrews 12:16-17).  Too late.  He took what he could have right now and forfeited something so much more valuable - because he
couldn't wait.

    And so many people have done that for love.  So many people have done that sexually.  God designed sex to be one man with one woman in a committed
lifetime relationship.  And when you wait for that kind of exclusive love, you experience sex at its best - the way God designed it.  But it's very
tempting to go for what looks and feels like love now - especially if you've been waiting a while.  But you're losing something that is just too
special to sacrifice.

    Right now you may be facing the temptation to do something for love that will cost you the "birthright" God has for you if you wait.  And like Esau,
once you've met your immediate need, you'll realize that you gave what you cannot get back.  Whatever the pressure, whatever the temptation, however
strong the feelings are, don't make a mistake that you'll regret for a long, long time.

    God has something beautiful up ahead.  Don't blow it by grabbing what's there now and missing what is so much better.  It's worth the wait.

"When You've Been Burned"

  The other day in the airport, I saw a mother and her daughter hustling to make a plane.  But the little girl's face was covered with a mask that was basically a screen - she could see through it, but it was protecting her face.  In just a glance, I could see that her face had been badly burned.  She had long sleeves and long pants on ... my guess is that she probably had burns on other parts of her body, too.  I really felt for her
- and for her mother.  She appeared to be a burn victim, doing all she could to heal and recover.

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "When You've Been Burned."

    It's tragic to be a burn victim - even if you've been spiritually burned.  Maybe especially if you've been spiritually burned.  Physical burns affect your outside, and they can often be treated medically.  When you've been burned spiritually, the scars are inside where they're hard to get at.  Someone's reading today who is just such a burn victim.

    It can happen many ways.  Often you get hurt by some people who claim to be Christians ... or you have a bad experience with a church or a ministry.   And whether the causes are real, perceived, or a combination of both, there are way too many people who have withdrawn to the spiritual sidelines because they feel burned.   Maybe you've been hurt or disillusioned ... and maybe you've withdrawn and isolated yourself from Christian things ... or you've become reluctant to make any spiritual commitments ... or you've just tried to protect yourself by hardening your heart ... or maybe you're using the hypocrisy of others as an excuse to do wrong things.  You're one of Christianity's burn victims.

    We probably don't need to talk anymore about your hurt - we need to talk about your healing.  Which God talks about in our word for today from the Word of God.  I'm hoping that these wonderful promises from Isaiah 61, beginning with verse 1, will help you make today a turning point day - a day when you begin to move from burn victim to burn victor.

    In a passage describing the Messiah's mission, the Lord says, "He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted ... to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair."  I so want those words to be about you ... and God so wants to do those things for you - if you'll let Him.

    God's program of burn therapy and plastic surgery on your soul will include several action steps on your part.  They're challenging, but
they're the road to healing.  It starts when you focus on Christ and not on Christians.  Jesus didn't burn you - and the heart of being a Christian is
Jesus' simple command - "Follow Me."  Next, you need to open up to healing.   You've nursed and rehearsed your wounds long enough - now it's
time to get well.  You also need to recognize your own imperfection.  We've all been hurt - but we've all been hurters, too.  You and I stand as guilty of hurting people as the people who hurt us.

    That makes the next step slightly easier - release the bitterness.   The grudges inside are an emotional cancer that poison so much of your
life.  Ask God to heal you of the bitterness that costs you so much of His grace. (Hebrews 12:15)  Then, forgive the hurters - as Colossians 3:13
says, "Forgive as the Lord forgave you."  And then I hope you can rejoin the family of God where you belong and become part of the answer.  You know what's hurting people in the Church - use that knowledge and experience to help model how it's supposed to be.

    Hard steps ... important steps ... steps to healing.  Jesus heals burn victims - and replaces their mourning with gladness, their ashes with
beauty, their despair with praise.  Let Him work that healing miracle in you.

"Living Up To Your Name."

Alexander the Great conquered most of the then-known world by the age of 33.  One of the reasons for that was the iron discipline that he insisted
on among his troops.  That's why a young soldier was so terrified as he was hauled into Alexander's tent to answer for charges of cowardice and
desertion in battle.  The general was seated at a table, and the accused soldier was standing before him.  Alexander said, "Soldier, you've been
accused of deserting during a battle - guilty or not?"  "Guilty," he replied almost inaudibly.  The general followed up then by asking, "What's
your name, soldier?"  The answer came back - "My name is Alexander, sir."  It was at that point that Alexander the Great leaped to his feet,
reached across the table, grabbed the soldier by the collar and shouted, "Either you change your life or you change your name!"

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Living Up To Your Name."

    I wonder if Jesus doesn't feel that way about some of us.  We're carrying His name around - a Christian ... a Christ one.  And we're reflecting on
His name by the way we're living, the way we're treating people, the way we're doing business, and the way we're reacting.  Does the life live up to
that holy name we carry?

    Suddenly, we're looking at one of the Ten Commandments in a different light than we usually do.  In Exodus 20:7, our word for today from the Word
of God, He says, "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold guiltless anyone who misuses His name."  Now, that
commandment is usually used in the context of not using the Lord's name as a swear word or using it lightly or irreverently.  And that is sure
included in what God meant.  We are supposed to always use the name of our Lord with great respect.

    But swearing or irreverence are not the only ways to "misuse the name of the Lord your God," or, as the King James Version says, "take the name of
the Lord your God in vain."  When you claim to be a "Christ-one" and you live or talk in a way that is the opposite of what Christ is like - you're
discrediting the name of the One you claim to serve.  There's an example of that in Romans 2:24 where Paul says of his fellow Jews, "God's name is
blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."

    And we all know that the inconsistencies and hypocrisies of a believer give unbelievers a reason not to come to Jesus.  Probably the most common
reason people give for rejecting Jesus is another Christian.  And probably the most common reason people come to Christ is because of another
Christian.  Before most people start believing in Christ, they believe in a Christian they know.

    You're not an island.  You're being watched - especially if you claim to be a Christian.  And someone is sizing up Jesus based on what they see in
you.  They can't see Him - they can see you.  What a horrible thought - you or I might be a reason for someone we care about to miss Jesus - and to
miss heaven forever.

    So look at your life in light of the holy name of Jesus that every Christian carries.  What kind of feeling are you giving your children about
Jesus, based on how you treat them?  How about your coworkers?  Your employees?  Your fellow students?  Your friends?

    In heaven, they bow down at the name of Jesus.  One day every being in Jesus.  It is to Almighty God the highest, the holiest name.  And you, as
His follower, carry that name.  If your life is dishonoring the name, it is time to change your life.

"The Biggest Mistake Of All."

         Amy Biehl was 26 years old, and she really wanted to make a difference.  Her graduate studies took her to South Africa in the turbulent
days when the repressive system of apartheid was coming down and that nation's first all-race elections were approaching.  She actually helped
develop voter registration programs to help black South Africans participate in a system that had always shut them out.  She was driving
three black coworkers back to the township where they lived when a group of youths pelted her car with stones and forced it to stop.  Dozens of young
men surrounded the car repeating the militant chant, "One settler, one bullet!"  They pulled Amy from the car, hit her with a brick, beat her, and
then stabbed her in the heart.  During the attack her black friends were yelling that she was a friend to black South Africans - all to no
avail.  Amy died from her wounds.

         I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Biggest Mistake Of All."

         Someone who knew Amy underscored the tragedy of her death this way:  "She was killed by some of the very people she had come to
help."  Some of those she came to help loved her - but others attacked her.  And it's an ugly thing to brutalize someone who has come to help
you.  It happens to Jesus all the time.  Often at the hands of people who have no idea that's what they're doing - people who have actually come
close to Jesus, people who know a lot about Jesus.

         That's the sobering scenario described in our word for today from the Word of God in Hebrews 10:29.  These verses talk about what happens "if
we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth."  The Bible appears to be talking here about people who know about
Jesus but keep on running their own lives.  And that person, according to Hebrews 10:29, "has trampled the Son of God under foot ... treated as an
unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him ... and insulted the Spirit of grace."  Man, that is heavy-duty stuff.  In fact, Hebrews 6:6
says that those who have tasted what Jesus offers and then go live their own way "are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to
public disgrace."

         I'll tell you, if you know that Jesus has died on the cross to pay for your sin, if you've been "into Jesus" to some extent - and remain
unchanged, it is very serious business.  And even though you're for Jesus and agreeing with Jesus, you may be missing Jesus.  The only response
worthy of the sacrifice He made for us is to fall on our knees and give ourselves completely to the One who gave Himself completely for
us.  Anything less than a life-changing personal commitment to Jesus amounts to "trampling the Son of God under foot" and "crucifying the Son of
God all over again" - in essence, turning on the very One who came to help you, to save you.

         And that is the greatest mistake anyone can ever make.  This isn't about Christianity or Christians - it's about Jesus.  And maybe right now,
Jesus is speaking to you in your heart saying, "Don't do this.  Don't come this close to Me and miss Me.  I love you, and I'm giving you this chance
to make things right with Me.  Come on home."  If you're ready to finally give yourself completely to Jesus, you can tell Him that right where you
are - He's been waiting for you.  And I'd like to send you the booklet, "Yours For Life," that I wrote about getting started with Jesus.  Just let
me know you want it.

         Please - don't risk another day away from Jesus.

 "Deadly Magic"

  When I was a kid, I used to like to put on shows for the other kids in the neighborhood - wait a minute, am I still doing shows for the
kids in the neighborhood?  Well, anyway, I bought a couple of cheap books on magic back then and a little kit of magic tricks.  Even at my juvenile
level, I soon learned that magic wasn't really magic - it was illusions.  My beginner magic book talked about this basic magician skill
called "misdirection."  The idea is that while you're doing the trick over here you do something that will get everybody looking over there.  They
said it helped to talk a lot.  I knew I'd at least be good at that part.

         Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Deadly Magic."

         So one of the secrets of fooling people is to get them looking at something other than what's really going on.  It's a tactic employed by
someone with far more sinister intentions than some magician or illusionist - this misdirection ploy is being used to keep a lot of people from going
to heaven.  Maybe you, or someone you love.

         This deadly strategy is revealed, actually, in our word for today from the Word of God in 2 Corinthians 4:4.  The devil is called here "the
god of this age."  And it says, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the
glory of Christ."  Satan really doesn't want you, or anyone, to see who Jesus really is and what Jesus could really do to light up your life.  So
he blinds you.  He keeps you from seeing Jesus - because if you ever really give yourself to Jesus, the devil has lost you forever.

         Of course, few people are going to knowingly follow the devil or cooperate with his plans to have them in hell forever.   So Satan works his
deadly magic - of getting us to look at something other than Jesus - anything other than Jesus.

         He may be trying that blinding, misdirecting strategy on you.  Again, he doesn't care what you focus on, as long as it isn't
Jesus.  So maybe the deceiver's got you focused on Christians, instead of Christ - the hypocrites, the professed Christians who've hurt you, the
inconsistencies of the Church.  But that isn't Jesus ... and Jesus is the issue.  Or maybe the devil's got you all wrapped up in your religion, even
a religion that's very much about Jesus.  He doesn't care - as long as your depending on your religion makes you miss Jesus.

         Maybe the deceiver's blinding you by getting you focused on personal spirituality ... or a career that's keeping you too busy for
God.  Maybe he's got you looking at your pain ... your past ... your family ... a love relationship ... the fine points of theology ... a sin you can't
let go of.  Satan will use anything to keep your eyes off Jesus ... to keep you from getting to that cross where God's only Son paid the awful price
for your sin ... where you can finally face your sin, be forgiven of your sin, and receive the guarantee of heaven forever.

         But today - right now - Jesus is coming to you where you are, reaching out His hand, offering you His awesome love.  The moment you die,
you will know that the only thing that really mattered was what you did with Jesus.  But then it will be too late to change it.  Today, you can
still open your heart to Him - today you can finally turn your eyes to Jesus.

         If you want to begin your personal relationship with Jesus, would you tell Him that right now?  And I hope you'll let me know - I want to
send you the booklet, "Yours For Life," that I wrote about beginning this relationship.  Just let me know you want it.

         Satan has desperately been trying to get you to look at anything but Jesus - so he can have you forever.  But today you can finally see the
Light he's been trying to keep you from for so long.  This is your Jesus Day!

  "The Hypocrite Hang-up."

Seven years of junior high band concerts.  Yes, that was the special joy Karen and I share since all three of the Hutchcraft kids were
in junior high band.  Now it wasn't always a supreme musical experience, but, hey, it's our kids, right?  Now, let's imagine you have never heard of
the brilliant composer Ludwig von Beethoven before.  And I say to you, "Beethoven was a genius.  His music is some of the most beautiful ever
written."  You're a little skeptical because you've never heard any of him, but I suggest a way to remedy that.  See, the junior high band is having a
concert this week, and they're performing Beethoven's 9th Symphony.  So you go, and you come back to me saying, "I thought you said this Beethoven guy
was a genius!  I just heard his music.  It wasn't brilliant!"  Now what's the problem here?  It isn't Beethoven - it's the way that band played his
music.  Just because they don't play his music well doesn't mean the man who wrote the music wasn't a genius!

         Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "The Hypocrite Hang-up."

         I've devoted my life to telling people about the Genius who can harmonize our lives, who wrote the music that's supposed to guide
everything we do.  His name is Jesus.  But many people - maybe you - can't bring themselves to a point where they will put their trust in Jesus Christ
to be their own personal Savior.  And one of the biggest reasons?  Christians.  Christians who are hypocrites.  Maybe some
hypocrites you know have been a major roadblock in your considering Christ.

         Well, that's why I'm so glad for today's word for today from the Word of God, where Jesus clarifies what, and who, is the issue in this
whole Christian thing.  Mark 2:14, our word for today from the Word of God - "As Jesus walked along, He saw Levi, sitting at the tax collector's
booth.  Follow Me, Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed Him."

         Jesus sums up here the central decision we all have to make by issuing this clear, two-word invitation that He gave to many people:
"Follow Me."  Jesus said, "I'm the issue.  Make your decision about ME."  He repeated that invitation so many times when He was here on
earth.  And it's His invitation to you and me today.  As for those Christians who aren't a very good advertisement - well, they're like that
junior high band trying to play that Beethoven symphony.  Unfortunately, some of us don't play Jesus' music very well.  But that has nothing to do
with Jesus.  He is still the Genius who forgives our failures and loves us with "never-leave-you" love, and takes us to heaven when we die.

         Jesus didn't say, "Follow My followers,"  or "Follow My leaders," or "Follow My religion."  He said, "Follow ME."  The only reason not to be
a Christian is if you've got something against Jesus.  And there wasn't a trace of hypocrisy in Him.

         All that will matter when you keep your appointment with God is what you did with Jesus, His one and only Son who died on the cross to pay
... not for His sins, but for yours.  Honestly, there is no place to hide when it comes to Jesus.  Either you commit yourself to this Man who died
for you or you turn your back on Him and walk away.

         It is all about Jesus.  And maybe you're ready to surrender all the baggage that's kept you from His love.  It's Jesus and you, because
it's Jesus you're trusting, not Christianity.  Maybe you're ready to begin this relationship you were created for.  Tell Him that.  And, if you would,
let me send you the booklet I wrote about beginning with Jesus called "Yours For Life."  We'll tell you how to get in touch with us in just a moment.

         On Judgment Day, it will be you and Jesus.  Today it's you and Jesus.  In the words of an old hymn, "What will you do with Jesus?  Neutral
you cannot be.  For someday your heart will be asking, 'What will He do with me?'"

By Ron Hutchcraft

    I've been on top of the World Trade Center many times.  For thirty years of my life in the New York area, those towers dominated the horizon.  I
can't imagine they're gone.

    But so much more than buildings collapsed that awful day when airliners became missiles and America itself became the battlefield.  Thousands of lives came crashing down that day, too.  The airline passengers, the World Trade and Pentagon workers, the rescuers who died trying to rescue - so
many, gone in one awful, violent moment.  And the countless loved ones, in some cases not knowing what happened to those they love, in all cases
agonizing over the horrific circumstances of their death ... and the lifelong scars on those heroic rescuers, recovery workers, and medical
personnel who will always be haunted with the memories of what they have seen.

    But the carnage and shock of September 11 have touched every American.   We've been glued to our news channels, repeatedly horrified by
the endless replays and unfolding details of unthinkable scenes in places we thought invulnerable.  Like the TV commentators, we try to put our
feelings in words, but no words can really say it.

    I remember vividly the first attack on the World Trade Center - we thought that was unimaginable!  The morning after I arrived at an airport in
another city, only to be greeted by a TV crew with videocam and microphone in hand.   They were seeking comments from people arriving on the first
flight from Newark that day.  When they asked me my reaction to the Trade Center bombing, I could think of only one word to describe how so many of
us were feeling after that shock - "Vulnerable."

    As I'm hearing people trying to put their feelings into words today, that's the feeling I'm hearing the most.  The very symbols of our financial
and military security as Americans have themselves been attacked - one is gone, the other heavily damaged.  We watched everyday people like us, doing
things we do - passengers on a jetliner, folks at their jobs - suddenly wiped out en masse.  We see the lists of fatalities - including CEOs, Chief
Operating Officers, high-profile lawyers and entertainment executives - and we realize that, like those who died on the Titanic, success and position
mean nothing when death strikes suddenly. We see our children trying to understand horrors a child cannot understand - let alone us parents who are
trying to explain those horrors.

    We feel vulnerable.  It's as if some of our sense of personal security and safety came crashing down with those majestic towers.  The banner headline
of our local newspaper screamed, "Forever changed" - they're probably right.   One woman said, "I'm scared" ... one man said, "It feels like
things are out of control."

    If your heart is like mine and so many others I know, it's soft and searching - and re-evaluating right now.  While the events have been
horrific, the questions we're asking - or ought to be asking - could, indeed, leave us "forever changed" - for the better.  Questions like, "What
are the things that really matter and the things that really don't - and which ones have I been living for?" ... "What have I got that will really
last - no matter what tragedy comes crashing into my life?" ... "Am I ready for eternity, no matter how suddenly my time comes?"

    We have seen how suddenly our towers can come crashing down, how quickly what I've built and who I've loved can all be gone.  And our hearts are
hungry for something we can anchor to ... for something to sustain us when the bad news is more than we can bear ... for something that will make us
really safe.

    When our President addressed the nation on this generation's "day of infamy," he alluded to the one Source of comfort and hope in moments like
these.  He quoted from that treasured 23rd Psalm found in the best-selling book of all times, the Bible - "Even though I walk through the valley of
the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me." (Psalm 23:4)

    Life has many "vulnerable" moments - when you lose your job, when you lose someone you love, when your marriage or your parents' marriage collapses,
when the medical report is unsettling.  But that "valley of the shadow of death" - that is, by far, life's most vulnerable moment.  Yet the Bible
holds out to you and me a security that can keep you safe even in that valley - and no matter what else comes crashing down in your life.

    That security is a Relationship, a Person - "You are with me, Lord."  All our lives we have been hungry for one "unloseable" love.   And there really
only is one.  It's the love of the One who made you ... the One who you will meet on the other side of your last heartbeat ... the One whose love
caused Him to literally lay down His life for you.

    The safety our heart longs for is found in the arms of Jesus Christ.   In God's own words, "Nothing will every separate us from the love of God that
is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:39)  But in your vulnerable moments, your moments that are more than you can handle alone - those
moments when you've gone seeking God - maybe you've realized that there is something that is separating you from Him.  The Bible confirms that all the
wrong things we've ever done have actually "separated you from your God." (Isaiah 59:2)  This "sin" - our hijacking of a life that God was supposed
to run - cuts us off from the very God whose love is our only safe place.

    But that's why Jesus came.  "God sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins ... He sent His one and only Son that we might live through Him."
(I John 4:9, 10)  Now all Jesus is waiting for is for you to grab His outreached hand like a person trapped in the wreckage would grab the hand
of a rescuer.  You can do that right where you are, this very moment.  Just tell Him, "Jesus, I've lived enough days without You ... I'm sorry for
running a life that You were supposed to run ... I want to belong to You ... I want to be changed forever."

    Jesus liked to use the word "everlasting" to describe the kind of life He wants to give you.  We have been reminded so powerfully that nothing earth
has is everlasting.  That's the time your heart should be turning to the only One who is - so you can know that you have a love you can never lose
... a security that can never be shaken ... and that you're ready for eternity, whenever it comes.  No religion can even offer that kind of
security or everlasting life, it is only found with a relationship with Jesus Christ.

    You're vulnerable no more when you run to the safest place in all the world - "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it
and they are safe." (Proverbs 18:10)

"Knowing What It Is To Be Broke."

Maybe it's because my father-in-law was a corrections officer for a while, and I've heard his stories about the wasted lives behind prison
bars.  But whatever the reason, I've always admired the men who minister as prison chaplains.  It's tough ministry, but it's ministry where it's
desperately needed.  I've got a new friend, Bill, and he works as a prison Chaplain, and he recently told me about an incident that touched me when he
told me and it continues to touch me.  Bill had been visiting this cell block, and he went out in the exercise yard for some fresh air, he
said.  There was this clean cut, young inmate who happened to be African-American, who walked up to him, and he said, "Hey mister!  Are you
broke?"  Well, Bill kinda fished around in his pocket and didn't find any money in there, and the inmate said, "Hey, it doesn't matter, your money is
no good in here anyway.  Now, are you broke?"  Only this time the inmate had tears in his eyes.  And then here's what he said: "Mister, don't try to
minister to people in here if you ain't broke, cause we all are."  Now, that's not just inside prison walls.

         I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Knowing What It Is To Be Broke."

         You don't have to go into a prison to find people who are, in the words of that inmate, "broke."  There's so much pain today, and so much of
it is from broken things - broken family, broken health, broken heart, broken dream, broken relationships, broken trust - you may be
"broke."  Perhaps, even in spite of a life that's reasonably successful and an outward image that looks fine.  You may be one of the millions of the
walking wounded ... not sure where to put your pain ... where to put your brokenness.

         Our word for today from the Word of God, Hebrews 4:14, says this: "Since we have a great high priest who has gone through the Heavens, Jesus
the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess."  Now, here Jesus is called "high priest" and you know those were the men in the Old
Testament who represented people to God.  So Jesus is now our personal representative with God in  Heaven.

         Now, if that inmate, or even you, were to walk up to this Savior and ask, "Are you broke?"  He might refer you to the next verse, verse
15.  Here's what it says - "We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in
every way, just as we are, yet was without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of Grace with confidence."  Now, He's walked in our shoes, He's felt
what we feel - except He never responded by doing something outside of God's will.   And we can come to Him with confidence.  Why?  Well, we're
coming to a Savior who has lived the feelings we are bringing to Him.  He knows what it is to be poor ... He knows what it feels like to be turned on
by your family ... to be betrayed by someone very close - He was.  To be rejected - He was.  To be pressured to do the wrong thing - He was.  To be
tortured ... to be lonely ... to be murdered - He was all of those. This Savior knows the pain!

         There are other people who can empathize.   There are some counselors who can help you understand the pain, but only Jesus can carry
your pain and begin to heal a lifetime of scars.  He says, "I came to bind up the broken-hearted."  But the great tragedy may be this:  You're
needlessly carrying all your hurt alone because this Savior isn't your Savior because you've never given yourself to Him.  He went way beyond the
pain to the core reason for our wounds - human sin.

         We're all the victims of people's sins and we're sinners ourselves.  Sin is our personal rebellion against our Creator, saying,
"God, you run the Universe, I'll run me."  Because we're away from the one we were made by, we keep making choices that increase our pain.  But Jesus
is saying to you today, "Why are you carrying that all alone?  I died for you.   Won't you let me be your Savior?  Let me pick up your pain.  Let me
begin to apply my love to your wounds."  If you've never done that, why would you walk alone one more day?  If you want to begin a personal
relationship with Him, I hope you use the link below to let me know.  I'll send you the booklet I wrote about it, called "Yours for Life."  If the
question is, "Jesus, I'm 'broke.'  Only someone who's 'broke' can help me," then you come to the mangled body on the blood-stained cross and see that
the Son of God was "broke" so you don't have to be anymore.

The Shocking Truth About History's Ultimate Crime
Transcript #4399 | 1 Peter 2:24

Actor Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion," has broken new ground for Hollywood - and triggered a firestorm of controversy. "The Passion" tells the story of the day of Jesus' death with an attempt at Biblical accuracy that is seemingly unprecedented in movie-making history. The dialog is even spoken in the languages spoken at that time. And the portrayal of the crucifixion of Christ is said to be intensely realistic, following as closely as possible the Bible's description of what happened that day on a place called Skull Hill. The controversy revolves around the portrayal of the role of the Jewish leaders on that day in conspiring to have Jesus crucified by the Romans and their statement inviting His blood to be "upon us and our children." So, for centuries, Jews have been wrongly persecuted as "Christ-killers," allegedly guilty of "deicide." What a tragic mistake! The truth of why Jesus died so brutally on that cross is far more shocking.

Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Shocking Truth About History's Ultimate Crime."
If there's one thing you want to be straight on, it's understanding the death of Jesus Christ. Because God says what we do with what His Son did there will decide where we spend eternity.
Were the Jews responsible for His death? The Romans? No more than I am. No more than you are. Because the Bible says in 1 Peter 2:24, our word for today from the Word of God, "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree ... for you were like sheep going astray." What made it necessary for Jesus to go that cross was the sins of every one of us. Every selfish thing you've ever done, every angry thing you've ever done, every dirty thing, every dishonest thing, every hurting thing, every time you've ever done it your way instead of God's way. That's what He was taking on Himself that unthinkable day on Skull Hill. Or in the words of God's bottom line summary: "Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3). So when Jesus cried out from that cross, "Father, forgive them," He was forgiving me. He was forgiving you.
But no one had the power to take the life of the Son of God. Jesus said of His life, "No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of my own accord." His reason? He said, "I lay down My life for the sheep" (John 10:18; 10:15). Jesus gave His life. He sacrificed His life for you to absorb the awful death penalty for you and me running our own lives. Our sins made His death necessary. His love made it happen - a love that does not want to lose you.
So the biggest mistake a person can possibly make is to miss, ignore or walk by Jesus and His cross. If you think there is any other hope of your sins being forgiven, of you going to heaven, look at the cross. If anything you can do could have paid the bill for your sin, God's Son would never be there, crying out, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?" You know the answer? So He would never have to forsake you. Abandon all hope of your religion or your spirituality or your goodness ever removing the guilt of your sin and getting you into heaven. Only the horrific death of God's one and only Son can do that. And because He walked out of His grave three days later, He, and He alone, can give you life that lasts forever.
This can be your day to - in your heart - stand at the foot of Jesus' cross and say, "For me. What You're doing there, Jesus, is for me. And beginning right here and right now, I'm turning to You from a life of doing it my way. I am Yours." If you want to be sure you belong to Jesus for now and forever, then I'd like to send you my booklet about that called "Yours For Life." Just let me know you want it.
Don't walk away from that cross without taking for yourself what Jesus did there for you. He took your hell so you could have heaven. Don't miss Him.

     "Will The Real You Please Stand Up?"

  It was a TV show a long time ago, and it's a TV show again.  The idea must still have some life in it!  It's called "To Tell the Truth" -
maybe you have seen it.  Three contestants all tell the panel their name - and they all claim to be the same person.  The host reads a little
background on the person, and then it's up to the panel to try to figure out which one is the real one.  The climactic moment comes when the host
says, "Will the real Joe Shlobotnik please stand up?"  They all shift in their chairs, but finally one stands up.  The real one!

         Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Will The Real You Please Stand Up?"

         For many people, the struggle to identify which person is really them is a deeply personal one - one that rages within us.  It's very
important that you decide which of three identities is really you.  In fact, the identity you choose will determine much of how you make your life
choices and whether you feel significant or insignificant.

         Identity #1 is you, the victim.  Now if you've been hurt, betrayed, maybe abused, or abandoned, or neglected, it's possible to live
your life thinking of yourself as a victim.  Which means you will spend much of your life feeling worthless, depressed, distrusting, maybe
negative, or self-pitying.  And your relationships, your decisions, your goals will all be shaped by choosing "victim" as your identity.

         OK, Identity #2 is you, the sinner.   While the victim focuses on their pain, the sinner focuses on their failures.  You are frequently
reliving the things you've done that were wrong - maybe very wrong, in some cases.  If you decide that the "you" that is going to stand up is you, the
sinner, you're also going to feel worthless much of the time ... and ashamed ... and never good enough.  You'll accept and you'll expect a
little life because you think that's all you deserve.  And your shame will cause you to feel, "What's the use?" - and that will set you up for more
and more mistakes.

         But there's a third identity you can choose.  It's spelled out in II Corinthians 5:17, our word for today from the Word of God.  "If anyone
is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"  There is an amazing transformation that takes place when a person
gives themselves to Jesus Christ - from that moment on they have the right, they have the spiritual power to live as a new person!

         So if you belong to Jesus Christ, the real you is Identity #3 - new person in Jesus Christ!  You don't have to be defined by your past
pain.  You don't have to be defined by your past sin.  You are now defined by your relationship with Jesus - you are a child of God ... a servant of
Christ ... and a Make A Difference person!  Because you are forgiven ... you are clean ... you are free from the shackles of the past.  You're about
your future now, not your past!  Don't miss, don't forget who you really are!  It's time for the real you to stand up!

         And if you've never given yourself to the Man who died so you could be forgiven and new ... if you're ready to begin your life-changing
relationship with Jesus, would you tell Him that right now?  And I hope you'll let me send you the booklet I wrote about this relationship, called
"Yours For Life."  Just let me know you want it.

         From today on, your life can be about whose you are - defined by your relationship with the Son of God, Jesus Christ - the Healer, the
Forgiver of the past, and the author of a whole new beginning!

"Level Ground"

         When I meet people who went to elementary or high school with my wife, they tell me she was shy.  I didn't know her then, but I have found
that very hard to accept.  From the time I met her at a Christian college, she was vivacious and outgoing and confident.  I've asked her about this
seeming contradiction.  She says that both descriptions are accurate.  In her secondary school years, Karen lived in the country with parents who
gave her a lot of love and courtesy and spiritual wealth, but who didn't have much what our world calls wealth.  So, she lived in a home without the
conveniences many of her friends in town would consider basic.  She didn't have money to spend on clothes or makeup - so she felt a little
self-conscious in a campus world that was so much about the way you dress and the "stuff" you have.  But when she got to a Christian college,
suddenly everything changed.  She told me, "For the first time, the playing field was level."

         Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Level Ground."

         That's exactly the way God intended for it to be in His family, in His church - a level playing field where all that external junk the world
judges people by just doesn't matter.  It's the kind of environment in which people can blossom and unleash all the beauty and giftedness God has
planted in them.

         In Galatians 3:26 and 28, our word for today from the Word of God, the Lord says, "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus ...
There is neither Jew nor Greek (that's racial differences), slave nor free (that's class differences), male nor female (that's discrimination based on
gender), for you are all one in Christ Jesus."  I wonder if your church feels like that kind of place, your youth group, your Christian
group.  That's how it's supposed to feel!

         The culture of money and power and fashion and social groupings is supposed to stop at the door of the Church of Jesus Christ.  I hope it does
at yours.  None of that stuff matters to Jesus.  The world has its "power elite" and its "insiders and outsiders."  Don't let that cancer infect your
church.  People need to come into a group of Christians and feel level ground - a warm, sincere welcome, no matter how they look, what they have,
or what their background.  Anything less is a shameful contradiction of everything Jesus is about - grace ... unconditional love.  Remember, "Man
looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (I Samuel 16:7)

         Years ago in a large, fashionable church, two people came down the aisle to give their lives to Christ - one was the governor of the state,
the other a maid.  The pastor said it all when he said, "The ground is level at the cross."  And maybe only at the cross.  It may be that you have
spent most of your life feeling like you were on the bottom - the outsider.  Maybe even Christians have let Jesus down in how they've treated
you.  But I want to invite you this very day to come to the cross where Jesus - the Son of God - thought you were worth dying for.  He knows all
about you - and He loves you.  And He's waiting to welcome you into His family - and one day into His heaven, if you'll give yourself to Him today.

    "Intercepting The Weapons"

Israeli intelligence had indicated that the ship was carrying dangerous weapons, and Israel assumed they were to be their ultimate target.  Well, a
daring mission executed with assault helicopters and naval commandos surprised the ship's crew and led to the ship's seizure in the middle of
the Red Sea.  What they found was shocking - fifty tons of missiles, rockets, machine guns, along with other weapons and munitions.  You can't
help but ask, "What if they hadn't intercepted the weapons that might have been used against them?"

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Intercepting The Weapons."

    Those weapons could have done terrible damage - but they won't.   They were kept out of the hands of those who would use them to do that
damage.  That's actually the best way to win any battle - just don't let your enemy get the weapons to attack you with!  It is a powerful way to
keep your enemy - your spiritual enemy, the devil, from doing serious damage.  Don't let him have his weapons.

    Satan is anxious to make you afraid ... to make you discouraged or depressed.  He wants to make you a slave to lust or addiction.  He wants to
make you negative, critical, defeated, deceitful.  He needs weapons to get you to do or think things that you know are wrong - that you know come
between you and God.  But you can intercept some of the weapons he'd like to use - if you'll carefully obey God's simple directive in our word for
today from the Word of God.

    Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else (OK, God wants this to be top priority!), guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."  Be
careful what you allow into your heart because everything originates there.  The picture that comes to mind is a reservoir from which the water
supply for many people comes.  That is one place where you don't want any poison getting in.  Authorities put up high fences and arrange elaborate
security to make sure no one can put anything harmful in the area's water supply.  Guard the source.  Be very careful about what gets into the source
- and for you, as a follower of Jesus Christ, the reservoir is your heart.

    You actually give your enemy weapons to destroy you with when you allow poison into your heart - when you watch things, listen to things, read
about things, laugh at things, flirt with things that feed the old you.  TV ... music ... movies ... . books ... websites ... certain friends ...
certain conversations ... humor.  Too many times - usually in unguarded, casual moments, we allow Satan to smuggle in weapons he can use later to
get us to think or act sinfully - input that gets you thinking lustfully about the opposite sex ... that fuels your fears ... that makes you more
negative, more cynical, more critical ... things that make you more lonely, more depressed, more discouraged.

    Maybe one reason parts of the old you are still so strong is because you've been feeding the old you too much.  What you feed will grow.  Our
mission is to starve our sinful side, not feed it more!  It's already got all the fuel it needs for the rest of our life!  But you help insure this
promise from Isaiah 54:17 will happen to you - "No weapons forged against you will prevail!"

    Just don't let Satan get the weapons that he wants to use against you - images, thoughts, songs, friends that make it harder for you to win
spiritually - and more likely to lose.  When you walk away from the conversations, the shows, the songs, the people, the places that feed your
dark side, you pre-empt temptations now that would otherwise bombard you later.  And that's the easiest way to win the battle - to never let your
enemy get his weapons.  "Guard your heart!"

"What's Eating Your Home."

    My wife Karen was waking up to a sound she hadn't heard before - and she couldn't identify.  It sounded like crinkling cellophane - and it was
coming from inside our bedroom walls!  Now, somehow I missed this little symphony, but Karen sure picked up on it.  Since we were pretty sure no one
was actually crinkling cellophane in our walls, we looked into other possibilities.   Like carpenter ants, for example.  And sure enough, that's
what it was!  Those little marauders were feasting on the wood in our house ... and they were gradually eating our home!  We didn't even have to think
about what to do.  "Hello, Mr. Exterminator?"
    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "What's Eating Your Home."

    Obviously, you need to take drastic measures when something is eating your home-including some invaders that do far more damage than some hungry,
little bugs.  There may be some forces that are eating away right now, not at the building you live in, but the family who lives in it!

    You can hear some of the sounds of deterioration-the angry words that are causing such deep wounds ... or that chilly silence ... or the
negativism.  Far more comments on what people are doing wrong than what they're doing right ... the exasperation, the frustration over not being
listened to.  Don't ignore those "sounds in the walls".  The longer you do, the harder it's going to be to repair the damage.  If there's growing
tension or growing distance, or growing hard feelings or frustration, then it's time for radical action.  It's time to attack what's eating your home.

    Our word for today from the Word of God may be a statement that you need to take as a charge for you and your family.  It's from Hebrews 12:1.  It
says this, "Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles."  Now if something is slowing you down or entangling you
as a family, throw it off!  Get rid of it!  Or call the exterminator!

    Maybe what's weakening your home is too much criticism…maybe too little affection shown…or maybe too little listening.  Or it could be hypocrisy
that's eating at your home-a big gap between the "church you" and then the you they see at home.  Maybe there's favoritism or perfectionism that's
driving everyone crazy.  Or maybe your family is just feeling the effects of too little of your time…of a schedule that often has no room for them in it?

    But listen, will you, to the sounds of a home slowly being eaten away.   It's time to take strong corrective action - to "throw off
everything" that is hindering your family and the sin that is tripping them up.   And let the change begin with you.  Get to your knees and confess to
your Lord the part that you've been playing in the problems at home.  And ask Him to change you from a thermometer who reflects everything that's
going on there, to a thermostat that sets a whole new temperature.

    Where you've been wrong, tell your family.  You won't lose their respect - you'll gain it.  God says, "Confess your sins to each other and pray for
each other so that you may be healed." (James 5:16)  There are few words more healing than, "I was wrong."  I wonder how many marriages could have
been saved if someone could have said them ... or how many children.  As this verse says, healing also comes when you begin to pray for each
other-and for family healing.  And if you need outside help, don't let your pride keep you from seeking that help.

    Would you say to God, "Lord, I can hear the sounds of our home being slowly eaten away, and I want it to stop.  I dedicate myself today to
stopping it ... by stopping it in me first."  Those bugs will destroy your home only one way - through your denial or your neglect.  It's time for the
exterminator - before any more damage is done.

"Your Personal Life Support System."

    When astronaut Neil Armstrong first stepped onto the surface of the moon for his "one small step for man," he really didn't look like himself.  He
was totally wrapped up in that modern-day armor called a space suit.  Well, there's a reason.  The moon is an environment hostile to humans.  An
unequipped, unprotected astronaut would have died in an instant of lunar exposure.   Why?  No oxygen.  That big pack on his back was the margin of

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Your Personal Life Support System."

    Now if the Apollo astronauts had depended on their surroundings for their lives, they would have died on the moon.  Instead, they depended on the
life-support system that they carried with them!

    Actually, you don't have to go to the moon to find a hostile atmosphere to survive in.  We've got that right here.  Spiritually speaking, we live in
an environment where the air is often pretty polluted with temptation, with totally un-God ways of thinking, with stress, with negativity.  When that's
pretty much what your soul breathes all day long, you end up gasping for air and sometimes going under.

    What we need is something like the Apollo astronauts had - we need a life-support system that will sustain us through the bombardment of the
day.  But it needs to be something totally dependable and highly mobile - a lifepack that you can have with you everywhere you go.  And there is
one.  Our word for today from the Word of God in Psalm 119:11 says, "I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You."  David
says, "I have planted God's words in my heart to answer the sinful pressures that are coming against me."

    So what's your personal life-support system in a spiritually and emotionally hostile environment?  The words of God, committed to memory, so
you'll always have them when you need them.  You can't always carry a Bible around with you - and if you do, you wouldn't usually have time to start
looking up verses in the middle of a situation.  In fact, you'd probably have to carry a concordance, too, so you'd know where to look in the Bible!

    But you can always carry Scripture that you have "hidden in your heart."  During the Vietnam War, some of the American pilots imprisoned for
years in the "Hanoi Hilton" prison tried to piece together as much of the Bible as they could from memory.  I wonder how much of a Bible you'd have
if all you had was what you've memorized?  In a sense, that is all you have when you're in the middle of a real life situation.

    So, maybe it's time for you to get serious about a regular program of committing Bible verses to memory.  What you're doing is actually planting
the responses of God in your personality - so you can respond to what's happening with a heaven-answer, not an earth-answer.  How many times I have
been sustained by saying Deuteronomy 33:25 aloud - "Your strength will equal your days" ... or Isaiah 40:31 - "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."  How many times I
have been helped by the battle cry of 2 Corinthians 10:5 - "We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  The list of the times I've
been rescued by a verse that I've made my own is endless.

    D. L. Moody said, "When you're thinking sin, think Scripture."  You can't think Scripture if you don't know any Scripture.   Our minds are cluttered
with tons of earth-trivia - we need more of heaven in our heart.  Load up on heaven's oxygen - God's own words - and you'll be breathing better air
all day long from the life-support system that you carry in your heart.

"Bouncing Back When You Blow It"

    I'm about 5'8".  You probably know that because I sound about that tall, right?  Years ago, I was carrying 210 pounds on this little 68 inch
body.  Goodyear actually offered me a job as their blimp.  But thankfully, I have weighed about 45 to 50 pounds less than that for a lot of years.  Of
course, I've still got the same metabolism that inflated this body many years ago.   So, ohhh, do I know about dieting!  And I also know the point
at which your diet is in the greatest danger.  OK, you've really been good ... the scale has been giving you good news the last couple of weeks ...
your diet discipline is holding ...  then, somebody offers you something that you just can't resist - let's say, a few french fries.  You consume
them in one bite.  So, you buy a whole order of fries for yourself.  And now you feel bad.  You have blown your diet.  You could just get back on
track right then!  But no - you say to yourself, "I blew it!  I've failed!   Oh well, what's the use?  I might as well have a milk shake to
wash down those fries.  Hey, anybody got the number of Pizza Heaven?"   Yeah, you messed up.  So you give up - and soon return to your
former roundness.

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about
"Bouncing Back When You Blow It." 

  Now, it's a shame when one or two failures make you give up on your diet.  Or, more importantly, on living like Jesus wants you to live.

    Maybe it's a pattern you know all too well.  Like a dieter, you've made up your mind to change - to do things Jesus' way.  You're living right, you're
doing well.  But one day you mess up and fall back into something the old you would do.  And you feel ashamed.  Now right here is the point - in
dieting or being a disciple - that will determine whether or not this is a brief detour or a huge defeat.  What will you do when you've blown
it?  Now, you can clean up or give up.  And, believe me, satan is gonna be right there whispering, "What's the use?  You tried this Christian thing,
and look at you! You're a spiritual lose.  You'll never make it.  This is too hard for you.  Give it up, man."

    Now, Jesus said satan is capable only of telling lies - and this is no exception.  But he wants to take one defeat and turn it into many defeats
... to use this one detour to get you to turn back completely.  And maybe you have.   Well, it's time for the truth.  Our word for today from the Word
of God, Proverbs 24:16 - "Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again."  Notice it doesn't say, "a righteous man never falls."   It
says that when he falls, he gets right back up and starts walking again!  See, that's God's intention for you when you've messed up.

    That's why He invites us in I John 1:9 to "confess our sins" because "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all
unrighteousness."  It's not Jesus standing there, condemning you for falling.   God says, "there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus." (Romans
8:1)  No, that's your enemy trying to pull you into a cycle of defeat.  Live right ... then mess up ... then feel ashamed ... then you
give up ... then you mess up a lot more ... and then you crash spiritually.  That's the cycle of defeat.  But Jesus is saying, "One
failure is one failure.  And the only people who never fell down are people who aren't trying to walk.  Bring that sin to My Cross.  Let me clean you
up.  Tomorrow's a new day!"

    So when you mess up spiritually, it's either the cross or a crash.   Bring that sin straight to Jesus' cross, and you can get up and keep
going.  Believe the "what's the use?" lie, and you'll crash.  Because of Jesus, no failure is final.  If you've fallen, you can get up, in the
forgiveness and power of your Savior.

    Take it from a veteran dieter - it's a terrible mistake to give up just because you mess up.  Today's failure doesn't have to sink you
tomorrow.  You have a Savior who makes each new day a brand new beginning.

"More Baggage ... Less People"

    It has always been challenging to take our "On Eagle's Wings" team of young Native American believers to do reservation outreach.  But going to
Alaska to do it has meant a really challenging challenge!  With a suicide rate 20 times greater than that of the rest of the young people in America,
the young Native Alaskans are a desperate mission field.  You can probably imagine that the logistics of this kind of outreach are pretty exciting -
especially when some of the villages you're in are 400 miles from the nearest road!   The entire team has to be transported by missionary planes
and fishing boats!  Since the planes are just single or twin-engine aircraft, you can choose between taking less people with more luggage, or
more people with less luggage.  Since we need every seat filled with a team member, the sacrifice is going to be in how much baggage each of us
takes.  The limit is 20 pounds per person - for five weeks!  It's hard to travel that light, but it's important.  When you carry just the basic
essentials, you can move more people and go a lot farther!

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "More Baggage ... Less People."

    A team moves farther and faster with less baggage ... and so does the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  That's why the powerful Apostle Paul, who could
have dazzled a crowd with his incredible theology, kept his message to the lost very simple.  Our word for today for the Word of God, 1 Corinthians
2:1-2 -"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  For I
resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

    Now ,with all the Christian truth Paul could have presented, (that he knew there was to present), when it came to the lost, he carried an unencumbered
Gospel.  Like us packing for our missionary trip to Alaska, he limited himself to the basic essentials, and he left out anything that would
unnecessarily encumber the message he was carrying.  His message: Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for you.

    Now one reason we may not see more people interested in our Jesus is that we may have, without realizing it, added baggage to the simple Gospel
message.  Baggage like rules, rituals, religion - all of which obscure the real issue, which is a relationship with Jesus Christ.
    Sometimes we encumber the Gospel with lifestyle issues.   "Now, you need Jesus - and what are you doing with an earring there?"   Or we attack their wrong music ... or their wrong relationship ... or their wrong entertainment.  We're trying to clean them up before they have the Cleaner-Upper inside them!  Stick to Jesus and His cross!

    It's also tempting to load down the Jesus story with the baggage of our group's special theological emphasis.  There are distinctives in every
denomination and group that makes them them - and they often concern very important areas of Christian truth.  But they're not part of the
Gospel.  They are what we will teach this person after they have been to the Cross and made Jesus their Savior.  Then, those teachings may become
essentials to their relationship with Christ.  But now, before they know Him, those emphases may be extra baggage - baggage that means, like
traveling in those little planes in Alaska, will be carrying less people - to Jesus.

    If a lost person stumbles over Jesus or His cross, then the responsibility is theirs.  If they stumble over baggage that we add to Jesus and His
cross, then the responsibility is ours.  And the consequences can be eternal.

    Aren't you glad you don't have to carry all the Christian baggage when you try to win the heart of a lost friend or loved one?  Unpack all the other
Christian things, and just deliver the essentials - the incredible news that Jesus loved us enough to die for us, to rescue us from the death
penalty of our sin. Stick to Jesus!

"Darkness Behind You, Sunlight Ahead"

    Our daughter and son-in-law and two grandsons were driving through the Midwest a while back - and not liking the drive very much.  For most of
that day's drive, they were in the thick of a powerful storm system - drenching rain, and more significantly, a lot of dangerous lightning ...
until they got to Springfield, Missouri.  When our daughter called us, they were heading south out of Springfield - and liking the trip a lot
more.  She said, "You cannot believe how ugly it looks behind us - the sky and the lightning back there look so angry and foreboding.  But the road
ahead of us is clear and bright!"

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Darkness Behind You, Sunlight Ahead."

    With so much darkness behind them and a much better road ahead, believe me, our family had no desire to turn around and head back into what they had come from.   Why would anyone do that?  Including someone Jesus has delivered from spiritual darkness and put on a much brighter road?

    If you have given your heart to Jesus Christ, then you have experienced the miracle described in our word for today from the Word of
God.  Colossians 1:13 says that God "has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He
loves."  Rescued.  Now, imagine someone that was rescued from a burning or collapsed building.  Can you imagine them going back into the wreckage they were just rescued from?  And yet that is exactly what many of us Jesus followers do.  We head back into the darkness from which Christ has delivered us.

    That day our family experienced the dark clouds behind them and the bright road ahead is a picture of your own, what I call, "B. C. / A. D."
experience.  That's your time "before Christ" and your life since the moment you began your relationship with Him.  It's not just the world's
history that's divided into B. C. and A. D. - it's the personal history of all of us who have been rescued from our sin by Jesus Christ.

    But could it be that you've been heading back to some aspect of the "B. C." you?  Back in the direction of what God calls "the dominion of
darkness"?  The old lying ... the old habit ... the old crowd ... the old selfishness or bad mouth ... the old anger or depression - somehow you've
made a U-turn on the Jesus Road and started back toward that time before you met Jesus.

    Maybe you're forgetting how ugly, dark and stormy it was back there.   Or maybe you were raised in a Christian environment - you never experienced much of Satan's enslaving darkness - and you're tempted to try a little.  Sin has some very attractive packages - but that's all it is - a
package.  Once you open it, you find what's inside is a lot of guilt, a lot of shame, a lot of bondage, a lot of loneliness.  And it costs you the
greatest anchor you've got in your life - that wonderful sense of the closeness of Jesus and the peace that only He can bring.

    Paul says, Jesus "gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness" (Titus 2:13) - now, how can we drift back into the things He died to get us out of?  I can't think of a greater insult to the Man who died for you.   Because of Jesus, you were able to drive out of the storm, out of the
darkness, out of eternal danger.  Don't go back there!  Everything you were made for, everything you need is on the Jesus Road ahead of you.  Keep
driving toward His light - that ugly sky behind you will soon be just a shrinking shadow in your rear view mirror.                 

"The Danger Zone Alarm"

    An alarm may be annoying but, face it, most alarms are your friend.   The alarm clock in the morning - without which you'd lose your job.  The smoke
detector.  The fire alarm.  Now most of us don't carry an alarm with us, but for some people, it's a very positive idea.  Recently, my wife was in a
nursing home on an errand of mercy when suddenly this loud alarm went off.   Immediately, a nurse came running to a door where she intercepted one
of their elderly residents who was headed for that door.  The manager explained that some of their residents are afflicted with serious memory
loss or disorientation, so much so, that they have left the building and wandered off, not knowing where they were - including right into the middle
of the road!  So the woman who triggered the alarm has been fitted with a special bracelet - one that triggers an alarm whenever she is on the edge
of a possible danger zone.  Apparently, she does remember what the alarm is for.   When it went off, she instinctively stopped where she was.  That
alarm could literally save her life.

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "The Danger Zone Alarm."

    When you're moving into danger you don't realize, it's good to have an alarm that alerts you.  And it's good to pay attention to that alarm.  Your
Lord has built that kind of alarm into you - in the person of the Holy Spirit who lives inside of you as a follower of Christ.  Jesus said the
Spirit would "convict the world of guilt in regard to sin." (John 16:8)   One important ministry the Holy Spirit has to you is warning you
when you're wandering into the danger zone spiritually.  A danger you may not know is there, but a danger that could do you a lot of harm.

    That's why God's warning is in our word for today from the Word of God.   It's so important - 1 Thessalonians 5:18.  Four words: "Quench not
the Spirit."  After that, it goes on to say, "Hold on to the good.   Avoid every kind of evil."  When the Holy Spirit is talking to you inside, don't
ignore Him.  Don't put out the fire He sets inside you.  Don't blow right past His warning that you've crossed the line.

    The Holy Spirit is active in your heart, your mind, and your conscience all day long, representing how God feels about what you're saying, what
you're watching, what you're listening to, what you're doing with His temple (your body), what you're thinking about, fantasizing about, the
motives behind what you're doing.  And when you're starting to wander out of bounds, He puts a check in your spirit - a restraint, or even a twinge
of guilt.  The alarm goes off - God's quiet inner alarm that says, "You're out of bounds.  You can't see it, but you have just entered the danger zone."

    See, the Holy Spirit knows exactly where the choices you're making are going to ultimately end up.  Like a disoriented older person, where you
want to go looks very desirable and perfectly harmless.  But God knows this will take you into deadly heavy traffic - and by the time you realize it,
you may not be able to get out.  No sin remains isolated.  The first compromise may be hard, but it seldom stays just one compromise.  The next
one is always a little easier, until one day you have done what you never thought you'd do, you've become what you never thought you'd become.

    It may be that God's alarm has been going off in you recently, warning you not to keep telling or living that lie.  Or making you feel shame or guilt
or uneasiness over something you watch or listen to or laugh at.  Maybe warning you against leaving your family when it looks so tempting to bail
out.  Or the Spirit-alarm may be trying to move you away from that wrong relationship, that dangerous flirtation, or that growing anger or bitterness.

    God's warning is clear - don't quench the Holy Spirit of Almighty God.   Listen to God's alarm going off in you.  You don't know the trouble
this is taking you into.  He does!  Back away from this door.  It takes you where you do not want to end up.  You are entering the danger zone.

"Unguarded Beaches"

This one is excellent, they all are, but grab a hold of this one!

           There are two words that will inevitably cause a look of excitement to appear on any face in our family - "Ocean City."   That's the name of this
charming town on the Jersey shore where our family has made a lot of memories over the years.  Not long ago, several of us rendezvoused there
for a couple of days of time together and making a few more memories.  As I was riding my bike along the boardwalk there, I passed some Herculean young
men jogging the boards.  Their shirts had four letters on them: OCBP.  That's Ocean City Beach Patrol.  Actually, they recently celebrated
their centennial - no, not the young joggers, but the Beach Patrol itself.  A century ago, as Ocean City was becoming a tourist mecca, the
number of drownings began to increase.  So, the Beach Patrol was formed.  They have a record to be proud of.  In 100 years, they have never
lost anyone at a guarded beach.  Now I do remember a time some years ago when a young Amish woman drowned in the Atlantic Ocean, but that was on an
unguarded beach.

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Unguarded Beaches."

    I've seen those lifeguards in action.  They concentrate on their stretch of water and the people in it as if it's a life-or-death matter.  It
is!  Just like the rescue responsibility God has entrusted to you.

    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Proverbs 24:11-12.   As you listen, try to picture some of the people on the stretch of beach God
has given you to guard.  He says, "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.  If you say, 'But we knew
nothing about this,' does not He who weighs the heart perceive it?  Does not He who guards your life know it?  Will He not repay each person
according to what he has done?"  God's saying here, "If you have a rescue responsibility, there is no excuse for you letting people die without your
trying to do something about it."

    The awful tragedy is that so many Christless lives are being lost - eternally - because one of God's spiritual lifeguards is leaving their
beach unguarded.  Your beach is that circle of influence God has given you - the people you work with or live near or go to school with.  But too many
of us lifeguards just stay in the lifeguard station, enjoying the fellowship of the other lifeguards, singing lifeguard songs, planning
lifeguard meetings - while people are dying in the surf.

    Maybe we leave our stretch of the beach unguarded because we forget that telling people about Jesus really is life-or-death.  The people around you
may not look or sound like they're dying spiritually, but listen to just a few of the words God uses to describe them.  "Those being led away to
death" (Proverbs 24:11), "lost" according to Luke 19:10.  Or in Ephesians 2:12, "without God, without hope."  In John 3:36, "whoever rejects the Son
will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."  2 Thessalonians 1:9 says those who don't know God "will be punished with everlasting
destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord."  And in Revelation 20:15, God says, "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of
life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."  These are people you know - or ought to know.  And you carry in your heart the one message that can change
all this - the message of a Savior who loved them enough to die so they don't have to.

    Your job isn't to persuade them to come to Jesus - it's only to present Jesus.  But if you haven't done that, then they don't know they're dying
and they don't know who to grab to rescue them.

    You may think there's someone better to rescue the people around you, but God put you in the middle of them.  This is your stretch of the beach.  The
people there are your responsibility.  Don't leave your beach unguarded.  Too many people are dying at unguarded beaches.


    "Closing The Gap." Nehemiah 4:6 and 7

The other day, while I was out of town, my wife woke up to the sound of hoofbeats in our yard.  That's actually a problem.  Misty, her horse, is
supposed to be out in the pasture, inside a barbed wire fence.  But this particular day, Misty was having a grand old time running around our yard -
and, without quick action on Karen's part - soon she would have been out of our yard and in harm's way.  Fortunately, my wife managed to get Misty back
to her pasture before any harm was done.  But the big question was, "How do you prevent this horse from getting out again?"  The problem was that storm
with 80 MPH winds the other night - it uprooted the tree that was anchoring one corner of the pasture's barbed-wire fence.  We were hoping that the
downed tree and the partially intact fence would be enough to keep Misty in until we could close the gap.  It wasn't.  Our horse just found the gap and
ended up going where she really should not go.

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Closing The Gap."

    It's not just a horse that exploits a gap in the fence.  It's the lion, too - the one the Bible says is prowling around, looking for someone to
devour. (I Peter 5:8)  Satan, of course.  And you can be sure the destroyer is prowling around your life, your home, your ministry right now, looking
for a gap in the fence - a way to go where he should never really be allowed to go.

    So here's a quick lesson in how to drive your enemy nuts.  It's in our word for today from the Word of God in Nehemiah 4:6 and 7.  It comes from
Nehemiah's fascinating account of how a small band of Jews rebuilt the walls and gates of a devastated Jerusalem in fifty-two days, all the time
surrounded by enemies that were determined to stop them.  And here's one important step they took to cut off their enemies' attacks - a step you may
need to be taking to keep your eternal enemy out.

    The Bible says, "So we rebuilt the wall until it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.  But when Sanballat, Tobiah,
the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the men of Ashdod (that's a lot of guys against you!) heard that the repairs in Jerusalem's walls had gone ahead
and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry."  I guess so.   Those gaps were weak spots in the wall that they could use to go where
they should never be allowed to go.

    Now, you want to send your enemy Satan away frustrated and fuming?   Close up the gaps in the wall around your life ... your marriage ... your family
... your ministry.  Because right now he's doing all he can to get inside through those gaps and destroy everything that matters.  You can't neglect
the gaps any longer - there's too much at stake.

    The gap through which Satan is getting in may be one of your important relationships that you've been neglecting - and ugly stuff, you know, grows
in a garden that's neglected.  Or maybe it's a strained relationship that is allowing your enemy to sow resentment and anger.  The hard feelings
you've allowed to grow inside you are a gaping hole for Satan to exploit.  Or it could be a compromise you've allowed - in your integrity
in your sexual standards, in what you watch or listen to for entertainment.  Maybe the gap is a past sin you have not dealt with ... or
lustful thoughts.  Or just allowing yourself to consider quitting - on your marriage, on a commitment, on a ministry God has called you to.

  Wherever the gaps are, you can be sure your enemy has identified where you're vulnerable, and he's planning to use those gaps to get into the core of your life.  When there's a gap in the fence, a gap in the wall, it can only put you in harm's way - actually in hell's way.  Don't wait another
day to start closing the gaps.  You've got too much to lose.

"A Brand New You"

    On a recent business trip, my friend Rich found a site that advertised caverns and an Indian artifact museum.  An Indian man, with his coal black
hair pulled back and a face my friend described as "well-weathered," offered to take Rich on the museum tour - which he thought would last about
fifteen minutes.  Nearly two hours later, he had received an incredible history lesson on the Shawnee Nation.  The guide said that the Shawnee
Nation is made up of many different Indian tribes which the Shawnee have "adopted" into their nation.  And several times the Shawnee man pointed out
that when his tribe allows this to happen, the adopted people or person may never speak of his former tribe or nation again!

    Several times, Rich's guide asked if he really understood that concept - and my friend assured him that he did.  Suddenly, the Shawnee man stepped
back a few feet and said, "You're a Christian, aren't you?"  Rich gave him a wholehearted "yes" - and asked how he could tell.  The Indian man's
response: "Only a true Shawnee or a Christian can understand forsaking all past life and accepting a new life."  Later, as they prayed together, it
was clear that this man - who my friend described as "truly amazing" -  was both a Shawnee and a Christian.

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "A Brand New You."

    That Indian brother really understands what it means to become a part of Jesus' tribe - far better than many of us who claim to be following
Jesus.  What he said is almost a paraphrase of exactly what God says in our word for today from the Word of God in II Corinthians 5, beginning in verse 15.

    "Christ died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves (stop and ask yourself - are you really living for yourself?),
but to live for Him who died for them and was raised again ... Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has
come!"  And paralleling the Shawnee experience, the way we became "in Christ" was "to be adopted as God's sons through Jesus Christ." (Ephesians
1:5)  Adopted, not to have part of us in our old family - which is really the devil's family - and part of us in God's family ... no, we're talking
here about leaving one way of life for good and taking on a brand new you!  Which may make some of the junk in your life right now a little hard
to explain.

    You can't really hold Jesus with one hand and, with your other hand, some of the junk that killed Him.  After all, in God's words, "He bore our sins
in His own body on the tree so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness." (I Peter 2:24)  Imagine how it must make Jesus feel to see
you still hanging onto sins that He died to get you out of!    It may be that you've missed the imperative Jesus gave us to "repent" when
we come to Him.  It would be easy to miss - nobody talks about repenting much these days.  But it still matters just as much to Jesus.  And your
failure to really repent may explain your constant spiritual roller coaster, your recurring doubts about whether or not you really belong to
Jesus.  In Acts 3:19, the call is to "repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the
Lord."  Repenting of that sin isn't just saying, "I'm sorry" - it's saying "I'm not doing that stuff any more!"
    You've tried carrying your dual identity long enough - you're a halfhearted sinner and a halfhearted Christian.  It's time to turn your
back, once and for all, on that junk that's shackled you for so long.  Here's what you can tell Jesus right now - "Jesus, with Your power,
I'm dropping this junk and saying goodbye to the old me once and for all.  You died to get me out of this stuff - and beginning today, I am
Yours ... all Yours!"

"The Race To Save Lives"

    It's got to be one of the most unique sporting events in the world - it's the Iditarod, the ultimate sled dog race in the world   This past year, 68
teams lined up for the historic 1,000-mile race from Anchorage, Alaska, to Nome.  Of course, it didn't start as a sporting competition.  It started in
1925 when the stakes were much higher than a cash prize - it was the lives of countless children in Nome who had been exposed to the dread disease,
diphtheria.  The only serum to fight it in Alaska was in faraway Anchorage.  It had to get to Nome in the shortest time possible.  And it
was carried in an amazing, Pony Express-like relay by one dog team after another.  It took twenty drivers, some of whom braved mountain ranges,
brutal weather, a merciless gale.  But on February 2 - only 127 hours after the first team left - the last driver arrived in Nome with his tired dog
team and 300,000 units of life-saving serum.

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "The Race To Save Lives."

    Originally, that's what the Iditarod was.  But what was once a life-saving mission is today just an activity.  They're still racing on the same course
- but they're not racing to save lives anymore.  Like many of us followers of Jesus.  Like many of our churches, many of our ministries.

    Oh, we're racing, all right.  But not to save lives.  There's a lot of activity and excitement - but it's not about rescuing people who will die
if we don't get to them.  But that's what we're supposed to be about.  At least according to our word for today from the Word of God in Proverbs
24:11-12.  God's orders are, "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.  If you say, 'But we knew nothing
about this,' does not He who weighs the heart perceive it?'"

    As we begin to see the unreached people around us through the eyes of Jesus, we begin to realize that they are the ones "being led away to
death."  Listen to some of the words God uses to describe the people around you who don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ - they're "lost" (Luke
19:10) … "separated from God" (Isaiah 59:2)…"perishing" (I Corinthians 1:18) ... "without hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12) ...
and ultimately those who "will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord." (II Thessalonians 1:9)  Not
because God wants it that way - He sent His Son to die so they don't have to.  But they don't know that yet.

    But that's why God has placed you where you are - where you work, where you go to school, where you live, where you recreate.  He's put you there
to get the "life-saving serum" of the Good News about Jesus to them ... to help some of those people around you be in Heaven with you!

    So maybe you're busy in the Christian race, but you - or your ministry - has forgotten the life-saving purpose of the race.  And God is calling you
to see the "dyingness" of the people within your reach ... to see that He has positioned you to be the one to rescue them.  And it is a race -
because every day they live without Christ, they move one step closer to an eternity without Him.

    But you're there.  And you have the serum.  You have nothing more important to do with the rest of your life than to deliver life to those who will die if you don't.

"The Secret Of Staying Healthy."

Recently we had a wave of nasty infections going through our area - and our team.  Thank the Lord, I have not been one who got knocked out for a week or more by this bug.  And I am very grateful for all the people who pray for me - that's got to be a big reason why I'm still going strong.  Of course, I try to do what I can to stay healthy.  I've concluded that one of the biggest things you can do to keep from getting sick is simply to wash your hands frequently.  So I do.  Wherever I travel, I take my trusty towelettes and my liquid disinfectant.   We're picking up germs that could infect us all day long - it's a good idea to wash your hands regularly.

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "The Secret Of Staying Healthy."

    The fact is, we live in a world where we're surrounded by plenty of spiritual germs, as well.  And the secret of spiritual health is the same as physical health - frequent washing.  Not hand-washing, but heart-washing!

    Our word for today from the Word of God explains the importance of our staying spiritually uncontaminated.  And it may be a reminder to some of us
that we've become dangerously careless about staying clean.  In II Corinthians 6, beginning in verse 16, Paul reminds us that "we are the temple of the living God ... as God has said, 'I will be their God, and they will be My people ... Therefore, come out from them and be separate,' says the Lord.  'Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty."

    What an awesome position you have if you belong to Jesus Christ!   God lives in you ... you are "His people" ... you're a prince or princess, a son or daughter of the King!  So live like it!  And II Corinthians 7:1 tells you how to do that - "Since we have these promises, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."  Keep washing your heart, keep washing your mind, from anything that could contaminate you - you're His temple, remember!

    So we need to stop regularly and wash away any contaminating attitude or conversation or thought or action we've picked up.  If you tell anything
less than the truth, correct it immediately before it becomes an entrenched infection.   If you speak a harsh word, make it right immediately - don't let it fester in your heart or their heart.  If you allow a lustful thought to take over the stage in your mind, don't dwell on it - confess it and replace it right away with thoughts about Jesus.   If you find yourself thinking proudly about something you've done, get rid of it quickly and give all the glory to the God who gave you everything you have and everything you are.  If you're watching or listening to something that is unpleasing to God, turn it off right away.

    The alternative is spiritual infection.  It's carelessness about staying clean that can cost you your physical health and, yes, your spiritual health.   And we get careless when we forget who we are - God's temple, God's people, God's son, God's daughter.  He says, "Don't touch any unclean thing."   Remember who you are.

    Life is so much more enjoyable when you're healthy.  And you're likely to stay spiritually healthy a lot more if you practice frequent heart-washing
- or, as the Bible says, "purifying yourself from everything that contaminates."

"Slowly Losing Ground"

    Almost fifty years ago, my wife's grandparents bought fifteen acres of farmland and built a little house on it.  Today, that house and that land
belong to Karen and me - well, actually to Karen - she's kind enough to let me live there with her.  Our deed still says fifteen acres.  The tax bill
still says fifteen acres every year.  But we only have thirteen acres.  See, over the years as tenants occupied the property, the land was
slowly encroached on - a little by the county for the road in front of our house, a little by a neighbor.  The missing acres weren't suddenly gobbled
up - they were more like nibbled away.  No one was there to stop the encroachment that came so slowly - but surely - and it took away what the
family once had.

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Slowly Losing Ground."

    When you lose ground gradually, it can happen without your even realizing it - until sometimes it's too late to get back what you've
lost.  Especially if the ground your losing is spiritual ground - if it's your character . . . your integrity . . . or your rightness with God.

    That process of spiritual erosion is described in our word for today from the Word of God in Psalm 1:1-3.  Notice the three positions a believer can
have when it comes to the pressures and temptations around him.  "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the
way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord and on His law he meditates day and night.  He is like a
tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  Whatever he does prospers."

    I want to be that person, don't you?  "Planted" - stable, consistent . . . "fruitful" - your life is really making a difference . . . "he prospers" -
you're blessed in all you're doing.  But in order to have that kind of life, you have to take your stand against the insidious encroachment of sin
in your life.  And I can guarantee you, right now there are pressures on you to compromise some part of the ground you've gained since you met
Christ - or maybe you've already lost some of that ground.

    Psalm 1 suggests that you first just "walk" through the compromise zone - you're around it. But eventually you are "standing" there - you've stopped and you're consciously or unconsciously flirting with something sinful - just "a little," of course.  But ultimately, we end up "sitting" in that
sin - settled into doing the wrong thing, probably rationalizing and excusing it every step of the way.

I've just painted a picture of someone who's listening right now.  Actually, God has painted that picture.  You've been allowing
creeping compromise - in your business practices, in your sexual standards, in the priority of your family, in your telling nothing but the truth, in a habit you had beaten, or in what you watch or listen to, maybe in the priority of your personal time with Jesus.    The encroachment has all happened so gradually that you've hardly noticed what you've lost.  But day by day, you're losing more and more of what you can't afford to lose.

    Satan doesn't usually wreck a life by a sin explosion - he does it through erosion.  You're allowing things you wouldn't have allowed in your life,
say a year or two ago. You're becoming numb, desensitized to things that break the heart of Jesus.  Your radar is off…your defenses are down…the
encroachment of sin, the encroachment of Satan is slowly taking away what Jesus died to give you.

    It's time for you to, as the Bible says, "Take your stand against the devil's schemes" (Ephesians 6:11).  Look at the ground you've lost -
probably through neglect and carelessness.  And start fighting back - you have so much to lose if you don't.

"Finishing Your Race"

It was the end of the day at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics - only a few thousand spectators were in the stadium as the last of the marathon runners
were carried off in exhaustion to the first-aid stations.  More than an hour earlier and Ethiopian runner had been the first to cross the finish line in this grueling 26-mile event.  As the remaining spectators prepared to leave, they were stopped by the sound of sirens going off and policemen blowing whistles.  There, entering the stadium came a lone figure wearing the colors of Tanzania - his name was John Akhwari.  He was the last man to finish the marathon.

    His leg was bloodied and bandaged, and he grimaced with each step.   He had severely injured his knee in a fall, but painfully, he hobbled around the
400-meter track.  The spectators who were still there just got to their feet and applauded as if the were the winner.  After he crossed the finish
line in excruciating pain, he was asked why he hadn't quit when he had no chance of winning a medal.  His answer:  "My country did not send me 7,000
miles away to start the race.  They sent me 7,000 miles to finish it."

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Finishing Your Race."

    When God wanted to give us a mental picture of our life and our service for Him, He used an Olympic image - running a race.  And you've been
running the race He set out for you - but you've been hurt . . . you're running with pain . . . you've been disappointed . . . you're bloodied and
bandaged.  And you may be tempted to drop out of the race.  But you haven't reached the finish line yet.

    The great Apostle Paul must have felt that way many times.  But we have this report from the finish line - it's in our word for today from the Word
of God in II Timothy 4:5-8.  He starts out addressing his next generation leader, Timothy - who's been hammered, discouraged, and considering
quitting.  "Keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry."

    "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering . . . "  Just imagine an Olympic runner, collapsing as he crosses the finish line, having
given all he had to give in the race.  "I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished the race.  Now there is in store for
me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord . . . will award to me."

    The problem with too many of us is that we run hard for a while - but we quit before the end of the race - when Jesus has called us to be that lone
runner who knows he or she was put here to finish the race, no matter how painful it is.   Maybe you're one of those exhausted runners on Team Jesus
who says, "Look, I served my time . . . I worked very hard for the cause . . . I'll just step aside and let others do the running now."  Listen - in
the service of Jesus Christ, there is no such thing as early retirement!  God may change your assignment, but He'll never leave you
without one until the day you see Him!

    Maybe you've been tempted to quit an assignment God has given you - and He's coming to you right now saying, "Finish the race."  Run with
everything you've got, not halfheartedly.  Remember, He gave everything He had in His race to rescue you - and even though He was beaten and bloody,
Jesus didn't quit until He had crossed the finish line.  Run the whole race - He'll be waiting to embrace you as you cross that finish line for Him.

"Hugging The Furniture"

Our last major move, as a family, was almost 30 years ago, but I still remember my daughter's reaction.  She was just a baby then.  We had
loaded everything we owned into this moving van, and then we spent three weeks on the road.  When we finally arrived at our apartment in New Jersey,
the movers were already unloading our furniture.  As our living room slowly began to take shape, Baby Lisa began going to each piece of furniture. She
would hug it, caress it lovingly, and then she'd say things like, "love couch . . . love chair."  We had no idea she was so attached to those things!

         Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Hugging The Furniture."

         It was kind of cute how Lisa was so attached to those things - how they were obviously part of her security.  Now you and I are all grown up,
of course, but we may have become pretty attached to some of our life's furniture, too - and it isn't cute.

         Our word for today from the Word of God, I John 2:15-17.  "Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the
love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he
has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever."

         Now here's God's message: Don't get too attached to the things of this world - they can pull you off course.  That happened to one of Paul's
close associates named Demas.  In II Timothy 4:10, Paul says, "Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me."  Actually, Demas had
deserted Jesus and His work for earth-stuff that he loved too much.

         Our mission is to love the Lord . . . to enjoy the gifts He entrusts to us . . . but to always be ready to relinquish them.  I wonder
if, as God is calling you to make some kind of move for Him, you're saying, "Love house . . . love car . . . love job . . . love salary . . . love my
music . . . love my position . . . love this location . . . love this relationship."   And you're holding it too tightly.  It is making you
unwilling to move, even though your Lord is telling you to make a move.

         God's great stories often begin with someone letting go of something they consider precious.  Abraham, leaving his family and his
lifetime hometown for an unknown place . . . Peter leaving the boat that was his business . . . Matthew leaving his great job with the government .
. . Jesus leaving the glory of Heaven.

         Could it be that the Lord is asking you to do something for Him that might call for a sacrifice like that?  Is He asking you to be willing
to relinquish an earth-object that you're holding too tightly? It's become a non-negotiable, hasn't it - a "must have."

         When any earth-object or relationship becomes a deciding or limiting factor in your obedience to God, it has become an idol.   And that
puts you in violation of the First Commandment - no other gods before Him.  Maybe you're not just unwilling to make God's move.  Maybe you are
willing to compromise to hang onto this thing, to cut spiritual corners so you won't risk losing it.

         It's "values clarification" time.  Has something or someone taken the place of the Savior who died for you?   Please - choose for the One who
loves you the most.  And that is definitely Jesus.  When the Lord asks you to move, to change, or to risk, don't miss where He's taking you because
you're hugging the furniture.

"The Underground Spring"      

  I first noticed it one day when I was mowing the lawn - a little dent in the ground.  Over a few weeks, that little dent became a growing
sinkhole.  The ground was literally collapsing!  I asked a neighbor, who was an amateur "sinkholeologist," what caused this phenomenon.  He told me
it was the drought of rainfall that we had been having.  He said an underground spring had probably dried up.  And that dried up the ground,
and the roots above it - and my yard - fell in.

         Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "The Underground Spring."

         Now, when the ground collapses, it can be because the spring underneath has dried up.  That might be happening to you.

         Our word for today from the Word of God, John 7:37 - "Jesus said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and
drink.  Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.'  By this He meant the Spirit, whom
those who believed in Him were later to receive."  And they did on the Day of Pentecost, as have all God's children since then, when they opened their hearts to Christ.

         Now, Jesus said He has put this bubbling source of life inside every believer.  And as long as the Spirit-stream is running strong, you'll
be healthy all the way through.  But there are a lot of spiritual sinkholes developing in believers' lives these days.  We all know someone who's
collapsed, and it could be any of us if we neglect the underground spring.

         Collapses don't really happen suddenly, in my yard, or in my life or your life.  There's a gradual slowing of the "spiritual spring" in your
heart, a drying up.  Then the drying of the ground.  And then one day, suddenly - but not really suddenly - the collapse.

         The point?  We have to keep fresh water flowing into our Spirit-stream!  There is no shortcut to spiritual strength.   It's the
product of consistent, day-after-day time spent with the Lord Jesus Christ.  It's that time when you come to your Lord with an open Bible…open
hands to receive what He is ready to give you and to release the sin of the last 24 hours…an open heart, to let Him plant there what He wants to open mouth, to pour out your praise and your heart to Him…and an open mind to let Him help you think His thoughts about your day and your relationships.

         But we get busy or lazy.  We try to get by with a sprinkling from the outside.  Whatever we can soak up from Christian radio, Christian TV,
church, youth group, or Bible study group.  But it's not enough to nurture the spring inside.  You are what you are because of personal, one-on-one
time with the Lord…or because of the absence of it.  It's the accumulated inner growth of days spent with Jesus that become weeks with Jesus…then Jesus-months…and, ultimately, Jesus-years.

         There's no way to rush that process or to get a spiritual rush to make up for neglecting it.  It's possible that you're drying up inside without even knowing it.  There have been just too many days without feeding the Spirit-spring inside you.  You can't have any of those days back, but you can start building it up today.  You need to be feeding that spring that supports your soul.  If you don't, well, you're destined for a collapse.

         After all, it isn't the spiritual activity that men see that holds you up - it's those daily, intimate times with Jesus that only you can see
and He can see.  But then, it's what's underground that counts.

"Something Damaging In Your Eye"

    Last fall, we were having a fun family outing at a nearby theme park - until we found out that our grandson Jordan was in the infirmary with his
parents and with the park's emergency medical staff.  The problem was that he had somehow gotten a small metal object in his eye - which resisted all
efforts to remove it.  Well, without hesitation, we quickly brought our park outing to an end and headed for the hospital - where, thankfully, a
specialist was able to remove that object from Jordan's eye.  But we had to take it seriously - he had something potentially damaging in his eye - and
that could affect how he sees things from now on.

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Something Damaging In Your Eye."

    Sadly, more people than ever are allowing something damaging in their eye - and it's affecting how they see some things that are too beautiful to
ruin.  It's not a pleasant subject, but it's too big an issue to ignore - it's pornography.  You know it's out of control when a recent survey shows
that one out of five pastors is involved with pornography.  These days you don't have to go out and buy a magazine or go to a movie.  You can find it
all over the Internet or rent it in a video.

    Jesus hasn't changed how He feels about feeding our sexual fantasies.   In Matthew 5 beginning in verse 27, our word for today from the Word of God,
Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.'  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has
already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose
one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."      

    Very strong language.  Clearly, this really matters to Jesus.   It needs to really matter to us.  Jesus told us, "Your eye is the lamp of your
body.  When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light.  But when they are bad, your whole body also is full of darkness" (Luke
11:34).  Jesus says that what we allow in through our eyes affects everything about us.  When what we allow in is distorted and unnatural
sexual images, it's going to affect far more about us than we ever dreamed.

    In fact, someone's reading right now who knows how true that is - you never thought you'd get THIS hooked . . . you never realized how it would
make it almost impossible for you to think about the opposite sex in a right and respectful way.  Pornography horribly distorts God's gift of sex
by detaching sexual desire from a relationship . . . and by causing you to view people more as things.  And it can eat away at your marriage - because
you'll be increasingly less content with your lifetime love, bringing to her the unreal expectations that have been fueled by twisted fantasies.
    If the monster of pornography has invaded your life, it's time to face the monster - before it does any more damage.  Confess it . . . burn all your
bridges to it . . . get some accountability.

    Please, get on your knees and pledge with King David - "I will set before my eyes no vile thing" (Psalm 101:3).  And tap into the incredible hope of
II Corinthians 10:5 - "We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

    Be done with the shame.  Be done with the slavery.  When something damaging is entering your eye, you have to take immediate corrective action
- or it can affect how you see everything from now on.  You know that the Son of God - the Liberator - is the One who made this awesome promise for
you: "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).

"The Secret Of Staying Healthy"

Recently we had a wave of nasty infections going through our area - and our team.  Thank the Lord, I have not been one who got knocked out for a week or more by this bug.  And I am very grateful for all the people who pray for me - that's got to be a big reason why I'm still going strong.  Of course, I try to do what I can to stay healthy.  I've concluded that one of the biggest things you can do to keep from getting sick is simply to wash your hands frequently.  So I do.  Wherever I travel, I take my trusty towelettes and my liquid disinfectant.   We're picking up germs that could infect us all day long - it's a good idea to wash your hands regularly.

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "The Secret Of Staying Healthy."

    The fact is, we live in a world where we're surrounded by plenty of spiritual germs, as well.  And the secret of spiritual health is the same as physical health - frequent washing.  Not hand-washing, but heart-washing!

    Our word for today from the Word of God explains the importance of our staying spiritually uncontaminated.  And it may be a reminder to some of us
that we've become dangerously careless about staying clean.  In II Corinthians 6, beginning in verse 16, Paul reminds us that "we are the temple of the living God ... as God has said, 'I will be their God, and they will be My people ... Therefore, come out from them and be separate,' says the Lord.  'Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty."

    What an awesome position you have if you belong to Jesus Christ!   God lives in you ... you are "His people" ... you're a prince or princess, a son or daughter of the King!  So live like it!  And II Corinthians 7:1 tells you how to do that - "Since we have these promises, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."  Keep washing your heart, keep washing your mind, from anything that could contaminate you - you're His temple, remember!

    So we need to stop regularly and wash away any contaminating attitude or conversation or thought or action we've picked up.  If you tell anything
less than the truth, correct it immediately before it becomes an entrenched infection.   If you speak a harsh word, make it right immediately - don't let it fester in your heart or their heart.  If you allow a lustful thought to take over the stage in your mind, don't dwell on it - confess it and replace it right away with thoughts about Jesus.   If you find yourself thinking proudly about something you've done, get rid of it quickly and give all the glory to the God who gave you everything you have and everything you are.  If you're watching or listening to something that is unpleasing to God, turn it off right away.

    The alternative is spiritual infection.  It's carelessness about staying clean that can cost you your physical health and, yes, your spiritual health.   And we get careless when we forget who we are - God's temple, God's people, God's son, God's daughter.  He says, "Don't touch any unclean thing."   Remember who you are.

    Life is so much more enjoyable when you're healthy.  And you're likely to stay spiritually healthy a lot more if you practice frequent heart-washing
- or, as the Bible says, "purifying yourself from everything that contaminates."

"Treasure In The Trash"

My Mom didn't know it - but, man, did she make a mistake!  I know that now because of my son's long-time interest in baseball card collecting
. . . actually, baseball card investing.  He knows what those cards are worth - especially the rare ones.  One card can be worth many hundreds -
even thousands - of dollars.  I think I had some of those valuable cards when I was a kid with players like Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams.  Cards
like that are worth big bucks today!  Of course, I don't have them anymore.   Sometime when she was moving, my mother threw them away!

         Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today
about "Treasure In The Trash."

         My mother had no idea of the value of what she was throwing away.  A lot of people make that same mistake - because they don't know how
much they're worth.  When you've been put down, left out, mistreated, or abandoned - you can battle feelings of worthlessness your whole life - no
matter how successful you may be.  Maybe it's a feeling you may know all too well.   And, tragically, those of us who don't know what we're worth
have a tendency to throw ourselves away - on bad relationships, low goals and self-destructive choices.

         But this very day, the Person who created you wants to remind you how much you're worth.  In Matthew 13:44, our word for today from the Word
of God, Jesus is telling one of His parables.  He says, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it
again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field."  The parable right before this indicates that the field is this
world we live in and the man in the field is Jesus.  And the buried treasure?   That's you and me.

         It's very possible you've been such a buried treasure that you don't even know you're a treasure!  But Jesus thinks so!   I love one
thought George W. Bush expressed in his Inaugural Address.  He said, "No insignificant person was ever born."  God would agree with that!  He says
in Ephesians 2:10 that "we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do."  So all those
people who have treated you like you're worthless didn't know who you really are - God's workmanship!

         And here's the ultimate proof of how much Jesus values you.  In the words of His parable, "He went out and sold all He had" so you could
belong to Him.  The reason we feel like we're worth so little is ultimately because we're away from the One who gave us our worth.  The Bible describes
us being "without God" (Ephesians 2:12) because we've taken over the running of our own lives.  Notice - the middle letter of sin is "I."  All
of our sinning has put a wall between us and the God who made us for Himself.

         But when Jesus died on the cross, He was giving "all He had" to pay the price for all the wrong things you've ever done.   In your heart,
for just a moment, would you walk up that hill the Bible calls Skull Hill and stand quietly at the foot of that cross where the Son of God is pouring
out His life for you.  Look at Him dying for you!  You are not worthless!   But you'll never know how valuable you are until you give
yourself to the One who died to buy you back.  Which you could do right now, right where you are.  Tell Jesus you want to belong to Him, that the
rest of your life is His.  If you want to begin your personal relationship with Jesus, I want to send you the booklet I wrote about it called "Yours
For Life."  Just let me know you want it.

         Jesus doesn't want to lose you - that's why He paid for you with His life.  This could be the day you finally belong to the One who loves
you like you've never been loved before.

    "Something Beautiful In The Garbage"

I felt bad for our friend Peter.  My wife, Karen, wanted him to raid the garbage for her.  Oh, hey, listen - I've been there many times, believe
me.  But this time, as they were driving around, Karen turned to Peter and his wife for help.  They were driving past a gas station when Karen saw it
- a big, green, silk plant, upside down in a dumpster.  It was too big for Karen to fetch, and too good, she thought, to leave there.  So, poor Peter,
in his suit and tie, made his way over to that dumpster, looking both directions, desperately hoping he could be invisible for a couple
minutes.  Sure enough, he pulled that thing out of the trash and put it in the back of our station wagon.  This is a very secure man!  And about that
trashed plant . . . well, it now greets you as you enter the reception area at our office.   It's a classy-looking, silk ficus plant, my wife tells
me.  Karen saw something in it, even though it had been thrown away . . . something that I would have missed.

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Something Beautiful In The Garbage."

    Now, if Karen has taught me anything, she has taught me over and over again that something beautiful can come out of the trash.  Actually, a lot
of thing we would have never had, if we hadn't found them in the garbage.

    Now, in many ways, our painful times, our suffering times, or our hurting times feel sort of like the garbage times of our life.  There's a lot you
may be going through right now that is anything but beautiful.  And yet, some very beautiful things can come out of that garbage - if you handle
your hurting times like your Savior did.

    Our word for today from the Word of God, I Peter 2:21-23.   "Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His
steps.  He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.  When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate.  Instead, He
entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly."  Jesus showed us how to suffer . . . how to handle the garbage times in your life.

    If He's our example of how to suffer, we need to go back to His cross to see what that means, and to see what beautiful things can come out of the
garbage.  At the cross of Jesus, we find three ways to redeem the hurting times of our lives.  First, as He was undergoing excruciating agony, He
told John to take care of His mother.  The first way to redeem your hurting time is to look out for those you love . . . even if you don't feel like
it.  That's what Jesus did.

    Our tendency is to become all inward and self-focused when we're going through a difficult time, which is guaranteed to make it even more
difficult.  The "Jesus way" is to look out for the needs of others, when you're hurting so bad you just want everybody to look out for yours.

    In the midst of His pain, Jesus also said, "Father, forgive them" (Luke 23:34).  That's the second way to redeem your hurting times - forgive those
who hurt you.  If Jesus could forgive the people who had nailed Him to that cross, surely He can give you the grace to forgive the people who have hurt
you.  If you don't, the bitterness inside you will do far more damage than any suffering you're going through.

    And remember, Jesus said to the man on the cross next to Him, "Today, you will be with Me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)  There's the third way to redeem
your hurting time - work on taking someone to Heaven with you.  Your suffering time puts you in the prime position to be living proof of the
difference Jesus makes.  Use your pain as your platform to tell someone about the Man who died for them.

    If you'll look out for those you love, and forgive those who hurt you, and work on taking someone to heaven with you, you'll be in the middle of God's
"garbage miracles."  I've watched my wife pull something beautiful out of a pile of ugly stuff.  Well, wait 'til you see God do that with what you're
going through right now.

"The Columbine Inside Us "

    "Another school shooting." It’s becoming so common to us that the latest incident of campus violence sometimes doesn’t even make it as the lead
story on the news.

    Suddenly another community, often unknown to most of us, explodes into the headlines - Santee, Williamsport, Littleton. And once again we see those
awful scenes that have become all too familiar ­ students hurriedly evacuating the school . . . teenagers hugging each other in shocked
disbelief . . . parents waiting tearfully to see if their child will be coming home tonight . . . heavily armed law enforcement officials occupying
a school like an enemy fortress.

    And then there are the “talking heads” all over our TV screens pontificating about "why." In almost every instance, there has been at the
violent center of a campus shooting an angry young man ­ or even young woman now. These “out-of-control” kids are actually a window through which
we can all view an ugly cancer that has emerged in this millennial generation ­ a deep, seething anger that boils inside of millions of
American young people.

    You can hear it in the music they listen to ­ music they feel screams what is in their soul. You can see it in a recent national survey of 8,600 high
school students - 68% admitted that they had hit recently hit someone because they were angry - and nearly half said they could get a gun if they
wanted to. If you’re a parent or a teacher, you can see that anger erupting
over and over, often triggered by seemingly "little things."

    “Erupting” is a descriptive word for what’s happening. I remember seeing a towering volcanic mountain when I was in Ecuador. Mt. Antisana is 19,000
feet high! I was amazed when my friend told me that scientists believe that peak used to be 10,000 feet higher! What happened? Antisana literally blew
its top. The explosion probably didn’t last long, but the damage the explosion left is there for good.

    That’s what happens when a young “volcano” enters a high school with a
gun, driven by the anger of rejection or family pain ­ there is an awful explosion that doesn’t last long ­ but the damage left by that eruption
will scar him and many others for the rest of their lives.

    Most of us don’t erupt in the kind of violence that ends up on the front pages, leaving physical victims behind. But many of us know about the
volcano inside. As one teenager told me, “There’s a darkness inside me that scares me.” Most of us know about “the darkness inside” us. And,
tragically, so do the people we care about.

    The ones we hurt the most are the people we love the most. Our weapon is not a gun . . . we do our damage with our angry words and reactions. As the
Bible says, “The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21). The eruptions don’t last long ­ but, like the explosion scars on a
mountain, the damage our anger has done to people we love may last for years. Often, they are being wounded by long-accumulating anger in us, much
of which may have little to do with them.

    When I think of the darkness inside me, I can understand on a very personal level what one of the writers of the Bible said: “What I want to
do I do not do, but what I hate I do…the evil I do not want to do ­ this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:15, 19). We hate the animal inside us . . . the
people we love hate the animal inside us ­ but, like this Bible writer, we seem powerless to tame it.

    But it doesn’t have to be like it has always been. The same man who wrote about his out-of-control dark side went on to ask the liberating question:
“Who will rescue me?” “Rescue” means I am in a situation I cannot get myself out of and my only hope is a rescuer. When it comes to the dark side ­ the “sin” inside us ­ hope is available. In the form of the Rescuer from heaven. As the Bible writer says, “Who will rescue me . . . thanks be to God ­ through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24, 25).

    Jesus came here to tame the animal that the Bible calls sin. It is that “disease of me” in all of us that insists on running our own lives, having
our own way. God describes it this way: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). This “my way”
living has left us cut off from the God who made us ­ the One whose love and whose plans we were made for. It isn’t about being or not being
religious. It’s about missing the Relationship we were made for.

    Alienated from our Creator, we are adrift on Planet Earth, trying to fight the monsters inside us with our own resources. And we keep losing. And
people we love keep getting hurt. But there is very good news ­ the Rescuer came. He went all the way to a cross to beat the animal of sin that has
poisoned our world and our lives for so long. After pointing out that we have all gone our own way instead of God’s way, the Bible says, “The Lord
has laid on Him (that’s Jesus) the wrongdoing of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

    There would be no hope of ever being different if Jesus didn’t love you so much. But because He does, He offered Himself as the victim of the ugliest
act of violence in human history - the crucifixion of the Son of God. He loved you enough to take the rap for every wrong thing, every selfish
thing, every hurtful thing you’ve ever done when He died on the cross. And now He stands ready to forgive you completely and bring His power into your
life to beat what has always beaten you.

    But you have to grab the Rescuer. You have to pin all your hopes on Him to be your personal Rescuer from your personal sin . . . to be the One who
will dismantle the wall between you and God and who will get you to heaven when you die. Your rescue can begin right now, right where you are ­ as you
tell Jesus, “Your death for my sin is my only hope, Lord. Beginning now, I am Yours.”

    And that’s when the miracle inside you begins ­ a miracle that can only be accomplished by the One who could calm a storm with His command. The same
Jesus who spoke a calming “Peace! Be still!” to a deadly storm one day will speak His peace to the storm inside you. And the darkness inside you will
be yesterday’s news.

    You can belong to God today on if you will tell Him with all your heart:    "Lord, I’ve been running my own life, but I resign as of today. I was made
by You... I was made for you, but I’ve been living for me. I’m sorry for that self-rule You call sin. But I believe Your Son Jesus Christ paid my
death penalty when He died on the cross. And right now I am turning from a life of "my way" and I am putting all my trust in Jesus Christ to erase my
sin from Your book, to give me a relationship with You, and to get me to heaven. Lord, from today on, I’m Yours."

"Missing Him"

    When Lee Stroebel writes a book, he brings to it all the skills and the disciplines he learned as a journalist.  Lee was a respected reporter -
and, by the way, an atheist.  Today, he is a powerful representative of Jesus Christ and a leader in evangelism.  While preparing for a recent
book, Lee interviewed a wide variety of noted people to get their perspective on Christ.   One was a man who was a gifted evangelist in the
1940s, a man whose ministry actually paralleled Billy Graham's - a man who was known by millions and expected to have a ministry like Billy Graham has
had.  But after attending a liberal seminary to get more education, he shocked the Christian world by abandoning his faith.  His media career in
Canada has given him a lot of notoriety - and he has often used that platform to express his unbelief.

    Lee went to interview this now elderly man.  When he was asked about things such as his belief in the Old Testament, he clearly expressed why he
didn't believe.  Finally, Lee asked him, "What do you think about Jesus?"   He could have never expected the response he got.  Suddenly, the
old man 'teared up.'  And struggling to answer through those tears, he simply replied, "I . . . miss Him."
    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about
"Missing Him."

    For just a moment, set aside all the creeds . . . the institutions . . . the theological systems . . . the rituals . . . the meetings - most of
which are important spiritual resources.  But for a moment, set aside all the Christianity.  And when you strip away all that, you're down to the
central meaning of it all - it's all about Jesus.  It's all about either being close to Him - or missing Him.

    The twelve men Jesus picked as His inner circle missed a lot that Jesus was trying to teach them - but they didn't miss the central issue.  That's
obvious in our word for today from the Word of God.  In John 6, we're at a turning point in the ministry of Jesus.  Vast multitudes are following
Jesus, no matter where He goes.  Then He confronts them with the fact that this is going to be about more than miracles and meetings - it's going to
involve the shedding of blood, the laying down of His life, and a price tag for those who follow Him.

    John 6:66 - "From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.  'You do not want to leave, too, do you?' Jesus asked
the twelve.  Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy
One of God.'"  See, they knew it was all about Jesus.  And that He was the only One with anything that would last, that was worth living and dying for.

    That's what Jesus was saying when He repeatedly said to people, "Follow Me."  He didn't say "Follow My religion" or "Follow My followers" or
"Follow My rules" - He said, "Follow Me."   It's all about Jesus.  And if you know someone who's away from Him right now, here's how to pray for them
- "Lord Jesus, help them realize how much they miss You."  And as God gives you opportunity, remind them of how it was when they were close to Him.

    Maybe you're away from Him.  Satan would love to keep your focus on the Christians who hurt you or the hypocrites who turned you off or the sin
that's taken you away.  But it's not Christians you've left or church or some religious rules - it's Jesus you've left!  Remember how it felt when
you were close to Him?  Don't you miss Him?

    You don't have to miss Him one more day.  Like the father of the Prodigal Son, He's waiting for you to come home to Him.  There's nothing you've done
that He didn't take care of on the cross.  And His love is unconditional.  If you could literally hear His voice where you are right
now, here's what you'd hear Him saying, "I miss you.  Come home. . . come home."

"The Word For EVERY Day"

We were at the dinner table the other night with our daughter, our son-in-law, and our two-year old grandson Jordan.  Those are usually times
when we get to catch up on Jordan's latest exploits and his vocabulary explosion.   Mommy asked our grandson a question I had never heard her ask
him before - "Jordan, honey - what's the word for today?"  For a minute, I thought she was asking him about his grandfather's radio program.  But it
was actually not that.  It was quiet at the table and we all waited to see what was the word for today.  Jordan raised his eyebrows a little and
answered this way - "Obey."  I've heard his parents ask him since then what the word for today is on other days.  The answer is always the same - "obey."
         Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "The Word For EVERY Day."

         I can almost picture God asking you and me, "My child - what's the word for today?"  The right answer always is - say it with me now - "obey."

         I've often wondered what it was about old Simon Peter that caused Jesus to make Peter His "main man."  It couldn't have been his consistency
- he was all over the map.  It sure wasn't his dependability - he denied Jesus in the hour when Jesus needed him the most.  But there was one trait
in Simon Peter that Jesus loved - and with all our imperfections and our failures, it's what Jesus is looking for in you and me, too.

         The heart of a true disciple of Jesus is on display for us in our word for today from the Word of God in Luke 5:5.  Peter, the veteran
fisherman, has been out all night fishing, and he's caught nothing.  Then, in the heat of the day, after he's already cleaned his nets, Jesus tells
Simon Peter to "put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch."   And Luke 5 says, "Simon answered, 'Master, we've worked hard all
night and haven't caught anything.'  (Translation: "Doing what You say makes absolutely no sense to me.")  'But because You say so, I will let
down the nets for a catch.'"  And he caught more fish than he'd ever seen in his life!

         If you ask Peter what the word for today is, he's going to say what our grandson says - "Obey."  Peter did a lot of things wrong - but the
one thing that qualified him for spiritual greatness was that he did what Jesus said - whether or not it felt good, whether or not it made sense, no
matter how it looked.  So he fished when there seemed to be no reason to - just because Jesus said to.  He stepped out of the boat and walked on water
- just because Jesus said to.  He went to Gentiles with the Gospel when he cringed at the thought - just because Jesus said to.

         And right now, obeying is what Jesus is waiting for from you.  There's a relationship He's telling you to mend . . . a sin He's
telling you to forsake . . . baggage He's telling you to face . . . a mission He's telling you to carry out for Him . . . some lost people He's
telling you to go to with His Good News.  And you're real busy for Him . . . you're making sacrifices for Him… you're reading your Bible . . . you're
praying - but you're not obeying.  Not in that area of your life that you're stubbornly running your way.

         When King Saul disobeyed God's order, he tried to placate God with sacrifices and spiritual words.  God's word to him may be God's word to you
right now: "To obey is better than sacrifice." (I Samuel 15:22)  God would rather have you just do what He says than all the stuff you're doing for Him.

         "Trust and obey - for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."
         When it comes to following Jesus, the word for today is always "obey."

"The Mirror Difference"

  Not long after I got up this morning, I looked in the bathroom mirror…and it wasn't very pretty.  My hair had exploded during the night . . . there
were whiskers that needed shaving . . . there were several repairs that need to be made.   Maybe you have the same kind of experience when you look
in the mirror in the morning - you ask yourself, "How in the world could six hours do so much damage?"  Usually, what you see in the mirror involves
more than just information - "Oh man!  Look at that skin!  Look at that hair!"  No, no, no  - it calls for transformation!  You see what you really
look like - and you go to work on it!

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "The Mirror Difference."

    When God talks about His Word, He uses some interesting analogies - it's a lamp, it's a washing, it's a hammer . . . and it's a mirror!  And it's
supposed to have the same effect on our lives that a mirror has on our appearance!

    Here's how God describes it in James 1:22 and the verses that follow in our word for today from the Word of God:  "Do not merely listen to the
word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face
in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the
perfect law that gives freedom . . . not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does."

    That's a great picture.  One man looks in the mirror, sees the work that needs to be done, and says, "Hmm - what do you know!" and walks away
looking the same.  The other man sees what needs to be done and goes to work on it!   And so it is with each of us as we open our Bible and read
what God has to say there.  We're supposed to read, not just for information, but for transformation.

    It isn't just about you reading the Bible - it's about you letting the Bible read YOU!  Until you've done that each day, you have missed the point
of reading the Bible in the first place.  It's not just doing your Christian duty.   Why look in the mirror if you're not going to change
anything?  Why look in the Bible if you're not going to change anything?  Some people are working on a "Read Through the Bible" program -
and that can be a great exercise.  But remember, it's not about how much you read - it's about how much you obey!

    There is nothing more vital to your following Christ than getting personal direction from Him each day through His words.  You may be reading the
Bible - but are you letting the Bible read you?  Before you read, ask God, the Author of what you're about to read, to take His words and help you
apply them to something specific that you know you're going to face today.  Those verses in James talk about "not forgetting" what you
discovered.  So in order to do that keep a Jesus-journal where you write two things each day - what God said to you, in your own words . . . and
what you're going to do differently today because of what you read.  Remember, He said do what it says, otherwise you are deceiving yourselves.

    That's the road to spiritual consistency, to steady growth, and to experiencing the reality of Jesus every day.  Look in God's spiritual
mirror every morning - and do something about what God shows you in that mirror.  If you do, I'll guarantee you, you are going to be looking better
all the time!

"Fighting The Cold"

”    It's amazing how you can go outside on a brutally cold winter day, and you go from shivering to sweating in a few minutes.  If you just stand around
in the cold or just move around a little bit, you're not going to stay outside for long.   It's just too frigid out there!  But in a very short
time you can get to where you barely even notice the cold - just start shoveling snow, or some other vigorous activity.  Not long ago my wife was
out in the middle of a snowstorm, working on some outside chores, and she told me, "It is amazing how you can work up a sweat on a day like this!"

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Fighting The Cold."

    When you're exercising, the cold really doesn't affect you much.   That's a very important equation for Christians living in times like these - because
Jesus said it was going to get really chilly among His children.

    In our word for today from the Word of God, Jesus is describing the days that will precede His return.  Now, I can't tell when those "last days" are
going to be, but I can tell that the world has never looked so much like the kind of world Jesus said He would return to than our world looks
today.  As time runs shorter for Planet Earth, Jesus' prediction of how His followers would live seems to be more and more true.

    Notice: two groups of believers in these important times.  Pick your group - you are in one of them.  In Matthew 24, beginning in verse 12, Jesus
says, "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most (that's most believers, by the way) will grow cold."  Alright, there's group one - the
cold.  That's the group Jesus said most believers would be in.  Living in a world where sin is permeating everything, in a world where sin becomes
everyday stuff, most Christians will just turn spiritually cold.  Amazing!  At the time when Jesus needs them to be fully engaged in
the decisive spiritual battles going on around them, they go cold.

    But some believers are going to be fighting the cold - with some important spiritual exercise, and they are group two.  Jesus says that at the same
time sin is exploding across the world and into people's lives, "This Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to
all nations, and then the end will come."  Okay, there they are - the bold!   These are the believers who have checked the stadium clock, they can
tell it's late in the game - and they're going for broke to get the Good News about Jesus to as many people as possible.

    So where are you in this picture?  Are you getting colder - or bolder?  Are you pursuing your Kingdom or Jesus' Kingdom?  Living in a
sin-saturated world, it's easy to grow numb - especially numb to the lostness, the dyingness of the people around us.  To care only about that
which affects your personal world - and not much about the world for whom Jesus gave His life.

    I believe Jesus is summoning many of us to join Him in an all-out effort to rescue as many dying people as possible in the time we've got
left.  He's asking you to throw yourself totally - your influence, your money, your home, your talents, and your time - into the greatest cause in
the universe.

    If you're not in the bold, you're part of the cold.  But your heart and your life will warm up fast with some exercise - fighting for the eternal
souls of people that Jesus thought were worth dying for.

"Renewing Fire"

This past summer - like so many summers before it - the lead story on America's news was often about those fires raging in the west.   Millions of
acres were destroyed by fires that raged for weeks on end.  Those fires brought a lot of bad news.  But fires like these aren't all bad news.  Now,
there's no doubt they cause tremendous damage - but they also, over the long haul, produce a lot of new life.  Somehow, nature renews itself with
fire - a lot of old and dead stuff is burned away, new vegetation begins to grow, and new life begins to spring up.
    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Renewing Fire."

    God seems to have established this principle in His world - the fire that destroys also renews.  If you're going through the fire right now, that
might be something very important for you to remember.  If you don't, all you'll see is the damage and you'll lose any sense of hope.

    It may be that a fire has burned through your family recently . . . maybe your church . . . your business . . . maybe your relationships . . . maybe
your health.  And there is no doubt that the fire took away a lot.  There's no denying the damage and pain from the fire, but that is never the whole

    In I Peter 1:6-7, our word for today from the Word of God, we get a little of our Heavenly Father's perspective on the fires of our lives.  He says,
"For a little while, you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.   These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold,
which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

    God describes our trials as "fire."  And the fire is only applied here to something really valuable - gold.  Also, the fire isn't forever - it's "for
a little while."  And notice what the purpose of the fire is - not to destroy the gold but to "refine" the gold…to get out the impurities…and to
increase its value.

    That's a God's-eye view of the fire you're in right now.  He thinks you're worth purifying, improving, and getting ready for greater things.  But
first, the fire.  The fire that has taken away so much can also bring new life, if you'll stay close to God in the fire and not wander away from Him.

    What kind of new life does God bring out the flames?  For one thing, He helps us focus the rest of our life on the things that really
matter.   Everything in our lives goes in one of two columns - the stuff that matters and the stuff that doesn't.  And a lot of times we get those
confused.  The times of struggle and loss help us get everything in the right columns.  So many people emerge from the fire more committed to the
eternal than ever before.

    The fire often forces you to sort out where your identity is really anchored - not in your job, nor in your title, nor your performance, nor
your appearance, but in your "unloseable" relationship with Jesus Christ.   The flames often drive you to a new closeness with the people you
love . . . sometimes they cleanse your schedule from years of accumulation . . . and they can draw you deeper into your Lord than you ever thought you
could go.

    Yes, the fire destroys.  But, thank God, that's not the end of the story.  The fire also renews!

"The Pain That Heals You"

It was a beautiful day for a football game, and I was on the sidelines, as usual, helping out our high school team.  Somebody came to me and said, “I
think you need to go over to the other field ­ your son is injured.”  Our 12-year old, Doug, had been playing a pickup game of football on the
softball field.  He came up to me in obvious pain, holding out an arm that was obviously badly broken.  I’ll never forget the scene ­ or the feeling ­
in the emergency room that day as the doctor worked to set an arm broken in multiple places.  The process was horribly painful ­ I watched my son
battling to endure some of the most excruciating pain he’s ever experienced.  I felt like the doctor was doing it to me!  It was very, very
painful ­ but that’s what it took to fix what was broken.

    Well, I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about “The Pain That Heals You.”

    There was a way Doug could have avoided the pain of repairing his arm ­ he could have said, “That will hurt too much.  I think I’ll just leave it
broken.”  Which would have led to pain his whole life, not to mention having an important part of him that would never work.  We’d never think of
leaving a broken bone broken just because the healing process was painful.  But many folks do that their whole lives with what’s broken
                                       inside them.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Some people suffer a lifetime because they keep avoiding the pain of a healing time.  When there’s been wounds and mistakes and hurt in your past,  
it’s natural to just want to bury it, to live in denial, to hope that ignoring it will make it go away.  It never does.  And it may be that God
has brought us together today to encourage you to deal with what’s broken inside you ­ to do what you have to do ­ however much the process hurts ­
to finally experience some healing.

    Some of Jesus’ most quoted words are in our word for today from the Word of God in John 8:32 ­ and they can be applied to this whole area of missing
healing because the process will hurt too much.  Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  Sometimes, we live as if it
says, “You will know the truth, and the truth will scare you to death.”   Or, “the truth will hurt too much.”  It’s hard to face the truth
when the truth hurts.  But it hurts much more not to face the truth.  Just like not getting a broken bone fixed because it will hurt.

    Jesus said that dealing with the truth leads to freedom.  And then, in verse 36, He makes this powerful promise ­ “If the Son sets you free, you
will be free indeed.”  That’s what Jesus wants to do for you ­ set you free
from being pursued and defined by the pain of your past.    It’s hard to face the painful truth about a marriage . . . about the abuse
you’ve been through . . . about a broken relationship . . . about a family secret . . . about your own weaknesses and failures.  But the truth is the
only thing that will set you free.  It’s time to find a counselor or spiritual leader you can trust to walk through the pain with you ­ someone
who has the ability to help you understand it, to confront it, to help you come up with a practical plan for healing.  Maybe you need to make every
effort to repair a broken relationship.  Maybe there’s someone you need to forgive.  Maybe there’s someone you need to ask for forgiveness.

    It will hurt to revisit, to walk through, to remember the pain ­ but walk through it one more time so you don’t have to carry it around with you the
rest of your life.  You’ve left it broken long enough.  The process of getting it fixed may hurt ­ but it can relieve you of a lot more pain for
the rest of your life!

"The Mess You Didn't Expect"

Our grandson Jordan, age two, is a happy little handful.  He's definitely happy - and he's definitely a handful.  Like the other day, for
instance.  His Mom left the living room for just a moment to get something from the refrigerator.  It was such a short time - oh, but time enough for
Jordan to get the cap off a blue marker and go to work.  When our daughter returned, Jordan had redecorated - himself!  There he stood, covered with
blue marker all over his head, his face, his arms, his hands.  His Mom took him into the bathroom to look at himself.   His reaction was short and to
the point.  When he realized what he had done to himself, he put his hands on his face, shook his head, and he just kept on saying, "Oh no! Oh no!"

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have a WORD WITH YOU today about
"The Mess You Didn't Expect."

    Our grandson had no idea what he was doing to himself while he was enjoying his binge with the marker.  I've done that - so have you - not
with a marker, but with some sin we've gotten into.  We enjoy what we're doing at the time, totally oblivious to the awful mess it's going to
be.  Until one day we look at ourselves and say, "Oh no! Oh no!"

    In our word for today from the Word of God, He exposes what Paul Harvey calls "the rest of the story" when it comes to sin.  Sin only advertises
the pleasure, not the pain that results;  the glitz, but not  the guilt . . . the benefits but not the bondage.  So in James 1:14-15, God gives us the
anatomy of a spiritual disaster.  "Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has
conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."

    To summarize, first sin fascinates you - then it assassinates you.   When you're being tempted to go out of bounds - to compromise the truth, to get
sexually involved, to get even, to abandon a commitment, to watch or listen to something dirty - whatever the temptation, in the "desire" stage, all
you can see is all the "good" things about going that way.  But when the "want to" turns into sinful actions, you are in the inevitable death-cycle
that sin leads to.  Sin always kills!  It kills your reputation . . . your close relationships . . . people's trust in you.  It kills your
self-respect . . . sometimes your work or ministry . . . and it destroys your closeness to God.

    So ultimately, you will end up looking at what your sin has harvested and saying, "Oh no."  But by then it's too late.  The mess is made, the damage
is done.  The way to avoid the scars and the awful consequences is to believe what God says about that spiritual detour that looks so appealing -
it will lead to death!  Sin always takes you farther than you ever thought you'd go . . . it keeps you longer than you ever thought you'd stay . . .
and it costs you far more than you ever dreamed you'd pay.

    Like our grandson discovered, the fun lasts just a moment; the marks that it leaves last much, much longer.  So right now, make up your mind to slam
the door on that compromise, that giving in, that sin.  It may look like fun . . . it may look like it will meet a need . . . you're tempted to ignore your conscience, your upbringing, your Bible.  Don't do it.  What looks so good will do so much damage.  You never realize what your sin is
doing to you until the marks of sin's consequences are all over everything.

"Alaska in Your Heart"

Christmas must be kind of hard in Northern Alaska - it's basically dark the entire Christmas season!
    Then again, maybe it's pretty dark for you this Christmas.  It's like Alaska in your heart.  Maybe you've lost someone . . . or the future's
uncertain . .  or you feel guilty over some mistake you've made . . .maybe a deep loneliness or depression.  You're handling by yourself what you
were never meant to handle alone.  God wants to move in closer to you than you've ever experienced in your life.

    Here's what the Bible says happens when Jesus comes - "The people living in darkness have seen a great light" (Matthew 4:16).   Jesus is waiting to do that for you. He died to close the sin-gap between you and God. All the lights went out for Jesus at the cross - so you would never be alone in the dark again.

    A religion won't do it - you need a relationship with Jesus. If you want to begin that relationship, just call us at 1-888-NEED HIM. Or, to find out
more about how to begin this relationship with Jesus Christ, check out "Yours for Life" at

    It's been dark long enough. It doesn't have to be dark one more day.

"Your All-Access Pass"

    Not long ago I spoke for a major youth event where they featured several very popular contemporary Christian bands.  And teenagers love to get close
to their heroes - even to find a way to get backstage or to their ready room.  Let me assure you, speakers have no such problem, it's the
bands.   Anyway, the organizers had to think through security - like who would be allowed to go into which area.  But because I was the speaker, I
wore one of those coveted trophies at any stage event - the all-access pass.   Security people would glance at those door-opening words, "all
access," and they'd wave me right through.  You can go anywhere and everywhere with one of those things!

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about
"Your All-Access Pass."

    You may never have worn an all-access pass in your life - but if you belong to Jesus Christ, you possess the most valuable all-access pass in
the universe.  God has hung a pass around your neck that allows you to walk into the Throne Room from which the universe is governed - anytime.  In
fact, you have priority clearance.

    The door to God and His Throne Room is called prayer.  And when Jesus tore down the wall between God and us on the cross, He opened the way for total
access to all the resources of heaven!  But often our prayers sound as if we have forgotten the awesome position we are in - we pray these lame,
predictable, earth-sized prayers that sound like we only have access to some little spiritual closet!

    Hebrews 4:16 says we can come boldly to God's throne of grace - and our word for today from the Word of God, II Corinthians 9:8, describes the
incredible resources that gives us access to.  It says, "God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having
all that you need, you will abound in every good work."  Talk about comprehensive coverage!  Access to all of God's grace . . . so you can have
everything you need in every situation to do what's right.  Are you praying like that?  Or are you worrying, scheming, hesitating, or even disobeying
instead of using your all-access pass?

    What does that give you access to?  Listen to Philippians 4:19 - "My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ
Jesus."  You have a pass to the unlimited resources of the Jesus-Fund in heaven - which has all the resources your situation requires - financially,
emotionally and physically.  How about James 1:5 -  "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all . . ."  For every
phone call, every parental challenge, every decision, every response - your all-access pass opens up the very wisdom of God Himself to guide you to the
right thing.  Or Hebrews 4:16, the "come boldly" verse, that promises "grace to help you in your time of need."  All you need to make it through
your storm.

    Yes, Jesus has given you an all-access pass to the resources of heaven.   But we live in such unnecessary poverty because we underutilize
what He's made available.

    It's time to quit praying in the same old box, coming to God like a beggar instead of a son or daughter.  When you pray, remember who you are . . .
remember the awesome God you're with . . . and dare to trust Him for what the Bible calls "great and mighty things you do not know" (Jeremiah 33:3).

"Lost But Proud."

It's a familiar scenario.  A man is driving his family on vacation - let's say they're going from Chicago to California.  His wife gently points out
to him that she just saw a sign saying, "Welcome to Kentucky."  Kentucky is definitely not between Chicago and California.  Repeatedly, the Mrs.
suggests the Mr. stop and ask directions.  Then she says that four-letter word - "I think we're LOST."  But will he stop and ask for
directions?  No!  Maybe it's something in the male chromosome - like most men, he's too proud to admit he's lost.  And he's probably not going to end
up where he hoped.

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about
"Lost But Proud."

    When it comes to our eternal destination, I think most of us hope to end up in heaven.  But do you know what will keep a lot of people from ending
up where they hope to?  Pride.  The kind that is just too proud to admit that you're lost . . . that you can't get there on your own.

    There's a powerful picture of this in our word for today from the Word of God in II Kings 5:1.  It's the story of a Syrian general named Naaman who
discovers that he has the incurable disease of leprosy.  None of his victories, none of his fame can help him.  So he accepts advice to go to
the prophet Elisha in Israel who prescribes something that is not his idea of how to get well.  "Go wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River, and
your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed."

    Naaman is furious.  He says, "I thought he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot
and cure me of my leprosy."  The general had brought money to pay for a cure, but the prophet wouldn't take it.  He had his own idea of how he
could get cured.  But if it wasn't God's idea it wouldn't work..  Finally, "he went down the Bible says and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times,
as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young man."

    Naaman would go on dying until he swallowed his pride and did it God's way.  You and I go on carrying the death penalty for our sin until we
swallow our pride and come to God His way.  Which is to lay aside all our attempts to get to Him through our own goodness, through our religion,
through our spiritual connections - and to go to the cross of Jesus and let Him wash away our sins.

    And only Jesus can.  He said, "No one comes to the Father except through Me"  (John 14:6).  That's because there was only one way to pay your death
penalty - somebody had to die.  And Jesus did.  We're drowning and we can't possibly swim to God.  Our only hope is Jesus the Rescuer - it's in
abandoning every other hope of heaven and grabbing Him like He's your only hope.

    Don't let your pride make you miss heaven - being too proud to admit you've never really given yourself to Jesus even though everyone thinks you
have . . . too proud to come to your spouse's faith . . . too proud to lay aside depending on your religion.  Let this be your Jesus-day.

    If you're ready to put your total trust in Jesus to forgive you and rescue you, tell Him that now wherever you are.  And I'd like to send you the
booklet I wrote about this relationship called 'Yours For Life."   Just let me know you want it, by emailing your name and mailing address to

    If you're too proud to admit you need Him, you'll never end up in heaven.  Pride can literally cost you your soul.

Sincerely Wrong

    “They were our pilots.  It was our aircraft.  The aircraft should not have been on that runway.”  That’s what an executive of Singapore Airlines told
reporters after their Los Angeles-bound jumbo jet crashed on takeoff from Taipei, Taiwan.   It snapped into three pieces and burst into
flames.  Eighty-one of the 179 passengers aboard died in that crash.  It was a crash that never should have happened.  The pilot somehow ended up on
a runway full of construction equipment – the resulting collision was deadly.   The pilot had warnings – preflight briefing papers, two big signs
indicating the number of the runway he mistakenly went down – but it didn’t matter.  He was on the wrong runway.

    Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about
“Sincerely Wrong.”

    That pilot must have thought he was going the right way.  But sincere belief didn’t change the fact that he was going the wrong way.  It was
still fatal.  Just like it is when it comes to the road that will get us to God…that will get us to heaven when we die.  The Bible warns us that “there
is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 16:25).  Apparently, there are people who are deeply sincere
about the spiritual road they’re on . . . they’re sure it’s the right way . . . but that won’t change the fact that it will end in death.

    God and eternity are things you don’t want to be wrong about.   There were people in Jesus’ day who thought they were doing OK spiritually, but Jesus
didn’t think so.  And they were apparently very religious people – maybe like you.  In our word for today from the Word of God in John 5:39-40,
Jesus said, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.  These are the Scriptures that testify about
Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.”

    These are people who thought they had eternal life.  They thought they were doing great with God.  They were actually Bible students!  Maybe even
Bible experts.  Sure felt like the right runway to be on.  But Jesus pointed out a sobering reality – you can know the words and miss the
Lord!  Jesus was saying here, “It’s what you do with Me that determines whether or not you have eternal life.  And you’ve missed Me!”

    It could be He wants to say that to you today.  The reason it’s all about Jesus is explained in I Timothy 2:5 – “There is one mediator between God
and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men.”    You see, Jesus is the only Person who ever even claimed to have
died for our sins.  He paid the “ransom” – the price it takes to get someone back.  So only the One who died for your sins can forgive your
sins.  There are other religions, other teachers, other prophets – but only one Savior.

    So the key to being rescued by the only Rescuer God sent, is to grab Him like a drowning person would grab a lifeguard.  You may be sincerely
devoted to your church, your religion, or your spirituality – but sincerity in the wrong way is still fatal.  The way to life is to abandon all other hopes of getting to God and putting all your trust in Jesus to forgive you and take you to Heaven.   Anything else, anything less, is a road to death.

    It may be that God is giving you this warning today to allow you to ask His Son into your life.  If you’ve never really begun your personal
relationship with Jesus – and you want to today – tell Him right now.  And I'd love to send you a book I wrote about this, called "Yours for
Life."  Just let me know you want it.  The way that gets you home safe is the one that’s marked “Belonging to Jesus.”


Copyright 2000, Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc.  Used by permission.

Written by Ron Hutchcraft. contains practical answers to real life issues.

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc.
PO Box 400
Harrison, AR 72602
Copyright (c) 2000, Ron Hutchcraft.  Permission has been given to ChristianGoth.Com to
reproduce "A Word With You" transcripts.