Selasa, 06 Mei 2008


"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   And whether the causes are real, perceived, or a combination of both, there are way too many people who have withdrawn to the spiritual sidelines because they feel burned.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 and maybe you've withdrawn and isolated yourself from Christian things ...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
heaven, on earth, and under the earth will bow down at the name of
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.


"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.

Sabtu, 03 Mei 2008


"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!"