A THANKSGIVING REMINDER FROM VINCE & CINDY

It was one of those unforgettable moments in early 2010. I was driving to the hospital on my way to visit Cindy ( now there for over three months mostly in a coma). Although I had been processing the whole idea of believing and expecting, I never-the-less went into a period of intense whining at the thought of losing my wife. I am a good whiner—some might say even a professional. It was during a particularly dark time in this lenghty ordeal with my beautiful wife’s life-threatening illness. In the midst of my complaining He spoke. It was a tender voice that I knew immediately was my precious Lord. He said, Vince do you have anything in your life for which you are thankful?

Talk about a change of thought process and direction. I knew this was from our wonderful Savior—the very Person who holds all of our circumstances in the palm of His hand. I immediately went into a chorus of things I was thankful for—here is a partial list as best as I can remember:

I thank you Lord for:

  • The special relationship Cindy and I along with our extended family have with each other and with you
  • For two of the best daughters any dad could ever have
  • Son-in-laws that love you and extend that love to our daughters and five very special grandchildren
  • How you are watching over us and extending a supernatural sense of peace through this process
  • The myriad of friends who have, are, and will continue praying for Cindy through this difficulty
  • The unusual sacrificial giving we have experienced and that our future in this area is truly in your hands
  • The special future you have already planned for us
  • Your incredible outpouring through the ministry you have given Cindy and me and the tens of thousands of lives that have been impacted
  • Who you are—the GREAT I AM

I am pursuaded that one of the very special and pleasing things our Lord experiences happens when we thank Him in the midst of our greatest struggles.

It is a powerful demonstration of taking our focus off of our own pain and letting Him know how much we love Him. It is not always easy, however. The flesh is very powerful and the enemy of our soul is always right there telling us what a victim we are and how God really isn’t around to help.

Perhaps the most powerful and often mentioned ideas in the Bible have to do with this attitude of thankfullness. Everything from numerous thank offerings to expressions of thanks as the people went out praising at the head of the army and gained the benefit of victory. The Bible says that our Lord literally inhabits the praises of His people. I believe He is never closer than when we seek Him in a spirit of thankgsgiving.

May I suggest what could be a powerful take-away for you from this TargetPoint? Sit down and write out your list of things you are thankful for. Then, find a quiet spot and bring them before the Lord in in a posture of thanksgiving. Tell Him how much you love Him for the all the positive stuff. I promise you it is the best medicine for our tendency to whine. It will also give you a more encouraging perspective and engender hope into your circumstance like nothing else you do.

Another Miracle For Cindy…Amazing Ministry Month

October was one of the most incredible months in our ministry’s history. We had four powerful ministry opportunities and experienced another incredible miracle for my wife, Cindy.

It all began on October 7th. Just back from visiting our kids in the Chicago area I had the pleasure of speaking to the men’s breakfast for Impact Church in Menifee, CA. There were close to 70 men in attendance and I talked about having an intimate relationship with God. Three of the men asked Jesus into their hearts and God moved in an awesome way.

On the 13th Cindy and I, along with our Golden Retriever Beau, drove to Colorado to spend time with our daughter Kristen and her family. This is where the miracle happened. As you may know, we moved from Colorado because Cindy was requiring oxygen assistance at that elevation. Every time we are there she needs to be hooked up to a concentrator. On this trip—the entire time, encompassing three weeks, she has not needed any oxygen. In fact, her oxygen numbers are higher than mine. Her doctor told her that there is no medical reason why she should not be requiring oxygen. The healing of her scarred lungs is another miracle from God that we have been praying for.

On the 22nd I drove to Fort Collins, CO to speak at Clearwater Church. My friend Pastor Randy Kroening asked me to fill in for him at this newly merged congregation. We have had a long history with Randy’s Mountain Life Church going back about 14 years. I was so blessed to speak on Armed…Ready For Battle. It is the story regarding Cindy’s illness back in 2010 and the miracle healing that took place then. It was also very special as many of these precious people were praying for her during that time. An incredible 20 people asked Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.

The big event of the month happened on the 26th when Cindy and I flew to Edmonton, Canada for a three-day marriage conference. NAME Canada, an annual event we have now spoken at three times, hosted the conference and we had five wonderful sessions. My friends, this is the most anointed I’ve seen Cindy in all our years of ministry together. I know that is a bold statement but so true. It’s such a joy and so amazing to sit back and watch the Holy Spirit literally flow through her.

As 20 precious people were ushered into the Kingdom, two couples acknowledged accepting the Lord together. Just before I brought the closing session a woman came to my table in tears. She said her husband was there with her but has never come to a place where he accepted the Lord. She was so frustrated. At the end of my talk I asked again if anyone wanted to ask Jesus into their life. As I looked around, the first man I saw look up at me showed real determination in his eyes—he was saying yes—now is the time. When I saw his wife next to him—her eyes closed—I was filled with joy. It was the woman who came to my table earlier.

It is so special to be able to see God work like this. Sometimes you don’t know that everything you are doing may be for this one special couple—God knows. I am so overwhelmed that he would use us for such special and joyous occasions as this.

Back to Colorado Springs, on the 31st I had the privilege of speaking to about 75 men gathered for an early morning weekly prayer gathering at The Road Church. This awesome ministry, a merger between The Road and Chapel Hills Baptist, has become very special to me. Pastor Steve Holt is a dear friend and this was a great honor and privilege for me. I am seeing great things ahead for him and this growing new congregation.

That same day I flew back to Temecula for some catching up on admin and ministry needs. I will be home for about a week while Cindy is remaining with our daughter Kristen and family in Colorado Springs. I will fly back to Colorado around the 9th of November to drive Cindy home. So, that is it—what an incredible month.

In closing I need to change gears and ask a special favor. Between now and the end of the year we have very little ministry scheduled. I have a couple of important meetings, one with the San Diego Rescue Mission, which could really be important for our future ministry here. Financially however, we are going to be challenged. End of year support is always important for ministries like ours, and this year even more so.

We are thankful that 2018 is already shaping up for our ministry. The first quarter is looking good and we have a big trip to New Zealand for two Promise Keeper events there in August. That is good news indeed but right now we would really appreciate your help.

PLEASE consider a special gift this month to help us. Also, please pray about a generous year-end donation for On Target Ministries.

Cindy and I remain so grateful for you and want you to know that we could never do this without your prayer and financial support.

May God richly bless you,

Vince

The Manipulation Of The American Mind

Lately I have done some extensive reading and a little research on how whole societies and countries have been overtaken, conquered. In man’s earliest days the methods were always physical. It took massive and well equipped and trained armies—in other words—physical force.

Not so today. The new weapon is persuasion and the tools for this type of takeover are both devious and very sophisticated. If I can persuade you to surrender I have won without any physical effort or cost.

In 1987 Allan Bloom wrote his number one best seller, The Closing Of The American Mind. The subtitle for the twenty five year anniversary addition says, How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy And Impoverished The Souls Of Today’s Students. One of my favorite quotes from this amazing work is, the problem with an open mind is that your brains fall out. Bloom’s criticism revolves around his belief that the “great books” of Western thought have been devalued as a source of wisdom. This would obviously include the Bible. Bloom says The modern liberal philosophy enshrined in the Enlightenment thought of John Locke—that a just society could be based upon self-interest alone, coupled by the emergence of relativism in American thought—has led to this crisis.

Thirty years later we are seeing the results Bloom predicted. How did we get here? Carefully planned and artfully applied MANIPULATION! Now, I know what you are thinking—even a casual leaning in this direction will label me a conspiracy theorist. This label is another calculated strategy to stop any kind of honest effort to uncover the truth. Here is another example—when asked a very logical question regarding what the possible “end game” might be for all of this most will say, I don’t know. Many, including this writer, believe the end game is total takeover—complete control of our nation and the removal of everything we originally stood for. If you openly say this—you are laughed at—again—manipulation.

My friend is it possible that most of what we are seeing and being fed today is carefully choreographed theater designed to manipulate you and me, pawns in the eyes of those perpetrating all of this, into a socially engineered groupthink. Today, virtually every newsworthy major event is viewed by devious people as an opportunity to manipulate the vulnerable masses into a way thinking that will move them closer to seeing their “end game” achieved.

Stop and consider this example for a moment—it has only been in the last 10-15 years the homosexuality has gained the acceptance it now enjoys. How did that happen? Society had to be persuaded that this behavior is not negative or bad by systematically eliminating Biblical claims, basic biology and common sense. Here is the really sad part, in order for people to open themselves to some of these dangerous ideas they need to have their minds purged—the open mind that Bloom talks about has been deliberately produced by most of our modern institutions controlled by big money. Want to know more about the source—follow the money and the ideology of those bankrolling all of this.

Want to test how much purging has happened—I challenge you to interview the average college student and just ask some basic questions about what they believe and how they arrived at that belief—you will be astounded. While at it, ask what they know about American history—our roots. By the way, if you think your kids attending well know Christian schools are insolated from this—think again—they are not.

So, what is the answer? Christian, I am talking now only to you. The battle can only be fought well if we know how to engage and while resisting the temptation to sit back and whine. Here is the starting point:

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers
and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world … 
Ephesians 6:12

First, recognize that evil exists and is motivated by the devil himself and extended by those willing to submit to his lies. It started as early as the beginning of man—the devil said to Eve, surely God would not… Manipulation, at its root, must have you challenge existing authority or truth. Wherever you turn today—after every national crisis or major event—the manipulators are there with their agenda and sadly many of us are victims. It can sound so right.

Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?   Mark 12:24

Next, challenge every thought, argument and idea with the light of the Word of God. Read and know scripture and use it to reveal what is true and right. One of the biggest challenges I have today is persuading good men who truly desire to have a deeper relationship with God because of their unwillingness to put aside the things of this world. They will say, I want God but I cannot give up the porn, living with another woman out of wedlock, you pick it. The world is winning out because we do not take God’s Word at face value.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.   2 Chron. 7:14

Finally, and most important of all, PRAY. You were ready for that one I am sure. But let me ask you a question. As much as you might accede to this idea, does your behavior reflect it? Here again is the subtle voice of our enemy—surely nothing will happen as a result of your prayers, God will not listen to you, what good could possibly come…

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.   James 4:7

Celebration & Mourning – September Update

As I write this newsletter from 30,000 feet I am struck with serious mixed emotions. The tragedy in Las Vegas was horrific and sadly another demonstration of how far we have slid in our culture in large part because of the absence of a focus upon our creator. At the same time I am so grateful for an incredible month where we have had the privilege of ministering the life and love of our wonderful God to so many.

I will have more to share regarding my take on the mass shooting as I am preparing a TargetPoint article titled The Manipulation Of The American Mind. For now, please allow me this brief update for what God has been doing through OTM this past month.

It began at a conference center in Lake Williamson, Il on the weekend of the 15th. Several hundred men gathered for the Midwest Foursquare Men’s Retreat, a gathering I have had the privilege to address several times over the years. There are about 140 churches represented in this district and they are doing a great job of advancing God’s kingdom in this part of our country.

The theme of the conference centered around DESTINY—Our Power, Position and Purpose. What made this event so special for me was the perfect alignment of their theme and the mission of OTM. This is the very center of our sweet spot when it comes to our message.

I talked about our Power is FROM God—our Position is IN God and—our Purpose is FOR God. We had an incredible response from the men. Many left with a new sense of purpose and destiny and a bag with some new and improved tools to discover God’s plan for their life. It was a very special weekend for me as these men also ministered to me in some special ways.

From here I went to the Springfield area to be with my special friend, Tom Cheshire and prepare for my opening session for his Pastor’s Conference the following Tuesday. About 35 pastors and leaders came for a powerful morning of fellowship and teaching. I opened the conference with a message God had been developing in me since I first put the event on my schedule a year ago.

I remember telling Tom that I am more persuaded than ever of the need for our pastors and leaders to be encouraged and better prepared personally and spiritually to serve. I talked honestly with them about the relationship between obedience and power. The centerpiece idea was taken from a famous Oswald Chambers quote that says, God will not do any more through you than you first allow Him to do in you.

In addition I used a lot of personal examples from my own journey to drive some important points home. The BIG takeaways had to do with being more disciplined about getting sin under control and not allowing it to bind us, and then drawing close to God (James 4:8) through daily scheduled times of reading the Word, prayer and worship. I sensed they had a deep appreciation for what I shared.

On a side note please let me say how important it is for us to be in daily prayer for our pastors and spiritual leaders. My friends, they are right there on the front lines taking hits spiritually that you and I may not be experiencing. They are just like you and me—they suffer from the same temptations, frustrations, doubts and misgivings that hit you and me. They need our love and encouragement…often.

On the 21st we had our first Temecula Valley OTI kick off. There were 25 men who came out of the 40 or so on our list. It was a great opening day and our pastor, Britt Sipe, opened us up by praying for our gatherings. I am looking forward to how God is going to grow the men in our group and bring many more into the kingdom. The Men On Target curriculum has become a proven instrument in making disciples over these past 15 years.

Finally, Cindy and I had the privilege of speaking to about 100 women at a MOPS gathering at our church. We talked about the differences between men and women and also gave a brief testimony about the power of letting go. Cindy did an amazing job sharing her heart regarding what God has taught her in this area over the years.

Cindy and I are just traveling back from a week in St Charles, IL with our daughter Kim and her family—a much needed few days away. We will be spending the last half of October in Colorado Springs with our daughter Kristen and family and working out of their home. During that time Cindy and I travel to Edmonton, Canada to speak at the NAME Canada National Marriage Conference.

Pray that Cindy does well with her oxygen needs in Colorado Springs—we are still believing God is going to heal her completely from needing oxygen assistance at that altitude.

Finally, please continue to pray for the families and friends who lost loved ones in Las Vegas. Also pray for the hundreds still recovering from wounds, many who are still critical.

Cindy and I remain so grateful for your prayers and financial support.

May God richly bless you,

Exciting Fall News from Vince & Cindy

Well, here we are—Labor Day behind us and we are now looking ahead to the fall and winter season and a whole batch of new and exciting opportunities here at On Target Ministries. August was a bittersweet month of transition and getting settled combined with the emotional separation from our kids and their precious families.

Now that we are settled September is looking like a pretty exciting month. On the 21st we are starting up On Target Institute here in the Temecula Valley. It looks like we could begin with 50-100 men. The weekly gatherings will be at our home church, Sunridge Community, on Thursday mornings from 6-7:15. If you are in this area we are still in need of more men who may wish to become small group facilitators. More info available on our site or you can email me directly at vince@otm.co.

We are hoping to get these meetings up on LiveStream soon in order to reengage our international viewing audience. Over the next two weeks we will be advertising our startup throughout the valley with printed cards and handouts.

During the middle of the month I will be traveling to St Louis, MO for a major men’s conference. You can find more info regarding this event at heartlandmen.org. Over the years it has been my privilege to serve this group and the ministry of my friend Les Lee. The theme this year is DESTINY, Our Power Position and Purpose. I am excited about the messages God has given me to bring to this wonderful group of men.

Following this event I will be conducting the opening session at a Pastor Conference for my friend Tom Cheshire. Tom heads up RPM Ministries based out of the Springfield area and puts on several Iron Sharpens Iron conferences around this area each year. This special conference has been a passion of his for some time—an opportunity to give back to the many pastors in this area he has come to know, love and serve. I will be dealing with the subject, The Leaders Personal Preparedness To Serve.

At the end of this month I will be working with the San Diego Rescue Mission to further plan out an OTI startup in their men’s program. It now looks like they are leaning toward Friday mornings for this weekly curriculum. This could be one of the most important and special things I do this year and really needs your prayer support. I cannot think of a more appropriate curriculum for the homeless population.

Some further points for prayer:

  • Setting aside a couple of hours each day to work on a re-write of our original book, Wired To Work and working with Pat McGuire on a new cover and release for later this year or early 2018.
  • Preparing for speaking at the NAME Canada national marriage conference in November in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Our third invitation to bring our couple’s ministry to this wonderful event.
  • Raising funds or grant money to complete our Men On Target manual for our new curriculum. Still needing about $5,000.00 and once raised this resource will be a powerful tool in the hands of our students while becoming a significant funding source for our future.
  • Looking for opportunities to do part time coaching or consulting to help raise additional personal support to lessen the burden on OTM.

Finally, we made it through a difficult summer season with only a 3,000.00 shortfall. This is a bit of a miracle especially without hosting our annual golf fundraiser for the first time. At this time we are still praying for the Lord to release some extra gifts for us this month in order to get back on track.

That said, please pray about an extra special generous donation this month to help.

Cindy and I remain so grateful for your prayers and financial support.

 

May God richly bless you,

An Important Message for the Senior Pastor


9781424554980I am privileged to join with over forty men’s ministry leaders from around the country in the production of what may be the most significant gathering of best practices for ministry to men to date.  I have co-labored with many of these fine contributors for over 25 years now and respect their work.

My chapter, excerpted below, addresses the Senior Pastor and reflects what I believe is the most important consideration for effective ministry to men.  Copies of this book are now available for sale in our store.

An Important Message for the Senior Pastor
Vince D’Acchioli

Over the past twenty-five years, I’ve put on men’s events in hundreds of churches and spoken at numerous high-profile men’s conferences across North America. Here’s what I’ve learned: meaningful ministry to men cannot evolve from grass-roots efforts. For too long we have ignored the senior pastor and asked lay leaders to move the mountain.

I believe that men’s ministry (i.e., pancake breakfasts, camping trips, PK rallies, ISI events, and the like) can easily be run by lay leaders. However, that is not ministry to men; it is men’s ministry. And there is a big difference.

I have yet to see a truly effective ministry to men where the senior pastor was not fully involved and in charge. In communicating this point, I want to be careful not to take anything away from the talented lay leaders across the country who are doing an incredible job in the area of men’s ministry. Rather, what I would like to focus on is the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.

If ministry to men is defined as bringing men into meaningful relationship with God and developing them into fully devoted followers of Christ who can make a difference in their world, then churches need to move from an event-led ministry into a more intentional, pastor-led ministry. Even in large churches where there are several levels of management, ministry to men should report directly to the senior pastor. This sends a strong message to the whole church about priorities.

Perhaps, just as important is identifying and equipping trustworthy men to be part of the discipling process. Paul lays out the plan, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2 TLB). Let’s establish a structure for that strategy.

Picking Your Leaders
Consider God’s order here on planet earth. It flows from God the Father, to Jesus the Son, to the man as the spiritual head of the family, to his wife, and ultimately to their children. Where, in that order, is the first place the church can make an impact? Obviously, it’s with the man. But look at your calendar and annual budget. There’s a good chance you’ll see that there’s much greater investment in youth and women’s ministries than on ministry to men. It seems that we have our ministry priorities out of order.

If you agree, here are some suggestions on how you can move forward. Prayerfully consider two or three, or perhaps in larger churches, as many as eight to ten men you believe possess a level of maturity and a desire to be involved in ministry to men. Call each man individually and ask him if he would consider helping you manage the most important ministry in the church. Invite him into your office for a one-on-one interview.

Treat the interview the way you would if you were hiring an executive staff member. This communicates a level of importance that will stimulate your candidates. Share your passion for ministry, and let them know how you think this is going to impact the church. Give each man a strong vision, and then ask him if he will join the first string.

Once you have your first string in place, ask this group of men to prayerfully consider a list of ten to twenty (depending upon church size) additional men whom they believe carry a passion for ministry to men and have the spiritual maturity to join the next level. Let them know you will be making your own list of candidates as well. Then get your core team together and prayerfully and honestly review these candidates, agreeing on the men you want to invite to the next level.

Use the same formal interview process as before. Again, the idea here is to plant the vision—let them sense your passion as their pastor. You now have a small group of men you can begin calling on for help, and a second level to assist in carrying out the day-to-day management of your new ministry. Together you may want to come up with a name like Men’s Ministry Council, or some other clever means of identification, that will give each team member a sense of being part of something special.

Disciple Your Leaders
It has been said, “We teach what we know but reproduce who we are.” That parallels another quotable truth, “At the end of the day, our ministry is only as good as the hands that extend it.” Your goal with your leadership team is to help them become, to each other first, what they expect to produce in those they will be serving. In other words, practice discipling each other.

Make a concerted effort to meet, at least weekly, with these leaders with a specific agenda in mind:

  • Go through a structured learning system to help these leaders grow spiritually and in their understanding of leadership.
  • Carve out time for prayer and encouragement—get to know and minister to their areas of struggle.
  • Model transparency—they need to see it in you first.
  • Have the difficult conversations with men who are lagging. Ask them to step back in order to grow more before assuming a leadership role.
  • Discover the weaknesses and strengths of your team.
  • Bring strong training resources geared toward developing good group facilitation. On Target Ministries has recently invested a great deal of time and resources, creating and launching a solid video curriculum for this purpose.
  • Develop a plan together, laying out strategies for at least the next year in reaching and discipling men.

Learning from the Past
As you plan your strategies for growing men, many lessons can be learned from the last few decades of what many call the Men’s Ministry Movement. While several high-quality ministries have evolved and the flag has been raised indicating the importance of ministry to men, we have not had the kind of results for which we had hoped. In fact, men in the church may be worse off today than they were when the movement began.

That statement is not meant to be a slam aimed at many fine efforts, but rather, a testimony to the power of our culture to pull men away faster than we are able to engage them in meaningful discipleship. One of the reasons this has happened stems from our unwillingness to strive for and measure the right outcomes. Our tendency to value events and numbers over observable spiritual maturity is at the center of this dilemma.

A word of caution here: Please know I would never say events are bad. Rather, I am saying that we may be eventing men to death. In putting all our eggs in the event basket, we fail to realize that men are rarely experiencing any life-giving transformation. For sure, well-planned events can be a rich, soul-satisfying experience. However, our failure to move men beyond the event and into meaningful, ongoing spiritual development is a significant problem and a lost opportunity.

The question is, why are lives not being transformed? It’s not because events are uninspiring. It’s also not a lack of truth—we have the best truth since Jesus walked our planet. Rather, it’s because we fail to give men what they crave most. It takes a relational environment for truth to become transformational.

Most church-sponsored ministries to men are awkward at creating the kind of life-giving relational environments where we can move that truth from life implication to life application.

Growth through Relationships
Our job as pastors and leaders is to cast the vision, gather the right people to move that vision forward, and measure the right outcomes—spiritual growth, not numerical breadth. Men grow most effectively through an ongoing commitment to a small-group system around some sort of carefully chosen curriculum. At On Target Ministries, we are committing our entire future to the development of this idea with new curriculum and facilitation training.

One of the primary reasons men give up on small groups has to do with poor group management or facilitation. If they see a well-organized plan and that leaders have high expectations, the men will feel cared for and loved. It is also important that your leaders are highly trained, encouraged, and appreciated—remember what the great Oswald Chambers said, “God will not do any more through you than you first allow him to do in you.”

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CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A COPY OF THIS BOOK

 

Urgency VS Responsibility

responsibility-2A wakeup call for Christians

Cindy and I just returned from a prayer walk with our dog Beau. As Cindy was praying for many things I softly whispered to God, Lord, please give me a greater sense of urgency for these troubled times we are experiencing. I no sooner got that request set before Him that He responded pretty bluntly. Vince, there is no sense of urgency in My kingdom. I do not want you to have a greater sense of urgency just a deeper understanding of your responsibility.

Wow. This is the second time He has shared with me my need to take the responsibility He has given me more seriously. I admit I am a little slow but I am starting to get it. God is not anxious about the condition of the culture we have created so much as He is seeking to get the attention of many of His followers who have allowed it to happen.

My tendency to lean toward a sense of urgency is motivated by a combination of hearing it from the mouths of other Christian leaders and taking in the sights and sounds being projected by all of the contemporary forms of media, most of which is purposely manipulated. I think the Lord is telling me to keep my eye on the ball and avoid getting deceived. The enemy is hard at work and he is the great deceiver—even of the elect.

As I continued through this morning contemplating all of this my mind flashed back to an experience I had when I was 16. I wrote about this some time ago and it had to do with a meeting I attended of a secret society where I was being initiated. There were about 30-40 of us young new recruits who were asked to go into a room and wait until the program started. What happened in that room was something so deeply etched in my mind that I will never forget it.

The AC was off and it must have been close to 100 degrees. We were in there for an hour at least and several of us near the door were getting angry and yelling at those on the other side who had us locked in. It escalated to the point where once the door opened a violent fight broke out with our captors. There was a stabbing and you could see blood everywhere. Finally it ended, we were all scared and the ambulance carted away the wounded.

Once back in the main auditorium we were now audience members waiting for the leader to speak. There was a heightened sense of fear and anxiety. What I did not notice at the time were about 50 men in black robes standing around the perimeter of the room, my dad one of them, seemingly very calm. When you are anxious the obvious is not considered. Of course we went on to learn that was the purpose of the whole put-on event. It was all a show.

After introducing the well-planted actors they went on to teach us that this was a lesson about how communism works. It only takes a few to mislead the unaware masses.

My friend, this is what is happening in our world today. I am sorry to say that many of us Christians are falling for the trap. We have our eyes on what is being fed to us through our “enlightened” culture filled with an unprecedented ability to communicate. The so-called enlightened culture we have today has produced the darkest world we have ever seen by deliberately choking off the only true light.

The battle lines have never been so clear, resulting in an atmosphere of heightened tensions. In order to hold to their warped worldview, people find they must deny God. Consequently, their actions begin to produce an elevation of anger and violence. Logically, of course, this makes no sense—if there is no God then why should you be angry with someone who believes there is?

If there is no God then why should you be angry with someone who believes there is?

I am persuaded that human beings hold deep within a sense of what is right and wrong. Deep inside their heart there is a sense that something is not right. Maybe it is the awareness of that hole that only God can fill. As a result, the more we try to persuade others of our rightness the more conflicted we become and the obvious outworking of this takes the form of anger, often violent anger. In my early sin-filled life I experienced a lot of this as everything I did seemed to go against the grain of what God intended for me.

So here is our dilemma—how do I as a Christian respond to this? A sense of urgency often ushers in misguided and shallow attempts to make a difference. A deeper understanding of my responsibility, on the other hand, should bring about a more thoughtful and effective approach.

My friend yes, the times are dark and likely to get much darker. It has been predicted after all. As Christians we cannot afford to set aside our responsibility, however. God is calling us to awaken a dead world to the life and love of Jesus—and yes—even if we face persecution for doing so.

I want to address three groups of people with some ideas to consider in light of all that I am saying here:

For Pastors and church leadership:

  • Recognize the extent to which your church and Christian message may be producing cap pistols when the world needs aircraft carriers
  • Stop preaching a watered down version of God’s Word
  • Consider that the number of people who attend your church is NOT an indicator of how BIG (spiritually mature) your church is
  • Quit worrying about who is leaving your church—it is none of your business—your business is to make sure you and Jesus are on the same page.   The rest is His problem not yours—anything less than this is pride
  • Stand firm against the threats of our secular and anti God culture—BE COURAGEOUS!

(On a personal note, I must admit that I have been guilty of violating much of this—it continues to be a temptation)

Amos 5:23-24 Away with your hymns of praise!  They are only noise to my ears.  I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is.  Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, a river of righteous living that will never run dry.

For the Christian:

  • Stop looking for churches that make you feel good
  • Make it a priority to place yourself in environments where your spiritual growth is the number one priority
  • Quit arguing with the world—go deeper with God and He will use you at the proper time
  • Stop watching and listening to most forms of social media and news—the majority of it is designed to mislead you
  • Determine to do whatever it takes to get closer to God—get up earlier and get into that devotional routine you have been putting off
  • Consider starting a small group in your home devoted to growing disciples

Rom. 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is –his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For the non Christian:

  • Please do not close your heart
  • Try to keep an open mind about the existence of a great and mighty God who is crazy about you
  • If you are angry consider where it may be coming from
  • Before you accept anyone’s idea of truth be courageous enough to research and test its validity
  • Quit exposing yourself to information and books that already support your ideas and start looking at the other side—there is nothing more frustrating than talking to someone who has never exposed themselves to opposing views
  • Walk away from people who are overly critical and judgmental
  • Find a church that only teaches the unadulterated truth of the Bible and where you sense that you are loved no matter what

Eph. 1:18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…

 

NEW BEGINNINGS (Exciting August Update)

4C7F43FD-8A3F-4E03-858A-B988D0B7E8FC 2For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Ps 30:5

I thought of the above verse the other day as I experienced an extensive time of weeping. It was that time—that inevitable day when Cindy and I would come to realize our transition is complete. Our daughter Kim’s family here in Temecula just moved to Illinois. Our daughter Kris’s family, from Colorado Springs, have just concluded a two week stay here helping us unpack and culminating with an amazing Hawaii get away and just went back home to Colorado.

For the first time in our 52 years of marriage we are not living near any of our kids. To some families this is not an issue—not so with us. For whatever reason we find it very hard not being near our loved ones.   Perhaps it is the way we were raised and a holdover from another era. Whatever the reason, this adjustment is hard.

In addition, we are also seeking the Lord for what the next season of our life and ministry will look like and desperately pursuing His will. Ps 30:5 has become my anchor here—we are moving from mourning to morning. Navigating from a time of deep anguish and uncertainty to a new season of rejoicing promised by God. I can tell you this, at no time in our life together have Cindy and I been more in love with Jesus. I cannot imagine encountering many of the challenges and transitions we have experienced without His tender hand guiding us.

Now, here we are, setting up our new in home office, positioning furniture, hanging pictures and daily spending time seeking His call for this next season. Honestly, we really do believe the best for us personally and for On Target Ministries is yet to come. We are persuaded that rejoicing is close at hand.

On the ministry front I am busy researching and planning for the future—here is a list of current activities that we would love your prayers and financial support for:

  • Had first leader meeting to begin training for our mid September start up of On Target Institute here for the Temecula Valley. We already have over 60 men who have expressed an interest in attending even without a major local marketing push.
  • Setting aside a couple of hours each day to work on a re-write of our original book, Wired To Work and working with Pat McGuire on a new cover and release for later this year or early 2018.
  • Preparing to work with the San Diego Rescue Mission to fire up a weekly men’s gathering there for about 150 homeless men in their program—a great honor and very excited to see how our curriculum will resonate.
  • Preparing for speaking at the NAME Canada national marriage conference this fall in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Our third invitation to bring our couples ministry to this wonderful event.
  • Raising funds or grant money to complete our Men On Target manual for our new curriculum. Still needing about $5,000.00 and once raised this resource will be a powerful tool in the hands of our students while becoming a significant funding source for our future.
  • Looking for opportunities to do part time coaching or consulting to help raise additional personal support to lessen the burden on OTM.

I want to also say that 2018 is already shaping up to be an exciting year. Promise Keepers New Zealand is planning a 2-4 week trip for us to conduct a couple of major events and church services. They are also looking to help us extend this trip by serving PK Australia while we are there.

Finally, another reminder that summer is upon us and most know that ministries really do need extra support for these lean months. That is certainly the case with us. Our situation is also a bit more serious as the relocation has interrupted our ability to put on the annual golf fundraiser we have benefitted by for the last 24 years.

That said, please pray about an extra special generous donation this month to help.

Cindy and I remain so grateful for your prayers and financial support.

 

May God richly bless you,

Exciting July 2017 News And Move Update

otileaderphotoJune was a wonderful month here in Temecula. It began with our incredible trip to Eureka, California that we shared with you in our last letter. We are so grateful for all that God continues to do in and through our ministry. So many lives, marriages and leaders are being impacted.

On Fathers Day I had the privilege of speaking at our home church, Sunridge Community, here in Temecula. Our pastor, Britt Sipe, asked me to speak and also communicate the launch of our On Target Institute here in the Fall. This was my second opportunity to speak to this congregation of very special people.

My challenge on this special day was to minister some powerful nuggets of truth while at the same time advertising our OTI launch and getting some men to sign up. I was able to share all the wonderful things God had done through OTI in Colorado Springs over the years. Literally thousands of men and marriages impacted and many first time commitments to surrender to Jesus have resulted from this effort.

I was also able to minister two important nuggets, or takeaways. First, the importance of establishing a daily habit of being in God’s Word. I told them how God has been dealing with me in this area and used a number of personal illustrations that I believe encouraged many. A number of people came up to our table later and shared how meaningful the message was to them.

I concluded by talking about the importance of committing to a relational environment in order to truly grow. We unpacked how OTI works, not because of the teachers or even the curriculum as much as the small group dynamic. I shared how critical it is to discover truth—but also the idea that truth must be understood in the context of life-implication and the life-application. Life-application must be processed in a healthy small group setting with other men if there is going to be any long-term benefit.

When I finished I prayed for them and then asked if anyone would like to make a commitment to begin a new daily devotional habit of reading God’s word. I also asked if any would like to use the occasion of this special Fathers Day to ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. What happened next was overwhelming—so many responses that we could not count them.

As I surveyed the auditorium I was so blessed to see the hands raised to acknowledge surrender to Jesus. I remember one couple who made this important decision together. There were literally dozens. I never get tired of seeing how powerfully the Holy Spirit works in setting like this. I am also reminded of the importance of prayer for these precious souls to protect them from the enemy’s efforts to thwart all that God did.

Finally, we had about 60 men sign up for our OTI startup. This truly exceeded our expectations. Now, over the next two months, we will be looking for a dozen or so men who will become our discussion leaders and go through our leadership training series. I anticipate our training in the month of August and the weekly gatherings to start sometime in September. We are also looking into rebooting our LiveStream efforts to make this available over the Internet around the world.

On a personal note we want you to know where we are regarding our move. This week we are literally helping our daughter and her family pack up for their move out to Illinois around the 15th. They move out of their house on the 10th and we move in our furniture in rout from Colorado Springs on the 11th. Needless to say—we need a lot of help and prayer support—a very hectic time as any of you who have moved would know.

On July 3rd Cindy and I along with Jason and Kim celebrated our anniversaries. Number 52 for us and 24 for our kids. We enjoyed a very special dinner on the beach in Carlsbad with some friends and took in a beautiful sunset. A fitting and relaxing time just before the fireworks began.

Please pray for us through this transition and settling in time. We have to navigate all of this and still manage the ongoing needs of On Target Ministries. It is also summer—and most of you know that finances during this time can be tight as ministry events typically start up again in September. Please also pray for special gifts to come in during this season.

Cindy and I want you to know how much we love and appreciate all you do for us—you are the best.

May God richly bless you as we continue to partner together for the souls of men,

Vince

A Word For The 2017 Christian High School Grad…And You Too (Dedicated to Parker)

18952829_10213590174454940_5820271217442601577_nAs I was sitting through an incredible high school graduation ceremony the other day I was flooded with two powerful emotions. First, Joseph Parker Butchko is Cindy and my first-born grandson. Hard to imagine we are old enough to be experiencing this, but never been so proud. Incredible memories of watching this fine young man grow up into the strong Christian he has become.

My second emotion was a little more concerning. I could not help thinking about the world he is about to enter and the challenges he will no doubt face as a follower of Christ. My thoughts went back to a conversation we had around our dinner table just the night before. We talked about the difficulty young Christians encounter today in the form of good friends and peers who do not truly understand the proper Christian world-view.

Many of these young people, while well intentioned, do not possess a realistic understanding of what God’s Word reveals about life. They have bought into a world-view shaped more by their current circumstances, the opinions of other people they may respect or trust and perhaps most significantly, the attitudes of the popular culture of today. As a result, they tend to discount the Bible’s absolutes. A quote I just put on my FaceBook feed perhaps says it best, Absence of a true understanding of “the God who is” will always lead to the pursuit of “a god that you want”.

The ceremony we experienced on this day was exceptional. Linfield Christian School is a strong Bible teaching and believing environment dedicated to building young men and women who will be people of Godly character. The Headmaster who gave the Charge said it best, you need to be Christians who will be salty and bright representatives of Jesus in today’s world.

As I sat through the ceremony I pondered what I could tell my grandson that would truly condense my advice to him during this important transition. Two powerful ideas came to me—always love people and never compromise God’s word. While I am persuaded that all graduates who profess to be followers of Christ need to hear this, I am equally convinced there is something here for all of us. Let me explain further.

First, Always love people. No matter who they are, where they have been, what they have done, how they believe or think, ALL people. If there is any one idea that exemplifies what Jesus teaches through His word it is this. We are called to love people like He loved them, unconditionally. The awkwardness we face today is born out the lie that says, you cannot really love me unless you except everything I believe and do.

Dear Christian graduate, please hear me, avoid this trap. You can stand for what the Bible teaches and still love those who do not. As I close in a moment I will give you some practical tips that might help you in this area.

Second and most important, never compromise God’s word. This means that you cannot attempt to water down what Jesus teaches in order to appear more hip or with it. To do so puts you into the category of pursuing a god you want at the exclusion of the God who is. This too is a very dangerous trap and one that far too many who call themselves Christians have fallen into.

Here is the caveat, your ability to not compromise God’s word and be accepted for it is made much easier when you treat people with love in the first place. In other words, the latter, never compromise God’s word, is best facilitated by the former, always love people.

I want to suggest some practical ideas that may help you as you move forward. Whether you are headed off to college or entering the work world; these ideas can help.

  • Get connected to a small group of like-minded Christians to do life with. This can create a healthy environment where you can share your successes and failures and pick up valuable ideas and prayer support.
  • Consider finding an older person who will commit to being your mentor. Someone who will be there for you, pray for you, and bring correction when necessary.
  • Make sure you stay connected to a strong Bible believing local church and get involved in their ministry.
  • Form good devotional habits—rise as early as needed in order to read the Word, pray and praise God every single morning. THIS IS CRITICAL FOR AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.
  • Look for opportunities God may be putting in front of you every day to love others and be a strong witness for Jesus. Every day begin by praying, Lord, do not let me miss the opportunities You may place in front of me today to represent You.

And finally, always remember how special you are to our Lord. He is crazy about you and desires for you to truly become the man or woman He intended.

Eph. 1:11 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…

Jeremiah 29:11For 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.

Eph. 1:18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…