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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.

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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

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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.”

CLICK BELOW LINK FOR CHAPTERS AND AUTHORS
How to Disciple Men – Sample copy

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A COPY OF THIS BOOK

 

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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…

 

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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…

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The Death Of Consensus

hqdefaultImagine this—throughout human history there has existed two streams, the stream of good and the stream of evil. One might say light vs. dark—or God vs. anti God. A well known pastor once concluded that these two streams have been running in opposite directions throughout history at a slow enough speed to allow you and me to have a foot in both of them. I think you get the idea here—this is where so many of us who call ourselves followers of Christ tend to live.

Today we are finding that these streams are no longer slowly meandering. Rather, they are now moving so rapidly on opposite courses that if you try to have a foot in each—you will be torn apart. In other words, the light is becoming brighter and more obvious at the same time as the darkness is becoming more intense. In my lifetime I have never seen this much polarization in our nation. I am convinced that it is going to get substantially worse at a faster pace than we can imagine.

Consider the following list of controversial beliefs in our culture today:

  • Homosexuality is the moral equivalent of heterosexuality and should be celebrated
  • A developing fetus in the womb is not a human being…you can destroy it if you choose
  • Without a single shred of evidence to support the theory of evolution…you accept it as fact
  • With incontrovertible evidence to support that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead…you deny it
  • It is more important to give people who are down-and-out a handout instead of a hand up
  • Mankind is causing global warming and it will inevitably lead to our demise. Though the evidence is inconclusive, those who are skeptical are ignorant
  • We should have open borders and all people should be allowed to enter our country…no restrictions
  • The US constitution should be a fluid document and we should be changing it to better suit the times we live in
  • Racism is the worst it has ever been in our country and the police and white privilege are mostly to blame
  • Socialism is preferable to Capitalism and the government has the answers to most of our problems
  • Islam is a religion of peace
  • All religions are equal and any who claim to possess the “truth” should be condemned as intolerant

If you could use only one word to describe someone who believes in 90 percent of this, what would it be?

I am suggesting this exercise because I think it is time for those of us who are truly Bible believing Christians to get our heads out of the sand. These and many other issues we are facing today are defining the battleground. Consensus on these ideological positions is no longer possible. The enemy of our soul is alive and well among us.

We have allowed our voices to be silenced by those who cleverly define Biblical/moral values as political…they are NOT! We cannot allow this to continue, but I fear we do not know how to stop it. We are awkward and intimidated in our response to a pervasive anti-God culture. So, what does all this mean? What can we take away from this?

Before I suggest what we need to do, let me tell you what we need to avoid. We do not need more Christian apologetics and worldview experts to help us define the problem. While the information is helpful and stirs a lot of emotions, it fails to get to the heart of what is necessary. We also do not need, nor can we tolerate, reluctance on the part of our pastors and leaders to call out sin and anti-Christian sentiment from our political leaders and institutions. Finally, we do not need more Christians getting angry and trying to argue our way through this quagmire. It only pushes people further away.

One of the greatest challenges we face in advancing the message of Jesus Christ in our world today comes from our inability to transition from anger and disgust to love and grace.

Ok, so what is the answer, Vince? Good question! I want to offer my best counsel here with a caveat—I am only a man. I am not God. Please take what I am about to share in a prayerful and measured way.

If you have been following my TargetPoint articles for some time you may recall back in November of 2008 I felt strongly that God gave me a word. In fact there were five words—MY PEOPLE ARE NOT PREPARED! I remember not completely understanding at that time what that meant. It was only a short time later that we experienced one of the worst financial meltdowns in recent history.

I remember how many of God’s people were devastated. Marriages and families were in crisis. We recognized later that very little of this had to do with our circumstances. In fact, all the circumstances did was shine a light on the lack of substance that was there all along. Someone once said, trials in life do not make a person…they reveal them.

Born out of intense personal experience and some hard knocks, I have come to understand what many of you have heard me share as, THE SECRET TO LIFE. If you have watched me speak, you may recall the hand illustration I use to suggest how we place God between ourselves and our circumstances. It is only then that we are able to see our world through His eyes—this is key.

It is not easy, however. I must admit that I am vulnerable to being sucked into the twenty-four hour news cycle with its unending array of hot news flashes. It is obvious that so much of this is embellished to persuade our views and increase ratings. DEAR ONES PLEASE HEAR ME—THERE IS NO WAY FOR ME TO TAKE MY EYES OFF ALL OF THIS UNLESS I PUT MY LORD IN FRONT.

So here is what I want you to consider as a takeaway; in order for us to truly put God between us and our current circumstances…to address where we are today in our world and be in a position to truly make a difference, we need to draw near to Him (James 4:8). There is no other way. God’s word calls us to love Him and each other—the two greatest commandments. Can you imagine how different our world would look if we could accomplish this?

Here are some ideas I would ask you to consider:

  • Stop being a news junkie—you are being manipulated and brainwashed—there is no more objectivity
  • Spend the time you use taking in information from the TV, internet and newspapers and add it up—then determine to use that time to meet with God—reading His word, praying, praising and listening.
  • Bottom line, quit doing 360’s looking for answers—simply lift your head straight up to the Lord of Lords and King of Kings
  • Surround yourself with people who are like minded for encouragement and prayer support—we so desperately need that
  • Start or join a weekly support/accountability group—for men, women or as couples

Consider the giant Sequoia or Redwood Tree, one of the largest living organisms on the planet. They are enormous and strong, but did you know that just one Sequoia or Redwood is incapable of standing on its own? Their very shallow root structure, underground and unseen, is intertwined with their fellow giants. They literally hold each other up.

Dear friends, please understand that the winds of the world are blowing with more force today than at any time in recent history…if you try to go it alone—you will be blown over.

If you are able to do these few simple things I know that God, by His Spirit, will equip you to better navigate and ultimately become the man or woman He intended. It will not be by posturing, arguing or political maneuvering—it will be by His Spirit.

On a personal note, three years ago God impressed upon me the need to spend more time with Him. He told me I was not taking my responsibility as a minister of His word seriously enough. I will never forget that encounter. Since then I have been spending 2-3 hours every morning reading His word, praying, praising and listening. IT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE.

BY THE WAY, GOD HATES CONSENSUS!

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Attributes Of A Godly Friend

180712_10150097376353598_5937223_nDedicated to the life and memory of Dr. Dan Erickson, my friend 
Vince D’Acchioli

A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.  
                                                           ― William Shakespeare

I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend, Dan Erickson. Were it not for his unconditional love, incredible wisdom, gentle challenges and persistent encouragement, I would not have had the ministry success I experience today. His words to me and probably everyone he ever encountered, you’re the best, reverberate in my soul often and always will.

As you read these five attributes of a friend I know you will be blessed. If you knew Dan you will also see him powerfully as they are unpacked. I pray this blesses you and becomes a challenge toward becoming a better friend.

slide03One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a 
brother.   Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)

The first attribute is Commitment. A Godly friend is there for you no matter the circumstances. They are willing to get up a 3 AM and meet you to talk and work through emergencies. They follow through on their promises. When they tell you they will pray about something—they actually pray. Dan was this kind of friend to so many of us. When he knew I had a struggle he would not only pray and offer wisdom, but he would also pick up the phone and want a report on how I was doing. He did not forget.

slide05Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.  Proverbs 27:5-6 (NIV)

At a time in my ministry where my own pride was threatening to suffocate what God wanted to pour through me Dan not only recognized it but did something about it. I will never forget the occasion when he gently whispered to me, Vince, you know you must descend before you can ascend. I knew what he meant—and he knew I understood what he meant. Humility is what God is looking for in all of us. Dan not only modeled it—he encouraged others to do the same. The occasion I refer to here was a game changer for me and one I will never forget.

slide07Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)

Ok, so if you knew Dan you are saying—no brainer dude—this epitomizes the man. Not only was he famous for the, you’re the best encouragements, he also helped you become better in practical ways. I have witnessed first hand this man humbly taking a back seat and give up the platform because he thought it would be better for someone else.

slide09My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.   John 15:12-13 (NIV)

You ever have someone in your life that you just know would take a bullet for you? Of course you might expect that from a parent or perhaps your grandparents—but a friend? There was no doubt in my mind that Dan was this kind of friend. When you would hang out with him you just knew he had you’re back.

slide11As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

In Dan’s case it is only fitting that I conclude with this one. Dan was one of the early leaders in the Promise Keeper ministry and was instrumental in brining denominational leaders to the movement. In those days we all remember the phrase taken from our verse…as iron sharpens iron. Dan lived this verse. He believed in the concept that we help each other to grow and that with God’s help and the support of Godly friends, there is nothing we cannot overcome and no limits to what we can accomplish.

Though the loss of my dear friend prompted this message I want you to know that when I recorded this exact program a couple of years ago I actually put it together with Dan as one of my role models. As I conclude I would be remiss if I did not consider what our dear brother would want you to take away from all of this. It would certainly not be a heightened sense of sorrow for him—he is with our Lord now and wearing the crowns brought about by the very attributes he allowed God to work into his life.

Rather, Dan would want each of us to ponder these special qualities and ask ourselves two important questions—one a scale of 1-5:

How would I rate my closest friend(s)?

How would I rate myself as a friend?

Thank you Dan…you truly were and still are, THE BEST.

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Vote Your Conscience? Really?

homer-simpson-690x382All night long my sleep was interrupted with more and more ideas to ad to my already monstrous list of wrongs I perceived were done to me by a contractor I had hired.  The more I thought about it the angrier I became.  I was livid. You see, I have discovered there are two sides to my brain, the Italian side and the Christian side. One says wackem and the other says love him. Seriously though—we do go back and forth between the flesh and the spirit, do we not?

Well, the next morning as I began my private time with God, I prayed, Lord, search me today, as I always do every day.  I then opened to my first reading assignment in my read through the Bible in a year program and this is the verse I read:

Jeremiah [12:1] LORD, you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. Now let me bring you this complaint: 

It was an amazing epiphany for me.  I got down on my knees and asked God to please forgive me for allowing a spirit of self-righteousness, bitterness and anger to invade my heart and sear my conscience.  Please forgive me for not living what You have given me to teach others.  Help me, Lord to truly become the man You intended.

I realized that any injustice, if it exists, is not for me to discern.  My only assignment is to bring it before Him.  He helped me understand that what this man and I were dealing with is not the issue—the issue has to do with how much He loved both of us and expects our response to always be going to Him first. Crawling up in His lap. Gaining His perspective. To close the story—I did write this man and instead of expecting anything from him in return—God gave me the power to forgive and ask for forgiveness from him.

Ok, so what does all this have to do with our title? Almost daily I hear people saying vote your conscience when it comes to the upcoming election. It begs the question, what is conscience and what are the implications here. As followers of Jesus we understand the Biblical perspective of man being made up of three parts, body, soul and spirit.

In 1 Timothy 1:5 Paul says, The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience… 

T. M. Moore, writing in the Christian Worldview Journal describes conscience this way: The mind, heart, and conscience are three components of the soul: all must be shaped and brought into the effort of learning and living according to the teachings of sound doctrine.

What is the conscience? In the soul the conscience is that immaterial component that develops and stores our values, priorities, and default choices. Another way of thinking of the conscience is as the will. In the soul a continuous dialog is underway between the mind – what we think – the heart – how we feel – and the conscience – our most basic convictions. The conscience functions as a kind of referee in the soul, bringing together the thoughts of our minds and the affections of our hearts in a harmonious and truthful way, so that love can issue from all our learning. Thus, it is very important that the conscience be in proper working order – what Paul describes as a “good” conscience, one that pleases God and serves men (Acts 24:16).

Please notice the phrase; Thus, it is very important that the conscience be in proper working order. My friend, have you examined your conscience. It is clear from my personal illustration that even those of us who are seemingly mature Christians who have followed the Lord for many years are prone to having our conscience seared.

So, as we ready ourselves to enter that voting process this time may I suggest a few ideas to consider? Here are a series of questions you may want to take before God:

  • What role may self-righteousness, bitterness and anger be playing right now as it relates to the condition of my heart? Remember, what we think affects how we feel, (our heart) and that impacts our convictions.
  • Lord, am I truly seeking You and Your perspective on the matters before me or have I made up my mind without You?
  • If I examine the time I spend watching and absorbing news VS seeking you in prayer, how would it stack up?
  • To what extent have I allowed my convictions to be shaped by others as opposed to my own Spirit-led discovery?
  • Am I finding it difficult to realize the good God may be seeing in the midst of all of the turmoil and confusion?
  • Am I finding it difficult to be at peace knowing that God is not anxious about this or any election?

1 Timothy 4:1-2 (ESV)  Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared…

Titus 1:15 (NIV)  To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.

Some people say they will follow their conscience…many of us have dead consciences. Your conscience is no longer a safe guide. You’ve deadened it.  —Billy Graham

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Becoming A Pawn? (The Truth/Deception Paradigm)

ConfusedPawnSurely God would not… -The devil

When I was 16 years old my dad brought me to an indoctrination meeting for a group that he had become a member of. As I was passing into manhood, he suggested it would be good for me.

I remember entering a large auditorium where about 50 other men of various ages were seated, awaiting the program. The moderator asked us to leave for a short time, as they needed to prepare the room for the presentation. So they ushered all of us into a small room to wait.

I remember thinking this is sure a small space for all these men, and there were no chairs. It will probably be a short wait, I thought. It was not. In fact, the wait was nearly an hour. During that time I remember being uncomfortable, as it began to get hot and stuffy. The door was locked so there was no way out.

Pretty soon some of the men were feeling very uncomfortable, even claustrophobic. One of the men started knocking on the door insisting to be let out, only to be told by the man on the other side to be patient. The conversation escalated and the knocking became pounding by not just one but now about 3-4 men. The language became so heated that threats of bodily harm were being thrown in both directions.

When the door finally swung open the mayhem began. Immediately 3-4 of our men grabbed the doorkeeper, tackled him to the ground and began beating him mercilessly. After a minute or so I saw a knife appear and almost instantly there was blood everywhere. They had stabbed this man multiple times.

The scene became eerily quiet as most of us just stood back in utter shock. In very short order emergency responders appeared on the scene, attended the injured man and took him off in an ambulance. The rest of us were then asked to go back to the auditorium and take a seat.

What happened next I will never forget. The moderator took the platform and proceeded to introduce all the actors. None of what we had just experienced was what we had perceived. It was all an act. The moderator told us that this was an illustration of how communism works. An example of how a few well-placed people with a well thought-out plan can establish circumstances designed to manipulate the masses into seeing a reality that does not exist. We were literally pawns.

As I think back upon this experience I cannot help thinking about how much of this goes on today all over our world. Leadership is key here, but we must remember that it can be good or evil depending upon its motivations. Good leadership is always undergirded by truth. In contrast evil leadership is always based upon deception. We all know how far back this goes—it started in the garden when the devil convinced the first couple that there was a different reality than God had shown them.

So, you might ask, why am I sharing this? I am persuaded that to a large extent we are all pawns nurtured and developed by small minorities with motives we often do not perceive. As we go into what might be the most important election cycle in our nation’s history I want to give you some things to think and pray about. I also want to say that deception is not associated with any political party or group—it is practiced by all.

We are well aware that the enemy wants to destroy, and throughout history has used people for his evil purposes. As a result we must be discerning always about the intentions of leaders; the higher the level the more potential destruction.

If I were a leader with evil intentions designed to destroy our nation, I would:

  • Remove all reference to a moral authority not agreed upon by the state and intimidate the church by proclaiming deep moral issues are political and therefore off limits.
  • Indoctrinate upcoming generations of young people with information designed to create a negative attitude toward our nation, established authority, and the rule of law
  • Control the basic necessities of life: water, food and natural resources, through a series of far-reaching regulations, and convince people it is in order to save the planet
  • Bring about anarchy by exaggerating and making up stories designed to polarize around race, gender, class and lifestyle issues in order to exercise more control (possibly martial law)
  • Reduce the ability to protect ourselves through compromising our national defense systems and disarming our citizens
  • Create a large poor and homeless population and convince them it is the system around them that is at fault (national slavery)
  • Integrate as many immigrants into the culture as possible, especially those with different and oftentimes conflicting ideologies, and whose birthrate far exceeds the majority
  • De-emphasize all threats from outside enemies while covertly supporting them

As a Christian reading this I want you to consider what would happen if, God forbid, we ever have leadership that wants to take us in this direction.

So, here are some questions for you to consider in this critical election cycle:

  1. Are you giving in to deliberate and often-deceptive attempts to get you to evaluate candidates based upon their character flaws, rather than examining the ideologies they stand for and the direction they will pursue?
  2. Do you buy into a reality defined by Fox news or CNN simply because they are your preferred source of what is truth?
  3. To what extent are the conclusions you are arriving at supported by your ethnicity, the color of your skin, how you were raised and what you have been taught, rather than prayerfully considered facts?
  4. Have you prayed and considered, in light of Gods Word, what is truth and what is deception?

Finally, pray God protects us from the evil intentions of our real enemy and for Him to help our leaders who may be influenced by him to see the alternative, His Son.

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Evil, Tragedy & The Christian Man

GodComfortsBefore I begin, a brief caution is called for. While this article is directed toward Christian men it is not intended to minimize the importance of, or responsibility given, to Christian women. I am dealing with men first, because they are the primary focus of our ministry, but particularly out of a deep understanding of the importance God places upon us to lead our families with spiritual wisdom and authority.

Then the Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation. –Gen 7:1

Shortly after the recent tragedy in Orlando, Florida I came across this scripture as part of my morning devotional reading. The author pointed out the conditions that existed in the society around the time of the flood and the similarities to what is happening in our world today are astounding. Here is an excerpt:

The children of Noah faced a significant decision. They lived in a world where everyone blatantly disregarded God. Wickedness was the norm. No one would have condemned Noah’s sons for living evil lives like the rest of society — no one except their father. In a world rampant with ungodly attitudes and every form of wicked behavior, they were fortunate to be Noah’s sons. When their father invited them to spend the next hundred years building an ark in obedience to a word from God, Noah’s sons had to choose whether to believe those around them or to trust their father. They chose to join their father. What a wonderful testimony of Noah’s godly influence in his home! How fortunate for Shem, Ham, and Japheth that their father refused to compromise his integrity, even though everyone else in his society had done so. –From Experiencing God

What is of utmost importance here is NOT the circumstances that existed around them or even the building of the Ark itself. Rather, it is Noah’s response. In the midst of evil and tragic circumstances he maintained his intimacy with God which enabled him to become the sound voice or calming influence to the family God had entrusted to him.

Dear friend therein lies the lesson for you and me today. The issue right now is not the tragedy that unfolded in Orlando or even the people who perpetrated it—rather, it is our response to it as men of God. We are called to be His agents with our wives, children and grandchildren and ultimately to all with whom we come in contact. Like Noah we are called to usher them into a safe place.

So, here is the BIG question. What do people around you see in your response to tragic circumstance? Are you helping them to see things through the eyes of our Lord or contributing to more of a worldly mindset and response?

I want to leave you with three things to consider as you endeavor to become God’s agent in the midst of trying circumstance and tragic events. I would ask you to prayerfully process them and decide to challenge yourself in areas where you may be falling short.

1. Seek God

  • Our first response is to seek God in prayer and ask Him to give you the right (Godly) perspective on what has occurred
  • Ask Him to help you focus your attention on what happened not the people involved
  • Let Him know how much you love Him and know that He is in control and ask Him to prepare you to meet the needs of those around you 
1. Calm others
  • Become a Jeremiah man. Jeremiah looking over the rubble of a destroyed city says, Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
  • Beginning with your own family, become a calming influence.   This is especially important with your wife, kids and even extended family members. Remember, when you profess Jesus as your Lord and Savior, people are watching you—it is at times like this that they want to know if being a follower of Christ really makes a difference.
  • With others you encounter either at work, in your neighborhood or even at church, do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of talking about people, politics or conversations that take you away from how God might view things
3. Focus on our REAL enemy
  • Pray for our nation every day and ask God to protect us from the great deceiver who has come to steal, kill and destroy

Eph. 6:12-17 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore 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, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

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The Death Of Good VS Evil

moralsI do not believe in the God of theology who rewards good and punishes evil
-Albert Einstein

Unfortunately the quote above is reflective of how a lot of modern-day Christian leaders are leaning. This tendency, in my view, is the result of gradually adopting popular cultural ideas about the existence of absolutes. A most pathetic form of religious political correctness has infiltrated much of the church today.

Perhaps the most recent and dangerous manifestation of this is represented by the current positions being expressed regarding the existence of hell. The argument, and a reasonable one I might add, has to do with the perceived lack of clarity in the Bible about our long held views of hell and what it will be like. There is no shortage of parsing words, challenging interpretations of scripture verses and reminders of the lack of biblical evidence to support the concept of hell as it has evolved.

All this activity in my view is a shill-game or sham to cover up what is really happening. What we have unintentionally succumbed to is a world-view that is not comfortable with consequences. I want to be able to live my life any way I want and if it results in negative consequences I have a right to be free from them—in fact—it is probably your fault.

Instead of accepting the God who has revealed Himself to us through His word, we are fashioning one created in our own image. This is absurd at best and pathetic at worst. We want a perfect world as we might define it and do not understand that we live in a fallen one. In fact, it all began with the words put forth by the devil right from the beginning…surely God would not…

Even Pilate responding to Jesus’ claim to testify to the truth put forth the age-old question, what is truth? In many of my conferences I often explain that God is real, He lives in heaven and He has an opinion—and guess whose opinion don’t count? We do not like that. We have been subtly brainwashed into thinking we can determine the absolutes we think appropriate and surely God would not…

If you are doubting what has happened just look at some examples of how this idea has affected us in recent years:

  • Homosexual sex is not only normal…it is celebrated—don’t agree and you will be punished, boycotted, shut down
  • Teens are taught in schools to have safe sex and it doesn’t matter if it is with the same sex
  • If your lifestyle results in disease or other complications—someone else will pay for it
  • Killing the unborn is a human right
  • Raising the bar on what constitutes a punishable offense
  • Releasing prisoners early because it seems humane
  • Tolerating criminal activity by illegal immigrants because we feel sorry for them
  • Children in their early years of public education being taught to question authority
  • Cheating, especially if it creative, is rewarded—lying is ok if the payback is big enough
  • Laziness is rewarded with entitlements
  • The God of the Bible is demonized while dark and radical practices being put forth by other religions are tolerated

NOTE: If after reading this list you find yourself asking why these are negative—you are pursuing a god you want…NOT, the God who is.

This list could go on and on but I think you get the point. We are desperately lost and have given in to the enemy of our soul’s original lie. Do what ever you want and God won’t care. There is no good and evil, right and wrong, black and white—everything is relative. And sin, what an antiquated concept! And then, here is the big one—how could a loving God ever do something so cruel—why would He condemn people for an eternity in utter darkness?

This kind of thinking ignores the deeper question it begs. How could this loving Creator allow the unbelievable pain and suffering experienced by His own Son? If everything is relative—we are all going to be ok in the end—then Jesus’ virgin birth, horrible death and supernatural resurrection was a total waste. The whole purpose of what God did was to shine a bright light upon the consequences of our sin and give us a clear pathway toward salvation. This historical episode was the ultimate statement regarding good VS evil.

My friend all of this begs perhaps the most important question of our time—what does a God-fearing, Bible-believing Christian do in response to what we are seeing? We stand strong. We do not compromise—ever. We draw closer to our God (James 4:8). We develop the kind of faith that will weather anything that comes against it—even onto death. But most importantly, we do not judge the world—we love people the way Jesus would.

The Bible is clear—not complicated to understand. God, through His Holy Spirit has inspired every word. Our job is to meditate upon the truths being revealed and live them out in a way that points people to their Author. It is NOT to engage in arguing a position or point of view. When you encounter people who are supporting some of the viewpoints discussed above—just love them and pray for them. Pray especially that this politically correct theology does not keep others away from discovering the ultimate Truth.

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The Death Of Humility

1588_3121_belmontfootwashingWMan makes himself God through pride, God makes Himself man through humility.      -Jacques Benigne Bossuet

As we take in the never-ending barrage of news clips and sound-bites in this current election cycle it does not take a lot of discernment to notice the gross absence of humility resident in the people we are preparing to elect. Keep in mind—we are talking about the next leader of the free world.

A good friend of mine told me many years ago that you must descend before you can ascend. Isn’t this true with most of life? From the seed buried into the soil that ultimately produces the tree that reaches to heaven all the way to the Creator of the universe who gave Himself up to death and burial in order to rise and make it possible for His people to be saved. There is a law at work here—a profound one.

How did our culture get to where we find ourselves today? A good question whose answer would take up more space and time than I have at the moment. The short and obvious answer for me has to do with what I perceive is a deliberate turning away from God and attempting to understand and manage life through the efforts of man. I also believe this condition is exacerbated by the introduction of social media and the digital revolution.

I can now market myself through text messaging, photos, short video clips and Facebook posts and portray any image I want. My true identity is often never discovered by those in my social media circles. I can pretend—no need to work on my character or seek humility—I have all the tools necessary to project the me I want out there. At the end of the day—I become the man I want to be instead of The Man God Intended.

This quote from Tyron Edwards is one of my favorites:
Humility is not an abject, groveling, self-despising spirit; it is but a right estimate of ourselves as God sees us.  

I am not proud that it has taken me so many years to understand this idea. Like the earlier description of the seed turning into a giant tree and our Lord being resurrected to provide eternal life for His creation—in both instances the reward is preceded by a breaking or crushing event. I am now convinced that seeing God as bigger than we ever thought is critical to entering the pathway toward humility and a big part of that is seeing Him in the midst of our trials.

The leaders we are turning out today, for the most part, do not understand or appreciate this idea. It is all about them. When is the last time you heard a political leader admit on camera that they did not know the answer to ANY question? What does that suggest? Well, it is a deeper problem than you may think. The reason why they want to project the know it all image is that if they don’t—we won’t vote for them.

Dear ones, the problem is that we are looking for God in our leaders and He is not there. Is He involved? Sure He is. But He will not work through haughty and arrogant people who do not recognize their need for Him. The secret to our ever re-discovering this truth and ultimately turning our nation and its leaders around can be found in one of the most often quoted verses in the Bible:

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

My friends, this is a conditional promise and I want you to note the very first one after the IF. Prayer, seeking His face and turning from our wicked ways is preceded by HUMILITY. Could this be the reason why we are NOT seeing God at work in our nation right now?

Proverbs 18:12 Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.

So what can we do? We can understand our need to change. We are in desperate need for people of Godly character and Godly character is always preceded by humility. You and I need to understand how awesome our God is and let that reality influence our opinions of ourselves. We must understand the profound truth found in James 4:8 that says, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

How close I can get to God is determined by how far away I can get from me.   -Vince D’Acchioli

I have discovered the above truth through much pain, suffering and failure due to my efforts to manage and control everything. It was not until I discovered that true peace, the peace Jesus is referring to, can only come when I recognize how little I bring to the table and how much I need Him.

Ok, so you know how much I like to leave you with takeaways so here goes:

  1. Do not be surprised regarding where we are—it is the natural consequence of man apart from God.
  2. Avoid the superficial traps associated with the electronic revolution and social media—pursue meaningful relationships.
  3. Determine to draw near to God with a passion and pray He helps you to become the person He intended.

Finally, I thought you might like my recent Facebook post:

Bitterness, anger, hatred, violence, ignorance, rampant stupidity, small-mindedness, manipulation, selfishness. Dear lover of God, is the reality of all of this swirling around you and attempting to set up residence in your soul? DO NOT LET THAT HAPPEN.  Begin praising our wonderful Lord now–and never stop.

2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV), So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 

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What produces the life of God in us?

6293377_f520The Word says it is the Holy Spirit that produces life.
Cindy D’Acchioli

The Scriptures say the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal 5:22-23) Not much confusion about that, right?

So if we persist in dividing the Body of Christ with political strategies and get sidetracked from the Great Commission by exploiting our theologies and church doctrine, are we missing the point?  It is so easy to settle for what might be good, even noble, at the sacrifice of what is best.

One of Jesus’ brightest apostles warned us that knowledge can puff us up, but it is love that actually gets the work done.  Why would he say this so explicitly? Because he knew how vulnerable we can be to the pride that comes from winning an argument, proving a point or proof-texting people away from Christ. Now this is not to dismiss the power of words spoken in season and a boldness of verbal witness. It is simply a reminder that words not backed up with actions are just words in a world filled with words.

It is the pursuit of a Christ like lifestyle and accruing love that cannot be ignored. I find it significant that the Lord Jesus did not get tangled up in doctrinal discussions and political nuance, but emphasized how the power of the Holy Spirit would transform the lives of those who made the choice to follow Him. “I will make you fishers of men,” He told them, and so He did.

Who then qualifies for His program? Well, I am greatly encouraged by the story of Peter and John standing before the religious leaders. These educated and distinguished men recognized that Peter and John were closer to being high school dropouts than credentialed men with a PhD in anything. And yet they knew they were different. Different indeed. These men have been with Jesus, they concluded. And seriously, that had to be the greatest commendation Peter and John would ever receive this side of heaven.

It is also the very commendation we should be striving for; because people will be drawn to Jesus, not by our ability to quote Bible verses or self-promotional attempts to embarrass them with our expertise in Christian Apologetics, but by the sweet fragrance of our Savior and His redemptive sacrifice being exuded from the very pores of our life.  If only the Body of Christ would embrace this simple truth, falling in love with the Master afresh, I am convinced that we would not only see a more pleasing unity in the church, but a community of faith that could have a real impact on the world around us.

So, what is our takeaway from all of this? It is a real challenge for us to examine our own walk and come to terms with how we are doing in this area. Here are some thoughtful questions you may want to ask yourself.

  • Are people looking for doctrinal answers or are they looking for the love of God? (1John 4:8)
  • If we as God’s children have the gift of the Holy Spirit does our life reflect His presence in us? (John 14:23)
  • Are called to bear fruit? (Matt. 3:8)
  • Who with your permission does the work of bearing fruit in you? (Phil. 2:13)
  • By what evidences would others know that you have the Holy Spirit?  (John 13:35)
  • What about my life is drawing others to the Lord?
  • What areas of my life do I yet have to submit to Him?

Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized they had been with Jesus.

Click to order this important four-part TV series on Real Christianity where Vince discusses how Christians need to approach our world to make a difference for Jesus.

 

 

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The Home Of The Free And The Brave Is Now Filled With Slaves And Cowards

 

cowardly-lionWe have become ideological slaves and practical cowards…How did this happen?

Over thirty year ago I found myself speaking to a group of high school seniors on what was called career day. At that time I was Vince President of a Fortune 1000 company and probably had their respect. At the end of my talk one of the students asked me the following question. Do I need a college education to have a job like yours? I immediately noticed most of the students perk up in anticipation of my answer. They were on the edge of their seats—waiting.

My response to them was not as important as my take away. The question asked was really not the real one—at least not as articulated. The real question they wanted answered was this—how can I escape the time and pain I must endure to achieve the desired result? I left this experience thinking that we are raising a generation of young people who lack patience and the ability to apply critical thought—and that is exactly where we are today. In our relentless pursuit of the easy way we have missed the benefits brought about by the struggle.

In our relentless pursuit of the easy way we have missed the benefits brought about by the struggle

How did this happen? I believe it has to do with a deliberate movement away from our roots. Let me be clear here in saying I am not talking about our roots as a nation—I am referring to our Christian roots and the basic understanding of what our wonderful God is teaching us from His word. It is virtually impossible to study the Bible and not understand the relationship between adversity and character building. It is one of the most profound messages contained from Genesis to Revelation.

This idea is found in every aspect of life on planet earth. From a moth succumbing to the pressure of the cocoon to the oak tree facing the storm that causes its roots to go deeper—it is everywhere in Gods creative world. The bottom line is that we want to gain without the strain.

Add that together with the evolution of technology and the ease with which information is now available and it is no wonder we find ourselves where we are. Many today are ideological slaves—people who form opinions based upon air as they lack the patience to truly uncover deeper truths—and practical cowards as we find few today willing to put everything on the line for a worthy cause.

Many today are ideological slaves—people who form opinions based upon air as they lack the patience to truly uncover deeper truths—and practical cowards as we find few today willing to put everything on the line for a worthy cause.

Dear ones, it is at this point I really need you to hear my heart. The solution to this dilemma does NOT lie in our institutional structures or government. In fact, the one thing that still does work in our nation is representative government. Our government is, and always has been, a representation of the sum of its parts. You can blame the sum all you want but that is not the problem. It’s about the parts—you and me—and what we have become.

If you call yourself a follower of Jesus let me offer a few challenges to you as we enter this very important new year. I would start by encouraging you to reexamine where the battlefield is. It is not in our government or its leaders—it is with you and I—the church of Jesus Christ. We need to be praying for our nation and its leaders—Jesus is calling us to do that. However, the Bible also says that His ears are attentive to the prayers of a righteous man. To me the more important issue is prayer for God’s church and for you and me to understand His principles and begin to embrace and live them out.

Yes, that means understanding this is not a cake walk. It means getting serious about our relationship and walk with Jesus. It means becoming more like the Apostle Paul when it comes to welcoming adversity and understanding that God uses it to build us. Imagine what our country would look like if a majority of our parts resembled Paul.

Imagine what our country would look like if a majority of our parts resembled Paul

Judges 3:2 He did this (allowed the battles) only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience:                  

Ps 4:1 KJV Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.

James 1:2-4 NIV Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

The wind that blows can never kill

The tree God plants;

It blows toward east, and then toward west,

The tender leaves have little rest,

But any wind that blows is best.

The tree that God plants

Strikes deeper root, grows higher still,

Spreads greater limbs, for God’s good will

Meets all its wants.

There is no storm has power to blast

The tree God knows;

No thunderbolt, nor beating rain,

Nor lightning flash, nor hurricane;

When they are spent, it does remain,

The tree God knows,

Through every storm it still stands fast,

And from its first day to its last

Still fairer grows. –Selected

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Jesus Our Lord And Exemplar

silent-night-nativity-scene“To find Majesty in the manger is the miracle.  Never allowing the Child to grow up is another thing.” T.J.H.

He is God and he is human. He is the Lord of Lords yet the greatest Servant of all.

The child of Mary, the baby in the manager; unrecognized by most and honored by few, He is God’s only begotten Son.

His public ministry lasted less than three years, yet His mission had been long set in place before the foundations of earth were established.

The content of hundreds of ancient prophecies and the very promises of God, He entered the human race in a breathless moment the Scriptures refer to as the fullness of time, the unruly noise of animals and the sweet smell of hay attending his birth.

Mary and Joseph kneeling before Him, shepherds called away from their nightly charge, a group of Chaldean astrologers unwittingly led by a cosmic conjunction: Hardly the entourage for the King and Keeper of the universe.  But this is God’s way, not ours.

Over and over this Christmas season we will see this scene replayed on countless Christmas cards, TV Christmas specials, front yard displays and church Christmas Pageants.  We will sing carols and wish each other a Merry Christmas.  Sermons will be preached and choirs will offer stellar performances of Joy To The World and O Little Town of Bethlehem.  We’ll read the story to our families around the kitchen table or lighted Christmas tree. We’ll place statuettes of the principal characters on our mantles or use them as a centerpiece for our holiday dinners.  But in the midst of all this warm familiarity, will we see what God wants us to see?

Will we see the Greatest becoming so very small and vulnerable?  Will we see the humility of Mary and Joseph as they lay aside the world to grasp the things of the Kingdom?  Will we recognize in this familiar scene not only the majesty of our Lord but the example He is placing before us?

“For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves,” He taught His disciples when they were suffering an identity crisis.  And while we live in the deep appreciation and wonder of what He did for us, we cannot forget that it is by this very example He is showing us the pattern for a life that is pleasing to God. 

 Jesus is our Lord and He is also our Great Example. He is the King of Kings yet the greatest Servant of all.  The idea seems so incongruous, so upside down, and yet it may be the very thing that will free us into the glorious liberty God has planned for us and make this Christmas a little different than any other. 

May you be blessed this Christmas one and all,

Lovingly, Cindy D’Acchioli

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In The Midst Of Your Struggle… Do You Have A Thankful Heart?

thankful-heart-a_std_t_nvThis Thanksgiving season marks the five-year Anniversary of Cindy’s miraculous recovery

It was one of those unforgettable moments. I was driving to the hospital on my way to visit Cindy. I remember entering into a period of intense whining. I am a good whiner—some might say even a professional. It was during a particularly dark time in this lengthy 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 six very 
special grandchildren
  • How you are watching over us and extending a supernatural sense of peace 
through this struggle
  • 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 persuaded 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.

Dear friends please allow me to challenge you during this special season. Ask God to help you see your struggles through His eyes. Sometimes the best way to do that is to make a list and begin to recite those things in your life that you are thankful for. I know that some times it is hard to see them through the pain but you must. Trust me on this—it is impossible to thank God for your blessings and whine at the same time—I know—I tried it.

In my morning devotionals I came across this poignant reminder from Streams In The Desert:

Wait in quiet patience. Never complain about what you believe to be the cause of your problems, as the children of Israel did against Moses. Accept your situation exactly as it is and then simply place it with your whole heart into the hand of your covenant God. And while removing any self-will, say to Him, “Lord, ‘Not my will, but yours be done’ [Lk 22:42]. I do not know what to do, and I am in great need. But I will wait until You divide the flood before me or drive back my enemies. I will wait even if You keep me here many days, for my heart is fixed on You alone, dear Lord. And my spirit will wait for You with full confidence that You will still be my joy and my salvation, ‘for you have been my refuge, [and] a strong tower against the foe’ [Ps 61:3].” from Morning by Morning 

I want to close with my favorite verse, 2Chr. 5:13 The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud… 

What a powerful and beautiful picture of how our heavenly Father literally enters the temple as the result of our praise and thankfulness. Dear ones, remember that Jesus came and died for you and me. When He left the Bible says the temple curtain was rent. This now means He literally comes into our very being—WOW!

Cindy and I are so thankful for all of you. May the Lord richly bless you during this Thanksgiving season.

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God’s Creative Purpose Lies On The Other Side Of My Brokenness

UntitledWhen we go in the wrong direction it sometimes feels right and easy—however, the road back can become very steep.

You will recall last month that I wrote to you about my experience with God during a recent silent retreat. The title was, He called me Vinnie. Well, exactly one month to the day later I had another precious encounter with our Lord while attending my second retreat on the very same mountain. Let me share my experience:

Upon arrival at this wonderful and breathtakingly beautiful property on the local mountains outside of Colorado Springs, I and a group of about ten of my men from our local OTI settled in for a brief orientation from our host. After our opening meeting and instruction we all separated and headed out to different locations around the property to begin about 5 hours of complete silence. It is a time to pray, read God’s Word, search our hearts and hear from God. 

As I left the main building I remember thinking that I wanted to try a different direction then the last time I was here. So, I started down a long and winding path to find my perfect spot to meet with the Author and Finisher of my faith. Well, it was a long and very steep downhill trek. I remember thinking, I am going to have to go back this way and it is going to be a steep uphill hike. When I reached the bottom, it was a dead end.

UphillWell, I am one that can attest to what happens when you reach a dead end, when you go in a direction of your choosing and not necessarily the one God would have directed. The journey back can be a long uphill road, and it was. So, my first experience on this day was a reminder of how important it is to make sure God is directing you and that you are not going on in your own flesh.

At the top of the hill and out of breath, I began searching for a good place to camp out and have my quiet time. As I came close to the place I found on my last trip here I found a nice clearing on the side of a hill. It looked and felt right so I put down my backpack chair and sat down to begin with some reading. I read several devotionals and pulled out some thoughts that hit me. The first was out of Streams In The Desert. 

Above all, remember—when God hides His face from you, do not say that He has forgotten you. He is simply waiting for a little while to make you love Him more. And once He comes, you will rejoice with the inexpressible “joy of the LORD” (Ne 8:10). Waiting on Him exercises your gift of grace and tests your faith. Therefore continue to wait in hope, for although the promise may linger, it will never come too late. Charles H. Spurgeon

This was a special word for me—I need to remember that His answers are never too late and how important it is to know He is not hiding but waiting for the proper time.

Then I read this from Blackabee’s Experiencing God devotional—

If you feel strong in an area of your life, beware! Often your strength, rather than your weakness, hinders you from trusting God. God will bring you to a point of weakness if that is what it takes to bring you to trust in Him. Do not despise your weakness, for it leads you to trust in God’s strength.

Another profound word that hit me square between my eyes. If you are like me you probably boast way to much about your strengths and, unlike the Apostle Paul, do not understand the power of your weaknesses. This often comes from a failure to be broken.

Then finally I encountered this excerpt from the writings of Dwight L. Moody—

I was crying all the time that God would fill me with His Spirit. Well, one day, in the city of New York—ah, what a day!—I cannot describe it. I seldom refer to it, it is almost too sacred an experience to name—Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years—I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand.

This incredible man’s ministry really began after he had this encounter. I remember crying out after reading this—I WANT THIS LORD.

Well—now I was situated in my chair looking up at the beauty of God’s creation spread out before me. As I pondered its magnificence my eyes pulled back and focused on a large tree that had fallen and was broken in two pieces right in front of me. As I focused upon the broken area of the tree I found that my eyes were then drawn through the brokenness and I again saw the beauty of His creation. It was at that moment God clearly spoke words to me that hit, and hit hard.

My creative purpose lies on the other side of your brokenness

Image-4I remember vividly—as though it were yesterday—the words of my dear friend and pastor, Jack Hayford. It was many years ago that he told me, Vince, you are a marble that God wants to turn into a grape. He reminded me that a marble will not allow itself to be crushed unless the pressure is extremely intense. So it is with you and me oftentimes. A grape will be crushed easily and the resulting juices will then flow and can nourish the lives of others.

This was a profound time for me—one that I would never have experienced unless I had given myself to a protracted time of listening to God and being quiet. It was also a reminder to me of how desperately I desire to see His creative purpose worked out in my life. The take away for me? The only thing standing in the way of my seeing His great purpose fulfilled is my own stubbornness. HOW ABOUT YOU?

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“He Called Me Vinnie” September TargetPoint

VINNIETruly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matt 18:3 (NIV)

 Last week I attended a silent retreat in the mountains outside of Colorado Springs. While I have experienced a number of occasions where I determined to be quiet before the Lord, I have never gone to a remote site and dedicated myself to solitude at this level of for this amount of time before. For those who know me, being quiet is not one of my natural gifts, especially when it comes to audible communication. It is also difficult for me to quiet my spirit.

In my last letter titled CROSShairs and CROSSroads, I wrote to you about the challenges and excitement we are experiencing in our ministry. It seems that we are having a greater ministry impact than ever in our history while experiencing some of our most challenging times financially. Because of this, I am making every attempt to go deeper with my Lord. I can honestly say that my commitment to getting up at 5:00 every day and spending at least 2-3 hours with Him has been incredible. But I still struggle to hear His voice and sense His presence.

With that said—enter the experience at the silent retreat. My long time friend and pastor, Bill Dodder and I arrived at the site the night before the actual retreat. The next morning, with some brief instruction from our host, we set out into the surrounding woods to spend some quiet time in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable. For most of the morning I continued to experience difficulty quieting my spirit. I cried out to the Lord for just a small glimpse or sense of His presence. I tried to concentrate on hearing Him. NOTHING.

IMG_4243Then, nestled into a rock cliff I opened my bible and read, 1 Kings 3:7 (NIV), Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. From all we know about Solomon at the time of this writing he was NOT a little child. His age was probably between twenty and thirty. So, what was he saying? He was living out what Jesus i
s saying to all of us from Matthew 18:3.

Immediately after reading that verse I heard God whisper to me—Vinnie. I remember experiencing two profound thoughts—first I knew it was Him—and second—my dear mom calling me Vinnie when I was a little boy. As soon as I experienced these thoughts I began to weep. The Lord allowed me to instantly understand what He was trying to say—you need to approach Me as a child. Simple idea? Yes. Difficult? You bet.

We are living in a world where our level of sophistication and perceived knowledge carry more weight and value than our internal character. What Jesus is referring to in the beatitudes are typically not sought after in this world more enamored by form over substance. God is truly impressed by the simple. Why is it so hard for me to get this?

I remember weeping and crying out to God one day, I am so weary of not seeing your miracles. Many of you will remember this story from when Cindy was in the hospital and not expected to live. I no sooner got those words out of my mouth than He spoke. Vince, do you remember the other day when you entered that ICU—I remember this vividly—do you remember that Cindy was still in a coma and had not been awake in weeks? Remember when you came around that corner and you saw her face—her eyes popped open and she gazed at you and got that little smile on her face? Choking back the tears I said, yes Lord I do remember.

Then He said, Vince do you remember the other day when you went in to her room and she was completely limp—no ability to move a muscle? Remember when you put your finger into her closed hand and experienced that ever so gentle squeeze and you saw that little tear roll down her cheek? No longer able to control my own tears I said, yes Lord I do.

Well, He went on to remind me of a couple more occasions like these and then He paused—I think to give me time for what He was about to shout in my ear. He said, Vince, those are my miracles. And when you quit looking for Me in the sensational…you’ll find Me in the simple!

He wants us to look right in front of us—every day—every step-along-the-way for His purpose. He wants us to notice the small things that come our way like that person waiting on you at the restaurant that is not very friendly and consider how God might be viewing them. He wants us to see Him in ALL our circumstances—not just the big or grandiose ones. This idea was huge for me. He wants us to get up every morning asking Him to go before us and help us recognize what He may be doing.

So, what is the takeaway here? I am convinced that we need to understand and apply two very important ideas both surrounding the powerful concept of childlike simplicity. We need to approach Him with a humble and childlike mindset and then look for His response in the simple things that come our way every day.

 

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Intentional Christianity

christ-the-intentional-savior   Intentional Christianity 

By:

Vince D’Acchioli 

If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes.

Pablo Picasso

While this may sound like a ridiculous notion, at times it seems that the very brain that helped interpret our original vision is often the thing that ends up drawing us off course. It happens everywhere, in our private lives, family, business and yes, even in the church.

The Problem:

While speaking to a group of local pastors recently, I asked them the following question, “Pastor, what is your product?” I could tell that some of them were a little intimidated by my use of business terminology. I explained that my question was not meant to address them personally, but rather the broader aspect of the church. In other words, if the church were a factory, what would its product be? Many of the men had a difficult time articulating a response.

After a few minutes I initiated a second question, “What is Chrysler’s product?” The immediate response was “cars”. I then suggested, “While it is true that Chrysler does make cars, cars are not really their product. As confusion began to break out among the crowd, I continued on, “Chrysler’s ultimate product is transportation. They manufacture different kinds of cars in order to satisfy a wide range of transportation needs.”

The pastors seemed to readily accept this notion. I then restated my first question, “So, using this illustration, what is your product?” After several minutes someone responded, “The product of the local church should be Christ-like people.” What a great answer! We should be producing people whose lives truly reflect the life and love of Jesus Christ. However, aren’t Christ-like people really like the car?

You see, I believe that the product of the church ought to be a godly world. It would follow then, that the product of a local Colorado Springs church ought to be a godly Colorado Springs. I wanted these pastors to see the big picture. Just as Chrysler remembers each time they manufacture a car that their primary purpose is to satisfy and provide transportation needs, we as the church need to recognize that the primary purpose of building up Christ-like people is to draw others to Him and ultimately produce godliness in our communities.

In keeping with this train of thought, whom should we identify as our “customer”? I believe many would suggest that those attending our churches are our customers. This is not the case. Our real “customers” are the lost, and those in attendance are in training to reach them. I believe it is critical for us to understand this paradigm.

Our “customers” are the lost, and those in attendance are in training to reach them.

Standing before this group of pastors, I continued on with a more challenging question, “Most of us would agree that Chrysler is doing a pretty good job in delivering a quality product, now tell me, how do you think the church is doing?” In other words, if the church were an actual factory whose bottom line profit was directly related to the quality of its product, would we be in business? The silence was deafening as I began to complete my discussion with the following illustration:

Let’s assume that Chrysler has gone out and purchased the best raw materials available. At this point, they throw all of this rubber, glass, metal, plastic, etc. into a box on the factory floor and call it a car. Quite obviously, we would never identify this box of parts as a car. Disassembled, those parts could never satisfy our need for transportation. Now I want you to think of an average man or woman sitting in church receiving some of the greatest raw material the world has ever heard. (Not since Jesus walked the planet, have we been equipped with such extraordinary wisdom and knowledge). To think that this individual will step out of that building as a Christ-like person is as ludicrous as believing that the box of parts is a car.

So how should we go about solving this problem? Chrysler figured out something that I believe we, as the Body of Christ need to consider and employ. First, they go to the drawing board and ask themselves some tough questions. What is the finished product supposed to look like? How will it operate and what features will be needed to insure quality transportation results? In answering these questions a vision is captured. Each member of the staff leaves that planning session knowing exactly what it is they want to build.

Next, Chrysler initiates an assembly line. An intricate process is involved in the construction of a vehicle. You cannot put the wheel on before the axle is there, and before the engine can be installed a solid frame must be constructed. It’s interesting that in the academic community we understand the absurdity of teaching advanced calculus to a first grader, yet somehow we have overlooked that concept in our efforts to develop Christ-like people. Just as Chrysler’s work is done part upon part, as Christian leaders our work needs to be accomplished precept-upon-precept.

Building principle upon principle is critical. However, there is one final step that must be taken to insure success. Understanding that a product is only as good as one’s ability to measure or evaluate it, Chrysler’s process goes beyond the assembly line. For them, each vehicle is considered both costly and significant, and therefore, each one must be inspected for quality and reliability. Thus, before leaving the factory Chrysler sends a person with a clipboard to the end of the line. This person is required to give the car a thorough inspection. If the car passes, it is released to the marketplace and offered for transportation. If the car fails inspection, it is sent back to the assembly line for the appropriate adjustments.

It is important to realize where we as the Body of Christ are falling short of this over-all process. Many churches are still struggling to understand what their product should be. Others have a keen knowledge of their product, but have not discovered how to put the assembly line into place. And then there are those who seem to have a firm grasp of the precept-upon-precept approach, yet they are experiencing limited success because they are not measuring their results. Too often church leaders have no idea how John and Mary are really doing in their world.

The Solution:

I believe that the Chrysler illustration suggests at least three major points that must be considered if we are to build a successful ministry:

  • First, we need to catch the vision – Who are our “customers”? What is our true product? What does it look like? Chrysler takes its understanding of what the customer needs, goes to the drawing board and creates a visual image of the product before any actual procedure is put into place.

Point of action: Put together a list of what are the essential characteristics of a Christ-like person. Decide what these individuals need to understand and how they will need to behave in order to impact others.

  • Second, we need to implement an assembly line. Once Chrysler has a clear understanding of what the finished product should look like, it then puts together an elaborate assembly process to lead to the desired result.

Point of action: Now that the characteristics of a Christ-like person have been defined, we must learn to teach them systematically. Develop a process for instruction, and insure that each level is being supervised and guided by a staff member or team.

  • And third, we need to find an accurate means of measuring our effectiveness. Like Chrysler, when all is said and done, we must be able to answer the all-important question, “Is our product doing what it has been designed to do?”

Point of action: We must be creative in developing strategies that allow us to stay more connected to our “flock”. This should be a priority. As pastors or small group/cell leaders we must take seriously the spiritual health and vitality of each member under our care.

Imagine the glorious possibilities if every church and church-related ministry took this kind of approach and began to focus on the visible impact of their teaching. I believe we would see a re-vitalization among the Body of Christ, one that would produce a harvest of fully devoted followers of Christ with a passion for reaching out to a hurting world.

As co-workers in Christ, dedicated to the fulfillment of His business, let’s re-evaluate our process so that we might have a better chance of impacting our world with Godly and effective followers of Christ. Let’s begin to practice Intentional Christianity!

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Turning Wrongs Into Rights…The Death Of Conscience

right-and-wrongRomans 1:25-32 (NIV)  They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Psalm 139:16 (NIV) Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Two of the most controversial issues in our time are Abortion and Homosexuality. Let me say up front that I do not need the Bible to understand how wrong affirming either of these is. A basic understanding of human anatomy and common sense will suffice. Having said that, it seems like we have lost most, if not all of our common sense and wish to ignore the clear mandate of scripture. We have chosen to do all of this under the guise of honoring our “rights” and in doing so we have moved the argument from its foundational and core issue in order to confuse.

We have lost most, if not all of our common sense and wish to
ignore the clear mandate of scripture

A woman’s “right” to choose and a gay couples “right” to marry are not now, nor have they ever been, the real issue. The real issue and the central questions we are ignoring have to do with abortion and homosexuality. Both of these are clearly defined and spoken to out of God’s word. So, in order to sell these obvious wrongs as ok we have couched the argument as a human rights issue. The subtle idea here is that if we can claim something is a basic human right then it must also be morally right.

I have no problem understanding how our culture has drifted to this place. Anytime you remove God this is the natural trajectory of mankind.   My problem and challenge comes from the realization that the validation of these ideas affects the very essence of our evangelistic efforts. As these wrongs become more broadly accepted by our culture it is becoming more difficult to draw people toward Jesus.

A thirteen-year-old boy, for instance, who may be struggling with sexual identity or same sex attraction, is now hearing two very powerful voices competing for his attention. The world’s voice, which is inclined toward affirming his human feelings, has now become a more powerful tool of our adversary in drawing this boy in the wrong direction—a direction that will ultimately destroy him.

As I know God loves each and every human being no matter who they are, where they come from or what they believe, how do I show that same kind of love and yet maintain an uncompromising position about the volatile issues we are facing?

Let me share some thoughts that may help. Recently as we were traveling in our family car our grandson Hayden, who was in the back seat, said I am sick and tired of people accusing me of stuff I clearly did. It was meant to be funny and get a response—and it did—we had a good laugh. But, there is something a little more profound that I think needs further examination here. Most who know me understand I had a pretty shady background. My wife, Cindy would at times catch me in something I thought was hidden and when she would confront me I would get very angry. It was kinda like—how dare you accuse me.

I am sick and tired of people accusing me of stuff I clearly did

As I look back now I can see a correlation between my internal awareness that I was wrong and my level of anger in response. I have a theory—I could be wrong here but follow me please. I believe every human being has within them a sense—a conscience—an awareness that there is a God-made natural order. I am also convinced that most, perhaps not all, people who have bought into a lie that is contrary to that order know it and that this awareness can contribute to some inappropriate anger.

I am persuaded that those who believe that abortion and homosexual behavior is ok—deep within them struggle with their own conclusions. If this is true that could account for some of the intense anger that seems to flow from people who are believing or acting out a lie. A word of caution here—this works both ways. There are some people who are haters and true bigots who also display anger and I might suggest that they too are responding out of a recognition that their hearts are not right. Hatred and bigotry are no more a part of God’s natural order than abortion or homosexual behavior.

So, back to our question—how do I show my love and not compromise my position or beliefs?  Here are some points to consider:

  1. The Bible says, greater is He that is in you then he that is in the world. We must recognize this important truth and allow it to invest itself in us in a way that removes all fear, doubt, confusion and anger about where we are as a nation.
  2. We must get serious about taking our concerns to God in prayer—especially as we seek to ask people to consider Jesus. Pray all the time—before you pick up the phone—meet that person you are trying to persuade—even before you read that controversial article, in order to gain God’s perspective.
  3. If there is any truth in the idea that people have a natural built-in conscience regarding what is right and wrong—NEVER-NEVER—tell them that. Just pray that God waters their conscience with the life-giving presence of His Holy Spirit. Only through the Spirit of God will people be persuaded.
  4. Understand that weak-kneed, lukewarm Christians will not survive in the world that is coming. Prepare for persecution and know that the only way you will move from a victim to a victor is through God’s power in your life.
  5. Finally, continually allow the Holy Spirit to search you in the areas of your life that need adjusting—I would suggest that your conscience is already informing you of those things that need to be addressed.
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God…No God (A response to the Supreme Court decision on Gay marriage)

cfb6ec42-a6b4-4493-867c-29b39499865dAn Article by Vince D’Acchioli

As a God loving, bible believing, follower of Christ, I have no trouble understanding that homosexual behavior is a sin. But here is the catch—I am a God loving, bible believing, follower of Christ. I have come out of a life of darkness, done many very bad things, went on a journey to discover that my only hope was God and that ultimately turned my life around.

Because I believe in the inerrancy of scripture I have a context to work from. The problem today exists in large part as a result of the absence of a Biblical worldview—so here is the scenario:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people-none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (NLT)

What do I do with the above verse, and a myriad of others, that suggest grave consequences for my actions? Here are my options:

  • I believe it is true, want the promise of eternal life in God’s kingdom and adjust my life accordingly
  • I believe in the existence of a god but cannot believe he would be so unloving and harsh, therefore I choose to discount the authority of the written Word (following a god I want instead of the God who IS)
  • I do not believe in the existence of god so therefore non of this means anything to me—I can do as I please and I decide what is right and wrong 

With a few other subtle twists those are really my main options. So here is the problem we are facing today as true followers of the God who IS. We live in a democracy—God has given us free will, which allows me to be the ultimate choice maker. People, because of our sin nature—without a clear understanding of God, will always give into the nature within them. 

So, in a democracy we “the people” are guided by the will of the masses—as the collective worldview changes so do our laws and attitudes about sin—nothing about what is happening in our nation today should surprise us given the observable absence of any effort to develop or even talk about a Godly perspective on life.

Because of the deep sin in my own past, and some I still struggle with, I am certainly not the one who should be judging here—However—I do know the Person who ultimately will. Having said that let me talk to you about an experience I had in processing the recent Supreme Court decision the other day while in prayer.

As I was having my quiet time with Him on the day our court decided on affirming Gay marriage as a constitutional right, I was overcome with emotion. It began with the predictable feelings of disbelief with a mixture of anger and resentment. Then, the Lord by His Spirit quickly helped me turn a corner by reminding me of my responsibility as a communicator of His Gospel. 

He reminded me of the awesome privilege those of us who communicate His Word have, but also the importance of seeking Him to make sure we get it right—in other words—are we really communicating His heart about the issues we face? 

So, here is the train of thought He directed me through. I felt strongly that God wanted all of us to know His incredible love for everyone—even those who were demonstrating and celebrating this important decision as a breakthrough carrying signs saying love wins. They honestly believe this is a just cause and are driven by there own perspective of what is right.

Then He lovingly suggested that the big issue is really about Him and the biggest question anyone could come to terms with, God…No God—it all boils down to the idea that God is real or He is not. If we truly understand this dynamic it will ultimately change our attitude toward our culture to be better aligned with our loving heavenly Father.

So follow the logic here with me—if God is real than which god is he? We have a plethora of organized religions who have different gods all purporting to be the one and only true god. They all have their books, documents and history to support their belief. As Christians, we believe that Jesus is the one and only Lord and we also have our own evidence largely embodied in the Biblical record.

When we begin to understand this, recognize that a truly Biblical worldview is becoming harder to find given the absence of Christian teaching and recognize that everyone has a worldview shaped by their own experience, we can better understand why we are where we are as a nation. Having said that—if we as true followers of the one and only God want to have the proper perspective we must look to what Jesus said while on the cross, Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.

In this case, a growing demographic of people in our own nation do not have a Biblical worldview. There view is driven by the nature of man…not the nature of our God. Throughout history we see those two natures in sharp contrast. The nature of man ALWAYS gives in to what he desires and feels is best. Without any Godly context it will always follow the same self-destructive pattern. 

So please hear me on this—as Christians we are not to be upset, angry or even surprised. Rather, we should have the same heart Jesus has in recognizing the lost as precious children of His desperately needing a Redeemer. The Lord reminded me that marriage was ordained by Him as a spiritual covenant. The world does not go there—it recognizes the legal aspects of marriage and bestows certain rights on these unions to be understood by those living in a secular society. 

What this court did was simply uphold what seemed right and just, given their perspective and the absence of any spiritual understanding of the issue before God. By the time God finished leading me down this pathway of thinking my attitude began to shift. He actually challenged me to shift my focus to being more concerned about my contribution to how we got here in the first place.

I am convinced He wants all of us to STOP judging and even talking about His judgment falling down upon us as though we are somehow His ambassadors of doom and gloom. God is the ultimate judge of course and He will judge in His time. He struck me with a strong sense of the importance of our focusing our judgment upon ourselves. The big question for us Christians is, what have we done to contribute to the absence of a biblical worldview in our nation?

Here is the bottom line, we must respond but how we respond is critical. For the most part, I do not think we are doing a very responsible job of truly reflecting His heart right now. In the list below I want to share some practical things for you to consider moving forward, especially as we communicate to our children and grandchildren what has just happened—they are going to need the right perspective:

  • Develop an understanding of how differing worldviews are developed and their potential influence upon our culture
  • Understand the importance of, and determine to develop an intimate relationship with God—it is the only way you will have His perspective
  • Practice loving people—not judging them
  • Refrain from talking about God’s judgment and retribution—no one cares as the world has already discounted our message
  • Be more concerned about how God will judge us as a result of our own failure to impact our culture
  • Ask God to help you shape a proper and sensitive response when asked your opinion about this matter
  • Help to gently correct and admonish other Christians who are not communicating a responsible and loving message

 

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The Greatest Danger Of Our Time…Uninformed Opinions

25921167An Article By Vince D’Acchioli

God is real—He lives in heaven and He has an opinion! Guess whose opinion don’t count.

 Some time ago I received a phone call from a woman conducting a public opinion poll. Telling me that my opinion mattered, she suggested that it would go into a data bank where it would be taken into consideration by important people and organizations who would often make big decisions based upon the information I give them.

I asked her what if my opinion is uninformed and not based upon any facts or knowledge about the issue at all—but more on how I might feel about the matter or what I may have heard?

She still insisted that it was important to collect the information. So, I said to her, let me make sure I understand what you are telling me—you are saying that my opinion, which may be totally based upon air, with no real objective knowledge about the subject, will be used to make important decisions that will affect our very future?  I asked her if she understood how ridiculous this was? She no longer wanted to talk to me.

You are saying that my opinion, which may be totally based upon air, with no real objective knowledge about the subject, will be used to make important decisions that will affect our very future?

My friend, make no mistake—this is the world we now live in. I just posted the following on my Facebook page, Too much information…too little patience = too many uninformed opinions. We are now moving into the age of IGNORANCE. It is ironic isn’t it? We have more information than in all of human history, yet in many ways the availability of all of this data has somehow caused us to be less patient. We call it overload and are not willing to take the time necessary to develop informed opinions.

Too much information…too little patience = too many uninformed opinions. We are now moving into the age of IGNORANCE

Sadly we have evolved into a culture that no longer cares about objective facts and lacks patience and the ability to apply critical thought. We now go on what we feel or believe to be true driven by popular notions, spin and marketplace manipulation of the masses. We gather data that already leans in the direction or our pre-conceived ideas, and then go with it. We are actually at a place where even the notion of objective truth is met with disdain.

Even though history teaches us that when mankind tries to make up the rules as we go it always leads to failure—we do not learn. So, you pick the hot button subject—abortion, the death penalty, the acceptance of homosexuality and gender distortion, global warming, the list is never ending. Decisions about these and a myriad of other important issues are being made based upon a high percentage of uninformed public opinion driven by special interest marketing strategies. 

I want to suggest here that many who call ourselves Christian have fallen into the same trap. Just look around and see all of the new thinking out there being driven by popular opinion. Some of our most influential Christian leaders are finding creative ways to re-interpret the Bible in order to line up with the more “open and tolerant” nature of our culture.

In what is supposed to be the most enlightened era, with access to more information than any time in history, we are the most uninformed and ignorant generation to date. Don’t believe it?—go on to any college campus and start asking students questions about important matters and then ask them how they reached their conclusions. 

In what is supposed to be the most enlightened era, with access to more information than any time in history, we are the most uninformed and ignorant generation to date

As followers of Christ let us strive to be examples of people who do not succumb to this trap—we can be informed and not give way to cheap gimmicks and fine sounding arguments that attempt to sway. I would like to suggest some practical things to consider:

  • When someone sends you something they read on the internet, don’t believe it until you diligently check it out.
  • Become an informed voter—do not just blindly follow your political leanings without researching both sides of an issue.
  • When using God’s word to defend a position make sure you know all the appropriate references and how to accurately interpret them.
  • Resist giving uninformed opinions or feelings about anything—at least let people know you will study the issue and get back to them.
  • Display patience with people who may not have the same opinion as you.
  • Pray for Godly insight when forming a position on any important issue—remember there are always two sides to consider.

A challenge to us all would be to refrain from offering an opinion until you can adequately state the opposing viewpoint.

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May 2015 TargetPoint – What Concerns God?

God IS NOT concerned about the condition of our nation
…we are.

God IS concerned about the condition of His people
…we are not.

While into a protracted time of prayer recently God gave me the above ideas and I shared them on my Facebook page. I do not think I have ever had the kind of positive response from anything I ever posted before. I am not sure why.

I have written a lot lately about the need to better understand the importance of prayer. Much of that has been motivated by a heightened awareness of how far our nation has drifted from our original Christian inspired foundation. The most obvious newsworthy event involving an important Supreme Court decision about gay marriage stands as a powerful indicator of just how far we have drifted.

So, as you might expect, there is now an urgent call to prayer for our country—and rightfully so. I want to say up front that I not only believe we must be in prayer but am one who is actively calling for it, especially among men in America. Having said that, I do believe we have a much deeper problem demonstrated by the very idea that we are making this call to prayer now.

I want to say up front that I not only believe we must be in prayer but am one who is actively calling for it, especially among men in America.

Let me ask you a question. Do you really believe God is wringing His hands about this Supreme Court decision? I hope you said NO. I believe God is more concerned about the deterioration of an intimate relationship with His people, you and I, and if that relationship were right we might not have a Supreme Court taking up the question at all.

Our tendency has been to go to a call to prayer only when significant issues pop up and it becomes a band aid approach to something that could have been prevented with on-going prayer and taking our relationship with our God seriously in the first place. We have lost our way as a nation because we have lost our way with God. When viewed in this context we should not be surprised or shocked.

This brings me to some ideas on how we should be thinking about our future. We need to stop whining about our circumstances and take a thoughtful look at how we got here. We need to examine why God’s chosen instrument for transforming culture, (His church) has failed. Then we need to go back to Him with a genuine spirit of repentance and seek His guidance on how to turn it around. Dear one—I do not think this is complicated. It does not take a very mature Christian to ascertain what we need to do to get back on track.

In recent months I have been sensing three things that I believe are weighing heavily upon our Lord. First, I do believe He is concerned about the condition of you and I, His followers. He is desperate for an intimate relationship with us and we are either unwilling or unable to develop one. Next, I am sensing His heartache over the lack of unity in the Body of Christ. It seems we spend more time disagreeing on nonsense issues and theological positions than seeking Jesus’ directive to become one.

And finally, I am sensing He really does want to see a concerted effort on our part to go to Him in prayer. He is not looking for us to click on a checkbox and promise to pray as much as making sure we understand what prayer really looks like. Last month I wrote to you breaking down perhaps the best scripture verses on prayer found in 2 Chronicles. If you did not read that you can find it on our site or click here.

So what is the take-away here? It is simply this—all of us who consider ourselves Christians have to up our game. We must get serious about our relationship with God if we ever expect His life and power to flow through us and make a difference. For those of us in church leadership—we must have the courage to face the facts—look at what we have been doing—and make the necessary adjustments in order to produce what God is looking for. This is not a time for self-abasement—it is a time for seeking Him for supernatural wisdom and discernment.

This is not a time for self-abasement – it is a time for seeking Him for supernatural wisdom and discernment.

Dear ones please hear me—in our nation today Christianity is being shaken to its very core and maybe that’s a good thing. The day is quickly coming when many of our churches and Christian institutions may be forced to close their doors. Often throughout history those are the times when the real church emerges with power and glory.

Our focus and subsequent battle must not be centered on these probabilities but rather on what God is calling US to do. We must remember that He is still on the throne and in the end we have nothing to fear.

If we fail to understand these things and continue in the direction we are going – well – someone once said, if you keep on doing what you’re doing…you will end up with more of what you got. I don’t know about you but I do not think we can afford more of what we got.

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.Joshua 1:8 NIV

If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, The Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world.Deuteronomy 28:1

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April 2015 TargetPoint – If…Then

If…Then
by Vince D’Acchioli

Two of the most powerful words found in God’s Word are if and then. When discovered in the right context they indicate God’s promises resulting from man’s obedience. These two words are found in this way in many places throughout the Bible but nowhere are they more profound then in 2 Chronicles. Read it with me please:

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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

If My people
The word If in this context is a conjunction introducing a conditional clause – what follows is a clear list of conditions that, if met, will lead to a promised end. My people is a clear indication that God through this writer is speaking to those He would call His followers.

Called by My name
The meaning of called here would indicate that we, as His people, have a calling upon our lives. I am persuaded that our universal calling is, and always has been, to advance His kingdom on planet earth. The statement called by My name is further proof that this verse is directed only toward those who are followers of Christ.

Will humble themselves
This is perhaps the most important statement in the verse. It is interesting to note that the call to humble themselves comes before the call to actually pray. What does this mean? Tyron Edwards (an American theologian from the 1800s) perhaps said it best: Humility is not an abject, groveling, self-despising spirit; it is but a right estimate of ourselves as God sees us.

And pray
While the word pray should be understood by most Christians, sadly it is often misunderstood. There has been a lot written about prayer, however our best source is Jesus Himself as He has taught us in His Word. To acknowledge God, ask for specific needs and give thanks.

And seek My face
In my Strong’s Concordance for 2 Chron. 7:14, the Hebrew for seek is abash #1245- “to search out (by any method), as in worship or prayer. “Presence” is a common translation of the Hebrew word face. For me this is one of the most important statements in the verse and is a natural follow on to the call for humility. We are called to worship God – to seek His presence. In my walk with Him I can honestly report that experiencing His presence is directly tied to my reaching a place of utter humility before Him.

And turn from their wicked ways
This may be the most critical IF condition on two fronts. First for most of us, especially us men, obedience to God’s Word, which is clearly what is being asked for here, is very challenging. But second, we need to understand the relationship between obedience and power. James 5:16 says, The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. In this context righteousness means right standing before God. It carries with it the importance of true repentance. Could it be that our not seeing God more clearly intervening in the affairs of our nation has to do with our lack of spiritual depth stemming from our failure to obey?

Then I will hear – forgive – heal.
So here is the best part. The part where God promises to act as a direct result of our meeting His conditions. Sadly, it is also the part we focus upon without clearly recognizing the price He is calling us to pay to receive it.

Conclusion:
Dear friends, we have never been more desperate to hear God, receive His forgiveness and experience His healing in our land (nation). I am convinced that while we understand the message wrapped up in Ephesians 6:12 we continue to try to win the battle through human engineering oftentimes seen in well meaning programs, political posturing and maneuvering. Please read this verse with me and really meditate on what is being said:

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

The message is clear – evil and dark places are all around us. The struggle against these forces will never be overcome using conventional, human engineered methods. Prayer is the answer but a comprehensive understanding of what is required of the believer who goes to Him in prayer is critical. My question to all of us – while we understand and deeply seek after the promise, how are we doing in meeting ALL of the conditions?

Finally dear ones remember this promise:

The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7

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March 2015 TargetPoint – America In Desperate Need

TargetPoint by Vince D'Acchioli

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV) 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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

At no time in the history of our nation have we been more desperate for God’s intervention. The spiritual and moral decline we are experiencing, while alarming, points to our need to turn our hearts toward the only one and true redeemer, Jesus Christ. Over the last several decades, there has been a flurry of specialized programs and events launched to bring about spiritual transformation. Many of these efforts, though well intended, have not brought about a sustained revival among men. I believe that God is calling men in America to pray fervently. I am also convinced that this sacrificial commitment is central to experiencing a sustained spiritual awakening in our nation.

I believe that God is calling men in America to pray fervently. I am also convinced that this sacrificial commitment is central to experiencing a sustained spiritual awakening in our nation.

Having spent the better part of the last twenty years involved in ministry to men I can honestly say that it has been both rewarding and frustrating. Rewarding in the sense that I have personally sensed a tremendous move of God in bringing men into events where they have been exposed to the wonderful truth of God’s Word. Frustrating however from the standpoint of not seeing a sustained revival among men in our nation.

I am convinced that our tendency toward event driven strategies has caused us to overlook their lack of power to produce long-term life-change. In many ways we have been “eventing” men to death. As a nation we are now experiencing the result of a kind of superficial Christianity that is not helping men understand the need for going deeper in their walk with Jesus.

In short – we will never see a spiritual awakening in this nation unless righteous men are fervently praying.

James 5:16 The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

So, what is the answer? We must recognize where we are, honestly own the mistakes of the past and determine to build men who are spiritually deep. Can you imagine what could happen if we could see Dick Simmons vision of one million men in America rising early every day to pray for our nation? Dear friends, this is no longer an option – it is critical toward seeing God’s kingdom advanced in our nation in our day.

On a personal note I had the pleasure of having breakfast with my dear friend Bill McCartney the other day. We talked about all of this and he could not agree more with the need to help men go deeper and get them praying. I had him share something very special for my men at OTI by recording it on my phone. You can click the image on the top right of this TargetPoint to watch.

In essence this coach and founder of Promise Keepers is now going around the country calling men to three non-negotiables – he says that ever day men need to be searched, fed and led. We need to allow God to search us every day and confess the sin that is in our life. We need to be fed every day by the Word of God and we need to be daily led by the Holy Spirit. This is the kind of man whose daily prayer will availeth much.

As I close this TargetPoint I want to ask all of you who are reading this to do two things: First, and most important, please make a commitment to pray for this idea every day. Pray that there will be a deep and sustained revival among men in America. And second, please consider passing this plea to others you know and encourage the same.

We must recognize that our well-intentioned human efforts to bring about transformation have fallen short in part because of our focus on programs and events. We also need to recognize where this battle needs to be fought.

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

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February 2015 TargetPoint – Where Is Nehemiah When We Need Him?

TargetPoint by Vince D'Acchioli

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul… Psalm 23 NKJV

Our Sunday school class is currently going through the book of Nehemiah. The sessions are reminding Cindy and me of a time when we sat under Pastor Jack Hayford and his incredible teaching titled The Nehemiah series…Restoring The Walls. Most people who have followed this man would say this series was probably one of his signature teachings of all time.

Pastor Jack would say that Nehemiah represents a “type” or “picture” of the Holy Spirit. In fact the name Nehemiah translated in Hebrew means The Comfort of God. Jesus said He would be sending the Holy Spirit or Comforter. In the above Psalm it talks about God, by His Spirit, restoring our soul. Pastor Jack suggests that the walls Nehemiah was desirous of rebuilding represent our soul and the temple represents our spirit.

Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit…

In the above verse the Bible talks about the division of soul and spirit—let’s explore this for a moment. In those days the Spirit of God was in the temple. This is analogous to the New Testament believer allowing the Lord into their life, literally God’s Spirit in us. Remember that in the old covenant God would reside in a physical place—the good news for us happened when Jesus gave His life and the temple curtain was torn allowing access from that time forward for God’s Spirit to literally be in us. We are now the temple of God.

The good news for us happened when Jesus gave His life and the temple curtain was torn allowing access from that time forward for God’s Spirit to literally be in us.

The soul, on the other hand is best defined as our intellect, our emotions and our will. Our intellect represents our thoughts, our emotions represent our feelings and our will is typically influenced by a combination of those, leading to our actions.

At OTI we have a vision for shaping men who are FULLY ALIVE…Becoming The Man God Intended. When we invite the Lord into our life we are ALIVE but becoming the Man God Intended has to do with the condition of our soul, our walls. Nehemiah knew that the Spirit of God was in that temple but because the walls were down there was little or no protection from an enemy that wanted to destroy their worship which would affect their identity, relationship with God and their destiny.

The same is true of us. When we allow Jesus to be Lord of our lives we are ALIVE at our core. However, when our soul is not built up and we allow in such things as fear, doubt, various kinds of sin that are not dealt with, it gives our enemy access to interrupting that important connection with the Spirit of God in us and destroys our worship. The result—our identity, relationship with Him and destiny are impacted.

The Holy Spirit, just like Nehemiah, wants to restore and build up the broken down places in our souls so that we have protection against the attacks of the enemy. The strong message for all of us is—the importance of God, by His Spirit, to have His way in the life of the believer. The ability of His Spirit to work in us the way He fully intends is hindered often by the ways we allow the “walls” of our life to be compromised which gives access to the enemy.

As I ponder what Nehemiah must have felt regarding the condition of this city in his time the scripture clearly reports the intense sadness and heartache he endured. I want to suggest here that if he were alive today witnessing the condition of our kingdom—the United States of America and how broken we have become—his feelings would be even more intense.

Dear ones please here me—as a nation our walls are down—many would say destroyed beyond repair. Could it be that all of this happened as the result of us—God’s people—not taking proper care of the walls in our own life? Have we allowed our souls to deteriorate to the point that we are hindering the Spirit of God having His way in us? Could it be that our national soul is simply a reflection of the collective soul of His people?

As a nation our walls are down—
many would say destroyed beyond repair

I long for a Nehemiah in our day. We are in desperate need for this kind of spiritual leadership in order to turn our people and ultimately our great nation back to worshipping the one true God, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

I am persuaded that Nehemiah understood the central place that worship held in gaining victory over his enemies and the successful completion of that wall. (See 2 Chron. 20:21-22) The same holds true today for you and me—if we are to be successful in defeating our enemy and see our souls restored we MUST understand the importance of worshipping our Lord.

Where is Nehemiah when we need him? He is here—all around us in the form of God’s Holy Spirit. The real question is, will you let Him have His way in you?

When God is the center of a kingdom or a city, He makes it strong “like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken” (Ps 125:1). And when God is the center of a soul, although disasters may crowd in on all sides and roar like the waves of the sea, there is a constant calm within. The world can neither give nor take away this kind of peace. What is it that causes people to shake like leaves today at the first hint of danger? It is simply the lack of God living in their soul, and having the world in their hearts instead. –R. Leighton

In closing, I would like to recommend some helpful resources regarding this theme:

Here is a link to Rebuilding The Real You by Jack Hayford.

Each of the restored gates represent something special. Here is an outline: http://www.jesusplusnothing.com/studies/online/nehem3.htm

If you are dealing with issues from your past that are causing your soul to be compromised here are four powerful sessions from our Men On Target Curriculum you might find useful: Links to our series on Fear, Anger, Unforgiveness and Guilt (12 minutes each)

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January 2015 TargetPoint – What Is My Motive?

TargetPoint by Vince D'Acchioli

“A Deeply Personal Testimony”
by Vince D’Acchioli

All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Proverbs 16:2 (NIV)

A couple of months ago I made a commitment to my OTI men’s group here in Colorado Springs that I was going to get up every day at 5:00 AM from now on in order to spend 2-3 hours with the Lord. This decision was born out of a conviction that, while I find it easy to speak on the subject of having an intimate relationship with God, I was not experiencing personally the intimacy I truly desired.

I am pleased to report that my track record here has been pretty good. I am truly experiencing His presence in ways I never imagined. However, a couple of weeks ago as I was praying I asked God a question. Lord, am I becoming the man you intended? As most of you know, this is the mantra for OTI. Our ultimate goal is to become the man God intended. The short answer from God to me was NO.

I am truly experiencing His presence in ways I never imagined.

Now I knew that had to be God—there is no way I would have said that to myself. What He went on to impress to me has to do with a challenge in the area of humility and selflessness. I sensed that He was affirming and even pleased with my decisions and actions to get closer to Him but He was also letting me know that I really needed to focus on these areas. Two areas I, and many men, struggle with.

For me this was a major spiritual shot across the bow—I cannot continue to contribute to the hypocrisy that would allow me to teach on something I myself do not have under control. The Bible teaches us to consider others better than ourselves and to not think of ourselves more highly than we ought. As easy as it may be for those words to roll off our lips it is very difficult to live them. We have been raised in a culture that actually honors the opposite.

It was at this moment that I remembered a quote from an old book by Dr Larry Crabb titled The Marriage Builder. To this day I believe this is one of the best books on marriage I have ever read. In the book Larry Crabb says, (I am paraphrasing here) in all human interaction we are doing one of two things…we are either ministering or manipulating. We are either interested in truly serving with no self-interest in mind—or—attempting to get something for ourselves. I remember reading that and thinking, come on—it can’t be that simple.

The more I thought about it the more convinced I became that it really is that simple and it all goes to the heart and begs the big question WHAT IS MY MOTIVE? OK, now please tune in here because this is a huge idea. I am convinced that our ability to examine our motives in order to determine whether we are inclined toward ministry or manipulation is crucial to our witness for Jesus and the ultimate advancement of His kingdom. People know the difference.

OK, now please tune in here because this is a huge idea. I am convinced that our ability to examine our motives in order to determine whether we are inclined toward ministry or manipulation is crucial to our witness for Jesus and the ultimate advancement of His kingdom.

It was at this moment that I began to evaluate my motives for all that I could remember doing over the last couple of weeks. Whether it was simply relating to my wife, engaging in a meeting with someone, sending out an email or just planning anything, I asked the question, what was my motive? I was deeply convicted that my track record on the scale of ministry vs. manipulation was very poor.

I remember a conversation I had recently with my friend Bill McCartney, founder of Promise Keepers, where he told me that everywhere he goes and speaks these days he is encouraging men that every day they need to be searched, fed and led. We need to ask God to search our hearts to make sure there is nothing in there by way of self-serving motivations, un-forgiveness or bitterness, etc. Then we need to be fed by His Word and led by the Holy Spirit. Every day.

Now, I am making a commitment every day to ask God to search me—to help me be sure that in everything I do my motive is to serve and minister and not manipulate. On a very personal note—I have had numerous occasions to write to and meet with various people since this revelation. As I asked myself the question, what is my motive, I was challenged in many of these situations to literally change gears.

Now, I am making a commitment every day to ask God to search me.

Most of my inclination toward manipulation is designed to be self-serving, I believe this is the case with so many Christians these days. I have found that every time I leave my agenda behind and truly just love and minister to those I encounter, it not only feels wonderful, but I find that God really shows up in ways I would never have imagined.

Below is a picture of a little tool I ordered for myself that is helping me immensely. It is a simple bracelet that I wear every day—it never comes off. I look at it all the time and it challenges me throughout my normal daily routine to remember this important question. I have just ordered a bunch for the men here at OTI and would encourage you to consider getting one if this message resonates with you.

TargetPoint by Vince D'Acchioli

You can order them on line yourself—they are very inexpensive, or I would be happy to mail one to you if you send me your address. Just email me at vince@otm.co.

NOTE: The Lord also prompted me to change my message at OTI last week and deal with this subject—the message is Live-Streamed and archived. If you want to view the brief session click here and advance to about the 10-minute mark.

I hope this message has blessed, but more importantly, challenged you. Can you imagine what it would be like if all of us asked this question before we engage others? Maybe we need to encourage men across North America to begin wearing these bracelets—remember the WWJD?

Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT)