Tuesday, May 31, 2016


I am not a big poetry guy.  But I have to tell you; this one by Dr. Tom Lawson has a very special significance to me. I leave it with you, along with our love in the bond of Christ and Crossroads. It is called ‘THE LEADER.’ 
“Follow the leader.  A game children play
On sweet autumn night and bright summer day.
While running in circles and giggling out loud
“It’s me.”  “Pick me.”  “No, me.”  They all shout.
And then something happens amid all the laughter.
One of them runs and the rest follow after.
And all in a line, they dash through the trees.
In play, as in life, one always leads.
‘Follow the leader, you’ve heard it before.’
‘We’re only down three and there’s two minutes more.’
And weary heads nod.  They all understood.
A trophy was more than just metal and wood. 
It takes every player, each doing their part
But, on every team, there’s one who’s the heart.
And in the tough moments, they know what it means.
That in sports, as in life, one always leads.
Follow the leader, the experts agree.
Whether business or church, that’s what you need.
Degrees and long titles won’t make the man 
Books on techniques, models and plans.
No, something much rarer, much harder to find.
A man of long vision, deep heart and keen mind.
Only then, we are told, can you hope to succeed.
In work, as in life, one always leads.
But I knew a man once who believed something else.
That the power to lead didn’t come from oneself.
That serving was the highest of all of life’s calls.
And the greatest among us had been Servant of all.
Though he had all the gifts that make leaders great
When asked what he thought great leadership takes
He spoke of a Man who was nailed to a tree
For on earth, as in heaven, One always leads.”
We’ll see you again… if not here, then there, in the presence of the One… the Leader of Leaders, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  Because of Jesus our fellowship is a fellowship of earth and heaven, time and eternity.  Until the next time, let’s all determine to faithfully ‘speak the truth in love.’
Pastor Ken & Kaylene

Monday, May 16, 2016


I remember like it was yesterday my first ministry invitation in 1966… exactly 50 years ago this month.  I had just finished my freshman year at Lincoln Christian College.  I was 18 and brimming with zeal, but I was short on both maturity and experience when I received the much anticipated phone call from a tall, stately farmer named Verlin Owen.  With a full head of snow-white hair and a face weathered by the wind and sun, I remember how distinguished he looked the first time I saw him.  He was chairman of the elders and chairman of the youth committee… a very kind man.  So that following summer I lived alone in a run down little cottage in the rural Indiana town of Medaryville… a population of maybe 500… to serve a church of about half that number as their youth minister.  And this week I finish where I started in the same state [but 217 miles to the south].  Where have the last 50 years gone?  I am sure I do not know the answer to that one.  I don’t even know where the last 10 have gone! But, today I am reflecting on the lessons God has taught me in five decades of serving Him in the local church, the Bible College and back in the local church at Crossroads.
  1. Leadership is heavy, but it is not lonely.  I began as a fledgling youth minister expecting it would be lonely.  The Old Testament prophets seemed to be a marginalized lot.  The apostles in the New Testament struck me as often having to be stand-alone spiritual leaders.  I was even told by one veteran pastor “Do not make close friends in the congregation you serve.”  Well, my perception of the prophets and apostles was inaccurate and the counsel of the veteran pastor was incorrect.  The Apostle Paul was not isolated.  He had deep and significant friendships and partnerships in the churches he served.  He received prayers and embraces from the Ephesian elders in their final meeting! [Acts 20] And I can honestly say that I have never been lonely. 

  1. The importance of doing diligence.  I think David McKenna, past president of Asbury Seminary, was the first one I heard say it.  “The best indicator of future performance is past performance.”  It is not the only predictor, but it is the bestpredictor.  When choosing elders, pastors and staff, it is good to remember this axiom.  In Acts 6, the deacons had to have a ‘good report’… as well as be ‘full of the Holy Spirit, wisdom and faith.’  About Timothy, Paul said, “All the people speak well of him.”  So I have learned to trust the objective research of a potential coworker’s personal history more than my subjective feelings.

  1. Leaders must regularly impress reality.  When you have several people in your charge or under your care, you will be impressing reality on someone at least weekly.  And, by the way, I have learned to value the people in my life who are willing to occasionally impress reality on me!  It is tempting to take a day or two of personal time when a problem presents itself.  But, if you think a problem will ‘just go away’… it won’t.  If you think a problem ‘can’t get worse’… it can.  So I have learned that if I get into necessary loving confrontation early, I am halfway to solving the problem.  I am not talking about micromanagement… picking fleas out of the hair of others… but thoughtfully and courageously ‘speaking the truth in love’ when it is necessary.

  1. The importance of being a tireless communicator.  Communication is the basis of trust and good relationships.  Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  I am talking about transparency here… letting people know what is in the well-spring of your heart.  People will follow those who motives they trust and whose character they respect.  And I have learned that the leader’s greatest authority is moral authority… leading from the overflow of the character of the inner man.  

  1. The sanctity of the Sabbath.  I believe God is serious about this!  Life must have God’s rhythm or it will eventually go off the rails.  Under the old covenant it was a capital crime to break the fourth commandment.  [Numbers 15:35]  So I try to observe one hour a day and one day a week to routinely Sabbath.  And, after several years of ignoring the need for vacations, I have learned I do better when I periodically disconnect from responsibility.  I have known ‘driven’ leaders and I have known ‘called’ leaders.  I want to be called.  Driven leaders usually pay a high price in one of two areas… loss of health or disappointments in marriage and family life.

  1. The joy of self-sacrifice.  In the movie, City of Joy, a doctor from the United States tries to escape from the rat race by moving to India.  There he gets involved with a family in the low cast system.  At first he is repulsed by the need for self-sacrifice on the mission field, but then he got caught up in it, declaring in a poignant moment, “I have never felt more alive!”  And I have learned that people naturally defer to a leader who is perceived to be self-sacrificial.   

  1. The importance of balancing periods of progress and periods of pause.   I have learned how important it is to monitor both vision and tone.  John Fisher calls it being both transformational [taking the next hill] and transactional [holding the ground you have gained].  Being sensitive to the climate in the community you are leading and being flexible as a leader is important.  I have learned to be aware of when it’s time to accelerate and when to take my foot off the gas pedal.

  1. Put people first, after Him.  It is important to build the team over time and make it an ‘A team.’  I have learned to try to hire people better than me and then to do my best to take care of them, to retain them.  But anger is the great divider. 
It wastes my limited leadership capital.I have also learned the value of a ‘maverick’ to the mission.Hans Finzel identifies this failure as being one of the ‘top ten mistakes leaders make.’
  1. A legacy matters.  In the past, I have been a cynic about legacy.  After all, who can even remember the names of their great grandparents?  But, although we cannot remember who they were, we are all affected by what they did.  This is the value of legacy.  It influences who succeeding generations will become.  As leader, I want to bear in mind that my compromises, my corner-cutting, my casualness will become the foundation on which the next generation will build.  History is the ultimate measurement of leadership.  What we leave behind matters.  To leave division, unmanageable debt, moral compromise and unsolved problems, is to have failed to leave a positive legacy.

  1. To have an identity apart from my role as a Christian leader.  Ministry can be all consuming, but it is possible to be faithful to a leadership calling without having your identity fused with the church.  If a man is too tied to the institution, he will overstay.  And staying past effectiveness will mean hurting the work that he has served long and well.  Four questions to ask periodically: 1] What needs to be done?  2] Can I do it?  3] Should I do it?  4] Do I want to do it?  Great people who overstay can become tragic figures.  Though I am [only] 68, it is the right time for me to transition.  And, of course, I am retiring from leadership not service.  My theme verse now is Philippians 1:22, “As long as I am alive in this body, there is good work for me to do.”  [The Message] Right now I have more dreams for the future than I will have years to live them out.
And, one of my greatest joys is to know that as Christ-followers, we never really have to say good-bye!Because there are no goodbyes in the Kingdom of God. We only say, “I will see you later.”

Pray with me… Father God, I pray today for the health and growth of the Crossroads Church in the years ahead.I pray for her elders and pastors and staff and small group leaders and teachers and missionaries.What an amazing family of faith Lord!Thank you for your hand of favor on Crossroads through the years to make it such a dynamic congregation. Thank you for the church home it has been for Kaylene and me.Thank you for every experience of worship and service we have had together over the past decade.And thank you for the vision of Crossroads for the future… to multiply leaders, multiply campuses and multiply churches. Lead on O King Eternal.In the Name which is above every name, Jesus… amen.

Pastor Ken

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


I wanted to share this piece written by my son, Kyle Idleman. Blessings, Pastor Ken

We want to be happy. 
We live in a country dedicated to giving us the right to the “pursuit of happiness.” We’re convinced that happiness is out there; we just need to catch it. So we chase after it. We have an “if only” mindset.
·      If only … I could make just a little more money, then I’d be happy.
·      If only … I got married, then I’d be happy.
·      If only … I was married to someone else, then I’d be happy.
·      If only … we had kids, we’d be happy.
·      If only … our kids would move out, we’d be happy.
·      If only … I got promoted.
·      If only … I had a different job. I’d be happy.
·      If only … I had my own home.
·      If only … I could sell my home. I’d be happy.
Is that you? What do you think you’d need to be happy?

The truth is you wouldn’t be happy.

Research shows none of these things have the power to bring lasting happiness. Studies reveal that circumstances count for about 10% of our happiness. At most, they may have the power to make us feel happy for a very short while. It’s like the toys kids get for Christmas. They’re ecstatic when they unwrap them, and a few weeks later those toys are sitting on the closet floor, next summer they’re in a garage sale.

We see this all the time. People who have the kinds of things we long for are not happy. Good looking celebrities who have millions of dollars, and gorgeous homes, and fancy cars, and go on exotic trips admit their lives feel empty, and far too often turn to drugs or even try to end their lives.
Happiness is not something that happens when our circumstances change. Unhappy single people don’t find happiness on their wedding day. No, unhappy single people become unhappy married people. Unhappy unemployed people become unhappy employed people.

So maybe happiness comes from a different place.

In his book, “The Law of Happiness,” Dr. Henry Cloud writes, “Happy people don’t chase after happiness, they chase after God and happiness catches them.”

God set eternity in our hearts. We try to stuff all kinds of things into us to make us happy, but anything other than God is too small to fit in that hole in our hearts.

Happy people live with an awareness of God’s love and they embrace every moment as a gift to be lived with Him.

Perhaps God is someone you believe in and you give him an hour of your life every week when you show up at church. Beyond that? You don’t really have time for God because you’re too busy pursuing happiness. But what if happiness is only found in him?

We think happiness will come when I start getting what I want for me, but the truth is that I won’t be happy until I reach the end of me. The end of me is where life with God can begin. And happy people don’t chase after happiness, they chase after God and happiness catches them.


Pray with me… Father God, You have destined us all to experience the joy of salvation, the deepest and most satisfying happiness that we could possibly know in this life.  Once we have it, our search for happiness will end and we will rest in You.  I pray that every person reading this piece has, or will very soon have, this joy… which is the by-product of knowing You, loving You and serving You.  We give you praise for making a way for us to have the peace of forgiveness, the joy of righteousness and the hope of heaven after this life.  In the Name of the One who makes it a reality.  Amen. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


The man who has been called the greatest Christian of all time surely had the greatest conversion of all time.  Saul was a militant Pharisee, a merciless persecutor of Christ-followers when the church of Jesus was just in its infancy.  He rounded up young Christian leaders, like Stephen, to inflict capital punishment.  He employed armed mercenaries to pull people out of the security of their own homes, under threat of death, to insist they renounce their faith in Jesus Christ.  He made widowers out of husbands and widows out of wives.  He made orphans out of children… and he did it without apparent conscience.
But on the Damascus Road, as he was laying the groundwork for his next assault, he was struck down by a blinding light… and a voice, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  His response was instant brokenness, “Who are you, LORD?”  From there he had three days of blindness and solitude.  The risen Jesus gave Saul time to reflect, to think deeply and ponder his future.  Then He sent a messenger, Ananias, who placed his hands on Saul… immediately the scales fell from his eyes and he could see things clearly for the first time in his life.  He got up and was baptized.  And he changed!  He became Paul.  God chose the greatest persecutor of the church to become the greatest proclaimer of the Christ and the greatest planter of the church.  I love to see these kinds of changes, and speaking personally, I want to be submitted to the Holy Spirit so I can be in a state of perpetual change… more conformed to the likeness of Jesus with the passing of time.
Pray with me… Jesus, we are so thankful that you never change.  You are the same yesterday, today and forever.  But, thank you for changing us, by your Spirit, as we yield to His power and presence in our lives… conforming us to greater Christlikeness with the passing of time.  In the Name of Jesus, amen.

Pastor Ken

Monday, April 18, 2016


Dear Crossroads Church Family,
There is a tender scene in the book of Acts, chapter 20, that always warms my heart when I read it.   The text describes a meeting that happened on a beach just outside the ancient city of Miletus in Greece.  The apostle Paul had just sailed past Ephesus where he had earlier spent three years in a located ministry.  He was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost.  But, when he reached Miletus, it is as though he had second thoughts about not having taken the time to reconnect relationally with the elders of the church in Ephesus.  Paul was not sure he would be returning from Jerusalem alive.  He thought it could be his last chance to say a final good-bye to these brothers into whom he had poured his life… teaching and mentoring… so, he sent for them.  It is about a thirty-five mile hike from Ephesus to Miletus!  It was probably two days journey and one or two overnights on the road.  Yet these church leaders took the time, went to the expense, expended the effort and made the trip.  And so here in Acts 20 was this band of brothers gathered together on the beach, relating at the deepest level… as they talked and laughed, told stories and cried… as they relived the conversions, the changed lives, the saved souls, the lessons learned and the leaders raised up in the church of Jesus that they loved. 
This touching scene is similar to the one that Kaylene and I will be living out in the weeks ahead as we journey down the path God has marked out for us.  In doing so, we will have to say a temporary good bye to people we have come to love deeply.  The emotion of it feels a little like the experience of giving our daughters in marriage!  You feel positive anticipation about the future, but it’s hard to think about entering a new life passage when you loved the previous one so much! 
But after 50 years in ministry leadership, it is time for us to contribute to the Lord’s purpose and work in a new and different way.  By residing in Louisville, we will be able to continue to invest in both serving and serving the Lord with our adult children and grandchildren from a location in closer proximity to them.  After a short break, I will be serving churches in a consultant role, preaching in local churches and coaching/mentoring Christian leaders.  Be sure of this: We intend to maintain our Crossroads connections in the years ahead! 
Our Crossroads years have been truly amazing.  But, as good as the past decade has been… God is going before us, and before Crossroads, to give new vision, to raise up new leadership, to do new things in new and exciting ways.  You cannot possibly know how deeply grateful we are for the way you have accepted and loved us, and the fact you have consistently honored us as your servants for Jesus’ sake.  My only request is that you press on wholeheartedly as you continue to unite to take higher ground for God’s kingdom.  I [joyfully, but reluctantly] am relinquishing my chief shepherd leadership responsibilities to a truly exceptional young leader in Pastor Patrick Garcia… as well as an exceptional pastoral team and a much loved and deeply respected eldership.
Please remember: I will be preaching and serving at Crossroads until the weekend of May 20-22.  We are praying for these next five weeks to pass slowly! 
In Christian love,
Ken Idleman
Crossroads Senior Pastor

Monday, April 11, 2016


Does God Still Speak?
 Alan Ahlgrim
God speaks to me...every day! Sometimes He speaks a word of conviction. Sometimes He speaks a word of encouragement. Sometimes He speaks a word of direction. Daily I hear God, usually through the Bible, but often in my spirit. Saint Ignatius called it: “Movements of the soul – thoughts, feelings or desires...given to us by God.”

God has never spoken to me audibly...yet! However, many have trusted me with their stories of hearing clear words that changed their lives. Here’s just a sampling of what I’ve been told by people who have heard the audible voice of God in a time of crisis.

  • “I did give you only one life. I gave you eternal life.”
  • “You will have a son, David, who will ease your pain.”
  • “You are in my hands now. You will make it through this just fine. You will serve me. You will find out where. I have spoken.”
  • “Why do you not trust that I will take care of you?”
  • “You’re going to be fine.”
  • “Thank you my daughter for coming to me in your hour of need. Your loved one is in Paradise this day. Rejoice and be glad.”
  • “Never be ashamed to tell someone you’re going to be a minister!”
  • “Enough is enough – if you don’t stop this I’m going to remove my hand of protection and something bad is going to happen.”

Each person I’m quoting was convinced they had heard the audible voice of God. Because I know them and trust them, I believe them. One woman in crisis over the criminal behavior of her husband, heard these exact words. “Tell (him) that if he does this…he will not be okay but you will.” She was fretting and praying while doing dishes in her kitchen and she said, “It was like a megaphone in my ears..."

In his book, The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis wrote: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” 

Someone once wrote me to say, “So, my friend, I wouldn’t worry that you haven’t heard the audible voice of God. There are those of us with whom He must shout to be heard. Your heart and your spirit are so tuned to him, that you hear His slightest whisper.” I don’t know if that is true. What I do know is that daily I seek to hear from God.

Here’s how I believe God speaks to me:

  • Through a quiet reading of His Word.
  • Through a clustering of events, comments and circumstances that resonate in my spirit.
  • Through a voice box strikingly similar to my wife’s!

Some think it’s dangerous to think God will speak personally – I think it’s most dangerous not to! So, what sort of word have you heard from God lately? I believe God is speaking to all of us all the time. While few can quote an audible word, every child of God is privileged to hear His voice.

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me…they will listen to my voice.” (John 10:14-16)

…Listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors waiting at my doorway.” (Proverbs 8:32-34)

What if you began every day assuming that God is still speaking?

Grace and Peace,
Alan Ahlgrim
Director of Pastor Care
Blessing Ranch Ministries

Monday, April 4, 2016


Many in our church family have been interceding in prayer for Pastor Patrick Garcia’s father, Dr. Dan Garcia.  The article from the Southeast Outlook on March 24 tells the inspiring story of Patrick’s father and the great news about the outcome of his recent heart transplantation surgery.  It is an incredible testimony of answered prayer.

We ‘rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.’  [Romans 12:15]  KI

Easter is a time when Christians celebrate the promise of new life through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The message of new life was never clearer to anyone than it is to the Garcia family. On Jan. 24, after 5 ½ years of waiting, Dr. Dan Garcia, 68, received a heart transplant and a new lease on life.

In a recent sermon, Garcia’s son Patrick, a pastor at Crossroads Christian Church in Newburgh, Indiana, summarized his father’s journey.

“For my dad to live, somebody had to die. He now has a second chance at life, but it’s come at a really costly price. The Bible tells us everyone is in need of a transplant. Not necessarily a physical one, but a spiritual one … The solution to our deepest, greatest need won’t come through making more money, having a greater intellect, moving up the corporate ladder or even electing the right candidate in November. No, if our brokenness is our biggest issue, then our greatest need is to be forgiven, redeemed and restored. Only Jesus can offer that.”

A long journey
Five-and-a-half years is a long time to wait for a new heart—especially when Dr. Dan Garcia had already been rejected by two transplant programs, suffered health scares and watched his life expectancy shorten.

Rather than letting his struggle with heart disease dictate his life, he used those years learning how to trust God.

“As a Christian, you never lose,” Dr. Dan told everybody who asked him about his health and offered prayer.

Constant exposure to germs forced the physician to switch specialties from pediatrics to allergy/immunology, but he continued to try to live other facets of his life as usual. He and his wife Rita continued to meet with their small group at Southeast Christian Church, attend weekly worship services, enjoy time with grandchildren and encourage mission ministry in Alamar, Cuba, a mission field he helped open in the 1990s.

In 2010, doctors propped up Dr. Dan’s failing heart with a ventricular assist device that would help pump blood until a donor heart was found. But the temporary fix became more permanent as one year turned into two, then four, then five.

Daniel Garcia, Dr. Dan and Rita’s oldest son, said it was hard to see his dad tired all the time.

“Dad was always optimistic even though he was hooked up to batteries, wires and tubes,” he said. “We  watched him struggle for so many years.”

A dire situation
On Jan. 7, the transplant team at the University of Louisville told Dan he no longer was healthy enough for transplant surgery and suggested living as long as possible with the ventricular assist device. He already had been turned down as a candidate for a heart transplant at Vanderbilt University.

None of it was good news. Dr. Dan’s feet were swollen from poor circulation, and they were constantly cold. He often was tired and breathless.

Tests showed his heart was pumping at just 8 to 15 percent of the normal rate.

The Garcias were still processing being rejected by U of L for a heart transplant when a friend encouraged them to go to the University of Kentucky for an evaluation.

They had little hope he would be accepted when they finally made the appointment in Lexington.

“All through this journey, when I’d get discouraged, the Lord would put someone in my path to cheer me up,” Dr. Dan said. “A year ago, I met a patient who had a heart transplant 23 years ago, is still working and playing golf three times a week. Then, when it seemed other doors closed, the friend of a patient encouraged me to talk with the team at the University of Kentucky.”

In the end, there were no choices.

That, says Rita, is additional evidence of God’s leading.

New hope     
Dr. Dan was at the University of Kentucky getting a routine checkup on his ventricular assist device when the technician found fractured wires in the electrical system.

The device could not be fixed, and it was determined that he would need surgery to have it replaced. He was sent home with a special lead wire so the device would not short out. Meanwhile, his name was moved up the heart transplant list.

The phone call for which the Garcia family had waited and prayed came eight days later. A heart had been donated and was being prepared for Dr. Dan.

He came through the surgery without complication. In the surgical waiting room, the doctor told the family, “Your dad doesn’t have a bad heart anymore. He no longer has heart disease!”

Dr. Dan walked down the hall on Day 3. He left the hospital on Day 17.

His family rejoiced over a remarkable recovery.

 “We are melting with praise to the One who provides the way to cross from death to life,” said Dr. Dan and Rita’s daughter, Mary Julia Kiser. “We celebrate Him and continue to be struck by the power of prayer, the generous gift of life and the awesome greatness of our God.”

Dr. Dan joked that his only worry now is catching a virus from his computer.

He is walking, driving and looking forward to getting back to work. Though he cannot go on an international mission trip for at least a year, he longs to return to Cuba to visit with so many in the Alamar Church who have prayed for him.