Thursday, December 22, 2011


I believe it was last year that a newspaper in Chicago published the true account of an incident that happened at a shopping mall over the holidays. A little boy really upset a department store Santa Claus when he gave his fake beard a good yank and then let it snap smartly back into place. Santa retaliated by throwing his bell at the boy. The kid ducked, and Santa hit another little boy in the head by mistake. The father of the second boy promptly slugged Santa with a roundhouse right. A policeman came around the corner at that moment and clubbed the father with his nightstick. When peace was restored, Santa was in jail and the father/son were being stitched up in the emergency room of a local hospital.

Christmas is not always a time of peace. People can be tense, preoccupied, over medicated or inebriated, not to mention the frustration and irritation with loved ones. So, how can we reclaim Christmas peace that sometimes gets stolen from us by the stress of the season? Grab your Bible and do a little exercise with me as I provide some counsel based on sound principles from the Word:

-Quit trying to please everyone. In Luke 5:15-16 it says that Jesus intentionally withdrew from pressing crowds to go ‘to lonely places to pray.’ He did not try to meet every expectation others had of him. He understood the importance of priorities and balance in life.

-Quit trying to be the perfect host/hostess. In Luke 10:38-42 it talks about Martha being ‘troubled about many things.’ Mary, on the other hand, ‘chose the better thing’ by sitting undistracted at the feet of Jesus. So remember, the house doesn’t need to be perfect. The food doesn’t have to be perfect. And, you don’t have to do it all. Delegate!

-Quit buying so much stuff. In Luke 12:15 we are told, “Life does not consist in the abundance of the things we possess.” Has anyone but me noticed that the more kids get, the less they appreciate what they got? Back to the ‘good old days’ when we had one ‘big’ gift to anticipate, unwrap and enjoy!

-Quit running around and go sit down. In Luke 22:14 Jesus, facing the worst day of His life, was reclining at the table, spending his precious and limited time with his friends; the disciples. In some ways this was the biggest night of his life and he chose to spend it in the company of those who meant the most to him. More important than presents for the family is your presence with the family!

Pray with me…. Our Father, we need You to wake us up and shake us up so we are fully awake and alive to enjoy what You have for us this Christmas 2011 and throughout the New Year of 2012. May we be consumed with pleasing you first and last. May we not be obsessed with the trivial and mundane. May we see where the real value is in daily life. May we practice the spiritual discipline of ‘slowing’ in the new year, because in doing these things we will put more life in our living and do less of just living life. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Pastor Ken

Monday, December 5, 2011


In this Christmas season, and as we come to the end of another calendar year, I want to express on behalf of our family the great honor and joy it is to serve the Lord and you. The picture was taken this past Thanksgiving when all 19 of us were together. It is rare on holidays, since, most of the time, one of our four families usually has some kind of ministry responsibility. Our son and both sons-in-law are pastors with the Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY. Our two daughters and our daughter-in-law are busy and dedicated stay-at-home moms. Our 19 grandchildren [7 granddaughters and 4 grandsons] range in age from 3-14.

Usually a couple of times a year our sons-in-law, Brian Sites and Matt Bayless, come to Crossroads to lead worship. Our son, Kyle, comes to preach, on average, once a quarter. All three of them testify about how much they love to come and preach/lead worship at Crossroads. Thank you so much for being so warm and welcoming to our family and thank you for standing with us as we seek to build a Great Commandment/Great Commission Church.

Our prayer for you is that this Christmas will be a season of spiritual renewal and recommitment as we move into a new year of challenges and opportunities to exalt Jesus Christ together.

Gratefully and sincerely,

Ken Idleman
Senior Pastor

Monday, November 28, 2011


The first billionaire ever was John D. Rockefeller. At the age of 23, he had already become a millionaire and, by the age of 50, he had achieved the status of being the nation’s first billionaire. Every waking moment of his life was spent in a quest to create and amass wealth, and he was very good at it. However, by the age of 53 he was struggling health-wise. His entire body constantly ached and he lost all of his hair. Inexplicably, his health continued to deteriorate. He couldn‘t eat regular food because of stomach problems, and his diet consisted of milk and crackers – every day. His personal physicians predicted that ‘the man who could buy anything he wanted’ would die within a year.

One morning, when John D. Rockefeller awoke, he made a decision. He called his attorneys, accountants and managers and announced that he wanted to channel all of his assets to hospitals, medical research and mission work. That day he established the John D. Rockefeller Foundation. This new direction in his life eventually led to the discovery of penicillin, cures for current strains of malaria, tuberculosis and diphtheria. The list of discoveries resulting from his generosity is long. But perhaps the most amazing part of Rockefeller’s story is that the day he began to give back a portion of what he had earned, something happened inside his own body. His body chemistry was altered so significantly that he got better. When it looked like, to his doctors and everyone else, he would die at 53; he wound up living until he was 98! History documents that he was actually healed, mentally, emotionally and physically by the decision to become generous. His generosity was not only revolutionary for the advancement of medicine and medical missions; it was also revolutionary in his own life.

Pray with me…. Our Father, You have made us to be like Yourself…. big-hearted and openhanded. Your Word teaches us that You are the ‘giver of every good and perfect gift.’ We want to be like You in our giving spirit. We want to seek first Your kingdom and righteousness. We want to demonstrate our priorities and values in practical measurable ways. Give us opportunities and challenges to go deeper in our conformity to Your likeness through our stewardship and our service. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.

Pastor Ken

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Someone has suggested that marital love generally moves through three stages. First, there is romance when the couple is completely infatuated with each other and the electricity flows. But, this ‘honeymoon’ stage tends to fade with the passing of time. The couple finds out that each other has faults. She is usually running late and he does not pick up after himself. And so, the second stage of marital love is tolerance. They learn to put up with each other’s foibles. They learn the ‘dance.’ He develops patience and she unselfishly adjusts her expectations. Then, as more time passes, the love deepens, reaching the third and final stage of acceptance. This is the mature love stage. The couple has learned to overlook each other’s faults and sacrifice for one other. Love in the third degree sets in and the couple experiences deep affection and life-long companionship.

[Trouble comes when one or the other in the marriage gets restless in the tolerance stage and decides to try and rediscover romance again with someone else. In reality, what they are doing is delaying the ultimate fulfillment of acceptance/mature love.]

I think people can tend to cycle the same way in their relationship to the Lord and His church. When you first come to Christ and into the church, you are swept off your feet. You think, “This is the greatest place in the world!” You are moved in every worship service. You can’t get enough of the friendship of other Christians. You are infatuated. Then, after a while, you discover some faults. A pastor forgets your name, the music that was so uplifting becomes routine, the preaching is not as compelling, you have to look for a parking place or a seat, you have to wait in line to check-in your child. You begin to criticize and you begin to hear of other churches you might like to visit. You want to rediscover excitement of that ‘new’ feeling. But, it’s only when you stick through the tough times and the disappointing experiences that eventually you reach the mature stage of loving the church in spite of her faults.

And Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I have sometimes heard this verse quoted incorrectly/backwards…. “For where your heart is, there your treasure is also.” But Jesus said if we want our heart to be in something, we should put our treasure there first; then the heart will logically and naturally follow. I am sure that this is why we are admonished to tithe as a matter of obedience and to give offerings as an expression of generosity. When our treasure is invested in the Lord’s church and its mission, locally and globally, our hearts will be in it for the long haul. We will move from infatuation to investment to intentional commitment. Without giving as an expression of our love, we will become disillusioned, distracted and disinterested. If we obediently and generously give our treasure, our hearts will remain faithful until death.

Pray with me…. Our Father, you have been and will consistently be the gold standard for faithfulness to us for all of our lives. We love knowing that beneath us are your everlasting arms, that when we draw near to You….You will draw near to us, that Jesus is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Your love for us is the love we want to manifest for Your church. May it be reflected in our priorities….the investment of our time, our treasure and our talent. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.

Pastor Ken

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


His enemies wanted desperately to entrap him with his own words. Jesus had rattled them to the core and they were fed up with it. Surely there was some way of getting him to say something blatantly wrong….corner him in a situation with no way out. Perhaps they could trick him into taking sides between the religious authorities and the governmental rulers…..

So, they asked him a loaded question: “Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Jesus knew their dark hearts and chose to teach them a powerful lesson about giving. He called for a Roman coin and asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. And with their own answer still ringing in their ears, Jesus charged them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” And human logic and divine revelation came together in one profound statement.

This life-defining truth is all too often missed, possibly because we’re so distracted by the clever way in which Jesus put down the deceivers. But, we must not miss his underlying point: Just as Caesar’s image and inscription were on that coin, God’s image and inscription are on us. We are made in his image and destined for salvation. Our very reason for being is to reflect his likeness as he draws us to himself. He owns us. We are his. We are God’s currency. Because of this, we give ourselves to him…. ‘Give to God what is God’s!’ And if he has us, there is nothing about us that does not ultimately belong to him.

No truth of stewardship is more basic; none is more potent. Giving to God what is God’s, first and foremost, means contributing our money, our time, our resources….our very lives unreservedly in his service and for his purposes.

Pray with me…. Our Father, impress on us with each new day the fact that we were made by you and for you. And, that giving by ourselves back to you from the heart, we are committing life’s solitary and most significant act, prompted by conviction born of Holy Spirit. We offer ourselves, all we have and are, to you again this day. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Pastor Ken

Monday, November 14, 2011


In 2006 I took a short-term mission trip to Havana, Cuba. A team of about a dozen of us went there [through Cancun, since you cannot fly direct into Cuba from the U.S.] to do Spanish Bible distribution and evangelistic work [both against the law] and to teach/encourage the leaders of a network of house churches throughout the city. I was struck by the slum-like conditions of the entire city, after 40+ years under a military controlled, communistic, atheistic totalitarian dictatorship. We could not drink the water. It was unsafe. Electricity was provided by un-insulated wire strung on the outside of the buildings; and was not consistent or reliable. The streets were in disrepair. The gutters on the edges of the streets were open sewers. The housing was substandard to say the least. Children played in weeded lots and mud holes. We could not openly assemble. We could not publicly distribute literature. There was no freedom of speech or freedom of assembly. Everything we did had to be done in homes or inside of walled back yards, which meant the crowds were limited to a hundred or less at a time. Every time I travel to a third world country, I am struck by how blessed we are in this nation.

Why is this true? Is it because we are just lucky? Is it because we are more intelligent or hard working? No. The answer is in Psalm 33:12, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord….” This is why we have had prolonged prosperity and productivity. This is why we have 50% of the world’s resources and only 4% of the world’s population. This is why, in the last 200 years, France has had 5 different forms of government and Italy has had over 50 forms of government and the Soviet Union with all their vast resources collapsed a few years ago after only 75 years of existence. But, what of our future? I believe it is in jeopardy unless there is national repentance. We are presently on a slippery slope as secularism rages on and spiritual values and life are scorned by the masses.

Pray with me…. Our Father, we never have been and we never will be a perfect nation, because there are no perfect people in this nation. But we can be a nation that is universally and unapologetically on a quest to be perfected by the grace of Jesus Christ and invested in the advancement of His kingdom through the living church. This is our magnificent obsession. That your kingdom will come, and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus name, amen.


Pastor Ken

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


INTIMACY WITH GOD…. Prayers of desperation and prayers of heartfelt thanksgiving…. I have vivid memories of a Friday night in August of 2005. It was after 11 PM and I was at home in Joplin, babysitting our infant grandson Bowen, who was sleeping in a back bedroom. I was trying to stay awake until my wife, Kaylene; our older daughter, Karissa; our son-in-law, Brian; and our two older grandchildren, Blakeley [7] and Kaden [5] Sites, returned from the final session of a Christ in Youth Conference in Bolivar, MO. Karissa was 5 months pregnant with their fourth grandchild at the time.

The phone rang at 11:10 PM. It was Kaylene telling me that the family had been in an accident on I-44 and would be delayed getting back. Then she relayed the details of what had happened…. She was driving. Brian was sitting in the middle of the back seat. Karissa was in the front seat on the rider’s side and the two children were strapped into their car seats by the windows in the back seat….

An 18-wheeler [semi] had passed the car behind them and then immediately pulled back into the right lane hitting our car in the left rear quarter panel. [The driver would later say he didn’t see them.] The impact turned the vehicle sideways and the semi ‘t-boned’ our car, hitting it a second time, square in the driver’s side door. [Kaylene would later say she could see the grille of the semi pushed up against her window.] The semi knocked our car across the median into the double lanes of traffic going the opposite direction on this very busy divided highway; except there was an unusual break in the traffic flow, just long enough for Kaylene to coast to a stop on the shoulder facing the oncoming traffic! Our car did not roll over. No one was injured. The state police who came to the scene could not believe it when they were told what happened. Our car actually started up again and was drivable. Apparently, the two vehicles, both driving at 70 mph, resulted in the impact being less serious. Then Kaylene revealed two amazing details…. She said that immediately, with the first impact, our son-in-law, Brian, cried out, “O God, please help us!” It was his first instinct to begin praying a prayer of desperation out loud. My wife also told me that she distinctly remembered hearing someone tell her to take her foot off the gas and release the steering wheel. She said it sounded like the voice of her father, who had been deceased for 8 months. Neither of the children, asleep in their car seats, even woke up. Brian took over the driving duties, backed up an exit ramp with the help of the police, and drove the family back home safe and sound sometime after midnight.

While I waited alone in the dark for them to return, I had some time for deep reflection and gratitude. Much of my world was in that car that night. I could have lost my wife, my firstborn daughter, my son-in-law and three grandchildren in a tragic accident. I got down on my knees beside my bed and prayed, “O Father, thank you, thank you!” My first instinct upon hanging up the phone was to cry out to God praying a prayer of thanksgiving for His mercy. That night my life could have changed dramatically. Intimacy with God is forged in such moments. Have you had such an experience in your life? I would love to hear/read about it.

Our Father…. Your Word declares that ‘your eyes are upon your people from the beginning of the year even to the end of the year.’ You never slumber or sleep. You are vigilant. You protect us from temptation that we cannot handle. You protect us from trials that we are not able to bear. If we experience something bad, You allow it for our ultimate good. You can redeem it. If we go through a hard time, You can use it to mature us and equip us to minister to someone else. We trust You Lord. We praise You because You work all things together for our good. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.

Pastor Ken

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Corrie Ten Boom is a name that is synonymous with victimization…. the injustice and cruelty imposed on compassionate Christians by the Nazi war machine. The Ten Boom family was guilty of hiding Jews during the attempted elimination of the entire race by the Arians. Consequently, Corrie and her sister were subjected to the most inhumane treatment imaginable, by Hitler’s minions in a Nazi concentration camp. Corrie’s sister died just days before their liberation by the allied troops.

Years after the war, Corrie was speaking at an event in Switzerland and noticed a face in the crowd. It was one of the former Nazi guards from the concentration camp. She recognized him as one of the cruelest guards….one who had frequently ogled her and her sister when they were unclothed in the delousing shower. After Corrie spoke that evening on ‘forgiveness,’ the man came down to speak to her. Standing before her, he looked at her, extended his hand and asked, “Fraulein, can you forgive me?” Corrie states, “I stood there with coldness clutching at my heart. But I knew that the temperature of the heart does not have to control the will. And so, woodenly, mechanically I raised my hand to join his and said, ‘I forgive you with my whole heart.’ And immediately there was a warmth that began in our joined hands, raced up my arm and flooded my whole being.” She said, “NEVER HAVE I EXPERIENCED THE LOVE OF GOD SO COMPLETELY AS IN THAT MOMENT.” In other words, it was in the act of extending forgiveness to another from her heart, as an act of her will, that provided for Corrie Ten Boom the most exhilarating experience of her Christian life.

Pray with me…. Our Father, forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. Though our offenses will likely never approximate the offenses suffered by the Jews during the holocaust, or the Christians who tried to save them in Jesus’ name, we will be rejected, betrayed, offended, slighted and hurt. May we never forget that the experience of being forgiven by You can only be compared to the experience of forgiving those who sin against us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Pastor Ken

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


John Beckett in his book, Loving Monday, wrote that he had just turned thirteen and was enjoying a special vacation with his dad and his Uncle Harold at Harold’s cabin in Canada 600 miles from home. “But,” he said, “Trouble found us when Uncle Harold got the notion that his young nephew might like to look at his favorite playing cards which featured naked women. Dad walked into the room at that moment. Seeing what was taking place, he exploded! Here was his almost 60-year old older brother exposing his young son to pornography. ‘Pack your bags, John. We’re going home!’ A few minutes later we crawled into our small cedar boat; dad started the outboard motor and we pulled away from the dock. I bit my lip. I was so disappointed. Why would my outing with my dad and my uncle end this way? But 100 yards from shore Dad said grimly, ‘John, we’re going back.’ He’d been thinking and praying. I thought he’d forgotten something. When Dad pulled up to the dock, Uncle Harold ran down from the cabin to meet us. I could see in dad’s face this intense righteous anger that had met with an equally powerful and deep love for his brother. Dad was coming back to make things right. Too many years, too many shared experiences, too much was at stake to allow this incident to become a festering wound that would never heal. The embraced; a few words were spoken. That was all that was needed and they understood. Never again would Uncle Harold violate his brother’s care for his son. Never again would he underestimate Dad’s intense sense of right and wrong. Dad’s passion for his beliefs had caused him to risk fracture with his oldest brother. Yet, without compromising that passion, he found a place for reconciliation and forgiveness.”

Do you need to find a place of reconciliation and forgiveness? I’ll tell you where it begins. It begins on your knees when you pray, “Father, forgive me of my sins, as I forgive those who have sinned against me.”

Pastor Ken

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Richard Foster was right when he wrote, “Superficiality is the curse of our age…. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.” Stop and think about that for a moment. And now, ask yourself the hard question. Be honest in your answer: “Am I among the deep people?” Going deeper in our understanding, in our appreciation and in our devotion to God and others is always possible for us. And, becoming a deeper person happens most naturally and easily and often when we are in the crucible of suffering. Listen to the words of Job who lost all of his children [to death], his possessions [to plundering enemies], his friends [to disloyalty] and his health [to extreme physical suffering]….

Job refers to his experience of going deeper with God as learning…. “things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” [Job 42:3] He said, “He [God] reveals deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light.” [Job 12:22] He further testifies about going deeper by asking: “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens – what can you do? They are deeper than the depths of the grave – what can you know?”

Never forget this my dear friends: Your greatest opportunity to experience greater depth in your walk with God and your relationships with others is when your world collapses in on you. So, when you go through trials, please do not become bitter or harden your heart. If you do, you will miss the opportunity to experience your best and deepest days with God and those with whom you are the closest on this earth.

Pray with me…. Our Father, in a lifetime we cannot possibly exhaust all that there is to know and love about you. Keep teaching us as the years pass and as we put ourselves in a place to be taught. Thank you that faithfulness in times of trial and testing that put us in a place to draw closer to Your heart. We do not want to be shallow people. We want to be among the deep people. Take us there, no matter what it costs us. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Pastor Ken

Tuesday, October 4, 2011



I honestly do not remember the man’s name, but I do remember that he quickly identified himself as an atheist. His wife and two children were Christ-followers, a part of the local church for which I was preaching a Bible Conference that week. The host pastor and I had gone to his home to try to impress on him the reality of God’s unconditional love and life-changing grace. After 20 minutes or so, we decided we should draw the interview to a close. We were not being well received.

Early in the conversation, I had learned that the summer before, his 10-year old daughter had gotten her feet caught under the deck of their riding lawnmower and almost amputated. The man said there had been a lot of blood. As we were leaving I asked him, “Mr. Jones, would you mind if I asked you a personal question?” He said, “What is it?” I knew this was potentially a defining moment of truth; regardless, it would certainly be my final chance to influence him. We had tried to breakthrough his defenses [intellectually] to create faith, using evidences and reason, but without much success. So, I fired one final shot over the bough of his boat. As I looked him directly in the eye, I asked as gently and respectfully as I could, “Last summer, when your daughter got her feet under the deck of the lawnmower, and you saw all the blood, and you wrapped up her nearly severed feet, put her in the back seat of your car and raced to the hospital….as her father, her daddy….honestly…. did you pray to God?” He was pensive before responding to simply say, “You got me.” I commended him for his honesty.

He admitted that, although a professed atheist, in a moment of crisis, he dismissed his own philosophical arguments and abandoned his defensiveness to ask God for His healing and His help. In an unguarded, high stress moment, his mental gymnastics were overruled by the instincts of his God-created nature. Of course, my purpose that day was not to win an argument, but rather to win a soul. I learned that even atheists pray and desire intimacy with God in moments of desperation.

Years ago I remember reading eyewitness accounts of deathbed confessions and appeals for salvation from those who had, all their lives, rejected faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. I remember the illustration of Erwin [Desert Fox] Rommel, Field Marshall for Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich. He cried out in stark terror as he faced the prospect of dying in his lost condition. I witnessed, second-hand, the deathbed conversion of my maternal uncle who had resisted any talk of God or Jesus throughout his life, but in his final hours, having lost his voice, in a weakened condition, mouthed the good confession of faith. I pray it was sincere enough.

That’s the thing about atheism. You don’t really know you are one for sure until it is tested by the reality of sickness, loss, grief or death. It’s easy enough to profess, but it is really hard to maintain in the crucible of living and dying. I suspect that the instinct to cry out for the mercy of the loving and merciful God in the face of suffering or death is so strong that it cannot be suppressed by the average garden-variety atheist.

Pray with me…. Our Father in heaven, you are so patient, so kind, so good…. We thank you. Your desire is to be bound to us, yoked with us, united with us, for time and eternity. We cannot fully absorb the fact that we, who often don’t even like ourselves, could be loved unconditionally by You. Give us Your peace and presence. Thank you for adopting us so we can share life with you and be borne by the darkness of death itself into your eternal light and life…. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Pastor Ken

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


In a recent podcast, Ann Graham Lotz [Billy’s daughter] and Joel Rosenburg [popular author] asserted that God is shaking America to spiritually awaken us. Rosenburg said that while 911 was not caused by God [it was caused by fanatics devoted to a false religion], He did allow it to happen to wake us up. However, we pretty much ignored the warning and within a couple of months reverted back to our national pre-911 sins. He mentioned abortion, pornography, drugs, gay marriage and the utter defiance of God. Then Rosenburg reviewed other warnings that should have awakened us over the past 10 years…. hurricane Katrina, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars. He referenced our economic woes and our political divisions/gridlock. He asserted that 2011 has already been the worst year in history for natural disasters….killer tornadoes in Alabama and Missouri, the earthquake on the east coast [the biggest in decades]. Hurricane Irene flooded the Northeast, and we have suffered the worst fires and drought in Texas history.

The American economy seems to be imploding. Thousands of factories have closed. Nearly 15,000,000 jobs have been lost. Home foreclosures are epidemic. Our national debt is increasing by the minute [literally] and we see no way out of the crisis. 8 of 10 people surveyed say our country is on the wrong track. Preacher Bob Russell recently described it like being in the middle of a frozen lake….we hear the ice cracking, but don’t know which way to run for safety.

But, it is not just the U.S….the whole world is being shaken. Japan just experienced a series of terrible earthquakes, one large enough to trigger a tsunami that killed thousands, damaged several nuclear energy facilities and crippled their economy. Australia has had flooding described in one newspaper as a ‘Biblical flood.’ Haiti experienced one of the deadliest earthquakes in history, which killed thousands. Russia is living through the worst drought in 100 years….and China the worst drought in 200 years. There is extreme political unrest and even revolution in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia. The entire Middle East is in turmoil.

People everywhere are asking big questions: “Are we living in the last days?” “Will America survive?” I have not seen such apocalyptic interest and concern in my lifetime. Many are anxious….troubled. Joel Rosenburg is a scholarly student of prophecy and a frequent guest on national talk shows. He has plainly said, “I believe God is trying to warn us to repent, to stop living such immoral, self-centered lives.”

God has a mission for his church – and that is to warn the world that Jesus is coming back and that the time is short. So, are we living in the last days or not? Absolutely, we are. We have been ever since the Day of Pentecost. The Apostle Peter quoted the prophet Joel when he preached the Gospel for the first time on the day the church was born. The quote from Acts 2:14, “In the last days, God said, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” And that is exactly what happened on Pentecost. We have been living in the last days for over twenty centuries! The question is…. Are we living in the last days of the last days? My answer: I don’t know. But, what I do know is that unprecedented things are happening globally, in rapid sequence, and that could well be interpreted as warnings to “repent the end is near.” But, whether the end is near or not, as Christians we should live each day as though it were our last, faithfully and zealously being a Great Commandment/Great Commission people…. loving the Lord and one another/making disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them.

Pray with me…. Our loving Father, we know that we were not made to live life on this earth permanently. This world is just our temporary home. We are destined to live with You in the place that Jesus has promised to prepare for us. We praise and thank you that He lives evermore, and that because of who He is and what He has done for us, we have the promise of a greater life. We pray to wisely invest ourselves in Your eternal purpose in these days when the uncertainty of this life is being impressed on us by what is happening in nature and in the governments of men. We trust you Father. In Jesus’ dear name, amen.


Pastor Ken

Monday, September 19, 2011


They walked with Him, ate with Him, heard His teaching, saw His miracles, prayed with Him, grieved His death and rejoiced in His resurrection. But only after Jesus had ascended into heaven and the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them did the apostles truly make Jesus’ mission and vision their own – to sacrificially serve others, share the Good News and build His church worldwide.

Ultimately, we are a product of their efforts, and today, we have the same mission and vision with the same challenge – making connections with new people and leading them from being passive spectators to active participants who embrace and ‘own’ the mission and vision of the church themselves.

How to best do that is something every faithful church must address, regardless of size, location, denomination, etc. At Crossroads, we will address this coming Lord’s Day, September 25 at 4 PM in our worship center in our annual all-church Vision Meeting. In recent months we have been moving on a path to accelerate the ministry and amplify the witness of Crossroads Christian Church here, near and far away. Beginning the first of the year 2011 we have studied through the Gospel of Luke together. Then we went through the book of Acts, considering the theme, ‘The Church Alive’. Presently, we are learning about our ‘Reborn Identity’ and rediscovering who we are in Christ. In October we will focus on ‘Intimacy With God’ including a special accent on prayer. That will prepare us for the challenge of ‘Revolutionary Generosity’ culminating with our Try The Tithe II weekend after Thanksgiving. All this preparation has been to prepare us for unprecedented effectiveness in building the Kingdom of God. My prayer this morning is that every person who reads these words has heart ownership of where we are going and what we are doing for the cause of Jesus Christ in our generation. It is no accident that we are in this fellowship, together in this hour. We should have just as much of a sense of destiny as the disciples of the first century!

Pray with me….. Father, you have called us to Yourself for salvation and we have answered that call. But you have also called us to Yourself for service and we want to answer that call as well. Thank you for the way you have honored and blessed our church over the past 43 years. Now Lord, help us to take higher ground than we ever have before as we seek to win the lost at any cost and weld them into your forever family as faithful witnesses. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Pastor Ken

Monday, September 12, 2011


A powerfully insightful piece by Steven Furtick:

The Perception Principle

There’s a secret to listening to sermons that dramatically affects what you will get from them. I call it the perception principle.

I’ve preached about this before and share it with our staff regularly, but I’ve never blogged about it. I want to give it to you because I believe it will revolutionize the way you listen to sermons and exponentially increase their impact on you.

The perception principle goes like this: I can only receive someone on the level that I perceive them.

This is true for God, and for every human relationship you have. The way you choose to see someone determines how you will treat them and how you will receive whatever they have to give you.

Negatively, this means that if you perceive your wife to be a nag, that’s the way she’s always going to sound to you. Even when she really isn’t being one. If you perceive your husband to be a loser, that’s how you’re going to receive him. No matter what he does.

Positively, it means that if you perceive someone to be wise, what they say will sound wise. And you’ll give it more weight. If you perceive someone to be ‘cool,’ everything they do will look cool.

Here’s how this matters when you’re listening to a sermon. How you perceive the person preaching will determine what you’re able to receive from them. And ultimately from God.

If all you see is a guy with good ideas and not a guy with a message from God, that’s all you’ll ever get. If you go into a sermon with an attitude of bless me if you can, you’re probably not going to be blessed. If you go in skeptical of every word, you’re probably going to find fault. And only find fault.

On the other hand, if you perceive your pastor to have a message for you from God, you’re probably going to be a lot more attentive and engaged. If you go into a sermon expecting to hear a word from God, you’re probably going to get one.

I’m convinced that what someone ‘gets’ from a sermon has nothing to do with the skill level of the person preaching. It’s how they perceive the person preaching. It’s how they decide to engage. When people tell me, ‘that’s the best I’ve ever heard you preach,’ I always want to respond: No, it’s the best you’ve ever listened.

I don’t care who your pastor is or who is preaching to you. Whether their podcast is downloaded by millions or their sermons are heard by five people, the principle is the same. Perceive them to have a message from God for you, and that’s what you’ll get.

Show up ready to hear from God, and don’t be surprised when you do.

Pray with me…. Dear Father, we are reminded of the words of Jesus, often after he had delivered a difficult to receive teaching, when he admonished his listeners, ‘He/she who has ears to hear, let him/her hear.’ We want to have ears to hear, on the inside as well as on the outside. We want to have a positive perception of others so that we can receive your best from them, especially when they speak from your Word to our hearts. Give us the humility and discipline to ‘receive with meekness the implanted Word.’ In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.

Pastor Ken

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Since November 6, 2007, Amanda Knox has been in prison in Perugia, Italy, charged and convicted, along with two other men, in the murder of British exchange student, Meredith Kercher, during a sex game gone wrong. Her sentence…. 26 years in prison. However, earlier this summer, the DNA evidence used to tie Ms. Knox to the scene of the crime has been called into question. If the DNA evidence proves to be unreliable, she will likely be exonerated, acquitted, freed and able to return to the United States and her family. I am sure that if/when she hears the gavel fall and she receives the pronouncement ‘not-guilty,’ she will be indescribably ecstatic.

This story in the media this very week reminds me of I Peter 1:23, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God.” The word for seed/Spirit in the New Testament is ‘sperma.’ It is indicative of the fact that when we are born again into God’s family, we receive the spiritual seed of God’s Spirit, appropriated to us by our obedient faith. And, when we have this imperishable seed, we have God’s DNA. And when we have God’s DNA alive in us, we are His children. And when we are His children, we are not-guilty of sin because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. We are absolved of the guilt, shame and penalty of our sin. Our sentence would have been much more serious than 26 years. “The soul that sins will die.” [Ezekiel 18:4] And the death it is talking about here is much worse than life in prison without parole, much worse even than capital punishment. It is banishment from the presence of God forever. It is the ultimate irreversible sentence of the second death…. hell. But, thanks be to God that the DNA evidence, the seed of God’s Spirit in us through the Word of God means we are not guilty before Him. But, it is not because the DNA evidence is unreliable…. It is because the DNA evidence is reliable that we are forgiven and free!

Pray with me…. Father in heaven, everywhere we look we can discover and translate our experience into the life-changing truths that are documented in your word. Help us to see what is going on around us with redeemed eyes, spiritual eyes. Help us to hear what is going on around us with redeemed ears, spiritual ears. Show us each day, speak to us each day. We want you to reveal to us daily the wonder of our salvation. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Pastor Ken

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Every one of us has unconsciously catalogued in our memory bank the times when we have been betrayed, hurt or offended by another. Often it is someone that we have loved or trusted. Now while it is vitally important to our spiritual health that we forgive, it is virtually impossible, to forget. As a result of our memory of the sin, it can come to our conscious minds occasionally [or even daily], long after the offense and our initial act of forgiveness. And, that, my friends, is a tough one! To remember a serious sin against us in the past, confronts us with the crisis of forgiveness into the future. As a result, forgiveness must become both a singular event and a way of life.

In Matthew 18:21 & 22 we read, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy seven times.” [NIV]

I understand these words of Jesus now…. I cannot forgive my offender only once, I have to forgive him/her every time the memory of the hurt and injustice comes to mind. We do not always have control over our mental processes. Our memories will ‘body slam’ us with the reality of what was done to us. We have no control over these occasional involuntary intrusions. But, we do have control over whether we will allow the grace of Jesus to flow out of us to resolve the matter perpetually.

Pray with me…. Dear Lord, we who have sinned against you, are dependent on your love and grace in abundant supply. And so we pray that we can imitate your character in this same way and become like you making forgiveness a way of life. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Pastor Ken

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


This summer has been rewarding for me from several standpoints, not the least of which has been our nine weeks of living in the book of Acts and focusing on The Church Alive. It has been a growing time for us all to deepen our appreciation for the church and renew our commitment to the church as the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ. Faithful participation in the deeper life of the church is vital to our being able to abide in Jesus Christ. This weekend will be the ‘exclamation point’ on the summer as we assemble for the Concert of Praise lead by our music and worship ministry people…. some 200+ of them on the platform this coming weekend. [REMEMBER THE SPECIAL TIMES: SATURDAY AT 4 & 6 PM, SUNDAY AT 9 & 11 AM] We are hopeful that many will decide to come early on Saturday or late on Sunday to allow for a more uniform distribution of the crowds we expect.

Spending time in the book of Acts this summer has reminded me of an acrostic that has guided my personal prayer time for years. I regret that I don’t get in a ‘sweet hour of prayer’ every day, but I love my unhurried time with the Lord guided by these 4, 15-minute each, components:

A – adoration – Using the Word of God, especially the Psalms, to assist my mind in identifying all that I love and adore about the Heavenly Father and referencing the Gospels to identify all I love and adore about the Lord Jesus. Praising Him for Who He is. Often it flows without any need for scriptural input. The time will fly.

C – confession – Spending time taking spiritual inventory on me…. humbly purging my thought life, my words, my actions, my reactions, my pride, my self-dependence, my unguarded moments. Never a shortage of things to talk to Him about here.

T – thanksgiving – Detailing, in the presence of the Lord, all the ways He has blessed me and all those in my nuclear family and my circle of Christian friends. I know the necessity of maintaining a grateful heart. I want Him to hear from me that I know and am thankful that His mercies are new every morning.

S – supplication – Asking, humbly and earnestly…. Beseeching and petitioning the Lord for those things that matter to me…. Praying for those I personally know and love as well as those who are known to me only vicariously through others who have shared their names and situations.

So there is the book of Acts in the Bible that encourages my faith and then there is the exercise of A.C.T.S. that sustains my faith. Join me in a sweet hour of prayer….

Pray with me…. Father God, we come to you in the Name of Jesus, your Son and our Savior. We thank you for the rich resource of Your written Word and the rich resource of prayer. We can open our ears to Your voice and we can open our hearts to you with our voice. It is the rhythm of abundant life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Pastor Ken

Monday, August 22, 2011


Several years ago I was called by the leaders of a divided church in the Joplin area asking if I would consent to mediate a specially called congregational meeting on a Wednesday night. The two remaining elders were hopeful that someone coming in from the outside could be a catalyst to assist in healing a split in their church family. When I walked into the worship auditorium and down the center aisle at 7 PM that evening, it was as quiet as a morgue. Now, almost always, when you get a group of Christians together, you see loving expressions; you hear easy conversation and spontaneous laughter. It is often hard to get people quiet! But, such was not the case that particular Wednesday evening. It felt like a Quaker prayer meeting. Tumbleweeds seemed to be blowing through the worship center! On each side were an equal number of people with resolute faces and folded arms. And there was also a noticeable difference in the demographic of the two sides. On the west side were the younger folks. On the east side were the older adults. As it turned out, the division had developed because the younger people were forming into small groups through the week to study the Bible and pray together/for each other. The older adults were concerned that it would lead to ‘problems’….and they were right….it had….and they were seeing to it!

I doubt that God ever blesses a bickering church. He loves the church and it is a dangerous thing to sow discord, division or disharmony in the church. Proverbs 6:19 declares that one of the things God hates, that is detestable to him, is “a man [woman] who stirs up dissension among brothers.” It is said of the early church in the book of Acts, chapter 2, that “they were all together” when the Holy Spirit came upon them. Later in the same chapter, three times in two verses, Luke mentions their togetherness: “All the believers were together” [vs. 44]; “Every day they continued to meet together…. They broke bread in their homes and ate together.” [vs. 46]

So, let us be bridge-builders and peacemakers and peacekeepers. Let’s work hard and do our best to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. And, as much as it is in our power to do so, let’s live in peace with everyone. This will result in our being an answer to the prayer of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, when, on his face, with perspiration falling like droplets of blood, he prayed that we would be one.

Pray with me…. Father, I thank you for the joy of being in a church family that is united in heart and spirit. I praise you for being able to personally experience the truth of the Proverb…. how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity! Make us one and keep us together as one in our marriages, our families and our church family. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, August 8, 2011


I am sure that anyone, everyone, reading this devotional piece today is aware that the current financial outlook for both the national and global economy is troubling at best. Even ‘expert’ prognosticators swing between being over-the-top optimistic on the one hand and doom-and-gloom fatalistic on the other. The stock market is reflecting the volatility. Only God knows how this will settle-in.

Respected Christian financial counselor Dave Ramsey puts it in perspective for us: “If the U.S. government was a family, it would be making $58,000/year and spending $75,000/year. It would be [currently] proposing BIG [?] cuts to reduce spending to $72,000/year. It would also have $327,000 in credit card debt. These are the actual proportions of the federal budget and debt, reduced to a level we can understand.”

I believe the due bill has come in for our consistent pattern of ignoring God’s values and priorities. And, it is not just a government issue. Each and every person, especially every serious Christ-follower, must think deeply, clearly and honestly about his or her own stewardship practices. A love affair with money and the material world will result in flawed judgment about earning, debt, spending, saving and giving. Biblical wisdom, especially in the Proverbs, can be shunned, but not without consequence. The statements of Jesus about money can be ignored, but not without negative outcomes.

Obedience in tithing [returning 10% of our income to God] is the place to start….either immediate obedience, or moving intentionally to the place that tithing can be standard operating procedure. Then add honorable and diligent work, debt reduction/elimination, conservative spending and disciplined saving and you will have an irrefutable formula for achieving financial freedom. Then add offerings [giving over and above the tithe] in order to experience unprecedented blessing in every area of life.

We are lead to believe that the solutions to our current financial crisis, nationally and personally, are difficult and complex. I don’t believe it. I believe the answers to the present dilemma are basic and simple. What is difficult and complex is the reasoning people use to resist conforming their thinking to God’s wisdom and their behavior to God’s directives in the areas of our values and priorities.

Remember today: I am ‘speaking the truth in love.’

Pray with me…. Our dear Father in heaven, our strength is in You; our hope is in You. We are secure in Your wisdom and Your will today and everyday. We know that, left to ourselves, we can only rely on the ‘arm of flesh.’ And it will fail us. We will instead seek to remain in a place where Your everlasting arms will be under us to elevate us and Your everlasting arms will be around us to sustain us through whatever comes in this life and the life to come. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Through the years I have heard this statement more than once, “At our church, we never preach about money.” Now, I do understand that, as the church, we should never ‘ask for money;’ but to not preach/teach about money….that is to fail in leadership responsibility to the church for several reasons:

The Bible teaches about money and stewardship. Brian Sluth, former president of the Christian Stewardship Association, has counted the passages dealing with money and material possessions….there are 2,350 references. The Lord Jesus himself had quite a lot to say about it in the Gospels. In fact, he taught more about this subject than heaven, hell or even loving your neighbor. Surprised? Matthew records the words of Jesus in 6:21, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The primary tug-of-war for our hearts is between God and mammon [money]. God’s quest to capture our priority attention will require managing the distractions of money and the material world. We cannot serve both, Jesus said. And because we cannot fail to speak where Jesus has spoken, we teach stewardship.

Teaching about money blesses people. I truly believe that God’s truth puts His people in a place to experience His favor. Teaching God’s Word aligns people in a way that they can experience God’s best. At Crossroads we don’t ask people for money. The offering moment is a very low-key and very positive part of our worship service. At the same time I intentionally preach four or five sermons on stewardship each year. And often they are not about giving at all, but have to do with earning money honorably, spending money carefully and saving money faithfully.

Teaching about money matures people. How many times have I seen dramatic changes in people as a result of getting their priorities straight in the area of stewardship? I have personally witnessed how life-transforming it is when someone becomes a conservative spender, a careful saver and a generous giver. If, as a preacher, I fail to teach these Biblical principles, I am failing to challenge God’s people in their faith-walk. I am robbing them of the joys of the deeper life.

Generosity is a positive witness. I remember meeting a man who began faithfully worshipping with us. He had seen in the newspaper the response our church had made to the earthquake victims in Haiti last summer, giving $170,000 and, in addition, funding, assembling and shipping 506,000 meals to starving children. As believers, he and his family were impressed with such generosity and were attracted to identify with our fellowship.

Money advances the Gospel throughout the world. There is a paragraph in Romans 10:14ff that asks a series of rhetorical questions: How can unbelievers call on Jesus to save them if they have not heard about him? And how can they hear without someone telling them? And how can someone tell them without being sent? The logic is undeniable. Witnesses must be sent. And their travel, living, supplies, program, and time must be underwritten with the resources of those who are already saved.

Pray with me: Dear Father, for all these reasons and more we are blessed to be able to imitate You in Your generosity. Thank you for the promise of our Lord Jesus, that it is ‘more blessed to give than to receive.’ In His dear name I pray, amen.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


This past week, while on a three-day family vacation break, I read two books, which seemed at first to be unrelated. One book by Wesley Hill is titled, “Washed and Waiting.” It is the story of his personal struggle with same sex attraction and how he dealt with it as a serious Christ-follower. The second book by Roger Rosenblatt is titled, “Making Toast.” It is the story of his personal struggle with grief over the untimely death of his 37-year old daughter, Amy.

Each of the men tell of bearing a great burden. Wesley Hill carries the heart-pain of loneliness, knowing that he will be living out his life as a celibate gay man. Hill is committed that he will not to enter into homoerotic activity, nor will he seek a monogamous relationship in same sex marriage. He is a committed Christian [washed] and he is committed to sexual purity until Christ returns or he dies [waiting]. His story is a story of fulfillment and contentment that is the by-product of his uncompromised Christian faith. Roger Rosenblatt carries the heart-pain of loss, knowing that he will live out his life without the daughter who was the light of his life. Instead he and his wife have moved in with their son-in-law to help raise three pre-school children in their late sixties. His job was making toast. Rosenblatt is an atheist who also expresses his bitterness towards a God he claims does not exist. His story is a story of despair and hopelessness that is the by-product of his unbelief.

In contrasting these to autobiographical works, I found myself encouraged by the faith of one and moved by compassion for the other. Bottom line: Jesus is the Lord of life. His power and presence in our lives makes all the difference in how we handle life’s trials, whether with victory with Him or resignation without Him.

Pray with me…. Lord, thank you for your loving Lordship which makes life worth living and insures our hope for life to come. We pray for sensitivity to those around us who need to see the truth lived in our lives and need to hear the truth from our lips. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, July 18, 2011

July 18th, 2001

In his book The Purpose-Driven Church, Rick Warren explains how being part of a healthy church is essential to living a healthy life. He asserts that God designed his church specifically to help us fulfill the five deepest needs of our life:

1] A purpose to live for
2] People to live with
3] Principles to live by
4] A profession to live out
5] A power to live on

Today, I want to focus on #2…. The Church Alive meets our need for a people to live with. Ephesians 2:19 in the Living Bible says, “You are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.” God’s plan for each of us is perfect. His will is that we are physically born into a family of origin with a mother and father who love God and each other. These parents are sacrificially committed to our welfare and love us unconditionally. Then, His will is also that we are spiritually reborn into a family of faith and we become part of a network of individuals and other families called the church. God’s best for us is that we are an active part of this community that helps to change us, inspire us….motivate and prepare us [and others] for an even greater life beyond.

But sadly, many have not traveled God’s ideal life path. They have been forgotten, rejected, hurt and neglected by family or friends. There is great injury and disappointment in the lives of many people as God’s perfect plan, revealed in His Word, has been tragically unshared, willfully refused or passively ignored.

Although we cannot control our family of origin, we are free to make a personal decision about Christ and His church. So will we decide to be attenders or members? Attenders are uninvolved; members are commited. Attenders are spectators; members get involved in the ministry. Attenders are consumers; members are contributors. Attenders want the benefits of a church without sharing the responsibility. They are like couples who want to live together without committing to marriage.

Why is it important to join a local church family? Because it proves you are committed to your spiritual brothers and sisters in reality, not just in theory. God wants you to love real people, not ideal people. The Christian life is more than just a committed love for Christ; it includes a committed love for other Christians. Paul said in II Corinthians 8:5, “First they gave themselves to the Lord; and then, but God’s will, they gave themselves to us as well.”

Pray with me…. Father, thank you for the way you provide for us, literally from the cradle to the grave. Your plan is perfect….yet it has not been embraced by everyone. As a result there are people who do not know the love of family or the support of a Christian family in the church. May we unselfishly recognize that, in Christ, we who are many are one, and that each member belongs to all the others. In Jesus name, amen.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It is not often that a movie stirs me emotionally; and it is less often that a movie impacts me spiritually. But, I saw one with my wife recently that made such a positive impression. It is based on a true story and is called Soul Surfer. I recommend it as a high quality film that amplifies the truth of Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Seeing it reminded me of another such film I saw several years ago called Chariots of Fire. If you have not seen this one, I would encourage you to rent or buy it and watch it with your family. It is the true story of legendary British athlete, Eric Liddell. He was Britain’s star sprinter, scheduled to compete in the 1924 Olympic games. Upon arrival at the games he learned that his first race, the 100-meter dash, was to be run on Sunday. Liddell determined that he would not run that race because of his consistent practice/personal commitment to honor God by being in corporate worship in church on the Lord’s Day.

Craig Groeschel wrote, “Just because he was in Paris to compete in the Olympics did not justify changing his lifelong commitment. Most normal people today would think him more than just weird – they would think him foolish for passing up a chance at personal glory and international acclaim. Many in Liddell’s country called him a traitor for his bold and unusual stand. Even the Prince of Wales begged him to change his mind. But this uncommon man made an uncommon stand. In the next race, the 400 meters [not run on Sunday], Liddell beat the runner up by an amazing fifteen meters! He won the Olympic gold and set a new world record. Though he could have done almost anything with his life after this success, Eric and his family moved back to China to serve as missionaries.”

While we are studying The Church Alive at Crossroads this summer, I thought it relevant to spotlight a man who was a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ and a man who was faithful to worship in the church. No excuses. No exceptions. No rationalizations. For followers of Christ, worship is not something they have to do. It’s something they love to do and want to do because of their love for God and their love for their brothers and sisters in Christ. Of the early church it says in Acts 2:46, “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.” Paul said of the church in Troas in Acts 20:7, “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.” And the Hebrews writer encourages Christians then and now in 10:25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

The fact is, each of us, like Eric Liddell, determine our own convictions. No one else can do that for us. Our decisions and actions are a direct result of the priorities we establish based on those convictions. There is so much more to say here, but suffice it to say…. The 3300-3700 people who find their way to Crossroads to faithfully worship each weekend represent a faith community of probably 4500-5000 who consider Crossroads their church home. But, some come once or twice a month. Some come twice a year. Some come when they ‘feel’ like it. It is my pastoral prayer that a growing number of people will make worship, every Lord’s Day, without exception, the highest priority of your life regardless of what other opportunities/activities present themselves. And, if you are ever in the Olympics on a Sunday you will be found in God’s house, numbered among God’s people, faithfully worshipping Him.

Pray with me…. Lord, we agree with the Psalmist who said, “I was glad when they said to me, let us go into the house of the Lord.” It is part of our covenant relationship with You. It is part of our training in righteousness. And it is part of our witness to the world about the number one priority of our life. The pendulum has swung too far in the direction of casual Christianity; and so Lord, we want to swing it back hard today, back in the direction of exercising our wills to recommit our time and energy to faithfulness in worship. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

When God wants to begin a new work in the world, He almost always starts by speaking into the heart of one person. Drawing up the courage to listen, obey, and share the vision with others, these are the people we call leaders.

Over the years we've come to appreciate just how critical leadership is to church vitality. We have observed that a church's effectiveness in pursuing its God-given mission is largely dependent on the character, devotion, and skill of its leadership core. Thats why we support events like the Global Leadership Summit that work to elevate the quality of leadership within churches everywhere. It's also why we prioritize the attendance of our core leadership to attend every year to be challenged and inspired.

The leadership core of a church can be formal or informal, staff or volunteer, clergy or person on the street Christ follower. What matters most is their sold-out devotion to the cause of Jesus Christ. This leadership core almost always includes men and women working in business, education, government, and the social sector.

The Global Leadership Summit welcomes all these leaders, believing that the influence and impact of the church is felt most fully when Christ-centered leaders are at the forefront of establishing and growing well-led local churches, companies, schools, governments, and social enterprises.

This the church at it's best, as God's love and care inevitably spills out into our neighborhoods, towns, and cities through acts of love, justice, mercy, service and restoration.

Join us at Crossroads for this extraordinary event:

The Global Leadership Summit
August 11-12

Register today at to receive the host church discount price of $79.00. (Use code word 2011SUMMIT)

Please continue to pray for our team of High school and Middle school students who are currently in Joplin helping with the relief efforts.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


I am by nature an optimist. I really don’t think that it has ever required a conscious effort on my part. I have not worked at it. It is just part of the way my Creator has me ‘hardwired.’ It was early in our marriage that my wife asked me, “Don’t you ever have a bad day?” As I recall, that particular day we were experiencing heavy rainfall and had just opened a door to discover that all the sewage in the neighborhood had backed up into our basement. [In retrospect, I’m not sure she intended her rhetorical question as a compliment.] What can I say? In a moment of weakness, I actually saw humor in it. But, when my young bride saw her cherished boxes of Christmas decorations floating in the refuse, she was not thinking that ‘the glass is half full.’

Lately, I have been reading and hearing the wrong stuff to maintain my optimism. Off the top of my head…. The tragic Cailey Anthony trial in Florida, the Congressman Anthony Weiner fiasco, the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in New York, the conviction of former governor Rod Blagojevich in Illinois, another projected raise in the [already record high] national debt ceiling, the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize marketing graphically violent video games for mental and visual consumption by youngsters and the long term negative outlook on employment….to name but a few of the draining influences on my optimism. But, living in the Proverbs devotionally restores my sanity and my positive outlook. When I discover the wisdom of God it provides the balance I need to live with joy in the present and hope for the future. Just this morning:

Proverbs 28: 5, “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.”

Proverbs 28:10, “He who leads the upright along an evil path will fall into his own trap, but the blameless will receive a good inheritance.”

Proverbs 28:12, “When the righteous triumph, there is great elation; but when the wicked rise to power, men go into hiding.”

Proverbs 28:13, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

Proverbs 28:14, “Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.”

Proverbs 28:20, “A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.”

Pray with me….. Our Loving Father, You have not left us without Your wisdom. You have given us your perspective on life and living. We thank you. Nothing about life on earth has ever caught You off guard or unprepared. You have provided your grace and justice from the beginning of time. You have consistently shown your tender care for us. And in the midst of the bad news days, we praise you for the enduring good news that Jesus saves, and keeps and satisfies. In His name, amen.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I have just recently returned from a week in Joplin, MO, and I must tell you about my personal and dramatic change in perspective. When I first learned of the F-5 tornado that cut through the southwest central part of the city destroying 8000 structures and leaving 10,000 people homeless, I inwardly reacted with a predictable question: “Why Lord….why Joplin? It is the center of so much Kingdom-building activity! It is a primary source for church leadership, global evangelism and missionary outreach!” I had difficulty processing this tragedy, in light of Hosea 8:7, “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” But, Joplin is not a place that has sown the wind! It is a geographical place where things right in the sight of God have been sown! It does not deserve to reap the whirlwind!

But then I arrived on the scene….I spent three days driving and walking through a veritable junk yard/refuse dump a mile wide and six miles long, that had only two weeks earlier been a thriving community. An occasional stark stick in the ground where there once stood a beautiful tree….hundreds of cars twisted and mashed into unrecognizable shapes….lumber and furniture scattered as far as the eye could see…. And, I also saw something else…

I saw God’s providential preservation of huge numbers of people. My first thought as I initially surveyed the devastation was, “How in the world did only 140 people die in this widespread carnage?” Would you believe that the evening the tornado struck, the Joplin High School graduation ceremonies had been moved from the [totally destroyed] high school campus to an auditorium at the state university on other end of town, resulting in the saving of literally thousands of lives.

I saw crosses standing. The first one standing high above the rubble of a Catholic church….elevated and untouched, while literally everything around it had been shredded and flattened….another cross on the only remaining standing wall of the Blendville Christian Church where we had worshipped and served from 1973-1977….another cross on the only remaining standing wall of the St. Paul United Methodist Church. Folks, it was surreal. But, it was also real. I am not making this up. It is as though God Himself shielded and preserved the symbol of the only hope this world [destined for ultimate destruction] has….the cross of Jesus Christ. I stood beneath the first cross and softly sang to myself the words of an old hymn, “In the cross of Christ I glory, towering over the wrecks of time. All the light of sacred story, gathers around its head sublime.” It was a devotional moment I will not ever forget.

Then I saw the Christian community carrying the city on its shoulders. Christians and churches were first responders and they will be there long after the government agencies have left town for the next trouble spot. College Heights Christian Church, Ozark Christian College [housing and feeding the personnel and strategic relief efforts of the Red Cross and FEMA], Forest Park Baptist Church, Joplin Family Church, Samaritan’s Purse, Feed the Children, Crossroads Christian Church in Newburgh, IN, Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY and many others were there in the Name of the Lord supplying the resources of prayer, money, food, generators, shelter, personal items, baby supplies and thousands of tireless workers. No cynic or skeptic will be taken seriously in Joplin again. No critic of the church will get a hearing. What do you say when you are down and out and the only hand reaching out to you is the hand of Jesus extended through His body, the church? The conversions have already begun. Church attendances are spiking as the community is experiencing spiritual renewal and revival. They now know what matters. Their values were realigned in only a few minutes as the tornado struck and then in the following weeks as Christ-followers have responded to the need for everything from blood to bottled water. Listen, my friends…. Jesus said it in the Sermon on the Mount…. Matthew 5:45, “[Your Father in heaven] He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” So, New Orleans, perceived by many to be our present day Sodom, experienced Katrina. And, Joplin, perceived by many to be the buckle of the Bible-belt, experienced the worst direct hit tornado in the history of the nation. But, here is the thing…. God, in His Providence, is allowing our preparation for what will eventually be….the end of all things that are attached to this life as we know it. And He is letting the world see that the church of Christ alone is the ‘ark of salvation.’ It is the only source of help and hope.

And here is my redeemed perspective: I no longer ask, “Why Joplin God?” Now I declare, “Thank You God, for choosing Joplin, for trusting Joplin, to be the place, of all the places in the world, where you have allowed this most graphic demonstration of Christian compassion and most dramatic proclamation of Christian witness.

Pray with me…. Father, we see it in Jesus. In His suffering, Your love and Your grace was at once convincing and convicting. He himself said, “If I am lifted up [on the cross], I will draw all people to myself.” And so, it is often through the experience of our human suffering that we wake up to your presence in this world in the person of Your Son and His church. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


The past few months have been both deepening and, at the same time, difficult for many of us who have had to process the deaths of both family members and friends. Speaking personally, the death of my own father was further compounded by the deaths of acquaintances and former coworkers in Joplin because of the devastation of a direct hit by an F-5 tornado on that city. Then, the recent death of my neighbor and faithful Christian brother, Tony Barthel, after a valiant four-year battle with cancer. It is just true, there are seasons in our lives when death intrudes.

Death is very real for all of us. There will be one death for each birth until Christ returns. Every one of us will experience it. Ultimately, no one cancels his/her appointment with death…. No Olympic athlete, no rock musician, no influential politician, no one. We might delay its arrival with diet and exercise. But, I say ‘might’ because safe health practices don’t keep a drunk driver from crossing the centerline or running a stop sign and rearranging our personal mortality timetable. Two lessons I have learned about death:

Death and disappointment go together. The grave and grief are linked. Even Jesus experienced the heart pain of death when he was informed that his friend Lazarus had died. John 11:33 says, “He was deeply moved and troubled.” And when they said, “Come see where we have laid him.” Verse 35 became the shortest, yet one of the most profound verses in the Bible, “Jesus wept.” God feels our pain. He has the capacity to enter into our grief. That fact is amazing to me! He cares and is indeed a personal God! And, we are comforted by the knowledge that He will exercise his power over death when, at the end of time we envision with the apostle John, “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second [final] death.” [Revelation 20:14] Although death reigns now, death’s days are numbered because….

Death and hope go together. It sounds strange, but it is true. Without Jesus Christ, death is a hopeless end; but with Jesus Christ death is an endless hope. Hope and superstition are opposites. Superstition anticipates something with no basis in fact. But real hope is based on evidence for what we anticipate. And the evidence for a hope-filled death [and that may sound odd] is the resurrection of Jesus who declared in John 11, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live. Even though he dies. And whoever [white or black, rich or poor, PhD educated or a sixth grade drop out, the CEO and the common laborer, the gang leader and the youth minister, the president and the prisoner] lives and believes in me shall never die!” Death is our permanent transfer to the unparalleled joys of heaven. Death is the bridge for us to cross over into life on the other side. Paul said, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” They go together….death and hope.

Pray with me….. Dear Father in heaven, we praise You for entering into our disappointment and grief because of death, so much so that you could not bear to be attendant to the death of Your Son Jesus on the cross. And we thank You for the fact that death is but birth pangs for those of us who know Jesus as Savior and Lord. We rejoice that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what You have prepared for those who love You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Today you will notice the launching of a new name for my weekly devotional and prayer. We are transferring the ‘Prayer Force’ name to our Crossroads prayer list. Henceforth, the designation for my messages to you will be ‘Speaking the Truth in Love,’ from Ephesians 4:15, “….speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” So, I thought it appropriate to camp on this idea in my first message.

Christian businessman John Beckett, in his book Mastering Today, tells about the redemptive power of speaking the truth in love. He writes:

“I was in a dental chair being prepped for the replacement of a filling. Just as my mouth was filled with dental hardware so I could only mumble, the dental technician said, out of the blue, “You’re Mr. Beckett, aren’t you?” I grunted assent. “Well, I want to thank you for firing my husband.” I was stuck. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak. I could only listen to the ensuing monologue. “It happened ten years ago,” she continued, “but you called him into your office before he left. You said, ‘I realize I don’t have any choice but to terminate you, but I want to tell you something. You’re at a crossroads. You can keep going the way you are, and the results are very predictable. Or you can take this as a wake-up call. You can decide you’re going to turn your life around.’” I’m sure the technician couldn’t see the beads of perspiration on my forehead under all the paraphernalia as she continued: “I want you to know, my husband took your advice. Today, he’s a good father, a good husband and he has a good job. Thank you for firing my husband!”

It is never easy to confront someone. We would all rather be Barnabus, the encourager, than Nathan, the confronter. But, if we truly care about someone, we’ll speak up and speak the truth in love. We will have the hard conversation:

-When we see one of our children being negatively influenced by unwise friends.

-When we see a married co-worker/friend getting too close to a man in her office.

-When we see a friend who is neglecting his kids because he is too consumed with his career.

-When we see a student not working up to his/her potential.

In these situations, we pray hard, keep our emotions in check, choose our words carefully and guard our own humility, but we don’t beat around the bush. We speak the truth in love, because….we truly love, we truly care, we truly want the God’s deepest and best in the life of the other person.

Dietrich Bonhoffer wrote, “Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the reprimand which calls another Christian back from the path of sin.”

Pray with me…. Dear Father, help us to live the truth and speak the truth in love. Save us from spiritual superiority and pride. But, save us too from cowardice and apathy. Give us the courage and tough love to fight for the souls of the people in our lives who are temporarily blinded by sin or deceived by untruth. Make us all champions of what is right and true while maintaining a true spirit of humility. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Last weekend and the weekend coming will provide us at Crossroads the opportunity to share together in a united and compassionate response to the devastation brought about by the F-5 tornado in Joplin, MO a week ago last Sunday. The opportunity to give a designated financial offering marked ‘Joplin Tornado’ and to give needed supplies from our abundance to those who now have little or nothing will precede the careful distribution of financial relief and a truckload of supplies going to Joplin on Monday, June 6th. I want you to read a pastoral letter by my presidential successor at Ozark Christian College…. It will help you better empathize…. K I

Dear Ozark Family,

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

This past Sunday in Joplin, everyone’s life took an unexpected and defining turn. The massive tornado that raged through our city destroyed lives, businesses, homes and vehicles in its path. Families are mourning, homeowners are salvaging, employees wonder if they have a job, business owners wonder if they can restart and the school system is scrambling to rebuild. We have prayed, searched for survivors, recovered bodies, cleared debris, cooked meals, cut up fallen trees, picked through rubble, bandaged wounds, taken in displaced families, organized relief efforts, prayed, wept, listened to the radio for information like our grandparents did in World War 2, and prayed some more.

No one’s week proceeded normally, and in a sense, nothing will be normal again. For our community, this is 9/11, and everything will now be different. Family reunions, long-time neighborhood relationships, trips to the doctor’s office, even the Wal-Mart where you shop—it’s all changed. A once-green swathe of trees across our city is gone, and a simple drive up Rangeline—which is no longer a simple drive—reminds us that the skyline itself will be forever altered.

The tornado has permanently changed our landscape, but it’s also rearranged our calendars. What we thought we would do this week isn’t what we ended up doing. Starting Sunday night, you instantly rewrote your to-do lists. You scrapped regular hours and routine tasks. You got up early, stayed up late, and in between you searched-and-rescued, repaired roofs, prepared food, sorted donated clothes, and comforted grieving families. Here on campus, you swiftly tackled new duties: compiling information on affected Ozark people, organizing housing for hundreds of volunteers, refiguring a summer’s worth of cafeteria work, preparing buildings to be used for relief, programming our website for tornado donations.

In your own place, in your own way, each of you has done a hero’s work. I have been throughout the community this week, and everywhere I looked, I saw Ozark folks doing what they could in Jesus’ name. So thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for your compassionate heart, your leadership energies, your others-first attitude, your creative flexibility, your sacrificial service. Thanks for everything you’ve done. God has used you mightily this week, people have been blessed, and all I can say is: I’m proud to work alongside you.

Now at the end of a long week, may I offer a pastoral word? For the last seven days, emergency status has been the status quo. You worked hard, slept little, drank lots of caffeine and ran on adrenaline. In this season of immediate response, you have pushed beyond normal limits, and rightly so. The needs were urgent. But we are preparing to move into a season of sustained response. Rebuilding will take time, and the recovery process will be a marathon, not a sprint. So if we truly want to help people, we would all be wise to find a sustainable pace. Now would be a good time to take a breath, take a break, and take a nap.

A fuel truck has two tanks—the large one full of fuel being delivered and the smaller gas tank for the truck itself. If the truck doesn’t keep its own tank full, it will never get the larger tank of fuel delivered. So while you are delivering relief to others, make sure to give yourself a little relief as well. Work hard, but take time to go home and love your family, play with your kids, eat your dessert, read your Bible and get a good night’s sleep. A wise old sage said, "The bow kept taut will quickly break," and too often, emergency workers burn out because they don’t take a timeout. So be intentional. Refill your tank . . . and then keep filling those cups of cold water to give in Jesus’ name.

Dear Father…. Thank You for Your promise of comfort for the grieving, strength for the weak, rest for the weary, guidance for the lost, provision for the poor, healing for the wounded and grace for all. We entrust the victims of this tornado to You, and we ask that You give each what is needed from Your storehouse of blessing. May they sense Your presence at their side. Even as we lift up the victims, we also lift up the volunteers who are rushing to their side. Thank You for moving through Your people to help this hurting city, and give each faithful laborer Your sustaining power. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Matt Proctor
Ozark Christian College

President Proctor’s wise words and prayer have application for all of us caught up in the swirling winds of life’s normal routine. We need the very same counsel as our friends in Joplin….to keep our physical, emotional, relational and spiritual tanks full so we can be in position to offer help to others in the name of Jesus. “The God of all comfort [strength]….comforts [strengthens] us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort [strengthen] those in any trouble with the comfort [strength] we ourselves have received from God.” [I Corinthians 1:4]

Yours for Christ and Crossroads,
Pastor Ken Idleman