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.