Tuesday, May 31, 2016


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

Monday, May 16, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Ken

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


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

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

The truth is you wouldn’t be happy.

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

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

So maybe happiness comes from a different place.

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


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

Pastor Ken

Monday, April 18, 2016


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

Monday, April 11, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how I believe God speaks to me:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 4, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the end, there were no choices.

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

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

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

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

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

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

His family rejoiced over a remarkable recovery.

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

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

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

Monday, March 28, 2016


The End of Me
Kyle Idleman
Writing The End Of Me and launching the iamnotenough.com website have led me to think a lot about how people choose to live their lives. I’ve realized that, though there are small nuances, there really are two basic options. I’ve fashioned these two options into two equations.

The first way we can live our lives is all about self. This is the way most people live. This is the equation:

Self-awareness + Self Reliance = Self-Construction

It starts with self-awareness. You’ve got to figure out:
    - Who are you?
    - What are you good at?
    - What should your priorities and values be?
    - How do you decide what you’re going to do with your life?

Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” We like to think we’re self aware, that we understand ourselves, but we don’t. We lie to ourselves. And when we rely on self-awareness, we end up building our life on lies."

The problem with self-awareness is that it tends to lead to self-deception. Self-deception can wreak havoc in our decision-making, our families, our finances and our careers. For example:

We fill our calendar with events, programs, and weekends away; and we just don’t seem to have the time to consistently attend church, or have our children participate in the Student Ministry. We’re not teaching the kids about the Bible on our own, either.
Then eventually, our children start going in the wrong direction, and somehow, it's a surprise to us. We pray, "God, I need you to do something. I need you to change them!" And it's like, "NOW you're coming to God about this?

The first equation starts with self-awareness, then we add to it self-reliance. Self-reliance has been ingrained in most of us since we were children. Our culture shouts, “Be an individual! You can do anything you want to do! You can be anything you want to be! And you can do it all, on your own!”

That may sound great, but there are some problems with it.

One problem is that self-reliance produces self-centered people. We can’t help but start to think, “Life is about me. I am the center of the universe! I make my own rules. I do my own thing. And I can do it on my own. If I want to be rich, I’ll be rich. I can be famous. My life is about me!”

Another problem is that I think, “I can do this;” until one day, I can’t. Something happens; I find myself at the end of me, and I can’t handle it. I realize relying on myself can only take me so far.

That’s why this equation ends with self-construction. If we rely entirely on self, we are constructing our own lives. All we can do is what we can do. The truth is that this is very limited.

In fact, my experience is that when I’ve lived by relying on self—and as I’ve watched other people rely on self as well-then eventually, self-construction ends up self-destruction.

In the last several decades, there has been way more focus on self than ever before.

  • More people are obsessed with their physical appearance. Getting plastic surgery. Going to the gym, eating healthy, doing diets. It’s never been like it is now. 
  • More people are focused on accumulating things and going on trips.
  • More people are obsessed with being famous, and with reality shows and YouTube, and you name it, more people are getting famous than ever before.
There’s an unprecedented focus on self, and what has it led to?

Well, with college students, anxiety levels, depression, loneliness, suicide and addictions are all 85% higher than in the 1950’s. We know it’s not just college students; all kinds of people are struggling more than ever before.

Why? I’d argue it’s because we’re depending on self-awareness and self-reliance more than ever before. That’s the bad news. But, I’ve got good news.

The good news is that there is a second way we can live our lives. The second way is all about God. The equation is:

God Awareness + God Reliance = God-Construction

It starts with God awareness. Our focus is on God. We seek to be aware of His presence and guidance. And when we think of ourselves, it’s not about our awareness of ourselves but what God thinks of us and says about us.

This second equation starts with God awareness, then we add to it God reliance. God reliance isn’t an excuse to be lazy. We do what we need to do, but we are always relying on God. We know he has more wisdom than we do and more power than we can imagine. So we look to Him, we pray to him, we count on him, we trust him.

A life of God awareness and God reliance leads to God construction. You have a life that goes beyond what you’re capable of. The God who loves you so much is helping direct and build your life. And the result will be something way better than you could have ever done.

 So, which equation will describe your life?

Monday, March 21, 2016


Hillary, Bernie, Donald, and Me

by John Piper

At 70, I am energized to dream great things, because this year Hillary turns 69, Bernie turns 75, and Donald turns 70. My rising energy has nothing to do with their policies or character. It has to do with the incredible fact that all of them want to spend their seventies doing the hardest job in the world.

This is wonderfully counter-cultural. I doubt that it’s motivated by a passion to magnify the greatness of Jesus. But that makes it all the more inspiring for me, because nothing gets me more excited than spending my seventies spreading a passion for the glory of Christ and his word. Paul is still my hero when he says, “My eager expectation and hope is that Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20).

So if Hillary and Bernie and Donald want to bear the weight of the world for the next four to eight years out of man-centered, philanthropic motives, I find my seventy-something zeal for Jesus heating up. They only get to be president of a tiny territory called the U.S.A. I get to be an ambassador of the Sovereign of the universe. They only get to change the way some people live for a few decades. I get to change the way some people live forever — with a lot of good spill-over for this world in the process.

But this is not an article mainly about me. It’s about the 70 million Baby Boomers coming behind me. I’m the oldest (born in 1946; the youngest born in 1964). Ten thousand Americans turn 70 every day. And they will continue to do so for about nineteen years. Billions of dollars are spent every year trying to get us to waste the last chapter of our lives on leisure. I’m spending one afternoon to plead with the rising seventy-somethings: Don’t waste it.


A History of Impact over Seventy

Hillary, Bernie, and Donald are not unique. Let them — and all the others — inspire you.

Five of the eight current Supreme Court justices are over 65, and three are over 75. Ronald Reagan served as president from age 70 to 78. He was shot at age 70 and recovered. Then at 76, he stood against the U.S.S.R. in West Berlin and said to Mikhail Gorbachev, “Tear down this wall!”

Winston Churchill became the prime minister of the United Kingdom in 1940 at the age of 66. He wielded his mighty eloquence against the Nazis till he was 70. Six years later, he was reelected and served till he was 81. At 82, he wrote A History of the English-Speaking Peoples.

Theologian Charles Hodge (1797–1878) lived to be 80. His biographer, Paul Gutjahr, wrote, “His last years were among his most productive . . . wielding his favorite pen to compose literally thousands of manuscript pages, which would eventually become his monumental Systematic Theology and his incisive What Is Darwinism?

At 70, Benjamin Franklin helped draft the Declaration of Independence. John Glenn became the oldest person to go into space at age 77. At the same age, Grandma Moses started painting. Started! At 82, Goethe finished writing his famous Faust. At 89, Albert Schweitzer ran a hospital in Africa. At 93, Strom Thurmond won reelection after promising not to run again at age 99. He lived to be 100. At 93, P.G. Wodehouse worked on his 97th novel, got knighted, and then died.

I heard J. Oswald Sanders lecture when he was 89. He said, “I have written a book a year since I was 70.” So I have just arrived at the beginning of this writing life. The beginning! What a thrilling example!

Ralph Winter, the great missions visionary and activist was thinking and writing and strategizing for world evangelization until he died at 84. He was passionate about non-retirement. He wrote,

"Most men don’t die of old age, they die of retirement.
I read somewhere that half the men retiring in the state of New York die within two years. Save your life and you’ll lose it. Just like other drugs, other psychological addictions, retirement is a virulent disease, not a blessing...Where in the Bible do they see that? Did Moses retire? Did Paul retire? Peter? John? Do military officers retire in the middle of a war?

Whether in Weakness or Strength

I am not unaware — my body makes me aware — that not everyone has the wonderful privilege of health and resources in old age. Over four million people over 65 live in poverty. Millions more suffer from the dreaded woes of aging — heart disease, arthritis, cancer, lung disease, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis. Not to mention the typical loss of hearing and eyesight and energy.

I do not want to add a burden to those who would love to dream with me, but can’t act on their dreams. You have your calling to live where you are, with all your weaknesses, for the glory of Christ. And, yes, he does get glory in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9–10).
God has great promises for those of you who trust your precious and ever-present Savior, Jesus Christ: “Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isaiah 46:4).

Rather, I am writing to the 25 million Americans over 65 who are healthy and have resources — and to the seven thousand Boomers who turn 70 every day with health and wealth. I am inviting you to look around you. Look at Hillary and Bernie and Donald, and thousands of others, who are dreaming their dreams. Whatever their motives are, what are yours?


Without Excuse

“Jesus gave himself for us to purify for himself a people who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). No age limit. Zealous. Passionate. To the end. For good works. Works that he has gifted youto do. He has given you a lifetime of experience and wisdom and resources. You have a decade of freedom in front of you. This is a trust. All your previous life was designed for this season of fruitfulness. What is your dream?

“The righteous . . . still bear fruit in old age . . . to declare that the Lord is upright” (Psalm 92:12–15). Why would God tell us that? Because he wants us to dream that. He wants us to pray for that.

Not everyone gets the privilege. Some die young. Some must bear the burden of immobilizing pain. But millions of you are free. If you do not dream a joyful dream of productive service for Christ in your seventies, what will you say to the Savior? Your only excuse will be that you listened to the voice of this age rather than to God’s. It will not be a good excuse.


Redefine Retirement

The apostle Paul was on his way to evangelize Spain when he died in his sixties (Romans 15:23–28). He called himself an “old man” (Philemon 1:9). But as an “old man,” he planned, while he had breath, to do all he could for Christ and his kingdom. Spending the last season of his life playing games in a perishing world was not in his plan. It should not be in yours.

Join the happy psalmist: “My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent” (Psalm 71:8–9). We have good reason to believe God will answer that prayer for Christ’s sake.

Break free from the spirit of this age. See the world — see your life — the way God sees it. In his reckoning, sweet soul-rest begins when you are born again (Hebrews 4:310), and rest from our labor — true retirement — begins when you die.

Make no mistake. The Bible believes in retirement. It’s called heaven. Then the new earth. It lasts forever. Compared to it, this life is a vapor’s breath. All our trials here are “a light and momentary affliction” that are preparing for us an “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Keep your eyes on this prize. Such a rest the world has never dreamed of.

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord . . . that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (Revelation 14:13).

Be up and doing. Joyfully. For Christ. Full of hope.

Monday, March 14, 2016


All of us have heard the phrase, ‘kick the dog.’  It is an expression that is most often used when someone has had a bad day.  Upon returning home you find an overly friendly canine that meets you at the door.   Rover is running around, jumping, slobbering, barking... excited to see you after several hours of separation.  So, how do you respond?  What do you do?  Do you pick up the dog and talk baby talk?  Do you get down and wrestle with him?  Do you scratch him behind the ears?  Do you turn him over the rub his tummy?  This is usually not your first instinct.  Instead your reflex may be to figuratively [if not literally] ‘kick the dog’.   Now, we are not talking about dog abuse here… just a gentle push with the foot.  You are not in the mood.  In that moment you just do not feel like giving or receiving affection. 
What we are talking about is a fairly common delayed emotional response to negative stimulus.  It is a psychological devise called ‘projection.’  We project our frustration with someone else, or with some hard/unpleasant situations that may have happened to us earlier in the day, onto Rover or [worse] onto a family member who may be sharing life with us.   Strangers that are rude without cause, a server who is abrupt, people who overreact to authority figures from police to pastors, moms who are impatient with their children in the grocery store, children who throw fits in public, adults who compose and send vindictive e-mails are to name just a few of the indicators of negative ‘projection’ taking place in real time.  ‘Projection’ is generally not a good thing.   It is generally a character flaw, an emotional weakness, a moment of immaturity… but not always. 
There is at least one illustration of positive ‘redemptive projection’ …. a time when projection resulted in salvation.  In Isaiah 53:6ff, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  The Lord God projected our sins onto Jesus.  He was sinless, innocent and without fault.  Yet, he became the one who was oppressed and afflicted for us.  He was crushed and caused to suffer as ‘he bore the sins of many and made intercession for the transgressors.’  Our sins were projected onto Jesus, on the cross and he became sin for us that we might become children of God.
Pray with me…Thank you Father for taking the punishment for our sin.  You projected our sin, guilt and shame upon your Son, our Savior, on the cross.  He who knew no sin became sin for us.  And, because of it, we are free indeed.  We thank and praise you.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Pastor Ken

Monday, March 7, 2016


In the book of Acts, the supremacy of Jesus is declared exclusively.  The key verse is found in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  Today I want you to feel the impact of this audacious claim, “There is salvation in no one else.”  Our culture can be slick at times.  Subtly, it moves against the church with deadly effectiveness and stealth.  Take the following examples:

Jason is a 38-year-old single economics professor in California.  In response to a question asking why he didn’t attend church, he replied, “I know you don’t like to hear this but I really don’t see how Jesus can be the only way to heaven.  I definitely believe in God, but there are just too many people in the world who don’t believe in Jesus for me to think that God doesn’t love them too.”  This is pure relativism.  Based on this philosophy, it makes no difference what you believe.  There are no absolute truths.  What is true for me may not be true for you and vice versa. Relativism distorts the supremacy of Jesus.

Tina Turner has sold something like 30 million recordings.  She said, “I’m Buddhist/Baptist.  My training is Baptist, and I can still relate to the Ten Commandments.  It’s all very close, as long as you contact the subconscious mind.  That’s where the coin of the Almighty is.  I don’t care what they feel about me and my tight pants on stage, and my lips, and my hair.  I am a chanter.  And everyone who knows anything about chanting knows you correct everything in your life by chanting every day.”  This is syncretism.  Based on this philosophy, all religions have some measure of truth.  The totality of God’s full revelation is realized through all religions.  Syncretism distorts the supremacy of Jesus.

All of these subtle attempts to distort the supremacy of Jesus can appear logical and reasonable.  What we each have to decide is whether Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life or not.  Will we go with logic or faith, human reason or revelation?  Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.”

Pray with me… Father God, the road forks in front of each of us.  We want to take the road less traveled, the high and narrow way that leads to life… the Jesus Way. We want to be among the few who seek and find it. Thank you for revealing Your heart for us in Jesus.  You are a good, good Father. In His Name, amen.

Pastor Ken


Jesus said the truly happy [blessed] people are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.  Notice that he didn't say,  "Happy are those who hunger and thirst for happiness" or "Righteous are the people who hunger and thirst for happiness."  It's the other way around.  "Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness."   In other words, we cannot set as our greatest goal in life "to be happy," because that will only leave us frustrated.  Happiness is the result of something else.
Built into every person is an innate desire for something transcendent.  We all want to touch and taste something lasting, something that goes beyond the here and now, and that's what Jesus is speaking about.  We long for something that doesn't erode with time, something that doesn't pale into insignificance, something that holds our lives together when tears and tragedy try to pull them apart.  So, where do we turn in this longing for transcendence in our lives?  Listen first to the testimony of the psalmist who said, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?" [Psalm 42:1-2]
Jesus said, "I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry." [John 6:35]
Augustine cried out in his confessions, "Thou hast made us for Thine own, and our souls are restless until they rest in Thee."
Paul stood before the Stoic and Epicureans in Athens and declared, "For in Him [Jesus], we live and move and have our being." [Acts 17:28]
And Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness."
Pray with me…O God, be exalted over my possessions…be exalted over my friendships…be exalted over my comforts…be exalted over my reputation…Rise, O Lord, into your proper place of honor, above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, above my family, my health and even my life itself.  Let me decrease that You may increase.  In the Name that is above every name, Jesus.  Amen.

Pastor Ken

Monday, February 29, 2016


The sinking of the Titanic in 1912 was one of the most gripping tragedies of the 20th century.  There were worst disasters, but none so dramatic as the sinking of that huge vessel on its maiden voyage.  When the list of passengers was posted at Pier 54 in New York Harbor, they were placed in one of only two categories….saved or lost
The Bible says that on Judgment Day there will be only be two kinds of people, the saved and the lost.  When the Bible refers to the ‘lost’ it means those who are separated from God by sin.  But, Jesus is a friend of the lost because he came into the world to rescue those who were perishing in sin. [Luke 19:10] Now when the Bible uses the term ‘saved’ it means simply rescued from the consequences of sin.   Salvation is made possible because Jesus Christ came to earth and died on a cross for our sins.  [Ephesians 2:8 & 9] 
The people who perished in the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean in 1912 could not save themselves by swimming hundreds of miles to America.  People who are lost in sin cannot save themselves by their own goodness.  They can be saved only by putting their trust in Jesus Christ.  In Mark 16 Jesus said to his disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”  So, why would not everyone receive this truth and be saved?  According to the teaching of Jesus in the parable of the seed and the soils in Luke 8 there are three reasons:
1] They are hard.  2] They are shallow.  3] They are busy.  And, of course the answer is they need to be cultivated, deepened and refocused.  And this is our mission as Christians in this world as the salt of the earth and the light of the world….to help all people come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved.
Pray with me…. Our Father, the good news of the Gospel is so simple and yet so profound.   We thank you that it is so simple it can be understood by a little child; and yet it is so profound that it can boggle the mind of the seasoned scholar.   Father, we thank you that you desire for all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth….that your choice is for every man, woman and child to be forgiven and heaven bound….but that you give us the choice of whether it will be a reality in our lives….you let us choose whether we will be saved or lost.   We choose you Lord, to be our Savior.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Pastor Ken

Monday, February 22, 2016


At the close of all three worship assemblies at Crossroads Christian Church this past weekend, I announced my ‘retirement’ as Senior Pastor, followed by Chairman Paul Speciale’s announcement of the elder’s decision to call Evangelism Pastor Patrick Garcia to serve as the next Lead Pastor, subject to a vote of affirmation by the congregation scheduled the weekend of March 5-6.  In recent years, the elders and I have prayed over and discussed a succession plan that would be seamless, momentum-building and God-honoring.  By God’s grace it has come together and will unfold strategically over the next 3 months, with my final weekend on May 21-22, 2016.  [In addition to my public announcement, there is information available in hard copy at the Connection Center and online at www.cccgo.com/staffannouncement.] 
According to Dr. Henry Cloud in his book, Necessary Endings, three questions need to be asked when approaching such a season of change: 1] Is it the right time?  2] Is the right team in place?  3] Is there an obvious successor?  The answer to all three questions is a resounding ‘yes!’  The time is right.  Crossroads is strong… spiritually, relationally and financially… with a united leadership vision for the future.  The right team is in place.  The elders, pastors, directors and staff are all together on the same page with Crossroads recently being recognized as a Certified Best Christian Workplace. 

The obvious successor, Patrick Garcia, has been on our pastoral staff for 3 years.  His faithful family of origin, his strong sense of God’s calling on his life to preach and lead, his dynamic home church, his undergraduate [AB at Cincinnati Christian University] and graduate [MA at Lincoln Christian Seminary] education, his marriage and family, his experience working pastorally in two different mega-churches, all more than qualify him for this role. 
Though younger in years, Patrick has the maturity of a much older man.  And of course, with a younger lead pastor, there is the probability of a longer tenure, which typically serves a church well.
Personally, I am glad that it was the unanimous judgment of our elders to bypass what other churches or businesses might consider ‘proper protocol’ by doing a national search for my successor.  I don’t have to worry that Patrick Garcia is Biblically sound and that he lives a life of integrity.  I know what he believes theologically.  I have watched him act and react in discharging his day-to-day ministry responsibilities.  I have observed him as a husband and father.  I have seen how he responds with humility in his successes and how he confronts challenges with God-confidence.  Preparation for trustworthy leadership involves a season of demonstrated followership.  As one of our staff pastors, Patrick has been a conscientious follower and, in the future, he will be an exceptional leader.
In the book, Transition Plan, authors Bob Russell and Bryan Bucher assert, “Resumes, degrees, interviews, ordination papers, references, and trial sermons may tell us some things about a potential candidate for the ministry.  But when it comes to really understanding that candidate – his character, his work habits, personality traits, and family relationships – there is no substitute for working alongside that person over a period of time.”  
The Bible reveals the fact that the Kingdom of God is blessed by prayerful, thoughtful transitions… Moses to Joshua, Elijah to Elisha, Jesus to the apostles and Paul to Timothy.  It has been the prayer of our leadership at Crossroads that the Tri-State area and the world will be blessed for many years to come by the leadership succession that is happening in this little corner of God’s global Kingdom.  As a church, we lift up our united prayer… “Lead on O King Eternal.”

Pastor Ken