Monday, June 17, 2024

Leadership Thought: How a Letter from a Friend of 50 Years Changed My Day

Yesterday I spent the day packing in anticipation of my traveling up to Lake Ontario, my summer home where I’ve been going every summer since I was born.

I always look forward to being at the lake, but with Jean’s passing a year and a half ago, I recognized there was a part of me that was holding back as I realized my time at the lake is never going to be the same without her.

Before I left, I wanted to share a Leadership Thought, but as sometimes is the case, I had no idea what to share, and feeling a bit melancholy, I thought I would forgo any message, grab my little dog Maggie, my faithful traveling companion, and get and early morning start on my five and half hour trek north to Henderson Harbor, New York.

Before leaving, however, I checked my e-mail, and there staring at me on my screen I was surprised to see an e-mail from a person I hadn’t seen in over 50 years. I don’t know how she tracked me down, but I can tell you I am so glad she did.

As I read her-mail- and I apologize if it seems a bit self-serving- my melancholy suddenly lifted, as tears of gladness began to trickle down my cheeks.

“Dear Mr. Crenshaw, 

I wonder if you remember our family. My mother’s name was Elaine, and she became a Christian after you came to Pompey United Church in about 1968 or 1969. I just want you to know you had an incredible impact on my mother, father and our family. Most of us are following Jesus. Many of Mom’s and Dad’s grandchildren are also living lives as faithful believers - however imperfectly!

My dad, Frank Valletta, passed away in 2020. My mom just passed away in February, and she just moved out of the Pompey area a year or so ago. In the last year or so before she passed away, she and I talked about you. She reviewed what happened after you came to Pompey United and how it influenced her to read the Bible and to truly seek God and seek a relationship with Jesus. 

I tried to find your information before she passed away, but I couldn’t. This time when I looked it didn’t seem to be hard at all. My family and I -my siblings I should say- are so thankful that you were faithful to preach the truth. God changed our whole family through your faithful preaching at Pompey United Church. 

May You and your family be abundantly blessed,

Beth Valletta Catranis”

I share Beth’s letter to point out how in only a few minutes of time and some clicks on a computer keyboard, you can change a person’s day, and yes, maybe even a person’s life..

Mother Teresa was fond of saying, “Kind words are short and easy to speak (and yes, to write) but their echoes are endless.”

How glad I am this morning for those echoes as I begin traveling north, and as I drive, I will be wondering if what I have shared might encourage you to write and surprise some special friend you haven’t seen in a long time.

If you do, I can promise you that you will make two people happy!

Yours in faith and friendship,


Thursday, June 13, 2024

Leadership Thought: The Peril of Conceit

Dear Friends,

A young seminary graduate proudly strode  up to the pulpit exuding extreme self- confidence. He began to deliver his first sermon at his new church, and the words simply would not come out. Finally, he burst into tears and ended up leaving the platform obviously humbled.

There were two older ladies sitting in the front row and one remarked to the other, “If he’d come in like he went out, he would have gone out like he came in.”

Humility is a key quality of the one who wants to be a servant of God. There is always the temptation to exalt ourselves, and to glorify our own abilities and accomplishments, but to do so can be very dangerous.

In Acts 12 we read the consequences of King Herod’s refusal to give glory to God.

“On the appointed day, Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, this is the voice of a God, not of a man. Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.” (Acts 12: 21-23)

The Lord is a jealous God, and He will not share his glory with man.

Isaiah writes, “I am the Lord; That is my name!  I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.” (Isaiah, 42: 8)

The best way to avoid the consequences of pride is to remember what F. B. Meyer once wrote. “I used to think that God’s gifts were on shelves, one above the other, and that the taller one grew in Christian character, the more easily he could reach them. I now find that God’s gifts are on shelves one beneath the other, and that it is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower.”

Too bad poor old Herod never read. F. B. Meyer. At least he had an excuse, but not us.

Let’s keep stooping and who knows the gifts that we might discover as we serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Yours in faith and friendship,


P.S. Former coach, the late John Wooden writes: “Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man- given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”

Leadership Thought: Protestants and Roman Catholics Agree on One Thing: We Desire Revival

Dear Friends,

This past Saturday I did something that I had never done before. I had the privilege of speaking at an ecumenical prayer and worship service called the Revival of Hope. It was a service designed to bring Roman Catholics and Protestants together to pray for revival.

If our country needs anything today, it needs a heavy dose of spiritual revival, and pastors and worship teams from a number of area Protestant and Catholic churches came together to join their hands and hearts in praying for that revival.

There is no question that Protestant and Catholics differ on a number of significant theological issues, but for three hours on Saturday members of different faith communities overlooked their  differences as they prayed with one another for revival to sweep our land.

Prayer was the glue that bound all of us together.

Prayer momentarily transcended our theological divide, and as we worshipped and prayed together, we realized that one of the most important areas of agreement was our desire for revival to come to our land and to see people come to personally know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Prayer is always the prelude to revival, and every great spiritual revival has been formed and fashioned on bended knee.

John Bunyan, who in the 1600’s authored the famous Pilgrims Progress said, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you can do no more than pray until you have prayed.”

If you and I hunger for revival, we must pray for that revival as we heed the words of scripture that promises, “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear their prayers from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Someone said. “Prayer is striking the winning blow, and service is simply ‘harvesting’ the results.

Gypsy Smith was a 19th century British evangelist. One day he was asked how revival might come to the land, and he said “If you desire   revival,  go home, find a room and lock the door and kneel down in the middle of the floor, and with a piece of chalk draw a circle around yourself and begin to fervently pray that revival would come within that circle.”

Revival begins with you and me.

Years ago, Sam Shoemaker, a layman who championed the cause of spiritual renewal used to pray, “Lord, revive the church, and let it begin with me.”

Revival begins with you and me, and last Saturday a group of believers came together and heard that same message-that revival begins on bended knees with nothing more than you and me.

And whether we are Protestant or Roman Catholic or something in between, I know God will hear and heed those prayers for revival.

Yes, if it is to be, it’s up to me.

Yours in faith and friendship,


P.S. “As long as we are content to live without revival, we will.” Leonard Ravenhill

Leadership Thought: Let's Be Party Animals for the Kingdom of God.

Dear Friends,

Those who know me know that I enjoy laughter. I think laughter is a very important part of leadership, and one of the leader’s responsibilities is to create an environment where laughter and joy are always present realities shared among the team.

Oswald Sanders, author of Spiritual Leadership, writes about the importance of humor. He quotes a brief comment by the late German theologian and preacher Helmet Thielecke who asks, “Should we not see that lines of laughter about the eyes are just as just as much a mark of faith as are the lines of care and seriousness? Is it only earnestness that is baptized? Is laughter pagan?... a church is in a bad way when it banishes laughter from its sanctuary and leaves It to the cabaret, nightclub, and the toastmasters. Spiritual Leadership, Oswald Sanders, P. 68.

His comments made me think of a message given by the late North Carolina State basketball coach, Jimmy Valvano in 1993 shortly before his death.

Coach Valvano was one of the premier college basketball coaches of his time who was sadly struck down by cancer during the prime of his coaching career. He loved life, and he loved to make people laugh.

Coach Valvano gave a famous speech at a time when his body was filled with tumors, and he was so weak that he had to be helped to the podium by his good friend and colleague, Dick Vitale.

His remarks were moving and there was hardly a dry eye in the audience. To this day I can summarize his simple but powerful message. He taught that there are three things that everyone should do each day: “laugh, think, and cry.”

It was his first point that especially captured my attention. Every day we should take time to laugh.

All this made me think of what Duffy Daugherty, a colorful Michigan State football coach of years past once said. He remarked that “Everyone needed three bones to journey successfully through life: a wishbone, to dream on… a backbone, for strength and courage to get through the tough times… and a funny bone, to laugh at life. along the way.”  (Day by Day, Chuck Swindoll, P. 37)

Not bad advice. How important laughter is to the human soul. The scripture put it this way: “A cheerful heart is  good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs. 17: 22.)

One of the qualities that endears others to us is our ability to laugh and to make others laugh. How important it is to not be afraid to laugh at ourselves, or in a loving way to even help others to be comfortable in laughing at themselves.

The famous preacher Charles Spurgeon really loved life. His favorite sound, it was said, was laughter, and he would frequently  lean  back in the pulpit and roar over something that struck him funny. His laughter was a winsome aspect of his personality.

One of my favorite speakers is Tony Campolo, a speaker, pastor and author who taught for many years at Eastern College in Philadelphia Pa.

He shares the following story in his book The Kingdom of God Is a Party. He writes, “One day I got on an elevator in the World Trade Center in New York City. It was one of those express elevators that goes fifty floors without making a stop. The elevator was filled with briefcase- bearing, somber businessmen on their way to heavy meetings.”

“As I got on the elevator, a feeling of fun ran through me. And, instead of turning and facing the door, as we all are socialized to do, I just stood there facing the people. When the elevator doors closed, I smiled coyly and announced, ‘we’re going to be traveling together for quite a while, you know.’ And then, I added, 'what do you say we all sing?’”

“The reaction was wonderful. They did! You should have been there as dozens or so businessmen threw aside their seriousness and joined in a ringing rendition of You Are My Sunshine.”

“By the time the elevator got to the 50th floor, we were all laughing. 

Being a Christian on that elevator was turning some men made numb by the affairs of the world, into party  animals.” The Kingdom of God is a Party, P.P. 118-119.

It seems to me that if the Bible can use such words as celebrate, rejoice, and Hallelujah, then our lives should exude the same biblical vitality.

So, let’s ‘party hearty’ you party animals for if the Kingdom of God is a party, I don’t want to miss the fun.

Yours and faith and friendship


Monday, June 10, 2024

Leadership Thought: So, You Don't Think Reading Your Bible Has Any Impact on Your Life!

Dear Friends,

This past week I was asked by a friend who wanted to know why I thought it was important to read your bible daily.  

A year ago, she had been encouraged to do this, and while she got off to a good start, she said her reading gradually became more and more inconsistent until she finally stopped altogether.

I had recently read a report from the Center of Bible Engagement which was based on a 40,000 people study, and the statistics of that report were eye opening.

The study revealed that if you read your bible two to three times a week, there was little noticeable change in your life, but if you read it four or more times a week, all of a sudden there was a dramatic change in the impact that your reading had upon your life.

The research revealed that loneliness dropped 30%. anger issues dropped 32%, bitterness in relationships dropped 40%, alcohol consumption dropped 57%, feeling spiritually stagnant dropped 60%, viewing pornography dropped 60%, and on a positive side sharing your faith increased 20%, and your commitment to discipling other believers jumped 200%.

I shared this study with my friend, and I hope it encourages her to get back to the discipline of daily bible reading she once had started and now had now given up.

I told her that length is not always strength, and I encouraged her to be reasonable in her goals. You don’t have to commit to reading through the bible in a year, although this is a wonderful discipline if you choose to it, and I reminded her that “slow and steady wins the race.”

Often,  we start off wanting to read the bible, and we set unreasonable goals for ourselves, and we become quickly discouraged and  give up when we fail to meet our goal.

Those who enjoy a consistent daily reading time, have found that the more time you consistently spend reading your bible daily, the more you will want to read your bible, and the time you spend  reading it will normally and naturally increase. Start with a smaller goal and soon you will want to see that goal increase.

For those beginning, I encourage you to read a Proverb, and or a Psalm, and then pick a biblical book,(one of the gospels like Mark) and read a chapter or just a part of a chapter.

And always keep a pen and notebook beside you and when you finish your reading, write down the date and one thought that impressed or impacted you from your reading, something you want to share and  take with you for the day.

If you have started and failed to develop a consistent reading of the bible, I encourage you to give it another try.

I close with the words of the prophet Isaiah who writes,” As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but  will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah  55:10- 11)

Yours in faith and friendship,


(Information and statistics from The Center of Bible Engagement derived from a recent sermon by Lloyd Pulley, Calvary Chapel,  Old Bridge, N.J.)

Leadership Thought: What Are You Teaching Those Who Walk in Your Footsteps?

Dear Friends.

It has been said that character is who you are when no one else is looking.

Children are especially observant, and they learn from us even when we are not aware of it. That is why it’s so important to recognize wherever we are, and whatever we do, there are little eyes watching and learning from us.

As parents, grandparents, teachers, or coaches, we need to be constantly aware that we are leaving footprints in which others will walk, and we must be vigilant in our efforts to always walk a path that provides a good example.

All this reminds me of a poem I read by Mary Rite Korzan taken from one of my favorite books, Stories for the Heart.

“When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you make my favorite cake just for me, and I knew that little things are special things.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I believed there is a God I could always talk to.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw tears come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it’s all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I felt you kiss me goodnight, and I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I looked and wanted to say thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn’t looking.”

Children first learn by example, then by explanation.

When the apostle  Paul pastored the church in Corinth, he set a good example for those believers in love, devotion, sacrifice, and service.

Paul writes, “Be followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”  (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Paul was a good example because he was following the greatest example of all, the Lord Jesus Christ.

How true it is that our actions and our attitudes don’t always belie the fact that we are followers of the Master. Our beliefs are not always consistent with our behavior. Panic or peace, which does the world see in us as we address difficult situations?

 A veteran pastor once said, “The reason the world does not know Jesus better is because it knows us too well.” That hurts to hear, but I’m afraid that it is more true than we would like to admit

Paul exhorts us in Philippians 3:17 “Join with  others in following my example, brothers and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.”

It was Albert Schweitzer who said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others- it’s is the only thing."

And finally, don’t ever forget that “More depends on your walk than your talk." D. L. Moody.

Yours in faith and friendship,


(Adapted from a Message given to teachers at Calvary
Chapel in  Fort Lauderdale)

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Leadership Thought: Be a Part of a Spiritual Revival as Protestants and Catholics Gather for Prayer This Saturday at St. Mary's Catholic Church

Dear Friends,

From one to four o'clock this Saturday, June 8th, there will be a special ecumenical outdoor worship event taking place in at St Mary's Roman Catholic in Middletown, N.J. 

Comprised of several area Protestant and Roman Catholic churches from throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties, the “Revival of Hope” will focus on bringing people together to worship and pray for the spiritual revival of our nation. 

Protestant and Roman Catholics will set aside their theological differences to focus on unity as they gather to worship and pray with one another. 

Pastors and musical groups from area churches will participate in this service of revival. 

While the service will run from one to four o'clock, worshippers are free to come and go as their schedules permit.

Our nation is in desperate need of spiritual revival, and our hope is that this service will spark the flames of revival in our area and play a role in addressing the spiritual, relational, political and moral divide that exists within our nation. 

Scripture reminds us that, "If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Prayer is the foundation for revival. It has been said that “We can do more than pray after we have prayed, but we cannot do more than pray until we have prayed." John Bunyan

Every great spiritual revival has begun on the bended knees of persistent and persevering prayer warriors. 

Our nation is in need of revival, and we encourage you to join your hands and hearts with other brothers and sisters as together we pray for revival in our land.

I close with this reminder: "As long as we are content to live without revival, we will." Leonard Ravenhill

Yours in faith and friendship.