Posts by Jeff Cranston

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Will the Real St. Patrick Please Stand Up?

I can stand it no longer.I have something within me, that whenever I see an injustice being committed on such a regular basis, I must address it and do all I can to set the record straight! I feel like this around Christmas and Easter each year when I see what has become of the "high and holy days" of the Christian faith.The holiday I tackle with you now, is not on the sa...

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Five Signs of a Healthy Church

Every year I visit my doctor for an annual check-up. The doctor often tells me things I'm relieved to hear ("Your ears are still attached") and things I don't want to hear ("I'm not sure how you are still alive, but since you are, here's your bill."). Okay, those two things are fictitious but you get the idea.
Since the church is more of an organism than it is an organiz...

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Five Ways To Move Off A Plateau

If you're a leader, you are probably acquainted with times of slow or no growth. Times whenthings have plateaued; times of discouragement; times even of decline.

 Does it have to be this way? Is your work small and struggling? Does it feel like the church plant or small business is taking forever to gain traction?
Here are some principles I have found effective whe...

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Four Barriers to Connection

Visitors. First-time attenders. Guests. Here at LowCountry Community Church we've seen over 450 of them since the beginning of the year.Churches know they are there. Most pastors are on the lookout for them. Yet church after church places barriers in front of newcomers that hinder them from connecting into the life, heartbeat, and ministry of the church. Here are just four...

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Leaders See and Meet Needs

Early in his career, Thomas Edison invented a vote-recording machine for use in legislative chambers. By moving a switch to the right or left, an official could vote for or against a proposal without leaving his desk. The machine would replace the tedious business of marking ballots, counting them, etc. Elated with the prospects, Edison obtained a patenthis firstand heade...

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Thankful vs. Entitled

I recall watching a group of protesters on TV bundled up against the cold weather in one of our major cities who were chanting loudly (and rather obnoxiously), seeking to make their point, change public opinion, influence policy and get something from the government.What that was really doesn't matter.Their chant must have taken hundreds of hours to come up with: WHAT DO...

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Four Guaranteed Ways To Fail As A Leader

Failure. It can be troubling; it can be hazardous; and in worse case scenarios, it can be fatal. A maritime incident of almost a decade ago reminds us of failure's repercussions. TheCosta Concordiawas an Italian cruise ship that partiallysankwhen it ran aground nearTuscany, on January 13, 2012, with the loss of 32 souls. The ship, carrying 4,252 people from all over the ...

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The Olympic Question: Are We Doing What Only We Can Do?

The opportunity to watch the best athletes in the world as the 2020/21 Summer Olympic Games unfold in Japan shortly, gives us an opportunity to learn from the world's best; not only in the arena of competitive sports, but in the arena of "doing what we do best."

Long-distance runners are not sprinters; shot-putters are generally not pole-vaulters (at least not good on...

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Phil Mickelson and the Niche Principle

Just recently, 50-year-old Phil Mickelson, the "guy-who-too-old-to-win-another-major", hoisted the trophy by winning his sixth major, the PGA Championship, held on Kiawah Island, S.C. His win reminded me of a leadership adage: Individualism wins trophies; teamwork wins championships. An African proverb teaches us that many sticks bundled together cannot be broken. Togeth...

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Fish Tales

Smart leaders plan ahead for problems and have a plan for dealing with them.A fictional fish-tale communicates this principle well. 

 A young couple decided to start their own business. He was an engineer and she was an advertising copywriter. They wound up buying a small salmon cannery in Alaska. They soon discovered they had a problem. Customers opening a can of th...

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Baldness, Time, and Managing Opportunities

Mounted statues stood like sentinels around ancient Greek cities. Some represented famous people and ideals; others were dedicated to Grecian gods. The apostle Paul spoke of one marbled deity: "I even found an altar with this description:'To an Unknown God.'" (Acts 17:22-23) One was named the Statue of Opportunity. It depicted a human being. The head, however, was unusual...

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Are We Having Too Many Meetings?

In recent weeks I have heard a number of pastor friends bemoaning the fact that they seem to find themselves in endless rounds of meetings. Whether you are in ministry or business, meetings seem to be the bane of our existence...especially if they occur during those sacrosanct evening hours.

 But why? Good things can come from meetings: decisions are made, dreams are...

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Five Ways to Spot a Potential Leader

The constant cry of leaders everywhere is, "Where do I find more leaders? We have the workers and volunteers, but no one willing to lead them." 
Here are five ways to spot a potential leader:

 1) A potential leader holds the respect of his or her own family. This is often quickly dismissed but I think it is one of the greatest ways to spot a leader. A family's fe...

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Five Options When Faced With Conflict

In my book, Happily Ever After, I share the following humorous story about conflict: Years ago, a large statue of Christ was erected high in the Andes on the border between Argentina and Chile. Called Christ of the Andes, the statue symbolizes a pledge between the two countries that as long as the statue stands, there will be peace between Chile and Argentina. Shortly aft...

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Leaders Ask: Addition or Multiplication

An African proverb teaches us, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."God designed us to work in teams, not as maverick, renegade, lone rangers. If your mission can be accomplished by you alone, I would go on record by saying that it's probably not God's mission for your life or ministry.It's too small.God-sized visions require teams of peop...

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Leaders Keep The Big Picture In Mind

I once heard a friend of mine share the following true personal account: When he served a particular church as youth pastor, they would allow him to preach - but only on Sunday nights. After one particular sermon when he passionately challenged the congregation to reach out to their local communities with the gospel, he was approached by the stereo-typical little, old chur...

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Leaders and the Pecking Order

We read in the book, Descending Into Greatness, "Take ten chickens, any ten. Put them in a pen together, and spread a little chicken feed. In short order, you will witness an amazing phenomenon. 

 "In a matter of minutes, the chickens, previously strangers, will form a hierarchy based on dominance or, in everyday language, they will establish a Pecking Order. Insti...

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Leaders Make The Difficult Decisions

Every leader, at some point in his or her leadership life, will be called upon to make a tough decision. And the acid-test of credibility for leaders lies in their ability to make, and follow through on, difficult decisions.

I began in church ministry as a youth pastor. I've always struggled with being a people-pleaser, and when I was younger, I really wanted everyone...

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Leaders Pursue A Purpose

The Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful and costly tombs ever built, but there is something fascinating about its beginnings.
Dr. James Dobson, in his book Coming Home, shares a fascinating insight into the Taj Mahal's history. "In 1629, when the favorite wife of Indian ruler Shah Jahan died, he ordered that a magnificent tomb be built as a memorial to her. The sha...

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The Leader and Buy-In

Bill stopped in at Joe's little general store, seeking to purchase a bottle of mustard. The shelves were loaded with salt - bags and bags of salt. Joe said he had some mustard, but would have to go down into his cellar to find it. Bill went down with him, and to his amazement, there were still more and more bags of salt! Everywhere he looked he saw salt. "Joe," Bill said, ...

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Checkers or Chess?

Whenmy daughters were younger,I taught them what little I know about the game of checkers. We often enjoyed playing in front of the big fireplace at Cracker Barrel restaurants.I can recall when I was growing up how much my cousins and I enjoyed playing against one another in our own little checkers tournaments. When I was in junior high school, I was introduced to the gam...

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Good Leaders and Effective Decision-Making

Leaders are called upon to make decisions. Sometimes the decisions are greeted with enthusiasm, while others are greeted with disdain. If you have ever tried to change your church's name or construct a new facility, you understand. Church leaders are often faced with inherent difficulties when decisions need to be made. Depending upon the leader's church polity, a decisio...

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Life vs. Death

As I look out over our congregation in multiples services each week, I always see faces that I don't recognize (especially since they're wearing masks) -but I love it! It affirms to me that God is growing and building His church in beautiful, coastal South Carolina. Seeing and meeting new people each week also shows me thatLCCis alive. And living things always grow. Growt...

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Eight Questions Every Leader Must Answer

I was once working on a leadership study based on 1 Timothy 3. I realized that Paul gives us eight questions that every leader should evaluate themselves on. 1. Can I be trusted with insider information? Leaders often hear it first, or last, but we are often privy to serious and vital information. I am forced to ask myself, do people trust me when they tell me something...

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A Leader Is A Reader

"Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers." So goes the sage advice from president Harry Truman. I have books filling cabinets, nightstands, and bookshelves.I have full shelves in my office, my home, and my study. My wife, Darlene, has always been incredibly patient with all of this and doesn't ask me too often to clean things out and get rid of a few bo...

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Two Ways to Grow as a Leader

Growth in leadership is something every leader in the world will tell you they want.Yet, too few are willing to pay the price.Why is that?Because it requires sacrifice. Two key ways a leader grows is by: 1. Reading and Listening to Speeches, Talks, QA's and Messages From Leaders You Want to Emulate. My literary hero, F. W. Boreham, used to sit in courtrooms and listen to...

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Facing Your Crucible

crucible/ˈkro͞osəbəl/A place or occasion of severe test or trial[1] I live just a few miles from Parris Island, South Carolina. It's one of two locations in the United States where the United States Marine Corps (U.S.M.C.) trains its recruits. Before a recruit can become a Marine, each recruit has to endure and complete 'The Crucible.' Here is how the U.S.M.C. desc...

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I'm Their Leader. Which Way Did They Go?

When I was a fledgling youth pastor, not much older than the students I was pastoring, I bought myself a ball cap. It was white with two bright red bills. One pointed toward the left and the other toward the right. Emblazoned in large lettering across the front it read: "I'm Their Leader. Which Way Did They Go?"That message seemed so appropriate to me at the time. As a fir...

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Jehovah Sabaoth

In his book, A Table in the Presence, Lt. Carey Cash, U.S. Marine Corps chaplain for the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment during Operation Iraqi Freedom, recounts how his battalion experienced God's presence and power in an amazing way during Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait and Iraq. When they were up against the wall, God came through for them time and time again. He ...

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Jehovah Shammah

I vividly recall on one of my first trips to India, I was traveling alone, in the back of a taxi, on my way to meet people I did not know, being driven by a Hindu who spoke very little English, inhaling the incense he was burning in the taxi, in a city I had never been in before.It occurred to me that I may be headed down a dark alley somewhere where my friendly taxi drive...

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Jehovah Jireh, Our Provider

The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall. John Emmons said, "Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with faith we are freed from the fl...

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Disappointment

Author Max Lucado reminds us in his book, Traveling Light, that the prefix, "dis", D-I-S, changes everything. "With dis, obey becomes disobey. Respect is changed to disrespect. Regard is suddenly disregard. What was an ability becomes a disability. Engage is now disengage, and grace is transformed into disgrace. All because of dis. We would be hard pressed find a more pot...

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What Is A Sabbatical and Why Am I Taking One?

Beginning on Thursday, October 1, I will be taking a two-month sabbatical.I want to thank the elders of LowCountry Community Church for not only making this break possible, but strongly encouraging it. As a person with workaholic tendencies, it would be my style to just keep pressing on. But there are good reasons for God's command to regularly practice the princ...

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Will I Be Happy When My Problems Disappear?

My guess is that things have not always gone as you have planned. Sometimes life is anything but easy and your walk with Jesus has more worries than victories. In Philippians chapter one, Paul addresses some of his personal challenges then quickly moves to the problems facing the Philippians believers. He's told them that he will win either way, that his circumstances will...

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Leaders See and Meet Needs

Early in his career, Thomas Edison invented a vote-recording machine for use in legislative chambers. By moving a switch to the right or left, an official could votefororagainsta proposal without leaving his desk. The machine would replace the tedious business of marking ballots, counting them, etc. Elated with the prospects, Edison obtained a patenthis firstand headed fo...

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Disorientation

Disorientation can be humorous. I mean, how many jokes get told on men because they become lost, but refuse to stop and ask for directions? Disorientation, however, can be much more serious than that. Airplane pilots are trained to deal with something in the aviation world called spatial disorientation. A pilot will tell you that it begins when a queasy knot settles in th...

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A Leader Is A Reader

"Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers." So goes the sage advice from president Harry Truman. I have books filling cabinets, nightstands, and bookshelves.I have full shelves in my office, home, and my study. My wife, Darlene, has always been incredibly patient with all of this and doesn't ask me too often to clean things out and get rid of some books. S...

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Why I Wrote Another Book

C.S. Lewis, in his bookMere Christianitywrote,"Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children's games are so important. They are always pretending to be grown-upsplaying soldiers, playing shop. But all the time, they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits, so that the pretense of being ...

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