Thursday, August 21, 2003

Another gem from an e-mailed inspiration of several weeks ago from Pastor Glen VanderKloot. Write to him at to receive his daily e-mailed, OnLine with Faith.


A Thought for the Day

A whale is as unique as a cactus.
But don't ask a whale to survive Death Valley.
We all have special gifts.
Where we use them and how determines whether we actually complete something.

Max DePree, Leadership Is an Art. Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 3

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Bible Verse
1 Corinthians 12:4-7

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts,
but they all come from the same Spirit.
There are different ways to serve the same LORD,
and we can each do different things.
Yet the same God works in all of us and helps us in everything we do.
The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others.

Contemporary English Version

Lord, thank you for making me special and unique.
Help me to use my gifts to serve you and your people. Amen
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
QUOTE FOR TODAY: "The promises that keep you awake are the promises you break. The promises that let you sleep are the promises you keep." (Anonymous)
A few months ago, I was asked, "Is it appropriate to clap hands during worship?"

To some who read this column, that may seem a strange question. For them, clapping is as regular a part of worship as sleeping through the pastor's message. But for others, such clapping is a foreign notion.

In Bible times, clapping was used in several different ways. It could be used to express regret for one's sins and their consequences (Ezekiel 6:11). It could convey condemnation. In the Old Testament book of Nahum, a time is foretold when an aggressive empire would fall and relieved celebrants would clap.

But in Bible times, clapping was most often used in worship, to express praise for God. "Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with songs of joy!" (Psalm 47:1).

Today, it seems to me that there are three healthy ways for clapping to occur in our worship celebrations.

First: As part of our praise of God, such as when we're singing worship songs.

Second: To thank those who help us, whether through singing or testimony about God's work in their lives or by their service to God, help us to see God more clearly. One Biblical writer, the New Testament preacher Paul, commended people in this way in the letters he wrote to early churches. One example of this can be found in Colossians 4:7-14. I think Paul would have approved of the words of William Arthur Ward: "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."

Third: To acknowledge those who walk closely with God. Paul constantly did this in his letters, written to be read during the early church's worship celebrations. (Check out Romans 16:3)

I think that there are a couple of inappropriate ways to use clapping during worship. One is to drain our applause or clapping with music of all meaning through repetitive overuse. Clapping in worship can be as much a habit as a threadbare liturgy or the hollow recitation of the Lord's Prayer or Apostles' Creed.

A more dangerous misuse of clapping in worship is to do so in response to a "performance," thereby not praising God, but feeding people's egos. While it is true that Christian worship is meant to be a performance of praise and devotion for an audience of one, God, it isn't meant to be a Vegas lounge show we put on for each other. When we applaud in this latter vein, we've taken a wrong turn.

Is the risk of worship-time applause such a danger that it should be completely discouraged by churches and their pastors? No, I don't think so. You can't banish benign practices simply because of the risks involved. If risk were reason enough to banish certain practices, churches would also get rid of preaching and teaching and serving because the appreciation accorded those who do such things might puff some people up. Some people's egos will be fed by our clapping, it's true. But God can also be glorified by it.

(This is the latest installment of a column I enjoy writing for a local chain of suburban newspapers.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Interested in having an inspiring, motivating, encouraging speaker at your next corporate event, community gathering, or Christian outreach? Consider inviting Mark Daniels. Contact him at
This striking vignette, taken from a sermon by Max Lucado, is presented as today's e-mailed inspiration from OnLine with Faith. To subscribe to OnLine with Faith yourself, contact Pastor Glen VanderKloot at


A Thought for the Day
Touching Jesus

Some years ago, David Robinson, who plays basketball in San Antonio, visited our church. He's not a member of our church, but he shows up occasionally. You can imagine the stir that occurred when that seven-foot striking fellow walked into the auditorium.

We have two worship services, and he came to the first one. At the end of it, people mobbed him. Kids all wanted his autograph. Dads lined up, allegedly to get things signed for their kids, but we all knew the
truth. The brouhaha finally settled down and David went his way, and we began the second service.

In the second service that day, I was standing to do the announcements when something happened that has never happened since. A homeless person walked in the back of the auditorium, came down the center aisle with his backpack, ratty jeans, torn T-shirt, unshaven face, and distinct odor. He walked down to the front, and he sat down.

The contrast struck me. When David Robinson entered, he was immediately swarmed. People wanted to touch him and be close to him, be next to him. However, I'm sad to say that nobody jumped up to run and sit next to the homeless man.

After two or three awkward minutes during which I was trying to act like
nothing was happening, one of our elders got up from his seat and sat by the man and touched him. I was struck. Wouldn't you have been as well?

The message that I received in my heart that morning was: Which of these men do you think touched Jesus? If you want to touch Jesus, whom do you touch?

Jesus said, "Whatever you've done for the least of these, my brethren, you've done also to me."

[Citation: Max Lucado, "Touch of Christ," Preaching Today No. 197]

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Bible Verse
James 2:2-4

Suppose a rich person wearing fancy clothes and a gold ring comes
to one of your meetings. And suppose a poor person dressed in worn-out clothes also comes. You must not give the best seat to the one in
fancy clothes and tell the one who is poor to stand at the side or
sit on the floor. That is the same as saying that some people are
better than others, and you would be acting like a crooked judge.

Contemporary English Version

Lord, help me to reach out to others in the name of Jesus. Amen
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

QUOTE FOR TODAY: "'It's impossible to feel good about yourself when you think you've done something wrong,' says writer and educator Adam Khan. 'So the way to like yourself better is to clean up your integrity.' Fortunately, [the apostle] John goes on to tell us how we can do that: 'If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.' Through our confession and Jesus' cleansing, God creates in us positive, sound feelings. We become more like Christ in thought, word, and deed." (Walt Kallestad, in his wonderful book, Be Your Own Creative Coach: Unlocking the Power of Your Imagination to Revolutionize Your Relationships, Careers, and Future, p.133)