Posts filed under ‘Kris Dekker’

Light is a Fascinating Thing – Advent Thoughts

This is a “proem” (part prose, part poem) that I wrote a while back for a friend’s Advent project. It seemed especially fitting after today’s message by Dan Hall and with the theme for our Advent/Christmas services at Valleydale. I posted this also on my personal blog, but wanted to share it with those who might not see it there.

Light is a fascinating thing.

It may be as dominating as the sun,

As demure as the moon,

As penetrating as a flashlight,

Or as subtle as a candle.

Still, whatever its manifestation, it is in a word … present.

 

Its adversary – we are told – is darkness.

If you ask the opposite of light, will the response not be, “dark”?

But darkness is not light’s opposite, its enemy.

It is light’s absence.

It is the place light chooses not to be.

Darkness, no matter how powerful it may seem at any given time,

No matter how deep,

No matter how dense,

No matter how overpowering it claims to be,

It can only boast in light’s absence.

Never in light’s presence.

 

It cannot be light’s nemesis, for it has no power over light.

You cannot “turn on” the dark.

It can only wait until you “turn off” the light.

But rest assured, it waits.

And when the light goes away – even for a moment –

The darkness moves in.

Aggressively.

Opportunistically.

Imperialistically.

With something of an evil grin.

Realizing that light is simply not … present.

 

So it was in times long ago.

God – the Father of Lights – had been turned off to His people,

To all of His creation.

400 years of creatures groping in the darkness.

Simply because they had chosen to reject the light.

 

Stupid, stupid creatures.

Embracing darkness and shunning light.

Hating day and loving night.

Thinking “presence” was a given, not a gift.

Taking light for granted, not a grant.

And so nearness became absence,

And light was simply NOT – in a word … present.

 

 

Then on an unsuspecting night,

In an inconspicuous place,

For all too common people,

God turned the light on.

Emmanuel was born.

God was present …

With us. Among us. FOR us.

In Him was life and that life was the light of men.

 

The light shined in the darkness,

But the darkness still managed to not comprehend it.

Stupid, stupid creatures.

Emabracing darkness and shunning light.

Hating day and loving night.

Closing their eyes to the light that was once again,

Finally … present.

 

So the light was not put on a lampstand, but under a basket.

Hidden from the world, so that darkness could move in.

Aggressively.

Opportunistically.

Imperialistically.

With something of an evil grin.

Pretending that light was simply not … present.

 

But light could not be covered over by darkness, for it had chosen to be present.

And a light as subtle as a candle

Became as penetrating as a flashlight.

A light as demure as the moon

Became as dominating as the sun itself.

It showed that darkness was not its adversary;

Darkness was only its absence.

And on this one night it established in one moment and forevermore

That it was – in a word….

Present.

With us. Among us. For us.

And once and for all … IN us.

Light is a fascinating thing.

 

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” – 2 Cor. 4:6

December 4, 2011 at 3:37 pm 2 comments

Valleydale LIVE Giveaway contest

VD_LiveThe Valleydale Live II: He Reigns CD that we recorded earlier this month has been sent for production and duplication and should be back here in 2-3 weeks – just in time for you to get some for the holidays to share with friends and family. We posted an audio sample of a few songs during the week that we were in studio doing the final mix, but I wanted to post another quick sample here for you to enjoy in anticipation of our release date in November.

Also, I wanted to do a little giveaway to those of you who are blog readers and twitter users (don’t tell those “other people”). Because this is the week of Halloween – which of course we do NOT celebrate – I wanted to have a little fun with it – which of course will NOT be fun since it is associated with Halloween. Anyway, I have a little riddle below which you must solve. Once you have solved the riddle, you must direct message me on Twitter with the solution. The first 3 who DM me with the correct answer will receive a free CD when it is released.  Enjoy the sample and the riddle!

And here’s the riddle (no I didn’t make it up):

My first letter is in spell, but never in book. My second letter is in fright and also in shook. 
My third letter is in cauldron, but never in pot. 
My fourth letter is in net and also in knot. My fifth letter is in bat, but never in vampire. 
My sixth letter is in coal, but not found in fire. 
My seventh letter is in moon, but not in night. 
Complete I will give you a spooky fright!

Remember to DM me and not @ me so no one else steals your hard work. If you don’t follow me, be ashamed. My twitter username is kdekker.

Kris

October 29, 2009 at 9:13 am Leave a comment

Valleydale Live Sample

We are in the studio this week mixing the recording project from our LIVE worship experience on October 4. We thought that we would give you – our faithful blog readers – a sneak peek into what the CD will sound like.So you can play the link below for a little look-see into the future.

The CD should be available around or before Thanksgiving – just in time for you to buy several as stocking stuffers and Christmas gifts for everyone you can think of.

I thought the worship service was a great time of refreshing for our church, and I hope the CD will be a great tool for encouraging worship in your life as well as anyone you want to bless with it as a gift.

Enjoy and let us know your thoughts.

Kris

October 14, 2009 at 12:13 pm 12 comments

“Rules” for Valleydale LIVE

I am pretty excited about this week’s service because the Worship Arts Ministry gets the full service hour (or so) on Sunday to lead our people in a celebration of God’s greatness. Everyone has been working hard to pull together what I believe will be a powerful time of worship for our church that will include music, multimedia, and an incredible time of testimony from our own church family about God’s work in our lives. You do NOT want to miss this special time. I truly believe you will be blessed – not based on our planning or performance (which we DO hope goes well and is done with excellence), but because there is such a tremendous energy when the Body has a chance to really have a concentrated time of worship, reflection, and testimony to God’s active involvement in doing stuff in our everyday lives.

We will be recording this experience to release it as a CD later this year. We want to do this for a couple of reasons:

(1) I believe it is part of my responsibility to try to put tools in your hand from time to time that encourage you to develop a lifestyle of worship outside of Sunday mornings. Because I believe music is one of the greatest tools for “heart-speaking” to God, I think having a supply of worship music in your car or in your home helps us understand that everyday is an opportunity for worship. I know there are a bajillion worship CDs out there produced by some of the greatest musical artists in the world, but I do believe that music from an experience you have shared in with people you know has a meaning and an impact that overcomes even some production value differences.

(2) I also want to put in your hands tools to give to others to bless them and encourage worship in their lives as well. Our hope is that our product will be of a production quality that you would be happy to say represents your church, but even more so has a content that you  believe has a message for someone else as well.

Anyway, all that being said, we need YOUR help to make this whole experience a success and a powerful moment for our church. So – as your “worship pastor” – I feel like I need to lay down a few ground rules for your contribution to our Sunday service. After all, Paul says things must be done “decently and in order.” (Was Paul a Presbyterian?)

1 –Be there. Be there early. BE PREPARED. In our world, we have let so many outside things invade and even control our lives and our thoughts that we tend to come to church with hearts and minds focused on other stuff. We put the onus on the music or worship leader or song selection to “get us in the mood” to hear the message. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t, but that misses the point. Corporate worship in song is not the time for individuals to be slowly pulled into a heart that is receptive to the word. It is a time for individual worshipers to gather ALREADY prepared through individual worship, meditation, prayer, etc. to express together the overflow of all of their hearts, making the sum total of that expression so much more than the individual parts. Prepare yourself this week. (and every week).

2 – Express yourself freely. Last week we had the opportunity to shout to the Lord, and we will do that again this week. I saw some people really letting go, and I saw some others that weren’t all that sure that people should be acting that way in church. Let me assure you that on the basis of Scripture, it’s quite okay. And NOTHING (not even the latest victory by your football team) is as exciting as the victory over death accomplished for you by God. So don’t be so afraid to express it. If having trouble working up the excitement, see rule #1.

You have permission to sing out loud, to clap your hands, to stand when everyone else is sitting, to sit when everyone else is standing, to come to the altar. Don’t wait for instructions; just respond to God and His Spirit. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

3 – See rule #1.

That’s about it. I believe we can have an incredible time worshiping together this week (and every week) if we will value the time together enough to prepare for it and engage ourselves in it collectively. It is amazing to me to see the kind of time, energy, and effort someone will put into a Saturday afternoon experience at the stadium. Plans begin on Monday and are forged all week long about what time to leave, what team apparel will be needed, where and when we will meet friends, what to take for the tailgate grill, who’s picking it up at the store, and all the other details of preparation that go into making the whole experience everything it can be. Imagine our experience in worship if our preparation for that had similar energy, time, and effort.

We prioritize what we find truly important. We prepare for what we prioritize. We are deeply invested in what we prepare for. Our hearts are with our investments. Worship, by the way, has a strong long-term return.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday. Even more, I look forward to worshiping with you. HE REIGNS!

September 30, 2009 at 11:10 am Leave a comment

Shhh! We’re in Church!

bequietI am a “lifer” – been in church since … like forever. Long enough to know what older generations are talking about when they talk about the way things were in church before the world got crazy, parents stopped parenting, drums and guitars invaded, and people lost the fear of God. It was pretty much hammered into me that church was a place for reverence (which is spiritual parent talk for “shutup, kid”). If I wasn’t being “reverent” in church, I would be summarily escorted up the aisle against my will in front of God and everyone to my certain death by beltage just outside the church door, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I would agree that we seemed to have developed a low sense of reverence for God. However, I don’t think this is necessarily displayed externally by what we wear in church or how we behave in church. In fact, I think sometimes our external considerations get in the way of what is true reverence for God from the heart.

To revere something is to hold in esteem and honor, but its meaning differs from ideas like admire, adore, idolize or other words with similar meanings. It comes from a root meaning “to fear,” but still our vocabulary fails us because such a fear is a bit removed from our idea of fear as a negative emotional experience. Reverence is honor given to someone or something that commands our respect for their accomplishments or attributes. As a result, reverence cannot be boxed into one demeanor like just “being quiet” in the same way that worship itself (of which reverence is a significant element) cannot be limited to one demeanor. Something is not worshipful or reverent simply because it’s quiet, and something is not irreverent simply because it’s loud and raucous. When David danced before the Ark of the Covenant , we can describe it in many ways, but I don’t think we should describe it as “irreverent” for he was celebrating the faithfulness of God to His people displayed in the return of the Ark to Israel. In fact, Scripture makes us feel that the criticism he receives from his wife about the whole thing is – for once – undeserved criticism on David. He was not just “happy on the inside,” he knew he could not contain his joy and had to express it physically, loudly, and publicly.

God’s accomplishments and attributes are multi-faceted, and so it is important to distinguish which of those attributes and accomplishments we are responding to in order to determine in which demeanor we should respond. The OT uses at least 19 different Hebrew words to describe various types, demeanors, and postures of worship. The New Testament uses almost as many different Greek words for all the various aspects of worship. If we are contemplating our sinfulness before a holy God, certainly we will have a demeanor of humility that may be a silent meditation or a wailing cry of repentance. If we are celebrating God’s power, God’s salvation, God’s rule and reign, or God’s great love for us, certainly we will clap, sing, shout, and rejoice together. It’s not a matter of being “in the temple” or the “house of the Lord;” we ARE the temple and the house of the Lord. It would be irreverent of us NOT to rejoice appropriately with excitement, joy, and loud praises to God because that is the kind of response that those accomplishments and attributes demand.

In spite of the Bible’s numerous calls on us to “clap our hands” to “sing to the Lord” and to “shout” as a natural response to God’s actions and attributes, we seem incredibly uncomfortable doing so. I don’t know if it’s that we have been somehow “trained” that it is not appropriate or is not reverent to do so or if it’s that we are embarrassed to actually show such enthusiasm for God or if we are just not really moved by who God is and what He’s done for us (or some combination of the above). I have noticed, however, that such emotions and reactions are not absent from our football stadiums. If you think that’s an innapropriate analogy and that those are just totally different things, I think you misunderstand the Bible’s vision for worship. Actually, I just think we’re really worshipping the wrong stuff (and, yes, I just absolutely stepped on my own toes).

In light of the worship experience we have coming up in a couple of weeks, I want to encourage you to be free to express yourself appropriately to God’s greatness in our services. Sing, clap, shout, meditate, contemplate, whatever. This Sunday, I am going to try to help us by freeing us up to even shout a little to God. Be there at the beginning of service with a heart full of response to God’s person and works in your life. Then we’ll have a chance to “let it out of the bag” together. Yes, it will stretch us. Yes, it will seem weird for many. But, given who God is what He has done for us, it is appropriate (no matter what your momma said). To do otherwise would be irreverent.

bigstockphoto_Man_Shouting_Through_Megaphone_2233138

SHOUT JOYFULLY TO THE LORD. ALL THE EARTH! BREAK FORTH AND SING FOR JOY AND SING PRAISES.

Psalm 98:4

Kris

September 23, 2009 at 8:44 am 4 comments

Remembering 9/11

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Regardless of your politics or feelings about wars and rumors of wars, I believe the events of 9/11/2001 generate common emotions in us all. I’m sure we all remember that day, where we were, and our promise to never forget. Today, 8 years later, a friend and member of Valleydale has a great posting on his site that includes memories of that day from several people. I wanted to provide you with a link so that all of us can keep that promise we made.

http://broadwaydave.blogspot.com or click on  “Clouds in My Coffee” in the links to the right

Kris

September 11, 2009 at 9:30 am Leave a comment

Living Sent?

Today, our staff had the opportunity to attend a mini-conference in Decatur, Alabama, and the guest speaker was Ed Stetzer, President of Lifeway research and author. he has written or co-written on a number of books, including “Unlocking the Missional Code” and “Lost and Found” among others. His passion is that the church regain the idea of their mission to their culture and to their world, first by regain the idea of being a mission agent right in their own neighborhood.

“Missional” is a big buzz-word in today’s religious circles, and when that happens – Ed reminded us – it can take on a lot of different interpretations of what it really means. He wanted to bring us back to the original idea of the word, that it means to “live sent.” He talked about the fact that God by His very nature is shown throughout Scripture as a “sender.”

Valleydale , as you know, wants to be a missional church and wants its people to be missional individuals. So, what does it mean for you to be missional, to “live sent”? How does this work out in your life? Leave us a comment and tell us what this means for you right where you are in your neighborhood and for Valleydale where God has placed us in Shelby County?

Kris

August 6, 2009 at 8:04 pm 1 comment

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