Absence makes the heart grow fonder
My family and I have been blessed tremendously by the Coram Deo family. We are given opportunity for times of refreshing each year to attend a conference and go home to the states to visit family. The last time we were away we decided to attend churches within our denomination of churches where we knew people. As we left each church, it made us long to be with our faith family at Coram Deo Baptist Church. Not only did we long to be with the people we have come to love so dearly, but we also longed for the Sunday service atmosphere that is experienced at Coram Deo Baptist Church.
That desire and the experiences we had where we visited have prompted me to write about some of the things I love about our church!
We love our children!
While visiting other churches it made us appreciate even more our desire to have children of all ages attend service with us. Yes, it makes for some interesting and noisy times, but the good far outweighs the bad. A little noise in the service doesn’t take that long to get used to, and before too long it takes more and more to hinder concentration. We desire that our children grow to learn what is expected of them in worship and watch their parents worship in a corporate setting from a young age. A few weeks ago on vacation, with the mindset that we wanted our children in the service with us, we trudged headlong into these other churches. At each church, we were met with mostly cordial faces notifying us of their nursery. We took note and said, “Okay, thank you,” and found our places for the morning. Everything was fine we thought. Yet among a body of believers (not used to a little noise here and there), we felt the stares. One church we went to had a broadcast that went out on public television in a large city. I was told that the broadcasters didn’t care for the noise that children make. I understand that is an important ministry to the church and children noises can create a tough listening environment. However, I would much rather train the children God has given us to worship than to worry about the noise that would disrupt a television broadcast.
We love our songs!
The songs that we use to praise God at Coram Deo Baptist Church are great. Our main emphasis is theologically rich and Biblical songs. If what we do were categorized, it would fall under blended service. We want the songs we sing to elevate God’s truth (by singing God’s truth). In contemporary culture many people derive a shallow theology from shallow worship songs. We don’t do this! It is important to us to sing songs that do not “water down” the Gospel. We will sing truths from the tenth century B.C. (Psalms), the first century (N.T Scripture), the twelfth century (All Creatures of Our God…), the sixteenth century (A Mighty Fortress…), the eighteenth century (Come Thou Fount), and the twenty-first century (In Christ Alone). It doesn’t matter when the songs were written if we use them in our times of praise they echo the Scriptures.
We refrain from using contemporary songs with multiple repeating lines. Repetition in a song is okay to a degree. We realize that repetition is found in scripture, just not the same lines 15 times. We scrutinize each song we choose to use in our public worship. We have traded some contemporary songs for hymns of the same theme. “Amazing Love” by Billy Foote, we have exchanged for “And Can It Be That I should Gain” by Charles Wesley. We did this because the hymn uses stanza after stanza to dredge the depths of the truth that makes us cry, “Amazing love how can it be, that thou my God should die for me!”
Many of the hymn versions we do can be found here, http://hymnbook.igracemusic.com/.
Our praise is also not a performance. The people on the praise team facilitate in leading all of the congregation in song. We have no special music performance so as not to create the false idea that worship through singing is in any way a spectator sport for the people in the chairs. We all gather to lift up the name of Jesus and His marvelous deeds together.
We love to pray!
We pray multiple times during our Sunday service. The Lord Jesus Himself said, God’s house shall be a house of Prayer for the nations! Well, as spiritual houses fill the sanctuary each Sunday we heed that command. The pastor prays a couple of times throughout our service, but a time of prayerful confession for the entire congregation is something we take time to do as well. We also lift up Christians around the world and around the block.
We love the Lord’s Table!
Starting soon we will celebrate at the table each Sunday! We have gone from rarely, to often, to every two weeks, to now each week. We believe it is an important time to be remembered as often as possible. It gives us opportunity to remember Christ’s sacrifice each time at the table, not just Resurrection Sunday. One great remark that has helped shape our view is found in the commentary on Judges by Dale Ralph Davis. He remarks,
“In what ways are we guilty of ephod making? We suggest God has furnished us inadequately. We’re not content merely walking obediently to scripture, trusting God’s providence, and goodness to direct us on the proper path, no, we must have more. A specific direct word from God about what we should do in our particular problem. So we come up saying the Lord said to me that I should, or the Holy Spirit spoke to me telling me that… We go on ephod making in the way we ignore God’s provision of the Lord’s covenant meal as the means of Christian renewal. We plan, organize, and concoct “revivals”, seminars, retreats or encounters or we pressure the congregation to come forward and rededicate their lives to Christ. All the while we neglect what God has provided: The Lord’s Supper. Evangelists frequently give invitations to a public rededication of Christians to the Lord. The communion is God’s instrument for re-dedication which has stood from the very first. Each time it is served it is a clarion call to every Christian present to offer himself once again to the Lord. I am not saying that Christian retreats, for example, are an exercise in idolatry; I am saying that Christians no less than Israelites have a passion for enriched, extraordinary experiences while virtually ignoring the rich, normal means of grace God has provided.” (Davis 115)
We Love Baptism!
When the Lord allows us to witness the picture of a life changed, we really enjoy it. Baptism is not an afterthought. It is front and center from the beginning of the service.
We love God’s Word!
In our service we have a public reading of God’s Word and spend an hour sitting under the expository preaching of it. Had I, like one pastor we heard in our weeks away, never open the Bible, I would most definitely be called out on it! (Yes, you read that right. In a huge, prominent church, never once was the Word cracked!) We have created a culture that cherishes the Word, trusts the word, and Lord willing, conform our lives to it. It is the most important thing we do when we worship together. We champion God’s Word as our key source for all life and godliness. We dedicate ourselves to it because we have faith that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16 & 17).
We love Jesus!
In the loving of all these subsequent things it brings us to an insatiable love for our Lord Jesus. He is what we are all about! He is why we do what we do! He is honored in our obedience to allow the parents to be the primary disciplers of their children and have them in our service with us. He is championed and lifted high in the songs we sing because it is only by His name we are redeemed. We pray in Jesus’ name trusting what the scriptures say that He is our great High Priest. We go to the Lord’s Table together to remember in a tangible way that His body was broken and His blood was shed for us. We see Him in baptism as we watch people transformed by His resurrection power, identify with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection. As we study the Bible together from the depths of the Old Testament to the New we are able to see that every part is all about Him! It’s His Word and we are confident that He will use it to accomplish His purpose and bring Him much glory.
I know that there will be other times away from Coram Deo Baptist Church, but even in my absence I know these valued things are loved and championed by all the people here.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Absence makes the heart grow fonder