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ERLC National Conference envisions ‘Cross-shaped Family’

Author and speaker Beth Moore said on stage with ERLC president, Russell Moore, the main thing she wanted her children to learn was “[Jesus] was the biggest joy of my life.”
[Photo: Karen McCutcheon – Baptist Press]

GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP)—Christians have been crucified with Christ, and He liberates them to love their families genuinely, Russell Moore said, during the opening address of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s fifth annual national conference.

Moore, the ERLC’s president, spoke to nearly 1,000 people gathered for “The Cross-shaped Family,” the SBC entity’s three-day conference (Oct. 11-13) at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas.

“What Jesus walked through without sin is exactly what every single one of us will walk through in some way or other, and a lot of that will have to do with our lives in terms of our families,” Moore told the audience in a message based on the Matthew 3 and 4 accounts of Jesus’ baptism and temptation by Satan.

“Unless we see that the Christian life is defined by the cross, then we are going to fall for the devil’s offers because we are going to expect our families to bear a burden they cannot bear.” Moore said. “Instead though, if you ground your identity and your inheritance not in your family but in the cross, if you see yourself as crucified with Christ, if you—as Jesus tells us—find your lives only by losing them, then you are actually freed to love your family.”

///Marriage ‘sacred’ in God’s sight

Even a troubled marriage is a profound picture pointing toward the Gospel of Jesus, said Ray Ortlund, lead pastor of Nashville, Tenn., Immanuel, during an address on the conference’s first day.

“Your marriage in the world today is as sacred in the sight of God as the perfect marriage of Adam and Eve back in the garden,” Ortlund said. “(God) thinks your marriage is worth fighting for… Every marriage has problems. We’re really not very good at it. But marriage itself is not a problem. According to Genesis 2, God gave us marriage as a remedy.”

The church must maintain the biblical view of marriage as only between a man and a woman, he added. “If we cave on the Bible’s definition of marriage,” Christians will lose not just a doctrine and some Scripture passages, “we will lose the whole point. We have strong reasons to revere and preserve and rejoice in the biblical vision of marriage.”

Dallas-Fort Worth area pastor Matt Chandler spoke on the Christian concept of covenant in marriage during the final keynote of the conference’s first day.

///Repentance vital in Christian homes

On the second day of the conference, Bible teacher Jen Wilkin and Philadelphia, Pa., pastor Eric Mason each pointed to repentance from sin as vital for a Christian home during “The Cross-shaped Family.”

“Let your children see you repent and mature,” Wilkin said. “They need that modeling. They need to know that it’s safe for them to do the same… The message ‘repent and believe’ is good for those who are not yet saved and for those who are.”

Mason, lead pastor of Epiphany Fellowship, pointed to the importance of a father’s repentance in his message on how God’s fatherhood forms leadership in the home. He based his comments on David’s dying message to his son Solomon from I Kings 2:1-4.

David displayed emotional presence in his son’s life, and Solomon “saw the bad side and the good side of his dad,” Mason said.

///Cross-shaped family matters

In a keynote address on the conference’s final day, Sam Allberry, global speaker for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, said Christians need to rethink friendship and family.

Speaking on the church as the family of God, Allberry said, “We are to be the family in which God is placing the lonely. If we really are the family of God, that will demonstrate and visualize hope to a world that is increasingly dying of loneliness.”

Other topics addressed during brief talks or panels included: “Building a Peaceful Home,” “Christ-Centered Parenting,” “Educating Children for a Complex Word,” “Screen Time and Family Time,” “Foster Care & Adoption,” and “Finishing Well: Grandparents, Widows and Caring for Family in their Final Days.”

Video recordings from the conference are posted online at www.erlc.com. The ERLC announced the theme of the 2019 event will be “Gospel Courage: Truth and Justice in a Divided World.” Next year’s conference is scheduled Oct. 3-5 at the Gaylord Texan.

Author: Tom Strode

Tom Strode serves as Washington correspondent for Baptist Press.

View more articles by Tom Strode.

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