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Repentance vital in Christian homes, ERLC speakers say

GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP) — Repentance should mark Christian parenting, participants were told Oct. 12 at the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s 2018 national conference.

Bible teacher Jen Wilkin and Philadelphia, Pa., pastor Eric Mason both pointed to repentance from sin as vital for a Christian home during “The Cross-shaped Family” at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. The three-day event attended by about 950 people concluded Oct. 13.

“Let your children see you repent and mature,” Wilkin told Christian parents at the conference and watching by live stream. “They need that modeling. They need to know that it’s safe for them to do the same.

“[R]ather than making converts and letting disciples happen, make disciples and let converts happen,” she urged fathers and mothers during her address on building community in the home. “The message ‘repent and believe’ is good for those who are not yet saved and for those who are.

“And so as we parent and want to display the Gospel to our children, be less concerned with identifying whether your child is in the kingdom or out and put forward the message ‘repent and believe’ with the confidence that everyone, including mom and dad, needs to hear it over and over again,” said Wilkin, classes and curriculum director of The Village Church in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

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. “He saw in the life of his father — as he’s talking about manhood — a culture of repentance.

“One of the most important things that we can do as fathers is not try to act like we’re telling them to be perfect but they know we’re not,” he said. “And many of us as fathers have to be available in our children’s lives to be able to repent.”

Mason told the audience, “No one showed the fatherhood of God like Jesus did. He had the ability to explain the Father because He was in the presence” of the Father.

At Jesus’ baptism, God the Father affirmed His Son, Mason said, adding fathers provide these gifts to their children:

— “We affirm their dignity.

— “We tell them their significance.

— “We tell them their identity.”

Wilkin told the audience that communities have these attributes: Shared rules; shared responsibility; shared language; shared affection; shared time; and shared faith.

“May our homes be places where community is a beautiful attribute that is held high where we look for what is shared. … You can vaccinate your child against the epidemic of loneliness when you cultivate godly and Christ-centered community in the home,” Wilkin said.

In other keynote addresses during the conference’s final two days:

— 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 Oct. 13, “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.”

— Erick Erickson, editor of The Resurgent, shared regarding suffering in the home based on his wife’s cancer and his nearly fatal health problem. “God found a way to glorify Himself through our suffering by providing other people” purpose and perspective in their lives, he said Oct. 13. “It’s not that He was punishing me to glorify Him. He was using this fallen world to help draw me closer to Him and to draw other people too — to give us focus, to give us purpose, to give us Him.”

— Phillip Bethancourt, the ERLC’s executive vice president, said the church should teach on God’s purpose for sex. “One of the reasons we cannot hold back from talking about God’s design for sex is because the church is full of broken people, and Satan is relentless in his desire to tear us down in sexual sin,” he said Oct. 12. “[W]e need to recognize … what we do with our bodies reveals what we believe about the Gospel. … [S]ex is more about what you can give than what you can get.”

On both Oct. 12 and 13, the conference also included panel discussions and brief talks during main sessions. An interview with Bible teacher Beth Moore and breakout sessions on a variety of topics were parts of the Oct. 12 schedule.

The ERLC announced at its fifth annual conference the theme of the 2019 event will be “Gospel Courage: Truth and Justice in a Divided World.” The conference will be held Oct. 3-5, once again at the Gaylord Texan.

EDITOR’S NOTE:The second from the last paragraph was updated Oct. 15 at 9:30 p.m.