The final speaker of the conference was, in my opinion, the one that provided the vision/framework/calling that the other sessions made you thirsty for. Rob Rienow, of "Visionary Parenting", spoke to us on "How to change the DNA of our church?"
He gave a great presentation, beginning with Genesis and going through both Old and New Testaments, on how the Bible is not just "meat" for great messages, but is also full of "method". (at this point, we Methodists smile a bit at our cleverness) Rienow called us, as churches and in our own families, to "reclaim" the connection between the Great Commission and the institution of the family. He gave us 3 main points in the midst of it:
1. God created FAMILIES to be discipleship centers. Not speaking about a mom, dad, 2.5 kids and a dog, either. Talking about great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, parents, cousins, kids, etc. The automatic expectation throughout scripture was the impact a transformation had on not just one person, but on the direction of their family's lineage/heritage.
2. The biblical purpose of parenting & grand-parenting is to impress hearts of children with the love for God. This purpose never fades or is reduced simply because they "move out" or seem to stop paying attention, which leads to point number 3:
3. God created family as an essential engine of world evangelism/cosmos transformation through the power of multi-generational faithfulness!!! We see God's vision for Abraham and his family in Genesis 18:18-19. That multi-generational faithfulness begins with NOW. Regardless of what has happened in the past, and what you've inherited, you can begin a LEGACY of several generations all transformed by New Life, and impacting the world with your own home/family/preparations for family.
The calling of much of this comes down to Deuteronomy 6:5, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength." To impress this upon the hearts of our children, to model it as we walk together, and to talk about it in a way that reveals how important it is to the very fabric of our lives. But it can be hard to achieve, if we don't understand/think about what it means ourselves.
To love the Lord with all our heart, means to Love God in regard to "What I Love". What captures my heart? What has the power to tug on my emotional strings? How are we helping the "heart" of our family to be directed toward the God who has given us His Love?
To love the Lord with all our soul, means to Love God in regard to "Who I Am". Where does our identity come from? Our confidence and reason for getting up every morning? Do we humbly give thanks to a God who gives us an identity as sons and daughters of the Most High? How are we helping our family receive it's identity not from finances, social status, or culture...but from the Word of God?
To love the Lord with all our strength, means to Love God in regard to "What I Do". What have we accomplished recently? What work have we done? What have we created, and where have we joined with God in "making all things new"? How are we helping our family to be involved in things that matter to the Kingdom of God more than things that will fade in a few years?
Malachi 2:15 reminds us that God has given us marriage for a purpose. He makes two into one, and hates divorce, because he desires "Godly offspring". And no, this is not a call toward parenting "Duggar-style". This is simply the Truth...that God desires that following Him would be a multi-generational family together thing, and in/through this....His purposes continue to be accomplished. How hope-filling and exciting...to anticipate together with many generations..the completion that God promises, and that we have all been living toward together!!
Whether this simply means we continue what we've been doing, or calls us to allow ourselves and our families to be changed...may God bless the generations and extensions of each of our homes/families this week....and may He begin with you and yours...
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