Friday, August 22, 2008

Conference, Day One

It was time to enjoy the journey this afternoon, so I did. What seemed to me to be beautiful greenery turned out to be western Kentucky in the midst of a drought. Silly Californian.

In perfect timing, atypical for me, we arrived at our destination: a hotel just north of the Murray State University campus. We had plenty of time to settle in before heading to the student center, where a small Christian homeschooling conference was convening. This was a different venue for our family, which has generally attended such events only in our home state. Fortunately, through internet connections, we had met several other attendees before the event commenced, so it was fun matching known names with unfamiliar faces.

The Shema Conference took its name from the Deuteronomy 6:4 verse which, in Hebrew, starts with the word, “Shema” (often also written sh’ma), meaning “hear.” The interesting thing about this Hebrew word is that it not only signifies “hear,” but “obey.” The expected response for an Israeli, hearing such a command or warning, was for him to respond appropriately.

“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one!” is the rallying call not only for an ancient nation, but for the modern Psalms One family whose delight is in His word to us. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

Appropriate words for homeschoolers.

The conference opened with a time of worship, led by David Huston, a pastor from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, accompanied at the keyboard by Tom Ryerson, as participants joined in singing uplifting choruses.

Conference organizer Steve Ryerson of Murray welcomed us to the campus, and introduced the fellow principles of the Apostolic Home School Network: in addition to Steve’s wife, Carol, these included Steve and Sue Ann Stevens, and David and Barbara Huston. Since a main thrust of the gathering was for participants to get to know each other, his brief comments were appropriately followed by a time of dinner and fellowship, after which followed his keynote address, “The New Family.”

This conference is a time to share ideas and learn from each other, encourage each other. The keynote reminded us that none of us can really grow unless we are willing to change, to stretch: “Spiritual chiropractics.” If we are not ready to make the adjustments, we may find ourselves upset when God moves in our life.

In the course of the presentation, a powerpoint display took us through many statistics of the current “look” of families in our culture. Statistics show we as a nation are changing our outlook on what a family should look like, but the most telling statistic demonstrates that not only is there change, but the change is more readily accepted not only by the younger and newer members of our society, but by more and more of those in older segments of our culture’s strata, who remember adhering to different values only a few decades ago.

Staying on course, to some people, may mean living in a rut. If we are following the will of God, we are not in a rut. We have commands from scripture to be reaching out to others.

An interesting question was posed: Why do young people today not understand what marriage is all about? The speaker maintained that marriage needs to be demonstrated through day to day life experiences to our own young people—to get clear messages to our young people about the value we place on marriage and family. The average young person doesn’t understand without experiencing a consistent, ongoing demonstration.

When you don’t know what to do, God will be faithful to bring the answer. Biblical marriage is definitely possible. The husband, as head of the home, is not oppressive, but needs to emulate the relationship between Christ and the church. God does so much more than give us a list of things to do. God is there for us, to bless, admonish, guide, and teach relationship. Correspondingly, the wife has her part in a blessed relationship. For both parties, this takes work.

Referring to teaching by Robert Lewis, “Core Callings” for parents include:
  • Deep Companionship: Genesis 2:24
  • Raising and launching Healthy Children: Genesis 1:28

  • Advancing God’s Kingdom: Genesis 1:28

God’s new family commits to hearing the voice of God. Seek first the Kingdom, honor God’s Word over our opinion, receive correction when needed, be joyful over the things of God.

If we’re not ready for God to “rearrange” us, God may let us hang around and pray the same prayer over and over again for a while, before He comes back to try us again to see if we are ready for a change. Sometimes we need a little time on our own to fall flat on our faces, so we’ll be ready to change.

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