Over forty people gathered together from England to New Zealand and all across the U.S. in Irvine, California on July 16-17 to partake in fellowship with one another, lift up in prayer the needs of our congregations, and to be encouraged by exceptional teaching. This 2006 International Conference of the Association of Messianic Congregations (AMC) was hosted by Ben David Messianic Jewish Congregation in Orange, California, who so effectively pulled together all the logistics as well as shared their musicians and dancers with us for beautiful times of worship.
The featured speakers for the conference included the members of the AMC board, Doug Friedman of Ben David Congregation, Sam Nadler of Word of Messiah Ministries, and Arnold Fruchtenbaum of Ariel Ministries. Each speaker expounded the Word of God in a way that was edifying and inspiring, taking us deeper into the truths of Yeshua our Messiah. An overarching theme of the speakers’ topics was overcoming through love the disunity that frequently divides and disables Messianic ministry.
The conference began amidst the rising turmoil between Israel and Lebanon as Hezbollah had captured two Israeli soldiers just four days prior. While war raged across our news stations, we began the conference with sadness in addition to our joy. Steve Shermett, AMC President, opened with prayer for our brethren in Israel and for the calamities befalling civilians on both sides of the border. May we continue to pray for the true peace and salvation of those caught up in the fighting, and may we also be reminded that these things have been foretold and take comfort in the soon return of our Lord.
During the first morning of the conference, we enjoyed the teachings of Steve Shermett, as he spoke on “Handling Controversial Subjects in the Body,” and Dr. Alan Poyner-Levison, the AMC European Director, who taught us about “Living in the Truth.” Steve explained the difference between those matters in the Bible that are disputable and not disputable, encouraging congregations to maintain unity through the love of our Lord in spite of differences over disputable matters. Alan reminded us that God is our ultimate truth and reality, and that we should not love the things of the world nor be led astray by the deceitfulness of our own hearts.
We took time during the morning session for representatives of each congregation to share with the group the needs of their congregations in advancing ministry. A number of requests were echoed by many congregations in the broad categories of worship, teaching, support, outreach, and longer-term issues. (The specifics of the requests may be found in this magazine's Prayer Closet.) The discussion was continued during the following morning as the members of the AMC board shared updates with the group, discussed upcoming projects, and facilitated a time of sharing ideas for moving forward.
Throughout the rest of the first day of the conference, we continued to hear excellent teaching from Doug Friedman, Pete Koziar, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, and Sam Nadler. Doug shared a masterfully thorough presentation of the Mosaic Law(s), taking us in-depth to study the laws found within the books of Moses and determine the actual number of laws that cause so much discord among Messianic congregations – a shocking total of just one percent of the entirety of the Law. Pete’s teaching built upon this finding to encourage us to examine the process of “Rightly Dividing Yeshua’s Comments on Purity.” He reminded us that God did not leave us here to dissect the Law and emphasize tradition over other matters of faith, but to excel in love and help one another.
Arnold Fruchtenbaum provided an excellent teaching on the remnant of Israel from the book of I Kings 16-19, and encouraged us from Isaiah 8:14 that the Lord is a sanctuary for the remnant, but a rock of offense to those who are not of the remnant. Sam Nadler closed the evening with an inspiring message on “Ha Shem’s Restoration of Israel,” emphasizing that it is God’s grace alone that can restore what sin has destroyed. Later in the evening, many stayed to watch a presentation of the video, “Joined Together,” which tells the journeys of four interfaith (Jewish and Christian) couples who came to find peace and unity for their marriages through Yeshua.
The second day of the conference continued with more wonderful teaching. Steve Shermett explained biblically correct judging, while Mottel Baleston encouraged Messianic Jews not to “judge” non-Jewish believers because as believers we are all in family relationship. Sam Nadler admonished us not to adjust to the ways of darkness but to be fulfilled by the light of Messiah. Pete Koziar used Ecclesiastes 5:1-20 to show that everything apart from God is worthless, and Alan Poyner-Levison reminded us that God’s love is the heart of the gospel. Arnold Fruchtenbaum drew the evening to a close with a continuation of his previous message, defining the “remnant” as believing Jews and teaching that the remnant protects Israel from God’s destruction and that the Messiah will return when called for by this believing remnant.
For more on the conference and a full page of photos, come visit our web page. Please stay tuned to future editions of The Shofar for upcoming information about next year’s AMC international conference!
Courtney Tinnan is co-editor of The Shofar, and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks Courtney!