Monday, July 18, 2016

2016 Acts 29 North Atlantic Conference | Jesus in the Trenches + Friday, May 20 - Saturday, May 21

Acts 29 North Atlantic Conference 2016 | Jesus in the Trenches

I'm thankful that between Friday, May 20  Saturday, May 21, eight people from Emmaus City joined with others from down the Atlantic Coast to learn more about how Jesus meets us in the dark and dangerous times of our lives, how He walks with us as His Church especially in our small beginnings, and how He empowers us by His grace and truth to strive on so that we will know Him better and many more will be introduced to the One who can meet all their deepest longings and needs. 

Below are notes along with the video links if you would like to watch the entire message.

1 | Jesus Among His People Video (34:41 minutes)

Pastor Matt Kruse of Seven Mile Road Church in Malden, MA

Real life with Jesus is a beautiful, holy, mess that is lived in close community. It's when you're close enough with people to admonish, encourage, confess, celebrate, affirm, and love them. 

"You yourselves know ... these hands." + Acts 20:34

The people in Ephesus didn't just know Paul's theology, his reputation, his style, his cadence  they knew his hands. Tentmakers had tough, cut, broken hands. When you're close enough to know someone's hands like this, you'll know their soul.

We like our fruit in gospel ministry fast and furious. But real doesn't come fast and cheap. It can sometimes feel like spinning wheels. But fruitful gospel ministry continues to be close to touch, hurt, and heal. God took on hands in Jesus and got real close to us. His hands touched lepers. His hands broke bread. His hands bled from nails pierced through them.

Who knows your hands?

2 | Jesus the Victor Video (36:45 minutes)

Pastor Bland Mason of City on a Hill Church in Boston, MA

"Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." + 1 Corinthians 15:57

Jesus is King ... and yet somehow He gives us the victory. This is a statement we forget, and yet it is true. We are too often like God's people in the Book of Numbers. We forget He's the King of the universe, and complain, and moan, and He still provides for us. We need to be reminded again and again. But how do we get our minds, and hearts, and lives around the universe-encompassing truth that Jesus is King?

1 | He is the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15-17). It's all about Him. There are 70 trillion cells in the human body. There are tens of thousands of galaxies just in the black spot in space. He holds it all together. And He's not sweating it.

2 | He is the King of His new creation in the Church (Colossians 1:18). He loves His beautiful, messy congregation. He loves you even when you're life-sucking like the person who drives you crazy because you think they're life-sucking. He's life-giving all the time.

3 | He is the Lord of reconciliation (Colossians 1:19-23). We're never neutral towards God. We first rebelled. We weren't looking for Him. He came looking for us. Only the Lord of reconciliation knows no bounds and has the power to save the dead in our sins who seemingly had no hope. We were far, but we've been brought near.

4 | He is the LORD of restoration (1 Peter 5:10; Hebrews 13:8). He is the LORD of the past, present, and future. You can trust Him to lead His Church. You can obey Jesus joyfully. You can serve Him knowing it all matters. And You can experience victory despite anything that comes because in Him you are victorious.

3 | Jesus in the Mess Video (45:36 minutes)

Pastor Doug Logan of Epiphany Fellowship Church in Camden, NJ

Despite the fact that in 12 of the last 20 years, Camden has been the most violent, most poor, and most illiterate city in the U.S., Camden would still be a step up from the hell I was facing without Jesus. He calls us from the Kingdom of darkness into the beautiful mess of His Church in His Kingdom. 

Jesus tells us not to tremble, but to trust Him. We're called from a mess without Him into a mess with Him. And He makes all the difference. Our King always invites rebels onto His team.

Jesus' Kingdom communication is in parables.
Jesus' Kingdom demonstration is in power.

When there are storms in the ocean of your life and they're moving your way, make sure your soul is anchored in Jesus every day.

| The disciples rebuked Jesus (Mark 4:38). They knew what the storm could do. But they didn't know what the King of the storm can do. Not believing in Jesus is bigger than any storm or problem. We need to look through the lens of the Cross more than look through the lens of our crises. 

| Jesus rebuked the storm (Mark 4:39). Our identity is sown up in the Savior, not in the storm. Your sin of unbelief in Jesus is more vicious than any storm or problem. And He can calm you and crush the sin, too. The storm is not the teacher. The storm is only part of the lesson.

The Creator and Redeemer allowed creation to crush Him so we could be redeemed and recreated in Him as a He is making all things new. The fall of man didn't make God fall. He comes in power to us to take care of the least, the last, and the lost.

Are you risking it all in reckless abandon to be a dangerous woman or man for Jesus? He's a safe risk to bet on.

4 | Jesus the Pastor Video (34:47 minutes)

Pastor Michael Davis of Genesis Community Church in Woburn, MA

Who do you go to when you are lost and feel spiritually dead? Too often the most obvious person becomes the most neglected person. You are a child of God. Your ability to minister to others will be based on your humility to be ministered to by Jesus. Here are Jesus' invitations to you.

| Love Me (John 21:17). There's a difference in loving Jesus than loving what you can do for Jesus. How often do you tell the most loved person in your life that you love him or her? Do you speak to Jesus the same? Lead with your love for Him in your prayers. Allow Him to speak His love back.

| Come to Me (Matthew 11:28). Just come to Him. He will give you rest. When it gets hard and weary, where do you go? Why settle for the little pleasures that take the edge off when you can go to the One who doesn't take, but gives more? 

| Give your burdens to Me (1 Peter 5:7). Are you carrying anything that Jesus has asked you to give to Him? He's ready and willing to take it all.

| Abide in Me (John 15:5). He's not weighing what you can do for Him. He's inviting you to remain in Him so you can see what He can do in you and through you.

5 | Jesus Over the Long Haul Video (46:04 minutes)

Pastor David Pinckney of River of Grace Church in Concord, NH

We're called to endure. And our greatest struggle will be with wanting our sin more than our Savior. But He doesn't give up on us in the battle. He is the Founder and Perfecter of our faith. "Eyes fixed on Jesus" is the signature of a life that endures. 

One sin you may struggle with the most is not liking the race He has assigned to you to run with Him. When and where are you discontent? Remember that Jesus the Creator embraced the calling of a carpenter. And He embraced His calling in Nazareth (not Rome, or Jerusalem). What are you finding difficult that He has asked you to embrace? He is the God of endurance and encouragement who can help you.

God enables us to serve the weak God has given us in His care. Compared to Jesus, we're all physically handicapped and mentally ill. But those who are stronger have a responsibility to bear with the weaker. The work of Jesus is for the weak. Jesus doesn't abandon His Church, His body as we do the work with Him.

If Jesus is comfortable with sinners, shouldn't we be? There are tough times, and there will be more tough times, but the toughest time will be trusting that Jesus is greater than your own sin more than anyone else's. And thank God He is greater.

| 6 Jesus and His Church Video (18:55 minutes)

Pastor Bryan Laughlin of Remnant Church in Richmond, VA

Since Jesus is with us in all things, He has and will call us into the trenches with Him. Remember what He said about Paul in Acts 9:16: "I will show him how much he must suffer for My name." God calls us to this. No one really volunteers for this. It's a personal calling. He calls you personally. And He calls you communally. We are not called to do this alone. We do this together.

| Be strong in grace and join with others in suffering (2 Timothy 2:1-3).

| Preaching the gospel as the boundless riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8).

| Preach the gospel above all else (1 Corinthians 1:17).

What is your church about? Is it about preaching the gospel of Jesus? There will be casualties, but there will be more victories. Stay in the trenches. God's mission is accomplished in them. As Jesus' Church, by His Spirit, we get to rejoice in the trenches. We are not striving to be cool, but committed when everything is uncool.

– Sully

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