"Overcoming" and New Life

Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.

As everyone who will ever read this blog knows, this weekend marked the 9th anniversary of Islamo-fascist terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, DC. When I left my house Saturday morning, I noticed that my in-laws (who rise at a much more respectable hour than I do) had blessed us by lowering the flag that flies in our dooryard to half-staff. That’s all it took to bring rushing back all the feelings of that morning. For a moment, I simply paused and worshipped the One True God. I thanked Him that the intervening years have not been even more turbulent and war-torn than they have, and I sought forgiveness and wisdom for the leaders of nations and political groups that would solve evil with bloodshed.

The rest of my day really made me think about what “overcoming” might look like in our 21st century context. See, I had two places to go that day: a five-year-old’s birthday party and a wedding. I know that in 2002, and in the subsequent years, who would ever have planned celebrations of life like that on such a day of weeping and horror? In fact, I was a little taken aback when I first received invitations to the events, wondering if the planners had looked at the calendar!

But then, something else began to come clear to me – these are far more fitting memorials than anything I could put together.

  • I need abundant life – life renewed by the power of Jesus Christ!
  • I need to live fearlessly – to live a life so completed by the love of God (1 John 4:10-11) that fear of punishment never enters my thoughts.

Those are the blessings promised to the overcomers in Smyrna – because that’s precisely the blessing that a little church in a huge world needs. And maybe that kind of overcoming looks like a little boy dancing with his friends on a day when sadness is supposed to reign. Maybe it looks like a young couple taking the first steps into life together – without regret, without retreat, without reservations – made fearless by their love.

Maybe THAT’S what overcoming looks like.

in HIS love,
nick

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About Nick Gill

orphan-poet-adoptee-soldier-prodigal-servant-husband- counselor-desperate seeker after my Father's face "I feel my body weakened by the years as people turn to gods of cruel design. Is it that they fear the pain of death, or is it that they fear the joy of life?" - Toad the Wet Sprocket

Posted on 13 September, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Galatians 4:28-5:1
    Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born in the ordinary way (Ishmael) persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. *It is the same now.* But what does the Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

    Call me jaded if you want, but I didn’t even think about 9/11. I don’t care about Islamo-fascists vs. America. That’s not my war. My war is there at the end of Galatians 4… Spiritual Isaac vs. spiritual Ishmael, spiritual Israel vs. spiritual Islam… Real life in the Spirit vs. ordinary religious life of the flesh (whether “christian” or Islamic or Jewish or Hindu or Buddhist).

    Why did the religious leaders of His day have Jesus crucified? Because He was of the Spirit and they were of Ishmael and of the flesh. His life EXPOSED them for the frauds they were.

    The battle that any saint must overcome is the war between Romans 7 life and Romans 8 LIFE… that is what Paul is referring to in Galatians 4. So the battle is first and always in our own hearts. But externally as well, ANYONE who REALLY lives a Romans 8 life will be persecuted by those who ONLY know Romans 7 life, ordinary life, what Paul refers to in 1 Cor. 3:3 as those acting like “mere men.” And those “mere men” who CLAIM to be following Jesus will rise up (and are rising up) in these last days and declare jihad on those living in the power of an indestructible life. (Hebrews 7:16)

    THAT, I believe, is the call to overcoming, overcoming with love and holiness the hate directed at us by those who prefer form and hypocrisy and natural life. THAT is Armageddon. Everything else is just politics and smokescreen and has no real bearing on the life of a Saint.

    So does it take courage to have a wedding on 9/11?… Some for sure. But it will cost one’s life to be a Spiritual, Supernatural person, disconnected from the world’s priorities and lusts and religion and instead Connected to the True Vine. Following the Lamb wherever He goes… I think THAT’S what overcoming looks like.

    Peace to you Nick,

    -s

  2. But it will cost one’s life to be a Spiritual, Supernatural person, disconnected from the world’s priorities and lusts and religion and instead Connected to the True Vine. Following the Lamb wherever He goes… I think THAT’S what overcoming looks like.

    Well, duh. Overcoming looks like following Jesus. I could have written that and ended up with a one-sentence series.

    But that doesn’t help anyone know what it looks like right here and now. And the beauty of a child rejoicing, oblivious to all the so-called ‘important stuff’ going on because they’re being swallowed up in love – that is a concrete image that someone can sink their teeth into.

    Likewise a wedding – subverting the day of grief and worldly political diatribes with a celebration of new life, 2-becoming-1 life, water-into-wine, “You turn my mourning into dancing” life?

    Do you see the difference between your abstract list of traits and the power of real imagery? Everyone knows we’re supposed to follow Jesus. How many people have tangible examples to follow?

  3. Maybe we can start by being on the same side. Maybe you thought I was being contrary, but I wasn’t. I read your posts Nick and I want to help. I share your pain and frustrations.

    But being “disconnected from the world’s priorities and lusts and religion” is massively practical, but most don’t want to go there… Most who CALL themselves believers feel all too comfortable with the world and it’s ways…

    movies, music, internet usage, how we DO this thing called church (ever notice how Sunday services aren’t in the New Testament)…. when we follow what everyone else does in all these things… can we really say we are following the Lamb where ever He is going… Did Jesus really want to see Titanic or Avatar? Does he really like listening to U2? Does he just browse YouTube for the funniest videos to share with His friends? Was He just joking when He said, when HE said (DIRECT COMMAND from the RULER of the Universe) “Call no man father or teacher” and yet it is SOOOO commonplace among believers to reference Pastor Bob or Reverend Smith or Minister Mike… Christianity and Christians are BROKEN, not because life is so hard but because we ignore the simple and basic teachings of Jesus and follow are own lusts.

    It is YOU who said you are sick of being powerless. I know how you feel. I’ve been there, done that. Am I allowed to say that I’m not there anymore? Am I allowed to say that my life and the lives of the believers I walk with are overcoming? Am I allowed to say that there are answers that exist beyond rhetoric and emotional pacifiers? Christians are BORN to be overcomers and to exude both individually and collectively the LIFE and PERSONALITY of Jesus.

    Here’s something concrete you can sink your teeth into. The chances are HIGH that the birthday boy will have had sex, possibly with someone in his own youth group, by the time he’s 16 or 17. If not, once he goes to college, he probably will abandon whatever faith he had. If not him, then definitely one of his friends “in the church.”

    The chances are HIGH (over 50% among the “churched”) that your happy couple will be divorced before their 10-year anniversary.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of the casualties. I want to kick satan in the teeth for all that he’s doing to God’s people but the truth is, we make it all to easy for him by moving forward like cows into his slaughterhouses — voluntarily.

    Romans 7, I would say, doesn’t look like overcoming. Romans 8 looks like overcoming. I can be more concrete, but which chapter best describes you? Which chapter best describes Joe or Suzie Christian at your congregation? And if Chapter 7 (“The thing I don’t want to do, is the very thing I do”), then why, when He has GIVEN us every provision for Ch. 8?

    2Peter 1:3-4
    His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

    THAT is meant to be the norm for every believer and every church and yet somehow we don’t believe it is even possible anymore. And that makes Jesus sad because THAT is what He died to give us.

    Sorry, I won’t hijack your blog anymore. Peace.

    • Stephen, you’re welcome here anytime. Seriously – I just got frustrated because the kind of stuff you were saying is precisely the kind of stuff that reminds people of how much of f failure they are, but doesn’t offer any assistance.

      We all KNOW we’re not overcoming, Stephen – do you think that’s news??? But when Paul taught his churches, he brought to their minds the image of his overcoming example, of how – right in their midst – they saw him exemplifying what overcoming looks like. Then he said, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.”

      That’s the kind of thing I’m trying to offer in this series – pictures of what actual people conquering might look like in our context. We are all intimately familiar with what failure looks like – we need examples. Since your community of faith is doing it, share a story of what overcoming looks like from the context in which you live! That will encourage people far more than stats about how badly we’re failing.

      I want you here – I cherish your passion – but when you say, “my life and the lives of the believers I walk with are overcoming… there are answers that exist beyond rhetoric and emotional pacifiers… Christians are BORN to be overcomers and to exude both individually and collectively the LIFE and PERSONALITY of Jesus…” I want my family here to see what that looks like, because they’re trying to do that in very diverse places and lives and they could use 21st century examples.

      [2Peter 1:3-4] is meant to be the norm for every believer and every church and yet somehow we don’t believe it is even possible anymore.

      Well, my friends here do believe it is possible, but they (or at least I) need more from one another than a Nike ad: Just DO it!

  4. Practicals for me are difficult because SOMETIMES the mentioning of specifics can sound like legalism or that spirituality is somehow equal to the things what one does and doesn’t do. I grew up not being able to go to dances or go to the movies or go to the pool but I didn’t know of or love Jesus and neither did my parents. We were religious and we followed the C of C rules.

    But today I do love Jesus and know Him (if ever so slightly) and you know what? I still can’t imagine a Christian dancing or watching Titanic (I’m not picking on her, but your wife mentioned this film as a fav) or spending time in colored underwear at the pool. These are practical things that are undercutting the Word and Spirit in our lives. My children don’t go to public school. Is homeschool spiritual? Not necessarily, but bad company corrupts good character and I have no interest in my children being exposed to the world’s educational system. My son is 19 now, having never seen pornography or surfed on the open internet. He goes to university with 2 other young men who love God as much as he does and are committed to being a Light to the world around them rather than engulfed in satan’s illusions of romance and pleasure. He is a Saint on that campus but it didn’t happen by accident. We needed to make hard choices along the way that were costly and inconvenient. But because we don’t love our lives to the point of death and want to have a Testimony as blood-washed disciples, then we pay those costs and see the fruit of it.

    It all gets very practical and personal. It involves really walking together EVERY DAY like Heb 3:13 says… EXHORTING ONE ANOTHER DAILY! When is “church”? It is every day. Acts 2:42-47 describes it pretty well. Let’s live THAT way.

    I am not trying to promote a theology or a pet doctrine or a movement. I simply want to see Jesus have what He deserves. There is a whole section of practicals in the link below (written by a dear brother of mine) that might give you a picture of what I’m talking about… kind of “a week in the life” of my life with the saints here. So for what it’s Worth…

    http://Books.JesusLifeTogether.com/Church-Prepared-For-the-Return-of-Christ

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