20 Jun From punk band to pastor: What seeking the Kingdom looks like
Pastor Noah Nickel is the lead pastor at King’s Church.
God often tells us to do the “now” things before He shows us the next thing.
Letting go isn’t easy. Most of us need to feel like we have control and we struggle with following God’s will for our lives because we don’t want to relinquish that control. But what you seek ultimately determines how you’re living. What you pursue has a direct response to what you experience.
In Matthew 5-7, Jesus delivers one of the most powerful sermons ever: the upside-down version of the kingdom of God. “Seek first His kingdom…” Jesus eradicates the idea that we live a separate life from what God’s desire is for us. That our prayer lives should be prayers of invasion, not avoidance. That God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The kingdom is not only the future – it’s the now.
Ask yourself, “What would my life look like if God were in charge?” If God oversaw your marriage, your parenting, work place or finances?
A lot of us want to get somewhere and we’re wondering aimlessly, trying to figure out where we’re going. We need clarity and direction and we’re not sure if we’re going down the right path. We’ll go wherever the breeze takes us or sit back and do nothing. We spend our time wondering what’s next, instead of seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, His plans, His way of doing things.
I’d been playing music since I was 15-years-old. The last band I was in signed with a record label in Germany. We were preparing to go on tour in Europe, and I was certain it was everything I wanted to do, it was my passion. Now, I was raised in church and had gone to church my entire life, but I wasn’t seeking God at the time. I was seeking Noah – what I wanted to do. And on the cusp of a huge opportunity, myself and a group of friends who also played in other bands showed up to this storefront church ran by an older couple. We were there to have a conversation with them about potentially using their space for locals shows when we were in town. That was our plan, God had a different one. Week after week we ended up back at that little church with pastors that poured their lives into us, showed us scriptures and revealed to us the ways of Jesus.
After that, I realized I wanted to stop following what I wanted to do and follow God. I started to follow Him so intensely, reading, praying, worshipping, going to church as much as I could. But something started to happen, when I would pray, read, worship, or just live life, I couldn’t do anything without feeling Him tell me, “You’ve got to quit the band.” I wanted God to rethink what He was telling me to do. Music was my passion, it was everything to me, but God was challenging my pursuit.
Right when everything was taking off, myself and another friend who was in the same band quit. My bandmates thought we were crazy and we received backlash for months. Pursing the kingdom of God doesn’t mean everything will be easy, but I pursued what the “now” thing was. A year later, I end up at Bible school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I met Stephanie and we started dating, got engaged, and I finished school, moved to Ohio and we got married. A few years after that, we had our first child, our daughter, Paisley. We later go on to start King’s Church several years later and have our second child, our son, Bear. I would’ve never known then what God had in store for my life, a path much better than what I had laid out for myself.
So, here’s what happens with the kingdom of God – He’s going to ask you to do some things now, but you don’t see the “what’s next.” God will lead you down a path step-by-step, but it has to do with your pursuit and your seeking of God. Maybe you’re pursuing a relationship you know you shouldn’t be in, and God’s asking you to step away from it. Maybe it’s a career or money and a paycheck, and God’s asking you to do something different, the opposite of everything you want to do. But if you want to live the life God has for you, you need to seek first His kingdom.
You don’t need to be perfect, you only need to pursue. God will provide in your pursuit, not your perfection. You’ll make mistakes and go through seasons where you mess up, but God can take hold of your heart and put you back on track.
We have a choice every single day. Whose desire are you pursuing? Yours or God’s? Do you want to pursue the “stuff,” when you know it’s never going to be enough? When you pursue the “stuff,” the kingdom of God isn’t moving. God will not rewrite His will for your life based on your own desires. Yes, He loves you and is for you. He is constantly there. But if you want to experience the life God has for you, you need to decide, because God will not bow His knee to your plans.
If you’re living in the kingdom, you’re under the supervision and provision of the King. If you’re living outside the kingdom, the King has no opportunity to guide you or provide for you, like He would if you were living inside the kingdom. Seek after and pursue the kingdom, God’s way of doing things, what’s fulfilling, and He will lead you to the life He’s always designed for you to live.