Seek the Kingdom: Remember Your Name

This week, I had a revelation.

I had forgotten my name. 

You may or my not be able to identify with this, but for me personally as a Christian, I struggle with sin. I have the knowledge that God became a man (Jesus) to live and die and be raised so that we can be reconciled to each other. What could be better than being reconciled with God? It turns out, actually believing that.

For the last several years, and if you trace through the history of this blog you will see streaks of it, I have struggled with depression. No, I’m not going to call depression a sin. Stay with me. I have been strongly reluctant to seek medical help for it because I do not believe for one second that I personally have a chemical imbalance or anything physiological like that. As I analyze the events that started me to spiral downward into despair, anxiety, fretting, and fear, I can typically pinpoint where it started. Whether or not I want to own up to the ugly truth at the time is one thing, but as I dig deep down into myself, I often find that the desire for approval of others or myself is near the heart of the matter. Then I begin working to gain that elusive perceived approval, see it further slipping from my fingers, and begin the downward descent into darkness. I’m working to be made righteous in the eyes of myself and the eyes of people around me. This is where I have forgotten the gospel, which I need to be daily reminded of.

“But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭4:5‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

This is the good news that I have head knowledge of, but even more often as I forget it in my head, I fail to believe in my heart. I have been declared righteous by God the Father because I believe that God the Son (Jesus) is my righteousness and therefore stands as my mediator, BUT I seem to always get stuck in a repeating cycle of turn away from God, turn to God, draw near other things, draw near to God, work for fleeting rest, rest in God, try to fill broken cisterns, be filled by fountain of God, ad nausea. 

Which brings me to my revelation.

I have been finding my identity in depression. “Depressed” has become who I am. Mark Driscoll once said, “When you know who you are, you know what to do.” What you do and how you respond to life and God and others flows out of who you think you are. It flows out of your identity. How am I going to respond when others fail to approve me in the way I would desire, even crave, them to? Act out of my identity – be crushed. I forget that I already have God’s approval, not because I’ve worked hard enough or been good enough to earn it, but because He has chosen to love me. In Christ, he has taken away my old crumbling identities and given me his. 

I had forgotten my name: His. I am in Christ. I am His.

“Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:1-2‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

The rest found in God is unbelievably quieting to my restless heart. The love of God sets us free.

What about you? What do you run to for your rest? If we run to anything besides God, we make that thing out to be God (an idol), and then it crumbles beneath the weight of it trying to be God, and we never find rest. We are never satisfied. We are stuck in the cycle of trying to find rest in a god that is not real in place of the only God who is. The only God who brings true rest. Depression is an indicative response that I am running to other gods, like approval, for my rest. I often find that my identity is found in wherever I run to for rest, or my response when I don’t find rest in whatever I have run to.

If we are going to seek the Kingdom of God, we must find our rest in its King. We will only be able to find rest in him if we believe our record no longer bears the name of our failings or successes, but bears Jesus name.  If you are a Christian, you have been made new. If you are not a Christian, seek the King and the rest he brings, and you will find it.

Christian, you are free. 

Non-Christian, you can be free. 

Do not forget your name.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭HCSB‬‬


Seek the Kingdom: What Does That Even Mean?

  Right out of the gate, I’m one who is trying to figure this out.

As a Christian, I know I’m supposed to do something. I know I’m supposed to be like Jesus, but I can’t be as holy as Jesus, which is why I need Jesus. In the New Testament, Jesus talks about the kingdom of God a lot. He tells us that it is at hand, it is not what or where we think it should be, and it is worth pursuing with reckless  abandon. 

“Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭17:20-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There are plenty of other Kingdom of God verses from Scripture I could post here, but one other specifically points to what I believe it is talking about.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭13:44‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

I believe that the following verse is the corner that you trip over of that treasure buried in the field. Explorers, philosophers, scientists, artists, men of faith and men of none have uncovered all kinds of amazing truths that change our minds, the way we live, and are worth looking at. Above those, I believe this is one of the greatest discoveries that has ever been laid hold of because of the treasure it unearths:

“Be appalled at this, you heavens, and shudder with great horror,” declares the Lord. “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah‬ ‭2:12-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Why is this a treasure? It sounds intense. The verse starts out letting us know this is serious, then we start reading about sin and forsaking, springs and waters, work, and cisterns (water containers). 

Sin is a heated word with much debate around it, so in effort to bring clarity to this post, I will be taking from Augustine of Hippo and Martin Luther to define sin as the self curving in on the self. Think of sin as being like the ultimate ingrown toenail of heart, behavior, and life. 

Let’s move to water. What can we know about it in a way that effects what we believe, who we are and what we do? Water is for life. Water is for the thirsty. A large percentage of our bodies are water, so we die without it. Thousands die for lack of clean water. Wells, towers, reservoirs, and other cisterns created to hold supplies of water for the thirsty and dirty.  We also continually need it. Our tongues grow fat and dry without it. Our health declines without it. It meets and immediate need, but the thirst comes back. Water as we know it can not satisfy us. What of this living water, though? What is the difference between it and water that we know of? In the middle of an interaction next to a well between Jesus and a woman, who by cultural aspects he never should have been talking to, Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (‭‭John‬ ‭4:13-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This is what the people have forsaken. Set before them is a spring, a fountain, a waterfall of living water that slakes the thirst of any man for all time. The notion of thirst is gone, for all who come to the fountain are satisfied. What did they do instead? Dig holes. They turned to the work of their hands. The spring of all satisfaction is bubbling up in sweet life giving fulfillment, and the spring is ignored by people who say they can find satisfaction in places and things where it can never be found. “We will find our own basins that will be a spring of life to us!” Sure, they have found pleasure and enjoyment and accomplishment and a temporary satisfaction, but like water we hold behind dams, it leaks out. It dries up. The thirst comes back, and the people need more and more water to quench the thirst that always returns.

We do not know that in our collecting and chasing and obsessing that this spring of living water is in a field we think to be worthless. We – and I include myself in this – think that the cisterns of possessions, fame, reputation, skill, ability, love, sex, freedom, government, money, comfort, retirement, career, entertainment, religion, identity, relationships, safety, and a host of other things (which may even be good things!) will satisfy the thirst that keeps coming back. When we go to drink from those supplies and become threatened as they are depleted or stolen from, what do we do? How do you respond? Do our actions curve inward on us, the very things we think will save and secure and satisfy us actually ending up destroying us? Do we seek some other cistern? Or…there is a fountain in a nearly forgotten field that is worth more than all the trash we stockpile and run to in its place. I am reminded of a Jim Elliot quote which says, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” A satisfaction that will leave a man or woman never thirsting again. 

We glanced right over who or what is that spring of living water. Let’s return to our verse one more time.

“Be appalled at this, you heavens, and shudder with great horror,” declares the Lord. “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah‬ ‭2:12-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Declares the Lord, “They have forsaken me, the fountain of living water…” Me. The Lord is our fountain of living water which forever satisfies. This is the treasure in the field. To seek the kingdom, I believe, is to start here. What does it even mean to be satisfied by God? This, friend, is what I believe to be a razor edge narrow Way to follow that will forever satisfy the deepest recesses of our hearts. 

Lord, persevere us on this Way to finding you as our treasure, our spring of living water. Give us you.

“I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple.”‭‭ Psalms‬ ‭27:4‬ ‭HCSB‬‬


A Journey Begins With One Step…

This is not the first step I have taken. Many have come before, but not as many have been inspired.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ESV) says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”
The band Sleeping Giant has a chorus to a song called Dynasty which says, “When I’m dead will my children say, ‘My father had a destiny. He fought to taste it, and now because of him I will rise and say, “I’m par of a dynasty. I wont be wasted.”‘”
I believe all of what I do in life, from family, to work, to adventure, to trusting in grace, to hope, can all be put under the same umbrella. So, taking from these sources, my mission statement, if you will, as I begin to catalogue steps here, is as follows:
God help me.