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I Don't Care by Michael Nichols

Once upon a time, I found Jesus. More accurately, He found me. After spending a really long time not knowing how much I need Him, I finally saw myself for who I was, and I called out to Him in response to His call to me. That was almost seven years ago. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew that I didn't love, not truly. I knew that in order to love, I needed to accept His. I needed to really believe He loved me. So I did. My whole paradigm changed that day.

That doesn't mean anything else changed. I was already on a trajectory away from Him. I was on a road I didn't belong on. As an excellent Wavorly song says, "Turning around was never so hard til I found us far apart." At that point, I was really far away, heading further, and had no idea which way to turn. Imagine yourself lost on a dark night with a broken light and a broken compass, and nothing but two ears and a voice guiding you home. Even better: imagine yourself in the Millennium Falcon, crashing toward Starkiller Base, unable to pull up, not knowing the defector storm trooper was a janitor and new nothing about blowing the place up.

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I had no idea what was in store. I really didn't. I knew things would be difficult, but I had no clue of the depth of it. I don't remember being as bombarded with temptations and heartaches as when I started following Christ. Yet I don't know that I've seen more personal growth happen in me than when I started following Christ.

I'm not going to blather on about all the things that happened between 2009 and 2013. If you've read my blog before, you know. If you want to know, read it.

In one respect, I'm glad for how far I've come, but it hasn't been without cost. That cost has been my ability to care.

I don't care.

Those are three words no one wants to hear. "I don't care" is giving up. On what? Anything.

Have you been told that before? It hurts, doesn't it? Knowing that you're not seen, not heard, invisible, inconsequential.

I hate that about me, which is great because that means all hope is not lost. But right now, that's a problem. The whole reason I decided to follow Jesus was so I could love, not so I could withhold love in apathy.

I'm not sure entirely how I figured it out, but I suddenly noticed lately how much of what has been happening in my life indicates that I don't really care.

The stagnancy of my romantic relationships?

Because I didn't care about anything beyond the moment, escaping the rest of my life.

My lack of reading scriptures or praying in a meaningful way?

Because I didn't care about anything beyond the moment, escaping the rest of my life.

My isolation from people I claim to care for?

Because I didn't care about anything but my own problems.

My inability to focus long enough to do successful studio takes?

Because I didn't care about them as much as I care about the things distracting me.

My inability to loosen up?

Because I don't care enough about living healthily enough to stop obsessing over the things I want.

My jealousy?

Because I don't care about much else than what I want.

Why I don't try hard enough to change any of this?

Because I don't care to keep failing or hurting, which is, by default, keeping anything good from coming of anything I'm going through.

I don't want to run away from my issues, but I also don't want to run into a worse place. Another song, by Linkin Park this time, says, "Sometimes I think of letting go and never looking back, and never moving forward so there'd never be a past."

Relatable? Too much.

Good way to live? Not ever.

The irony of the whole thing is that we tend to stop caring because of the weight that caring becomes. But to stop caring means your heart has to stop working, and if your heart stops working, you really can't go anywhere. You collapse. You stay where you are. You die.

When you stop caring, you are dead. And it definitely feels the part. At least pain lets you know you're alive, even though it means you're fighting to stay that way. When joy happens, you know you're alive and free.

That's what I think is so powerful about the "joy of salvation" that people talk about. Not only are you alive, not only are you free, but you are now set on a path of becoming more like Christ until His coming, when everything corruptible in us will be replaced with something incorruptible, and we enter eternal life and eternal freedom, where all darkness ends and the light only grows, extending into every corner of creation. It's unstoppable. It's unstoppable good, unstoppable beauty, unstoppable life.

That's something that's actually worth caring about. When we lose sight of that, it's not hard to stop caring about things, especially the more we know about evil and hurt.

I guess that's what I've been missing. With something lasting to care about, whatever else is valuable to us, whatever else brings joy, although temporary, finally gains its true meaning. We finally have a reason to care about it.

A reason to care about him.

About her.

About anyone, anything.

But without context to something eternal, how can anything temporary have meaning?

"Our light affliction, which only lasts for a moment, is working toward an eternal glory that far outweighs anything else. That's why we look not on the things that can be seen, but the things that cannot be seen. Why? Because the things we can see are temporary, but the things we cannot see are eternal." --Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 paraphrase mine)

Love And Fear: Campaign Update 2 by Michael Nichols

We're about to close the first half of our crowdfunding campaign! If you haven't heard, I'm making a record with some amazing musicians and friends, and we're raising money for gear. When you pre-order the record for just $10, you'll get an instant download of one of the singles, "Find You In The Light." We're currently at 12% of our goal, which is amazing! When we first launched this campaign, I was as nervous as ever. Correction: I am nervous! But the response so far has been great, both in feedback about our music and in the generosity of friends and family. We've raised $580 of the $5000 we're shooting for to make this the best record it can possibly be. We actually crossed that 10% mark by the end of week 2!

As awesome as that is, we've hit a pretty big slump since then.

We have barely over a month left to go, so if you can help by preordering our record "Love And Fear," picking one of our perk packages (including anything from downloads to signed CDs, to t-shirts, posters, and microphones), sharing the campaign on social media, and most importantly praying that God will make a way for this to happen and that His will would be done.

As much as we love making music and having fun, though, this is our ministry above all else. We want to reach a world that is afraid by offering them the love of Jesus Christ. We're just looking for the means to do that the best way we know how. :)

ALSO, here's some exciting news! A fantastic friend of mine asked to interview me about the new record. She has an amazing devotional account on Instagram, so head over there and check out @shinejesus_ for some excellent words from the Father, and watch out for the interview, coming soon!

Be sure to check out our campaign on IndieGoGo and head over to SoundCloud to listen to our brand new track, "Find You In The Light."

Thanks for all of your support! :)

--Michael

https://igg.me/at/loveandfear/x/9877524

https://soundcloud.com/mnicholszero/findyouinthelight

https://www.instagram.com/shinejesus_/

Rev(ital)ised: Adulthood by Michael Nichols

I was eighteen years old by the end of 2009. Everyone always makes a big deal about it. It's sort of a cultural thing, and who can blame a guy for being a little excited? You gain the right to vote, join the military, and do plenty of other things legally, some of which are wiser than others.

A few months in, I wasn't the most ecstatic person on the face of the planet, though. It seemed to me like just another number, but I was thinking about this number on much different terms. A lot of what I wished for has come true since then, to my gain and detriment. This is how I began my legal adulthood.

20 March 2010 at 2:34am -- from Facebook Notes, revised 24 February 2014

I'm eighteen years old. Milestone? I giggle at you. I have the ability to [legally] buy tobacco products, pornography, lottery tickets, and am deemed by the state/nation to be a "legal adult". How does this benefit me? If you have a theory, please enlighten me because I've got nothing. At sixteen, I gained the legal right to test for a driving instruction permit and the ability to consent to sex. At twelve, adolescence happens. Let's not go there, I think we all get it. And at random years in between we actually do this interesting thing called living our lives.

Day to day, whether we think it through at any degree or not, we make simple this-or-that decisions. Drive, or don't drive. Work, or don't work. Eat, or don't eat. Worship, or don't worship. Pray, or don't pray. Honor the Lord, or don't. Share, or don't. Get up, or don't. Love, or don't. Hope, or don't. Believe, or don't. Fear, or don't. Give, or don't. Take, or don't. I could ramble on about all the different this-or-that decisions that make up every single move we make as living souls, but I think you get the point by now.

I'm eighteen years old. What changed? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. "Legal" means nothing. Whether a government says, "We recognize you as an adult when you turn eighteen or twenty-one," does not make a difference. You choose the difference whether you're young or whether you have multiple college degrees. Is this too simple? Too easy to be true? No. As a matter of fact, simplicity is exactly what we need as human beings.

We're all just a bunch of over-sized, coffee-drinking, relationship-having, reproducing, job-doing, schedule-making children. Just because we paste on this facade of sophistication doesn't for a second mean that we're any better. Paul the apostle said, "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, acted like a child, thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things." He didn't hit a certain age and then magically become mature. He chose. He realized that he was a child and needed to grow up.

We believe what we believe because we were taught it. Our lives took the paths they did, and here we stand, believing what we do, be it true or false. We did not evolve into this voluntarily. We are not God. We do not have the power to breathe life into nothing. Show me someone who can besides the Lord Jesus Christ. Even from the beginning, we were taught by the Lord God Almighty in the truth, then we were deceived (taught a lie) by that old serpent called Satan (meaning: the adversary). Our sciences have been taught by the world around us when smarter men decided to listen to it.

No matter what, our existence has been nothing but a learning process... and this is where it gets ugly. When we think that we no longer need to be taught, that is when we are mere children. That is when we have failed. When we think that there is something about ourselves that is all we need, that is the exact moment we need to think again. If you jump in the deep end of your heart and swim around for a little while, you will realize this truth. You will know that there is this unquenchable thirst for something more than yourself, something solid, something that will last forever; but in this life only, we will not find such a love. "In Christ alone" will true hope be found, but I digress.

I know by personal experience that when you get that attitude of being the only one who matters, the only one of whole value, the only one who is worth fighting for, the only one without a flaw and with need of nothing... Well, let's just say that "pride goes before destruction." Eventually, life will teach you... [chuckles...] teach you that, even though you are of value, even though you do matter, and even though you do have something to offer, every single one of us having our own form of righteousness, we have nothing to offer before the Lord but "filthy rags."

But here is the thing: Jesus Christ said via His actions, "I love you. You have taken upon you dirty rags for clothing. You will be naked. But I have good clothing. Here. Take mine. From me, all who come shall be clothed." He traded His perfect life for every failure, every sin, every immaturity, every vulgarity, every curse of man behind the back of the blessings of God, every hate, every torture, and every unspeakable thing, all wrapped into one collective, united human slaughter, one ultimate sacrifice, the only one good enough.

I cannot do enough to repay Him, and that's not even the point of the cross because nobody can. But if we don't make a concerted effort in His name, then who are we, and what is the point? What love goes unreturned? What debt goes unpaid? Being a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, if I care that little to the end that I would blow off this gift, His will, everything He has given me... if I don't tell anyone, if I don't do everything within my power, including surrendering to His, how dare I stand before Him and say that I'm good enough, and I should get into Heaven, or even get a decent life on earth?

I've gone all the way around the block simply to say this one thing... Adulthood. It's not an age, a right, a license. It's a choice, a surrender, humility, letting our sins be crucified with Jesus, being open to being wrong. It's a gift, grace, mercy. It's in our hands.

This is adulthood. I want to grow up.

Entering Rest (2): Scripted by Michael Nichols

For those of you who don't know, I'm a rotational musician/leader at church, and I've been spending the past seven years finding myself as a musician and as a writer/creative person in general. As a musician, one of the biggest things I've had to tackle is stage fright. If you'd known me before freshman year of high school, you'd know that performing arts wasn't exactly what I wanted to do.

Eventually, thanks to some epic people, I experienced a very personal paradigm shift due to she who would be my vocal coach "volunteering" me to audition for a competition. Until then, I'd always view performing arts as simply that. Unfortunately, I only was looking at the surface. Performance is a lot deeper than knowing the tools, techniques, and tricks of the trade -- at least it should be for anyone truly invested in it. From the audition I was selected. I didn't place in the end, but there was a journey that occurred -- really a nurturing -- that pulled out the innermost parts of me that were creating my fears.

Were my fears eliminated? No, but it was a start of something: realizing that performance isn't just about the script. Before that nurturing took place (to my voice and to my soul), I was a very scripted guy. I was into math, sciences. Arts and humanities -- ugh. Socially? Spiritually? Scripted, too. I followed the rules, tried to stay out of people's way, didn't question things I didn't like. I also played "Christian" and bought my own game, when in reality, I had no clue what the love of Christ really means.

"What if I say something wrong, and that cute girls in class just laughs or the other guys bully/shun me? What if I don't have perfect pitch and they boo me off the stage? What if I make a bad judgment call and God sends me to hell?" These were all questions I asked in the back of my mind but acknowledged as no more than mental hallucinations -- I didn't really accept that those were questions I had. How then could I know if there were answers, what they were, or that I was asking the wrong questions? Because in the end, really, I was asking the wrong questions.

I admit that sometimes I return to the script, and I still get stage fright, but now, I know better than to do that. Even though God wants us to follow Him, be holy, forsake sin, He's not looking for a script, and He doesn't kick people when they're down. He is a Father, so He disciplines His children, but He is not an abusive Father. He's not look for an excuse to keep us from crowding up Heaven. That's not who He is, and since He is what we really need as fallen humans, He doesn't give us a script.

What's your script?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_S9VvJM1PI

[LYRICS HERE]

Wood Chips of Faith -- Part 3: The Corinthians by Michael Nichols

The church at Corinth, spoken of in the writings of the new covenant, was a church undergoing a transformation. They, like myself, experienced an intersection of what they were told to trust and what they came to trust. A city of idols, when they were greeted by the apostle Paul, he recognised that the position they were in was foreign to the place from which he came. They had an established system of doing things, completely based upon the idols they worshiped. In order to reach them, he met them where they were, spoke to the place they were in.

In the beginning of his first letter, he talks about how the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man. That's a tough pill to swallow. Even the most basic of God's concepts defy the most complicated of man's. People tend to do what makes them feel good for the moment, but God tends to do things that do good for us and others.

This ancient church was one living by the will of the flesh. People involved in numerous sexual sins (including incest) were popping up. People were dealing with the collision of their old beliefs with their new beliefs. Some were abusing the rite of the Lord's Table (or Communion), while others still were merely confused about how spiritual gifts (prophecy, healing, speaking in tongues, and the like) were to be used. All of these things are important, yes, but his lead in is what caught my attention...

10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas[b]”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

... He wasn't sent to complicate things. They just became that way, unfortunately. For Paul, yes, but mainly for the church at Corinth. Paul wasn't the one experiencing confusion but rather the one trying to help them through it.

Paul expounds upon his opening statement in the verses to come (click the indented text to see the rest) by explaining that the power of the gospel isn't in man's wisdom, but it is really found in the crucifixion, and after fifteen chapters of working through issues of internal division, issues about which they wrote to him first, Paul finally brings it all home. For the sake of saving space, click this passage: I Corinthians 15.

The key here, which you will notice in verse 12, is that they were divided over the most fundamental part of our faith: the Gospel itself. The Gospel centers around the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now, everyone dies. Some are burned, but some are buried, which Jesus was. They killed Him, put Him in the ground, like any other bloke... then He got out three days later, which other blokes didn't do. This proved that He is who He says: the perfect Son of God, the only sacrifice that could take our place and quell death for us... but the heart of it isn't as mechanical as that.

The heart of the resurrection is that it was the result of His love, and the result of the fact that He is worthy of our praise, our love, our hope, and most fundamentally our faith. What Paul said so many centuries ago, I reiterate now: If our hope in Christ does not surpass the bounds of death, we are to be pitied above all men. I admit freely that if there were no resurrection, our faith would be in shambles, and it would all be for nothing.

The truth remains that after the greatest act of love on earth was committed, miracles, voices of change, new and renewed lives, and a sense of community within and without adversity, sprang up, and despite fragmentation through generations, despite hypocrites, despite deviation, despite devastation, throughout history that same core has been carried down, and none of it has stopped... but it's not about the good things that you see being done, nor about the talents being used or who uses them, or any sort of mechanical movement of the God's chosen people: it is about the love that Jesus gave to us, and its about the love and the new life that is awakened and still awakening within us when we come to terms with the acceptance of Jesus.

Back to that story from two posts ago, the story about the friend at that youth conference, back in 2009 -- she saw the truth because she had this hope, this faith in the love of Jesus and the truth of it. It was her identity, and had it not been so, had she not been a friend to me in such a miniscule yet massive way, I probably would not be in the place I am today.

As we returned to the facility used for the conference, everything that was said before and after the break suddenly took on a new context. Now, I knew I was missing the point of faith, and I didn't really know what it was. Sure, I knew the concept like the back of my hand, but I didn't know how to trust. I don't know if my faith saved me before that day, but I do know that I walked away a completely different person with a completely different outlook, because I saw God's love in action, given to me through someone else He loved, to show me He loves me too, and that was enough to show me I didn't have to live in fear, and I've been getting over it ever since. Things haven't become easier, but I've definitely become stronger because now I have something lasting to live for.

The title of this blog, "Our Light Affliction," is a quote from II Corinthians 4:17-18 KJV, Paul's second letter to this same church. I adopted this because it hails back to the first letter, chapter 15. You can click the reference if you want to see, but it simply says that the pain we're dealing with now hides greater joy on the other side of it because the things we see here are fading away, but the things we don't see last forever. Love, hope, faith -- none of these can be tangibly seen, but they can be felt, and these things can be more real than the instruments through which we live them out.

The ultimate fulfillment of our faith is found in heaven, at the resurrection, when those who have given their lives to hope rather than to despair are given the blankest of slates and the freshest of starts, and no longer will anyone have to run from pain, push through adversity. That, my friends, is a hope worth living and dying for. Jesus thought so, and He lived it out.

Our faith in people and in God can go just as equally through the wood chipper because this world has grown so dark... but this world is not our home. I still have so many questions without answers but I don't need them all. I just need Jesus. I don't mean to go church mode, but if you're looking for something, whether or not you know what you're looking for, this Gospel is definitely a good place to start. Try it, and see whether or not it's worth believing.

Even if you do have faith, don't be afraid to get back to the basics every now and again. Remember where you came from, and don't lose heart when your doubts and faith collide. You're just experiencing life in a fallen world. It isn't the end of the world if you don't please every single person who claims to believe what you believe, nor are you a hypocrite for having questions or not having it all together. It's not a free pass to live recklessly, but we're all human, agnosto-Christian or otherwise. Life doesn't end here, so even when your faith goes through a wood chipper, it still comes out as your faith.

This is a letter to people of all faiths, Christian or not. This isn't a religious story but a testimony of what has been done for us all, and how that love sought me and found me. Who am I to stand in His way? I am dust, and I will return to the dust. Jesus, however, is love, and He lasts forever. That, my friends, is worth it. :)

Approval by Michael Nichols

I'm no Josh Groban. Most of my life, I would never have dreamt of singing, playing music, or really doing anything with the liberal arts at all. I hated it. I hated all of it. I was always awkward. Sometimes I speak with a stutter, forget what I'm saying, forget what I'm thinking, forget what I'm doing. My mind can be a very foggy place sometimes. What isn't foggy to me? Formulas. Charts. Numbers. Stats. Scripts. Codes. Systems. I get that. I understand that. I can remember that. I can do that. I can express that. I've always struggled, though, to express me. I never understood why this has been the case, but it has been. When I was younger, it wasn't so much, but fewer things were fighting me at the time. When I entered elementary school, I was bullied. I can't say I haven't seen worse, but it happened nonetheless, and no degree of bullying is okay for anyone to experience. Then bad things started happening at home. I think it was an odd cocktail of the two, combined with my moderately soft-spoken by nature, that laid the foundation for a fortress I built to hide myself for fear of punishment which I didn't then understand I didn't fully deserve, though no one is really good in the end, but loved by a good God. Over time, I built numerous walls facing numerous battlefronts. By the time I reached high school, I had built the perfect defense for my heart (which I didn't understand was really a prison).

Then came my vocal coach. I have been quiet for most of my life, and I still am sometimes, but not all the time anymore, largely due to her. I've had teachers at school try to coerce me into singing solos and doing such things, but it never took until she came. In my tenth grade of high school -- that was 2006-2007 for me -- I was put on a list to audition for one of two male vocal soloist spots in the state competition that was hosted by the association of schools that mine happened to belong. I tried to fight it. I didn't want to do it. I was so freaking scared of getting up in front of people and screwing it all up. I tried to get out of it, but she, who was only the pianist to me at the time but now is my vocal coach and somewhat of a mentor, wouldn't have it. If I remember it right, she had more faith in me than I did, and said at least that it'd be over quickly. Little did I know that despite my quaking voice and choice of the over-sung song "Amazing Grace" by John Newton, I would get the spot. I didn't win at the competition, but that's not the point. The point is that it changed my life. No formula could have helped me to predict these events, nor the change to come.

I was so blindsided by the prospect of public performance that I didn't know what to do with myself. Sure, I'd dabbled with poetry and maybe a little composition, and I could fumble on keys, but to sing in front of an audience who had eyes, ears, and brains and opinions -- well, I felt like I was a hypocrite by donning the stage, picking up a microphone, and screaming my lungs out. I was the quietest soul you'd ever met at that point in my life, but putting myself in that uncomfortable, vulnerable position made me realize something: I LOVE THIS. :) It was a sweet release from all the pain I'd held inside. It had been brewing for fifteen years like a bitter tea, and I wasn't about to continue drinking it, so I gave myself over to music. I was called to it by a force within it, which I believe was the still, small voice of Jesus Christ. In coming to grip with that reality, I realized something -- I wasn't a hypocrite for donning the stage: I was a heretic, a heretic to my despair, ready to spread the heresy of hope.

From then and onward, I was a different person. I had been uprooted from where I was sewn: thorny, rocky soil, where crows came to feast, and planted in good earth by a river (see the parable of the sower; also see Psalm 1). I'm still growing though. I still struggle with sin like even the apostles did, but that's not really what I'm getting at. I changed -- a lot. I didn't know how, but I'm starting to see what's really happening. I let what other people think, what other people do, what other people say, have too much of an influence upon what I think, do, and say. I shouldn't do that. Why should I do that? What benefit is that to me or anyone else? Sure, I could appease the masses, keep quiet, and do nothing, but I have good things to offer. Good has been done to me, and good things have been given to me, which is the only means by which I have to do good to others, for others, and to give good things to them. Sure, I want other people to have as accurate perception of me as possible, but if they don't, and if I can't convince them after doing all I can, why should I let it change me and how I behave? Why should I live any differently toward myself, my Lord, or to them? Why should my level of love fluctuate to any degree? Why should I give up things that give me life and fire to satisfy the itching ears of the masses?

I'm no Josh Groban. I could list people who I know beyond the shadow of a doubt believe I shouldn't be involved in music. I also know a lot of people who support me in my pursuit of music. I'm thankful for both crowds for having opinions, and thankful that I know to which to listen, thankful that I know which one has the power to stop me (neither), and thankful that my acceptance has nothing to do with either of them, but this is not the point. My approval in all things comes through grace from the Son of God. May nothing else in my heart prosper.

I'm wasting an entire post to say this one thing in summation: not one single person in the whole of reality should be given the authority to stop the purest, truest love of another, and no person should be convinced to love himself so little (or so much) as to give that authority to anyone but the Lord Jesus Christ, because if all the history and prophecy about Him is true (the eternal origin, the miraculous birth, the loving life, the sacrificial death, the inevitable resurrection, the given forgiveness, the impending return, and the eternal peace), then He is the one person in the whole of reality that we can trust with that authority because He is the only one who will never abuse that authority, and the only one who truly will ever accept us, and if He asks for us to step out of our comfort zone, step out on a limb, walk on water, let me inform you: He will not let you drown.

Coping Versus Fighting by Michael Nichols

The next time you're at your favorite restaurant - as a matter of fact, you could try this at home, too, but it would be way more meticulous and time-consuming - count the number of choices on your menu. Matter of fact, go to a vending machine, or even think of half, just one half, of the recipes that you know you can make from memory, then go to your pantry to check how many of the ingredients you have on hand. Odds are that whatever number you count is greater than most.

This is not a guilt trip about helping people less fortunate than ourselves or a rant about how God is bad because He doesn't magically fix every problem we create, but simply a dose of perspective that I came across a short time ago. I've always tried to wrap my head around the concept of reason. I've thought and thought. I've come to various conclusions. Some of these conclusions have been correct while others have been excuses. This, however, made more sense, and it both sobered and humbled me. It was both unwelcome at first, yet welcome when my attitude began to change for the better of all of us.

When Jesus died for our sins, it wasn't just a momentary thing. It stood for anything at any time. It was predicted since the beginning of time and has been referenced without cessation since the occurrence. It could never have been stopped, and it can never be revoked. It was the creation of salvation. It was planned before our dust was molded into flesh to last beyond the point that it returns to its original form.

Still, I've asked myself why He would do that. But then why would I do that? If I were the creator of the world, I would have known that things were going to go dark. I would have known that my own creation would rebel against me. I would have known that my creation would eventually grow to hate me enough to crucify me. How would I deal with that?

I'd take it.

But why?

They will hate me!

They will hate me more when I show them love that they've never received!

They will hate that they were forced all their lives by people they didn't even know to live in ways they never should have by people who were hungry for power!

They will crucify me!

If it were me, the writer of this blog, faced with all of these thoughts... realistically, I would probably not do it, because I knew that I couldn't.

But He knew that He could.

He knew that He could take it.

He knew that He had a choice when no one else did, when others were born into a world of pain, violence, loneliness, and hunger, to give them a second chance, and to give men a choice to give the same to the world, to give the corrupt a chance to change.

We here have so many freedoms. We have so many luxuries, choices, beautiful things that we both need and want, and we have grown to the point where we think we always need what we want, which is a corrupt thought. I have seen and lived in houses that are filled with the excess of things and expired food, but what if we could do something better with our wants, our needs, and our time?

Do not think incorrectly. I am no supported of forced socialism, or really socialism of any kind. Love CANNOT be enforced, but love MUST be protected.

What if every living being were to rise up against the forces that keep the world gasping for breath, screaming out in silence for a bite of food and for a roof over their head? What if the rebellion was not against the one who made us but against they who wish to unmake us? Sure, we could go on blaming God for making evil people, but people choose whether or not to do evil, and we usually choose to live on in spite of them, whether we live by coping with those around us or by fighting for change within and without. If you're reading this, you've already proven that you have chosen to live on, that you see no value in the dissolution of your life. Good. So now what?

What happens when the people world gets so sick and tired of coping with each other that they finally start the war? We've already seen attacks on American soil. Nobody ever saw that coming, but it happened. The world trade center, the pentagon, the Boston bombings, toxic packages, impending economic collapse, and the slow dissolution of basic human rights - what's next? Just when we think it's over and things can't get much worse, they do. As a matter of fact, they are already worse, just not in my immediate vicinity. Comparatively speaking, I have things pretty good. I record music in my spare time, attend college, have a roof over my head, am not an orphan, am not starving... but I'm just one person among billions across the world. There are people better off than I and many, many more worse off. Am I in control of that? No. The citizens of the world have been oppressed for centuries, and it hasn't stopped, merely changed shape, refined itself, disguised itself, but not out there, not in the raw parts of the world. People know well the feeling of oppression.

I have this friend who is massively anti-slavery, not to say I'm not, but this person is in active pursuit of justice to the best of his/her ability. Hearing so much about what was happening in the rest of the world, I began wondering: what can I do? I'm just one person. Sure, I can raise awareness, tell people about what's happening, donate to people who are actually doing something about it in a direct way... but what about ME? What can I do? Slavery comes in different shapes and sizes. We may not experience slavery under a whip yet in this nation, but we have ridiculous social standards and an unprecedentedly low standard of morality (if any at all) as a whole. Matter of fact, the worst kind of slavery is slavery to sin. I'm guilty of many different things I'd rather not discuss in public forum, but rest assured that it's true. The only way that I can stop anything, the only way I have ever stopped anything, firstly is through the power of Christ's forgiveness (which will be my next blog), and secondly is by fighting because I know I can. How is any other slavery any different? How is any other fight different? That's the thing. It's not.

There is no time for coping. If you have the strength to fight, fight. Call upon the one who has the strength you need. He will not withhold it. There are people suffering around the world who have no choice but to cope. You, however, are not them. You are here, and you are reading this, which means you have the choice to either stop reading or keep reading, take it to heart or don't. You're fighting that much. If you want your life to change, then change your life. If only for the ones who have no choice regarding their circumstances, change yours. Do it for them. Do it so that one day maybe you can reach them. You have been blessed beyond measure, and now is the time to fight and not delay and not shrink back. If Jesus didn't come to save us, no one else would have. If we don't fight oppression now, no one else will. This is the Gospel. This is the truest form of religion. We can all do better, so let it be today. Let it be here. Let it be now. Let it be within and without.

May the Lord haste the dawn.