life

For the Love of Blog: The Graduate by Michael Nichols

It's been a while, readers! Let's catch up! Pour yourself a cappuccino, kick back, relax, and let's do this thing.

The past several months have been fairly crazy for me. I've been finishing up my last few classes for my Associate of Arts degree, playing gigs, recording and producing the band I'm currently with, and sleeping given the opportunity. Now, a part of that is over. I finished the classes, and I'm wrapping up the recording project, hoping to have everything mastered by the end of August and ready to roll not long after.

Being caught up in all these things has left me in a strange state. This moment in my life is very much a transition. The state of my job is changing, which is leading to the slow change of my level of independence and complete engagement in my career and what I believe to be the ministry God has called me to. I've got to pursue that now, and not delay. I might not always have the chance to be a conduit for the gospel of Christ through music, but I will always have my ability to teach math and apply it in whatever field I choose -- I will always have that, but I may not always have an opportunity to reach people for the Lord.

What part does this blog play in that? At this point, I'm not 100% sure, but I'm going to start again soon.

On a similar note, I've decided to rekindle my flame for fiction. Yes. Believe it or not, I used to love to write fiction. For a while, I've had this Idea in the back of my mind, but I think now is the time to implement it. The idea is to create a new blog site for use as a fictitious record, a chronicle or journal as it were, of a Christian observing the end of days as the tribulation unfolds. Most people I've encountered believe that Christians won't endure the tribulation, but after reading a passage in Revelation 6, my thinking changed:

"9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also."

This radically changed my interpretation of eschatology throughout the Bible. What makes us so special, that we will be exempt from the tribulation? Furthermore, how can the battle at Armageddon occur if there isn't another side? There are numerous contrasts throughout Revelation where a line is distinctly drawn between believers and nonbelievers (for example, between those with and those without the mark of the beast), proving that we too will be part of the tribulation, though we may not experience the same things.

When I first read the above passage I realized what it said: we who follow Christ will become aliens, illegal to the world. How would we take it if this alienation happened now? What if there were no more cathedrals? What if the presses on which Bible are printed were burned? What would we do? The fiction that I intend to begin will seek to answer questions like that. When everything we thought we knew about our world and though we had in our possession falls apart, then what?

Want to know more? Follow the link at the bottom of this post! I have not uploaded anything yet as it is a work in progress, but when I do, if you go ahead and follow the page, rest assure that you will get the latest news! Thanks, as always, readers! God bless! :)

http://undertherevolution.wordpress.com/

Bring Out Your Dead by Michael Nichols

One of the most difficult things anyone can do before they die is admit they were wrong about things. We all do it, right? You make a math error in class or in your checkbook, or you misread a bill and pay it late. You're repairing a car part and misplace a screw. Anything. Small or big.

I've had this dream of playing music before audiences, releasing CDs, writing, opening a label or recording studio, designing music tech, teaching music -- music stuff. My greatest passion out of these things is to sing and write as the front man of my own band, playing alternative rock gospel music (gospel being applicable to the lyrics and not the southern genre). I've done that. I'm no celebrity, obviously, but I've achieved some of these goals with my band. Unfortunately, however, we recently agreed that it was time to disband.

We started strong, then life happened. We got jobs, we faced issues. It became difficult to remain coherent... yet that was never the issue because we somehow always knew how to find a way. Through it all, we've always managed to play shows and even released an EP. Mechanically, everything seemed fine, dandy. The more I've thought about it, though, and contemplated my walk with Jesus, I've realized that even if the band isn't the problem, and even if our circumstances are making it difficult for us to do what we love, and even if I've got my motives straight, I've realized that I need to give it up because God still has things for me to do and learn first.

The "dead" I'm bringing out is not just my band but the soul that carried it. In 2009, I was awakening, and as I took in the day, I shouted about the night to say that I had come out of it and that one day we will all be going into a greater one. I was one of those young believers who was ready to go all-in, and in ways, that's what I did. Don't misunderstand -- I'm not tooting my own horn in any way. I was also inexperienced and naive. I was willing, and I was ready to run headlong into whatever I needed to do, or so it seemed; but in reality, I was ill prepared, and the next five years of my life were spent learning that. I learned how much I was willing to compromise, how unstable, how raw, how inexperienced, and how hollow my devotion was to anyone let alone God.

I had no idea how much growing up I had to do, how much I had to go through to do it, and what God had in store for me after all of that; and honestly, I'm not sure that He's even done. Sure, in a way, He'll never be done, but I feel like I'm just now wading into deep water. Again, don't misunderstand -- there was a point in my life where I was drowning in its depths, but this time is different because I'm learning to swim, and being taught that only He can make me walk on water.

I've said a million times to Him, "If you want me to give up music, I will," but the more I think about it, the more I realize that it was just my lips talking. Music is my solace, my release, my offering, my way of not feeling alone, and my way of making sure no one else ever does. That having been said, if I had to give that up to somehow reach someone, would I really? Not too long ago, I'd have said, "Yes," but I'd really have meant, "No," and that has helped me uncover the reasons behind a fact that has disturbed me for a long time: I find it very difficult to worship. It's not that I can't, but it often times takes so much effort. I've wondered why. Again, the past five years have taught me that I haven't had my priorities straight. I've had my sights set on things that can't satisfy me or save me like He can.

Even though I want to serve God, and I want Him to be in total control, if I'm being honest, I really haven't done the best job relinquishing that to Him. In effect, He has allowed me to go through things so that I can genuinely see the state I'm in, and by seeing that state, I can finally truly let Him have His way with me and let go of this arrogant chasing after things that fade. For me, that means musical success, romance, social prowess, and more (not to say these things are evil, but my lust for them tainted me). This arrogance is the ingrowing of oneself: selfishness, empty ambitions. By growing inward too much and not growing up to soak up God's light, eventually, our souls start to in-grow and die.

You can only spend so much time in a box before you start to grow into yourself, just like that. There must be a Sabbath, a season of rest. The music must stop for a second for you to truly bask in the glory of the Lord and remember why you're even allowed to do what you love to do. When you step out into that light, you have to be honest about what things in your life you've let die -- that's the only way they can be brought to life again, maybe even with a new name and a new face.

Bring out your dead. Bring out your dead. I bring me.

Semester Four by Michael Nichols

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Today, I think about how much of a procrastinator I am, and how quickly I either blame others, beat myself up, or become frustrated, or shut down when I fail at something, do something crooked, harbor hate, or anything else. Yes, I know that I'm taking one idea, the idea of simply putting off homework assignments, and taking it waaay out of context into something much deeper and darker than that, but that's the way my twisted mind works. I see darkness, and I think about other darkness. Thing is, I recently procrastinated to the point of being perfectly unable to do this assignment, and now it's sinking in, how great of a disadvantage I've given myself, and that is a lazy part of me, a part of my darkness. It's this sense of, "Wow, I seriously just did that!" which give me a reason to take this post the way I'm going to take it.

Whether someone pulls it out of you or you just sort of end up working it out either intentionally or by the way of something else, there is always something dark inside, that worst part of us that we forgot was really there, because we don't believe in monsters under the bed, and that's our problem. After all this time, I'm still trying to piece so much together from so many things I've dealt with. Now, I don't care how it happened or what spirit brought it about. Now, all I need to know is how it affected me and if I'm a whole person beneath the tangled threads.

It has been roughly three years since I left home, just over one since I returned. If you knew me back then, you'd know I was a dark person, devoid of any sense of joy or pride or anything worth living for so I thought. Some of you also probably know the reason I left, and others still know what my last two years of high school were like. The rest of you... well, I'm frankly not ready to talk about it yet, but the day will come.

The important thing for you to understand is that I didn't want to return. Beginning from the end of my junior year of high school, I was ready to burn every bridge connecting to the deserted isle upon which I lived, regardless of the repercussions because at that point, I had learned that nobody could be trusted, especially the ones you needed the most. No, everything I thought I'd know and I thought I could rely upon simply wasn't real, and I could stomach no more. All I could think was, "Get out, get out, and get out now!" That is to say, of my social circle, my school, my house.

Through an undeniably providential chain of events, I found people who cared, who always asked questions, who always backed me up, and were always around to catch me rather than to condemn me for any failure of mine, any shortcoming, any weakness. I started growing, like I was built by God to do, and would have been doing if anyone had the faintest clue as to who I was and who I am, and yes,only began to grow when I wasn't trying to be forced into the cookie-cutter of buyable Christianity (as opposed to the Gospel of grace.) When I started growing, I started seeing light! LIGHT! That's right, the thing that makes us see anything at all.

At the same time, I started seeing darkness for what it really was, and the more I grew to be able to see the lighter side of life and the good things therein, the more easily I and deeply I could see darkness, the hurt and the evils that bury the world. But that didn't make me want to grow. It certainly did not. It made me want to run, so I did.

I'm not just talking about from home or from a social circle. I mean everything. I was planning to attend college to be a music teacher, but I didn't. I thought by now I'd be out of school, maybe even married, with a decent job that paid decent money so I could have a decent life, not that I was really looking for a decent life, but rather a fulfilling life. I stayed out of school for two and a half years, working a dead end job and living a dead end life. Whereas I had once devoted myself on Scriptural knowledge and vigilance, I stopped reading, stopped praying, stopped praising. And the worst part? (As if it could have gotten worse for me,) it wasn't all at once.

Subsequently, I gave in to various alternate ways of keeping my sanity, which I'm also not willing to talk about yet. Did I forsake believing in Jesus? By no means! But when your mind and your heart have been maliciously cut over and over and over from day one, along with the occasional upheaval, all of which left marks, something eventually had to stop, so I ran because I felt small, because I had been betrayed over and over, and because I just wanted to stay alive and feel like I should...

The funny thing is that today is Suicide Prevention Day (and I wasn't taking that into account when I began writing this), when we remember that there are people in this world who don't feel like they should stick around, and there have been many times I've been in that place, where I honestly though I could just slip out without so much as a flinch from anyone in the room. Now, I realize that I've gone through every bit of this for a reason (that I was also completely wrong), and I understand where this mass upheaval started. I remember it like yesterday, the day I had my heart ripped from my chest, when I'd been betrayed worse than ever before at that time. It was like my heart had been ripped from my chest to bear every ugly, untamed, unholy part of me, and though I once blamed the ripper solely, I know now that even though they were in the wrong, those things were already inside of me, waiting to be ripped out, to breathe and live.

At this point in my life, I realize this:

  • I haven't measured up to the perfection that some people refuse to concede is impossible of mere mortals because, no, we are not gods.
  • I haven't been willing to compromise some things that I believe that other people feel are simply psychotic, but it's my faith journey, and no, they are not gods, nor could they be because they do not love like only He can.
  • I haven't accomplished everything I know beyond the shadow of a doubt I can do and was made by the Lord God of Heaven and Earth to do because no, I am not a god.
  • I haven't loved as well as I know I could and know that I should because I have had the ulterior motives of pleasing myself and pleasing a world that is not god, and that reflects upon my understanding of and my relationship with God.
  • I haven't had the faith in myself that others have shown to me, and that reflects upon my faith in them and in the God that made us all.

... And all of this gives me the ability to say this: I'm am over people because I know I'm just as screwed up as the next guy, but I'm not going to give up because of the simple indisputable fact that God doesn't screw people up.

Not even me.