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Love And Fear: Campaign Update 1 by Michael Nichols

Hey guys! Thanks to all of you so far who have supported our campaign to fund our new record "Love And Fear." We had a pretty strong day out of the gate. I was surprised in the best of ways. While we still have just under 2 months left to go, we've already started seeing that momentum slip a bit, and that time is going to fly by, so we reeeally need your help to get that momentum back! Here are some things you can do!

1: Pray! Pray, pray, pray! Nothing is impossible for our God. His will be done. If we get funded, He is good. If not, He is good.

2: If you are led to contribute financially by preordering the record, go for it! We're not asking for you to do anything you can't do, so if you can't, we completely understand. It will mean the world if you can, and it'll be a huge stepping stone for this project. You'll be supporting local music that may move on to bigger things, but we have to start somewhere, right? :)

3: Spread the word! Social media is an amazing platform for communicating with people all over the world, something that has changed the way all of us do things. If you could share the campaign link and/or any updates we send out, that would really help. Even if you can't contribute financially, you'll be helping to get our music out there and maybe even find people who *can* contribute financially. Also, a great way to spread the word is to tell people at your church, organization, or venue. We'd love to come tell you more about what God has been doing with this record!

I can't tell you how grateful we are for the support so far. Let's do this! :)

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/love-and-fear-the-album/x/9877524#/

The Irony of Sad Songs by Michael Nichols

For those of you who don't know, I'm making a record in 2016. I'm really excited. I've spent the past two months recording some basic demos for 14+ songs while I wait for responses from potential session musicians and make plans for the crowdfunding campaign. Since my vocal coach got a hold of me in the beginning, what was once just a passive and casual outlet that was little more than a mimicry of my favorite bands at the time has become something much more.

I've been on one of the longest journeys of my life since the middle of 2009 when my walk with Christ really got underway. But things got especially bad in the beginning of 2011. A lot of the song that are on this record were either written about that time, during that time, or because of that time.

One song in particular has been difficult to write, but was one of the first ones I wrote after probably the most significant event, the one that started the 2011-present time period. I'm not just talking about the song was mechanically hard to write. I'm saying it took everything out of me. I poured out more pain into that song than I've ever poured into any other song.

It's called "Closure (If You're Hearing This)." The whole premise of the song is that after a falling-out, it's really easy to just leave things unsaid in the same place that we leave the people who've hurt us... Okay,  should say that the whole emotional premise of it is that. But the story is bigger.


I believe that we will all stand judged before the Lord one day, and that everything that is hidden will be revealed. So, say that I left things unsaid. If I did, eventually, that truth will be revealed, no matter how hard I tried to hide it. Things left unsaid will be said. That is just when it's the Lord doing it.

It starts out very sober. Single piano hits that hold for a measure at a slow tempo. Lyrics that are very objective, factual, stating the likelihood that she would never hear these words until we were both dead and in God's hands. The "chorus" sees a change in the chord progression, still with the same single hits, same tension, but now posing a question: "Was I wrong to react the way I did? Was I capable of more hate for those who hurt me than I'd previously believed?"

Then the mood changes. The undercurrent of legato cellos, the pulsating beat of the piano, gently, yet tensely. I say how enamored I was to begin with, and how devastated I was at the fact that I was abandoned because of my feelings for her. As the second chorus begins, I solidify with certainty that my pushing her away was the only way to protect what was left of my sanity and self-esteem.

But as the bridge begins, the piano notes ascend, a slower pulse with more suspense, acknowledging that my distress, turned to hate, had turned me into something I never wanted to be. Made to feel despised, I despised everything.

As the bridge begins to build, I exclaim that I felt helpless, without an alternative. I never wanted to push her away or let her go, and that if doing so hurt her, I was sorry, without regard to my own personal feelings.

The ending is a sober plea for things to return to the way they were. The tension lessens, and the tempo slows at the very end. The music itself ends with a bit of optimism, a lot of longing, and no resolution.


 

I began the song in late 2011-early 2012. Even if the story behind the song had not seen two friends reconciled, I'd still have kept the song. I was allowed to feel that pain in order for God's strength to show through an inherently weak man.

As I've begun wrapping up the orchestration to this song, the pain hasn't fully subsided. Memories fade, but never completely. Even healed scars are still visible.

I've found a sweet solace, though.

Sometimes, it's good to think about the past and feel the pain of it so we can remember why it stayed there.

Imagine what it would be like to bury someone alive, who couldn't die. A scene from Heroes comes to mind, in which Hiro Nakamura digs up the grave of Adam Monroe, a man whose superhuman ability to regenerate allowed him to revive on his own upon exhumation. That's what happens when we bury our experiences. It's not really a memory that we've buried: it's us. You can't bury a memory without burying the pieces of your heart that bear its weight.

I think that's what makes sad songs so sweet, ironically. They allow us to open up the ground above us and let in new air, allow the healing of the soul to begin. The tension, the suspense, the animosity, resonates with the parts of us that feel the same way.

But it's not that we listen to songs about pain in order to perpetuate it. It's like magnetism. We use magnets in compasses to tell which direction we're going, because the earth is also magnetic. How else can you find people who are in pain? How can you expect to reach people who are in darkness, yet refuse to acknowledge darkness, refuse to bring light into the dark? It won't just magically show up. They won't simply wander out of pitch black.

Just north of here is Mammoth Cave. On several of the tours, once you're deep enough in, all of the lights that have been installed in the cave are turned out for a moment so that tourists can experience what it might have been like for the original explorers to wander the depths with only a torch. For a brief moment, before a tour guide's flashlight comes on, you experience total blackness. Nothing. No point of reference. No way out.

It's terrifying.

It's even more terrifying that you get used to the dark, so much so that you have to adjust to the light.

It's comforting to hear voices calling out to you, telling you that you're not the only one down here.

It's electrifying to see dim rays of light bouncing around the corner.

It's overwhelming to see a map in the hands of your rescuers.

Songs like "Hymn For The Missing" and "Pieces" by Red, "It's No Secret" and "I Found My Way Back Again" by Nevertheless, "Wrapped in Your Arms" and "All I Need To Be" by Fireflight, "Breaking You" and "Run Forward" by Audrey Assad, and many, many others... they've saved me more times than I can count. Most of my own sad songs, including "Closure," have been the most therapeutic to write. It's one of the reasons I'm so excited to share them with you in 2016.

If you're like me, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about. It's okay. If you know the darkness, it's okay. But there is a way out. We're calling out to you. Jesus is calling out to you. He knows. My God, He knows darkness. Let Him come find you. Call back to Him.

New Frontiers In 2016 by Michael Nichols

Hey, everyone! So, I've spent the past few months planning, praying, etc. And I've come to a decision. Beginning early 2016, I'm going to launch a crowdfunding campaign to begin recording an album that I'm hoping will be a defining move in my music career. If you've known me for any decent amount of time, you'll know that all I care about is giving back that which was given to me in 2007, when I first became serious about professional music, and when it began to have serious personal impact on me. I think God both made me for this and called me to it. All I can do is respond to that in the way that I best know how. So save this. Bookmark it. Find me on the interwebs. And pay attention, because I'm gonna start putting things together ASAP. Thanks for all of your support, and I'll be seeing you very soon.

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/

Update: The Regular and the Random by Michael Nichols

Over the past couple of weeks, I've published a few issues of "Entering Rest" and "Renewed Life" as a part of a refreshed, more regular version of this site. It's been an interesting experience, stretching the limits of my mind. Just having my feet in the water has been a needed and welcome part of becoming a better writer/thinker/person.

That having been said, I've put my normal posts on hold while I get used to this new found routine. I've been drafting like mad, but just haven't been publishing them. The simple reason is that I'm not sure how that fits into this new regularity -- whether I should give my other articles the same treatment or just let them flow as they form, like I've always done.

So, here's what I'm going to do about that. Almost like a "season" for a TV show, I'm going to post 10-11 articles, cap it off with an issue of "Change and Constancy," then break for a few weeks and start again. That way, you get the regularity without the rigidity. I plan to resume with the first issue of "Unhindered" next week.

Boom. There you have it. Thanks for reading, guys. I'll see you soon. :)