For the Love of Blog: Being Ready by Michael Nichols

Preparedness is a difficult thing for me. I'm distractible, which leads to the disorganization of things that need to have been organized prior to a given moment. At the same time, because I don't rigidly organize my world, I have much freedom to move with the current of life. That having been said, am I a fish in the current, or am I the riverbed finding itself daily eroded?

I've always wanted to be on top of things when it comes to this blog. I want to be free to move with the current, but then I also want to know that the current I'm surrendering to is taking me somewhere good. I don't want to be at the mercy of my environment, which can be merciless, interestingly enough. I don't like to half-do things, but because of my tendency toward minimal rigidity, I find myself doing exactly what I don't want to do. (This must be how Paul felt while writing Romans 7.) Unfortunately, that affects my blogging by making my posting frequency inconsistent despite a mile-high stack of drafts.

I recently discovered this magical little feature called "scheduled posting." Now that I know about this, I don't really have an excuse. I can keep writing drafts, but when I finish them, I can schedule them to publish as far in advance as I decide. I don't have to worry about setting deadlines for myself if I just set things up ahead of schedule, then stick to that schedule. I can take writing breaks when I need to take them without worrying about falling too far behind the flow. What that means for you, reader, is that I'm going to be working behind the scenes, planning ahead, and though you might not see much out of this blog for the next few weeks, when you finally start seeing me post again, expect much.

It's not just the blog that frustrates me, though. Unfortunately, this chaos tends to invade many area of my life--yes, my bedroom is a total mess--but by knowing ahead of time what should be happening, maybe this chaos will be brought into check. This cannot happen without God's help, though. Ultimately, the fact that I don't plan ahead, which leads to unpreparedness, tells me that I don't trust God to help me if those plans fail. After all, how can I be disappointed by failed plans if I don't make them? But then how can I truly say I trust God unless I step out on that limb? I don't know the future. For all I know, I could lose everything and it not even be because of anything I've done... but why should I do nothing? Why not take risks? Why not make investments? Why not build relationships? Why not ask for God to build His kingdom in me?

If I don't make myself ready for things to come, when they come, they will either pass me by or knock me down. It's time to brace myself. It's a big future in a big world with a big God.

Nominated by Michael Nichols

Last week, I was blindsided (in a good way) by a fellow WordPresser/Jesus freak by nominating me for a "Field of Flowers Award." I had no idea something like this existed, let alone that I'd receive a nomination, so naturally I was shocked and radically humbled by the nomination. No, I don't get something to put in a case or on my wall, but the fact that something I've written has had an impact on a single person is in my opinion nothing short of an act of God--I do not say this in vain. I never would have imagined that I'd be writing, let alone having an impact for the only one who really has the deepest impact in the end: Jesus Christ.

So I just want to say thanks to you who made the nomination--yes, I'm totally about to turn it back on you!--and thank you to ALL of you who have read articles here at Our Light Affliction.

This nomination was not without stipulations, however. Don't worry. I don't have to sacrifice a limb or my firstborn. Here in just a second, you're going to see those stipulations; but first, I'm going to make my own nominations! I've have doubtlessly been impacted by the other writers on this site, and I want to give you my seven picks (in no particular order). First, the rules, if you've been nominated:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you;
  • Place the award on your own blog;
  • Nominate 7 other bloggers and write a little something about why you would give these bloggers “A Field of Flowers”;
  • Let your nominees know that you nominated them.

Now, for my nominations. Brace yourselves.

  1. Limbiley's Blog. I majorly appreciate this guy's openness about his own struggles and willingness to express how he feels about injustice within the body of Christ while balancing that with an obvious desire to live the love of Christ in all sincerity.
  2. confessionsofableedingheart. Poems, poems, poems! As a lyricist, I love her style. As a believer, I love her passion and her willingness to show darkness with all intent to kill it with light.
  3. Karina's Thought. I think she was my first international subscriber, which in and of itself means a ton to me personally. More than that, I appreciate her passion for personal growth and the obvious increase of the magnitude of her faith in height and depth, melded with a desire to see the same happen for others.
  4. The Recovering Legalist. Just click the link and go to his "About" section. I feel like a chord has been struck here. I still struggle to relinquish Heaven to the Lord, along with the working out of my salvation and the perfecting of my faith. Modern Christianity seems to be at one of two extremes: either salvation happens in a moment and the rest doesn't matter, or it's all up to us to earn Heaven. But that isn't the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He preach spirit and truth, word and deed. We can't earn salvation, but then it doesn't just stop at the altar. It changes your life, hence the word "salvation." This guys encapsulates that Idea so well.
  5. From the Inside Out. Oh my gosh. Wow. If anyone is willing to challenge the intricacies of her own thoughts and, transitively, those of her readers, it's her. Nancy Ruegg. Go there now, please.
  6. The River Walk. Now, besides the fact that here in my city, we have a very serene place called River Walk Park (crossing the Barren River), and notwithstanding that I feel like I can super-connect with Jesus and be calm there and okay with being by myself, and forgetting that this author has done a much better job using the Fontfolio template than I when I tried it... Besides all of that, I feel like this is one of the best-executed, most personally engaging magazines I've ever read. He does a really good job at relating scripture, dismantling common church misconceptions from within, and... Just go there and be filled!
  7. Amanda Christine. Last, but most certainly not least, we have the author who nominated me/my site to begin with. Her words are straightforward. Her points are straightforward. Her passion is straightforward. She loves Jesus. Period. She is clearly unafraid to take stands and live her faith loud. I'm seriously impressed, and I've been challenged in many ways by God's word alive and moving in her.

Now, it's your turn. Spread the word. Nominate someone. Let someone know you've been touched. It could change their life. Peace.

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.