Friday, March 31, 2006

Dual Citizenship

For most of my life I have believed (and by 'believed' I mean more than simply 'gave mental assent to' -- I mean 'based my life's actions on') the purpose of following Jesus was to make me a better person so I could help those around me and, in the end after I die, assure me an eternity of spending time with Him.

That sounded simple enough to me at the time. Now I'm not so sure that is the whole enchilada; that is to say: I think there is more enchilada out there. Recently, I had something of an epiphany (and hey, who wouldn't like more enchilada?!).

=-=-=-=-= FOUNDATION =-=-=-=-=

I'll get to the epiphany in a second, but first I need to give some basic information about how I see life so you'll understand why this epiphany was so startling to me. Feel free to skip ahead if this foundational stuff is not news to you.

There are two of me. Well, not really two of me, per se -- I mean, I'm not suffering from multiple personalities or anything like that. I'm simply experiencing what (IMHO) we all feel from time to time. It is like having two passports, each allowing me access into a different world.

At first glance these two places seem to be related; seem to have something in common -- I suppose that seeming similarity is because they are both inside me. But the Bible and my own intuition and experience watching my life unfold around me say I have two natures within me, and they are at war. One "side" of me is set on making the universe revolve around me and become everything I want it to be in my grand design. The other side is set on allowing God, through His Spirit, to make me everything the universe needs me to be, in His Grand Design.

As I understand it, the Bible explains it this way (sorry, I'm gonna get very linear here, since it helps me imagine I'm actually getting my mind around these concepts):

  • there are two entities, and we can call them

    1. "the flesh" or "the old/sin nature"

    2. and

    3. "the spirit" or "the new/life nature"

  • we all have both, and

    1. because of Adam and Eve's blow-it ("original sin") when I was born into the human race as a baby:

      • my "life nature" was there, (but it was still-born)


      • my "sin nature" was running things.


    2. when I started following Jesus,

      • the "life nature" came alive (I was "born again") so that

        • I can be with God forever after I die, but
        • also have a better life here and now


      • the "sin/old nature" in me received the death penalty, but

        • is still trying to control me whenever it can even though
        • one day it will be killed and gone.

=-=-=-=-= EPIPHANY =-=-=-=-=

OK -- now that we're on the same page re: how I see life, here is my epiphany: I live a lot of my life trying to make the "old me" into a better "old me" instead of letting the "old me" die and just living as the "new me"!

It is sort of like standing there with the Gold medal around my neck wondering "Dang! When I am going to start getting any better at running the 100m???"

I've come to the realization God doesn't want to make the "old me" a better person. He already took care of that by making a "new me". But the "new me" is really the originally-intended me. I don't think God wants to make "old me" better -- I think what He is really doing is helping me become the person He already made me to be.

How silly, then, to try and make myself a better person. What I need to give my time and energies to, instead, is allowing Him to breathe life into the new person. I think it is a subtle difference and I'm still having trouble getting a handle on it in my heart and brain.

Here's where I'm at right now. I'm living in Romans 7:14-24.

For those who don't know the reference, or were confused by the twists and turns of those verses, I'll make it easy for you: If I honestly look at various aspects of my life, I find two things to be true which tell me the "old" me is winning:
  • There are unhealthy things I wish I would stop doing, but don't seem to be able to stop.
  • There are healthy things I want to do, but can never seem to get around to doing.
This frustrates me so much!!!!

But according to Rom 7:25 there is a way out, and this is a second epiphany, sort of. "...through Jesus Christ" is what it says, but that has always been sort of cryptic to me. I mean, I'm already following Him, but I find myself in this predicament, so what is new that will help me here?

Well, I woke up today with a bunch of bible verses swimming around in my head. Verse after verse after verse just kept coming to the surface of my brain as I woke up. I think it was God waking me up (literally and figuratively). At first the verses didn't seem to have any connection, but then I started to see the pattern. I didn't know the references at first -- had to go looking them up -- but here they are as links:

Galatians 6:7-9

John 15:5; 16

John 14:15; 21

Romans 8:5-6

Galatians 5:16-17

There may have been some others, but I think that is the bulk of them. I think they all have something in common re: how I have always seen them -- how I've always seen myself in and through them -- they all tell me what a lame "old me" I am.

For example the verse when Jesus says: "If you love Me, you'll obey My commands" -- I know for certain I don't obey His commands a lot of the time, so I guess I must not love Him.

Or "those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh" -- it is obvious to me that my mind is often on unhealthy non-spiritual things, so I by my very nature -- everything that is "me" must be "according to the flesh"

The message I hear in all this is I ought to try harder to be a better person. Not to earn God's love, per se -- but because He deserves it from me and I want it for myself.

But I think the voice telling me that stuff is lying to me.

What God woke me up to today is in all these verses and others, it is the "old me" that doesn't love Jesus; that isn't thinking good stuff; that is trying too hard to become a better person -- and is doomed to stay a "bad" person!


whew. this is cathartic!

And now that I've yelled the above, I can say this: I see new cause-and-effect at work in these verses.

If I want to begin obeying Jesus' instructions, then the key is learning to love Him more. The "new me" LOVES to do that, and Jesus LOVES to help me with that!!!

If I want to avoid "satisfying my flesh" in unhealthy ways, then "sowing to the Spirit" will help me there. The "new me" LOVES to do that stuff, and Jesus LOVES to help me do that stuff!

I guess if I want to really tear up the old/bad passport, the way to do it is not by going into that country and looking for the embassy there. That building was closed and locked along time ago. Why waste energy focusing on trying to tear up that old/bad passport!!??!?!?!?!! All that does is make it tougher to tear, and tire me out. Plus, along the way I get lost in that other land and get really really homesick.

The paths into that land are very familiar though, and easy to follow. But the more I walk there the muddier it gets and I hate that. I hate feeling stuck. I don't want to live there anymore. Plus, I'm pretty sure the old passport is due to expire some day anyway.
Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you
~ James (4:7b-8a)
I'm finding the best way to "flee" the devil, apparently, is not by going into his land and then running around in circles trying to get away from him! The best way to flee the devil is by going more and more into God's land to hang out with Him there. Apparently, if I want to really tear up one passport and "not go there" anymore, the best way to do that is to actually use the good passport and spend as much time as possible living in the good place.

The paths into this new land are not as easy for me to get onto sometimes. I'm not as used to them. But I'm getting there. The more I do walk in that land, the easier my footing becomes. Far from being muddy and difficult to walk on, the roads here are nicely paved and actually lead me places I (the real me -- the "new me") enjoy being.

Paths and activities which I used to avoid in the old land, since they seemed like such boring, difficult, unfulfilling chores (like reading my bible, praying, thinking about spiritual things) can now be fun and useful adventures in the new land! I know that sounds like some corny childish vacation-bible-school slogan, but I'm finding it to be true for me. I really dig this place! And I really dig being "me"!

Have I mentioned to you how much I actually like my new passport photo?

~ cob

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

grief from afar

this morning i was scanning blogs and when i hit jason clark's blog and read about mark palmer's death, i was stunned.

i never met mark personally, but felt as if i knew him from a book i read called the journey towards relevance by kary oberbrunner. from what i read there, i know mark was a person deeply connected with those around him in life. i admired him for that and through many tears i asked jesus to make me more like himself -- and more like mark.

as someone who has wrestled most of my life with feeling disconnected and alone, it is oddly comforting to me: the end of this earthly journey -- the passing between the stones -- for someone i've never met could hit me so deeply.

maybe I'm finally connecting.

~ cob

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Amazing Picture!!!!!!!

This takes a little time, but is totally worth it.

You know those old 3D images where you have to intentionally unfocus your eyes, and you see an image of a dolphin or a train or something? This is similar, but it is a movie!!!!

If you let your eyes go unfocused you can see a cool little clip of a person goofing around on the internet!

~ cob

PS -- It took me a full 5 minutes of trying before I was able to "get it" -- feel free to post your comments with how long it took you!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Wherever You Are

Last night we all went to a concert. The opener was the David Crowder Band. They were fun and hilarious and edgy and cool and all the great things that warm up a crowd.

But the Headliner was Third Day.

I haven't been to a lot of concerts, but I have seen them before, a few years ago in San Jose. Last night was in San Jose again, but in a much better venue: the Flint Center. We had great seats! GG scored our tickets last November! We were in row M, seats 1, 3, 5, & 7.

It was a packed house, and I wish I'd brought my camera! I almost did, but then figured they'd be opposed to that. On the contrary, tons of people had cameras and everybody and their brother (yes, including me! =P ) had cell phones out snapping pix & vids and otherwise annoying the people sitting right behind them by waving around a little flashing blue-lit distraction. =O)

Here's a couple more shots from the show. Click 'em! They are links to video (.mp4) clips from my camera (you have my apologies in advance for the poor a/v quality)!

At one point Mac Powell had us all (yes! vindicated!) pull out our cell phones and wave 'em in the air (today's version of waving lighters, I suppose). I took this shot while waving the phone around, and then I did a 360 so you can see the crowd. (for those so inclined, you may wish to take some Dramamine before viewing this clip)

This next clip is from their song "Cry Out to Jesus"
There is Hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary, and
Love for the broken heart
There is Grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus
It was a late night and I jumped around so much I decided to give my self a break and skip the Y this morning.

Right now I am headed to work, but really glad to know Jesus said He would be with me, "Wherever You Are"

~ cob

Thursday, March 16, 2006

sunrise sunset

the world spins
my view of the sun alters
light to dark; dark to light

along the way
at each transition
beautiful colors
make it worthwhile
all is well

not easy
rarely comfortable
not even safe sometimes

but it is well

hope full

~ cob

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

my weird little world

Welcome to the weird little world inside my heart, head, & day-to-day life.
that is the subtitle of my blog. i've always been the kind of guy whose heart is on my sleeve.

sometimes, when I am misunderstood (perhaps more accurately: when I miscommunicate) it really floors me how quickly things can go all tense and insecure in my heart. that happens all too frequently. that happened yesterday. i'm still affected.

today my heart is heavy
today my head is unclear
today my day-to-day life is just hanging on

welcome to my world.

~ cob

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Word Clouds

This is a word cloud. You may have seen something like it on different social tagging sites such as, flickr, and others.

This particular word cloud was generated by a cool site which offers t-shirts for bloggers. Put in your blog name, and URL and voila! A word cloud is generated from commonly used words on your site. Of course, buying the t-shirt is optional!

~ cob

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Grid Blog for Int'l Women's Day

Every year millions of people follow the results of various awards shows. This past Sunday we watched the Oscars. There are also the Emmys, the Tonys, the Grammys, and more.

Today I'd like to talk a little about: the -archies

In case you didn't already know, 8th March is International Women's Day. You can read a brief history of the day at this United Nations page.

I heard about it in Rachelle's post about Dismantling Patriarchy. Over on Rachelle's blog, she has a list of various bloggers who are also covering this topic.

I appreciate her use of the word "dismantle" instead of "overthrow". For me, this speaks of a collaborative effort to work for a better future than the past we've lived through. Growing up as a male in the turbulent bra-burning 1960s and the vote-for-the-ERA 1970's, it always struck me "These women don't want equality; they want a turn at superiority!" As a follower of Jesus, and as a man, I'm very glad Rachelle is espousing a different ideal.
"No book has yet been written in praise of a woman who let her husband and children starve or suffer while she invented even the most useful things, or wrote books, or expressed herself in art, or evolved philosophic systems."
~ Anna Garlin Spencer
~ Woman's Share in Social Culture, 1912
"I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career."
~ Gloria Steinem
I think great strides have been made in the last 50 years, but I also believe we have a long way to go. I'm no historian or cultural anthropologist, but I don't think I'm going out on any limbs when I say I think the world has been a patriarchy for a long long long time. I'm sure someone who knows more about it could point out a few matriarchal societies but I think, in the world at large, men have pretty much always ruled and led.

That hasn't always been bad. As a man* who thinks he is a pretty good guy I have to point out that not all men are evil. But taken as a whole, in this long-standing patriarchy there have been too many examples of men dominating instead of leading, and enslaving instead of ruling.

I'm kinda over the "men are better than women" implications getting subconscious air time in a lot of Christian media too. Instead of being an agent to transform culture into a better place, some of the church is instead being swayed by the surrounding culture and becoming less Christ-like.

I'm very glad to be part of an association of churches which promotes the autonomy of the local church, and also encourages individuals to wrestle with challenging issues. On the Vineyard USA website, for example, you can read articles both for and against the idea of ordaining women. This kind of healthy exploration and discussion leads us to value one another and grow in faith.

I used to be way more "complementarian". (Keith's definition: men & women are:
  • equal in value to God, but
  • different in roles.
    • Husband is "head" of wife in marriage
    • Men built to initiate, women built to respond)
These days I lean toward being "egalitarian". (Keith's definition: men & women are:
  • equal in value to God, and can be
  • equal in role; whatever God chooses for us, we do for Him)
I think there is a lot of validity to the whole Mars/Venus thing. Men and women are different in a lot of ways. I think God may have had some reason for making Adam first, then Eve. And I think God must have had some reason for having the masculine pronoun used to describe the Godhead the majority of the time in the bible [sidenote: no gender-specific terms can adequately describe a Being whose very Nature is far above and beyond such limitations anyway].

But to infer the idea of men being more suited to certain "leadership" and "initiator" roles (where most of the power is in the world) while women are better suited to "follower" and "responsive" roles? This, to me, seems to be too much of a leap -- a jumping to conclusions.

And I also think most of the pointing to experience is mainly chicken and egg stuff -- like "But I'm just a natural leader and my wife is just naturally submissive!" says more to me about the culture in which s/he has been raised and shaped than it does about an indwelling expression of the image of God.

So patriarchy isn't a perfect system. And Rachelle isn't talking about revising or repairing it. She's talking about dismantling it. What'll that leave? I dunno. I mean no disprespect to women when I say this, but I think a matriarchy would be just as grievously errant and just as egregiously abusive.

Anarchy is not the answer either. While this may be arguable, I believe "faulty government" is still better than "no government".

Monarchy and thearchy have been tried. From what I've read and understood about them, monarchies implode or get overthrown, and thearchies are (all too often) simply uber-twisted versions of patriarchy anyway.

That leaves two other viable -archies I can think of: Oligarchy & Polyarchy. Both have merit.

I think our current democratic republic here in the U.S.A. is (despite its many faults) the best representative oligarchy we've seen in world history [waves flag].

But on the small scale, like in friendships and such -- you know, the circles of people with whom we spend our day-to-day lives -- I think polyarchy is the way to go. To paraphrase Lincoln's famous Gettysburg address, I think each little "government of the friends, by the friends, and for the friends" works pretty well. Even a polyarchy, though, isn't fully democratic. At times the "buck has to stop" with someone when consensus can't be reached and the issue at hand is important enough to demand a decision or action. As long as the group in question agrees on who that person is at any time or season or event, then things typically flow smoothly, at least in my experience.

If my desire is a local polyarchy within a broader oligarchy, then what can I do to bring this about?

Rachelle quoted the Indigo Girls' song Hammer & a Nail. I like that song. But I also like Ben Harper's powerful song With My Own Two Hands

Both songs remind me of the old adages:
"better to light a candle than curse the darkness"
sow a thought reap a deed
sow a deed reap a habit
sow a habit reap a life
sow a life, reap a world
So when the rubber meets the road what will I do? What deeds will I sow? Locally and globally?

I've done this blog and will continue to express publicly the benefits of polyarchy in God's Kingdom.

I'll respect and express appreciation for the contributions of women I'm blessed to walk alongside in my own life.

I'll use language that emphasizes the value of all people regardless of gender.

I'll champion those who are being abused or held back (wherever they may be), and use my energies and resources to help them change their situation.

And I'll encourage others -- both men and women -- to live and speak in like manner.

~ cob

* a man who, btw, grew up as the only boy and the youngest of 5 kids, and who now works as an RN (one of the few professional fields where women outnumber men).

Saturday, March 04, 2006


Last night Hippie Chick, Globe-Girl, /B/ & I all went to a Taize service.

If you've not heard of Taize, it is a simple service made up of repetitive prayers set to simple music, and some scripture reading. The purpose of this contemplative service is to provide an opportunity for quiet reflection and then have an encounter at the cross.

There is a large wooden cross (in a unique shape) which is laid out on the floor in the center of the room. One can kneel next to it, and most lean forward with their head on it, praying as they do so. It is quite a powerful experience. Some Taize services are very small. The one we participated in was quite large -- I would guess there were around 200-250 people there.

You can beseech of the googley to find a service near you, but in our area it is held at The Mercy Center in Burlingame on the first Friday evening of the month, from 8:00 pm -- 9:30 pm or so.

It was a nice break from the busyness of life. To sit in a dim room and relax, reflect, and remember. What really sank in for me was:
For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.
~ 1 Cor 13:12
I'm getting to know Globe-Girl and /B/ more and more. I'm also allowing them to know me more and more. I like to think I know myself pretty well. I know Hippie Chick pretty well. Hippie Chick knows me pretty well. But no one on this planet knows me as deeply and as completely as God knows me.

This verse says when I am face to face with Him when the end comes, I will be allowed and invited in to know Him as deeply and as completely as He now knows me.

Whoa! A total mind mending and heart melting invitation, and I look forward with eager anticipation for that encounter!

Here are the prayers from last night:

Bless the Lord, my soul and bless God's holy name. Bless the Lord, my soul. God leads me into life.
Psalm, reading (1 Cor 13) and silence of about 5 minutes.
Veni Sancte Spiritus
(Come Holy Spirit)
Kyrie, The Lord's Prayer and a prayer of Brother Roger
Adoramus to Domine
(We adore you, O Lord)
The glance of God embraces me. The gaze of God enfolds me. The grace of God transforms me from within.
Salvator mundi, salva nos. Salvator mundi, salva nos. Salva nos. Salva nos. Salvator mundi, salva nos.
(Savior of the world, save us.)
O Lord hear my prayer, O Lord hear my prayer. When I call, answer me...come and listen to me.
Come and fill our hearts with your peace. You alone, O Lord are holy. Come and fill our hearts with your peace. Praise to the Living God.
Ubi caritas et amore. Ubi caritas, Deus ubi est.
(Where charity and love are, there is God.)
Peace, peace, peace unto us. Peace, peace, peace on earth.
Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.
With you, O Lord is life in all its fullness and in your light, we shall see true lighht.
Great peace they surely have who inour God confide, who cast on God all care, and in God's love abide.
Jesus Christ, yesterday, today, and forever.

~ cob

Thursday, March 02, 2006

37337 a5 1 wanna b3

My friend Chris took this silly online quiz and then blogged about it.

So I took this silly online quiz and blogged about it.

I'm not that much of a "gamer" really. I only played D&D once in high school -- but I did not inhale any Mountain Dew.

The thing is, I answered the questions as honestly as I could, and some of the following text-blurb result isn't that far off the mark. Hmmm! says:
There's two ways to end up with this result. Either you picked the silliest possible answer to each question, or you answered honestly, and happen to be hyperactive, manic, loon. Assuming you answered honestly, your profile is as follows: You are the 100-sided dice, also known as the legendary Zocchihedron. You are the bit of data that registers so far off the chart that the average person doesn't even know you exist. You are desperate for attention and will get it any way you can. Your jokes have the lowest laugh ratio, but you go for quantity, not quality. Once you get started on a pointless tangent, it takes a group effort to bring you back to reality and make you shut up. You are a distraction who is permanently distracted. You consider yourself silly and entertaining, but everyone else complains about how lame and annoying you are. The one secret they aren't telling you, is how they sometimes actually miss the noise when you're gone.
what die are you?

~ cob

(ps -- at the above referenced site, at the end of the quiz, "they" say the following:
This survey is completely scientific. Despite the mind-boggling complexity of mankind, the billions of distinctly different personalities found on Earth can easily be divided into seven simple categories that correspond to the five Platonic solids, a pseudo polyhedron, and whatever the hell a d100 is. The results of this quiz should be considered not only meaningful but also infallible, and pertinent to your success as a fully realized individual. If you feel the results of this examination do not match your perceived personality, you should take whatever drastic measures are needed to cram your superego back into proper alignment, as described by the quiz results.

And if you believe that, we have some really great critical-hit insurance to sell you.
I don't believe "them")