Mannequin Logic

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

1 Corinthians 15:22

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 

Ephesians 2:4-5

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.

Colossians 2:13

Mannequins have always have had a odd effect on me– somewhat similar to clowns (which really make me uneasy.)  I also had a small artist’s mannequin–it was flexible and the theory was you could pose it.  And of course there is the story of Pinocchio, a puppet who became a boy (I wonder if he regarded “toothpicks” as his cousins? LOL)

The Bible uses this imagery to explain exactly what happens when we first believe.  His Spirit works on us, or in us, to bring us back to life.  Talking with any sincere Christian and they’ll describe their repentance/conversion using a remarkable metaphor–resurrection of the dead!  Now that is dramatic.

We the “cast-off” mannequins have suddenly come to life.  We understand things from a revolutionary new way.  Jesus has worked and crafted his new children and brought them to life.  The Holy Spirit has done something so radical that it defies any explanation except through the Word.

Life is so very different now.  I see it through new eyes.  I am no longer seeking to be energized by drugs, alcohol or a selfish lifestyle.  The emptiness of that past life no longer disturbs me.

I still have problems.  There are difficult issues of depression and BP that challenge me.  Somedays I can’t get out of bed and life is hopeless.  Meds help me work through this black mood.  I pray and worship and I am lifted up from my dark pit.  Friends who understand are a blessing.

But this wonderfully radical truth of coming to life is by far-and-away the most awesome thing that has ever happened to me.  I was like that mannequin in the mall, vacant and empty.  Not alive.  But Jesus touched me, and now I live.

It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!”

Romans 8:11-12, The Message

Mannequin logic can only be understood when the Holy Spirit moves in!

Focus on a Known God

Note: I recently posted this on my blog, Linda Kruschke’s Blog, and right away I knew I needed to post it here at Broken Believers, too. I hope it will encourage many here.

Some things in life are unknown. Right now I’m facing the unknown of health concerns. After multiple tests, doctors still don’t know what is causing recent symptoms. I do have a list of what it is not. Whenever a test reveals that it is not something else I’m told it is good news. And I know that for the most part it is. But the difficult news remains that we don’t know what it is.

I thought of this post this morning, but decided not to write it because, frankly, I get tired of complaining about my health. I know there are a lot of people worse off than me, and I’m sure it gets old for others to hear about my various maladies.

Then I went to my list of blog subscriptions to see what others had posted for today. I clicked on a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Karla over at Out of Eden Ministries. The post was called “at the beginning going low.” She starts with a discussion of how Rahab the prostitute appears in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:5, and goes on to talk about how God makes the insignificant into a significant part of His plan. Karla writes:

Phone calls and prayers and prostitutes and a scarlet cord and you, yes you. Your life, your love, your pain, your prayer, and your hunger for more. All significant in the plans and the hands of God.”

I immediately knew I had to write this post after all, because although it starts with my insignificant struggle with pain and its unknown cause, it doesn’t end there. It ends with a focus on the known. What I thought of to write for today was how, even though I don’t know what is wrong with me, God does. And even more importantly, I know the truth of what God has revealed in His Holy Word. Here are some truths that I cling to, that I choose to focus on, as I face my insignificant struggles.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV).

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV).

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV).

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).

My own struggles are light and momentary in the grand scheme of the universe and God’s plan. Though I will suffer a little while, Jesus will restore me and make me strong. He will use my sufferings for good in the big picture of His purpose. He has plans to prosper me spiritually, and He will faithfully fulfill this promise.

(You might be wondering why certain words are bolded in the above verses. These are the words I remember and that I used to find these verses on, since I seldom remember the actual chapter and verse of the scripture that I have stored up in my heart.)

Karla’s post made me realize that I needed to listen to the prompt in my spirit to post about my struggles and the known promises of God that I choose to focus on, because there just might be someone out there who is struggling too and needs to know that God is with them. If that happens to be you, then hold onto the promises of God and He will see you through.

Christians Changing Light Bulbs

How many Christians does it take to change a light bulb?

Only one. Hands already in the air.

Ten. One to change the bulb, and nine to pray against the spirit of  darkness.

None. Lights will go on and off at predestined times.

Roman Catholic:
None. Candles only.

At least 15. One to change the light bulb, and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad.

Three. One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks and one to talk about how much better the old one was.

Five. One man to change the bulb, and four wives to tell him how to do it.

We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, that is fine. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your light bulb for the next Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.

Undetermined. Whether your light is bright, dull, or completely out, you are loved. You can be a light bulb, turnip bulb, or tulip bulb. Church wide lighting service is planned for Sunday. Bring bulb of your choice and a covered dish.

Six. One woman to replace the bulb while five men review church lighting policy.

None. Lutherans don’t believe in change.

What’s a light bulb?

In Pursuit of Happyness

By CARONAE HOWELL, From the New York Times, dated July 20, 2009

To fly away

I’m the kind of woman who spends entire days thinking of nothing but birds: woodcocks, goldfinches, kingfishers. I look for loons everywhere I go. Sometimes I find herons in Central Park and they are mysteries. There is one thing in this world that I envy: the hollowness of bird bones. In the three milliseconds of liftoff, a bird separates itself from its problems. The sky is the freest part of the world.

I have always been depressed, and I have always wanted to fly — not to emulate Superman or to travel faster. I want to fly because of the elation. In my dreams I am a butterfly or a fairy or a honeybee. Depression, for me, is when you want to be a bird, but can’t.

There is a specific moment in which I became a woman. It was February — always the worst month with its aching light and its slip-induced bruises. I had been trying to fall asleep for at least four hours. At 3 a.m., I found myself sobbing and shaking and confused, sitting on my metal dorm bed in the bird-with-a-­broken-wing position. I dug my fingernails into my forearms, leaving shell-shaped trenches behind. I have the kind of skin that refuses to heal, just stays eternally raw and mottled. It was five weeks into my fourth semester.

In late January, a freshman hanged himself in my old dorm. I found myself asking, really, how hard is it to suddenly find yourself perched on a sink, rope around your beautiful neck, ready to fly? How hard? My dad drove through four states to pick me up the next week. On the way home I had tea and ice cream. He asked me if I remembered the time he took too many of his antidepressants. I did not. Nor did I remember my uncle’s suicide (gun to the cerebrum) or my sister’s delicately sliced arms and hips. These were things I had only been told. The space between my skull and my irises hurts sometimes — hurts like the shatter of a tiny bird that has fallen midflight.

And so it was that sour February night that I took the delicate step into the adult world: realizing that I was too depressed to stay at college was realizing I had not only lost my flock; I had fallen from the air entirely. Michigan has many birds. My favorite might be the wood duck, with its banded neck and flat little wings. When I watch birds take off, I hold my breath. They always make it to the sky.

Every Monday morning at 9 I see my therapist, mug of green tea and honey close at hand. I take new pills now. I have a routine: oatmeal in the morning, Wednesday nights with my father. I tell my therapist about Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon.” Who isn’t searching for their people? I arrange my thoughts. (No, I have never been in love and I am, in fact, afraid of men; I panic in Times Square; I grow attached to almost everyone I meet.) I have feathers and questions.

I moved to New York City for college in 2007. School did not grow me into an adult, nor did voting for the first time or doing my own banking. These things were not confrontations. How did I arrive at the place where I could look at my disease and say, “Yes, you are here, but I will not let you take the joy out of looking for birds”? I like to think it was New York, or my newfound discipline, but it was a more internal revolution. I acknowledged my traumas: I was not crazy, just damaged. I was molting. Columbia gave me many new things: a copy of the “Iliad” with a note saying the first six books should be read before orientation, a job in the oral history office, a sense of time management.

But without my sanity — without joy — these things had little value. I knew nothing until I knew I was hardly living. Hobbes and Locke and all the philosophers in the world could not matter when each day was insurmountable and burning. In my year and a half at Columbia, I began to learn how to love myself. I tell my therapist about my earliest memories and the bizarre geography of my family. I’m anxious and I have no self-esteem. But I am mending. Fifteen lost credits is a small price to pay for happiness. Perhaps I am learning how to fly. My bones may not be hollow, and joy will never come easily, but the beauty is in the struggle. The birds are everywhere.

Caronae Howell, Columbia, class of 2011, history major

A Psalmslife Post Brought to BB

Special Note: What follows below is a post lifted off my new blog, It is exclusive to one purpose, to explore the psalms from a devotional perspective. “What does the Lord want to teach me?”

By reposting this on Brokenbelievers, I hope to give you a possible direction and a new source of thinking and believing– all from the Psalms.

Here you go, this is the Jan. 18, 2012 post, reprinted here for your edification and encouragement. Please consider this new post, at Here you go.


Your Face is Shining on Me: Psalm 67

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm. A song.  “Make Your Face Shine Upon Us”

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,

2 that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.

5 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

6 The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
7 God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!

This dear one, is what we call a “liturgical” song, it’s a classic. The author was most likely a Levite, one of the priest’s assistants, but he had a gift for this. The song had been created for Israel, for the profound purpose of bringing and guiding God’s covenant people into a special place. I suppose we all could use the help in this.

Two “Selahs”. I believe this is our first contact with this term in our study. We don’t grasp the meaning, but a Hebrew psalmist would. Actually almost every school boy would understand this. But it keeps everyone aware that we are reading songs (but you don’t read them, you sing them!)  These are lyrics, people. You got to sing them, even if you annoy your neighbors. And so singing is perhaps what we should being doing, and less reading. 

Our lives don’t do that, we would vastly prefer reading or studying. The musical part of us, is to a large degree, atrophied and crippled.  Back in the day, I was a student in a small Bible college. One class was something fiendishly called “Music Conducting.” Now I’m tone-deaf, and furthermore have the musical rhythmic acumen of a tree sloth. I passed the class due to the incredible kindness of my instructor, who understood my calling to someday be a pastor; and she couldn’t bear to be the one to fail me.


V.1, and bring out the howitzers! No one does this better and more intensely than writer of Ps. 67. Key words are “graciousness and blessing.” If we wake up tomorrow without these two graces,  we would definitely know it. The writer uses the phrase, “make his face to shine upon us”. This is taken from the Priest’s Prayer we find in Numbers 6:24-26, I’m using the Message Bible here.

24 God bless you and keep you,
25 God smile on you and gift you,
26 God look you full in the face
–and make you prosper.

Blessing, and then keeping: Smiling, and then gifting: Caring, and then making you prosper. Additionally the word for “God” is “Jehovah.”  That was the name He chose to use with His own people. The Levitical Blessing was a wonderful place to pray (or sing!) like this.

V. 2-3 places the deep-seated need to take God on a “world tour.”  However v. 1 tells us that this special friendship between God and His people needs to be genuinely figured out first. But the vision is universal– for everyone, everywhere. The joy just oozes out, like a very saturated and soggy sponge.

V. 4 doesn’t seem to have the charismatic personality of its brother in v.1. But neither is it to be trifled with. It places everything God wants to do, with all that He intends. My brother John Piper, has used v. 4 as the title of his book on World Missions, “Let the Nations Be Glad.” Great book, see

V. 5 repeats v.3. It doesn’t compete with it, or supersede it in anyway. Maybe I need two feet to be mobile– a right and a left? Perhaps it made sense lyrically, or even musically?

V. 6 is well done as you would appreciate living in an agrarian society like Israel. It’s often seems like these guys are from Iowa, they know what a manure spreader looks like (and how it smells). Everything in terms of surviving or feasting was from the land. God’s presence, His name, and His deep care was a measurable and tangible blessing. Theology is reduced and perhaps, most appreciated by the poor farmer watching a tornado bypass his property.

V.7, is as sure of itself you could ever get. Boldness, without cockiness. Confidence, without arrogance. Steady, like a rock.


Well that is some of what you will find on (It’s just a single post granted.) My intention is to select something 2-3 times every week, more or less.  I am waiting on the Lord, looking for themes and trending subjects that might help and bless you. Maybe you have never connected with the Book of Psalms in this way, but this really could take out the log-jams and white-outs of the heart.

Five Stones to Challenge

Five Lessons About How To Treat People

– Author Unknown

You might call these “urban legends”. There is no way to know their veracity. The author and compiler left no way to acknowledge themselves. Each story seems quite amazing. And even they don’t mention God, or church, or hymns. The actually seem to be perfect just the way they are.


1. First Important Lesson – “Know The Cleaning Lady”

During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

“Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say “hello.”

I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.


2. Second Important Lesson – “Pickup In The Rain”

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man’s door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home.

A special note was attached. It read: “Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband’s bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.”

Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.


3. Third Important Lesson – “Remember Those Who Serve”

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. “How much is an ice cream sundae?” he asked. “50¢,” replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.

“Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. “35¢!” she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left.

When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies. You see, he couldn’t have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.


4. Fourth Important Lesson – “The Obstacles In Our Path”

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand – “Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.”


5. Fifth Important Lesson – “Giving When It Counts”

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save her.”

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”.

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

* * * * *

You may feel like you would like to have a copy of this, from where I am standing that seems quite possible. But please don’t attribute this to me, I found it and it seems to be someone else’s efforts.

What’s Your Pain Number?

If you have fibromyalgia, suffer from migraines, or have some other chronic pain illness, I think you can develop a skewed view of pain. Then when you go to the doctor because of some new or acute pain, and they ask “What’s your pain level on a scale of 1 to 10?”, I wonder if the answer is the same as it would be from someone who is otherwise healthy. I think that it may not be. I think when you deal with chronic pain what level of pain you consider tolerable – because there is no choice but to tolerate it – is much different than the person who is accustomed to living with a zero pain level.

It used to frustrate me when doctors would ask what my pain level was because I had no frame of reference for what was a 3 and what was a 9, or anything in between. Finally, several years ago, a pain specialist gave me a pain chart that I found very helpful in that it provides a description of each number on the pain scale. (I had to chuckle that they include “0 – No Pain” on the chart because I have no idea what that is like and wondered what the point of including this on the pain scale, except maybe to torment those of us who can never honestly say we are at 0.)

Anyway, I thought I would share this pain scale here, for those of you who have never had a doctor who was kind enough to give you a somewhat objective frame of reference. (I say somewhat objective because, as I said above, I think chronic pain can skew your view of what is tolerable pain.)

  1. Minimal = Pain is hardly noticeable.
  2. Mild = Feel a low level of pain; aware of pain only when paying attention to it.
  3. Uncomfortable = Pain is troubling but can be ignored most of the time.
  4. Moderate = Constantly aware of the pain but can continue normal activities.
  5. Distracting = Pain is barely tolerable; some activities limited by the pain.
  6. Distressing = Pain preoccupies thinking; must give up many activities due to pain.
  7. Unmanageable = Constant pain that interferes with almost all activities; often must take time off work; nothing seems to help.
  8. Intense = Severe pain makes it hard to concentrate on anything but the pain; conversations difficult.
  9. Severe = Can concentrate on nothing but the pain; can do almost nothing; can barely talk.
  10. Immobilizing = Pain is excruciating; unable to move except to seek immediate help for pain in emergency room, etc.; bedridden.

I recently experienced a pain in my side and abdomen that was different than and in a different place than any pain I have ever felt before. After talking to an advice nurse on the phone, I went to urgent care because she said I needed to be seen right away. She was concerned that it might be appendicitis or gall stones.

Once at urgent care, the doctor asked me the million dollar question, “What’s your level of pain on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever felt?” I really wish I’d had my handy pain scale with me. If I compared the pain I was in that day to the worst pain I’ve ever experienced (which happens to be a 10 on the above scale), it really wasn’t that bad. I think I told him it was a 3 or 4. But based on the above scale it was more like 6 or 7.

It turned out I don’t have appendicitis, though they still haven’t figured out what is wrong. But as I thought about my experience with this urgent care doctor, a guy who didn’t know me at all, I wonder how seriously he took my complaint of pain since it was only at a level of 3 or 4. I wonder if someone else coming into urgent care whose “worst pain ever” was only a 5 on this scale would have answered his query much differently.

Reducing pain to a number doesn’t seem that helpful to me. Does a subjective number that is skewed by the patient’s prior pain experience really help a doctor with a diagnosis? I don’t know that it does. So I think I’m going to print off this pain scale on a small piece of paper that I can easily carry in my purse so that the next time I’m asked that question, I can pull it out and have an objective description of my pain for the doctor.