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 Biblegateway.com, 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?


Charismatics:
Only one. Hands already in the air.

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

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

Roman Catholic:
None. Candles only.

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

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

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

Unitarians:
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.

Methodists:
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.

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

Lutherans:
None. Lutherans don’t believe in change.

Amish:
What’s a light bulb?

In Pursuit of Happyness

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

flight1
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