Breaking the Old, Negative Grid System

At MSN I can go to “maps” and, after clicking there, enter the address of my first home ever — in Washington D.C., my hometown. Once I have a map of the city up, I can find Southeast by crossing the Anacostia River and then find Good Hope Road. Soon I am in my old neighborhood via the “birds eye” feature of MSN maps. I can zoom close — so close it is very real. And there is the old neighborhood, seemingly unchanged after 50 years, as if time stood still.

In staring down at the house from my “birds view”, the past comes to me and hits me hard. The memories are mostly good ones, but a few other “times” stick out too. These moments, fleeting, short, and very negative, shaped my life forever. I will take the scars of those moments with me to my grave where finally, I will be in Him and whole.

What caused those scars is private. It is a major part of my negative “grid system” through which I filter everything, helping to add to my dysfunctional nature. And, if Satan has a way to augment the negative emotions out of all that, he will do it, if I let him, and often I have let him.

Hopefully, this is what the Truth of Scripture can eliminate. It is like replacing the old with the new. See Romans 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Christians are faced with quite a dilemma. They live 24/7 in a world where Satan is the ruler (Luke 4:5-6 and Eph 6:12). I always viewed this world as a strange place. Everything is backwards. Right is wrong and wrong is right. Nice guys seem to really finish last; and those who succeed do so by ruthless methods. It is not so much why bad things happen to good people; it is more like why do good things happen to bad people! Why conform to such a crazy place? Trouble is, we are raised in this world and we know we need to conform to its methods just to get by day by day.

In Romans 12:2, we read that if we don’t conform to the world, we will be transformed — changed — renewed. When you examine some of the historical figures of Scripture, you can form a long list of “non conformists” to this world: Noah, Joseph, Gideon, David, Elijah, Job, and Paul the Apostle. A sad list of conformists would be: Lot, his wife, Saul, Pilate and Felix and Festus. We can see both sides of conforming in Peter.

In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus teaches about the “Two ways.” It is the narrow gate that leads to life. It is not easy being a non-conformist to this world, thereby conforming to God’s will. To do that we need to put off our former selves, and so be renewed in our spirit so that we can put on our new selves. Romans 6 take you through this quite clearly, I believe.

My negative grid system has burdened me almost beyond repair at times. I have strived, in Jesus name, to put it to death and replace it by the sincere milk of God’s word and truth. I attempt to do this every day through prayer, putting on the armor of God, and applying faith in my life so that His grace will come to me in tangible ways. In the end I might become the person God wants me to be.

In recovery we attempt to break out of a way of thinking and doing that trapped us in our addictions; of pushing us into a downward spiral of a life going no where. In making that choice of moving out of that way of thinking and doing, many of us used the Steps. Through that process of working the Steps, we are renewed and transformed.

God is a LOT more than our “Higher Power.” He is our Lord, Advocate, Intercessor, Friend, Master and He loves us unconditionally 24/7. He loved us so much He gave up Jesus as a propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10). I submit that His unconditional love fills us in a way that His love can be shown to others through us. Actually, we know there are only two commandments: Love God with all your heart, soul and might; and Love your neighbor as yourself. In the “Institutes of the Christian Religion” by John Calvin, he very articulately shows how the first four of the Ten Commandments relate to loving God, and how the last six relate to loving our neighbor.

From Frances Shaffer’s book True Spirituality I learned that the one commandment that gets all of us into trouble is the last one: coveting. Think about it for a moment. We always want something or someone we don’t have. So, what do we do to get what we don’t have? We lie, cheat, steal, commit adultery, and on and on. Coveting how we reveal how selfish we are.

But, when God’s Word enters us, abides in us, and continues in us, His love will renew and change us, and He will see to it that this love is going to touch others.

In the next post I want to define the three areas of God’s word that will help all of us to dump the negative and let the positive replace it in a way that we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we might prove what the good acceptable and perfect will of God is for us and for those we touch in this life.

My name is Michael the Penguin and I am a Christian in Recovery.

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