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GIGO

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. (Philippians 4:8)

I often go to this verse whenever I observe my thinking being a little too negative, my speech a little too critical, or my attitude just a bit off. Why? It is a reminder to me of the importance of taking particular note of what goes into my mind and what it is I allow my mind to contemplate over and over again. The old computer geek term of 'garbage in - garbage out' really holds true with this thing we call our brain. We do our best when our minds are filled with the right stuff - we don't do as well when there is input that 'muddies the water', so to speak.

The best, not the worst - we have a natural tendency to see the cup as half-full at times, don't we? Media plays a large part in pointing out all the varied ways our cup may not be all that full, doesn't it? It is possible to not even know our cup isn't full until we see or hear something telling us otherwise! Why do you think advertising companies put so much work into finding the right 'hook' for the product or service they are putting forward? Isn't it because they want us to know just how empty our lives are without that product or service? If your life is based in Christ, there is very little you need to make you 'fuller'!

True, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, and gracious - those are some pretty well-defined 'boundaries' for our thought life, aren't they? If we are to be ready for tests, trials, and temptations, we need to know our boundaries, don't we? If we are to live consistent lives, we need boundaries to operate within. God knows the right 'input' will positively impact the 'output' of our lives. Consistency doesn't just come because the input is correct, though. It requires us putting into practice all we have learned, hear from God, and see in the positive living examples he provides for us.

I used to think consistency meant I never got off-course - in other words, I never screwed up. The truth of the matter is that we all screw up from time to time - it is what we do when with our screw ups that makes the difference. When we take our negative thoughts, raunchy attitude, and bitter speech to him, he isn't going to hold it against us. In fact, he will embrace us for being forthcoming with our missteps. Then he restores us - bringing back truth, nobility in our thoughts, righteous reputation, total authenticity, motivating compulsion, and forgiving graciousness into our lives. Consistency is knowing when we are not on course, making the necessary correction in that course, and then starting out again. Just sayin!

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