Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8 NIV
As We Think, So We Do
What runs through your mind when you wake up in the night?
For years I’ve battled insomnia, trouble with both going to and staying asleep. Over the past six months I’ve seriously addressed it every way I know how — medically, physically, holistically, alternatively, and spiritually, and while my sleep quality has improved slightly, it’s still an issue (prayers welcome). It’s not a question of whether or not I’ll wake up between Bedtime and Rise and Shine; it’s how many times will I awaken.
On good nights I’m able to fall back to sleep relatively quickly, but the roughest nights have me tossing and turning for hours (yes, I know I should get up for a change of scenery, but apparently knowing what I should do doesn’t necessarily translate into doing it–a whole ‘nother post for another time.).
When I’m wide awake at two in the morning it usually goes like this:
- Relax and try to keep the dream you were just dreaming going, to fool yourself into thinking you’re still asleep.
- Get mad because you can’t even remember the dream, but you know it was a good one and you want to know how it ends.
- Become increasingly irritated that you’re awake.
- Decide to take advantage of being awake by praying for every person on your prayer list, and even a few more who come to mind…
…and it is right about there my mind begins to wander off track (anyone relate?).
Recently I’ve been convicted about the direction my thoughts were taking. A new series I discovered on Netflix offered a steady diet of very adult content, and some of those scenes were resurfacing during my sleepless nights. It began occurring on a regular basis, which bothered me, and one night it finally hit me why:
Garbage in, garbage out. GIGO.
I’ll explain if you aren’t familiar.
When I began college, computers were just coming on the scene. As a business major, I was required to take FORTRAN. Beyond punch cards and DO loops, I remember one thing our professor preached: Garbage In, Garbage Out – GIGO – where flawed, or nonsense input data produces nonsense output or “garbage.” (Source: Wikipedia) If we coded incorrectly (nonsense input), we’d get the wrong result (garbage). In a nightmare scenario, we’d be Matthew Broderick in War Games all over again, facing a game/not game of Global Thermonuclear War.
(I kid, of course. Broderick’s character was a computer wizard and I was a freshman hack.)
GIGO isn’t limited to computer science.
If you put diesel fuel in a gas engine, the car will stop running as soon as gasoline is no longer in the fuel line. Gasoline engines aren’t made to combust diesel fuel. For them, diesel going in results in the garbage of the driver being stranded roadside in a matter of miles.
And what about humans? If you eat a steady diet of triglyceride-loving sugar and artery-clogging trans fats, you’ll eventually have an unhealthy body fighting obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Garbage in, garbage out.
GIGO applies to our mind and heart, too. If we feast on garbage for entertainment, leisure, or to fill our free time, garbage will come out in some way–in our attitudes, behaviors, and/or beliefs.
It occurred to me a similar principal, but very different formula, is also true, and with dramatically different results: TITO: Truth In, Truth Out.
Romans 12:2 tells us:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2 NIV)
I may not understand everything Paul teaches in the book of Romans but this is clear to me:
Change begins with a renewed mind.
Philippians 4:8 gives us the perfect place to start this transformative work–with how we think.
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.
In the verse that follows this, Paul tells the Philippians, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.” (Philippians 4:9 NIV)
Truth in, truth out. TITO.
What our eyes and ears ingest, our minds and hearts digest, and ideas and images linger.
Attitudes are shaped.
As we think, so we do.
Sweet friends, our convictions may not be the same but we love the same Lord and He is trustworthy. We don’t have to read His Word; we get to read His Word. In so doing, we meet Jesus, and it is impossible to grow closer to Jesus and not be changed.
Truth in… truth out.
A new year brings 365 opportunities for… whatever (if you haven’t yet received One Word for the year, might this be it?) Would you be willing to share how God is convicting or challenging or changing you for your good and His glory so far this year?