“Garbage in garbage out.”  Most of us have heard this old saying that is used to express that whatever we are putting into our brains will manifest itself in outward behaviors, attitudes, speech, etc.  Whatever we “put in there” will come out in one-way or another.  Do you remember the children’s song, “O Be Careful Little Eyes”?

O be careful little eyes what you see, O be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love 
So, be careful little eyes what you see

The 2nd verse is basically the same except it says, “O be careful little ears what you hear”.  There were hand motions and everything that went with it.  It was a great way to teach kids about guarding their hearts and minds from exposure to negative things.  The idea that God is “looking down” on us may sound like a foreboding scare tactic, but God cares about us.  The verse says that He is “looking down in love”.  His constant presence is for our protection.  He doesn’t want anything bad to happen to us physically or spiritually. He doesn’t want negative thoughts and behaviors to cause us harm.  It’s not a negative thing that God is watching out for us.  However, the idea that God is “watching over us” or “hovering” violates our desire for independence and right to privacy.

William Shakespeare said that the eyes are the “windows to the soul”.  Anything that we see and hear is downloaded or saved to our internal hard drives, our heart and soul.  Some people have a photographic memory and have the ability to recall vast amounts of information while others like me tend to forget things a little more quickly.  It used to really annoy me when some of my fellow classmates, who apparently were either smarter than I was or had photographic memories, didn’t really have to study as hard for exams.  I had to study like crazy memorizing everything methodically.

Usually it’s the things that we don’t want to remember that we remember the most, right?  It’s weird that way.  A great example is the song that you can’t get out of your head.  While working on this devotional, I decided to go to lunch.  Before I got out of my office, I unconsciously started humming the above-mentioned song.  For those of you who like me now have that song stuck in your head.  I apologize.  Most of the time it’s not a song that you really want to remember and don’t want to have dancing around in your head as an endless loop for days on end.  The same works for what we see.  We have a mental image of just about everything that we see.  It gets imprinted on our minds and it’s hard to get rid of especially if you’re trying to.

Like that annoying song, there are images or things that we have seen that won’t go away.  There are things that we can’t un-see or un-hear.  Hopefully over time they fade, but for those who have seen and experienced traumatic things, it’s really hard to delete or erase that from memory and it does a lot of damage.  Jesus understood this when He said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”  (Matthew 6:22-23 NIV)  The same can be said of what we hear and experience.

Everything we experience is absorbed like a sponge.  It really is incredible how powerful the brain is.  I’ve experienced it with my hearing loss.  Over the last two years my brain has been adjusting to hearing aids.  At first I didn’t believe it when audiologists said that things may sound funny now, but it should get better as your brain adjusts.  Well, I’m a believer now because my hearing has slowly and methodically improved with hearing aids.  It will never be what it was before, but it’s amazing how far it has come.

Okay, I’ve gotten off track a little bit in my wonderment and amazement of God’s incredible creation, but it’s important to understand the power of the brain, mind, heart, and soul.  The whole body is like a nuclear power plant, and what scientists and physicians have learned is only the tip of the iceberg.  However powerful our minds may be they aren’t indestructible.  They are easily damaged by what we see, hear, and experience.  So, maintenance is required.  Our mind, body, and spirit need constant TLC.  While there is a multiplicity of psychological options and treatments available to us for our mental health, some of which can be effective, God has provided us with powerful methods of guarding, protecting, cleansing and detoxing our cranial activity.  Again, I’m not discounting medical treatment, but a daily diet of scripture or the Bible is a powerful way to defend or guard our hearts and minds from external toxicity.  For many it is an untapped resource.

We are constantly bombarded in our culture by negative and toxic experiences, which are basically garbage.  If we’re not careful that garbage comes out.  I know because I’ve experienced it and allowed it to happen.  From 8-11 years old, I developed a potty mouth.  It was cool to cuss and talk about adult things.  Half the time I don’t think I really understood what I was talking about but it’s what my friends were saying and I wanted to fit in so I just repeated what I heard.  It’s not like I didn’t hear cuss words at home.  My dad cussed.  He wasn’t like the dad from “A Christmas Story” who “wove a tapestry of obscenity that, as far as we know, is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan”, but cuss words were definitely a part of his vocabulary.  There were certain words that he never said, but the old standards that I won’t mention were used quite frequently.  The garbage that I was absorbing or “filling up on” eventually made its way to the surface, came out, or overflowed.  I was literally full of it.

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit, each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”  Luke 6:43-45 NIV

Other translations of verse 45 read like this:  “For his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”  (New American Standard), “What you say flows from what is in your heart.” (New Living Translation),“For of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”  (King James), and “for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks.” (English Standard)  Whatever is “in there”, whatever is “stored up”, whatever we are “full of” will eventually come out.  It will overflow.  When it does, what kind of damage will it do to others?

“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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”  Philippians 4:8-9 NIV

According to Paul, the key to finding peace, mental and emotional stability is thinking about the right stuff. It’s true whether you are a Christian or not.  But, it’s easier said than done, right?  I know and struggle with it too. “Yes, Robby you are full of it.”

It’s something to think about this week.  What are we filling up on?  What are we “storing up” in our hearts and minds?  Are we missing out on God’s soul care when we aren’t spending time in His word?

Love y’all!  Have a great weekend!

Weekly Devotional by Robby Morris, Director of Family Ministry & Facility Coordinator @ Andrews UMC.