"Finally, brothers, whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is pure,
whatever is admirable
--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--
think on these things."
In the NIV it isn't whatsoever like in the King James I memorized as a child. These are the whatevers for my kids. What an awesome tool to protect heart and mind! Choose to think about good things. Should I replay the insults someone shouted at me in anger? Should I dwell on the gossip about a friend? Should I see the horror movie? Should I choose that computer game? Should I let my mind wander to the worrying uncertainties of my future? We can make a choice if we want to.
More than ever kids are bombarded with choices of what to see and listen to. Cell phones and iPods, internet and computer games, 24 hours of TV available every day with LOTS of channels! I had 5 channels as a kid. FIVE. No computer games with any moral content... remember the many variations of ball games on an old "Odessey" TV game? Ping-pong or handball... white paddles on a black screen with a ball bouncing between them? Uh, not much of a moral intrusion there Music was available on cassette tapes or records. If you wanted to see a movie, you went to the kid's flick at the cinema... once a year, with Grandma for a special day. Life is different now. Technology that is making it possible for me to send this message from Mozambique to whoever wants to read it anywhere in the world also makes it possible for me to CHOOSE anything to read or see or hear for better or for worse.
You know it is true. If you don't see bad stuff or hear bad stuff, it just isn't going to run through your head, is it? If you constantly play songs with edgy lyrics and watch whatever is on TV and see questionable movies and stuff your head with THAT. What is going to go through your head later? What pops out of your mouth before you can stop it? Images can be so powerful... and once they are seen, they stick, like it or not. It is hard to forget what your eye has seen. Protect yourself. Choose good things. They also stick!
In Bible Club at Zambezi Junior School we are studying the Fruit of the Spirit this year. We've come to the end of the Fruit lessons and have just a few weeks before starting to practice for a Christmas celebration. We have some time for "how to live a Christian life." My first choice for the additional memory verse was the whatsoevers. Kids need guidelines. Many parents aren't giving them. So, I have a unique opportunity to mold the conscience of a few kids. I have a chance to give them a choice. I memorized that verse about 30 years ago. How many times since then has God prompted me to choose right thoughts? Without even trying to remember, it pops into my head giving me a guideline for a choice. I can still choose to go against the guideline, but I KNOW what is right. I can choose what is right because I know I have a choice.
Another thing Dad said was, "Depression comes from believing a lie." How true is that? It fits right in with the whatsoevers. I can believe I will always fail or believe people are going to think bad things about me or believe I'm going to be taken by aliens. I can feel ugly and boring. I can imagine terrible things that could happen. Is any of that really true or right or lovely? No. So, I remember what Mom told us every night when she tucked us in, "Think good thoughts instead of bad thoughts." My Dad and Mom were a pretty good team, weren't they?