Input Output and Choice

When I was about 9, someone took me and about 10 other kids and stuck us all in a dingy little trailer in a parking lot. It smelled funny, and it was cramped. I didn’t know what they wanted with us. I didn’t know why I was there. I didn’t want to be there. I wanted them to let me out so I could go home. I was terrified, and it was of course, the bible study trailer! I went to a public school, which means they weren’t permitted to teach about Jesus. To allow someone to talk about Jesus to kids is just downright intolerant and closed minded, so they made sure to stay open-minded and tolerant, and so that kind of talk was forbidden. Instead, these people went around with trailers and put them in parking lots of elementary schools where they WERE permitted to teach about Jesus. My mom signed me up. I had no idea that she did, and when they came to pull me out of class for the bible study trailer, I pleaded that they let me stay in class. It was an exercise in futility. They had all they needed, which was my mom’s signature. It was uncomfortable and I felt goofy for being there. I didn’t want to be one of “those kids”. I felt like the other kids were laughing at us, and I didn’t like it. I spent a lot of my childhood and adolescent years trying hard to fit in.  I don’t think it worked, and frankly I think it backfired on me in my adult years. All I wanted to do was fit in, now I feel like I can’t relate to anyone. Anyway, I’m babbling… onward!

Sometimes when I reflect on memories like this, I just laugh at myself. It is so ironic. I don’t know how many weeks this bible study trailer thing went on for, but I took practically nothing from it. I did take this gooey sticky stuff they used to stick posters to walls. It was sort of like playdoh, and I sat next to a poster. I was 9, I really liked playdoh, and it was delicious. The absolute ONLY other thing I remember from this trailer is a song we sang. I remember it vividly. I wish I knew who taught that class because I would call them and thank them.  The song went like this, “input, output, what goes in is what comes out. Input output, which daily we must choose.” I have held on to this song for 21 years. I cannot imagine what else I may have learned if I actually paid any attention what so ever to the bible study trailer lady. But this song is true! And I have actually applied the message in it to things in my life, even before I was saved. I LOVE this song. I sing it to my daughters. Bible study trailer lady, where ever you are, whoever you are, thank you so much.

Here’s the idea. Whatever you surround yourself with, whatever you give your attention to, whatever you dwell on, whatever you meditate on, whatever you study, these are things that you keep close to, or in your heart. Do you think that sounds goofy? “Just because I like certain TV shows and bands doesn’t mean they are in my heart.” Yes it does. At your core, the heart of you, you keep and protect the things you care about, and give your attention to. You may even get offended if someone else has something negative to say about them. These things influence you. You may even say that you “love” those things. They are in your heart. The things that fill your heart are “input.”

If you aren’t a Christian and don’t believe any of the Jesus stuff, then recall the saying, “you are what you eat.” The bible says it this way in Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” In Mathew 12:34, “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” I learned it this way at 9, in a little trailer, in a parking lot, “what goes in is what comes out.” It’s your output. It’s a product of your input. I think this is a part that some folks have trouble with. I’m not sure why. I don’t think they have trouble believing it as much as they do admitting it. Maybe some folks are just prideful and don’t want to admit that something, other than themselves, has control over who they are. I am familiar with that feeling. It is why I was so angry when I failed every time I tried to quit smoking. Cigarettes had that much control over me, and I hated it. I beat tobacco with lots of help. I didn’t do it on my own, because I wasn’t able to. That pride is worthless. If you don’t believe that then just keep reading and heckle me for being wrong. I’ll give you something to think about before the end, and I’ll try to make this more applicable for you.

If you are hanging with me on the idea of input and output, and this makes just a little sense to you, let me offer you this now. You really do get to choose what you put in to your heart. You don’t always get to choose your situation, but you can choose what you listen to, what you read, and what you think about. Logically, this means that you also get to choose what NOT to listen to, read or think about. That’s the last part of the song, “which daily we must choose.” Even at 9 years old people were trying to teach me that I get to choose what I put into my heart.

   The easiest way to see this is by observing how people watch TV. What channels do you watch on TV? You get to hold a little box in your hand that changes the channels. You can flip through them until you find something you CHOOSE to watch. Believe it or not, you hold a little metaphoric black box for every part of your life that you use to choose your input. Friends, you can flip through them, places you go, you can flip through them, what you do on a Saturday night, all kinds of channels, books you read, tons of stations, the list goes on and on. You have a lot of control over what is in your heart. When you turn on a radio station, when you turn on a TV you are choosing your input.

If your output is a product of your input, then by choosing your input, you can affect your output. This is the point I’ve been dying to get to. You have a choice. There is a myth today that is so destructive, and so dangerous, and yet it is so lucrative and it is used to control people. It is a myth that is used to take away your ability to choose your input, and thereby affect your output. You are controlled. If you agree with nothing else you have read to this point, please believe this… The myth of today is that if something is available, it cannot be bad for. Everything that the world has to offer you, as long as it is legal, cannot be wrong. Tell me you don’t buy this. If something is sitting on a shelf at the store, then you can assume that the creators of that product definitely have your best interests in mind, right? It sounds pretty ridiculous when explained that way doesn’t it?

When I was very young, I went to the grocery store with my mom. I wondered down the candy aisle and found something I wanted. It was a tube of gel-like candy that was supposed to be a candy version of toothpaste. It came with a little colorful toy-like toothbrush. It didn’t have real bristles, but it had big bumps where bristles would be. Moms, does this not make you cringe? Have you ever had to pay for a stainless steel cap on a 4 year old? This was a candy/toy that was used to actually brush candy down into your teeth. All those little crevices and don’t forget to get way in the back behind the molars. If my mom bought the lie that everything available was good for you she would have said “oh, well gee, that can’t be bad. I mean, this candy company surely cares about the dental hygiene and health of my children, I’ll just get that for you.” My mother isn’t that naïve thank the Lord.  The company that made that candy didn’t care about my teeth, they didn’t care how much money my mom spent on dental work. There is a stronger argument that the toy was created by dentists that wanted more clients! Their only concern was marketing something to get kids to want it, and then beg and plead with their parents to get it for them until they drive their parents crazy. That is also why it was a foot and a half off the ground (just at my level), and right near the checkout lane (my mom was already exhausted from shopping and was more vulnerable to me begging her for something). 

Availability does not make something healthy or safe. This is not exclusive to things that are tangible. It goes for things you put in your mind as well. This is more to the point that I’m going for. The things that you watch on TV or listen to on the radio are input. You fill your mind which will also fill your heart. That’s input.

What are two things that can really drive up sales at the box office for a movie? They really seem to excite people and get their attention on TV. Popular musicians love to sing about them, authors make a real killing writing about them. I’ll tell ya! It is of course, sex and violence. The bible calls them murder and adultery/sexual immorality. Most people understand that committing murder is a terrible thing, but not everyone believes or knows that Jesus equated hating someone to murder. There are ways we commit murder in our hearts. Hate is equal to murder in the eyes of God. Chew on that. I won’t beat you over the head with that. I think adultery and sexual immorality are larger problems today. I think that what makes them problematic is that they are no longer profound subjects. They are considered very casual. They are in your face everywhere you look, and our culture doesn’t take them as serious as it should.

 Adultery is actually too strong of a word for most of the world today, so we have come up with a word that is less offensive. When people who are married go outside of their marriage to meet a need that should only be met by their spouse, they don’t say “I’m committing adultery,” they water it down and say, “I’m having an affair.” No, it is committing adultery, but those words sound kind of ugly, and might make someone feel convicted. No one wants to stand in court and say “I have been committing adultery.” It means that you’ve done something you should not have done. It is far easier to justify, and explain your way out of an “affair.” You can even blame an “affair” on your spouse. “She neglected me, she didn’t give me any attention, I wasn’t getting what I wanted from her, she forced me to have an affair to fill my needs.” No, you committed adultery. I know that sounds more profound, but it is meant to. It is a profound thing.

Sexual immorality refers to a whole slew of things that will probably offend just about everyone. Going out on the weekends looking for different girls to pick up, different dudes to pick up, very cool and celebrated when guys do it, hurtful despicable titles reserved for girls when they do, both are sexual immorality. I think you get the point, and I won’t club you over the head with this one either. The bible is very clear on what constitutes sexual immorality. Check it out, it’s in there.

You can say, “Well I don’t believe in the bible and I don’t believe that those things are really bad. Violence is on TV and sex is on the Internet. Deal with it.” First, you are a real trooper to read this blog post this far and not be a bible believing Christian, so thank you for sticking with me. Secondly, I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard that. It doesn’t take being a Christian to believe that sexual immorality and murder are terrible things for a person to commit. You know they are. Do you know how I know that you know they are? Because you don’t want your kids to commit them. If you have a very young son or daughter, when you look at their adorable little face, you don’t hope that they grow up to be violent and promiscuous. Don’t you hope that they become respectable, and dedicated? I pray to God that my kids become respectable and dedicated, dedicated to what they do with their lives, their career, their spouse, I hope great things for them. I pray that they make wise choices. I don’t want to ever have to go bail my kids out of jail. They will mess up. I hope they don’t mess up as much as I did. They will mess up all on their own. They don’t need encouragement from TV, or the radio, or friends, or anywhere else to help them mess up. That is why, it is important to fill them with good input, because you want positive output from them, right? Back to my myth…

Availability is not a gauge for acceptability. Often times, it is quite the opposite, especially in terms of input for your mind, but the majority of people accept what is available as a standard. That is why society today embraces things like promiscuous sex, and pokes fun at “40 year old virgins.” We can’t even fathom someone staying a virgin for that long without making fun of them. This fact is also the reason why there are 7 year old little kids cursing me out when I play online video games. Think I’m exaggerating? Get on there and check it out. It’s ugly. Find me a TV show about how faithful a married couple is, and I’d be willing to bet you that it’s a comedy. If a show’s characters are not being sexually promiscuous, then the theme of the show has nothing to do with that aspect of their lives. Otherwise, I bet it isn’t popular. Popular TV is not about faithful spouses, it is about sex and violence, because sex and violence sells, and people have bought the myth that it does nothing to harm you.

You may be offended if you think that I’m trying to teach you how to raise your kids. I’m not, I think you love your kids and you want the best for them. I’m speaking to adults. To you who seriously doubt what I’m saying, I ask you this. If my claim is false, then why can I, right now, go on the Internet and buy a zombie apocalypse survival kit for over 20k dollars? Because people are out of their minds, that’s why. It’s out there. I won’t advertise for them, but you can go google it. You’ll find it rather quickly. There is a slew of them. There is a market for it. It is what happens when a whole country becomes obsessed with how cool a zombie apocalypse would be. These are adults. Some say, “it’s just  TV!” I know! But people are taking it seriously. It’s spilling over into aspects of life where it doesn’t need to be. We don’t need anti zombie apocalypse kits. You know why? Because zombies aren’t coming. There’s also a Christian’s (and I use the term loosely) swingers dating site that has in their slogan “the bible says judge not lest ye be judge, and there’s also that verse about casting the first stone”. Never in ALL my life have I seen a verse plucked from scripture and made to mean something it was NEVER meant to mean, in order to fit someone’s lifestyle in a more clear way than that. It is appalling. Input to output, people.

But you can choose what you fill your head with. Change the channel on your remote. You don’t have to participate in what is popular. What’s popular is sex and violence. There’s more out there than that. Am I saying you shouldn’t listen to anything but worship music, and you shouldn’t watch any TV, and you shouldn’t drink, and you shouldn’t hang out with anyone who does? It wouldn’t hurt you any, but absolutely not.  I watch zombie movies too. I’m saying, remember that it IS profound! Don’t make sex and violence into something casual. I just want to share what the bible says; “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Monitor what you put into your heart. There’s garbage out there, they shovel it at us with a promise and a smile, and we really do get to choose whether or not to accept it. Anyone who knew me ten years ago would say that I have no right to tell people how to spend their time. I’d tell you, you’re right. But I’d like to share with you what happened to me anyway. I quit believing the myth, and I changed my input. I realized how profound life is, and how precious it is, and I wanted to know what made it so precious, and where it came from. I found it. It’s in the Bible. I found out how to love and how to respect, and I found out about marriage, and I found out about Jesus. It was extraordinary, and it changed my life. I don’t think it’s just a good book, or just good for business, I think its truth and I believe it is from God. “For faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of God”. I’ll leave ya with this last little bit. If in your heart, you feel that you aren’t completely satisfied with your output, examine your input. Why do you screen yourself around certain people? Why is something okay for you but not for your kids? Is it really okay for you, or is it just something you crave that has a negative effect on you, and you know it? You get to choose your input.