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A Beautiful Mind (# 8)
by David Smith

"... if anything is excellent ... think about such things." (Philippians 4:8 NIV) Isn't it funny how your mind works? You remember the strangest, most insignificant things from the past.

I distinctly remember - as if it just happened five seconds ago - the first time I ever heard the word "excellent" used by someone my age (and not in reference to a grade on a school assignment).

For example. It was over twenty years ago, I was telling my cousin, Kent, about something going on in my life - I don't remember what - and when I finished the story, he looked at me and said, "Man, that is excellent!"

Now I don't remember anything else about the matter and I couldn't begin to tell you why that experience is lodged in my memory, but I do remember his use of the word "excellent" and what he thought of my experience. I knew what he meant when he said it, too - I had his approval and his praise. No one had to tell me that I had heard for the first time a word being coined for my vocabulary. To this day, I still catch myself occasionally using "excellent" as a bit more modern word for "cool" or as a bit older word for "awesome."

Isn't it funny how your mind works? You can recall the strangest, most insignificant things from the past - and clearly forget the most significant things standing right in front of you.

For example. I sometimes forget to be good. To have some virtue. To be blameless. To walk upright. To live righteous. And I sin. Again. And again. And again.

And that really isn't funny. Because it really isn't excellent.

Why things happen that way I don't know, but of this much I am sure - as a Christian, I belong to Him who alone is truly excellent and, consequently, my life should ever declare His praises.

"... you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9 NIV) Funny that the word translated "praises" in that passage from Peter is the same word Paul used in Philippians 4:8 to describe what Christians fill their mind with - things that are "excellent." As a matter of fact, it's the same exact word that gets translated in another letter by Peter as descriptive of God's virtue and what we must add to our life in terms of "goodness."

"... His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness... For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness ..." (2 Peter 1:3,5 NIV) Funny how we forget that so easily.

Or is it really that - funny?

Funny I don't need; excellence, I do. Excellence as in keeping the memory of, and developing the mind of, my Lord Jesus Christ.

Father, I adore You! You alone are worthy; You alone. Help me live an excellent life so as to praise Your name completely. Empower me to bear the fruit of Your Spirit. For You are worthy, You alone. So open up my heart and mind and pour visions of virtue into my conscience. Lodge my Lord's cross in the midst of my memory and help me to never forget it's meaning for me. I ask in Jesus name that You would kill any complacency and slay any apathy You find within me. Give me the grace to help wield the sword in the bloody work of dying to myself and living for You. In the most excellent name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

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