Garbage In, Garbage Out; The Root

Yesterday I wrote about the thrill of dumpster diving for donuts. Those days are over (probably) but today I wanted to address a similar topic that hits at the root of a huge issue.

We’ve all heard the term “Garbage in, garbage out”, most likely coming from the lips of a parent or a well-meaning relative. It’s not just some old idiom thrown out to shame children into making better decisions and choosing better companions; Jesus himself spoke on this very issue.

In Matthew 12:33-34 Jesus declares, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree it known by its fruit.” That verse always stuck out to me because it begs for a standard. Jesus was addressing the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law, and calling out their hypocrisy. “How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” 

There is no compromise here.

Since boyhood, growing up around my brother’s friends and those older than me, I’ve always remembered verse 34 and sought to keep a narrow yet thorough opinion of people by their words. If we could hear people’s thoughts I bet we’d choose our friends with a bit more scrutiny. You become like the 5 people you spend the most time around. Who wants to hang out with someone who’s not like-minded and seeking to benefit from each other’s company? Even to benefit one another.

If garbage in, garbage out is true, then as believers what should our next course of action be? We must examine our lives and ask, “What kind of fruit am I producing? Am I benefitting those around me by what I say?”

Jesus, in a similar passage in Matthew 7 tells us that “you will recognize them by their fruits.” Though the context here is discussing false teachers, the message remains the same. “Every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” He then reaches the climax by saying, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire”(Matthew 7:17-19).

I believed it as a kid and I still exercise the same practice of measuring people by their words. We all say foolish stuff we wish we could take back. I do it constantly. But thank the Lord for grace in our moments of stupid.

“The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil”(Matthew 12:35). 

To avoid beating a dead horse I’ll end with this: we talk about what’s important to us. The lives we live are evidence of what that is. There’s only room for one throne in our lives. Who will we allow to occupy it? Do we confess Christ and live accordingly or do our words convince otherwise?

The root of the issue is this: garbage in will always result in garbage out. So choose your words carefully.


Dumpster Diving For Donuts—One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

My friends think I’m weird because I like to eat out of the trash. Dumpsters to be exact. “The bigger the better,” I say.

How is this okay?

Because I’m dumpster diving for donuts. The saying hold’s true, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Or next meal in this case.

Okay, okay, I haven’t done this in almost 2 years(19 months actually) but desperate times called for desperate measures. Let me set the scene: I was on tour with my band a few years back and we began to hear fables of the glorious place they called Dunkin Donuts. Now, we have those in Oklahoma, don’t get me wrong, but these stories we heard always had one thing in common: closing time. And closing time meant “time to clean out the day’s supply of leftover donuts, separated them into clean trash bags (don’t tell me unused trash bags aren’t clean) and toss them in the dumpster out back.”

When hunger strikes a touring musician and there’s a Dunkin Donuts close by it sounds a lot like open season. So obviously I’ve got stories which I won’t withhold should you choose to ask me about it some time. Keywords are “dumpster diving, raccoon, cops, and get-away car.” It’ll be a good time.

xx man donuts

I won’t try to justify dumpster diving for donuts as a healthy meal plan but it does feel good to know you’ve scored something of value (to some) for free. Sometimes we had to drive around and hit 5 other shops before we hit a gold mine. And when we did…let me tell you: there’s nothing like waking up in the crisp morning air to smell of dozens of free breakfast goodies.

Here you are all snug and cozy in your sleeping bag, sprawled out across random band equipment, inside your trailer, in a Wal-Mart parking lot, in south Chicago, in February. You reach down and dig through the mess of jelly, glazed, long johns, cake, Bavarian cream even bear claws all in search of—where is it? Ahhh…the last apple fritter. Where else would you rather be?

Now any other red-blooded american might be ashamed to admit they dug through piles of napkins, coffee cups and other garbage to snack on day-old junk food but I believe there’s a silver lining here.

When an opportunity presents itself that you just can’t pass up you’ll do anything it takes to make it happen right? Even if you have try it 5 or 6 times, sifting through “garbage” to get what you need, it ultimately comes down to how bad you want it. There came a time in my life when I realized I needed to make a change and I did everything I could to achieve it. Today I’m able to walk forward with a clear conscience because of it.

All this to say, when life gives you something you can’t pass up, especially if you’re dumpster diving for donuts, take advantage of the opportunity and do what you must to reach your goals.