To What Are You Listening?

As a pastor, I deal with all kinds of people. Those personalities have been enlarged during these times of international pandemic and national upheaval. There are those that are fearful — many living every moment right now in fear. There are those that are suspicious — holding every intention suspect and refusing to believe anything that goes against their particular ideology. And then there are the rest of folks who basically fall into the “we’re-over-all-of-this-and-really-want-it-to-go-away-but-will-somebody-PLEASE-give-us-the-truth?” zone.

We could talk politics and media and probably explain the majority of all three groups’ frustration. But the thing that continues to bother me most are the reports coming from the very agencies (government and otherwise) who are supposed to be helping our nation rightly respond and have instead made matters worse in many cases.

I’m not here to “out” any particular agency — honestly, most have culpability. But I do want to talk about three types of “intelligence” being used to advise us. Most people are not parsing these out — and I’ve found (personally) that doing so helps me keep my sanity and better understand the realities we are actually facing. Being careful about the sources to which we are listening is more important now than ever.

Information – This is what we want. Facts. Real data. Expert observation based upon real experience rooted in a factual basis. Unfortunately, this has been hard to find. I understand that it was difficult at the beginning because the coronavirus (for example) was a brand new contagion. But we have now globally learned a lot. And what has bothered so many people is the blatant avoidance of that data by leading media outlets and governmental agencies when informing the public and making policy decisions. Jesus taught, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). That still holds. When people have the truth, then they can act accordingly. Even knowing hard truth is better than knowing no truth! And yet, the truth has not been adequately passed on to the citizenry as it has been discovered and determined.

Speculation – This is largely what we have been given. Opinions. Possible outcomes. And most of this has been built upon “models” that have nearly all turned out to be either overinflated or, in some cases, grossly wrong altogether. Whole communities and industries have been impacted by decisions based upon inaccurate “outcomes.” And what makes this even worse is the world’s experts have repeatedly relied upon and even validated these erroneous reports and speculations. As I have ministered to people who are living in fear, nearly 100% of them have built their understanding of current events upon the models. They are living in the world of “what if” speculations and it has consumed them. This has got to stop. Again, when the pandemic began, we had a lot to learn. We’re still learning. But now we have a lot of really good information that is true and accurate. Let’s make decisions and build policies on that. A huge segment of our population needs this.

“Agitation” – This is what the agenda-driven crowd are using to “stir the pot.” I am incensed at the number of “voices” in our nation right now — many with huge audiences — who are being purposely selective about what and how they report so that they push people in their preferred direction. This is being done in some way to people on all age levels — including children — and it’s pure evil. Both powerful and trusted people are manipulating the unwitting to think what they want them to think. And when those with real information begin to speak, they are all but ignored. The agitators have an agenda and it’s working on whole swaths of our population because they have been prepped to follow based upon ideology and feelings. Agitation is the most dangerous of these three sources because it is insidiously intentional.

So back to my original question. To what are YOU listening? It matters. How you live, how you cope, and what your future looks like are all based upon your answer to this question. For me, as one who knows what it is to endure uncontrolled anxiety for a long season, I’m choosing to not live in fear. But that choice then dictates what sources I use to learn what’s going on in our world. I can tell you that the vast majority of “news” agencies have permanently lost me as a customer. I have a very select set of daily and weekly sources I peruse to learn the truth. (I’m not going to list specifics here, but you need to do due diligence in your own area to find them as well). These sources have proven — repeatedly, and for a very long time — to be reliable, accurate and truthful. Two of them deal ONLY in real facts and data. One interprets that same data, but is honest about their reporting perspective so I can filter it accordingly. I will tell you that one of those sources in our current circumstance is the CDC Website itself. It’s amazing how often what they have on their website is misinterpreted by news outlets to fit a specific speculation or agitation agenda. You and I need to constantly be aware of that and reject it.

Several weeks ago I responded to a friend on Facebook who was in all out panic mode — on social media for all the world to see. Here’s what I said, “Fear has controlled humanity from the beginning. Your fear controls your thinking and behavior to this day. Those who control the fear control you. The one who controls the fear mongers controls the world.” I refuse to live in fear. My Jesus tells me daily to “fear not.” While I don’t always wake in it, most days I live in real shalom — peace, wholeness and assurance. Satan is the deceiver. Jesus says of Satan, “…He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Spend a good amount of time in the truth, the Word of God, every single day. Then add to that sources that provide accurate and truthful information.

Friend, discern and listen to the truth. Jettison the rest. Live accordingly.