Too Many Distractions

We have heard it with our ears, O God; our ancestors have told us what you did in their days, in days long ago.  With your hand you drove out the nations and planted our ancestors; you crushed the peoples and made our ancestors flourish.  It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.

You are my King and my God, who decrees victories for Jacob.  Through you we push back our enemies; through your name we trample our foes.  I put no trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame.  In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever.

–         Psalm 44:1-8

 

“Don’t think about blue elephants.

“Now you’re imagining a blue elephant, right? The human brain is a complex biochemical machine with a limited capacity for attention and a high capacity for suggestibility. In the world today, there is an entire industry bent on capturing your attention and guiding your thoughts…and some days it works! How many hours per week is your mind absorbed with what you see and hear in popular media?

“According to the Bible, one of the first people in Europe to enter into relationship with Jesus was a businesswoman named Lydia. The scripture specifically says God opened Lydia’s heart to receive the message Paul was speaking (Acts 16:14). She had only to open her ears. 

“God has already done His part in preparing hearts to hear His message. Pray right now for your fellow citizens to escape the media maze and attend to the needs of their soul. With prepared hearts and open ears, an entire American generation can quit being distracted by the blue elephants and start being transformed by the love of Christ.”

–         Presidential Prayer Team Devotion

 

“Reading news without reading the Bible will inevitably lead to an unbalanced life, an anxious spirit, a worried and depressed soul.”

–          Bill Bright

 

Do people realize that almost everything has an on/off switch?  Okay, most modern electronic devices have this funny switch or button with an “I” sitting inside and atop an “O”.  That means zero or one.  In computer talk, zero or one means off or on.

 

You might want to consider using that button on occasion.

 

My wife loves having the television on at night.  She turns to a channel that is very boring, with drone noises, talking heads, etc.  She has tinnitus, ringing in the ears.  The drone talking head drowns out the ringing and she can get to sleep.  I prefer a fan running, for the same reason.  I wish that I still had my recordings of ocean waves crashing against the shore or thunderstorms – no music, no commentary, just the natural sound, pure bliss.

 

The Scripture above is upbeat.  We have heard it with our ears – thus, louder than the tinnitus.  God is in control.  He can, at any moment swoop down and fix a problem.  He did it for the people of Israel as evidenced in the Scripture above.  He can do it for us.  We might have to repent, but He can do it.  He has done it, off and on, over the centuries.

 

Does that help with the unbalanced life, anxious spirit, and depressed soul that Bill Bright mentions?  God is in control.  He can fix this – whatever your “this” is.  And God can fix the “this” of your life even when it is a snowball rolling down the biggest hill at an enormous rate of speed – to borrow a phrase from the movie Spaceballs, at Ludicrous Speed.  A little secret: That makes the miracle even more impressive.

 

Bill Bright died in 2003.  The quote above is before the days when news was called “Fake News”.  But was the news of his day true?  News sells advertisements based on who is watching, or who they think is watching.  Sensationalism sells.  Dooms day stories sell.  And by admission of truthful media experts, it is impossible to completely report the news without creating a slant in the reporting.  Add to that with the knowledge that certain organizations own or strongly influence news outlets.  If you say something that the boss does not want to hear, you won’t be working there long.  Yes, it happens.  It used to be that the owners of the media conglomerates cared about truth, but now they care about money and their personal agenda – thus our world is splitting apart at the seams.  The firestorm of the media’s creation is now real news.

 

As an example of sensationalism selling the news, many years ago, my wife smelled gas leaking.  (I am a chemical engineer.  That last sentence is fraught with inaccuracies.  Natural gas has no odor.  The gas suppliers are required to add mercaptan, a smelly organic compound, to the gas so that a leak can be easily detected.  You don’t smell the ‘gas’, you smell the mercaptan.  Mercaptan is a liquid, in standard conditions, so it is added near the point of use.  It is absorbed by the fuel gas similar to moisture in the air.  Thus, it goes wherever the gas goes.)  Anyway, back to the story.  I went to the gas stove, no leaks.  I went to the basement to the water heater, boiler for house heating, and the clothes dryer.  No leaks.  I reported to my wife that we had no leaks, but the strongest odor was in the master bedroom where she was watching TV and near the front door.  I opened the front door, and the smell nearly knocked me off my feet.  Just as I closed the door, the news interrupted the program that my wife was watching.  They mentioned our little town, nestled in a valley in former coal mining country.  The news anchor said, “Old people in town fear for their lives, of either suffocating or dying a horrible death in a gas explosion, as the smell of a massive gas leak fills the entire valley!  (noticeable pause, for effect.)  For details, stay tuned for the eleven o’clock news.”

 

We never watch the late news.  At the time of this ‘gas leak’, we usually were in bed by 10pm.  These days it is even earlier, even though I have no job to get up early for any more.  That night, we watched the news.  I was doubting what they had said, but my wife was afraid.  No responsible journalist would make such an inflammatory remark if it were true.  Would they?  These days, they would not hesitate.  But then, we semi-trusted the news.  After other real news, true or otherwise, for fifteen minutes, they got to our little valley.  There are two gas pipelines near our little town that go all the way to New England.  The scenting station at the top of the hill, opposite the hill our house is on, had run out of mercaptan.  The supply truck that drove down our valley to climb the hill to the station had a drain valve on the tank of his truck that had gotten stuck, slightly open.  When he got to the scenting station, his truck was empty, but the valley was filled.  The smell was gone by morning thanks to a nice breeze, but countless people were calling 911 all night long.  I am sure that after the irresponsible journalism demonstrated by the television station, the emergency calls increased.

 

Between writing this post and editing, I saw a news report that illustrates, to a small degree, bias in the news, the bias of an animal lover.  The zoo at Colorado Springs closed yesterday (the day before the writing of this post, not the posted date) due to a hailstorm.  The hailstorm with softball sized hail injured 14 people, some who were hospitalized.  But when the announcer reported that two animals were killed, there was a catch in the throat (real or for effect, I don’t know) and then the words, “What a tragedy.”  Then a moment of silence, just a few seconds.  Fourteen people injured was no big deal, but two animals being killed was a tragedy requiring a short moment of silence.  Then, an hour later, the network announced that the two animals were a vulture and a duck.  They had a moment of silence on the air, due to the tragedy that a vulture and a duck died at the zoo during a hailstorm.  Really?  People, it’s a vulture! And!  A duck!  I doubt if either are on the endangered species list.  When the last male white rhino died a couple of months ago, effectively ending the species, there was less news coverage.  My younger son eats duck for Thanksgiving instead or turkey.  Okay, I have been insensitive.  I apologize to the families of the vulture and the duck for my insensitivity.  I guess my insensitivity stems from my father, a farmer, who told me not to cry when my pet dog died, the last dog of our last litter of beagles.  He reminded me where a shovel was and said, “Be a man.  Don’t cry.  It’s only livestock.”  I was fourteen.  But those fourteen people will be in my prayers.  And that hailstorm with softball sized hail was light compared to what is coming at the end times.  We need to be prepared and be confident, not afraid and depressed.

 

Okay, for anyone who turned off my site, possibly forever, in that last paragraph, I am sorry for offending you.  Sometimes I let my rants sit so that you can figure out my source of concern, but I shall explain this time.  Ken Davis, in a recent interview, said that comedy is changing, because people are more concerned with whether they should be offended rather than whether something is funny or not.  In the last paragraph, I channeled my best Ken Davis technique.  I said something that I thought was absurd.  I then repeated it slower and louder and if you could hear me, with a higher pitched voice with an inflection that made it sound like a question, showing total incredulity.  Why is it absurd?  If the vulture was an endangered species, I apologize, but there aren’t many people who would cry over a dead vulture in the wild.  Ducks?  There are a lot of ducks.  This was a hailstorm that hit more than just a zoo.  That hailstorm probably hit neighborhoods.  A little child’s cute little puppy getting killed wasn’t even noteworthy.  See that absurdity?  (Not saying that any puppies died.  But damage outside the zoo was not even reported.  I just think there had to be some.)  Then, the network felt it necessary to update the report from ‘two animals’ to ‘a vulture and a duck’.  But what of the fourteen people?  They were so insignificant that we only know that ‘some’ went to the hospital.  To channel Ken Davis again – some, Some!  Some?  Were any in critical condition?  How many broken bones?  After all, softball sized hail flying at 100 miles per hour could really do some damage.  Are any of them about to die?  Yet, the network was satisfied with fourteen injured and ‘some’ in the hospital.  My attempt at a comedy rant showed a bias, just as the reporting from the network showed its bias.  We each expressed our agenda in what was said and what was not said.  You can watch the news but watch it intelligently.

 

Regardless of whether you trust the media or not, the sensationalism of the news will make you depressed, if that is the only source of your information.

 

Use the on/off switch.  Open your Bible and read things like the Scripture above.  God is in control.  God can, has, and will fix things.  In fact, in the end, God will fix everything.

 

Until then, some of those things needing to be fixed provide us a test of faith.  Are we to crumble under the pressure of anxiety or are we going to calmly remember that God is our strength and our protection?  Avoid distractions.  Trust in God.

 

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

 

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