Pastor Mark’s Devotions, July 13

“Fake News or Good News?”

Test everything. Hold on to the good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21


Last night, after returning home from our Council meeting, I watched a program on PBS entitled, “Fake: Searching for truth in the Age of Misinformation.” The program explored the variety of ways news is being communicated and delivered. They discussed the difficulty of knowing what news is authentic and the challenges behind hidden agendas. The program highlighted the difference between “misinformation” and “disinformation.” Misinformation can be an honest mistake made with honest intentions, while disinformation is inaccurate information with the expressed intent to deceive the reader. In the program, they highlighted a local newspaper, The Gazette, from Schenectady, New York. My interest was piqued as Jeriah is living a stone’s throw away from that city in the town of Troy. As a small newspaper, The Gazette is trying to survive and is still operating, in many way, with an old school mentality toward news. It’s not all bad–they are just getting swallowed up by the digital age. Actually, their approach is quite refreshing. They still send out reporters in search of in-depth, important stories relevant to their local audience. They are a dying breed. As news is being delivered 24 hours a day, through every digital medium imaginable, people are being trained out of reading and waiting for local, in-depth news. Unfortunately, I too have been trained out. I stopped my subscription to the Everett Herald a couple years ago because by the time I opened the paper, the headlines were already old news. The value of my subscription dwindled down to the value I received using the newspaper as fire starter.

Where do you receive your news? Local television stations like King5 or KIRO? Do you mainly watch FoxNews or CNN? Maybe you have tried a news station outside the country like CBC from Canada or the BBC from England. I survey them all.  Most young people today do not even watch a news program on t.v. at all. While they pull news feeds from online sites like Youtube, studies have shown that they receive most of their news from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and the like. They find out the news from a friend who passes along what they had heard, read or seen.

How does one know what news is true and accurately reported? Today, more than ever, we are being called to use critical thinking, examine the facts, and do our own personal research. With today’s constant media stream, we must question and critique what is being delivered, yet not become overly brazen, frustrated or exhausted – a tough challenge.

Today, we hear the term ”Fake News” on a daily basis. It was interesting to learn from where this term first originated. According to the PBS program, “Fake News” was first used in 1999, in reference to Jon Stewart’s satirical news program, The Daily Show. On this show, he made fun of actual news reports–that was part of his comedy routine. It would be similar to the comedy news sketch on Saturday Night Live, entitled, Weekend Update. Today, that term has been expanded and exploited to call out actual news stories, reporting and stations on a regular basis. This expanded usage has growing implications and is seriously, no joke.  

News stations are so threatened that they are publicly responding to the implications and fear that the public will not trust their reporting. That’s not to say that news stations should not be held accountable for the news that they report. Accountability is key. But it is interesting that they feel so threatened that they have made commercials focusing upon their station and reporters trying to rebuff the idea of “fake news.” Locally, I tend to watch King5 News. At the end of their commercial, they state, “We Stand for Truth!” But truthfully, even though they are subtly addressing the issue of “fake news,” the question must still be asked, “So, what TRUTH do you actually stand for?”

That question must be asked, because the truth is, everyone has a particular agenda. Whether as individuals or as news stations – unless we truly are talking about the weather – everyone approaches truth with an agenda. The first step in discovering fair reporting is knowing, being honest and aware of one’s agenda and bias. When we know that agenda – then we can begin to look for truth in, with, and around the subject being reported.

Are you aware that even God – most importantly – God, has an agenda? Have you ever really thought about that? God has a clear agenda in his attitude and actions! And He has made it crystal clear through the incarnation of his Son, Jesus Christ. What is God’s agenda? Jesus states God’s clear objective to Nicodemus, the religious leader, in the cover of night in John 3:17. God’s agenda is this, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him.” This is not fake news! In this one statement of Jesus, he lays out the Truth, and God’s desire, that will stand for all eternity. And once a person knows that God’s clear pursuit is to save the world through His Son, from here, one begins to search, examine, and explore the deeper truths about this reality of salvation.

As Christians today, it is critically important that we can discern between the truth of the Good News of Jesus Christ, and the fake news being reported about the Gospel. There are many mixed up messages being sent out on the digital airwaves. It is crucial that we know the message with both our head and heart – wisdom and revelation – intellect and relationship – in order that we can Stand for the Truth in Scripture and point people to the truth found in the person of Jesus Christ.

St. Paul found himself battling for the Truth to be heard and understood. Whether in the synagogues or in the open-air market, he fought for the true message of Jesus Christ to be received. To the believers in Galatia he exhorted them to not fall back into a yoke of slavery as they still looked to live according to the Law. To the believers in Corinth, Paul warned the people against false teachers and the “super-apostles” who would lead them astray. To the believers in Thessalonica, Paul told them to, “Test everything. Hold on to what is good. And avoid every kind of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)

Perhaps today, we might consider following in the footsteps of the fellow believers in Berea. Paul and Silas were sent to bring the Good News of Jesus to the Bereans. When they arrived, they went to the local synagogue. Acts17:11 tells us how the Bereans responded to the Good News. “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”  

The Bereans were on the lookout for fake news. They studied the Scriptures EVERY DAY to ferret out the truth of God. They were determined to discover the truth for themselves.

There are many people today and there will be many more in the future that will point to Christianity and simply declare, “Fake News!” If people hear this message enough, they are prone to believe it. May we be like the Bereans who examined God’s Word and grew to stand for and discern the truth of Jesus Christ. May we be believers that can respond to these accusations of fake news with deep seated honesty, knowledge, love, humility and respect because we know the Truth and that Truth has set us free!

We also have the opportunity to learn from those who have gone before us. Below, I have a list of atheists who have become deep seated believers. In the beginning, they cried out that Christianity was nothing but fake news. But upon their personal examination, study and discovery, they have become ardent believers and arch defenders of the Christian faith.

If you want to take advantage of this time in isolation and further your own personal discovery for truth, I highly recommend reading one or all of these four books from the following authors. 

C.S. Lewis – “Mere Christianity”

Lee Strobel – “The Case for Christ”

  1. Warner Wallace – “God’s Crime Scene”

Ravi Zacharias – “The Logic of God”

I am very excited about Ravi Zacharias’ new book, The Logic of God. It was published in 2019 before his death in 2020. It is his first and only devotional and offers 52 readings that explain how and why Christianity, the Bible and God are still relevant.

I am going to be ordering Ravi’s book for myself next Monday, 7/20. If you are interested in this book  – I can order one for you – please respond to this email, text my phone, or speak to me on Sunday (or you can just order it for yourself on Amazon).  I think this could be a fun, enlightening, and encouraging read together.

Cost – “The Logic of God” – hardcover –  $15.00 – make check payable to OSLC – memo: Ravi Book

God Bless You All

Pastor Mark