The twenty-four-hour news cycle began on June 1, 1980, when media mogul Ted Turner flipped the switch and launched CNN—the world’s first nonstop all-news channel. On that inaugural broadcast from Atlanta, Turner spoke these apocalyptic words: “We won’t be signing off until the world ends.”
Since the world hasn’t yet ended, CNN is still on the air; but now they have lots of competitors—MSNBC, Fox News, Newsmax, and scores of other channels devoted to nonstop breaking news, business news, sports reports, and weather updates. If we’re not near a television, no problem. Our computers, tablets, and smart phones give us constant access to thousands of streaming services and news sites, including some devoted exclusively to Christian and religious news.
That’s a lot of airtime and web space to fill. In the process, it seems to me we’re subjected to more opinion than fact. Turn on the news anytime day or night and you’ll hear viewpoints blaring out like foghorns. Since we tend to listen to pundits who share our own opinions, we’re constantly reinforcing and hardening our own positions—whether they’re correct or not. As time goes by, we begin thinking and talking and opining like whomever we’ve listened to most often or most recently.
A million voices are demanding our attention. The chatter is unstoppable. Self-proclaimed experts are dusted with makeup, wired with a microphone, and propped up at desks where cameras are aimed at them like canons. Out of fear of cancellation, they try their best to persuade us they’re right, even if they have to scream to do it.
So who is grabbing your attention? While we want to be well informed about world events, I want to ask a simple question: Is it possible our opinions are being formed more by “Breaking News” than the “Good News”? More by pundits than by Scripture? More by television than by truth? Is our philosophy more informed by big shots and loud shouts, or by the voice of God as recorded in His Word?
Has our constant access to an electronically connected world drawn our attention away from the wisdom of God’s infallible Bible? If our attention span has been captured by the fast-paced world of twenty-four-hour news and entertainment, we need to disconnect long enough each day to hear the voice of God, study His Word, and pay attention to the wisdom He offers.
Isaiah said, “If only you had paid attention to My commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea” (Isaiah 48:18, NIV).
Jeremiah said, “Hear and pay attention, do not be arrogant, for the LORD has spoken” (Jeremiah 13:15, NIV).
For many of us, our attention is spread so thin that we’re having a hard time giving our attention as we should to prayer and the ministry of the Word and to what we have seen and heard from God and to the prophetic message of Scripture.
Who has your attention? Whose voice do you hear most often? Who is speaking most loudly into your mind?
Here is a simple exercise to help you determine who most has your attention. As you ponder the questions below, try to be honest in evaluating yourself and your use of time.
1. How many hours a day is your television on, even if you’re not sitting down and consciously watching it?
2. Multiply that number by seven for a broad approximation of your conscious and unconscious weekly viewing habits: ___________.
3. When you are in your car, how often do you listen to the radio or a podcast?
4. How many minutes a day do you spend on social media, such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter?
5. How many hours do you spend in personal Bible study?
When we develop the mind of Christ and focus on Him, we lose track of the chatter of the world. That’s not bad; that’s good. He’s the expert in every field, His opinions are unerring, and His wisdom is readily available. Put the world on “mute” for a while, press the pause button, unplug and power down your electronics, and take time to tune in to what God wants to tell you.
David Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church. For more information about Dr. Jeremiah, visit www.DavidJeremiah.org
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