How to Watch the News

—without getting overwhelmed
From the October 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

Hundreds of headlines per minute are pouring out right now from websites, apps, social media, networks, cable, magazines, radio and newspapers. The New York Times alone, for example, publishes 700 articles, 600 images, 14 slide shows and 50 videos online per day.

It’s impossible to watch it all. The news glut is so excessive that we have now created news aggregators, programs that exist solely to sift the overflow of news: Flipboard, Pulse, Reddit, Instapaper, Reeder, Feedly, Digg, Readability, StumbleUpon, Taptu, Zite, etc. Yet now we find ourselves with a glut of aggregators. That is the kind of news deluge we are living under.

In this ocean of news, it’s easy to miss information that is interesting or even accurate—let alone what is truly important. Millions of the news reports piling up today are simply a waste of time. Most reports are selected for their value in terms of sensation, shock, entertainment or celebrity. News writers focus on what you want to know, not what you need to know. Online, it’s even worse. Millions of posts exist not to actually provide you with useful information, but to direct your eyes toward the advertisements that generate revenue for the website.

But submerged in this information overflow are some major events that will affect your life! Dramatically. Imminently. In fact, your world has already been shaped by news happening everywhere from down the street to the other side of the planet.

This is an important reason to watch the news: because some of those events affect you. They affect your loved ones, your nation and your world.

This has been true throughout human existence. Free republics are particularly dependent upon their citizens being well informed. But sadly, voters in declining societies focus mostly on local events that affect their own property. They overlook the effects on other people, and they ignore the bigger picture. History is full of the suffering and deaths of people who have ignored the world around them.

Disregarding the news is like sailing the ocean without ever coming on deck. Living your whole life in your cabin may keep you dry and warm for a while, but it also blinds you to the winds and waves and storms and reefs outside.

A world full of human nature is more tempestuous than the roiling high seas—and now, more than ever, it’s more deadly.

But if you do come out on deck to be vigilant and discern the skies, how do you know what you’re looking at? How do you know what’s important?

You can try your best to absorb as much news as you can. You can use your judgment to reason out how the events you’re seeing might affect you. You can use the judgment of others to analyze what is truly important. And you can come away feeling informed.

But feeling informed is not the same as being informed. The news stream saturates you with plenty of facts. Things you can remember and repeat. But Ray Bradbury called this “a sense of motion without moving.” It’s the feeling of being well informed—without actually being well informed.

To be able to ignore these distractions and to spy a true course, you need a chart. You need information from a source that knows where the currents and the debris and the squalls are. Otherwise you’re sailing by sight.

Believe it or not, there is one chart that claims to show you how to navigate world news. It was plotted by a cartographer who asserts knowledge of every current and wave of human nature. That chart is the Holy Bible. And that chart-maker is Jesus Christ.

Although He is not generally recognized as such, Jesus Christ was a news forecaster. During His life on Earth and throughout the Word of God, Christ’s message has focused on world events. And most of those events are actually occurring in our day. And as He prophesied, these world events are actually leading to His return!

Jesus Christ said in Matthew 24:42, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”

Jesus gave that directive while delivering His detailed “Olivet prophecy.” In that forecast, He gave His disciples the sign of His return and the end of the age. Along with other prophecies, this forecast tells us where we are in history, why world events are happening the way they are and how much time is left. They explain which nations rise to power and which ones fall. They show who will ally with whom, and what great wars will erupt.

Christ has been correct about major world trends that occurred centuries after He predicted them. This may seem outlandish, even to many Christians, but Revelation 19:10 says “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” You can measure the accuracy and authority of Christ’s words—by His prophecy.

This leaves you with a clear choice when watching the news: Prove whether or not the Bible contains this remarkable and relevant news insight, or rely on your own judgment and the analysis of others.

As you sail a dangerous world full of tumult and evil, this is a crucial decision you cannot avoid.