Truth: Check It Out

Two stories have broken in the news this past week that have had people talking.

On Wednesday, it was announced that Justice Stephen Breyer is retiring from the Supreme Court of the United States, which means President Biden gets to nominate Breyer’s replacement. However, within a few hours of the story breaking, it was announced that Justice Breyer had not intended for the news to get out so soon (traditionally, Justices announce their retirement at the end of the Court’s term in June), and that he was upset at what had happened. Obviously, someone had leaked the news to the press and it had not even been verified (although it did turn out to be true).

Then today, it was announced that Tom Brady, a 7-time Super Bowl Champion and possibly the Greatest Quarterback of All Time, was retiring. Within minutes, it was all over the news. Again, nothing from the man himself; in fact, his own father came out and said Brady was not retiring, and Bruce Arians, the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Brady’s current team—said this was the first he had heard about it. Yet, sports networks like ESPN continued to pedal the rumor that Brady was done (not surprising; ESPN isn’t exactly known for journalistic integrity).

What if Justice Breyer or Tom Brady had come out afterward and denied the whole report? You can’t un-ring a bell, and once a story is out there it’s hard to make a retraction (actually it’s quite easy; the hard part is getting as many people to pay attention to it once the narrative is out there). Breyer is retiring, and Brady probably will as well, but it doesn’t make the media look any better.

Fortunately, these are two minor examples from the recent past (there are major examples from just the past few years), but journalism is in big trouble in this country. And it’s not just about journalism; there is a huge problem with truth. Who are you supposed to believe anymore? Who is the great arbiter of truth?

I majored in Journalism at VCU (side note: the basketball team beat the Richmond Spiders tonight in the cross-town rivalry; Go Rams!) and one of my professors once said, “if your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.” What he meant is that whenever you hear something, check it out for yourself to make sure it’s true.

Another famous saying in media (which is obviously not applied much anymore) is that “it’s better to be right than to be first;” if you’re the first to break a story, but you’re wrong, it doesn’t matter that you were the first: wrong is wrong. Truth is truth.

Just because a famous person says it doesn’t mean it’s right, either.

Christians are supposed to be truth-seekers. If we believe whatever we hear in the news, or from our social media feeds, or wherever else, without checking it out for ourselves, we need to be careful enough, but all the more if we hear something that goes against what the LORD says. The Apostle Paul said those in Berea searched the Scriptures daily to see if what they were being taught was so (Acts 17:11), and he warns against being tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, but to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:14-15). If you go to court, you swear to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” on penalty of perjury. How much more important to heed God’s truth! A half-truth is not truth, and truth with a little extra is not also not truth; at the very end of the Bible is a stern warning against adding to or taking away from God’s Truth (Revelation 22:18-19). John MacArthur said, “When the Word of God is not set up as the supreme authority, division is inevitable. Such happens even in evangelical churches, when pastors and other leaders begin substituting their own ideas for the truths of Scripture. The substitution is seldom intentional, but it will always happen when the Bible is neglected. A Bible that is not studied carefully cannot be followed carefully. And where it is not followed there will be division, because there will be no common ground for beliefs and practices. When the truth of Scripture is not the sole authority, men’s varied opinions become the authority.”

We live in a world where it’s hard to figure out who to believe. With so much information out there coming from so many sources (mainly the internet), it’s impossible to comprehend it all, but none of that will actually save anyone. The only source of information that can be depended on with absolute certainty is the Bible; God doesn’t change, even here in 2022. “The truth of the LORD endures forever (Psalm 117:2).”

Grace and peace,

-Dan

(also, I neglected to mention recently that my presentation on Handel’s Messiah can be found here)

The LORD Doesn’t Forget

Have you ever felt forgotten, like you did all the work for something but someone else ended up getting the reward? I’m not just referring to a job, where you want a promotion and someone else who does no work ends up getting it; I’m talking about when you put in a lot of effort for something, and it is forgotten, or unappreciated, while someone else who literally just exists, gets what you wanted, what you were chasing, where it seems to just fall into their lap, many times without even asking for it.

This has been on my mind a lot lately, and it’s really frustrating. I don’t even know if I’m wording it right on here.

One of the worst things someone ever told me (and this was someone I think very highly of and have a huge amount of respect for), was that God doesn’t care about effort; that no matter what, God is going to just do things his way. That was the last thing I needed to hear on that day, besides, “There’s other fish in the sea…” I totally disagreed that God doesn’t care about effort; sure, his will prevails, but we can’t just sit by and think that everything just falls into place: your future boss at your dream job is not just going to call you out of the blue, and your future significant other is not just going to ring your doorbell and say “Here I am!” You have to put forth quite some effort. But the cruel irony is seeing someone who just has everything seem to go their way get what you want without any effort. It can actually discourage you from wanting to try at all for something, hoping that maybe for once things will just fall into your lap.

I know this verse is taken a little out of context, but the principle behind it still applies:

“God is not unfair; he will not forget the work you did or the love you showed for him in the help you gave and are still giving to other believers.”-Hebrews 6:10

The Lord remembers; he will not leave you empty-handed. He has promised that the righteous will be rewarded; he knows what we need before we even ask him (Matthew 6:8). A brother once told me that if you’re trying to do the right thing and you’re asking God for help, he will take care of you. That was a few years ago, and I’ve kept it in the back of my mind ever since.

Don’t be discouraged; the Lord is mighty to save and nothing is too hard for him (Isaiah 63:1; Jeremiah 32:17).

Grace and peace-

-Dan

New Year, New Resolutions, New Blog, and A New Day

Happy 2022 everyone! I hope you all had as great a holiday season as I did; thankfully, I had the privilege of attending the Williamsburg Conference again after it was canceled in 2020. My notes from the Conference are here, and the exhortation I gave on the final day, is available here.

After the Conference ended on the afternoon of December 31, instead of heading home to Richmond after the Conference ended on the afternoon of December 31, I went to Virginia Beach for some time to unwind and reflect on what had been a year so full of ups and downs that I lost count. It was a great way to finish off 2021, sitting by the ocean and getting some free Vitamin Sea. I got back to Richmond around 9 PM that night—just a few hours until the New Year—and sat down to write some New Year’s Resolutions/Goals—29 to be exact—I was so excited for 2022. Unfortunately though, after January 1, I very quickly forgot about the “resolutions” I had made, and here we are two weeks into the New Year, and I’ve hardly accomplished anything. Interestingly enough, starting a blog was NOT on my list of resolutions/goals, but it is now #30; I was inspired to restart my blog recently when I read a wonderful blog post by someone who I have never even met.

Today around 12:30, Glenn Youngkin put his hand on the Bible and took the oath of office to become the 74th Governor of Virginia. He was elected in somewhat of an upset victory back in November, along with Winsome Sears and Jason Miyares, the Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, respectively.
The LORD changes the times and seasons, and sets up kings (and Presidents and Governors) and removes them (Daniel 2:21). Today was the start of a new time and season in Virginia; the pendulum has swung the other way after being controlled by one party for the previous eight years. I hope you all will join me in praying for the new Governor, that the LORD will help him will do what is right in His sight, and that they will all come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved (1 Timothy 2:1-4): when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice (Proverbs 29:2). Therefore “pray FOR your leaders; don’t prey ON them;” their job is difficult enough. Remember that every Governor/President is a very imperfect human being who is the imperfect leader of a very imperfect state/country. My Bible tells me to curse not the king, not even in my thought (Ecclesiastes 10:20). Our outgoing Governor Ralph Northam did not start any of the problems that plague this state, nor did Donald Trump or Joe Biden start any of the problems that plague this country; WE did, because we’re human beings. Governor Youngkin may be a wonderful Governor—and I hope he will be—but he isn’t going to cause all the problems to go away, neither is President Biden, nor any human leader. Only Jesus can, and he will one day very soon. The wind and waves are roaring, but the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is almost here, who will bring peace and truth and righteousness to this sick and sinful and troubled world; worthy is the Lamb that was slain and hath redeemed us to God by his blood, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor and glory and blessing (Revelation 5:12).
The LORD told Solomon that if his people will humble themselves, and pray, and seek the LORD’s face, and turn from their wicked ways, he will hear from heaven and will forgive and heal (2 Chronicles 7:14). This is a promise—not for America—but for all who will listen.

Side note: at the end of the Inauguration ceremony, the new Governor gave a prayer for his administration and for all of Virginia; it was amazing, and refreshing to see a leader who makes it a priority to seek the LORD’s help before beginning the journey ahead of him. Let that be a lesson for all of us.

I hope to post on here often as I begin to phase out Facebook (which is a real shame; Facebook just isn’t what it used to be), and I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.

Grace and peace, and love in Jesus, who makes all things new-

-Dan