By Tony Harriman
Around the world there are thousands of what are known as “News Anchors.” These are the men and women who are given the job of delivering the daily offerings of worldwide or local news items. If you didn’t know it, you need to know, all these people are actors. They are paid to read scripts, usually displayed on what are known as “teleprompters.” The news anchor usually is largely unfamiliar with the items on the menu, other than what he or she has been scripted to repeat. Don’t confuse a news anchor with a “journalist;” we’ll talk about journalists in a moment.
Most news anchors are mediocre, or typical. But some news anchors stand out among the crowd. These are the men and women who land the big jobs at the big networks -- and accordingly get paid the big paychecks, because advertising companies will pay well for a well-groomed actor who they think will keep the punters (you and me) returning to watch the news desk. These men and women didn’t wake up one morning, walk into the network news facility and announce that he or she was the person for the job in front of the camera. Quite often years of grooming can be the only cause of a great performance.
The network news organizations are not much unlike Hollywood and the Oscars, offering awards for this, that and the other thing news related. Great actors are able to deliver stella performances that move us as human beings. Some actors are able to be absorbed by their roles so completely that the viewing audience sees right past the actor. This is true for both the news people and Hollywood actors. In the immortal spirit of Bob Costas, “Had there been no awards, there would be no great performances.”
Great sales people have skills that often are the result of hard study -- study of your product, of your delivery, of your audience. And quite often a basic knowledge of psychology won’t do a bit of harm. Understanding why we do what we do and why we think the way we think is increasingly necessary for navigating through humanity.
The law schools and the medical institutions also gush out a similar breed of actor, and the better ones also get paid accordingly. Though in medicine, aptitude and application are necessary in order to get it right, and to succeed in the realm of research. A good attitude doesn't hurt a bit, either. But at the end of the day, both are still following a script.
In today’s Western society the audience has a certain amount of expectation -- from the silver screen to the operating theater to the courtroom to the pulpit. All actors go to an acting school of some kind or other. Preachers go to seminary -- usually.
Let’s talk about those “preachers” and that “usually.”
Interested as I am in the human beings with whom I share the planet, I occasionally pick up an audiobook course on human behavior and listen as I travel. Recently I was interested to hear a story involving what is termed “Chauffeur Knowledge.” I won’t bore you with the details, suffice it to say that there are people who have paid the price (be what it may) to learn the material. And then there are people who have simply, through exposure to the speaker, learned the talk. The chauffeur who has “learned” the talk well can just as easily stand up and “give” the talk.
Most of us who fill the pews during any given sermon have chauffeur knowledge. And, dare I say it, most of the preachers also have chauffeur knowledge. The scholar with the ever-so-many letters after his or her name would probably beg to differ right here, but it would be worthwhile for him or her to remember that he or she did not invent the information or develop the condition.
We’re all in the same category. Lay-people, preachers -- professional or otherwise -- are all reading from a script which is thousands of years old. We may be very familiar with the script, may be able to quote large portions of it at a moment's notice. But we're still reading a script. We have no real knowledge of most of the things we speak about. Just like an astronomer can tell you with convincing detail almost everything that may be known regarding the cosmos, never having left planet earth. We cannot speak with any authority regarding the place we call Heaven, or the materials that exist there. None of us were eyewitnesses to any of the historical events spoken of in the Bible. When it comes to the Holy “Script”-tures, the Bible, we are all on level ground. Today, in free societies, we can all read the Bible for ourselves. The same Spirit that inspired the words in the beginning can inspire your mind to understand them.
“But I went to school for years to study Greek and Hebrew and Ancient Chaldean!” Yes, the Holy Spirit knows those languages, too.
“But I spent a fortune on my seminary education!” Yes, and Jesus gave up a lot to learn it, too.
Nowadays, everything that is known about the Holy Scriptures may be learned in a library or in the ubiquitous realm of the internet. You just need to know where to look and be willing to devote the time for research.
Let's not confuse preachers with pastors. These are not necessarily the same creature. Pastors (or shepherds) are pastors 24/7/365. Shepherds are concerned for the sheep all the time. Shepherds always have an eye open for the health and safety of the flock -- no matter the weather, the season or the terrain. A preacher, on the other hand, is useful for one hour per week, unless he or she is an evangelist engaged in an evangelistic campaign, which might last perhaps a few weeks. A preacher will often spend more time preparing his lecture than tending the flock. Don't confuse an evangelist with a pastor. Very few evangelists make good pastors. We need good preachers and evangelists. We also need good pastors, whether they can preach or not. Very few conscientious shepherds could have given us the Book of Psalms.
A gifted preacher (not to be confused with a polished lecturer) did not get that ability from text books or school. The gifted preacher is working in tandem with the Holy Spirit. The man or woman is using words to reinforce the working of the Spirit in your mind, while at the same time the Spirit is confirming the words spoken.
Dare I say it, but the Holy Spirit can do for you in a moment what you will never be able to do in school, no matter how big the tab. The gift of tongues? Free. The gift of prophecy? Also free. You want love? Patience? Wisdom? These may never be found in books. These are gifts from God, and are given freely to whom He chooses. Knowledge is found in books, not gifts.
Spiritual realities are spiritually comprehended. They are introduced to us usually through spiritual experiences, ones that cannot be found in text books. Spiritual experiences are spoken of in the Bible, but are not contained within its pages. There is no safety in an intellectual knowledge of the Scriptures. If there were, then the Devil himself would be far ahead of us. There are unseen predators waiting to hurt you at every moment and at every turn, but attempting to stay protected by surrounding yourself with umpteen versions of the Bible -- in any language -- will make as much sense as leaving unopened cans of bug spray around the house hoping to deter roaches and fleas.
The Bible is not the key to Heaven; it is the map to the key. The same is true for the hymnal and the Book of Nature. All these things point the way to the Throne of God, but will all eventually pass away. Everything that has been created testifies of its Creator, but contains no means for salvation. Salvation is a gift of God, not the wages of education. All these things show the way to our Father, but the journey is ours alone to make.
If you want to learn to be an authority on the material contained IN the Bible, you can learn THAT in school. But you will not be of much use to the king of the land who's had a dream he can't remember and is looking for solutions. A Bible study? Yes, you can give him that. But, then, so can all his devilish prophets.
If you honestly believe that you must devote untold hours and days and months and years of study before you can be useful to God, then you’d better be about it, ‘cause you’re running out of time.
Let’s talk about that Journalist.
Most journalists ARE familiar with the subject material. It’s the journalist who goes out and often puts his or her life on the line to bring back the script for the actors. Many journalists have lost their lives in the course of their duty, though they are often the unsung heroes who don’t get their pictures pasted onto the front cover of TIME Magazine dressed as one of the opposite gender. Journalists take the time to do the research into life-changing and heart-breaking material, while the bigwigs in their air-conditioned offices back home determine whether this or that report is worthy of their sponsors’ support.
We’re not going to waste any keystrokes talking about politicians.
We could talk about teachers and professors right here, but we’re going to run out of time in this short collection of opinions, though the same relevance would apply. Let’s just say that great teachers and professors would love to break from the script they’ve been offered, but rarely get the opportunity.
Let's talk about those preachers a little more.
For me, preachers are curious creatures. Preachers are dealing in life or death knowledge -- sometimes. Preachers must study, not only their material, but also their audience. The audience, the congregation, is full of the preacher’s sponsors. If the preacher gives the sponsors what they want, the sponsors keep buying airtime. If the preacher deviates from the company line, the sponsors look for somewhere else to go -- unless the preacher is gifted by God. These gifted preachers have little regard for the sponsors. Their message is from the Father above, and the Father has ways of supporting his faithful shepherds. The Father has an interest in the sheep of all flocks that He has shed his blood for. The worldwide sheep of the flock are in constant danger from unseen predators, and can never consider themselves safe. The faithful shepherd cares about the flock, because he or she shares an interest in them with the Father. The faithful shepherd is more than just an employee.
Bubblegum Pop and Bubblegum Preachers.
In pop-music songwriting, there are great songs, and then there is “Bubblegum Pop.” There are songs that have tremendous meaning (the songs that stick around), and then there are songs that have a handful of words repeated over and over and over for three or more minutes, usually whining about this boyfriend or that girlfriend. Once the flavor's gone, the gum is tossed out.
By the same token, there really are some great preachers. But then there are an awful lot of bubble-gum preachers. Great preachers move us to do more meaningful things with our few remaining hours on the planet. They urge us to get to know our Heavenly Father -- through His Word, His works and His children. Great preachers encourage us to be responsible -- on all levels. Bubblegum preachers talk to us about Biblical characters, Biblical times, Biblical themes. Some of them encourage us to spend countless hours sifting through mysterious Biblical innuendo. They have numerous rabbit holes to send their listeners down in search of vague references which are unenlightening, albeit interesting, regarding messy cultures of the day from thousands of years ago. But at the end of their messages, they have told us nothing about our Father or the world in which He lives. Our cooperation with the forces of Heaven are a mystery to them, so they make only vague references to the powerful realities of the Plan of Salvation. Bottom line: They haven’t told us anything that matters for the times in which we’re living. There are no solutions offered for the child living in abuse. No hope for the person about to take his or her life. No answer for the desperate situations in which many of us find ourselves.
Some preachers speak to you in a manner that all but convinces you that they were the actual originators of this verse of Scripture or that. When the truth is, like we've observed, we are all just reading a script. Some of us know the script better than others. And here is a point where the insufferable prig raises his or her ugly head: “We all have a knowledge of the information -- but I know it better than the rest of you.”
It’s true, some people ARE able to wrap their heads around some subject material better than are some others. But there’s a Scripture to help with that: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him [or her] ask of God, that giveth to all … liberally, and it shall be given ….” James 1:5. But, you say, that verse isn’t for me. I’m a man. I’m a woman. I’m a barbarian, a gentile. I’m the child of unbelievers and alcoholics. Dare I say, the verse is ESPECIALLY for you, since you have greater need of it. There’s a verse for that, too: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28.
Perhaps we just need a little more honesty.
We need the news anchors, honest ones at least. We want to know what’s going on in the world around us. We’d like to think that we get more than bubblegum news stories -- stories that are full of words, but really tell us nothing worthwhile. Quite often we suffer the news because we like the news anchor. I particularly liked Brian Williams with NBC. I liked his delivery, his manner, his connection with his audience. I was saddened when he came under fire -- appropriately -- for fake reporting, and for me there really hasn’t yet been a suitable substitute. I would have sat happier with Brian condemning Apple for not hacking the phone than I did with David Muir at ABC. I’m probably biased like that with preachers, too. Let’s face it, some are just easier to listen to.
Stepping away from the news anchors, would it be too much to ask to demand this rule of thumb with doctors and lawyers and preachers: If it cannot be understood by the people to whom it matters most, then keep it to yourself. Interesting though it may be, I don’t have to understand all the technical terminology regarding the procedure necessary to deliver me from brain cancer, in order to be saved from it. Nor do I have to understand all the technical details (even though they are terribly interesting) regarding the ancient names and spellings for articles in the Hebrew Wilderness Sanctuary, in order to have the Sanctuary mechanism be applied to the saving of my soul.
The Bible contains no bubblegum news reports. There is nothing in it especially garnered to make anyone rich in earthly treasure. There is no local weather report, nor information regarding the stock market. The only news you'll find within the pages of the Bible is Good News. “Things are bad right now, but, Praise God, things are going to get better.” No matter our circumstances, they are not going to remain this way. This world will not go on like this forever, of that you may be assured. No matter how broken you may know you are -- whether through circumstance or your own practiced effort -- there is peace available such as we have never known. Things are going to get better. This Universe is going to heal -- everywhere -- from the very small to the very large. From the very near to the very far. And for sure, some things are very far away.
As you encourage people to read the Bible, you are pointing them to the place where they can read for themselves the best news report that exists. Yes, there are all kinds of rabbit holes to go down as you read the sacred report. You may read of wars and rumors of wars. A person may read of famines, pestilences, and more. But a reader of the Bible will quickly become convinced that there are two wars being fought right now. One is an earthly war for lands and properties. But there is another war being fought, a more important war, though not so easily seen. This is a war between unseen warriors. One side is seeking the destruction and loss of human souls. The other side is seeking to save those souls. The Bible opens our eyes to the important issues and instructs us in how to cooperate with angelic warriors and the Spirit of our Father; Both are seeking to keep us safe in this dangerous realm, and to encourage us regarding a better world that is soon to come.
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7.
That's a verse you can safely rest on, no matter your age or station.
"Dear Father, here am I, take me." followed by, "Get thee behind me, Satan."
That simple? Apparently.
There’s only One Anchor that truly matters: Jesus Christ and Him crucified, the only Anchor necessary for the comfort and saving of the soul. If you keep that reality uppermost on your spiritual to-know list, your world will start to look a little different, and your evangelism will take on a bigger meaning than it perhaps has till now. Learn your craft, but also read the Script. Learn the Script. Share the Script. The Script will give your life meaning. And that same Script will give meaning to the lives of others, too. Especially share the Script with those who don’t have it. Share books and papers that encourage people to read the script. The Script doesn't contain the Kingdom. The Script points the Way to the Kingdom. The Script contains the Testimony of and about Jesus, in Whom only there is life. “Search the Scriptures … they are they which testify of me.” John 5:39.
Bottom line: You may understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and you may have all faith, so that you could remove mountains. But if you have not the love which comes from the indwelling of Jesus in your life, you really have nothing at all. Which is sad, because the love of God is freely offered and freely given. Just accept it.
And that’s just my take on it.