Don’t Believe Everything You Hear or Read

Apostle's Creed

I recently read an article titled “The Death of Expertise.”   In the past, we consulted teachers, lawyers, doctors, or those who held degrees for information. Now we Google our questions and pay little attention to the credentials of those who give us answers or advice.  Taking advice from some people could endanger our life or our financial stability.

In much the same way, resources for Continuing Spiritual Education can come from those who have never studied either the Scriptures or theological doctrines, and who have little idea of what God’s Word truly says.  This isn’t to say that only scholars should teach and preach because the apostles Peter and John were called “unlearned and ignorant men.” Their teachings, though, came from their walk with Christ and knowledge of God’s Word. The best teachers and preachers are still those who walk with Christ, have a knowledge of God’s Word, and have studied basic theological doctrines of the Bible.

I once heard a minister say “I believe what this man said, because he wrote a book. I figure if he wrote a book, he must be smart.”  Dumb people and heretics have published books; smart people and heretics also publish books. With the advent of widespread self-publishing many “inspirational and religious” books never go through the hands of an editor who would question some doctrines being promoted. Furthermore, TV programs, movies, internet websites, blogs, and Utube videos deluge us with ideas on “spirituality.” With no accountability or oversight to sift out error, seekers wander like sheep without a shepherd.

How then, do we determine what is sound doctrine and what isn’t? I believe a knowledge of the Apostle’s Creed is a good starting point. I would advise you to steer clear: shut the book, change the channel, or exit the web page if the message conflicts with the Apostle’s Creed.

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic* Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

Martha Hawn VanCise ©2017
Graphic: Clip Art Ron Leishman

*The word "catholic" in the Apostles' Creed refers not to the Roman Catholic Church,   but to the universal church of the Lord Jesus Christ.




Continuing Education: Selecting Courses

Continuing Education - Course Selection

I must confess that when selecting continuing education courses to maintain my teaching certificate, I looked for easy classes. I avoided classes that required weekly or weekend attendance, research, submission of a special project or paper. Since most of my work was on the computer, I chose online courses for Excel, Word or Access. These classes provided easy credits and I could breeze through the modules at my leisure and pride myself in how well I had done. I wasn’t looking for advancement, I was looking for affirmation and an easy way to meet requirements.

When we look at CONTINUING SPIRITUAL EDUCATION, we need to ask ourselves, “Do I want to find easy, 4-minute affirming exercises, or am I willing to give up some evenings, some weekends, or some TV shows to learn more about God and God’s plan for my life? Do I want affirmation and the easiest path or advancement?

Along with daily time with God and the Word, consider the following ways we can develop spiritual life.


Bible Read something other than the Psalms or the Gospels.  Skip the genealogy begats, and ceremonial laws, but read the millenniums-old stories in Genesis, Exodus, Judges, Ruth, Esther and Jonah, of flawed people who faced the same basic problems that we face. They were afraid, faced bereavement, had unruly kids, struggled with following God and overcoming temptations.

Classes Attend classes offered by your church to develop spiritual growth: Sunday morning classes, evening services, and weekly Bible studies.

Seminars, Conventions, Special Speakers, Retreats  Take time to go with friends for a weekend conference. Spend time with other Christians and grow  together.

Books. Some people say, “I don’t read.”  Get books on audio or podcast and listen to them while exercising, working around home or driving.  The books that have helped me most have not been easy reading. I, as many people I know, have five or six books in various stages of being read.  It’s OK to take a year to wade through some books.

Music  Music has enriched my spiritual journey. No matter what type of music you like, take time to listen to music that reminds you of God’s faithfulness, holiness, friendship, patient grace, sacrifice for us, and heaven.  Wireless access provides unlimited resources of encouraging and God-glorifying music.

CONTINUING SPIRITUAL EDUCATION  prepares us to meet today and tomorrow’s challenges. Out of the strong reserves we have been building we will find strength for the day.  Out of these reserves may come a reminder of a Biblical traveler who conquered the impossible, or a comment by a speaker or an underlined passage in a book. Sometimes a tune emerges in our memory and as we  dredge up the words of the song we find the encouragement we need for that day.

Martha Hawn VanCise©2016

Signposts on High Trails will be back in 2017, when we look at some of the scams and dangers in Continuing Spiritual Education.

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year.


Continuing Education

Never stop learning

When degrees are conferred, diplomas awarded, embossed certificates handed out and mortar boards tossed into the air, many students mistakenly believe study days have ended. Within a year to five years, though, they discover that advancement and keeping professional licenses current require continuing education. No matter what we do in life, whether cooking a meal or wielding a scalpel, continuing education will affect the quality of our work.

Continuing Education is also essential for building a strong spiritual life. Confessing our sins and placing our faith in Christ will get us through the pearly gates, but how will we enter that eternal home?  Will we be carried in as a bottle-clutching baby, or will we be part of a jubilant throng, dancing through the gates waving victory streamers? Spiritual strength and maturity – growth in our knowledge of God – come through continuing education. Aside from the Word and prayer, what effort have you made to continue learning about God?

In the next two blogs we will look at Continuing Education that develops spiritual maturity and the dangers found in some spiritual education modules.

Feel free to hit the reply button and tell about continuing spiritual education that has made a difference in your life.

Photo: ©Can Stock Photo – csp15039619

Martha Hawn VanCise©2016