Who do I Trust with my Spiritual Growth?

I stretched my legs, hit play on my favorite podcast, and started down the running track at my college campus. It was 7 a.m. on that fall morning, and the fog was still heavy over the pond near the middle of my route. The sound of the preacher on my podcast drowned out the huffing and puffing of my out-of-shape lungs. This preacher had a kind tone and gentle demeanor. He only shouted when he spoke with joy, and he only rose in volume with his laughter. He said many things to my young, hungry heart. He fed me happy phrases and chipper anecdotes. With a spoonful of heresy, he served me sweet self-righteousness.

I didn’t understand the lies I was consuming until I played one of the sermons for my dad, who took the time to listen and challenge me. Recognizing the hunger I had for theology and spiritual growth, my dad introduced me to teachers like John Piper.

How do we know who to trust with our spiritual growth? How do we know we aren’t just serving ourselves heresies or lies that tickle the ear? How can we avoid false doctrine in books, podcasts, videos and blogs?

After expelling that preacher’s podcast from my phone, there were three things that I looked for to screen what I consumed for spiritual growth. As I explored authors to read, pastors to listen to, blogs to follow, and podcasts to subscribe to, I looked for this:

 1.      Scripture
It is always a red flag for me when a Christian author or speaker fails to utilize Scripture. I can remember being at an evangelism conference where the speaker said many great things but never once quoted or referenced Scripture. He was very entertaining but squandered his position of influence by failing to approach God’s word. I will almost always hear the sans-Scripture sermon out, but it takes Holy Scripture to leave me sure of a message.

2.      Endorsements
I began listening to and reading John Piper because my dad introduced me to his resources. I always check the source of my spiritual growth consumption. Was this shown to me by someone with good theology? Was this book endorsed by a well-known, Bible-devoted person? Who is involved in producing this podcast? Who also listens to this pastor?

3.      Need
Part of the draw to that heretical pastor that I used to jog to was that he served me a message my flesh wanted to hear. That pastor told me about wealth, comfort, fame and happiness. That is why I must now look for what I need in spiritual growth, rather than what I want. For me, I must find resources that teach on topics I struggle with such as humility, eternity, faith and wisdom.

I recently discovered that Council Road has supplied all church members with an amazing resource that has curriculum and items that pass all three of these tests. Yes! Our church offers us a free subscription to RightNow Media. Though I’m new to it, I have fallen head over heels for the app.

Loaded with trustworthy content from believers like R.C. Sproul, David Platt, Tim Mackie, J.D. Greear, Matt Chandler, Rosaria Butterfield and so many more… I’m bound to be fed by Gospel-centered messages. Through the search feature in the app, I find specific topics or passages to help me in preparing to teach my Sunday morning Connection Group and my Thursday night small group. There are video series I can utilize anywhere, anytime… even on my jog. All the videos have a feature that allows them to toggle to podcast mode, which means I listen to it in my car and at the gym. I love utilizing the “My Queue” feature, which allows me to scroll through the extensive library and save the videos, books, and series that interest me to my queue of content. I can even now download these resources to be used in the app offline for when I’m on a plane, camping or in rural Oklahoma.

I have yet to scratch the surface of all that is in this amazing resource provided for free by our church. There are children’s lessons (including Veggie Tales… ah, my childhood), daily devotionals, in-depth word studies, seminary-esque video series, Bible animations and so… much… more.

I know, by now, I’m sounding like an infomercial. But it’s because of my brief indulgence of a heretical message that I am passionate about biblical literacy. If I told you that you could access deeper knowledge of God’s word and be fed with wisdom and truth, all at no cost and accessible at your discretion, would you go for it?

That’s the opportunity you’re being given now. All you have to do is contact Karen Kinnaird in the church office and ask her about RightNow Media. The resource is yours for the consuming. May God bless you in your exploration of all that He is (2 Pet. 3:18) and in your quest for more of His Word (Heb. 4:12). May He lavish you with wisdom as you thirst for Him (Psalm 42:1) and strive to handle His word well (2 Tim. 2:15).

Author bio:  Hannah Hanzel is an opinionated, passionate gal that loves sharing what God is doing in her often busy and complicated life. She strives to show God's glory in working as the Art Director for the Baptist Messenger, serving as a multi-client freelance graphic designer, and communing with CRBC. When she's not working, you can find her sipping coffee in a hammock, watching classic '40s movies, or going on an adventure with friends or family.

Hannah Hanzel