Wednesday, February 15, 2023

The Gladstone Report by Ernie and June Stickler: Courage At The End Of A Weary Day

In 2018, a Christian couple who had come into the fellowship of a band of young disciples helming their own church found themselves compelled to leave it. They loved these young men and women as their own spiritual children whom they tried to offer guidance and light to throughout their time among them. But even though they were initially dazzled by their vibrant spirituality and pragmatic approach to applying their faith to their lifestyle, they learned after 4 years among them that there were profoundly troubling things going on there.

Sadly, these tidings were so disturbing that, conscience torn, they felt bound to admonish the community of what they perceived to be profound errors they were laboring under. They then, heartbreakingly, chose to leave it altogether, knowing that the group was resisting their warnings. This community was the Gladstone Community, now calling itself the Madison Place Community Church of Cincinatti, Ohio as led by a self-proclaimed "elder" named Zac Kijinski. This couple, Ernie and June Stickler, did not leave the community until they made sure that the chronicle of their findings was sent to the entire community's membership by a mass e-mail. We've found that the Stickler's letter is one of the greatest efforts by truly compassionate Christians seeking to warn people bound by the wiles of cultic deception. It is a wonderful epistle filled with heartfelt Scriptural warnings and uncompromising calls for them to change their ways.

With their permission we are providing the full text of what we call "The Gladstone Report", which first surfaced in the inboxes of all of the community members in 2018. Click HERE to download it. 

We will be producing a full report on the Gladstone cult in the near future on our website and in our "Where Are We Going" podcast, we've had guests we've interviewed on the program who were survivors of the group telling their story.  These podcasts have shaken a lot of institutions in Cincinatti, beginning with the Gladstone group themselves and we know more exposes are on the way.

You can hear more about the Stickler's experiences in this episode of our podcast from last summer when we interviewed June about their time there. 

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Houses Of The Holy: The 2016 Article On The Queen City's Haight-Ashbury


Aside from Reddit links, scattered Facebook pages and it's own hagiographical PR treatments about itself, there's very little information on the Gladstone Community on the internet aside. Their website page has been revised several times. Since we are unable to drive several hours and stay around for a week to try to connect with them, we're forced to start on the web in our research. 

But in many instances, that's a lot to say right there. As you read these forums, you hear and see that there's something about Gladstone's activity that leaves a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths. Ultimately, some of this is just plain bias and irreverence and can be attributed to a scorn for spirituality so common today. But by no means can that explain it all away whatsoever. The vibe people read from contact with Gladstone's activities as well as their past doings isn't something you can just dismiss out of hand. For a group claiming to be the only true expression of New Testament Christianity on the earth, it's abrasive attitude seems out of place especially when you realize that this is where they've been since their inception.

Social media is not a good place to find primary sources of information about something. When it's all you got, however, you proceed with caution and a good working baloney detector. So we were quite surprised to find that in 2016, Cincinnati Magazine published an article on this cultic movement that was the first and at this time only such source. It described the rise and presence of Gladstone as part of the organizational prowess of one Zac Kijinski, a likable and bright young man whose spiritual fervor, innovative mindset and charismatic personality remind you immediately of another religious innovator by the name of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon heresy whose stature and bearing commanded a likeability and allegiance of so many around him in the 1800's. 

Unlike the gregarious and extroverted Smith, who would go on to found a cultic religion all  his own, Kijinski doesn't like to talk to reporters. Click on the link to find out why. Thank you, Cincinnati Magazine.

The Gladstone Controversy: Another Cult Hidden In Plain Sight

We first want to apologize for not keeping our blog up as current as it should be. Thanks for your patience if you've been coming by for updates and not getting them!  We have been so completely overwhelmed by the responses to our work in helping bring light upon the Remnant Fellowship and Xenos / Dwell cults in recent months. We're going to try to keep this going! Our major thrusts of ministry have been related to our "Where Are We Going" Spiritwatch podcasts and we've been featuring testimony from survivors of both of those movements who've generously given us interviews into their involvement which are truly worthy of download and that's just a mouseclick away above.

Mindy Munoz' testimony has turned out to be the most downloaded episode of our podcasts so far. A well known and well loved member of the Remnant Fellowship in it's earlier years, her testimony -- barely cited in the "Way Down" documentary -- seems to be resonating with a lot of people in Tennessee. Our metrics indicate that the region around Franklin is ablaze with activity and visits from people there to our podcast. May the truth be told. 

Our last blog post was too long ago .. although we are glad to see that perhaps Dr. Loritts had listened to our entreaties and maybe a few others because he's no longer listed as a speaker on the Xenos Summer Institute roadshow of "Christian apologetics." It's amazing what the power of Internet outrage can leverage, but regrettably, there had been no communication from him about his withdrawal, much less any explanation as to why he was involved to begin with, going to speak at a "Christian apologetics" conference helmed by a religiously abusive and cultic movement.

Discernment isn't pretty but it gets the job done. There's no beauty in this affair but the vindication of truth. 

Moving forward, on our most recent podcast, we want to begin an exclusive expose on another controversial movement that has been contributing to the spiritual confusion of the Midwestern community it currently flourishes in. Well known there, this movement is almost completely unknown anywhere else. And as always, it’s a tragic story of good people in an evil situation, of love twisted by deceit, of the ecstasy of fellowship and the agony of bullying. In short it’s a cautionary tale of how there are still those who lie in wait to deceive in the name of God, those who boldly come off as champions of truth and draw so many to follow a path to hell in this world and possibly the next.

You see, when you speak of such groups as cults being in our very midst, it tends to confuse a lot of people with a sensationalism that clouds perception. Many assume that cults assemble in secrecy in well hidden compounds in some wilderness stronghold where they cavort with demonic forces, sacrifice children and wear some kind of robes, paint and feathers. As the great French philosopher Pepe Le Pew once said, Au contraire!   They are embedded in our society everywhere and are your friends, your neighbors, maybe even your family. They are the barista at the coffee house and the realtor with an office in town. They are intelligent, idealistic and sharp people with families and interests like you. Cult members are quite ordinary people who just so happen to be in the bondage ofa  cultic mind control that ties them to their chosen gathering. That’s something all too ordinary as we’ve been sharing in our podcasts.

Our attention now turns in our podcasts and outreach to come to a place calling itself a Christian church of intentional community, but which has become an antichristian den of intentional control.  Hundreds of people have been drawn into its orbit since 2006 or so, young and sharp men and women who believe it to be the only Christian movement under the sun, just as any well mind controlled cult member might conclude after having been love bombed, wined and dined and then recruited into yet another cultic billet to slave away for "the Kingdom." 

Click here to listen to our newest episode on the movement calling itself the Madison Place Community Church, after being known as the Gladstone Community Church, and before that, the Gladstone Community. The old adage of something being hidden in plain sight gets new life when considering the recent history of this controversial and quite destructive cult. We'll be focusing on them for the foreseeable future to come, as well as in research articles on the Spiritwatch website as well. Stay tuned!

We are exploting ways to launch two podcasts a week since the Xenos heresy's ongoing outrages require ongoing responses. Pray for us. We're busier than a two tailed cat in a rocking chair factory and we need God's hand on us. 

Friday, May 6, 2022

Let's Help A Xenos Summer Institute Speaker Get Some Perspective ..


Evil will always triumph, because good is dumb.
Dark Helmet, Spaceballs the Movie

The below text was sent in the comments section of Dr. Loritts' website on April 19, 2022.

I am a licensed minister and countercult activist since 1983 and enjoyed hearing Dr. Loritts off and on throughout the years and was particularly blessed by his admonition at the 2007 Precept conference in which he spoke, aside from his presentation, to give seven serious pieces of advise about false teachers and their insidious influence in the church. It was a riveting moment that I blogged about back then. 

So I'm writing now to ask now for Dr. Loritts to be advised that he's engaging in a highly inappropriate and public association with a seriously questionable group. Honestly, I truly hope that Dr. Loritts is perhaps seriously unaware of this .. but the Xenos church movement institute he is preparing to be a keynote speaker is a dangerous and deceptive assembly. 

I am calling on him to reconsider his involvement and even end it. In the past 5 months, I have begun to help assist three generations  of victims of spiritual abuse who were traumatized by Xenos polity and doctrine visible primarily ONLY in private settings.  This is documentable and has been hidden in plain sight. A documentary is forthcoming on Xenos exposing it's abuses and he needs to be aware of this.  His presence there at this institute this summer will be perceived as a tacit approval of their hidden doings and this is exactly the very thing Dr. Loritts warned about in that conference in 2007. I have posted four different podcasts about our findings the past few months and invite you to hear them. 

I must inform you that we will withhold - for now - any public call on Dr. Loritts to disassociate himself from Xenos. I do not want Dr. Loritts to be embarassed, but his embracing of Xenos' leadership is nothing to be commended for. I want to believe he has seriously failed to discern who he is ministering with as 1 Thessalonians 5:12 warns us and simply has believed the ad print and self representations his Xenos connections have made about their "leadership".   

I want to in the most strongest terms possible advise you that if we don't hear from him or a representative about this issue by the end of this month, April, 2022, we will issue on May 1 a public call through our blog and social media resources for him to do so. That is how seriously we take this.

It pains us to have to be so direct and forthright, but in this day and age in which the Christian ministry has to be above board and blameless in all things as 1 Timothy 3 comands, the glory of God and obedience to His Gospel require this direct note to you.  Xenos preaches another gospel, another Christ by the power of another spirit that is alien to the Biblical good news and all while affirming orthodoxy and worldviews that appear rigorously Biblical and at the same time conducting itself as a cultic manipulator of lives, destroying so many for over 50 years. 

You may call me at _________ to discuss this  further.  That God's Spirit will speak very loudly to you from this day forward about this is our prayer. 

No email or phone call was received by Dr. Loritts or his representatives. He either didn't get it or is choosing to ignore it. I have no way of knowing. 

Therefore, we've regrettably but resolvedly determined to post this and make our call public, a week beyond the date mentioned above giving Dr. Loritts time to respond. We will be seeking to spread this information where it needs to be. 

Good is indeed usually dumb. But not this time. 

Friday, March 11, 2022

Like A Thief In The Night: The Doom of Cultism Coming Soon


Even as the anarchy, misery and insanity of this world's corruption continues to blaze on the earth, above and beyond the skies above the fires of humanity's miserable state, the Lord isn't surprised, hasty or puzzled. He is still on the throne. He still has all in his Lordship. 

He will root out and utterly pull down all false authority, from the Russian despots to the other cult leaders all over. For starters. 

He has said He will return like a thief in the night and a powerfully orchestrated song by British pop legend Cliff Richard from a Biblical generation ago makes this marvelously and musically alive. Click the link to hear this. 

You? You can fall with the night or rise with the Son. The choice is yours

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Readings On Cultic Mind Control and Abusive Churches Now Downloads

Our recent blogging and podcasting has made reference to the seminal work of both Dr. Robert Lifton and Dr. Ron Enroth, a psychiatrist and a sociologist, which has provided for us the conceptual framework for understanding the power of cultic persuasion by "thought reform" (or cultic mind control) and for how to recognize it in contemporary movements including supposedly "Christian churches."  

We mentioned you'd be well informed to find their books and study their findings. Lifton's work "Thought Reform And The Psychology of Totalism", along with Enroth's book "Churches That Abuse" are two of the most informative books that can be read to understand the challenge of cults and abusive churches today.  Click HERE to download Lifton's book and HERE to download Enroth's. 


Tuesday, March 8, 2022

The Collegiate Cultism of The Xenos / Dwell Heresy: Three New Articles Just Released


In the heart of the Buckeye State of Ohio, the state capital of Columbus stands as a testimony to the passion and industry of the residents there. The city is the home to many typically American institutions, from the headquarters of White Castle, Nationwide Mutual and  Big Lots to the quaintly charming German Village district , the Columbus Center for Science and Industry and the annual celebration of the Columbus Festival Latino. It’s a great place to live and work. And it’s important to remember that Columbus is also the base for the Ohio State University (OSU), one of the most well known in our nation, a point of amazing civic accomplishment that every Ohioan should be proud of.
What is regrettably not as well known is the work of that of a church that regularly accesses the university’s vibrant social life, a place that used to be called Xenos Christian Fellowship until changing its name to Dwell Community Church in 2020. That is until in late February 2022 when a local NBC television channel affiliate began to air a four part series on the church that ended up being stretched into six parts. You may be here reading this as a result of hearing of this reporting, which I and my associate Megan Cox helped to initiate. You’ve come to find out more and we intend to provide you a side of the story you haven’t heard.
Having been an active presence in Columbus as well since 1970, with generations of men and women having passed through their collective doors, Xenos / Dwell’s vast influence is probably one of the best kept secrets of Columbus which many of it’s over two million residents are scarcely aware of. We have mentioned how regrettable it is that more people know little to nothing of their activities. For the Xenos Christian Fellowship, for all of its seemingly upright orthodoxy has tragically harbored scandalously evil social circles under its governance for all of that time, leaving thousands in the know devastated by religious abuse and a perversion of the very Christian principles it purports to uphold. <snip> That's the introduction to the first of three new articles we've released on this group just in the past few days. To read our first article covering a brief analysis of the heretical history and nature of "XD" as we have identified it, click HERE. The second article will explain how Spiritwatch Ministries got involved in helping in the production of an expose on XD and how we investigated them and came to the conclusion that they are a cultic movement, and to read it click HERE. And to view the uncut version of the Zoom Call dialogue we had with XD leaders as well as the full transcripts of emails we had with them afterwards (which they never allude to in all of their public reaction to our efforts), click HERE.

A Trick Of The Mind: The Persuasion Of Cult Mind Control

Our podcasts continue and last week's episode shared a bit of crucial insight into the deceptive power of cults to ensnare and control people. They come out each Saturday and last Saturday's episode that should have come out on March 5th got delayed as we burnt the midnight oil preparing the three part series we just completed providing a brief overview of the Xenos / Dwell phenomenon in Columbus, Ohio. Those articles are not completed and posted to our site.

One of our foundational principles which contributes to our understanding of cultism isn't rocket science: we have always asserted that cultism is more than doctrine. Cultism involves more than just a warping of one's creed. See how cultism's deceptive power doesn't rely on twisted teaching alone, but their ability to change the behavior of their masses by the change of their thoughts through cultic mind control. Check out our podcast here at our "Where Are We Going" podcast episode page! 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Myths About Cults: Not Just "Those People Over There" Anymore

When the sad history of cultism's victims comes to light in the smoldering ashes of their devastated lives, it becomes abundantly clear that the ruin is an equal opportunity storm of destruction. It doesn't matter if you're a rich white American executive or a dirt poor Chinese laborer: the power of cultic delusion is such that it drags down any and everyone who yields to its siren songs. 

And, in typical form, someone who thinks they Know Better decides to edify all around them with their excoriating criticism of a cult victim who, they snarl, should have indeed Known Better.  They rattle off a list of glibly intoned rationalizations that they say prove that the cult victim surely could have "done better," and that their involvement was a tragic miscalculation they saw coming, therefore, they hold the lion's share of responsibility for their involvement and the cost they suffered for having gotten involved. If they were more "mature", more "spiritual", more "educated", etc., they would have then "Known Better."

This strident belief is one of the  most persistently cruel charges that supposedly well meaning observers can inflict upon a cult victim. It leaves them twice victimized and abused and unfortunately it's not at all uncommon among the worlds of pain that cult survivors live in. It is bad enough that they've suffered the religious abuse, personal chaos, lost careers and futures that have left them without friends, family,  resources, even their health. Now you have a bunch of "truth tellers" wanting to essentially scold them and reopen woundings with salted knives of verbal abuse.

It's part of human life for people to want to feel superior to others .. and it's particularly disgusting when these myths are completely wrong to begin with.   We wrote an article years ago that is no less true today about seven of the most popular misconceptions that these armchair therapists like to circulate but which are a break from reality.  Enjoy the no-nonsense rejoinder by clicking here.  

Monday, February 21, 2022

"The Way Down" 2.0 On The Way: Until Then Not The Good Girl's Awesome Recap Online

The latest information we've received is that the final two episodes of the HBO Max docuseries "The Way Down" which will conclude this hard hitting expose of the morally bankrupt cultism of Gwen Shamblin Lara and her Weigh Down Workshop/Remnant Fellowship business cult empire, will air either in April or May, 2022, which is literally around the corner.  Keep your DVR's ready.

There's going to be some very tough truth to heed in these and it will be as easily chilling and dark a look into the soft underbelly of the spiritual anorexia that this cult actually does pack in around itself. We look forward to the premiere, having contributed quite heavily to the production of the series and being subjects of interviews and a lot of back office discussion that is completely invisible. Without our work, the series might never have gotten off the ground. We're grateful to have had a part in this second and final installment. 

Until then, a Patreos documentary producer calling herself Not The Good Girl has taken the insights and information shared in the HBO Max doc and created her own gripping and engrossing telling of the grotesque Remnant tale. The linearity and well researched narrative summarizes the whole tragic emergence quite well and we'd recommend watching it if you wanted a recap that is fair, detailed and factual. Not The Good Girl's work can be viewed here. Enjoy

Thursday, February 10, 2022

In Memorium : Lawrence Pile and Pastor Bill Randles


                                                 Lawrence Pile                   Pastor Bill Randles                                                      
                                                    1943-2022                           1959-2022

We recently learned of the passing of these two giants of the faith who you likely never heard of.

Larry Pile was a researcher as well as a facilitator of recovery workshops at the Wellspring Retreat and Rehabilitation center in Albany Ohio and assisted hundreds of people onward toward their own healing and growth beyond the impact cultism had made upon them. He was a well known Bible teacher and wrote a book based upon the epistle of Paul to the Galatians for those suffering religious abuse to help in their recovery of spiritual stability.

Pastor Bill Randles a former Word of Faith pastor, renounced his association with that error and continued onward toward creating a pastoral response to the deceptive doctrines and bad practice that the Faith movement had inflicted upon his church and then began a serious retrenching of his ministry, toward exposing the the New Apostolic Reformation culture (NAR) which emerged in the past 40 years and was based on the profoundly warped Latter Rain error from two generations past.

Both men were gentle, yet uncompromising proclaimers of sound analysis of truth from pastoral perspectives and helped untold numbers of those ripped off by spiritual abuse for decades. I knew of Larry and had only met Bill once but they came highly recommened and the work they gave themselves to speaks for itself. Visit our YouTube and Vimeo channels in the next few weeks as we upload three talks Pastor Bill gave on the spiritual deception the NAR has left behind. For an excellent article by Larry detailing the dangers of the shepherding movement, a vile system of cultic control hatched by Charismatic extremists within it which intensified the lure and damage of the proto-NAR churches then in existence, click here

We will truly sincerely miss their discernment, their love of truth and their care for those ripped off by abusive. They were good men who ran the race and kept the faith. Godspeed and condolences to the Pile and Randles families.  Please click on their obituaries above for more information and if you'd like to extend any personal condolences. 

Monday, February 7, 2022

The Legacy Of The Leaderless Cult Remnant Fellowship: From Our Podcast

Episode 2 of Season 2 is under way at our "Where Are We Going" podcast and for the first time, we finally tackled the uncertain destiny of Remnant Fellowship for a full 30 minute episode, the longest we've done so far.

Remnant Fellowship, for all of it's public posturing, appears to be struggling through a serious crisis of direction. Since the 2021 death of Gwen Shamblin Lara, there really hasn't been any actual leadership arising to provide for Remnant the needed vision and leadership for her cult to move beyond it's loss of her iron hand. 

In this episode, we offer our perspectives on where this cult truly seems to be going. It's not a pretty picture and we pull no punches. Enjoy the download here. 


Some One Has Some 'Splaining to Do And It May Not Be The Twelve Tribes .. In Colorado, That Is.


The Twelve Tribes might be guilty of being a maddeningly enduring and abusive communal cult with roots all the way to Tennessee and beyond.

However, despite initial reports to the contrary, they now seem to have been determined of helping set any fires that started the massive Marshall wildfire in rural Colorado that caused massive property loss and a couple of deaths.  

But that doesn't make them any less a destructive force of human nature. Not all that glitters is gold.  Click here for more information on this seemingly harmless group of spiritual entrepreneurs as they operate in Australia. The Twelve Tribes' obsession with perfecting their abusive community standards of living needs to be remembered.

We are grateful that long time associates of ours, Bob and Judy Pardon of the New England based Meadowhaven rehabilitation cente,r were able to help offer further insight in this online report

Saturday, January 22, 2022

"Where Are We Going?" Back Online with Season 2, Episode 0 Help Wanted: Jeremiahs In Short Supply

We're back online and intend on staying there until Jesus comes. Our weekly podcast is back and you can hear it on our site by clicking here.

Our listeners understand what this podcast is about. It’s our desire to provide for you a solidly Biblical perspective on our times and the trouble we’re all finding in them. We tackle a subject that relates to the challenges to discerning what’s going on around us and take about 15-20 minutes to address them.
In one of our last season’s podcasts, we examined the stability of human society itself and what the Bible says about it. It’s no secret that our world has entered a shadowy time of uncertainty that really quite unlike any other time in recent history. Listening to a national commentator's take on the troubles of our nation is a reality check worth hearing.

Check it out and tell your friends, family, enemies, inlaws and all persons inbetween!

Friday, January 21, 2022

Getting Away With Not Quite Murder: A Child Sexual Abuse Story Remembered

This is an all too common affair among the sons of Adam: when child sexual abuse allegations corroborated by witnesses of the depravity can be admitted to by the perpetrator in a court of law but still be dismissed, be ignored by the police and unadmitted to at Christian church where the abuse occurred at. It's all too common and it should be remembered how an escape from any apparent accountability there occurs. In the last days where evil is cloaked as good, this is to be expected and fulfills once again the cutting indictment of Scripture against such wrongdoing. 

What is singularly horrific is when the perpetrator is a school teacher who volunteers at Christian camps and is alone with children whom are groomed by them to accept the sexual abuse as a manifestation of "God's love." The church was the North Side Gospel Center in Chicago (now defunct) and Camp Awana in Fredonia, Wisconsin (in a bizarre twist of irony, the well known Awana children's church educational program was started in the basement of the church in Chicago). As far as we know, the teacher, one Cherie Carlson was not confronted by the middle school, nor law enforcement. Beyond a statement that the church would cooperate in the investigation, nothing else is know if Carlson received any punitive sanction whatsoever.

You can watch the 2013 investigative video produced by WMAQ in Chicago here about this grotesque incident where Carlson had been seen sexually fondling a girl in the 1990s by a third individual in the camp cabin it occurred. Later that year, the girl who is now a mother sought to sue her directly. Carlson was a middle school teacher at Cooper Middle School in Buffalo Grove, Illinois at the time of this controversy several years in the past but was able to walk back and deflect the accusations which surfaced in a civil but not a criminal court.

To underscore her confidence in her ability to move forward, she would go on and be reinstated back to her job at the school the following year in 2014, opening up a YouTube account (which is now devoid of video content but still is active) not long after the accusation of wrong doing surfaced to support her middle school activities. To this day, Carlson remains employed there.

And later in 2017 Carlson would wiggle completely out of accountability solely because of her appeal to the statute of limitations and not a litigated defensive denial of wrongdoing in that civil court. She didn't deny and all but admitted that the sexual abuse had occurred but she had failed to report it in time and this slipshod defense worked. The lawsuit was dismissed and the appeal affirmed it. You can read about the warped opinions offered by an appellate court in Illinois that allowed Carlson to move on with her life, leaving the victim Jane Due in the dust of injustice.

And if you think this is an isolated instance of a complete breakdown in the efforts to make such perpetrators accountable, meet some links that will beg to differ by the Net.

That's the American way. But Cherie, God saw it all. I hope you repented and made restitution to your victim .. or victims. 


Thursday, January 20, 2022

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

We're reasonably certain that this individual at a 2018 rally is glad that in his past, his parents were binary. 

Yes, we're aware of the confusion of genders and the need for a gainsaying society to make room for such personal choices and the future of our planet seems brighter with it. 

But the perpetuation of humanity kind of, well, NEEDS the traditional understanding of male and female to work out in that old school way.  In vitro birth and same sex gendering can't quite make that difference. 

Saturday, January 15, 2022

The Segue In Zion: The Shadowy Leadership Change at Remnant Fellowship

The slow fade of Elizabeth Hannah, daughter of Gwen Shamblin Lara, from the life of Remnant Fellowship was not entirely unexpected.

She simply was not ready to assume a role that her mother had obsessively carried for over two decades. When the tragic accident on Memorial Day weekend 2021 took place that took the lives of Gwen and her coterie of leaders, through the shock, horror and grief that swept Remnant members one big question loomed above all else: who would lead them?  The unthinkable had been thrust upon the Remnant faithful in the most terrible way possible and so much rampant worry about the survival of the group seemed to focus on that very question.

This seemed answered in the June memorial service for the crash victims. Elizabeth affirmed she and her brother were “well equipped and fully ready” but “bound and determined to keep the Remnant legacy alive”  There was never any real reason for concern that Remnant would just fall apart as the machine Gwen had created had too much momentum keeping it moving.  Elizabeth affirmed that she had a massive leadership structure as well as church members who would carry it on. “If you are asking if the Remnant Fellowship will continue on, the answer is yes.”

But despite her passionate affirmative, both brother and sister largely have vanished from any meaningful public view or interaction. Despite one or two carefully curated appearances of Elizabeth only, both have completely disappeared. The Remnant church sanctuary that used to be filled with a throng of members leaning on Gwen’s every word have yet to see her teach or preach a single service. During a recent "feast" day observed by Remnant, we heard many people comment on how  half filled their sanctuary was, how contrived and motion-going the activity there was and how thunderstruck the observers, who were RF members, at how empty the place seemed .. events that under Gwen's charisma attracted far more of the faithful.  As it stands, an order of service at Remnant now exists that is quite literally little more than a video watch party of pre-recorded sermons by Gwen accompanied by carefully crafted live exhortations by leadership figures to rally the Remnant faithful to keep on keeping on. 

So the absence of any public appearance by her or her brother or any direction clearly has become a serious concern. In her latest phoned-in exhortation in late fall of 2021, her chief concern was that no one in Remnant was to assume she was quitting. In that rambling call, which was well attended and was an event that obviously had been announced, she once again thanked everyone for understanding her need to take “a break” and that she would eventually return. She claimed that she was at the church every day from 4 am to midnight to help its day to day operation in its offices.  Her quavering recital of a tired old contemporary cliche meant to dismiss any opposition surely found a receptive audience: "haters are going to hate!" It also signalled the hardline Remnant has taken in completely ignoring or engaging the information being shared that critically examines it with a completely evasive proverb meant to frame the controversy as pure persecution. 

But Elizabeth gave no other explanation for her continued and intentional absence from church services. She did say that one of her conditions for return was that a media onslaught resulting in photography of her and her children needed to die down. 

I understand the need for anyone to suffer the kind of loss that Elizabeth has experienced is a crushing blow for anyone. She lost a truly beloved husband and a mother who had directed her entire life. Keep in mind she is now a fortysomething mother of four children and it’s understandable how this whole sorrowful tragedy is weighing terribly upon her. Yet despite her assurances in June at the memorial to her mother and the victims, she was NOT “well equipped and fully ready” to press ahead. There was a brittle fragility behind her tough verbiage that was plainly heard that persists to this day as she exhibits a real hesitancy of even being seen as a leader, unable to handle scrutiny from the outside world. The official response of the cult to its discomfiture via HBO was a classic circling of rhetorical wagons and a mustering of bravado that rings hollower and hollower as time passes (we'll be reviewing that here soon).  

With such uncertainty, I think the question can now be fairly asked “Since the Remnant Fellowship is going to continue on,  then who is going to lead it?”  We have some thoughts on those as well .. Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Why Cultic Churches Are Mistaken For Churches: Guilty By Association And Not By Fact

While the media quickly label groups like Remnant Fellowship (and places like the International Churches of Christ, the Unification Church and so many others) as "Evangelical" churches, it's easy to understand how they arrive at that conclusion.
These groups structure themselves in assemblies and practices most familiar to whom they market their claims. They call themselves churches. They use the Bible. They have affective worship services where interactive and experiential involvement is promoted. They pray passionately and speak of the Kingdom of God. A lot.
They point to a God, a Jesus and maybe even the Holy Spirit. Music is drawn from polished worship bands. Expositors and participants enthusiastically commend you to the presence of a tangible God seen in their friendly people and encounters. Media savvy propagation of their message is streamed, podcasted, borne by people ready to interact with you. Etc.
Yet Remnant Fellowship is not an Evangelical church. I'm an Evangelical Pentecostal pastor and can firmly attest to this (of course, if you are of the persuasion that all churches are cults than nothing else I'll blog here will make any sense, but I can't help that).
It takes the form of a flashy, dynamic church to most deceptively draw hapless and ill-informed candidates into an environment that uses all these above familiar features to move them from the known to THEIR unknown. The familiar "church" expectation held by prospective audiences at large is harnessed cunningly as the vehicle to convey them into the real agenda of RF, which is to parasitically draw away disciples after themselves - something an apostle in the Bible warned would happens, weeping for over two years as he did so (Acts 20:30). Therefore, many never discern that RF doctrine is unbiblical and many of its practices breaking with reality, compassion and decency. They achieve control of thought by stifling dialogue and demanding a blind obedience to authority. Their intrusion and domination of member life using their false practices and doctrines are NOT features of sound Evangelical practice (as much as it seems unlikely, not all churches are like Remnant at all).
But as we said, it's easy to understand why so many media and journalists just don't see the difference. It looks too similar to so many and therefore, Remnant to them is just "another" Evangelical church. And when Evangelical churches manifest actual cultism, we get it. But a blanket identification and association of RF with sound churches is not just inaccurate but quite short-sighted and even unfair. While we'll be the first to agree that there ARE Evangelical churches that ARE cultic, not. All. Are.

In short, there's a reason Jesus called the leaders of such places - including Gwen Shamblin and her tribe of sycophantic leadership - ravening wolves in sheep's clothing in Matthew 7:15. You've heard the expression perhaps .. and it's this proverb you need to keep in mind when Remnant is misidentified as a church. It is an accursed cult (Galatians 1:8) foisting itself off as a church to deceive many .. just as Jesus also said in Matthew 24 as well. We should expect to find more of this arising in the days to come and RF is a poster chile of what spiritual deception looks like. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

HBOMax's "The Way Down" Docuseries On The Gwen Shamblin Lara Cult Starts 9/30 at Midnight And The Remnant Saints Understandably Are Quite Nervous


Three years in the making.

Not just since the death of Gwen Shamblin Lara in the muddy shoals of Percy Priest Lake in Smyrna, Tennessee last Memorial Day weekend .. but three years. They refused all invitations to be interviewed.

Everything you've seen on the internet about Gwen Shamblin Lara, her cultic Remnant Fellowship church and the Weigh Down Workshop front group used to troll for fresh Remnant recruits will pale to this standard of investigative scrutiny this docuseries will uncover. Remnant already is feebly trying to prepare its members for a serious jolt. 

It's trying to blow out the candlepower of the sun at noon. Get ready, this cult won't be coddled in this work.  And Godspeed to the truth .. we are honored to have played a part in bringing this to the world.


Friday, June 11, 2021

The Rotten Core of Abusive Church Leadership: A Study From Scripture


In public church settings, private interaction, and every place that deference to spiritual authority is actively given by trusting followers, not every exercise of this profoundly impactful influence is proper. In fact, it is routinely found that abusive church leadership exerts its most damaging and destructive impact in these kinds of settings. People look up to those who appear to them to be spiritual giants for mentoring, pastoral care and inspirational guidance and find themselves in a horrific quagmire of psychological and personal coercion leading them to obey and submit blindly to demands made on them which cost them dearly in so many ways

It is this infamous common ground that cultic churches warp and destroy the faith of far too many people in the world today. The late New Testament scholar Catherine Clark-Kroeger does an outstanding job in an older online helping show through a sound study of the Scriptures that this abusive church leadership is all too familiar practice shared with cultic movements:

The Corinthians had become the willing listeners of those who worked them ill (11:19). The “super apostles” had brought the credulous flock a cruel aftermath (2 Corinthians 11:3), a different spirit and a different gospel (11:4) and a spiritual servitude.

The stance of these leaders was not much different from leaders in some contemporary cults who exercise total control over their adherents. Under the cloak of supreme holiness and sanctification is hidden a terrifying pattern of abuse. There can be not only beatings and physical abuse but mind control, deprivation, vituperation, intimidation, public shaming and humiliation.

As one expert noted of such a group:

The breaking down, forcing people to do behaviors that are denigrating. The language, the control of behavior, that if you’re not doing what the group wants, you’re violating God’s will. It’s certainly abusive personality control.

Like Satan, the leaders (ancient or modern) may appear as shining angels of light, but there is an appalling exercise of absolute authority (2 Corinthians 11:14). As is so often true in cases of abusive mind control, the victims can no longer acknowledge the abuse or nor are they able to defend themselves. Whether the abuse is in a religious community or a family, victims can become pathologically conditioned into acceptance, as a director of a battered women’s project notes:

Victims of domestic violence are in an altered state. Up seems down. It’s important to understand that if someone is a victim all these years, it’s sort of like she’s been brainwashed. You are in essence a prisoner.

A woman at the shelter added, “They break you down. You feel less than human. They isolate you. They say, ‘No one cares about you. Only I love you.’ And you start to believe it. Then it builds to the physical. It’s worse for people with higher social status. Society puts more pressure on them. It’s more embarrassing."

Read more of this outstanding exposition of Scriptural truth and how it speaks to modern spiritual corruption today that energizes religious abuse everywhere. 

The story behind the photo above is unnerving and gruesome. It looks innocuously pious enough. There's a lot going on there which masked an abusive ministry in action. That's the problem indeed. It looks so normal. Highly disturbing images are at the article linked here. Viewer's discretion advised.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Finally .. The Five Fold Ministry And Spiritual Abuse Conference Video Online

This video is from the workshop our ministry produced, a March 2008 workshop held at the Kansas City Conference on Biblical Discernment held at the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Lord, forgive us for being so delayed by so much.

This was webbed as an article series quite a few years ago. But we finally found the time this past year to get it released and properly edited to include the slides and video of the workshop which we felt needed to be included so as to help illustrate our contention that the Pentecostal and Charismatic concept of Christian leadership by a "five fold ministry" has been largely invalidated by contemporary trends within it that lend themselves to heresy, false teaching and spiritual abuse. This is easily one of the greatest sources of spiritual deception hidden in plain sight.

Even though it is somewhat dated, the essential information found that shows how the five fold ministry, in some circles, actually has become quite cultic is still quite valid. We hope the video which you can find here is both a warning and an exhortation to correction of its errors. We are sorry the audio was not as good as we could have replicated, but we did the best we could. 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Cultism In Plain Sight And Not Exactly Hidden Part 1: The Places of the Past

 When alternative religions, eclectic spiritual tourists and sacred spaces intersect, their conjugation often leaves behind structural landmarks that get memorialized so visually that they become travelogues for future pilgrims to trip in and out over. They preserve the zealous passion by these individual cultic groups poured into their own unique expressions of what the divine was to them, where their faith strove for ideals at odds with the larger societal status quo.

Such sites can be seen in this British photospread depicting a few of the remaining relics of past sectarian spiritual ardor that can still be found in the grand hotel of all cults, California, U.S.A.

Enjoy the view. It's definitely easier to view than any footage from Waco, Jonestown or Rancho Santa Fe. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Principles Of Biblical Discernment Video Now Online

There's no doubt you've heard the saying "better late than never."
Well, here's our own take on that bit of wisdom.

Just in the last few months, we've found time to be able to finally, finally remastering our old videos of our past discernment conference workshops as well as that of others from far too many years ago. Here is one such rework, finally completed, from our old TVBSA conference held at the First Assembly of God in Janesville, Wisconsin.  This is my contribution to the controversial yet altogether needed discipline of spiritual discernment, a workshop on the essentials of Biblical discernment. 

Click here for our Vimeo channel version and get your Bible and notepad out to take notes. This is the clearest presentation on this subject we've ever been able to offer and no stone is left unturned. It's a summary of a life time of my study on this and I'm thankful to finally get this - and other videos - out to the masses.  We will be featuring other ones as time goes by. 

Monday, May 3, 2021

Martin Luther On Trial, April 1521: When You Can't Stand Down For What's Right

His words sparked a flame for truth that the darkness of deception never could put out. 

The Roman Catholic monk named Martin Luther was dragged into a heresy trial in the city of Worms, Germany in April 1521. He was compelled to appeared before the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to defend what he had taught and written which directly challenged the apostate Roman religion of the day. His revolutionary thought that proclaimed that Scripture alone established Christian truth apart from church councils or tradition had caught the popular attention of medieval German society through the new printing press media.

It had caused a massive uproar in those days that is impossible to overstate. It shook the Papacy to its core and Luther was held in the city of Worms to answer for his "crimes" and this bit of cinema from the 1953 film dramatization is probably the most stirring version of his answer ever filmed.

Although those flames of zeal today are greatly tinged with the alien stink of colorful wild fire that is as just as damaging as Roman Catholic falsehood is, Martin Luther's iron commitment to Biblical truth from just over 600 years ago can't be forgotten. 


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Civility And Decency: Soft Skills Now Outdated

Yeah, this old post never saw the light of day but there's a point here. 

2016 Indiana General Assembly Indiana House leaders commit to civility

>>"We will do everything in our power to be certain that no matter how difficult the discussions might get on any issue, that we're respectful of each other, that we talk about ideas and not personalities and that we work together to do what we believe is best for the state of Indiana," Bosma said.<<


Then the 2016 Presidential campaign and the rise of the Trumpocalypse in American politics arose. I was too busy to complete this post and I wondered how long that lasted in Indianapolis that year. I guess I could look it up and see how far the discussions on gay rights and incarceration went.

What we are immediately aware of is that on the national level, the arise of the  Trumpian political movement contributed in 2016 to the through the roof escalation of partisanship in America perhaps for all time. Democrats arose to combat the equally hardened Republican positions in the body politic and a culture war was renewed.

But it wasn't as usual. There's been long something entirely different the past few years. The hardening has moved from stone to tool steel. Civility is now viewed as a soft skill leading to targetting by an army of foul mouthed and feral contrarians who would rather, as the old cigarette commercial puts it, fight than switch.  4 years of scorched earth confrontation became the norm of American politics, not cooperation. America has turned a corner within itself that it's likely we will not be turning back from. Civility and decency are just not in anymore. 

And this year, the Indiana political scene has returned to this new norm most clearly seen in the second impeachment proceedings as acted upon by members of the Indiana congressional delegation:  there Republican Jim Banks, one of the newest and shiniest minted figures of the Republican machine in the Hoosier state just had to post a video where he stated flatly "Right now, I’m headed to the House floor to vote against impeachment. The Democrat party is dividing America when we should be doing everything we can to unite the country." So much for the civility. 

Oh well, that's to be expected, at a time in which the prophet Daniel warned that relationships between people and nations were going to be falling apart. Jesus said that the love of many would cool and dim to reinforce this sobering view of life in our fallen world.

So this old picture saved for this post back in 2016 really says it all. Ignore the Obama seal and things pretty much are the same. 

Monday, February 1, 2021

Quite The Contrary: A Kindler Gentler Pope Does Not A One True Religion Make

Some things never quite change. Some things do.

2013 saw the ascendancy of Argentina's Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the throne of the Papacy in the Vatican, as his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI retired. Bergoglio chose his pontifical title as that of Francis to intentionally identify himself with St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the ancient Franciscan order noted for its focus on simplicity of lifestyle and service to the poor. And during the first several weeks after assuming the post, his personal charisma, lifestyle choices and pronouncements made it clear that Pope Francis would not be doing high church as usual. 

He forsook residency in the official papal palace in Rome, opting for a more modest suite in the Vatican guesthouse. Francis eschewed the usage of the the papacy's opulent vestments, mink stoles and bejeweled accoutrements for simple and plain ones. In his pastoral declarations, he has called for the Roman Catholic ministry to renew its focus upon compassionate service all around it, to even embrace vows of poverty to do so  and to forsake the aloof and often distant relations that are too widely the norm in churches globally. And his warmth and beatific presence radiates a human authenticity impossible to ignore and appreciate.

When you hear that Francis sneaks out of the Vatican anonymously to visit the sick, in the same way he did in Buenos Aires,  delighting the common and the ordinary of his flock with pastoral ministry, how can you fault it?  All of these are clear signs that that the pope is practicing what he preaches, that he prefers a church "
which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security" and that this is the new direction for Catholicism he's chosen. In short, Francis' personal example and passionate inclusiveness seems like a beacon of renewal that thrills a lot of Protestants who persist in believing that the prayer of Jesus is John 17 must inclued a renewed Protestant - Roman Catholic reapproachment. 

Seeing the head of the Catholic Church serve it notice that it is "off mission"  and out of touch with too many around it is refreshing .. and yet ultimately maddening to see. 

For at the same time Pope Francis seeks to reenergize his church with a new focus on grass roots values of sacrifice, compassion and tolerance, his revisioning of Catholic faith has shaken the church in far more profound ways. Already in deep crisis over ongoing pedophile scandals, the decelerating vitality and relevance of the church's influence globally, and it's own ancient factionalism at war with itself , his direction of the church has provoked longstanding resistence and even rebellion among those who would affirm his role as the Vicar of Christ leading the Only True Church, the Church of Rome.  At a time when the church's soul has been rent between liberal and conservative factions, it has become clear that Pope Francis' approach includes affirmations aimed at incorporating far more substantial change than just a call for return to ministry to the downtrodden.

The Pope's endorsement of universalism, a belief that all people, even atheists, are bound for eternal life was one such shot across the Church's bow.  Such a startling assertion, at odds with virtually all Protestant communities, also completely contradicts the Roman Catholic view that only those in full communion with it have any hope of such a thing .. a blow to the claim of it's objective exclusivity that outside the Roman Church, no salvation is possible which has long been the bulwark of Catholicism.

Another of his saucily proclaimed assertions was Francis' recent approval for same sex unions has been well established with his famously eye opening refusal to judge homosexuality as the grave and mortal sin that his predecessors have.  This total break from two millenia of Roman tradition holding to homosexuality as a grave and mortal sin sent even further shockwaves through the church. It has caused no end of feral debate among gay Roman Catholics and those of their brethren who would assert they are in sin, a state of affairs not lost upon the LGBTQ movement as it seeks to establish itself as a normative institution. 

Still another was the earthshaking willingness expressed by Francis in one of his "Apostolic Exhorations" a few years back to extend privileges in the Roman Mass to Roman Catholic divorcees who remarry and do not obtain formal release by church annulment from their past marriages. This has  caused a massive firestorm of debate among church leadership globally to the point that Francis has been officially approached by Roman bishops to clarify what he meant .. and he has refused to answer.

I could go on with more of this, but suffice it to say that this review of the example of Pope Francis shows us one thing very clearly.

For all of its historic posturing as the One True Holy Roman Catholic Church, as the One True Faith, the Roman Catholic church's very human dimension of its leadership has become a clearly established reality. Behind the pomp and prestige of its position, we are seeing once again how it is one filled with the contradiction of pragmatic idealism colliding with factionalism and cultural accommodation, set in the high stakes game of the control of the Church and its future in a world that is increasingly hostile and indifferent to this ancient institution.

Francis is a product of his times whose leadership has caused no end of controversy and division within his own church even as those outside it reckon him to be a really cool guy who's just like them, to the deep consternation of the Roman faithful. He's doing what he thinks he should to lead his church to the same kind of inclusive tolerance he has fostered .. and is finding himself under resistence by his own flock to the point that his name has now become a flashpoint among Catholics inspiring division and controversy, in a church where pride and faith in its being free from error and being unified is seen for what it is - the vain hope of the indoctrinated not understanding what kind of slaves to human tradition they have become. 

In 2000, one of his predecessors, the late John Paul II agonized over the "sins of the church" in a public act of repentance over many of the Roman Catholic church's historical failures. Many lauded the Papacy for its "moral courage" but there was absolutely nothing said about it's greatest sin. He and no other Roman pontiff has dared to repent over the foundational sin of Romanism - that good works must be trusted in to save since faith is not enough, that the Roman Mass must replicate the sacrifice of Christ to give those good works something to be built upon and that all who would disagree with Roman tradition are under the curse of God.

If the Papacy is ever to be really trusted, and that's a proposition this ex-Catholic gave up over 40 years ago, its repentance from these dead works of religious tradition would be a great start. Giving up on its pronounced curses on those outside the Church who affirm faith alone in Christ would be swell too. I hope someone has a hot mike on when they find Francis in a Starbucks somewhere and ask them about these things. It would make for another interesting interview for a pope who likes to depart from his planned remarks. 

Read more about the unbiblical nature of the Roman church at our collection of the late Keith Green's articles called the Catholic Chronicles here

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Where Are We Going? Listen to our new podcast!

A big leg that people have used to stand on involves the expectation that as difficult things may be that they are in some manner predictible and one can expect such bad times to finally pass back to some level of normalcy.

However, for the past several years, it's finally dawning on our awareness that these are not normal times. Given that we are facing absolutely volcanic times of trial, sorrow, violence and deceit we've seen arise in the world, the new normal seems to be the abnormal, the new stability is actually instability at so many levels.

So more and more, we are asking the question .. "where are we going?"

We've been wanting to launch a blog to address this on a weekly basis for a lonnnng time. At last, it's here! We release our blog every Saturday to hear Biblical commentary on current events and other hot button issues that directly relate to Spiritwatch Ministries' most foundational presupposition: that we live in the end times and that that last day of the last days is finally upon us with the prophetically foretold panorama  of judgement and woe ready to dawn upon us.

Click on the image to go straight to our home page for our podcast to hear more. You can peruse the rest of our blog articles going back years and that will be our operative principle upon which our observations are offered to help you discern the times and "take heed that no man deceive you." Our website and Facebook page will have the same links. Spread the word and let others know! Find out where we actually are going. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Works Still Works : How Earning Heaven Is A Way of Human Life

One powerful inner spiritual prompting among people is one they are scarcely aware of and that is the compulsion to perform, to live out one's path in life by self-achieval, by one's drive to work, to do something to better themselves. 

That is the lot of life this side of Eden, on these rocky roads after the fall of man. Humanity is driven by the deeply personal conviction that we must earn our way through life, that we owe a debt of a tangible nature of almost any sort to someone, some entity or some institution to make progress in the world. Everyone, it seems, comes to believe that they need to pay their dues in someway to someone or something else to in order to "make it" in life. 

Even in the jaded and amoral life of the Millenials,  whose sense of entitlement helps them live a self-centered life reckoning themselves at the center of the upwardly mobile food chain,  there yet remains an inner core where this indebtedness, this owing something to someone stubbornly abides. A recent survey brought light upon a new social phenomenon known as "vacation shaming" as evidence of this. Millenials are more likely than any other generation to experience guilt when taking scheduled vacation, feeling quite literally shamed into staying on the job by an intense conviction that they should not let their managers down. They literally feel they owe their employers and coworkers their time so intensely, they will even forego it. This is just one part of the social pressures that they now face and even seek therapy for  , which has become a real burden that COVID-19's coming has contributed to.
To address this inner imbalance or the felt need to do something .. people will do what they need to do.

This video of a young and disillusioned anti war activist from the movie "The Experiment" shows this all too well. 

But millenials are hardly alone in dealing with the compulsions of demands made upon their lives by things they can't control, as we have said. All of us face an indebtedness of sorts in our daily lives that we do much to escape from in all manner of ways when the pursuit to achieve is too great. A rabbi's deft analysis of the ongoing American infatuation with British royalty  includes this observation:

The underlying attraction to royalty is the human desire for an effortless life, where all things are magical and where all beauty is innate. A meritocracy has its own rewards. It allows ordinary people to become extraordinary, but it always involves hard work: the entrepreneur who must burn the midnight oil to build his business. The rising politician who must travel around the country begging rich people for money to make his candidacy viable. Even human attraction involves such hard work. It means dieting and giving up the foods we love. It means exercising, running and weight lifting. But then there are people who are all those things—rich, beautiful, wonderful—without any effort at all. They are angels who live among us. They are magical. 

Such "angels" are those who seem to have "made" it and whom we want to be. They become the poster children for perfection, the pinnacle of our aspiration that appeals to us. And that's a tough path to follow, a bricked road painted bright yellow upon which we're to travel, following the many pied pipers calling us to join their quest. Legions of bright eyed, fast talking men and women who seem like they have it all together constantly look for new recruits for their programs of personal development creating armies of work gangs across America and the world. 

In short, Rabbi Boteach says, life is work for which we will do what it takes to achieve a respite from, which is why leisure activities - for which we often feel guilty for taking - are so sought after:

In giving us things like “Enchanted forests” and “Never Never Land” where no boys grow old, Disney tapped into our sense of tiredness and weariness at the constant struggle that life demands, the never-ending battles to make something of ourselves. The battle to feed our families. The struggle to be happily married. The demands of raising purposeful children. The struggle to sustain healthy self-esteem.After all that exertion, we need an escape, a place to which we can retreat where everything is wonderful without having to try. And royalty is fantasy in the flesh. An impossible, effortless, wealthy, magical existence that seemingly requires no effort or struggle.

The chase after life involves a longing for arriving. And if we can find a place where we can find refuge, we'll give it a shot. We'll listen. We'll consider. We'll mull over it. And when it comes to spirituality, millenials are no different from other age groups - whether younger or older - in exploring it in search of that freedom. Like all of humanity, they'll engage in it - as needed, in perfectly consumerist mindset - in the quest to come to grips with the struggles of life just as all people have in the past.

The ideal that one can strive, apply and gainfully labor in effort to achieve a self-understanding or mastery over your failings is a powerful one. It's a human quest that religion seeks to address .. and for which cultism and abusive religion claim to have found the answer. If there is any common thread among the bewildering diversity of spirituality's market share, it is this: that to seek God's favor, blessing and reality in your life, you've got to do something to earn His attention. There's work to do to gain grace from God. And in so doing, that universal weight of guilt and shame over your moral failures can be atoned for. You can bury that hatchet if you follow the rules, do the coursework, login for X amount of hours, put in that time, be accountable.. 

Works still works. Earning heaven by the sweat of your brow is something we can take to the bank. We get it. That resonates with the guilt driven and the work orientation humanity has brought to its tables globally throughout history.  Religion seems to demand lot of spiritual busy work, philosophy an application of mental disciplines and reflection, social scenes drop hints that you should fake it until you make it. Etc. etc. 

Yet the Bible makes clear that our personal deliverance doesn't rely upon anything we can do ourselves. Scripture makes no appeal to that human vanity whatsoever. For there is nothing, it reveals, that anyone can do to address what is surely the main problem of mankind - our need of a Savior to rescue us from the inner evil and squalor called sin, which weighs us all down. Man's problem isn't more stuff, or fame, or means but our need of freedom from our evil and who can loose us from those debts?

The Bible shows that as he died upon the cross of Calvary over two millenia ago, Jesus laid his life down to pay that very price in the one greatest work any man could achieve, but one only God Himself could pay,  the price for the literal salvation of man. And the three greatest words for work-wearied people despairing over the costs of a life spent in those personal debts are what he declared there with his last breath:

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. 
John 19:30 

This wasn't the gasp of a dying man giving up to his mortality, but the judgment of a Savior whose life He declared was a work that ended for all time the struggle of mankind. He'd been saying so all of His life as He preached in ancient Israel:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15

And the Gospel of Jesus always points back to what He did and how His completed work changes life:

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Romans 10:4

This is too amazing to be believed: that all we have to do is repent and believe on Jesus to get off the maddening treadmills we all run on. 

But it's that simple. Cults, false religions and human effort can't handle it. But that is the truth. Are you still working out, putting in your sweat, running after something that you'll never catch? Turn to Christ alone by faith alone now!