Blog

#20 Tug of War

Tug of war

I was walking down the stairs with Marty after one of our morning shepherding group meetings. Marty put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Tik, I am looking forward to seeing you tonight at the service. IT will be Bob’s last you know.”

I stopped on the stairs.

Tonight our night was our frat chapter meeting.

And tonight was my first monthly business meeting as Frat. President. In this meeting we would review the finances: cash in- vs. expenses vs. surplus and also vote on any issues that the frat members brought up.

In fact tonight, because of our excellent rush results (thanks to Sheila’s help from the party with her very large and old line sorority) we would propose a reduction in dues for the frat brothers.

I needed to be there, and in fact, was obligated to be there. I was elected President, it was my responsibility, and they paid me for it in free room and board.

Seemed pretty easy and simple to me.

I explained to Marty why I would need to miss the MCM meeting tonight.

Not only that but after the chapter meeting I simply HAD to hit the books- I missed a study group last night and that spelled danger.

Going to engineering school, at least for me, was like riding a bike at 20 mph just in front of a giant steam roller moving at the same speed. Everything was fine as long as you pedaled like mad. But slow down or stop and you would be run over and crushed. And I could feel the steam roller gaining ground on me. For I had studied little in the last two weeks due to all of my MCM activities.

A new look appeared on Marty’s face that I had not seen yet.

I am struggling now to describe it, so here goes: it was irritation combined with an attempt to soften it into compassion.

I mean, his face said, “You are irritating me,” but the tone of his voice was all compassion, sugar and honey.

“Well Tik, I understand what you have in front of you tonight, but this is a really critical time for your Christian growth and walk with the Lord. You are a baby Christian and babies need lots of feeding. It would be a real mistake for you not come to the service tonight. Besides there are at least seven sheep now from your frat, if you don’t come they probably will not come either.”

I really did want to be at MCM tonight and to hear what this new Prophet was going to say to us on behalf of God.

I wanted to this more than anything.

But there were lots of things that I wanted to do in my life, but did not do them, because of other things I was committed to; things I was both ethically and morally committed to do.

But Maranatha did have one thing right.

I was a man-pleaser and did not like to let people down. Now I was torn, do I let my new Shepherd down or my frat?

But what about my studies?. I simply had to study at least three hours or so tonight, say from 8-11 pm…and then I remembered that I was committed to Mike’s prayer group the next morning at 6am.

My heart sank.

“Look Tik, God looks at our heart and our actions. If you are truly committed to him then His things must come first. That is the difference between overcomers and watered down make believe Christians,” Mike intoned.

That decided it for me.

I would see if JD our frat VP would cover for me this one night. Then I would leave as soon as the service was over at 8:30 pm for the engineering library to crack the books.

“Don’t worry about me, ” I told Marty. “I’ll be there tonight.”

At the frat house I looked for J.D. our Vice President.

As I have told you we were NOT friends. He had run for President against me last spring.

I won becoming the first junior President of the frat. As a consolation prize he  was elected Vice President. He continually second guessed me at the frat, I understood why, it must have been hard to have someone with less experience running “his” fraternity.

Now I would have to tell him I would miss my first business meeting which only occurred once per month.

As luck would have it JD was in Mom’s room. Mom was also graduate instructor for Dr. Carl. And Dr. Carl, who you have already met, if you have made it this far, was a not only a prof. for two of my classes this quarter, but was also my student advisor.

Small world, huh?

Looking back on it Mom did a good job of looking out for us and trying his best to keep a bunch of 20 year old males in line and from burning the house down.

Last year one of our guys had gotten some bad grades and decided to drop out and go to work for the Power Company. Mom had escorted him down to the Dean’s office and “un-dropped him out”.

The kid was still in school.

Mom and J.D looked up as I walked into Mom’s room.

“What’s up Tikie?” Mom yelled.

J.D said nothing to me. He seemed to concentrating on blowing smoke rings with a lit cigar that was hanging from his mouth.

“Well I was actually looking for JD to see if he could cover for me in the chapter meeting tonight.”

Mom’s red eyebrows cocked up and JD momentarily forgot about the smoke signals he was trying to send.

“Got an emergency Tik?” Mom asked.

It was unusual for the president to miss a chapter meeting much less the monthly business meeting. I had missed last week’s chapter meeting and had gotten a little grief from the frat members because of this.

And now I stood there telling them I was going to miss two in a row including tonight’s business meeting.

I stood there trying to figure out what to tell them…then Bob’s admonition came to my mind that, “Jesus said don’t hide your light under a bushel,” sounded in my head.

So I said, “I promised some guys I would attend a church service tonight.”

“But I was sure that Chris’ study (Chris head of BSU) did not start until 8:00 pm on tonight,” “Mom” said. “Our business meeting starts at 7:00 pm and we will be finished by at least 8:00 pm.”

Chris of BSU and “Mom” were allies but not friends.

Neither really approved of the other, but “Mom” saw Chris as a restraining influence on us and Chris appreciated the fact that “Mom” really tried to look out for our welfare, well at least as he saw fit to.

JD was silent; watching me as he puffed his cigar. Had he spoken to Sheila about what and who I was involved with? I knew they were friends.

“No,” I said, “it is not a BSU function; it is a new ministry called Maranatha.”

“You mean that guy that was here with the band a while ago  who was yelling and screaming like some two-bit carney?” JD asked.

I nodded.

Mom laughed, “You are a grown man Tik, at least you ought to be one. You really have an obligation to be here at this chapter meeting, for God’s sake you are the guy in charge here.”

“Sorry guys, I made a promise.”

“Bullshit Tik!” said JD. “You made a promise first to the frat.”

“I know JD,” I said, “but that was before I made a commitment to put Jesus above everything else; to commit myself to him like the early Christians did.”

Mom twisted his red mustache.

“Tik everyone knows you are a straight arrow religious guy.”

Mom continued, “You know I don’t go for that crap; but I have never given you a hard time about it! You go to Rat’s and Chris’s studies almost every week and are at Sunday School every Sunday morning. For Pete’s sake what is so special and urgent about tonight’s church meeting?’

“Look,” I said standing up,”I realized I was a lukewarm Christian and have to take a radical stand for Jesus. He died for me so the least I can do is to put Him first.”

JD waved his hand at me.

“Cut the preaching Tik, alright? I don’t need it and I am not going to listen to it. So stop it. I am going to cover for you, okay? But what do you want me to tell the brothers? Huh? ”

“Tell them truth,” I said.

“You really want me to tell them that you have cracked up?” snorted JD. He walked out of the room in disgust.

I started to leave.

“Wait a minute Tik, have a seat,” said “Mom.

“What in the hell’s gotten into you Tik?,”  asked Mom. “I can’t remember you missing more than one or two chapter meetings since you were initiated as a frosh over two years ago. Now you have missed two straight. What is going on with you?”

“Don’t push me Mom I made a commitment to go!”

I caught myself, I was almost yelling. Mom continued to stroke his mustache.

“Tik- who is this group that you have gotten yourself involved with?”

“They are committed Christians, that’s all .”

I turned and walked out of Mom’s room and went down the hall to the door to my room.

As I put the key in the lock I looked down the hall and there was Mom, standing in his doorway, stroking his mustache and looking at me.

That evening was Bob’s last night to preach, at least for a while.

The Band was in great form and I ended up talking to Becky, the little sister who had broken down at the frat house. She was on fire for Jesus!

The service broke up around 8:45 pm and I reached for my backpack. I was planning on heading to the engineering lab to try to catch up on my studies.

All of the sudden Sam and Marty were by my side.

“Brother, we were so glad to see you here. I know that God will really bless you for your commitment tonight. We are going to be doing a study with a young man who is on the verge of making Jesus Lord and we would like you to sit with us, to give him your testimony and perspective on the study.’

“Will you help us Bro?”

What could I say? They had sacrificed last evening for me, so I would do the same for this new kid. Isn’t that what Jesus would have wanted?

I stuffed my back pack under my chair and went upstairs with Sam and a blond-haired kid who looked like he was 12 years old.

I was excited. I was going to help Marty and Sam bear fruit for the Lord.

My engineering studies would have to wait yet one more night.

#19 The Dating Revelation: We Say Adios To Dating !

Editors Note: Here Tikie discusses the Dating Revelation. Tikie believes that this revelation, as practiced by MCM, was used as a way to maintain control of members. He views it as just one the many controls that MCM put into place to ensure its members stayed in line.

It was the same order of service recipe as usual at Maranatha that night. I was getting used to it and liked it: the catchy songs, and  usually some dramatic story or a testimony from a good-looking campus leader.

After the music, prophecies, testimonies and the offering Bob got up to speak.

I was very anxious to hear what Bob was going tonight. That morning he had said his message tonight would be about about dating, sex  and marriage entitled “God’s perfect choice for your life”.

“Tonight,” Bob intoned, “I will be giving a message for believers only. If you are not a believer, if you are not a truly committed Christian, then this message will NOT make sense to you.”

He pointed us to the scripture that said the gospel can appear as foolishness to the Godless. He launched into the story of Isaac and Rebecca in Genesis.

After reading the story he asked, “So who chose the wife for Isaac?”

Well that seemed pretty straight forward to me. Abraham’s servant had done this. Bob had just read the scripture describing this event.

But apparently I was wrong.

“If you think it was Abraham’s servant, then you are wrong and not allowing the Holy Spirit to interpret the scripture.”

“Huh?” I thought.

I mean, sure you needed the Holy Spirit to act as a guide, but I did not need to Holy Spirit to tell me that the scripture says something other than what it actually says.

I mean I was a fan of Occam’s razor when it comes to scripture; the simplest explanation is probably the correct one.

“You see Abraham is a type for us of God. You see in Galatians 4:28 we read ‘And you brethren, like Isaac are his children of promise,” Bob told us.

“Wait a minute,” I thought. “I mean I could really stretch here, maybe. I can almost understand MCM’s Baptism doctrine as a sort of circumcision in the way MCM teaches it, even if it is not EXPLICITLY spelled out. But the use of this particular scripture, why, I could not make heads or tails of it.

The story in the Bible simply said that Abraham sent his servant out to get Rebecca as a wife.

How could Bob jump from the servant choosing Isaacs’s wife to  God choosing Rebecca?  And then use that scripture to say that  God should choose our wives?

Not that I was opposed to God choosing, or telling us, who our mates were going to be.  But that is not the point here.

My point, rather, is that the scripture Bob used had no bearing on God choosing our mate.

Bob then went through the reasons that we should be spirit led  in our relationships with the opposite sex. He started by citing 1 Thessalonians that, “We are to walk holy and blameless before Him”.

“Okay,” I thought, “sure we are to be sexually pure before marriage… but is Thess. 4:1-6 talking about how to approach marriage?”

Not anymore that it was talking about a recipe for baking bread, as far as I could see.

Maybe it was my training from engineering school but I simply expect there to be Aristotelian Logic in an argument. The Bible to me was very logical. Things had to be accepted on Faith, but that once it was entered into the equation then logic ruled, or so thought Augustine of Hippo and other theologians. Otherwise, why write the Bible when a particular scripture can mean anything at all?

For example the teaching of sin atonement is logical and supported by plenty of scriptures as well:

1.God has no sin and cannot tolerate sin.
2.Sin requires a sacrifice acceptable to God.
3.Man is sinful.
4.God cannot tolerate man’s presence because of sin.
5. Jesus the perfect man the very God of God was made the perfect sacrifice for us.
6. Those that are atoned by faith in Jesus’s sacrifice desire God and are allowed in his presence.

Or 1+1+1 = 3.

But Bob’s teaching seemed to say that Red + Green =154.7

There seemed to at this point to be no Aristotelian logic to his teaching to in this study.

And this lack of logic in Bob Weiner (and Rose’s as well) was an issue that would eat at me for five years. And the reason there was a lack of logic to their teachings is that these teachings had no basis in scripture at all.

Now Bob pointed us to Psalm 37:4 that, “God will give us the desires of our heart.”

“This means that God will give us our husbands and wives. We do not have to go looking for them.”

“This was a good sentiment,” I thought, “but it is not supported by THIS scripture.”  My head was hurting. What Bob was saying was good.  But the scripture he was using  had no bearing on this teaching.

Then he quoted 2 Timothy: “I know whom I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to guard that which I have committed to Him until that Day.”

“Now wait a minute,” I thought, “this scripture forms the basis for my Mother’s favorite Hymn. This is not talking about dating and marriage…this is talking about our ultimate destination, our salvation.”

I was completely confused. What came next really threw me for a loop.

“So we believe that there should be NO dating, no going steady, no hand holding, none of that, until God has spoken to you about your mate and that has been confirmed by the elders and you are engaged to be married.”

Bob continued: “And how is this confirmed in Acts 14.” Then Bob  cited the verse calling for the oversight of the flock by the elders and shepherds in the early church.

“So God will reveal your mate to you and you to your mate through prayer. But you are not to speak to the person that is revealed to you for He will also speak to the elders and you shepherds at the same time. They will then pray and confirm His word to each of you.”

And finally Bob finished with these sentences, “This is God’s plan for his perfect choice for your life. It is a revelation for these end times. It allows us to focus on the things of God and not the lust of the flesh and the pride of life.”

Some twenty-five years afterwards there is a fairly simple question that should have been asked:  Why did Bob use scripture that failed to support his thesis?

The answer, I believe is two-fold.

The first answer is simple. There WERE no scriptures to support the Dating Revelation. His use of scripture to support this revelation involved an incredible twisting of scriptures by Bob.

The second answer is that these  revelations had to be supported with scriptures, even if those scripture had not the slightest bearing on the doctrine,

That was because if the doctrine was just a “nice idea” it would not have the force of law within MCM.

But if the doctrine and the teaching came from the”Word of God” and if if came from an MCM Apostle then it would have the force of law. And then the  flock had to obey them or risk losing their place in MCM.

Think about it which “Overcoming sold out MCM Christians” were going to disobey the Word of God and a doctrine sprouted from the mouth of a MCM Apostle?”

And this particular doctrine/revelation (and many other MCM teachings based on the twisting scriptural ) was put into place for one reason, and one reason alone: it  allowed the elders of MCM to have a powerful tool over which to control the actions and thoughts of the flock.

For, if you were a member of MCM, the elders wielded one of the most powerful biological forces in God’s creation: SEX!

And us unmarried people, why we were enuchs for Jesus until we showed ourselves to the elders of being worthy of a mate, marriage, and a marriage bed.

And yet another strange MCM doctrine was being stuffed into that already crowded closet in my mind.

 

#18 The Fruit Keeps Dropping

Sunday October 1978
I picked the phone up to call Sheila’s dorm room. It was 8:30 am.

“Hello?” it was Jane, Sheila’s roommate answering.

“Hi Jane, it’s Tik, is Sheila in?”

”Hi Tickie,” came the answer, “she just this minute walked out of the door. Chris [from BSU] is picking a bunch of the girls up at the turnaround [the drive at the top of the “Hill”] to take them to First [Baptist] Opelika. Are you heading there this morning?”

“Not today Jane”.

I planned on attending Bob Weiner’s “blowout” Maranatha Sunday morning service at 10:55 am. Bob was leaving tomorrow and I wanted hear every second of his preaching that I could.

“Could you tell her I called Jane.”

“Sure will Tik,” she said. “Hey, did you guys have fun last night?”

“Uh…sure,” I said.

Was she talking about the “celebration family dinner” at Maranatha last night?

I didn’t think so. I had not mentioned it to Sheila and I knew for certain she would probably not get near the MCM House anyway.

“Sheila said you guys had Smoke Rise playing at the frat house last night… I LOVE them!”

Smoke Rise was a local band and very popular with the students. They were the band I had been watching set up yesterday while I was waiting to leave the frat house for the MCM love feast.

Had Sheila stopped by the frat house last night?

Did she know that I had played hookey from the frat party?

I caught myself and thought, “Now WHY in the world am I worried about whether Sheila was at the frat house or for that matter what Jane thinks. Who cares what she thinks???”

“Well…I did not make the party; but yes SmokeRise was there… I saw them setting up yesterday afternoon.”

Silence.

“Tik, uh… of course it none of my business, but, well… are you and Sheila doing okay?”

Good Lord not her too?

What was this with everyone asking about Sheila and me, for crying out loud.? The next thing I know my Mother will be calling to ask about me and Sheila!

“Yeah- everything is great just tell her I called.”

I jumped in the shower thinking, “Now that was one weird conversation”.

My MCM chums, Fred, Robert, Ricky and Rhonda were there within the next hour to head down to the Maranatha House. I had also invited Jim, one of my frat brothers to the service. I also invited another frat brother Kent as well.

Jim was a Yankee through and through, with nasal accent and all. It is ironic that I used to make fun of his accent since I later married a Yankee and have spent most of my life post-Maranatha north of the Mason Dixon Line.

Who says God does not have a sense of humor?

Jim had round tortoise-shell glasses and his curt and direct responses like “you are completely full of [expletive deleted]”  irritated many people.

But I liked him a lot; he was full of energy and I found his very direct “good is good” and “bad is bad” approach to life refreshing.

Kent was a music major that I had become friends with at the frat.

He had turned into a real party animal, one of those Southern Baptist guys that when he had the chance, went nuts. He had gone on academic probation last year and was trying to work himself off it with little success, because he could not lay off the booze. I was pretty sure Kent was smoking dope as well. Probably late at night on the porch out back

But I really did not want to know about it, being Frat. President and all.

So we all walked down Magnolia Street to the Maranatha House.

There we found the  Praise Band in great form playing hard core Christian rock and roll  with my “friend” Ellen singing a beautiful solo. The Praise Band would be leaving with Bob after today and I was very sorry to see them go. I thought that their music and presence on stage were fantastic.

And I was sort of sad that I found little time to ever really get to know Ellen; they very person who had helped bring me into MCM.

After the songs there was a very long prophetic utterance.

This time the “prophecy” did not catch me off guard, but I could tell that Jim and Kent were freaking out; first glaring at me and then looking at each other with their eyebrows raised..

This prophesying stuff made me nervous.

First how could anyone be sure that it was of God?

Second to speak on behalf of God, in a literal sense, seemed extremely dangerous. I made a note to ask Mike Caulk or Marty about this.

Of course my gut was right.

Prophesying, is, of course scriptural. But it should be undertaken with great care and caution.

Maranatha, I will show, as well as associated groups, abused this gift and used the threat and gift of prophesying to control and manipulate people. I believe that God knows the damage false prophecy can wreak.

Regardless, the Praise Band, after the prophesy, rolled right into another upbeat song  and the ushers passed around an offering plate. The fact is that the offering occurred every night and the other fact was that I had not put a nickel in the plate.

And this was for one simple reason: I did not have a nickel. No money. I am not exaggerating. Later I will cover my expenses and how Maranatha almost shipwrecked me both financially (which was not hard to do since I was penniless!) and scholastically.

Then Bob Weiner got up and lit into one of the most fast paced scriptural wind sprints I have ever seen before or since.

First he launched into the evilness of man. That, he said was scriptural and self evident. How man was rebellious and hated God. Then Bob charged through the third chapter of Romans.

“There is non- righteous NOT ONE. No fornicator, adulterer, drunkard, homosexual or liar shall enter heaven. ”

“In fact,” Bob shouted, “Jesus says that if you even HAVE a wicked or lustful thought it is as if you ACTUALLY committed the sin and the act.’

“Hh oh,” I thought.

“I say again no homosexual, no deviant, no liar, none who have sin shall enter the Kingdom. But let me give you a warning.”

He stopped. Dead silence. Not a sound.

Only the breathing of the crowd.

Then a whisper, “Jesus says that it is better to be cold and in sin, completely in sin and rebellious than to be a pretend Christian. To go to church on Sunday, or a Bible Study and then to engage in sinful acts the rest of the week in secret. But nothing is secret from God. Not one thing.”

He was hunched over almost double speaking into the microphone as he whispered this.

Then he jerked straight up pointing his arm into the crowd with a flourish.

And he shouted “Jesus says it is better to be HOT or COLD for if you are LUKEWARM I WILL SPEW YOU OUT OF MY MOUTH!!!!! He will say DEPART FROM ME FOR I NEVER KNEW YOU!!!!”

He stood stock still. Silence again. One…two…three…

Then in a low voice “If you are in sin, if you are leading a double life, if you want to avoid the wrath of God that is coming in these end times- then you MUST take a stand. What better time than now. Because none of us knows what will happen today.”

“There is a person here, who is engaged in sexual deviancy, I tell you that God is telling me that unless they repent today they will be struck down and spend eternity in hell. This IS a life and death matter.”

The Praise Band took the stage and started playing one of their softer tunes as Bob spoke in a whisper.

“You must take the first step. Jesus died for you. Don’t ignore Him. Come now. Don’t ignore what might be your last chance.”

I begin praying and closed my eyes.

After about two minutes I looked up and Jim my Yankee frat brother was up front talking to the counselors. And believe it or not there was standing room only at the stage. At least 20-30 people, probably a good 10% of the audience were up front kneeling or crying.

It was incredible.

Walking back to the frat house Fred, Robert, Rhonda, Rickey, Jim  and I were all talking about Jesus. Jim was ecstatic and had gotten a copy of the Red Book and was going to go through a couple of studies that afternoon. He was scheduled later that day to meet with Sam and he told me that he wanted to be Baptized that night. He was yammering away on being committed and being a radical Christian.

I was beside myself with pride.

Six people brought to Jesus in my frat in just over a week.

Bob seemed to have the right of it. God was doing a mighty thing at Auburn and I was part of it.

Maybe even at the center of it.

I walked down the hall to my room just as  Mom was sliding a note under my door.

“Wacha got “Mom?” I asked.

“Sheila called about a half hour ago and she spoke to Jenny. She tried to call your room first and ended up calling mine. She wants to know if you could meet her for lunch at noon on Monday at the War Eagle, that’s all.”

I took the note. It was in Jenny’s handwriting.

“Oh Tik,” Mom said, “did you know that Sheila was hanging around the frat house all night? ”

He was eyeing me up and down. “You did not stand her up again did you?”

“No Mom I did NOT know she was here last night (or did I?… exactly what had her roommate told me??) and besides I had no plans to meet her. Look it’s a free country,  Sheila comes to our parties all the time!”

“Hmmmph,” he grunted, “well…she looked mighty lonely last night. You need to help that girl out, know what I mean, Tikie?? Young nookie is wasted on the young!” and he laughed as he made an obscene gesture with his hands.

“Just shuddup would ya “Mom?” I exclaimed as I wadded up the note and threw it at him.  I then told him to try to keep clothes on  Jenny when she walked down the hall to our shared bath; if that was not too much trouble.

I tried calling Sheila’s dorm room, but there was no answer. I headed to the engineering lab to try to figure indeterminate structures out.

I sure wished I had figured it out before Dr. Carl’s test on Friday.

#17 A Completely New Family

Saturday October 1978

The crowd in the stadium rose as one and cheered, “Waaarr EEAAAGLE!” as Auburn scored a touchdown.

But at that moment my mind was on other matters.

First, there was my problem with Sheila. She had called me to make peace after our blow up about who was, and was not, a Christian… and to talk about my involvement in Maranatha.

To seal that peace, and because, well, I missed seeing her, I had made a non-date  date with her to go to the football game. Now I had done something really rude to a very good friend. I stood her up and left her hanging at the frat house for at least an hour by herself.

I felt bad about this, well, at least part of me did.

But that part of me that felt bad, the part that was ruminating on how in the world I could have done such a thing to a good friend, was being challenged by someone else.

A new comer.

The new comer that had been forming in me over the last seven days. A soon to be tyranical new comer that I gladly welcomed in to my head, my heart and my soul; that I happily fed, watered and eventually, as you will see, let take over every aspect of my life.

The new comer, the other part of me, that was saying, “The Kingdom must come first” and the one reciting Marty and Bob’s words about being an, “Over-coming Christian and setting an example for the Body.”

I thought, “All this-worldly stuff, ALL of it is of no consequence. My luke warm Christian and heathen friends in the fraternity are not of God. The dead Christian groups like CCC and BSU that never bore fruit are nothing but fronted social clubs.”

I glanced around at the screaming football fans and the revelry taking place in the stadium; all of this was temporal, I thought, while the Kingdom was permanent.

These eternal things were what the only  important things, or so I told myself.

Or was it this “newcomer”, the “new” Tik, that was thinking this?

“I should get away from this debauchery ….especially since God has picked me out for leadership,” I thought.

Isn’t that what Jesus would do, separate himself from the sinful stuff and the drunken harlots and whore-mongers?

And that new  part of me, the part that was on fire for Jesus, the part that was totally committed, the part that saw problems with watered down Christianity; well, this new part of me was shoving the old Tik into the same small closet that held some of the weird doctrines and practices that I had seen so far during my involvement in Maranatha.

Now to be fair I was NOT thinking in those terms.

Well, not exactly.

But I certainly was experiencing what sociologists, including cult experts like Janha Lalich, term cognitive dissonance, which apparently all sociological cult members seem to experience to some degree. Cognitive dissonance seems to occur frequently with those who are just moving into such a sociological cult (I will speak to cognitive dissonance and how individuals are assimilated into such groups later on).

But now my thoughts now focused on what MCM termed the old man versus the new man I was becoming; as I sat silent among the throngs cheering and screaming fans around me.

In fact Maranatha (Marty, Bob, Randy and Sam, thus far) had actually told me that the old man might try to come back. For sure Baptism in Faith and the  Baptism of Fire in the Holy Spirit would help prevent that the return of that dead old man.

But I was warned to stay away from that old man- the old Tik. The old Tik had been cut away and buried in Baptism. I must not, “Let him drag himself out of the grave” (an actual quote and teaching of MCM).

Isn’t that what Bob and Marty had told me to do?

That I was to, “Mortify the flesh, to kill the old man daily and let the new man come to life?”

Isn’t that that was what discipleship and total commitment to Jesus and His Body required?

The shepherds over us, I had been told, were to help discipline us in our walk with Jesus. They held us accountable for staying close to God, for watching over our spiritual well being, and, to help us keep the old man, and our former life, in the grave where Water Baptism had put him.

Friday night (the night prior) during my brief chastisement session Marty read the following verse to me: “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool that repeats his folly.”

I looked around me at the hundred fifty plus frat brothers, dates and little sisters of the frat. Some were drunk, most were yelling and cheering. Thousands of people moved their shakers in clockwork rhythm as they yelled, screamed and hugged each other. It seemed to me, at least, that I was the only one in the whole crowd not in this worldly groove, if you will.

Despite this was I like the dog Marty had spoken of last night that was returning to it’s vomit?

Were the frat activities and all of this worldly stuff going on at the game the vomit that Marty and the Bible spoke about?

How about Sheila?

I knew in my heart that Sheila had rejected Maranatha, despite our effort to patch things up on the phone.

We were good friends. I did not like the term just friends because it implied a diminution of our relationship. But where did Sheila, my friend, fit in with God’s plan if she were not going to be an over comer?

Where did any of my old friends fit in?

A mere seven days into Maranatha and I had already categorized people as either old friends or my new friends; actually these new friends were my  new family to quote Marty, Randy, and Bob.

New brothers and sisters in Jesus they were.

An eternal family of God, for me, it seemed.

In my mind I was also starting to categorize activities as either eternal and of the “kingdom or of the world; that is temporary, fleeting and sinful.

Reality broke in as Auburn intercepted a pass sending the crowd into more fits of  screaming and cheering.

I thought, “Why can’t these people scream and yell about the miracles and  the goodness of God who gives them their very breath? Sheila said she thought the Maranatha service was strange the other night, but no stranger than what is going on here with 80,000 people yelling and screaming about a zipped up ball of air.”

Then Jenny leaned over and put her head in my lap; her strawberry blonde hair now hanging down to my shins.  And then she passed out with a small sigh.

“Sorry Tik,” laughed Mom. “I think the excitement was too much for her today!”

I stood up, cradling Jenny’s head and then laid her gently down onto the vacant stadium bench seat.

“Hey Mom I just can’t get into this game.  I think I am going to head back to the frat house.”

He smiled, “Worried about Sheila, hey?”

I just nodded and headed out of the stadium to find my bike. I had dropped it in the grass outside the stadium.

I hoped it had not been stolen.

It was there where I left it, thank goodness. I got on it and started pedaling aimlessly up campus.

About five minutes later I found myself sitting on the same brick steps near the Haley Center where Sheila and I had spent many an hour talking. I just looked across the empty green common while the roar from  loudspeakers and the crowd in the stadium washed over me.

I was tossing all of the thoughts I had about God, Jesus, the world, the Kingdom, my old life. my old friends and new-found family around and around in my head.

Suddenly something snapped inside of me. I jumped on my bike and sped to the Hill, and Sheila’s dorm, pumping my legs as hard as I could.

With a force of will the old Tik had broken his out of that partially closed closet in my mind and had taken control again.

At least for now.

Now men were not allowed into the women’s dorms with few exceptions.

But I knew that the side door by one of the patios at Sheila’s dorm was always open and it would allow me to bypass the Pinkie on guard (these were the security guards employed by Pinkerton; we called them pinkies).

I made my way up to Sheila’s room and knocked.

No answer.

I went down to the social room on that floor and got a pen and paper and then scrounged for scotch tape with no luck.

Just to think, I was on the verge of discovering post-it notes in 1978!

Oh Well.

I scribbled the following: “Sorry I was so late, I tried to find you at the frat house and the game. Please forgive me & call me! Your Friend, Tik”.

Then I scrawled at the bottom of the note.

“PS: Your are the ever BEST friend ever!”

I slid the note under the door to her room.

Back at the frat house I scrounged for some food in the walk in freezer. There was some frozen fried chicken that Annie, our cook, had put in baggies; so I threw it in the oven and watched the band for the post game frat party set up in our social room whilst I listened to the game on the radio and chugged a coke.

I was not required to come to the frat parties, the social chairman was, but it was expected that I would be there as the President.

And sure enough I was almost always was at the post game frat parties, but never took part in the hard-drinking and carousing. I just hung around and talked and occasionally got talked into a dance by one of the little sisters or Sheila.

Funny, Sheila was not a frat little sister, heck she was not even officially associated with the frat, but she usually came to our post game parties and hung out with me. We would laugh at the antics of our friends, occasionally dance and jitter-bug if we liked the song being played. By 11:30 pm, just prior to the party closing down, we would usually find ourselves sitting on the six-foot high retaining wall, at the back of the Frat parking lot, kicking our legs and talking about life.

But I could not attend the frat party tonight. Tonight was the love feast being put on for all the new brothers and sisters.

So I ambled down Magnolia Street to the Maranatha House with my potluck contribution under my arm. As I walked up the street I could see people streaming into the front door.

The stage was still in the meeting room but that morning we had put up about 20 tables seating 10 per table that morning.

The  head table on the stage where the Praise Band Equipment usually played had Bob Weiner, some visiting pastors and Mike and Missy Caulk, the Auburn Pastors seated at it, in places of honor.

Two members of the Praise Band were strumming on acoustic guitars and as I walked in  they broke into song. I saw Bob with a microphone,seated at the front table, holding it to his mouth, singing loudly into it.

That seemed quirky to me, but I shook it off and plopped down at a table where a couple had just taken a seat.

They wore the same preppy clothing, popular at that time, as I did, he with parted short hair, and she with dimples, dark hair in braids and blue sparking blue eyes that seemed to flare brightly when she smiled at me. I smiled back and before I could speak we all joined in singing with the band.

After a couple of these songs Bob Weiner stood up and said, “Praise God- this is our third week at Auburn and we are seeing a mighty revival here. It is part of the new thing that God is doing on His earth. Tonight for the first time the new Body here at Auburn will break bread together like the early Christians always did.”

He pointed us to the scripture in Acts on how the new church broke bread and fellow-shipped together routinely and weekly.

He continued “This is our new family our brothers and sisters in Christ, our adopted family because we are adopted sons of God and heirs to His Kingdom. Amen????”

There was clapping and shouting.

“Tonight we are going to enjoy some Godly music, some food and we will have about ten baptisms tonight!!! PRAISE GOD ALMIGHTY! JESUS REIGNS!,shouted Bob.

“AMEN BROTHER!!!”came a shout from the crowd and there were cheers,  applause, and stomping of feet.

Bob waited until the noise subsided.

It was a dramatic pause. Bob had/has an unbelievable sense of timing; of how to build a story; of how to build drama when he spoke…even into the announcements like this. During this pause, and as the room grew silent, his face showed keen anticipation.

I found that the anticipation of what he was about so say growing in me as well.

“… and on Sunday night, after our blow out Sunday Morning Worship Service tomorrow morning, I will be speaking on an extremely important topic, a true revelation from God, that will prevent the hurt and injury that we see today in the world. You see God’s church, the Body of Christ, is called to be different in every way from the world. For those of you who have made a commitment to Jesus, that are committed to being radical over-comers,  you simply will not want to miss this session on Sunday night.”

“What is he going to be speaking about? What could be so revolutionary?” I wondered.

“…tomorrow night I will be speaking on God’s perfect choice and his plan for your life and you life-mate. It is an exciting topic and a plan that God has given to us, His Church and His Apostles in this end time. I will show you how God intends to bring brothers and sister together into holy and noble marriage with none of the hurts and the scars that the world leaves people in the sinful and lustful dating game that the world plays!”

“Amen?” he shouted and cupped his hand to his ear.

“Amen!” we all shouted back in unison.

“Wonder what in the world all that stuff was about?” I thought.

After getting through the pot luck line with a plate of food I sat back down at the table next to the young couple.

“We have been watching you at the services since last Sunday night,” said the girl. She introduced herself as Allie.

“This is my husband Matt.”

“You seem so on fire so alive to Jesus,” she said as she tore off  a piece of bread from her plate and popped it into her mouth.

It was a very nice compliment she gave me, I thought, and I liked hearing it.

It turned out that Allie was in nursing school and Matt was completing his master’s degree in sociology, or something like that. Although Allie was only one year older than me, and Matt four years older; their maturity levels, both as people, and as Christians, were much, much higher than mine.

They had both come from a charismatic Christian church in Montgomery and were dissatisfied with their walk and what they saw in the commitment to Jesus by other members in that church.

We spent the entire dinner talking about Jesus and what He was doing and the gifts of the Spirit and our mutual radical commitment to Him.

It was evident that they were far better versed in scripture and had a much deeper walk with the Lord than I did; this despite my constant attendance at the Baptist church and Bible studies on Campus over the past two years.

I did not know it then but Matt and Allie were to become my surrogate parents, at least that is the way I saw them, over the next three years while I was at Auburn.

They were  to become refuge for me at Maranatha when my “shepherds’ started whacking out and going nuts. Which happened often I would soon find out.

Matt and Allie were sincere and humble with a true desire to know God. Like others, including me, they were being sucked into a machine that did not reward humbleness, piety, or a servant’s spirit.

Ultimately, like almost all of us, who found their way to MCM, they ended up paying the price in hurts and scars and torments. Those who were the most sincere, the most devout, and humble ultimately paid a greater price in the arrogant and controlling atmosphere that Maranatha became, or actually, I think, already was.

It was also Matt and Allie who introduced me to a couple that would also have an affect on my life:

Karen and Phil Bonasso.

But all of this would come much later.

But tonight was simply was a night of fellowship and fun all centered on the Bible, and Jesus and Maranatha.

Matt introduced me to Mike and Missy Caulk (their real names are used with their permission) the new pastors at Auburn. I did not mention to Mike Caulk that I had met him earlier that week. I did not think he would remember that encounter.

During my conversation with Mike Caulk I learned he was an ex-Marine and had been quarterback for the Marine Corps football team. He seemed like a very personable and genuinely funny guy.

I immediately liked him. I was glad he was going to be our Pastor.

Throughout our conversation, however, which lasted about ten minutes, I noticed that Mike Caulk’s eyes would periodically follow Bob around the room. I could not put my finger on it, but it seemed that Mike Caulk, a big striking muscular guy, a handsome looking guy with a face a sculptor would love, was in awe of, and, it seemed to me, intimidated by, Bob Weiner. Mike watched Bob like a dog would watch a harsh master intent on the master’s every move and awaiting the inevitable punishment.

At the end of the service Bob called Mike and Missy Caulk up to the stage.

“Now,” Bob said, “I am going to be here preaching at Auburn only two more nights more, at least for right now”

There was a groan from the crowd and shouts of “stay longer and don’t leave.”

“Now, now,” said Bob, “it is God that is doing the things here..I am just sowing the seeds. Trust me I will be back and keep tabs on things here!”

And he laughed.

“Next week you are going to have a real treat in store. You see I am the evangelist that lays the ground work that gets the Ministry going; the one ploughs up the earth and plants the seeds. But starting Monday the person who will water and tend the soil is coming.  A person who will help build up this work into the mighty fortress of God.”

He paused.

“The man who is coming has a deep and passionate understanding of God. He is a true and real prophet of God in these last days: his name is Joe Smith. He is anointed by God and will be a true blessing to all of you. He will prophesy over you and change your lives.”

Then he looked at Mike and Missy Caulk.

“Now of course,” he continued,” these are your pastors Mike and Missy Caulk who are coming from Oxford, MS to lead this ministry. Praise God!”

And with that he waved Mike and Missy to stand up.

There was shouting and whooping like at the football game this afternoon. Then Bob said something really odd, something I thought strange at the time; something that has stuck with me verbatim some thirty years later.

He said, “We are counting on Mike and Missy Caulk to make this place grow, we have invested a lot of time and money in this ministry…. and they had better not mess it up!

I may be disremembering (is that a word??? If not it should be!) some twenty-seven years later, but the entire place seemed to let out an audible gasp, at least I am sure that I did.

Both Mike and Missy had a stunned expression on their face.

Bob seemed oblivious to all of this and yelled out: “Let’s close with the song ‘what a mighty God we serve’! And tomorrow morning invite all of your friends for I will be preaching on the mighty blood of Jesus!”

I stayed for another hour talking with Matt and Allie and visiting with Mike Caulk.

As I walked back up “mag” towards my frat house I thought, “What a great family I have become part of.”

Maranatha would become my complete and total “family”, in almost every sense, over the next five years.

And I would come to learn, in time, that this “family” was also completely and totally dysfunctional.

#16 Starting to Break Away

Saturday Morning

I slept in on Saturday morning with not a dream all night, nothing.

I awoke to Jenny’s laughter in the hallway about 9:00 am. Jenny was “Mom’s” girlfriend and my room was next to Mom’s (Mom as noted was our male frat house-mother with the flaming red hair). Apparently she and “Mom” were finishing a conjugal shower that morning.

Another typical morning at my frat house.

Funny thing was, even though this was my second year living here, none of this stuff had bothered me before. Now I thought, “I can’t believe our supposed role model, our graduate student advisor, is shacking up in the house every night with his girlfriend.”

Those thoughts and feelings were starting to build inside me.

Regardless, by 9:00 am I was speeding my way to the Maranatha House on my bike with my Bible and Red Book slung over my shoulder in a backpack. Marty had mentioned last night that our MCM discipleship group was going to start working through the Red Book or Firm Foundation studies “methodically” before we went to Opelika that morning to unload the tables.

And he really meant we were going to be methodical with the Red Book Study.

In fact, our group of brothers would take about 5 months in meticulously reviewing these studies. Saturday morning’s session was held in the same third floor room as on Wednesday morning. To my surprise both Ricky and Fred “my” newly saved frat brothers, from last night, were waiting  in the room for the session to start, as was Robert “my” earlier convert.

I glowed with pride as I realized that one-quarter of Marty’s sheep that morning were my converts.

For that is how I thought of them: “my fruit” or “my converts.”

As we waited for Marty to get started I wondered briefly if Rhonda, Ricky’s girlfriend, was in a girl’s study like ours. So far I had had little interaction with the sisters, as we called our female counterparts, other than some brief conversations.

Marty said a prayer and then we moved around the half circle of his seated sheep with each of the brothers confessing their sin as had they had done last time.

The confessions seemed pretty real to me: lusting after girls, not reading the Bible, or not praying enough or pigging out at Mama Goldberg’s etc.

When it was my turn to confess sin I was stumped yet again. So I blurted out that I regretted missing the discipleship session yesterday and asked for everyone’s forgiveness for letting them and the Body down.

I glanced up to see that Marty had a look of satisfaction on his face.

Then we started working through the first study of the Bible Study by Bob & Rose Weiner called Firm Foundations.

It had a red cover so we all called it the Red Book. The first study was entitled God’s atonement and provision of sin. It was a very detailed review starting in Genesis and discussed our sin natures, the lust of the eyes, the boastful pride of life, and our rebellion.

One key point that struck me from the study was the emphasis (by the study and by Marty) that the blood of Jesus not only atoned for our sins but also delivered us from sickness, the curse and demons.

This was new to me.

Marty made a big deal of this; that if we were covered by the blood in faith we would not get sick, and not only that, we would be delivered from curses as long as His blood covered us.

“Curses?” I thought, “Like the evil eye? What in the world did this mean?”

But no one else seemed to have any question about this point so I filed it away in my little closet in the back of my mind where I was storing a number of those strange MCM doctrines and practices.

We prayed  about individual requests from the MCM brothers and then it looked like we were through.

The session had gone much, much longer than I had anticipated. When we got through with the prayer requests, and our discipline session, it was about 11:15 am. There was still time for me to meet Sheila at the Frat House porch at 12:30 pm before the ball game.

“Now brothers,” Marty said, “as you know we are having our first ever fellowship dinner tonight. All are welcome to come, but we are not advertising this and the dinner really is to welcome all  the new brothers and sisters to the Body; to let them get to know the staff and those who have come here from other ministries to plant the Auburn Fellowship.”

I knew about this, of course, because Bob had mentioned it during the Thursday and Friday night services. I was looking forward to meeting and talking to Marty and Missy Caulk, our pastor and his wife, who I had met briefly, and the older brothers and sisters who had come full-time to Auburn from other MCM sites.

It sounded fun.

It was a potluck dinner and I was planning on bringing a dish of something, not sure what, that I would scrounge from the frat house kitchen.

“Since we don’t have any tables here so the Jewish Community Center in Opelika has agreed to let us borrow twenty folding tables and chairs,” intoned Marty. He continued, “So we have rounded up three pick -up trucks and we will all head out to Opelika to pick up the tables. Then we will come back and put all the meeting chairs up and set up the tables in the big room.”

Marty looked us over and asked, “ Amen???”

I did not answer.

I had a semi-date with Sheila, not that we were boyfriend-girlfriend or anything like that, but the fact was we had a date.

In fact I had set it up this date.

I did some quick mental calculations. Opelika was at least 30 minutes one way from Auburn. So we had at least a sixty minute round trip plus 30 minutes to load tables at one and another 30 minutes to unload table at this end and whatever else we had to do.

For sure I was looking at least 2.5 hours of work here. At least.

My watch read 11:30 am now.

At the very earliest we would be through at 2:00 pm. I was supposed to meet Sheila at 12:30 pm and head to the game at 1:30.

I raised my hand. Marty looked up at me.

I was about to tell Marty what was going on about my plans with Sheila; but Marty’s words last night about “God’s Green Berets”, and his words on, “Being a leader,”  “setting an example”, “encouraging the others,” and “the single brothers being unencumbered,” came roaring back to me.

“Yes Tik?” he asked.

“Uh…. Could I use the phone in your office?”

“Sure, go ahead. The rest of you guys hit the restrooms and meet out back in the parking lot in five minutes. We have a lot of work to get done!” Marty barked.

For those of you youngsters, this may seem hard to believe, and it is even hard for me to think back to those days, but, there were no cell phones, texting, answering machines, PDAs, pagers or any of such things.

These were the days of IBM type writers, carbon paper, secretaries and receptionists.

Canceling a meeting, or getting in touch with someone on a few minutes notice, was really tough. I ran to the office grabbed the phone and dialed Sheila’s dorm room.

Ring. RIIIIIIIINNNG.

“C’mon’,”I muttered, “ANSWER!”

Rinnnng. Rinnng. RInnnnnnnnng.

No answer. I hung up.

Got to think quick.

I dialed her sorority number.

Riiing….Rinngg Rinnnng… then pick-up:“Alpha Alpha Alpha Sorority” said a female voice.

“Hey, its Tik Tok here I am looking for Sheila X.”

“Oh Hi Tickie, its Wendy. Hows it goin my main man?”

“Great Wendy. Hey I am in a hurry… have you seen Sheila?”

“Yeah, she was here earlier, but she was on her way to the library…I think… I know she had her books with her.”

I dialed the frat house.

There were two public phones on the second and third floor. Other than that only “Mom”, the steward, and I had private phones in our rooms. Remember there were NO cell phones in 1978!

Riinnng. Rinnng. Rinnnggggg.

I tried the third floor phone. The brothers were notorious for letting the phone ring off the hook.

One more shot I rang Mom’s room phone.

No dice. Strike three.

Suddenly Marty was standing in the office door.

“Hey Tik we are all loaded up and ready to go and we are waiting on you!”

With a sinking feeling in my stomach I walked out to the parking lot. Maybe I could find a phone in Opelika and reach Sheila.

In Opelika I called from the Jewish Community Center’s one phone. It was 12:30 pm when I dialed the phone… exactly when I was supposed to meet Sheila on the Porch of the Frat House and head to the game.

I took one more shot at calling the frat house phone while the last of the tables were loaded onto the truck by our MCM team of brothers in Opelia.

Rinnnng. Rinnnngggg. Rinnnggggg.. Rinnng.

Then BINGO!

“HELLO” yelled a voice.

There was the normal frat house Saturday game-day afternoon pandemonium in the background. Yelling, screaming, laughing, then a girl giggled very close to the speaker.

“Hey, its Tik here. Who is this?”

“Its JD, Tikie, whats going on?”

Just my luck, JD of all people.

JD was Vice President, a tough hombre whom I had beaten in the election for Frat President last May. He had a visceral dislike of me ever since we were pledges and I was elected Pledge class President when we both ran for that office and I beat him.

He had the manners and attitude of a pig, as far as I was concerned.

A girl’s laughter in the background cut in really loud and then I made out her slurred words among the cacophony of sound, “C’mon JD baby- you promised me a DRINK! WOO-HOOO!”

“Hey JD,” I found myself shouting, “HEY HAVE YOU SEEN SHEILA?????”

“NO!” came the answer, and then away from the phone I head him yell, “PEGGY YOU SEEN THAT LITTLE BLOND HAIRED [expletive deleted] SHEILA?”

Loud laughter from both of them almost deafened me.

“I AM SERIOUS JD, I NEED YOU TO FIND SHEILA AND ASK HER TO COME TO THE PHONE.”

I was almost screaming and then through the glass door of the J Center in Opelika I saw Marty stop and look quizzically across the hallway and into the office where I was standing.

I lowered my voice.

“JD, please, as a favor to me, can you bring Sheila to the phone?’

“Do I always have to do your dirty work????… OKAY,” he shouted, and I could hear shouts and more laughter in the background.

Waiting…one, two, three minutes, no JD, then “click, buzz”. Someone had hung up the phone.

I frantically dialed back.

RINNNNNG….RINNNG. RINNGGGGG.

It rang and rang but no answer.

Marty stuck his head in the door. “Hey you okay?’

“Yeah,” I answered, “no problem at all.”

“The trucks are loaded…are you ready to go???”

Well as you have probably guessed we got back to the Maranatha House at 1:45 pm.  I snuck to the office and tried both public phones at the frat house and then rang “Mom’s” phone.

No luck. No answer.

I went back to the parking lot to help finish unloading the tables and then setting them up with chairs etc.

Finally we were through.

It was 2:15 pm. Almost two hours after Sheila and I were supposed to meet.

“See you tonight guys,” said Marty.

No thanks… no nothing.

I flew on my bike back up  West Magnolia. I dropped the bike in the back parking lot and sprinted up the back steps to the rear porch of the Frat House. No one was there other than a couple of completely drunken pledges and our pledge trainer; who had passed out in his own vomit.

The grills were still hot and the Kegs still had beer, but everyone had left for the game.

“Maybe there is hope,” I thought and jumped on my Bike and shot off for Cliff Hare Stadium.

It was 2:15 pm.

The game started at 3:00 pm but seating in the student section was on a first come first serve basis. The frat section (where we staked our claim) was at the turn of the stadium, right at the five yard line half way up in the student section.

The band was playing and I could hear the yell of the crowd as I neared the gigantic brick oval.

Entry to the student section was through two special gates. All you had to do was to show your student ID.

The line was backed up about 50 yards from the gate outside and I could see, past the gate, the same line snaking up the ramps. This was exactly why the frat group usually left at least an hour and a half before kick-off: in order to stake our claim on decent seats.

“I’ll be lucky if I can even get to the frat section by game time.”

The wait was excruciating and once through the gates, using my knees and elbows and ignoring the rude looks and comments like, “Hey no breaking buddy,” I made it up the ramp in about 10 minutes.

I walked out to the sunlit stadium. The students were jammed together and  overflowed into the aisles. Looking up into the sun I could make out, about 20 yards away, the section where we usually sat.

The frat was there all right.

I could see Mom’s (our male house-mother) flaming red hair and mustache. He was sitting with Jenny his live in girlfriend. The game was underway and I bulled my way through the crowd, ducking a couple of haymakers thrown by drunken irate upper class-men along the way.

Finally I made it.

I scanned the section the frat brothers and little sisters occupied. No Sheila!

One more time. Nope, she was not there and there was not a seat to be had in our section.

Mom caught my eye and motioned me up to him with his arm while he put his girlfriend, Jenny, on his lap. I made my way to the seat he had just created for me.

“Running a little late huh Tik?” he shouted.

I nodded.

A lump was in my throat.

I had stood Sheila up.

Mom leaned over and spoke, “You know Sheila was looking for you at the house before the game ? She was wandering around the frat house like a little lost puppy for about an hour with this doleful look on her face.”

“Yeah, I was running late Mom, I tried to leave word at the frat house that I was going to be a bit late but someone hung up on me.”

He put his arm around me and gave me his “I am the older, more wiser, man than you” look.

“Tik, look at me. Sheila clearly has a thing for you. Seriously You DO know that don’t you, you are not that stupid are you?”

“She sure does Tik…no kidding.”

It was Jenny chiming in.

“You guys are both crazy,” I said, “Sheila is like a sister to me, nothing more or less.”

“Well Tik,” said Jenny, narrowing her eyes, “that may be, but I can tell you one thing: your sister is really pissed off at you for standing her up today.”

With that she pulled a flask out of her purse removed the cap simultaneously saluting me with it and offering up a swig of bourbon.

I shook my head no.

She turned the flask up, put it to her lips, took a long pull and then handed it to Mom. Mom did the same; taking a long swig of the cool liquor inside.

He smiled at me and said, “From the look on Sheila’s face I think you are going to need some of this brew before the weekend is through ole Tikie my friend. ”

He and Jenny burst into laughter.

Looking back on that day it was actually not such a bad suggestion.

#15 First Chastisement

 

Maranatha House, Auburn University, circa 1979

Friday night-Saturday morning- MCM House

My new “brothers and sisters” in Christ gave me hugs as they left that night. I stood in the cool October air on the columned porch of the Maranatha House and watched them walk up the street arm in arm.

Some 25 years later I still cannot forget the expressions on their faces of hope, joy, and love. And it was because of my witness for Jesus and my new radical stand.

It had to be that, right?

In seven years as a Christian I had not seen ONE soul saved and in the space of six days, BAMO!, six hard-core non-religious types saved, baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. Speaking in tongues; the whole shooting match.

An, “Ahem” woke me from my reverie. Marty stood by my side. He pushed his glasses up on his nose.

“Tik,” Marty said, “lets go inside and talk.”

It was after 1:00 am on Saturday morning and I had  a grand total of 6 hours sleep in the last three days.

I was starting to see double.

The House had mostly cleared out.  Small clusters of people huddled in corners of the meeting room; some doing many praying it appeared. But other than that the two hundred or so people who had been there for the service were gone.

Marty led me into the office and took a seat in one of the expensive and beautiful wing backed chairs that flanked the mahogany desk.

“So, Tik, how are you doing?” he said.

“Marty, I couldn’t be doing better. I mean what Jesus is doing here is incredible and to see Ricky, Rhonda, Fred, and Roger all becoming overcoming sold out to Jesus Christians …well I am speechless!” I exclaimed.

“It is wonderful, isn’t it?” he commented, in a voice of excitement. “Tik, God is going to use you, but I think it is important to understand HOW he uses us. You are bearing fruit but it is important to understand why.”

My mind was muddy from lack of sleep. Maybe that was why I was not following his line of questioning and did not understand where he was leading this conversation.

“Well, I think the explanation is the Holy Spirit and my prayers,” I said.

“I actually asked God to let me bear fruit Thursday morning. And it happened. I asked in Faith believing, just like Bob told us to, and then it happened.”

“Faith and the Holy Spirit and your prayers were certainly part of it,” he emphasized the word “part” slowly and carefully.

“But the real reason you are bearing fruit is because of your radical commitment to being a disciple and commitment to Jesus and His Body.

Well, what he said was true I supposed.

I invited Robert, Ricky, and Rhonda strictly because I knew that was what a totally committed person would do. Fred had approached me because of my total commitment to Christ.

“Yeah” I said, “I can see what you mean.”

“Tik, we talked about counting the costs, the night we met, right?” asked Marty.

“What in the world is he driving at,” I thought, “he certainly will get no disagreement from me on being sold out.”

“Right,” I replied to his question.

“That means not forsaking each other, keeping our commitments to our fellow brothers and sisters, being faithful to do what we say we are going to do each and every time… you do understand this concept, right? This is the REAL difference in who we are and what separates us from the world and fake watered down Christians we see everywhere.”

“Right,” I said again; nodding my head.

“That means that when you or I don’t keep our commitments we let the entire Body down. This is especially true for the gift of leadership like you . God is already demonstrating that he has called you out to lead.” Marty continued.

I still had no idea what in the world he was talking about. I was so tired my head was starting to nod downwards; but I did my best to concentrate on the conversation.

“When we leaders don’t keep our commitments it can cause weaker brothers to stumble, to lose confidence in what we are doing, and they miss out on our encouragement.”

I said nothing. I was in a daze.

Then as Marty continued it became crystal clear what this conversation was about.

“The Bible says we should encourage and admonish people especially those under our care. We missed you this morning Brother.”

He was talking about the 6:00 am discipleship meeting this morning (Friday) that I had missed. I had missed it, of course, because of the all-nighter I had pulled. And I was forced into this all-nighter because of my three consecutive nights of Maranatha activities into the wee hours of the morning.

I wish I could tell you that this is what went through my head at the time.

But it was not.

Instead my thought was, “Rats, I knew I should not have put my head on the desk at 5:00 am this morning to catch a few winks. I let Marty and my brothers in Christ down.”

“Sorry Marty, I said, “I got caught up in an all-night study session and fell asleep by accident.”

“Look, Tik, we all make mistakes, these things happen, but as God’s Green Berets we must set a higher standard than anyone. Your first priority is to the Kingdom and what God is doing. For one simple reason this is so: it is the only ETERNAL thing in your life, the rest is temporary, it will pass away;  it will not matter in the end. But your work for the Kingdom will endure forever.”

This was all said in a very kind and gentle tone.

Please, Dear Reader, don’t mistake me, Marty said this in complete sincerity with an air of concern and belief that he was helping me. He was utterly and completely convinced of the truth and goodness of what he spoke.

“Look at what you are producing for God. But remember, He can only use tools that are molded for his purposes.” he continued.

“Let’s covenant with one another that we will put the things of God first; that we will be the point of God’s spear, the over-comers that Bob preached about tonight.”

“Amen?”

“Amen” I answered. This is what I wanted. He was right, it seemed, the results were coming and I told him that he could count on me. That when all others fell I would still be standing.

We hugged and Marty mentioned that the discipleship group would be meeting a little later on Saturday.

“It has been a long week. Go get some sleep Tik.  We will start at 9:30 am tomorrow to move the chairs and tables we are borrowing from the Jewish Community Center in Opelika. I will see you then.”

That was great, for if it took us two hours to do this I would have plenty of time to head back up the frat house and meet Sheila for the pre-game cookout at 12:30 pm. Then we could head to the game at 1:30 pm. I was looking forward to catching up with her.

For the truth was I was missing Sheila’s company.

#14 ON FIRE

Perspiration dropped on the paper in front of me. I was sweating like a pig.

I was going down in flames on Dr. Carl’s structures examination.

Crashing and burning with no parachute.

I was 40 minutes into a 60 minute test and I only had four of the problems completed. The first four were not the problem; it was the final two. They were centered on indeterminate structures and I was having a rough go of it. I did not know jack about indeterminates.

I had pulled an all-nighter with Ricky, a chain-smoking frat brother of mine, last night. We had crammed in traditional fashion. But I knew I was doomed.

Cramming did not work for Dr. Carl’s tests. Sure, for some Profs all you had to do was memorize some formulas and look at old tests.

But not for Dr. Carl.

He put a lot of thought into his tests and unless you knew the material inside and out, and were mentally prepared for the stress of his tests, he would crush you.

I poked my pencil onto the exam problem and thought, “Let’s see- the sum of the square of the distance over the area multiplied by the radius, or was it the diameter, yes that its twice the radius…”

“arrrgghhhh!”

“Okay people five minutes left,” came Dr. Carl’s bark from behind me as I heard him pacing up and down the aisles of the classroom.

I was halfway through the fifth of six problems at this point. There was no way I was going to complete the test and, even worse, no time to go back through the problems I had completed to check for errors.

“Head’em up and move’em out! Rawhide!”  Dr. Carl  laughed as he sang the tune to the old TV Western.

“Ha…ha.” A real comedian. Funny.

Then a hand on my back.

“Okay Mr. Tok,” twanged Dr. Carl in his flat nasal Kansas accent, “You are the only one standing between me and my next cup of coffee and I don’t think that is fair!”

I handed him my test paper. He flipped through it.

“This is not like you Mr. Tok. You didn’t even complete the test.”

“Yeah,” I answered, “I had trouble with the last two problems on indeterminate structures.”

“Stop by and see me this afternoon. Let’s see where you are getting stuck,” he said.

Dr. Carl had taken a liking to me last year, my first year of engineering school . I had been accepted into the engineering program with the equivalent of a 3.8/4.0 GPA at the end of my freshman year. Dr. Carl had encouraged me to pursue nuclear structures, which I did, ending my sophomore year (first year in engineering school) with a 3.9/4.0 average.

And this test was the first  academic butt kicking that had been administered to me since my freshman year. That time I had scraped by with my one and only “C”  in a nuclear physics course. That course had nearly killed me because despite the amount of time I put into the course I never really got it.

I had no such excuse for this course and the ass kicking this test had just given me. There was only one reason I got “smacked” on this test: I had failed to study methodically enough, or long enough, to master the material.

Now I felt woozy from lack of sleep as I walked out of the classroom. My head swam due to my “all-nighter” last night (Thursday) and getting less than four hours sleep the night prior.

Of course getting up at 5:30 am for Marty’s discipleship group at 6:00 am had not helped.

I stopped dead in my tracks in the hall.

“Gripes!” I exclaimed. I had forgotten about the discipleship group meeting this morning. Actually I had slept through it.

I had told Ricky, my chain-smoking frat study buddy, around 5:00 am that morning that I was going to close my eyes for a minute and take a fifteen minute snooze.

But instead I slept for the next two hours wakening with a start when Ricky yelled at me to, “Wake my sorry ass up!”

At that point it was after 7:00 am.

“Oh well, God knows my heart,” I thought.

Even though I thought the MCM discipleship session sort of weird; I was impressed by the commitment and the camaraderie that I had experienced. I also was impressed that Maranatha was walking the talk. They not only talked about total commitment but we were actually holding each other accountable to MCM’s Christ like commitment  God.

Of course, I was not sure what to make of some of their strange discipleship doctrines at this point. Just let it pass I thought. No big deal.

I saw Ricky getting a coke out of vending machine in the stairwell of the engineering building, Ramsey Hall.

Ricky was a year older than me, a member of my frat, and was also engineering major. He did not always put the required effort into his studies. Because of that he had gone on academic probation last year and had temporarily dropped out of college. Now he had re-enrolled and was in my cohort. We spent the prior night together cramming for Dr. Carl’s test as I had mentioned.

“Hey Ricky- thanks for working with me through last night,” I said.

“No prob at all Tik.”

Marty, my shepherd, had challenged us to be bold with with our faith. I had already done so earlier in the week… why not one more time?

“Hey Ricky, I have been going to this really cool Christian group that meets off campus. It is unlike anything I have been involved with before. Tonight they are going to be talking about the future and how we can all prosper in the coming hard times. Do you have any plans tonight; would you join me?”

Ricky lit a cigarette and took a deep drag. “Hmmm,” he said. “Interesting you should mention it because Rhonda’s sorority chaplain has started a Bible study, or some such stuff, and Rhonda is all jazzed up about it.”

“Rhonda and I were thinking about going to the free movie; but we caught “The Sting” last year so no point in it.”

Rhonda was Ricky’s live in girlfriend.

By that I mean she had moved into his room contrary to our rules. He and his roommate had actually subdivided their 10 X 12 room into two compartments using 2” by 4” stud and sheet rock adding a small door to finish it off. So Rick and Rhonda now lived in a 5’X 12’ 1/2 bedroom in the frat house. Half the mornings she would shower in the second floor bath with Ricky standing guard to keep the frat brothers out.

Note to self: Don’t let my daughter near a frat boy in college when she goes to school.

So we agreed that I would meet both of them at the frat house at 6:30 pm that night.

I did not mention that Fred was coming as well.

I slogged my way through the rest of my classes. The lectures had about as much effect on my brain as a rubber ball thrown at a brick wall. I don’t need much sleep; but I DO need it at least 5 hours per night.

I was feeling giddy.

At lunch I went to the War Eagle Cafeteria searching for Sheila, but she was nowhere to be seen. So I laid back on the grass and watched people passing back and forth in front of the Haley Center.

I started to praying for each person I would see; asking Jesus to open up their hearts and rebuking the demons that were around them.

I then took out my Bible and started to read the book of First John. Marty and Sam had suggested I read this NT book. Every word seemed to jump off of the page with new meaning; reinforcing all that I had heard since this past Tuesday. The words  overcoming, the powers of the age, not living in sin or making excuses seemed to come alive in the scriptures as I read.

Finally the Bible seemed to have real and powerful application to my life!

I heard the bell in the tower of  Samford Hall peeling. Had it really already been an hour since I had sat down on the wall? My hour- long impromptu reading of First John had passed by in what seem like minutes.

I trotted off on my way to my next class. I hummed one of the new songs I had heard at Maranatha the night before as I went.

That evening Ricky and his girlfriend, Rhonda, met me in the common room of the frat house.  Fred came walking in as well. Ricky and Ronda were surprised to see Fred coming. Finally Robert, my frat brother who had converted to Jesus the other night, ambled into the room to make the walk to the MCM House with us.

For my first night trip to MCM from the frat house it had been just Sheila and me. Now I was going with four people, two of whom were brand new Christians, thanks to me, and two whom I had invited to the MCM House that morning.

Robert and I chatted about the latest Red Book study and how he had told his parents he was a brand new Christian. Apparently they were baffled since Robert had been raised a devout Greek Orthodox member and his family attended Mass every Sunday.

The others strolled in front of us and I could see Ricky’s cigarette glowing and then dimming as he took deep drags on it.

Once again it was a beautiful cool autumn night. The MCM House gleamed at the foot of the hill from the glow of the front yard spotlights. Through the windows streamed golden light onto the front lawn.

The latest Christian rock music blared from giant loudspeakers in the windows as we walked to the open front door and made our way through the chattering crowd.

Randy and Marty greeted the five of us in the entry way. Randy took Fred by the arm and started engaging him in conversation. Robert and I hung back from them talking among ourselves about the exciting message from God that Bob had promised us would be delivered tonight.

Meanwhile Marty spoke in low tones with Ricky, who flicked his still glowing cigarette into a flower-pot on the porch. A tall girl, good-looking with black hair who I later learned was “Julie” (in time later married a full-time Maranatha Evangelist in an arranged MCM marriage) pulled Rhonda to the side and introduced her to a group of girls.

“This place will get wild in a hurry,” I said to Fred as Randy walked away from him.

That was an understatement.

The Praise Band kicked in with three songs including one sung by my fantasy sister Ellen, she with the beautiful dark hair and eyes. Funny after that first encounter I could never seem to get close enough to speak with her for more than a minute or two. I thought, “Oh well there is still time!”

After her solo we all stood for about 20 minutes of animated chorus singing as a group and finally ended signing a very slow melodic tune.

Bob Weiner took the stage during final choruses and, in a whisper-like voice said, “I feel like God is going to speak to us tonight.”

None of this was a big deal to me. I mean I had grown up in the Baptist Church and had heard evangelists during the old Baptist Weeklong revival meetings stand up and shout, “God is going to speak to us tonight.”

Bob  had done this at my fraternity house he said, “And God is speaking to a girl today…”

So I thought nothing of when he said on stage that night. I did not think he meant that God was going to literally speak.

But I was wrong.

The singing had stopped but the music continued playing in the background when from behind me, in a deep baritone voice, came the words:

“Thus saith the Lord!”

“Uh oh,” I thought, “some crazy has shown up at the service.”

It did happen occasionally. Two years ago at Rat’s Bible study some kid had jumped up on stage and proclaimed himself the new messiah. I had not seen it but the whole campus had been buzzing about it. Seemed the kid had gotten into some really bad drugs and had gone schizo or something.

That sort of thing flashed in my mind.

The voice continued, “I have begun a new work on this campus…”

“Okay,” I thought, “the ushers stationed at the doors and aisles are going to haul this nut hatch out quickly, and quietly, I hope.”

“And I say to my sons and daughters that I will bless you as you continue to seek me. And I will make you rulers over principalities and you shall crush my foes beneath your feet. For behold…”

Funny thing was, other than Fred, who caught my eye with a, “What in the heck is going on?” shrug, no one else seemed to think this strange.

In fact a whole section of the audience had started murmuring in tongues, with the whole place sounded like a giant bee hive at this point. Me? I simply hoped the Queen Bee was not about to gyrate down the main aisle- stinger and all.

“… I will make my enemies your footstool and with the power of my spirit you will conquer for I have given you the power to cast out demons, to heal the sick, to restore the blind. And Lo!” the voice was almost shouting and I turned to try to see who was speaking”…the devil himself will flee and my kingdom will come upon this earth…”

The place started erupting in cheers and shouts of, “Praise Jesus and Glory to God,” sounded out along with the sing song of members  tongue languages in the background.

“… and the gate of hell shall NOT PREVAIL! Thus saith the LORD OF HOSTS!!!” and with that shout prophecy ended.

Then the whole place went nuts and the band started cranking out a fast paced praise song and Bob started doing that funny Hebrew jig/dance and soon the entire place was dancing in the aisles.

I admit I was stunned and stood there unable to move.

Finally I turned my head straining to see Ricky and Rhonda but could not find them in the crowd. To my left Fred stood stock still his eyes fixed on Bob.

Finally the room quieted down and Bob shouted out: “Praise God…brothers and sisters we just heard a mighty prophetic utterance from God Himself and I bear witness to it.”

“Whoa,” I thought, ” you mean someone was actually literally speaking for God himself?”

This seemed blasphemous to me; despite all the good I had seen thus far at MCM.

But Bob did not miss a beat and launched into his sermon on what it really meant to be a Christian in the end times: a riff on his sermon last night from the Book of Revelation.

“The traditional church has misled you…and you will be caught unawares!’

And he referred us to the parable of the bridesmaids with the lamps in one of the Gospel books.

“The believers will NOT be raptured away before the anti-Christ comes, in fact the church will go THROUGH the tribulation and ONLY the over comers, those who persevere to the end who DO NOT ACCEPT the mark will be spared. “

He painted a vivid picture of the end times comparing it to the first century church and laid a vision of the future for both Christians and non believers.

“Last night I told you about the Beast and the evil he will do and how you can be saved from his wrath, that you must be totally committed to Jesus and to the Body. But now see we will see what happens after the tribulation.”

“Then!” Bob was shouting, “the over comers will rule and reign for 1000 years and they  will represent Jesus on earth and will be his rulers. And after that 1000 year reign the New Jerusalem will descend from heaven and we will be enthroned with Him in glory.”

Around me people were now shouting and raising their hands. He showed us scripture after scripture that showed we would physically rule and reign over kingdoms after Christ returned.

“We will NOT be sitting on clouds playing harps but we will be Ruling and Reigning with Him.”

“Wow!” I thought. I mean he must have used 30-40 proof texts and  had us flipping back and forth through the Bible during the whole sermon.

“I never knew we would actually rule with Christ after he returns,” I thought.

In fact I had never considered what in the heck we would be doing once Christ returned, one way or another. Bob had rearranged my whole outlook because he was not pointing me to things I had considered and discarded; he was pointing to an outlook I had never even considered!

“This is why we must be disciplined; this why is Paul speaks of … the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word in Ephesians. We are in a war and the war will come upon all mankind. ”

Then almost shouting he said, “I tell you that only those who are grounded in the word, that have girded themselves for battle, who are prepared and radically sold out will stand at the end with Jesus! ”

The crowd erupted standing and clapping and this time I was not watching from the sidelines I was yelling and shouting also something like, “I will stand with Jesus! I will overcome,” with the rest of the MCM members.

The Praise Band had made their way up, possibly seeing some signal from Bob, and they kicked in one of their fast paced rock songs and suddenly we started singing and clapping along with the music. When they wound the song up Bob started pacing back and forth on the stage again throwing the microphone around in his hand, back and forth.

“If you have not made a radical stand for Jesus, if you are in sin, no matter whether you have said a prayer, been baptized, tried to be good, NONE of that matters. For Jesus will say to you in that Day of Judgment ‘Depart from me I KNOW YOU NOT! ‘ You will be cast into the lake of fire with the demons from hell. But for those that persevere they will rule and reign as His sons and daughters of Zion!”

Then he challenged all their who were not sold out, no matter their background, to step up front to make a commitment.

The words were barely out of his mouth when Fred almost knocked me out of my chair to get up front. I saw ten or more other people getting up and heading to the front of the stage.

And then I caught sight of my chain-smoking frat study buddy Ricky and his live in girlfriend Rhonda heading up to the stage.

Rhonda was shaking and crying and fell into the arms of one of the MCM sisters while Ricky, her boyfriend, was taken aside by Sam, the associate minister.

And Bob begin praying on stage waving his arms over all of them whilst Mike Caulk, the Auburn Pastor, along with some older brothers and sisters knelt and spoke in whispers with the fifteen or twenty people who had responded to Bob’s call for total commitment.

Afterwards I spent an hour with Marty and Fred in a hootah (counseling) session. Then later I saw Fred, Ricky and Rhonda baptized.

I remember dancing with my new brothers and sisters in Jesus.  All five of us: Ricky, Rhonda, Robert, Fred and I were crying and hugging each other  whilst intoning fervent prayers in English and our heavenly tongues language.

Just a mere six days after committing myself totally to Jesus I had seen six people from my fraternity make a commitment; and they were not saying just some simple prayer that brought little change to  their lives; but all of them made a true and radical commitment to Jesus that seem to immediately change their behavior and thinking.

Truly I had found the overcoming Church Body described in Acts.

And I was on FIRE.

#13 A Glimpse into the Abyss

Robert and I jumped on our bikes and headed back to the frat house. I glanced at my watch as we pedaled steadily up the hill dodging cars all the way. It was 7:30 am. Our discipleship session had lasted just under one and a half hours.

I raced through the back door into the kitchen of our frat house and grabbed some eggs and bacon from Betty our cook. I took a seat and gulped it all down.

I glanced at my watch again: 7:40 am.

Now all I had to do was to load my backpack with my books and notes and race back down to the Ramsey Hall and make Dr. Carl’s class 8:00 am class.

But as I started to run up the stairs I felt a tap on my shoulder.

I turned around to face Fred, one of the frat members.

Fred was a country boy from south of Birmingham. He  was a two pack a day smoker who chugged PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon)beer and spoke with a hillbilly twang. But I had noticed that the cigarette usually hanging out of Fred’s mouth, that had been a constant for the last two years, was noticeably absent this term.

Also he, like the guys I hung out with at the frat, now seemed to be avoiding the all night drinking parties that were the norm at fraternities in the late ‘70s.

That morning Fred had a frown on on his face.

“Tike, I really need to talk to you… could you spare half an hour?”

Now, people always were asking me that question, and they usually did not want a half hour, nor did they usually ask permission.

As President of the Frat I was responsible for everything good, or bad, that happened. Since I got free room and board for the trouble, it was the bad I usually heard about… not the good.

Without any introduction the frat members would blurt out something like, “We have to talk about Betty’s cooking…. its killing me” or “the third floor commode is full of crap and overflowing” or “John stole my date and now she won’t talk to me”… well you get the picture I suppose.

I glanced at my watch: it read 7:50 am.

“Fred, I am really, really late today for class. Can we catch up tonight when I get back?”

Usually this request to delay the discussion about the urgent problem was promptly ignored but Fred stepped back and said, in a low voice, “Okay, but I really must talk to you tonight.”

With that I ran up the stairs yelling over my shoulder, “Great, just stop by and see me later on,” and then I made a bee line for my bedroom .

As I opened the door the telephone started ringing.

“urggggggggh” I grunted, but in those days before answering machines, smart phones or voice mail I instinctively reached to get it.

The clock on my bedside table read 7:57 am.

“Hello” I said.

“Hi Tickie” said a voice.

It was Sheila.

“Hey, I want you to know that I have forgiven you for insulting me yesterday.”

WHAT!!!!?

As far as I was concerned I had not insulted he. She asked me a simple question and I gave her a simple straight forward answer.

She was the one who had pushed the whole issue. Not me.

My face flushed red.

“Look,” she said, “I am sorry about getting so upset, but it was because I was, well, I was… well, concerned about you. Concerned about what you were saying about not being saved and all…. and about Rat and his fruit. I really am sorry I got so upset but it is only because of my concern for you.”

“Don’t sweat it Sheila, really, we don’t have to agree on everything.”

Or so I thought.

“Thanks Tik. Hey, just thinking… ya wanna catch the free movie at Langdon tomorrow night? They are showing the movie The Sting.

Auburn was a great place for poor students like me. Now this was pre-VCR, DVD, or Netflix, and entertainment was not as easy to come by as it is now.

Every Friday at one of the old auditoriums, like Langdon Hall, the SGA would play a movie, usually 1 -2 years post release. So a guy like me could catch a free movie on Friday and then the post-game frat party on Saturday and not have to spend a nickel out of pocket.

I started to say “Sure” but then remembered that Bob Weiner had been exhorting all of us to be sure to bring our friends to the Friday night service. He would be delivering another incredible message.

But I knew that inviting Sheila to the Maranatha Service on Friday evening would be inviting disaster.

In fact even mentioning that I was going to a Friday night service after attending two services already this week would reopen the wound that we had just agreed to close.

It was time for some fast thinking. “Uh, Sheila I am going to be tied up on Friday night.”

“Oh,” came the flat response.

And silence.

“Hey,” I said, sounding very upbeat, “if you would like we could meet on the porch and go to the game together Saturday.”

“The porch” was the deck out back of my frat house.  The frat gathered there prior to each home game. The brothers grilled steaks and ice beer and cokes as a pre-game ritual.

The student section at was “first come first serve” and all you had to do to get in was to show your I.D. But the only hope of getting a decent seat was to get to the stadium early.

“What time you want to meet?” she asked.

“Let’s see, the game starts at 3:00, so why don’t we meet at noon, grab a steak and head to the stadium around 1:30 pm or so… what do you say?“

“Sounds great!” she said.

“Hey Tik?”

“Yeah Sheila?”

“Thanks for accepting my apology, you are a great friend!”

Well, I was 10 minutes late to Dr. Carl’s class and I knew he would give me the daggers look when I walked into his lecture.

Sure enough, I tried to sneak in the back door and take a seat and then I heard: “Well Mr. Tok (Dr. Carl always used our last name and called us Mr.- there were no Ms. in the class this being 1978) I am so glad you could make our class this morning.”

“Sorry Dr. Carl, the time got away from me.”

Dr. Carl turned from the blackboard where he had been diagramming a problem.

“Look people, in the real world, in the professional world, you can’t just show up when and where you want to. If you have any hope of getting out of this make believe world of academics all of you people are going to have to learn to be disciplined.”

“Perhaps Mr. Tok you can help me explain this in-determinate structure I have diagrammed for the class.”

Unfortunately we had started on “in-determinates” last week, and, aside from one feeble late night attempt get some studying done since then, I had not cracked a book.

I was clueless.

After five minutes of watching me struggle Dr. Carl took the chalk from my hand and deftly explained the transverse, bending forces, and the total forces.

As I went to take my seat I heard Dr. Carl say, “Mr. Tok, I hope you fare better on the exam tomorrow than you did just now. I suggest that you spend a little time reviewing the material that we have covered this week. That is, of course, if it is not too much of a burden on your very busy social schedule. ”

My classmates tittered and I felt my face turning red.

His point was made, in his inimitable style.

Dr. Carl was a “hard guy” but a brilliant teacher and really invested in his students. He used sarcasm and ridicule and anything else to engage his students. Most importantly, if you really worked hard he would turn you into, in his words, “a wanna-be engineer that might have a chance of making it in the real world.”

I loved the guy.

At lunch I hit the books for the first time since I had been baptized. This even though I knew Sheila was probably waiting for me at the War Eagle Calf for our twice weekly sandwich and gossip session.

For I was in serious trouble in regards to the upcoming test in Dr. Carl’s class.

As I told you, the rule of thumb, at least for me, was about one and a half hours of hard studying for each hour of class. I had four hours of class M-F plus one 3 hour lab. I was behind not only in Dr. Carl’s class, but in Thermo-dynamics, and a required EE course I was taking.

So far this week I had put on only about 1/2 hour worth of studying which was far below my study-time quota.

So I holed up in the library for four hours trying to make sense of all I had missed in the past week in structures and thermodynamics.

That evening, after eating dinner at the frat, I made my way to the Maranatha House for the 6:55 pm service. The Praise Band was rocking and rolling  one again that night.

Afterwards Bob got up to make some announcements.

My mind was wandering and I think I was just looking off into space for whatever reason and not paying any attention to what Bob was saying.

Suddenly, over the sound system I heard Bob’s voice shouting, “…And come on up to the stage Tik Tok and give us your testimony.”

I looked up as people started clapping and I saw Bob glaring at me. He looked angry, not happy and bouncy, like every other time I had seen him on stage.

Was he mad at me for not paying attention?

Fortunately I had been speaking in public since I was a sophomore in high-school when I joined Boys State and won a seat in the mock state legislature. As  former rush chairman of the frat, current president of my frat, and a member of the IFC I had plenty of experience in public speaking, much of it extemporaneous.

So I grabbed the microphone from Bob, tried to ignore his glare of anger, and faced the audience. There were at least 200 people in the meeting room and all eyes were looking anxiously at me.

“Well, here goes,” I thought, “Praise Jesus, through His Grace I have been set free!” I exclaimed.

It was amazing how in such a short time I was absorbing the Maranatha lingo and using it… which was completely different from the phrases used in the  Baptist Church I had grown up in.

“God has already started changing me and releasing me from sin.  I am a new man…the old has passed away. I thought I was a Christian but have come to realize that Jesus must be Lord of everything in our lives. He wants it all and if he is not Lord of All he is not Lord at All! We are now doing a great work and part of God’s work upon this campus!”

Bob grabbed the microphone from me.

“Right on Brother! And people God is raising up a great work here- we are getting some of the top leaders on Campus!”

The look of anger was gone.

“Tik here is President of one of the TOP FRATS on campus! He is a respected leader and he has answered God’s call to be part of what HE is doing on the earth- it is a NEW WORK and this brother is going to be a great worker in the harvest,” Bob boomed.

Bob looked me in the eye.

“Amen Brother!!!????”

“Amen,” I answered with a shout.

I sat down and realized that something had just happened- I had a glimpse into a different MCM than I had experienced thus far and passed yet another test.

Exactly what kind of test I had passed, and exactly what I had just glimpsed, would not become apparent for a while longer.

But tonight I was just glad to have Bob’s approval again.

Because Bob gave me a huge smile and a whack on the back, as I stepped down, that almost knocked me off my feet.

That evening I stayed for the last Baptism and helped clean up. It was around 10:00 pm. before I left.

I knew what was in front of me tonight if I was not going to go down in flames on Dr. Carl’s exam the next morning.

So I headed to the frat house. My plan was to get my books and notes, a thermos of coffee and start catching up from my Maranatha related study sabbatical.

But On the door of my frat house bedroom was a note.

It read: “See me in my room when you get back.”

It was signed Fred.

“Duty calls” I thought. So I headed to Fred’s room on the third floor and knocked.

Fred opened the door.

His eyes were red.

“Hi Fred, what’s up with you? “ I asked.

I was expecting to hear a complaint about the frat house or something like it.

Instead Fred said “Tik I heard that you have become a real Christian. Some of the guys were talking about it. I want what you have.”

Tears were streaming down his face.

“I am so messed up. My parents are divorcing, my grades are shot.”

He pulled a small New Testament from his back pocket.

“I have been reading this for the last three months. I also have been going to the Methodist Church downtown, but I just can’t get any peace. I am really at my wits end. You are my last hope”.

I was stunned. Only three weeks ago I was wondering why I was not bearing fruit but now I only six days after being baptized here was Fred asking for “what I had”.

So we spent the next hour and a half praying and talking.

I pulled out my “Red Book” Bible Study by Bob and Rose Weiner that Marty had given me. I took him through the section on Lordship and told him about “radical Christianity.”

Finally we prayed and I asked him to commitment himself fully to Jesus.

He did gladly.

We agreed that he would attend the service Friday night (the next night) with me and we would hook up with Marty and Sam to help him fully understand what had happened tonight.

“Wow, I was leading souls to Jesus!”

As I left Fred’s room I glanced at my watch: 12:15 AM.

There was only one thing for me to do. Grab a thermos of coffee and some “No DOZE” and head to the engineering lab to pull an all-nighter for Dr. Carl’s structure test in the morning.

It would be a long night!

#12 Bearing Fruit For Jesus

 

I found that engineering school was manageable if I followed this simple rule: for every hour class attended I needed to study for one and a half hours. That was the calculus that kept my grades at a B+/A- level; meaning that if I took a normal load of 17 hours I need to study 25 hours. This was not only a pride thing- I had snagged a full scholarship heading into Auburn, that paid my tuition, books and lab fees if, and only if, I kept my grades at a B level.

All told that required about 42 hours devoted to school work per week; not counting one three- hour. Doable, as long as one was willing to manage every spare minute of one’s time.

Now for the first time while at Auburn I had failed to crack a single book or spend a single moment studying for an entire week. Correction: studying for my education that is, for I now had about 12 hours of MCM Red Book Bible studies under my belt. And Engineering School, at least for me, was like running in front of a gigantic Tsunami; as long as I ran as hard as possible all was well, but stumble or slow down; well it would be a disaster for me.

But with my new found faith I gave this little thought.

My thoughts were on MCM, my new faith and my determination to bear fruit. Marty and Bob said that anyone who did not bear fruit was not of the vine. I was going to demonstrate that I could bear fruit as proof of my new faith.

Or else.

With that in mind during the frat house dinner that night I asked one of my frat brothers Robert as well as one of our little sisters, Janet, if they would like to go to this “really cool new church” that I had just starting attending. That they were having a service tonight that featured a mind-blowing rock band.

To my surprise both of them agreed. Neither attended any of the campus Christian group meetings like CCC or BSU, or a local church for that matter, as far as I knew.

So we all walked down Magnolia Street with Janet peppering me with questions about the group.

“Just wait and see,” I said. “This is not like anything you have imagined. It is the real Christianity that no one has seen for 2,000 years. It not dead like the local mainline churches that will put you to sleep around here.”

Robert smiled and said, “Tikie I think they put something in your drink the first night you went to that place. I have not seen you this excited since we almost beat Georgia last year,” and we all burst out laughing.

As we neared the MCM House we could see it lit up by floodlights with its white exterior gleaming in contrast to the darkening sky.

We, all three of us, joined the throng piling into the house. My guess was that the meeting room could hold about 200 people and tonight it was going to be standing room only and sure enough they had to open the windows and put seats out in the front yard.

Once in the house we ran straight into Marty who greeted me with a clap on the back and shook hands with my friends. “God is doing great things here folks! Great things!” he exclaimed in a loud, forced voice. He looked at Janet and Robert and then gave them both hugs.

Janet gave a half smile as we continued on into the meeting room pushing our way through the crowded in the aisles.

Marty ushered us up past rows filled with people, all excitedly talking, to four vacant seats in an aisle just steps from the stage. As I sat down I saw my friend Ellen step up onto the stage with the rest of the Praise Band. She smiled at me and I gave her a grin and a wave.

She smiled and waved back and to my right I saw Janet give me a knowing smile.

I think I blushed and smiled back.

The Praise Band began an upbeat chorus and everyone in the crowd joined in singing along. The song was unfamiliar to me but I was able to participate since the words were thrown up onto a screen behind the band by a projector. We sang maybe three songs or so, clapping and stomping our feet in time (clapping in church was new and thrilling to me at the time) and we all swayed with the rhythm pounded out by the band’s drummer.

Then up onto the stage shot Bob Weiner wielding his microphone like a sword.

“Praise God and Jesus!” He shouted.

“Hallelujah!” he shouted deafeningly into the mike and then cupped his ear.

“Hallelujah!!!” shouted back the crowd almost in unison.

“Jesus is Lord!” he shouted once again cupping his ear for a response.

“Jesus is Lord!!” shouted back the crowd.

“Jesus is Lord of ALL!” shouted Bob.

“Jesus is Lord of ALL!!” shouted back the crowd in a roar.

With that the Praise Band kicked into high gear again singing the Hebrew-like song  “John Saw the Tabernacle High Above the Temple” and suddenly Bob and many people around me were dancing little jigs; some spilling out into the aisles where couples would grab arms and do a “do-si-do”, or some approximation of it. All around these dancing couples small groups of people moved in circles, waving their hands, while doing side kicks in time with the beat of the drums.

This went on for about ten minutes, however, I did not dance, nor did Marty beside me, but I did clap loudly and sing at the top of my lungs. I shot a sideways glance  at my two friends who both had strained looks on their faces and were putting their hands together in a half- hearted clap.

“Hey guys,” I shouted over the cacophony, “this is NOT your typical dead main line church. This place is on fire and hopping.”

They gave me confused looks, whether from the fact that they could not hear me, or because they thought that either I was crazy, or because the Maranatha House and all in it were completely nuts.

Or all three.

Finally, the band stopped playing and Bob Weiner held up his mike, which he had been whirling like a band master’s baton during the frenzied dancing and singing, while pushing his hands palms down in front of him for everyone to become quiet.

The crowd immediately hushed.

“Tonight I will deliver the most important message from God you will ever hear. For, through me, God will deliver His message about the end times and how only the over-comers, those who persevere to the end…only those who are disciples of Jesus, will make it through the tribulation and times of wrath that are surely coming!”

With that Bob launch into a sermon I would later almost memorize but, that night, appeared important and timely; it struck me as the most powerful message I had ever heard preached.

“Tonight we are going to deal with the end times and what will happen to each of us in this room. Whether we fall to the beast talked about in Revelation and are cast into the pit of hell, or, whether we overcome and reign as son and daughters of JESUS for eternity. For you see we are in the END TIMES and all the signs of the prophets and of Revelation are being fulfilled. Tonight, as part of that, GOD is continuing to raise up His end time army, His Green Berets, who will usher in His Kingdom… I am speaking of many of you here who are sold out and on fire for Jesus and totally committed to the works of GOD! But I know there are those who think they are saved by saying a little prayer and are destined to be destroyed in these evil times.”

He then painted a vivid description of the end times that I later learned was lifted almost in its entirety from a book called “The Late Great Planet Earth” by author Hal Lindsay. Regardless, Bob blew me away aligning current events with those foretold by in the books of Daniel and Revelations.

Bob described how the EC (now the EU) was the many headed- beast that was predicted in Revelations quoting many scriptures. He told  everyone would have to have something called the mark of the beast implanted under their skin.  He spoke of earthquakes, fires and famines;  all of which were cascading through the world of the late 1970s.

“The mark of the Beast will function sort of like a credit card and bank account and will be placed under your skin,” Bob said, “without it you can buy nothing and will face starvation.”

But, he said, to get the mark you must agree to worship the beast who will seem wonderful at first; someone who will appear to be able to save the world from sure destruction. But later the beast would show his true colors as a destructive evil demon.

“The mainline churches like the Baptists believe in this phony rapture stuff. That God will rescue the Christians in the tribulations. This is pure Baloney, the rapture comes after the world goes through tribulation. And I tell you unless you are a committed overcomer who has given everything to the Lord Jesus Christ you will either perish or become a servant of the beast himself.”

Thinking back over that sermon now it seems trite, shallow and manipulative; all of which was true. But at the time it seemed to strike home to the crowd at the MCM House and all around me people were gasping and some even crying.

“Tonight, you have your choice… a stark choice. You can stay a lukewarm Christian, stay an unbeliever, that is, and perish dreadfully in the coming storm or you can commit yourself to being an overcomer. Someone who is fully committed; someone to whom Jesus is LORD OF ALL. Someone who is willing to give up father, mother, brother, sister and their worldly possessions; to give it all to Him… God be the GLORY!”

Bob stood there and the crowd went crazy yelling and shouting. I glanced surreptitiously to my right to see how Janet and Robert were handling all this. And to my shock I saw Robert crying, and Janet, no longer standing, kneeling on the floor with her head bowed in prayer.

“Now is the time,” Bob shouted. “Jesus said if you deny me to men I will deny you to my Father in heaven. Now is the time to proclaim that you want to follow Jesus and will NOT deny him! If you want to follow Jesus, and become his committed overcoming follower, I say come up here now. If you do not walk up to this stage and publicly confess JESUS you are denying God’s calling.”

The Praise Band kicked in with a mournful tune featuring a guitar solo and to my amazement both Robert and Janet headed up to the stage with tears streaming down their faces.

Two of the MCM women put their arms around Janet and led her away while I found myself standing beside Robert with my arm around him.

I won’t bore you with what happened next, but Marty and I led Robert upstairs and had a “hootah” session (as I later learned it was called) that almost exactly replicated the one that I had had with Randy, Marty and Sam just a few days back. Only this time I was asking the questions since I knew all about Robert’s background… and finally one hour later I watched in joy and fascination as both Robert and Janet were baptized by Bob and came out of the water shouting in their “Tongues” and all of us dancing and singing together.

Later we headed back up Magnolia, the three of us, arm in arm, talking of our new found faith and our determination to be like the first century overcoming Christians.

“Finally”, I thought, “I AM bearing fruit after all these years.

“This truly IS the power of God!”

#11 Discipleship

The cool morning wind tousled my hair as I laughed hysterically. My fraternity brother and new Christian brother, Robert, sped past me and cut me off waving and laughing as he did so. I put it into high gear, pumping the pedals for all I was worth, with the tires of my Schwinn humming underneath me. But there was no way to win this race, at least not this morning, that took us from the frat house to the MCM house.

Robert sped into the graveled parking lot behind the MCM House just as the bell tower at Sanford Hall, the huge Victorian pile about a mile away from us, struck the hour of 6:00 am. We slung our bikes onto the ground, hoisting our backpacks onto our shoulders and ran, out of breath, towards the back door.

Our thrice weekly shepherding meeting with Marty started at 6:00 am and we were late!

Peering around the dark meeting room of the house we slowly opened the door that led up the narrow stairs. The house was dark and quiet… not a sound could be heard.

We looked at each other, shrugged and then stealthily made our way up the stairs stopping at the landing on the second floor. A light gleamed from down the hall  through a half closed door and we could hear someone brushing their teeth.  Otherwise not a sound could be heard in the hallway.

We walked down the hall and saw a narrow door with a sign taped to it. It read “Marty’s discipleship group 6:00 am SHARP on third floor- THIS WAY.”

So up this final (we hoped) set of stairs we trod. At the top landing the door opened into a gabled long room where we saw six other young men seated on the floor in a semi- circle. In the middle of the group sat Marty, our shepherd, on a hard folding chair.

Marty turned and with stone faced stare motioned us to take a seat at one end of the semi-circle of brothers.

“Brothers these are the newest sheep of the Body: Tik Tok and Robert Smith.”

As if on que each guy introduced himself and uttered a brief testimony that went something like this: “Marty/Steven/Miltie/Fred (one of the brothers) shared the true Gospel with me and God showed me his grace and His Spirit touched me and I have committed everything to the Lord Jesus and He is Lord of All.”

Not everyone said this exactly but that was the gist of it.

Marty then asked Robert and I to share our testimonies which we did, however briefly.

Then he stood up, pushing his chair back, and faced us.

“Brothers you are part of God’s movement on Earth today. He has called you and blessed you with that calling. He is calling us to a life of denial and service in His Name.”

He flipped open a well-worn and heavily marked Bible and read “…and he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

“Brothers we must deny ourselves so we can live for Jesus who said ‘he who tries to save his own life shall lose it but he who loses his life should gain it.”

Marty cleared his throat, pushed his glasses up his nose, and continued, “Those who are following Christ in Maranatha are God’s Green Beret’s and you, the single brothers, are the elite force within the Body. As Paul said it is better to be single… and why? So that we can focus all our energy on bringing about the Kingdom of Christ on earth as it is in heaven.”

So far what Marty said sounded right…we did have to deny ourselves and take up our cross and focus on the work of God… but I just was not sure where this was going.

But I found out soon enough.

“But, you see brothers, we cannot be the point of God’s spear if there is sin in our life and if we do not hold each other accountable. You see unconfessed sin will hold you back, it will keep the work of God that each of us must do from going forward.”

Marty flipped through his Bible and read from Hebrews reading, “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress”

“We are running a race and if we are burdened with unconfessed sin it will slow us down. So each time we meet we are going to confess our sins to each and then repent. That way we keep the sin from weighing us down.”

Now frankly my internal radar went up with a “Bing Bing Bing.”

All my life I had been taught, that as Christians, we were high priests described in Hebrews and need not confess our sins to anyone but Christ. My grandmother was a rabid anti-Catholic and at Sunday lunch she would scold the Catholics saying ‘I feel sorry that they don’t know that they can confess their sins to Christ directly instead of through a priests.” I had been repeatedly taught this at the Baptist Sunday Schools and Training Union classes I had attended since being a small child.

So I was pretty sure that the admonition in the Bible about confessing our sins to one another meant confessing transgressions we had committed against another Christian; not confessing all of our sins to someone else.

But I said nothing about my doubts and once again stuffed another strange MCM scriptural interpretation into the “closet in my mind.” I mean who was I to question a guy like Marty who had given up everything to follow Christ?

Marty asked a guy at the other end of the circle to begin the session by confessing his sins from this week.

He hesitated, turned red and said “I lusted after a sister all week…and then… uh… I masturbated in the shower.”

I looked at Marty, but his expression did not change, he was stone faced.

“Okay everyone look at me- who else has this problem and wants to confess it?”

The other guys looked at the floor and then one by one the arms went up. Marty then let loose a prayer binding the “demons of lust and commanding Satan to flee.” He then told us the story of Joseph and said “if you have that urge you should come tell me about it immediately.”

I was pretty sure that was one edict I was going to disobey, but I said nothing and kept my gaze straight ahead.

Mike then went around the circle and had each guy confess at least one sin he had. Some seemed anxious to spill as many sins as they could, other thought for a moment and  would state a problem with sin they were having. After each brother spoke Mike would lay a hand on them and pray over them. The he would make a notation in a small leather bound notebook laying within his Bible.

My turn to confess was getting closer and my heart was pounding. I was racking my brain for a sin that would measure up to the ones I was hearing (none of them earthshattering; but to my naïve 19 year ears hearing a young man confess to lusting after another male seemed incredible).

Suddenly I saw Marty staring at me for… one… two… three seconds…and my heart thudded as I considered all of my many sins.

Finally, I stammered, “My sin is my huge ego which has driven me to try overachieve in my Christian walk this past week in the hopes of getting praise from you Randy, Sam and Bob.”  This was a true statement, because I wanted their approval more than anything, and it seemed to me a sin of pride and arrogance.

Marty rebuked the demon of pride and ego and spoke a prayer over me asking God to guard my heart against selfishness and made a notation in his notebook.

And I wondered about that notation.

I would soon learn that there was actually no Roman Catholic like confidentiality within MCM. At the shepherds meeting with the Pastors at MCM the sheep’s sin, how their Christian walk was progressing, any backsliding and required remedial action, were all openly discussed. This was the essence of MCM’s accountable discipleship.

But I knew nothing of that process at this point.

Finally, the session seemed over.

Marty crossed his arms and with a smile that did not reach his eye said in a low tone,“Let’s hold each other accountable each day and hour, if we feel we are going to fall, or are being tempted, we should reach out to another brother. We should hold each other accountable for bearing fruit, for completing our Red Book studies and for serving the Body. Remember Satan is seeking to devour those who are in God’s service.”

Then Marty paused, pushing his glasses back up the bridge of his nose, “Okay, it has not been announced yet but we are having a love feast at the House Saturday night. I will need all of you to be here at 8:00 am on Saturday morning. We are going to pile into cars, head to the Jewish Community Center in Opelika and pick up tables and chairs that they are lending us. So be sharp and be on time.”

With that everyone started gathering their things to leave to head to work or school.

As Robert and I were headed towards the stairs when Marty gestured to us; motioning us both to come over to see him with a flick of his hand.

He frowned said to us, “Brothers, you are the spear point of God’s army. You were late this morning to the disciplining meeting. That shows a lack of discipline and caring for the other brothers. I expect you to be on time and, in fact, to be early. We are overcomers and the Body is depending on us to set the example.”

He turned to get his things and I could see we had been dismissed.