#48 Training For Full Time Ministry

May 1981

It was a hot May day in 1981 and Phil Bonnasso and I were loading his car with our luggage.

“GLORY Brother- we are just like Luke Skywalker on our way to see YODA! We are going to learn how destroy Satan. Just think of it Tikie all the new pastors will sit at the feet of the masters. G-L-O-R-Y!”

Phil and I had gotten our assignments as Pastors and we were heading to a two-week so-called boot camp being run at Gainesville by Bob and Rose Weiner and others.

I was not sure exactly what we would be doing in Gainesville and Phil and I talked about it all the way down, with Phil shouting and claiming scripture and the two of us praying in tongues.

We had seen a number of the plans put into place at Auburn and they had been fairly successful such as starting Christian Clubs by finding or converting a professor and getting them to sponsor a Victory Club. MCM would have two or three students to work with Christian profs to front a club for MCM, in effect a MCM group, but not officially associated with MCM. These were examples of some of the action plans implemented by the local MCM ministries.

Phil and I also expected to further hone our witnessing skills and learn how to write and deliver a good sermon.

It was late afternoon when we arrived at the Gainesville House and we signed in at the registration desk after a six hour drive. We received a welcome packet with a schedule plus a large binder titled the Operating Manual.

At least 50 brothers and sisters attended this training session. They would serve as new Pastors (if married then the spouse would also serve alongside them) and Evangelists for these newly planted churches.

Now I had broken out the preppiest outfit I could put together. Those of you that were members will remember what it looked like:

Cordovan Loafers
Pink Shirt
Chinos
Blue Blazer (the kind that have the gold buttons)
And
A rep tie.

Big deal, you might ask, does it really matter what you were wearing?

The answer was: it did matter.

The next morning we all assembled in the Gainesville MCM House in their meeting hall with seven or eight tables and chairs in two rows, facing a raised platform on which was a table with 6 chairs facing us with a speakers pulpit.

Bob welcomed us and took us through the agenda.

“All of here are going to part of the  God’s New Awakening the greatest revival and movement of God in the world of all time. IT is a NEW THING?? AMEN?” he yelled as he cupped his ear for a response.

“Amen” we all shouted.

Bob and Joe emphasized, that although MCM would give seed money to get us started, we should begin raising outside support immediately.

Most of the first day we spent listening to Nick P, a successful roving MCM full-time evangelist and others, including Rice Brooks and Greg Ball talk about how they raised money. How they approached “good” churches (meaning independent charismatic churches)and put themselves forward as campus youth missionaries. They also stressed we should contact all of our friends and family to get money from them, especially any Christian grandmothers and grandfathers.

Bob told us when asking for money to, “Always overshoot the amount you need from each person. For example tell a business man you would like for him to give $ 500/month if you REALLY want $ 50/month. A good place to work this plan is The local Full Gospel Businessmen’s Association. If you tell them that souls that are at stake and ask each business man for $ 500…they will give you something, it might be $ 100/month. Always ask for a HUGE amount, then the amount you ACTUALLY get will seem reasonable.”

“If you can get ten of these successful businessmen to give $ 100/month you have raised $ 1,200 dollars per month (this would be the 2006 equivalent of $ 3000/month or $ 36,000/year).”

Then he and Joe talked us through how to find churches that would be receptive to sponsoring us.

“The best place to start are independent charismatic churches. Don’t waste your time in denominations and stress that you will be a self supporting missionary to change college campuses.”

Joe Smith took over, “Now, we are going to front you $ 10,000 (equivalent to $ 25,000 in 2006) to get you started. But we expect that each ministry starting in January (six months later) to begin paying us back with interest.”

In the book was a chart detailing the payments to be made by the new ministry to MCM HQ over a three year period.

Now it sounded pretty generous for MCM to front us $ 10,000.

But I did not realize that Bob and Joe had been on their own “fundraising effort.” My understanding now is that MCM had “raised over $ 300,000 for the “great send out.” That is, they had the cash up front.

Also keep in mind that Bob encouraged us to raise enough money per month to support ourselves, and, maybe to support the ministry (advertising etc.).

There was another issue: if Bob and Joe had already raised this money specifically for the “great send out” why should the local ministries have to pay the money back?

MCM had cash for this venture coming from the members of the “1,000 club” (1,000 business man who apparently forked over $ 1,000/year to MCM) plus other money from other outside donors.  I am confident that none of the donors to the “great send out” knew that their donations would be paid back with interest.

In essence MCM [aka Bob and Rose] were double dipping. It was a twist on Robin Hood: Take from the rich”and then take from the poor”. It seemed a scam of massive proportions.

Also since the great send out was theoretically self-funding it could, and would, double or triple the amount of cash coming in for the MLTS. MCM was getting too big for three MLTS a year; so the ministry cut it back to twice yearly but increased the fees to generate the same cash.

Each site had to tithe 10% of all income plus a 2% offering. So in addition to paying the ministry back $ 800 per month ($2,400 per month in 2006 dollars) for 18 months (the overage was interest) we also had to cough up 12% of every nickel we had. Oh and my cash of stash I raised to help support myself? I had to give 12% to MCM HQ.

So MCM now had four income streams, MLTS, the 1000 Club (set up to fund the great send out), payback streams from local ministries of the $ 10k front money, and of course, tithes and offerings from local ministries.

The amount of cash coming into MCM by mid 1981 would be gigantic (I estimated it was over $ 7M per year in 2006 dollars compared to just $ 2-3M only three years earlier).

Of course this MLTS and Great Send Out Scheme only held up if:

1.The Great Send Out plants could actually pay the money back (of course if they could not then MCM broke even at worse), and if,
2.MCM could keep the pastors on the reservation…the ministry was in effect doubling and it would begin taxing Bob Weiner’s and Joe Smith’s ability to personally control and dictate events, and finally if,
3.There was not large-scale unforeseen disaster, like a major investigation of MCM tactics and cash flows that would expose the hypocrisy and viciousness of the ministry.

Well, we got together on the second day and begin working on witnessing and preaching techniques. We learned how were to go after the frats, sororities, football players, basketball players and cheerleaders.

The sharps that is.

“If you go after the sharp leaders then they help in bring others in and you can point to these sharps and then will attract others,” said Joe.

Bob pointed at the crowd “Some of you have afros and long shaggy hair. I expect you all to have short hair cuts by tomorrow morning. You are going to get nothing but the dregs if you look like a dreg.”

He then grabbed Phil Bonnasso and pulled him up on the raised platform. Phil was always wanting Bob and Joe to notice him, and this afternoon he would be noticed, but not in the way that he wished.

It was a typical exercise in humiliation and fear by Bob.

Phil stepped up on stage. He was wearing a disco silk shirt, platform shoes and polyester pants. His hair stood up in a thick black shock at least three inches in height, and in the back his hair flowed down in back to his shoulders.

“This is the kind of image that we CANNOT have on campus. Sleazy 70s” disco out fits and this…this…bush of hair. You look sloppy brother, get a haircut and invest in some decent clothes.”

Then Bob looked out over the crop of newly minted full timers’

”Tikie come up here on stage”.

Bob turned me around like a model. “This is what we need; the clothes, shoes and look that says we are the best, we are in God’s will and blessed financially.”

“See how Tik looks; all of you should try to dress and look like him.”

I was both embarrassed and proud at the same time.

But it gave me pause.

Okay, maybe some of the brother’s clothes were worn but many  had no money at all. I, because of the cash generated by my tire sales job (raking in $ 2,000 per month in 2006 $) was flush with money relative to many there.

Did Bob have to humiliate Phil, to make his point that we should have an updated wardrobe?

This was very typical of the way Bob handled things. He would pull up some poor guy or girl and humiliate them for their appearance, for not smiling, not dressing in up to date clothing, or  not performing to his standards. Then he would pull up a brother or sister who DID have what the under-performer did not have and praise them.

Studies of  of sociological cults show this behavior is common to such leaders of these groups. First the autocratic leader strikes fear into the hearts of everyone who is not producing or performing to his standards by humiliating the target poor . Everyone in the audience realizes “that could just as easily be me being humiliated.”

Then positive praise given to a performer would make all present  want to produce and conform.

I saw Bob Weiner, Joe Smith, Bob Nolte and their understudies Rice Broocks and Nick P use this classic technique over and over again.

“Sit down you two,” Bob said to Phil and me. He then pointed to Dennis Darville who was an up and coming evangelist. Dennis never got sucked into the “horrible” behaviors that MCM modeled and reinforced. Dennis was a preacher with a talent equal to Rice Broocks and Greg Ball. But having worked with him on outreaches and roomed with him he appeared a very humble and loving Christian.

Bob brought Dennis up on stage. “Okay, I looked in the parking lot before we got started and I saw a bunch of beat up clunkers. If you as a pastors want to be a REAL LEADER someday then you must drive a sharp car. Dennis has a Datsun (Nissen) 280 Z convertible. Kids flock to him when he shows up on campus in that car.”

“I expect everyone, when they get to their ministries drive a brand new sporty car, AMEN?” shouted Bob.

Well I was all into fancy new cars, and I had managed to save about $ 2,500 (equal to $ 6,500 in 2006 dollars) from my “tire and shock” job. But no one else, that I knew, unless their parents were wealthy and gave them everything wanted, had a nickel on them. They could barely afford rent much less new car payment.

But we all shouted back “Amen”.

*****************
By the end of the boot camp I had a real pit of fear in my stomach. I was in shock, because I was beginning to realize exactly how the ministry functioned.

It was a BIG STICK and small carrot approach. Every day at least one or two brothers or sisters found themselves humiliated for some infraction; stomped on in front of everyone. And at least one or two would be brought up and praised.

I also met Leo Lawson for the first time. Leo went on to pastor churches and to become the head of ENLI. My impression of Leo was not so good. The only one trying to spend more time with Bob Weiner than Phil Bonasso was Leo Lawson. In fact Phil commented on it to me.

Nick P was schedule to come up to my ministry in wave TWO a few weeks after Greg and Helen Ball were to finish up at my ministry.

By this time I was beginning to see the wisdom of lying low, getting out of Gainesville and producing big numbers in my ministry.

Big numbers meaning dollars and converts.

And the “ole Tik” was suggesting things like: “It’s not too late to go back after those job offers you had ” or “Working in your Dad’s business might not be such a bad idea.”

But I brushed these thoughts aside the only friends that I had were in MCM…and wasn’t this the ideal Christian Church that I dreamed of almost four years ago?

Phil and I drove home that afternoon and I begin plotting my fundraising scheme. Believe it or not by working two full-time jobs and going from church to church and hitting up businessmen I was able to raise a “war chest of over $ 15,000, equal to $ 40,000 in 2006 in June and July. Plus I had monthly support pledges of over $ 1,000 (equal to about A$ 2,500/month in 2006) by the end of July. Of course I had to give 12% of this $ 15,000 back to MCM in a tithe and offering and any support I received.

I actually took Bob’s advice, and by having my father co-sign the note, I bought a brand new Ford T Bird courtesy of a $ 300/month car payment. It was a ridiculous buy for a poor new preacher!
**************

I said my goodbyes to Matt and Allie who were staying in Auburn to pastor the church there and to Miltie who was heading up to Michigan with Mike, Missy and ten or twelve Auburnites.

For a week or so after coming back from the Gainesville boot-camp I had toyed with the idea of asking Mike and Missy if I could go with them to Michigan working as a lay brother and finding a job as an engineer.

But my pride stood in the way. Besides, didn’t I have a Word from God over my life about saving thousands? How could I ignore the Word of the Lord given by His Prophet Joe Smith?

So I loaded up my stuff at the end of July and headed cross-country for a rendezvous with my new ministry co-workers.

As I turned the corner at Magnolia Avenue I saw the famous marquis sign out front of the MCM house and it read “Are you Ready for what God has for you?”

I gunned my new T-Bird, turned up Magnolia Street and thought “I sure am!”

 

#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.

 

#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.

#10 Washing My Own Brain: Shepherding

I had promised Randy and Marty that I would come by the Maranatha house that afternoon after my physics lab.

My mind reeled from my confrontation with Sheila as I made my way across campus to the MCM House. Although the trees shown with brilliant orange colors while scads of students lolled on the quad, or played frisbee, I did not register any of it. Not really.

My mind focused on Sheila. For I really like people to like me and I especially want those I am close to to be pleased by what I am doing. And I really did not want to disappoint my good friend.

For even a goof like me could figure out that Sheila violently opposed my supposed conversion and new-found faith.

As I walked into the MCM House that afternoon I noticed fresh flowers on the mantle of the fireplace and to my left I could see the large meeting room set up with about 200 chairs with a stage, band equipment, and audio speakers.

At this point in my life, some thirty years later I would ask, “Where is the money coming for all these nice things?” But the only impression it made on me then was, “Wow, this is a very, very nice place, much nicer than the house I grew up in.”

Sam, the associate pastor, and Marty, the MCM administrator, stood waiting on me in the meeting room area. As they stood up to shake my hands Bob Weiner came walking out of the office to my left with another man, a tall, muscular guy with almost jet black long hair parted down the middle in the style of the time. Bob slapped me on the back and asked me how things were going.

“Now I know what it means to be a true follower of Jesus and I can feel the power of the Spirit,” I said seeking his approval.

“Remember”, Bob said “It’s not how high you jump but how you long run. We are running a race for God. And it is a marathon.”

I thought this an odd comment at the time but, as time passed, I slowly understood that running a marathon was an apt description of what would take place. But forget any stands along the way with water to quench your thirst.

The dark-haired fellow gave me a quick crooked smile, said nothing, and kept walking with Bob. The two of them opened a door at the back of the meeting room that I had not noticed last night and disappeared. The tall guy with Bob was Mike Caulk, I later learned, who had just been appointed head pastor of the Auburn Ministry.

Sam, Marty and I continued upstairs to the same room we were in last night.

This room was Marty’s study/bedroom. Marty pulled out a large soft bound book that had a bright red color.

“This is a Bible study for new Christians,” Marty said. “It is called Bible Studies for A FIRM Foundation“. I looked at the cover; the authors were Bob and Rose Weiner.

“Who is Rose Weiner?” I asked.

“Rose is Bob’s wife,” Sam said in a reverential tone. He continued, “She has a true heart and understanding of God’s plan and is a real prophet.”

“Prophet????” I thought. I had never heard the word prophet used except in the past tense when referring to Nehemiah or Jonah, but never in the present tense.

“It is essential Tik,” said Marty, “That you really get a firm understanding of the faith and so we will work you through the basics in these 26 studies.”

He continued, “But we will not begin at the first lesson but rather start today at discipleship: how being a disciple and becoming a disciple is the key to being an overcomer and a first century Christian.”

So I began my first structured Bible Study in Maranatha Christian Ministries. (I obtained a copy of this from Alibris.com. What follows is based on the contents of this study and my recollections of that afternoon.)

The Firm Foundations Study (or the Red Book, as it was called, by MCM) consisted of a list of verses to be read were then followed by fill in the blank statements with a few open-ended questions scattered in.

One verse that we looked at in the study was from Luke.

“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?” Marty read.

“You see Tik,” said Marty, “without a shepherd the lost sheep would never find his way to the fold. So all sheep need a shepherd.”

I filled in the study statement.

But if I had been truthful I was having a hard time connecting the scripture to what Mike said.

More importantly what did he mean by, “All sheep need a shepherd”?

He then referred to another scripture out of Mark: “As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”

“This means that without a shepherd the crowd could not learn the things of God. That is why Jesus felt sorry for them because they did not have a shepherd. His Church is his bride; in fact, we will become like Jesus in time. But in order to do so God will give us shepherds to hold us accountable and to help us grow in our walk just like Jesus acted as a shepherd for his disciples.”

I wrote this down dutifully in the blank spot on the page.

We looked at another scripture from John: “The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.”

Sam said, “This scripture is key to understanding why the traditional churches are dead, and why we Christians who make a commitment to Jesus fall away and get involved in immorality and other sin. You see unless we have a shepherd who is truly committed to our walk with Jesus we will be scattered when the wolf comes. This is why you have been dissatisfied with your walk and with the watered down old line churches and the ministries like Campus Crusade for Christ.”

Now this made sense to me- because this is exactly what I had seen at Auburn and in my own life.

But there was a lingering doubt.

You see I agreed with what they were saying about being held accountable but was this what this scripture actually meant? It did not seem to me to have this meaning this so I stuck this teaching in the closet in the back of my mind along with the Maranatha theory of water baptism.

And finally we reviewed this verse: “He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.”

“You see Tik that was the charge that Jesus gave to Peter. Feed his sheep. Jesus was the great shepherd and was the overseer of the disciples and provided them a covering. They in turn were shepherds and covered their sheep. In turn these sheep also covered their sheep and so on. This ensured that the entire Body of Christ would be provided a covering so that all could be disciples.”

“In order to be a Christian you must be a true disciple. In fact, the followers of Jesus in the first century were called disciples long before they were called Christians,” said Sam. “So we can safely say that if you are not a disciple with a shepherd you cannot be a Christian.”

He pointed to the scripture in Acts, “And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called ‘Christians.”

“To sum it up: to be a Christian you must be a disciple of Jesus. Disciple has the same root as discipline. It means that we must have someone who disciplines us, that holds us accountable, that counsels. Since we cannot be a Christian without being a disciplined disciple, and since we will be scattered without a shepherd watching for us and being accountable for our souls, we must all have a shepherd or we will fall and lose our faith,” Sam intoned.

“Tik, this is why we see so many fake, watered down Christians and dead churches. They have no shepherds, they are not disciples, they are scattered in the wind and are therefore not Christians.”

I followed the line of reasoning. It made sense to me.

No different than what happened in engineering school. I had an advisor and professors that held me accountable, that ensured I was making progress in my studies, that ensured I had the discipline needed to complete my studies. My father had instilled the white Anglo-Saxon work ethic and discipline in me when I was a young boy. And it seemed true: this lack of discipline in Bible Study, in actions, in spiritual growth, was the very weakness I saw in the current Christian organizations I was part of.

But, although I very much liked what they were saying, and it was apparent that the lack of oversight and discipline crippled other campus ministries, I could not connect the scriptures they were using to the points that they were making.

The very points I agreed with.

So I made a critical mistake.

I ignored what my “gut” was telling me, that if the scriptures did not line up then question  the teaching. Rather my reaction was, “What they are saying is correct, and probably true, s0 I’ll over-look the discrepancy.”

Then they got to the main point, the place that we were heading to since we started the study over an hour ago.

“We have been praying about it (‘who was the “we” he was referring to?” I wondered) and it has been decided (“by whom?” I wondered) that Marty will be your shepherd ”

Marty reached over and gave me an awkward hug.

“Tik it will be great growing together in our work with the Lord.”

Then he pushed his glasses up on his nose and cleared his throat. “Tik I will be meeting with my new disciples tomorrow morning in the meeting room at 6:00 am for an hour of prayer and study. I look forward to seeing you there.”

I gulped. I barely had free time as it was with my frat duties, 17 hours of class and labs and at least 20 hours of study along with it plus any attendance at church or bible studies.

I smiled weakly.

“I can’t wait,” I said.

If this is what one must do to be a true disciple, to bear fruit, to be part of what God end movement then why not? It seemed to me to be the only way: to commit to Jesus as much or more than what I was giving to my studies, the frat or my social life. Nothing else seemed to work from what I had seen.

But what I did not understand was that in Maranatha there were no distinct sphere of life- school, social, private- all of my life was considered fair game.

All of it.

So it was I became a sheep and my first shepherd, the person who would gradually and inexorably take control of my life was Marty, a person I barely knew…a person I was giving the keys of my entire life to, although I did not exactly realize this at that time.

For now I was a sheep complete with my own personal shepherd.