#45 What It Took To Succeed At MCM

 

Editors: Tikie now introduces us to Phil Bonasso one of his close friends at Auburn. Phil later moved to into the top level of leadership within MCM. After MCM imploded, Phil, Rice Brooks, Steve Murrel along with other MCM pastors founded what is now Every Nation Church (EN).

Tikie and others (including Edward Dalcour) believed that EN has many, but not all, of the same abusive practices of MCM.

In this chapter Tik, using Phil as an example, shows what kind of person it took to climb into the upper level of MCM.

******************

How To Succeed at MCM

Auburn, Alabama August 1979

“Eager for action and hot for the game
The coming attraction, the drop of a name
They knew all the right people, they took
all the right pills
They threw outrageous parties, they paid heavenly bills
There were lines on the mirror, lines on her face
She pretended not to notice, she was caught up
in the race

Out every evening, until it was light
He was too tired to make it, she was too tired
to fight about it”

“Life in the Fast Lane”  by the Eagles

***************
By the end of my story you will see that I was a miserable failure as a full-time Pastor and leader at MCM.

But not everyone failed and stumbled the way I did. Some thrived and grew like weeds in a well-watered field. Phil Bonasso was just such a person and had what it took to succeed within MCM and more.

He and a few others engineered the MCM break up (not the public story given about the break-up) overthrew Bob and Joe. They then built what became Every Nation out of the ashes of MCM.

***************

I headed to the west side of Campus on a warm sunny afternoon to visit my friends Matt and Annie at campus married student housing

Arriving I saw my friend Matt coming down the ramp of a U-Haul moving van struggling with a piece of furniture. In the background a stereo blared music and I caught myself keeping time with the Eagles song “Life in the Fast Lane”.

I started.  No one in MCM would play rock and roll and certainly not a song by the Eagles.

I dropped my bike and ran up to help Matt. Sweat was pouring down his face.

“Thanks Bro,” he puffed as we manhandled a recliner down the ramp.

Then I heard a shout in a baritone voice: “G-L-O-R-Y !!!! T-O G-O-D!!!!!!!!!! G-L-O-R-Y!!!!!!! H-A-L-L-E-U-J-A-H !!!!

Startled, I looked up and saw a stocky figure with a shock of black bushy hair step out of the apartment door.

PRAISE JESUS- GLORY!” he continued yelling. The guy shouting sounded like one of the old-time tent revivalists that I use to hear at my Grandmother’s country church.

I did not know what to make of it.

Then Matt shouted back to him, “H-A-L-L-E-L-U-J-A-H NASSO!”

The stocky guy burst into peals of laughter as we put the recliner down.

I looked the newcomer over as he walked over to me. He stood about 5’ 6″ tall with a huge shock of curly black hair, bushy eyebrows, full lips and large blue eyes.

His face lit up in a broad smile that reached to the corner of his eyes and then baritone voice boomed, full of laughter and good will.  “Mattie, my brother, is this the Tik you’ve been telling me about? The famous Tikie???”

”You got it bro!” shouted Matt.

This new guy put his arms around me in a bear hug and said in a low rumbly voice, “Praise God Brother, Matt has told me so much about you and the great work that God is doing here at Auburn! Glory!”

He said all this with rumbling chuckle and I realized that the “Glories to God” and “Praise Gods” that he and Matt exchanged were half serious and half in jest.

Matt looked to me and said “Tikie this is the brother I have told you about Phil Bonasso, or Nasso as I call him!”

The rock music continued to blare in the background. Phil continued to talk, shout, and sing nonstop the entire three hours we were there. I would learn this was pretty much the way he always was in his waking hours.

It was not the irritating hyperactivity of Bob Weiner; Phil’s constant monologue had a cheerful humor to it.

Later that night we sat on the apartment floor eating pizza and listening to Phil expound on how God was going to use him to bring God’s kingdom back to earth just like the Force had used Luke Skywalker in the recently released second episode of Star Wars.

Little did I know that day that Phil would rise into the top ranks of MCM. There he would be part of the coterie that “overthrew” Bob and Joe, and  would then use some of the disparate ministries that survived the break-up to form what became Every Nation church, which in many ways what I believe to be one of the successors to MCM.

***********

Here are a few vignettes about Phil, not in chronological order by the way, that show the type of person that could rise into the upper-echelons of MCM.

***************

Bob had his eye on me in late 1980 and, when the Auburn Music Group went to Georgia Tech to help with the outreach there, he pulled me out front to give a 5 minute testimony before he launched into his sermon. Afterwards, ignoring all the sheep, Bob had approached me saying, “Great work brother, and great message.”

You should understand that those who worked with Bob regularly knew that good work went unnoticed, usually, and any infraction, perceived or real, found his immediate disfavor with rapid punishment following.

So being around Bob for extended periods was all downside, no upside.

Of course, we non full-time “sheep” were not aware of this, but the brothers who were at this outreach, including Phil, were very impressed that Bob and I talked frequently.

As I think about it many brothers, including Matt and Miltie, scattered when Bob approached; instinctively they knew that being in his immediate vicinity, especially during a busy and hectic ministry opening, could only bring more work, more exhortation, and perhaps punishment. I think I was to naïve to understand this, and perhaps too cocky to believe that I could get nailed.

But standing right there with me whenever Bob stopped to speak to me that weekend was Phil; and he was both impressed and extremely interested in all of this.

Phil hovered around Bob all weekend.

Afterwards He said “Tikie, I really want to talk to you about something, something I have noticed about you.”

I thought he was going to ask me about my fruit or prayer or something like that. He leaned over and asked, “How do you do it?”

“Do what?” I asked.

“Get Bob’s attention, he’s all over you. How did you get him to notice you? I want to get next to him to get to know him. I think Maranatha’s got the right stuff; and if I can show them the latent power of God present in the W-O-R-D,” he drawled this “word” out in his deep baritone voice dripping with drama and intensity, “this thing [meaning MCM] will go places that no other group can go. It will explode in terms of Fruit. G-L-O-R-Y!”

He did not ask me about getting close to Jesus, rather he obsessed about getting close to Bob.

He did not hide this and, in fact, later said “I am going will be Bob’s right hand man, just watch me, Glory to God!”

“I am going to BE someone in MCM, I am Tikie, I promise!”

**************

We went in 1980 or 81 (just before going I went full time) to the massive “Washington for Jesus” rally in DC with another brother “Bert”.

Typical Maranatha. None of us, including Phil had any money to speak of.

Together the three of us had pooled about $100 and we caravanned up with about 150 other Auburnites. No hotels for Phil, Bert, or me, we were going to sleep where-ever, as was the rest of our group.

Benches, grates whatever, that is where we would sleep for we were God’s Green Berets right? We could tough it out.

So much for the prosperity message.

Well the “ Washington for Jesus” festival complete with speakers and Bands and such was at JFK stadium in DC. We arrived late that afternoon and attended the first evening opening session and applauded the speakers as the droned on about God’s new kingdom.

At the end of the session Mike Caulk and Mike Godwin told us Auburnites where to gather the next morning at 9:00 am and they split.

Bob had spoken at this huge opening rally and we understood he was staying at the Washington Hilton with the other top leaders.

Afterwards we decided to find a place to bed down and sleep with the rest of the Auburnites, none of whom had hotel reservations, nor could a afford a room, regardless.

Now there was one problem with MCM’s plan, or lack thereof.

Those pesky DC police, for some reason, would not allow anyone to sleep in a public space (you can imagine that if they allowed this DC would be over-run with campers non stop). So there we were, along with 4,000 other MCMers, with our sleeping bags, and blankets, with the DC police chasing us all around the city.

And all the while Bob and Rose Weiner are enjoying the luxury of a suite at the Washington Hilton where I imagine they had room service delivered for breakfast the next morning.

Finally, and it is around 1:00 am, we are punch drunk and dead tired after a 10 hour car ride and attending an exhausting five-hour rally. The police have arrested a few folks who gave up and put their bags down and tried to get a little sleep. Right into the paddy wagon they went along with drunks, crack addicts, and common criminals.

No thanks!

So Bert, Phil, and I sneak into a courtyard with a small garden near the FBI building.

Mind you the city is lousy with police, kicking people out of their sleeping backs and threatening to arrest them if they stop moving, much less if they lay down again.

But Phil stands up and in his best MCM Prophet’s voice shouts out, “I command you demons to leave here so God’s children can get some rest and in the mighty name of Jesus I blind these police, GLORY TO GOD shabalalla ba shallala!!”

Now, I am looking at him like he is crazy.

We had learned the hard way, over the last hour, that sleeping at night in a public place in DC is against the law and that the police were enforcing this law whether we like it or not.

And I didn’t particularly want to spend a night in the DC jail being a “butch” for some ugly six-foot nine criminal named Big Al.

But Phil turns to Bert and me and says, “Okay brothers- its nap time.” He proceeds to unroll his sleeping bag and foam mat, and then, he gets in the bag, and is snoring in about two minutes.

Just like that.

Me, I turn, look at Bert, and say, “You heard him, its nap time”.

And in about a minute we are all laying in our sleeping bags, dead to the world, and not a cop sees us, or notices us, all night. I am pretty sure, from what I heard afterwards, that no one, in the Auburn Ministry, with the exception of Bert, Phil, or me, got any sleep that night.

Was it luck we did not get arrested or were the cops actually blinded to our presence that night?

The plan called for meeting the MCM Auburn team promptly at 9:00am the next morning or we would face the wrath of Marty. But, believe it or not, we did not wake up in our little sleeping garden outside of the FBI until 8:30 am. Unlike everyone else we got about 7 hours of sleep.

Now I was a “do bee” and Phil was a “God is in control not Marty” kind of guy.

I shook Phil and Bert and said, “C’mon guys, we have to meet at the Lincoln Mall in 30 minutes. I don’t want to get grief from Marty.”

It was at least a twenty-minute walk so I was right to tell the guys to get moving. We could not be late or Marty would punish us, I told them.

Phil looked at me from his heavy-lidded eyes and said, “First Tikie we aren’t going anywhere until we grab some breakfast. We gotta have our strength. Second, who made Marty pope? He isn’t anything to me, praise Jesus!!!!!”

By this time he was standing up with a big wide grin on his face.

“You know Tikie your problem is you THINK too much, just go with the flow and look for the opportunity. You put Marty in his place and people will see you have power!” and he laughed with that beautiful deep laughter of his.

“You see Tikie you need to turn THIS OFF,” and he slapped my head and continued, “before God can turn THIS ON” and he slapped my chest..

************

Many a night I spent at the Bonnasso’s with Matt and Allie, or with Phil and Karen at Matt and Allie’s place.

Or perhaps Mitlie, Matt, Phil, and I were hanging out at Chanello’s Pizza playing PacMan and Space Invaders together doing these“guy” kind of things. But Phil was always talking about his destiny regardless of the setting.

One night in his apartment, after Karen had hit the sack, Phil and I talked about my concerns with MCM, Bob Weiner, and how the whole thing operated. Phil listened closely and attentively as I shared my feelings and he never took issue with anything I was saying.

But he said something I thought was strange.

“Tikie,” he said, “I am pretty much convinced that this thing is a cult, but how else are we going to control these people? They are adrift and need direction. It is the only way to bring God’s Kingdom to reality!”

And with that he slapped me on the back and asked, “How about some popcorn bro?”

******************

After the great send-out Phil’s ministry grew like a weed and he rapidly moved into the upper-echelons of MCM. Phil hung around Bob at MLTS and outreaches constantly, fetching him water, praising his every word, doing anything he could to get noticed.

He really had no true respect for either Bob or Joe, I think.

Rather he, like some other Pastors, saw MCM as an opportunity to set up his own church and build his power base.

And my understanding is that he, along with some other key pastors, were sick of Bob’s threats and antics. We will see later what they did about this and why… the real secret to MCM’s breakup… not the public pablum that was put out afterwards.

 

#37 Abuse: Being Drained By The Ministry

“Truth is the daughter of time, not of power.”
Sir Francis Bacon

“Now make your fist into a ball, there you go, okay, I can see that vein now…very good Mr. Tok.”

The nurse in the white coat swabbed my arm with alcohol and then massaged my bulging forearm vein with her gloved finger.

She pulled a very long sharp, hollow needle out of a sterile pouch and quickly stuck it into my bulging vein. The clear plastic tube fitted onto the needle was attached to a clear plastic bag.

And that clear bag started quickly filling with my warm crimson blood.

The needle and the catheter tugged on my arm, stinging me with cold while my chest ached in rhythm with the beat of my heart beat.

Turning my head to the right I saw another fifteen donors laying on tables row on row. Most of them, with the exception of Patrick a brother from MCM, were in their early sixties and had the washed out look of winos or derelicts.

It was early June 1979.

I had gotten the idea of selling my plasma from Patrick in early March 1979. That night Mike Caulk, our pastor, walked up to the podium during one of our week night fellowship meetings with a grim expression on his face

“Brothers and sisters the Devil is attacking the Ministry,” he said slowly.

A low murmur ran through the crowd. I wondered what this attack was, was someone ill?  Had there been a fire at one of the ministries? We, all 150 brothers and sisters, waited expectantly and anxiously as Mike looked us over stone faced.

“God, as you all know, told the elders in January that the Ministry needed to replace the old single engine ministry airplane.” [This was a single engine Cessna 210 that flew Bob, the top elders and the Praise Band from used to fly from  site to site].

I remembered that fundraising effort clearly.

There had been innumerable bake sales, car washes and door to door knockings where we carried buckets labeled MCM Christian Relief Fund to try to get people to throw money at MCM in the near freezing February weather for the new plane.

We had also staged a walkathon entitled Evangelistic Explosion 1978 to raise money for this new twin-engine airplane, a Piper Aerostar (new to MCM but purchased used).

I actually kicked in about $150 from my stash of $400 from my savings. At this point my savings were down to $ 250. This after entering MCM with almost $ 900 in the bank in November (that is about $ 2,700 in 2006 dollars).

I was barely holding my own with expenses; even  working 25 hours in the Pizza joint/week and even with the DOT grant that Dr. Carl had made magically appear.

All of this ran through my mind as the congregation waited for Mike Caulk to continue. He slowly shuffled through a stapled stack of printed papers that lay on the podium.

Then, looking up, Mike cleared his throat and said, “We found out yesterday that a piston cracked on one of the engines in the new plane. And the ministry plane is now grounded.”

He paused and said, raising his baritone voice to an almost shout, “Satan is attacking us in the midst of our success. But God will triumph here and we, his Green Berets, will answer His call.  The Ministry as a whole must raise $ 75,000 to cover the costs of replacing the engine by mid April. I am counting on the Auburn ministry to come through in a strong way, as usual.”

I sat with my mouth hanging open in disbelief as Mike outlined a series of fundraising efforts including a special offering and urged us all to give sacrificially that night.

I remembered the all-out effort to raise money for the new twin-engine plane in February; how almost every waking hour, not devoted to school, work, or the normal frenetic MCM activities had been devoted to getting money out of the community and out of our own pockets no matter what.

At that time Mike explained to us how this new larger and faster plane would enable the leadership to spend more time ministering. It would speed the work of evangelizing the world; it would carry more people and more equipment for the Lord. That the plane was a critical part of the plan to bring God’s Kingdom on earth in our lifetime.

But the cost of this new plane had never been mentioned.

I had never considered what this cost meant to all of us and the drain it imposed on our finances. And now this newly purchased ( apparently with no warranty) plane needed $ 75,000 of work to keep it flying.

Even now $ 75,000 to repair an engine is a large chunk of money and equal to  $175,000 in 2006 dollars. This seemed a huge sum to all of us in the Auburn ministry.

And it was.

And this amount, mind you, was on top of the money MCM had raised to buy this  two-engined plane just four weeks ago to tune of $ 300,000 (or almost a million dollars in 2006).

I remember thinking all of this but the thought went nowhere as I swatted it down.

Did MCM REALLY need a plane?

At the time MCM had about ~30 ministry sites and ~4,000 members. Campus Crusade dwarfed MCM in size yet CCC has never had a corporate plane much less a two engine twelve seater. But no one, including me, thought to ask that question, or maybe dared to ask it.

So the elders cracked the whip and we went into high gear fundraising mode.

I did not really have time to take part in the fundraisers; I never had any time but I was going to have to make time it seemed.

Marty told the sight single brothers in our shepherding group, “I expect the single brothers to lead the way here, the Auburn Ministry has committed to send in $ 5,000 (the equivalent of  15,000 in 2006) for this need.” He looked over the glasses that had dropped down his nose, sighed and continued, “And I am counting on each of you to bring in at least $200; we single brothers are the spear point of God’s Army.”

And this money had to be raised by by mid-April; a date that was less than four weeks away.

Now with my savings down to just $ 250, and my time, as I have already told you, stretched to the breaking point, I did not see how I could make this happen.

I had already crimped my studies for the marathon of fundraisers to buy the plane in February and my grades showed it. And to make my quota ($ 300) for the special needs offering for the  plane  I had thrown in $100 from my dwindling bank account.

I would flunk out of school if I was not careful, or be unable to pay my bills, or both.

But one night, just after this fundraising pep talk , Patrick, my roommate, let me in on his secret and it seemed like an answer to my prayers.

And that is why I was laying on a clinic table watching two pints of my blood drain into the bag. The bag was full now.

My arm really hurt now and I was chilling.

“Okay honey,” said the nurse who walked up and fingered the two pint bag of my warm blood,“I’ll be back in a jiffy.”

She unhooked the bag from the catheter but left the needle and the tube hanging from my arm.

She put the bag containing my blood in a centrifuge that sat on a counter a couple of feet from the table I lay on. Soon it started whirling around with the sound of a rusty mixer. In about two minutes the red corpuscles of my blood had been separated from the yellow/clear plasma in the bag.

She drained the yellow plasma out of the bag into a clear bottle, wrote on a label attached to it, and then brought the bag containing my red blood cells back to the chair. Then she re-attached this blood filled bag to the catheter still hanging from my arm.  She lifted the bag onto a pole and the blood, minus the removed plasma, starting draining back into my arm.

The cold blood hurt my arm as it streamed back in my body. It continued to hurt.

This part always hurt.

The rules of the plasma bank were that you could give plasma once per week. It paid $ 25 per drain. That was equal to $75 in 2006 money.

But Patrick and I were gaming the system.

For there was one blood/plasma center in Auburn and another one in Opelika, a town about 15 miles away. Patrick had a beat up Chevy and on Monday we would hop in his car and donate plasma in Opelika and then, on Thursday, we would walk to the center in Auburn to donate plasma.

So we doubled the amount we could earn despite the prohibition on more than one plasma donation per week.

In two hours total I could earn $ 50 per week ($150 in 2006 dollars).

But there was a drawback.

I started getting sick.

I could not recall having been sick enough to take to my bed since I was a little kid. I had begun doing this in March (three months) and ago I started being sick a lot.

First it was a bad cold, which I could not shake; that turned into bronchitis, then it was the flu. Then there were the headaches and I also found myself tired all the time.

But my plasma brought in about $ 200/month; the equivalent of $ 600/month in 2006 dollars.

This was equal to what I earned in slinging pizza in a month so it doubled my income. I banked some of this extra money replenishing my savings account; but about half of it went into the ministry offering plate or for the special needs offering that popped up regularly.

Like the plea to fund the repair to MCM’s twin-engine plane in April described above.

Or the plea the next month (May) to purchase a $ 200,000 meeting house for the new MCM planting in Argentina where apparently God had James Thomas speaking fluent Spanish after one week on site.

Well, we found out in April of 1979 that Auburn had once again exceeded its special needs offering goal by a huge margin and that MCM had been able to replace the blown aircraft engine.

Mike Caulk seemed very pleased and relieved

For my part I had thrown about $ 300 into the special offering for the plane, easily exceeding my required fund-raising quota of $ 200; most of this coming from my plasma money.

The entire ministry had been flogged for cash so that Bob and Joe would not have to fly commercial. I had literally been drained for some of this money.

Well, my grades and finances reached their nadir during  Spring term 1979 as I barely eked out a “2.0” C grade average. But that was enough, at least, to hold my term to term tuition DOT grant in place.

My engineering scholarship was gone forever with two consecutive terms of  grades below the required B average .

Lost.

With my work schedule, my rigorous engineering course of studies and my ministry efforts I also found myself permanently exhausted. And donating four pints of plasma a week was not helping me either.

I was sick and tired all the time.

#29 Heart of Stone

Editors Note: Tikie considered this the most difficult chapter to write in his original blog, and, came near to asking us to excise it . This because it recaps one of the most painful episodes in his life. He allowed us to include it here because he believes it illustrates how authoritarian sociological groups (like MCM), and their members, professing to be on a mission to save humanity, have no compunction about using, or abusing, those who get in their way. Professing his total love of Christ, and his determination to build God’s Kingdom on earth, Tikie callously hurt many of the people who cared most for him. This included, of course, his best friend at Auburn, Sheila.

HEART OF STONE 

“What is moral is that which helps the revolution. What is immoral is that which hinders the revolution.”
Vladimir Lenin

I was almost trotting up to the Hill to get to  Sheila’s dorm.

How dare she phone my parents and get Chris involved in what I was doing with my life.

“Who gave her that right?” I fumed.

I headed through main doors to the women’s dorm and picked up the phone at the reception desk and dialed Sheila’s room.

“Hello?”

It was Sheila.

“Hey, it’s me. I am downstairs, we gotta talk.”

“Oh, hi, Tikie- give me a minute and I’ll be down.”

I looked around the lobby of the dorm. To the left of the main desk were the study carousels. These were private rooms with two chairs and a desk for studying. They were called necking pits because occasionally couples would head there for some serious talking, if you know what I mean. Sheila and I had disturbed a couple half naked in one last spring, and the girl in the carousel was one of her sorority sisters!

We thought it hilarious.

A few minutes after my call Sheila walked out of the elevator door.

“Hi Tik, I was pretty sure you were going to look me up this evening.”

“Let’s get some privacy,” I said, and motioned towards one of the study carousels.

We set down and I looked at her.

There was something different about her that night.

I had never seen this demeanor in Sheila, a sort of timidity, but I brushed that aside as I launched into what I am afraid was an old fashioned tirade.

“Sheila, I just came from seeing my parents; and I am really ticked off at you. What right do you have to call my parents up, get them upset and then have them drive three hours to Auburn just because of some stuff you made up? What in the world were you thinking?”

She paused a moment and said, “Tik, I am really worried about you…we all are.”

“What does ‘we all are’ mean? Are you spokesman for some ‘save Tik’ group? Who is we?” I intoned.

“Tik, relax okay? I mean Mom, your frat brothers, Bill, your big brother [in the frat] and Chris from BSU, why, we are all concerned about you. All of us.”

She took a deep breath and sighed before continuing, “The way you are acting, the way you are talking, the fact that no one ever sees you any more…that’s what concerns us. You have dropped out of sight completely. You never see the people who are your friends, who care the most about you.”

“Look Sheila, thanks for the concern, but you had NO RIGHT to call my poor mother. I left her in tears thanks to you. Now she thinks I am throwing my life away because of the crazy ideas you put in her head.”

She looked down at her lap for just a moment, then she looked back at me with a strained expression.

I noticed that her hands were gripping her armchair so tight I could see the whites of her knuckles.  And when she let go of the arms of the chair her hands were shaking.

“Tik, your mother was not crying because of my phone call. Sure I told her what was going on…but is it possible she was crying because of what is actually happening to you and the way YOU are acting?….and because of what Chris told her? Do you think that might be why she was crying?”

“What did Chris tell my mother that would be so upsetting?” I asked.

“You know what… oh don’t play stupid. He showed her the same thing he  showed me… the newspaper articles about this group. He told me what he heard from other BSU leaders across the SEC.”

She sat back and caught her breath, “Tikie, please for the love of God listen to me. This group, they are not right. There is something wrong there. Of all the people in your life, you can trust me, you know that.  I told you the first night I went to Maranatha that something was not right, remember?”

She reached in her pocket and pulled out a news clipping.

She thrust it in my face.

“Here, read this – it is an article from last week’s University of Florida Student Paper about Maranatha and this Bob Weiner their leader.”

I took it and threw it on the ground.

“What do you expect Sheila? That paper is edited by a bunch of non- believers who hate the things of God. I am not even going to waste my time looking at it. Here is the bottom line Sheila…stay out of my business and  I mean it.

She stiffened.

I softened my tone and spoke gently, “Sheila, listen, these people are true followers of Jesus, I know some of it does not make sense to you right now, at first it did not to me. But we are putting Jesus and the Kingdom ahead of everything.

I reached out for her hand and took it.

Then looking straight in her eyes I said, “Sheila, we are building a real first century church- there has been nothing like what we are doing for the last 19 centuries. Please open your heart and mind to what God is doing. I want you to be part of what God is doing in these end times. I want you and I to be brothers and sisters in the new work that Jesus is doing here on earth in these end times.”

Shelia sighed and leaned forward towards me and put her other hand on my shoulder.

“Tik, I promise you I have prayed about it, and my gut, which never fails me, tells me that this group is bad news. Tik, I believe you are in a cult. I am pleading with you to sit down with Chris (BSU) and Rat(CCC) together. They have agreed to meet with you together to talk you through this. Rat has said that if you are that fired up about Christ that he will see about getting you into one of the Baptist seminaries on a full scholarship when you graduate.”

“I am not going to meet with them. I have made my choice- it is either being hot or cold, I am not going to be lukewarm.”

We pulled away from each other.

I paused and then spoke again, “You have made your choice as well, it seems.”

Then the both of sat there, our eyes locked for a minute, maybe two.

I thought about what Marty had said to me, “You either are for Jesus or against Him.”

It seemed to me that Sheila had made her decision, she was against Him.

Then something astounding happened.

The hard-nosed, funny, cynical, blonde haired, iron women that I knew changed before my eyes.

She dissolved into a little girl.

And the little girl started weeping.

Not crying, not sobbing, but weeping.

I have only seen someone actually weep one other time and that was my mother at my grandmother’s funeral.

Sheila’s sob was a moaning tearful sound that came from deep in her chest. She buried her face in her arms as tears flowed down her cheeks.

I could take yelling, screaming, even a good cry, but this, this was torture.

“Hey Sheila, c’mon,” I started to say.

But before I could begin she looked up at me with tears streaming down her face.

“You know Tikie, I could take it if you were leaving Auburn to go somewhere else, or if you found a girl you were madly in love with and you thought were going to marry. Because at least I would know that Tik was somewhere and that he was being Tik. But I can’t take this anymore, I just can’t take it.”

She was racked with sobs again.

“Take what Sheila, what are you talking about?” I said in a gentle tone.

“This,” she sniffed and she paused for about a minute before she started sobbing again.

Then through those sobs came these words, “You… or not you… but what you have become. The Tik I knew is being erased, there is someone who looks like him, the guy sitting here, but they have changed you Tik, you have become a different person. I don’t know what is happening and worse… I don’t know why it is happening…”

“Sheila I told you that I made a radical commitment to Jesus. Of course I am different, I am a new man, the old has passed away.”

She almost screamed at me between sobs and ran her hands through her hair in a frenzy, “This is EXACTLY what I am talking about damn it! You have become a parrot, spouting off scriptures left and right, correcting everybody, too busy to listen to anyone to have a normal conversation. Too busy saving the world to care about your true friends.”

She started sobbing again and then looked up.

“It’s like they have changed you… changed everything about you.”

“No Sheila, it is Jesus that has changed me.”

“I don’t believe it Tik, they have brainwashed you or something- it’s like they have given you a drug. I could face it if I was losing you to another girl, but this, this…it’s like you have died!”

“What do you mean,” I asked, “you could face losing me to another girl?”

She sat up and looked at me incredulously.

“What’s wrong with you Tik, are you THAT dumb? Do you think I came to your frat house every Saturday night to hear the music? Do you think I asked if we could go to the football game every week because your frat had better seats at the game than my sorority? Do you think I Actually LIKE the food at the War Eagle Cafeteria?”

I just stared at her.

“Are you that STUPID??? Mom and Jenny told me you were but I am just now realizing that they were right. Do I have to spell it out for you in skywriting or something?”

She was almost screaming.

She pulled her arms up and balled her hands into a fist. I was pretty sure she was actually going to throw a haymaker at me.

But then she collapsed again, and put her head into her lap, and murmured, in a soft voice, just barely audible, “Tikie don’t you know that I am in love with you?”

For a moment, just a moment, I almost reached down to hug her and to tell her that there was nothing to worry about, that it was just me here, her old friend Tikie, sitting beside her. That everything would be alright, that we were best friends and nothing could come between us.

I almost did this… I swear I did.

You see the Old Tik was still locked in the little closet but he was jumping up and down and raising Cain about what I was saying just now. What I was doing.

But once again I did not obey that impulse to let my guard down with my best friend, and open up to her about everything, everything, about the good… and the bad things about MCM… and about us.

I did not do this, I regret to say.

I looked at her and simply said in an even tone, “Sheila, my first love is Jesus, and it will never work for us…I cannot be yoked unevenly.”

She gazed up at me and said in a low tone, “Get out Tik, quit torturing me. Just leave me alone… for the love of God… just… get… out.”

I sat there unmoving, staring at her.

Then with her voice rising she pointed her arm at the door and shouted, “I SAID GET OUT!”

And to my shame, I turned around, opened the door, and walked out of Sheila’s life.

I did not exchange a word with Sheila again for over twenty years.

**********
I have contrasted often what I did that afternoon to Christ’s story of the Good Samaritan who saw the bleeding Jew who lay helpless in the road. The Samaritan helped out this wounded fellow human being because the agape love of God filled his heart. But that day, with a heart of stone, I walked right over my hurting, bleeding, best friend, in the name of God’s Kingdom .

You see, I have come to the realization that almost everything I did in MCM was for selfish and ungodly reasons, but done in the name of The Kingdom of God.

 

 

#28 Confronting My Parents

Confrontation

The next day was Thursday and that afternoon I headed to the frat house to start packing.

I planned on moving my stuff from the frat house to the MCM House with the help of one of the single brothers I had struck a friendship with, Miltie, that afternoon.

On my way back from class I noticed a white Mercury with Birmingham plates parked out back of the frat house. My heart jumped and I bounded over to the car.

On the bumper was a sticker reading Auburn Engineers Build Dreams.

It was my parent’s car.

But this weekend was an “away” game for Auburn and they had made no mention of coming to see me.

I shot up the steps through the back door to my room. There was a hand written note taped to my door: “You have visitors in the living room”.

It was in Mom’s handwriting.

I ran down the hall to the living room. This was the show piece of the house and no frat members were allowed in the living room without a date or unless they were with their parents.

It was essentially unused, and pristine, sort of like your grandmother’s living room with the plastic on the furniture waiting for the Pope to visit her.

Through the crack in half-open French doors I caught sight of my parents sitting on a couch, and beside them, in one of the leather chairs, was Chris, the head of BSU.

My blood boiled, I concluded that Mom had called my parents and had them drive to Auburn to try to talk me out of leaving the frat.

I raced back down the hall to Moms’ room and barged in without knocking. Mom looked up from his desk where he was writing in an engineering note-book.

“What do you mean calling my parents and bringing them down here?” I shouted.

“Hold your horses, Tonto.”

Mom pushed back from his desk and in a low steady voice said, “Like I told you Tik on Wednesday,  you are a big boy, and if you don’t want to listen to reason and want to screw your life up, well, that is your business. You are what, almost 20 years old? Go for it. I am done with you. As to who got your parents down here I don’t know, and frankly, I don’t care. But I would suspect Chris (the head of BSU) is the culprit. Now, could you please go see what your Mommy and Daddy want with you and let me have some peace?”

With that I backed out His room and headed back down the hall towards the living room of the frat house.

My mother and father had a struggling business and for both of them to head down here during a work week was very unusual.

I walked into the living room and my father and Chris both stood.

“What in the world are you guys doing here? “I asked, looking back and forth from my mother to my father.

“Well honey,” my mother drawled in her thick Alabama accent, “ when we heard that you were leaving the fraternity and that you were involved in this, this… this…fanatical religious group, why we wanted to come and talk to you about it.”

My father looked me over with a frown on his face and said, in his gravelly voice, “Tik, we are concerned about you. We are very concerned, especially after talking to Chris about this group you are in. He tells us that a number of parents have contacted him about their kids and some strange things this group is doing to them.

I looked at Chris, “Why didn’t you talk to me first before you called my parents? Why bring them all the way down here without even asking me about it Chris?”

My father motioned me to take a seat with the admonition, ”Now Tik just calm down and take a seat, you are not on trial here, we just want to understand what is going on with you. We have heard some disturbing things about how you are behaving and just want to talk things over with you.”

They both took a seat while I took a deep breath and then sat in one of the leather wing chairs just across from the frat’s huge brick fronted fire-place.

Chris sat up in his chair and cleared his throat saying, “First Tik I did not call your parents, they called me. Second, I can’t ever find you to talk to begin with. You dropped out of BSU after the start of term,  you stopped coming to First Baptist Church and you are never here at the frat house. I left numerous notes for you to call me. I have been by here,” and he waved his arms in a sweeping gesture, “at least a dozen times in the last month, but you are never here.”

It was true; I had ignored Chris’ notes and, frankly, I was simply to busy to bother with him.

Besides, he was part of the traditional church that was stuck in the past and why would I ever attend one of his social events that focused on silly games like a Bible scavenger hunt and then watch the group spend most of their time gossiping amongst themselves?

Chris slowly opened a folder he had in his lap.

“I showed your parents these articles when we met this morning.”

The folder was full of newspaper clippings.

I could see one entitled Aggressive Recruiting Tactics Worry Campus Administrators and another spilled out the headline: Cult or Campus Ministry? A Question Hangs Over Maranatha Christian Ministries. There appeared to be a half dozen, maybe more, clippings in the folder. The articles appeared to be from campus newspapers of around the southeast including the Universities of Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi State.

“Not only do I have concern about Maranatha,” Chris said as he leafed through the clippings, “but so does Auburn’s Administration and other campus administrations as well. I spoke to BSU directors at Florida , Ole Miss, Georgia, and Miss State. They all say the same thing. This group is very aggressive and they draw idealistic young people in, change them, and then cut them off from friends and parents. Many drop out of school after joining the group and then, in a year or two, they packed them off to start Maranatha sites at some other campuses. Many parents, whose children join Maranatha, have no idea what their kids even are anymore.”

My Mom had tears in her eyes and my Dad had a very grim expression on his craggy face.

Chris leaned forward with his hands folded on his knees and said in a low voice, “Martin  [the frat RA we called “Mom”] says that you quit coming to all frat functions last month and then you showed up at this week’s chapter meeting and resigned as President and as a member. You know I am no fan of fraternities Tik, but you love this place and you were a great influence here. I am afraid these guys from Maranatha are playing on your idealism, naiveté and your desire to make something out of yourself.”

Chris paused.

All I could hear was the ticking of the grandfather clock across the room.

“Do you really know what Maranatha is ?” Chris asked after a moment.

My face turned red.

“Yeah, actually I do Chris. They are the over comers the Bible talks about in Acts. That are the first century church I heard about in high school. They are living, or trying to live, the real Christian life, they are totally committed to Jesus, that is who they are.”

I looked at my mother. “Mama, do you remember how I became a Christian when I was twelve?”

Of course she did, she had wept with joy that night. My mother was, and is, a very gentle kindly and Godly woman.

“Well, for the next seven years I did not bring one person, not one person to Jesus. If fact I never even witnessed. And in the last four weeks fifteen people, FIFTEEN, have become Christians because of my witness. I am talking about some hard-core partiers. So, Chris, I know this: that the brothers and sisters of MCM are making a real stand for Christ.  They are not PRETEND Christians I see all around me.”

This was a real slap at Chris and the BSU but he showed no reaction. He simply took his glasses off and polished them with the edge of the cardigan sweater he was wearing.

He waited a good minute before speaking.

“Tik” he said, “We are not here to minister to those that are well, but to the sick. To those who need a place to come for fellowship in college. We take kids as they are, not as we WANT them to be. The kids at BSU are here to get an education first and foremost. I would be careful about deciding who is a real Christian and who is, as you put it, a PRETEND Christian. Ultimately, the Bible tells us that only God knows the heart. And we can only look at the fruit of a person’s life but we CANNOT know their hearts.”

“Exactly Chris. But as you say we can look at the fruit. How many of the BSU Kids are witnessing and converting people, like the first century Christians did? NONE OF THEM!, that is how many. And the reason what I am doing looks so different to you is that I am actually living the Christian life of the first century. Every… single…day.”

Chris shook his head and said “Tikie who told you bearing fruit had anything to do with converting people? I…”

But My father cut Chris off before he could finish.

“Son, I am concerned that you are letting your schoolwork go. Martin [that is, Mom, our frat RA] told Chris you are missing classes and that your grades are down. Your scholarship is very important. Your classwork has to come first. It’s your future.”

“You are wrong Dad, the Bible says ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and all these other things will be added unto you.”

“Are you sure,” asked Chris,” that you what are seeking IS the Kingdom of God? Is Maranatha the Kingdom of God?”

“Well,” I said, “it is a lot closer to the kingdom than First Baptist or the BSU where everyone sits around talking about who is dating whom, who kissed who, and the latest football score.”

My father, stood up and crossed his arms over his chest and glared at me.

Then in his Korean War commander’s voice he spoke, “Now I think you ought to drop this crazy thing right now and get back to real life. You have a lot of great things going for you. Don’t throw your life and your future away.”

I knew I was about to get the, “How hard it was in the depression talk and how I had the opportunity that he never had,” lecture from my father. I was not going to listen to any lecture from father right now. And, I thought, I don’t have to.

So I took an unfair shot at my kind, loving and caring parents; I am ashamed to say.

“Dad, guess what? I pay my own way in this world and have for the last two and a half years. I love you and Mom but this is what I am doing and that is that …and frankly I am my own person. I don’t need your advice and I don’t want it.”

My Mom started crying, the tears running down her cheeks, and through her tears she said, “But Honey, we are so concerned about you. And what about Sheila? She was so upset last night when she called us. She begged us to come down to see you. She thinks you are in real trouble. She is so worried about what you are doing and this group you are in. She says that they have brainwashed you, she thinks this group is a cult like those moon heads selling flowers on the road. And that poor girl was sobbing so hard on the phone last night she could hardly get her breath to speak. It almost broke my heart.”

So that was it, heh?

Sheila was nosing into my business; calling and upsetting my parents; meddling in my life. She had rejected the gospel and what I was doing and now she was trying to get in the way of God’s calling on me.

Did she not have any decency left  in her?

My parents left after about an hour of fruitless talk.

It was not a conversation; we just talked at each other. I would not listen to them. And although they listened carefully to what I had to say they simply could not understand what was going on with me. All they could see was that their son, who seemed to have everything going for him, was heading down a completely different, and, to them, a bizarre path, throwing away what they called, “An opportunity of a lifetime.”

I did not even wave goodbye to them when they left or even shake Chris’s pro-offered hand.

I stalked out of the frat house and headed for “the hill”.

I was fuming.

I was planning on giving Sheila a piece of my mind.

 

#27 Robbing the Poor for Jesus

Editor’s Note: In this chapter Tik reveals one source of MCM’s income but not its only, or even its most important, revenue source. In a later post Tik goes into detail on how MCM derived revenue from its operations and describes MCM’s  business model. None the less this chapter demonstrates how destructive sociological groups use member’s money not only to enrich themselves but to also impoverish members which in turn, makes these members even more dependent on the group.

The night, after the uproar at my Frat House, I attended another Maranatha Service hosted by Joe Smith.

Joe had been at Auburn for about three weeks, preaching, prophesying and healing.

At that service that I was hailed like a conquering hero.

I was brought up on stage by Mike Caulk and Joe Smith who announced to the capacity crowd that, “This is what an overcoming Christian looks like. Tik, here, has taken a radical stand in his frat, he has seen many people in his frat saved and brought out of the frat. Because of this he is being persecuted and God has called him to shake the dust from that place off his sandals.”

Maybe I was being persecuted…but I also had stopped doing my work as President.

The fact of the matter was that no one in the frat was suggesting that I leave the frat because I was involved in Maranatha. But they WERE suggesting that if I were going to accept room and board for being President that I should attend to my duties.

It was that simple.

Up on stage Joe got that far away prophet look of his, and with a beaming smile said, “You know Tik I believe that the Lord has a word for you.”

He then placed his hands on my head.

I looked up at him expectantly.

“Thus saith the Lord of Hosts I am well pleased with my servant Tik for he has been obedient to my call and I have given him the first fruits. You have become a mighty warrior for me and yea the enemy is now fleeing from you. And behold, I am calling you as a mighty evangelist and I say that if you are faithful to me, and if you bear fruit, and if you are faithful to my Body, I, the Lord God of Hosts, will use you mightily and thousands will be saved because of your ministry.”

It was a thrilling prophecy.

This was especially so since it was coming from the number two man at Maranatha and it’s chief prophet. Essentially the prophesy said that I was being called to full time ministry.

Being called to full time service was a huge thing in the MCM hierarchy, for it meant that you had God’s anointing, the same anointing that, perhaps, Silas and Paul had possessed.

Of course, as you probably noticed, and I did not at that time, there were a whole bunch of “ifs” tied to being full time: “if” I was faithful to God, “if” I bore fruit, and “if” I was faithful to the Body, then yes, I would be a full time evangelist.

After the service I spoke with Marty about the arrangements for moving into the Maranatha House.

There were about 15 brothers living there in 20 rooms at the House. Five of my frat brothers, following my example were leaving the frat. Three of them would move into the Maranatha House to live. The other two were living off campus. They would not be moving in to the Maranatha House because of lease considerations.

The rent at the Maranatha house was $ 85 per month, about $100 less than the frat house rent for a room/month.

The catch was that the savings were illusory; because I had not had to pay rent since my freshman year because as Rush Chairman last year (a job that actually took more time than being President) and, as President this year, I got a free ride for rent and food.

Now my food at MCM would cost about $ 100/month. The single brothers and sisters pooled their money and took turns cooking and cleaning up. And  single brothers and sisters would eat their meals at the House every evening. Once again this was cheaper than the frat house, but since my meals were part of my free “package” as frat president, it actually cost me money.

Back at the frat house that night I did the calculations. This was going to cost me at least $ 185 per month and I currently had about $ 700 in the bank. Enough for five months- but without ANY spending money left over. No trips home, no phone calls no nothing.

Oh, and there was ONE other thing I have forgotten to mention.

Something that had happened after one of the services that week.

Marty had pulled me aside after a service and said, “Brother, we need to talk about something.”

“Okay,” I said and we went into main office on the first floor.

He shut the door. “You know Tik, everything we have belongs to God.”

Then he pointed out a scripture in James and read loud, “Every good and perfect gift comes from God.”

“All we have comes from God- and God asks that we give a portion of it back to Him.” He pointed to the scripture in Malachi that said bring your tithes to the store house. He also then referenced the scripture that states that if you fail to tithe you are, “…robbing from God.”

I just looked at him.

I believed everything he said, for goodness sake I was raised a Southern Baptist and they preached on tithing and giving like nobody’s business.

“I believe what you are saying is true, Marty.”

“Maybe so Tik, but I have been watching you the last two weeks and I have not seen you put any money into the offering.”

“Marty, there is a simple reason for that, I don’t have any money and I have zero income,” I laughed. It was true- other than selling books door to door in the summer for a Bible publishing company I had zero income.

“How are you going to school then? How are you paying your way?” he asked.

I explained to him my free ride at the Frat and told about my engineering scholarship money and the fact that I worked a job in the summer to save enough for spending money during the year.

Marty said, “God is not going to bless you unless you return a portion of your money to him. You should plan on giving at least 10% every week of what you have every week- and then also give money above this- this additional giving is called an offering. He read the scripture to me out of Malachi that described tithes and offerings.

“Otherwise you are not being obedient to God.”

Marty was dead serious.

He meant that if I did not give money to Maranatha I was robbing from God and was being disobedient.

I said, “Marty I am not sure how I am going to pull this off.”

“Brother lets pray that God will work this out.”

And we prayed. But my mind continued to worry this like a dog picking at a bone.

On the way home I continued to recite the scripture that, “God will take of my needs according to His riches in glory.”

#26 Walking Away

November 1978

On all my mid-term I scored grades of Cs and Ds. Mathematically I knew that pulling my grades up to a B average for this term was impossible.

And Sheila?

Well, other than one or two lunch meetings, and a note or two for her and from her, we were incommunicado.

In fact I pretty much had cut myself off from my former friends and they had cut themselves off from me.

Other than my Christian clan  all of the frat members avoided me. And JD was leading the charge to have me thrown out as President.

I spoke to Marty, my shepherd in Maranatha, about JD’s plan to impeach me; but he showed me numerous scriptures that demonstrated that, “We overcoming Christians will be persecuted and scorned for our Kingdom work.”

Furthermore, he said that I should rejoice in what was happening and, besides, at least fifteen people had come to Jesus because of me and my stand.

Marty said, “Those souls you have played a part in bringing to Jesus are eternal stuff, Kingdom stuff, and the very proof that God is leading you in His powerful work.” He then quoted the scripture about the flowers not having to toil and work.

The day before the monthly Frat business meeting I told Marty, “I have to miss the Maranatha service tonight.”

He did not like it, but when  I told him I had to be there and that it would be a chance for me to witness to 120 frat members he smiled and said, “God’s blessing on it, I bear witness to this decision, Tik.”

That was MCM speak for, “Okay you can do it.”

And, as it turned out, this was to be my last frat chapter meeting.

As I walked into the chapter room I saw JD sitting at the ornate desk used by the frat President and about 120 brothers, lined up in in row upon row of folding chairs, facing the small raised speaker’s platform.

“Oh,” JD said as he stood up from the ceremonial president’s chair, “I was getting used to sitting here. This certainly is a surprise seeing you here Tik and it is not even dinner time!”

Laughter reverberated throughout the room.

The meeting moved along in a boring fashion just like every other chapter meeting I had attended since being initiated as a frosh.

I called the members to order and the treasurer and members of the house corporation made their presentation. Usual stuff: money in, expenses out, we were going to have to replace the roof next year, and eventually the air conditioning system, which was on its last leg.

Then the new business session started as I slammed down the gavel on the small table to my right .

JD immediately stood up from his front row officer’s seat walked to the speaker’s platform and, like an attorney making a plea before a jury thundered, “Brothers I have a serious charge to make and I want to bring a motion to the floor.”

He stood for a moment looking around the room and tucked his thumbs into his belt loop before going on, “Our President, Tik Tok, has been derelict in his duties, he has been absent from almost all activities over the last month, he would hardly qualify as an active member much less as a President. I would like to move that we bring a vote of impeachment against him and then vote to remove him from office.”

Well the place went crazy, with a small group of my pledge brothers defending me; but none of my Christian frat clan because they were all at the Maranatha Service that was now underway.

I looked over at Mom and, as usual during a chapter meeting, he was saying nothing, just stroking his red mustache, seated in a stuffed wing back chair just to my right.

It went back and forth, and I, in my Maranatha arrogance, thought of Jesus being,“Silent before his accusers”.

It is embarrassing for me now that I was comparing myself to Jesus and the martyrs for the faith; but there you have it. They were innocent of the charges against them, but I was guilty as charged that night.

For the truth I had been given a job for which I was paid in free room and board, and had, for all intents and purposes, walked away from this job.

JD was rallying his forces and everyone was jabbering and interrupting each other and it looked like they could get a vote for a move to start impeachment proceedings when Mom stood up and then walked next to where I was seated.

Mom rarely spoke at these meetings, other than to occasionally pull two quarreling members apart before they came to blows.

He placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “Hold it brothers. Tik here has not said a word. Brothers, if Tik will commit to doing his duties, to making all our events, to attending all chapter and business meetings, can we just drop this garbage.? This is going to tear our frat in half.”

The place went silent. And everyone looked at me.

What was I could I say?

I hardly had time to breathe with the 40 hours plus of MCM activities, and I was falling further and further behind in my studies. I knew that it truly was either Maranatha or the fraternity. There was hardly time for my studies; much less my job as Frat President, that was apparent.

I needed to take a stand here in front of my accusers, it seemed to me. Isn’t that what Bob had said the first day I met him, “To be either hot or cold but not lukewarm?”

The reality was that the frat held no appeal for me anymore.

Maranatha was the eternal stuff, the real stuff, the Kingdom, and Jesus, and changing the world. Saving souls, right?????

And I made what I confess to be a snap decision.

In the world I was now inhabiting, the world of radical overcoming Christianity, the World of Seeking First the Kingdom, the World of God supplying everything I needed, the world of making Jesus Lord of All, why, my decision made perfect sense.

But to all my frat friends, to “Mom”, to everyone who knew me before MCM entered my life, it was an insane decision.

It seems insane to me now- looking back at that night.

I swallowed and looked up at the 120 faces staring at me.

“Fellows,” I said softly from my seat, “JD is right. I have been neglecting my duties. ”

“I have been neglecting them because I have a new life  for I am a now radical follower of Jesus. And that new faith makes it impossible for me to act as President. So I resign effective immediately.”

No one said a thing. Not a person moved or seemed to breath. I could  feel Mom’s hand on my shoulder; his grip tightening there.

“Not only that I have come to realize over the last four weeks that this fraternity is no place for me to be. It has no appeal to me. I am seeking the things of God, and again, I invite you all to seek Him with me. Because of my commitment to Jesus I am also resigning my membership in the fraternity immediately.”

Bedlam broke loose.

JD let out a loud laugh and three of my friends, members of BSU, walked over and tried to speak with me.

But I pushed past them, ignoring Mom’s plea of, “Tik hold your G*d d*amned horses” and walked over to where JD stood.

I handed the ceremonial gavel to JD.

“It’s your’s now JD,” I whispered and then walked out of the chapter room and down the hall to my sleeping room.

I locked the door, took my phone off the hook, and knelt to pray, ignoring four or five knocks that pounded on my door for the next hour or so.

I was relieved that I confronted the issue of ignoring my duties head on.

And I would talk to Marty about moving into the Maranatha House in the morning.

But I had a nagging fear as I stood up from an hour of prayer to crawl into bed.  How in the world would I come up with the money for room and board now?

As I went to sleep that night I recited the scripture, “He will supply all my needs according to his riches in glory.”

I was leaving the fraternity and walking away from the world.

False Healings

 

Editor’s Note: Tikie shows us another MCM “ritual”, that of the healing ministry. Tikie believes that these public spectacles were performed to demonstrate that the leadership of MCM was anointed with God’s power to heal people; the same power that Christ had. For if the leadership was anointed with God’s power who could stand against them? Tikie tells us that even in his most “addled phase” of being an MCM member that he never really thought that the the healing ministry was real. He thinks that Joe Smith may have convinced himself that he had some bizarre healing gift, or perhaps Joe knew it was all a sham. Tikie is unsure of this. But Tikie is convinced that most, if not all, of the MCM sheep were fervent in their belief in God’s anointing on the MCM leadership to heal the sick. Repeatedly seeing people healed at services reinforced the hold that leadership kept on the flock.

False Healings

At the service that night Joe Smith preached and then spoke about four or five one on one prophesies. How many of these prophecies were correct and how many were false only God knows.

But when he had finished the last prophecy he looked up and said “God is telling me that someone has back trouble and that He wants to heal that person.”

An older woman stood up immediately and walked to the stage.

“God is telling me that your back is hurting here,” and he pointed to her lower back.

“That’s right” she said. “I have had a nagging back problem for years. I have had it x-rayed and checked by doctors but nothing can be found or done about it.”

Joe pulled a chair up on stage. He had her sit down.

“Now put your legs straight out parallel to the ground,” he said.

She did so and he knelt down where her feet were.

“Aha,” he said, “Just like God told me. Your legs are of different lengths.”

“I am going to pray and ask God to lengthen and straighten your shorter leg” he said.

The “beehive” of prayers started in the congregation and I could hear “yes Dear Jesus and “please Dear Lords” being spoken around me.

“I command this leg to grow in the MIGHTY NAME OF JESUS!”

Joe had a hand on each foot and the lady’s legs were sticking straight out. And there seemed to be a movement of one leg.

“Did you feel it?” Joe shouted out.

“I did!!!” She cried.

“Stand up” shouted Joe.

She stood up.

“Run around the stage!”

She took off running little bunny hops around the stage.

“How’s your back feel?” he asked.

“I’m healed, no pain” she screamed, raising her hands. “Praise Jesus!!!!”

Well of course the crowd went nuts as they did about every “miracle, sign and prophecy” that took place at MCM.

We all wanted to believe that God was moving at MCM in a special anointing. But the old Tik, from his now locked closet, was disgusted at the spectacle that night.

What “he” had seen was a cross between a “carnival show” and a poor imitation of Oral Roberts.

And I will let you in on a secret that I now know, and perhaps you know it as well. My company works with orthopedic and spinal surgeons. I have a number of surgeons that I not only know well, but am good friends with.

Here is the secret: There is not a person on earth whose legs are the same length. And the method Joe used to measure the length is so imprecise as to be laughable.

The other fact is that 80% of the adult population in the US over the age of 30 will suffer some back pain this year.

It keeps Tylenol and Advil in business.

I believe that God heals.

I also believe that God has given us the gift of medicine and has given doctors the gift of healing. I will let you draw your own conclusion about Joe Smith and that night. Maranatha was big time into healing, and the  demonstration of that gift, for it was a sign of God’s anointing and power.

But in the five years I that I observed both Joe Smith’s and Maranatha’s healing ministry I never saw the” blind made to see” or, “the lame to walk”.

I saw a lot of “proclaimed healings’ but none that ever convinced me, the “old Tik”,  now relegated to that the closet in my mind.

And I remain convinced that not a single “supernatural” stage show healing ever took place in MCM.

Ever.

It was nothing more, or less, than a spectacle to show that God’s anointing was on the leadership of MCM; plain and simple.

#23 False Teaching

Editors note: Tikie now discusses some of the false teachings given by MCM leadership. The larger point is not the teachings themselves, but rather how these teachings were used to reinforce the power of the leadership and to extend that power down through the MCM hierarchy of elders, pastors and sheep. These tactics are common amongst sociological cults: set the leadership up as infallible; ensure that their directives are seen as coming straight from an unimpeachable source, and then make it impossible for their followers to confront, or even question, the leadership’s actions or motives.

The False Teachings of Joe Smith 

Prophets and Apostles

At the rest of the Maranatha services that week Joe Smith cited the fact that MCM, just like the first century church, had apostles and prophets anointed by God and filled with the Spirit.

And, he stated, there was a clear reason for this.

“My brothers and sisters the Bible says that God’s church is ‘built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone,” said Joe, quoting Paul in the book of Ephesians.

“And any true church, any overcoming church, any church that is the real Body of Christ therefore must have apostles and prophets or it has no solid  foundation. So these fake, watered down, Christian have no real foundation; for without leaders anointed with His Spirit they cannot demonstrate God’s power and His Word.”

Joe frowned, and then paused, and then looked up at us for at least a minute, his head turning slowly back and forth as he gazed out at the congregation from the stage.

In response to this the whole congregation seemed to lean up, on the very edge of their seats, to see what Joe would say next.

Then suddenly Joe’s face broke into a broad smile and his eyes lit up like a kid seeing a birthday cake with candles and he shouted, “But praise God His Spirit has given His church, His new work on earth elders, apostles, and prophets to provide a firm foundation! AMEN AND AMEN!!”

The congregation then broke into loud applause with shouts of, “Praise God and Hallelujah,” while Joe stepped back and took a long drink of water from a glass on the podium.

Then he leaned back over the podium and raised his hand palm up  and just as suddenly as the crowd had erupted with their approval- it once again became silent.

“Therefore my brothers and sisters you can take comfort that God is directing His work through His anointed elders, not those appointed by man’s power, and that, because of this, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church of God that is doing his work today!” As he finished a slow smile, and a look of satisfaction, spread across his face while the music kicked in and the ushers began collecting the offering.

******

Only true Christians will rule and reign with Jesus

Joe Smith, that week, also taught us that how we, God’s Green Berets, would, “Literally rule the Nations as Princes,” since we were now, “The Sons and Daughters of God”. We would literally (and he meant physically) make, “The wicked bow before us after His return,” Joe told us.

“So church you see that the old dead mainline churches’  idea of namby pamby Christians sitting round on clouds, strumming little golden harps, and singing their little sweet songs for eternity is a lie from hell! But, my brothers and sisters, it is clear that if you want to rule and reign with Jesus then you have to be an overcomer in today’s world!”

Joe quoted First John, “Little children, let no one deceive you: The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as Christ is righteous.”

And then he combined it with this admonition from Ephesians, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

“Note brothers and sisters the phrase ‘parents in the Lord,” said Joe.

“Who are your parents in the lord?” he asked us .

Then quickly answering his on question he stated, “Well Jesus clearly tells us that we must be willing to leave our father and mothers… so the apostle Paul cannot be referring to your earthly parents.”

“No it is very clear from the Word that your parents in the Lord are your shepherds who provide for your spiritual safety,”  Joe continued.

“So flock you see that if we practice that Christian righteousness and if we obey our parents in the Lord then we will rule and reign with Jesus as the Sons and Daughters of God when He returns.”

“Isn’t that a wonderful thought? Can you say AMEN CHURCH?… WE WILL RULE AND REIGN WITH HIM AND THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST HIM IF WE SIMPLY KEEP HIS COMMANDMENT!”

And the place went berserk as music kicked in and we all joined in singing John Saw the Multitude of the Overcomers and soon the crowd spilled out into the aisles dancing that MCM Hebrew jig in their excitement of learning that they would rule and reign with Christ.

But despite my addled state much I had heard that night concerned me. And even as I was dancing in the aisle with my new found Christian brothers and sisters I was troubled by Joe’s pronouncements.

For Joe made had it clear that those who were, “Not in right standing with Christ  could not, and would not, be Sons and Daughters of God”.

And who, or what, determined if a person was or was not in right standing with Christ?

It seemed clear as to who determined a sheep’s standing with Christ; Their shepherd and the elders that were over the shepherd…right on up the line to Joe Smith, Bob Weiner and Bob Nolte: the Apostles and Prophets of MCM.

And the what that a sheep did to keep their standing with Christ  seemed to mean obeying God’s word as given by the elders of MCM.

Those were serious long term issues that I should have been worried about at a that point.

But there were actually more pressing issues that evening I had not considered yet; my job as President of my frat.

Because things were heating up at the frat.

And I would soon learn that I could ignore my duties as frat president for only so long.

#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.

#6 The Line- October 17, 1978

Bob and Randy drove off and I walked back into the fraternity house.

Becky, the girl who had stood up with me during Bob’s service, sat in the corner of the dining room talking to Ellen and Vicky from the Praise Band. I started to walk over to speak to them but I could see they were deep in prayer or something. Both Vicky and Ellen had their eyes closed as they murmured softly. So I made a U-turn and headed up stairs.

I had finally seen someone take a radical stand for Christ. I realized that was a phrase I had heard Randy ask me about the past Saturday at the frat house, “Tik, are you willing to take a radical stand for Christ Tik? Are you?”

They were not kidding about radical stands, I thought.  I had never met anyone like Bob; he seemed to know exactly the right words to say to a person. He was unlike anyone I had met in church work with beautiful clothes… and he drove a Mercedes, to boot.

What’s more the four or five people I met thus far from MCM could have stepped out of modeling ads.  They all looked like presidents of Frats, jocks, cheerleaders or homecoming queens. The MCM team  seemed so different from members of the  staid Christian groups I knew.

In fact that was exactly what the evangelizing teams, the out front people, almost always were at MCM.

In MCM terms they were the “sharps” as in, “He is a really sharp one.” The plain-looking or normal people found themselves in the role of backstage servants.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

A couple of my frat brothers asked me why I had let Bob pray over me.

“You are a religious guy Tik, now ole Darrell,” they were speaking of our resident party animal, “now he could have done with a good dose of that hell fire salvation!”

With that comment they all broke into laughter.

I started to explain to them what happened but then decided not to.

Now every Tuesday evening our Fraternity hosted a date dinner night for the brothers and their girl friends. My date that night (and almost every date night over the last two years it turned out) was my “almost” girlfriend, Sheila, whom I had met two years before at a freshman Student Government meeting called Freshman Forum.

Her role as President of one the oldest, and most prestigious, sororities on campus, along with our friendship, had helped bring our two organizations together this past year for a campus wide fund-raiser. Although my Frat was a big one and considered good it could not compete with the older more established fraternities in terms of prestige.

But our joint party with Sheila’s sorority had raised our status on campus and that had shown at this fall’s rush when a record number of pledges signed up to join our fraternity.

Sheila and I hit it off when we met had became fast friends  over the last two years. As a member of CCC (now know as CRU) she shared my Christian values and usually, after the date night dinner at the frat, we attended “Rat” Riley’s massive Bible Study~ cum social affair. Sheila and I sort of dated but had always been friends. We were never boy/girlfriend in the “love” sense.

At least as far as I was concerned.

I walked to the Hill, where the sororities were, to pick Sheila up. A pretty and petite girl with short blond hair her south Alabama accent would melt sugar. I was not in love with her, but I sure was in “like” with her because she was funny, smart and modest  with a straight “A” pharm school major.

On our walk back to the frat house for dinner I told her what had happened in the Frat house at lunch with Bob and the Praise Band.

Her reaction caught me off guard when she said, “Tik it sounds really interesting; I’ve seen their posters all over campus and saw them playing on the quad last week. I know that my friends at CCC are not sure what to make of them.”

And lowering her southern drawl  to a whisper, “They say they are pretty sure that they are Pentecostal, ya know, speaking in tongues and shouting and all that.”

She got that cute grin that I really liked.

After dinner that I sprung the news to her.

“Sheila I know we were going to Rats’ tonight but I promised Bob and Randy that I would check out their service at the Maranatha House. They have a great band and Bob is preaching on the Great Commission.”

Sheila paused, grinned and said, “Okay, let’s go give it a try.”

So we walked down West Magnolia Street to the MCM House just about a mile away.

The sun was going down and at the bottom of the hill, just across from Ross Engineering Hall (both are now gone), stood the lit up MCM House. The house, bathed by spotlights, had its front doors open wide allowing golden light to spill out onto the lawn from the interior. A fair-sized crowd milled around outside; probably about 100 people or so mingled on the lawn. As we got closer we heard up tempo music playing and the buzz of conversation and laughter.

I briefly looked around the front yard for someone I knew, but recognized no one, so I took Sheila by the hand and led her into the house.

The bright floral wall paper in the entry hall struck me immediately as being out-of-place in a church as we entered into what looked like the sitting room of a Frat House.

High backed wing chairs, brass lamps and an overstuffed couch filled the room. Water color paintings and prints lined the walls of the entry way. I learned that Rose Weiner, Bob’s wife, had chosen all the decor. Later people told me this in hushed and awed tones. This all before the MCM asset lite era that began in the early 1980s.

I looked up and saw Randy waving to me. To his side stood a girl with high cheek bones, almost white blonde hair pulled back in one of those sorority like head bands, with long slender legs that seemed to reach her armpits. Yet another Maranatha beauty! It turned out the blonde girl was a former U of F Cheerleader who had joined the MCM Florida ministry last spring. This Gainesville ministry was the newest planting by MCM and had opened about a year earlier. Randy engaged me in conversation about the rest of my day and Bob’s sermon at the frat house that afternoon. He told me that, “The amazing response we are getting on campus is proof that the Holy Spirit is moving through MCM.”

When I looked up from our conversation I saw that the blond MCM girl had whisked my date Sheila away. I could now see them across the crowded room surrounded by a group of girls. Then the music cranked up and Randy ushered me to a seat. I looked around and could barely see Sheila through the standing crowd; she gave me grin and a wave from across the room.

The Praise Band kicked in and sang a beautiful song about the harvest of souls and (this was pre-power point, but high-tech at the time) someone cut on an overhead projector and words to a praise and worship song shown on a screen. The song being belted out was a new one to me: “Jesus, Name Above All Names.” Then the band leader yelled out, “Everyone stand up!” and we stood in unison and sang one song after another.

Boy, this was not the old “three hymns and a sermon” Baptist service!

Suddenly Bob jumped (and I mean jumped!) onto the stage and said, “Now we want to bring some folks up here and tell you about the great things that God is doing on this University. AMEN!!?

And the crowd shouted back ,”AMEN!!!!” amidst clapping and laughter.

This place is really hopping,” I thought.

People laughed and shouted back at Bob and then a girl stepped up onto stage. Depressed and contemplating suicide she met a MCM girl who shared the gospel of the  total lordship of Jesus with her. She said that she really had not understood who Jesus was but, “Now He was not just her Savior but Lord of ALL.”

Bob grabbed the microphone from her and shouted into it, “That’s right my sister if He is not Lord of ALL He is not LORD AT ALL!” and handed the microphone back to her.

“And tonight,” she continued, ” I will have the burden of sin cut away from me’ [shouts of, “That’s right sister” and “Praise God”’] and I will become a true Daughter of Zion one of the chosen ones of God!”

She was beaming and everyone broke into wild applause; in fact I found myself applauding even though I did not understand much of the stuff she was talking about.

And I thought I knew my Bible, at least the NT, pretty well.

It sounded something like the revival services I went to as a kid but the terminology was all new to me such as, “Cutting my burden of sin away,” and being a “True daughter of Zion” and “He is Lord of all or not Lord at all.” I did not know it at the time but my first dose of Latter Day Rain theology was administered that night !

Then came another upbeat song when suddenly Bob Winer again literally leapt onto the stage and launched into a sermon.

His sermon that night has merged into the many, many sermons I heard him give in the next few years at new church plantings. But the outline I just about have memorized!

However, Bob’s preaching a sermon is like calling the movie “The Lord of the Rings” a documentary I can tell you.

He started by telling how he started seeking for life’s answers  as a washed up Hippie and converted during the Jesus movement of the late 60s. That he was a full-blooded Jew and thus called to preach to the Jews and the Gentiles… like Paul. He and his new wife started a Youth Group in a Methodist Church and that group fell away from Jesus and the Faith when he left for a trip.

That he and Rose (his wife) prayed and fasted for a week  and they cried out to God to show them what was wrong with the church and Christianity today and why their converts had fallen away.

And he told how God begin showing him through the scriptures that a real New Testament church was sold-out and fully committed to Jesus. God told him that today’s churches were the white washed tombs Jesus spoke of with disdain.

He quoted Jesus who said, “The Son of Man has no place to lay His head,” and said that the parable of bride-maids who waited on the bride reflects the posture of His true church  and that, “The young man who wanted to go back to bury his father reflected mainline Christianity’s view of life.”

AND“, shouted Bob, “do you know what Jesus told that religious young man? LET THE DEAD BURY THE DEAD.”

As he wove this story his voice would peak up and down; pulling you hard one way, and then gently another; inviting you too,”Understand that God is calling you… you… and YOU.

I looked at my watch; he had preached for one hour; but it seemed to me like five minutes had passed.

Everything Bob said appealed to what I knew, or thought I knew, of how a New Testament church should operate. He drew a stark comparison between a true New Testament church and the watered down Christianity I  was seeing around me.

Finally Bob spoke a brief prayer and then issued a summons, saying to the crowd, “Don’t be a member of the wicked and perverse generation. But I warn you it is better to be ice cold towards Jesus than to be luke warm because He said, “I will spew the luke warm out of my mouth!

This all rang true to me and as the service ended with a rousing song Randy put his arm around my shoulder and leaned over and said, “Tik, we both know God is speaking to you.”

“He has presented you with a choice tonight. The Bible says that God orders your steps. I would like to share with you what it really means to be a sold out Christian, a true first century overcomer. Everything I will show you will come strictly from the Bible. No opinion… it will scripture strictly relating what God says about being a follower of Jesus and what  God is saying to YOU tonight.”

I scanned the room for Sheila and did not see her.

“But I have a date here…,” I started to say.

“I understand and if you want to find her and leave that is fine,” he murmured. But there was a question in his voice… as if this were a test.

It was.

“Well,” I said, “I would love to hear more about it.”

“Let’s go upstairs,” and he motioned towards the stairwell and, as he did, another guy walked to my side. This person was Sam who I later found out was one of the associate pastors.

And with that the three of us headed upstairs.