I Hit Bottom
You may recall that my missing a shepherding meeting early in my experience with MCM had earned a rebuke from Marty, MCM Auburn administrator and my shepherd.
But that was all that came of it.
However, later on whilst I was still slinging pizzas 25 hours/week and with a full-time school load, I was thirty minutes late to set chairs up for a midweek evening service.
The rule was that the chairs must be set up by 6:00 pm in order to not interfere with the music group’s 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm pre-meeting rehearsal.
Well I did not get there until 6:00 and I proceeded to set up chairs during the music group’s warmup. Matt (the leader) did not say one word to me as I humped it to complete the chair set up in record time.
Well I get through with the set-up at about 6:45 pm, in time for the 7:00pm service. I am sweating like a pig by this time when suddenly Marty grabs me by the arm and pulls me into his office.
“Brother, you are have lax in your duties; you just completely disrupted the Music Group’s rehearsal and you are setting a poor example for the younger brothers. You need to learn to manage your time more wisely.”
I will tell you that I was dog tired, I was averaging not more than 5 hours of sleep a night, my Tuesday structures lab had run late because of equipment problems and I knew that after this service I would head to the pizza joint for a four hour shift while Marty was doing God knows what.
So I lost it.
“Look Marty, I just finished nine hours of class and study, my lab ran late and after the service, while you are fellowshipping, I will be slinging pizza and will be lucky to get to bed by 1:00 am. How dare you confront me on time management!”
I found my voice rising to a shout.
Which was utterly and completely stupid of me. I had just trashed the ministry administrator and my shepherd. Looking back on it I should have simply said, “Yes brother I was lax and I promise it will never happen again.”
That would have ended it.
In response to my outburst Marty raised his arm and then stabbed a finger into my chest, and with each jab of his finger emphasizing his points saying, “Brother, you have a bad attitude and I sense bitterness toward the ministry and what is God is doing here… What time will you get back tonight? [he meant from my pizza job]”
“Midnight,” I answered.
And thus was birthed my first “hootah session*” …to cast out demons of rebellion out of me.
For those of you who did not endure one or for those who are clueless about this MCM ritual, I will inflict this description of my hootah session on you.
First rest assured that Marty was not going to risk taking on these demons alone.
Not a chance on that.
For indeed, unbeknownst to me but knownst to Marty, I had seeds of bitterness and a spirit of rebellion. If left unchecked, these demons would lead to my utter doom, and even worse I was contagious and thus could infect the weaker brothers. For demons it seems are much like the common cold they can leap from brother to brother and perhaps from brother to sister.
So Marty recruited Joe, a morose frat boy convert that I knew and disliked in my earlier life, and Paul a red-haired well-meaning guy who seemed to permanently live in another dimension with angels, visions of God and apparently audible voices from unseen beings.
In other words Paul was a well-meaning, sweet spirited, kook.
Well, I left the service that night feeling pretty upbeat, Mike Caulk’s sermon was a good one. I had calmed down from one of my very rare blow ups. I thought that I should apologize to Marty while explaining that my blow up was caused by a lack of sleep and the pressure I was feeling from my heavy class load.
For when I returned at 1:00 am from my 4 hour pizza shift, smelling like a 160 pound garlic clove, there was Joe, Pat and Marty waiting on me in the entrance way.
Marty stood up when I walked into the floral wall papered entry way.
“Tik, I have been praying about you and have discerned that you are having some real struggles.”
I looked at Mike and then to Joe and Paul. “What in the heck was going on here?” I thought.
“Tik lets step into my office. We are going to pray for you and help you get your life back on track,” Marty continued as he waved us all into his office.
I did not move but instead suggested, “Hey Marty, why don’t Paul and Joe hit the sack? I have thought about what happened earlier and would like to talk to you about it privately.”
Marty pushed his glasses up onto his nose. “Brother I spoke with Mike Caulk about this and we are in agreement that we need to pray over you and break this demonic strong hold over you, for you are in rebellion.”
So we stepped into the office and I sat down in a chair, and the others pulled their chairs up around me.
“Brother,” Marty intoned “You were in rebellion tonight and also exhibited the roots of bitterness. The old man was cut away and you are a new man for certain, but I have discerned demons in your attitude, demons that we must destroy or it will bring death.”
Paul opened his Bible and read a verse, I am too weary to look it up, but it was about the seeds of bitterness leading to death.
I said, “Look guys, I was not planning on getting into this in a group setting but I was simply worn out and tired… and I snapped at Marty. I am sorry, alright? I should not have snapped at you Marty, it was wrong.”
I continued, “But Marty, you might have asked me WHY I was late and maybe shown a little mercy, and maybe have even offered to help me set up the chairs.”
I said this in a reasonable tone, I had long since calmed down. But it was an idiotic thing to say.
Marty, Joe and Pat looked at one another then back at me.
Marty said, “This is EXACTLY what I am talking about Tik. You have a spirit of rebellion. Now you are blaming your sin on others. Your blaming YOUR temper tantrum on me failing to offer help shows that the seeds of bitterness are bearing fruit in your heart. You have obviously been mulling over some perceived slights and it [the demon] is feeding on these thoughts.”
They proceeded to pepper me with questions:
“How was my prayer life, was I praying in the spirit?”
“Was I in the Word enough?”
”How much time was I spending studying?”
“Was I masturbating?”
I had to answer among other things that I was, “Not praying as much when I first joined MCM. That I was to0 busy to pray as much as I wanted to. Blah blah blah!”
Joe chimed in, “But not too busy to play a game of football on Sunday afternoon.”
He was right.
Sunday afternoon I joined the brothers in playing in a football game organized by Miltie Toast and Mike Caulk during the fall and spring. We went out to the drill field and proceeded to try break each other’s legs and collar bones while we slung a football around. This three to four hours after the church service on Sunday morning were the only relaxation I ever took.
They also discerned that I had a spirit of intellectualism because I countered their accusations with facts and made the mistake of mentioning that I was studying twenty-five to thirty hours a week in addition to my classroom time of seventeen hours a week.
“Guys,” I said, ”if you add it up that is 45 hours a week on school, twenty-five to thirty hours a week at Domino’s Pizza and another thirty hours at MCM not counting services. That does not include things like cooking dinner, cleaning up dishes at the communal dinner, or any other thing that pops up in the week that the ministry needs help with.
“That proves it Tik. You are not a good time manager. Why I have As and Bs and only study ten or twelve hours a week,” Joe said.
“But Joe, for goodness sake you are a business major and are taking 10 hours a term. No offense but my course load is a lot harder, I am taking 17 hours and engineering is a lot more strenuous than business.”
You might think that I would have learned to put a sock in it by now.
“Maybe you need to give it up for the Lord Brother and drop out of engineering school. I see a spirit of intellectualism in you as well,” Mike said in a threatening tone.
That did it.
I had to stop this madness or I would end up dropping out of engineering school and majoring in, say, basket weaving.
So I did the smart thing. I surrendered and confessed to the sins of rebellion, idleness, bitterness and mind worship and whatever else they forced me to confess. It was late, I was tired and in the back of my mind the threat of dropping out of engineering school pushed me into submission. I probably would have confessed to making love to the devil’s sister that evening if it would have gotten me out of Marty’s office and into my bed.
So they cast at least three demons out of me. When we finished it was 3:00 am just in time to get three hours of sleep and be up for a shepherding session with Marty’s sheep at 6:00 am.
But at least I was free of demons, right?
And lest you think I am exaggerating; what I just described was not unusual at MCM.
I can assure you it was typical.
*It is my understanding that these demon exorcising sessions became known as “hootah” sessions because when Bob Weiner started speaking in tongues, many times the first words out of his mouth was “Hootah… followed by some nonsensical chant, as in “hootah ala shaba randosomo.”
When Bob was casting demons out of brothers in the early days of MCM he would pray in tongues whilst casting out said demons with an utterance that began with “Hootah…”
Thus was born the name “Hootah session” or so the MCM legend had it.