We are taking over
We are moving out in Love
We are lifting up our Savior
In the Power of God.
None shall stand before us
No more shall we be afraid
We are taking over the nations
In His mighty Name.
A Chorus written for MCM by Bin Soto in the late 1970s
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” Colossians 1:26-31
Maranatha Leadership Training School (MLTS)- seven weeks after I joined MCM
A cadre of five single brothers including three who left the frat with me, Robert, Fred, and Ricky, left Auburn around 3:00 am on a cold November morning for the trip to our first MLTS in Cookeville, TN.
The aging and decrepit 1973 Datsun B210 shook our bones as we chugged up the highway (for those of you under thirty years of age Datsun is now Nissan). Picture a Honda Civic with a 2 feet cut off of it, no suspension, a two stroke motor cycle engine, a cracked windshield with no heat and I think you get the picture.
In order to save money we bought a big jar of peanut butter, a jar of jelly and two loaves of bread. We could not afford to eat out; so we were going to live on peanut butter and jelly for three days. We bought the stale white bread at the day old store for half price.
To this day the thought of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich makes me gag.
We had pooled our money and, after accounting for gas for the round trip and cost of a cheap hotel room for the five of us, we had about $ 30 left over.
We chattered the whole trip about MLTS, what it would be like and the message we would receive from God. We had a flyer that had been distributed about two weeks before at one of the nightly meetings with Joe Smith.
I glanced down at this flyer as the Datsun putt-putted up the US Interstate Highway towards Tennessee from Alabama.
“Preparing the Leaders for God’s movement in these latter days”
The “Featured Speakers” were Larry Tomczak and C.J. Mahaney a duo who headed a radical Christian group called People of Destiny International (PDI) located in the Washington DC. Area.
Larry and CJ would be tag team speaking for two days at MLTS.
According to the MLTS flyer they would be speaking on Entering the Promised Land.
We had been hearing for weeks about the awesome experience of MLTS and how it would further prepare us to be over-comers and leaders in God’s new movement. The caravan of clunker cars from Auburn arrived in Cookeville TN about 9:00 am the morning that MLTS began.
Each attendee was given a welcome packet that included a name badge, a map, a list of restaurants and discount coupons (I would eat PBJ sandwiches for three days so it was wasted on me) and motel/hotel locations.
We joined the crowd that pushed into the auditorium of Cookeville high school which MCM had reserved for the weekend. People streamed past tables set up where you could sign up for special early morning deliverance sessions and discipleship classes.
There was also a large tented area selling tapes from the featured speakers, Bob Weiner and Joe Smith, and teaching materials that generated money for MCM. I will address this in a future post about MCM’s business model.
On the stage inside the auditorium was a huge white projector screen along with banners stating Overcoming for Christ and Jesus is Lord of All! and We shall rule and reign with Him that hung from the ceiling.
About twenty minutes before the opening session was to start the Praise Band kicked in and up on the screen went the words to the chorus.
The singing just about knocked me down.
The service was Auburn’s MCM service on steroids.
The music from the band and the vocals from 3,000 people attending singing at the top of their lungs had an affect that I can only describe as mesmerizing. I remember feeling almost transported to heaven by the singing, and the clapping, and the waving of hands.
Promptly at 10:00 am Bob Weiner took the podium and begin shouting things like, “Praise God!” and, “Glory to God! It’s great to be part of God’s end time movement!!!” at the top of his lungs.
The crowd exploded and the band kicked in with another fast paced song which sent people into the aisles dancing and singing and then Bob would get up and repeat his mantra of, “Glory to King Jesus!” and, “Hallelujah!.
This all went on for perhaps a half hour with song after song that riled the crowd up.
Bob finally put his hands up to get the crowd to stop the dancing, clapping, and singing and with that the place went silent.
He shouted, “This day we can expect GREAT THINGS!!! Amen???”
The crowd responded, “Amen!” and the whole shouting, singing and clapping started up again and went on for another ten minutes until Bob took control of the crowd again.
And what we could expect at MLTS, according to Bob, was, “A mighty and world-changing message from God Almighty Himself speaking to His special Green Berets.”
“Wow,” I thought,”this sure beats the session at the last annual SEC BSU convention I attended entitled How to cope with stress and temptation.”
How parochial and small-minded the BSU convention seemed in comparison with MLTS.
We were talking about, “changing the world,” and actually, “taking over the world from Satan,” whatever that might mean!
I submit that the various and sundry teachings present in MCM, (and I believe also in Larry’s and C.J.’s ministry PDI) in the 70s on the end times served one purpose: To support the formation of a tightly knit group of over-comers that would serve the purposes of the leadership.
Regardless, Bob said Larry would speak first and told us to, “Ask God to prepare you heart and listen and be ready to respond to God!”
He paused and looked over the crowd.
“Do not blaspheme the Holy Spirit by ignoring God’s message and his anointed,” Bob then shouted as he waved both men up on stage.
This left a lasting impression on me, but it is important to remember every MLTS was designed to:
1. Be “Earth Shattering”,
2. tighten control over the “Green Berets” and to
3. empty our wallets for God’s cause (and put money into the leadership’s pockets).
Anyway, I was not sure what to expect from the exciting anointed men of God Bob was speaking of, but up to the rostrum stepped a guy with dirty blonde hair, while his partner, C.J., took a seat with the MCM elders to one side.
Larry then exchanged a high-five with Bob Weiner who took a seat besides C.J. clapping him on the back.
In a soft voice Larry asked us to bow our heads and he said a short prayer.
From what I can remember Larry was at first a low-key speaker; neither the hyper excitement of Bob Weiner nor the “Warm but serious Uncle” played by Joe Smith.
Larry seemed a genuine and warm person. Perhaps he was genuinely and warmly deceived by both MCM and his own message.
You must whether that was true judge by what I relate below.
His message was taken from the Exodus 6:1-9 and from Numbers according to my contemporaneous journal.
First he slowly read the text from Exodus.
Then he stopped and said, “Our God is the same today as He was yesterday. So his message for the Israelites and for Moses is the same message today for His Church the grafted on vine.”
“We are not victims we are His mighty army!” [“Amen brother!” shouted Bob Weiner and the place erupted in applause and shouts].
“Listen to what God is saying to us his chosen army,” Larry continued.
“First in verse 1 of Exodus 6 we are promised success. And we were promised success, because we can do all things in Christ. If we have faith and discipline we can NEVER FAIL!”
“Second in verse 2 His chosen people were given an anointed leader that set the course for them. God had chosen Moses and this was evident to the Israelites. The same is true today. God has given us anointed leadership. We must not be like the people who grumbled against the leadership. Those who do so will wander in the wilderness for forty years I tell you!”
“Third, we see in Exodus 18:25 that Moses chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Perhaps you in this room, if you can measure up to God’s calling, you can be one of the hundreds, or fifties or tens. But you have to be disciplined in your walk with Jesus!”
“Finally they had the opportunity to go down in history as God’s mighty conquering army. Sadly… this did not happen.”
“Let’s look at Numbers 14. Here we see that with the exception of Joshua and Caleb the Israelites disobeyed their leaders and believed the LIES FROM SATAN that they were destined to be poor and wandering and lost…just like the church today sits around waiting saying ‘poor little ole us, we are just sweet little Christians and will be run over by that mean old Satan and his world.”
All of the sudden Larry was on fire; matching Bob in his ferocity and enthusiasm.
Larry shouted out, “I tell you this is a lie from Satan, we are over-comers and the gates of hell shall not prevail! Are you going to listen your leaders, and the Word of God, and overcome and rule and reign with Him or are you going to head back into the desert and have your bones buried in the sand?”
We, by this time were all standing and shouting, “We will follow God! We will rule and reign we will overcome! We will overcome!” or something like this.
Larry paused and let the crowd get quiet.
“You see it is a LIE!… from Satan…. that the church should sit around and wait on the persecution for we will Rule and Reign with Jesus for 1,000 years. This generation must make the same decision as faced the Israelites: are you a loser or are you a Caleb and a Joshua?”
The place went crazy,
It was a pavlovian response that I would grow use to at MLTS; the main speaker would make some over the top world ending point and the entire place would go ballistic.
I believe this message was given because Bob and the leadership wanted a dedicated group of radical leaders that would do their bidding in building the kingdom.
I think, nay I know, that they made the theology fit the mission; not the other way around!
And I am confident, in a quid pro quo arrangement, that Bob went to PDI and delivered much the same message to Larry and CJ’s. I don’t know this for certain, I will admit, but I would take even odds this happened .
For both C.J. and Larry were frequent guest speakers at MLTS and MCM events. And the same was true of Bob at PDI.
This was how it worked: bring an anointed outside leader and expert in to reinforce the leadership’s message and methods.
Rinse and repeat.
That afternoon at the Bookstore Tent in our enthusiasm our group purchased a 10 tape set series (cassette tape) for $ 25 entitled The Overcoming Life by Bob and Rose Weiner.
We now had about $ 5 in cash between the five of us; not counting the $ 20 left for gas to get us back to Auburn
After an early evening service replete with singing and baptisms we headed for our motel and dinner.
The next morning C.J went first preaching; this time from Revelation 20 on how the kingdom of God would come on earth during the thousand-year reign prior of Christ.
It was a passionate sermon that played right into what I had heard Bob and Joe preach the month before at Auburn:
1. Were God’s Green Berets going to be sent on a suicide mission by God into the world fight the battle they could never win?
2. Will we “take over” and prepare to rule and reign in the thousand year millennium?
CJ said, “The word of God is true and we can see in Revelation 20 verses 4- 6 that ‘They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”
He shouted, “Not only shall the over-comers rule and reign but they shall NOT Taste death! We shall not die! We will rule and reign as His Princes and subjugate the earth!!!!.
This was exactly what Joe had told us last month. And we would triumph and rule with him, and, in my heart I prayed right there, according to my scribbling in my journal that day that “I would have the strength to increase my efforts to make this a reality.”
C.J. continued saying “We must be like Joshua and Caleb, we must be fearless in believing God’s promises and understanding what he wants and in following His anointed leaders!”
Cheers and clapping erupted
He paused and the place when silent.
“God will carry out His plan… the question is who will He use? Will you be God’s instruments…it is up to you and what you decide to do EVERY DAY!”
The place went crazy and the band kicked in for more singing, dancing and clapping.
Bob stood up and summarized Larry and C.J.s message to waves of applause and cheers,
“Brethren, this is why MCM focuses on leaders. If we convert future leaders who are faithful to Jesus and the Body and, who in turn later move into leadership positions in governments, business and universities the Body of Christ will LITERALLY establish the rule of God on Earth and bring the millennium to heaven and fulfill the Lord’s prayer on earth as it is in heaven.”
I determined to be a dedicated member of God’s Green Berets no matter what the cost!
And I would be a prince and people would bow before me during the reign of Jesus!
That evening the five of us single brothers from Auburn camped out in a run-down, freezing motel room on the outskirts of Cookeville, Tennessee and, while we feasted on a dinner of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, we spoke until the early hours of the morning about how we would fulfill Larry and C.J.’s charge to us from God of bringing heaven to earth.