#30 MLTS with Larry and CJ

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?

or

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.

#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.

#24 My Troubles Begin

It was no shocker, but I was still disappointed in myself. I continued to stare at the test as if that would somehow change the score circled in red at the top of the page.

I had garnered a test score of 76, or a middle C, on my thermodynamics test, the one I had failed to study for because of my “kingdom” activities during the last two weeks.

This term I had scored grades of  Ds and Cs on every test thus far. It was my poorest performance since entering Auburn University over two years ago. In fact, last year I had scored A grades in 10 of my engineering courses and a B in the remaining two. My freshman year GPA had only been just slightly lower. And for this I had been awarded a full books and tuition scholarship by Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society.

If I could pull off high Bs and one A on all the remaining tests and exams then a B grade point average for the term was not out of reach for me.

But if I did not earn that B grade point average for the term  then I lost that books and tuition scholarship.

However, on the Kingdom front everything was on a roll, it seemed.

Four more of my frat brothers had made a commitment to Jesus. They had started attending Maranatha Services and were being shepherded and discipled by older MCM brothers.

This meant a total of 15 people from my frat had become radical Christians in the span of about four weeks. “At this rate,” I thought, “within one year over 150 people will have come to Jesus through me.”

My heart glowed with pride.

Joe Smith had promised that tonight that God was going to heal people just like He did in the first century church.

Of course, if you have bothered to slog your way through my story thus far,  you know that as frat President I was supposed to attend a weekly Chapter Night meeting. At these meetings we reviewed the week’s events, talked about issues and projects, socials, fundraisers, and made our plans for the coming term.

In addition there was the infamous  pass the gavel session, where the chapter gavel was passed from member to member and each brother had up to five minutes (if they wanted it) to discuss what was on their mind.

So once I again I was scrambling.

My head hurt.

First, I did not want to miss the show of first century miracles that were supposed to occur tonight at the MCM House according to Marty, my shepherd.

Second, I did not want to miss the preaching on, “The right relationship with Jesus,” that Joe Smith had said, “would be fundamental to my faith.”

Finally, but no less importantly,  I did not want to disappoint my older brothers and my Shepherd at Maranatha, that is, my new family.

So I was going to try to wiggle out of yet another frat chapter meeting tonight.

I headed to JD’s room.

As Vice President JD led a number of committees but was he also second in line if for some reason I could not fulfill my duties. This had happened occasionally in the past, but it was a rare occurrence.

JD’s bedroom door was open and I could hear the sound of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s hit song Give Me Three Steps blasting out of his stereo system.

I peeked in and saw JD with his head buried in a text book. How he could get any studying done with rock music blaring was a mystery to me.

I knocked at his open door. No response.

Again. No response.

So I stepped in and reached over and cranked the volume down on the stereo.

JD looked up immediately.

“Run out of people to proselytize Tik?” he laughed.

“Well you are barking up the wrong tree if you are looking to dunk me in a swimming pool and have me blabbering like a baby!”

JD and I had a very strained relationship at best and it was all over the frat house that twelve of the brothers had become Jesus Freaks and that our sleep in slut, Rhonda, had moved out of the house and back to her dorm room.

“I hear you broke up Rhonda and Ricky as well…,” then he snickered.

I was not taking the bait.

“Look JD I wanted to see…”

Before I could finish JD cut me off with, “Tik, if you are up here to see if I am going to cover for you for the chapter meeting you need to save your breath. I am not your f**k*ng baby sitter and nurse maid.”

His face was red.

“Calm down JD, why are you so upset?”

“I’ll tell you why, hot-shot. You are everybody’s golden boy, you crap golden apples as far as the brothers, well at least some of them, are concerned, and your red-headed stepmother (he was referring Mom our resident advisor) keeps his protective apron around you.”

He stood up and sneered at me.

“If any other frat officer, like yours truly,” and he pointed at his chest with a thumb, “missed a business meeting and three chapter meetings, skipped out on two of our post game parties, played hooky during the Gamma Delta social, and then failed to show up Thursday afternoon for this term’s pledge report out, they would be hauled before the chapter and thrown out of office; if not thrown out of the frat altogether.”

He was right of course, as President I not only had ceremonial responsibility to welcome the sorority girls, to pat the pledges on the back and make them feel special; I had an obligation to preside over the frat’s business at meetings.

But the Kingdom came first, right?

Weren’t the frat brothers just playing camp? Wasn’t the frat house a den of debauchery every Saturday night after a home game?

“JD, you know that nothing important is going to happen at the chapter meeting tonight. The only thing on the agenda is Jack’s monthly plea to give the upper classmen priority parking spaces, that’s all.”

“How do you know that Tik…what makes you so sure???” and he grinned and pushed his chair back against the wall.

He looked very satisfied with himself.

“We both know that there is nothing urgent that is going to come up that’s why,” I said.

“Well, I can tell you one thing, if our Frat President, Mr. Tik Tok is not at the meeting then I am going to move that we start impeachment proceedings against him and have him thrown out of office.”

I laughed, he was joking and needling me.

“I am NOT kidding, Tik,” he said.

“Listen, twelve  of our brothers are missing practically every frat function thanks to the proselytizing of our Frat President; whose MAIN job, by the way, is to rally the frat around the chapter not get members to desert,” he almost shouted.

He sat back down, but his voice grew louder as he said, “And YOU, MR PRESIDENT,” and JD then saluted me with two fingers, “YOU have been missing in action, AWOL…no has seen from you or heard from you in the last four weeks; unless of course its meal time. You always seem to make those surprisingly enough.”

My face turned red this time.

Okay, I did not like JD, he was cynical, he was a smart ass, he was crude, but this time he was right.

What could I say?

“JD I have done a lot for the frat,” I said. “Things will get back to normal once the rally is over at Maranatha.”

“But would they every get back to normal?” I thought.

“Yeah, okay, you did a good job as rush chairman last year, I grant you Tik. But you SUCK as a President and you know what pisses me off, you are not doing JACK around here and you are getting free room and board at the expense of every cotton picking dues paying brother.”

I was completely conflicted.

I had my duty to the Kingdom, but I had a job to do at the frat as well. I knew the ups and downs of being frat president; all of it.

But the mantra in my head ran, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and these things will be added unto you.” I was going to seek the Kingdom first no matter what.

That was what over-comers did. They did not worry about the world.

“Well JD, I understand how you feel, but I will not be at the chapter meeting tonight and as VP you will need to cover for me.”

“Suit your own self Tik. Do what you think is best. But you can’t say I did not warn you.”

JD crossed his arms. My stomach was turning over.

I decided to head down to the Maranatha House and skip dinner with the frat. brothers.

I just wasn’t hungry.

As I walked down Magnolia Street I became angry with JD and his attitude. I thought about all of the rude things that I had seen him do to people over the years. I found my face getting hot as I replayed the crudity of his accusations.

I knew that the chances of me being impeached were about nil, but I also knew that JD would raise a stink about me and about my absences. He would get a handful of the brothers in his corner.

But the real damage would be to my reputation and would put me under the microscope of all the frat members.

I walked into the MCM house and found my shepherd Marty seated behind his desk. I explained how upset I was and that I was worried about what might happen at the frat. tonight.

Marty paused and thought before he spoke, sitting back in his chair and crossing his arms over his chest.

“First, what is happening to you is exactly what happened to the early Christians,” he said slowly.

“They were persecuted for the beliefs and stand. That is what Jesus meant when he said ‘I did not come to bring peace’.. our stand for Jesus are going to bring the attacks of the devil. We should rejoice that this is happening.” And with that he uncrossed his arms and pushed his glasses back up onto the bridge of his nose.

Now I did not feel so happy about this persecution, for I knew I actually deserved it. Although JD was crude, he was correct, I was shirking my duties for which I was paid in room and board.

“Look Tik you are in the frat right now because God has you there to harvest souls. Maybe He will call you out of the frat. That may happen. This is all in God’s hand and as long as you are doing His will then it will be okay.”

“But, “ I said, “the Frat pays my room and board and it amounts to $ 2,400 a year that I save in living expenses by being President.”

Now in 2006 that may not seem like a great deal of cash but in inflation adjusted dollars it represents about $ 7,000/year in today’s dollars.

And for a poor guy like me that was a small fortune.

How would I ever make up that budget shortfall?

“God will take care of his faithful Tik. Remember that you do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

He was right, I thought, I had no previous persecution in my life because I had never done anything for Jesus.

Of course this felt uncomfortable.

This persecution happened because I was overcoming the world and saving souls. This made the devil attack me. Surely God would figure out how to finance my schooling if I lost my position of frat President.

Right?

Jesus would take care of His Green Berets, I was sure of it.

#17 A Completely New Family

Saturday October 1978

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

But at that moment my mind was on other matters.

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

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

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

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

A new comer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, not exactly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How about Sheila?

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

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

Where did any of my old friends fit in?

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

New brothers and sisters in Jesus they were.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He smiled, “Worried about Sheila, hey?”

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

I hoped it had not been stolen.

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

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

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

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

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

At least for now.

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

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

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

No answer.

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

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

Oh Well.

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

Then I scrawled at the bottom of the note.

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

I slid the note under the door to her room.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There was clapping and shouting.

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

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

Bob waited until the noise subsided.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Amen!” we all shouted back in unison.

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

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

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

“This is my husband Matt.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karen and Phil Bonasso.

But all of this would come much later.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And he laughed.

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

He paused.

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

Then he looked at Mike and Missy Caulk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#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.