#46 Reality Check

Reality Check

By late 1980 I had worked my way into the top echelons of the Auburn MCM ministry. I had a lot to be proud of or so I thought. I personally brought about thirty people into the ministry and only eight or nine had washed out.

In turn, over a four year period all of these people recruited at least fifteen people into MCM, not counting washouts.

My elevation into Music Group, considered the heart of the MCM Auburn Ministry, demonstrated my progress within MCM. I led the weekly newbies class teaching the Red Book every Sunday morning in the most pedantic way imaginable.

I shepherded ten brothers holding thrice weekly early morning meetings with them.

I wish I could tell you I took a Matt or Miltie approach to shepherding, but my do-be nature had me complying with MCM’s rote scheme of shepherding. I led my share of ridiculous and humiliating hootah sessions for silly infractions. I held the required  mandatory thrice weekly 6:00 am single brother prayer and discipleship sessions as well.

I turned into a mini-me MCM shepherd and  the very thing I despised I now became. Okay not to the extent of Marty; but enough to make me ashamed of how I treated people.
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By the Numbers
In business today my company takes great pains to understand why people purchase from us and where we get our business from.

If I had taken some time to carefully examine where my converts were coming from and if I had then asked about the who I was converting, it would have given me and MCM a reason for pause.

For although forty people had come on board through my effort almost every one of these converts had known me from my pre MCM days.

Only three or four converts had NOT known me from my prior life. Not only that, but had I examined the timing of these conversions  I would have seen the following trend (that I have reconstructed some twenty years later):

Tik’s converts into the Auburn Ministry
1978 (four months): 17 converts
1979 (twelve months): 8 converts
1980 (twelve months): 6 converts
1981 (6 months): 1 convert

You can probably spot the problem with these conversion results immediately.

My sales, or converts per month, started declining at a dramatic rate beginning in late 1979. A close examination of the source of my converts would have been equally disturbing.

For as I mentioned almost EVERY one of my converts to MCM had been friends or acquaintances from pre- MCM.

I traded on my old reputation as a very good friend to people, a leader who attracted folks (I know this probably sounds self-aggrandizing but I do expect to be held fully accountable for this in the next life ) and as someone people considered an all-around nice guy.

Despite the push back and anger of some of my very good friends, like Sheila or “Mom”, there was another set of friends who literally followed me into MCM. They did this because of their own needs and their trust their apparent belief that, “If Tikie were doing it, it must be okay.”

I am sure that I will pay a price on the Day of Reckoning for this as well.

So I was like a brand new life insurance salesman who racks up great results during the first year of his career and then quickly runs out of steam because he has sold policies to all his family, neighbors and brothers in law. I never considered this aspect of my bearing fruit of course. But it made sense if one gave it any thought.

First, anyone who knew the new Tik, and the new Tik alone, would probably not have wanted what he had.

I was dogmatic and caught up in my MCM world of black and white, Jesus and demons, working my ass off for no pay and little reward with the added benefit of all the abuse I could tolerate.

Plus I really did not, nor could not, socialize and make real friends outside of MCM. Socializing  outside of MCM was  frowned upon.  And even if it were not frowned upon, when in the world would I find the time to do so?

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What was true for my own experience in bringing in converts was also true for the Auburn MCM site.

After the initial success of the Auburn ministry in 1978 the new member growth slowed dramatically mirroring my personal statistics. These are my own estimates of what happened at Auburn.  However, I also reviewed these numbers with Mike and Missy in preparing this post, so although they are not exact, they are in the ballpark.

The following numbers reflect the net membership (including the washout rate; which Mike Caulk estimated at about 20-30% per year) from 1978 (start) to 1981 (the great “send out”).

Auburn Ministry Estimates
1978 September: 30 members (transfers in from other sites)
1978 December: 150 members
1979 December: 200 members
1980 December: 220 members

Keep in mind that we probably had churned through another 200 people, at least, who became  serious members and then left because they had the good sense to do so.

The decrease in the rate of increase in growth was caused, on a larger scale, by the same set of problems that caused my fruit bearing production to decline.

The Auburn ministry increasingly isolated itself, its membership appeared for the most part extreme, with the added bonus of a spate of articles in the student and local newspapers revealing all the issues that I have discussed thus far.

None of the local student religious organization would recommend, nor associate, with MCM. The Auburn MCM ministry had a bad rap throughout the student body, whether they be secular or religious.

I don’t think anyone in the Auburn Ministry was conscious of this or would admit it.   In fact Miltie’s speech on this very topic was dismissed by the local leadership who had their heads in the sand. But this did not make his points any less true.

The pattern seen at the Auburn ministry would play itself out at almost every MCM location; one year of brilliant and rapid growth followed by a year or two of decent growth followed by stagnation and decline.

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The national ministry, then, traveled in a long term downward death spiral that would result in its eventual collapse.  But Bob and Joe, convinced that God was moving in a great way through them and their ministry, would now triple down on the bet that they had placed on MCM.

For God, apparently, had spoken audibly to Bob about a great leap the ministry needed to  make that would increase its size ten-fold in the next five years.

From this audible message came the effort known within MCM as the Great Send-Out.  This new effort arrested and covered over, for about ten years, the  inevitable stagnation and decline of MCM.

But it came at  the cost of many ruined lives.

 

#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.

#25 A Slippery Slope

November 1978

That evening I made my way back to the frat house after the MCM meeting.

I had almost forgotten about the chapter meeting that evening and about JD’s threats after the drama of the healing spectacle at MCM that night.

But the door to my room was open and waiting on me was Mom, sitting at my desk, with a frown on his face.

As I walked into my room he stood up and said, “Tik, you and I need to have a serious talk.”

Then Mom motioned for me to sit down on my bed while he took a seat at my desk chair.

I knew why he was here.

I had just gotten back from a Maranatha service and had missed my fourth chapter meeting in a row. And as President, heck, even as a plain old chapter member, that was not supposed to happen.

“Tik,” he said, “you need to know that JD [the frat. VP] tried to get the brothers to vote on impeaching you tonight in the frat chapter meeting. He could not get it to a vote. But he had thirty of the frat brothers on his side. The place was in an absolute uproar.”

“What?!!” I exclaimed. Thirty frat brothers out of one hundred and twenty siding with JD?????.

I sat back against the wall that my bed was nested against and put my hands to my head.

“I don’t think all thirty wanted to impeach you, they just wanted to send a message,” said Mom.

He crossed his arms.

“I took the floor and defused it. I told them you were going through a phase and that I would talk to you tonight.”

“It’s not a phase I am going through!” I said. “I don’t think this is any of your business talking to the chapter about my spiritual life or my walk with the Lord.”

“Yeah…well it IS my business when the Frat President is ignoring his duties and sending this place in a tizzy. Not to mention the fact that I see a good friend of mine jumping into a pit of alligators, or worse, Tik.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” I asked.

Mom looked closely at me, and then before speaking he stroked his red mustache like he did when he was about to say something he knew you would not like.

“It means this: I don’t know who, or what, these people  are but I don’t like what I see, that’s what,” Mom said.

“Look Mom, you would not understand anything I am doing… you have rejected the gospel and this stuff would not make sense to you, regardless. The brothers and sisters at Maranatha are real Christians, that’s all.”

Mom sat back and pointed his finger at me, “This is exactly what I am talking about Tik. How do you know anything about me and God? But you know what?  Maybe you are right, maybe I don’t know crap about religion, so to be sure I called your old friend Chris whom I suspect DOES know about ‘this stuff’, as you put it.”

Chris was the head of the Baptist Student Union (BSU).

“Why did you go and call Chris?” I asked.

“And why shouldn’t I?” asked Mom.

As he crossed his arms he continued, “Hey you just said I could not POSSIBLY understand this stuff so I called an expert, a guy who went to preacher’s school after college, or whatever it is they call it. Well guess what? Chris thinks these guys are a cult. He has already had calls from three sets of parents here at Auburn whose kids are involved in this crazy group. These parents are worried about what they are seeing in their kids. How they are acting.”

I sat there for a moment.

“Tik not only are you spending almost all of your waking hours on this thing, Marawhaever, but frankly, you are changing- you are becoming a different person. No one can have a normal conversation with you.  It’s all scriptures, and stuff about God and Jesus… you have practically tried to convert the entire frat, and some of the frat brothers, and not just a few of them, don’t like it”

“Well, Mom,” I said, “I am a new man in Christ of course I am changing.”

“Tik, like I say, you are a grown man, but I just hope you know what you are doing here. If this keeps up I will tell you JD is going to get you impeached. And I am not so sure that I won’t support it.”

“C’mon “Mom”, things are going to settle down.”

“Maybe,” he said, “ But why should you have the title and perks of the office if you are never here and you ignore your job? And, by the way, that is not the only thing you are ignoring.”

“What are you talking about, ‘not the only thing?’ ” I asked.

I was getting angry.

“I checked the grade book; that is another thing I did today,” Mom said, grimacing.

Mom was Dr. Carl’s teaching graduate student, my engineering professor, from whom I was taking two courses this session. Dr. Carl, as I have mentioned was also my student advisor. Mom assisted Dr. Carl in the lab, taught lower level courses, and helped Dr.Carl grade tests and exams.

“Hey, you can’t do that,” I sputtered pulling myself out of the bed I was sitting on.

“Well, I did,” said Mom. “Tik, you have got to be kidding- a “D” on the first structures examination.???What in the hell is that about!? This stuff should be child’s play for you. Dr. Carl tells me that you also have been late for at least five classes and you have skipped out on two classes. This is not like you. You and I both know that these engineering courses have to be treated like a full time job.”

“Look, Mom, I have it under control. I don’t need your help… so stay out of it okay?”

“Like I said Tik, like I said you are a grown man. But if you have any sense you will listen to me. Just cool your jets for one more minute. Chris wants you to come by to see him.”

“Why?” I asked

“Get off of it Tik, it’s about everything we are talking about. He has found out some stuff about the Maranootha or whatever hell they are called, and he wants to show it to you. Call him, he said he will meet you anytime, anywhere.”

“I’ll think about it,” I said.

Well I did not go to see Chris.

I was to busy, discipleship groups in the morning,  classes, trying to cram study time into lunch and any free time during the day. Nightly three to  four hour services and Maranatha witnessing sessions on campus, putting up posters for special events, helping set up for Maranatha meetings and my shepherding sessions with Marty’s group all got in the way of my seeing Chris.

There was not time for anything. And my grade showed it.

On all my mid terms I scored all “Cs” and “Ds’.

And as for 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 the “Christian Clan in the frat” all of the brothers were avoiding me.

And JD was leading the charge to have me thrown out.

I spoke to Marty my shepherd in Maranatha about it but he showed me numerous scriptures that said that we would be persecuted and scorned.

Once again he said that I should rejoice what was going on in the frat and besides at least sixteen people had come to Jesus because of my leading the overcoming life.

Saving souls and overcoming in this world why that was eternal stuff, that was Kingdom stuff, and proof that God was leading me and that I was doing His work.

#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.

#20 Tug of War

Tug of war

I was walking down the stairs with Marty after one of our morning shepherding group meetings. Marty put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Tik, I am looking forward to seeing you tonight at the service. IT will be Bob’s last you know.”

I stopped on the stairs.

Tonight our night was our frat chapter meeting.

And tonight was my first monthly business meeting as Frat. President. In this meeting we would review the finances: cash in- vs. expenses vs. surplus and also vote on any issues that the frat members brought up.

In fact tonight, because of our excellent rush results (thanks to Sheila’s help from the party with her very large and old line sorority) we would propose a reduction in dues for the frat brothers.

I needed to be there, and in fact, was obligated to be there. I was elected President, it was my responsibility, and they paid me for it in free room and board.

Seemed pretty easy and simple to me.

I explained to Marty why I would need to miss the MCM meeting tonight.

Not only that but after the chapter meeting I simply HAD to hit the books- I missed a study group last night and that spelled danger.

Going to engineering school, at least for me, was like riding a bike at 20 mph just in front of a giant steam roller moving at the same speed. Everything was fine as long as you pedaled like mad. But slow down or stop and you would be run over and crushed. And I could feel the steam roller gaining ground on me. For I had studied little in the last two weeks due to all of my MCM activities.

A new look appeared on Marty’s face that I had not seen yet.

I am struggling now to describe it, so here goes: it was irritation combined with an attempt to soften it into compassion.

I mean, his face said, “You are irritating me,” but the tone of his voice was all compassion, sugar and honey.

“Well Tik, I understand what you have in front of you tonight, but this is a really critical time for your Christian growth and walk with the Lord. You are a baby Christian and babies need lots of feeding. It would be a real mistake for you not come to the service tonight. Besides there are at least seven sheep now from your frat, if you don’t come they probably will not come either.”

I really did want to be at MCM tonight and to hear what this new Prophet was going to say to us on behalf of God.

I wanted to this more than anything.

But there were lots of things that I wanted to do in my life, but did not do them, because of other things I was committed to; things I was both ethically and morally committed to do.

But Maranatha did have one thing right.

I was a man-pleaser and did not like to let people down. Now I was torn, do I let my new Shepherd down or my frat?

But what about my studies?. I simply had to study at least three hours or so tonight, say from 8-11 pm…and then I remembered that I was committed to Mike’s prayer group the next morning at 6am.

My heart sank.

“Look Tik, God looks at our heart and our actions. If you are truly committed to him then His things must come first. That is the difference between overcomers and watered down make believe Christians,” Mike intoned.

That decided it for me.

I would see if JD our frat VP would cover for me this one night. Then I would leave as soon as the service was over at 8:30 pm for the engineering library to crack the books.

“Don’t worry about me, ” I told Marty. “I’ll be there tonight.”

At the frat house I looked for J.D. our Vice President.

As I have told you we were NOT friends. He had run for President against me last spring.

I won becoming the first junior President of the frat. As a consolation prize he  was elected Vice President. He continually second guessed me at the frat, I understood why, it must have been hard to have someone with less experience running “his” fraternity.

Now I would have to tell him I would miss my first business meeting which only occurred once per month.

As luck would have it JD was in Mom’s room. Mom was also graduate instructor for Dr. Carl. And Dr. Carl, who you have already met, if you have made it this far, was a not only a prof. for two of my classes this quarter, but was also my student advisor.

Small world, huh?

Looking back on it Mom did a good job of looking out for us and trying his best to keep a bunch of 20 year old males in line and from burning the house down.

Last year one of our guys had gotten some bad grades and decided to drop out and go to work for the Power Company. Mom had escorted him down to the Dean’s office and “un-dropped him out”.

The kid was still in school.

Mom and J.D looked up as I walked into Mom’s room.

“What’s up Tikie?” Mom yelled.

J.D said nothing to me. He seemed to concentrating on blowing smoke rings with a lit cigar that was hanging from his mouth.

“Well I was actually looking for JD to see if he could cover for me in the chapter meeting tonight.”

Mom’s red eyebrows cocked up and JD momentarily forgot about the smoke signals he was trying to send.

“Got an emergency Tik?” Mom asked.

It was unusual for the president to miss a chapter meeting much less the monthly business meeting. I had missed last week’s chapter meeting and had gotten a little grief from the frat members because of this.

And now I stood there telling them I was going to miss two in a row including tonight’s business meeting.

I stood there trying to figure out what to tell them…then Bob’s admonition came to my mind that, “Jesus said don’t hide your light under a bushel,” sounded in my head.

So I said, “I promised some guys I would attend a church service tonight.”

“But I was sure that Chris’ study (Chris head of BSU) did not start until 8:00 pm on tonight,” “Mom” said. “Our business meeting starts at 7:00 pm and we will be finished by at least 8:00 pm.”

Chris of BSU and “Mom” were allies but not friends.

Neither really approved of the other, but “Mom” saw Chris as a restraining influence on us and Chris appreciated the fact that “Mom” really tried to look out for our welfare, well at least as he saw fit to.

JD was silent; watching me as he puffed his cigar. Had he spoken to Sheila about what and who I was involved with? I knew they were friends.

“No,” I said, “it is not a BSU function; it is a new ministry called Maranatha.”

“You mean that guy that was here with the band a while ago  who was yelling and screaming like some two-bit carney?” JD asked.

I nodded.

Mom laughed, “You are a grown man Tik, at least you ought to be one. You really have an obligation to be here at this chapter meeting, for God’s sake you are the guy in charge here.”

“Sorry guys, I made a promise.”

“Bullshit Tik!” said JD. “You made a promise first to the frat.”

“I know JD,” I said, “but that was before I made a commitment to put Jesus above everything else; to commit myself to him like the early Christians did.”

Mom twisted his red mustache.

“Tik everyone knows you are a straight arrow religious guy.”

Mom continued, “You know I don’t go for that crap; but I have never given you a hard time about it! You go to Rat’s and Chris’s studies almost every week and are at Sunday School every Sunday morning. For Pete’s sake what is so special and urgent about tonight’s church meeting?’

“Look,” I said standing up,”I realized I was a lukewarm Christian and have to take a radical stand for Jesus. He died for me so the least I can do is to put Him first.”

JD waved his hand at me.

“Cut the preaching Tik, alright? I don’t need it and I am not going to listen to it. So stop it. I am going to cover for you, okay? But what do you want me to tell the brothers? Huh? ”

“Tell them truth,” I said.

“You really want me to tell them that you have cracked up?” snorted JD. He walked out of the room in disgust.

I started to leave.

“Wait a minute Tik, have a seat,” said “Mom.

“What in the hell’s gotten into you Tik?,”  asked Mom. “I can’t remember you missing more than one or two chapter meetings since you were initiated as a frosh over two years ago. Now you have missed two straight. What is going on with you?”

“Don’t push me Mom I made a commitment to go!”

I caught myself, I was almost yelling. Mom continued to stroke his mustache.

“Tik- who is this group that you have gotten yourself involved with?”

“They are committed Christians, that’s all .”

I turned and walked out of Mom’s room and went down the hall to the door to my room.

As I put the key in the lock I looked down the hall and there was Mom, standing in his doorway, stroking his mustache and looking at me.

That evening was Bob’s last night to preach, at least for a while.

The Band was in great form and I ended up talking to Becky, the little sister who had broken down at the frat house. She was on fire for Jesus!

The service broke up around 8:45 pm and I reached for my backpack. I was planning on heading to the engineering lab to try to catch up on my studies.

All of the sudden Sam and Marty were by my side.

“Brother, we were so glad to see you here. I know that God will really bless you for your commitment tonight. We are going to be doing a study with a young man who is on the verge of making Jesus Lord and we would like you to sit with us, to give him your testimony and perspective on the study.’

“Will you help us Bro?”

What could I say? They had sacrificed last evening for me, so I would do the same for this new kid. Isn’t that what Jesus would have wanted?

I stuffed my back pack under my chair and went upstairs with Sam and a blond-haired kid who looked like he was 12 years old.

I was excited. I was going to help Marty and Sam bear fruit for the Lord.

My engineering studies would have to wait yet one more night.

#19 The Dating Revelation: We Say Adios To Dating !

Editors Note: Here Tikie discusses the Dating Revelation. Tikie believes that this revelation, as practiced by MCM, was used as a way to maintain control of members. He views it as just one the many controls that MCM put into place to ensure its members stayed in line.

It was the same order of service recipe as usual at Maranatha that night. I was getting used to it and liked it: the catchy songs, and  usually some dramatic story or a testimony from a good-looking campus leader.

After the music, prophecies, testimonies and the offering Bob got up to speak.

I was very anxious to hear what Bob was going tonight. That morning he had said his message tonight would be about about dating, sex  and marriage entitled “God’s perfect choice for your life”.

“Tonight,” Bob intoned, “I will be giving a message for believers only. If you are not a believer, if you are not a truly committed Christian, then this message will NOT make sense to you.”

He pointed us to the scripture that said the gospel can appear as foolishness to the Godless. He launched into the story of Isaac and Rebecca in Genesis.

After reading the story he asked, “So who chose the wife for Isaac?”

Well that seemed pretty straight forward to me. Abraham’s servant had done this. Bob had just read the scripture describing this event.

But apparently I was wrong.

“If you think it was Abraham’s servant, then you are wrong and not allowing the Holy Spirit to interpret the scripture.”

“Huh?” I thought.

I mean, sure you needed the Holy Spirit to act as a guide, but I did not need to Holy Spirit to tell me that the scripture says something other than what it actually says.

I mean I was a fan of Occam’s razor when it comes to scripture; the simplest explanation is probably the correct one.

“You see Abraham is a type for us of God. You see in Galatians 4:28 we read ‘And you brethren, like Isaac are his children of promise,” Bob told us.

“Wait a minute,” I thought. “I mean I could really stretch here, maybe. I can almost understand MCM’s Baptism doctrine as a sort of circumcision in the way MCM teaches it, even if it is not EXPLICITLY spelled out. But the use of this particular scripture, why, I could not make heads or tails of it.

The story in the Bible simply said that Abraham sent his servant out to get Rebecca as a wife.

How could Bob jump from the servant choosing Isaacs’s wife to  God choosing Rebecca?  And then use that scripture to say that  God should choose our wives?

Not that I was opposed to God choosing, or telling us, who our mates were going to be.  But that is not the point here.

My point, rather, is that the scripture Bob used had no bearing on God choosing our mate.

Bob then went through the reasons that we should be spirit led  in our relationships with the opposite sex. He started by citing 1 Thessalonians that, “We are to walk holy and blameless before Him”.

“Okay,” I thought, “sure we are to be sexually pure before marriage… but is Thess. 4:1-6 talking about how to approach marriage?”

Not anymore that it was talking about a recipe for baking bread, as far as I could see.

Maybe it was my training from engineering school but I simply expect there to be Aristotelian Logic in an argument. The Bible to me was very logical. Things had to be accepted on Faith, but that once it was entered into the equation then logic ruled, or so thought Augustine of Hippo and other theologians. Otherwise, why write the Bible when a particular scripture can mean anything at all?

For example the teaching of sin atonement is logical and supported by plenty of scriptures as well:

1.God has no sin and cannot tolerate sin.
2.Sin requires a sacrifice acceptable to God.
3.Man is sinful.
4.God cannot tolerate man’s presence because of sin.
5. Jesus the perfect man the very God of God was made the perfect sacrifice for us.
6. Those that are atoned by faith in Jesus’s sacrifice desire God and are allowed in his presence.

Or 1+1+1 = 3.

But Bob’s teaching seemed to say that Red + Green =154.7

There seemed to at this point to be no Aristotelian logic to his teaching to in this study.

And this lack of logic in Bob Weiner (and Rose’s as well) was an issue that would eat at me for five years. And the reason there was a lack of logic to their teachings is that these teachings had no basis in scripture at all.

Now Bob pointed us to Psalm 37:4 that, “God will give us the desires of our heart.”

“This means that God will give us our husbands and wives. We do not have to go looking for them.”

“This was a good sentiment,” I thought, “but it is not supported by THIS scripture.”  My head was hurting. What Bob was saying was good.  But the scripture he was using  had no bearing on this teaching.

Then he quoted 2 Timothy: “I know whom I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to guard that which I have committed to Him until that Day.”

“Now wait a minute,” I thought, “this scripture forms the basis for my Mother’s favorite Hymn. This is not talking about dating and marriage…this is talking about our ultimate destination, our salvation.”

I was completely confused. What came next really threw me for a loop.

“So we believe that there should be NO dating, no going steady, no hand holding, none of that, until God has spoken to you about your mate and that has been confirmed by the elders and you are engaged to be married.”

Bob continued: “And how is this confirmed in Acts 14.” Then Bob  cited the verse calling for the oversight of the flock by the elders and shepherds in the early church.

“So God will reveal your mate to you and you to your mate through prayer. But you are not to speak to the person that is revealed to you for He will also speak to the elders and you shepherds at the same time. They will then pray and confirm His word to each of you.”

And finally Bob finished with these sentences, “This is God’s plan for his perfect choice for your life. It is a revelation for these end times. It allows us to focus on the things of God and not the lust of the flesh and the pride of life.”

Some twenty-five years afterwards there is a fairly simple question that should have been asked:  Why did Bob use scripture that failed to support his thesis?

The answer, I believe is two-fold.

The first answer is simple. There WERE no scriptures to support the Dating Revelation. His use of scripture to support this revelation involved an incredible twisting of scriptures by Bob.

The second answer is that these  revelations had to be supported with scriptures, even if those scripture had not the slightest bearing on the doctrine,

That was because if the doctrine was just a “nice idea” it would not have the force of law within MCM.

But if the doctrine and the teaching came from the”Word of God” and if if came from an MCM Apostle then it would have the force of law. And then the  flock had to obey them or risk losing their place in MCM.

Think about it which “Overcoming sold out MCM Christians” were going to disobey the Word of God and a doctrine sprouted from the mouth of a MCM Apostle?”

And this particular doctrine/revelation (and many other MCM teachings based on the twisting scriptural ) was put into place for one reason, and one reason alone: it  allowed the elders of MCM to have a powerful tool over which to control the actions and thoughts of the flock.

For, if you were a member of MCM, the elders wielded one of the most powerful biological forces in God’s creation: SEX!

And us unmarried people, why we were enuchs for Jesus until we showed ourselves to the elders of being worthy of a mate, marriage, and a marriage bed.

And yet another strange MCM doctrine was being stuffed into that already crowded closet in my mind.

 

#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.

#10 Washing My Own Brain: Shepherding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who is Rose Weiner?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I filled in the study statement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there was a lingering doubt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The very points I agreed with.

So I made a critical mistake.

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

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

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

Marty reached over and gave me an awkward hug.

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

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

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

I smiled weakly.

“I can’t wait,” I said.

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

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

All of it.

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

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