From:  Tom Pierron   tpierron@Op.Net
Date:  Sun, 11 Feb 2001

Grace and peace be multiplied to you.  This is the quite often verbose
brother Tom Pierron and his take on things.  A force to be reckoned
with.  I think the real force that we all have to reckon with is our
personal  relationship with Jesus outside the confines of a mind
controlling, manipulative environment.  (I will explain more clearly.)
This is to those out and successful.  To those in and successful.  To
those out and think that maybe they should go back in to Cobu.  To those
in and think they should leave.  Only you know what is important to
you.  If you have any autonomy at all - you have to answer your own
issues.  I'm mainly coming from personal anecdotes, facts, and some

Why did I leave?
The reason really doesn't matter any more.  I could say I was
frustrated.  Actually, I left many times - so there are in fact many
reasons based on that alone.  Sometimes I left in shame because of
something I did.  Sometimes I did leave to pursue sin (I really don't
remember - but it's highly possible).  We've all had those fruitless
seasons.   (Or, I would hazard to say - the majority of us have.)  But
whatever reason you want to tag on any of us for leaving - that we're
out and have landed on or feet is what we rejoice in.  We have a new
perspective.  Yes, I went through those days many times of wondering if
I were going to die and go to hell.  And I knew I had to return to
fellowship and only to the fellowship were I to consider myself serious
about my relationship with Jesus and not into games.   I had built my
own cage in my mind.  More on that later.  Suffice it to say I have
finally been unbound and let go and know Jesus better than ever.
Why did I retain my faith?
Jesus still continues His faithfulness to me.  He doesn't lie.  He is
faithful who called me and He will do it.  I've tried to "trash my
faith" as the brothers used to say.  I can't do it.  Apparently, I'm one
of His and there's nothing I can do about it.  And I thank Him for His
love He has shown me over and over.
I appeal to you brethren.  What is "my beloved more than your beloved"
that I thus adjure you?
Well, let's get started.  I found out that God is full of love and
( Http:/www./ ) I found out there's more to the Christian
( Http:// ) And I found out, shudder the thought, God
has a sense of humor. ( Http:// )
(You don't have to check out these links at all if you don't want.  But
they're there as references in case you'd like to some time.  I really
don't know what you'll get from those web sites.  What helped me was
reading almost all the books they have available - and I do mean just
about ALL - not to mention hundreds of tapes.  Bunyan and Spurgeon are
nice - but it'll do you some good to enlarge the place of your tent, and
let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; hold not back,
lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes...)

Let's not miss the big picture.  John 3:16 "For God so loved the world
that He gave His only Son." It's general - but it is indeed the
gospel.   God showing His great love for us.  Keeping our eye on the
overview  helps to deal with all the small stuff.  Otherwise, sometimes
the small stuff becomes the big stuff. So really I do consider what I am
writing about to be minor stuff.  But I'm hoping that some little things
here may help some brethren.  I won't know unless I try.
I have tried to communicate in the past.  Is there a better way I could
do that? What I have tried in the past didn't seem to go over too well.
Of course, I realize what I'm dealing with here, and that's why I don't
take it personally.  I know the spiritual physics involved.  Were I
still in the confines and being a faithful member I would use the same
defense tactics.
"And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another
and to all men."  Do you love all men?  Do you treat outsiders
different?  Poor people?  Your customers?  Us?
"For you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; and
indeed you do love all the brethren throughout Macedonia.  But we exhort
you, brethren, to do so more and more, to aspire to live quietly, to
mind your own affairs..."  Does that mean I should mind my own business
and leave you alone?  Am I just coming out at you in attempts to justify
my own actions - namely, leaving that place?  Or, as I was just reading
about unbelief in Victorian England (it affects us to this day) - some
atheists find it an obsession to try and convert "creationists" to their
way of thinking.  Some of their arguments are compelling and doubt
invoking.  While at other times you can't believe some of the stupid
things these "intelligent" men say.  A symptom of spiritual blindness.
I am writing to you who see - albeit you're in a different mindset.  You
have your suppositions about my state of mind.  You have what you've
been fed to think about me.  The thought stopping clichés.  You put a
label on me, put me on the shelf and you're done.  For now.
Am I putting words in your mouth?  Thoughts in your brain that aren't
yours?  What goes on inside of you?  You see, I do indeed  have an idea
as I have walked many miles in your moccasins.  But have you mine?  No,
I don't mean have you ever left.  No, silly.  Have you ever given Jesus
a fair trial?  You know, while I was there,  I would NOT let myself
think about certain things and doubts.  Mainly doubts about where I was
and what was Stewart really up to?

"Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way
to you; and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one
another and to all men, as we do to you, so that he may establish your
hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming
of our Lord Jesus with all his saints."  Now there's a prayer of a good
shepherd.  Love for all men everywhere and establish your heart.  Your
heart established? You have a good shepherd?  Just asking.
I think it's still embarrassing to this day that over ten years ago
Stewart admitted missing grace.  Is that still the story?  You know I
don't really know.  You're all so quiet with nothing to say. (I remember
the dear brother, who, when I went back there in 1989 for the
"discovery" of grace, this brother would encourage everyone with "you
need only be still."  It was great.  Sad thing is, though, a year later
this brother would mantra "I have nothing to say."  And you know why?
Because his illusions were shattered.  Many of ours were.  Another
carrot on a stick.  Discovering grace!  Eureka! But we were Charlie
Brown (trick or treating) looking in our bag to discover yet another
rock... It was business as usual.  Actually, in my estimation, and from
what many say who know better than we do - it was giant steps further
down into deceit.  And that's what causes fruit like "I have nothing to
say.") Are you ashamed of your life?  Do you have anything to say?  Well
I've got more to say.  Stewart later that year admitted to being
Samson.  He literally said he was "the worst Samson of all."   Really
was the proverbial bull in the china shop.  That was one of the things I
wouldn't let myself think about until I left and examined it in 20/20
(or so) hindsight.
I was "guarding" the lobby at a meeting.  Stewart came in in his usual
rushed, harried fashion.  He said this to that and that to this; bing
bang, boom.  Then he went into the meeting and sat down "How's it going
brothers and sisters?"  And I remember being in awe.  This guy can shift
gears better than a cross country truck driver.  What is he capable of?
Well, we've come to find out many things.  But that's why he talked
about the bull in the china shop.  Samson.  Remaining alone.  Out of the
abundance of his heart he certainly spoke.  I mean, where is he all week
and what does he really do in his ivory tower?  That was the past in my
day.  Now - he's states removed.  Closer to Haiti.  Gimme a break.  It
didn't deter him before getting to Haiti a few times a year.  He's in
retirement and you can take that to the bank.  Oh, I'm sorry, do you
have anything to take to the bank?  Oh, I forgot, brother, you're not
hoping in this life are you?  Matter of fact, you're so dedicated you
won't marry your betrothed - if you're brave enough to admit you even
entertained the thought of perhaps maybe having such a luxurious
indulgence as - you don't have spare zeal, do you?  Be a good brother
now.  Go to work, bring in the money and shut up.  I'll be in Florida
with my wife in the condo keeping track of the money and my silver
bars.  Call me if there's anything urgent and I'll tell you how high to
It's hard to face these things, isn't it?  You won't allow yourself to
think them.  The man is above reproach.  Why, he's Elijah, right?  (I'm
talking to old timers now.  If you joined Cobu during the 1990's, you
may not be privy to these special thoughts.  Ask an old timer.  They
might tell you.  They may not.)  I'm telling you I know what it's like
to be there and have doubts and not let yourself think about them.  I
mean if you did - they only bum you out.  You really don't want to be
that in touch with your true inner feelings.  After all - you've got to
deny yourself and get some more money for the gipper.  And go against
your commitment?  (Wake up and smell the coffee.  The children in Haiti
are having children of their own.  Though it is a good work.  Also the
perfect workover.)  You know that Marjoe Gortner (1972  VHS) said "No
one asks questions about where the money goes when they hear it's going
to ‘rescue and develop Haiti.'" And Stewart heard that.  How do I know
Stewart heard that?  He made the entire fellowship watch that movie
Marjoe where that very statement was said.  And then Stewart used it
too.  Yes, good was done and people benefited.  If you'll notice, well
if you're new you wouldn't be able to, but the facts are: while the
brethren lived in squalor, with rats and roaches continually, Stewart's
abodes got better and better till now he's got a modest condo.
(Modest?) It's tough crucifying the flesh I tell ya!

Please forgive my bitterness and my curt way of putting things.  But it
may be good to put a shock to your system.  To be honest, my opinions
have more to do with ignorance than knowledge because it's what I don't'
know that makes me so sure that I know.  What does that mean?  Well, I
haven't been living in Cobu for over ten years.  Thank God!
I stopped trying to figure myself out so I try and figure other people
out.  (That's one of the spirits of Cobu.)  Telling others what they
ought to do.  Meanwhile, your own house is on fire.  And so you
project.  That Stewart couldn't figure himself out is obvious - Cases in
point: missing grace and biggest Samson of all. Am I right or am I
So, I haven't lived in for over ten years - I'm going to really appear
off to some of you on a lot of things.  But I think you're going to
agree with some.  (I remember in Philly, after a Bible Study I was
talking with Chuck.  Chuck and I were talking about how we didn't "get"
the Bible study and I said I thought Stewart was bluffing.  Chuck bent
over in laughter as he admitted that is what he thought too.)  But who
can you talk to about these things?  You don't want to dwell on them;
you have to bury them.  You made a commitment to this place, told
everyone and their brother that they should join and you're going to
entertain thoughts of leaving?  What are you, schizophrenic?  You say
one thing and do another?!  Oh, the shame of it all!
Even though I myself have not lived there in over ten years, I do know a
little about the first twenty years.  Every time you hear about
something new that you were ‘missing' it ended up being business as
usual.  Is it still the same?  Don't tell me to come back and find out.
Phone conversations and seeing others on the street - it seems to me to
be the same spirit: submit to me, or walk.
I do have a different mindset now - thank God.  I've seen the light at
the end of the tunnel and
it's not a freight train coming at me.

How many times at a meeting we would make a decision as a fellowship and
our decision was final, right?  No problem - the general consensus was
enough to make the right move.  But remember when Stewart wouldn't agree
- what he slyly did was simply interject, "er, you may want to consider
blah, blah, blah" - and we'd re-vote and guess what would happen?  Yes,
we'd reverse our decision and go with the way of Stewart's liking!  We
are so easily manipulated and led by the nose, aren't we?  Or weren't
we?  If the shoe fits, wear it...
You know, we need variety - here's what I'm talking about - from The
King and His Kingdom by Peter Whyte: page 41
"It is only by learning from several different teachers that we can
possibly provide all that a disciple needs, according to Eph 4:11-16.
Therefore it is important that we encourage those whom we disciple to
learn from others besides ourselves, and especially those who disagree
with us.  We must not demand a permanent submission relationship, but
trust the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth.  Failure to accept
one's pupils as equals after training them will perpetually limit their
growth to your own stature in Christ..." Wow.
How well rounded do you think you are - being submitted to one who
couldn't find grace for twenty years and preached against Samson and
then admitted he was the worst one of that.  Can you imagine if you
would have tried to tell him before that?  You would have suffered a
fate worse than John Dorety. (I spoke to John today.  His kind
confidence is infectious.  I digress...)  I think the lack of depth -
not getting other fresh outlooks - is what causes the brethren who stay
in the confines of Cobu to stifle and atrophy.  They have to.  There's
no room for growth.  Just another 241 things to keep forgetting to keep
them in line and on time for the next job.  Things do take time for
disciples - the original disciples didn't even know what manner of
spirit they were.  Some things take time.  And they had to be sent out
two by two and various other things to help them learn.  Then there was
Peter's vision and the heated debate over circumcision.  And then what
do we do with brethren that ran away from persecution.  We think we have

What was the motivation for leaving Cobu?  I already said for myself
personally it was many and various things - almost none of them good
surfacely.  The thing of "finding an easier way" why - didn't we find
out for ourselves that "the way" wasn't founded on grace back then
anyway?  So we were right, back then, weren't we?  Wasn't I? You should
leave a teaching that's not based on grace.  (Though I never felt that
way - I always thought I had to go back and try harder.  I even remember
talking to myself into going back and serving Jesus - just do it - it's
not as hard as my life is now.  Ever hear it said that our worst day as
a Christian is better than the best days of an unsaved?)
But what was going on with us was much deeper than whether to live in
Cobu or not.  I'll give you an example: In a movie called The Vanishing,
Jeff Bridges tells this other fellow that "You're my laboratory rat.  I
gave you the materials and you built the cage. Only now that you want to
leave, you can't get out of the cage you yourself constructed."
Ingenious.  By using general statements and teachings, Stewart through
the spiritual physics, etc. could get us to construct our own private
prison right between our ears.  This is something we all know what it's
like!  I am not speaking in a vacuum.
You know how I finally stayed away the very last time I left?   I
remember getting drunk and being at a friend's house, and the next day I
knew that's not what I wanted - and - there's a great story about
getting rescued by Jesus but we're running long as it is...  Anyway,
after being out for a while, reading, sorting out verses, trying to
figure out what was what - is Cobu right or what?  And I struggled for
months.  I didn't want a life of sin.  I wanted Jesus, but I didn't want
the abusiveness of Cobu.  I was asking Jesus - what do You want?  I'll
go back if You want me to, do You want me to?  Till finally one day I
was asking Jesus should I stay or should I go and I just stopped.  And I
said, "You know what Jesus; I don't want to go back."  And I couldn't
believe my own mouth - but that was my heart.  And I had such peace
after that prayer and admitting my true desires.  I had made up my mind
- and Jesus was not going to subvert me in my cause.
You think I'm deceived, you Cobu mindset people, don't you?  I had to
ask myself that question.  But then again, if a person is deceived -
they wouldn't know it, would they?  I mean if I truly was deceived, how
on earth would I know myself? You can go  round and round with this, but
consider this: What if you were following a teaching not based on
grace?  Would you know it?
Someone had to tell you, didn't they?  Is that someone your only source
- or can you be taught by God?  If God had tried to tell you about grace
prior to 1989 - what would you have said to the vessel He was trying to
use to get through to you?  Would any bit of it have penetrated your
thick skull you think?
"In an abundance of counselors there is safety" - but not if they're all
chiming the same mindset.  What if they're all missing grace?  How would
you know? (you didn't before!)

INFLUENCE - The New Psychology of Modern Persuasion by Cialdini.
Pages 75 - 107 will explain the psychology of making commitments.  You
know, like "I'm committed to faith in Jesus and loving my brothers and
sisters..." Stewart used about every trick in this book.  It is not a
"must" read.  I have some must reads - but I won't even mention them
here.  We must trust Jesus and the Holy Spirit to guide us into all the
truth. Is that happening? I'm speaking intellectually. Satisfying the
brain, spirit and heart. What is noble?  Leading thousands to Christ in
all the villages?  There's a nice carrot to put out there of a "noble"
goal that you and I will probable always fall short of and therefore
have plenty of guilt.
I just ran into a good old friend last week I hadn't seen for about
seven years. His card says, "Day by day, we try to move a little towards
God's perfection. We need not feel guilt for failure to achieve."
Pretty neat, huh?  It's even sweeter for me, as my friend and I used to
get high together before I got saved, and then for the next 20 years he
kidded me about my "seek and find" days -
and about ten years ago he finally got saved.  He was talking to me
about Jesus last week.  Anyway....
Making a commitment was something we used to do. Do you still?  What is
going on here, is, once you've made a commitment your life better live
up to it or you're going to suffer guilt.  And what are you going to do
- go against something you said with your own lips?  What, are you
crazy?!  You just can't do that.  Hence - the power of getting one to
make a commitment.  Commitments have their good sides - I think we saw
some of the bad side.  It was used to keep inordinate control over us
and we built our own cage.  (BTW - think about it - what has Stewart
been seen as a definite pattern of being committed to?  Breaking up
marriages and making money.  No?)
When we're handed with unattainable tasks, like we always were in Cobu
(does that still go on?  I really don't know) we're always left with
guilt - a very destructive force in a Christian's life.  Our conscience
is one thing - but guilt that won't go away because you'll never reach
this goal that has been put in front of you is downright cruel and
unusual punishment.  I believe it was intentional.  And I won't get into
that now... No pressure.  Don't need to lead the world to salvation.
Just bloom where you are.
But in Cobu we were quite often being treated like you're a means to an
end  - another worker drone - sacrificing to oz.  Running after the
unattainable witches broom and when you come back with it he doesn't
know what to do.
"What has become of the satisfaction you felt?" Or as the NAS says
"Where then is that sense of blessing you had?"  It's easy to lose the
sense in Cobu.   That sense of blessing.
It's a common occurrence.  You lose it cause people come in and say "Its
great that you love Jesus but are you obeying all of the law?"  (That's
what happened to the Galatians)   That's one way to lose the sense of
the blessing - following the law.  People come into your life and make
you feel like your walk with Jesus isn't good enough.  Watch out for
folks like that.  (I was one - and maybe still am?  It's difficult.  I
mean is that what I am doing to you now?  Why, I'm the worst one of
all!  Actually, you know that my intent is to promote your good order
and tell you a little about mine)  Your walk with the Lord may be great
but they don't care because they have a vested interest in making you
feel like you don't have enough - you know why?  Because they got
something they want you to have.  And the best way to set you up is to
make you feel miserable about your walk with God.  (There's the Cobu
spirit!)  Then you're prime to receive what they have to offer.  Someone
pressuring you to conform or perform what they think is right.  If you
don't know the quietness of God you're always going to feel like you're
not doing enough and be involved in a thing and an issue. Instead of
quietness, it's motivating the troops and controlling them.  There's
definitely a place for motivation, but then there's a right spirit.

Bickering among brethren on the list - that's how life is. Problems with
marriages, lack of marriage where you are, problems with your marriages;
fighting!  That's life in the big city. Split ups and divorces happen.
The head honcho of the Forever Family got a divorce. Couldn't call it
the FF anymore, in that case, now, could you?!  But you didn't look at
it like did you?  (That's if you were there - and many members now know
nothing of the history - all the better to pull the wool over their eyes
- you don't even have to because they are absolutely totally ignorant of
these events.  The reason, the explanation at the time was "we needed a
respectable name."  I'll bet.  After divorce we better find some
respect!  And you've all heard about the bastardy pastor running off
with the church secretary 20 years younger than him.  Our case was
different, right?)
But for those who were there, like myself, we thought the intentions
were honorable. We really did!  When the wool was being pulled over our
very eyes.  Being led like sheep to the slaughter.  Forgive me for being
blunt but one has to wake up and smell the coffee some morning.  I do
know what it's like to be there, and I wouldn't want someone talking to
me about these events in this tone.  I admit it's a bit frustrating
trying to talk to someone in our Cobu mindset (your present; my former)
When I understand so much about it and think I can penetrate it - but I
guess that's just foolishness on my part...  I should know better than
that, too, huh?
You do know I know about you - and I especially know about me!  One
thing you don't know about me is what it's like to be out of there and
not under Stewart's control.  (I know, you claim you're not.  Pardon me
while I laugh - I'll explain throughout...)  I'm not talking about
having left to "blow your brains out."  Almost everyone has done that at
some time or another.  That's a different story of leaving the nest.
You find that proposition scary - and it certainly is!  But when you
finally end up on your feet (assuming you didn't in the first place -
which is common) you'll find the liberation downright Biblical.  We've
forged the course.  "I will restore to you the years which the swarming
locust has eaten..."  Why not listen to those who have traveled the
roads?  Jesus is winning, you know.  There are more out here with a
sincere faith in Him than those of you playing the Cobu game.  I put you
down there, I admit, and I admit I loved the camaraderie there, when I
was there.  We all did.  But there's a bad, harsh, manipulating, elitist
spirit there - and you all know it in one degree or another.
It's not easy leaving.  There is post traumatic stress like war
veteran's.  "What do I want?  I want what they want - I want to be loved
back..." (okay, Rambo....) We're not like the people under Moses -
scared  - and asking someone else to go and hear God's voice for us.  We
now hear His voice for ourselves.  We don't need a recipe.  A "U."  We
haven't forgotten 241 things (wasn't there a problem with that before
mentioned at the grace meeting?!  - of trying to keep all these things
together in your head or you wouldn't have it together...)

Bro Mike has provided a good service and done a great work here
providing this web site among other things.

We all have skeletons in our closets.  And we all deserve grace from one
another. Being in Mike's position he's heard a lot from brethren of the
damage, the emotional abuse, the spiritual abuse, the carnage, and you
know what I'm talking about.

You know what pushed me over the edge to move back into fellowship in
1989?  My friend who I had played music with before we got saved, Blake,
came to my work and told me about Stewart "discovering" grace.  I had
been on hiatus for many years, knowing where I must return to if I was
ever to be serious in my relationship with Jesus.  Grace?  I thought
that that was something that I could handle.  I really did.  And like I
said before, I talked with a brother who very happily told me, "You need
only be still."  Sure sounded Biblical to me.  So anyway, to make a long
story short, (too late, right?) I had a career at the Postal Service
that had me working from 3 in the afternoon till midnight.  Prime time
for Cobu stuff. You know, meetings, going witnessing, anything that
would make you be part of what was going on.  Well, do I quit my
lucrative career?  I mean, I was making good money, you know.  Well, we
have a meeting, and the main subject of this meeting, the mantra Stewart
keeps repeating is "You have what's important to you" - and I hear this
over and over and I think about my situation...   Well by the time the
meeting is over I thought that I had made the decision and I told Jimmy
that I had decided to quit my job and move in.  Mission accomplished.  I
built my own custom made cage.  Even though I had told Jimmy I decided
this decision, but, or was this a spiritual physics arm wrestling match
and I lost to one who was stronger than me?  I don't have to tell you
Stewart's a master manipulator, do I?  Hey, you're the one sweating and
he's in a condo that you're paying for.  If you can't do the math, what
can I tell you?
Married people aren't mobile.
You could say you're in a marriage - a marriage of convenience to guess
who. You're married to the mob.  I don't have to tell you who the
godfather is. Getting personal - real world, though, bros. and sis. -
wake up.  Normal Christians get married. Normal humans get married.
(You're a peculiar people?) The head honcho got RE-married. The real
world people pay bills.  My car insurance has my name on it.  I'm not
under some big umbrella.  I have personal responsibilities.  Mommy is
not taking care of me.  You accuse us "out here" of looking for an
easier way.  I think it's you who don't have to pay bills who have it
made in the shade - (if you could only get some of that Florida shade
you're paying for....) Anyone ever visited the Taj?

What is my beloved more than your beloved that I thus adjure you? You'll
never know till you're unbound and let go. Still believe Stewart is
Elijah?  Don't fudge.  Let your yes be yes and your no be no. What do
you believe?  And do you believe it because you believe it, or did
someone else tell it was so?  How do you know it's still not founded on
grace?  I guess he says it is now, huh?  Well, I guess we'll have to
take his word for it then, won't we?
We're communicating to you - why don't you to us?  And not those
platitudes. Can you be real?  We try and talk to you - but you tell us
to talk to the hand. Or you completely ignore us and tell us you're busy
building the wall. Yeah, a wall between you and us.  If that's what you
want - "to subvert a man in his cause the Lord does not approve." I
remember in the FF and Cobu the spirit was one of really seeking the
truth.  But now it's gone the way of all flesh - and you're hiding
things, aren't you?

Why are you the way you are with people?  Sort of a rhetorical question
there.  I was there, I know a bit of the dynamics - not to mention
you're threatened.  We're proof you don't get seven times worse.  But I
was wondering, when you look in the mirror - do you see your
reflection?  About three years ago, during your "Better Way Café" days I
used to see some of you down there on South Street.  I'm sure you're
aware of this at least somewhat.  Well another thing happened to me -
and you may call it kismet if you like but I see the finger prints of
God once again all over this.  I work with a fellow named Santiago.  One
night he was wearing a Brooklyn cap.  I said, "Just what do you know
about Brooklyn?"  And he told me he's from there.  One evening he called
me "Uncle Tom" out of affection - but then realized this could be
misinterpreted and he apologized.  Guess what happens a few nights
later?  I'm walking down South Street and here are some of the "Stewart
sisters," "Gayle helpers," "half wives," whatever you want to call
them.  They're being escorted by Bob M - and with them is also Yolanda.
The Stewart sisters are obviously aloof and they say their programmed
rehearsed lines to me, "Oh, we just want to talk about Jesus."  As they
wave their hands at me just like they worked on.  Mission accomplished.
Meanwhile, in the real world, I told Yolanda about what happened with
Santiago just a couple days ago and it reminded me (even at the time)
that Yolanda was in the hallway at Woodruff with her daughter and told
her daughter that that's "Uncle Tom," and she apologized to me for
saying that.  Though I knew there was no ill intent whatsoever.  (Man,
being named Tom has it's problems - peeping Tom - got a story there!
Doubting Thomas...)  And Yolanda looks pretty, just as surprised as I am
about this "coincidence."  I hadn't seen her for seven or eight years,
but I remembered that personal interaction we had.  The other sisters
are aloof and out of it - and Bob M is just standing there wide eyed
just as surprised as all of us - and you know he doesn't know what to
do.  He's supposed to "lead," I'll bet, and tell me where to go - but
Bob knows me a little and maybe he wants to have a genuine conversation
but in these circumstances it is verboten and will get back to
headquarters.  As I was leaving I inquired about her daughter and she
yelled back "She's grown now!"  And I said, "Great!"
You see personal interactions just aren't personal with you people -
they're character assassinations.  When I was out for a few years around
1991 - I was helping out John.  A van of two Grateful Dead heads drove
in front of me (it was KGB and Paul S - huge beards in tow).  Kevin
leans out the window - and what does he say as we haven't seen each
other for two years?  Hi brother, how's it going? No.  As the van rolls
by in front of me, in his best Stewart voice he says, "Gaining weight!"
Yes, that's what he says as he disappears down Bainbridge.  And just a
few years ago Kevin was in the "Café" and he was bossing others around
like he was Stewart himself.  He shooed Gregg B out the door, "Urgent,
urgent!"  And then Kevin dealt with me with all his Stewart inflections
down pat.  I let it go for a little while, then I turn to my nephew and
say, "You see how it goes?"
(He had asked me why I just don't go in there and talk with them.  No
one has a normal conversation with them.  It's futile.) As I leave,
there's a group ready to go "witnessing" or gathering - whatever they
call it now, sweeping, obviously waiting for the mighty Kevin.  Sara
says a meek "God bless you" as I walk by.  She evidently is sympathizing
with me knowing that I just got my head handed to me on a platter.
Am I being hard?  I think I'm just being honest about a hard situation.

So there's some of my personal experiences.  I was there.  I know.  I am
speaking the truth.  Are we family members. Old friends?  Dead wood.
You treat us like we don't exist.  Is that healthy?  We have passed out
of mind like one who is dead.  I'm an apostate as far as you're
concerned?  Well, as much as I may have passed out of your mind - guess
what has passed out of mine?  The way I was where I used to be.  That
old Tom has moved on and grown into something else. Are you growing?
Remember what was quoted about having diverse teachers to make sure
you're well rounded and not using Stewart voice inflections only.  Step
back - get a better perspective - at first there may be an uneasy
feeling, and may even be impossible as you can't see the forest for the
trees.  There's a veil over your eyes, mind, spirit and heart.  That gut
feeling is trying to tell you something!  You can fight doctrine all you
want.  This is where spiritual balm and healing are much needed.  You
need to trust Jesus like you've never trusted Him before.  This is a
step in faith.  Unbind him and let him go!

Here are a few stray notes I kept.  I threw out enough to go twice as
long as the previous part of the essay.  Aren'tcha glad?
Doctrine over person - a recipe and a "U" what about you - do you need
these concoctions to build more cages in your brain?
Standing at the door.  Jesus stands at the door.  He doesn't knock and
run away.
He's there, standing, at the door - knocking.  And if we hear His
voice... you can get out of that cage.  Eternity, eternity, how shall I
grapple with eternity?  Wasn't the way out of that cage grace?  (Been a
while since I read the story.)  "This is the word of the LORD to
Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD
of hosts.  What are you, O great mountain?  Before Zerubbabel you shall
become a plain; and he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of
"Grace, grace to it!"
I'd say the hardest thing in the Christian life is getting along with
others. Giving them grace.
I know and expect the usual silence.  I'm hoping this vessel has done
some good.
You know I won't be silent!