Servants' News

Jan/Feb 2000

 

Trucker’s Bible StudyTrucker's Bible Study

Oak Grove, Mo., #36-40

The Trucker’s Bible Study is conducted weekly at the Texaco truck stop on I-70, Oak Grove, Missouri by Arlo Gieselman, often assisted by Lenny Cacchio, the writer of this series.

December 5, 1999: We had a repeat customer today and a new fellow. I asked them if there were any subjects they wanted to talk about, and one of them said he was enjoying a study in Matthew’s Gospel, and he found it especially interesting because it seemed to emphasize the Christian lifestyle—things Jesus expects us to do.

This led to a discussion on Matthew 25, the separation of the sheep from the goats. Interestingly enough, the sheep fed the hungry, clothed the naked, etc., and didn’t even realize that the good works they were doing were gaining them treasure in heaven. The trucker pointed out that if a person who is truly walking in God’s ways—truly walking with God—then he’ll do what God requires without even thinking about it.

Once again we had an event where one trucker bared his soul regarding personal weaknesses, and it was gratifying to see the one interaction as the more mature Christian helped the other. It seems that studying the word in small groups has a way of binding people to one another. I gave the trucker the assignment of reading Romans 5-8 each day, in which Paul describes the struggle he himself faced with the pulls of sin—and how he overcame it.

This was a good study—not the most exciting, but good.

[This is why the ministry of Christ and His Apostles was called a “work”. Serving is not always attending big meetings, making big decisions, doing big works and being praised by big crowds. Doing Christ’s work involves many people taking care of small, often little-noticed things. “Consider the lilies...” (Matt 6:28-30) —NSE].

January 16, 2000: I am reminded of the incident in Corinth, where Paul was told, “Do not be afraid, but speak ... for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10). If there is one lesson I have learned since being involved with the Trucker’s project, it would have to be that God is working on some level with more people than what I could have imagined. There are “many people” in this city—indeed in any city—who have a love of the scriptures and some level of relationship with God. Although they might not have a depth of understanding of who God is and what He is doing, it is now hard for me to deny that the seeds of God’s word have spread farther than just our modest efforts. God be praised that He can work through any venue He pleases.

Our guests this morning were two truck drivers (one of whom is a Vietnam war veteran with a debilitating wound) and a retired couple who were travelling through, and came up after hearing our announcement.

One trucker had just made an employment change and was uncertain on the direction his life was going to take, so we began by reviewing some biblical examples of people whose lives took strange turns (Joseph and Job) that seemed to be for the worse, but God was with them every step of the way. Hebrews 11 is a hall of fame for those who remained faithful, who doubted not God’s promises even though the physical evidence was against them.

This was one of those instances where I am reminded of that old saying that God gave us two ears and one mouth because he wants us to listen twice as much as we talk. By this I mean that the trucker mentioned how much comfort he finds in the Book of Proverbs, and I think that the Bible study would have been better had I simply asked, “How so?” instead of sermonizing.

That said, the discussion turned to whether there is a revival of sorts going on in the country today, and once again they all expressed concern about the moral decline in the nation and the need to get back to the vision the Founding Fathers had of one nation under God. It was moving to hear the discussion, which I feel inadequate trying to relate. One of the truckers is of Mennonite background and therefore during the war in Vietnam was a conscientious objector on religious grounds. Had he been drafted, he would not have served, but he looked at the veteran and told him that he and his friends were thankful that others did serve.

He then discussed a friend in their church who did serve in the military, and has since come home. The man is a wonderful Bible teacher, but some in the congregation have a hard time accepting him back because he chose to serve in the military. “Should we not accept him back?” he asked.

I then asked a question that might not be all that hypothetical. I turned to the Vietnam vet and asked him what he would do if Jane Fonda walk into his church one day—would he accept her? (Note: There are unconfirmed reports circulating that Jane Fonda is studying the Bible and is becoming a “born again” Christian.) [During the war, Jane Fonda visited USA prisoners held by North Viet Nam and insisted that they were all being well treated—not realizing that she was shown only a select group that were specifically well cared-for so they would look good for her visit.] The veteran hesitated, understanding very well the importance of the question. This led to a discussion about Saul of Tarsus and his conversion, and how hard it must have been for the Christian community of that day to accept him.

I then turned to John 13. I pointed out that this passage takes place during the Passover season and discussed briefly the meaning of the Passover, but also pointed out the ordinance of humility that footwashing represents. Jesus, the one who was God in the Old Testament, stooped down as an act of servitude and humility, to wash his disciples’ feet—and he even washed the feet of Judas, whom he knew would betray him. What an example for all of us!

The retired gentleman at this point spoke up. He said that he and his wife are Catholics, and they had never been to a Bible study like this before. In their backgound, everyone just sits and listens to the priest, and there is no chance to discuss and ask questions. They had heard all these Bible passages over the years, but had never had them explained, and they were so glad that they decided to come to the study. In his experience, once the children get past Catechism, there is no further in-depth Bible instruction for adults, and indeed they had been told in the past that they don’t need to read the Bible. I made sure they took a Bible with them, while one of the truckers chatted with them afterwards and discussed different Bible translations and the strengths and weaknesses of each. I also gave them some tapes and the first lesson of the CEM Correspondence Course.

As I mentioned to the Vietnam veteran, there is nothing more rewarding than helping someone who is new to understanding, and eager to learn more about God and His ways.

January 23, 2000: Before the study today, one of the truckers mentioned to me that temptation seems to be a problem only when he is not on the road, for when he is home, such things as television and the culture in general invades his life. This became the take-off point for the study today as we were joined by more truckers. We had a total of six today, including a couple who had joined us a few weeks ago. While I was involved upstairs with the truck drivers, Arlo was elsewhere in the truck stop talking to some teenagers.

We began with John 14, which says that the Holy Spirit was “with” the disciples, but would be “in” them, which is one of those little-understood statements that pack big meaning. It tells us that the disciples were not yet converted, but it also outlines one of the differences between the Old and New Covenants. Hebrews 8 tells us that the problem with the Old Covenant was not with the covenant but with the people. Under the New Covenant the law is written on our hearts as opposed to in stone, which means that we are therefore capable of living according to God’s ways, something that the Israelites were unable to do for any length of time.

I used this as an entry point to a discussion on the passage “Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us” (1Cor. 5), and most of the rest of the Bible Study we had a discussion about the Holy Days and how they point to Christ and to God’s plan for the human race. We began with Passover and its symbols, Days of Unleavened Bread and leaving spiritual Egypt, and Pentecost and how it bears a relationship with the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai under the Old Covenant and the writing of the law on our hearts by the coming of the Holy Spirit in the New Covenant. We ended up working our way through to the Day of Atonement. The concepts ingrained in the Holy Days seem to fascinate those who have never heard them explained. I believe that those days can be a tool of outreach to better preach the gospel.

One of the couples who attended with us this morning is from Houston, and they took several tapes and pieces of literature with them, and were particularly interest in the CEM materials, as the wife happens to be originally from Longview, TX.

Just as we were ending, another gentleman came in, and we engaged him in a conversation. This fellow had an interesting view of the Bible, including a knowledge of the need to keep God’s law, that Sabbath is the seventh day, and some other well thought out issues. Another truck driver joined in the conversation, so in a sense we had a second Trucker’s Bible study on the heels of the first. The second driver’s style seemed to be more contentious—he has his mind made up about everything—while the first driver seemed eager to discuss ideas and concepts. One thing that distresses him is so many people using the same Bible but coming to different conclusions about what it says. On the other hand, as he would come across an answer to a question as we went through a scripture or two, he would shout out an exclamation of excitement. He was delighted to take a Bible and some literature with him.

I am pleased to say that we have been able to unload lots of literature, tapes, and Bibles the past few weeks. We’re looking forward to unloading some more.

January 30, 2000: We were able to reach six people with the Good News today. When Dave Throckmorton and I arrived at 8:15 (about 45 minutes before the study was to begin), a couple was already there. It so happens that this was the same couple (from Houston) who were with us last week.

We were later joined by another husband/wife team from Montana, and two more men (one from Kentucky and another from Tennessee).

The people from Montana have been studying Romans and found some confusing passages relative to the law in Romans 2 and 3, and they wanted some background to that book, which I was able to provide. Still, how do we reconcile Romans 2:13 (“Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified”) with Romans 3:20 (“Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin”)? Why does Paul apparently contradict himself?

The answer of course is that the law does not do the justifying (only the death and resurrection of Christ can do that). Rather, the law simply defines right from wrong. But when one is justified by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, then that person will keep God’s laws. Another way to express it is to say that they will try to do right rather than wrong. Even so, all the law-keeping in the world cannot justify past sins.

Discussions also took place relative to the Gospel and what it is in its fullness, which includes the second coming of Jesus Christ and His kingdom being established on this earth. David commented to me later that he was impressed that so many people understand that Jesus is coming a second time, and I have to admit that this is something that is talked about more these days than it was 30 years ago when David and I were both learning the truth of the Bible.

[We can give credit to Sunday-keeping Christians for much of the spreading of this truth, without accepting their errors. The big problems arise when Sunday-keeping (or Sabbath-keeping) organizations claim that they are the “only ones” with “the truth”. —NSE]

Finally, one of the truckers kept mentioning salvation-oriented issues. This provided an opening relative to how so few people in the overall scheme of things seem to have had a chance to come to know God and His son Jesus Christ. Since there is no other name by which men may be saved, and since God is not willing that any should perish, then why does God seem to be losing the battle for souls? In fact, we read in Romans 11 that “God has concluded them in unbelief, that He might have mercy on all.” So it is God who has blinded them, and He takes the responsibility for it. That being the case, how will God rectify it? From that point of departure, we discussed the resurrections and God’s plan for those who have never had a chance, including the thousand year reign of Christ and the general resurrection that follows it.

Once again, we had very positive comments from the participants today. More literature, Bibles, and tapes passed through our hands for destinations unknown, and we had some nice conversations both before and after the study.

As a sidelight, after the study, I spoke to some extent with the couple from Montana, and the fellow told me that he used to ride rodeo, and back in those days the riders were a rough lot. However, there has been a change over the past few years, and they now have an organization called “Cowboys for Christ”. He says that their meetings before various rodeo events are packed. I report this for what it’s worth, as I believe it is important to keep one’s ear to the ground on social and religious events.

[There seems to be a growing number of people today who now completely distrust big government, big business, the big media and big religion. They see that nearly everything these groups say is a carefully crafted statement designed to manipulate people to increase their power and wealth. The truth is told when it happens to be convenient or when it is necessary to avoid legal entanglements. Unfortunately, HWA’s wealthy lifestyle, advertising approach and claim to be the “only true Church” looks much like other “corrupt, big religion”. People are hungry to learn from real, local people who clearly have a personal relationship with God. —NSE]

I will mention here that there is an outside chance that we could pick up two more truck stops for Bible studies, but we need more people to man them. I take a look at the unused talent in the Church of God today, and it is fun to muse about what would happen if we could turn some of it loose. So many of us have been around for decades and know the Bible very well—and can even teach it. Imagine what would happen if all those who are able would have a ministry of some kind. Imagine if each of us could connect with three people a week. We cannot imagine the impact we could have. I hope and pray that we can unlock some of the unused gifts that have been quenched for too long.

February 13, 2000: Our visitors today included a truck stop employee and a repeat customer who had joined us two weeks ago.

I began by relating an event at a Bar Mitzvah that I had the privilege of attending last week. The boy who was at the center of the celebration gave a short explanation of several scriptures from the Torah, and commented that he disagreed with God about animal sacrifices because “the animal didn’t do anything wrong. Why should an innocent animal suffer when a person does something wrong?”

One gentleman made the excellent point that God doesn’t make mistakes, but having said that, the boy was right that it is okay to disagree with God. Moses did it when Israel made the golden calf and Abraham did it when he was bargaining for the preservation of Sodom and Gomorrah. Perhaps we can influence what God does more than what we think. We just don’t try enough.

On another level, sacrifices showed that sin often hurts innocent parties. And finally, animal sacrifices pointed forward to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who was the lamb without blemish, something that the lad at the Bar Mitzvah would likely not understand.

Another item of discussion related to resurrections and the return of Christ. One trucker believes in the rapture, and we were not inclined to debate the point. It turns out that both men understood that there is more than one resurrection, and we reviewed some scriptures in that regard. We let him explain where he finds in scripture an explanation of the rapture and he turned to Revelation 4:1-3. This wasn’t the time to argue but to listen, but it is interesting how tenuous the evidence for a rapture is.

Both men today were very open to learning and discussing, and neither was inclined to argue. It is a joy to encounter people who understand there is a God and are anxious to learn from the Bible.

—Lenny Cacchio; 705 Ne Bryant Dr Lees Summit, Missouri 64068 L_cacchio@yahoo.com


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