We had two truckers today, and we talked about a number of issues. There was nothing out of the ordinary today, but an interesting paradox presents itself in Jesus’ statement about turning the other cheek and how that should be applied in some of the encounters we have in life. One trucker wanted to talk about that. On the one hand Jesus said to turn the other cheek, but on the other hand He entered the temple, turned over the tables of the money changers, and chased them and their livestock out. Jesus was obviously not a doormat, yet we do have the statement about turning the other cheek.
I’m not sure I can adequately address that question, but it is certainly a practical question to ask.
[I published my answer to the above question in the Jan/Feb Servants’ News, but accidentally forgot to publish the question. Please refer to the middle of page 26 of the previous issue for my answer. It is a good question! — NSE]
This morning, was an enjoyable and refreshing conversation with three truckers. All are dedicated to their families. One normally travels with his wife, and he says they have driven to 49 states including Alaska and six Canadian provinces. While the children were younger, he only took short runs so he could be home more.
Another trucker was a younger man with two small children at home. They did things a little backwards from the way most people do things: they found a church they liked and chose their residence to be close to that church. He told me with tears in his eyes how he wants to find work near home so he could be with his family more.
The third trucker said that one should never let the “D” word (divorce) come out of one’s mouth in a marriage. Once that word is uttered, it is on the table and up for negotiation. He mentioned that this is what happened in his first marriage. You don’t want to cross over that line, he said. You have no idea of the trauma of divorce until you have been through it.
We covered wide-ranging topics and I won’t try to cover them all. They were interested in the concept of living the Christian life, about not answering kind for kind, but answering belligerent fellow-truckers with a blessing so that they don’t become like them. As one trucker said, “Answer not a fool according to his folly”.
They spoke of how they must rely on God daily to get them out of jams, to help them with making ends meet on their modest wages, and how God always seems to get them through even when the numbers don’t add up.
These men were not Bible scholars today (some truckers really know their way around the Scriptures), but I did see three men striving to live their lives as Jesus would have them live, and this was evident in the way they spoke of their families, their walk of faith, and their attempts to walk as He walked.
I mentioned to them how refreshing it is to meet people who understand the sanctity of marriage and family and their dedication to their convictions. It was a wonderful way to start my week.
When you see a trucker on the road, think of some of these men that you read about in this column. So many of them are hard-working, dedicated folks trying to earn an honest living in the only way they know how. And they can be very lonely and homesick.
In today’s Bible Study, I spent the first hour or so talking to one driver who just happened to come into the driver’s lounge and he mostly wanted to talk about the company he drives for and how he came to work for them.
We were joined later by another driver from Wyoming, and I soon learned that I woefully misjudged the first driver. He was more than just a pleasant, friendly person. He was also a man who knew his way around the Bible and was eager to discuss and share. First impressions can truly be deceiving.
During the past few days I have been thinking about the cry of Jesus as He was dying: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Why did God forsake Him? And why sometimes does God seem to forsake us, and why is it that sometimes our prayers don’t go any higher than the ceiling, and we can feel it? The drivers came up with a couple of good answers: 1. our sins can separate us from God, 2. sometimes Satan can hinder our prayers, as he did one time when Daniel prayed and it took three weeks to get an answer, and, 3. sometimes God wants us to be patient and doesn’t answer right away.
It became immediately evident that I was dealing with two men with a depth of maturity.
I added that Jesus, as our high priest, was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. This way He can understand the feeling of our infirmities, He understands what it is like to be a human being, including what it is like to be cut off from God. When the sins of mankind were placed on Him, he was at that point cut off from God, so he even understands the suffering that sins bring even though He Himself never sinned.
We discussed also the role of the priest in both the Old Testament and New, and that the Scriptures say that we are a royal priesthood. That said, does not our “priesthood” imply that we should be mediators before God for others, even for non-believers?
And we talked about becoming more like Jesus Christ and coming to understand His mind and His thought processes, using how He acted toward and dealt with Judas as an example of His mercy and patience.
We run into some wonderful folks at the truck stop. This was the third week in a row that we had men dedicated to coming to know God better and walking the walk sincerely.
Before the study there was a driver napping in the lounge. We invited him to stay, but he politely declined. He said he used to be a Christian, but was discouraged about scandals involving certain religious leaders in the evangelical world. It was the typical “there can’t be a God because Christians are so bad” mentality, but he just couldn’t seem to see it that way. Still, it was a reminder that people do watch us, and like David in the matter of Bathsheba, we can bring shame not only on ourselves, but also on the Name that we represent.
[People still ask me, “Why won’t you work with this Christian leader? Maybe he has not publicly acknowledged and repented of his well-known sins, but look at all the good he is doing!” They need to realize that “all the good” is counterbalanced by “all the bad” that occurs when people quietly give up on God and the Bible because they see well-accepted “Christian leaders” who do not practice what they preach. — NSE]
A number of topics were of interest today, but most notable were matters of end-time things. Difficulties in understanding the book of Revelation were on the table. I hold to the classic COG concept that Matthew 24 is a template through which we can more clearly understand Revelation, so we studied that chapter. Of concern was how to keep from being deceived by the false prophet and beast, so we addressed that in the light of Jesus’ words. It is evident that many will be deceived, but the elect will understand.
We looked at Deuteronomy 13 where we see that false prophets do not have a message consistent with Scripture, that their message is to follow other gods and not to keep God’s laws. Jesus says that the truth will set us free. We must understand what the Scriptures say so that we can spot truth from error. In the final analysis, we must allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in such matters.
Also, we should not obsess over end time things, for the instructions of Matthew 24 and 25 are to keep at our jobs, make sure there is oil in our lamps, multiply our talents, and help those in need.
One of the men mentioned the commercialization of Christmas and how he wonders if there is a connection between the words “Santa” and “Satan”. I mentioned that I don’t keep Christmas because Christ wasn’t born then. One of the men started to nod his head vigorously. “That’s right. He was born in the fall of the year.”
Finally, we talked about how to study the Bible, which was important to one of the men who seems to be rather new to his faith. One of the men advised him to commit to “talking to God”, as he put it, for 15 minutes a day, and promised that this would grow to a couple of hours a day as he comes to know God better. God will then open up his mind to understand the scriptures more fully.
Because he has some trouble understanding the King James Version, I suggested using a modern translation along side the KJV and use both at the same time. I was pleased to be able to give him a modern translation and a KJV.
Finally, I mentioned how the New Testament cannot be fully understood without the Old. I used the scripture “Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us” (1Cor 5:7) as an example, pointing out that we cannot understand the fullness of that statement without understanding the Passover of the Old Testament. This was an opportunity to explain the Passover celebration in the context of Christianity, and how the Jewish Passover parallels the events leading up to the crucifixion and the significance behind that sacrifice.
One final note. Many of us early in our Christian walk had experiences where we were trying to find a scripture, and lo and behold, the Bible would happen to fall open to that scripture as soon as we cracked the Book open. Personally, I had it happen many times during my first forays into the Scriptures, but haven’t had it happen to me in years. One of the men today (the one I perceive as being the newest) commented that this was happening to him today during our study, and it happened more than once. Encouraging indeed.
[A parent has to do so much for a child when he is young. When a child is struggling with something that he might barely be able to complete in a long time, his face will suddenly light up when he and his dad steps in and does it for him in an instant. As the Child grows, dad may stop stepping in, and let the child struggle through the process. It may not be nearly as exciting to the child, but he is going about the important process of maturing and growing.
Similarly, God tends to do much more for us when we are “young believers”. It is exciting, and people may be saddened when the exciting intervention from God decreases. But our purpose is to “grow in grace and knowledge”, not to grow in exciting intervention from God. —NSE]
Ten—count them—ten truck drivers today! This was a new record.
A crowd that size can be a little more cumbersome. There is something to be said for the intimacy of a smaller group, but we do what we must do.
First, I covered the concept of freedom as it relates to “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us”. The passover lamb of Exodus 12 symbolized Jesus Christ and His sacrifice, and we discussed some of the parallels between them.
One of the drivers mentioned that he was at a funeral once of a man who was killed driving while intoxicated and took others with him. He was a notorious member of the community, and at the funeral service the preacher made the comment that he could think of nothing good to say about the man, implying the man’s destination as eternal damnation in the nether regions.
So I took this as an opportunity to talk about the mercy of God, the resurrections, the unpardonable sin, and the prodigal son (when he was “a long way off” the father ran to meet him). We saw how “it will be more tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment” than for the people in Jesus’ day and discussed how that could be. Clearly, there is a degree of tolerance for some whom we might consider to be terribly wicked that would not be afforded to certain religious types, and the context indicates that the tolerance is because they were blinded in this life. Revelation 20, of course, clarifies how the thing plays out.
Out of the group of 10 drivers, none objected to this teaching and some seemed to appreciate it. God’s mercy is certainly without limits, but of course, as the last verses of Revelation 20 indicate, some will still reject God and be thrown into the lake of fire. So seeds were planted and hope was given.
An old friend from previous studies showed up today, someone it was good to see again. We also had a truck driver and his wife.
Normally, I like to let the guests talk about whatever they are interested in, but they had no particular subjects in mind, so I went to a prepared study on the unpardonable sin, which is a rather frequent question.
About an hour into the study another driver joined us who had forgotten to “spring forward”. He recently read the book “The Prayer of Jabez”, which is based on 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. Jabez’s prayer is sandwiched in the middle of a long line of genealogies. The prayer is a simple, short prayer that can be taken as an example of an effective prayer. Here was a man who was praying for things that were all God’s will. We could say that perhaps a bit much is made of this short passage in 1 Chronicles, but on the other hand, God includes it in his word for some reason. In any case, this little book on the prayer of Jabez is beginning to get some attention.
Although today’s study was not terribly exciting, it served the purpose of providing a place for people to gather to study God’s word together.
We had a family of three, a husband and wife team, and Matt, who has been a regular attendee and has become a friend.
As is common, we started with one topic and ended up in an entirely different direction. I chose the story in the Gospels about the paralytic whose friends removed the roof tiles and lowered him into Jesus’ presence for healing. This was done as a conversation starter, and after we worked our way through the story, the conversation turned to other things.
In turns out that the father in the family of three was once a pastor, but he drives now so he can earn a living. It was evident that both he and his wife have studied their Bibles thoroughly, and he gave a lecture on tithing (which another trucker brought up) and the law. His presentation would have been very well received in many of our own congregations. He was well familiar with the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 28, and that the role of the law is not to save, but to fulfill God’s expectations of us. In short, the law is good for us.
I discussed the passage in Ephesians 2 that we are saved by grace, but pointed out that too often people stop quoting at verse 9. Verse 10 is a critical verse that says we are created for good works. In other words, God has expectations of us.
We also touched on Romans 5 and 6, which discusses issues related to walking in newness of life.
After the Bible study, as I was packing up my things, a ragged-looking character came in and sat down. “Are you the reverend?” he wanted to know. His dad was a preacher, he said, and he beat his kids and his wife all the time. I asked him why he thought his dad did that. I could tell by the way he was saying things that he did not mean to be confrontational, but had something on his mind that he wanted to unload. This observation was correct.
He lost his wife nine months ago, and although he did not have a drinking problem before this, he has spent the last nine months wandering around the country and drunk, trying to run away and drown his hurt. He realizes this has not helped the situation. We spent an hour talking, and he is searching for answers in a spiritual context as he should, but is just now coming to terms with his grief. I gave him some literature on grieving and a Bible, but he complained that he couldn’t read the small print because he lost his glasses after one of his drunken bouts.
Then I remembered that a lady in our congregation gave me a large print Bible to give away at the truck stop, so I pulled it out, asked him if the print was readable, and it worked for him. I told him it was his, and asked him to read in it every day, starting with the gospels. It is the message of Jesus Christ that he needs now. He at first couldn’t believe that I was just going to give him the Bible, but when he realized the gift was for real, tears began to come down his cheeks. This was the third time in our discussion that this rough-hewn man from Wyoming burst into tears, the first two being when he was talking about his wife’s death. I have never seen anyone who was so touched and moved to receive a Bible.
He emphasized he did not want any money, that he had enough money. He said he was now ready to go back to the trucking company that he drove for before his wife’s death and get back to work. I offered to pray with him there, but he was uncomfortable with a public prayer of that type, so I promised to pray for him privately at home and encouraged him to do the same.
We had seven truck drivers today, some of whom were very well versed in the Bible. First I reviewed a few scriptures that indicate that the church in its early years relied heavily on the Old Testament—that these in fact were the Holy Scriptures referred to in the New Testament. Then I turned to Acts 2 and we began a discussion on Pentecost, what the word “Pentecost” means, and that this was a direct reference to Leviticus 23 and the Feast of Weeks. I then tied in Passover with a New Testament application and made the point that these Feasts of the Lord point to Jesus Christ. They seemed genuinely interested in this.
We then got into myriad other subjects including law and grace, the fact that God has expectations of us, and even though works won’t save us, there are things that we need to be doing if we claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.
Two of the drivers were a husband and wife team, and she is hungry for the Bible. She took notes throughout the study, and it was rewarding to see the banter back and forth as others gave her advice on Bible translations and study helps.
I was reminded today of principles of evangelism and discipling which are useful to review from time to time. We have the choice of teaching the truths we understand that few others do in either a positive or a confrontational way. For example, the Holy Days can be presented as a wonderful way to come to know God and his plan more fully, or we can pull out dozens of proof texts and beat people over the head with how their days are wrong and ours are right. The word of God is called a sword, but too many use it as a club and beat people over the head with it. Frankly, for people who love God’s word and are sincerely seeking Him, the positive approach is exponentially more effective.
Besides, I’m tired of theological food fights.
The Church of God Midwest, Heartland Church of God, and Church of God Kansas City met for a special fellowship Sabbath on March 10. We have on tape the messages from that day’s services. In Steve Miller’s message, “God’s Nature Revealed through the 23rd Psalm”, learn how the names and nature of God are magnified through this most famous of Psalms. Chuck Beyer’s message, “What Are Your Values?” discusses the values of society versus Biblical values.
If you would like a copy of any of these messages, please send your request to me.
Lenny Cacchio; 705 NE Bryant Drive,
Lees Summit, Missouri 64068