Today, the Sunday after the Tragedy, I was disappointed that we only had three truck drivers. All three, however, were visibly moved by the events of the week.
I began with a prayer and turned to 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
I pointed out that I was happy that Billy Graham at the National Prayer Service on Friday stated that this nation needs to turn back to God and confess our sins before Him. This nation has humbled itself and sought God’s face, but whether we will turn from our wicked ways is the open question. Often in our history when tragedy has struck, the leaders have called for a National Day of Prayer and Fasting, implying a need for national repentance. One can only hope that the people of this country will understand that our pride and evil ways could explain why God has removed His protection from us.
Peace is coming to the earth when Jesus Christ returns, and that is hope for us today. Still, we can pray for God’s mercy upon us and that He will grant us repentance and heal our land.
We also got into some doctrinal issues. One of the men, who is quite new to Bible Study, says that he has concluded that Jesus Christ was a created being, made before the world began. I was interested in his perspective since this is a subject of debate in the Churches of God and has a long history. We examined various scriptures and we did not convince each other, but we were able to walk away respecting each other’s viewpoints. I suggested that when we are in the Kingdom, we can approach Jesus Christ and ask Him for the truth of the matter.
[I think that is an excellent conclusion. We will all have a day of judgment and Christ will ask us what we did with our lives and why—He will probably not ask us to explain His nature. — NSE]
At the truck stop today I picked up a free religious publication for truck drivers and was surprised to open it and see a picture of a driver I met some time ago. He is a retired airline pilot who took to driving for something to do. He was in a terrible wreck with another rig. While he escaped with just bruises, it took heroic and dangerous measures on his part to save the life of the driver of the other rig, whose truck was completely engulfed in flames. It reminded me once again about how much protection these men and women need.
We had four drivers today, including a young woman whose brother is in the Marines and is being transferred to the Persian Gulf area. There was obvious distress in her face.
We talked about justice and mercy, and reviewed many scriptures in the Old Testament about God’s mercy on people who turn to Him. God’s prophecies are meant as a warning. Punishment on a nation is conditional, for “it may be that the house of Judah will hear all the adversities which I propose to bring upon them, that everyone may turn from his evil way, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin” (Jer 36:3).
One driver told me that the Promise Keeper’s daily scripture reading on September 11 was Zephaniah 1:14–18:
The great day of the Lord is near; it is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the Lord is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet and alarm against the fortified cities and against the high towers.
“I will bring distress upon men, and they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like refuse.”
Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy, for He will make speedy riddance of all those who dwell in the land.
Read it and think, but his point was this: God knows what is going on.
My purpose today was to give people hope, that God is merciful, and also to pray for the nation, that it will turn to God. There is a palpable humility in the nation today. The things in which we have our trust have proved to be no gods at all, and there is a reaching for the divine. Most do not know how to come before God, even as the people of Nineveh did not know their right hand from their left. We must learn to show the way, for the nation’s heart is open.
[While not every detail of the prophecy fits the WTC disaster, a lot of them are surprisingly close. Only a very few other scriptures would fit this event so closely. Does that mean that God inspired the leaders of the Promise Keepers? Is that proof that He is working through them? To a member of the Promise Keepers, the answer is probably a clear, “Yes”. To others, who believe theirs is the “right group”, the answer is a clear, “No—the similarity was just a coincidence”.
To me, the answer is that God works with people who have only some truth. Notice the concluding words of the book of Jonah: “And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?” The Ninevites did not understand much about God, but God still sent them a prophet and told them to repent.
A Promise Keeper is committed to: 1)honoring Jesus Christ through worship, prayer, and obedience to God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit; 2)pursuing vital relationships with a few other men, understanding that he needs brothers to help him keep his promises; 3)practicing spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity; 4)building strong marriages and families through love, protection, and Biblical values; 5)supporting the mission of his church by honoring and praying for his pastor, and by actively giving of his time and resources; 6)reaching beyond any racial or denominational barriers to demonstrate the power of Biblical unity; and 7)influencing his world, being obedient to the Great Commandment (Mark 12:30–31) and the Great Commission (Matt 28:19–20).
Church of God brethren ought to recognize that an organizaiton can teach a lot of Bible truth, but still have some errors. Items 1, 3, 5 and 7 are very good and have certainly helped many men. They echo God’s commands to acheive righteous results—an improvement upon groups that only emphasize “knowing Jesus”. While men certainly do need help from other men (point 2), the Bible never mentions creating men-only organizations. Finally, items 5 and 6 can get one into trouble, supporting one’s local church, which may belong to a denomination, yet also claiming to reach beyond one’s denomination. In some ways, Promise Keepers has become a denomination—switching the loyalty of many Christians from their denomination to the Promise Keepers and their ecumenical agenda.
I believe that God blessed many people through the Promise Keepers’ teaching of basic Christian principles. He probably inspired them to write Zephaniah 1:14–18 for their September 11 reading because He cares for the many men who would be reading that scripture that day. However, their leaders are seriously wrong when they encourage people to look to their group in areas where they should not. They also err in discouraging their members from studying and teaching doctrines that typically divide Christian groups. All believers need to study and live “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”, even though we do not come to understand it all at the same time. — NSE]
It was good to get back to work after the Feast of Tabernacles, and we were joined today by a regular (my friend Matt who drops by whenever he is in town) and three truck drivers. Matt is a big help in instances where a driver is struggling with substance abuse, having been there himself, and today he was able to contribute profitably to helping a struggling young man who knows better, but just can’t seem to shake the obsession.
The driver pointed out that he has an obsession with drugs rather than a craving. He only starts craving it once he gets near it and samples it. He compared it to a craving for sweets. You’re okay until you take the first bite, but at that point you just can’t help yourself. The refreshing thing about the conversation was his willingness to accept responsibility for his actions. While he could have blamed many things for his problem, he refused to do so and admitted that such things were no excuse.
The conversation would lead me to believe that September 11 combined with perhaps a leading of the Holy Spirit that began last summer (and a church-going background) have motivated him to look for God. He was very glad to accept a Bible and several tapes. Indeed, he took several Bibles with him because he wants to share them with others.
In a case like this, a person needs a support group, which is often hard for a truck driver to fund. They lead lonely lives. A church can be a wonderful way to have someone hold you accountable and to provide support, and I told him that if he is passing through the area on a Saturday afternoon, he is more than welcome to come to our congregation. We can keep him busy and out of trouble for about four hours.
In addition to helping out this one driver, we discussed whether the nation will turn from its wicked ways. In any case, concern about end time things is certainly on people’s minds.
There is so much work to do these days, so many who need the good news of the kingdom. And the laborers are few.
Lenny Cacchio; 705 NE
Bryant Drive, Lees Summit, Missouri 64068