This morning I was tempted to call Arlo and tell him that I was going to opt out of the truck stop today and take in our congregation’s twice-monthly volleyball/basketball activity. I’m glad I went to the truck stop instead. Good things happened.
It is gratifying to bring together men and women who are total strangers beforehand and watch the relationships grow among them. At the end of 1˝ to 2 hours so often we have cobbled together a close-knit congregation. They are willing to risk the sharing of heartfelt concerns, personal prayer requests, ask for input and scriptural understanding from their fellows, and often end the session in hugs and not just handshakes. Imagine burly truck drivers hugging each other! One can sense their appreciation in having a safe place to meet where they can study the Word of God together. After a lonely week on the road they need a place where they can feel comfortable in discussing their daily trials and asking for prayer and help.
We had seven truckers today, all men. As is so often the case, the men knew their Bibles and take the words they find there very seriously. I went in today with the idea of either covering Leviticus 23 (the Feasts of the Lord) or Genesis chapters 2 to 4 (showing how the Ten Commandments can be found early in human history—well before Sinai). It was no problem deciding which way to go today, because one of the men suggested (without my prodding) that all the problems facing the human race today could be found in the early chapters of Genesis. So we were off and running.
As is usually the case, we jumped form topic to topic as the Spirit moved us. Our discussion of the forbidden fruit led one trucker to comment about the “me, myself, and I” problem in the world at large, and we ended up discussing several passages in Scripture that illustrate this and where it came from. In several places various characters are quoted who overload their speech with “I”, “me”, “my”, “mine”, etc. In Isaiah 14, we see that Lucifer had this problem, and that attitude seems to have its origin in him. But we also see it in Luke 12:17–21, Luke 18:9–14, Job 31, and 1 Samuel 13:9–12, to name a few.
Eventually we were able to get back to the Ten Commandments in Genesis, but the diversions were most interesting and helpful (as it turned out) to some of the men. So I floated the question: Where do we find the Fourth Commandment in Genesis 2–4? Why did God create the Sabbath day? The first thing God did after creating the man and the woman was to say, “Hey, let’s take a break. Let’s get to know each other better.” And one of the problems in our world is that people don’t “set aside” the time (i.e., sanctify the time) to get to know God better.
Question: If as truck drivers we can’t take Sunday off, should we find another day of the week to do it?
Answer: Let’s turn to Exodus 20 and see what it says, since we’re interested in what the Word of God says about the matter and not what men say. It shows that the Sabbath points to God as the Creator. We wouldn’t have to worry about the evolution debates if we all correctly understood who the Creator is.
At this point a driver sitting behind me asked, “Okay, tell me something. If the Bible says the seventh day is the Sabbath, why do we go to church on Sunday?” I asked him, “Well, what do you think?”, and he answered, “I think the Romans stole something from us.”
Interesting that people who study the Bible for what it says must eventually ask the question about the true Sabbath day. One of the truckers said that we don’t need to keep the Sabbath on the seventh day because we now have liberty in Christ. So we turned to Deuteronomy 5 and studied how the Sabbath was a sign to Israel that they were no longer slaves, but free men and women. So the Sabbath isn’t a bondage at all but an affirmation of the freedom we have in Christ.
Several things were striking about this exchange. For some in the room, the conversation just blew right by them. They could not see the significance of the Sabbath/Sunday discussion and talked instead about the need to pray to God for a half-day off so they could find a place to go to church every Sunday. One man saw the issue clearly and insisted that the law is not necessary for salvation. Another man, the one who theorizes (correctly) that the Romans stole Sabbath from us, is without question sincerely seeking the truth of the matter, and the others had a seed planted that they might just think about.
Today was in some ways a watershed. I have been by trial and error trying to find a way (at Arlo’s suggestion) of bringing the Sabbath into the studies more often, but without being confrontational about it. That’s not necessarily an easy thing to do. It now looks as though I have a formula for doing so that allows the question to be raised of its own accord. Start in Genesis, show that God certainly had His law in effect before Sinai, that the Sabbath was before Sinai, that the law is good for us. Then keep pursuing Sabbath scriptures through the Bible until a savvy Bible student raises the question.
As we were finishing today, I mentioned that one of the most frustrating things to me about this truck stop ministry is the temporary nature of the weekly congregations that we form. After just a few hours we disband our newly formed assembly. Do you realize, I said, that we will likely not be in the same room together again until Christ returns? That’s sad, because the presence of God’s Spirit was so evident today, as was the appreciation these men had that they could spend a few hours together.
[We can be glad for what we have. I have visited plenty of local congregations that meet together frequently and they have very little sharing of personal problems and aspirations. Hopefully we can all learn from what has been accomplished at your studies. I think it is very important to establish love first and then add truth to it. It is great that truckers left knowing that someone cared for them and that there are aspects of the Bible that they may have never considered before. It would not be as effective if they leave knowing they have heard a lot of new doctrinal arguments from people who were sure that they were right. Many church of God congregations need more of the love of Christ so that visitors see that—and then want to know about their doctrine. — NSE]
We had a quiet crowd today, so I had to do most of the talking. This is somewhat unusual because normally these folks like this opportunity to talk.
I began by saying we were going to do a study in Genesis, but we would start the study in Genesis by turning to Deuteronomy, specifically Deut 30:19, where God says that he set before Israel a choice, life and death, blessing and cursing and His command to choose life. This was the same choice that God gave Adam and Eve. We reviewed the Ten Commandments as revealed in Genesis and how they give life, as well as the depth of Satan’s deception of Eve and how their choices impact the world to this day.
Once again we had the opportunity to discuss the first and second resurrections. This wonderful truth, hidden from so many, answers questions about God’s mercy for those who just don’t know better. By simply reading the Scriptures for what they say, the truth becomes plain and the hope it generates is so apparent.
Let me tell you about John so that you know what to pray for. John was first at our Bible study a number of weeks ago. Later that same day he had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. Because of his heart condition the state police came to the hospital and took his commercial license, effectively putting him out of work. His wife died some years ago and he has been estranged from his family since then. Before she died, his wife made him promise that he would go to church. He dislikes church because, as he says, “wearing a tie is against my religion”, and so he attends truck stop studies and services instead.
John has been at our Bible study for the past couple of weeks. He is awaiting surgery for a pacemaker, and he also is suffering from diabetes. He was able to find someone to lease his truck, plus he is getting a disability payment. He has had several heart episodes since his hospitalization and will probably have more.
So now you know his situation and what to pray for.
[One of the good things accomplished by the WCG was a sense of family among all members worldwide. One could travel almost anywhere in the country or world and receive friendly treatment, be invited to activities and member’s homes, etc. This fine effect was achieved partly by the Spirit of God and partly by a standard human “us versus them” mentality. Churches, clubs, societies and groups of all kinds have a certain internal camaraderie. That is one of the big reasons why people join them. When CoG groups split into many little groups, the family atmosphere has suffered. We need to work hard to maintain that within any group we have and with others. My heart goes out to this man who is sick, has no close family, and apparently few friends. There are many more people like this. The world needs many Christian servants. — NSE]
We had seven truckers today. I began with a short study on the verse in 1 Corinthians about “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us”, and explained the spring holy days from both the Old and New Testaments. Sometimes this subject brings forth great interest, but not so today, so we moved on to other things. Several of the men today had significant religious experiences and were obviously there because they wanted to be. One man I would deem a seeker, someone who knows there is a God but has little or no knowledge of the Bible. He asked if he could take a Bible with him, which I was glad to provide.
[Not everybody is at the same place in learning. Not every message is received well by everyone. The Bible is full of stories of God working in different ways with different people. We need to be learning how best to help each person as best for him or her. — NSE]
Before the study today I was speaking with one of the truck stop employees, who was telling me about a television evangelist whom she viewed just this morning. His program was about Biblical dietary laws including clean and unclean as well as the proper way to slaughter animals for human consumption. Part of the broadcast involved discussion with medical doctors. When she mentioned the name of the preacher, I recognized the name as a mainstream Evangelical type, and significantly enough he has recently written a book on the feast days. I am gratified to see greater interest in the Old Testament and some of these subjects that we have known for years and perhaps take too much for granted.
[If one searches for Feast Day information on the Internet, it has much. Many are apparently unrelated to CoG groups. We ought never to think, “God has to reach the world through us.” — NSE]
We had five drivers today. I wanted to impress on them the reasons that God had to send his Son to suffer for us, that he was our “pioneer”, the captain of our salvation (Heb. 2:10) and all that this means. The great thing is when people take a step back and do not necessarily agree with everything they hear and question what they are being told. When they do this in the right spirit, it results in stimulating and thought-provoking conversation.
The Epistle to the Hebrews says that Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered and that He was made perfect through sufferings. Wrap your mind around this, that Jesus had things to learn and Jesus had to be made perfect. I do not understand this completely, but it is what the Scriptures say. One of the truck drivers today said that God is perfect and God is all knowing, so there was really nothing for Him to learn. Certainly, though, Jesus as our High Priest understands us and our struggles better because He went though the same things we do.
After the study I was reminded again of the toll truck driving can take on family life. One of the men wanted to talk about a personal issue related to his wife. One day he came home from the road to find that she had taken everything from the house and had left. This can be a trying profession.
[Before anyone says, “Christians shouldn’t be truck drivers”, I challenge them to try to live a life without the benefits of trucks. Most things that we possess today, have spent some time in tranist on a truck—and the makings of those things probably spent time in trucks, too. I could not possibly do my ministry without the truck shipment of printing equipment and supplies, computers, etc. These men and women do a good service for society and we ought to do what we can to help their life be better and more Godly. Thank you for your good work, Lenny. — NSE]
Lenny Cacchio; 705 NE Bryant Drive, Lees Summit, Missouri