Truckerís Bible Study
Oak Grove, Mo., #10 -19
The Truckerís 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.
These studies are reported in the hope that others will use them as practical experience in conducting their own ministry. Obviously, not everyone will minister to truckersómany of us have backgrounds and gifts that will enable us to reach others. But nearly every ministry experiences the same basic challenges: too much to do at at some times, discouragement from too little to do at other times;. people who are disinterested to people who seem to take over the study; great spiritual highs to demonic attacks. We must realize that we never know exactly how the Eternal will work and that prayer can "turn lemons into lemonade".
(Note: We number these studies simply for convenienceówe do not report on every week as some weeks do not have a particularly outstanding lesson that was different than a previous week.) óNSE
January 24, 1999 (#10): No one came until about 9:45 when a reluctant trucker stuck his head in the door to see if the television was on, but didnít seem to have much of an interest. Arlo engaged him in a friendly conversation. I was interested in his comment about the strange weather around the country lately. The distress of our times is beginning to catch peopleís attention, which means they would be more open to the preaching of the Gospel. Many people really do worry about divine retribution for the sins of the nation.
This encounter, which initially seemed to be brief, ended up as a 30-minute chat. Here was a man who understands there is a God and that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ, but is beset with doubts. It is one thing to know intellectually that there is a God and another altogether to know Godís presence and reality in oneís day to day life, and to know it down to the core of oneís being.
I told him that even John the Baptist doubted Jesus at one point, and as for whether the Bible is really just a book written by men (in other words, a giant hoax), people donít die for what they know is a hoax. The apostles were martyred for their beliefs, as were many people who walked with Jesus. If what they wrote was not true, they surely would not have been willing to die for it.
January 31, 1999 (#11): This study consisted of a repeat customer, two helpful guests, and a man with some unusual beliefs.
A man arrived early to talk, whom Arlo recognized from a couple of weeks ago. He is new to the study of the scriptures (since October), although he has been a nominal Christian his entire life. He feels a call to the ministry and has decided to leave trucking and study towards the ministry. He is a single man and has few material wants and is willing to go wherever he is led. He appears very sincere and humble. I explained that the King James does a terrible job in translating the word for "minister", and what that job is really about is "service". Intuitively he knew this, as he seems to automatically use the words "ministering" and "serving" interchangeably.
We pointed out in Acts 8 how the people were scattered and spread the word wherever they found themselves, so his ministering does not need to be as an ordained minister. He can "minister" and preach the word wherever regardless of his circumstances. Paul, in fact, made tents and then went and preached on the Sabbath in the synagogues.
We were joined by a couple who are friends from the Church of God Seventh Day. They were able to share some insights in the sacrifice that a minister must make, given from the experiences of a relative.
We were then joined by a Pentecostal type who had some strange ideas about a number of things, including visions he claims to have had and how the scriptures take second place to his visions. We got into quite a discussion with this fellow, as you can well imagine. He had a spirit of condemnation about him going beyond a spirit of self-righteousness. Seemed to think he had the ability to bring curses on others and condemn them to eternal hellfire. He believes that some can be saved by the covenant of grace and others by the covenant of righteousness, which amounts to earning oneís salvation. In the minds of many people, his demeanor and attitude probably gives Christianity a bad name. It became evident that arguing was not going to get anywhere. My carnal nature enjoyed giving him things to think about, although I doubt that he will. He finally admitted that he rejects much of Paulís writings and other parts of scripture because they do not agree with some of the communications he is getting from the "spirit".
The couple from COG Seventh Day had to leave, but before doing so, the gentleman got out of his chair and walked up to our Pentecostal friend and said something to this effect: "I have been a Christian for a long time, and there is one thing that I have come to see. I am responsible for my own salvation and not everyone elseís. Judgement is in Godís hands and not mine, and the only personís salvation that I can do anything about is my own." He then shook the manís hand, said it was nice to meet him, and left.
The meeting broke up at this point, and the Pentecostal left. Our other guest, who is new to Bible study said, "He finally revealed himself." It was a reference to the man putting the communication from this spirit ahead of scripture.
Jesus and the Apostles continually ran into people who thought they were spiritually superior. We have to learn to deal with this type of person and often make sense to the new believer at the same time. Wisdom from the Eternal and practice help us to do this. óNSE
February 7, 1999 (#12):
Several from our congregation and from the Church of God Seventh Day attended a seminar on evangelism, and I went to that in lieu of attending the Bible study. Arlo tells me he had a unique experience last week, as it was the first time that he had a trucker with whom he was in complete agreement.
The trucker had gotten there early and had picked up and read a booklet that we had left behind previously on the nature of the Holy Spirit, and the man asked for another copy that he could give to his brother. He told Arlo that a while back he told God, "I want to be led by Your spirit." He wanted to make sure that he learned what the Bible says, and not just what people say about the Bible.
He seemed to have some basic understanding of the second resurrection, and that there is a plan for those who never had a chance in this life. Arlo, of course, shared some information on the Sabbath with him.
It is heartening to know that God is sending people our way who are truly "searching the scriptures daily whether these things are so".
February 14, 1999 (#13): Nobody came. These are disappointments that we must accept and overcome.
February 21, 1999 (#14): We had one trucker who wanted to talk mostly about coping with the death of friends and relatives. He had the age-old question of "why does God allow such things?" We reassured him that they did not die because God was punishing them, but that it is appointed unto all men to die once, and after that the resurrection. God doesnít tell us why some things happen, but He does assure us that all shall live again, and that we are assured of a resurrection because Jesus Christ, our elder brother, conquered death through His own resurrection.
It was a good opportunity to plant a few seeds of the gospel, the Good News that all will have a chance, and that God will wipe away all tears and death will be destroyed. We referred to some of the classic scriptures in 1 Corinthians, 2 Thessalonians, and Revelation to give hope and comfort that indeed we will see our loved ones again, and all will have the opportunity for eternal life.
He took a couple of Bibles with him and some literature pertinent to the subject at hand. We were able to plant a few seeds and hopefully they will take root, but just as important, we were able to convey hope and encouragement. That is what it is all about, isnít it?
If nothing else, the man will probably remember that someone representing Christianity tried to help him with his current problems rather than try to get him to accept a set of doctrines or attend a certain church. Jesus and the Apostles helped a great many people who never became believers. óNSE
March 7, 1999 (#15): What is true religion? That was a major part of our subject today.
The truck driver today just happened to be in the lounge watching the tube, and decided to stay to talk religion with us. He says he has no faith in religion, but he does believe in God. Says he has a lot of questions, but doesnít have the answers.
Interesting talking to him because he seems to be like so many today. Many know there is a God, but see the hypocrisy and politics in various religious organizations, so they get their "religion" from reading the Bible and personal prayer, and then try to live it by helping others in need. It reminded me of a scripture (which we read to him) in James 1:26-27 that says in part that pure and undefiled religion is to visit orphans and widows and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. We also read James 2:14-17, which expounds on the principle even more. I believe we frame the question incorrectly when we talk in terms of grace and works. Instead, James talks about faith and works, which puts a whole new spin on the role of works in the Christian life.
He took a Bible with him (he only had a New Testament previously), as well as some literature and tapes. It was encouraging to hear him say that he usually drives only on the East Coast, and he couldnít figure out why all of a sudden he got a route to the Midwest, except maybe it was because it was meant for him to meet with us.
No one can prove that this manís visit to the study was directly planned by Godónor can we prove that it was not. Many people who teach the Bible report events like this far more often than one would expect from mere chance. If we think that we must have a TV program in every household to reach people whom God wants us to, we are mistaken. He knows who they are, and if we are willing to teach, He can bring them to us. óNSE
March 21, 1999 (#15): I was not able to attend this study, but Arlo Gieselman said that it was "the best one ever". After you hear the story, you might be inclined to agree.
He had four truckers, two of whom were very serious Bible students. One had been studying for five years and had a well-marked Bible to show for it. Marked Bibles are somewhat of a rarity, by the way. He has a six-year-old who wanted to be baptized, and they allowed it because Jesus said "let the children come", and at worst the child would just be getting wet and could be rebaptized later.
Also, one of the workers at the truck stop (a teenager) came in to listen. A couple of months ago one of the women who works there approached me about getting a Bible for a "young fellow worker" who was seeking spiritual guidance. Some of his fellow workers wanted to help him along these paths. I gave the lady a Bible to pass along, and this was the young man who was the recipient.
But the thing that got Arlo excited relates to the other truck driver who is deep in the Word. Arlo has made it a habit to mention in passing the Sabbath in every study just to put it out there and see what happens. It so happens that this one trucker had been thinking about this very subject and wanted to know more. In fact he wanted to talk more than what Arlo had time for, and the man asked for a phone number and address where he could attend services in Kansas City if he happened to be in the area on the Sabbath. The man said that this was "the most fantastic" Bible study he had ever attended.
Our job is to plant seeds and not necessarily convince folks of the truth of what we know. We have planted a lot of seeds over the 18 months that we have done these studies. Yet we know that there is more to spreading the word than just planting seeds. Some plant, some water, and some harvest, but of course it is God who gives the increase. It was encouraging that yesterday God sent someone in whom the seed had already been planted and who was seeking to have that seed watered. I hope you can see why yesterday was an encouragement.
We have heard of many independent Bible believers seeking places to study and fellowship. Most are not opposed to meeting on the Sabbath and a few have discovered it on their own. However, many specifically are opposed to joining a "church organization". It is a good thing that you have an independent fellowship where people can come to attend. It is also good that you do not reject someone for practicing "child baptism", but understand it is their attempt to follow the Bible. The scripture says nothing specific about an "age for baptism", so one must put several scriptures togetheródifferent believers may put them together different ways. This item does not need to be a "condition of fellowship", but something that can be discussed later. óNSE
March 28, 1999 (#16): John Curry and I met with three truckers today, one of whom was a repeat customer from several months ago. You may recall from a previous post a man who claimed to have just learned about having a terminal illness. This was the man who joined us for a second time.
Today seemed like the right time to read the scripture that says, "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us", and to relate how the lamb in Exodus 12 represented the Messiah and His sacrifice, and I related specific items showing how the Passover was a type of the death of Jesus Christ. This did not seem to strike much of a chord.
One of the gentlemen had a very good grasp of the millennium and the rule of Jesus Christ on this earth, which seems to be a doctrine that is becoming more popular in the evangelical community. He had an obvious knowledge of the Bible, which was good to see. The other truckers did not understand that Christ will reign on the earth.
I hesitate to relate some observations about the trucker who attended for the second time, but perhaps my impressions will be helpful. For various reasons I am not sure that he was being totally straight with us about his terminal illness. The story he told in the autumn didnít quite match up with the story he told me today. (One does not go in for triple bypass surgery if he has a terminal illness). And when there is a not so subtle hint for money, suspicions become aroused.
So todayís study was not so exciting, but having some weeks better than others is to be expected.
We want to help the needy, but it is wrong to help those who are pretending to be needy in order to get money. Giving money to them only encourages them to repeat the false practice. If no one ever gave to such people, they would be more likely to find a real job. We can pray for the gift of discernment of spirits (1Cor 12:10). Even so, there still may be times when we are not sure whether someoneís needs are genuine. The Eternal knows. We can always diligently pray that He will punish the person if they are being deceptive, help them if they really need it, and specifically show us if we are to help them. óNSE
April 11, 1999 (#17): We had record attendance today: six truckers, two employees of the truck stop, Arlo and me.
1. Three of the truckers are serious Bible students, and the other three would like to be. One truck driver, an African-American lady, has a deep comprehension of Biblical truth and a gift for explaining it. She took the approach early in her spiritual journey that she would study the Bible for what it said rather than what churches tell her, and it was evident that she has been true to this.
2. Another driver, a young man whose grandfather was a preacher, no longer attends church. His reason for no longer attending? Churches are too much into tradition and sugar-coating the Bible rather than in preaching the truth. I was of the impression that he meant that many churches these days do not condemn sin as they should.
3. I was impressed today that those who open the Bible and study it for what it says all tend to have an understanding that Jesus will return and that there will be a millennium on the earth. Understanding of whether there will be a rapture and of other end time issues may differ, but many more than what we might think understand the basics. We were able to discuss the fullness of the Gospel as discussed in Isaiah 61, which not only speaks to salvation, but also to the Good News of the second coming and the peace that Jesus Christ will bring to the earth.
4. Speaking of tradition vs. Biblical truth, Arlo used that opportunity to state that Sunday-keeping is a tradition, and if one takes the Bible and the Bible alone as oneís authority, one would have to conclude that the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week.
5. Evidently, many are troubled (or have doubts about) the traditional notions of hellfire, and this led to a discussion of Revelation 20-21, Matthew 11:20-24 and Ezekiel 37. Some are willing to consider this, and some are not. Interesting again how the two individuals mentioned in paragraphs 1 & 2 (above) had enough understanding from just reading the Bible that they could see the possibility.
The study went two hours today, and I couldnít possibly relate everything to you in this short summary. I do think it is important to listen to people and not try to "evangelize" those who are already convinced that Jesus is the Messiah and that the Bible is Godís written word. In such cases it is better to walk alongside them and study the Bible together as fellow students.
The lady mentioned in paragraph #1 wants God to lead her wherever His will directs. She hopes to leave trucking and enter the ministry. Perhaps His will is something else, but I must tell you that her meekness before God, her faith to follow Godís leading, and her intelligence, insight, and ability to explain the scriptures could lead her in a direction she canít imagine right now. Please pray for her and any others God might call.
It is wonderful to see how much people learn simply from reading the Bible. The Eternal reveals truth to those who seek Him. Our WCG past was full of arrogance and had its share of error. We must not continue that arrogance, but realize that it is possible that another Bible Student has some truth that we do not have. That does not mean that we forget all of the truth that we have learnedóbut we must be sure that we can explain it from the Bible, and then teach it in humility. óNSE
April 25, 1999 (#18): What is happening to this nation?
We had two truckers today. I read to them a story of one girl in Littleton, Colorado. The gunman had demanded of her whether she believed in Jesus. She, with a rifle barrel pointed at her chest, hesitated, then said yes, whereupon the gunman pulled the trigger.
I wondered aloud what would I do if faced with such a question. Would I be willing to die for my witness? This led naturally to a discussion on prophecy and also to a discussion on the power of the Holy Spirit. (God will give us the strength we need when we need it.) It is certainly an open question on where the events of the past few weeks will lead (i.e., the war and the school shootings), but there is an awareness that there is something terribly wrong. Perhaps America will finally wake up.
People of faith, including todayís drivers, are looking forward to the return of Christ as much as we are. They know that ultimately it is God who must bring the solutions to this worldís evils. There may be disagreement on whether Jesus returns to rapture His people away or whether His people must go through a tribulation (or, in our tradition, whether there is a place of safety), but the looking forward to Jesusí return is something we share with more people than what we might think.
One of the fellows today said that his preacher believes in the rapture, but that he isnít sure and prefers to study into it himself.
It is in times such as these that people need both a warning and a message of hope. The prophets are filled with both, and after discussing the need for more of Godís spirit in the church today (to be manifested in the willingness and cour age to stand for what we know is right), we looked at Isaiah 61, which summarizes the gospel and the good news of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
For some reason the discussion in these studies always seems to swing toward Revelation 20 and the resurrections. Today was no exception. While I donít think they accept just yet the truth of Revelation 20, they now have something to think about.
All in all, a good day, and one where we were able to walk together in the study of the Word.
705 Ne Bryant Dr; Lees Summit, Mo 64068
One teaching of Herbert Armstrong that very few others taught was the truth of multiple resurrections and the falsity of the traditional concept of hell. That is a doctrine full of hope that is well worth our continued teaching.
It will be very important for the difficult times aheadómany "innocent people" will die in wars and from disease, with no apparent warning. We are at war in Europeówith many tensions and conditions very similar to the ones that started the previous World Wars. Many people (both now and then) simply want peace and cannot be bothered to think about the reality of the bad news. This time, however, the USA is not so far from the war. Up to a dozen nations have nuclear weapons and may have a way to deliver them here. Secondly, it is hard to know whether our current government administration is for us or against us.
Our president claims love for the country, but his actions seem to support his own agenda. He allowed millions of dollars to be wasted investigating his sexual misconduct when he knew he did it and could have confessed to it much sooner. His continual sponsoring of gun control laws as a way of "protecting our children" is an obvious lie and simply an attempt to disarm the people. The Littleton example proves this. Students have long been forbidden from bringing guns to school, but Clintonís recent law made it a crime for anyone to have a gun at school. So in Littleton, the students with guns were able to shoot whomever they wanted knowing that no teachers would have guns.
Did the police with guns go rushing in to protect children who were being shot? No! They stayed outside to protect themselves until they could assess the situation! They even refused to help evacuate a dying teacher who could have been saved. They did nothing to apprehend the villainsótwo apparently shot themselves and a third got away. Their reason for not moving in was that they were "following standard procedure". O.K. We are now on notice that the standard procedure is to let unarmed people die while officers with guns assess the situation. Yet our presidentís solution to this problem will be to pass laws making it even more difficult for law-abiding people to have gunsólaws that will not prevent mass murders, because most guns used in such crimes are obtained illegally anyway.
I personally do not own any guns and trust God for deliverance. But the disarming of American and European citizens is an ominous sign that war or martial law is soon to come. It happened before World War II. Those of us who have been spiritually "given much" must realize that "much is required" of us. If people are asking questions, we should be there with Bible answers. We must "work while it is day" (John 9:4). óNSE &