December 15, 2002
I want to tell you about an experience that one of the truck drivers mentioned today. He said he was “saved” in July, but his story reminds me of the phrase, “Hound of Heaven”. That was a term which C. S. Lewis used to describe God and how He stays on our trail.
The man’s father was a Baptist preacher, but died early in the young boy’s life. He had never really paid much attention to religion. He was married, and eventually he and his wife separated for a while then came back to together. They have two daughters, one of whom is 13.
Some time ago the youngest daughter started going to a church that has a very good youth program, and this summer they invited the parents to a presentation. It was like a light went on in his head, and he determined that he was going to start going to church. He couldn’t figure out why his wife resisted, until she confessed to him that while they were separated, she had started attending church but had given it up when they reconciled. She was wracked by guilt. They got past that hurdle and now attend as a family.
Here is a case where the young daughter was the evangelist in the family. Her dedication set an example for the parents. I don’t know about mom, but the dad was like a sponge today, absorbing everything and asking questions. Effective youth ministry should draw unchurched adults, and it worked in this case. Sadly, we have no such experience with such in the COGs (with the exception of CG7), and in fact have institutional resistance against it.
At least three out of the four men today are relatively new to the Bible. One man said that he has struggled with alcohol for most of his adult life, but his wife was patient with him and prayed for him, and now is well on his way to getting some control of his life.
A third driver told me that he has had his nose in the Bible for two and a half years, but I would have guessed much longer given his level of understanding and the depths of his comments and questions.
I was struck today by how these men who are relative novices knew their way around the Bible. Quite often newbies need to be told what page we’re on as opposed to chapter and verse, but these men kept right up with me. It’s a pleasure to see that type of eagerness.
And they didn’t seem at all put off by my comments that Jesus was not born in December. They were interested in the theory that He was born during the fall Holy Day season. They had never heard an explanation of the Holy Days, their meaning, and how they relate to Christ. The Feast days are a treasure trove of theology that always grab the interest of those who never heard the story.
December 29, 2002
We had five guests including two repeat customers. One of these men I did not recognize at first until something happened.
On rare occasions someone attends who is a real pain in the neck, and it’s a challenge to keep some semblance of order to the meetings. Today was one of those days. One of the men is a rather husky fellow who had some strange ideas about a few things, most notably about himself. He had been overtaken by the “holyghost” (one word) after fasting forty days and forty nights. He had healed lots of people, but hadn’t raised anybody from the dead yet, but he knows preachers who have. (Afterward I wished I had thought a little quicker and asked him how those formerly dead people reacted after being in Heaven and then being told they had to go back into their corrupt bodies. But I’ll save that question for the next time).
When his hands flew up in the air and he yelled, “Hallelujah”, I recognized him from another time. This was the same character who came by once before and tried to dominate the meeting with the same sideshow techniques—all with himself at the center.
He believes that there are some people who are saved by grace and there are others, a very special group (in which I suppose he would include himself) who are righteous of their own accord and are saved in that way. Job was his example. Okay, I thought. Maybe we can get him to think about a few things. I asked everyone to turn to Job 31 and count the number of times that Job uses the first person pronoun in that chapter. My point was that Job was focussed on himself and all the great things that he did. I then turned to Isaiah 14 and did the same exercise regarding Lucifer. Then finally, for a coup de grace, I had everyone turn to Luke 18 and the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. The Pharisee exhibited the same attitude as Lucifer (I, Me, Myself, Mine, etc.). The Pharisee has an outward show of righteousness, but he trusted in himself and despised others. I was hoping that this guy would see himself in the Pharisee, a point that was not lost on some of the others in the room. But it went right over his head. I can still hear the echoes of what he said in that North Carolina accent of his. “But the Lord has shown me what that means. It says the publican went home justified. It doesn’t say he went home sanctified. The Pharisee went home sanctified because he was doing the right things.”
So what do you do with that? You stop arguing and get on with the Bible study and make sure the fellow doesn’t disrupt things any more.
The other repeat driver had just the opposite attitude—a humble spirit. After the study he asked me if I had heard anything from a lady who was there the same time he was who was struggling with issues of faith. He said that he had put her name on his computer to pop up every Sunday morning as a reminder to pray for her. He also has an issue of his own that demands prayer on our part. This is the second driver who I am aware of whose military unit might get called up shortly. His unit would likely go to Korea. We need to hold those people up before God. They are devout people who have a strong sense of duty. God be with each and every one of them.
— Lenny Cacchio, L_cacchio@yahoo.com
705 NE Bryant Drive, Lee’s Summit, Missouri 64086
It is never easy to deal with the person who seems to have strong spiritual gifts from God (Bible knowledge, teaching, discernment, healing, wisdom, etc.) but also seems to be a know-it-all. In some ways, they may appear close to God. They may have the ability to teach and to help people toward God in a way that I could not. They may have studied complex areas of doctrine and come to the exact same conclusion that I believe God led me to see over many years.
Yet, they will insist that God has shown them things that I clearly see to be contrary to Scripture. If I try to show them, they will refute every scripture I bring up with an unlikely interpretation or even a “revelation” that they had had. They answer me so quickly it seems like they had already heard everything I said many times before. There is simply no way to get them to think about some of the teachings that I have understood from the Bible for years.
Sometimes, these people may have serious character flaws, so it is clear that one should avoid them. With others, it seems that God is working with them. But they would not work with me, unless I would just accept everything they teach. When I stand before Christ, I do not want to have to say that“I believe that this scripture means the opposite of what it says because someone claimed he had a revelation about it.” I think many of these people are Christians whom God is testing to see if they will seek Him with all their heart and resist self-righteousness. It is good to encourage them to be more understanding of what God does in other believers. I should be patient—I believed I was in the “one true Church” for 18 years. But some of these may be people with powerful religious demons whose mission is to sew discord among the brethren. They should be avoided!