Issue #178 -------
March 11, 2005
It is impossible on our wretched globe for men
living in society not to be divided into two classes,
one of oppressors, the other of the oppressed.
Gandhi (1869-1948) was fond of saying, "Hate the sin and not the sinner." This has become almost universally accepted as representing divine precept. However, that saying is not to be found in the Bible. Indeed, although our "God is love" (1 John 4:7,16), yet Scripture makes it clear there are some things He hates ... and, what many may not realize, there are even certain types of people that the Bible tells us God hates! Thus, God not only hates the sin, but in some cases He actually hates the sinner as well. Such persons are so utterly abhorrent that they are an abomination in His sight.
This is depicted quite dramatically in a very well-known passage found in Proverbs. "There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers" (Prov. 6:16-19). We will take time to examine each of these abominations individually, but note especially at this time the last two in the list. The object of God's hatred is a who, not a what. He hates the "one" -- i.e.: the person -- "who spreads strife among brothers" and "the false witness who utters lies." The passage does not state God hates, and finds to be an abomination, the spreading of strife among brethren or the uttering of lies (that He is disgusted by such actions is a given), but rather the passage states He hates, and finds to be an abomination, the very "ONE who spreads strife among brothers" and the "false WITNESS" who is engaged in uttering lies about another. The passage could not be any more clear! It is the person himself He hates, not just the person's actions! Indeed, the previous five items also allude to the person himself -- eyes, tongue, hands, heart, and feet. This is very powerful language descriptive of a person, or persons, whole-heartedly committed to the promotion and performance of evil, from head to feet, top to bottom, inside and out! Every aspect of their being, inward and outward, is devoted to the working of wickedness.
Since it is clear that there are certain types of people that our God finds abominable -- certain types of people that He hates -- it behooves us to determine just who these people are! We certainly don't want to be found among that hated horde on the day of final reckoning!! Therefore, as a preventive measure, this current issue of my Reflections will be devoted to an analysis of the seven deadly characteristics of those whom our Lord God finds so offensive in His sight. If, after honest introspection, we should find ourselves displaying any of these hideous, hellish habits, may we make haste to make the necessary changes to our corrupt character.
Before examining each of the seven "hated things" individually, perhaps it would be good to make a few observations about the passage before us. First, it might interest some students to know that the poetic style of these four verses, and the wording of the phrase in verse 16 in particular, is known in biblical hermeneutics as a Numerical Ladder, a literary technique often found in Scripture. "The point of such a poetic arrangement is that the present enumeration does not exhaust the list" (Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 934). "The seven is not a definite number intended to exclude all others. Seven is a round number, and the list might easily be lengthened. Therefore let no man flatter himself because his peculiar failing may happen to be omitted" (The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 9, p. 142). A biblical scholar by the name of W.M. Roth presented an excellent study in 1962 of this numerical phenomenon in an article titled, "The Numerical Sequence X / X + 1 in the Old Testament."
Note a few examples --- "There are three things that will not be satisfied, four that will not say, 'Enough'" (Prov. 30:15) --- "There are three things which are too wonderful for me, four which I do not understand" (Prov. 30:18) --- "Under three things the earth quakes, and under four it cannot bear up" (Prov. 30:21) --- "There are three things which are stately in their march, even four which are stately when they walk" (Prov. 30:29) --- "From six troubles He will deliver you, even in seven, evil will not touch you" (Job 5:19) --- "Thus says the Lord, 'For three transgressions of Gaza and for four I will not revoke its punishment'" (Amos 1:6) --- The same statement is made about Tyre (Amos 1:9), Ammon (Amos 1:13), Moab (Amos 2:1), Judah (Amos 2:4), and Israel (Amos 2:6) --- Micah 5:5 speaks of "seven shepherds and eight leaders of men" --- Because of impending misfortune, Solomon advises men to "divide your portion to seven, or even to eight" (Eccl. 11:2). These are just a few examples, but they illustrate that this was a very well-known literary device in the writings of the OT. Thus, one should not take the numbers used too literally; they merely represent a sequence of progression, not necessarily an exhaustive listing within the category, although the items listed within the category are generally bound together by a common theme or focus.
Some scholars have also seen somewhat of a parallel between the seven items in Proverbs 6:17-19 and the first seven of our Lord's Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-9). Some have characterized it a "contrasting parallel." The first item in the Proverbs passage deals with haughtiness and pride, whereas the first of the Beatitudes speaks of those poor in spirit, which many feel represents a humble spirit; certainly not a prideful one. The seventh item in Proverbs depicts one who spreads strife among brothers, whereas the seventh Beatitude presents to our view the blessedness of peacemakers, "for they shall be called sons of God." Perhaps this is all merely coincidental, or perhaps our Lord did indeed have in mind these seven which our Father hates, and was seeking, by way of contrast, to present those persons, attitudes and actions God viewed more favorably. It is at least an attractive theory, and, for you preachers out there, might just "preach well."
It is also extremely important at this juncture, prior to the examination of these seven items, to note something about the first five in particular. Although the last two speak of the person himself, the first five speak of various parts of that person's body (eyes, tongue, hands, heart, feet) which serve as tools this person will employ to carry out his wicked purposes. The real culprit in each case, however, is not the body part, but the person who uses that aspect of his or her being to cause pain and suffering in the lives of others. "All sin is the abuse of some power or faculty. The organ is innocent in itself, but it is prostituted to a base purpose. Every part of our nature is susceptible of this degradation. The more powers we have, the greater is our capacity of evil-doing, as well as of well-doing" (The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 9, p. 142).
The first item on the list is "haughty eyes" (New American Standard Bible, New International Version). This phrase is also translated: "a proud eye" (New English Bible) .... "those who are too proud" (Contemporary English Version) .... "arrogant eyes" (Holman Christian Standard Bible) .... "eyes that show a man is proud" (Easy-to-Read Version) .... and a number of other very similar phrasings. The wording in the Hebrew "refers to a proud look suggesting arrogant ambition" (Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 935). "It is not merely the look which is meant here in this passage, but the temper of mind which the look expresses" (The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 9, p. 131). "The sensuous expression contains and implies in every case the inner mood" (ibid, p. 146). One commentator suggested it speaks of "pompous defiance." "The lamp that guides the wicked -- haughty eyes and an arrogant heart -- is sin!" (Prov. 21:4). "Human pride will be humbled" (Isaiah 2:11). A perfect case in point was how the Lord God dealt with "the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness" (Isaiah 10:12). The destruction to come upon him, and upon his evil forces, would be fearful to behold. He and they would be utterly consumed, "both soul and body" (vs. 18), by the consuming fire of a righteous God.
The word "haughty" is defined in Webster's New World Dictionary as "having or showing great pride in oneself and contempt for others." It is an "arrogant disdain" for those about you. When brethren look down on brethren, there is a haughty spirit at work in these disdainful brethren, and the end result is always strife and schism. Paul instructed those in Rome who had differing convictions not to display haughtiness in their interpersonal relationships -- "Let not him who eats regard with contempt him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another?" (Rom. 14:3-4). The Greek word Paul uses here is exoutheneo, which means "to make light of, set at naught, treat with contempt and scorn; regard as paltry or of little account" (The Analytical Greek Lexicon). The Greek word employed in Prov. 6:17 (in the Septuagint) is hubristes, which signifies "an overbearing, wantonly violent person" (ibid). This is the source of our English word "hubris" = "arrogance caused by excessive pride."
"Pride and arrogance and the evil way, and the perverted mouth, I hate" (Prov. 8:13). Pride is put first in our text "because it is at the bottom of all disobedience and rebellion against God's laws" (The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 9, p. 131). The Lord has never looked favorably upon the haughty! They are an abomination to Him. One of the primary reasons for this is because of what pride generates -- "By pride comes nothing but strife" (Prov. 13:10). When men are haughty, they will inevitably regard those around them with contempt, and when others are regarded with contempt, there is strife! And the Lord hates "the one who spreads strife among brothers" (Prov. 6:19). Thus, "pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Prov. 16:18). The Principle of Reciprocity will be experienced by those who, with haughty eyes, look with disfavor upon others -- "In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted; let them be caught in the plots which they have devised" (Psalm 10:2). Amen!
A Lying Tongue
The second item on the list of those things despised by deity is "a lying tongue" (NASB, NIV, NKJV, Holman CSB). Other renderings are: "Those who tell lies" (CEV) .... "A false tongue" (NEB) .... "tongues that tell lies" (E-T-RV). The phrase in the Hebrew literally reads, "a tongue of deception." In the Septuagint the descriptive term employed is adikos, which means "unjust, vicious, unrighteous, iniquitous; deceitful, fallacious" (The Analytical Greek Lexicon). Inherent within the word is the concept of one who desires, through such vicious fallaciousness, to do personal injury to another. Thus, it is not just telling lies to cover one's own iniquity, but the telling of lies to bring harm to another.
This lying tongue is "the organ of speech being named here for the false person" (Dr. Paul Kretzmann, Popular Commentary of the Bible, vol. 2, p. 222). Thus, as already noted earlier, each organ specified in this list of "hated" items points back to the person himself, of whom these organs are merely tools for evil. "In a concise form the expression, 'a lying tongue,' represents what has been already said in vs. 12-13 of 'the wicked man' who 'walks with a false mouth' and whose conduct is made up of deceit. Lying is the willful perversion of truth, not only by speech, but by any means whatever whereby a false impression is conveyed to the mind. ... It excites the Divine displeasure" (The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 9, p. 131).
"A lying tongue hates those it crushes" (Prov. 26:28). In return, our God hates a lying tongue. The Principle of Reciprocity. You get just what you give. Lying tongues have but one fate awaiting them -- these tongues shall be terminated. "Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is only for a moment" (Prov. 12:19). "He who tells lies will perish" (Prov. 19:9). Ananias and Sapphira are a perfect example of what happens to such would-be deceivers of men and God (Acts 5:1-11). "You love every harmful word, O you deceitful tongue! Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin; He will snatch you up and tear you from your tent; He will uproot you from the land of the living" (Psalm 52:4-5). "O lying tongue, what shall be your fate? You shall be pierced with sharp arrows and burned with glowing coals" (Psalm 120:3-4). "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Rev. 21:8).
Hands That Shed Innocent Blood
The third "hated thing" from this passage in Proverbs is -- "hands that shed innocent blood" (NASB, NIV, NEB, Holman CSB, KJV) .... "those who ... murder" (CEV) .... "hands that kill innocent people" (E-T-RV). The focus is on one's hands, the active agents of one's inner will. In this case, the will that is carried out is murder. One of the Ten Commandments is: "Thou shalt not murder" (Exodus 20:13). The Lord told Noah, after He had brought them safely through the flood, "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man" (Gen. 9:6). Yes, there are times when killing of the wicked is required, but to shed innocent blood is not permitted. There are grave consequences associated with such! "That the shedding of innocent blood cries for vengeance, and pulls down God's heavy judgments on the murderer, appears in the case of Cain and Abel" (The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 9, p. 131).
We are told that King Manasseh, who reigned fifty-five years over Judah (taking the throne at the age of twelve), did much evil in the sight of the Lord God. An aspect of that long list of evil deeds is presented to us in 2 Kings 21:16 -- "Manasseh shed very much innocent blood until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another." He also "made his son pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and used divination, and dealt with mediums and spiritists" (vs. 6), and "seduced them to do evil more than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the sons of Israel" (vs. 9). His deeds (vs. 11) were "abominations" in the sight of God, as he himself was (Prov. 6:16). There is a chilling observation found in 2 Kings 24:4 about the consequence of the sins of Manasseh which ought to serve as a warning to us --- it speaks of "the innocent blood which he shed, for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; and the Lord would not forgive." What a sobering thought!
A Heart That Devises Wicked Plans
Next we come to the heart, the seat of the passions that too often motivate us away from God and toward the performance of the evil devised therein. Our God hates, and regards as an abomination, "a heart that devises wicked plans" (NASB) .... "a heart that forges thoughts of mischief" (NEB) .... "a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations" (KJV) .... "a heart that devises wicked schemes" (NIV) .... "hearts that plan bad things to do" (E-T-RV). Some translations speak of "plotting" evil schemes and "creating" wicked plans. It is a person who consciously considers how to do that which is hurtful to others. It is malicious, vicious, vindictive scheming. God hates such people!! They are an abomination in His sight!!
"The heart represents the will most often. Here it plots evil" (The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 935). Prov. 6:14 describes the "worthless person" and the "wicked man" as he "who with perversity in his heart devises evil continually, and who spreads strife." The Lord promises in the very next verse that "his calamity will come suddenly!" Reciprocity -- those who perversely scheme against others in their hearts will reap a harvest of woe!! "These are they who use their inventive faculties, not for the good of their race, nor for the maintenance of their families, but for the base and shameful purpose of bringing some of their fellows into distress, if not into ruin; they contrive their overthrow only to enjoy their discomfiture" (The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 9, p. 152).
"There are evil thoughts in all men's hearts; but the devising, fabricating of them, and thus making the heart into a devil's workshop, is the mark of utter depravity and wickedness, and is abhorrent to God" (ibid, p. 131). "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man" (Matt. 15:19-20; see also: Mark 7:20-23). Isaiah 59:1-8 is very instructive here. Iniquity has "made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you" (vs. 2). Isaiah then goes into quite a list of godless characteristics that constitute the makeup of those "hated by God." Many of them are the same as in our text in Proverbs, and there are more besides. These are people "who do not know the way of peace" (vs. 8), and peace is the last thing they will find when they appear before God in judgment!
Feet That Run Rapidly To Evil
Item number five on God's "most hated" list is "feet that run rapidly to evil" (NASB) .... "feet that run to do evil things" (E-T-RV) .... "those who are quick to do wrong" (CEV) .... "feet eager to run to evil" (Holman CSB). "This captures the enthusiastic and complete involvement in activities that bring pain to all concerned" (The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 935). The Masoretic Text (MT) literally has the expression: feet that "make haste to run," ... "the idea being to make haste to begin to run, i.e., eager to seize the opportunity" (ibid, p. 936). These are evil people who can't wait to get involved in all manner of evil. They hasten to it. They seize every opportunity to do harm to another. This running to evil is nothing more than "carrying out with alacrity and without delay what has already been devised in the heart" (The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 9, p. 131).
These are godless wretches who are "couriers of ill news, eager retailers of slander, and all who cannot bear to be forestalled in the hurtful word, who are ambitious of the first deadly blow" (ibid, p. 147). They are the ones who would have gleefully thrown the first stone in John 8, and the ones who most certainly ran to do so in Acts 7. "These are they who take a savage delight in being the instruments of punishment -- who gloat over their work of severity or blood" (ibid, p. 152). When the Lord comes in judgment, they shall reap what they sow. Notice the words of the angel to John, "They poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink. They deserve it!!" (Rev. 16:6). The Principle of Reciprocity! "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20).
A False Witness Who Utters Lies
With the sixth item, the inspired writer turns from the bodily parts to the person himself. What is hated by God? What is an abomination in His sight? It is not a "what," it is a "who!" It is "a false witness who utters lies" (NASB) .... "a lying witness who gives false testimony" (Holman CSB) .... "a false witness telling a pack of lies" (NEB). "The sixth abomination returns to the theme of deception. Here the focus is on perjury, a direct violation of the Decalogue" (The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 935). "Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor" (Ex. 20:16). In the original language, this sixth item speaks of those who "breathe out" (Hebrew: puakh) falsehoods against another. The idea of "breathing out" conveys that it comes from within -- i.e., it is their nature. They are "all who trade in falsehood, and breathe it as their atmosphere" (The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 9, p. 147).
Lying has already been addressed, in a general sense, in our text (vs. 17), but this is lying in a far more specific sense. It is perjury; lying under oath; bearing testimony against another that is false. "One of the most solemn and responsible positions a man can occupy is the witness-box; he stands there, invoking the dread Name of the Eternal Himself to cause justice to be done. If then he perjures himself, and 'speaketh lies' when actually under oath, he defies his Maker, perverts justice, wrongs the innocent or releases the guilty, is disloyal to his country, outrages his own conscience. Well may he be among those whom God especially condemns" (ibid, p. 152). Such men are clearly seen rallying themselves against Stephen, the first martyr in the church (Acts 6:9-14), and against our Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Matt. 26:59f; Mark 14:55f). These false witnesses brought about the death of the innocent. God hates the false witness, as well He should!! "Truly speaking, he that lies as a false witness must be hateful to God" (ibid, p. 132).
One Who Spreads Strife Among Brothers
In the seventh Beatitude we read, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matt. 5:9). In the seventh "hated thing" of Proverbs 6 we find a different kind of person. These people know not peace; indeed, they seek to destroy peace. They are those who "spread strife among brothers" (NASB) .... "who stir up trouble among brothers" (Holman CSB) .... "those who stir up trouble in a family" (CEV) .... "one who stirs up quarrels between brothers" (NEB) .... "a man who stirs up dissension among brothers" (NIV). "These are contentious, quarreling people who have a short fuse" (The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 936). This final statement in our Proverbs passage is "emphatically stigmatizing the conduct of that man as diabolical who destroys the harmony and unity of those who ought to live together in brotherly affection" (The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 9, p. 132). Such persons "partake of the leavened bread of malice" (ibid, p. 147).
The apostle Paul warns against "strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men" (1 Tim. 6:4-5). He characterizes such persons who engage in these godless acts as "depraved in mind and deprived of Truth." A great many of the "works of the flesh" have to do with such godless attitudes and actions. "Enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions" (Gal. 5:20) are just some of these satanic works of flesh, the practice of which will cost one their eternal salvation. "I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:21). Prov. 15:18 tells us that "a hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger pacifies contention." Prov. 29:22 tells us "an angry man stirs up strife." In Prov. 16:28 we see "a perverse man spreads strife." "An arrogant man stirs up strife" (Prov. 28:25). "Hatred stirs up strife" (Prov. 10:12). I think it is obvious from these passages that where strife exists, one will also find present a godless person stirring up that strife. God hates the one who does this!!
"Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife" (Prov. 17:1). There is nothing good and pleasant about brethren who are at odds with one another. Our Father's desire for His children is for them to be a family unified in the Spirit, at peace with one another, and in love with each other. Where love prevails, oneness is promoted. "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1). It is within this sacred environment that we find our greatest promise -- "For there the Lord commanded the blessing -- life forever" (Psalm 133:3). Those hot-tempered, angry, perverse, arrogant, hateful men and women who stir up strife between brothers, are not only hated by God, but they will never see life eternal. They are an abomination to Him, and they will be forever banned from His holy presence. In so doing, His people will finally enjoy peace during that great eternal day in the new heavens and earth where only righteousness dwells. These evildoers will be dried up chaff, reduced to nothing but ashes by the consuming fire of our Lord's wrath. "'And you will tread down the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,' says the Lord of hosts" (Malachi 4:3). Lord, hasten that day!!
Brethren, the world is filled with evil people who hate God and all His ways. This is no shocking revelation. We have always known that the forces of darkness exist all about us; we see their evidence daily in countless ways. We are also aware that this evil inhabits and influences people, and that, at times, these evil ones slip in among us and begin to work their malicious intent upon the family of God. We are aware of their arrogance, their deceit, their eagerness to inflict harm, their slander, and their perverse plotting. We know that where such people infest the church, strife and schism are generated. It sickens and distresses us to witness such evil in our ranks, and we long for the peace, unity and harmony of brothers that is promised by and in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We find ourselves sometimes hating those who destroy the sanctity of our peaceful unity, and yet we tend to feel that such feelings are somehow wrong. After all, we are to hate the sin, but love the sinner. Or, so we have always been taught. I believe that although we should indeed seek the ultimate redemption of all men, even those who array themselves against us as enemies, nevertheless there are some sinners who are so diametrically opposed to all that our God is, that we are not wrong in loathing these sinners as well as their sin. This passage in the book of Proverbs clearly informs us that there are some people God HATES .... and, I believe, justifiably so!
Brethren, let us love what God loves, and hate what God hates! And let us realize that sometimes the "what" is a "who." On the night of His betrayal, our Lord prayed that magnificent prayer in which He asked the Father to make us ONE people; a unified family. Our precious Lord went to that cruel cross to break down barriers and bring peace (Eph. 2:13ff). He shed His blood, enduring incomprehensible agony, to bring diverse brethren together in a loving relationship with our Father in heaven. Thus, there is no greater abomination on the face of this earth than those who profess themselves to be His followers, and yet who arrogantly, maliciously and deceitfully work to separate from the fellowship of one another this family of believers our Lord died to establish. These factionists and schismatics and partyists and sectarians are genuinely hated by our God. Frankly, I do not find it inappropriate to share that righteous loathing for those devoted to harming our holy Father and His One Family!
A portion of my life's work, given willingly in service to my Father and His beloved children, is devoted to exposing these factional fanatics and perverse purveyors of partyism for the godless wretches they are. In so doing, I hope to help deliver precious men and women from their cruel clutches; bringing release and relief to deceived disciples who are enslaved to these legalists and patternists and congregational terrorists who, in the name of Jesus (what blasphemy), generate strife within the Family of God and cast off, and castigate, His other children who will not bow to their petty party preferences or personal dictates and demands. There are countless innocent victims of these devilish dogs and malicious mutts who need to have their eyes opened to the danger they face from their captors. Thus, little by little, here and there, we who love freedom chip away at the walls these little lords have built around their prisoners, our goal being to bring these innocent, though ignorant, brethren out of their bondage and into the marvelous joys of freedom in Christ. Brethren, pray for this effort ... join this effort ... and let us labor tirelessly to counter the tactics of these spiritual terrorists whom God hates and regards as an abomination.
A PERSONAL APPEAL:
Al, If the deacon from Texas, whose email was used as the basis for the article on "Murmuring Members" in
Reflections #175, will contact me, I will send him a book dealing with these things of which he
spoke, as well as other traditions of the Churches of Christ.
From a Reader in Georgia:
Bro. Maxey, I praise the Lord for the work you are doing! I am sending your web site to a lot of people. There is positive change happening! You have helped me to see the truth that I have been feeling in my heart for so many years. God bless you and your family, and keep up the good work!
From a Reader in California:
I was just reading through the emails from various people at the end of your last Reflections, a feature which I so thoroughly enjoy, when I ran across the one from a reader in Georgia. My heart goes out to this person (whom I suppose is a woman?), and I would like to say this to her --- My husband and I were both raised in the one-cup segment of the Church of Christ. We were baptized at age 13 and born again at age 42. Sometimes we just have to wait till the "Spirit" moves us, I guess. And since our Spiritual rebirth, and in the immortal words of Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead (I am not a fan -- just happen to know what he said), "What a long, strange trip it's been."
From a New Reader in (Unknown):
As time allows, I plan to eventually read all of your articles in the archives. It is plain from your readers' comments that God is using you in a mighty way in enlightening, uplifting, and encouraging those who are seeking God's will and way for their lives. Thank you for the time and energy you expend in reaching out to others.
From a Doctor in (Unknown):
Bro. Maxey, a very close Christian friend of mine has been telling me about your Reflections. I WANT TO BE ON YOUR EMAIL LIST. I really enjoyed your article on antagonistic members. What blows my mind is that, while they profess to be Godly people, they are actually closed-minded to what the Scriptures do or do not say.
From a Reader in Oregon:
Al, I have been following your Reflections since their inception, and sincerely appreciate your thoughts. I do not see how you have the time to address all of these issues so thoroughly, but I am thankful you do. Your attitude reminds me of one of our most loving elders back in Corpus Christi, Texas years ago. He said if we are guilty of anything before God, let it be mercy. You seem to practice that with those sincere folks who disagree with you. Thank you! Also, please send me the two CD's of your Reflections. My check is enclosed.
From a Reader in Texas:
That was another well-thought-out and presented idea (Body Building 101). Communities of fellowship throughout history have tended to build edifices rather than local bodies by building individual believers per the instructions in Scripture. There are no instructions given to believers to build buildings, and yet we spend millions on them, and the majority of budgets (the Lord's money) is devoted to maintaining physical plants and local staff, who are expected to cater to the local membership more so than on bringing unbelievers to a state of faith and trust. Building one another in Christ would lead to more "Good News spreaders" instead of bigger and fancier edifices (Just My Opinion!!). You are appreciated, Al.
From a Minister in Texas:
Bro. Al, I am a preacher at a very legalistic, one-cup congregation. I have been told that I caused "confusion" in the church because I passed communion from the side instead of the center. Another member thought that maybe reading a chapter from the Scriptures during each church service (a practice that I suggested we start) might not be "Scriptural." Others weren't against the practice, however, and we have incorporated it into our services. I have also been asked to cease all communication with people from "other" Churches of Christ in town, because they are "digressive," and almost every attempt I have made to start a breakfast or something to bring us together more often has been shot down by accusations that I'm trying to start another "called out assembly" separate from the Sunday assembly. No one seems to want to get involved with me, and many members are murmuring that I'm not doing anything productive. On Sunday, March 13th, I plan on giving a lesson called "Six Marks of a Dead Religion" -- (Religion vs. Christianity) -- and I suspect that the murmuring will greatly increase. This is my first work as an evangelist. I know that this isn't really your problem, but I would like to solicit your prayers, and I would welcome any advice or encouragement that you may wish to offer. God bless you for all the work you do. Thank you!
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