by Al Maxey

Issue #329 ------- December 14, 2007
A love for tradition has never weakened
a nation, indeed, it has strengthened
nations in their hour of peril.

Winston Churchill {1874-1965}

The Great Christmas Lie
Santa: Just an Anagram of Satan

Okay. Now that I have your undivided attention, allow me just a few minutes to stand tall on my proverbial soapbox and vent my spleen. This has been building up inside me for years! I am sick unto death of the pathetic practitioners of political correctness (both secular and spiritual) attempting to dictate to me what I can and can't believe and practice. "Happy Holidays"? No thank you! I'll stick with "Merry Christmas" ... whether they like it or not. "In God we trust"? Absolutely ... and always! "One nation under God"? If we aren't, then our doom is certain. The flag of our nation? Old Glory? The Stars and Stripes? My hand goes to my heart when it passes by. I served proudly under this banner, and make absolutely no apologies to anyone for doing so. I like the 4th of July. I like fireworks. I like having turkey and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. I like Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny and even the Great Pumpkin. And, yes, I like Santa Claus. There. I've said it. It may not be "PC" to state all of these things in our increasingly secular progressive society, but when has Al Maxey ever been "PC"?!

Brethren, too many are hiding their heads in the sand; they refuse to see what is happening all around them. I can't do so. I have never been one to remain silent in the face of injustice and tyranny. Our nation is in trouble ... and so is the church. Silence is not the solution. A tsunami of godlessness is sweeping over us, threatening to drag us out to sea. It seeks to wash away God, Christ and everything associated with our faith. Traditions that are positive and good are mocked and maligned, and all that is foul and perverse is glorified. "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" [Isaiah 5:20].

We are losing our way, brethren, and it is because we are losing sight of our Sovereign God. History shows time and again that when a people turn from their God, that people is soon punished with great affliction. If they don't repent, they are destroyed. Never mention Jesus in a high school graduation speech. Hide the Ten Commandments in a closet of the court house; never display it. God forbid that we should be guided by some moral code. Burn the flag. Remove the name of the Lord from our currency. Ban prayer. Get rid of all those crosses. And pause your kiddies' "Resident Evil" video game long enough to inform them that "Santa Claus is a lie." There!! That bit of truth ought to produce a generation of godly citizens. And while we're at it, why don't those who do claim to be Christians spend their time squabbling over religious trivialities, castigating and eviscerating one another, rather than seeking to push back the encroaching darkness with the light of God's love as seen in His Son?! Hmmm. Seems we already are! Brethren, Satan is loosed. Of that I'm convinced. We are into the final days, and things will proceed from bad to worse. We ought to be doing more than quibbling over the type of music in our worship and debating over whether the split ends of a woman's hair can be trimmed. We're only making Satan's work easier. Let's hinder him, not help him.

What's so evil about "jolly old St. Nick"? What threat does he pose to the moral and spiritual well-being of our children? Is it his giving spirit? His ready smile? A positive attitude? He's not real, you say? Neither are Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. Mickey Mouse is a rodent, and what's with Kermit and Miss Piggy? Do pigs and frogs really fall in love? How many times have you told your child the story of the three bears? Little Red Riding Hood? Have they ever watched Star Wars? What is wrong with promoting figures who clearly stand for positive moral and spiritual values? As a child, I couldn't wait to get home and watch Superman, who stood for "truth, justice and the American way." No, Santa is not real. But nurturing the imaginative minds of our youth with that which is wholesome has never yet, to my knowledge, produced a negative result. At some point they will mature beyond the fantasies of childhood and will face the stark realities of the world about them. Will children then believe their parents lied to them about such matters? Some might, but the overwhelming majority will simply transition in a healthy manner, as children have from the beginning of time. Indeed, most treasure the fact that they now "know the secret" that little brother or sister has not yet realized; it makes them feel "grown up," and is part of the "rite of passage" from childhood to adulthood. NOTE: For those who feel that parents are lying to children by promoting belief in Santa Claus, I would refer them to an interesting article by Dr. Nathan Schlueter, a college professor who wrote an article titled: Yes, Aquinas, There Is A Santa Claus, which appeared in the December, 2005 issue of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity.

My Year-End Musings

Just over five years ago -- on December 1, 2002 -- I sent out my first issue of Reflections. My mailing list consisted of only a handful of friends and family. I never dreamed -- never had any clue whatsoever -- that five years later these studies would be going out to over 12,000 readers all over this planet. People everywhere are literally hungering and thirsting for freedom in Christ Jesus from religious bondage and oppression. The success of this ministry, and others like it, demonstrates this fact quite conclusively and dramatically. There is a movement within my faith-heritage to finally begin to move away from dysfunctional religious fossilization to dynamic relevance within our communities. That, of course, necessitates change -- not of the gospel, but of methodology of worshipful expression and evangelistic presentation -- and my brethren are embracing that change in ever increasing numbers. Thank God! This is long overdue! Those congregations doing so are thriving; those holding on to the past are dying. That is simply a fact, whether the "old guard" likes it or not (and, believe me, they don't).

Those of us who are taking the lead in promoting such responsible change have come under fierce attack from the ultra-conservative, legalistic, patternistic factions of the Stone-Campbell Movement. Indeed, the more effective we are in facilitating this spiritual renewal and transformation, the more we become targets of vicious reprisal. This is to be expected, and those unwilling to face such vilification should not be on the front lines. Thankfully, however, there are many good brothers and sisters who are willing, and the people of God are slowly, but surely, abandoning their many factional, sectarian theologies and coming together outside their walled fortresses for some much needed unity and sweet fellowship. Those courageous defenders of Truth and contenders for the faith who have stood boldly on the front lines are now beginning to perceive the blessed fruit of their "good fight." Walls that have divided the family of God for too long are crumbling and falling down, and separated siblings are embracing one another in the love of Christ Jesus. Fraternal feuding is being abandoned, and we're uniting into a powerful force for freedom, now waging war with the real enemy: the forces of darkness in this present evil age.

Yet, we must not let down our guard. The fratricidal mindset of the misguided factionists is still very much in evidence, and if you are committed to being a freedom fighter for the Lord, be prepared for the sick spoutings and ridiculous rantings of those who oppose all such efforts to proclaim God's grace. If you haven't yet been victimized, you will be. Just by way of a recent, and singular, personal example, I would refer to the statements made against me on Thursday, December 6, 2007 by Daniel Douglas (a man I've never met, by the way), who is the preacher for the Chapel Hill Church of Christ in Gallipolis, Ohio. Daniel is also an instructor with the Internet-based Truth Bible Institute, the Director of which is David Brown, the editor of Contending for the Faith magazine (formerly edited by Ira Y. Rice, Jr.), and the Academic Dean of which is Darrell Broking, with whom I had a most unusual and rather frustrating debate eight years ago on the topic of divorce and remarriage -- The Maxey-Broking Debate. Darrell Broking's congregation in Mountain City, Tennessee also financially assisted Daniel Coe in his determination to come to Alamogordo, New Mexico and "clean up" the heresy in this community (an effort that only lasted five months, at which time Coe had a falling out with his own little congregation of seven people over the "bingo issue," and he left town very suddenly for the state of Kansas). Anyway, Daniel Douglas posted the following statement on the radical Internet discussion group ContendingFTF, which is owned by the above mentioned David Brown. This statement is from Message #8713:

I wrote to Daniel Douglas and asked if he would be willing to share with me some of the particulars of that "garbage truck load full of error" that I am supposedly driving around. I also invited him to sit down with me, over an open Bible, and have a reasoned, responsible dialogue over those matters about which he feels I am in error. Would any of you like to hazard a guess as to what his response was? That's right!! Danny's still hiding under his desk. It must be getting awfully crowded under there! Brethren, this is just one small example of what you must be prepared to face if you take a stand for God's grace and freedom from sectarian tyranny. They will come at you like rabid hounds. However, one thing I've learned from 32 years of ministry is that their bark is far worse than their bite. They are "heap big thunder, no rain," as the Indian chief once observed of his enemies. Turn and face them boldly, and they will flee like a whipped pup to the deepest, darkest recess of the nearest cave. Brethren, there is nothing to fear from the little lords of legalism. Their only power is through intimidation. The apostle Paul urges us to be "in no way alarmed by your opponents -- which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you" [Philp. 1:28]. The apostle Peter, in similar manner, writes, "But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, rather sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is within you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame" [1 Pet. 3:14-16].

Lord willing, this Reflections ministry will continue. As long as I have breath and ability I shall continue to proclaim the matchless grace of our God, and I shall fight on tirelessly for the unity of all believers in Christ Jesus. I will not waver in my resolve to help bring down the sectarian walls that divide our Father's children, nor will I weary in my efforts to bring differing brethren together to discuss in love those matters which have divided the One Body far too long. I am convinced that this is my ultimate purpose in life, and as long as He blesses me with the open doors, I will charge boldly through them. Keep me in your prayers, brethren, for there are many who would silence me. Pray that I will maintain my resolve. In the spirit of Paul, I ask -- "Pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, ... that I may speak it boldly, as I ought to speak" [Eph. 6:19-20].

Final Issue of 2007

This current issue of Reflections will be the final issue for the year 2007. These studies will resume the first week of January, 2008. We both pray that you all will have a joyous and safe remainder of the year, and may the coming year be one that witnesses all the blessings of God's wondrous grace in your lives. Shelly and I appreciate immensely your love and support. It is great to be part of the family of God, and each of you are very special brothers and sisters. We love you!!

The 2007 Reflections CD

The 2007 Reflections CD is now available for purchase. The cost is just $10, and this includes shipping and handling. Last year, for those persons purchasing the entire set of CD's (there were then four -- cost: $40), I included free of charge The Debates of Al Maxey, a CD that normally sells for $15. This year, for those readers purchasing all five Reflections CD's (a total cost of $50), I am not only including the Debates CD at no cost, but am also going to include at no cost my new CD -- Al Maxey's PowerPoint Sermons. This CD contains a year's worth of my PowerPoint presentations which I used in my sermons over the past year. Several people had asked me to put these presentations on a CD and make them available, so at their request I have done so. This CD may also be purchased just by itself, for those readers interested. The cost is $15. More details can be seen by clicking on the link above. On all orders, please make your check payable to -- Al Maxey, and send your request to me at --- P. O. Box 135, Alamogordo, NM 88311.

Merry Christmas

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Down, But Not Out
A Study of Divorce and Remarriage
in Light of God's Healing Grace

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Readers' Reflections

From a Reader in Texas:

Bro. Al, Thank you for your writings. I appreciate the amount of study it must take. I continue to be edified and encouraged by your material. Would you please send me the essay by Bro. Marion Owens. Once more, Thank You for your weekly Reflections.

From a Reader in Tennessee:

Dear Brother Al, I quietly read, and concur, and whisper an Amen to what you have written in your article "The Law of Jealousy." I am very confident that there are many more who are so instructed and encouraged by what you said. I have recently created a separate file that I have named simply "Max," so that I can go to your archive articles in my own archive! The Lord bless you and Shelly. Please remember whenever you come to Tennessee, that my house is your house!

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, As this present year draws to a close, I feel the need to let you know how much your articles have meant to my spiritual life and journey. As a young woman, I would often wonder if there were any other members of the Church of Christ who questioned some of the traditions as much as I did. Along the way, I would meet others who had the same questions and who would give me hope for the future of the Churches of Christ. I converted my husband from the Catholic Church, and we raised four children in the Church of Christ. Two of them rarely attend church after being completely turned off by the legalism in the Churches of Christ. Another of them is an instructor at ACU, and the fourth is very active in an instrumental Church of Christ in Dallas. I have struggled with my own spiritual journey for years, have tried other churches, have returned to the Church of Christ because of my 96-year-old mother's belief that I will be doomed to hell otherwise, but have recently left for the final time, I think. I just haven't told my mother. Brother Al, you have been such a comfort and inspiration since the time I discovered your writings a couple of years ago. I know there is hope for the future of the Churches of Christ as long as men like you continue to challenge from within the thinking of the ultra-conservative congregations. It's just that I personally have become weary of the struggle, and have found the freedom in Christ that I have longed for in another group. I treasure each word that you write, Brother Al, because I believe there is always Hope where there is Truth. I see these ultra-conservative congregations dwindling in membership, and I just can't understand why they don't see the light. It won't happen within my lifetime, but perhaps future generations will finally perceive the BIG picture, as long as there are men like you who will keep on marching in faith toward a higher goal than that of simply protecting Traditions. May your holidays be full of unexpected wonders and the years ahead blessed with joy from above!!

From a Reader in Alaska:

Brother Al, I am personally convicted that it is a diversionary trap for disciples to elevate doctrinal debates above routine, everyday obedience to God's spiritual growth agenda. Let me give you some background about this statement. This insight snuck up on me when I wasn't expecting it. While teaching a small group adult class, a younger, blue collar brother spoke almost embarrassingly of his limitation about not being able to quote Scripture as I did. And yet, this same brother had the courage to publicly take the elders to task for certain obvious failings. I had to tell this brother that my intellectual skills were nothing compared to his spiritual courage in acting according to his conscience in the face of individual persecution for his genuine concerns. I warned the class never to make that same mistake -- confusing theoretical knowledge with actual practice of God's basic principles. The simplest disciples may be the most spiritual, because of what they do with what they have, like the poor widow and her two mites. Judging from the body language around the table in our small room, everyone there got my point, including, most importantly, my younger, rapidly maturing, brother.

From a Reader in Alabama:

Bro. Al, I just read your two dissertations on the subject of elders anointing the sick with oil -- Issue #76 and Issue #78 -- and I wanted to thank you for these studies. I've sort of felt that same way for a long time, but some of my friends will actually suggest to sick folks this anointing with oil and prayer by elders. That has always seemed a bit odd to me, as it was not an expression of faith from the one sick, but rather the suggester's idea of what he wanted to do. Anyway, thanks for your perspective on this subject.

From a New Reader in Massachusetts:

Dear Bro. Al, Would you please add me to your mailing list? I have read some of your Reflections and am really excited about them! They are very well-done! My congregation (a Church of Christ) has long been well-known for its legalistic teaching. One day I hope to become a minister, but right now I am just trying to meet the needs of the single disciples in my congregation (of which I am one) -- a congregation in need of a lot of encouragement. Thanks!

From a Reader in Mississippi:

Dear Brother Al, I have been away from your web site for the past few months, and I am just now playing "catch up." Reflections #320 -- An Argument for A Cappella: The Position of Dr. John Mark Hicks -- caught my eye, and that is where I began my rather lengthy backlog of reading. You are a prolific writer, brother!! I have enjoyed Christian fellowship with both groups of believers (instrumental and non-instrumental), while recognizing the strengths and pitfalls of both choices. I was always taught that Ephesians 5:19 was a prohibition against instruments. However, I was finally able to accept (and even enjoy) instruments when I began to consider that the context of the passage penned by Paul better fits as an admonition than a prohibition. It is as if Paul is telling his dear children, "sing and be happy!" Oh, that we could do just that!

From a Minister in India:

Dear Brother Al, Thank you so much for your article on Numbers 5:11-31 -- "The Law of Jealousy." This has been one of the passages I have struggled with for the last 30 years! God bless your ministry!

From a Minister in The Philippines:

Dearest Bro. Al, Again, many thanks for blessing us with the fruit of your scholarship! We young writers and preachers need good models like you! Also, would you please send me a copy of Marion Owens' article titled "Church of Christ Doctrines: Facts and Assumptions." Thanks.

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