by Al Maxey

Issue #443 ------- May 14, 2010
Only that traveling is good which reveals to me
the value of home and enables me to enjoy it better.

Henry David Thoreau {1817-1862}

Come Away By Yourselves
Mark 6:31-32 and our 2010 Vacation

Today begins a much needed and longed for vacation. I absolutely love the work I have been called by the Lord to do! It is my life. However, it can be very, very wearying physically, emotionally and spiritually. Therefore, it is essential that those engaged in full-time ministry take time to get completely away from their work and refresh themselves. Those who fail to do this will eventually and inevitably burn themselves out, thus becoming useless to the cause for which they were called. So, Shelly (who will also be taking some time off from her job at the Zia Therapy Center, where she serves as their Child Care Director) and I will be "taking it easy" (I love that song by the Eagles) for a few weeks. I will not be "back in the saddle" until Sunday, June 6. We'll be doing some traveling through several states, and also just some "hanging out" around beautiful New Mexico. Please keep us in your daily prayers during this time, and please know that you all are in ours!! Your support and encouragement over the past several years have been very much appreciated. Special Notice: During this period of time there will be NO Reflections written or mailed out. The next issue will most likely be on Friday, June 11. Perhaps this would be a good time for some of you (especially all my newer readers) to go and catch up on those past issues you haven't yet examined. They can all be found on my Archives page. I hope and pray you will find them personally challenging and spiritually enlightening.

On the topic of "ministerial leave," I have actually heard some declare that those who have devoted their lives to serving the Lord should take no thought to their own comfort or ease, but rather should "labor 'till they drop" (as one lady phrased it). "Your vacation is heaven," another stated. Besides, preachers only "work" one day a week! Right?! So, why on earth do they need a vacation? Their whole life is one big "vacation." I have a good friend (at the time he was serving as an elder) who was asked one day why he didn't become a preacher. "I'm too young to retire," was his tongue-in-cheek response. I think some people probably believe this, however. This demonstrates a complete ignorance of the intense nature of this work, and of the many stresses that are endured (often silently and without complaint) by those who have gladly and willingly answered God's calling.

Thankfully, our Lord Jesus (who took on flesh and labored as a minister of God's Grace) knew only too well the demands of this calling, and He Himself took time to "get away" from the crowds and the demands upon His time so that He might refresh and renew Himself. Luke 5:16 says that "He Himself would often slip away to lonely places." He sought solitude. During these times He would pray, but undoubtedly He would also simply enjoy the peace and quiet. The multitudes can drain you, if you let them!! Thus, for the well-being of His disciples, He would at times have to rescue them from the crowds. Mark 6:31, for example, informs us that on some occasions the demands of the crowds were such that "they did not even have time to eat." Therefore, our Lord said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while" [Mark 6:31]. "And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves" [vs. 32]. Jesus "suggested a rest, a vacation, in some place away from the haunts of men" [Dr. Paul E. Kretzmann, Popular Commentary of the Bible: the NT, vol. 1, p. 197]. These disciples had just returned from a very stressful mission, and "they were weary from the arduous labor which the task of preaching, and the accompanying pastoral work, involves" [ibid]. We find in this particular passage "an instance of the loving care of the Lord for all His servants. His solicitude is for their bodies also, lest the strain of continuous work make them unfit for the greatest work of all: that of preaching the Gospel --- a hint to be noted in its real significance by congregations and pastors alike" [ibid]. Jesus, the Son of God the Father, was extremely "careful to take His needed rest. It is the duty of His servants to do so as well. The Devil would wear us out before our time, if he could" [Dr. Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, vol. 1, p. 132].

The great biblical commentator Matthew Henry (1662-1714) once opined, "Servants of Christ cannot be always upon the stretch of business, but have bodies that require some relaxation, some breathing time" [Commentary on the Whole Bible, e-Sword]. He also points out the importance of removing themselves from those they seek to serve. "If they would rest, they must be alone" [ibid]. Dr. A. T. Robertson, in his now classic work Word Pictures in the New Testament, observed, "This is one of the most needed lessons for all preachers and teachers: occasional change and refreshment. Even Jesus felt the need of it" [e-Sword]. He then wisely noted: "Change is a necessity." [ibid]. "Rest is quite necessary for those who labor, and a zealous preacher of the Gospel will as often stand in need of it as a galley slave" [Adam Clarke, Clarke's Commentary, vol. 5, p. 309]. These brief vacations, these periods of rest and renewal, become a much needed "breathing space in a life of toil" for the Master [Dr. W. Robertson Nicoll, The Expositor's Greek Testament, vol. 1, p. 383]. "It is a bad economy in Christian workers to neglect the claims of the physical body, which needs to be kept, by food, exercise and repose, in a sound and a healthy state, that work for Christ may be done vigorously and cheerfully" [The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 16, p. 254].

Ministry "is a kind of work which needs leisure and quiet, and uninterrupted hours" [ibid]. A great many people do not realize this truth, and, sadly, many of these people are ministers, which is why they fail and their ministries are cut short. Time away from the very ones they seek to serve is essential. If we fail to realize this, we will fail. On the other hand, we must also realize that these times of refreshment must serve a vital purpose -- they must prepare us for further ministry. We are, after all, called to labor, not leisure. The latter merely enables us to better accomplish the former. "Legitimate rest prepares for work. If an indulgence or recreation makes duty distasteful, so that we go back to it with surly discontent, then either the pleasure has been of the wrong kind, or it has been indulged in in a wrong spirit. The disciples who went off to a deserted place to rest 'a while' were soon at work again" [ibid, p. 269]. Yes, I am now, at this moment, more than ready for some "time away" from my ministry. I need to rest. I need to renew myself. However, I also know from experience that by the end of this time, I will be more than ready for another long period of intense service to my God and to His people (as well as to those who do not yet know Him and the joys of His grace). So, having said all this ... we are off to a deserted place. May His grace rest upon each of you in these next few weeks ... and throughout your lives! We will be back in touch with you around the middle of June.

The April, 2010 Issue of
Contending for the Faith

I suppose I will never cease to be amazed by the antics of the hardened legalistic patternists who profess to be devoted disciples of Jesus Christ, but who in reality are little more than rabid, rigid religionists. Their numbers are shrinking daily (thankfully), and at some point in the not too distant future they will be little more than a footnote in the history of our movement. Christians are waking up; they are seeing these people for who and what they are, and all they are feeling is revulsion. Thus, I have no reluctance in sharing their antics with my readers whenever possible, for the more one spotlights their sectarian attitudes and actions, the more one makes the people of God aware of how dangerous these people can be. They bear within their behavior the very seeds of their own demise, and yet, interestingly, are too blind and foolish to perceive this fact! Which, of course, is a benefit for the Body of Christ, as we shall soon be rid of them ... and the Lord will deal with whatever is left of them when He returns!

Without doubt, one of the most vicious and vindictive of their several publications (in which they seek to slander and defame the godly in every issue) is known as Contending for the Faith. It has been in existence for almost 42 years, and only eternity will reveal the harm it has inflicted upon the cause of Christ Jesus. But, I can assure you that the harm has been immense. A number of people will have much to answer for one day because of their support of and association with this vile periodical. On the other hand, it has served as somewhat of a spiritual barometer for those more grace-centered and Christ-focused in their public ministries. If you have been "written up" within the pages of Contending for the Faith, then you know that you are doing something right for the cause of the Lord Jesus, as Satan and his hellish minions don't waste that much time and energy on you unless you are perceived as a threat to their efforts to enslave the people of God. If you are a proclaimer of freedom in Christ Jesus, you are especially hated and hounded by these people. They will do everything in their power to silence you, for they know that your message, if it is heard by their people, will lead to the termination of their tyranny. Like their forefather in faithlessness, Diotrephes (3 John 9-11), they will labor tirelessly to tear you limb from limb. It's their pattern.

A significant portion of the April, 2010 issue of Contending for the Faith (which would probably be more aptly named Contentious for the Faith) was devoted to that abominable heretic Al Maxey. I suppose I should be flattered that this bunch considers my feeble efforts to promote God's Grace to be successful enough to warrant their attention. After all, their attacks are, in truth, an endorsement; they are a validation of my ministry. Nevertheless, their intended goal is not to applaud, but to assassinate. Little do they know that by their repeated attacks they only increase my audience and promote my work for the Lord! Thus, I truly thank them for their continued support of my ministry.

The cover article for the April, 2010 issue is by Gary W. Summers, the minister for the South Seminole Church of Christ in Winter Park, Florida. This article is titled -- "Recommended Reading: Profiles in Apostasy #1," and is very little more than a shameless plug for the newly released book in which all of the talks at the Contending for the Faith lectures in Spring, Texas in March are published in written form. The book is hardback, 608 pages, and sells for $20 (I have a copy in my office). The above mentioned article by Gary Summers is also reproduced as the lead article in the new issue of Defender, which is the current publication of the Bellview Church of Christ in Pensacola, Florida (which is the congregation that first published Contending for the Faith, when its founder, Ira Y. Rice, Jr., who is now deceased, was preaching there). Mr. Summers begins the article by declaring (and I assume he does so with a straight face), "Profiles in Apostasy #1 is one of the best reference works of this century." This lectureship (and now the book reproducing the talks) was designed to expose 24 books that these legalistic leaders felt were doing the most harm to Truth. Chapter 5, by Daniel Denham, and chapter 18, by Lester Kamp, are the two within this book dealing with my book Down, But Not Out.

"For years," writes Summers, "various name brand liberals have been writing books to influence brethren away from the Scriptures." Oddly, my book (I'll let the other 23 authors speak to the merits of their books) sought to do just the opposite of what Summers claims it intended! The book is filled with references to both OT and NT passages pertaining to the topic of marriage and divorce (in fact, I have dealt with every passage within the Bible pertaining to this subject, something, to my knowledge, no other book on this topic has ever done). Thus, my intent was to lead people away from traditional misunderstanding and misapplication, and back to the simple teaching of Scripture itself. Olan Hicks, a very dear friend, who wrote the Foreword to my book and with whom I was blessed to spend some time at the recent Tulsa Workshop, stated within his comments, "This is no slanted, narrow-scope treatment. This book puts the matter in the context of the entire Bible and of history! Each Old Testament book is summarized separately and a perspective is drawn from each by sound exegesis. The New Testament text is also treated with a thoroughness that is rare and an objectivity that is refreshing. ... It is very much textual and contextual" [Down, But Not Out, p. 5]. Gary Summers is most certainly not unaware of this, as he wrote in his CFTF article, "Olan Hicks gave high praise to Maxey's book, saying that it was written with 'an objectivity that is refreshing'." Nevertheless, Gary Summers states that my book is just one of many over the past few decades "promoting loopholes so that unscripturally divorced people could remarry." Apparently he hasn't really read my book, for it does no such thing.

Daniel Denham, the preacher for the Church of Christ in Newport News, Virginia, wrote an article for the April, 2010 issue of Contending for the Faith titled: "Jim Waldron Ain't No Brer Rabbit." This article is primarily an attack against Jim Waldron, a disciple of Christ these folk have been chewing on for quite some time because he dares to possess perspectives other than their own (perish the thought). Needless to say, Bro. Waldron has at times spoken out against this never-ending abuse. Denham writes, "In fact, Jim claims now that 'many God-fearing men have endured the wrath of those at CFTF.' As Jim does not name these 'many God-fearing men,' we're left to wonder if he has reference to the aforementioned Rubel Shelly, Mac Deaver and Max Lucado, among others. Maybe he even refers to folks like Al Maxey, John Mark Hicks, Rick Atchley, and possibly even Olan Hicks." I would imagine these, and a host of other "God-fearing men" and women, have all felt at one time or another the stings of the arrows fired at them from behind the walls of the CFTF fortress.

The major frontal assault against me personally, however, came at the hands of the Editor and Publisher of Contending for the Faith magazine, David P. Brown, who also serves as the preacher for the Spring Church of Christ in Spring, Texas (just outside of Houston), in his Editorial for the April, 2010 issue. That rather lengthy editorial begins with this statement: "Al Maxey is a typical liberal -- by his false doctrines he looses where God's Word binds." Mr. Brown then goes on to list a number of things he believes that I believe. He states that I'm seeking unity "at the expense of the absolute, objective, humanly attainable Truth of God's rightly divided Word." He claims that I utterly "despise the communicative nature of language" ... that I "oppose logic" ... that I "uphold all kinds of music in the worship of God" ... that I "fellowship the pious unimmersed" ... that I "deny that the New Testament is a divine blueprint or pattern" (well, okay, I do deny that). "And on, and on, and on we could go enumerating Maxey's false beliefs and actions," declares David Brown (and all of this "wisdom" is contained in just the first paragraph!). In the second paragraph, Brown mentions my Reflections mailing list, which he says "must be one of the largest lists of religious lunatics in the world." It is a forum in which that horrible Al Maxey "propagates his errors" and "criticizes and castigates faithful brethren." He then mentioned The Tulsa Workshop, characterizing me, as well as the other speakers, as a "convention of those who 'speak great swelling words of vanity' ... who 'promise liberty,' but in actuality they 'are the servants of corruption' (2 Pet. 2:18-19)."

The next section of his editorial has the heading -- New Testament Warnings About The Al Maxeys Of This World. According to Mr. Brown, James (James 1:8) and Paul (2 Thess. 2:10-12) both had me in mind when they penned their warnings to the church. Thankfully, however, God raised up champions for Truth to deal with my kind. David Brown went on to write, "In the recent 2010 Spring CFTF Lectureship, Maxey's MDR errors were exposed and refuted orally and in the lectureship book. Also, in at least one of the open forums his true character was documented." I'm then referred to as being like the sow that returns to the mire and the dog that returns to its vomit (2 Pet. 2:20-22). Brown quotes 2 Pet. 3:16, which speaks of the "unlearned and unstable" who "wrest the Scriptures unto their own destruction" -- calling these individuals my "ancient spiritual kinfolk of the first century." According to Mr. Brown, I have a "cultivated cowardly character," and my "yellowness is apparent to the most casual observer of your conduct, as is the low down cowardliness of the other spiritually malignant dwarves with which you love to run."

Although Mr. David Brown has a great deal more to say, I will try and spare the reader the inevitable nausea that would result from being exposed to all of it at one sitting. Let me just close by sharing this last rant from Mr. Brown: "But, there is at least one thing in which you have become very adept and may be counted on with regularity to do: you trample the pearls of God's Truth under your feet, then seek to rend the purveyor of them. What a shame that you and many others have, like the Jews of Paul's day, judged yourselves unworthy of salvation (Acts 13:46). But we'll keep exposing you and yours for the false teacher you are. ... At least you should know that you're helping the cause of Jesus Christ by giving us ample opportunities through your writings to teach the unadulterated Truth as we expose and refute your warmed over and sour denominational soup. As our God used Nebuchadnezzar to purge Judah's sins, He can and He does use you and other heretics to purge the church of its dross."

Okay, 'nuff said! Such persons have always been a blight and a plague in the lives of God's redeemed and upon the good name of our Lord, and they always will be. We must shine the light of His Word upon them, but as to their ultimate eternal disposition, I leave that in His hands. My work is all about doing away with their influence upon the One Body; His work will be to do away with them. I know He is up to accomplishing His end; let us pray that we are each up to accomplishing ours!! May God bless you all. Shelly and I are now headed for that "deserted place" to renew ourselves! See you in a few weeks.

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

A 200 page book by Al Maxey
Publisher: (301) 695-1707

Readers' Reflections

From a New Reader in Nigeria, Africa:

Dearly Beloved Brother, Thank you for accepting my request to be added to your Reflections mailing list and also to be friends on Facebook. I am hopeful that all is well with your family. I am a Christian brother and a Gospel Minister with the Church of Christ in Nigeria. I have been preaching and teaching the Word of God for the past 18 years now. I am married with two precious gifts from God. My ministry in the vineyard of God involves preaching the gospel and providing Christian education to our children, and using this as an avenue to reach the larger population here in Africa. I would love for you to visit our web page -- Hidden Treasure Christian Schools. I am the founder and administrator of this school.

From an Actor/Producer in Hollywood:

Bro. Al, I just read about you in the April issue of Contending for the Faith. My goodness, brother! The "logic" (lack thereof) of these guys is horrendous. This is classic fallacious "straw man" logic -- making a statement, then plastering it with Scriptures that have no application whatsoever to what they had asserted! Brother Al, the CFTF people are clearly in great fear of you and your teachings, as well as being in fear of all the other people they mentioned in the April issue. They fear your challenges to their doctrines, thus they attack you and hope to discredit you. Keep up your good work, brother, and continue to do it in love!

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Brother Al, It is amazing to me that, in a world filled with chaos and pain, these Contending for the Faith guys, who claim to have the truth that could change the world, spend their time and energy instead in trying to defend their sectarian view by overtly criticizing those who are attempting to bring freedom in Christ to those in bondage!! Al, thank you for showing the light of Jesus to a dark world. Freedom!!

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Brother Al, Congratulations on all the hits to your web site, especially when you get "hit" as much as you do for other reasons!! I saw where you were in the bull's eye of the Contending for the Faith crowd AGAIN!! Wear it as a badge of honor, my friend. I know that you handle the criticism well, but the constant berating has to take its toll on you. You are in my prayers, brother. Thanks for all you do!

From a Reader in Colorado:

Brother Al, Thank you for your last Reflections ("Tell it to the Church"). The principle in Matthew 18:15-17 not only works in the local congregation, but it also works in the workplace! My management style reflects Christian values and stands out from other managers. My staff know how conflict will be handled, and that becomes an effective witness where I work. Ponder on, brother!!

From a Reader in New Mexico:

Bro. Al, Please keep on writing your wonderful Reflections. I enjoy reading them so much, and always find them interesting, informative and thought-provoking. I know there are probably times you would rather be out doing something else, yet you press forward with this great work for all of us, so that we might be blessed. Thank you!! May God bless you and your wonderful wife Shelly.

From an Elder in Wyoming:

Brother Al, I have heard some say that disfellowshipping doesn't work. Perhaps the reason it doesn't seem to work is that there first has to be genuine fellowship to "dis" from before it can work!! In our present day and age we often times do not have enough close relationships for it to matter if one is no longer a part of the congregation any more!! We need to recapture the idea of Family. Keep on, brother!!

From a Reader in Ohio:

Brother Al, Regarding your most recent Reflections ("Tell it to the Church"), I thought I would share my experience of several years ago. A dear sister was going through some extremely difficult circumstances in her life. During this time she offended me deeply by her treatment of my 10-year-old daughter, so I decided that I would follow Jesus' plan in Matthew 18, but first I prayed about it, because I wasn't real sure she would be able to receive it in the right way since she was under so much stress. I told the Father that I wanted to obey Him, but if this was going to make her burdens even heavier, then I would just forgive the offense and let it go. I told Him that I would try three times to have a private conversation with her about this, but if I was prevented each of those three times in some way, then I would take that as a sign that it was best for me just to forgive and to forget. Well, that is exactly what happened. I then came across the Scripture: "A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense" [Prov. 19:11]. I forgave that sister and never looked back. I learned that there is a time to confront, and there is a time to forgive. God will help us perceive which will build the Body, if we ask Him. God bless you, Al, for working so diligently to present all sides of an issue, and for encouraging us to allow the Spirit to teach us what He wants us to believe.

From a Reader in Kansas:

Brother Al, While it is obvious that you cannot remove one from fellowship who has already removed himself from fellowship, it would seem that the church at least needs to be informed of the situation, as well as of the fact that the person has already severed himself from the Body. Thus, in order to return, wouldn't he need to acknowledge his sin and repent of it? Also, perhaps you might be able to shed some light on something else within this passage from Matthew 18. I am not a Greek scholar, so maybe there is no significance to this exegetically, but the phrase "let him be unto you as a Gentile and a tax-collector" seems strange. The "you" there is singular. What about the rest of the church? Thank you so much for your Reflections, Al.

From a Reader in Connecticut:

Bro. Al, Your article "Tell it to the Church" should be required reading for every babe in Christ, and also a refresher study for all mature Christians as well. Oh, how difficult it is for us not to seek revenge in the name of "righteous indignation" when our ego has been battered and bruised. Such temptation is often too great to resist in our efforts to "purify and guard" our "territory." Your careful examination of Christ's example and admonition, as well as the spirit vs. the letter of the law, is a gentle reminder of the importance of Prov. 15:1 --- "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Is it any wonder why Christ told us that of all the commandments ever given, the greatest is to love another?! You are right on the mark!! Our goal should never be revenge, but everything we do should be motivated by love for each other. We should make every effort to cast aside our opinions and personal preferences when it comes to a brother's soul. Fight on, brother ... we're winning, one precious soul at a time! By the way, it seems the folks at Bellview Church of Christ (where my wife grew up) in Pensacola, Florida have you on their mind ... and their tongues. You were featured in the lead article in their new issue of the publication Defender. They probably do not realize this, but this HAS to be good for your book sales, because my wife talked to one of her friends and they said they were going to order your book Down, But Not Out "to see for themselves." Yes, the Lord does work in strange and mysterious ways!

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