by Al Maxey

Issue #453 ------- August 27, 2010
And I, who neared the goal of all my nature,
felt my soul, at the climax of its yearning,
suddenly, as it ought, grow calm with rapture.

Dante Alighieri {1265-1321}
The Divine Comedy

Their Earthly Journey Ends
A Tribute to Four Senior Saints

Within the past couple of weeks the One Body of our Lord Jesus Christ has witnessed the passing from this life of three "Senior Saints," each of whom personified and epitomized the kingdom concepts of sacrificial service and unflinching faith. Two of these precious people I have known for many years, and I counted them as dear friends and confidants. The other person I only heard of after her death, but the story of her final years, as recounted by one of my readers, touched my heart in a major way. Let me begin with her (she is pictured above left). Her name was Merces Marquez, and she was an immigrant to this country from Bolivia about two decades ago (when she was already close to 80 years old). She had none of this world's possessions, nor was she very interested in acquiring them. What this woman did have, she gave away. She sought only to serve others. At the age of 87 she heard the Gospel and responded to it. The picture of her that appears above was taken at that time. She died just short of her 100th birthday, and yet Merces Marquez labored tirelessly for her heavenly Father right to the very last day of her life. An elder from the congregation she attended in Miami, Florida wrote me the following:

Pictured within the middle photograph is a couple whom Shelly and I came to love with all of our hearts. Herb and Sue Shiroma. They were a Japanese-American couple who had spent their lives together on the island of Oahu in the state of Hawaii. Shelly and I first met them in the summer of 1992 when we moved from Santa Fe, New Mexico (where I had preached for 8 years) to Hawaii with our three sons, at which time I began serving as the new preacher for the Honolulu Church of Christ, a position I held for the next 6 years. Our new house was located right next to the church building on Keeaumoku Street, just a few blocks from Punchbowl Crater and about a mile from Waikiki Beach. We loved our time there, and are still in close contact with a good many of the members of that congregation. But the greatest aspect of our work in Hawaii was the people, and some of the most precious of these disciples of Christ were Herb and Sue Shiroma.

Herb had been one of the shepherds of that congregation in the years before I arrived, and I can still remember some of the long talks we had together about God's Word, the work in the Hawaiian islands, and countless other topics. Herb could certainly "talk story," and his eye-witness accounts of the bombing of Pearl Harbor made you feel you were standing right there beside him. Herb was probably one of my greatest supporters during my years in Hawaii; I owe him more than I could ever repay. He passed from this life a few years after Shelly and I moved here to Alamogordo, NM, and I miss him dearly!! His precious wife Sue came to the end of her own journey here on earth just this past week, and news of her death has brought both sorrow and rejoicing. Sorrow at the loss of such a precious lady, and yet rejoicing that the goal of her entire life had at last been realized -- to rest in the arms of her Savior! Sue was without question one of the most devoted Christians I have ever known. Her faith was rock solid, and her sacrificial service to God and man was unequaled. Although not many people knew this (as she didn't do it for show), Sue would get up before dawn every day, get on her knees with several pages of names and situations written down in front of her, and pray and pray until every single person and circumstance was dealt with fully and fervently. All her time was spent serving others, and whenever you saw Sue out and about, you knew she was on a mission of mercy. She spent years as the person who cleaned the church building, not because she wanted money for it ... but because she considered it her ministry. Every Saturday she and Herb would pick plumeria blossoms from the trees around the building, take them home, and sit for literally hours stringing them into lovely leis which would be given to those tourists who visited our congregation each Sunday. Sue Shiroma, and her dear husband Herb, will live on in my heart for the remainder of my life. I am truly a richer and wiser man for having known them, and I look forward to that day of reunion when we'll be together again in that eternal Paradise.

The third picture (above right), which was taken recently, is of one of my mentors for whom I had the greatest of respect, and a friend and brother for whom I had the deepest love. Al Cornelius passed from this life two weeks ago. He would have been 72 years old this coming October. Al and I shared a very similar "strange sense of humor," and we loved to banter with one another, and also "horrify the waitresses" whenever we went out to eat together!! Since we both shared the same first name, someone once asked us how to distinguish between the two of us. Without hesitation he replied, "I'm the good looking Al." From that day forward this is how he would sign all his correspondence to me. A few years back, Al spoke here at the congregation for which I preach, and where I serve as one of the elders. He spoke during our Summer Series, and he gave a fabulous presentation. I think I still have the recording of that message somewhere.

Al Cornelius lived a fascinating life: the type of life that would make for a great movie. In fact, in one well-known movie ("Apollo 13"), which dealt with an event Al was very much involved with, he was even portrayed by an actor. After leaving the U.S. Navy with the rank of Lt. Commander, he was hired by NASA to be part of the space program. He retired from NASA after 25 years of service with them, and was in the control room during the Apollo 13 mission. I was up at his cabin in the mountains one evening a few years back and he shared some of his NASA memorabilia with me. What an honor it was to hear him share some of the "behind the scenes" events of the Apollo program! Over the years Al also tried his hand at various other professions. He served as a reserve Sheriff's deputy and detective, a newspaper columnist, a teacher of public speaking and debate, and a minister of the gospel of Christ (preaching for several different congregations). Al also spent some time working for the Department of Energy on the Super Collider Project. For eight years he served as a County Judge in his home state of Texas, an office for which he was elected twice.

Al was a thinker, and not afraid to challenge his beliefs or even to change them when confronted with greater Truth ... a quality that did not always sit well with those around him who tended to be far more rigid in their religiosity. Al's son Phil, in his moving tribute to his Dad at the funeral, observed: "As a thinker, Dad was willing to challenge inconsistencies and allow his own positions to be challenged in the pursuit of Truth. He believed Truth had nothing to fear, and one could only benefit if he discovered more of it and applied it to his life." Phil observed that his Dad had many years before come to "understand that there was a difference between unity spoken of by Jesus and uniformity that we might mistake for unity and impose upon God's people creating unnecessary division. That saddened Dad and he tried to get others to see the harm in such thinking." In this the "good looking" Al and I most definitely agreed.

In so many ways and on so many levels I truly found a kindred spirit in Al Cornelius, even though he was close to a dozen years my senior. We could speak to one another not only as close friends, but as brothers ... and such we were "in Christ Jesus." Not long after I began my Reflections ministry, I had a chance to sit down with Al and discuss the strategy for this ministry. I think he saw, even before I did, that this was the type of ministry that had the potential for doing great good ... or great harm. We talked for hours about where our God might want this ministry to go, and how to recognize His leading in our quest to get there. He offered advice from his years of experience that was invaluable, and which still helps guide me in my work for the Lord today. I will miss that sounding board and the wisdom he freely and frequently shared with me. Thank God for devoted disciples like Al Cornelius and Herb Shiroma, and thank God for saintly sisters like Merces Marquez and Sue Shiroma. Their lives inspire us and motivate us to greater efforts for our Father and our fellow man. May these four saints rest easy in His loving embrace!!

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

A 193 page book by Al Maxey

One Bread, One Body
An Examination of Eucharistic
Expectation, Evolution and Extremism

A 230 page book by Al Maxey

Order both books from Publish America at: or (301) 695-1707

SIGNED COPIES may be ordered directly
from the author at a reduced price. Click on
the two book titles for details on how to order.

Readers' Reflections

From a Reader in New Mexico:

Brother Al, Your book One Bread, One Body is fantastic!! We have enjoyed it so much! Thanks for all your research and for getting it all together in one place.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, It was so nice for us to be able to visit with you and your wife Shelly this past week, and also to finally hear you preach at your congregation both Sunday morning and Sunday evening. We are sorry that our trip was cut short, but we will return! My wife and I also thank you for the signed copies of your books Down, But Not Out and One Bread, One Body.

From a Reader in Barbados:

Brother Al, It has been a long time since I have responded to one of your Reflections, but I have still been following your presentations!! I'm particularly interested in the fourteen issues that Dr. Money identified in his speech. I wish that they could somehow be projected across the sky for all in the church to see. We cannot run away from these issues and ever hope to influence the world around us as the "salt and light" we are called to be or to achieve the genuine fellowship of all believers that we so earnestly desire. Every single one of the issues that Dr. Money listed is critically important to the development of Christian community. Thanks so much for this timely reminder!

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, I share your respect for Dr. Money. But, being one who has read a lot of the writings of Carl Ketcherside, and a lot of Leroy Garrett, and a lot of Edward Fudge, and a lot of the writings of others too numerous to even mention (which includes quite a lot by Al Maxey), along with all of the writings of Paul and Peter, I found myself somewhat mystified by Dr. Money's statement: "We must rediscover that in our allegiance to Christ, the bride wears the name of the Groom." Have I misunderstood him, or does he really mean to use the old, out-dated argument about where we get the "authority" for "our name" as a denomination?! If this is what he's doing, then this statement shouldn't even be on his list.

From an Elder in Florida:

Bro. Al, Dr. Money was "right on the money" with his points. Some of us have already given up on the Church of Christ sect which puts out false advertising about itself being a NON-denomination! May this message from Dr. Money get the serious consideration it deserves. A divided church is spitting in the face of the Father, trampling underfoot the blood of Jesus, and despising the blessed leading of the Holy Spirit. Much of what we have each seen (and even participated in) is probably more of a denial of the gracious Gospel of Christ than most of the "sectarian nuances" we have used to excuse our prideful separation from other men and women who love Jesus every bit as much as we do!

From a Pastor in California:

Dear Brother Al, It has been much too long since I have responded to a Reflections article, but I particularly liked this one!! Since I am not in the fellowship of the Churches of Christ, I was unfamiliar with President Royce Money. So, thanks so much for sharing this article about him! He is clearly "my kinda guy"!! He speaks good things, and it appears he has acted good things too. I feel richer already just from having read your article. Thank you, brother.

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Brother Al, Your articles, regardless of the subject matter, always contain specific documentation. It never ceases to amaze me at the thoroughness of your studies. Thanks for this one on Dr. Royce Money. I have never had the privilege of meeting him, but you have brought him to life in your article. It seems to me, and it is just my opinion, that the "Restoration Movement," as it was originally espoused, died a long time ago!! When I hear brethren talk about "the Lord's church," I find that it is used by them primarily in a very restrictive sense, excluding millions of individuals whose faith is embedded in Jesus Christ to a far greater extent than those who use the term! I am afraid that our interpretive method has become our "savior" rather than Jesus. Too many, I fear, are placing their trust in themselves rather than in the grace of God. Such can hardly be good news.

From a Reader in Missouri:

Brother Al, As always, your latest was a great article!! I was a sophomore at Abilene Christian University and was present when Dr. Money gave this amazingly prophetic speech. I was so moved by it, in fact, that I later bought the tape of it, and will gladly share it with you if you would like to have a copy. Keep up the good work, brother!

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, I'm glad you did a Reflections on Dr. Money. One of my greatest memories was taking my freshman daughter to ACU last year and seeing Dr. Money walking from room to room in the dorm as the kids checked in so he could greet them and ask if there was anything he could do for them. He had a sticky note pad and pen in his hand, and he left directions and phone numbers to places the kids might need. Since my daughter's truck broke down on the way to the campus, and it had to be towed to a local establishment, he also confirmed to her that the shop we were at was an honest shop to deal with and that they had never received any complaints about their service. He is a wonderful man, and the Spirit of Christ can easily be seen in him.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, Thank you for your admirable tribute to Dr. Royce Money. As a graduate of ACC (as it was known then) in 1954, a mother of three graduates, and a grandmother of a third year student at Abilene Christian University, I'm in awe of Dr. Money's humble leadership with his wife Pam at his side. Those years have not been easy to navigate in the fast-paced and ever-changing world in which we live. Money held the course, though; not by fear or compromise, but by a trust and faith which now permeates the ACU community like yeast! His leadership in opening the doors of the campus to other Jesus followers beyond our own traditional comfort levels was no small adventure. I have sensed over these past several years that the Holy Spirit flows freely in the ACU environment, inspiring students, staff and faculty to dream big and to take Jesus outside the campus in pioneering and uncharted ways! I think, as Esther was told by her uncle, that Dr. Royce Money has been raised up by God for service during this time!

From a Reader in Oregon:

Dear Brother Al, I enjoyed your tribute to Dr. Money, and I could not agree more with the need to unify those who call upon the name of Jesus. I attended the One Body workshops in Portland a few years ago: meetings in which both instrumental and non-instrumental disciples were in attendance. While listening to both sides of "the music question" it dawned on me just what the real problem here is -- we are arguing men's doctrines!! The music question arises from the old argument about whether the "silence" of the Scriptures should be considered prohibitive or permissive. This whole "Law of Silence" is nothing but man's doctrine (dogma), which, of course, makes the music question moot!! God bless you, Al.

From an Elder in North Carolina:

Dear Brother Al, This notion that silence prohibits is the cancer within the Churches of Christ that will eventually kill it unless it is removed!! Even though the use of musical instruments appears, on the surface, to be a major issue, the real issue is in the way one views the Scriptures. I know you have written much on the subject of hermeneutics (and the "law of silence"), and I have read most, if not all, of your articles. In fact, the ones you wrote on specificity (as opposed to silence) were a significant influence in my change of direction several years ago. I'm convinced people are finally beginning to see the fallacy of the old arguments against the use of instruments, except for a dying breed of older preachers who are doing all they can to hang on to their fallacious dogma.

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