by Al Maxey

Issue #477 ------- February 23, 2011
There are a thousand hacking at the branches
of evil to one who is striking at the root.

Henry David Thoreau {1817-1862}

Battling the Buzzards
Intervention vs. Regurgitation

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), just a few short months before his assassination, rightly observed, "To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it." This echoes the well-known, but anonymous, maxim: "Indifference to evil is complicity with evil." Brethren, I do not know about each of you, and precisely what may or may not touch your hearts, but there are a number of things in life that truly and deeply haunt me ... that I simply can't get out of my head and out of my heart! They trouble me so deeply that it will literally impact me physically, emotionally and spiritually!! A picture that has haunted me for many years now is the one that you see to your immediate left!! This brings tears to my eyes and a tightness to my chest every time that I look at it. It makes me hurt, and it also makes me angry, and knowing the story behind this picture only intensifies these emotions!! It is, without doubt, one of the most troubling photos ever taken, in my view. Let me tell you about it, as it has truly affected the course of my life.

This horrific picture was taken in 1993 by a rather young (early 30's) freelance photographer from South Africa by the name of Kevin Carter. This extremely talented young man, with a very bright future ahead of him, was in the war-torn, famine-ravaged area of Sudan at the time working on a piece about the relief centers that had been set up to aid the victims of these tragic circumstances. The New York Times, in which this photo first appeared (March 26, 1993), would later characterize it as "a metaphor for Africa's despair." In 1994, Carter was awarded the highly prestigious Pulitzer Prize for this photo!! Yet, just a few weeks later, on July 27, 1994, Kevin Carter took his own life at the age of only 33. Many things were troubling this young man, but according to his friends, and according to the note he left behind, he'd never been able to recover from what he had seen ... and what he had failed to do!! You see, Kevin was in the Sudan for a story ... for a photograph ... to advance his career!! One day, while some distance away from a relief center, he happened upon this tiny little girl who was crawling toward the relief center. She was being followed patiently by a vulture, just waiting for her to die so it could feast upon what little flesh was upon her frail body. Kevin got his picture ... and his Pulitzer ... but he walked away from the scene, leaving the child to her fate. To this day, not a single soul knows what became of that nameless little child. Did she make the camp? Did she fall prey to the vulture? We'll never know!! The knowledge that he could have helped, that he could have saved her, but instead did nothing, was much more than Kevin could bring himself to live with! So, in the depths of his despair and shame, and at the height of his career and fame, he ended his own life!!

Brethren, I weep for our fallen world. I agonize over the suffering and pain and misery that abounds all around me. I hurt for that little girl ... and countless precious souls just like her! Oh, how I wish that I could "fix" the world, but I know I can't. However, I can do something!! God has given me abilities and God has given me opportunities. With God's help, I will do what I can to help those "little ones" find that safe haven, and to chase the "buzzards" back into the darkness. I'll most likely never get to Sudan. I may never work in a refugee camp giving food to those who are starving. But there are other "vultures" out there; there are other "little ones" in danger. These I can reach. And reach them I shall. I refuse to come to the end of my days lamenting those "little ones" I left to the vultures, when I could have done something to drive away the buzzards and bring the famished and fainting into that safe haven where they could be nourished and revived. My resolve perplexes and even perturbs some of my fellow disciples, but I shall not be deterred in this resolve!! I throw stones at buzzards stalking God's children, and I do not apologize for it. If you don't like it, that's your problem!! Go on back to your plush office and prepare your "sermons for the saved." I have some buzzards to dispatch and some babes to defend. You can have your "Pulitzer for Preaching" ... I just want to get that little girl to the camp and deprive that vulture of a meal.

During the three-and-a-half decades of my public and private ministry, I have confronted quite a few buzzard-like "brethren" who are determined to "make a meal of" the children of our heavenly Father. I'll be very honest with you -- I have little use for such people! In fact, I despise them with a passion!! I made a vow to God many years ago that, with the help and gifting of His Spirit, I would devote the remainder of my life to driving off these vultures, as well as to helping their victims find the nourishment and freedom they so desperately sought. God has blessed this effort, and it is with great personal satisfaction that I have witnessed many "little ones" reach the camp, and have watched many a buzzard deprived of a meal. As long as God gives me breath, I shall go after the buzzards and help the babes. Several of my fellow disciples, however (and most all of the buzzards), would prefer that I simply ignore these vultures -- never mention them, never expose them, just pretend they're not there and hope they go away on their own.

A dear friend and brother-in-Christ, who is an internationally known speaker and author, and whose name all of you would recognize instantly (thus, I shall withhold it from this current article), wrote to me after my last issue of Reflections ("The OPA Strikes Again") was mailed out, saying (in part), "Ira North gave me a word of advice many years ago that I have lived by, and which has served me quite well. Ira said, 'Just remember: You can't outpuke a buzzard. So don't try!' I have learned to ignore the power crazy extremists and just focus on Jesus and His message. I love you, brother!" We exchanged several emails on this topic, and the next day he wrote, "I don't know, Al. If you ignore these nuts they eventually die of their own hate and/or their own sins find them out. I have had more than my share of attacks over the 43 years I have been in this ministry, including some things you wouldn't believe any Christian would do! But when I stopped responding to all their attacks, and ignored them, they ran out of gas and eventually stopped. Anyway, I appreciate your work and enjoy your writing! One of these days we need to get together again. I'll be out your way again next fall, so let's work at getting together." I let him know that I would like nothing better, and look forward to having him here.

As for his brotherly advice, I agree with him in one very important respect -- you can't outvomit a vulture!! The buzzard always wins in a puking contest ... and even if you were able to "win," there would be NO "sweet taste/smell of victory." In any such contest, only the buzzard wins. Thus, I agree 100% with my friend -- getting down and dirty with the buzzards and "puking it out" with them only makes them happy and you miserable. It isn't worth the effort, and it causes decent folk to turn away from such a scene in disgust. On the other hand, simply ignoring these vultures as they stalk our Father's "little ones," is not wise. Kevin Carter ignored the buzzard in the above picture ... he did nothing ... and was unable to live with himself because of his lack of action. No, Kevin didn't need to go over and wrestle with the vulture. But, he DID need to drive it away and then carry that precious girl to the relief camp. He did neither. Brethren, my mission in life -- and I hope and pray you will listen very carefully to this -- is to reach out to and rescue those souls who are in the sights of the brazen buzzards that desire to make a meal of them. Thus, my focus is on these precious souls. However, any effort to rescue them from the clutches of those who would afflict them will of necessity require some level of confrontation with their wicked oppressors. In the spiritual battle for men's lives, the sad reality is that many of those who are crawling on the ground at the feet of these vultures are not even aware that they are about to become a meal. Thus, part of the spiritual rescue of these precious souls is to be found in exposing the foul fowl hovering over them. They need to perceive the threat and the danger, which is the very purpose of my exposing such vile vultures over the years in my writings.

No, I will not attempt to outpuke a buzzard, but I will attempt to expose them for what they are ... and at times that requires that we be very blunt. We must never dance daintily around them, mincing our words and speaking soft pleasantries; we have to shine a light upon them and let people see the full depth of their disgusting, despicable attitudes and actions! Nothing less will truly prove effective in making their victims aware of their own plight. I dealt with this philosophical approach that I have chosen to employ in my ministry in the following article: Reflections #162 -- Evangelizing the Enslaved: Breaking the Bonds of Sectarian Slavery -- which I would encourage the reader to examine. After explaining all of this to my above mentioned friend, he wrote me back: "I agree with you on that. I get a lot of emails from people who have left God because of these guys, so I work on them!" These victims need our help, and their victimizers need to be exposed and driven back into the darkness from which they emerged. It is this I seek daily to accomplish. If each of you will resolve to do the same, we will be a force to be reckoned with, and fewer vultures will get a free meal, and more little ones, dear in the sight of the Father, will make it to that spiritual relief camp where they can be nourished and enjoy freedom.

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)

Special CD Offers

Readers' Reflections

From a Minister in Hawaii:

Aloha Bro. Al, I just gave away my last copy of Down, But Not Out to a brother-in-Christ who had a friend who needed to read it. I guess that means it's time to order another one! I would also like to add a copy of your new book One Bread, One Body, and if you could autograph them before sending them I'd appreciate it. Mahalo, brother!

From a Reader in Illinois:

Brother Al, I haven't written to you in a little while, but I am enjoying your Reflections articles. In fact, I used some of them last night in our Wednesday Bible study when discussing the role of women in the church -- women being, I believe, our most underutilized asset. Several of the class members inquired about receiving your Reflections on a regular basis.

From a New Reader in Hawaii:

Dear Brother Al, I am very tempted to come to The Tulsa Workshop this year after a 29 year hiatus -- in large part to meet you personally!! One of the persons who posts on our Internet discussion boards recently posted a column from one of your Reflections, and she alerted us all that you would be in Tulsa this March as a speaker. I will pray for God's blessing to be upon you richly during that week. Back during my days at Harding, Ira Rice and all his disciples were on the prowl, seeking whom they could devour. Are they still doing this? Have you been in their crosshairs? Consider it a privilege, if so!!

From a Reader in New Mexico:

Bro. Maxey, I read with great interest your article on the Old Paths Advocate. Coming as I have from a very legalistic Church of Christ, I think I have basically come to the same conclusions you have! Thanks for your work in untwisting the Scriptures.

From a Reader in Louisiana:

Dear Brother Al, I just glanced through that little tract by George Battey which you mentioned in your Reflections article, and I found his reference to the White's Ferry Road congregation. I know they will be "honored" to be mentioned, although it won't be the first time they've been attacked. I forwarded your Reflections on to the elders there, and I thanked them for helping me to "see the light." If they are a "digressive" church, then I am glad to have hitched my wagon to their star. They have taught me the Scriptures, and they have lived it in front of me. They are a great church!! Anyway, that tract burns me up!! Thanks for your work and study.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, If Satan has a sense of humor, he must be laughing until it hurts over that booklet by Battey. He has to be thinking "how wonderful" that this man wrote this attack! Aren't the people who write and say such destructive things aware of the affect they are having on lost souls?! Why would unbelievers want to "join" a group like that when they can get the same kind of abuse in the world? How can these writers/preachers read the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels and believe they are representing Him?! How does a person get that deluded and hard-hearted?! Sorry, brother. I know you know these people as well as anyone outside of their group, but this kind of thing really upsets me.

From a Reader in Georgia:

Brother Maxey, I'm always encouraged, and often challenged, by your Reflections, and I look forward to them each week. This one ("The OPA Strikes Again") hit a nerve. If there was ever a more forceful warning against the ultimate conclusion of a works-based religion than this, I haven't read it!! This tract by George Battey broke my heart and made me sick to my stomach all at the same time! I would beg these people to reconsider their allegiance to a legalistic hermeneutic rather than to a loving Father!

From a Minister in Kansas:

Brother Al, One Cup man here. I just want you to know that you are loved and held in high esteem by a great many in the One Cup segment of our faith-heritage! We appreciate all that you do for the Body of Christ through your weekly Reflections mailings. I thank you for exposing the nonsense promoted by Bro. Battey and others within the Old Paths Advocate power structure, and for letting the brotherhood know that many One-Cuppers do NOT agree with the fellowship approach taken by the OPAites. May God deliver all of us from those who seek to bind their views (which cannot be supported by plain Bible teaching) on the brotherhood. I personally know many of the brethren that attend the Irving congregation, and they are wonderful people who love the Lord and have a great desire to serve their community. It's hard to imagine that anyone could find fault with this fine group of Christians who're just trying to make a difference in this sin-sick world. May God continue to bless your efforts to bring about unity in the church. We're finally seeing some real progress in the church in that direction -- the light is visible at the end of the tunnel. By the way, I am planning on being at The Tulsa Workshop this year!! God bless you, brother.

From a Reader in California:

Brother Al, Thank you so much for your prompt response to the unlovely, unchristian attitudes portrayed by the OPA group toward anyone who differs with them. "The OPA Strikes Again" was EXCELLENT. I don't know how you do it, Al. I know that you had several requests, including my own, to look into this booklet by George Battey (can you believe the audacity of this man?!!), but I consider it a personal thing that you did so since I know personally, and have been so adversely affected by, so many people within this OPA heritage. My grandmother used to have a saying, "Give a man enough rope and he will eventually hang himself." That is so apropos to these people! Thanks again for your work, brother. We appreciate you so much. May God truly bless you.

From a Reader in Nevada:

Brother Al, I have just reread your Reflections, which is tremendous, about Battey's accusations against the Irving church. How sickening!! I sit here and shake my head at the ignorance of so many in the OPA crowd! These "lords" over God's heritage are the cause of fear and ungodly excitement in the One Cup brotherhood. If they really have the "incorruptible truth," as they claim, why is it they can never bring anyone to Christ?! Their growth comes only from brethren moving from one congregation to another. They "explain" their phenomenal death spiral by saying people are just not interested in salvation any more, when the fact is that by acting like ravenous wolves they're scaring people away, including their own brethren. We can thank God that there are changes taking place in some of our congregations as they simply seek the Lord and strive to do His good works. I look forward to your next Reflections, and to the responses to this present edition.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Dear Brother Al, You've hit the nail on the head with this one! These people should be locked up. Even a child reading the Bible couldn't come up with the garbage that these men claim is "Scriptural." It makes my stomach churn! Yet, so many of these false ideas permeate our congregations, especially the practice of restraining our women and the service they can and should be performing for the Lord. The bulk of the knowledge of the Scriptures is contained in the heads of my sisters. So, any time they want to teach me, they will find a willing a student!!

From a Reader in Louisiana:

Brother Al, Thank you for your stand for Truth! Regrettably, I will not be at The Tulsa Workshop this year, but God's best to you as you minister and fellowship there! As for your latest Reflections article, and Mr. Battey's "thoughts" about women, I was reading Acts 2:17-18 and realized that I have never heard a preacher mention the fact that it says "your sons and your daughters shall prophesy ... both men and women shall prophesy." It seems to me that the prophet Joel, as well as the apostle Peter, should have consulted Mr. Battey before they prophesied such heresy!!

From a Reader in Michigan:

Dear Bro. Al, What I don't understand is how ordinary people with ordinary God-given common sense can allow themselves to be hoodwinked by such nonsense as comes out of the OPA leaders! These men are no better than David Koresh or Jim Jones were!! Truly astounding!! Fortunately, the only power these men really have is the power to make themselves look more and more foolish with their every utterance!

From a Reader in New Mexico:

Brother Al, I think handing out gag-balls at the door of the church building for the women would be a great idea!! Or, maybe they should just wait out in the car, or stay home. After all, no need for the women to be wasting precious pew space! By the way, do these OPA guys have any Kool-Aid to spare?! Keep up the good work, brother!

From a Reader in New Mexico:

Brother Al, I just got done reading that article. Incredible!! I just wanna say, Al ... thanks for sharing pew space with us ladies here in Alamogordo!!

From a Reader in Australia:

Brother Al, I only have one word to say about George Battey and his bunch -- CULT.

From a Minister in Georgia:

Brother Al, I think a better title for your article would have been "Lunacy Strikes Again."

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Brother Al, To put it very bluntly, I can't stand people like George Battey!! They are so far off the wall, and so ultra-legalistic, that they need a GPS to simply find the middle ground. I don't mean to offend anyone by that statement, but their kind of "thinking" is just INSANE.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Maxey, I just finished your latest issue of Reflections. All I can say is WOW!! I don't even have words to describe what I feel. Mr. Battey must be a very miserable person who lives a very miserable life. Apparently he has things so precisely figured out that he doesn't even need Jesus! You know, it's pretty sad that a person can read the same Bible we do and yet come up with such crazy conclusions. Brother, we are really going to try to attend The Tulsa Workshop this year, but plans are still somewhat up in the air due to work schedules. We might only be able to make it there for one or two days. If so, we look forward to visiting with you and Shelly. Thanks again for all your work and for your studies!

From a Reader in North Carolina:

Brother Al, I could hardly stomach to read just 20 pages of Battey's booklet, so I applaud you for making it through it all. You got farther than I. What a mess!! My mouth actually dropped open more than once!! To condemn a congregation for responding to "Good Morning" just about beats anything I've ever heard in my life!! Truly the blind are leading the blind at his congregation.

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Dear Bro. Al, I find it nearly inconceivable that teaching like I read in the booklet by George Battey can find an audience among thinking people!! What a terrible abuse of the Word of God! How proud he must be that we now have "the absolute and final word" on what is right and wrong in the fellowship of Christians! This absolutely turns my stomach. It is no wonder that so many have sought freedom in Christ by leaving such tyranny and stupidity. I could not help but wonder what an honest seeker, who was simply trying to find meaning in life, would conclude if he got his hands on such religious dribble. Brother, thanks again for your clear and concise way of sharing the message of grace and Truth.

From an Elder in New Mexico:

Brother Al, These guys commit "error" each and every week when they partake of one cup and one loaf while accusing others of being "in error." Had they studied the origin of the Lord's Supper, they would have known that there were three loaves of bread used during the meal, and that each person had his own cup, they did not share a single cup. Also, they used real wine. If they had not used real wine, then why were the brethren in Corinth accused of getting drunk? That's a little hard to do using grape juice. If you want to be strict, then be strict ... but be consistent.

From a Minister in Texas:

Brother Al, WOW! George Battey could have taught the NT era Pharisees and lawyers a thing or two about how to analyze the Scriptures so as to maximize their regulatory capacity!! Who knew that 1st Corinthians 14, for instance, could reveal so many laws?! Little wonder it's a "narrow way that leads to life, and few there be that find it." That was a great rebuttal of his booklet, Al, although I think your irony button was stuck in the "On" position throughout most of the piece!!

From a Reader in Georgia:

Brother Al, I just finished reading "The OPA Strikes Again." It's sad, but at the same time you gotta laugh, brother! The sad part, however, is that such a hate-filled little man as Mr. Battey could even find a gathering of "Christians" that would even allow him to stand before them and teach!! The Berean spirit is certainly woefully absent in that bunch of members! Thankfully, as you pointed out, most brethren are questioning such foolishness, and are opening up to a Spirit-filled life. By the way, your previous Reflections on evolutionary creation was excellent, and I agree with what you wrote. Our earth and universe are both very old ... likely billions of years! I appreciate all your hard work, and I pray that our Father may continue to bless you and your loved ones. I love you, brother. Thank you!

From a Reader in Maryland:

Brother Al, Wow!! White's Ferry Road is "digressive"? I would go for "progressive," but certainly not "digressive." Mr. Battey's opinion really got to me!! Perhaps he has way too much time on his hands. Why isn't he out reaching the lost? Loving on his kids? Building a stronger marriage? Why is he hounding other Christians?

From a Minister/Elder in Florida:

Brother Maxey, I read with great interest your latest article ("The OPA Strikes Again"). I have to confess that before I was even half way through, I felt that I might have to go find some place to regurgitate, because I was getting a really sickening feeling in my bowels. But, I was able to continue reading to the end without having to find this unpleasant relief. Keep up your good work and the good fight.

From a Reader in China:

Dear Brother Al, I really wish that I could say that I was surprised at Battey's outrage over the preacher at Irving saying "Good Morning," and eliciting a response of "Good Morning" back from his congregation. I realize this all sounds absurd, if not completely insane, to most people outside of our heritage. But, for me it is all too familiar. A couple of years ago, when I was preaching for an ultra-conservative Church of Christ in South Carolina, I ran across this very same issue. I had made it a practice to greet the congregation, just before the sermon began, with a "Good Morning!" This was both a positive beginning to the lesson and a way to engage the congregation. I had not been preaching there for long before some "anti" brethren commandeered the monthly business meeting to demand that I stop doing that, because by doing it I was requiring women to speak in the assembly. I was floored frankly! I would never have imagined that the whole point of my sermon could be entirely missed simply due to the sincere greeting with which I began my lessons. It is honestly something that would never, ever have occurred to me. I suppose, in retrospect, I should have just asked the song leader to compose a melody (maybe even in four-part harmony) to the words "Good Morning" so that the women could participate!

It should also be noted that these kinds of brethren are beyond appeasing!! I stopped using the opening greeting each Sunday, but it was not long before something else came up. These "anti" brethren can come up with anything, and they did -- the color of the tie I was wearing while preaching, my lack of wearing a sport coat to do my daily "office hours," even though it was South Carolina in the summertime, the existence of a nursery on Sunday morning, which was deemed "unscriptural" because worshippers would not all be in the same room. Really, the list went on and on and on! Each time some practice would be ceased or disbanded in order to appease them, they would come up with something new to be offended about!! I suspect Mr. Battey is the same way! No doubt if the Irving church submitted to his every demand, he would still find something with which to be offended, just so he could get back on top of the barn and start crowing again!! Brother Al, thanks for yet another great issue of your Reflections. However, I must charge you with one thing: you owe me for five hours of my life that I was compelled to spend clicking on and reading all the many links to previous Reflections that you placed in your last article. Five hours very well spent, I must say!!

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