by Al Maxey

Issue #496 ------- August 3, 2011
At times it is folly to hasten; at other times to
delay. The wise do everything in its proper time.

Ovid {43 B.C. - 17 A.D.}

Sheep In Wolves' Clothing
Some Practical Considerations For
Sheep Dwelling Among Wolves

This past month (July) I received two separate emails (from two different men, living in two different states), both of which came from deeply conflicted souls facing a very real challenge to the practical aspects of living their faith (and newly found freedom in Christ) before friends, family and fellow disciples who have not yet progressed (and likely never will) the same distance in their spiritual journey away from law toward grace. One brother wrote, "Dear Bro. Maxey, There are brethren here who have known me all of my life; they've watched me grow up and are so proud that I've become an adult without 'forsaking the old paths.' What they are unaware of is: my heart has changed!! I still fellowship with them, and enjoy seeing them and love worshipping with them whenever possible, but my views regarding law/grace have shifted radically! I feel like I dare not let them know about this, however, as I really believe it would only upset them and result in more harm than good. I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter, and on what I should do." I met and visited in person with this young brother-in-Christ at the last two Tulsa Workshops, and he sat in on each of my presentations. He is very sincere in his love for the Lord, but also in his love for his brethren who are still law/tradition-bound. He doesn't want to hurt them.

The other brother who wrote to me had a similar concern. He too has grown beyond the strict confines of the legalistic, patternistic camp in which he was raised up and indoctrinated. He too, like the above brother, fears sharing his current convictions, as he realizes it will cause great concern among those whom he still loves, as well as a vary harsh reaction against him, which he dreads. As a result, he's very seriously considering leaving these brethren, and even his heritage (Churches of Christ), so as to avoid the contention he knows his views would generate if he were to remain among them. He wrote, "Bro. Al, I read the reasons you gave as to why you decided to stay (Reflections #20). I understand where you're coming from, but I fear staying because of what could potentially happen. If I were to begin sharing what I have discovered, my brethren would begin 'fishing' for just how I came to this knowledge! We had always been taught here that we must not read 'religious' books, nor were we to delve into the web sites of 'others.' If they learned I had been reading your Reflections, and even corresponding with you personally, they would expect me to make a public confession of sin! If I refused to quit, I would be withdrawn from (marked and avoided). Personally, I just want to know TRUTH. Sadly, I do not know anyone I can share these Truths with who wouldn't report me to the preacher and elders! They, in turn, would rebuke me from the pulpit!! Therefore, I truly fear sharing what I have come to believe is God's Truth. On the other hand, by hiding this Truth, am I not thereby giving consent to their faulty thinking and untruths?! This is all really hard for me!!"

We dare not underestimate the power of peer pressure! It can literally make or break a person. It's a vital part of the psychology behind our withdrawal from those professing to be disciples of Light who have chosen to practice the works of darkness. If such a one values the blessings of his or her relationship with the Family, as well as their relationship with the Father, then the hope is they will quickly feel the depth of the loss of this warm fellowship and return to the fold. When disciples are disciplined out of love, and by the standard of God's revealed expectations, then such pressure can be redemptive. When love is not the underlying motivation, however, and such punitive pressure is placed upon our peers simply to keep them shackled within the parameters of our own petty party preferences, perceptions, precepts and practices, then great harm can be done not only to individual disciples and their faith, but to the very cause of Christ itself. I fear that what the second brother above described falls more within the category of the second of these motivations, and such can be rather destructive on a number of levels. Unfortunately, such tactics often produce the results the legalists seek -- their religious captives are intimidated into silence and submission.

The tactics of tyrants, or the tyranny of traditionalism, is not our real focus in this edition of my Reflections, however. We have dealt extensively with this in the past, so do not really need to revisit it here in any depth. It is merely mentioned in passing as one of several contributing factors to the dilemma faced by the two brethren mentioned previously (as well as by countless other brethren experiencing similar challenges to the daily practice and profession of their faith). When our convictions undergo a change, and, as thinking disciples of Jesus who are growing in the knowledge of the Lord and His will, such transformation and progression of thought is both normal and expected, then one of the painful realities of such change is that we will most likely be perceived somewhat differently by those around us (including some people whom we love and cherish very dearly). This, as you might imagine, can be a painful experience, and will frequently challenge us to make some equally painful decisions regarding our journey through life. For example -- Do I dare share my new convictions with those who may very well react adversely to them? Do I refrain from sharing them to "keep the peace"? If I keep my convictions to myself, even though I personally regard them to be more in keeping with eternal Truth, am I thereby betraying Truth? Will God be upset with me? Whom do I fear more -- God or men? Peter and John said to the members of the Sanhedrin, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19-20). Yes, on occasion our convictions, as well as our promotion and practice of them, will upset some individuals and groups. If these beliefs and practices be God's will for our lives, however, we must stand up for them courageously, regardless of the cost to us personally. On the other hand, are there times and circumstances when it is far wiser in the sight of our God to withhold information from others about some of our convictions?

When our convictions are with respect to matters not essential to eternal salvation -- which, quite frankly, is true of the vast majority of our personal convictions -- we should not seek to force our beliefs upon others, or regard those who differ with us as spiritually or intellectually inferior, or withhold fellowship from them. There is certainly nothing at all wrong with us having such convictions, and we should never allow any person to judge or condemn us for them or make us feel inferior for possessing them. No two disciples agree on everything ... and they do not have to!! We don't have to be twins in order to be brethren. Paul wrote to the brethren in Rome, "Whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God" (Rom. 14:22, NIV). The KJV reads: "Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God." "The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God" (NASB). The New Living Translation has a rather interesting rendering --- "You may believe there's nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don't feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right." Some matters are clearly essential Truths (such as proclaiming Jesus as Lord, and His death, burial and resurrection), and, like Peter and John, we must never back down from boldly professing such redemptive realities. These essentials, however, are few. Most of what we fuss and fight over simply doesn't rise to that level of essentiality. Thus, such matters are probably better kept to oneself.

That being said, let me caution you never to be deceptive with your fellow believers (or non-believers, for that matter). If someone asks you about your beliefs, you should be willing to express them and explain them ... even defend them, if need be. Keeping our convictions to ourselves is vastly different from lying about them or denying them when someone questions us. We should always be willing to respond to everyone who seeks to know what we believe and why we believe it, and we should be patient with them in our explanation (1 Peter 3:15). I have certain convictions about certain matters, for example, that guide my own attitudes and actions, and help shape my own views about my God and His will for my life, that would most likely not be the kind of insights that would be beneficial to the congregation here if I were to attempt to promote them from the pulpit. Thus, I keep them between myself and God, and simply allow them to guide my own spiritual journey. On the other hand, if someone asks me what my views are on one of these matters, I do not hesitate to inform them of exactly what I believe, and I seek to validate my position by an appeal to both the Scriptures and to reason/logic. If they should happen to agree with me, that is fine ... if they do not, that is fine also. I will love them the same either way. Yes, be personally honest with all your convictions; don't be ashamed to share them and defend them, and even promote them, if the occasion calls for it. But, be discerning enough to know when to keep these matters to yourself for the greater good of the Body of Christ.

But, someone might ask, isn't this just "going along to get along"? Isn't this somewhat like being "a wolf in sheep's clothing," or, perhaps, "a sheep in wolf's clothing"? Shouldn't we just expose ourselves fully to those around us; bare our souls to them; let them know precisely who and what dwells among them?! In a word --- NO. As the noted Roman poet Ovid (43 B.C.-17 A.D.) quite astutely observed, "The wise do everything in its proper time." Or, to quote king Solomon, there is "a time to be silent, and a time to speak" (Eccl. 3:7b). I know of many people (especially preachers, teachers and elders -- myself included), who have suffered the painful consequences of failing to discern the proper time and place for presenting certain personal convictions to the church, and who thus spoke when the greater part of wisdom would have been to remain silent. Is this a case of a leader being dishonest with his congregation? No, it is simply a case of a leader, who may have grown spiritually beyond his flock, who is loving and sensitive enough to bring the lambs along at a pace that helps them rather than harms them! Using the example of a farmer, long before he sows the seed, he must prepare the soil. Sowing seed in unprepared soil benefits nobody. Sowing seed at the wrong time of year would also be counterproductive. One needs to know the right time to sow, and one must prepare the ground for sowing. This same principle is true with sharing our personal convictions. Whether they ultimately prove helpful or harmful to others may very well be largely a matter of timing and proper preparation!! This is discernment, not deception.

The apostle Paul evidenced great discernment when he told the Corinthian brethren, "I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready" (1 Cor. 3:2). There was so much more Paul wanted to share with them, but they simply were not yet at the point where they would have grasped it. Thus, Paul withheld that information from them. If the soil hasn't been prepared to receive the seed ... don't sow it. The motivation for keeping back information was a positive one; it was constructive, rather than destructive in intent. Paul needed to prepare these people further so that they might be able to grasp the insights he sought to share with them. Conversely, there are those with a much different motivation for withholding their views from those around them. These are those who "wear the fleece," but inside are hungry predators. They are not there to feed the flock, but to feast upon it. Paul spoke of these "false brethren who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage" (Gal. 2:4). Peter spoke of "false prophets" and of "false teachers" who were exploiting the people because of personal greed (2 Pet. 2:1-3). "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore, it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves a servants of righteousness" (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Yes, a wolf will sometimes disguise itself as a sheep in order to kill and eat those among whom it hides. But, what if a sheep were to disguise itself as a wolf? What would be its intent or purpose?

Let me hasten to say something at this point, as I do not want my thoughts here to be taken the wrong way. I am NOT suggesting that those disciples who are very conservative and traditional in their beliefs and practices are wolves. Frankly, there are "wolves" all along the theological spectrum, from ultra-conservative to ultra-liberal. Wolves are predators; they slip in and kill. That is their intent. They are there to do harm. Thus, a very conservative brother may find himself in a very liberal congregation and feel he is surrounded by wolves; just as a brother who is more grace-centered may find himself in a very conservative congregation and feel that he is also surrounded by wolves. Neither is correct ... although there will likely be wolves present!! I guess the real scenario I am trying to depict by these analogies and metaphors, and ultimately the question I am wanting us to ponder, is -- can there be both noble intent and positive benefit to mingling with brethren who do not share your personal convictions and withholding those differing convictions from them (i.e., a sheep living among wolves, but not revealing itself as a sheep)? If one asks what the difference is between this and a wolf living among sheep, but not revealing its true nature, I would answer -- ultimate intent!! The wolf is there to kill a sheep. Is there a different, more noble intent, for a sheep who might choose to dwell among wolves? And again, I am making the distinction between "sheep" and "wolves" based not upon one's theology, but rather upon one's purpose or intent! "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits" (Matt. 7:15-16).

Let's go back to the two brethren who wrote to me. If their intent for withholding their convictions is to do harm to those with whom they mingle, then they are the wolves. If, however, their intent for withholding their convictions is NOT to do harm to those with whom they mingle, even though their companions might very well turn and tear them to pieces if they knew what they truly believed (Matt. 7:6), they are "sheep among wolves." Jesus said to His disciples, "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves" (Matt. 10:16). The key is one's intent, motivation, purpose. Yes, be shrewd, for you are among those who can do you great harm; yet be innocent and pure, for you are there to do them great good! Thus, you must be discerning; you must know the condition of the soil before you sow the seed; you must know when to speak (reveal your convictions) and when to be silent (withhold your convictions). Such "shrewdness" will reap a bountiful harvest ... or, transform wolves into sheep ... or, turn slaves into freemen.

To these two disciples I would offer the following advice: pray unto God for the wisdom to discern between when to speak and when to keep silent. Pray that God will open doors of opportunity for the former, and that He will prepare the soil of their hearts and minds (and keep in mind: He may well use you in that process) to receive the seeds of truth you seek to share. Continue to grow spiritually through your own study of His Word and application of it in your lives. The day may come when, for your own spiritual well-being (and perhaps that of your family also), you may need to associate more with those of like precious faith and conviction. Until then, be patient with your circumstance ... and be patient with your fellow disciples. They are just as precious in God's sight as you are, and you may well be among them by divine design to bring about their liberation (Esther 4:14). To these men I would advise: don't see those around you as "wolves" (the enemy), but be alert -- for "wolves" will be present, and they can do you great harm if they perceive you as a threat to their "food supply." Lastly, be discreet, but be personally honest; do not deceive those who may ask you to give an account of your convictions. That is why you are there -- to be God's witness to His grace. Be discerning in how and when you share this good news, but never hesitate to step boldly forward when HE opens a door of opportunity. Remember: He walks with you, so fear not!!

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Readers' Reflections

From a Reader in North Carolina:

Dear Brother Al, I am a fourth generation member of the Churches of Christ. I was baptized 67 years ago. I have been experiencing great joy during recent years as I progressed from legalism to a growing understanding of the implications of being "saved by grace through faith." Truly, "it is for freedom that Christ has made us free." I am so excited to see many individuals, and even congregations, changing as the implications of our freedom with respect to worship and service are actually applied and lived out. For example, where I worship we've begun accompanying our singing with musical instruments in one of our two worship services!! We hope to reach more people, introducing them to Jesus, without the stumbling block of our a cappella tradition! At the same time, we continue to honor the preference of those of our fellowship who still choose to worship without accompaniment. Al, your insightful essays have helped me to understand the Scriptures so much better. Regardless of how long one lives, understanding and insight increase. Also, Dr. Barry Perryman's essay today clarified and answered many of the questions I have often pondered over the years about who is really a Christian. Thanks!!

From a Reader in Canada:

Brother Al, That was a thought-provoking article by Dr. Perryman! I appreciate you for sharing it with us in your last Reflections. I will quote one sentence that he wrote: "God asks us, when we have heard the Good News about the propitiation of Jesus, to immerse ourselves in His death, burial and resurrection. He asks us to immerse ourselves into His life, power and spirit." How many times do we not immerse ourselves in the life, power and spirit of the Lord Jesus Messiah, utilizing the power of the Spirit God gave to Him to give to us? And how many times do we witness our neighbors, who have no knowledge of the faith, doing what we ought to be doing?!! Dr. Perryman's article has personally presented me with a lot upon which to meditate, and I intend to follow through with further personal reflection and study of the Scriptures. Thanks so much for all you do!!

From a Reader in Georgia:

Brother Al, Holy Cow! That was awesome! Very thought-provoking! Dr. Barry Perryman's article was nearly a "whole pot of coffee" study. I definitely want to get his book. Thanks for sharing this wonderful talent with us.

From a Reader in Tennessee:

Dear Dr. Perryman, I just came home from a long 12-hour day working with my clients. I'm too tired and my brain is not functioning well enough to fully grasp your article in Al Maxey's latest Reflections. But from a cursory reading, I simply want to say: "Thank You!" Thanks for your scholarship, your logic, your willingness to dare to take an honest look at Scripture, and your fearlessness in pointing to Truth, instead of just adhering to formulaic patternism. At another time I will digest and feast upon your article. Al Maxey has been such a great influence in our fellowship ... and beyond! I'm grateful that he's shared you with us (his readers). God bless you in your work and in sharing your heart.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, That was a wonderful article by Dr. Perryman! If that did not touch your heart and make you think, then you really need to reconsider the love of God and what Jesus did for you (and for your enemy). Al, if I can be moved by that little woman at that church, considering what she symbolizes, then how on earth can I think that my God (who has placed compassion in my heart) does not feel that same compassion and recognize her as His daughter?! It has taken some time and reflection, but, praise be to God, I feel I am finally coming out of the woods!! Thank you ever so much!

From a Reader in Tennessee:

Bro. Maxey, I know that your ears must burn all the time from people "discussing Al Maxey," and I know that some of it might not be too flattering! However, just as many, if not a great many more, people are sharing your message and your good work for the Lord through your writings. People are hungering to hear of His Gift of Grace, and you are telling them about that gift. Please know that you are loved here in Tennessee.

From a Minister in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, Just a note to express my thanks for your ministry of sharing deeper thoughts from the Word! Dr. Perryman's thoughts today were also refreshing. However, he made a statement concerning 1 Peter 3:20-22 that I really must comment on. In discussing Peter's words, Dr. Perryman states that Peter says the ark represents baptism. My reading of the text, however, shows that Peter is comparing the flood with baptism ("...and this water symbolizes baptism" -- vs. 21, NIV). This has a more powerful effect on Dr. Perryman's words, as Noah's obedience had nothing to do with the flood, but simply placed him in a place where he would be saved from the negative consequences of the flood. I would then suppose the question concerning the Turkman widow in the story would be, "When is the flood coming in her life, and what is her condition until it comes?"

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, I've just received Edward Fudge's newest edition of his book The Fire That Consumes, and I just wanted to thank you for allowing him to use your name among those who teach God's Truth about the nature of man and the fate of the ungodly. AND...I also want to thank the elders of your congregation for permitting you to speak and write about this topic so openly, without "running you off." Hopefully, more elders will learn, and teach others within their congregations, this truth so that their preachers can speak of it openly without losing their jobs as pulpit preachers! I have been teaching on this subject for several weeks now, and will soon move to another class here where I will do the same! Have a blessed day, brother.

From a Reader in Florida:

Dear Brother Al, Reading Dr. Perryman's essay reinforced my thoughts on "Who is my brother?" I grew up in the Churches of Christ, where I received very little substantive teaching until the "Crossroads" movement came along and challenged some of my beliefs that had been handed down to me by teachers and preachers who had obviously done little or no biblical study of their own! Also, I had the privilege later of studying at the "feet" of Dr. Dallas Burdette, who really challenged some of my old Church of Christ beliefs. Anyway, it was extremely liberating to finally come to the conclusion that some of the older, godly ladies within the small community where I grew up, who did not meet under the roof of a building with a "Church of Christ" sign out front, are now in heaven! Thank you, Bro. Al, for the great guest article this week, and for all of your weekly Reflections.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, I love Dr. Perryman's heart, and I love how he reasons! -- not with the unsupportable CENI approach, but by the Holy Spirit's leading! Al, thank you so much for having this brother guest-write Reflections this week!! My heart melted when he told about the godly little Russian lady. May the Lord continue to bless her, and Barry Perryman, and you --- and all of us who love Him and are simply seeking to share that love with everybody else. Thank you, my dear friend ... what a blessing and treasure you are!

From an Elder in New Mexico:

Well, Bro. Al, this (Barry Perryman's article) was interesting!! ... Interesting in the sense that it is refreshing to see folks thinking along the lines I have been thinking along for quite a while now! God is not after a "church," as we usually understand the term; rather, God is after a people -- a people who are to be witnesses to the grace and greatness of God. There are two kinds of people within this world: those who love Light and who see it when they see it, and those who reject Light out of hand, preferring to plot and scheme for the expansion of Darkness. To my way of thinking, everyone who has a heart that leads them in the desired direction -- a life characterized by the fruit of the Spirit -- whether they have ever heard of Jesus or not, is acceptable to God. In other words, their acceptability is not dependent on ever hearing of Jesus, but on having developed within themselves an understanding of what a "righteous" life would be ... and then living it.

From a Reader in Florida:

Brother Al, The special guest article by Dr. Perryman was the most difficult Reflections I've ever pondered. We always talk about the salvation of the "third world country native" who never had the chance to hear the gospel, but rarely go beyond that. I am now really studying this, along with Paul's teaching in Romans 1-4. It's really hard to digest, but I'm not finished chewing yet!!

From a Minister in Alaska:

Dear Bro. Al, Dr. Perryman's article should really help people think, and it will be interesting to read the responses of your readers to that article. As for me, I have moved way beyond the CENIS (Command-Example-Necessary Inference-Silence) patternism/legalism in many ways, primarily by rereading and actually thinking about God's Word. Here is the gist of my current thinking -- Jesus taught (and His Scriptures on judgment discuss) behavior, not belief. It's the institutional church that has adopted and adapted teachings into systematic or semi-systematic theology as gate-keepers to God. From the Roman Church, beginning with Constantine, to most current churches, the leadership controls entry rather than facilitates growth. Before Constantine, before the Christian Scriptures were widely available to the masses, oral teachings clearly governed. Patternism (with its CENIS hermeneutic) is only the extreme fringe of institutional gate-keeping, but it has several close conceptual relatives that take the position that right belief (orthodoxy) is most important. In fact, Jesus teaches most about orthopraxis (right living).

From a Reader in Tennessee:

Dear Brother Al, Thank you for your Reflections, as they keep me thinking, especially this last one by Dr. Barry Perryman. It was a real mind-bender! WOW! In discussing this issue, and other recent issues that dealt with epiphanies and thinking outside of the box, several of us asked ourselves this question: Growing up in the Churches of Christ in the 60's and 70's, were we ever encouraged to ask questions?! Well, yes, but that is where we turned our doctrine into the TV game show "Jeopardy." We were all given the answers first, and then we formulated questions to fit the answers!! In other words, our questions were worded in such a way to lead to the "acceptable" answer. Then it became time to play "Double Jeopardy," which is where the "answers" left us with the fear that our salvation was always in jeopardy. Then it came time for "Final Jeopardy," which is the only part of this show that is true to reality --- i.e., the reality that people are leaving the Churches of Christ because of their CENI hermeneutic and their countless splits over opinions! Thus, our group, which split away from the Stone-Campbell Movement is now in "Jeopardy" of fading away entirely from religious history!! Keep up the good work, brother, and may God bless you!

From a Minister in New Mexico:

Dear Bro. Al, Dr. Barry Perryman's opus is beautiful music to my ears! Some real thinking!! Eph. 4:5 makes the point there is one, and only one, baptism that really counts. What is that immersion? Peter (1 Pet. 3) informs us that immersion in water is symbolic of our real immersion into Christ, an immersion accomplished by the Holy Spirit of God (1 Cor. 12:13). The death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior has provided all the justification the Spirit of God needs to immerse any earnest believer in God (from any era and from anywhere) into Christ Jesus, even if they have not actually heard the Good News. The Spirit, like the wind, blows wherever He wills. Thank you, Al, for proclaiming the Good News of our salvation.

From a New Reader in Ohio:

Dear Brother Al, Please add me to your Reflections mailing list. I just found your web site this morning and am really liking what you are saying! I was raised in the Churches of Christ, but have a "Berean spirit." Thus, I am rethinking all of the issues that I once thought were "salvation issues." Thanks, and may God bless you in your work.

From a Reader in Tennessee:

Dear Bro. Maxey, Thank you for sharing Dr. Perryman's article in your last Reflections. I've just sent an email to him requesting a copy of his book. Below is a part of what I wrote to him (which I wanted to share with you):

Bro. Maxey, I just want you to know that I've very much enjoyed reading all of your readers' epiphanies these past few weeks that you have shared with us! I also look forward to each of your weekly Reflections, which always cause me to open my Bible, ponder, study, and pray. Thank you for blessing so many people each week, and for continuing this ministry to which God has called you!

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, I am a member of a large Church of Christ (roughly 1000 members) and have been in a conversation with one of my elders about various "issues" that many churches struggle with. I have been pushing for changes in our church, and am commonly met with the response that we can't make changes because if we do people will leave. Since God hates division, and we are called to be peacemakers, we can't make any changes that would risk some individuals leaving. This elder even shocked me once by saying (as a reason for not making any changes), "We have a building to pay for." I have tried to point out that this way of thinking means that we will always have to appease the most rigid and restrictive among us, regardless of what changes may be most in line with the way of Christ. I have also tried to point out that individuals who choose to leave can be sent away with our blessing to serve God in their new congregations, thereby making their departure one of mission rather than division. Honestly, I've already got one foot out the proverbial door of the Church of Christ, and I am desperately trying to find something to give me hope that there is reason to stay here and keep working for progress. However, conversations like this one only make me want to finalize the "divorce" with this denomination. For now, however, I plan to keep trying to bring about change, but I do not know how much more patience I have for it. I have children to raise, and I would rather they were raised in a healthy spiritual community, rather than a legalistic one! Thanks so much for all you do, Al. You are truly a blessing to so many!! I just wish there were leaders like you in the Churches of Christ in my area. You are certainly a rare breed!!

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