By Mike Willis
The changing of the calendar year reminds us how swiftly we are turning “life’s daily pages.” With this issue of Guardian of Truth, we complete 40 years of publication. Our next issue will be a special issue relating to those 40 years of service. It is an issue you will not want to miss. Not only is this the end of 40 years of service, this completes twenty years that I have edited Guardian of Truth. This milestone is an occasion for personal reflection.
I Have Been Blessed to Work With Some of the
World’s Best People
My life has been enriched during the years that I have been associated with the Guardian of Truth Foundation to be associated with some of the best people in the world. I have been privileged to work personally with men whose commitment to God’s revelation has driven them to accomplish great things in the kingdom of God.
In my earliest years, I was blessed to listen to Cecil Willis, Roy E. Cogdill, Luther Blackmon, James W. Adams, and several others relate their personal observations about the division over institutionalism. My perceptions of how liberalism works was shaped, not only by their lucid writings, but also their personal observations of how men act when they begin to move away from God’s word.
My association with the Board of Directors of the Guardian of Truth Foundation has been pleasant. These men are honorable men who are committed to doing what is right. One incident that demonstrates the depth of their commitment to righteousness goes back over twenty years. We were in a board meeting at which a business man, who was also one of our board members, wanted to donate the C E I Bookstore to the Guardian of Truth Foundation. The bookstore was probably valued in excess of $100,000 at that time. That was a sizable gift for a struggling foundation to receive. At the time, the grace-unity conflict was waging. I shall never forget the discussion that occurred in that meeting. Brethren commented that, if we accepted that gift, some would think our motive in opposing the false doctrine on grace-unity was to gain control of the bookstore. We came to the conclusion that our motives would not be misjudged if we did not accept the gift. Despite this, the motives of the editor, writers, and board still were misjudged. The bookstore was given to Florida College and several years later we purchased the bookstore. This transaction demonstrates that the Board is composed of men of honor.
There have been a number of occasions when brethren with whom we did business disagreed with us about business decisions. In every one of those occasions, the Board has consistently taken the position that we would rather bend to do what was unquestionably right rather than take a brother to court or mistreat him. The board members of this foundation are honorable men and I have been blessed to serve with them.
The same can be said about the staff writers of this magazine. Although I have had a lot less personal association with them than I have had with the Board, my association with the various writers of this journal has richly blessed my life. None of these men is perfect (or claims to be), but they are men who have the humility to confess their sins and seek the Lord’s forgiveness when they stumble into sin. They are men who have the conviction to stand for what they believe. None of them is a “yes” man. For this reason, there have been occasions when one staff writer wrote in response to what another staff writer affirmed. Frankly, I respect the integrity of such men, be-cause this is a safeguard to everyone’s fallibility. Each of them is a good student of God’s word. They are used by hundreds of churches across this country in gospel meetings, in addition to doing respectable local works. Our readers are privileged to sit at their feet and learn and I am blessed to be associated with them.
I Have Been Blessed With My Wife’s Support
Only those who know my family most intimately perceive how painful to my wife Sandy were the conflicts through which we have come. I have a pretty thick skin and am generally able to let criticism roll off without getting very upset. Those times have been much harder for her than they have been for me. Despite the pain that my work has brought to her, she still has encouraged me to continue preaching and doing the work that I do in editing Guardian of Truth.
Having witnessed how many gospel preachers’ works have been undermined (whether intentionally or unintentionally) by their wife, my appreciation for her has grown through the years. She has contributed so much to my work as a gospel preacher that I don’t know how to measure it. You can understand why I consider myself richly blessed to have her as my companion.
I Have Been Blessed to Do The Work I Most Enjoy
In the years that I have been preaching, I have met a number of men who have dutifully gone to jobs they do not enjoy in order to provide a living for their families. I have learned that a man who can make a living doing a job that he enjoys is privileged. Such a man looks forward to the beginning of every day because of his own excitement about the work he is doing.
I have enjoyed the work that I do so much that there have been times when Sandy was jealous of my work, telling me that I was “married” to my work. I have relished the leisure to study God’s word and the opportunities to preach and write about what I have learned. I have been blessed to work with some very good Christians in local churches. None of my experiences in the local church has been “bad” although each of them has had problems through which we had to work.
Just Want to Say “Thank You”
The purpose of this editorial is to say “thank you” to every person who has made my work so enjoyable. I am a most richly blessed person to preach the Lord’s glorious gospel and be supported while I do that. Paul expressed his attitude, which I also have, when he wrote, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8). The opportunity to preach is a “grace given.”
To every one of our readers who has supported our work by reading what we publish, I owe a debt of gratitude. Thank you for your support, words of encouragement, and for using the materials that we have labored so hard to produce (they are labors of love). So, for the last 20 years, I just want to say “thank you.”
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 24, p. 2
December 19, 1996