Looking To The Future

By Cecil Willis

Truth Magazine is now well into its eighteenth year of publication. Throughout its history, it has never had any financial undergirding so as to guarantee its permanence. One might say that Truth Magazine has had a tenuous existence. However, I am not even sure that for a paper to have a tenuous existence is bad. There often comes a time when the cause of Christ would be better off if a particular paper were to fold up. History has been replete with instances of papers that served a detrimental rather than a helpful purpose.

But be that as it may, let me state that Truth Magazine appears to have more reasons to expect to continue than at any time in my association with it. When I became Editor of the paper in 1962, I really was not sure that the paper could continue throughout even one year. But a number of close friends and interested brethren rallied to our need to assist us in perpetuating what had been a useful teaching instrument. With the effort being made to complete the publication of the new “Truth In Life” Bible class literature series, more indebtedness by far is being incurred than at any time in our history. However, we have every reason to think that this indebtedness will, over a period of years, retire itself. It may surprise some brethren greatly to hear me state it, but it my opinion that it might well take fifteen years for this indebtedness being incurred to retire itself through the sale of the class literature. But it appears that the literature is going to be well received and will be widely used. We already have had to reprint the first quarter of the series, and have doubled our orders for succeeding quarters.

The only thing a religious journal like Truth Magazine has to sell and to result in its perpetuation is its contents. Thus we are ever indebted to those men on our staff and to other brethren who supply us the articles we publish. Without exception, these brethren serve without financial remuneration of any kind. In fact, most of them spend a good bit of their own money as they seek to expand the readership of Truth Magazine. Those of us who are charged with the day-to-day operation of the paper, the bookstore, and the Cogdill Foundation know how much we depend on our staff for our continued existence, and we deeply appreciate the years of faithful service so many brethren have rendered by supplying articles and encouraging others to subscribe. Some men who are not on the staff officially work as hard to promote the paper as do those of us who are on the staff, and these brethren likewise are much appreciated and by their efforts put us much in debt to them.

In recent years our editorial staff has been somewhat depleted, and we thus are making some plans now to add some other men to our writing staff. William Wallace, James P. Needham, and Connie W. Adams all have left the staff of Truth Magazine in order to edit other papers. All of them worked long and hard to promote Truth Magazine, and all of them were men of great ability. No paper could lose men of their competence without missing them.

In like manner, the toll of years has cut into the functioning capability of some on our staff. Brother Luther Blackmon apparently is rendered permanently incapable of writing any more articles. He was among the most popular of our writers. I might mention that I intend to leave Brother Blackmon’s name on our Masthead and will make an effort periodically to publish some writings from him that have not heretofore been published in anything other than church bulletins, which had very limited circulation. You will enjoy the spice of his pen as some of these articles are published.

Roy Cogdill was 67 years old April 24th. I might add that Luther Blackmon was 67 years old March 24th. During the last year Brother Cogdill has been severely hampered in his preaching endeavors and in his desire to write by malignancies in two parts of his body. The doctors give him every reason to believe that the growth of these malignancies has been curtailed. We therefore expect that Brother Cogdill will be able to write for several years to come. I do have plans, however, to occasionally run some articles that he has written in years long gone by, but which articles have not heretofore been published.

But it stands to reason that Brother Cogdill cannot any longer bear the heavy writing and preaching load that he has borne for so many years. Even if he could do so, those of us who consider ourselves to be his friends would prefer to see him voluntarily lighten his work load and slow his pace a bit in order to extend the years of his usefulness. No man among us more universally commands the respect for his soundness and ability than Roy Cogdill. But the necessity of him slowing down also limits the amount that he can write for Truth Magazine. Brother Cogdill now is finishing two class books in the “Truth In Life” series that I think will be invaluable for students for many years to come. He is writing a six month series of lessons, which will be published in two quarters, for a survey of the New Testament book-by-book for High School Students. He has all the lessons through 1 John finished.

But in addition to that, Brother Cogdill has five books in preliminary manuscript state. At least three of these books are transcriptions of series of related lessons that he has preached in gospel meetings, and constitute some of the richest preaching that he ever did. I often have said that when Roy Cogdill covered a subject in a sermon, I felt it had been’ more completely covered than any other man I ever heard. Sometimes I even could tell it had been completely covered by the seat of my pants! We hope to get into the publication of these books sometime later this year.

Except for Brother James W. Adams, who is 58 years old, the remainder of our staff of writers are nearly the same age. O. C. Birdwell, Irvin Himmel, Earl Robertson, Jimmy Tuten, Ferrell Jenkins and I are all about the same age. Ferrell would appreciate my telling you that he is a little younger than the rest of us. I think all of those men just mentioned are in their 40s. Presently Brother Larry Hafley is the youngest man on our staff, and he is just in his early 30s. Brother Adams’ health appears to be good, and we expect him to be the Dean of our editorial staff for some years to come, and hopefully Brother Cogdill can write substantially for the paper. Upon the wisdom and experience of these two men I have depended heavily for several years.

Basically we have men of two different generations on the staff of Truth Magazine. We have Luther Blackmon, Roy Cogdill and James Adams in one age group, and then we have the bulk of the remainder of our staff in a slightly younger age group. As we plan for the future, we feel the need now to reach back and bring on to our staff yet a third generation of preachers and writers. Sometimes brethren, as they grow a little older, seem to think that there are no young men of great ability coming on to replace them. Certainly that cannot be said of our time. There are a host of extraordinarily competent brethren who are younger than most of us. These young men do not lack for ability, knowledge, or fortitude. Indeed, they are the future for the church. And in like manner, they must bear the load for the future of a journal like Truth Magazine. As we look toward the future, we are looking to this younger group of men as the source for replenishing our staff. There is no dearth of competent young men. We could add 50 to our staff, if we were disposed to do so, and not compromise in soundness, ability, work out-put, or quality. But we cannot add that many. Even now we are in the process of talking with some younger men to see if they would be interested in “pitching in” with us to make Truth Magazine a better paper now and to guarantee its perpetuation. Some announcements regarding new staff writers will be made in a few months.

At this time, we want to announce the addition of Brother Mike Willis to the staff as one of our Associate Editors. Mike is my youngest brother; in fact, he is fifteen years younger than I. Brethren who know us both only casually often mistake him for my son. That never hurts my feelings, for I think so highly of him that I would be very glad to have him as a son. The Bible teaches that one should be humble but I must confess that having three faithful brothers who preach the gospel makes me very pleased. I am the oldest of three brothers and three sisters. My brother, Don, preaches for the Bellaire church in Houston, Texas. My next brother, Lewis, preaches for the Olsen Park church in Amarillo, Texas.

It was not my suggestion that Mike be appointed to our staff as an Associate Editor. It was first recommended by one of our staff members, and then approved by the others. Of course, I was very pleased by the recommendation, and most heartily concurred in his selection. At the time when Mike was growing up, my parents were having a period of ill health. They then owned a small grocery store. Mike almost was the manager and operator for a few years, while he was about High School age. He worked long hours both before and after school, in addition to active involvement in a High School athletic program. Yet he graduated as valedictorian of his class. During this period of time, he developed what I consider to be very good work habits which continue to be a valuable asset to him in his work as a gospel preacher. I have sometimes said that gospel preaching is about 10% ability and 90% work. Nearly any man can preach the gospel if he is willing to pay the price in expended labor for preparation. Of course, not all men would preach with equal ability due to varying inherent capabilities.

While at Florida College as a student, Mike not only carried a full college load, but much of the time worked a complete eight-hour shift in the school’s woodwork shop. He worked from 5 P. M. until 2 A. M. So he knows what work is. Mike moved to Indiana in 1967. Since then, he has worked with the church in Alexandria and Mooresville, and just recently moved to work with the church at Traders Point, a Northwestern suburb of Indianapolis. Mike has proved himself to be a very capable worker in personal evangelism. He also has good pulpit ability, and I think has demonstrated competent writing skills. He now serves as “Book Review” man for Truth Magazine. This job requires that he maintain a rigid reading schedule. Meanwhile, he has been working on a Master’s Degree, which he soon will have completed.

Mike will be the only one of our Associate Editors who is very close by. As best I can remember, no one has gotten out a single issue of Truth Magazine without my help since I became editor. But it obviously may sometime be essential that someone do so. Frequently my work schedule has been such that it would have been a real boon if someone could have done the proofing and paste-up for an issue of Truth Magazine. Even when I make prolonged trips (such as the trip to the Philippines in 1970), it has been essential that I prepare in advance enough issues of the paper to last until I return. Sometimes the paper has been delayed due to my work and travel schedule, or to my being temporarily indisposed with sickness. I am hoping that Mike can work into the editorial position a little to at least assist in keeping the paper on schedule. However, I know he would want me to tell you not to blame him every time it is late. It is likely that I will continue to prepare each issue of the paper, unless some very unusual circumstance exists.

Most of our editorial conferring has been done by telephone and by rare occasions to visit together personally. In some ways, the position on our staff of “Associate Editor” is a misnomer. Editorial conferences have not been very feasible, except on very important matters and on an infrequent basis. It is my hope that Mike will stay close-by enough to be able physically to help with some of the editorial work. But whether he does that or not, he will make a valuable addition to our regular staff of Associate Editors.

We are going to create a new title for some who are going to be placed on the staff. Rather than to add others to the category of what we have called “Associate Editors,” we are going to add six to ten younger men to our writing force as “Staff Writers.” We hope to have these men chosen and their agreement to serve ready to announce within no more than six months.

Truth Magazine, XVIII:25, p. 3-5
April 25,1974