By Lewis Willis
Dedicating this special issue of Truth Magazine to the memory of my brother, Cecil, was not my idea. As this issue’s Northeast Ohio authors met toward the end of this project, one of the preachers suggested it be dedicated to Cecil. They all agreed upon doing this, and I was very pleased!
As I have reflected on those discussions throughout the remainder of this day, I thought first of how Cecil would have said not to do this for some might think he had delusions about his own attempts to live the Life of a Christian. Then, he would have likely said, this material was not his, so why dedicate it to him? I must explain, therefore, why this subject of a dedication even came up.
Shortly after Cecil’s death last year, his son, David, and I were going through his office trying to decide what to file or what to discard. His office was in a converted bedroom of his house. When I opened the closet doors, on either end was a 4-drawer filing cabinet, and in between were boxes stacked about two deep on the floor. On the shelf above were about 25 notebooks. As I looked through several of the notebooks, I discovered they contained his sermon outlines and debate notes. I took the outline notebooks to my office, copied the contents, and returned them for his heirs to do with as they will.
I could hardly wait to look into this wealth of material. Early one week, I was leafing through the folders of Cecil’s outlines, and I found one entitled: “What Is The Christian Life?” After looking over the brief outline, I decided to prepare a sermon from that material for use the next Sunday. I prepared an overhead transparency and preached on this subject that morning. However, when my time had expired, I had only covered the introduction and the first point. So, naturally, I announced I would conclude the sermon that evening. However, I only covered the second point that night. Well, to make a long story short, I ended up preaching a series of five sermons from Cecil’s single outline, and to make it work out equally as sermons for three Sundays, I added a sixth point, making it a six-sermon series.
I received an excellent response from our congregation, and the same from another congregation where I used the material as sermons for day services during a meeting. When the preachers of our area decided to meet together to study each week, and as we were looking for a project on which to work, I told them about Cecil’s material and how I thought it could be profitably expanded into an even broader study of an important subject. As we put our heads together, we came up with the twelve titles which make up this special issue of Truth Magazine. The readers will likely think of even more aspects of this vital theme, and if so, your thoughts have been stimulated, and that was a part of our purpose in writing the articles.
Cecil used to say that the art of originality lies in forget- ting where you got your material. I rather suspect that his outline was developed from some article he read some- where; he was especially good at doing that. If his outline changed the original as much as we have expanded upon Cecil’s work, I doubt that the original author would even recognize that these articles came from his work.
Nonetheless, the authors’ hope is that someone who reads this material will gain a better understanding of the Life of a Christian, and be inspired to live that life with even greater dedication and commitment than before. If so, the dedication of this material to the memory of Cecil Willis would bring him special joy. His death has left a gaping emptiness in many hearts; in mine especially!