A Magazine Update
Most of you are aware of the fact that this is the first new issue in several months. There are a number of reasons for this, and I ask that you indulge me as I seek to explain the causes of the sporadic publishing schedule.
The major reason for the lack of activity on the site for the past several months is a very busy schedule on my part. A heavy meeting schedule, coupled with the responsibilities I have in my local work have made it difficult to maintain the monthly publishing schedule I have set for the magazine. Watchman is "extra" work, and when a choice has to be made between the magazine and my other obligations, the magazine must suffer. I beg your understanding in this.
If the magazine were a subscription paper, the obligation would be there to supply monthly material as per the agreement with subscribers. As the magazine is free to all on the internet, occasional lapses in the publishing schedule will hopefully be met with more understanding on the part of readers. Having said that, I realize that it is not good "business" practice, and such lapses have a deleterious effect upon readership. The magazine always shows a decrease in monthly "hits" after one of these lapses.
In an attempt to maintain a more consistent publishing schedule, and to enable myself to handle the increasing obligations of local work, family and the magazine, I have decided to change Watchman from a monthly to a bi-monthly publication. It is my intent to upload our next issue of the magazine on August 1, then October 1, then December 1. For 2003, I intend to publish issues on January 1, March 1, May 1, July 1, September, and November 1, and then to maintain that schedule for the forseeable future. This should lessen the burden of publishing Watchman, and make it a less onerous duty.
While I am "sharing" with you about these things, I thought I might take this opportunity to write a bit more about myself, and to touch on some observations I have made since beginning Watchman Magazine. As this is of a more personal nature, feel free to stop reading at any time and go on to more important material in the magazine. But, for those of you who may be interested...
The germ of an idea which has led to Watchman was hatched back in the spring of 1997. I was learning the HTML language that is used in developing web pages, had started a site for the congregation where I preach, and realized a potential for good in publishing an E-Zine focused on Bible teaching. Jon Quinn and Warren Berkley were doing a good job with their "Expository Files", but I was aware of no WEB based magazine at that time. While I did not consider myself in any way qualified to be an editor, I was becoming comfortable with the "mechanics" of WEB publishing, and thought with the help of others, we could fill a helpful niche for Christians on the internet.
After talking with Tom Roberts and Larry Fain, two good friends of mine, what began as an intended quarterly periodical with maybe 5 or 6 articles began to take on a life of its own. While I am proud of the material we have published on the magazine in the past 5 years, it became a much more ambitious and time consuming project than originally intended. I do all the publishing and almost all of the editing of the magazine myself. While I know that any particular article does not take a tremendous amount of time to edit and upload, an entire issue (sometimes up to 20 articles) can be a bit imposing. Add to this the fact that I am not the most organized of individuals, and you have the potential for chaos.
I know of men who are much more prolific than me in their writing, and much more organized in their personal habits, which would make them prime candidates to edit and publish a magazine of this sort. Some men have established WEB sites that have tremendous amounts of material online, and have authored and published it all without any help whatsoever. I commend them, and it is my prayer that such material proliferates on the WEB. It may be that at some future date I will find Watchman to be superfluous due to the efforts of others to expound truth and refute error. At that time I will cease publishing the magazine. Until then I will continue, and will beg your indulgence at the sometimes spasmodic nature of the publishing schedule.
As for me, I want to continue to develop new material for each Sunday lesson I preach, and to continue to develop the visual aids at my disposal to make each lesson more edifying. I want to do a good job in preparing for the four or more classes I teach each week during our services, and for the private studies I may have. I want to fulfill my obligations as a staff writer for Truth Magazine, and to establish a monthly publishing schedule for a mail out paper that the West Side congregation sends out to more than 300 homes. I want to consistently upload issues of Watchman on a bi-monthly basis. I want to hold several meetings a year, if the brethren have a mind to use me in that way. And I want to do this without sacrificing in any way the time I spend in my own personal study, and the time I spend with my family. I have four active children, from age 9 to 17, and a beautiful wife who above all others deserve my time. Others maintain such a workload without complaint, and without (it seems) difficulty. If I only knew their secret!
A Few Observations
have found it interesting in the past several years to note the attitude that some have expressed towards me, Watchman Magazine, and some of the writers who consistently contribute to the magazine. Sometimes the comments are written directly to me, and sometimes they are not, but they indicate an interesting and rather disturbing attitude among brethren.
I am aware that some consider Watchman to be contentious in tone, and divisive in nature. We have been critical of the error that is being taught by some, and have not hesitated to name the names of those who teach that error. There is a difference between contending and being contentious. In all of the controversy, we have attempted to focus our attention on the error that these men have taught, and have refrained from ad hominem attacks (attacks on the character of a man). People need to realize that when I or another disagree with what a man has taught, we are not attacking his character. However, on every occasion, someone has taken it to be so. In so doing, they may not realize that it is they who are arguing ad hominem. If I say that I disagree with a man's doctrine, but still defend the man, then I am the one who is making my appeal based upon the character of the man; not the one who has refuted his error. Brethren need to be a bit less concerned with the treatment of the man who is actively teaching error, and more concerned with the effects of his teaching upon honest and unsuspecting brethren.
As a result of the attempts that I have made through the magazine and on other occasions to deal with error, I and others have been heavily criticized by some who take umbrage at the levelling of criticism against another. (Read that sentence again carefully, do you see the logical inconsistency of their behavior?) I will give you a few examples:
- Back in 1995, controversy erupted in the Metroplex area due to differences on the subject of fellowship. We have monthly studies in the area, and these studies were consistently attended by numerous preachers in the metroplex area. Due to the controversy, a large number of these men have never attended another study. Over seven years now, with the studies open to all who wish to attend, and some refuse to come together over an open Bible. Many of the men who were put off by the controversy agreed that the man who was exposed as a teacher of error was in actuality teaching error, but did not like the way he was treated. Efforts have been made to invite them to the study again and again, and offers were made to let them air their grievances, to no avail.
In that time, other men hosted studies for preachers, have invited preachers from other towns, and get this, have excluded several "area" preachers from their "invitation" only study. And, it is happening in other areas besides the Metroplex. Such is unfortunate.
- Some have begun to imply that there is a "Society of Watchmen" that seek to exalt themselves, and become "keepers of the orthodoxy" for the church. To some it is as if there is a "conspiracy" to run the church and to "kick out" the ones that the "Watchmen" do not like. There are claims that men are out to "make a name for themselves", and that men "rejoice in controversy." Such idle talk is deplorable, and often consists of the judging of hearts. And such speculation of conspiracy reminds one of the 1950's red scare when Sputnick was believed to be an ultimate Soviet secret weapon.
- One of the men who writes for this magazine was not hired by a congregation because he was supposedly a member of that "society."
- The congregation where I preach has been called "fanatical" by some who know nothing about the congregation other than the fact that I preach there. (Note: They also are not aware, in any way, of the weekly content of my sermons). It was just stated that "you don't want to go there, they are fanatics!"
- After a congregation lost their eldership, one individual said, "Stan Cox must sure be happy about it." Indicating his belief that I would be happy at the misfortune of a congregation of God's people.
- After a particularly virulent personal, anonymous attack against me in a private email, one correspondent defended his cowardice in not revealing himself by saying, "you would like that wouldn't you, so that you can smear my name all over the brotherhood."
- Since I have been in the Metroplex area, I have been invited to take part in numerous lectureships in the area. It is a common practice (of some congregations) to have local men come in for a night and preach. Since I began the magazine the invitations have stopped. In that time I have been asked to be a part of one lectureship.
- Several older men (who are not associated with the magazine) have confided that they are no longer being asked to hold meetings because of the stand for truth that they have taken. Many congregations who have asked them to come again and again are no longer extending the invitations to them. Personally, though I have had a very busy year this year, I have on average only one meeting per year scheduled for the next five years. (Again, a marked decrease from the past).
- I have received several posts taking issue with the Statement of Purpose posted elsewhere on this site. The statement is clear, and needs no explanation. However, some have been told that in the Statement of Purpose that the magazine states its desire to be THE "mouthpiece" for the church. I have had several write me asking me where was the authority for the magazine to be the mouthpiece for the church! Such a misreading of the statement, and such a misrepresentation of the purpose of the magazine is malicious, and the propogation of the rumour is an indication that gossip is alive and well among some brethren. Read the statement yourself. The magazine is intened to be A mouthpiece (Webster - one that expresses another's views) for brethren who wish to write. Nothing more, and nothing less. Such misrepresentation could not come about by honest mistake, and the problem is not an unfortunate use of the term. The term, in its obvious context, is appropriate. It can only be misread by deliberate intent, or existing prejudice. Such comments are typical of many brethren today.
Now, I am aware of the anecdotal nature of these things. I do not want you to think that I am complaining about the treatment I have received at the hands of others. I am not overly concerned with what others think of me. My main concern is to please the Lord, and to work with the brethren where I preach. However, it seems a bit incongruous for those who decry the "mistreatment" of brethren to treat their brethren in such a way.
What it does indicate is a general unwillingness among many brethren to contend for the faith. To many cry, "'Peace, Peace!' When there is no peace." (cf. Jeremiah 6:14). Concerning those in Jeremiah's time, Jehovah God said, "Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it.' Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, 'Listen to the sound of the trumpet!' But they said, 'We will not listen.' Therefore hear, you nations, And know, O congregation, what is among them. Hear, O earth! Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people; The fruit of their thoughts, Because they have not heeded My words, Nor My law, but rejected it." (Jeremiah 6:16-19).
It is now obvious that there is a mindset that is established among the people of God which parallels that of Israel. Some will not walk in the old paths, and will not listen to the warnings from God's word. There is a need for watchmen today. Every Christian should fulfill his obligation to be a watchman by warning brethren against error, and encouraging them in truth.
If you have come this far in reading my personal ramblings, you are to be either commended or pitied. Now, may I suggest that you read and benefit from the Bible teaching found in this month's Watchman. The theme of the issue, A Discussion of "ISMS", is a reprinting of articles I recently wrote as supplements to a gospel meeting on that same theme. While not in any way exhaustive treatments of the subjects, and while many other "ISMS" could be included, I trust that some benefit will be derived from the material. I commend it to you.
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