From The Editor’s Notebook (Sept-Oct 1989)

From The Editor’s Notebook

W. Ross Rainey

The first issue of “Food for the Flock” was published in January 1955. In 1965 the June and July issues were combined for the first time. Then in the fall of 1968 the Committee members made the following decisions which became effective on January 1, 1969:

1. The magazine was to be issued bimonthly (a move to save both printing and mailing costs).

2. The number of pages in each issue was increased from 18 to 24 (this made the total amount of material basically the same as in the past).

3. The general format was to undergo a sweeping change.

4. The written ministry would be directed toward a more relevant and time-related emphasis.

Commencing with the Jan.-Feb. 1969 issue, the magazine was published under a new title: “Ministry in Focus.” Unfortunately, many people acquainted with “Food for the Flock” thought that the latter had ceased publication. Thus in 1981 the Committee members, at the suggestion of Mr. James Gunn, reinstated the old name, using “Ministry in Focus” as a subtitle. Also, it was at the beginning of 1969 that I became associate editor. I continued in this capacity for five years, having become editor at the beginning of 1975.

In the very first issue the purpose of the magazine was stated as follows: “A monthly publication designed to promote the careful study of the Scriptures, to edify and instruct the Church, to comfort and encourage the people of God, and above all, to bring glory to the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Many years later Mr. Gunn asked me to revise the foregoing statement, which I did in the following words: “FOOD FOR THE FLOCK is a publication dedicated to encouraging sound Bible study, to providing practical teaching on current issues and problems, and to challenging Christians to a greater devotion to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.”

Mr. Gunn was the first editor of the magazine, having resigned from that responsibility at the close of 1974. Other members of the Executive Committee were Ernest B. Sprunt, John Robertson, Ormer G. Sprunt, and J. Boyd Nicholson, Sr. Those who served as Associate Editors were Robert McClurkin, David Leathem, and Thomas G. Wilke. The Advisory Committee was composed of Cecil Batstone, Guy Cesar, Aubrey Dellandrea, William Funston, David Kirk, John Martin, Norman MacNeil, Clark McClelland, Paul Plubell, Wylam Price, and Gordon Reager.

Many of these brethren who were linked with the magazine from its beginning have, of course, gone Home to be with Christ.

With much gratitude to our Lord, we send out this final issue of “Food for the Flock” which completes 35 years of continuous publication. From the human standpoint, I am saddened at the thought of still another avenue of timely and practical written ministry coming to an end. Nevertheless, I am cheered by the words of a kind friend who recently wrote concerning the magazine: “Only a coming day will reveal all of its far reaching effects.”

My special thanks goes to Edwin Fesche who, since the beginning of 1977, has supplied me with a steady flow of insightful articles for his “Current Scene” column. I am also grateful to numerous other authors such as S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., James T. Naismith, Donald L. Norbie, Donald K. Steele, Gerald L. Stover, and Arthur F. Wilder for their numerous articles and book reviews, and to Jean Dougan for her inspirational poems. There are many other writers I have not mentioned by name, but to all of them I express my sincere thanks.

While some may disagree, there is no question in my own mind but what many of our assemblies are manifesting an increasing drift away from God’s Word and Scripturally based traditions. Much confusion reigns throughout Christendom as the world lurches toward one great apostate church. It’s been rightly said that “The world is churchy and the church is worldly.” Much of the wisdom and ways of the world have infiltrated the church, including the so-called “Brethren movement,” where to one degree or another bigness, centralization, clericalism, entertainment, expediency, lukewarmness, materialism, pseudo-intellectualism, and socializing (i.e., the kind devoid of any real spiritual profit) are in evidence. What was true in Amos’s day is well on the way to being repeated today: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11).

That we are in “the last days” (2 Tim. 3:1-5), and thus the Laodicean period of church history (see Rev. 3:14-19), can hardly be disputed. It is a day when, like the close of the book of Judges, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (21:25).

While all this may sound pessimistic, I recall the words of Adoniram Judson who, in the midst of severe trial, said: “The future is as bright as the promises of God.” I am also mindful of George Henderson’s (Henry Durbanville) book title, THE BEST IS YET TO BE. Of this we are totally confident. Meanwhile, we are engaged in an intensifying spiritual conflict, and we need to pray continually that our Lord will keep each one of us “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).

I am reminded of the account of an unlettered but godly janitor who one day was talking with a learned Bible scholar about the difficulties of interpreting the book of Revelation. The janitor said to the scholar, “I don’t know much about the book of Revelation, but one thing I have learned from it is this - for the child of God everything is going to turn out all right.”

For 15 years it has been my happy privilege and responsibility to provide our reader family with a variety of spiritual food. That my task has been imperfectly done is known only too well to this editor, yet I have sought before our Lord to pursue my work in accord with the measure of ability He has given to me. We leave the evaluation and results of this ministry in His hands. And with heartfelt thanks we give to Him all the glory and praise.