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Articles by Tom Elliff

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Tom Elliff

Tom Elliff, president, International Mission Board. Photo courtesy of IMB.

Editor’s Note: This excerpt from retiring International Mission Board President Tom Elliff’s May 14, 2014, report to the IMB trustees contains a challenge to members of his Board and Southern Baptist churches. The full text of his remarks may be read at www.bpnews.net/42589/elliffs-report-chasing-the-darkness.

As our Search Team is seeking for my successor, I believe a good stewardship of the days remaining demands that I alert you to the challenges that face us. Looking ahead, IMB must come to grips with at least three practical issues that demand urgent attention.

1. It is imperative that IMB develop, then clearly define, new means by which personnel are encoura...

One billion is a big number. It would take you thirty-seven years to count to one billion at one number a second. Seven billion is an even larger and more significant number. That is the number of people currently inhabiting the globe. In 1804, the world reached its first billion in population. Now, we are adding about one billion to our population every twelve years.

THIS IS THE HARVEST!
Jesus wants us to lift up our eyes and see—7 billion people, 330 million in the US and 6.67 billion outside our borders. More than half of the world’s population has only a slight chance to hear the Gospel. In fact, 1.7 billion people are likely to die without hearing the Name of Jesus!

AND THEY ARE DYING!
Two people die each second. The equivalent of a city of 150,600 people disappears into eternity every twenty-four hours. Without Christ they will enter Hell, forever lost. This is why Jesus said ". . . the fields . . . they are white unto harvest . . . " (John 4:35, KJV).

...
By all rights, if any evangelicals should understand the doctrine and practice of baptism, it should be Southern Baptists.
The Importance of Deciding Now!
It would be difficult to estimate how much has been lost to God's Kingdom because of indecision on the part of its leaders. Faced with a multitude of issues, it just seems easy, somehow, to put off critical decisions until another day. I remember listening as the exasperated wife of a pastor lamented the struggles he had with decision-making. She said she felt he just dragged decisions around behind him like the tin cans tied behind the car of newlyweds. Periodically, the strings would come loose, and a can would fall off. "That's the way it seems to be with my husband," she said. "Most of our decisions are made for us as the result of forfeited opportunities."
The Seventh Pillar of a Kingdom Family

What is the single characteristic that most distinguishes those who are members of God's Kingdom Family? To put it into the words of the Kingdom Family commitment, they are, above all, characterized by a "passion for fulfilling the Great Commission." They view life with an eye for sharing the gospel.

Bob and Peggy Oxford live in Denver, Colorado, where they are members of the dynamic Applewood Baptist Church. Bob is a petroleum engineer, a businessman, and founder of Industrial Gas Services, a nationwide consulting firm. For the past few years Peggy has worked beside him in this family owned and operated business. But while that is the Oxfords' "business," it is not their "life." Their life is consumed with a passion to use everything God has provided to them as a means for sharing the gospel and encouraging others to do the same.

Several times a year the Oxfords participate in short-term overseas mission projects where they have bee...

The Sixth Pillar of a Kingdom Family

Members of God's Kingdom Family take a serious and Bible-centered approach to their management of the resources entrusted to them. While some began their "stewardship pilgrimage" in serious financial difficulty, they have discovered that following God's principles provides a way out as well as a way up. By adherence to these principles, they are now touching the lives of many others for the Kingdom's sake and giving faithful, generous support to their local church. They have discovered that good stewardship is, in fact, a practice which makes life an exhilarating adventure in the cause of Christ, an adventure of earthly impact and eternal significance.

Let's look at these principles, and then at the rewards which will come if you follow them.

Principles of Reverence

Stewardship must be approached with a spirit of reverence and respect. It is, at its heart, a matter of r...

The Fifth Pillar of a Kingdom Family

Time Management; Ordering Your Priorities; Making the Most of Your Time; How to Make Your Minutes Count; and Distinguishing the Important from the Urgent. The popularity of subjects like these indicates the struggles we each experience when seeking to use our time wisely. The saying, "I've got places to go, people to see, and things to do!" is descriptive of many in a society, which literally bombards us with claims on our time.

Ironically, though the best instructions anywhere on the wise use of time are available in God's "timeless" book, many dedicated Christians confess to being as pushed and weary as anyone else. They often lament that they "just don't even have time for a quiet time!"

The fifth pillar in our Kingdom Family Commitment states that time is a resource given to each person by God. My use of it, especially in matters related to my family, reflects my esteem for God. One day, I will give an account to Him for how ...

The Fourth Pillar of a Kingdom Family

Ask people to describe "church" and you will get a variety of answers. For some, church is more of a place than a fellowship. For others, the association between church and a place is never made because, for differing reasons, they must meet in a wide variety of locations. Still others will tell you that their church is their life and all their activities revolve around the events scheduled for each week. Then there are those for whom church is reserved for special days and occasions, a theological icing on a celebratory cake.

Members of God's Kingdom Family speak of the Church (capital "C") as the Bride of Christ, comprised of all the redeemed who will one day be caught up to heaven to spend eternity with Him. In the meantime they realize that their church (lower case "c") is the local representation of the Body of Christ. Members of their church are each uniquely gifted by the Spirit of God so that, in fellows...

The Third Pillar of a Kingdom Family
Our society has mastered the art of "compartmentalization." Consider, for instance, the term "Sunday Christians." People have used this term for years to describe those whose worship on Sunday was not matched by the exercise of Christian character throughout the other six days of the week. It is an understatement to say that things have changed! Today, some worshippers are quite comfortable being in church on Sunday morning, hands held high in praise, and a rapturous, eyes-closed smile on their face, all the while anticipating bedding down with another lover by Sunday evening. The other lover by the way may not be their husband or wife, but someone with whom they have established an out-of-wedlock relationship. This is a new and heightened form of compartmentalization; an ability to isolate, or segment, one moment from another; an ability to accommodate certain moral standards in one arena and reject them outright in another.
The Second Pillar of a Kingdom Family

I met the couple in the hallway of the hospital where I had been visiting with the husband's ailing mother. As we visited briefly, he expressed a concern I have heard on many similar occasions. "Pastor, what do you think we should do with my mother?"

This is such an often-asked question that I normally would have responded with the assurance of prayer as they sorted through the decisions facing them. But on this occasion, I was startled not so much by its substance as by the manner and tone in which it was asked. He could well have been asking, "What do you think we should do with our old refrigerator? It doesn't work well, and it's in the way. You know, more of a nuisance than anything else. Got any good ideas? Can't just throw it away. At least, I'd rather not, anyway."

Admittedly, his was a dilemma with which many in our society are struggling. Longer, more healthy living, coupled with the astounding capabilities of modern medicine...