Tom Elliff
Oklahoma City, OK

After pastoring for forty-two years, Tom Elliff served the International Mission Board, first as Senior Vice President for Spiritual Nurture and Church Relations from 2005-2009, then as President from 2011-2014. Tom served pastorates in Arkansas, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma and as an IMB missionary in Zimbabwe. Tom also served as president of the SBC Pastor's Conference and two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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A Bum Knee…And A Verse For The Year

By on March 29, 2016

Each year, for the past forty years, I have asked the Lord to give me a specific verse as a theme for the year. This verse would become something of an anchor for me in times of distress, and a guide for me as I sought the path forward.

Looking back through my journals I have discovered just how descriptive and helpful those verses became for me over the past years. My appeal today is that you would commit yourself to a specific plan for reading the Bible entirely, and that you ask the Lord to give you a specific verse for the balance of 2016. This year, my verse(s) are Psalm 32:8-9:

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you” (Psalm 32:8-9).”

Psalm 32 was likely written immediately after David’s great confession (recorded in Psalm 51). As a forgiven child of God, David sought the assurance that God would again restore both His presence and His leadership in his life. Verses 1-7 record David’s time of confession. Verses 8-10 record God’s response.

God has a sure word for me (and for you!) (vs. 8). In this verse God says:

  1. I have a path for you. This is “the way in which you should go.”
  2. I make a promise to you. I will “instruct,” “teach,” and “counsel” you.
  3. I will be present with you. I will counsel “with my eye upon you.”

God has a sober warning for me (and for you!). (vs.9)

  1. I (you) must not be skittish, like a fearful horse.
  2. I (you) must not be stubborn, like a doubting mule.

This verse reminds me that if I ignore, or become insensitive to God’s counsel, I can expect Him, in love, to apply the “bit and bridle” to draw me near to him. The bit is an appliance placed in the mouth, a sensitive and tender area. The bridle, attached to the bit, enables outside force to be applied.  God would prefer that we be meek (halter broken).

This past week I found myself under the care of a fine orthopedic team doing a “search and rescue” on a knee damaged several years ago. Now come the days of recovery and restoration. My verse for the year is a reminder that it may be more than my knee that needs restoring. I am on a forced retreat of sorts, under the care of my eldest daughter and her family…an equally fine team, I might add!

Pray that I will hear all God is speaking to my heart and that I would be neither skittish nor stubborn. I would prefer living the balance of my life as a meek, or “halter broken” child of God.

How about you?

Rejoice evermore!
Tom Elliff
2 Tim 1:12

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  • Bill Elliff

    Great word, Tom.

  • Jim Wells

    Great counsel Tom. Love you and praying for your recovery!

  • John and Brenda Bayer

    Bro. Tom, We are so sorry to learn of your “knee repair.” Is that anything like a flat tire repair? Anyway, we love you and are praying for a quick and complete recovery. Thanks again for stopping by our way the other day. You sure brightened our day.

  • Janet and David

    Thanks again Tom for for sharing these things that God is teaching you.