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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Enough Is Enough

By on February 19, 2016

Until I was in the third grade, our family lived in Fordyce, Arkansas, where my father served as pastor of the First Baptist Church. Dad was sensitive to the community and eager to minister in every area of the Fordyce citizenry, including all 3,700 residents. So, early on, my father joined the local chapter of the Lion’s Club, a popular civic organization with a membership that included many of the town’s leaders. This proved to be a decision that ultimately pushed my dad “over the top,” so to speak.

To this day, the Lion’s Club prides itself on faithful attendance. Generally, if a member misses a meeting he can “make it up” by attending another at a nearby Lion’s Club during the same week. But Fordyce simply did not have any other Lion’s Clubs in town and “nearby” clubs were a considerable distance down the highway. Seeking to come up with a way to make up a missed meeting, the club members came up with a solution that matched its convivial, country, small town ambiance… a Billy goat.

You have read the above correctly. If you missed a Lion’s Club meeting in Fordyce, Arkansas, a male, or “Billy,” goat was tied to the water pipe in your front yard. (Do I need to remind you that, back then, water hydrants were placed in the middle of your yard…maybe as a sign of pride in having such a convenience?). The entire town knew that the occupant, whose assignment was to care for and feed the goat for the week, was a dilatory Lion. Much to the dismay of the goat, PETA was not around in those days. So the goat became mean, really mean, from the tip of its curled horns to the bottom of its cloven hooves.

Because of his pastoral responsibilities, my father often missed the meetings of the Lion’s Club. So for all practical purposes, the Billy goat became a frequent resident of our yard. And, we did everything we could to help him maintain his irascible temperament! After we ran out of things to do while the goat was tied to the water pipe, we then began to untie the goat and let him run free on the streets of Fordyce. On one particular day, after he had been called to rescue the goat from Main Street, my dad reached the end of his own rope.

Dad took the retrieved goat home, threatened to end our lives if we untied it, and plotted revenge against the Lion’s Club. The following Monday, he dressed the goat in a shirt, pants, colorful tie, and eyeglasses wired to its horns. Then Dad took the goat to the Kilgore Hotel, where the Lions were having their weekly meeting in the second-floor dining room. Shoving the goat on the elevator, Dad pushed the second-floor button, jumped out of the elevator and rubbed his hands together in mischievous glee (or, at least that’s the way I imagine it!). As far as my dad was concerned, enough was enough!

Not much was said publicly about that event, but it is worthy of note that the practice of tying a Billy goat in an absentee’s yard was halted on that day. I do not know whether the goat butted a member while up on the table (The goat did jump on the table!), or whether Dad had to fork over money for the tablecloths and dishes. But the practice was over.

Standing on Mount Carmel, the prophet, Elijah, challenged the Israelites. “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (I Kings 18:21). In other words, “enough is enough.” Scripture records that “the people did not answer him a word.”

Across this land, many of us are crying out for spiritual awakening. That is our only hope! There is nothing within our nation’s sordid behavior that can or will recommend us to God. There is nothing that can impress Him so favorably that He will spare us the judgment every sinful nation of the past has experienced. Awakening is the only answer! And Awakenings are purely a matter of God’s grace.

By all rights, the next words we hear from God could be…

“Enough is enough!”

So pray!

Rejoice evermore!
Tom Elliff
2 Tim 1:12

  • Bruce Cobb

    Amen! Praying!

  • Ruffin Snow

    Great illustration, Tom. Brings to mind when you chaired the SBC Council on Family Life and you or someone talked about how it took Pearl Harbor to get the USA into WWII, so what would it take to get Christians awakened to the crisis in marriages and families. Shortly afterward came 9/11 attacks, same-sex marriages, a frustratingly anti-Bible administration in DC, etc. It appears that more and more thinking people are now saying “Enough is Enough!” Makes a feller want to go tell somebody about Jesus! I think that’s just what I will do. Thanks for awakening our motivation!

  • Lori Bennett

    So, So funny – had to read again, Hope you have a safe trip back. You are missed at Sheridan Hills already.