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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If This Is Spring There Must Be A Tornado Somewhere

By on April 26, 2016

It occurred to me a few minutes ago that the scene here in my den is one of stark contrast. Our part of the world is under a tornado alert.  Schools, church services and businesses are canceled or closing early and I have the television on just to “be aware.” My cell phone is on, ready to send and receive news of any threatening situation. And my neighbor has already texted me that, if things heat up, he will suffer my presence in their shelter once again.

According to our local weather-persons, “its no longer sunshine and butterflies, folks.” If I recall, these are the same folks who looked solemnly at the camera some time ago and announced that “weather will continue.” That was a comforting thought to me.

If you live in Oklahoma you learn to appreciate these folks who invest time and effort in learning about the weather, tracking it, and keeping us up to speed on what’s happening. Just like some preachers I know, anyone who talks that much is bound to say something a little crazy on occasion. But you come to appreciate the warnings if, like me, you’ve been in one of Oklahoma’s top ten killer tornadoes as a child and lost a house to another as an adult.

But I said that the scene in my den is one of stark contrast, so I’d better explain. You see, on the table beside me are my journal and my Bible. A great deal of what I’m seeing and hearing on the screen is speculation. After all, it seems they’ve been tracking that storm since it was a “freshet” three thousand miles out in the Pacific and it has changed course and intensity a multitude of times. Until a storm is virtually upon us, even the experts will tell you that you are only hearing their most calculated guesses.

But then there is my Bible, and it is anything but an accumulation of calculated guesses or speculations. God’s word is right on the mark every time! Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven,” declares the Psalmist (Ps 119:89). So, as God speaks by His Spirit and through His word, you can “take that horse to the barn,” as we say here in Oklahoma.

God’s word is settled in regard to time (forever), source (Your word), security (settled), and realm (in heaven). “It is negotiable in every market,” as a friend of mine was fond of reminding me. Now, from heaven’s perspective I can hear him saying, “Amen!”

So do I heed reliable weather reporting? You bet! After all, God’s word tells me that, “The prudent man sees the evil and hides himself” (Proverbs 22:3). While that reference is to moral evil, I still understand that prudence involves wise assessment and appropriate protection.

But in the great storms of life I’m comforted to know that God has a plan for my life, and a path for me to follow. A great preacher was fond of saying, “God said it! I believe it! And that settles it!” With all due respect, if God said it, that settles it whether I believe it or not!

Rejoice evermore!
Tom Elliff
2 Tim 1:12