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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Now! Whatcha Gonna Do?

By on November 5, 2014

A friend called today and the conversation turned to the infamous “Ski-Bible” Conference so many years ago. I cringed when recalling the experience that was so wrong and on so many levels. For starters, the words “Ski,” “Bible,” and “Conference” should never appear together in the same library, much less on the same brochure.

Have you ever attempted to keep eighty-four exhausted skiers awake in a stuffy room at the end of a day? And how many folks want to “confer,” even in Switzerland when their aching bodies are telling them that its 2am back home? And those stupid oversized ski outfits! I felt like I was shepherding a flock of space men.  But I digress.

It really sounded like such a good idea. Travel was cheap. 747’s were new. Overseas travel was something exotic rather than something to be endured. Our church’s favorite musicians would be along. And just the mention of “Switzerland” caused the adrenaline to flow. But for church people to justify such a trip you had to throw in something spiritual, like “Bible Conference.” So off I went with eighty-four Von Trapp wannabe’s.

I can’t remember whether it was all the lost passports, or the lost engine over the Atlantic that first caused me concern. At least, when we limped back to New York the airline did put us up overnight in a hotel located somewhere in Michigan. Jeannie still shudders when she recalls the nightclothes someone left in the wastebasket as they hurried out of the room ahead of us.

But twenty-four hours later we did make a smooth landing in Zurich, Switzerland, bringing a minor level of concern to our travel company that had originally dispatched our two buses to Geneva. But not to worry! With Swiss efficiency, we were soon on our way, motoring through the picturesque Alps at midnight.

Finally we arrived at our beautiful hotel high in the Alps where the ground was covered with…absolutely no snow! A weather phenomenon had conveniently provided us with two previous days of warm, dry air, melting the snow away.

“Aha, preacher.” blurted one of our weary tourists, “NO SNOW! Now whatcha gonna do?” I like to believe I’m a spiritual guy. But at the ripe age of 30, I did have a one un-sanctified nerve residing somewhere deep in my body. He had found it!

Maybe I’ll tell the rest later, but here’s the point of all this: The mid-term elections are over. Whether you are euphoric or sad, God’s question for you this morning is the same. NOW…WHATCHA GONNA DO?

 “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15)

 Tom Elliff

2 Tim 1:12

 

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  • RSpeas

    I remember only too well the Ski Bible Conference.  I never skied before and you said, “It’s easy” and took off down the mountain leaving me with that “now watcha gonna do?” feeling.  After i picked myself up several times I decided to enjoy the scenery.  They said you could see three countries from there (including Switzerland).  Somehow, I made it back down the mountain and began to learn on the beginner’s slope while little kids (black slope level) watched me from the gondola that transported skiers to the top. The Bible Conference?  A vague memory. Let’s put it this way.  I didn’t lose any sleep during the sessions.