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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Tell It Like It Is

By on January 13, 2015

There’s a new strip mall being constructed down the road from us. Since life is slow and entertainment is lacking around here, we’ve made a game of guessing the names of the establishments that will soon occupy the empty store spaces.

Well, today the first sign went up. If that sign is any indication of future occupants, the name of the mall should be Tell It Like It Is!

 My guess had been that the first tenant  would be a nail salon since the word must be out that there is apparently a massive shortage of such enterprises in our part of the world. But I was not prepared for the large Donut-Taco sign prominently displayed over the door of the mall’s key locations.

Donut-Taco? I’m OK with “either-or,” but not “both-and.” And my guess is that this part of the world might not be ready for a chocolate covered, cream-filled taco, or a glazed donut with a ground beef and salsa filling.

Jeannie reminded me that, while driving through a small town in our state,  we were quite taken by a sign advertising a Tanning Salon and Christian Book Store. I thought an appropriate sub-title would be “Enjoy Your Fry and Prepare to Die.” I was honestly tempted  to stop the car and go in just to see what kind of people frequented such a place. But then, there I’d be, and God always arranges an audience when I find myself in weird situations. We drove on, but I still wonder about that.

A little over a year ago, we were returning to Richmond from a staff retreat on the Outer Banks. We passed a roadside stand that advertised, Jesus is Coming Soon! Buy three pumpkins and get the fourth free! Upon arriving home, I immediately checked with the most trusted authors in my library and have yet to make a connection between pumpkins and the Rapture. Must be an eschatological view held only by some folks in Virginia.  Or maybe it was just a generous gesture for those who will  be left behind. Eating four pumpkins could indeed usher in a tribulation of sorts.

But you’ve got to hand it  to all those folks! At least they’re being honest about who they are and what they do. That’s better than some people who spend more time covering their sin than it would take to simply confess, repent and experience God’s forgiveness.

If we decided to tell it like it is, what would our “overhead signs” say about us? That’s a chilling thought! Jesus had quite a bit to say about the sin of hypocrisy…and none of it was flattering. “Woe to you scribes, and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matthew 23:27-28).

If we are to experience genuine revival we must tell it like it is…to God, and if needed, to one another. The biblical term for that is confession. Revival begins at the altar of broken-hearted confession followed by earnest repentance. 

That’s just telling it like it is! 

By the way…I sure hope they get that place built pretty soon. The more I think about it, a donut-taco sounds pretty good!

Rejoice evermore!

Tom Elliff

2 Tim 1:12