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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By on November 2, 2016

Over the years, the Lord has somehow instilled in my heart a deep sense of gratitude…for Him, His ways with me, and for the role others play in my life. I suppose I began to learn about the importance of gratitude, and its expression, at my parent’s knees. They faithfully insisted that their children express gratitude appropriately, so “please” and “thank you” were not just encouraged but demanded.

I am grateful for the determined manner in which my parents approached the issue of gratitude. You see gratitude may begin as an emotion but it can only be properly fulfilled by an expression. Thus my parents were quick to ask, “What do you say?” when someone had bestowed a gift or a favor. I knew exactly how I should respond…or else!

Thus that habit remains with me, and I believe it is more than a good practice… it is a godly practice. Our forbears knew the importance of giving thanks unto the Lord, and our annual Thanksgiving Holiday is a reminder of their regard (and God’s) for the simple practice of gratitude.

So it is in that spirit that I want to offer my gratitude to you. Thank you! (Or as we often say in Oklahoma, “Thank you kindly!” The initial response to our newest book, The Unwanted Gift, has been overwhelming, to say the least. And I must thank you, dear friend, and the Lord, as well. It’s quite obvious that you have obtained a copy (or many copies to share with your friends) and that you are passing the word to others.  To put it simply, God has blessed this project in an unusual manner.  

As just one example, watch the video below to see how God used this story last Sunday evening at Sherwood Baptist Church, Albany, Georgia, after Pastor Michael Catt preached on Job and then handed out our “cancer protocol.” Gathered at the altar are people who either have cancer or those who have a friend engaged in that battle. Five minutes before, all those empty seats were filled. Now they are at the altar. Each of those currently in the battle received a copy of the book, and the church family is seen surrounding them with their prayers.

The Unwanted Gift is about meeting God during long-term, painful and perplexing problems. But the fact that, woven into its pages is the story of Jeannie’s valorous battle with cancer seems to make it particularly helpful for those who have cancer, or who know someone in that battle themselves.

So thank you…and thank the Lord for His blessing on this simple effort inspired by His grace during a difficult time. Yes…thank you kindly.

Rejoice evermore!
Tom Elliff
2 Tim 1:12