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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The Gift of a Lifetime

By on January 15, 2015

Much of my life I have kept a journal. That’s a practice arising out of my penchant for reading biographies. When I begin reading a biography, I always ask the question, “What is this person’s secret? I noted that many of them were faithful journalers and I began to ask “Why?”

Several of our grandchildren received a journal as their gift from me this past Christmas. Along with the gift came my little spiel about journaling. And in each of the journals I had written down Psalm 90:12, which I hope they will memorize. “So teach us to number our days that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”

I pointed out to them that numbering our days means more than simply counting them, or assigning a date to each day. To “number” our days means to ascribe value to them, much like a jeweler when spreading  out diamonds on a swatch of black velvet. Each day, of course, is far more valuable than any mere diamond.

Journaling helps us come to a full stop, to pause and reflect on the value of these hours and the best stewardship of them. As I contemplate and then write in my journal, I get a better perspective on things.  Just as a fretful  child is gathered up into lap of a loving parent, journaling helps me see the world from the lap of a loving Lord.

Journaling urges us to think deeply. We are in such a hurry! But deep thinking is generally unhurried. Our’s is a “cut and paste” world. Yet matters of real import and impact are worthy of deep thought and the time such thinking requires. I think many of the Psalms, and the deep, meditative awareness of God reflected in them, are simply David’s journal entries. After meeting with the King of Kings, mere earthly kings, and the problems they created, seemed always to pale in significance.

Journaling helps us pray intelligently. Not everyone does it the same way, of course, but I most often begin each entry with “Dear Father…”. This helps me maintain focus and refine my prayer requests even as I write them down. Sometimes the entries are brief, sometimes they are lengthy, but I like to think of God as the audience, not others. That keeps me honest and realistic, yet open to the possibilities He might breathe into my spirit even as I contemplate and write. Though I might sometimes quote to others what I have written, my journals are for His eyes only.

So, as this year begins, you might think about keeping a journal. I know many of you already make this a practice but I feel urged to encourage those of you who do not. Just try it! You will not be disappointed.

Rejoice evermore!


2 Tim 1:12




  • Annette E Turner

    GREAT WORD! Thank you for that reminder to be still and know HE IS GOD. Praying for you and Jeannie.