Monthly Letter | July 2014

Monthly Letter | July 2014

Dear CCW Family,

I was in seminary during the days of the flower children. We wore tattered bell-bottom jeans and blue work shirts with embroidered flowers and sewn-in messages about peace. On mine, those messages were also about Christ. My boots were full leather with lots of lacing. My medallion was a fish, or a cross on a leather string, way larger than you might think. We held up two fingers to symbolize peace. Our hair was long.

We were all caught up in the movement to some degree. I’m not saying this was right or wrong, but it was certainly so. Our professors watched all this with amazement. We were not being rebellious as much as lured into something different than the status quo, known then as the establishment. I still bear a certain aversion to institutionalism. I wasn’t rabid, but I heard the music of freedom from the rigid, predictable lives of many who had gone before us.

Surprisingly, though masses of young people wasted their lives in sex and drugs during this time, many others were converted to Christ. I experienced a remarkable openness among people as I shared the gospel. The resistance was down and young people everywhere were discussing new philosophies. Christ and the gospel were among them. And most younger people were not at all afraid to discuss Him. Jesus, after all, was the original anti-establishment leader. In many ways, I learned most of all of my first views about evangelism in this context.

Though most of the action took place on the coasts, we all knew the acoustical music, the language, the unpretentious way to act. We had Christian versions of much of that. We were certainly affected, though more moderately than those who had left their parents, hit the road, and “kept on truckin'” to California or Colorado. Most of us as believers in the South didn’t know the pain side and the anarchical side of the movement at all. We sniffed the air of freedom though.

That love for sharing the message of Christ has never left me. Nothing is more pleasing than a sincere discussion about what matters. I want the person talking with me to think, “This is the best conversation I’ve had in my whole life!” even if the message is hard and revealing and convicting. It has to be authentic, or “real” as we said back then.

We are all affected by our past. I certainly was. CCW has some of the marks of the way I learned Christ in those years, though there are other influences also. The emphasis on the true gospel and the transformation of lives in a “real” way is huge. The willingness to try what we read about in the Bible. The importance of a simple message and an unabashed love for the Bible . . . one that you wear openly. An expectation that people want the truth when God draws them. A desire to be honest and unpretentious. A distaste for the affects of wealth, and a love to give.

I dress up better these days, but hope that my heart is right with God for all the tasks before us. God has given us the best team possible, even though they were born in a different era. Please pray for Steve Burchett, Kole Farney, Daryl Wingerd, Selamab Assefa, Shane Griffin, Tony Barmann and Bryan Elliff. And pray for me. We have much to do. The invitations to write and travel and teach are encouraging and keep us as busy as we believe God wants us to be. Your prayers really do help and we beg you for them.

Keep on truckin’,

Jim Elliff

P.S.  I have to tell you this. My wife encouraged me to buy some earth shoes (thicker sole than heel, which were then part of the right clothes to wear for the movement) to take on our honeymoon. I ended up eventually wearing them to mow the lawn in. On our anniversary, August 7th, exactly 20 years after buying those weird shoes, the sole came off. We took a picture of it! (But we didn’t think there was any symbolism in it.)