Posts by Jim Elliff (Page 3)

Posts by Jim Elliff (Page 3)

When Ball Becomes Baal

It’s rare to see kids playing sports in the neighborhood anymore. We’re now organized and “professionalized”—including uniforms, state-of-the-art facilities, endless trips to the field, competitive coaches, equally competitive parents, and the after-season tournaments designed to give parents “bleacher bottom.” In addition, you’ve got to pay to play—and when you’ve paid that much, you’ll be sure to play. It is also fun, and it can be instructive. I love to watch my kids play sports. In fact, they need to play—some.…

Slavery to the Fear of Death

This fear rests over mankind like a heavy wet blanket. It fills the lungs of man with its acrid particles; coats the landscape. Regardless of the bravado of some, it is a dreadful enemy, striking every man, woman, boy or girl. Industries are built upon it. Depression arises from it like a mist. The entertaiment world levitates its viewers from it, then plunges them into it again because it remains the greatest of all shocks. We all will die and…

The Book Alive

The husband had fallen asleep as his wife finished reading her Bible in bed. Suddenly she threw her hand on to the chest of the sleeping spouse, screaming out, “There’s a man in this book!” There is, indeed! In one sense, the Bible is simply a book, with rows of words in order, telling a story, informing or instructing. Yet, when the eyes of the person reading it are opened to its truth, and that God himself authored it, those…

The Nod and the Pause: Where the War Begins

Temptation is an opportunist as it passes by. Looking for the slightest nod, it hopes only for our invitation to pause a moment on the porch for our consideration of its merit versus cost and risk. Surely merely thinking about the merits versus risk cannot be too dangerous. By overestimating our moral strength as supposedly detached evaluators we are soon to fail, however, since our resistance is already compromised severely in the nod and pause itself. We did not assume…

Christian, You Have Distinct Purpose: Your Letter From Jim

I queried an older man who has become a dear friend with a pointedly stark question: what is your purpose in life? He is advanced in years. He ought to know by now. The question struck home, and he teared up trying to answer it.  He failed. He had nothing much to say. And he felt the pain of the emptiness that lingered in the air as he tried. He seemed not to like what fumbled out and admitted he…

Losses of a Prayerless Christian

Though God is sovereign over all things, He ordains the means of prayer. There are some things He will not do unless we pray, though He always does all He purposes (Psalm 135:6). The mystery does not change this truth: You do not have because you do not ask (James 4:2). If you do not ask . . . 1. Evangelistic work will be hindered. “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of…

Shifts in Audience in the Letter to the Romans

In order to stabilize and strengthen the church members at Rome with their radically divergent backgrounds, Paul shifts in the audience addressed alternatively between all the people in the Roman church as a whole, the Jew-born believers in the church, and the Gentile-born believers. The focus on a new audience does not mean that others of another background cannot benefit in several ways, but allows Paul to deal with special matters of concern principally for that ethnic background. This makes…

God of Creation, God of Salvation

I am learning to read and enjoy poetry. God makes much of it in the Bible. I am under the conviction that we miss something by not growing in our understanding of both the Bible’s poetic passages and what many modern poets themselves have to offer. Here is a poem from a younger friend, Daniel Pentimone, that I think is exceptional. It is vibrant, engaging, and meaningful. Read it outloud with exuberance, and love God more. Read it with joy…

A Three-legged Stool: All Sides of God’s Salvation Process

Election by a sovereign God was one of the mainstay doctrines in the preaching used by God during great days of awakening. During the revival ministry of Asahel Nettleton (1783-1844) more than 25,000 were converted, principally in the New England area. According to John Thornbury this figure would be about 600,000 if percentaged to our present population.1 Nettleton, for one, did not shrink back from proclaiming a God who elected. The following vignette comes from the book on his life…

Closing With Christ: Rethinking What Has Become Sacrosanct

When modern evangelical churches seek to bring the unregenerate to Christ (and they should do so with passion), they often fall prey to a formula which produces disappointing results. The pattern runs something like this: Extending a public altar call Praying “the sinner’s prayer” Giving immediate verbal assurance that one is in Christ on the basis of the sinner’s sincerity and the accuracy of the wording of the prayer Immediate, or near immediate, public announcement that this person is now…

The New Year Starts: Making Plans?

You may have reason to fear the year now upon us. What is on the other side of the door? Every person has their allotment of trouble, even among believers. Will there be loss, illness, death, aggravation, perplexity? Will those you love come to distrust you? Will you sin badly, ruining your reputation? Will there be economic trials and anxiety over money? Will you lose your job, or worse, your mind? Will you be hurt deeply? Will you be in…

What a Man Knows in Hades

It is almost alarming to consider the difference between a man or woman in hell and a man or woman in heaven. In that amazing story from Jesus about Lazarus the poor man who ate the crumbs from the rich man’s table we learn, after the death of both of them, something which we might not know otherwise. The rich man is in Hades, the first dimension of hell. He is in torment, and asks for mercy from Abraham, the…