Posts by Jim Elliff (Page 31)

Posts by Jim Elliff (Page 31)

‘Tis the Season to Be Jolly?

"’Tis the Season to be jolly?" Well, maybe. The business of Christmas, that is, the hard and cold commercial trade of the Thanksgiving to Christmas sales window, is a measure of how well America is doing. It’s the thermometer in our corporate mouths. Needs are created through the media in order to entice the buyer into purchasing more this year than last. No one is to be disappointed at Christmas, after all. The manipulation is as blatant toward children as…

Writing Down Our Thoughts

It is a well-known fact that the spiritually facile New England pastor and revival leader, Jonathan Edwards, was taught by his father to write down almost every new thought he had, a method he practiced throughout his life. His “Miscellanies” are now an invaluable source of wisdom. In his written out thoughts are found the embryonic form for many of his sermons and books. I keep a “Commonplace Book” as well, as so many did in the past. And though…

A Really Funny Gospel for Kids

I watched a portion of a video designed for the purpose of telling Bible stories and presenting the gospel. The entertainer was dressed like an angelic Elvis Presley, complete with wings. The clothes and movements of the entertainer’s body were an overstatement of the real Elvis. My friend touted the act as "soooooo funny." It was. I mean that he was so funny that I could not help but laugh. What should we think about this approach? First, the combination…

Christmas: Bah Humbug or Gloria in Excelsis?

We do Christmas slowly. That is, instead of tearing into presents for a ten minutes rush of adrenaline, we open them one by one and take all morning. We wrap everything, even stocking gifts. If something can be divided into two packages, we do it. Even gum is wrapped. It happens like this. The question is asked, “Who gets to give the next gift?” Then that perfect gift is found, handed over, and opened as dramatically as possible. Exclamation follows…

Is God Angry Anymore?

When I was in public high school, we had to read part of a famous sermon called Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, by Jonathan Edwards. He graphically pictured sinners as spiders dangling by a thread over the fire of Hell. He also asserted that God is angrier at this moment with some who are living than with others who are already in Hell. Do you believe that? Is God angry? I don’t believe my teacher thought so.…

Knowing You’re In

There was a troubled look on the student’s face as I finished my talk. “I believe that Christ is who He says He is,” he stated, “but I just don’t know if I am really a Christian. What if I’m deceiving myself?” The question is a reasonable. After all, God put up a huge billboard in 1 Corinthians 6:9 that says, “DO NOT BE DECEIVED!” So, how do you know you’re a Christian? First be sure that you understand the…

Sooner Than You Think

A few years ago a Chicago news station reported a local skydiving incident. The video showed the skydivers jumping out and maneuvering into position from the vantage point of the open door of the plane. While still filming, the cameraman made his jump. Within seconds the camera was jerking wildly up and down and side to side as it plummeted to the ground. Reaching for his ripcord, the terrified diver discovered that in his excitement he had forgotten to put…

The Imperative of Preaching: A Theology of Sacred Rhetoric

John Carrick commences with a declaration from Dr. J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism: “Christianity begins with a triumphant indicative” (7). The truth of this statement is a leading premise of this “theology of sacred rhetoric.” Carrick is Assistant Professor of Applied and Doctrinal Theology at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and is also one of its preaching instructors. He graduated from Oxford University and has had pastorates in the U.K. and in Greenville, North Carolina. This is his first book.…

The Island of Nis

James, the youth: Must Christians always be narrow? The wiser Mr. Brockton: Christians are both pluralists and exclusivists simultaneously. James: Do you mean that Christians accept other religions and faiths? Mr. Brockton: We permit them to be wrong. My story will explain. The island of Nis was considered a religion-free zone, and most of the younger inhabitants had not even as much as heard of formal religion. To be sure, some primitive ancestors had ventured that way in earlier days,…

The Lofty Grosart

James, the youth: Must all those who call themselves Christians understand the Bible? The elderly and wise Mr. Brockton: No, only those who will go to heaven. To call oneself a Christian is not the same as being one. James: But I call myself a Christian—no, rather, I am a Christian, and I don’t understand very much of the Bible at all. Brockton: How do you know that you are a Christian? James: The Bible states that those who radically…

The Way to God

Years ago, two cousins were visiting near the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. Although they were told by their parents not to venture into the swamp, they disobeyed. As the sun was setting, they decided to head home in hopes that their absence would not be detected. Neither boy made it back. When they were found dead a few days later, a note was attached to one of the boys. It read, “I thought I knew the way, but I was…

The World Trade Center and Our First Acts

The wilting sadness of the World Trade Center tragedy—the dead bodies in the dust, the people jumping out of windows, the angst of the traumatized, the weary searching, the yearning eyes of family members, the apparent senselessness of it all—leave disturbing imprints on our American soul. What are we to do? First, we should pity all who do not know Christ. We will all die, but not all will die in such a tragic manner. Some who perished are now…