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Wasted Time

by Jamie Buckingham

Well, it's the end of another year and I'm looking back at the things I wish I hadn't done. Especially do I wish that I hadn't wasted huge amounts of time doing things which later proved to be totally unproductive.

The majority of my wasted time has been spent attending public meetings—either listening to preaching, or (sigh!) doing the preaching myself. Over the last 11 months, according to my records, I have preached 203 sermons and listened to an additional 49 messages—not including tapes.

That, it seems, borders on spiritual overkill, It would seem, after attending meetings for more than 50 years, a man would be able to discern what wastes time. Yet I continue to sit through dozens of dull, boring meetings—snoozing, staring stupidly while a preacher rattles on, or writing magazine columns while people think I'm making notes on the sermon.

What the kingdom needs is more preachers like Mike Evans from Fort Worth, Texas. Two years ago, I sat listening to Mike preach at a pastor's conference. I was just thinking, "He doesn't know what he's talking about," when he stopped in mid-sentence. He paused, scratched his head, and then with wonderful honesty confessed, "I don't know what I'm talking about."

With that, he sat down. Now that was a sermon worth hearing. Most meetings I've sat through, however, were wasted time. Of the 54 sermons I've heard this year, I can remember small portions from only two.

The problem: the subject was meaningless; or I was sleepy or preoccupied with a deadline; or, as in Mike's case, the speaker didn't know what he was talking about (even though he may have tried to make up for it by shouting). It takes a smart man to know when to shut up and sit down. Read more...

Greatness

by Jamie Buckingham

As an entering graduate student at Fort Worth's Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1954, I had virtually no concept of what the term "greatness" meant. I knew there were "great" preachers.

These were, I was told, the magnificent orators, the well-known evangelists and the pastors of large churches. I knew there were "great" singers. They were, back then, the soloists who had cut records or had been asked by Billy Graham to sing at one of his crusades. But greatness?

As a freshman theolog, with a great disdain for anything religious, I suspected "greatness" was in no way related to "great"—as in great preacher—just as I suspected quality had little to do with quantity.

I had never been in the presence of greatness, but I imagined that if that ever happened I would recognize it by feel rather than statistic. I also suspected it was rare. Very rare. My first experience with it came while sitting in the third row of Ethics 203. The class was taught by T.B. Maston, chairman of the Christian ethics department. Ethics, the catalog said, was the study of moral principles and values.

It involved the principles of conduct governing an individual or group. I was interested, but not excited. A cynic, I had never known anyone who seemed to be able—or who really wanted—to live up to the standard they set for others. Sitting in that class, however, I began to feel there was something about this rather frail, gray-haired professor which rang true.

I had signed up because I wanted to sit under someone who was doing something, rather than just talking about it. Maston was a pioneer in the field of race relations among a people, and in a region, where the, burning cross was often seen as synonymous with true doctrine. A quiet scholar, he was also a bold reformer, using his pen as a sword to slay the dragons of racial inequality, religious bigotry and injustice against the poor. Read more...

Remembering Jamie Buckingham

by Steve Strang

It was 20 years ago this week—Feb. 17, 1992—that author/pastor Jamie Buckingham died of cancer at age 59. Now, two decades after his death, we reflect on the spiritual giant he was, his genius as a writer and honor his legacy.

For a quarter century, Jamie Buckingham was the conscience of the charismatic movement. Through his many books, speaking engagements and his monthly "Last Word" in Charisma magazine for 13 years, he called things as he saw them.

Jamie received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in 1967 at a Full Gospel Businessmen's convention while researching for his first book, Run, Baby, Run, co-authored with Nicky Cruz. Jamie had been a Southern Baptist, but two devastating moral failures left him wounded, humbled and aware he needed the power of the Holy Spirit in his life. He was always open about his own failures in his sermons, columns and books such as Risky Living, and that transparency drew people to him.

Only Jamie could write about a "sock-eating demon" in his washing machine and make a spiritual point. Or tell how God had to essentially give the Israelites a laxative in the Sinai Desert to "get Egypt out of them." He loved the Sinai and made several pilgrimages there. In 1979, I climbed Mount Sinai with him (he scaled it six times). It wasn't only a wonderful experience; Jamie transferred to me his love for Israel, which I have to this day. Read more...

Leadership Lessons From Jamie Buckingham

What my grandfather taught me about the essentials of ministry

by T.J. Buckingham

It has now been 20 years since my grandfather, Jamie Buckingham, passed away. I cherish the 11 short years I had with him. He inspired me to pursue a life in ministry, for which I am very thankful.

Jamie was a unique man, and consequently a unique pastor. He often spoke and wrote about the various traits and the type of character required of those who have been called into ministry. They remain relevant for leaders today, and I am pleased to be able to share some of them with you to honor his memory.

Be real. Jamie often preached and wrote about his many flaws, citing specific examples of ways he had fallen short. He discovered how God could work in those imperfections to give encouragement to others. Living and preaching like this takes a lot of courage (and, according to my grandmother, requires permission from your spouse), but it allows you to experience an intimacy with others you might not otherwise find. Read more...

Pentecostal Leader's $6 Mission to Save the World

Jeff Farmer was recovering from cancer surgery when he read the statistics in a World Vision newsletter: 1) Every 45 seconds a child age 5 and under dies from malaria, according to the World Health Organization; 2) Although the United States successfully eradicated malaria 60 years ago, this deadly disease spread by infected mosquitoes kills nearly 2,000 children every day.

The World Health Organization's commitment to wipe out malaria across the globe by 2015 has been joined by secular organizations such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the NBA and many others.

Among Christians, however, charismatic and Pentecostal churches have been missing in action for the fight to eliminate malaria. But that changed when the Holy Spirit gave Farmer, president of charismatic Open Bible Churches, a wake-up call to help bring an end to the disease. Farmer had been meditating on Psalm 91 during his ordeal of discovering he had cancer and the ensuing surgery when God began to speak to him about malaria—a stealthy, silent killer.

Click here to read the complete article. Read more...

Church Pecking Order

by Jamie Buckingham

Michele Buckingham, my daughter-in- law, had her first book published. It's called Help! I'm a Pastor's Wife (Creation House).

Although listed as "editor," Michele spent months rewriting the 30 stories submitted by wives of some of America's best-known pastors. In her foreword she tells of chatting with a couple of friends in a swanky cafe outside Washington, D.C., and telling them she was writing a book by and about pastors' wives.

One of the women remarked, "What's it about? How to throw the perfect tea party?" I guess a lot of people think that's what pastors' wives do—play the piano at church and pour tea at the monthly social.

In other words, they rank pretty low in kingdom pecking order. I've not had much experience with pastors' wives. (My own wife has seen to that.) But I have had a great deal of experience with pastors.

Most of us have suspected that, despite their diligent efforts to conceal it, pastors are people just like us. Granted, a lot of them seem to go out of their way to convince us otherwise. But if we dragged them out of their Cadillacs, took off their collars, snatched away their microphones and forbid them to use words such as "brethren," "yonder" and "eschatology," we would discover they're just like the rest of us. Plain old people.

The reason most pastors look and act differently from ordinary folks is they were taught—mostly by other pastors—that there is a certain pecking order in kingdom strata. Obviously, pastors who drive Cadillacs are higher in grade than pastors who drive pickup trucks.

And the man who drives a BMW or (sigh!) a Mercedes, ranks even higher. Ultimate status is achieved when the pastor and his wife drive color-matched Jaguars. In the words of Sambo, he's the "grandest tiger in all the jungle"—especially if he polishes his fingernails. Kingdom ranking has been around since James and John. Read more...

Honor to Whom Honor...

by Jamie Buckingham

My old friend Frank Gray, small-town Episcopal priest with whom I used to sit over a cup of coffee and crack jokes about pompous bishops, has just been elected to the establishment.

He's just become the bishop of Northern Indiana. I wrote him a condolence letter. I know how he feels. Earlier this year, without asking for it (or even buying it), I was awarded an honorary doctor's degree by Oral Roberts University (ORU).. After all these years of making fun of people who are honorary doctors, I are now one.

When the letter came from the university I went into shock for three days, "I told you not to poke fun at people with honorary degrees," my wife, Jackie, said. What if I get out to Tulsa for graduation and find that folks such as Kenneth Copeland, Robert Tilton or Lester Surmall are getting degrees, too?

The last time I attended an ORU graduation Jesse Jackson was the commencement speaker. What if they invited Pat Robertson this time? Surely a loving and merciful God would overlook the fact I had made fun of ill these folks in the past. Surety He would not drop me in the midst of such company and have me "doctored!' at the same time. But He did.

"It's not the degree," I told Jackie. "Secretly I've always wanted to be called Dr. Buckingham. I'm tired of being called 'Jamie.' Rodney Dangerfield ain't the only one who don't get no respect." "Then what's the problem?" "What if it's a DD? Nothing could be worse than having a Doctorate of Divinity." "With or without walnuts?" Jackie quipped. I didn't think that was funny. All I could think of was: There was a young preacher named Tweedle, Who refused to accept his degree. It's bad enough being Tweedle,

Without being Tweedle, DD. But God tempered justice with mercy: I'm not a DD. I'm a Doctor of Humane Letters. "Now, that's not so bad," Jackie said after the ceremony. "You see, God just doesn't want you poking fun at all those people out there who have honorary degrees. He defused your bomb by honoring you." Read more...

Deliver Us From Sock-Gobblers

by Jamie Buckingham

After years of theological debate, I have finally discerned we have a sock-gobbler in our washing machine. In short, my machine is possessed of a demon. My wife disagrees. She does not believe a washing machine can have a demon.

I, on the other hand, believe a washing machine can have anything it wants to have. "If there really is a sock-gobbler," Jackie asked, "why does he eat only one sock out of a pair? If one sock fills him, why doesn't he eat the spare sock on his next visit?" I had no answer. I only know he is there.

To prove it, I have 17 unmatched socks in my sock drawer—widowed victims of the sock-gobbler. And that's just this year's count. Each year about this time, I go through my drawer and throw away the singles.

Last year, I put 13 of them in the trash can. This year set a new record. I keep my unmatched singles in the bottom drawer of my dresser hoping their mates will somehow reappear. It never happens. Each year I reluctantly round them up and drop them in the waste basket in my bedroom.

Expensive racquetball socks, formal blacks, blues, greens, grays, fuzzies—all were favorites, but without mates, they're useless. I've considered forming a club: Socks Without Partners. At first I thought it was Jackie's careless washing procedures. "The reason my socks don't come out even is you don't put them in even!"

I howled when my most expensive and favorite pair of socks became a single. "Not so," she argued. "I gathered them two by two. Believe me, Noah didn't do a more complete job. I took two pairs from your shoes under the bed, a pair of wet ones out of your boots, a stiff pair from the ceiling of the closet where you had kicked them when you came in from racquetball, a mud-caked pair from under the front seat of your pickup, a moldy pair from under the dryer...."

"Aha!" I screamed. "I bet the rest of the mates are under the washing machine." However, my search turned up nothing but a bucketful of lint, three green pennies, two rusty washers, a 12-year-old skate key and a flea collar from our cat that died last year.

"Inside this washer is a little trapdoor that pulls in one sock from each pair and holds them captive. Somewhere in this machine is a secret treasure chest of unmated socks." Read more...

Against All Odds

by Jamie Buckingham

Our other four children seemed normal. Their grades were above average; they had good health; they got along fine with their playmates.

Tim was different, however. In many areas he excelled. He could run faster, stay underwater longer and climb trees higher than all the others. He was remarkably coordinated with amazing reflexes and a deep instinct for doing the right thing. He made friends with every kid in the neighborhood—especially those who were handicapped or had problems. And animals. He could talk to them. When they talked back, he understood.

But he couldn't read. By the time he completed his first year in school we knew something was wrong. We had enrolled him in a Christian school where he repeated first grade. It was a disaster. He was no further along than when he was in kindergarten. We had him tested by the school psychologist. Although he had a high IQ, the tests indicated he had certain learning disabilities which hindered him in reading and writing.

He gave us a term which we've lived with ever since: dyslexia. It's a Latin word which means "can't read." We put him under a reading specialist, had him tutored, sent him to expensive clinics, even put him in corrective glasses for a year. We enrolled him in a class where he spent agonizing hours putting pegs in holes, walking balance beams and crawling under ropes stretched low to the ground.

We finally took him to a Kathryn Kuhlman healing service. Nothing seemed to be working. We put him back in public school but the teachers did not seem to be able to do much with him. A dear friend arranged to have him leave school for a few hours each day so she could tutor him privately, but progress was slow. Read more...

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