by Jamie Buckingham
The two stories were side by side on page one of the morning newspaper —both with daring headlines. One said, "SLAIN PASTOR'S DOUBLE LIFE ALLEGED." The other: "ACCUSED SHOPLIFTER WAS 'GOOD MINISTER.'
The first story was of an admired Methodist minister in Texas whose body had been found in the back of his van near the town where he pastored. He had been beaten and strangled. The police said there may have been a chance the 55-year old pastor had been living a dou-ble life and was deeply involved in drugs and illicit sex.
That was all the Dallas Morning News needed. They waited until Sunday—of course—and ran the article on page one. The second story told of a 41-year old Roman Catholic priest in Illinois who along with a 60-year old woman was ac-cused of stealing $9,000 worth of gold jewelry, books, greeting cards and other trivia at a shopping mail. The priest had been arrested Wednesday, but the Chicago papers waited until Sunday to print the story.
Our editor printed it alongside the first story in the Monday edition. Why this obsession on the part of newspaper editors to give extra publicity to ministers who are accused of going bad? In fact, anyone claiming to be a Christian runs the risk of newspaper crucifixion if it is discovered he is a sinner.
Several years ago when an elder in our church was accused of mishandling funds in his investment company, the story ap-peared on page one under the head "CHURCH ELDER ACCUSED." His misconduct, though, had absolutely nothing to do with his relationship with our church.
Recently a noted pornographic magazine printed photographs of a deceased congressman, showing him in compromising poses with a prostitute. The pornographer gleefully pointed out the congressman claimed to be a Christian. Is this obsession on the part of media people simply a battle of Good against Evil, with Evil doing everything it can to discredit God's people? Or is there something far deeper at work here?
by Jamie Buckingham
Scars are not evidence of imperfection; they are evidence of healing. Your scars glorify God.
In his book A Few Things I've Learned Since I Knew It All, Jerry Cook tells the story of his open-heart surgery. When he had his heart attack, Jerry was pastor of a large church in Oregon that believed in and practiced healing. During his recovery, a woman in his church asked him, "Were you embarrassed to have a heart attack?"
Jerry replied that he was not embarrassed. But the woman was. She was unable to handle the totality of life's experiences--including the fact that pain and suffering are real.
Later, after he recovered, Jerry had a visit from a man who was fearfully facing the prospect of his own bypass surgery. "I want to see your scars," the man said shyly.
Jerry took off his shirt. The man gently traced with his finger the violet scar that ran vertically down Jerry's chest.
The man went on, "The doctor says the most painful part of the operation will be the surgery on my legs. They're going to take out veins from my calf to use in the heart bypass. Looking up at Jerry, he asked, "Can I see your legs?"
Jerry rolled up his pants. The man got on his knees. Without shame, he put his hands on Jerry's legs, touching the scars with his finger. When he rose to his feet there were tears in his eyes.
"Thank you. Now I have hope." Seeing and touching the scars gave him hope for survival.
Easter night Jesus appeared to His disciples. They were frightened and thought He was a ghost.
"Look at my hands and my feet," He said. "Touch Me and see" (Luke 24:39, NIV).
Thomas was not in the room that night. Later he wanted to see His scars. Again Jesus obliged: "Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe" (John 20:27).
Jesus understands our need to see, to touch the scars. When we do we know we can survive.
Sometimes our lives get scarred. And sometimes we're embarrassed because of the scars. We think they are ugly--evidence of imperfection.
Scars, though, are not evidence of imperfection; they are evidence of healing. Scars glorify God, who has brought us through.
by Steve Strang
For February, we will focus our Ministry Today website and e-newsletter on the life and work of Jamie Buckingham. He was not only one of the most influential leaders in the charismatic renewal for many years, but was the editor of Ministry Today at his untimely death in February 1992—nearly 20 years ago.
Jamie, who died from cancer at age 59, was senior pastor of the 2,000-member Tabernacle Church in Melbourne, Fla., a nondenominational church he founded in 1967. He wrote more than 40 books, among them the biographies of charismatic leaders Kathryn Kuhlman (Daughter of Destiny), Nicky Cruz (Run Baby Run) and Pat Robertson (Shout It From the Housetops).
Thank you to those who have already contacted us about Jamie's impact on their life, including Grant Hansen, who emailed us from Boronia—a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.
"I read Jamie's book To Soar Like An Eagle," wrote Grant, whose family attends Planet Shakers City Church in Melbourne. "It was very inspirational. He was very transparent about his life and his mistakes in marriage, etc. He was very encouraging. Praise God for such a man."
by Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr.
America needs to hear the voice of the black church today.
With the success of such movies as The Passion of the Christ, the gospel is touching people we Christians never expected to reach. God seems to be creating a "new pulpit" from which His Word will be preached.
The unprecedented harvest we face as a result will require a new kind of church to disciple those He draws to Himself. This "new church" must have a proven track record of serving the suffering while remaining in step with the culture, and it must be strategic in its thinking as well as leadership-driven.
These attributes are already operative in the nation's best black churches. America has to be wise enough to use the black church as a resource.
Think about it this way. In 1619, one year before the Pilgrims arrived on these shores, boats such as the Amistad came carrying African slaves to the New World.
The slaves originally were not consumed with visions of the kingdom of God. Their goal was to survive, and their dream was to return home.
Yet many of them had life-changing encounters with Christ. Those who accepted Jesus became unlikely missionaries in our land, strategically placed by God in a hostile environment that would drive them into intimacy with the Lord.
This intimacy is still notable in African-American culture today. Black adults are nearly twice as likely as any other ethnic group to read the Bible during a typical week. Blacks are more likely to evangelize and share their faith. Black adults are 50 percent more likely than white adults to strongly affirm that the Bible is totally accurate in everything it teaches.
by Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr.
God desires to lavish His mercy on the needy of the land.
The church's responsibility to address the plight of the poor is fundamental to biblical faith. From the Bible, we understand that God hears the cry of the poor. Israel's deliverance from Egypt is a powerful example of God's justice on behalf of the needy (see Ex. 2:23-24; Ps. 68:8-10).
Old Testament law structured the life of Israel so that the poor could be touched by His love. Many special privileges were given to the landless poor (see Deut. 23:24-25). In fact, every seventh year financially weakened neighbors were given large amounts of food with dignity. Exodus 23:11 says emphatically: "But during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it" (NIV).
In addition, creditors were instructed to cancel the debts of their neighbors in the seventh year (see Deut. 15:1-2). This concept has made its way into American law. Our credit history in the United States is reported only in seven-year increments.
God desires to lavish His mercy on the needy of the land. Prov. 28:27 says boldly, "He who gives to the poor will lack nothing." Yet the verse doesn't stop there. It promises a penalty to those who overlook the needy: "But he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses."
I don't want the curses. I want to walk in the goodness of God that I see in Prov. 19:17: "He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given" (NKJV).
When talking about the needs of the poor, believers often quote John 12:8, "For the poor you have with you always," as a quick response to appeals for offerings earmarked for the needy. This statement on Jesus' part was not a cynical denunciation of the abilities of the poor. Jesus knew the hardness of men's hearts. His words reflected His recognition of the choices of men and society.
by Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr.
Historically, revivals have brought both spiritual and social change. Although the Azusa Street Revival influenced the known world of its day more than 100 years ago, most modern scholars agree that it could have had a more powerful and lasting effect on America. Unfortunately, its major purposes were never fully understood in 1906.
The concept that a revival can "misfire" or achieve only a fraction of its intended purpose is seen in Matthew 23:37-38 when Jesus said: "'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate'" (NKJV). In that passage, Jesus was lamenting that though God had sent prophets with a revival message of deliverance, the word went unheeded. If they had responded, the Lord could have taken Jerusalem to higher spiritual ground and protected its inhabitants from calamity.
Throughout U.S. history, God has sent at least one major revival each century to help the nation navigate into His deeper purposes. The First Great Awakening in the 1730s and 1740s brought most Americans into a unified understanding of the Christian faith. Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians flourished alongside more established denominations as the church demonstrated spiritual unity without conformity and persecution.
This revived Christian community developed a burden for education, and founded colleges to equip believers to take the gospel to every corner of the world, including the marketplace. They also began to realize that the church had a responsibility to create an atmosphere of social justice for Native Americans and African-Americans.
In many ways, the Second Great Awakening, from 1790 to 1840, built upon the virtues of the first. This revival reminded the nation of its calling to know Christ and His power, helped advance voting rights and social equality for women, and emboldened those working to end slavery.