The head of a large missionary organization told me that they are being sued by two of their members. These people had earlier dedicated their lives to missions.
Now they have various ailments. One man has ulcers. A woman, who lived in the tropics, has skin cancer. A "Christian" lawyer, hearing of their problems, advised them to sue the missionary organization. Their afflictions, he says, are "job related."
The mission director shook his head. "They were willing to give their lives—but I guess that didn't include stomach and skin." The missionaries and their lawyer have been infected with what Paul called "the spirit of the world" (1 Cor. 2:12).
Despite the classic Pentecostal definition, worldliness (the Greek word is kosmos) is far more than cosmetics. It is also more than R-rated movies or X-rated prostitutes. Worldliness is focusing on the things of time rather than things eternal.
by Jamie Buckingham
During my senior year in high school a group of women somewhere in the nation started a movement to have all competitive team sports—especially football—removed from public schools. Team sports, they complained, were too traumatic.
Children, they argued, should not be led to believe their team could win, then suffer the trauma of losing. They should only play games where everyone wins. They did not stop to think that there can he no victory where there is no possibility of defeat.
Who among us, regardless of how we voted last November, did not hurt for Michael Dukakis as he stood with his family on election night and—in a gracious New England way—conceded defeat. Yet the man who tries, even though he fails, is never a loser.
Those women in the early 1950s were right about one thing: defeat is definitely traumatic. But so is childbirth. And graduation. And marriage. Yet all are part of life. To eliminate them simply because they are risky would mean the cessation of life.
The risk-free life is a victory-free life. It means lifelong surrender to the mediocre. And that is the worst of all defeats. In politics the risk-free life leads to Marxism—where all risks are removed.
In religion, it leads to dead institutionalism. The man who is guaranteed against failure will never know the sweet taste of success. Today's youth are deathly afraid of risk. Yet, in what must be one of his-tory's great ironies, desiring safety, they escape into drugs—which is guaranteed failure and death,
Freedom demands risk. Eliminate the risks of freedom and you establish a slave state. Even then, if the risks of freedom are banned, tyranny takes over. Ask the Poles. The Czechoslovaks. The Cubans. Today's liberal is constantly crying for justice. But the question is not justice; it is freedom. Most definitions of justice call for the elimination of risk.
by Jamie Buckingham
Eleven years ago, my daddy died. It was Sunday noon. We had just come in from church and the phone was ringing. It was my mother in Vero Beach, Fla.
"Daddy has just gone to be with the Lord." As long as I can remember she had called him Daddy. The kids all called him Daddy. Only his old friends—and he had outlived most of them—called him Walter.
Jackie and I went back out the door for the 30-mile drive down the Florida coast toward the old home place. My mind was whirling. He was 87 years old. Although his mind had been as sharp as when he taught English literature at DePauw University back in 1915, we all had known the time was short.
Twenty-five years earlier, kneeling in his orange grove, his life goals had radically changed. From making money to giving it away. Now he was satisfied. He owned nothing. He was ready to go home. The week before, I had sat on the side of the bed, listening as he quoted from Longfellow:
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!—
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
I knew, in his poetic way, he was telling me he was about to die. It didn't seem to bother him. He believed death was a beginning—not an end.
I believed that too. At least, I wanted to. But as I drove in silence, Job's question kept swirling through my mind, "If a man dies, will he live again?"
It's the question we all ask when death strikes. "Daddy has gone to be with the Lord," my mother had said. How did she know? How does anyone know where you go when you die? What's to prove you're not like ants stepped on by kids, or like leaves burned in the fireplace?
We pulled up in the carport and went inside. Mother met us in the kitchen. "He went peacefully, in his sleep. I've already had my cry. He's back there on the bed."
"I'll call the funeral director," Jackie said softly. "You go on back."
by Jamie Buckingham
I was fresh out of seminary and the new pastor of a Baptist church in a little South Carolina town when Martin Luther King Jr. led his famous march from Montgomery to Selma, Ala.
We did a lot of talking about racial segregation in our deacons' meetings those days. Everyone was defensive. "We're integrated," one man said. "When Miss Jessie died we allowed her maid to come to the funeral and sit in the balcony along with her pickaninny."
Not too far away, in Greensboro, N.C., four black college students refused to move from a Woolworth lunch counter when denied service. It was 1961. By September more than 70,000 students, whites and blacks, had participated in sit-ins.
Our deacons appointed a special committee to patrol the street in front of the church in case "the darkies" tried to get in. "They got their own churches," Harry Lemwood, a grocer, used to say. "Let 'em go there."
I groaned over the injustice, but when King marched on Selma, I did not join him—even though I knew he was right. I didn't even stand up in my pulpit and applaud him. I kept silent. I wasn't afraid of Bull Conner. Or the snarling police dogs. Or of being put in jail.
What I feared most was losing my "job" as pastor. I preached against segregation—which was acceptable because of King's sacrifice. But I knew better than to do anything rash—like marching.
I just stayed home and preached the gospel. I quoted Romans 13—that Christians should not break the law—to justify my stance. No matter that the law said blacks were inferior to whites. No matter that it was cruel, dehumanizing and anti-Christ. It was the law.
by Jamie Buckingham
No book influenced my young life more than the Boy Scout handbook. In it I found a wonderful world of semaphore flags, sheepshanks, clove hitches, lean-tos and reflector ovens.
It was my personal guidebook from the time I was 12 until I was 16. It took me from Tenderfoot, through the exciting world of merit badges, all the way to the coveted rank of Eagle Scout.
Youth activities in our little town—aside from a spitball fight in Sunday school or a Friday night dance—were non-existent. Scouting was everything. In Scouting, I felt the tug toward manhood. Older boys discipled younger boys.
Scoutmasters took us on camping and canoe trips. I learned how to apply a tourniquet and a splint, salute my superiors, have my uniform inspected and feel pride—with hard-earned accomplishments.
As a Scout, I learned all the important concepts that would later make life rich and meaningful. I learned to relate to a small group in my patrol and troop. I learned to respect—not fear or destroy—nature.
With only a hatchet, knife, rope and compass I could live in the wilderness. I learned Indian lore, loyalty and how to be part of a world brotherhood. A Boy Scout loved God and country.
He respected his parents. He went to church. He believed in good deeds, loyalty, thrift, courage, physical fitness and—most of all—being prepared. I took a vow that I still try to uphold.
He must be prepared at any time to save life, help injured persons and share the home duties. He must do at least one "good turn" to somebody every day. But with the good times were times of disappointment—the same disappointment I have suffered in adult life and in my church.
It wasn't with Scouting; it was with Scouts. Particularly with Scout leaders. One August afternoon five of us—young teenagers—headed for the girly show at the annual summer carnival on the fairgrounds.
by Jamie Buckingham
The first trip I made to Czechoslovakia was 18 years ago. I was there with a Dutch Bible smuggler. Be-sides distributing Bibles, we attended underground prayer meetings.
One of these was held in the basement room of a university in Prague. Vaclav Havel was there that night. I remember him especially, because he was a poet, a playwright, a writer like me. There were about 20 people present, sitting in a circle in a semi-dark room with shades drawn.
When I mentioned the word "freedom." my interpreter stopped speaking. Her face showed alarm. She whispered in English, "We can't use that word. There may be a spy present. They will say we are political." It's a good word," one man said with determination. "We need to hear that good word—'freedom,' We need to speak it always, for one day we shall be free again."
Dressed in a tattered sweater and old wool cap, he looked like most other Czech men. Only he was different. There was a fire in his bones. "His name is Vaclav Havel," my Czech host whispered. "He will get us killed—or he will set us free."
The next day I stood in beautiful Wencesias Square in the heart of Prague. I looked at the old museum, pocked by Russian machine-gun fire just months before when the Red tanks had rolled through the city.
I looked at the faces around me. I had never seen such a defeated people. Yet among the Christians I visited, there was resolution. Determination. The next week I visited a midweek service at a Baptist church in Levice. The music was stunning, led by a 40-piece orchestra that included 20 stringed balalaikas.
by Jamie Buckingham
Everybody I know, when they consider the only alternative, wants to get older. Well, my daughter, Sandy, doesn't want to get older.
But she never has accepted that we can't halt time. She thought 9 was the magic age. "Daddy, I want to stay 9 the rest of my life." The same was true with 12, 16, 18 and now 21.
But everyone else I know wants to get older. My mother says now and then that she's ready to die, but I doubt it. I remember my dad telling us kids about an old man back in Indiana named Purcell who worked for my grandfather in the grain elevator.
Working in a grain elevator in the heat of summer was a miserable job. One afternoon, after a particularly hot, dusty, sweaty, fly-stinging day in the grain bins, the old man went into a nearby stable to pray. Grandpaw Buckingham was working in the feed lot outside and heard him calling out to God. "Dear Jesus, come quickly. Come get old Purcell. It's so hot, so miserable I just can't take it any longer. Come take me home, sweet Jesus."
Grandpaw took his shovel handle and thumped on the door. Loudly. There was a long period of silence and finally a frightened voice from within said, "Who there?"
"It's the angel of the Lord, Purcell," Grandpaw roared. "I've heard your prayer." There was an even longer period of silence and finally a quivering voice answered, "Purcell ain't here right now, but let him know you have been asking about him."
I think my mother's like that. She says she's ready to die—but she does everything possible to stay alive. Old age is not a disease. It is a marvelous condition that most everyone I know is eager to catch.
Unfortunately, it's not contagious and too many folks shuffle off before their time. But when you consider the alternatives, old age is a pretty good deal. There are a number of ways to keep from growing old. You might want to take up smoking. Or drugs. Drinking and driving is a sure formula.
Over-working, over-eating, over-worrying or a combination of any of the above will surely keep you from growing old. Or, if you really want to keep from growing old, have an affair. In fact, anything which keeps you out of God's will is almost guaranteed to keep you from growing old.
A friend of mine worried so much last year (he was especially concerned about losing his hair) that he finally had a heart attack and died. His worrying did accomplish one thing. He'll never have to be concerned about growing old.
by Jamie Buckingham
Last year, I almost quit playing racquetball. Almost, but not quite. I'm glad I didn't. Racquetball is a high priority in my life.
By that I mean I play three times a week and often carry my racquet, shoes and shorts when I go out of town. When I'm at home, I divide my playing time between an outside court and a shiny new court in a condo project being developed by my friend, Brooks Watson.
I used to play doubles with Brooks, but on several occasions, he tried to change my good looks with his racquet. Brooks is left-handed—which makes him lethal when you put him on a court. One bloody afternoon it cost me $65 to have 12 stitches put in my chin because I forgot Brooks swings from the south while I swing from the north.
On the way home from the emergency room, I decided a 20-by-40 court is too small to contain four middle-aged men swinging clubs at a wildly bouncing ball—especially if one of them swings backwards.
Now I limit my game to singles—with an occasional threesome for variety. (More about that later.) My regular opponent is our pastor, Curry Vaughan. Curry is 10 years my junior, played first-string guard at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, has biceps like Godzilla, and goes after every shot as if he's charging downficld on a kickoff to smash a helpless midshipman into a pulp.
He's the kind of fellow who laughs after hitting you in the small of the back with a ball going 200 mph—and then uses it as a sermon illustration the next Sunday. It gives me great pleasure when I beat him.
I sometimes play with Harvey Hester. Dr. Hester is a psychologist who sometimes, just as I'm getting ready to serve one of my blistering corner shots, clears his throat and asks me if I hate my mother.
I also play with Al Reed who wears trifocals, which makes him even more dangerous than Brooks Watson, and with Kent Busing, who is ambidextrous and switches his racquet back and forth be-tween hands so he never hits a backhand shot.
by Jamie Buckingham
Aside from disobeying and failing God, the one thing I fear most is becoming phony. Our American world, in particular, has spawned far too many phony Christians.
They are easy to spot, especially when it comes to money. It's hard to tell, any more, what a man means when he says: "Pray for me. I have a financial need." Does he really want my prayers? Or my money?
As the overseer of a flock, I struggle with this all the time. I am convinced God does not want church leaders begging for money. Nor does he want us to write letters to our "mailing lists" asking widows, struggling young couples and naive young Christians to "pray that God will meet our financial needs by next Tuesday."
That is nothing more than manipulative begging. Especially if you enclose an offering envelope. I can't do much about the garbage which comes through the TV tube in the name of Jesus, nor have I been very effective in stemming the tide of mail which comes from Bible-waving, Mercedes-driving beggars.
But I can make certain that the leadership in our local body does not manipulate. The danger, however, is not so much that our people might misunderstand the genuine Christian's requests for prayer. The real danger is that we, in our effort to keep the ministry pure, might stop asking our friends to pray for us.
Some of my "faith friends" love to talk about George Mueller, who supposedly made his requests known only to God. Mueller, though, never hesitated in letting everyone know exactly what his needs were. But that's different from today's phony Christian who says he wants to get you on his mailing list so he can "pray for you" (when what he actually wants is your money).
Although I know it is God who answers our prayers, I also know that money does not float down from heaven like manna. It is given by people who have received information about specific needs. The danger lies in taking the shortcut: bypassing God and going directly to the people.
by Jamie Buckingham
According to my friend Ollie Swenson, who also lives in the country, the second happiest day in his life was the day someone gave him a goat. The happiest day was the day the goat ran away.
Ollie went on to explain how his goat—the very first day he had it—climbed the fence and ate every one of his wife's expensive shrubs, including nine hanging baskets on the patio (rope and all).
The goat finished that off by devouring all the imported tulips from Holland and, without even a burp, ate one of his wife's eelskin shoes. The next day the goat butted Ollie's mother-in-law head first into the compost pile and then totally destroyed his neighbor's garden.
Two days later, the neighbor called to apologize. It seems the goat—quite by accident—had gotten mixed up with two cows the neighbor was taking to the market. The goat wound up at the slaughterhouse and no one could figure out how a thing like that could have happened.
Ollie said it was a time for rejoicing throughout the kingdom. Well, I don't know much about goats, but I can tell you about pigs and cows. And about horses that eat sand and have to be flushed out. Now that's quite an experience.
Mickey Evans, who runs an alcoholic rehab center on a large ranch, gave me a 34-year-old horse one time. One morning, I walked out to the pasture behind our house to lean on a fence post, watch the sunrise and pray in tongues.
I glanced out into the pasture and saw the horse lying on his side, looking like the Goodyear blimp. I mean he was so filled with gas he was about to float. I called the big animal vet. He arrived within the hour. "He's sanded," the vet said. By that he meant the horse was too stupid to know the difference between grass and dirt, and had eaten at least a bucket of sand.
The effect was the same as pouring dirt down your sink—it had clogged his innards. We finally got the horse on his feet, which was no easy feat. The vet told me to hold the horse's head. He then withdrew a 25-foot rubber hose from his satchel and stuck it in the horse's nose. It was hard to believe.
by Jamie Buckingham
Nothing had changed—even though it was all different. We sat up late, talking, just as we had done 10 years ago. My wife, Jackie, Dan and Viola Malachuk, and myself.
Outside winter winds whistled through the barren trees on the dark New Hampshire mountains. But inside it was just as it had been in those days when Dan and Viola lived in the big house in New Jersey and Dan's publishing company, Logos International, was the hottest thing going.
Back then Dan Malachuk was one of the shakers and movers of the ascending charismatic movement. He, along with Demos Shakarian, Oral Roberts, Kathryn Kuhlman—well, they kinda put the whole thing in motion.
Demos took the message around the world with his Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship. Kathryn made it real with those dramatic miracle services. Oral folded his tent and built a university to train the next generation. But it was Dan Malachuk who published it for the world to read—and believe.
Viola was part of that dream. They went to work in the back of Dan's jewelry store in Plainfield, N.J. Dan dreamed, brought in authors and marketed books. Viola sat at a little desk preparing the manuscripts. Hundreds of titles with the Logos imprint covered the world. A national magazine, Logos Journal, was birthed. Huge conferences on the Holy Spirit were held in Jerusalem, Switzerland, South Africa.
Then it all came tumbling down. Now Dan and Viola sit in self-imposed exile in their little house in the backwoods of New Hampshire. "I'll tell you why Logos went bankrupt," a respected leader told me. "Dan was not straight. He was always making a 'deal,' which would benefit himself."
Perhaps so, and maybe it was by God's grace Dan didn't wind up with some big lawsuits. We would talk of that later. But that first night, sitting in their kitchen drinking apple cider and remembering, we only talked of good things.
by Jamie Buckingham
I never heard my father and mother argue. I now know they often disagreed. But they considered it bad breeding to argue in front of their children. It was an unreal world for a kid to grow up in.
There was one time ... I was about 10 years old. I woke in the middle of the night and heard my mother screaming. My older brother, Walter Jr., had come in late from a Saturday night date. My mother met him downstairs, and there was some kind of horrible confrontation.
My mother was hysterical. Her words were shrill. Unintelligible. Then I heard Walter shouting something—also unintelligible. The door slammed, shaking the entire house.
By that time, I was out of bed. From my upstairs window, I saw my brother stomping across the dark yard toward nowhere, shouting back at the house. My mother, back upstairs, was still hysterical.
I was terrified and crawled back into bed, wishing it had never happened. Through the closed bedroom door I could hear my father's calming voice, "Now, now, he'll be back."
The next morning we all gathered as usual at the breakfast table before leaving for Sunday school. Each child, including Walter, was present. Mother was bustling back and forth from the kitchen, bringing in the Cream of Wheat in the big brown serving bowl with the blue stripe around the top.
My father, sitting at the head of the table in coat and tie, had us bow for the blessing. No mention was made of the catastrophic eruption of the night before. In fact, to my knowledge, this is the first time it has ever been mentioned by anyone in 43 years.
by Jamie Buckingham
I had known for several months that my body could not maintain the pace. The time was December 1979—10 years ago.
The pressures in our church had brought us to another crisis stage. Writing deadlines, to which I had agreed the year before when things were less hectic, were now screaming frantically at me from the finish line. Then there was the traveling ministry. I enjoyed it because I could go into a different city each week and be treated like a king—and not have to live with or solve the problems I constantly created at home.
Running on wound-up energy, I was growing less and less effective in all I was doing. I first realized I was in big trouble in early December when I stepped off a plane in Bogota, Colombia. After stumbling through customs and finding myself standing on a dark curbside outside the airport terminal, I suddenly realized I didn't know where I was staying or who was meeting me.
It was an empty feeling. I was surrounded by my suitcase and boxes of supplies I was to deliver to missionaries. I wanted to sit down on the curb and cry. What in the world was I doing here anyway? I wanted to be home.
Suddenly, I heard a horn blowing and blowing. I looked up. There was an old friend—a native Colombian. He was motioning for me to get into his car. In a daze I did.
"What are you doing here?" I asked. "I was praying and the Lord said to go to the airport and meet Jamie. "I don't understand."
"You had written earlier, saying you were coming and would stay with me. But you never said when. Each night I have prayed. Tonight, the Lord said you had arrived and needed help."
I remember little about the trip to South America except the conversation I had with a friend on the plane back home. I was to arrive home in mid-December, then leave the day after Christmas for South Africa—returning home in mid-January via Israel.
I said to my friend, "I don't see anyway to slow down except to be struck down."
"Don't curse yourself with that," he said.
"It would be a blessing, not a curse," I mumbled.
by Jamie Buckingham
When I was a child, our family made an annual pilgrimage to visit our "kissin' cousins" in the Bluegrass state of Kentucky. I loved the beaten biscuits and fried chicken for breakfast.
Most of all, I loved to watch the race horses training. Sometimes, early in the morning, we would drive out from where we were staying in Mount Sterling to a nearby farm. Sitting on the top rail of a white-washed fence, I could watch the high-stepping pacers prance around the harness-racing track.
They looked like they could run forever—their heads high, moving two legs on the same side of their bodies together in a two-beat gait. I was bothered when the jockey, sitting low between the wheels of the sulky, would reach out and flick his whip against the horse's flank.
One of my cousins told me it was not to inflict pain, but to give a signal to the horse. "The horse runs the race," she said, "but the jockey sets the pace. The horse just obeys."
Race horses—the kind that gallop—can run only short stretches. If they push beyond that, they die. Trotters and pacers, however, can keep going for long stretches.
Recently someone sent me a newspaper column written by an old acquaintance, the pastor of a huge Baptist church in Atlanta. He was resigning his church after 26 years—quitting the ministry publicly.
We continue to honor author/pastor Jamie Buckingham with a month-long tribute on the Ministry Today website. Before his untimely death in February 1992, Jamie served as editor of the magazine for several years.
If you missed it, we invite you to visit the special section by clicking here. There you can read some of Jamie's best "Last Word" columns for Charisma that were chosen by his family and the magazine's article on Jamie's passing.
You can also read the comments below from more readers who pay tribute to Jamie with their own reflections about him.
Ray Pile, a pastor for 35 years in Fredonia, Kan., knew Jamie from reading his columns and books.
"I remember as a young pastor reading Daughter of Destiny," he recalled. "It really impacted my life. What Jamie wrote did not so much elevate and glorify Kathryn Kuhlman as much as it highlighted what God can do thorough a flawed but yielded vessel. I grew in my appreciation of God because of Jamie's book."
Steve Bowen, community outreach pastor for the Dayton Vineyard in Dayton, Ohio, also knew Jamie from reading his columns. "To me, one of the most impactful stories Jamie penned was when he went to a retreat with a group of guys," Bowen said. "He was wanting to show the model of servanthood, so decided to go and clean the toilet. While cleaning, he then decided to let the guys know about his humble act of service.
by Jamie Buckingham
I stood in my den last August, stunned, watching my TV. There was Jim Bakker being half-dragged, half-led from his lawyer's office in Charlotte, N.C. His hair disheveled, his shirt pulled out at the waist. His face anguished in fear. His wrists in handcuffs. His ankles in leg irons. Federal marshalls put him into the backseat of a car where he collapsed.
He was later driven to a federal prison in Butner, N.C., and committed to the psychiatric wing for evaluation.
"What's your response?" the newspaper reporter wanted to know when she called me several hours later.
"A mixture of sadness and thanksgiving," I said. "I don't understand."
"I mean, there, but for the grace of God, go I."
I was sad for what Jim Bakker was going through, No Christian, regardless of our opinion of the PTL fiasco, has the right to feel smug about the Jim Bakker disaster.
Who among us can stand under the searchlight of scrutiny if it were turned on our hearts? Like Bakker's associate, Richard Dortch, we have no choice but to plead guilty.
The only difference between Jim Bakker and me is degrees. He got caught. So far, I haven't. No, I haven't done anything illegal. (Of course he didn't think he had either.) But I am immoral. If not in deed, certainly in thought.
Only by the grace of God have I not been hung up to dry in public—my sins exposed for the world to see. So I was sad. But also thankful. Deeply thankful I have been spared what Bakker and others have had to experience. The evening after the national news ran all those clips showing Jim Bakker's breakdown a local man called me on the phone. "Boy, what an act. They ought to give him an Oscar."
All I could say was, "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner." I wrote Bakker a note that week. "Thank you for your years of faithful service. I thank God for people who found Christ through your ministry."
by Jamie Buckingham
Well, it finally happened. I was on the platform during the early service that Sunday morning. Although I was not scheduled to preach, I was directing the service, Jimmy Smith, our soloist, was singing from the piano. It was powerful, moving.
"I will pour water on him that is thirsty...." As he finished, I turned to the guest preacher who was seated beside me. "I'm going to minister to the people before you preach," I whispered.
He nodded. I picked up the wireless microphone and walked to the pulpit just as the music finished. "Please bow your heads and close your eyes," I said.
Jimmy caught the mood of the moment and continued to play softly. I talked for a few seconds about the water of the Holy Spirit, which softens the parched earth of our lives. I asked the people to let Him come into their lives. Jimmy sang another stanza. Some of the people slipped to their knees.
I closed by asking them to receive the seed of the Word, which the preacher was about to sow in their lives. After the service, the guest preacher commented, "That was great. I wish you could repeat it just the same way at the second service."
I swelled a little, It was a good word. Fresh. Spontaneous. I nodded. If a thing is good for one group, why not for all?
In the second service, before a much larger crowd, Jimmy sang the same song. But something was different. The people were not responding as the first group had. But my course was set.
Once again I picked up the microphone and stepped to the pulpit. With solemn drama I called the people to prayer. My own eyes were closed. My head bowed. I waited, piously, through the dramatic pause.
by Jamie Buckingham
Your call from Tulsa, Okla., telling us that you are expecting your first baby has filled the old home place with joy. Your mom—and your brothers and sisters—are ecstatic.
You could tell, of course, when Robin grabbed the phone and started squealing. I believe she's more excited over your "good news" than over the birth of her own two children. What do I feel? Well, while the rest of the family is back in the kitchen celebrating, I have withdrawn to my quiet place back here in my study to think—and remember. I'm proud of you and Marion.
During your two years of marriage, you have proved yourselves hard workers and able managers. Marion has a great future ahead, and you are, already, an outstanding artist and illustrator. Thus when you announced, several months ago, that you wanted to have a baby, I knew it would cost you something. Choosing a baby over a career is a difficult decision. You and Marion are earning good salaries.
That will be chopped in half when you stop work—while your expenses will increase, But yours is the finer decision. Your mom and I are proud you have chosen a baby over money. There are, in the lives of most women, three significant times. They are menstruation, marriage and childbirth.
The first time begins at the marvelous moment when a girl's body announces she is no longer a child—but has become a woman. For some girls this is terrifying. They have not been taught that their body is fearfully and wonderfully made. They do not know that the sign of blood is not a signal of death, but the heralding of a new age—that the menstrual cycle is not a curse but the signal her body is now capable of bearing new life.
I realize, as a man, I've never had to go through the monthly bloating and cramping caused by the menstrual period. I remember, too vividly, all those times during your teen years when I would hear you moaning in the night. I would go into your room and spend long hours sitting on the side of your bed, rubbing your back and praying.
by Jamie Buckingham
Most of my adult life, it seems, I've been trying to build bridges between people who don't want to come together. Last fall, I got tired of the process and decided to build a real bridge—the kind made with timbers and nails.
For more than 50 years, our family has owned a cabin on 15 acres in the mountains of North Carolina. Behind the cabin, a sparkling little stream winds its way through the deep woods. We call it Brushy Branch.
Over the years, three generations of Buckingham children have played in that follow wonderful stream. We've built dams, floated little boats, caught crawdads and even dug clay from its banks to make genuine Indian pottery.
Until last fall, however, no one had ever built a bridge. Instead, we used an old log, gingerly balancing as we crossed the stream. For years, every time I walked across that log. I dreamed of building a bridge.
Last November, I finally got around to it. Using a broken yardstick taped together with masking tape and a length of hemp string, I measured the needed dimensions. I estimated it would take a 16-foot span, 3 feet wide and 4 feet above the ankle-deep water.
On a sheet of paper, I sketched the diagram—the end posts, the braces, the spans, the planking, the side rail and the center posts that would have to be sunk in concrete in the streambed. This was going to be a real bridge. Not a suspension bridge like the Golden Gate nor an arch bridge like the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls. It was going to be my bridge.
"Why not just put another log across the stream?" my wife. Jackie, asked when I took her down to the building supply store and spent $70 on pressure-treated lumber.
"You don't understand," I told her. "I've got to build this. Logs rot or wash away in the spring rains. This will be here many years after we're gone—providing safe passage for little feet across the dangerous narrows of Brushy Branch."
by Jamie Buckingham
I arrived at the new Founders Inn on the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) campus on a Thursday afternoon. I was to be Pat Robertson's guest on The 700 Club Friday morning, then speak that night at the CBN Partners' banquet in the hotel ba1lroom.
The magnificent hotel had been open only five weeks. They were still laying sod. I was impressed with the hotel staff. The bell captain, I discovered, was a graduate of both Oral Roberts University and Asbury Seminary. He had been a Methodist pastor before assuming his new position. (He indicated this was a step up in his career.)
The hotel was crowded that weekend because of the Partners' Seminar. Every room was taken. After checking in. I picked up my bag, walked around the lake, past the physical fitness building to the James River Lodge.
When I unlocked the door, however, I was in for a surprise. The room didn't have a bed! Just a sofa, some chairs and a couple of tables. Strange. I began opening doors. Closet. Bathroom. No bed, A double door led another room, but it was locked.
I walked out in the hall and asked one of the housekeepers if she would come look. "It's our best room," she smiled. "We reserve it especially for visiting speakers." "Ah...it doesn't have a bed."
"Don't worry," she said, "we'll come in later this evening and fold down the sofa." Maybe none of the rooms in this new hotel have beds, I thought. I walked down the hall and peeked in a couple of rooms. They all had beds.
I seemed to be the only one in the hotel who was going to have to sleep on the sofa. Maybe the others had beds because they were large contributors. I blushed when I thought of the meager amount I had sent CBN last year.
"You get what you give," I'd preached. I'd just take what was mine and try to be thankful. That night, trying to get comfortable on my 4-inch-thick mattress that rested on an iron bar that went right across the middle of my back, I thought I heard God say: "Sleeping on the sofa is good for you."