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."
We have honored author/pastor Jamie Buckingham with a month-long tribute on the Ministry Today website. He served as editor of the magazine for several years before his untimely death in February 1992.
If you haven't done so, we invite you to visit the special section by clicking here. http://www.ministrytodaymag.com/jamie 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.
Additionally, you can read the comments below from several readers who pay tribute to Jamie with their own reflections about him.
"Jamie Buckingham was my pastor from April 1988 until his death in February 1992," recalled Richard Phelps, founder of Hope Ministries and chaplain of the Indialantic Fire Rescue in Indialantic, Fla. "My wife, Judy, and I had moved to Melbourne, Fla., with the dream of restarting our lives in a warmer climate than our native Rhode Island and finding new career opportunities. I had a dream of being a pastoral counselor and encouraging hurting people that God loved them, and He would make provision for them no matter their history of mistakes.
"In November 1988, Jamie approved an opportunity for me to begin a pastoral counseling ministry. Although I had very limited credentials for this ministry, I was permitted on the basis of my limited secular counseling experience, history of personal recovery, relationship with Christ and calling to the ministry.
"I have a special memory of Jamie. The very first public ministry that Jamie and Jackie Buckingham did after Jamie had his surgery for cancer was to attend our home group—a night that I will never forget! Jamie was very emotional that evening as he rejoiced for the success of his surgery and the hope for additional years. A very emotionally troubled woman in our home group asked Jamie if he would pray for her. Jamie knelt down in front of her speaking forth the most compassionate prayer that I have ever heard.
by Steve Strang
About a month ago, I wrote a blog endorsing Sen. Rick Santorum who is, I believe, the truest conservative and someone I consider "squeaky clean." I was interviewed on the PBS program Religion & Ethics and they wanted to know why I didn't endorse the other candidates.
For Mitt Romney I'm concerned about how he's flip-flopped. And I'm wary of the fact that he's Mormon (although that doesn't prevent me from voting for him—it only makes it more difficult). And with Newt Gingrich I'm concerned his many moral failures (which he says he has repented of and I don't doubt that's true) shows a deep character flaw. But Rick Santorum has a good record, projects the image of a leader and has strong Christian values.
My endorsement was widely circulated and the PBS program has a large following, but I doubt my support did much good. Santorum came in third in Florida. To me, I was mainly making a point that I wanted to back someone my friend Florida representative Scott Plakon says is as clean as a "Boy Scout."
What a difference a month makes in politics. Since then Santorum has won several primaries and is now ahead in the polls. And at NRB it seemed everyone I talked to is supporting him. It's as if a lot of people feel as I do—we want a leader with conservative values, voting records and strong moral values. The biggest difference is that people are beginning to believe he can win!
As part of the January-February issue on social transformation of Ministry Today, Guest Editor Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr. interviewed Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel; and Kevin Theriot, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, who discussed why pastors should not stay away from political issues—despite scrutiny from the IRS and groups threatening lawsuits.
Staver, the dean of Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Va., also wrote an informative article on what churches can do politically without losing their tax-exempt status. Staver notes that every election year, with 2012 being one, thousands of pastors receive threatening letters claiming their churches will lose their tax-exempts status if they engage in any political activity. He encourages pastors not to believe the hype.
To download for free the What Pastors Can and Cannot Do Politically DVD, go to ministrytodaymag.com/images/stories/videos/staver_political.flv.
Do you stay away from political issues from the pulpit? Give us your feedback.