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Learning About Pacing

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. read more

Converged 21 Features 'Ministry Today' Guest Editor Bishop Harry Jackson

I just returned from attending Converge 21 USA conference at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. It was tremendously inspiring, and there were many powerful speakers there, including Bishop R. Jackson Jr., recent guest editor of Ministry Today.

I will write more soon about this important meeting, but click here to read more about Bishop Jackson and the social transformation issue of Ministry Today. 

I also encourage you to read the digital issue by clicking here to enjoy the very important articles in the social transformation edition. We are leading the way, in many ways, on the digital front, and I'm eager to get your feedback on the digital issue. Can you please write down your comments below?

  read more

More Readers Pay Tribute to Jamie Buckingham

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.

Additionally, you can also check out the Jamie Buckingham Photo Gallery and the Jamie Buckingham Video Montage.

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. read more

Free Webinars For Churches

Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company is offering two free webinars for churches later this month.

Set for March 19 from 4-5 p.m. EST, "Sexual Harassment Prevention for Ministry Staff" is designed to create policies in place to better equip ministry leaders to deal with situations and protect ministry employees. Kathleen Turpin, vice president of human resources for Brotherhood Mutual, will lead the webinar. She will discuss growing concerns, guidelines for prevention, policies and procedures, and how to handle an investigation if an incident occurs.

You can register for the "Sexual Harassment Prevention for Ministry Staff" webinar by clicking here.

Scheduled for March 22 from 4-5 p.m. EST, "Preventing Child Abuse in Your Ministry" will be led

by Turpin and John Hein, corporate counsel for Brotherhood Mutual. Hein has handled the legal aspects of a number of child abuse cases and regularly provides liability risk management consultations for ministries across the country.

Turpin and Hein will discuss awareness of increasing concerns of child abuse in ministries, developing child protection policies, employee and volunteer screening procedures, communicating with the congregation, and dealing with sex offenders in church.

You can register for the "Preventing Child Abuse in Your Ministry" webinar by clicking here.

Both webinars will not feature a phone line for participants to call in. Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company recently formed a partnership to provide property and liability insurance services to Southern Baptist churches and affiliated ministries. read more

Giving Thanks

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." read more

Repeat Performance

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. read more

Child Rearing—A Remembered Art

by Jamie Buckingham

One affliction common among grandparents is the urge to take over. I've watched my mother, who is 85, do this to our children. Now, as my own five children grow up, marry and start having children of their own I find myself doing the same thing.

In fact, it's hard to keep from taking over when you know you can do it better—and with my five grandchildren I am no exception.

"You don't have to make that mistake," I want to tell my children as they stumble clumsily through child rearing. "Your mom and] have already walked that path. It goes nowhere. Go this way instead."

It seems so simple. All they have to do is follow my advice and they'll rear perfect children. Yet, it may be that real maturity comes only by making mistakes and then having to find a way out of the corner into which you've painted yourself.

Reflecting back over the years, there are certain things I would do differently if I had the option of starting over. There are other things we did right—things which have really paid off. I wish, for instance, I had taught my children correct eating habits. I'm not talking of table manners, for we spent a lot of time on that.

Rather I am concerned that we raised an entire generation on junk food—ice cream and french fries. Now that Jackie and I have been convicted of OUT poor eating habits and are making drastic changes (no more white sugar and white bread, few red meats, lots of vegetables, fruits and grains) we find it painful to see our grandchildren eating the same things our children ate. read more

A Dad Remembers and Rejoices

by Jamie Buckingham

Dear Bonnie:

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. read more

Bridge Builders

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." read more


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