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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

Using The Name

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." read more

Readers Pay Tribute to Jamie Buckingham

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.

You can also check out the updated Jamie Buckingham Photo Gallery and the Jamie Buckingham Video Montage.

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. read more

Want to Make a Difference? Support Rick Santorum

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! read more

Don't Let The IRS Shut You Up

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.

You can read the timely "Silence Is Not An Option" and "Don't Let The IRS Shut You Up" articles in the magazine's latest issue by clicking here.

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. read more

Following Jesus

by Jamie Buckingham

A quiet pebble beach is located on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It is under the shadow of the Golan Heights, not far from the ancient village of Bethsaida.

It was here, early one morning, that Jesus stood and shouted across the water to His friends in a fishing boat. "Catch anything?"

Peter recognized His voice, jumped overboard and swam to shore. It had been several weeks since Jesus had risen from the grave. He kept appearing and disappearing. By the time the other fishermen got to shore, Jesus and Peter had a fire going and breakfast was almost ready.

What followed was one of the most personal and poignant encounters in the Bible. Pulling Peter aside, Jesus predicted the kind of death he was going to die: "When you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go" (John 21:18, NIV).

It was a disturbing prediction. Peter was going to be crucified. Peter's reaction was similar to the way many of us react when we get a glimpse into the future of unpleasant things—we divert attention away from ourselves to someone else.

Pointing at John, Peter asked, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus' response was instant. "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me" (John 21:22).

Like all of us, Peter was hoping for a guarantee of long life. He didn't like the possibility of early death—especially if it included suffering. He wanted to hold to all the healing verses of the Bible but omit the verses about Christians having to suffer if they follow Jesus.

I understand that feeling. Last summer, I emerged from my healing experience with cancer feeling invincible. Almost immortal. The doctors had told me I was going to die, but God intervened.

I not only survived—I was healed. But I didn't get what I really wanted: a guarantee the cancer would never return. That is the heart of Jesus' response to Peter: "God allows no guarantees. He does not want you to walk by knowledge—but by faith. "I alone control the length of a man's days,"

Jesus told Peter. "How long John lives is none of your business. You must follow Me." Following Jesus means risky living. God, however, is far more interested in what we become than whether we reach the goal.

In fact, the goal is really found in the following—not the arriving. That, sadly, goes cross-grain to the American concept of success. But God is more interested in building our faith than providing mental security. read more

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