Ministry News

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Legacy

by Jamie Buckingham

Shortly after my dad became a Christian, at age 62, he began looking around for things he could give away. Although he had been successful in his Florida business and in citrus agriculture, and had

accumulated many things, giving became more important than getting.

He spent the last 26 years of his life giving things away. He once told me his goal was to be like Job, also a successful businessman, who left this world as he entered it—owning nothing.

He came close to meeting that goal. The afternoon after he died, at the age of 88, I went through his remaining possessions. Everything was within reach of his bed—either on or in his little nightstand.

He had been wearing most of his clothes: a pair of khaki pants, a tan dress shirt, a black bow tie and a pair of fuzzy white socks. He also owned two other pair of socks, two sets of underwear and a pair of pajamas.

On top of the nightstand were his dollar pocket watch, glasses, a soft hairbrush and his worn, dog-eared Bible. His final possession was a narrow-bladed grapefruit knife, which he loved to pull from his pocket in the citrus grove to show us kids how to peel a grapefruit in a circular fashion so the peeling never broke.

He indeed left as he arrived—owning virtually nothing. Other possessions—house, properties and money—had been given away before died. I suspect what he inherited in heaven, apart from his salvation, was in direct proportion to what he gave on earth.

He had been very direct with his five grown children. He would wisely give money when needed: when we were getting started in life and career. But he was specific: There would be no money for us in his will.

He left an inheritance to take care of our mother who, now at 93, is continuing to use it. But he knew that money or property left to children often divides families. All his possessions—and they were considerable—had been given ahead of time or were willed to the churches and mission organizations he believed in and loved. Read more...

Holy Kissing

by Jamie Buckingham

Few things traumatize us real men any more than being kissed by another man. I vividly remember the first time it happened to me.

The fellow was a transplant into our church from Ohio. Broad and bearded, he came forward after the service to introduce himself. I tried to shake his hand. Instead he kissed me on the cheek. I could feel my face turn flaming red. I knew ought to kiss him back.

Five times the Bible says we should greet one another with a holy kiss. That's more times than it says we should be born again. But I couldn't. I just couldn't. It took me weeks to recover. A month later, after doing my best to evade the man on Sunday, he kissed me again. But I simply could not pucker up in return.

Real men, I had been taught from childhood, don't kiss other men. They shake hands. It was tough enough just learning how to hug. I got my first exposure 23 years ago at a Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship convention in Washington. D.C.

It was horrible, crammed into that hotel lobby with 4,000 hugging charismatics. Two things stood out about that group. First, they were a people who vocalized their affection to God with unabashed shouting—even in public places. Second, they showed their affection to each other—by hugging.

It was as if all charismatics had adopted a slogan: "No handshaking allowed." Even my own father didn't hug me. But these people hugged everyone. And worse, they pounded you on the back at the same time, shouting "Praise God!" to draw attention to their bizarre behavior. Eventually, in self-defense, I too became a hugger.

It was easier to throw my arms around everyone than it was to try to determine who was a handshaker and who was a hugger. Then 1 ran across those verses about holy kissing. did everything I could to escape it. I checked all the different Bible translations, only to discover the Bible translators were as inhibited as I. Kenneth Taylor. from Moody Bible Institute, translated 2 Cor. l3:12: "Greet each other warmly in the Lord" (Living Bible). Read more...

A Tip Worth Taking

by Jamie Buckingham

It was Ghandi, legend has it who said, "I would be a follower of Christ were it not for Christians." A restaurant waitress from Pueblo, Colo., struggling with that same problem, asked, "Why are Christians so rude to waitresses?" Every place she had worked, she wrote, this was a hot topic among the waitresses.

"'Believe me, sir, I'd rather serve a party of drunks than a party of Christians—and I'm a Holy Ghost-filled Christian woman."

I sat reading her letter, imagining a group of waitresses standing in the kitchen talking about the loud, rude bunch of people who had just come in from a church meeting.

"Church people demand beyond reason—then they don't tip at all."

Well, she's right about that. I was with a man recently who, after sending his meal back twice because it wasn't cooked to his taste, punished the waitress by not leaving a tip. I could have lived with it, since he was paying the bill, had he not made a big deal of bowing his head and praying out loud before we ate—while the little waitress stood to one side watching.

After we got outside I excused myself, returned and gave her a double tip. I told her I was doing it for two reasons: One, because she had earned it for having to put up with my friend; two, because God wanted to bless her in a special way. She cried.

I have a young friend who is raising a child as a single parent—working as a waitress at Denny's. She leaves for work at 5:30 a.m.—six days a week—in order to drop her baby off at the day-care center. She makes $3.25 an hour, the rest on tips.

"Non-Christians tip best," she says. "Christians leave small tips and sometimes a gospel tract. Some don't even tip—especially breakfast," "It's hard enough," she told me, "to go to church on the one day I don't have to work. But what really stinks is finding yourself behind the loudmouth who's always complaining that his coffee is cold, then leaves 25 cents—which I have to split with the bus boy." Read more...

Jamie Buckingham: Prophet With a Pen (1932-1992)

For a quarter century, his words gave shape, substance and hon-esty to the charismatic movement. Whether he was poking holes in religious balloons or poking fun at himself, his stories had a way of bringing us face-to-face with Jesus.

Others may take up his mantle, but no one will ever take his place. His parents named him James William Buckingham II, but everyone just called him Jamie. Born on March 28, 1932, in Vero Beach, Fla., he was educated at Mercer University (A.B.) in Macon, Ga. After graduate studies at South-western Baptist Theological Seminary (M.R.E.) in Fort Worth, Texas, Jamie became a Southern Baptist pastor.

But by 1967, he had been fired twice and was disenchanted with ministry. "I was in terrible despair," Jamie once said of this painful time. "I didn't know where to go or what to do." Desperately searching for God's direction in his life, he saw an advertisement in Guideposts magazine announcing a writers' workshop.

The ad invited manuscript submissions, so Jamie dashed off a piece, submitted it, and was invited to the conference. That week, editors John and Elizabeth Sherrill concluded that his was a "major talent." They recommended Jamie to Dan Malachuk of Logos publishing company (later Logos Fellowship International), who persuaded him to write the story of converted gang warlord Nicky Cruz.

Jamie was hesitant; he thought he knew nothing about book writing. But when he sat down at the typewriter, he later recalled, "everything came natural. From the moment I got into the project, I knew I was going to do this for life." The result: Jamie's first book—Run. Baby, Run—was a best-seller, catapulting both Nicky and Jamie into international fame.

That writing project did much more, however, than simply launch Jamie's writing career. While doing research for the book, he attended a Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship meeting in Washington, where he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Soon he was occupying a prominent place in the emerging charismatic movement as a popular speaker and author. Read more...

Wasted Time

by Jamie Buckingham

Well, it's the end of another year and I'm looking back at the things I wish I hadn't done. Especially do I wish that I hadn't wasted huge amounts of time doing things which later proved to be totally unproductive.

The majority of my wasted time has been spent attending public meetings—either listening to preaching, or (sigh!) doing the preaching myself. Over the last 11 months, according to my records, I have preached 203 sermons and listened to an additional 49 messages—not including tapes.

That, it seems, borders on spiritual overkill, It would seem, after attending meetings for more than 50 years, a man would be able to discern what wastes time. Yet I continue to sit through dozens of dull, boring meetings—snoozing, staring stupidly while a preacher rattles on, or writing magazine columns while people think I'm making notes on the sermon.

What the kingdom needs is more preachers like Mike Evans from Fort Worth, Texas. Two years ago, I sat listening to Mike preach at a pastor's conference. I was just thinking, "He doesn't know what he's talking about," when he stopped in mid-sentence. He paused, scratched his head, and then with wonderful honesty confessed, "I don't know what I'm talking about."

With that, he sat down. Now that was a sermon worth hearing. Most meetings I've sat through, however, were wasted time. Of the 54 sermons I've heard this year, I can remember small portions from only two.

The problem: the subject was meaningless; or I was sleepy or preoccupied with a deadline; or, as in Mike's case, the speaker didn't know what he was talking about (even though he may have tried to make up for it by shouting). It takes a smart man to know when to shut up and sit down. Read more...

Greatness

by Jamie Buckingham

As an entering graduate student at Fort Worth's Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1954, I had virtually no concept of what the term "greatness" meant. I knew there were "great" preachers.

These were, I was told, the magnificent orators, the well-known evangelists and the pastors of large churches. I knew there were "great" singers. They were, back then, the soloists who had cut records or had been asked by Billy Graham to sing at one of his crusades. But greatness?

As a freshman theolog, with a great disdain for anything religious, I suspected "greatness" was in no way related to "great"—as in great preacher—just as I suspected quality had little to do with quantity.

I had never been in the presence of greatness, but I imagined that if that ever happened I would recognize it by feel rather than statistic. I also suspected it was rare. Very rare. My first experience with it came while sitting in the third row of Ethics 203. The class was taught by T.B. Maston, chairman of the Christian ethics department. Ethics, the catalog said, was the study of moral principles and values.

It involved the principles of conduct governing an individual or group. I was interested, but not excited. A cynic, I had never known anyone who seemed to be able—or who really wanted—to live up to the standard they set for others. Sitting in that class, however, I began to feel there was something about this rather frail, gray-haired professor which rang true.

I had signed up because I wanted to sit under someone who was doing something, rather than just talking about it. Maston was a pioneer in the field of race relations among a people, and in a region, where the, burning cross was often seen as synonymous with true doctrine. A quiet scholar, he was also a bold reformer, using his pen as a sword to slay the dragons of racial inequality, religious bigotry and injustice against the poor. Read more...

Remembering Jamie Buckingham

by Steve Strang

It was 20 years ago this week—Feb. 17, 1992—that author/pastor Jamie Buckingham died of cancer at age 59. Now, two decades after his death, we reflect on the spiritual giant he was, his genius as a writer and honor his legacy.

For a quarter century, Jamie Buckingham was the conscience of the charismatic movement. Through his many books, speaking engagements and his monthly "Last Word" in Charisma magazine for 13 years, he called things as he saw them.

Jamie received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in 1967 at a Full Gospel Businessmen's convention while researching for his first book, Run, Baby, Run, co-authored with Nicky Cruz. Jamie had been a Southern Baptist, but two devastating moral failures left him wounded, humbled and aware he needed the power of the Holy Spirit in his life. He was always open about his own failures in his sermons, columns and books such as Risky Living, and that transparency drew people to him.

Only Jamie could write about a "sock-eating demon" in his washing machine and make a spiritual point. Or tell how God had to essentially give the Israelites a laxative in the Sinai Desert to "get Egypt out of them." He loved the Sinai and made several pilgrimages there. In 1979, I climbed Mount Sinai with him (he scaled it six times). It wasn't only a wonderful experience; Jamie transferred to me his love for Israel, which I have to this day. Read more...

Leadership Lessons From Jamie Buckingham

What my grandfather taught me about the essentials of ministry

by T.J. Buckingham

It has now been 20 years since my grandfather, Jamie Buckingham, passed away. I cherish the 11 short years I had with him. He inspired me to pursue a life in ministry, for which I am very thankful.

Jamie was a unique man, and consequently a unique pastor. He often spoke and wrote about the various traits and the type of character required of those who have been called into ministry. They remain relevant for leaders today, and I am pleased to be able to share some of them with you to honor his memory.

Be real. Jamie often preached and wrote about his many flaws, citing specific examples of ways he had fallen short. He discovered how God could work in those imperfections to give encouragement to others. Living and preaching like this takes a lot of courage (and, according to my grandmother, requires permission from your spouse), but it allows you to experience an intimacy with others you might not otherwise find. Read more...

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