Ministry News

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Our Most Important Presidential Election

It's the political season in what many are saying is the most important presidential election of our lifetime, so I turned to my good friend, Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr., to be the guest editor of the January-February issue of Ministry Today, now available.

Bishop Jackson has not only motivated Christians to get involved in the political process to bring change, but he's highly respected. He has appeared on the CBS Evening News, Fox News' Special Report, The O'Reilly Factor and The Tavis Smiley Show. Bishop Jackson's articles have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

You can read Bishop Jackson's timely "Preparing for the Next Great Awakening" cover story in the magazine's latest issue by clicking here. He explains why pastors need to twin prayer for spiritual revival with practical involvement in cultural reformation.

In the issue, which goes beyond political activism. Bishop Jackson invited other outstanding authors such as Chuck Colson, David Barton and Tony Perkins to write. The end result is something much more powerful—an issue on social transformation, which involves being involved politically. Read it and be transformed, so you can in turn transform society.

Now is the ideal time to subscribe to Ministry Today. We're currently offering a special promotion that includes a free ESV (English Standard Version) Thinline Bible with a paid subscription. Click here to subscribe to Ministry Today. read more

Don't Worry About Being 'Too Political' in the Pulpit

As part of the January-February issue on social transformation of Ministry Today, Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, wrote an informative and encouraging column on the need for pastors to practice true biblical preaching—which includes preaching that has clear implications for the political arena.

You can read his Pastor's Heart column titled "Preach It!" by clicking here. You will find out how hundreds of pastors have stood in their pulpits and defied the massive governmental intrusion into the pulpit (the Johnson Amendment) as part of the PulpitFreedom.com movement.

More than ever, congregations are hungry for preaching that has implications for the political spectrum. Do you preach about politics from your pulpit? Please give us your feedback. read more

Did You Miss My Blog Written Before The Florida Primary?

I was one of the first to endorse Mike Huckabee for president. He was a former governor of Arkansas who I felt had great leadership—and he not only shares but embodies our Christian values. But this year I took a wait and see attitude until just a few days before the Florida primary, which was held Jan. 31.

I was recently interviewed on PBS for a show that aired before the primary. Kim Lawton, the respected correspondent who has interviewed me before and always reported fairly on the evangelical community, wanted to know whom I'm endorsing. I told her I'm endorsing Sen. Rick Santorum. If you want to see what I said, click here.

I've admired Rick Santorum from afar for years. I met him briefly when he spoke for Christians United for Israel. I know of all the candidates he's the strongest supporter of Israel and probably understands the danger of what he calls "Islamo-fascism" better than any one else in the race.

But the biggest factor is that compared to the other candidates, he's squeaky clean. It's like my good friend Rep. Scott Plakon (R-Longwood) said to me: "he's like a boy scout." read more

Mother's Narrow Road

by Jamie Buckingham

My mother had moved into the Florida Baptist Retirement Center, across the road from the house where she had lived with my father until he died. Geographically, the move covered about 200 yards. Emotionally, though. it spanned a lifetime. It's one thine to move a few pieces of furniture.

Moving a lifetime of memories is another matter, however. Watching her fuss over the little things as she moved, I became aware of the deep trauma going on in her life. It was my friend Bill Lord, the director of the center, which is built, incidentally, on property donated by my father a number of years ago, who helped me sort through some of my own confusion.

In old age, he said, everything is accented to the extreme. The road narrows and those things younger folks see as pebbles become huge boulders in the path. To an old woman, living alone without transportation, the fear of running out of toilet paper, can become an obsession.

A lost rubber band, a misplaced vitamin pill, a picture which hangs crooked—all demand immediate attention, regardless of what else is going on in the world. Just how big these obstacles are depends on the width of your road.

A few days after Mother settled in at the center she called long distance. It was 6:14 a.m. "I've been up all night looking for the big, white hat with the string you tie under your chin." Jackie, who was still in bed, propped up on an elbow and whispered: "She told me to give it away." "Mother, why do you need it?" "They're having a big party here at the center and everyone has to wear a funny hat." "When is the party?" She hesitated. "Sometime this summer ... I think." She sounded confused and lonely. read more

Breaking Barriers

by Jamie Buckingham

Although I never placed better than third in any track meet, I spent a lot of time in college practicing the shot put. In my sophomore year, an Irish American by the name of Pat O'Brien won a gold medal in the Olympics by throwing the 16-pound iron ball 57 feet. It was a new world record.

Experts said O'Brien might be able to do a few inches better if be practiced, but no one would ever be able to break the 60-foot barrier. But Pat O'Brien began experimenting with different styles. Instead of hopping across the ring, he began to spin, like the discus throwers. Four years later he won the Olympics again—and broke the unbreakable barrier by tossing the shot 60 feet 11 inches. From that time on, every shot putter worth his salt has gone beyond 60 feet.

Remember the four-minute mile barrier? No one, the experts said, would ever be able to run the mile in less than four minutes. Then, in 1954, a young medical student by the name of Roger Bannister did the impossible. He broke the barrier. Today, every world class runner on the circuit can run the mile in less than four minutes. All because one man broke through.

When I was in college, the experts said no one would ever be able to break the impossible barrier of 15 feet in the pole vault. At that time, the Rev. Bob Richards held the record at 14 feet 11 1/2 inches.

Breaking through is part of life, Jesus said. "The kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advanding and forceful men lay hold of it" (Matt. 11:12, NIV). In other words, the kingdom of' heaven belongs to those who "break through." When God told Joshua the promised land was his, it meant it was his to TAKE. Every place he set his foot belonged to him, God said. The problem was the land was occupied. read more

Expectations

by Jamie Buckingham

The two stories were side by side on page one of the morning newspaper —both with daring headlines. One said, "SLAIN PASTOR'S DOUBLE LIFE ALLEGED." The other: "ACCUSED SHOPLIFTER WAS 'GOOD MINISTER.'

The first story was of an admired Methodist minister in Texas whose body had been found in the back of his van near the town where he pastored. He had been beaten and strangled. The police said there may have been a chance the 55-year old pastor had been living a dou-ble life and was deeply involved in drugs and illicit sex.

That was all the Dallas Morning News needed. They waited until Sunday—of course—and ran the article on page one. The second story told of a 41-year old Roman Catholic priest in Illinois who along with a 60-year old woman was ac-cused of stealing $9,000 worth of gold jewelry, books, greeting cards and other trivia at a shopping mail. The priest had been arrested Wednesday, but the Chicago papers waited until Sunday to print the story.

Our editor printed it alongside the first story in the Monday edition. Why this obsession on the part of newspaper editors to give extra publicity to ministers who are accused of going bad? In fact, anyone claiming to be a Christian runs the risk of newspaper crucifixion if it is discovered he is a sinner.

Several years ago when an elder in our church was accused of mishandling funds in his investment company, the story ap-peared on page one under the head "CHURCH ELDER ACCUSED." His misconduct, though, had absolutely nothing to do with his relationship with our church.

Recently a noted pornographic magazine printed photographs of a deceased congressman, showing him in compromising poses with a prostitute. The pornographer gleefully pointed out the congressman claimed to be a Christian. Is this obsession on the part of media people simply a battle of Good against Evil, with Evil doing everything it can to discredit God's people? Or is there something far deeper at work here? read more

Healing Life's Scars

by Jamie Buckingham

Scars are not evidence of imperfection; they are evidence of healing. Your scars glorify God.

In his book A Few Things I've Learned Since I Knew It All, Jerry Cook tells the story of his open-heart surgery. When he had his heart attack, Jerry was pastor of a large church in Oregon that believed in and practiced healing. During his recovery, a woman in his church asked him, "Were you embarrassed to have a heart attack?"

Jerry replied that he was not embarrassed. But the woman was. She was unable to handle the totality of life's experiences--including the fact that pain and suffering are real.

Later, after he recovered, Jerry had a visit from a man who was fearfully facing the prospect of his own bypass surgery. "I want to see your scars," the man said shyly.

Jerry took off his shirt. The man gently traced with his finger the violet scar that ran vertically down Jerry's chest.

The man went on, "The doctor says the most painful part of the operation will be the surgery on my legs. They're going to take out veins from my calf to use in the heart bypass. Looking up at Jerry, he asked, "Can I see your legs?"

Jerry rolled up his pants. The man got on his knees. Without shame, he put his hands on Jerry's legs, touching the scars with his finger. When he rose to his feet there were tears in his eyes.

"Thank you. Now I have hope." Seeing and touching the scars gave him hope for survival.

Easter night Jesus appeared to His disciples. They were frightened and thought He was a ghost.

"Look at my hands and my feet," He said. "Touch Me and see" (Luke 24:39, NIV).

Thomas was not in the room that night. Later he wanted to see His scars. Again Jesus obliged: "Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe" (John 20:27).

Jesus understands our need to see, to touch the scars. When we do we know we can survive.

Sometimes our lives get scarred. And sometimes we're embarrassed because of the scars. We think they are ugly--evidence of imperfection.

Scars, though, are not evidence of imperfection; they are evidence of healing. Scars glorify God, who has brought us through. read more

Remembering Jamie Buckingham

by Steve Strang

For February, we will focus our Ministry Today website and e-newsletter on the life and work of Jamie Buckingham. He was not only one of the most influential leaders in the charismatic renewal for many years, but was the editor of Ministry Today at his untimely death in February 1992—nearly 20 years ago.

Jamie, who died from cancer at age 59, was senior pastor of the 2,000-member Tabernacle Church in Melbourne, Fla., a nondenominational church he founded in 1967. He wrote more than 40 books, among them the biographies of charismatic leaders Kathryn Kuhlman (Daughter of Destiny), Nicky Cruz (Run Baby Run) and Pat Robertson (Shout It From the Housetops).

Join us as we celebrate the life and legacy of this great man who was also my friend and mentor. As we pay tribute to Jamie this month, please feel free to send us anything about Jamie or his influence on your life. You can send them to our staff editor Eric Tiansay (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ).

Thank you to those who have already contacted us about Jamie's impact on their life, including Grant Hansen, who emailed us from Boronia—a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.

"I read Jamie's book To Soar Like An Eagle," wrote Grant, whose family attends Planet Shakers City Church in Melbourne. "It was very inspirational. He was very transparent about his life and his mistakes in marriage, etc. He was very encouraging. Praise God for such a man." read more

A Cultural Exchange

by Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr.

America needs to hear the voice of the black church today.

With the success of such movies as The Passion of the Christ, the gospel is touching people we Christians never expected to reach. God seems to be creating a "new pulpit" from which His Word will be preached.

The unprecedented harvest we face as a result will require a new kind of church to disciple those He draws to Himself. This "new church" must have a proven track record of serving the suffering while remaining in step with the culture, and it must be strategic in its thinking as well as leadership-driven.

These attributes are already operative in the nation's best black churches. America has to be wise enough to use the black church as a resource.

Think about it this way. In 1619, one year before the Pilgrims arrived on these shores, boats such as the Amistad came carrying African slaves to the New World.

The slaves originally were not consumed with visions of the kingdom of God. Their goal was to survive, and their dream was to return home.

Yet many of them had life-changing encounters with Christ. Those who accepted Jesus became unlikely missionaries in our land, strategically placed by God in a hostile environment that would drive them into intimacy with the Lord.

This intimacy is still notable in African-American culture today. Black adults are nearly twice as likely as any other ethnic group to read the Bible during a typical week. Blacks are more likely to evangelize and share their faith. Black adults are 50 percent more likely than white adults to strongly affirm that the Bible is totally accurate in everything it teaches. read more

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