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by Jamie Buckingham

When I was in high school, I had a football coach who met every player at the sideline as he came off the field, shook his hand and said, "Good job!" I remember very little else about him—but I remember that.

No matter how badly I had played, he shook my hand when I came off the field. Under his coaching, we went undefeated for two years. An incredible feat for a tiny Florida school with a graduating class of 58.

One New Year's Day, after our second undefeated season, he took the entire team—all 33 of us—to the Orange Bowl in Miami. His alma mater, the University of Tennessee, was playing, and he had gotten us tickets. He piled us into a bus and drove 130 mites down the coast, coming back the same night.

It was his way of thanking us for a great season. The next summer we heard he had been fired. There might have been other reasons, but the one we were given was that the Quarterback Club—a group of businessmen who met on Monday mornings in the local drugstore to discuss Friday night games—said the coach had lied on his application.

He was not a graduate of the University of Tennessee. He had gone to a much smaller school. Some said he had never even played college ball. They said he was just a super-promoter who had fooled a bunch of folks. We kids didn't even get to tell him goodbye. When we reported for practice two weeks before school began, there was a new coach on the field.

"He was a fake," we were told. "We don't need someone like that in our town." We didn't know about that. All we knew was that he won ball games. He taught morality. If he heard us cussing, we ran laps until we dropped.

When he found out our star fullback was bragging about his sexual exploits, he benched him. We loved our coach because he was tough—but clean. And because he gave us confidence. I remember the Sunday night before the big Thanksgiving game with our longtime rival. read more

Honoring Jamie Buckingham—Prophet With a Pen

by Steve Strang

Author/pastor Jamie Buckingham had a huge impact on my life and on our organization. He encouraged me to start Ministry Today and wrote in it many times. He served as editor several years before his untimely death in February 1992.

Twenty years later, we honor him with a month-long tribute on the Ministry Today website. If you haven't done so, we invite you to visit the special section by clicking here.

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 write your own tribute or reflections about him by commenting on the various articles.

You can also check out the Jamie Buckingham Photo Gallery by clicking here.

For an extra treat, watch several brief videos in the Jamie Buckingham Video Montage by clicking here.

In addition, you can read the touching tribute article by Jamie's grandson, T.J. Buckingham, clicking here. read more

Turning The Tide

As part of the January-February issue on social transformation of Ministry Today, James Robison, the president of Life Outreach International and the co-host of the Life Today television program, wrote a challenging and informative column on what pastors and churches can do to help avert a cultural tsunami.

You can read Robison's timely "Turning The Tide" article in the magazine's latest issue by clicking here. He explains why the church has failed to change the culture largely because of our lack of unity.

In the social transformation issue, which goes beyond political activism. Guest Editor Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr. 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 perfect time to subscribe to Ministry Today. A great gift idea for Easter, we're currently offering a special promotion that includes evangelist Reinhard Bonnke's "Full Flame" DVD series and the ESV (English Standard Version) Thinline Bible with a paid subscription. It's $100-plus worth of resources for $24.97. Click here to subscribe to Ministry Today. read more

Remembering Jamie's Uncompromising Love For Jesus

by T.J. Buckingham

I recently made the very picturesque journey from my hometown, Melbourne, Fla., to the beautiful, small city of Vero Beach, Fla.

This quaint old city has the prudence of huge oak hammocks as well as the tropical views of giant palm trees. The air is persistently humid and filled with the sweet fragrance of orange blossoms, with an occasional trace of the not-so-sweet Indian River.

I absolutely love Vero Beach because of the wonderful memories of my grandfather, Jamie Buckingham, that resurfaces whenever I visit. This particular trip was special because I made it with my grandmother and Jamie's widow, Jackie Buckingham.

I had the ultimate tour guide, and she didn't disappoint. We drove by Vero Beach High School, and I saw her eyes light up as she recalled all of the mischievous things my grandfather had done in his youth like racing his old Ford pick-up truck as fast as it would go down the steel railroad tracks.

As I listened, it was obvious why she never remarried. Jamie's playful spirit and tendencies to be unpredictable had won her over as a teenager, and she was still very much in love with him two decades after his passing in February 1992.

She recalled with a laugh how she had to wait to wear her engagement ring until she was enrolled in college because my great grandfather, Walter Buckingham or "Daddy B" as we all called him, said that it would not be proper for her to wear it while still in high school.

We even drove down to the Baptist church where my grandfather spent his summer home from college as the acting youth pastor—his first real role in ministry. I suppose that was where he had his calling confirmed as he spent the rest of his life in ministry. read more


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


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

Pentecostal Leader's $6 Mission to Save the World

Jeff Farmer was recovering from cancer surgery when he read the statistics in a World Vision newsletter: 1) Every 45 seconds a child age 5 and under dies from malaria, according to the World Health Organization; 2) Although the United States successfully eradicated malaria 60 years ago, this deadly disease spread by infected mosquitoes kills nearly 2,000 children every day.

The World Health Organization's commitment to wipe out malaria across the globe by 2015 has been joined by secular organizations such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the NBA and many others.

Among Christians, however, charismatic and Pentecostal churches have been missing in action for the fight to eliminate malaria. But that changed when the Holy Spirit gave Farmer, president of charismatic Open Bible Churches, a wake-up call to help bring an end to the disease. Farmer had been meditating on Psalm 91 during his ordeal of discovering he had cancer and the ensuing surgery when God began to speak to him about malaria—a stealthy, silent killer.

Click here to read the complete article. read more

Church Pecking Order

by Jamie Buckingham

Michele Buckingham, my daughter-in- law, had her first book published. It's called Help! I'm a Pastor's Wife (Creation House).

Although listed as "editor," Michele spent months rewriting the 30 stories submitted by wives of some of America's best-known pastors. In her foreword she tells of chatting with a couple of friends in a swanky cafe outside Washington, D.C., and telling them she was writing a book by and about pastors' wives.

One of the women remarked, "What's it about? How to throw the perfect tea party?" I guess a lot of people think that's what pastors' wives do—play the piano at church and pour tea at the monthly social.

In other words, they rank pretty low in kingdom pecking order. I've not had much experience with pastors' wives. (My own wife has seen to that.) But I have had a great deal of experience with pastors.

Most of us have suspected that, despite their diligent efforts to conceal it, pastors are people just like us. Granted, a lot of them seem to go out of their way to convince us otherwise. But if we dragged them out of their Cadillacs, took off their collars, snatched away their microphones and forbid them to use words such as "brethren," "yonder" and "eschatology," we would discover they're just like the rest of us. Plain old people.

The reason most pastors look and act differently from ordinary folks is they were taught—mostly by other pastors—that there is a certain pecking order in kingdom strata. Obviously, pastors who drive Cadillacs are higher in grade than pastors who drive pickup trucks.

And the man who drives a BMW or (sigh!) a Mercedes, ranks even higher. Ultimate status is achieved when the pastor and his wife drive color-matched Jaguars. In the words of Sambo, he's the "grandest tiger in all the jungle"—especially if he polishes his fingernails. Kingdom ranking has been around since James and John. read more

Honor to Whom Honor...

by Jamie Buckingham

My old friend Frank Gray, small-town Episcopal priest with whom I used to sit over a cup of coffee and crack jokes about pompous bishops, has just been elected to the establishment.

He's just become the bishop of Northern Indiana. I wrote him a condolence letter. I know how he feels. Earlier this year, without asking for it (or even buying it), I was awarded an honorary doctor's degree by Oral Roberts University (ORU).. After all these years of making fun of people who are honorary doctors, I are now one.

When the letter came from the university I went into shock for three days, "I told you not to poke fun at people with honorary degrees," my wife, Jackie, said. What if I get out to Tulsa for graduation and find that folks such as Kenneth Copeland, Robert Tilton or Lester Surmall are getting degrees, too?

The last time I attended an ORU graduation Jesse Jackson was the commencement speaker. What if they invited Pat Robertson this time? Surely a loving and merciful God would overlook the fact I had made fun of ill these folks in the past. Surety He would not drop me in the midst of such company and have me "doctored!' at the same time. But He did.

"It's not the degree," I told Jackie. "Secretly I've always wanted to be called Dr. Buckingham. I'm tired of being called 'Jamie.' Rodney Dangerfield ain't the only one who don't get no respect." "Then what's the problem?" "What if it's a DD? Nothing could be worse than having a Doctorate of Divinity." "With or without walnuts?" Jackie quipped. I didn't think that was funny. All I could think of was: There was a young preacher named Tweedle, Who refused to accept his degree. It's bad enough being Tweedle,

Without being Tweedle, DD. But God tempered justice with mercy: I'm not a DD. I'm a Doctor of Humane Letters. "Now, that's not so bad," Jackie said after the ceremony. "You see, God just doesn't want you poking fun at all those people out there who have honorary degrees. He defused your bomb by honoring you." read more

Deliver Us From Sock-Gobblers

by Jamie Buckingham

After years of theological debate, I have finally discerned we have a sock-gobbler in our washing machine. In short, my machine is possessed of a demon. My wife disagrees. She does not believe a washing machine can have a demon.

I, on the other hand, believe a washing machine can have anything it wants to have. "If there really is a sock-gobbler," Jackie asked, "why does he eat only one sock out of a pair? If one sock fills him, why doesn't he eat the spare sock on his next visit?" I had no answer. I only know he is there.

To prove it, I have 17 unmatched socks in my sock drawer—widowed victims of the sock-gobbler. And that's just this year's count. Each year about this time, I go through my drawer and throw away the singles.

Last year, I put 13 of them in the trash can. This year set a new record. I keep my unmatched singles in the bottom drawer of my dresser hoping their mates will somehow reappear. It never happens. Each year I reluctantly round them up and drop them in the waste basket in my bedroom.

Expensive racquetball socks, formal blacks, blues, greens, grays, fuzzies—all were favorites, but without mates, they're useless. I've considered forming a club: Socks Without Partners. At first I thought it was Jackie's careless washing procedures. "The reason my socks don't come out even is you don't put them in even!"

I howled when my most expensive and favorite pair of socks became a single. "Not so," she argued. "I gathered them two by two. Believe me, Noah didn't do a more complete job. I took two pairs from your shoes under the bed, a pair of wet ones out of your boots, a stiff pair from the ceiling of the closet where you had kicked them when you came in from racquetball, a mud-caked pair from under the front seat of your pickup, a moldy pair from under the dryer...."

"Aha!" I screamed. "I bet the rest of the mates are under the washing machine." However, my search turned up nothing but a bucketful of lint, three green pennies, two rusty washers, a 12-year-old skate key and a flea collar from our cat that died last year.

"Inside this washer is a little trapdoor that pulls in one sock from each pair and holds them captive. Somewhere in this machine is a secret treasure chest of unmated socks." read more

Against All Odds

by Jamie Buckingham

Our other four children seemed normal. Their grades were above average; they had good health; they got along fine with their playmates.

Tim was different, however. In many areas he excelled. He could run faster, stay underwater longer and climb trees higher than all the others. He was remarkably coordinated with amazing reflexes and a deep instinct for doing the right thing. He made friends with every kid in the neighborhood—especially those who were handicapped or had problems. And animals. He could talk to them. When they talked back, he understood.

But he couldn't read. By the time he completed his first year in school we knew something was wrong. We had enrolled him in a Christian school where he repeated first grade. It was a disaster. He was no further along than when he was in kindergarten. We had him tested by the school psychologist. Although he had a high IQ, the tests indicated he had certain learning disabilities which hindered him in reading and writing.

He gave us a term which we've lived with ever since: dyslexia. It's a Latin word which means "can't read." We put him under a reading specialist, had him tutored, sent him to expensive clinics, even put him in corrective glasses for a year. We enrolled him in a class where he spent agonizing hours putting pegs in holes, walking balance beams and crawling under ropes stretched low to the ground.

We finally took him to a Kathryn Kuhlman healing service. Nothing seemed to be working. We put him back in public school but the teachers did not seem to be able to do much with him. A dear friend arranged to have him leave school for a few hours each day so she could tutor him privately, but progress was slow. read more


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