Gail Lindman – Saint Extraordinaire

The memorial service for Gail Lindman was held at TSF on Saturday afternoon, as a portion of her family were in attendance along with about 60-70 local friends.

Gail and her late husband Mel (who passed away in 2005) were a major part of the founding of TSF and the advance of the church over these nearly three decades.

Bill Kesecker spoke at the service, while Ward Childerston presented a couple of songs. Karin accompanied and I read the wonderful passage of the 139th Psalm.

The family shared a number of thoughts and remembrances – speaking also of their gratitude for those who made a continued residence in Hagerstown possible until a couple of years ago. Though from the Midwest, Hagerstown really became their home and the place where their six children grew up.

Tim Lester and I reflected upon Gail’s profound encouragements to us as pastors. She was a regular part of community groups – especially the Barnes group in recent years – and exhibited faithfulness and a confident walk with Christ at all times.

The Lindman family is a model of what we want to see be a more common experience of our church community. This is a family where the faith has been passed down through the generations – such that there is no denial of the great value of – as Bill Kesecker said – a long walk in the same direction. Though the family has spread all over the country, the Lindmans served here as cross-generational mentors … and received as well the affections and heart-felt desires of many to be taught in a discipling manner.

This is what a legacy is all about. Why not desire the same – as much as is possible in as much time as remains? We could say as well that these thoughts really resonate with the theme we are exploring right now of “The Bucket List: Choosing to Live before You Die.”

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Greetings from Florida

I’m here in Fort Myers for a week with Nathan and Allie and Bella and Hudson. Sorry about the snow squalls I hear you folks back north are having – that sorta stinks.

I’ve not seen a snake yet, though I’m sure they are not far away. When I see one, I’m gonna take a picture and get it on here for you to see.

However, I did see two Redmans today – yep, Paul and Tina. The church they attend here in the winter is a rather large one, and my family has been going to it also. So today, I looked around a bit before the service started, saw Paul and Tina, and just walked into their pew and sat down next to them unannounced. That was fun.

Hanging with the Snowbirds

The program featured a really great kids musical production – lots of energy and well-done.

Snake Loving “Friends”

So… these are the kinds of friends I have! One of them – whose initials are Tim Thorpe – posts the following picture on Facebook and says, “This makes me think of my friend Randy.”

Random Snake in South Florida

Then, my other friend – whose initials are Russ Ellis – comments that, “It looks just like the one I saw going down Dam 4 Road!”

OK, so, I know there ain’t no snake like this around Downsville. But, the caption on the picture said it was in Florida … the place I was going the very day I saw the picture!  The place I am as you are likely reading this – if you see it the day I post it.

So, Tim and Russ … watch your step. I always laugh last!

Baby Bottle Campaign

It is that time of year again where, as in years past, we encourage your participation in the Hagerstown Area Pregnancy Center’s baby bottle campaign. This is the primary fund-raiser for this valuable ministry in our community.

Where else do you know that it can be said that someone or something literally saved lives? We hear of great stories from time to time, but it is without exaggeration able to be said that the HAPC saves literally hundreds of lives a year.

The medical services provided by the center – services that open deep conversations between workers and clients – come at a cost of operation. Along with an entire host of other evangelical churches in the community, we want to make this possible – to have the doors open as often as possible in order to reach young women at vulnerable times.

It would be wonderful to be able to see the evil of abortion overturned. But until that time, we may make a true difference by our practical support of this ministry of life!

So pick up a bottle at church – fill it up with coins, bills, and large checks – and bring it back by the end of February.

The Long Arm…

I had to laugh this week at what I thought was a rather humorous Letter to the Editor in the Herald-Mail. It said:

I imagine when a young man took a car and went speeding through a restaurant parking lot on Pennsylvania Avenue and flying into Rest Haven Cemetery at an estimated 70 mph that he had no idea that someone in their final resting place could stop him. But, when he went careening down the hill, he hit the large solid granite gravestone belonging to my grandfather, Joseph Dallas Baker, former sheriff of Washington County.

As a family, we are thankful that the speeder hit the monument rather than the giant oaks directly across the driveway or the outcome might have been tragic. We choose to think Granddaddy got his man and possibly saved a life at the same time, exactly the way Sheriff Baker would have wanted it in his day.

Kind of adds a new meaning to the “long arm of the law.”

I don’t know about Sheriff Baker reaching back across the great divide to get his man, but there is a long-armed presence that we can never escape – the Spirit of God …

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  (Psalm 139)

This is a good truth for us to remember – both at times when we are fearful because of some circumstance where God seems far away, or at other times when temptation seems most especially close. The fact is that God is always there – up, down, east, west – there is no escaping this truth.

It is a long arm!

UPS and the Delivery of the Gospel

The UPS Delivery System

I was recently watching a business documentary on the shipping and logistics techniques of FedEx and UPS.  Many of you have probably heard me talk about my several years of working for United Parcel Service in Dallas during my seminary years. It was a very, very fast-moving environment. Everyone who worked with me on the primary sort aisle was a high-end college or grad student – all young and healthy guys who could memorize thousands of numbers (zip codes) and also re-arrange on the fly how they would all be grouped.

UPS has the 9th largest airline in the world

I have never worked harder in my life. It was a part-time job, and I’ve always said that you’d drop before you made it to eight hours! We were paid really well… at a rate that even today, over 30 years later, would be a decent wage.

Something I was very proud of is that I was undefeated in a particular test they would give us on eye-hand coordination. The supervisor would show you a grid chart of numbers, and you were timed as to how quickly you could put your fingers on the numbers in consecutive order.

UPS is the most efficient outfit I have ever seen. They timed everything for proficient operation. So, in this modern technological age, I guess I should not be surprised that the job I did is now completely automated with computer tags, scanners, and mechanical devices. These advances came a couple decades too late for my sciatic nerve – which reminds me from time to time of my years in Dallas.

However, the documentary presented one area where the continued personal touch of a human – the delivery guy – was indispensable. Everything else can fall apart if that person acts like a jerk!

The Gospel Message Delivery System

There are incredible advances as well in the resources for the Gospel to be presented to lost people. We have tracts and books and blogs and videos and web pages … literally libraries of materials to communicate the message of eternal truth. Yet it is still a practically indispensable element for there to be a delivery person who communicates the truth by a quality of life and capacity for verbally witnessing.

Romans 10 says this: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

As I said in my opening sermon of the year: “There is no growth path forward for TSF that does not include a church family who cares about lost people and is actively communicating it to people.”  The days of people just flocking through our doors out of curiosity are gone. We need to deliver the truth to them.

Smokey Snake

“Only you can prevent snake escape,” could be the public service announcement by a cute talking snake in Florida named “Smokey.” (Oh, hold it, there is no way to make a snake look cute!). The 5-foot long boa constrictor escaped from his aquarium and was found in the garden next door.

The even worse part about people owning pet snakes is not simply the troubling nature of the fact that they see this creature as a pet, but that they themselves are … well … how to say this gently … ah … not likely to be people who scored 800 per section on the SAT.

Snake escape stories abound daily on the internet, and the clueless owner always has some version of “I just don’t know how Foofie got out of his container.”  Ah, maybe they shouldn’t be in a container?

To quote the news story, “I just want to take him home,’” <the owner> said, still a little choked up at the thought of losing Smokey.

(I’m not making this up …) She said she was just glad to be able to bring the pet snake home, where she also has three Chihuahuas — Dynamite, Peanut Butter and Lucy. It seems to me that better names for those dogs would be Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner! Isn’t this a little bit like keeping a pet lion in a homemade cage in your sheep pen?

I’ll never understand the “pet snake” oxymoron.