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Is That Homer Lindsay?

December 30, 2022

Our South Nashville neighborhood is big on garage sales, and I’ve picked up some goodies from time to time—a small bookcase; a pint-sized cornhole game set for the grandkids; even a heavy, wooden, public-library table. You never know what you’ll find. And was that ever true a few weeks back when I came up this framed photo, leaning against a table leg. Clearly this was a preacher, in traditional pulpit garb, standing in front of an FBC sign affixed to a big old church. 

I asked the lady of the house about it, and she said it belonged to her parents who’d just moved up from Jacksonville, Florida to live with them. They were trying to fit both families in together, and some things needed to go to make room for everybody. I took at shot at it and asked, “Is that Homer Lindsay?” Bingo! We were both surprised at the good guess. Actually, I guessed wrong since I had Homer Lindsay Jr in mind. Instead, it was his daddy, Homer Lindsay Sr, who’d founded the church. I’d never met him, but I’ve learned he was an extraordinary man, very much the evangelist.

I did know Jerry Vines, who subsequently co-pastored with Homer Sr’s son. Vines was elected president of the SBC in 1988 in San Antonio, and he asked me to chair the Resolutions Committee in Las Vegas in 1989. (You can see a clip of our report under A/V on this site.) Back in that day, our family had occasion to visit FBC Jacksonville one Sunday morning on our way back up from Disneyland, and Homer Jr was preaching. So again, I never knew or saw his daddy.

The fact that a family would have a framed photo of a beloved pastor got me thinking of the impact of my own pastors, and two came to mind right off. The first was Samuel Cincinnatus Reeves (“Sam C”). He arrived at FBC Arkadelphia, Arkansas when I was still in grade school. He wasn’t at all flashy. Just a good ole fellow with a lumbering manner, a seasoned pastor who’d come to us from FBC Dothan, Alabama, having earlier served FBC, El Dorado, Arkansas. His ministry was solid and he brought some wonderful things our way. I remember those revival meeting weeks, with morning services before school and evening services where altar calls/invitations elicited and registered genuinely life-changing responses. Thanks to him, we heard compelling messages by Chester Swor and Bill Glass, who was a defensive lineman for the Cleveland Browns. We had Elwyn Raymer for minister of music, a man with such skill and humor that we teenagers never got the sense that church was for drudges. (He’d ask, “Did you hear about the man who was so bald that he had to carry his dandruff around in a paper bag?”) Years later, when I worked for the SBC in Nashville, he was an executive with a music company, and we enjoyed catching up over lunch. And, also years later, when I was pastor of FBC, El Dorado, I had Brother Reeves back to preach, to the special delight of the old timers who’d had him as pastor. 

As a jr high, high school, and college student, I’d often hear him say, “Don’t go anyplace you’d be ashamed to be caught dead.”  When I first heard it, I thought of the embarrassment I’d feel if I collapsed in the restroom, but I later came to understand how grownup folks can go slumming, thinking that no one will notice. And then he would say that he wanted “He Tried To Cooperate” on his gravestone. That’s a little mild for my taste, for it all depends on how much compromise is admirable and with whom you’re cooperating. But it’s good to imbibe his spirit of amiability and humility, important for pastoring. And in my college days, he was kind enough to draft me to oversee the work of a mission started in Cox’s Trailer Park #2, north of town on US67. Though I wasn’t licensed or ordained, I did some teacherly preaching and preacherly teaching, and I did youth work with the kids who came our way. He was a friend, the real deal, a model in many ways for me as I found myself in the full-blown pastorate in the 1980s.

There were others with helpful impact, but let me just touch on one in this short space—Bob Norman—who led Belmont Heights Baptist Church in Nashville during my 1970s grad school days at Vanderbilt. So much I could say, but let me use the world ‘ebullient’ for the first time ever in my writing. His enthusiasm was infectious, and he led us in singing “Cheer Up, Ye Saints of God” at the end of each service—in English and then in “Scottish”:

Cheer up, ye saints of God.

There's nothing to worry about.

Nothing to make you feel afraid,

Nothing to make you doubt.

Remember, Jesus never fails,

So why not trust Him and shout,

You'll be sorry you worried at all tomorrow morning!

And then the “Scottish,” with “aboot,” “doot,” and “shoot” for “about,” “doubt,” and “shout.”

That alone is enough to stir a man to get a framed photo of Brother Bob to put up beside one of Brother Sam.