Russ Ray

Trying to become more like Jesus


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When your church doesn’t love you

There’s a church near our home that uses their marketing to specifically target people who have had bad experiences with church. Basically, it reads like this: “Turned off by racists? Come try our church. Told you’re not dressed up enough? Come try our church. People staring at your tattoos and piercings? Come try our church. Judged between the parking lot and the front door? Come try our church.”

DO NOT ENTER_0I know what this church is trying to do, but I feel like creating an “us vs. them” attitude isn’t helping the conversation. It forgets that we’re all at different stages of our faith journey. While it doesn’t excuse the racism, the other items are negotiable and it’s up to God to change the heart.

There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.–1 Corinthians 12:6 (NIV)

And yet, I’ve gotta be honest, I’ve been struggling a lot lately with how I’ve been treated by the church. The more I thought about it, I’ve been struggling most of my Christian life with how I’ve been treated by the church. Since we’ve gone to three different churches during my Christian life, I knew there was one commonality.

Look at your responsibility first. Jesus says, in terms of our relationships with others, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3 (ESV) The log in your own eye is of greater importance to solve.

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Time to put yourself aside

Saturday was our lone day off this weekend.

We started working on Good Friday service at 5PM Friday, had the service from 7-7:45, and stayed until about 8:30 by the time we finished getting the Easter prep out of the way.

Sunday was looking like a typical Sunday for us: out of bed at 6:30AM (I’m more like 7:15 now with DST), get to church at 8 for practice and setup, and hopefully leave church by noon for the 2-hour drive to my in-laws.

The last thing I wanted to do was go to a funeral home on my one free weekend day. The father of one of our members passed away last week, and the funeral was Saturday morning.


But, as my wife pointed out, we are stuck in a perfect storm this week. Our church is without a pastor until May 1 (God got us through 8 months without a shepherd), and the rest of the staff took the week off for Spring Break. She’s the only person on staff left to make it. And, we had just enough time to pop in before driving another half-hour to an Easter egg hunt we promised to the kids.

So, we drove… and drove… and we got there, and the whole time, I’m mentally starting the countdown for when we need to get out to drive and drive and drive to the egg hunt.

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Invalid request: Yes for Sex

Hey, that little three-letter word is gonna drive up the hits!

I got nothin’ today, but I found something funny at work to carry me over. Here is an actual ticket that was written from someone on our team about a bug that they found in our software:

When I put in Yes for Sex, I get an Invalid Request. We have defined what values can go in there so let us enumerate this field and not have it a free text.

The title is even worse:

Sex on patient should be enumerated

I don’t know about you, but I object to treating sex as free text, and I also object to sex on patient.

This almost reads as a bad translation from another language.

Christ carrying cross up Calvary on Good Friday over dark and stormy sky

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Love your pastor this week

There are two weeks a year that the pastoral staff at your church probably loves to prepare for: the week leading up to Christmas and the week leading up to Easter. They’re probably the week that they may also dread.

If you watch pro football, you’re probably familiar with the term “short week”. It usually means that a team playing on Sunday has a Thursday night game the following week, and they only have 4 days to prepare for that next game.

Christ carrying cross up Calvary on Good Friday over dark and stormy sky

In the church calendar, this is the equivalent of a “short week”. You complete the Sunday service, which may or may not have a special Palm Sunday element, you then have five days to get ready for Good Friday service (which we have added this year at our church), and then have another day to get ready for Easter Sunday, which is always a big day. Same thing usually happens around Christmas depending on when Christmas Eve falls around the Sunday before or after.

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Why I didn’t like The Passion

I hate to bag on creative ways to share the Gospel, but not at the expense of the correctness of God’s Word.

You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.–Deuteronomy 4:2 (ESV)

I watched about 15 minutes of The Passion last night. While I applaud the sentiment of Tyler Perry (the producer) to present the Gospel in a new and fresh way, there were two things right away that indicated to me that he was really watering down the message of The Passion to be politically correct.


1) Mary singing Jewel’s Hands: the line that troubled me in the chorus is when she sings that her hands are “not yours, they are my own.” Why would Mary tell her Creator that formed her that she did not belong to Him or was withholding something from Him? Maybe I misunderstood the point of the song, but this is not the Mary we read about in Luke 1:

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.”–Luke 1:46-49 (ESV)

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