Russ Ray

Trying to become more like Jesus


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A signpost to Jesus

The students that I teach in college are all adult learners who have returned to school in their late 20s on up to their 60s sometimes to get their college degree. They all have a balancing act to perform as adult learners: responsibilities at work, home, and maybe even a church, and sometimes trying to even fit in time for a personal life.

I try to use my personal examples as much as possible to let them know it’s not impossible, and it can be done, by God’s grace. I finished up my 70-page Master’s thesis writing late at night while feeding a 6-month-old baby on my lap. My wife birthed two children (one of which ended up in the NICU) in the middle of her pursuit of a Bachelor’s degree.

Sometimes, though, students let me know of situations they are dealing with beyond my experience. I was grading papers this morning and an adult student felt transparent enough to share with me some struggles she is having with her teenage daughter. The daughter suffers from depression, and her father has chosen to take a hands-off approach, leaving her mother (this student) to deal with it on her own.

jesus-one-way-sign-arrow-photoWe are told as instructors at our Christian university that when students share information like this that it is an opportunity to inject Scripture into their lives. So, I looked up 1 Peter 1:5, “By God’s power we are being guarded through faith for our salvation.” I let her know that even though she may be going through a trial, God is protecting her and her daughter by faith for His ultimate glory.

In reality, this should be my attitude not just as a teacher, but as a follower of Christ. I need to be that signpost on the road that others are journeying on that points the way to Jesus.

Would you pray for the following today?

  1. Pray that God would bring into your life someone vulnerable sharing their need for Jesus.
  2. Pray that God would give you the Word that person needs to hear today that moves them closer on the path toward our Lord and Savior.

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Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?

Google says one of the definitions of irony is “a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.”


I got ready to write this morning and my last post was entitled, When your church doesn’t love you.

And then, this post is about how our church fired our family two weeks ago.

It’s probably too early to share details or disect what happened. If you feel led to pray for our family, pray for my wife to be healed of thoughts of self-doubt, for my kids that their Christian walk would not be harmed and that they won’t mistrust the church, and for me to just not be angry about the whole thing anymore.

Thankfully, God blessed us right away the next day, and has continued to do so every day since, and really, irony is just another way to describe how God works according to what He has planned for us and not by any human way of thinking.

  • The mighty warrior Samson killed more Philistines at his death than during his life. Judges 16:30
  • God opposes the proud but favors the humble. Proverbs 3:34 (repeated in James and 1 Peter)
  • A rich man is wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has understanding will find him out. Proverbs 28:11
  • The last will be first, and the first last. Matthew 20:16
  • When I am weak, I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10

I have no doubt that God is teaching us these things throughout this experience and is encouraging us every day to move beyond in His strength and preparing us for whatever our next ministry will be.


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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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