About Ray McClendon

Ray McClendon last served as a minister with A church of Christ in Petaluma from 2001 to 2016 and has retired from full time church ministry. From 2013 to 2019, he served the City of Petaluma as a Public Safety Chaplain for Petaluma Police and Fire. Ray & his wife have just relocated to the peninsula in the south Bay Area to be closer to their children and will continue his ministries in First Responder Chaplaincy, Theological Poetry, and his children's book series, Angels Whisper. He has published Angels Whisper the Stories of Creation, Respect the Elderly, and the Nativity Story, and is currently working on Angels Whisper the Story of Easter. Ray is married to Linda, his High School Sweetheart, for 43 years. They have four children and three grandchildren and consider their close, loving family to be their greatest achievement.

Joy

Rejoice!
The man (imprisoned!) wrote
And though enchained the joy-full note
Transcended dungeon, guard, and fetter
Enthused the Spirit’s lovely letter
And bid us grace and peace

Rejoice!
In every prayer of mine!
For fellow branches in The Vine
The gospel spreads! And this is true
The One who began this work in you
Will bring it to completion

Rejoice!
For Christ has more acclaim
When servants suffer for The Name
Though one may live or one may die
There’s joy when Christ is lifted high
Who grants eternal life

Rejoice!
And strive to be as one
Like the Father and His Son
Like Jesus drawing humbly near
Regard the more our brother dear
More dearer than ourselves

Rejoice!
Again I say, “Rejoice!”
With calm secure contented voice
For we have cast on Him our care
Knowing that He hears our prayer
And guards our hearts

Rejoice!
I want you all to hear it!
Your prayers… the gracious Holy Spirit
Shall deliver me yet once again
No matter what may come… amen
For to die is gain!

–Paul’s letter to the Philippians


REFLECTIONS

David Edwin Harrell, an American Historian and Religious Scholar, said something at a lectureship in southern California many years ago that I have never forgotten. He said that anyone who could write such a joy-filled letter, filled with as much gratitude and encouragement for others as this one is (while in prison), is a fellow who is either a complete lunatic, or a fellow who really has his head set on straight! A faith that can deliver a letter like this from a place like that is a faith worth looking into. Another friend of mine, Mike Mendez (missionary and minister of the Gospel), once told me something equally memorable, that true JOY is to be found in the ability to put Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last. Something Paul illustrates very powerfully in this amazing letter. May the God of true joy be with and bless you all; and, may He sustain you with a profound and deep-seated joy that will be with you and persist even in times of great sadness and trial.


T H O R N

Grievous & Gracious Gift!
Given to
One who saw celestial view
To thwart all pride
All wayward boast
And point Paul to
What mattered most
The grace of Christ…

Sorrowful Souvenir!
Much, much more
Than the grief or scars themselves he bore
That trial that one
Must constant bear
And carry with him
Everywhere
The cross of Christ…

Alm of Affliction!
Given when
The unutterable by mortal men
Was heard by Paul
Who, despite torment
Grew satisfied
And well-content
With the power of Christ…

Angel of Satan!
Messenger of
An apostle’s affliction allowed by love
Constant Companion
Divine Distress
That produces
The trust and nobleness
We see in the character of Christ…

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“I know a man in Christ who, fourteen years ago, was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise… and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

— 2 Corinthians 12:2-10
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R E S P E C T

Wrinkled and weathery
Worn and leathery
Hair so white, so thin
A dismissive glance and looks askance
Will miss the dance within

Physique so frailing
Health so failing
Shoulder’s bowed and bent
Tools worn out while building
A life well lived… well spent

But withered size
And age belies
Vitality that once was
Upon a time a vigor prime
That shaped the world… and still does!

A teacher formed
A pilot stormed
Through the skies in war
An explorer-fearless-set the sail
For an unknown, distant shore

A doctor tended
A surgeon mended
Nurses fended for the ill
Soldiers who, for hearth and home
Charged gallant up the hill

A leader led
A martyr bled
A mother raised her child
A social worker helped some soul
That poverty defiled

A fireman saved
A policeman braved
the lawless, riot crowd
A farmer wiped his sweaty brow
And surveyed a field he’d plowed

A musician played
A dancer swayed
A poet penned a poem
A writer wrote a whirlwind tale
A builder built a home

Next time you meet
At church or street
A weaker, aged one
Gratefully respect them for
Their life… a job well-done.

Extend your hand
Bestow a smile
And nod a friendly nod
Not only would you warm their heart
You’d warm the heart of God!

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“Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.”

— Leviticus 19:32
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B R A N C H

The love of Ruth
Kind and gracious
Eternal truth!
Relentless
The commitment of
The maiden
And the God above

Naomi’s name
Pleasant they said
Drubbed by the world
And left for dead
Ruth refused
To let her fall
Loved her heart… soul…
Mind… strength… all!

Bethlehem
The ‘house of bread’
A love-starved world
That would not be fed
There, the mother
Of David’s mothers went
What a humble, loving Gentile
Heaven sent!

A Moabite!
How can this be?
A sturdy branch
For Messiah’s tree?
Mother of David
And David’s son
From Bethlehem
Would go The One

Love of God
From days eternal
Commitment of
A love supernal
“There…
…because of grace go I!”
For sinful sons
One Son will die

To the House of Bread
The Bread of Life
Came to us
Amid the strife
Going
Where we go
Lodging where
We lodge below

“Your people…
mine!” said He
“Your God too…
Shall mine be…
Where you die
I will too
And I’ll be buried
Next to you

Entreat me not
To leave, forsake
My own, for whom
My heart does ache
Through my church
I will remain
Through hearts like Ruth
I’ll surely reign…
…and make all things new!”

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“Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.’ And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem.”

— Ruth 1:16-19

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.
Therefore He will give them up until the time
When she who is in labor has borne a child.
Then the remainder of His brethren
Will return to the sons of Israel.
And He will arise and shepherd His flock
In the strength of the LORD,
In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God.
And they will remain,
Because at that time He will be great
To the ends of the earth.
This One will be our peace.”

— Micah 5:2-5

“…Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king…”

— Matthew 1:5-6
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H I M S E L F

Grateful
Beyond the words!
To Him who feeds the little birds
To Him who graces simple fields
With splendor… and who finally yields
Himself

Grateful
With joyful praise!
For Him who sends the sunshine rays
And rain… where saint and sinful live
Provide for all and finally give
Himself

Grateful
For the Lord who deigned
To wash the feet of mortal men!
To teach His own the higher good
Who modeled humble servanthood
Himself

Grateful
For one who owned
The Fallen Family for his own!
Who bore their sorrow and their sin
And carried their afflictions in
Himself

Grateful
For prayerful plea!
Arising from Gethsemane
Where walked the One who came to bless
And walked within the Wilderness
Himself

Grateful
For that greater love
That only comes from up above!
That, for The Created, The Creator die
Embrace a cross, and be lifted high
Himself

Grateful
For the One who raised
His Son to be exalted, praised
Gives us of His Spirit to
Do those things His Son would do
Himself

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“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death…”

— Acts 17:24
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A D V O C A T E

We have sinned… still…

We long to know
The gracious Christ who loves us so
May our cheeks know shameful blush
Blossom with a crimson flush
and godly sorrow.

We sin… still…

We dare to do
Some things the Good Lord tells us to
And though we struggle still at length
We long for God to give us strength
and peace.

We will sin… still…

We won’t take flight
We’ll not give up without a fight
We’ll not let go until we’re blessed
We’ll gladly limp with all the rest
into glory.

“That you may not sin…” still…

If we do there is some One
Who challenged sin and death and won
And now he stands for us to speak!
On our behalf, the faithful weak
and lead us home.

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“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

— 1 John 2:1-2
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G O D F E V E R

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Gratitude to the poet John Masefield, for his piece, Sea-Fever, from where I drew the inspiration for this little piece.
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I must get back to God again, to His Spirit and His word
And all I ask is the love of Christ, my Savior and my Lord
And the changed life and the new song and the purpose-driven day
And the Bread of Life for the God-hungry I meet along the way!

I must get back to God again, for the call of His Holy Spirit
Is a wild call and a clear call, if I would only hear it
And all I ask is humility, to submit my will to His
To selfless serve with suffering love and a thirst for righteousness!

I must get back to God again, the cross o’ershadowed life
To deny the world and deny myself and conquer inward strife
And all I ask is encouragement from a Father and His Son
And forgiveness and a life with God, when life on earth is done!