Monday, October 11, 2010

Remembering Ray McMahon: "One of the Good Guys"

This past week I had the priviledge of officiating the funeral of my good friend, Ray McMahon, in Minco Oklahoma. When I moved to Minco in 1993 to accept a call to pastor Minco First Reformed Presbyterian Church I became fast friends with Minco resisident and church member, Ray McMahon. I think a lot of our immediate connection was our common "big city" upbringing. Ray was from New York City and I was from Los Angeles. We probably had some weird subconscious fixation about what blew us both on to the Oklahoma prairie. We were both outsiders who came to Minco in search of the good life. But, in the forefront of my mind was that I simply liked hanging out with Ray, because there was zero pretense with him. There was no, "perception becomes reality" with Ray. No hidden adgenda. Nothing phoney. You never had to wonder what Ray believed, or what motivated him. He was a genuine guy who could be trusted through and through.

Ray wasn't the theorist or the philosopher, even though he had a mind fit for any kind of academic discipline. I think church bored the heck out of him because of it's inability to tap in to what he really was all about. Ray was 100% interested in practical results and real world living. Not that church isn't real, but that a church service is very spiritual and theoretical by nature. We go to worship the unseen God and talk about how we are "supposed to live" in our church worship services. The sermons and teachings, while intended to elicit a practical effect, tend to be theoretical and academic by nature. Frankly, Ray slept through most of my sermons, but I didn't care, because I knew Ray's heart. In line with his practical life focus, he helped start the Minco First Responders and when it came to defending those who were not able to defend themselves, he was tougher than his fighting dog, Sampson. When the biggest crisis of his and his family's life struck he was at his best. He fiercely defended his nieces and nephew when they most needed it. He stepped up to the plate of responsibility and looked opposition square in the face. With unflinching principle he swatted out of the ball park the toughest pitches of evil that were hurled at him. During that time he was willing to put his life goal of becoming a CPA on hold for the sake of caring for his extended family and it lasted until his death this past week at the age of 61.

I will always admire Ray and hold him up in my life as a superior example of what it means to stand in the gap for the sake of what is right, good, and true. He will, for the rest of my life, be my life example of Philippians 2:3, where the Apostle Paul said, "..consider other's interests more important than your own...."

Pam and I were having lunch with Ray's wife Zelma a couple of days after the funeral and during our time together Zelma said of Ray, "He was one of the good guys." I like that statement and I will take it as the motto for Ray's legacy. Let it be known that, "he was one of the good guys."

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