Since 1986, Dr. Ray has served as a Youth Pastor, Children’s Pastor, Music Minister (that church was desperate for somebody…anybody) and Senior Pastor in TN, KY, WV and now OH. Since 1986? Whew, he’s pretty old but, he still thinks he can play basketball with anybody. One of his favorite activities is beating the interns in any sport (Halo is not a “sport”). His formal degrees are a BA in Religion and Theater (Union University), M.Div., NT Studies (Mid-Ameirca Baptist Theological Seminary), Doctorate of Biblical Studies (Andersonville Baptist Theological Seminary), D.Min. in Church Growth, Missions and Evangelism (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary).
Yeah, he’s been to school for many years.
His children, Jonathan and Kara, constantly remind him that he’s been to school more years than they’ve been alive. His two doctorates have not altered his ability to communicate complex doctrines in a down-to-earth, easy-to-understand style. As a matter of fact, many people say that when they hear him preach they can’t even tell that he has two doctorates. We suppose that’s a compliment.
If you ask him what his favorite things to do are he’ll say: fishing, golfing, eating at fancy restaurants, and traveling the world with nothing but a backpack. Of course, he doesn’t get to do those things, but they sound awesome. You will usually find him in the study each morning between 3:30 and 4:00. He reads…alot. He loves to read. Most of his books are now digital. He has a library of around 8,000 books on his iPhone. He reads his iPhone…alot. Usually he sits at his desk until lunchtime. Mexican and Chinese are his favorite types of food. The Golden Corral is his favorite lunchtime restaurant. It has everything!
Over lunch, the topic is always entertaining. He tells the funniest stories about his family. Get him to tell you about the time he caught a bobcat in a trap and let it loose in the house. Mom always said she wanted a cat.
His favorite music is the crescendo of a preacher nearing the climax of a powerful sermon. Good preaching is music to his ears.
The love of his life is none other than Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Dr. Ray is never perfect. He’s not even close to being what he’d consider good. You will hear him say, “Be goodish.” The reason that he talks that way is because every time he thinks he’s getting closer to living like Jesus he gets to see more of Jesus and realizes just how far away from being good he really is. But, one day he wants to hear his Master say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Until then, he’s going to keep on trying to live up the expectations of the love of his life.
Coming in at a distant second is his love for Shanova Lynn Ray, his wife. They met in 1987…a long, long time ago. Mrs. Shanova, as he calls her, got his attention in a wrestling ring. She was barely 5 and half feet tall and didn’t weigh a hundred pounds. (Dr. Ray is a foot taller and weighs…alot more.) Mrs. Shanova was on the opposing team in a just-for-fun wrestling match at their college. She was the smallest person on her team. Dr. Ray was the tallest on his. Dr. Ray was tagged in the ring by one of his teammates. Just to be funny, the other team tagged in Mrs. Shanova. The crowd roared with laughter. Dr. Ray stood in the middle of the ring while Mrs. Shanova circled him like a crouching tigress. The rest of the match is a blur to Dr. Ray (you should get Mrs. Shanova to tell you what happened). All he can remember is being thrown over this little girl’s shoulder and then pinned to the mat. It was love at first site, for him. For her, he had to woo her for a year before she would go out with him. They were married in 1990 on July 28th. A “match” made in heaven.