Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Encourage Others!

Hebrews 10:25

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Photo on 10-16-18 at 6.18 PM

Let me begin by thanking God for my wife and oldest daughter. My wife for supporting me through 38 plus years and to my daughter – Shelly – for coaching me as I strive to become healthy again. I have lost 61 pounds so far and 35 of them have been lost the last three months under a new health plan that my daughter encouraged me to try. I will say more about this later. I am going to become a health coach – and it fits here – as we talk about encouraging others.

I think it is essential that we encourage one another. I’m sure I wouldn’t have lost all the weight I have – I’m sure I wouldn’t feel the healthiest I have felt in a decade – had it not be for others encouraging me. I also receive encouragement from the guys I play basketball with early in the morning. I know – often – they are merely putting up with me – often being the oldest guy out there. My shot isn’t what it use to be – occasionally I will get on a roll and hit a few threes but mostly they simply encourage me to get out there and exercise and play with them. I’m thankful.

I think it is essential that we encourage one another – not only physically but most assuredly – spiritually. The Bible tells us in today’s passage in Hebrews 10:25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  I think the day is fast approaching – Christ’s return is near – and we need to be in the daily business of encouraging one another. Let’s try and see how we are blessed.

It is so easy to be critical. Tearing down doesn’t build up the Body of Christ. We do not ignore that which needs attention or correction but we do so in love and as much as possible through encouragement. We can correct and even rebuke as Scripture says through love. But often we fail to praise and encourage. It is easy to see and report and have an opinion about what we dislike. How about what we see going well?

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October 17, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Putting Satan and Guilt Behind Us

Philippians 3:13

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead

Photo on 10-9-18 at 2.15 PMA number of our members are dealing with the guilt of the past. Several have come to me to talk about it. This is one of the biggest issues many of us face – forgetting the past and straining toward the future. Some of us tend to live in the past and the past – most often – will only hold us down and hold us back. Forgiving ourselves is often the problem. Long after we have confessed our sin to God and repented (grieved and turned away from our sin) of them and God has offered grace and mercy we still tend to hang on to the guilt – at times. Anyone with me this morning?

Paul was focused on being holy – being perfect – striving after Jesus with all in his power. In striving for perfection – he couldn’t – he wouldn’t – allow himself to dwell on past sin – having confessed it and repented of it – he was focused on the task ahead.

Satan wants us to dwell on our past sins. Satan wants to steal the joy of forgiveness – mercy – and grace. Satan wants us to live in guilt and without the freedom that comes from forgiveness. Think about it! Is there where some of us dwell? Continue reading

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

November Fast is Coming

Romans 8:6

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;

Photo on 10-9-18 at 2.15 PMI’m challenging all of our readers and my congregation to join me in the month of November on a fast. Fasting is not a spiritual discipline many pay much attention to these days. Fasting is a time of spiritual control over something in the temporal world. I plan to place this challenge before the congregation. I will encourage them to find something in their life that either controls them or deters their walk with Jesus – and fast from it for one month – the month of November.

I want us to be challenged to think spiritually rather than with our natural minds. Let’s begin with today’s passage in partial context. Romans 8:5-8 – 5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

I want to bring up one more Scripture for our devotional thought today – 2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  The old is the human – carnal – natural – sinful self. There are many things that we feel drawn toward – maybe genetically – maybe environmentally – maybe a combination of nature and nurture. The point is – not all things we might be drawn toward in our natural human self can be considered godly or acceptable as Christians. I could make an argument that my physical structure gives me every right to be heavy – I mean I am big-boned – I have broad shoulders – I have an appetite that is enormous – always have and always will I assume. From my earliest remembrances I have had a big appetite. As a young adult I could down two double Whoppers – two large orders of fries and a large milkshake as a nighttime snack. And while I was active – officiating sports all year round – playing basketball every free moment and keeping otherwise busy – it never showed up in my weight. But this sinful desire – this over active appetite (a human desire) – has shown itself in significant ways as an adult who has slowed down. I gained over 100 plus pounds since my young adult days. I maxed out a few years ago and have been on a journey to find me inside this fat man. Continue reading

October 15, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Missions, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do We Need a Nap?

Psalm 121:1-2

I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Photo on 10-9-18 at 2.15 PMThe Major League Baseball playoffs are in full swing. Only one series to go before the World Series. What team are you rooting for to win it all? I’m rooting for the Houston Astros and the LA Dodgers to meet in the World Series and for the Astros to win it all.

I wish it was the Orioles playing for the World Series – but they qualified for the number 1 draft choice in next year’s amateur draft. I am an O’s fan and always will be – even during hard years. I suffered through 14 straight losing seasons several seasons ago. We’re tired – already – of this losing skid and want changes. We hope the changes that are coming will help us win again. But this is not real life! It is a game!

Where do you go when you are tired and exhausted in real life? When you need rest – where do you turn? I’ve had a busy week. Besides working over 60 plus hours – I’ve played basketball – a round of golf – and I’ve walked several miles each day. I’ve only gotten about 5-6 hours of sleep each night and according to my new watch – that sleep hasn’t always been sound. I could use a nap! Taking a nap seemed like a punishment as a child. As an adult it is something I look forward to taking! Who agrees with me? 😇💤 Continue reading

October 12, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Should Consider What We Say and Who is Listening

Ephesians 4:29

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Photo on 10-9-18 at 2.15 PMLess than four weeks from now – our nation will go to the polls for the mid-term elections. I urge everyone to register to vote and to get out and vote for the person or persons you believe will help to make us a better nation. It is our legal duty and responsibility as citizens of this country to vote.

If you’ve been listening to the news or to TV – or the radio – or have read anything on the internet – you have probably heard what I have heard – or read what I have read. Men and women – people in political office – radio jocks – TV and movie stars – entertainers – comedians – folks on social media – and in other places – say or write some horrible things of late. Their choice of words leaves a lot to be desired. I mean I’ve stopped listening to programs on TV because of the language being used. I’ve even had to turn off some sports programs on my favorite all-sports channel. I won’t watch certain shows on TV and don’t go to too many movies. I’ve unfriended or hidden some folks on social media because of the language they use. Some people use such foul language! They even take the Lord’s name in vain – and laugh about it! There is a commandment about that with a warning! Continue reading

October 11, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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