Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Fixing Our Eyes On Jesus

Hebrews 12:2

…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I have been a pastor for 40 plus years and in the church my whole life (62 years and counting). I have developed a number of sayings over the years that – for me – help sum up our faith or help me understand it a little better. One of my favorites and the favorite of many is this – Christianity boils down to attitude. I developed this saying in my early ministry because I saw that the church (including me) often has an attitude issue – a heart issue. Too many times disagreements within the church came down to attitudes and personal desires rather than an earnest seeking of God’s will. We often have quarrels among us because of our feelings rather than a disagreement on God’s will.

With this understanding – a number of years ago I added the following to this favorite saying to make my intent more clear – Christianity boils down to attitude – the condition and position of one’s heart. Too many times personal desires and interests divide even the Body of Christ. I know of churches that were divided over the color of the curtains in the social hall or whether to have pew cushions or not. I’ve known churches that have been divided over whether to have an organ or a piano and most recently over whether to have a praise band or not in worship. I’ve known churches that were so inwardly focused at times – that real eternal issues never got discussed. Real heaven or hell issues could not be addressed in some churches – because the membership was too divided over trivial things – over things that do not promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Continue reading

July 19, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Can Do Nothing On Our Own

John 5:19

Jesus gave them this answer: Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

I like working alone – I don’t like working alone. I spend loads of hours behind a keyboard – but most often I don’t like to work alone. I love teamwork – or even simply having my wife outside working with me in the yard (or just watching me). I like cutting the grass alone – while lost in my thoughts or listening to a podcast or music – but I also like to talk to others while working – it makes the time and task go by quicker.

Most of us have had help becoming the people we are today. Some of us have been blessed to have supportive parents. Some of us have had a supportive spouse. Some of us have been given opportunities that helped us along the way. Very few of us – if any of us – have achieved our position in life alone. Continue reading

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Follow God’s Example

Ephesians 5:1-2

1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Yesterday in the sermon I asked the question – Do we really know Jesus? I reminded us that to really know Jesus is to reflect Jesus to a lost world. People should be able to see Jesus in us and through us. Our lives should reflect Jesus. We are called to be His ambassadors.

Reflecting Jesus is not easy – but it is what we are called to do. We tend to find it easier to represent our school or our state or our favorite team – than represent Jesus. We are less bashful to represent our favorite candidate for president (except maybe last election) than we are to represent Jesus. Continue reading

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God Sees All Things

Psalm 139:2

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

I remember playing hide-and-seek as a child. It was fun – hiding from your friends and hoping they couldn’t find you. When we played at my home growing up (the parsonage at Mt. Zion) – we had a cemetery next door and it was always fun to hide there because my cousins and friends wouldn’t come looking in the cemetery. If they did brave the walk through the cemetery – it was easy to get them to run out by making noises like a ghost. I usually won the game because they wouldn’t stay in the cemetery long enough to find me!

I remember playing capture the flag as a youth at Seat Pleasant UMC (now Gethsemane UMC). We would hide in the dark and try to get behind enemy lines. We would crawl along the outskirts of the field and even into the woods – to stay hidden. We would spring up and run for our side of the field with their flag. Continue reading

July 14, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Following God’s Example

Ephesians 5:1-2

1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

So who stands out in our lives as an example we follow? As a child and a youth – I had favorite ballplayers I followed. Boog Powell – Brooks Robinson – Frank Robinson – were players I liked in my youth. They played for my home team Baltimore Orioles. Eddie Murray – Cal Ripken – and others were baseball players I followed later in my life. In basketball some of my favorites were Wes Unseld – Earl “the Pearl” Monroe and Walt Frazier (from the Baltimore Bullets). In football I liked Johnny Unitas – Raymond Berry – Tom Matte. They were football players – Baltimore Colts – that I followed.

In school I had my favorite teachers – did you? I had my favorite singing groups I followed as well like James Taylor – Cat Stevens – Stevie Wonder – 3 Dog Night – Diana Ross and the Supremes and more. I had men and women who I looked up to in church and in other circles. I looked up to my dad the most. Continue reading

July 13, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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