Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Advent Attitude Check!

Philippians 2:5

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Ray 2019This coming Sunday we will lite the 3rd candle in our Advent wreath. Christmas is only 14 days away – 2 weeks from today. Are you excited yet? What do you do to prepare for the Christmas season? A niece of mine and her married family always bake dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies that their family (and extended family) bake together. It is a family tradition for her husband’s family. They certainly look good and if I could taste them – I imagine they taste good too. I will try to resist cookies this Christmas season – LOL.

What do you do to prepare for Christmas? What do you do in this time of waiting and anticipating (Advent)? Were you active on Cyber Monday shopping online? Now they call the whole time – throughout the week – Cyber Week – – or even Cyber month – so if we missed the one day – we were able to catch up throughout the week (maybe even the whole month). Have any of us hit the Malls yet? I went there Monday to meet with someone – and – lines were lined up at the doors of some of the shops – waiting for them to open. Have we baked any cookies? Have we planned our parties and the ones we will attend? Have we picked out that perfect gift for our loved ones? Continue reading

December 11, 2019 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Many Times Do We Forgive Others?

Matthew 18:21-22

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Ray 2019How many times have we forgiven someone for the same thing? Do we have a limit to our forgiveness? Does this saying work for us – fool me once – shame on you – fool me twice – shame on me? How many times will we forgive someone? We mentioned Sunday – praying for our enemies – can we do that?

Peter asked Jesus – how many times should we forgive someone? Seven was a number – often used in the Bible to represent completeness – and Peter would have been OK – I think – if Jesus had said seven times. I imagine Peter had come close to that number on several occasions with people he dealt with on a daily basis. Have we come close to forgiving someone seven times? Would that be considered a lot of times? Would you be satisfied with forgiving someone 7 times?

Jesus’ answer might have blown Peter away. In the NIV – the translation of the answer from Jesus is seventy-seven (77) times. In the KJV – it is interpreted to read – Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (490 times) Continue reading

December 10, 2019 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Puts A Smile On Our Face?

Exodus 34:29
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.

Ray 2019What brings a smile to your face? Of course the first answer I would give these days is spending time with our children and grandchildren. We now have five grandchildren with a sixth on the way (eventually – an adoption from South Korea). Another answer might be this long 9 game winning streak by the Baltimore Ravens – which put them into the playoffs and currently the #1 seed in the AFC. Currently – the playoffs come through Baltimore. Another answer might be a late comeback by the #3 ranked Maryland Terp basketball team.

The Ravens have won the last two games – against two very good teams – by very close margins. They proved that they can win the close games against some very good teams. Of the current 11 playoff teams not the Ravens – the Ravens have beaten 6 of them – and some of those games were not even close.

I was smiling when the Terps came back from double digits down to win their opening Big10 game this week. The last second 3 pointer and and 1 of 2 free throws (the second missed on purpose with only 2.1 seconds remaining) had me cheering – loudly.

Still another reason to smile might be when my wife ran a 1/2 marathon. Another smile came across my face yesterday when several persons received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and others re-confirmed their faith. Other things bring a smile to my face – like when a friend makes a good shot in golf and gets excited about it. When we see someone with a smile on their face we usually think something just happened and we tend to be curious.

How about when people notice you have lost weight? Better yet – when they say something encouraging to you (if losing weight was what you were after). I remember when one of my daughters greeted me with a hug and she said – getting skinny dad – as she wrapped her arms around me? What about someone saying something about your new hairdo or your new dress (or suit)? How about the smell of your favorite food – or freshly baked bread – or bacon frying (that one always brings a smile to my face)? Continue reading

December 9, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Connecting With People – Try It!

Romans 12:15

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Ray 2019Christian are often called upon to connect with people. As a pastor – I am often called upon to be empathetic with people and their needs/situations. At times I must be sympathetic or compassionate. Are we empathetic with others? Are we sympathetic at times? Are we compassionate as well? Do we feel the pain of others?

I was moved by a report on Facebook not too long ago about a police officer who pulled over and saved the life of a lifeless infant. His mother was in panic mode and this officer calmly proceeded to give life support to the infant and rush him to the hospital in his patrol car. I could feel for the mom – and I could feel for the officer and his professionalism.

I remember 9-11 – and I know you do as well. I was called upon by the High School to come and help students and teachers deal with the unknown. Some had parents and other family members at the Pentagon and in Washington – DC. Continue reading

December 6, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We MUST Hold Onto Truth!

2 Timothy 4:2

to preach God’s message. Do it willingly, even if it isn’t the popular thing to do. You must correct people and point out their sins. But also cheer them up, and when you instruct them, always be patient. CEV

Ray 2019As the partisan impeachment fiasco continues – more of my colleagues are weighing in with their thoughts. Everyone is entitled to their opinion for sure. It seems to me that those who line up on the left theologically are lining up on the left ideologically and politically. The same can be said about those who line up on the right theologically – as they also tend to line up on the right ideologically and politically. The United Methodist Church’s map almost perfectly matches the red and blue map of the political scene.

I mentioned Sunday that I would love to be able to preach the warm and fuzzy theology that some on the left preach. I would love to say that everyone goes to heaven or that there is no place some call hell or to say that there are other ways to heaven than Jesus. But I cannot – because it would be heretical to do so.

Some pastors will do almost anything it seems to be liked by their congregations. I’ve known pastors who are people pleasers (many are it seems). I personally will do most anything to keep peace in the church – as far as it involves me and what I wear – how I work – etc. Where I draw the line – and I hope many pastors draw the line here – is with the truth of God’s Word. I will not dilute the Word of God. I will not water it down (for those who don’t know what dilute means – lol). I will not back away from preaching and teaching the truth of God’s Word.

Some pastors – IMHO – seem to be drawn toward political correctness. A social agenda seems to supersede the truth of God’s Word for some. I was reading some church publications recently online – and some of our churches and even some of our conferences seem more focused on social correctness rather than understanding the truth found in God’s Word. Continue reading

December 5, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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