Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Easter Is Everyday!

Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Life ChangeEaster has come and gone for another year. Churches were packed Sunday from sunrise services through regular and extra worship services. Some of my colleagues had to hold Easter services off-sight for a variety of reasons. Some wanted to reach the unchurched and thought off-site might be the best way to do this.  Some would have had to hold so many services in their current facilities that it made sense to go off-site to a larger facility. Some for both reasons and maybe some others as well. I imagine that some saw larger crowds than they will see all year until Easter next year – April 12th.

If their attendance was anything like I have experienced over the years – although there were some visitors – like family visiting for the long holiday weekend – folks looking for a church or simply the C&E folks (Christmas and Easter) – mostly the higher attendance is a product of the regular folks all attending on the same Sunday. Sadly – studies show that regular for some means once or twice a month – something less than most every Sunday. When attendance on a regular Sunday is say 75 and on Easter it blossoms to 125 with only 10 visitors – that suggests that if your regulars were more regular – your normal attendance might be closer to 115 than 75. Continue reading

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April 23, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Do You Think About Easter?

Matthew 28:5–6

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

Life ChangeIn reading an article on Barna.org titled Most Americans Consider Easter a Religious Holiday, But Fewer Correctly Identify its Meaning a few years ago I came across some interesting findings.  Below is some quoted material from that article.

Who Celebrates Easter as Religious Holiday?

The types of Americans who were most likely to express some type of theistic religious connection with Easter were evangelicals (93%), attenders of large churches (86% among those whose congregation has 500-plus adult attenders), born again Christians (81%), and weekly churchgoers (77%).

Republicans (77%) and Democrats (71%) were more likely than were independents (59%) and non-registered citizens (51%) to say Easter has religious meaning for them.

In terms of age, members of the Boomer generation (73%, ages 45 to 63) were among the most likely to describe Easter as a religious holiday for them, compared with two-thirds of Elders (66% of those ages 64-plus) and Busters (66%, ages 26 to 44). The youngest adult generation, the Mosaics (ages 18 to 25), were the least likely age segment to say Easter is a religious holiday (58%), reflecting the increasingly secular mindset of young adults. Continue reading

April 22, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Word – The Truth

2 Peter 1:16-21 (The Message)

16-21 We weren’t, you know, just wishing on a star when we laid the facts out before you regarding the powerful return of our Master, Jesus Christ. We were there for the preview! We saw it with our own eyes: Jesus resplendent with light from God the Father as the voice of Majestic Glory spoke: “This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of all my delight.” We were there on the holy mountain with him. We heard the voice out of heaven with our very own ears. We couldn’t be more sure of what we saw and heard—God’s glory, God’s voice. The prophetic Word was confirmed to us. You’ll do well to keep focusing on it. It’s the one light you have in a dark time as you wait for daybreak and the rising of the Morning Star in your hearts. The main thing to keep in mind here is that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of private opinion. And why? Because it’s not something concocted in the human heart. Prophecy resulted when the Holy Spirit prompted men and women to speak God’s Word.

Life ChangeIn this day and age – when most everything is challenged and nothing – it seems – is taken without question – I want to examine the question – Is the Bible God’s Word? If the Bible IS God’s Word – it needs to be authoritative in our lives – would you agree? If the Bible is authoritative in our lives – then the Bible is the base of our understanding as we sculpt and form doctrine. I believe that our theology reflects our view of the Bible. If we believe the Bible to be the Word of God – we will weigh it heavily in our understanding of God. If we see it as a good book – a nice read or guide – but humanly created – we will not. On one hand the Bible is authoritative – on the other it is no more authoritative than our personal experience – community history – or our reasoning/thinking.

I love the way The Message puts the last part of today’s passage.  The main thing to keep in mind here is that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of private opinion. And why? Because it’s not something concocted in the human heart. Prophecy resulted when the Holy Spirit prompted men and women to speak God’s Word. Continue reading

March 29, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turning Our Back on God

2 Timothy 4:4

They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Life ChangeMy how the times – they are a changing. I’m old enough to remember not locking our doors and leaving the keys in the car in the driveway. You can’t do that today. At least not in most communities. Do you live in an area where you feel safe doing this?

It seems like our society is going from bad to worse – and that shouldn’t surprise us. We live in a godless society – where even some of the religious groups aren’t sure about their view of God and moral absolutes. We are becoming a lost people.

In 2011 – the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords – an Arizona Congresswoman – as well as 14 others with 6 being killed – focused us on the darkness of our world and society. That was 8 years ago. It doesn’t seem that long. How many mass shootings have happened in those 8 years?

Comments were flying in 2011 about expecting this type behavior in other countries – but not in America. Fingers were pointed to the left and to the right – politically. Few people in the news hit the nail on the head. Behavior like this is a sign of a society that has turned their back on God. We are running as fast as we can it seems away from God. Continue reading

March 18, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m So Confused

Matthew 16:25

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Life ChangeI remember when I was much younger – during the 60’s – a time when young people would leave home – and travel across the county – to find themselves. Some ended up living in communes – some went to massive outdoor concerts – some experimented with drugs – and free (no commitment) relationships – some did all of the above and more. Each generation seems to search for their niche in life – for their identity – finding themselves. The world is ever-changing – some – like the greatest generation as they are called – grew up during wartime and grew up quickly with great responsibilities. Some have so much given to them – it seems – that some feel entitled to life and it’s blessings – with little responsibility. Some have ideals that seem out of this world to others – like the socialism some are suggesting for our nation these days.

Have you found yourself (were you even looking)? Do you know your purpose in life? Do you know God’s plan for you and your life? I was talking to a young man the other day. He was so confused. He seemed lost. He had tried on several occasions to take his own life. He had experienced such pain in his life – he couldn’t see what reason there was to continue to live. He had given up on God and on ever finding meaning in his life. I must confess – I’m a bit confused these days – politically and religiously. I’m wondering – is the end near? Is Christ’s return coming very soon? Continue reading

March 14, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Vision | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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