Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

We Should Let Our Light Shine

Philippians 2:15-16

15 Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life.

Life ChangeHave you ever looked out into the night sky and watched the stars? If you live in an urban area – this might be a little hard – but if you live in a rural area like I do – it is a sight to behold. The stars shine brightly in the clear night sky. When I was a teenager – I used to love sitting on the roof top of our family home – just outside my upstairs bedroom window – watching the sky (my room had a window that opened onto the roof and I slipped out there some nights – my parents didn’t know – I think – unless my brother ratted on me – we shared a room).

Let’s look at today’s passage in partial context. Philippians 2:12–18 – 12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”  Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. Continue reading

November 12, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Veteran’s Day 2019

John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Life ChangeToday is Veteran’s Day 2019. We celebrated with some of our veterans in worship yesterday. We also honored one of our veterans – Richard Reynnells – by giving him a flag that flew over our church in 2019. He was surprised to be so honored. We have honored veterans at First Church for many years.

If ever there were a Scripture that spoke to the American soldier – I believe today’s passage is the one. Whether they were drafted or volunteered – men and women of our armed forces have put their lives on the line for God and Country. Whether they served at home or abroad – during peacetime or a time of war – they were our defense – our shield. They trained to be able to serve and protect. Freedom is not free – it is very expensive. At times – it cost way more than money. At times – it costs the lives or health of those who stand in the gap for us – around the world. Continue reading

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Encouragement, Family, From the Pastor, Personal | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It Seems Hard To Love One Another

John 14:15

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

Life ChangeIt seems hard to love one another. For example – I tried to cheer on the Washington Nationals as they were in the playoffs and eventually won Major League Baseball’s World Championship. Yet – pushback came from National’s fans calling me a pretend fan who was jumping on the bandwagon late. I also took pushback from others – calling me out for rooting for the Nationals – since I’m a diehard Orioles fan – as if I couldn’t root for another local team – simply because my team wasn’t in the playoffs. I could better understand if the Orioles and Nationals were in the same league or division and competing for the same league championship. But the Nationals are my National League team – since I was a young child – I’ve rooted for the local Washington team – back in the day it was the Senators (my dad was a big fan). When I was 12 – I began to root for the Orioles and have stayed with them ever since.

It seems hard to love one another. For example – because I have Facebook friends from all walks of life – we don’t all agree on many subjects. Be it sports (Ravens and Steeler fans – Oriole and Yankee fans) – or politics (Republican and Democrat – Trump and Hillary or now Trump or anyone but Trump) – or theologically (left and right – liberal and conservative – Christian and atheists or others) – my friends are all over the place. We hardly agree on much of anything. As a matter of fact – some have unfriended me because of my beliefs (my theology or ideology). Continue reading

November 8, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Our Cross to Carry?

Galatians 5:16

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Life ChangeIn sermons – we are often called to take up our cross and follow Jesus. We often wrestle with the question – what is our cross? We often look at the cross of Jesus – which He began to carry from time eternal. His cross to carry wasn’t just from the courtyard to Golgotha. Jesus began to carry His cross from before the creation of the world – denying Himself – His rightful place in heaven – knowing He would suffer and die at the very hands of a humanity He loved enough to die to redeem. I always stand amazed at His love for us.

So what is our cross? What is the cross we are called to carry? We often suggest that denying self is the cross we are called to carry. We often talk about mature Christians thinking more about how we can be used of God to feed the righteously hungry. We can hear sermons on carrying our cross – and feel good about our understanding of such a sermon – yet – do we really walk out that message? Do we really understand what our cross is we are called to carry? Continue reading

November 7, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Is Our Relationship With The Holy Spirit?

John 16:13

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.

Life ChangeAs we enter the fall and winter holiday seasons – I really miss my dad. I often went to dad with spiritual and personal issues in my life. I would also talk to him about church life and share my concerns and my joys. He was a good sounding board – a man of faith and a man of love. He guided me through many troubling waters and helped me avoid so many as well. The holidays are not the same without him.

Is there someone in your life that fits this bill? Is there someone who we turn to in times of need and times of joy? A number of my friends are fellow clergy and we often have people coming to us for guidance on issues in life.

My children come to me from time to time – but not nearly as often as I would like – seeking guidance. I miss my dad greatly – because he was a source of strength for me. Do you have someone you go to? Continue reading

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

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